The turquoise and silver motif dress

I am very pleased to finally be able to show you this dress, which has been quite a while in the making!

I first bought the motif at Mode et Travaux in Paris when we visiting there last summer, but then a few months ago I decided that I really wanted to do something with it, so I started laying out my first pattern ideas. Then I finally decided on a a pattern and started basting the motif onto my linen in preparation for our French road trip, where I painstakingly sewed the motif onto the dress using silver thread and an embroidery hoop.

The finished dress is a variation on dress #102 from the March 2010 KnipMode supplement, but I modified the neckline heavily so that it’d match the motif’s curves. In actuality, I cut the curve of the neckline after I’d completely sewed the motif into place!

Since I changed the front neckline, I also had the widen the back at the neck edge to match the front, too. It means my big head can only just fit through, as it’s much narrower than the original pattern.

The Burda September cover dress (summer lace version)

Remember back in January when I made the winter version of the Burda September 201 cover dress (#122) with long sleeves in purple pont di roma? It looked like this…

Well, at the time, I said I’d definitely make a summery version, too, but then again, I often saw I’ll remake patterns and then I hardly ever do, so I can’t really blame you if you thought you’d never see this pattern again!

But you’d be wrong! This dress is just so stratospherically flattering and magical that I couldn’t resist making a summer version in pale pink and grey lace, even though it meant hours of hand basting the lace onto the knit during our French road trip. And then once I was home, fusing metres upon metres of vilene bias tape to the various curved seams so they wouldn’t ripple during wear.

All this before I even constructed a single seam, but you know what – it was totally worth it.

The Madame Grès exhibition

One of my highlights of our weekend in Paris was seeing the superlative Madame Grès exhibition at the Musée Bourdelle. For me, this was higher on my Must-Do list than even visiting the Montmartre fabric shops, and I was so glad that this museum is open on the weekends, and even located very close to our friends’ flat, too.

Madame Grès originally wanted to be a sculptor, so it makes perfect sense that the dresses were shown in a sculpture museum, and intermingled amongst the various sculptures on display.

I went on a Saturday afternoon, and the museum was filled to the brim with middle aged women and young men, all taking a multitude of photos on their cameras and phones. Had I known it was allowed, I would’ve brought our DSLR, but as it is, you’ll have to settle for the limited detail from my iPhone…

Our French road trip

Ahh, what a fabulous, gluttonous, relaxing, and wonderful holiday! If it weren’t for arriving back into an extremely busy work and social life, I’d probably be the most chillaxed, freckled, and happy woman on earth right now.

Our road trip lasted 11 days, and took us from Calais down to the Loire Valley (Canault and Saumur, mostly), through Poitiers and Limoges, through the Lot and the Midi-Pyrenees to Toulouse, then over to Montpelier and Sète, up through the Rhone valley to Tournon and Tain L’Hermitage, then up to Lyon, and finally making pitstops in Cluny and Auxerre on our way to Paris before heading home.

Sewing-related towns driven through:

  • Alençon (that’s just a display inside a roadside rest pictured above!)
  • Couture
  • Cluny
  • (Though I swear there were more I just can’t recall right now!)

A silver & linen dress – decisions and basting

Thank you all SO much for all the feedback on my pattern shortlist earlier this week. It’s so incredibly helpful to hear from others which have worked and which haven’t, and to get me thinking on what I most like to wear (and what I don’t!).

Since I tend to email commenters personally but not put my responses in the comments themselves, I thought it might be helpful to answer a few general questions from the comments. I’m not really seeing this as an overly dressy/posh/fussy dress – for me, the linen dress on its own would be something I’d wear to the office, out to lunch with friends, or out in town, and the motif I bought in Paris is just a sort of permanent necklace. I always overdress anyway, and I’m not envisioning this as anything “left for best” in the slightest! Believe me, there’s very little I keep aside and out of my daily rotation!

Nancy K suggested a tunic might be more wearable than a dress, but I had to admit to her that I really, really don’t feel comfortable wearing tunics. There’s just something about the awkward “too long for a top but too short for a dress” length plus too many layers that just makes me feel self conscious. Whereas I wear dresses and skirts almost continuously in summer (compounded by the fact that I don’t wear shorts)!

Finally, I decided against a bunch of lovely sheath dress patterns purely for linen/wrinkle reasons, and my thinking that these would probably have more horizontal wrinkles from sitting than full-skirted numbers. I’m debating whether I’ll underline this dress or not for that same reason, but I suppose it all depends on if I can find suitable cotton or silk lightweight fabric for a good price while we’re in France.

Enough with the commentary – I finally decided on dress #102 from the KnipMode 03/2010 supplement (one I didn’t even scan in my initial review! gasp!).

A linen & silver dress – ideas

London has gone super sunny and warm over the past few weeks, so my thoughts have turned to spring sewing and using up some treasures from my stash. Remember the silver chain and sequin motif I bought in Paris last summer? Well I still adore it, and I thought it’d be a great showpiece for a spring dress.

Since the motif is mounted on blue netting, I thought it’d be best to pick a similar coloured fabric for the dress, so that the little spots inside the design which can’t be trimmed away wouldn’t look too out of place. Luckily I’ve had this turquoise linen/rayon mix in my stash for a few years, so its day has come!

I thought it looked good next to the motif, but wow! it looks amazing when I actually pull some through underneath it!

Has anyone worked with motifs like this before? I’m guessing I just get silver lurex thread to match and take tiny stitches the whole way around and trim off the excess netting? Is an embroidery hoop useful (or necessary)? I’m hoping to get the piece cut out and ready to work on during our French road trip over Easter, with any luck.

The next step is figuring out which pattern I’m going to use. I used my usual method for sifting through my pattern magazines (like I did for my wedding gown and my latest winter coat) – since I’ve got all my At-a-glance pages scanned in an online gallery, I flip through them all looking for a suitable pattern, and when I find one, take a quick screenshot of that pattern (Shift-Apple-4 on Mac makes it really easy!), and rename the file to be the issue number so I can find where it came from.

Manequim silk birthday blouse

I love this blouse!

It all started in Paris last June when I saw this amazingly gorgeous silk satin (charmeuse) in Tissues Dreyfus that I just had to have. But it was €22/m (zoot alors!) so I only bought 1 metre. But even now I still love it love it love it love it so it was worth it worth it worth it!

Ever since, I kept my eyes open for a good blouse pattern that only needed 1 metre of fabric, and along came Manequim Feb 2011 #158, which called for exactly the amount I had – 1 metre long and 150cm wide!

These two were clearly meant to be together! I don’t often do prints, but this one is just so gorgeous with the psuedo-floral/paint splatters of silver, black, orange, and fuschia that I wanted it to form both the centrepiece of my March Mini Wardrobe as well as be my special birthday garment this year!

March Mini Wardrobe

I’ve finished my post-coat winter sewing plans apart from the La Mia Boutique draped skirt which I’m feeling now is better suited for spring or summer, so I thought I’d dip my toes into the Pattern Review Mini Wardrobe contest that’s running throughout the month of March.

This is a pared-down version of their usual, sprawling wardrobe/SWAP contest, so this time around you need to create a five piece wardrobe in four weeks, using one item you already own (sewn or RTW) and be able to create at least six different outfits from this. I’m actually going one better and aiming to sew five pieces rather than four, but that may fall by the wayside depending on how the month goes.

Here’s what I’ve got in mind:

Asymmetric Plum Lace Top

The latest installment in my post-coat winter sewing plans is the asymmetric pleated turtleneck, Patrones 296 #14.

In this design, you’re given the pattern pieces for a turtleneck top, where the front has been cut diagonally across the front. So if you’ve not got this issue of Patrones, just go and draw a curvy line across your favourite turtleneck pattern!

In the magazine photo, the sleeves and upper front piece are pleated and underlined, but I chose to overlay lace on mine instead. Patrones provide the pattern pieces for the post-pleated fabric (allowing you the fun of working out exactly how much fabric you’d need for whatever size pleats you choose!), so it was super simple to just use those finished pieces to cut out the lace overlays instead.

The plum fabric here is a gorgeous bamboo/lycra jersey that I bought from Ditto in Brighton last month, and it’s so unbelievably soft, and with a nice, beefy weight and good stretch. I loved Wazoodle’s bamboo years ago, but this stuff is even better as it’s thicker and doesn’t wrinkle anywhere near as readily. I am utterly in love with this fabric! I’ve got another of their bamboo/lycras in red and I’m itching to make something from that now, too. The green stretch lace I bought at Tissues Dreyfus in Paris last summer, and I love how the two together give a bit of an antique look….

Manequim February 2011

Much to my surprise, the latest issue of Manequim magazine actually arrived a few days before the new KnipMode (more on that next week)! When I subscribed, I assumed the shipping from Brazil to the UK would be quite slow, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. And since the southern hemisphere is moving towards Autumn now, we’re finally getting some garments that can easily work for English spring weather in a few months!

The first feature is a bunch of looks from various cast members of the Brazilian soap opera, Ti-Ti-Ti, (yeah, me neither!) but importantly, this silver cropped biker jacket is utterly fantastic, perfect for spring/summer, and in my size, too!

I’m not a big jumpsuit fan and have yet to be even remotely tempted by one until now. Manequim have certainly ticket my boxes – Cowl neck, check. Drapey jersey, check. My recent forays into braver fashion have encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone a bit more. But this risk does involve an awful lot of fabric…