Christmas may seem a little while away, but time flies fast and we are here to spark the joy for sewing your handmade outfit for this special event regardless of the circumstances, by sharing some fabulous handmade outfits that our lovely Lamazi Bloggers have made to inspire us.
The blog will be presented in two parts.
In Part 1, Sharlene and Sue will share their beautiful dresses that you can use to dress up or down or for various occasions.
In Part 2, Marie and Tamlyn will bring the glamour with their Slip Dress and Faux Jumpsuit that can be worn for Christmas or various other special occasions.
Part 1 by Sharlene
Christmas in my family has always been a great excuse to get dressed up, my mum always made my sister and I get dressed before we could open our presents under the tree. In recent years comfort also has to play a small part, and shoes and boots are always swapped for new slippers when they are opened. But the clothes will stay glamorous. So although there will be no Christmas parties this year, I will still be getting dressed up on Christmas Day.
I have been dreaming of recreating a dress by ready to wear brand “The Vampires Wife” for a long time now so this was the perfect opportunity. I chose this Rifle Paper Co.- Birch in Black Cotton from the Primavera range. It was a close call between the Black and Blush in this fabric, but the black edged slightly further in front in the end.
I used a Palmer Pletsch pattern for McCall’s (M7279) for the main bodice of the dress. This pattern gave me a good fitted shape and had lots of potential for hacking. I used the sleeve from the Bella Love Patterns Vita dress but shortened it. This sleeve has a really big sleeve head so it is easy to fit onto most bodices. It is also interfaced and has an organza ‘pillow’ to create maximum volume. I didn’t need the pillow in the end as the interfacing provided a lot of volume and structure. I used 2 rectangles the width of the fabric and 25cm long to create the ruffle at the bottom. I considered adding a smaller ruffle to the sleeves but in the end thought it might be a bit much.
This dress has turned out exactly as I have dreamt! For being so fitted it is very comfortable, I should be able to fit a few courses of Christmas dinner in. And the sleeves… so much joy in all that volume! I chose gold accessories to highlight the little gold leaves running through the pattern and topped it off with my Adornments by Rosheen headband from last year.
Next project… make a dress for my daughter in the same fabric!
Part 1 by Sue
The Festive season is often a reason to make, or buy, a special new outfit to wear for office parties or Christmas Day but this year things will be very different for most of us. I didn’t want to be entirely negative though so, as part of the Lamazi blogger team, I thought I’d make something which is a little bit Christmassy but will double up as a ‘regular’ winter dress too.
I’ve chosen the cord velour in a gorgeous shade of aubergine. I’m always a sucker for purple but it comes in several other beautiful rich shades including a sumptuous gold and a stunning teal too. I picked this fabric because it’s a medium weight stretch jersey and has soft pile which makes it lovely to the touch. I’ve made a dress but you could easily make tops or leggings in it, or babies and children’s clothes too because it’s washable and crease resistant.
Whilst I love a complex make to really get my teeth into I felt this wasn’t the garment for that. Making a special Christmas once-worn garment wasn’t appropriate any longer so I wanted something quite simple but adaptable and for that reason I’ve picked the Somerset T-shirt by Maven Patterns. I’ve made a few of these now, the bones of it are beautifully simple, it has a self-neatened bateau neckline, a slightly fitted silhouette and four sleeve options. I’ve chosen the Bishop sleeve with a long cuff but I’ve hacked the sleeve to make it even fuller, and I’ll lengthen the body to create a dress finishing below the knee.
The Somerset has excellent very full instructions with lots of tips and advice to get a good finish. There’s a useful sheet to print off where you can write all of your information including body measurements and fit alterations and a fabric stretch gauge as well as the needle type and size you’ve used, stitch type and length and anything else you might want to remember for another time.
To increase the size of the sleeves I took the bishop sleeve pattern [which was already cut out because I’ve used it before] and drew 5 vertical lines from each of the notches from shoulder to hem. Each segment will become slightly wider as it gets nearer the bottom edge so make sure they are even in size. Cut a piece of spot and cross or tracing paper bigger than the pattern as it is, mark a grainline running right down the paper and then lay the pattern piece on top of it, matching the grain on the pattern to the grain line you’ve just drawn. Next, I carefully cut up to the top of the marked lines taking care not to snip right through at the top, keep it attached by a tiny amount to act as a pivot point. [If you don’t want to cut your original pattern piece I suggest you trace off a new one to use instead] Then you splay the hem edge apart by a few centimetres each, I added 2.5cms between the each of the ‘side’ segments and 5cms to the central one. By doing this you’re adding fullness at the hem but not altering the sleeve head. You could put additional fullness to the sleeve head by opening the top edge too if you wanted. I lengthened the sleeve by 5cms too so that it would have plenty of blousy fullness into the cuff. Trace around the new shape using a tracing wheel or pencil and cut out the new piece transferring all markings. One final change I made was to add a bias grainline because I knew I wanted to play with the stripe direction of the rib on the fabric.
I made an arbitrary choice of how long to make the dress by simply holding the tape measure at my shoulder and seeing where it came to at about mid-shin! I attached another piece of spot and cross to the bottom of the front and back pattern pieces and drew on the skirt length I wanted, plus a generous hem. I knew I would have to make some adjustments to the hip and thigh during the fitting stage, just make sure that the hip and thigh measurements are plenty big enough because you can always remove some, it’s much harder to add later!
I pre-washed my fabric and partly tumble dried it on ‘low’ before letting it dry completely on the clothes airer, it seemed to survive the experience just fine.
The ‘cord’ runs across the width of the fabric and I wanted the rib to run down the length of my dress which meant I had to fold the fabric across the width. Try not to twist the fabric if you have to fold this way, I marked a single rib by following it across the width with pins so that I can see it clearly. Fabrics like corduroy, velvet or velour have a pile or ‘nap’ which will shade so if you cut some pieces facing one way on the grain and some pieces running the other way then you will end up with a garment that looks like it’s been made with two different colour fabrics, even though you know that isn’t the case. If you’re unsure what quantity of this type of fabric to buy go with the ‘with nap’ amount on the pattern information and follow the one-way layplan to cut out.
Once I’d cut all my pieces I followed the making instructions which are very comprehensive. If you have a walking foot for your machine I strongly recommend you use it because velour like this has a ‘pile’ and has a tendency to ‘creep’ as you sew so you might find that it starts off with all the edges matching but by the time you get to the other end the two fabrics are no longer matching. I also strongly recommend you tack any seams you are unsure about. You could use a million pins but by the time you’ve done all that you could have basted it in place which does the same job and usually more effectively. I was able to coverstitch the neck and the skirt hem but it works just as well by overlocking the raw edges and twin-needle stitching them down, or zigzag and twin-needle, or two rows sewn singly if you don’t have a twin needle. When it comes to pressing a fabric like this, if you don’t have a special needle board (and few of us do) then you should on the reverse at all times. You could place a towel on your pressing surface and lay the fabric on top so that the pile of the cloth is against the pile of the towel which will help protect it. Use a pressing cloth as well. These tips will also apply to regular corduroy or any non-stretch fabrics with a pile too.
The bell of the sleeve is gathered using shirring elastic which helps to retain some of the stretch required for the cuff.
Once the sleeves were in I sewed up one side seam directly on the overlocker and then pinned the other side seam to fit myself. This was because I didn’t know if I’d need a split at the hem to be able to walk in the dress and I didn’t want to end up with loads of unpicking!
I looked at the fit in the mirror first of all and the side seam of the sewn seam was quite wavy, this could be cured by either adjusting the differential feed on the overlocker so that it doesn’t happen, or you could stitch the seam on the sewing machine and then overlock the edges. This is what I opted to do because I could see I had to take a fair bit off the side seams anyway to achieve a fit I was happy with. Then I put the dress on inside out in front of the mirror and pinned out the excess. I turned it right side out and tried it on again to check the fit, then finally sewed both side seams on the sewing machine, I used a ‘stretch’ needle, a ballpoint or jersey needle performs the same task. Either use a short straight stitch or a straightened out zigzag, make some samples to see which works best for your particular fabric.
Finally the cuffs go on and the skirt is hemmed.
I have to say that I’m really happy with this dress because it ticks all the boxes I wanted it to. It’s comfortable but it looks Christmassy, it will look great with opaque tights, heels and jewellery, but will also look good with boots, a chunky belt, a roll neck top underneath for extra warmth or a cosy scarf...and did I mention it’s comfortable! #secretpyjamas It also has the advantage of rolling up and going in the corner of a bag or suitcase and coming back out again not needing a press. Bonus!!
This fabric is very wide at 160cms so it will go a long way, and because it’s so soft it would be lovely for children’s wear too. It needs a little bit of careful handling but a lot of that is in the ground work. Make sure you lay it up and cut it accurately to minimise unnecessary stretching or distortion, pin or tack the seams so they don’t move about and press carefully as you go and you should be fine.
Thank you to Lamazi for providing me with the fabric for me to write my review, and I hope you find it helpful.