Thursday, 31 March 2011

A tropical dress from Simplicity 3503

Hi everyone – I’m back from my vacation in Miami. It was wonderful, warm and way too short!

But quickly moving on to sewing matters …… now that I am back I can start showing you the garments that I speedily sewed up for my vacation wardrobe before I departed. First up is my palm print dress –

perfect Miami – see how I blend in with the palm trees!

The pattern is Simplicity 3503

This is the second time that I have made this view, pictured on the bottom right, with the dolman sleeves (my first version was blogged about here). It’s pretty fast to make and easy to fit. I followed the pattern instructions with one exception – instead of machine stitching the inside edge of the neckband facing to the neckband, I slipstitched it by hand. Of course, it doesn’t really matter much either way but I prefer doing this so that I get a clean finish on the outside of the neckband (and this way avoids the possibility of wonky stitching showing in a place where you really don’t need wonky stitching!)

As I mentioned in my last post, the fabric is a polyester-lycra purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics. The reason that some commenters on this post were wary about polyester fabric is that it has low breathability. Personally, I found this particular fabric (it is a very nice quality) quite comfortable but I agree that in humid climates polyester can be problematic. If you are wary about poly in hot weather, this pattern is one to consider because the sleeves give you some coverage but they are loose and flappy, and the skirt isn’t fitted, so air can circulate.

Anyway, enough of my vacation sewing for now but more in my next post ……..

Friday, 11 March 2011

Poly-lycra: are you pro-poly or poly-phobic?

Hurrah, tomorrow we are off on our annual vacation to Miami!

No, I’m not there yet, the above photo was taken in Miami last year. I am wearing my maxi dress, made from Simplicity 3503 (blogged about here). This dress, which is one of my very favourite summer dresses, was made from a polyester lycra, purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics.

Once upon a time, before I started sewing my own clothes, I was, yes I admit it, a bit of a polyester snob. I couldn’t shake off the memory of some very unwise and unsatisfactory purchases of RTW garments made from cheap polyester in my younger years. However, since I have been sewing I have discovered that there are actually some very nice quality polyester lycra fabrics available.

While preparing for my Miami vacation I came to the conclusion that poly-lycra is the packer’s friend. It’s easy to care for and comes out of the suitcase ready to go! And it can be found in colourful and exotic prints that perfectly convey the ‘tropical holiday’ vibe that a sun-starved Londoner, like me, is always trying to capture. With that in mind I have, over the last couple of weeks, been speedily sewing up a few poly-lycra dresses. When I made the dress pictured above I found the fabric a bit tricky to work with but now, after just a little practice, I find that polyester lycra is pretty trouble-free to sew.

There has been no time for a photo-shoot before I go (even if I had been inclined to step, scantily dressed, outside into the cold weather we are currently experiencing). But I shall give you an enticing glimpse of just one of the lovely fabrics I have used

It’s another one from Gorgeous Fabrics and it’s called ‘Palm Off on Me’. Don’t you just love the name and doesn’t that print say “Vacation + Beach + Good Times”? Pass the mojitos!

However, what do you think? Is a partiality for polyester lycra a fashion faux pas? Or do you feel you can happily sew fabulous fashion with this friendly fabric? I’d love to hear your views.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

the first skirt of spring!

In my last post I promised (myself as well as you!) that my next garment would be something easy. This skirt, made from pattern 114 in the July 2008 issue of Burda Magazine, is certainly that but it does have some very nice details.

Here’s the line drawing so you can get a clearer idea of what’s going on with it
Burda’s description: “Your favourite skirt boasts loads of topstitching lines on the hem and a wide, shaped hip yoke with eyelets and tie bands for a sporty look.” Some of these details, especially the rows of topstitching, don’t show up very well in the photograph but in real life they do work nicely.

The fabric I used is an African print cotton. I would love to tell you that I purchased this in some exotic, far-flung location but, in fact I bought it from a market stall in Leeds (Yorkshire in the north of England). I absolutely LOVE African prints, the colours are always so alluring and the designs so wonderfully attractive. It appears I am not alone, African prints often make an appearance on the runway - L.A.M.B. featured some fabulous African prints in their Spring 2011 show

image courtesy of

But back to my skirt. The most nerve-racking part about making this skirt is adding the eyelets

There you are, with your skirt all beautifully constructed and you have to take a pair of scissors and cut two holes in the front yoke. Yikes! But, fear not, a couple of sturdy eyelets, a few confident bashes with a hammer and all is well again. If you have never done this before, I would, however, recommend at least one trial run with some scrap fabric just to be sure you know which way round to place the eyelets and how hard you need to wield the hammer.

I really enjoyed making this skirt – fun to make and easy to wear. I hope your Spring sewing has got off to a good start?
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