Lili-Kielo maxi dress

This one starts with a big old celebrity fabric crush. Atelier Brunette rayon/modal in “Lili” has earned a lot of internet love, and rightly so. It’s a lovely understated print: black with little mustard seed heads blown about in pale grey and red. But the cincher is how it wears. It’s soft and silky and cool to touch, feather-light but drapey and opaque. A dreamy combo. I stalked it and pinned it and kept coming back to it for weeks/months before finally taking the plunge.

Having splashed out on the fabric, I then spent further weeks/months agonising over which pattern to choose to show it off. I ended up settling on the Named Kielo Wrap. I knew I wanted a maxi and this seemed a good choice for a lightweight fabric.

The pattern only has three pieces (front, back and ties) so should have been a quick sew. However this was my first time working with rayon, and I have to admit is intimidated me. I got all spooked by the way it shifted around during the cutting, and then left it cut out for over a month whilst other cotton projects jumped the queue. Finally I womaned up and got stuck in, giving myself a full empty weekend to take it slowly.

Construction started well. I staystitched the neckline and treated the pieces carefully, trying not to stretch anything out. I marked my notches with tailors’ tacks and everything seemed to match up well. BUT the neck and armhole bindings were a reeeeal pain in the backside. I just could not seem to get them in without puckering. I unpicked parts of all three, and one armhole I completely re-did and is still far from perfect. I’m not really sure what I did wrong, but if anyone has tips on inserting bias facings with slippery fabric I’d love to have them!

That being said, I love the end result. It feels elegant and cool in style, yet uber-comfortable to wear, even in CAR where we’re currently averaging 35c (arrrrgh, send ice!) A genius-simple design, which has definitely encouraged me to try more Named patterns. In fact I bought the Helga playsuit pattern last time I was home.

The backdrop for the photos, in case anyone was wondering, is beautiful Segovia in Spain. We were recently there on holiday. It is home to both a Disney-esque castle (in fact one of the castles that is said to have inspired Disney’s design) and this incredible Roman aqueduct. I hiiiiighly recommend a trip for anyone staying in the Madrid/Salamanca area. The food is delicious too, mmmmm jammmmonnnnn…

Siobhan xxx

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Blue Moon Darling Ranges

Having been separated from my sewing machine for a couple of months, I was superkeen to get stuck straight into a project. In fact I think I unpacked everything on the Friday night my trunk arrived and was cutting out a dress on Saturday morning. I felt the urge to make something “proper” with real processes and details to concentrate on and the Darling Ranges dress seemed just the ticket.

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I think I can say at this point that I’m a fan of Megan Nielsen patterns. Her designs flatter a range of body shapes and the patterns are well drafted with simple, clear instructions that are not overly hand-holdy. They come in pretty packaging too which never hurts. On this design I love the flattering v neck, the waist tie that allows for more or less shaping (bigger or smaller lunches) and of course pockets forever.

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This dress look me a leisurely weekend from start to finish (read: a happy sewing pace which allows for attentive podcast listening and long lunch breaks). I didn’t make any major changes to the pattern. I graded between sizes based on my measurements and lowered the bust dart apex once I tried the bodice on. I also decided I wanted the sleeves a little looser, so sewed a narrower seam and left off the elastic.

The fabric is Atelier Brunette cotton batiste, ordered from Tissu & Co back in June. This is my second time sewing with AB cotton and it is just dreamy. So easy to work with and so light and airy to wear. Love. This design is called “Blue Moon” and I used 2m for the dress. The design was small and random enough that I didn’t bother about pattern matching, I just made sure all my moons were running in the same direction.

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I like how it turned out. A pretty, breezy little day dress.

Siobhan xx

Summer Southport Dress

Way back in February, pre-Kigali, M and I took a little trip to Paris. Having been several times before, we didn’t plan much. Our only scheduled activities were brunch at The Pancake Sisters (sooooo good) and a Studio Ghibli exhibition at Le Musée Art Ludique. Apart from that we just wandered and ate and shopped and explored and it was glorious. I was restrained in my fabric-buying, I just wanted one really special piece, a memento of our lovely weekend. I found it at Anna Ka Bazarre. This beautiful, supersoft Atelier Brunette cotton batiste, covered in tiny triangles.

What then followed were six months of being too scared to cut in to such lovely fabric, instead saving it for a pattern that was juuuuust right. In the end I settled on the Southport Dress, a newish pattern from True Bias.

The Southport dress is beautifully drafted, with very well-written instructions. It looks like a simple make but there are lots of lovely little details, like bar tacks across the pockets, which make it more of a challenge. I took my time, enjoying the process, working through each step carefully. The only frustration I had was inserting the bindings. I think my mistake was to use shop-bought cotton binding, which was considerably more substantial/stiff than the lovely fluid batiste of my dress. I went carefully, understitched, clipped, pressed etc. But I still got gathers and puckers and had to unpick bits at least 4 times, and they still don’t lie totally flat. I’m hoping they might soften a bit over time/washes, but we shall see. Takeaway nugget – if in doubt, make your own binding, fool.

Anyway, binding niggles aside, I am in LOVE with this dress. It is every bit as breezy and summery as I’d envisaged. I didn’t make any major fit alterations, I just graded between sizes based on my measurements and took out some length to account for my stumpy legs. I’m really happy with the fit, but be aware there is a lot of gathering, so stick with something lightweight fabric-wise. The buttons came from my new favourite haberdashery cupoard/shop in Town. I added an extra one because I was worried about potential gaping, but this wasn’t really necessary.

The fabric is just dreamy to wear. So soft, so flowy. I now want it in every other pattern/colourway. Next time I’m in Paris…

Siobhan xx

P.s. These photos may look all sweetness and light, but I had to stop mid-shoot to stamp on the most humungous cockroach, which was scuttling towards a crack under the back door. Keeping it real yo.