This dress has been fully formed in my mind ever since February, when I bought Burda 7783 and this beautiful linen/lurex blend at Hickeys in Dublin. Luckily, they print the fabric content and washing instructions right on the receipts, so I can tell you with some degree of accuracy that this dress is 53% linen, 44% rayon, and 3% lurex. As far as I’m concerned, this fabric is 100% gorgeous – it’s got a subtle bit of shine under bright lights that really makes it special.
The third linen item in this week’s unofficial linen-a-thon is a cute and very casual shift dress from the May 08 issue of Prima magazine. I don’t think I’ve mentioned Prima much here before, but it’s a UK women’s magazine that features one sewing pattern each issue. If you subscribe you get sent them automatically, but if you pick up an occasional copy at the newsagents like I do, then you need to ring a premium rate number to have it posted to you (it usually works out to a pound or two on your phone bill, which is very reasonable).
Their patterns are usually a bit hit-or-miss with me, but when they get it right, I drop everything to buy the issue, even though this is the first one I’ve actually sewn up. Their sizing is pretty close to the Big 4 patterns and they include seam and hem allowances, and the patterns are printed on newsprint like the pattern magazines. One thing I really don’t like, though, is that they print their sewing instructions right on the pattern sheet so you’ve got to unfold this huge sheet just to read what the next step is if you haven’t cut up your patterns and prefer to trace instead.
On this pattern, I really liked the overall easygoing style and fit of the dress, and the gathered back yoke combined with the standing wide collar really appealed to me. This pattern included optional cap sleeves, which I decided to make to shield my poor freckled shoulders from the sun (when it occasionally shows its face here!).
When I bought my first La Mia Boutique magazine a few months ago I was instantly drawn to dress #31 in that April 2008 issue:
I loved the duality of the buttoned, tight, and sleeveless bodice with the pleated A-line skirt, and I wanted to accentuate that with contrasting fabric (and, err, leave out the weird knee-highs!). I happened to have about a half metre of lemon-yellow linen/tencel blend leftover from James’s dress shirt, and it was just too soft to let languish in my scraps box! So I decided to use it for the bodice (and lining) of this day dress and pair it with some raspberry-coloured tablecloths for the bottom. I think I may possibly be channelling Spring colours, or perhaps I’m just craving sorbet!
I started work on this shirt so long ago it almost seems amazing that I finished it at all! I was first held up by buying some machine feet for this project back in the beginning of April, and here it is in June and I’m finally showing it to you (though I did finish it over a week ago so it was technically May!).
I’ve made quite a few button-down shirts for my boyfriend James over the years, but after reading through Shirtmaking: Developing Skills for Fine Sewing by David Page Coffin I had the epiphany that they were all really badly done and I couldn’t possibly ever go back to my old ways after that. Really, I cannot recommend this book highly enough – even if you never sew menswear, it is essential reading for all shirt and blouse construction.
So instead of using the old Simplicity pattern (OOP 5273), I thought I’d break with tradition and make my first long-sleeved shirt for him using BurdaStyle’s Jakob pattern. According to his measurements, I made a size 52 and it fits him perfectly. He also adds that he’s “a textbook 15 1/2” in dress shirts in case that helps anyone at all.
This past weekend was a Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK, so technically I got another day though it doesn’t really feel that way! I did manage to get some sewing in amongst the DIY, cleaning, baking, running, and hosting, however. I finally finished James’s linen shirt, and even made myself a new day dress from La Mia Boutique using some of his excess linen/tencel fabric and some raspberry tablecloths…
I’ve got my hands in so many different projects right, it’s almost hard to keep up with myself!
My first priority was re-creating my piece for the upcoming book, which (as I’ve seen it talked about elsewhere online) I believe I can now reveal is tentatively titled “Pillowcase Challenge” and is all about recycling vintage pillowcases into other items. You’re going to have to wait until next spring to see my creation in the flesh (along with a few other pillowcase-related tutorials I’ve got tucked away), but here’s a teaser of my sample ready to be posted:
Yesterday was a beautiful, warm and sunny day – I’d already done all my DIY work on Saturday (plus cooked and hosted a three course charity dinner for 5!) so the day was all mine to relax and sew for a change!
I’ve been slowly working on making BurdaStyle’s Jakob pattern in a lemon yellow linen/tencel blend for James, but it’s been slow going because I’ve been trying to unlearn all my bad habits and follow David Page Coffin’s “Shirtmaking” book to the letter. I cannot say enough fabulous things abut this book – really, within 5 pages I knew I could never, ever go back to my old ways. Even if you never sew menswear, it’s still a must buy in my opinion for its techniques in dresses, shirtwaisters and the like.