March was so productive I’m struggling to keep up photographing and blogging all the garments I’ve made. So here I am in April already posting about the first project I completed in March, the drapey dress from the now famous Fashion with Fabric GBSB book, by the wonderful CL Hardie. When I first saw the book being reviewed all over the blogsphere, this was the one pattern I got the most excited about. See here CL’s own version and a fab stripy one from Karen at Did You Make That? This dress is so unusual and versatile, plus a very interesting and challenging build, I couldn’t wait for my copy of the book to arrive! (Disclaimer: I used my complementary copy from Quadrille Publishing, as a Sewing Bee contestant on Series 3).
I was impatient to make it anyway, but the added incentive was the Sewing Bees 3 meet-up at the Knit and Stitch Show at the Olympia, on the 7th March. When the Bees get together, I have this compulsion of always making something new to wear (and show off a bit), and I was going to see CL as well, so wanted to tell her how much I loved the book through a finished project :).
So as soon as the book arrived, I started tracing the dress. I always feel that it takes longer to trace and place the pattern than to actually make the dress itself. I was so excited to start this project that I didn’t want to wait until i bought the recommended fabric (ponte stretch), so I used some jersey stretch from my stash that had been very inexpensive and I knew I wasn’t going to be sorry if it didn’t turn out ok. Plus the busy pattern would not actually require any pattern matching (*shudders*), so I could plough right ahead.
No issues tracing the pattern, and thank goodness for included seam allowances! I traced a size S and graded to M in the hips area, to accommodate my pear shaped silhouette. In hindsight, it was a bit tricky to figure out what to grade (i.e. which sides needed increasing), and I think I must have made some mistakes somewhere, as not everything ended up matching in the end and I had to shoe-horn bits here and there.
The fun and games began however when I had to place the pattern on the fabric, as I had slightly less fabric than required. It had been a ‘by weight’ purchase in a Manchester shopping trip with the Bees in September, so I wasn’t sure how much yardage I got.
I managed to squeeze the pieces onto the fabric in the end, though I had to cheat a bit on the grainline of one piece, which I think came back to bite me. But hey ho, live and learn!
On the construction side, I started by overlocking all the seams, just to make sure they are nice and neat. The instructions are quite clear, but make sure you follow the diagrams, and don’t ignore with which front pieces to start first. I can tell you a lot of head scratching will ensue if you mix them up. Also, make sure you tailor-tack (or mark) the fold-line and centre-front, it will help loads when constructing the dress.
The one issue I had which I don’t think it was my fault, was matching the pockets with the pocket sacks. For some reason, it felt that the seam allowances were skipped on the pocket sacks, and next time I will make sure to add them on. I saw someone on Twitter mention this as well, I’ll ask CL next time I see her if this is how it was actually meant to be.
EDIT: It turns out it is my fault! As usual, I don’t read the instructions properly!! When stitching the pocket to the main front piece, the seam allowance is not 5/8s!! It’s 1/4, which makes up for the difference with the pocket sack.
As to finishing, I turned the hems inside once and topstitched using a double needle. It was the first time I have actually attempted this and it went very smoothly, except for breaking one needle, still can’t figure out how I managed that.
So overall, it’s a cute, comfy dress and I got many compliments when I wore it at the Knit and Stitch Show at the Olympia. BUT there are a few issues with it that stop me from loving it forever. The front pleat is not working, not sure why. I tried reducing the bulk, ironing, reducing the seam allowance, but still close, but no cigar. So I wear a nice purple scarf over it, cheating, I know, but at least it didn’t go to the charity pile straight away.
Also, I think I might have to take 2-3 cm out of the centre-back, feels a bit loose around the back neckline and it pulls the shoulder seams towards the back. I’m really itching to make another one, but I really have to stick to the spring sewing plans, I really really need new trousers. And a pair of Gingers!!
So that’s my first experience with the new GBSB book and I can only say I throughly recommend it. So many great patterns really well explained, with clear diagrams and great hacks included. I am looking forward to making the capri trousers, in my Trouser April spirit.