I hate writing bad reviews. It’s even worse when it’s in my “specialist subject”, as there’s a subset of people that will think it’s just sour grapes or something. But I really, really wanted to like this pattern. I get asked all the time for recommendations for a good sports bra pattern, and Simplicity 8339 looked good on paper – lined, supportive straps, wide under-bust band, and a variety of cup sizes.
A Simplicity sports bra
An American flag shirt for 4th of July
I can’t explain why, but my husband James really likes to dress over the top for the 4th of July each year. I mean, I’m the one who’s American, yet he’s the one wearing stars & stripes sneakers, jeans, and now a shirt, too.
We visited a Mennonite fabric store when we were visiting friends in Pennsylvania in April, and they had a staggering array of quilting cottons (as you’d expect, really). James had lots of patriotic designs to choose from, but settled on this one with repeated American flags with an off-white, almost textured look to it.
Minimum Viable Dress (and speed sewing tips!)
In the tech industry, there’s a term “Minimum Viable Product”, which means the absolute minimum you can do to get code out the door. It’s not your best work, but it works.
Like half of London, we had tickets to see Secret Cinema’s performance and screening of the first Back to the Future film, where they recreated the entire 1955 town of Hill Valley, California, complete with about 20 business, the clock tower, full fun fair, a cast of hundreds of actors, you name it. We were also all asked to assume an identity (I was “Tiffany Hyslop, developer!”) and dress in 1955 styles. Now, I’ve only got one 1950s dress pattern (which I made into that Porsche dress a few years back) but it’s too big in the bodice now and would require too much work.
So instead, I picked a modern dress with a 1950s feel – the Simplicity Cynthia Rowley pattern (1873) which I had already made in fuchsia and really liked the fit of.
The pink version was the wrong colour for the 1950s and definitely too short, so I bought some striped cotton poplin from Minerva that had the right vibe, and figured it’d be close enough.
A colourblocked Cynthia Rowley satin jacket
Last week I mentioned a few projects I’d been working on, including a little satin jacket to wear with both my purple Matthew Willamson birthday dress and my swirl sheath dress. Well, the Welsh wedding was over the weekend and we managed to squeeze in some photos in the hotel room before the big bash so you all can see how it coordinates with the Matthew Williamson sheath!
As I mentioned before, the pattern is the same Cynthia Rowley Simplicity pattern I used for my fuschia party dress – a simple, loose, open jacket with dropped shoulders and wide sleeves.
I didn’t have enough of either satin to make the entire jacket in one colour so I decided to colourblock it. Since there weren’t many seams in the jacket itself, I just drew some extra seamlines onto the pattern pieces for my colourblocking.
Roundup of updates
I appear to have found myself again in the position where I’ve been doing an extreme amount of sewing and sewing-related activity, but I can talk about only a small portion of it, and I don’t have any proper photoshoots for the things I can talk about… Bad, Melissa, very bad!
So consider this a little roundup post to let you know what I’ve been up to, until I can get my act together properly…
Silver cowl top
I cut out this MyImage cowl top pattern before we went to Mexico, thinking I might have enough time to quickly sew it up before we left. I would’ve, too, if I hadn’t decided I needed to make a quick travel bag. So it was waiting for me when I got back to cold, grey London, mocking me with its sleeveless-ness. I finally just sewed it up so I could have the space back in my sewing room, though I’m afraid I won’t really get to wear this until next year.
I made it out of some absolutely glitter-tastic jersey I bought at Tissue Reine in Paris a few years back, and I recall it was on the pricey side. It also left a trail of silver all over my sewing room… Boo.
Spring 2013 Sewing Ideas
Thank you all so much for your lovely comments on my asymmetric Drape Drape teeshirt! A girl could get used to that level of flattery…
It also marks the start of my sewing short sleeves, which means it must finally be Spring, and hence, time to start thinking about marrying up the patterns and fabrics I’d like to sew for the next few months. I really do these only for my own benefit, and so they’re not a “SWAP” in the sense that everything must coordinate against each other (lord knows I have enough clothes that I don’t have problems putting combinations together!).
This is more just a set of ideas towards which I’d like to work, so when I get to the end of a project, I can quickly refer to this image and go “oh yeah, I want to sew that next!”
For the first time I’m also including running/exercise gear in my plans, since I’m wearing lycra as a significant portion of my weekly wardrobe, and I want to contain all of my sewing ideas together. So you’ll find all the running stuff on the bottom row, and the rest of life’s wear on the upper two rows!
- Style Arc Ivy tee in mustard & charcoal viscose jersey (I’m currently sewing this now!)
- Burda March 2013 #107 cardigan, in brown merino wool jersey (LOL English summer AM I RITE?)
- One dart lace bra (copied from RTW/self-drafted from Shin) using an aqua lace I bought from Danglez.
- Burda Jan 2012 #122 trousers in leftover hot pink cotton sateen (so it’s a merging of my pink party dress and my grey trousers!)
The Fuchsia party dress
Ooh I am so excited to show off this dress to you, and even moreso because it has a great origin story!
Did you know there’s a new sewing, knitting, and jewellry-making social network in town – Kollabora? It’s from some of the people behind the original BurdaStyle.com and I helped beta-test their new site a few months ago.
As a big Thank You for sending in tons of detailed bug reports (a nice side-effect of my day job, which involves a lot of online testing, is that I can write a mean Steps to Replication!), they offered to send me any fabric and pattern combo from their shop! They stock loads of great independent patterns like Colette, Wiksten, and Sewaholic, but I thought I should pick something I wouldn’t normally buy myself. So keeping that in mind, I chose this very! bright! fuchsia stretch cotton sateen from Mood + matching thread + Simplicity 1873 (one of the Cynthia Rowley designer patterns).
I made View C – the low neckline & short hem option, but without the button tabs at the waist. I ended up making size 14 instead of my usual Big Four size 16 because 14 was the biggest size in the envelope I was sent, but it turned out just perfect in the end – nicely snug at the waist, but not overly tight. With a skirt this full and pleated, I really think it needs a nipped-in waist, and that’s another reason I didn’t want to add any bulk in the form of the button tabs there, either.
I spent part of last evening working on the fuchsia Cynthia Rowley party dress, and I just love it when I come across a lined bodice without neck or armhole facings, as it’s the best opportunity to do some beautiful prick-stitching!
Contrast prick-stitching is not for the faint of heart, but I enjoy both the process, and the finished result.
Inspiration from all angles
I’ve got lots of bits and pieces on the go right now, and I’m finding that I’m being inspired by lots of little things – not just from the fantastic last few issues of pattern magazines (hello, August Burda!), but also some supplies which have found their way to me, like this amazing laser-cut eyelet zipper from my friends Alex & Liz, bought at the V&A shop!
Mine’s skirt-length and now I totally want to make a pencil skirt with an exposed zipper just so I can show this off! After I got mine, I’ve since seen that they’re available on etsy in a bunch of different colours, too.
Not long after that, I was approached by the owner of Lots of Buttons asking if I’d like to try their shop for free. My initial reaction was that the prices in dollars surely meant exorbitant shipping to the UK (boo!) BUT as it turns out, all the orders are fulfilled in Hong Kong so the shipping is the same anywhere in the world (great for the Antipodeans, too!).
So I picked out some basic black horn buttons (just like the ones my stash was missing for my black knit trousers the other week), and some gorgeous overlapping metal buttons I thought would go really nicely on a jacket. All in, these would’ve cost me $10 total (with shipping), which is like half the cost I pay to get nice buttons in central London, with a travelcard cost on top of that!
These arrived in 7 days, too, along with a discount code for my next purchase. I also really like that they seal off each button type in its own clear plastic bag, so you can see what’s inside without them all getting jumbled up together. Genius! So I went from being skeptical to totally pleased and very happy to recommend them in the space of about 10 days!
Summer sewing shortlist
Last week you got to see the newest Patrones that Aisling sent over, but you all have been far too good to me, because last week I also got a surprise parcel from Daisy!
She did some awesome detective work and worked out my size and style and picked out Simplicity 2754 and Butterick 5317 for me! And she did a great job, because I really like them both! I always have a hard time seeing the potential with the Project Runway patterns because the pattern covers are so horribly done that you can’t see any details at all, and Simplicity’s site makes it really awkward to browse by technical drawing (what I do as a general rule with Burda magazine previews). Anyway, as it turns out, I really like the details of this one, and doing some research myself, I remembered that Trena made it a few months back and I absolutely loved it! And she’s so got the right idea with those back view enhancements! And the Butterick Maggy London dress is just screaming out for a border print, as far as I’m concerned – the skirt is just a rectangle with pleating, so anything with a border or lace at the edge would go perfectly as you don’t have any cut, curved hem or side seams. So it actually is as easy as it’s labelled, seeing as how you’re really just making the bodice…
These patterns all came at the perfect time, because not only did I finish the second bridesmaid dress this weekend (photos coming later this week), but London has stumbled into a mini-heatwave which always gets me raring to sew! After spending the last two months solid on these dresses for my girls, I’m more than ready to sew for myself now, and I’m not scheduled to start on my wedding dress muslin until July.
Sooooo, how much can I cram into the next month, eh? Granted, I’ll still want to make a few things here or there while I’m working on my gown, but I thought it’d be a good idea to get all the things I want to sew together in one place. I’m not calling it a wardrobe or SWAP since they don’t all go together, and I don’t want to commit myself to ALL of these since I tend to get bored easily, so let’s just call this a shortlist so I can choose from these at will…
The FehrTrade Summer 2010 Sewing Shortlist!
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