The 60s Grey Shift

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I’ve been ummming and ahhhing for ages now, over how best to use this beautiful grey, swirly fabric which I was gifted as part of the #secretsewingsanta exchange. I was really torn between this 60s shift dress, which I’ve sewn once before, see here, and a Clemence skirt, again attempted just once before. I thought the slightly stiff texture (I think it’s a kind of linen with netting for the swirls), would really suit a full skirt, but I figured if I had enough for a whole dress, then it would be rude not to!

The pattern is Simplicity 1609, which came free with a magazine some time ago. This time I chose view A with a kind of scalloped, Peter Pan-style collar. The darts went in easily. I substituted a regular zip for an invisible one, which behaved itself perfectly πŸ™‚ The collar was a little fiddly. I’m guessing a slightly lighter fabric may have helped here, but I gave it my best… I was contemplating whether to unpick it and attempt it again to neaten it up, when I realised I’d forgotten to switch back to a light grey thread after completing another quick project in between in a darker grey! Frustrating though this was, it made the decision as to whether to unpick or not a whole lot easier πŸ˜‰ And my second attempt, with the right colour greyΒ thread, was a whole lot neater. Funny that!

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Because I substituted with an invisible zip, I ended up free-styling the order and did most of it by instinct. The bit I did try to consult was how to insert the facings. The neck edge made sense, and went in pretty easily, but the arms made no sense at all! I just kind of made it up, which seemed to work reasonably well, before hand stitching it down to the main bodice. The rest was plain sailing πŸ™‚ The design suggests placing three, small buttons beneath the centre of the collar, but I resisted as I felt this might have drawn the eye to my least neat part of the project…

I was so pleased when I tried this on: it fitted perfectly. And from the outside, it’s a pretty neat job all-in-all. However the insides left me just a little disappointed. They’re pretty neat around the facings, but I’d really like to get my inner seams finished off just a little more professionally. I guess a lining would have covered them nicely, but I like the idea of using bias binding or a ribbon to neaten them up. I think it’s a result of using my overlocker more recently, which always gives such a great finish. I’ve read about other bloggers overlocking seams before sewing, so maybe this would be an idea too. Any suggestions would, as ever, be greatly appreciated. It’s an area I’d really like to improve on in the future.

Many thanks Vicki once again for the beautiful fabric. It was a perfect choice for me πŸ™‚

And for those power-girls amongst you who may just have thought there was a little something missing from this post…

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Ahh, that’s better! I did try to keep them down, honest! πŸ˜‰

Galloping Horses!

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Equipped with my new sewing machine know-how and a whole day to dedicate to it, I couldn’t wait to get started on Simplicity K1609, which came free with the July edition of Sew Magazine. I’d also spied Amanda’s (of Sew Deputy) beautiful eyelet version and knew I had to try it.

I know, I know! There aren’t any fancy buttonholes or use of anything even vaguely ‘knitted’ apparent in my Galloping Horses dress, but I definitely felt more in control of my machine πŸ™‚ And here are a whole host of new, but admittedly very basic ‘skills’ I learnt, and yes, I did manage to harness my impatience and finally slow down too…

Here are my, admittedly, very basic questions I asked when I visited the machine shop and that I was able to apply to the making of this dress:-

1. How often do I need to change my needle?

The advice was every six weeks or so. Mmmmm, so given that I got this machine for my fortieth birthday and I’m fast approaching forty two (October, for the record) I probably should have asked about this earlier… Needle duly and easily changed!

2. Why had my automatic threader stopped working?

These are so basic sorry, feel free to skip to the actual sewing bit… She quickly pointed me to the ‘up/down needle position button’ (see, I even got the manual out to look up the technical term). Another exciting, little button she introduced me to was the ‘automatic reverse stitch’, although admittedly I’m still perfecting the use of this as I’m tending to press either too early, and it doesn’t quite complete to the end of the fabric, or too late and it’s reverse stitching thin air.

3. What stitch do I use to finish off seams, instead off constantly using my pinking shears?

She pointed to the overcasting stitch and informed me that I probably had an over edge foot in the accessories pack that came with my machine. And indeed, I did! This was my favourite new discovery and I’m sure it will give my makes a much neater finish. It worked best on finishing my facings, rather than attempting to hem them. They looked a whole lot neater!

As Amanda promised (thank you!), the pattern was really quite straightforward. I was tempted to use a cute, contrasting collar, but in the end I figured this might make it a little too dressy, so opted for a bow in the same material so that I could wear it as a day dress. I think this just about worked out as a day dress, what do you think?

The actual dress pieces were plain sailing, as was inserting the invisible zip. However when I tried it on it was a little ‘snug’ around the hips which resulted in the back being all bunched up. To solve this I simply unpicked the centre seam on the front to allow a little ‘wiggle’ room and to avoid the unsightly back ‘bunching’. This, thankfully, worked perfectly. Although the bow instructions looked pretty complicated it turned out to be mostly common sense.

Because of my chosen material, it was the cutting out that was the longest task in this project. I thought it would look plain odd if my horses weren’t running horizontally so I had to cut separate bits and then re fold my fabric. I wasn’t able to cut the pieces for the bow the right way up though, but as it’s pretty well camouflaged by the busy print, I don’t think this part of it really mattered.

All in all I actually enjoyed forcing myself to slow down with this dress and I’ve probably become a much better wannabe-seamstress in the process πŸ™‚

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