Friday, 10 November 2017

Knit Tops for Winter

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Striped Merino Seamwork Neenah Turtleneck

One of my absolute favourite handmade garments to wear this year has been my linen Turia Dungarees. They are so easy and comfortable to throw on whilst still feeling like I've made some sort of effort style wise. I wore them all summer long with sandals and cotton/silk blouses but now that the weather has turned colder in London I was missing them as an option in my wardrobe. Now that we've hit real winter temperatures the linen is perhaps a little lightweight to cope (I do have a denim pair in the works to solve that!) but for the autumnal season what I really needed to get a little more mileage out of my original pair was some long sleeve snuggly tops to wear underneath.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Print Cotton Clifton Jersey Tilly & The Buttons Agnes Top

Enter The Fabric Store and their offer for me to be a brand ambassador for a few months and a whole world of merino and other knits opened up to me! As a side note, I know I do a fair bit of gushing about how much I love the selection and quality of fabrics stocked by The Fabric Store but that is my genuine heartfelt opinion about this lovely company. The fabrics are top drawer and if I had to pick one place to buy all my fabric from forever more I'm pretty sure I would say them. I'd actually put a ban on myself from taking on any sponsored posts and fabric or pattern reviews for a few months as I've really burnt myself out with work and could do with a break from too many commitments. But I broke it without much deliberation as soon as the Fabric Store team got in touch. It's the one thing I can't resist.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Striped Merino Seamwork Neenah Turtleneck

As the dungarees are quite plain I wanted a couple of interesting fabrics rather than solids to pair with them. I already knew that comfortable knits were the route I wanted to go down and merino was absolutely going to be one of my choices. As well as their huge range of vivid solid colours The Fabric Store stocks a whole load of lovely stripes. I almost went for this black/maroon rib but decided it was very similar to a t-shirt I made in the summer and eventually plumped for a paler option in this black/mushroom/ivory design. I love how the spacing and width of the stripes is irregular but this of course did make stripe matching a little more tricky! I got lazy and cut my pattern pieces on the fold rather than flat as I would usually do when matching a pattern and that came back to bite me as my stripe matching is perfect down one side and sleeve but just slightly off on the other! Sewing up stripes this fine involved using a hell of a lot of pins.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Striped Merino Seamwork Neenah Turtleneck

I pretty much lived in my merino Neenah Dress from Seamwork last winter (and already have been this year again!) and as I liked the fit and how it worked in the merino decided a top version would be really useful. In particular a striped merino turtleneck seemed like the perfect addition to my wardrobe. As I did last year I cut the size small and used pretty much all of the 1.25m I ordered. I just love the fit of this; the slim sleeves, snug shoulders and the way it doesn't cling around your middle. Its surprising as I often find something a little odd in the fit around the shoulders and chest with Colette/Seamwork patterns but perhaps with knits it works on me! Also surprising is how comfortable I am in the turtleneck as I don't usually like having clothes close around my neck, particularly wool. The width of this is spot on for me.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Striped Merino Seamwork Neenah Turtleneck

Also lovely are the slim little cuff bands. I usually omit cuffs (and waistbands for that matter) on knit tops as I prefer the clean look of a twin needled hem but I actually like this skinny band more. The fabric is a perfect match for this style and it has got me thinking that I could really use some more simple merino wool tops and dresses in my wardrobe. I've always tended to think of wool as a fabric for outer layers or bottoms rather than anything next to the skin but when its this fine and smooth why  not. This stripe is their medium weight merino which is great for all kinds of garments though does go slightly sheer when stretched right out. It has fantastic recovery though and wears really well. The only thing I did to prolong the life of the top was to add twill tape along the shoulder seams to prevent them stretching out.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Striped Merino Seamwork Neenah Turtleneck

For my second top I wanted a lower neckline and thought three quarter length sleeves would be good as I usually end up pushing them up out of habit anyway! I again raided my stash for a pattern I'd used before so knew I would get instant satisfactory results with and had a hard time choosing between the Sewaholic Renfrew and Tilly & The Buttons Agnes (the Closet Case Patterns Nettie was another contender but I didn't have it printed out). Although similar looking in the line drawings the fit is quite different as I've found the Renfrew to include more ease. When I previously made the Agnes I found it to be surprisingly close fitting, perhaps a little too much so although some of that was to do with my choice of bamboo jersey which was particularly clingy. However, I decided a closer fit was preferable to a relaxed feel for wearing as a base layer for winter outfits so settled on the Agnes and went up half a size to avoid some of the cling.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Print Cotton Clifton Jersey Tilly & The Buttons Agnes Top

For this style of top I thought a fun yet wearable print would be good as most of my tops are solids as well as the bottoms I want to pair them with! As well as their merino another thing The Fabric Store stock a particularly large range of is Liberty prints on all kinds of bases. I generally struggle to find Liberty that I actually want to wear rather than just admire on the bolt but TFS do a particularly good job at selecting a range of more contemporary and wearable designs so I was spoilt for choice. I was looking at the bold purple chrysanthemum print and was disappointed to find that there wasn't enough in stock. But it must have been fate as I think the organic feel of this Sybil Campbell print I ended with feels much more me and it goes with a larger percentage of the clothes I already own. I love the subtle herringbone effect in the print.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Print Cotton Clifton Jersey Tilly & The Buttons Agnes Top

The design is printed onto their Clifton Jersey which is 100% cotton. It's fairly fine but opaque enough when not in direct sunlight and its worth bearing in mind that as it is printed the reverse is an off white so not the ideal choice for a waterfall cardigan when the reverse peeks out. As it does not contain any elastane the recovery isn't as great as some knits but there is a decent amount of stretch. This means it doesn't ping back and cling in the way the bamboo jersey I used for my first Agnes did and the resulting fit is much more comfortable and flattering. I am glad I went up half a size to the 3 which is a little larger than my measurements would suggest.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Print Cotton Clifton Jersey Tilly & The Buttons Agnes Top

In the same way I did with the turtleneck I assembled all the seams with a narrow zig zag on my machine then finished all the seam allowances together on my overlocker. Hems were done using my twin needle. Again I love the slimness of the sleeves and the skinny band around the neckline. Because of the close fit I'm really enjoying wearing this with high-waisted skirts and jeans...but I think the colours of it look particularly great with my dungarees and over the last month or so this combo has been seen quite a lot!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Print Cotton Clifton Jersey Tilly & The Buttons Agnes Top

A big thank you to The Fabric Store for so generously supplying me with the beautiful knits of my dreams; I don't know where my wardrobe would be without you! 

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

October Indie Pattern Update!



Hey guys! Sorry that this month's update is a little late this month. I had a BIG day at work yesterday which has meant not much sleep for me for the last couple of weeks. No matter how little time I have for sewing I just can't resist the lure of a bit of inspiration for further down the line so have still been fairly obsessively checking my blog roll and Instagram feed for new pattern releases and news and have got a bumper update for you! I'm looking forward to tackling my sewing queue over the next few weeks...a queue thats got a little longer after writing this!


New Pattern Companies!


  • Octavia Patterns launched with Jodie's very first pattern, Pomegranate! Pomegranate is a simple blouse with self faced cowl neck and short kimono sleeves which would be perfect to showcase a special piece of silk. The clean, contemporary lines of this style seem to sum up Jodie's aim to create modern, fashionable styles that will stand the test of time.



New Patterns


  • Nana from How to Do Fashion released pattern No.12 Aalborg. This is a beauty of a wrap dress or peplum shirt inspired by the 1970s with voluminous sleeves and the option to add a collar and tie belt.
  • I feel like every month for about the last two years I've resolved to do something about my goal of sewing lingerie. When I eventually do I want to try out basically every bar in the Orange Lingerie collection and the new release, the Berkeley Bra is no exception.
  • The new patterns from Style Arc in October included the Dorothy Woven Jacket (one of the freebies with any purchase), the Indigo Maxi Skirt and Lara Jane Dress. The latter has a cold shoulder feature with frill and I particularly love the version with the long sleeve.
  • Released with this month's edition of Seamwork Magazine were the Piedra Shift Dress and Lilliana Box Jacket. The simple tent style dress made up in merino could be an absolute winter wardrobe staple.
  • A pattern freebie is such a great way to test out a company you haven't tried before and see how it works for your body shape, style and skill set without too much investment. The Avid Seamstress is offering newsletter subscribers the Drop Sleeve Top as a a free download. Alternatively you can purchase a printed version for just £4.
  • New from The Maker's Atelier is the Swing Jacket. This design looks super classy in the neutral colours of their samples and I think could be a great wardrobe addition made up in boiled wool to wear over festive party and formal dresses.
  • Designer Stitch released the Frida Top, Tunic and Dress which pays homage to Frida Kahlo. The various combinations of sleeve, yoke and flounce provide you with a great canvas to play around with mixing prints, colours and trims.
  • Tessuti are knocking it out of the park with dress releases at the moment. I love my Lois Dress and their new Milenda Dress has certainly caught my eye with it's relaxed pull on fit and stitched down pleat detail. I had such a good experience with Lois that I've actually got one of their coat patterns in progress.
  • New from Friday Pattern Company are the Avenir Jumpsuit and Lucida Dress. I love both of these knit designs. Particularly the off-shoulder jumpsuit with it's billowing sleeves and legs for lounging about the house and feeling glamorous! 
  • There is a lot to love about the new Claudette Dress from Colette Patterns. Its a fitted sheath dress with loads of options; among them I particularly like the ruffle at the waistline and cowl neck. Sizing and fit has been careful thought through with curvy sizes including an additional waist dart.
  • Kommatia Patterns' new fall collection has gone sports luxe and includes the TR811 Jogger Pants and SW604 Sweatshirt which has some lovely features such as a classic v detail at the neckline and zip pocket on the sleeve.
  • Sew Over It's PDF release for October was the Chic Cape which features a rounded collar and armhole slits. They also released a new paper pattern this month. The 1940s Wrap Dress has been much in demand since it was launched as a class and I can see why with its flattering fit, collar and sweet shoulder pleats.
  • Greenstyle Creations released the Chelsea Pants. These have really intrigued me as the design sounds quite unusual. They should be made in a stable knit or super stretchy woven and feature a centre front seam and wide waistband which dips down in the back.
  • The Indie Sew fall/winter collection has just come out and includes a new pattern from Allie Olsen, the Coram Top & Dress. This is a boxy woven tee or dress with cuffed short sleeves.
  • New from Mimi G is the PDF Lexi Jumpsuit. Its a relaxed fitting style with elasticated waist and cuffed voluminous sleeves and legs. A great winter jumpsuit option that looks ace styled with boots.
  • I spotted two new releases from DG Patterns in October. The Cadence Pants and Lily Hoodie. The hoodie has interested me the most with its long-line option and curved hem.
  • The new République du Chiffon collection has just launched and features six really inspiring designs. Each has really lovely interesting details like the shaped panels on the skirt of the Victorie Dress. The collection also includes the Marcelle Jacket, Elisabeth Blouse, Frankie Skirt, Jose Coat and (probably my favourite) the Diego Trousers.
  • Made for Mermaids released the Mama Kourtney pattern to accompany their girls Kourtney Knot. This is a simple knit top but with a whole heap of sleeve, length and knot detail options to play with.
  • New from Zierstoff Patterns is the Lilia Jacket. Designed to be sewn in fleece it features a curved front edge, hood and decorative flower and is also available in children's and plus sizes.
  • Wardrobe by Me released the Aurora Blouse and Dress. I owned a dress similar to this years back which had the same swinging fit and gathered into a yoke at the neck. I might have to recreate the bohemian dress of my dreams!
  • The Claire Cardigan from Seamingly Smitten is a longer length with patch pockets. Perfect for making up in a snuggly knit to wrap yourself in this season!
  • The latest release from Itch to Stitch is the Hvar Jacket. I've seen a lot of interest in this pattern already on Instagram and I can see why. Again Kennis has designed something well proportioned and effortlessly wearable and that waterfall collar combined with pointed front hem is a stunning feature.
  • Sure to be another popular knit design from Jenny at Cashmerette is the Rivermont Dress and Top. Its a pattern for a sheath dress or peplum top, designed for ponte or similar stable knits.
  • Striped Swallow Designs released the Hideaway. I love the idea of a relaxed off shoulder top designed for snuggly knits and could see me layered up in french terry versions of this with skinny jeans all winter!
  • The Wingspan Wrap is the latest release from Sew Knit Love. It's a billowing semicircular wrap with a deep collar which would be gorgeous in my winter favourite merino. What could be cosier than literally wrapping yourself in such lovely wool!
  • Just a few days ago Straight Stitch Designs released Leschi; a relaxed fit woven blouse with a deep v-neck collar. The perfect thing to throw on over skinny jeans but still feel stylish and pulled together.
  • Released just this morning is the third pattern from Half Moon Atelier; the Anegada Top. Its a semi-fitted basic with boat neck, deep waistband and cuffs. It looks very Parisian chic in the striped samples and I love the finish of the neckline.


Pattern Updates and Expansion Packs




Sew-alongs




Upcoming!


  • Victory Patterns have a new design in the works which is set to be released soon! Really excited about this one as I love Kristiann's dramatic design aesthetic and attention to detail.
  • Style Arc have released a few sneaky peaks of an aviator style jacket which looks like it could be a knockout and a great project to get your winter sewing teeth stuck into.
  • Another knock out piece of outwear soon to hit the internet is the Rumana Coat from By Hand London. A classic piece of timeless ladies tailoring.
  • Sew Different gave us a look at their upcoming Tulip Dress on Instagram.


Other Exciting News



Well I for one now can't wait to get sewing! As usual here's a little bit on indie sewing inspiration from the online sewing community to get your November sewing off to a good start.




  • Emmauelle from Zoubi Zoubisou made the most stunning Etta Dress. To elevate it from simple little black dress she added embroidered mesh around the neckline and hem and her placement of this is absolutely spot on.
  • I have been pretty much living in my linen Turia Dungarees since I finished them and Jasika has totally gone one better with her choice of sunshine yellow for hers! I also really like her additions of belt loops and larger back pockets. Beautiful sewing.
  • Katie's ombre Fremantle Coat is incredible and something I totally wish I owned. The way she's used that amazing ombre wool combined with beautiful welt pockets and giant snaps...perfection!
  • Helen looks absolutely gorgeous in her Appleton Wrap Dress. The fit is amazing along with the  vivid red and choice to go sleeveless. Making me wish for warmer weather!
  • April has made the most beautiful camel Bamboo Coat from Waffle Patterns. Head on over to her Instagram for some more detailed shots of some brilliant sewing.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Emerald Green Party Dress

The story of this dress is quite a saga. I almost gave up on it more than once. Which was a surprise to me as although fiddly, I expected it to be straightforward given that I was using patterns I'd had success with before and familiar techniques. But then again I always seem to learn something from every project I tackle! I've had a few press nights and dressed-up events to go to recently and decided my wardrobe could definitely do with another glamorous, feel good dress. And let's face it, this is the kind of sewing that I really, really love. It might seem like my wardrobe is full of dresses but a lot of my occasion ones I made quite a long time ago and now don't fit quite right or just don't seem as well made as they did back then. The curse of improving sewing and fitting skills! A lot of them are also more suitable for weddings and such occasions rather than a night out. And there are only so many times I can wear my favourite jumpsuit around a lot of the same people!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Emerald Wool Crepe Green Party Dress using Sew Over It Ultimate Pencil Skirt and Rosie Dress sewing patterns

I didn't have time to go fabric shopping so decided to make the most of my stash which has grown a little larger than usual throughout the year. Almost forgotten at the bottom of the basket was this lovely little length of wool crepe in a vivid shade of jewel toned green. The perfect choice of colour as one of the events was press night for Young Frankenstein. I didn't have a huge amount of it, less than a metre and a half I would say. The lack of fabric determined the design choice and I was more than happy to go with a classic strappy, wiggle dress. I didn't have much time on my hands to be fiddling with fit, I wanted a project to sink my teeth into but that would come together smoothly and not be too taxing on a tired brain so I turned to the patterns I already had in my stash so I knew what to expect. I needed up using a combination of two Sew Over It patterns. I always seem to be pretty successful with the fit of these and their Ultimate Pencil Skirt is my go to pattern for that silhouette. I paired it with the bodice from the Rosie Dress which I loved the simple cut and shape of when I tested it a few months back, along with the super skinny rouleaux straps.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Emerald Wool Crepe Green Party Dress using Sew Over It Ultimate Pencil Skirt and Rosie Dress sewing patterns

I cut between the size 8 and 10 for both patterns FYI which is standard for me with Sew Over It and spot on my measurements. I only made a couple of changes to the patterns (to begin with at least!) as I was very happy with how they had turned out previously. First I took a bit of width out of the top edge of the bodice at the side seams as my first version didn't sit quite close enough to the body in that area for my liking. I believe I removed about 1/2" at the top and graded down to nothing at the waist along that seam. Secondly I moved the darts in the skirt a little so they would match up with the princess seams of the bodice. This takes a little bit of thought and a lot of measuring!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Emerald Wool Crepe Green Party Dress using Sew Over It Ultimate Pencil Skirt and Rosie Dress sewing patterns

As I had worked with the patterns before I didn't make a muslin and despite my careful thinking through and confidence in the patterns when I first put in the zip and had a try on the result was a complete disaster. I had wrinkles and drag lines all over the place, it was way too tight around the hips and clinging in all the wrong places. At first I thought it's fine, I'll unpick the side seams and sew them back up with a smaller seam allowance to give me a bit more room. No luck. I'd sewn myself the least flattering thing I'd ever made. I just didn't understand as both patterns had fit so well before and I knew my weight had been fluctuating of late but not to that extreme. I was so excited about the idea of this dress and it was incredibly frustrating to have wasted a fair bit of my precious sewing time on such a mess. The only thing that stopped me throwing it straight in the bin was the waste of that luxurious fabric!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Emerald Wool Crepe Green Party Dress using Sew Over It Ultimate Pencil Skirt and Rosie Dress sewing patterns

It took a couple of weeks away from it and a couple of other quick and successful sewing projects under my belt one weekend to make me revisit the dress. I put my original Ultimate Pencil Skirts on and they still fitted well so there must be something else going on. As soon as I put it back on with a clear head I realised. The skirt pattern has a super high waist; very flattering and lovely in a skirt but it's not made to be joined straight on to a bodice. I had way too much length in the waist and everything needed to be lifted up a bit giving me much more room in the hip when the curves of the skirt matched the curves of my body. I folded the skirt up at the waist until things seemed to be sitting correctly and pinned in place. I unpicked the zip, separated the skirt and bodice and took 1.5" off the top of the skirt then reassembled. A vast improvement and such an easy fix! It did unfortunately mean that all my hard work moving the darts to line up with the princess seams of the bodice went to waste at the back but they still match at the front and side seams at least.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Emerald Wool Crepe Green Party Dress using Sew Over It Ultimate Pencil Skirt and Rosie Dress sewing patterns

I was triumphant after figuring it out and the excitement for the project retuned. Unfortunately the dress wasn't quite done testing my patience yet. After the saga of the fit I had the saga of the straps. I spent one whole evening doing a fair bit of swearing whilst attempting to turn through skinny little straps with my loop turner. To get a super delicate lovely rouleaux strap you need to trim your seam allowance right down. However, if you do that on wool crepe it will fray and spread as you turn those straps out until the seams burst open. I wanted my straps as skinny as I could get them but I had no choice but to make them thicker then intended because of the fabric. A lot of trial and error then ensued figuring out the perfect width and using up the last of my crepe. I almost resorted to using the satin lining or some ribbon but am glad I didn't. In actual fact it would totally work strapless as I could have done with making the straps a bit shorter and when they slip down everything still stays in place. That must be proof that the bodice fits right!

I absolutely love wool crepe for it's combination of weight and drape as well as the way stitches sink into it almost invisibly, but it does need the right handling and treatment. It should really only be dry cleaned and you do need to be careful with the heat from your iron as this fabric loves to shrink. It's a good idea to at least give it a good steamy press before cutting to preshrink a little. There's various tips out there on the internet advising on the best ways to pretreat wool. I got this fabric years back from a Broadwick Silks remnant sale and first used it back then for a Charlotte Skirt. It didn't come out so well because my lack of fabric handling experience meant I didn't get those seams pressed nice and flat and the overall look felt a bit 'bouncy' rather than tailored as a result. This time around I had my trusty tailors clapper to hand and am a bit more liberal with the pressing so I'm much happier!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Emerald Wool Crepe Green Party Dress using Sew Over It Ultimate Pencil Skirt and Rosie Dress sewing patterns

I used a piece of the Stoff & Stil acetate lining that I used for my version of B5814 earlier this year as it was a good colour match and also nice and strong to attached the boning to. I used the same method of inserting the boning as I did with this dress rather than as instructed in the Rosie pattern. This has you cover the ends of rigilene with small squares of fabric then just sew these ends to the lining. I had some covered plastic boning and so opted to sew it down all the way along the length. I had no problems with the boning in my first Rosie dress but just like the thought of it being securely attached in place. I decided not to line the skirt. For a special occasion dress like this I usually would do but I didn't have any nice soft lining or silk in a good colour to hand and the acetate I used for the bodice was too stiff; I wanted to keep some softness to it.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Emerald Wool Crepe Green Party Dress using Sew Over It Ultimate Pencil Skirt and Rosie Dress sewing patterns

I'm really proud of my crisp little skirt vent. It must be my fourth or fifth time using this pattern so I should be able to turn out a pretty good one by now! In the end I was so pleased with the dress that I went the whole hog and finished a lot of it with hand-stitching - including the hem. From complete frustration to real pride in the course of one garment!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Emerald Wool Crepe Green Party Dress using Sew Over It Ultimate Pencil Skirt and Rosie Dress sewing patterns

I hope I haven't bored you all to tears with that tale but at least it has a happy ending! I'm so pleased I went back to it and it didn't end up in the bin the first time around. It's far from perfect and the fit could do with some more tweaking if I'd had the patience but I adore this colour and feel super comfortable in the dress, which is an achievement for such a boned and fitted number. I think perhaps my wardrobe could benefit from one in black. I've got one more press night to go to this year and might treat myself to something else new. I've actually spotted a tuxedo inspired jumpsuit which I might try and recreate and think I've found the perfect fabric. Now to hunt down the right pattern(s) to serve as a starting point...

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Navy Rayon Crepe Lois Dress

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Tessuti Lois Dress in Navy Rayon Crepe from The Fabric Store

The recently released Lois Dress from Tessuti was an instant purchase for me the moment I saw it! I loved the clean lines and easy wearability. Really classy and contemporary. I'm not surprised to have already seen a fair few versions pop up across the blogosphere. As tempting as it is to pick a beautiful bold flowing print to pair with such a simple design I've learnt over the last couple of years that my most worn garments tend to be solids so I went on the hunt for a beautiful fabric in a winter appropriate colour that I could wear with tights.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Tessuti Lois Dress in Navy Rayon Crepe from The Fabric Store

Coincidently at around the same time the lovely team at The Fabric Store got in touch to see if I'd be interested in being a brand ambassador for them over the next few months and sewing up some garments with my pick of their fabrics. It's no secret that I love getting fabric from them (I've sewn up too many items in their merinos and linens to list) so of course I jumped at the chance! I want to use the opportunity to branch out and try some of their more unusual fabrics (I mean it's a shame it's not summer as they've recently started stocking Liberty swimwear) and headed straight on into the rayon section. This rich navy blue crepe was just what I was looking for for my Lois.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Tessuti Lois Dress in Navy Rayon Crepe from The Fabric Store

I cut the size 8 and had a bit left over from the 2 metres I had. I could have actually made do with 1.5m as it is designed to be a proper midi length dress but on my petite frame it felt a bit overwhelming so I lopped 6" off the hem. While I like the loose figure skimming fit I think if I made it again I could perhaps do with going down a size. I did debate between the 6 and 8 for a while but was worried the 6 might be a touch too snug. However I have lost a bit of weight recently so it could well end up fitting better in a couple of months! The only other thing to comment on fit-wise is that the neckline is cut quite low but because of the clever design the v neckline sits nice and close to the curves of the body so when wearing the right bra I don't feel too exposed at all.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Tessuti Lois Dress in Navy Rayon Crepe from The Fabric Store

It's a deceptively simple looking dress with some great little techniques I've not come across before, which at this stage in my sewing game is quite unusual! It is the first Tessuti pattern I've used and I'm defiantly intrigued to try more as the new experience really pushed me and forced me to concentrate. I'd lost my sew-jo a little as I haven't had time to sew for a while and felt a bit overwhelmed by all the things I wanted to catch up on. I actually thought a fairly straightforward, mindless make would be what I needed but actually the surprise of this being more challenging than expected really got me fired up to sew again.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Tessuti Lois Dress in Navy Rayon Crepe from The Fabric Store

I'd definitely recommend having a bit of sewing experience under your belt for this one; especially if you're going to tackle it in a slinky silk or rayon. It's not overly complex and the instructions are great (including clearly annotated photographs) but some of the techniques are quite fiddly and and understanding of how things will come together eventually would be beneficial.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Tessuti Lois Dress in Navy Rayon Crepe from The Fabric Store

One of the techniques I'd not come across before was the use of tearaway stabiliser along some of the seams which had the potential to stretch out; like the neckline. You stitch it on before assembling the seam and then tear away the excess. I didn't have any stabiliser of this kind so instead cut narrow strips of lightweight fusible interfacing which has worked out great to give the rayon a bit of strength where it needs it, but you can of course see it in the inside. As a result it's not the most beautiful inside of any garment I've made...yet because of the techniques involved I still feel like it's well finished. If that makes any sense!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Tessuti Lois Dress in Navy Rayon Crepe from The Fabric Store

Aside from the relaxed kimono sleeves which are finished with wide bands I have a couple of favourite features of this design.  Firstly the cut of the bodice. The waistband angles up in a v shape to meet the point of the neckline in a style reminiscent of a 1930s tea dress. It's really flattering and skims the body in a lovely way. You topstitch along the waistline and around the neckline right on the edge; worth taking your time over as it looks super professional and lovely when complete! Whenever there is topstitching involved I always take that as an excuse to machine stitch my hem too.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Tessuti Lois Dress in Navy Rayon Crepe from The Fabric Store

The other really clever part of the design is that the side seams of the skirt are actually set around towards the back and the shaping over the hip at the sides is created with darts. This means that the side seam zip runs down into the dart which I've never seen before! It was the first time I've put an invisible zip into a side seam in this fashion, starting a few inches down from the closed underarm rather than running right up to the top. I was a little daunted but by following the instructions I got in to go in nice and smoothly but unfortunately couldn't get the waistline seam to match up AT ALL. I'm not quite sure what happened as it matches up perfectly on the side without the zip. Perhaps the rayon got stretched out of shape.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Tessuti Lois Dress in Navy Rayon Crepe from The Fabric Store

Also worth a mention is the finishing of the neckline which is dainty, neat and really well thought out. A slightly different technique again to any I have used before but it has resulted in a perfectly crisp and tidy centre front point. Aided of course by the fact that this rayon presses and holds a crisp edge so well! The fact that there is a waist seam is what really helps keep this style flattering. You can see in the picture below that I still have a waistline before the flare of the skirt. Thanks to the winds of storm Brian for illustrating this so beautifully!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Tessuti Lois Dress in Navy Rayon Crepe from The Fabric Store

I absolutely love making and wearing dresses in rayon. This style suits something lightweight with lovely movement. Despite the fact that I'm now craving one of these dresses in a rich autumnal print (check out Sallie's for a bit of inspiration) I'm really pleased with my fabric choice. The only thing I would say about it, as is often the case with rayon and viscose crepes, is that it is a little bit see through in direct light. Over thick tights it'll be fine but in the summer I think I'd have to wear a slip which is a shame as rayon is so smooth and cool against the skin. Perhaps I should add making a couple of rayon or even silk slips to my sewing queue!