Friday, 24 January 2014

A quick top and two quick dresses

A couple of things from the end of 2013 to catch up on, all quick makes.

Sweater-knit batwing top

I'd been fiddling around with a skirt that ended up being a time-consuming wadder, so I wanted something quick and palate-cleansing, and a knit top always fits that bill. I also like doing this sort of quick thing between longer projects as I'm trying to replace my RTW basic tops with nicer and better fitting self-made ones. This was super simple: just the sleeves from a Burda dress frankensteined onto my stretch block, with a low-ish round neckline.

This is made from a rayon-poly sweater-knit from The neckline is stabilised with fusible bias tape, and finished with a strip of self fabric turned to the inside and topstitched (the same way a bias facing would be applied). This looks nice, but was a bit fiddly with this fabric as it doesn't press terribly well, so needed basting, which sort of defeats the purpose of a quick top... The sleeves and hem are finished with a three-step zig-zag. You can see me wearing this top in the picture from when I met Melissa.

Doubleknit dresses

These were whipped up before going back to the UK in November, with the intention of being warm and comfy travelling outfits. The bodice is based on the Burda peplum cardie-jacket, and the skirt is just a simple A-line. I left the darts in the back of the skirt, but used my usual method for a dart-free bodice. I think in this heavier and less stretchy fabric it would have been better to add bust darts.

The shoulders in both are reinforced with grosgrain tape and the waistband with clear elastic. I've actually replaced the clear elastic with regular elastic in the grey dress - it's a slightly lighter weight fabric and the clear elastic just made it look ripply and horrid. The neckline is stabilised with fusible bias tape and has a (purchased) bias facing, which is finished by hand to avoid visible stitches on the right side. I decided to finish the sleeves and hem by hand as well, to keep the look nice and clean.

I think the black one works better than the grey one, there's something about the latter that just seems a bit frumpy. I'm trying to put my finger on it so I can change it - I think I will make a matching tie-belt to soften it a bit, and possibly shorten it a bit. I haven't actually worn these as much as I thought I would. One reason is that they could really do with having pockets, and the other is that they don't look very good with the winter coat I have. It's an "egg"-shaped one (as Burda like to describe it), so anything that's not slim at the bottom gets all bunched up. Maybe time to make a winter coat...?

Burda Challenge

Err, yeah. I got stuck on November's issue. There were several things in there that I liked well enough, but nothing I really needed enough to want to spend time on. And then I felt I couldn't do December's until I'd done November's, and then Christmas came along and blah blah blah... So, November still hasn't been done (although I did cut out the ponte trousers: disaster), but I've made December's. A full review coming up, but here's a sneak preview:


  1. I love your dresses & tops … perfect for dressing up or down. Just one quick question (as someone who has only recently started sewing knits) … do you insert the clear elastic stabiliser into the seam as you sew, or before you attach the bodice to the skirt. Lovely sewing!

  2. I find that shortening a dress that feels too heavy is almost like magic. I'm also a big fan of the brightly colored sash to lighten up a look. Hope you can make these staples work for you!

  3. Thanks ladies!

    T - the clear elastic I inserted as I sewed it with the serger (as I figured it didn't matter too much if I cut it a bit), but the regular elastic I zig-zagged to the seam allowance after sewing the seam. One thing to remember is that if the elastic is wider than the seam allowance (or will be included in the seam itself) is to attach it to the side you press it away from - i.e. the skirt side if you're pressing the seam towards the bodice.

    Trena - I went for it and chopped about 10cm off the grey dress (and made the excess into a tie belt) and now love it too!