Friday, 29 December 2017

Jennifer Lauren Handmade Mayberry Dress Review

I have had my eye on the Mayberry Dress from Jennifer Lauren Handmade since it was released, but as I was pregnant at the time I waited until I had had my baby before tackling it!

The instructions were amazing, I was very impressed with how thorough they were and how clear the diagrams were. Even though there are some slightly more advanced techniques in the pattern, the instructions are so clear that I think a beginner could tackle them. These are the best set in sleeves I've ever done!

The instructions clearly explain which PDF pages need printing for each cup size option and sleeve length, meaning that you don’t waste paper printing pattern pieces that aren’t needed.

I particularly love the different cup size options. The pattern comes with 4 different bodice front pieces for each side, which minimises the need to do any bust adjustments and means you are more likely to get a better fit straight out of the pack. This is actually the first time I’ve used an independent pattern company that provides different cup sizes and I’m very impressed with the fit.

The fabric I used wasn't ideal, it was a quilting weight cotton and it's actually a bit stiff for this project. The tie waist feature and gathered sleeve cuff would work better in something a little more fluid. I've got some lovely, fine chambray that I'm going to use for my next one. It’s also a fabric design that I loved when I ordered it, but don’t actually think the colour suits me. I love the dress so much I’ve still been wearing it loads though!

I didn't make any alterations to this pattern. The cup sizes mean the fit was pretty close without making any adjustments. The tie waist also allows some adjustments once you are wearing it. The only thing I will change next time is to lengthen the skirt a couple of inches, it's just a personal preference but I would be more comfortable if it sat at my knees. I'm 5'8 for reference, so lengthening things is a common adjustment for me.

I am planning a lot more of these. It's a great dress for the winter with long sleeves, as I don't have many. I also think the style is perfect for anything smart-casual. I could wear this to work easily as well as at the weekends, it's so easy and comfortable.

The other element of this dress that I wanted to review is its suitability for nursing and post-partum mums. Even when I was pregnant I thought it would be a great post-baby dress. I was right! The drawstring waist means it can be adjusted as your tummy shrinks down and is really flattering. I was desperate to get out of maternity clothes and wear something with a waist, but didn't want to sew anything with a fixed waistband whilst my figure was still changing. The other great thing is the button front, which allows access for breastfeeding. As it's asymmetrical, one side is easier than the other but it still works well. For easier and quicker access you could replace the buttons for snaps.

Overall I love this dress pattern and would recommend it to everyone! I'm looking forward to making a lot more, at least one for each season!

Monday, 30 October 2017

The Refashioners 2017

When Portia announced this year's Refashioners challenge was to transform a suit I was slightly flummoxed. Suits aren't a part of my wardrobe, my dress code at work is pretty casual so I have no occasion to wear a suit.
As I didn't have any laying around I searched for a second hand suit in my local charity shops and then stumbled upon this vintage burgundy velvet skirt suit on eBay. It was part of an old lady's house clearance. The suit is vintage size 14, which is equivalent to a 10 today. This partly determined what I could do with it as I didn't have a lot of fabric to play with.
I had a baby 6 weeks ago, which determined a further two aspects of this refashion:
1 - time
2 - fit
I decided I needed a relaxed garment that would still work once I've lost my baby weight. I'm not very comfortable with my current post baby body so I didn't want to make anything tight or skimpy. I'm also not getting much sleep and have very limited free time so needed this make to be speedy. I ended up completing it over about 3 sewing sessions with my baby attached to me in the sling. Luckily my sewing machine is pretty quiet!
With the deadline less than a week away I got started and due to the time pressure I was quite gutsy and started chopping in to the jacket. I've listed my steps below:
1 - remove lining, shoulder pads, bulk and structure
2 - cut collar off
3 - cut cuffs off
4 - trim hem straight and trim front edges straight
5 - cut bottom hem shape for ribbing, leaving hem longer where it meets the zip at the front
6 - attach ribbing
7 - insert zip
To attach the ribbing I just eye-balled the depth of the cuffs and hem and attached them as you would to any jersey garment. I gathered the sleeves into the cuffs so that they had the typical bomber jacket shape. I cut a straight strip for the collar and then tapered it in at the front edges as I pinned it on.

The original button holes are still visible but this is the only thing on the jacket that hints at its former use and I actually like that.
I'm so pleased with the finished result! This is such a wearable jacket and was really quick to make, much quicker than making a bomber jacket from scratch! It was also a lot cheaper and reused an unwanted velvet suit! I think this is a really versatile garment, perfect for feeling a little more dressed up but still comfy! I've got my eyes peeled for jackets when I go into charity shops now, I'd really love a tweed bomber jacket.

The best thing about this refashion is it has taken a jacket in my usual size, that wasn't the right style, and turned it into something I will wear a lot with just the addition of some ribbing and a zip. It was very simple and quick and didn't require a pattern or any difficult fabric-wrangling. It takes me back to my teenage years, where I had to adapt things to fit or suit my style and it shows that a simple approach can be successful!


Monday, 4 September 2017

Seamwork Reggie Dress - Pattern Review

I never opt to make or buy empire line dresses because I am quite pear shaped so they don't do much for me.


However, when I saw the Reggie Dress from Seamwork Magazine I completely loved it. The pattern description said it was maternity friendly, and as I was well into my 3rd trimester and running out of clothes I thought I'd give it a try!


I got the PDF pattern printed at A0 from Hobbs Reprographics for a few pounds, it was well worth it to avoid all the cutting and sticking!


I cut a straight size 8 based on a combination of my pre-pregnancy measurements and the built-in ease within the pattern. I wanted the option to wear this dress post-pregnancy so didn't want it to swamp me afterwards. It has turned out a little small in places, but it's still really comfy, I think I've put on more weight all over in the last couple of weeks than I was anticipating. I was very pleasantly surprised that I didn't have to make any adjustments, it's so easy to fit with the relaxed shape.


I found the instructions really clear like all the Seamwork patterns I've done. The only part I had to re-read and think about was the cuffs, but it results in a really neat finish inside and out so it's worth taking some time over.


I used a pale blue cotton / linen mix from my stash. It's lovely to sew and wear but takes forever to iron and still looks creased afterwards! I really fancy a gingham version, but we are at the end of summer now so might save that for next year!


I was hoping the wrap front of the dress would make this nursing friendly, but I'm not sure access will be easy enough. I'll give it a go still though! I think the relaxed shape will be quite flattering on my post-baby body and I'll be trying to avoid clingy clothes for a while!


I would really recommend this pattern, these pictures are taken at 38 weeks pregnant so it's one that could easily see you through a whole pregnancy.