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Wendy Smock Top hack with Susan Young

In the spring of 2022 Lamazi launched their first range of exclusive design fabrics called Garden of Dreams which proved to be a big hit with customers so now, in Spring 2023, they are launching a second range called Summer Party. This collection includes printed linen and viscose marrocain and has been created by super-talented surface pattern designer Rachel Parker using vibrant shades and subtle pastels.

This is the Garden of Dreams fabric which I used to make McCalls Marina 8090 last summer. ‘Utopia’ is a Tencel with Lyocel Sateen and an absolute delight to sew and even nicer to wear, it has the most beautiful weight and drape. I squeaked this dress out of 2m of fabric and it was worth the head-scratching because I’ve worn it a lot.

Liana at Lamazi generously gave me my choice from the new collection so I opted for the gorgeous Painted Foliage design which comes on a fine, environmentally-friendly mill-washed linen, it is semi-sheer and reminds me of beautiful stained glass windows with the sun shining through them. It’s been lovely to work with so I’ll share some of my experiences of sewing with it with you.

Because the linen has been mill-washed it’s already beautifully soft but I gave it a pre-wash anyway for my own peace of mind, habit I guess plus I’ve learned the hard way over the years!

Like the Marina dress I wanted to use every possible scrap of the 3 metres of fabric so I chose to use the Maven Wendy Smock Top (which I already had) for the bodice and then a simple tiered skirt attached at the bottom. A tiered skirt is an excellent way to use every bit of fabric because, with a few calculations, you can simply cut (or tear with certain fabric types) strips across the full width of the fabric available, gather them up and attach to the layer above/below.

I chose to cut a size medium for the blouse although I probably could have sized down to a small, I actually reduced it though the underarm seam after trying it on the first time. I shortened the length by about 30cms too, the amount you need to shorten by will vary depending on the look you’re after. I also wanted more fullness in the sleeve so I ‘slashed and spread’ a traced-off copy of the sleeve pattern to give added volume.

Divide the sleeve pattern vertically into a number of even-width strips (not including the armhole edge though, that remains unchanged) and cut from the hem to just before the top leaving a tiny amount of paper still attached. Pivot each strip open to add fullness at the hem, plus an additional 3cms to the length for a longer finished sleeve. When you’re happy with the shape retrace the new configuration.

By folding the selvedges into the centre fold I could cut the front and back bodice pieces side by side [this is also useful when you need to ensure the good pattern match on a print] I used the various gaps between the sleeves and bodice pieces for the two small patch pockets and the front neck facing. So that I kept the remainder of the fabric as untouched as possible I had to cut and join lots of bias strips for the neck binding. From everything that was left I cut (across the fabric width) two strips measuring approximately 30cms deep and three strips approximately 40cms to form the skirt. [I could have simply cut the remaining fabric into two equal rectangles and made a gathered skirt from that but I wanted a more interesting skirt and sewing the skirt in tiers like this gives a fuller hem] Eventually there were only very small scraps left.

I opted to add some decorative stitching using this Gutermann Deco Stitch 70 thread. The trailing leaf design seemed appropriate from the wide selection my discontinued Pfaff Quilt Ambition 2.0 offers.

Attaching the V neck facing

More trailing leaf embroidery

Adding the neck binding-I gently pulled up the edge with two rows of gathering stitches first then attached the binding. Because the linen frays a bit (it’s a loosely-woven fabric so this tends to happen and is to be expected) I overlocked the edge before turning the binding over it to finish.

I secured the binding in place with more embroidery which ran right through to the tie ends as well.

Next I constructed the skirt, I opted to overlock the cut edges before gathering because of the potential for fraying-I would normally overlock afterwards.

I simply joined the two 30 cms strips at the short ends to form a loop, these seams would eventually match the side seams on the bodice. The three deeper strips were also joined at the short ends to form an even longer loop. I turned one long edge of this section and hemmed it using the trailing leaves embroidery and on the remaining long edge I sewed two rows of gathering stitches, this was pulled up and attached to the shorter skirt section. Finally I gathered the remaining top edge of the smaller loop and attached the whole skirt to the bottom of the bodice, no pattern needed!

Lastly, I created a casing on the bottom of the sleeves and ran elastic through them.

The fabric is semi-sheer and I’m wearing a nude slip underneath it but I didn’t feel the need to line it.

Like almost any linen some crumpling develops but I really don’t think it’s excessive or unsightly.

Lots of lovely volume for swishing about

I can’t wait to waft about in this over the summer months

Because of its semi-sheer quality I don’t think the fabric is particularly suitable for trousers or shorts, at least not without lining or mounting it first. It’s a softer linen which lends itself to more unstructured shapes, maybe with gathering, pintucks or soft pleats so shirts, blouses and dresses are ideal. It doesn’t have much drape though unless cut on the bias.

Thank you once again to Lamazi for providing me with this beautiful cloth, I know there are still a few more exclusive collaboration fabrics to come into stock so do keep an eye on the website or sign up for the newsletter. Small businesses are having a very tough time at the moment and I have no qualms about the quality of cloth and the standards of service that Liana and James continue to offer at Lamazi. I was given the fabric but have not received a payment for this article.

Until next time,

Happy Sewing

Sue


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