Monday 8 August 2016

Cat Dress and Rainbow Bag

I have three wedding parties this summer and I really wanted a different outfit and style for each one. People put so much effort into weddings that I wanted to reflect that and work with their themes and style. This blog is about a fun dress I made for wedding I went to. When I spoke to the bride about the plans it became clear she wanted lots of colour (but no pink) and she was aiming for a fun gathering without too much formality.

I came across the most amazing Floral Green Cat Jersey fabric by Swafing, I loved the fact that it is floral without being old fashioned or fussy. I do not normally wear green at all which made it feel different and the hidden doodle cats just made me smile. I love fabric (and jewellery) that look like one thing from a distance and another close up. I bought all of the fabric I could get, it was extra wide which gave me a lot but I realised I did not have enough to make a Kate Jersey Dress from Simpy Sew Magzine. I thought about making the  Kate top that came with the dress pattern and putting it with a skirt but I could not visualise it at all - I wanted the top but with a pair of jeans and that was not going to be good enough a wedding party.

I went through my patterns and came across the Rosie Dress by Cotton and Chalk which came with Simply Sewing Issue 17. The style of the dress and the feature waistband at the front made me think that I could mix two fabrics together. I really liked the idea of mixing a 1940s inspired pattern with a modern fabric. Also I felt a little warm and fuzzy as the bride had introduced me to the Rosie Project by Graeme Simison which is a fantastic book - although probably not an omen. For the second fabric I didn't want a plain green as I felt that might be over the top and "red and green should never be seen" - though in all honesty I can not find the origin of that saying. Pink was a no go for this wedding, I look awful in yellow and both black and white seemed too stark. The detail in the stems and some leaves is in a nice petrol blue which I thought would be a really good complimentary colour. My main concern was finding a colour that matched while shopping online - I also wanted the same weight of fabric so the bodice was not pulled out of shape by the skirt. I managed to find blue fabric the right weight on Elephant in my Handbag - this seemed like a good place to try as they had also stocked the cat fabric. I was delighted when it came through and was a perfect match. I wanted to do the band and the back of the bodice in the blue and the rest in the cat meadow fabric. I could have done the whole bodice blue but I wanted to showcase as much cat fabric as I could.

With my fabric sorted I cut out my pattern and made up a muslin/toile. I knew it would not be perfect as I was making it up in spare cotton and not jersey. I got it to fit and it was feeling good - albeit long and with a very off neckline - I put the neckline down to the fact that I had not put in the interfacing for the neck or sleeves. Happy with my fit and style I took a deep breath and cut the magical jersey. As I followed the instructions again but put the top together I realised that the reason my neckline was all over the place on the muslin was because it was sewn the wrong way with armholes creating the neckline! On the plus side I had made the massive mistake on the practice dress and not the lovely lovely fabric.

Rosie Dress made using Cotton and Chalk Pattern

The two main challenges were dealing with sewing jersey and getting a good gather. I have sewn jersey before in a milkmaid skirt, round skirt and 2 hour top and I find that using a ball point needle helps a lot. I also learned a new technique in Issue 17 of Simply Sewing which was to sew a zig zag over dental floss and then pulling one end of the floss to get a good gather. The dress came together well but was still too big as the jersey had more give than the cotton, and I had been very cautious when cutting it out. I have a bad habit of thinking it is better to cut things too big and take in than accidently cut it too small. Although this is true it means that there was little point in making the muslin and can cause issues matching the seams. I had to cut quite a bit out of the seams. The jersey had the advantage of having enough stretch that I didn't need to fit a zip.

The interfacing was a challenge to get into the neck and keep it from stretching. I managed to get the armholes finished but there was too much fabric at the back - I am not sure if this was stretched during the facing or just too big from the start, but they were at least evenly 'out', so I added in a small dart on each side. I hemmed the skirt using bias binding and it was all done.

It is a very comfy dress and it looks jut how I imagined it. It also moved well and was god to dance in. I love the fabric even more and the whole thing makes me smile.

Rainboe Clutch - origional design by Magdalena Gabrielova
Along with each dress I wanted a handbag. I had come across an amazing purse pattern in issue 64 of Mollie Makes and I realised it would not take a lot to scale it up to a clutch bag size. It was a really straightforward pattern to put together with a well written tutorial and a really quirky feel. I made a few changes (other than the size) to personalise it. Instead of rainbow stitched raindrops I used small (6mm) buttons. In the original design the lining was made using multi-coloured stripe fabric but I decided to make my own striped patchwork using fabric left over from previous projects. This made it extra special as each fabric is associated with the person I made the project for. This included the first fabric I ever bought a metre of. Getting the top flap with the umbrella edge to sit right took a bit of poking and pressing but I am really pleased with it and I can see it coming on holiday with me.

Rainbow Lining and Chain Stitch Handle.