Tank Dress, 2nd draft

I have made the next version of my tank dress.

I made all the changes I outlined after my last version.  I went for a less full skirt, and made it shorter as well, as that seemed to suit the width best.  The two skirt patterns are interchangeable, so I can pick which one I want in future.  The more scooped neckline turned out as I envisioned, though it does slip around a lot more.  The amount of blousing seems about right.  I changed the dart to a side dart...the sides still droop but I think that this is a function of the extra ease from being a pull-on style and the drapiness of the fabric.  The fabric is a rayon print from Spotlight.

The mind plays funny games.  When I make up something that I have drafted, I ALWAYS can see changes that I should make for next time.  Well, this time I was happy with the pattern, so my mind started saying...well, it is just a tank dress, pretty boring really, nothing to get too excited about...I really have to work to keep the negative thoughts away.  I like this dress.  It is comfy and cool and perfect as a casual summer dress.


Back V neckline

I made this dress a while back for my Craftsy course, but I only wore it for the first time this week, now that we are definitely getting into the warmer weather.  The fabric is a cotton that is lovely and soft to wear.  I bought it as a remnant, less than 1 m in length but 2.4 m wide, which makes me wonder if it originally was intended for sheeting?  It is soft enough.  It appears similar tp a batik wax print, though I have no idea if it is or not.  The printed squares are not printed perfectly in rows (it is not my cutting and sewing that is off grain!!), which makes it look a bit skewiff.  I did split the side French dart into 2, as I thought that 1 large dart messed with the print too much.


Tutorial - QAYG, joining the blocks without sashing

For my regular blog readers, this tutorial is going to come a little from left field.  This year, I have found myself in the position of teaching quilting classes.  Now, I have made one or two quilts in my time, but I never even found out how proper quilters go about this whilst I was making them... so I have had to learn on the run.

In my classes, we have been exploring quilt-as-you go techniques.  I wanted to find a better way of joining the blocks together.  I have read quite a few online tutorials, but they mostly seemed a little clumsy.  So I came up with my own way (this is not to say that nobody else has done it this way...but I have not seen it done quite like this).

Start with your two blocks to be joined.  They should already be quilted to the wadding and backing.  The backing should extend beyond your block about 1 inch (at least on one of the blocks).  The quilting should stop before the edge, probably no closer than about an inch from the edge of the block.  You can see that I have not washed out the marker I used to draw my quilting lines.

Square and trim one of the blocks.  On the first block, you want to trim the block, wadding and backing all to the same size.

Here it is, all trimmed up. You can put this aside for the time being.

On the other block, you need to fold the backing out of the way...which is why you can't quilt all the way to the edge of the block.

Then square and trim the side of the block and the wadding.

On that same block, we want to trim the wadding back further.  We want the wadding to be trimmed 1/2 inch smaller than the block. (From this point on, you need to excuse my dirty fingernails...I got home from camping at lunch time and haven't cleaned them yet).

This is a little tricky, and we don't want anyone to cut themselves with the rotary cutter.  I used pattern weights to hold the top layer back whilst I cut the wadding.

Now unfold the backing so that it can be trimmed.  An experienced and precise quilter could probably trim the backing to 1/2 inch bigger than the block.  My students are generally beginners and are still developing their sewing accuracy, and I like to allow a little for turn of cloth, so I trimmed to 5/8 inch larger than my block.

So, here you can see the trimmed block.  The wadding is 1/2 in smaller than the block and the backing extends 5/8 inch beyond the block.

Now, for the ever-so-slightly tricky bit.  Line up the edge of the backing with the edge of the wadding and stitch together with a 1/4 inch seam.  I don't often use pins, but my students love to use them.  If you like pins, you can pin to your heart's content before stitching.  Some of the students are able to use their walking foot for this step.  Others have a walking foot that is difficult to use for 1/4 inch seams, and so switch over to their 1/4 inch foot for this.  It really depends on your machine and foot.  If you can't use your walking foot, go slowly and use use good holding techniques to overcome the effects of the feed dogs.

Once you have stitched the backing to the wadding, press the backing so that it forms a fold that sticks out past the wadding.  Take your time to smooth the backing all the way from the stitching line.  This is easier than trying to turn under an accurate seam allowance later.

Now get your first block (the one we trimmed first and put aside).  Put it right sides together with the second block.  My blocks are random blocks, so I do not need to match any seams...but if you do, take care to match any seams on the two blocks at this point.  The two blocks are then stitched together with a 1/4 inch seam.  We are stitching through all 3 layers of the first block (top, wadding and backing) and the top layer of the second block...so through 4 layers altogether.  Again, your choice as to whether you use a walking foot or 1/4 inch foot.  You will need to hold the folded backing edge of the second block out of the way whilst you do this.

 All stitched together.

Open out the blocks. Everything should sit nicely, with no lumpy overlap of wadding.

Now you can press the folded backing of the second block over the join.  There are several ways you can finish up from here.  The neatest is probably hand stitching the fold down, the same way you would hand stitch the quilt binding.  Another option is to machine quilt a straight line.  If you do this from the back, the line is not likely to end up in the ditch on the front...but some of my students like to do this anyway.  You could stitch in the ditch from the front, and because we allowed that extra 1/8 inch when trimming the second backing, it should, in theory, catch the fold at the back.

 Me, I like to finish quickly and get back to my dressmaking, so I used a decorative patchwork stitch from the front, which covers a few sins.

Here is the back view.  If you secure the backs before sewing the next block, you wont be able to stitch all the way to the end because you will need to be able to fold the backing back when trimming ready to attach the next block...no matter if you have...a few moments with a quick unpick will sort that out.

Happy quilting, xx


Denim Pencil Skirt

Clearly, I need a new iron.  My old one doesn't steam any more and the smaller one I bought as a replacement is not nearly as heavy as the old one and doesn't seem to have made much impact on this denim skirt.  I wore it anyway.

I thought that this skirt would be a real wardrobe winner when I made it a few months ago, but in truth, I have hardly worn it.  The colour should work in well with my other makes, but I don't seem to have quite the right tops. The skirt has a pencil silhouette, but the top of my skirt is below the waist and slightly loose, which is less than ideal for tuck-ins...not that I like tucking a shirt in anyway.  Longer tops would obscure the pocket detail and seem a little frumpy.  I think perhaps a tee with a hemband would work well.

Also, the denim has no stretch and the pattern has no slit, so the skirt is a little restrictive to walk in.

I found this traced off pattern in my stash when I was looking for something else.  I am certain it is from a Burdastyle magazine, but I was obviously in a hurry when tracing as I have not written the style number or even the size I traced.  I have a vague memory of tracing it off when I should have been packing to move house one time.

I love the pockets with their little pleats.  These were the feature that made me trace off the pattern in the first place.

I also did a really neat job of the fly, but I forgot to photograph that.

The denim was a designer (can't remember which one) denim (100 % cotton, no stretch) from EmmaOneSock that I bought for denim shorts for my daughter and then kept for myself.  Besides, denim shorts for her seem like too much work...whilst my wardrobe is mostly me-made, my children mostly wear RTW.  I always thought that I would sew more for them than I do.


Tank Dress, 1st draft

I interrupted my Craftsy / Suzy Furrer drafting schedule to draft an easy pull-on tank dress for summer.  When I went to Lincraft to pick up some more calico for muslins, I saw this pretty rayon at half price and decided to skip the muslin for this draft and use it instead.  I was confident enough of getting something wearable on the first draft.

When I was drafting this dress, I was heavily influenced by the tank dresses in the Built by Wendy Spring '10 collection.  They have narrow straps and very low scooped out neckline.  I don't think I scooped mine quite enough.  Now that I look back, hers is almost squarish.  I ended up binding so that my raw edge was the garment edge, because I thought my neckline was as low as I wished to go during a mid-sew try-on.

I did not add any length to the bodice for blousing (the built by wendy versions are quite sleek, even though the waist is gathered), but I did find when wearing it that my waist seam would creep up above the belt during the day.  I will add a little blousing / wearing length here next time.

Initially, I was going to draft a straight skirt.  The built by wendy model is a wee, young thing and I am not such a wee, young thing anymore and decided at the last moment to go with a fuller, longer A-line skirt.  This makes it more every day wearable rather than worry about flashing my knickers as I go about all the bending and moving about that is required in my normal daily schedule.

Of course, wearable is not the same as perfect.  I would like to make the following changes to my next draft.
- raise neckline and armholes by 6 mm, so that I can turn the binding to the inside
- change French dart to a side dart, as it all seems a bit droopy in the rayon
- take in the side seams under the arm a little, again because of the droopiness of the rayon
- reduce the amount of flare in the A-line skirt portion
- add 15 mm bodice length for blousing
- Scoop the curve on the front neckline a little more?

So, quite a few changes, but I am happy to wear this dress in the meantime.