A very belated Christmas dress: Dolores Batwing Pattern

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a relaxing break. I had a few weeks off in which I meant to post this, but then my parents’ internet decided that I needed some non-internet time, and that went by the wayside. So, with any more delay, here’s my favourite not-so-new dress: The Dolores Batwing Dress!

IMG_7331

When Zoe released this, I was a lucky non-tester, i.e. one of the people who got this pattern to spread the word about it truthfully. So, truthfully, I will now tell you that this is my new favourite dress. I definitely always need one of these in my wardrobe, since it fills a gap I didn’t know I had, and has a different shape to my usual Ladyskater dresses and big skirts, which makes it interesting.

IMG_7317

I hate taping things together, so I timed that aspect. It took a grand total of ten minutes. So, if you have ten minutes, you can start this. I trialled this in different configurations – T-shirt first, then a jumper (trials with a few errors), and last a dress, but the dress is my absolute favourite, so I’ll talk about that here. After my first two items from this pattern, I settled on a mixed size with the arms in a size 12, the neckline in a size 10 and the waist a size 8, and I added an extra 5cms to the sleeves as they were a bit short.

IMG_7330

At first I thought I wouldn’t ever make the dress – it being a different style to what I wear and all that, but after the jumper, I could totally see the potential, so I made it up from a fabric in my stash (yay, stashbusting!). I needed all of 115 cms (but had to cut the lower arm in two pieces instead of on fold) and maybe, um, two hours maximum? That probably is a conservative estimate. It’s seriously quick.

As you can probably tell, I absolutely love it. The fabric is quite a chunky cotton-knit, so it’s pretty stable, but still drapes well. I could have probably tapered the skirt slightly further, but I’m not too bothered. The dress is an absolute staple now – it’s supercomfy, took a felt three seconds to make, and is really easy to dress up for the office with a nice necklace and shoes. For the weekend, though, I can wear it with comfy boots and be snuggly all day. It doesn’t get more comfy than this dress, a chunky cardigan and some nice warm socks. I’m so sold on this that I’ve already cut out another one. (Same fabric, different colour, and I cut it easily from 1.25ms – I thought I’d splash out on the extra 10cms to avoid cutting the sleeve bottom in two pieces).

IMG_7325

Overall, for the dress, I would say – great success! You might want to watch out with sleeve length and the tightness of the sleeve band, but apart from that, this is a great pattern to make. Also, if you find any fit issues, or want to make the jumper and the dress, it’s really quick to re-tape and print thanks to the good layout. The only change I made apart from lengthening the sleeves is that I topstitched the neck bands down to keep them lying nicely flat (the fabric didn’t take to the iron kindly).

Stylewise, it’s a bit of a departure from my usual style, but I really love it. I feel really put together in this at work, I’ve also trialled it travelling and lounging around and it’s just a great all-rounder for me. This is definitely sewing cake, but of the best kind. My only gripe with my dress is that I wear it so often it’s already starting to pill. Sniff. At some point, I might also experiment with cutting the front of the dress a bit lower – sometimes I catch myself getting irritated at the front neckline being quite high up, and fiddling with the dress, so maybe in the future I’ll try to fix that. If I do, I’ll let you know how it goes.

So, for 2015, this was my last revelation – a superquick dress I didn’t know I was missing, that’s supercomfy. This was the dress I wore on Christmas day. Which meant I put on a dress which looked like effort, but felt like pyjamas. Hoorah!

IMG_7326

Two and a half Ladyskaters

Before starting to write about the dresses I made, an advance apology for the terrible pictures – it’s winter, it’s forever raining, I don’t seem to be ever in at the same time as Andy for pictures when it’s lighter than night (you can’t call it light), and me and the camera don’t quite get on well enough for good self-timer pictures yet.

Mind you, that’s the only negative thing in this post. Yes, the weather is awful, but I have two and half Ladyskater dresses to wear in the wet and grey weather, and they are the bees knees. I decided on the cap sleeve version – for me, it seems like the most versatile. You can wear it with a cardi/jumper in winter, wear it without one in spring and summer, and I practically never have to wear anything else ever again.

Ladyskater. Despite what it looks like, this is purple. I promise!

What I think of only ever wearing Ladyskater dresses.

I first made a navy blue one as a wearable muslin – and wearable it certainly is. I practically lived in it before the second one joined it.There were some modifications – to start with, a one-inch broad shoulder adjustment after measuring the pattern. I then had to take out some excess from the top of the shoulder as a result, as they came out hilariously square. I put some small darts into the shoulders going into the cap sleeve, and then shaved the extra centimetre off the top of the outside shoulder of both front and back bodice pattern piece, and took 2cms out of the cap sleeve curve to make up for it. I’m sure there’s a scientific method to do this, but it hurt my brain to think about it, and this worked. I then also added an extra centimetre length in the bodice in my second version, and took the sides in by about a centimetre or so at the waist only.

This is actually the second Ladyskater - they're so similar, I couldn't be bothered to change into the first one, since the colour was all messed up anyways, and therefore you wouldn't be able to tell the difference *at all*.

This is actually the second Ladyskater – they’re so similar that I couldn’t be bothered to change into the first one, since the colour was all messed up and therefore you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference *at all*.

Here’s a picture of what the colours actually look like:

Hey, look! It's actually quite close to their real colour. Phenomenal for January!

Hey, look! It’s actually quite close to their real colour. Phenomenal for January!

The dresses are so similar, they’re actually the same fabric, just in a different colour, ha. It’s a really thick, spongey, sturdy knit, well-behaved, and just a little shiny. I then realized that the dresses also look really good with a jumper on top, like a Renfrew or a chunky knit, so then I decided to make a Ladyskater skirt in black. The skirt is the same fabric *again*, just in black. God, I’m so boring.

To make the skirt, I cut out the skirt part of the pattern only (d’uh), traced the very top five centimetres of it for a facing, sewed up skirt and facing, then sewed them together, added some clear elastic for stability, understitched and topstitched over it all, and had a skirt in about an hour. Win!

Photo where I stand around awkwardly so I don't cut my head off with the camera on self-timer.

Photo where I stand around awkwardly so I don’t cut my head off with the camera on self-timer.

I could have probably made it a size smaller – without the bodice holding it up, it sits almost alarmingly low. Since I like to wear long tops, it’s still fine; I’ll just have to watch it and make sure it doesn’t accidentally stretch out too much and then slides off in the middle of a busy street/the office. Stuff for nightmares, eh?

I was also really lazy and didn’t put a zipper or anything – I figured if I couldn’t get it over the hips, I could always take it off/put it on over my head, since that worked for the dress. Laziness, yay!

Side view of the skirt

Side view of the skirt

So, there we go – Ladyskaters to make me happy on rainy and cold days! These are so, so, so quick to make, so a great thing to sew up after finishing Andy’s coat; and they seem to work with a lot in my wardrobe. They’re what I reach for when I have no idea what to wear and can’t be bothered to think about it; and they seem to look good too – some of my friends are a little jealous of these dresses, hehe.

I bought the fabric for the purple dress and the skirt in December, so this counts as stash busting or dieting (yay!). Sadly, I now have no more suitable fabric for another one in my stash. Meh. My plan for a million more skater dresses to avoid not knowing what to wear ever again is therefore currently on hold.

These 2.5 dresses made me realize, and you might have noticed already, that I like making the same pattern over and over again. 2.5 Ladyskaters, 5 Renfrews, 3 Maria Denmark cowl necks, I’m currently working on Alma 2, 3, and 4… How many of one pattern is too many? And what’s the most you’ve ever made of one pattern?

Hollyburn sewalong

Sewalong largeRachel is hosting a Hollyburn skirt sewalong (click on the sewalong picture to get to all of sewalong posts). It’s already started, and I’m just about on time – my pattern arrived on Monday! Having been a student for the last eight and a bit years, I’m only just beginning to work something akin to a normal working week, and since the beginning of this year, sewing during the week has become a bit of a challenge. Hence, I’m really glad for the sewalong – I’m hoping it’ll give me enough impetus to get myself to the sewing machine instead of onto the sofa!

I ummed and aahed for a long time about what kind of fabric to make the skirt from. I need it to be wearable for work (smart-casual). My wardrobe offered some inspiration: mainly in that the choice of pattern is good for me, because I wear those kinds of skirts a lot. Less inspirational for colour though: most of my worky skirts are either black or a shade of dark grey (put in a shades of grey joke here, if you wish). I wanted something a bit more fun to wear, plus when I went fabric shopping I stumbled across a Liberty wool I couldn’t get out of my head for days: It was soft and lovely and colourful, and draped really nicely. So I went back and bought it.

Liberty woll happinessThe guy in the shop (Classic Textiles, I think, on Goldhawk Road) said it was about 80% cotton and 20% wool, which probably explains why it washed so well. It’s £12/m, which is actually the most I’ve ever spent on fabrics I think. I toyed with the idea of making a Cambie out of it first, but I was too impatient – I wanted something made out of it now. It’ll be lined with navy  standard lining fabric (the acetate stuff). I’m not entirely sure yet what I should/could wear with it on my top half – maybe a soft grey colour? What do you think?

Either way, I’ll be making view B: kneelength, with cute button tabs, but will be omitting the pockets and have cut the front piece on the fold, to not have a seam in the front of the skirt. The pattern looked too nice to me to break up.

I was almost a bit late on the sewalong, but since Rachel and the others are sewing the pockets now, and I decided to skip them, I’m all good! Cutting it out was super easy.  There were only six pattern pieces for me to cut:  front, 2 backs, waistband and 2 button tabs. I love the fact that Tasia has printed the pattern in a way that each skirt length has it’s own pattern piece, so you don’t destroy the longer length if you decide to make the shorter length (makes sense, what with different flare of the different lengths, but still, I love it).

I’m almost impatient enough to race ahead with the sewing anyways, but I think I’ll have enough patience to wait for the sewalong: mainly to not kill myself during the week, and learn to sew in small increments rather than killer sessions, and see how the more relaxed sewing will fit in with everything. But also, because Rachel’s posts are superdetailed and I’m sure I’ll learn a ton to make my skirt look even better. This way, by February, I’ll have a supernice nice skirt to share (I hope)! Anybody else making a Hollyburn too? What colour tops would you recommend with this?