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Bellville Sassoon Dress For Ascot

Well, I’ve had a wonderful two days virtually locked away in my studio, only surfacing for the occasional fuel break – No.1 Son has even been making sure my G&T levels didn’t drop below a critical level!

What have I been so immersed in?

This year’s dress for Ascot – Vogue 1108 by Bellville Sassoon.

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It has been BRILLIANT getting my teeth into a proper Couture make again.

Don’t get me wrong though, I love quick and easy dressmaking projects but, once in a while it’s just fantastic to challenge myself with something a bit more meaty, so to speak.

Vogue classify this as an ‘Average’ make in terms of difficulty, and I agree – I have made much more complicated dresses than this.

I love the labels that come with each designer pattern for you to sew into the garment:)

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This bundle of fabric arrived from Minerva Crafts – several different types of fabric in a glorious shade of Fuschia: –

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There was Bengaline for the main body of the dress, organza for interfacing, lining and habotai for the foundation layer and, yes, that is boning you see sat on top of the lot!

Let me tell you now that there are over SIXTY pieces of fabric holding this dress together and only FIVE are visible from the outside!

That is a hell of a lot of construction hidden inside and I used up two entire 100m reels of thread in the process!

I love a good puzzle and this pattern had a few to solve, such as all those pleats on the left front:

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I won’t take you through much of the process because that would take up more space that any blog post should do – I’ll just whizz through the main bits.

First, you make the pleats and darts in the front and back sections.

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Next, you make the foundation which is the middle bit of the dress sandwiched between the outer dress and the lining.

It consists of a lining layer, fully interfaced, which has the boning sewn to it.

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The instructions called for boning in its own casing but, as I couldn’t get any, I made my own using normal boning and some offcuts of habotai.

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Voilà!

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This is the inside showing the boning in place….

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….and this is what it looks like from the right side.

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Very nice.

It’s almost a shame that all this beautiful work will be completely hidden from view:)

The foundation sections are then sewn to the body of the dress….

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….and the front is stitched to the back at the side seams, leaving an opening for the zip.

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Now, I have never used a dedicated foot to insert invisible zips, I learned to sew them using a normal zipper foot and don’t find it an issue.

I don’t know if you can see, but I open the zip up and sew really close to the teeth in the same way a specialized foot would do.

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There, pretty invisible, wouldn’t you agree?

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The zip needed shortening which is just a case of sewing a new stopper from thread and cutting off the excess below.

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Now, onto the lining.

Of course, all the way through we’re sewing princess seams – isn’t it a little bit of magic when you fit the fabric around the curve? Like fitting a square peg into a round hole, it doesn’t seem possible at first.

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A few clips to the stay-stitching and job done!

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Lining completed.

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The lining is slipped over the dress and foundation and sewn right sides together around the neckline and armhole edges.

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The bow, which is stiffened with organza, was made and secured in place amongst the pleats.

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The hem was faced with organza and turned up with herringbone stitch.

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The lining was slip stitched to the hem, leaving a folded pleat as ease.

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Looking at the inside when finished, you’d have no idea of what it’s hiding underneath!

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The quality of the fabrics is amazing – the bengaline handles beautifully and has a discreet watermark to it.

The polyester habotai was chosen as an alternative to china silk for the foundation and looks and feels superb – such a shame it’s hidden!

This dress does not photograph well on the hanger – all those pleats only sit properly on a real body.

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Oops – better press the hemline before Ascot!

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So, what will I accessorize with?

I made two jackets for Ascot last year  – this is the other one (see last year’s post).

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The boning means I shouldn’t have to wear a bra but, looking at this photo I definitely do. My bust is too heavy and is dragging the front down causing it to gape – a strapless bra will do the trick.

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So this is me, all ready for Ladies Day on Thursday and there’s just one more thing left to do…..

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…. get my French manicure redone – it’s all stained from handling all that pink fabric!!

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Vogue Designer Linen Sun Dress

Forgive me, Bloggers, for I have sinned – it’s been a week since my last blog post….but with good reason.

My ‘phone died.

Kaput.

It is an ex-phone.

I had faithfully recorded images of my week for #sundaysevens (including some lovely Spanish sunsets) but could not share them with you…yet. It is in the gadget hospital as we speak so, hopefully, the techy bloke will work his magic and retrieve some of the lost photos for a later post.

As you know, we recently hopped over to Andalucia in Spain for a couple of weeks to stay with my Auntie and her partner.

This is Auntie, looking very glamorous and stylish. Not your average ex-pat, I think you’ll agree.

Boy, do I hope I’ve inherited her genes – hardly a grey hair in sight and she’s seventy-six this year!

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Auntie wears a lot of linen.

With temperatures well into the high thirties in the height of Summer, it’s the coolest and most comfortable fabric to wear, after all, you can’t walk around naked all the time, can you?

Having long admired this style of clothing, I persuaded Auntie to take me to the Tuesday market in Albox (photo amongst the many lost in the depths of my iPhone) to buy something similar in an effort to keep cool in the blistering heat.

Apparently, it was a balmy 26°C and pleasantly cool for the locals.

I was sweating my t**ts off.

You’re talking to someone who gets the shorts and flip-flops out as soon as the thermometer reaches double figures for seven days in a row:)

The Boys stayed at home frolicking in the pool for the morning whilst we spent a blissful few hours wandering around the market, stopping occasionally for Tapas and the odd chilled beer.

I came back with a dress, one top, two tunics and two pairs of trousers, all Italian and made in 100% linen for €108, which is about £78!

The remainder of our holiday was enjoyed in cool, linen comfort and I vowed to make more things in this magical fabric on our return to England.

The wonders of online shopping resulted in this little lot being delivered within a few days of arriving home.

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I chose this fabric from Calico Laine, a blend of 55% linen and 45% cotton, in three shades, ‘Leaf’, ‘Fuchsia’ and ‘Pool Blue’.

As I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to actually make yet, I bought three metres of each which would be plenty for any single garment.

At £8.99 per metre, it is much cheaper than pure linen with the added bonus that it shouldn’t crease quite as much.

Look at that lovely loose weave – fabulous texture!

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After having a mooch around online, I settled on this pattern by Lynn Mizono for Vogue.

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I love Vogue patterns, especially the ‘Designer’ range, as you’re always guaranteed to find something a bit different to the norm, which I like.

Whilst linen wasn’t on the list of suggested fabrics, silk dupioni was and, as they are similar in weight and characteristics, I knew it would be perfect for this design.

Described as a “very loose fitting pullover dress……with three adjustable lengths”, it seemed ideal for the look I was after – something cool and comfortable to move around easily in, yet still stylish enough to make it look as if I’ve made an effort when clearly I haven’t.

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Then I realised I’d made a silly mistake – I’d ordered a size 14 forgetting that the US equivalent is a size 18!

I added a couple of inches to the bustline and lowered the shoulder seams by half an inch – problem solved.

Construction was simple – just two pattern pieces; a front and a back.

French seams were used throughout, making the seams nice and tidy with absolutely NO chance of fraying – a real problem with linen.

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Narrow hems finished off the neck and armhole edges beautifully.

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This finish can be tricky in other fabrics but, with linen, it’s very easy as the loose weave makes for a flexible fabric.

I didn’t even bother pressing under the seam allowance first, just folded and pushed under the raw edge with my fingernail as I went.

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The instructions called for two buttonholes in the front pleats for the cord to pass through, but I replaced these with eyelets as I thought they would look neater and place less stress on the linen.

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I only had a lime green cord stop left over from the pack purchased when making this crocheted back pack.

Hmmm…..I’m not sure whether to change if for a brown one.

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There were a couple of things I wasn’t happy with – the armholes gaped a little so I added a dart each side for a better fit.

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The back pleats are left ‘hanging’ according to the instructions.

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I’m wondering if they would look better stitched flat against the body.

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Overall, though, the finished dress is just as I pictured it.

An interesting shape, casual but quite stylish.

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I bought these gorgeous clogs in another Spanish market a few years ago.

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The perfect shade of turquoise that matches exactly!

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Of course, I forgot to put them on for the obligatory selfie….

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It’s pretty versatile, too – I reckon it could be dressed up for the evening with those clogs, a statement necklace and an up-do, or teamed with flip-flops, floppy hat and shades for a day at the beach (perish the thought – I hate sand!).

Right, now to catch up on all your blog posts that I’ve missed since the ‘phone died.

Better settle down and get comfy with a G&T – could be here a while….:)