When I did the ironing today, there were so many handmade items in my laundry basket!

So, on each of the past eight Saturdays or so, I told myself: “today I am going to sew a new dress”. I could have known that with work and a Master’s program that was quite an ambitious thing to say… I started a graduate program in English and Education, which is sort of semi-fulltime, with two days of classes and an internship on the third day. I also still work at my current school two days a week. The Dutch educational system is quite complex, with different levels of secondary education and my current teaching degree allows me to teach the lower grades only. When a local college advertised they were going to offer the Master’s program, I jumped at the chance and signed up. So currently, I’m in a class of seven female students learning all about everything from Beowulf to Shakespeare, formative assessment, extensive reading, applied linguistics, phonetics and all other things fun! It sounds like a tea party with only girl students and girl teachers, but it really is a lot of work. Means I’m actually learning stuff, I suppose 🙂

However, this means I have been really busy. While I’m really glad I get to go to class during the day instead of doing a parttime evening course, it has been a lot of work and I hardly ever find myself doing anything that doesn’t involve either work, college or housekeeping. A few weeks ago I also received an unexpected, handmade, gift from my parents. When I saw it and realised how much work they put in it, I felt really guilty that I hadn’t touched my sewing machine in weeks. It’s awesome!

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But, last week I knew half-term/ autumn break was coming up, so I allowed myself some time to get started on a dress and I finished it this morning. Hurray! For this project, I actually knew what I wanted to make beforehand. I’d seen some simple A-line dresses in shops, made from textured or pre-quilted fabrics, usually with an exposed zipper. I really liked the look of them, but the ones I tried on didn’t fit me very well. So when I saw some charcoal coloured pre-quilted fabric at the market I thought I would make myself a dress just like it. I asked my mum if she had an A-line dress pattern. There was one in the latest Ottobre magazine, which I planned to use, but when I received the latest edition of Knipmode magazine I thought the pattern in there would fit me a little better.

Knipmode magazine has recently had a makeover and they now offer all of their patterns in sizes 34-54. (Marianne of Foxgloves and Thimbles recently wrote a review of the restyled magazine over at the Curvy Sewing Collective, if you would like to know more).

WP_20151024_21_35_00_RawSo, to cut to the chase, I chose dress number 12 from Knipmode november 2015. It’s actually a colourblocked dress, which I really like, but it is photographed very poorly I think. I really like the idea of this dress, so I might make it in its full glory if I ever have four colourways of the same fabric, but for now I just used the basic outline. I installed an exposed zipper instead of the lapped zipper and omitted the back kick pleat.

Obviously, I don’t look anything like that in my dress! (Knipmode has received quite some criticism lately, because even though they offer a wider range of sizes, they don’t have any plus-size models in their magazines.)

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I thought this was a great location for the photos, but we had to get back in the car really soon because we were being followed by a horse and cart… We didn’t find another good location so the rest of the photos were taken in the backyard, with a dog photobombing all of them.

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Of course, I couldn’t find a single front picture that was flattering, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that my belly always shows, no matter what I wear, and unless I put my life on hold and go to the gym every day and l never eat anything anymore, it will always be there, and even then, probably…

Did I mention I think this exposed zipper is absolutely amazing?! I love the colour and am quite proud of how I put it in.

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Fitting-wise, this is the best dress I’ve ever made. It looks a bit wide around my shoulders, but the fabric has quite some body, so sometimes it stands up a bit. It was a dream to sew up though. and the facing stays put so well. I love it! And so does Henkie 🙂

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Season of change: a dress for autumn

Time flies! As I am typing this, it’s officially the end of my summer holidays. I’ve had six weeks off (I’m a secondary school teacher) and they’ve flown by so fast! Things will be a little different this coming school year though, because I’m going back to college to get my Master’s Degree in English and Education. I will work two days a week and go to college and do an internship the other three days. It sounds busy, but it means I won’t have a tutor group this year and that will save me a lot of time.

I’m excited to go back to school. It’s the first year the nearby college offers the Master’s program and there’s a total of six students for English (they offer programs for maths and Dutch, too, with about the same number of students) so that will be special! The low number of students is ridiculous of course, but I guess they have to start somehow, right? So, over the next two years it’ll be all about language acquisition, didactics, drama, grammar and literature for me. Speaking of which, I was browsing Etsy last night and I already know what dress to make for graduation!

wuthering heights dress

It is way too expensive, but I love the idea and there must be some way I can print my favourite parts from The Catcher in the Rye on cotton, surely? I can sew the dress myself, maybe even using the pattern I used for the dress I want to show you: Simplicity 1873. When Mary of Idle Fancy started showcasing her lovely versions, I thought it would be a good pattern for me too. It took me a long time to make one though!

I’m conflicted about the result. I’ve had bodice fitting issues with everything I made so far, so I knew I had to make a muslin. I used some linen that I disliked, but it stretched and pulled and was just not suitable, so I dragged my husband to ikea and snapped up about ten meters of ikea Bomull unbleached cotton. I made a size 22 bodice, cutting the back on the fold but with extra width for the zipper. From measuring I knew I needed some extra width for my waist. It wasn’t much, so I figured I could easily just use the size 22 skirt and adjust the pleating a little, so I didn’t make a muslin for that.

Simplicity 1873

I was quite happy with the muslin bodice, but it was hard to tell without the weight of the skirt. I shortened the vertical bust darts a bit and there was quite a bit of neckline gaping so I tried to adjust that too. I thought the muslin fitted quite well in the end, but translated into the real deal I’m not that happy.

Simplicity 1873

There is neckline gaping at the back and front and I think I should lengthen the bodice a bit because it is just above my waist. I didn’t do an FBA because I needed that extra width for my waist and I started with that, but reckon I should have. I guess the dress fits okay, but I can put it on without having to open the zipper, so it must be too wide. Any ideas on what to do about it?

Simplicity 1873

However, I do really love the fabric and the silhouette of this dress. I think it’s a great dress for autumn and it even allows me to wear this cardigan I bought two years ago, but have never worn! I bought it to wear with a specific top but it didn’t look good, so it’s been in my drawer ever since. I thought it would look good with my dress and when I read the  post about 70s inspired Fall Colours (shouldn’t that be ‘Autumn colours’ or ‘Fall colors’?) on Sewaholic I realised I might even be fashionable! Although my dress might be some twenty years off…

Simplicity 1873

So, apart from the fitting issues, I do like this dress and will wear it, especially with the cardigan I think. That said, I really wanted to take these pictures today, but it was over 30 degrees and I just couldn’t be bothered with shoes!

Construction was nice, part of it was done at my sister’s. She worked on her own sewing project and I laid out three meters of skirt on her living room floor, this skirt is huge! It was my first time lining something, so I took some pictures of the inside too for you to see. I got lazy and stitched-in-the-ditch the bodice lining at the waist though, so that isn’t as neat as it could be, but other than that I’m satisfied. I blind-stitched the skirt hem on my sewing machine and it worked out really well.

Simplicity 1873

Simplicity 1873

Oh yes, that Moneta I mentioned two posts back? Still needs hemming and needs bust darts desperately, it’s a disaster. Wrong fabric maybe (cotton and lycra, but not very flowy), I will try again with some proper knit fabric.