I made a Megan dress!

Behold… I made a Megan dress!

megan-tada.jpg

A few weeks ago I picked up a copy of Love At First Stitch by Tilly Walnes, from the Kinokuniya at Ngee Ann City. (If you’re in Singapore, I really recommend the sewing book section there – there are a lot of books that have paper patterns included, including those from bloggers like Tilly, Collete Patterns and Gertie. I got a little over excited in the shop!)

I’d read the reviews for Love At First Stitch so I was pretty hyped for the book. And it totally lived up to expectation! It’s a gorgeous book, very beautifully put together – and Tilly has a lovely conversational way of writing which makes you feel like you’ve known her for years.

 

megan-book
Shamelessly copying one of Tilly’s poses from the book

 

But I’ve gotta say, I found the Megan dress a real challenge. Nothing to do with the pattern or instructions – but just getting the bodice to fit. The pattern is drafted for a B-cup, but I am a C/D, so I knew I was going to need a full bust adjustment. But I wasn’t expecting that I would end up making six muslins of the bodice…

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The five discarded bodice pieces that didn’t make the final muslin
And on the plus side, I am now an expert at sewing darts after having done about 30 of them as part of this muslin saga!

In the end, I made a 1.5″ full bust adjustment, lengthened the bodice by 1/5″, and took 2″ out of the back neckline. I also shortened the hem by 2″.

And now it’s all finished! The fabric is a cotton poplin I bought at Spotlight.

megan-full

I’m really proud of it. I’ve made it for work to force myself to wear the stuff I make on normal days rather than saving it for special occasions.
megan-back-full
There are a few errors in it, but I’m okay with that (I’m telling myself). I’m not too crazy about the dart tucks around the bodice as they don’t seem to lie properly, and the zip is a bit stiff. But it’s all cool, because I made a dress!
megan-back
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Two Hollyburn Skirts

In my first month of sewing I’ve made two Hollyburn skirts. The sewalong at Lavender Lane helped enormously through the process.

I printed out the PDF pattern, and even just taping that together was a real learning curve for a newbie like me! Somehow I ended up with wonky grainline markings in the pattern – but I think I got away with it.

I made this green version first (my first ever garment!):

top-pop-hollyburn

I was pretty pleased with myself. Within a few days I had turned a length of fabric into a wearable item of clothing!

Just don’t look on the inside… The tension on the zig-zag seam finish is off so they’re all scrunched up. And the waistband interfacing is exposed in places! Some of the seams are wonky, too – I could not get that cheap polycotton to hold a pressed fold for more than a few minutes.

All in all though, this skirt is the end product of a serious learning experience. I had a lot of fun making it, even the frustrating bits along the way like redoing the zipper four times. (Now I understand why basting is always recommended.)

Then I made this version for my birthday, and all my feelings of pride about the green skirt were blown out of the water:

vintage-poplin-hollyburn

I’m really happy with this one! I took all my learnings from the first version, and applied them fastidiously and painstakingly. And isn’t that fabric gorgeous? I picked it up at Spotlight.

I didn’t match up the print on the seams, but other than that I was possibly a bit too perfectionist. This afternoon I read in Love At First Stitch that if you mess up a couple of stitches, you don’t actually have to redo the whole seam. I’ll get through my future projects a lot faster with that bit of knowledge!

I wore the floral skirt out on my birthday – my husband treated me to dinner at Lime House, which was great fun. I loved the jerk chicken carpaccio (bold but delicate) and the macaroni pie (wholesome and comforting). I ate a huge amount – by the end of the night I was grateful for the ease in the skirt’s waistband!

I see myself making many more Hollyburn skirts – they are exactly my style, and so easy to wear.

My First Project! Pillowcases!

I started out on my sewing journey in the typical way: I made a pillowcase!

It actually happened at the perfect time – my husband and I wanted to get new bedding for the new year, but we couldn’t find pillowcases to match our king-size pillows anywhere in Singapore. When I realised I could make pillowcases easily with my new sewing machine, it was like it was fated to happen! My beginner’s project immediately turned into a mission – I had to make 2 sets of 4 king-size pillowcases to replace our old ones. 

So I trotted down to Spotlight to find some fabric. I knew it would be a learning curve picking out fabric for the first time – but goodness me, it took ages. I was probably in there for an hour, poring over all the different types of cotton and trying to find a good balance between the feel, the colour, the pattern and the price. I ended up choosing bright green cotton poplin in polkadots and stripes. Bright colours lift my spirits, and I’m on a real green kick right now!

I made my very first pillowcase following the envelope closure pillowcase tutorial over at Make It & Love It. I finished the seams and pressed it neatly, and then went to put it on my pillow feeling super proud of myself… then I realised I’d made the darn thing far too big! Turns out American king-size pillows are bigger than UK ones. First important lesson learned – double check your measurements!

(Well, maybe the first important lesson I learned the hard way was to lower the presser foot before sewing. I had quite a panic after getting about a foot of thread tangled up in the feed dogs.)

So. I ripped out all the seams from my oversized pillowcase, did some measuring and some maths, and started over. This time it fit perfectly! I made four:

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I also modified the approach so that each pillow is made with two pieces of fabric rather than one. I found it hard to manipulate such huge pieces of fabric. 

The final numbers I ended up with to fit a UK king-size pillow are:

  • Front piece – 20.5″ x 34.5″
  • Back piece – 20.5″ x 42.5″

This gives finished dimensions of 19.5″ x 33″. I first hem one short edge on each piece by folding it up twice by 0.5″ and then use 0.5″ seam allowances.

A couple of weeks ago I made a second set. They’re in the wash right now so I’ll have to share the pictures later!