Almost Ava Again (and DIY piping cord)

Ava | Pattern . Paint . PanMy last Ava is probably one  of my most worn Me-Mades despite it’s issues because it’s looser fit makes it so comfy and it also seems less dressy than my various Simplicity 2444s. So I thought it was about time I took a break from S2444 and re-tried Ava. This is some cheapo (£2.18/m) floral polycotton and contrast navy polycotton (£3.06/m) from Trago Mills (just for a change!). I still have over 1/2 a metre (of 2m purchased) of the floral and 1/2 of the 0.5m of the navy left, so the dress was £4.83, plus a £0.04 Malaysian zipper from my stash.

Even though the sizing guide gives finished garment measurements, when I measured the actual pattern pieces, I found there was a massive difference, which would explain why my first dress was so loose. Here’s the sizing chart from the pattern:IMG_6424a

However when I measured the pattern pieces and minused the seam allowances (5/8″ or 1.6cm), the finished garment size for the size 12 was 113cm at the chest and 86cm at the waist. What??Ava | Pattern . Paint . PanSo I decided to go down two sizes and make the 8 this time. I also redrew the seam line between the back upper and lower bodice to be a straight line as I think the original curved line kind of emphasises the curve in my spine.Ava | Pattern . Paint . PanI also decided to try my hand at piping, but as it was all a bit of a whim I had to DIY some piping cord by twisting 4 strands of the yarn I’m using on my jumper (yes, it’s still in progress, 1/2 an arm and the hood to go) then using my widest zig-zag stitch to bind them together. I haven’t used piping before so I can’t comment on how it is in comparison, or how it will wash (cheapo acrylic yarn that’s meant to be machine washable at 40), but I like the effect. From a distance the piping matches up either side of the zipper, but up close the bottom line is out by a few mm’s, but not enough that I could be bothered to redo it.Ava | Pattern . Paint . PanI had to re-sew the centre of the ‘v’ between the two front bodice sections because I stupidly thought I could get away with not stay stitching and just pinning loads. It made a nasty, wonky ‘v’, but once I stay-stitched the ‘v’ on both pieces, they came together well are are pretty even. Ava | Pattern . Paint . PanInstead of doubling over my bias binding the neck and arm holes, I used the bias binding as a sort of reverse facing. All the interior seams are serged because I was being too lazy to french them, and the hem is serged, double turned under and machine stitched. I made covers for the top and bottom of the zip to stop any scratching and look nicer!Ava | Pattern . Paint . PanAs you can see in the top zipper cover photo, I ended up having to increase the SA at the top of the bodice by 1.5cm, tapering into the original seam line about 5cm above the waist, as there was still a lot of gape especially if I raised my arms. And I couldn’t be bothered to trim and re-serge the edges obviously.

Altogether, despite how grumpy I look in the photos, I’m pretty happy with this version; it is a better fit, but then I can’t be  fatty and eat too much, and I’m not 100% convinced about the fabric. I think something other than floral should be next…except I have one last piece of floral in my stash to use up.Ava | Pattern . Paint . Pan

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A Victory (ish) for Ava (ish)

Considering I got my sewing machine in 2007, the first non-vintage sewing pattern(s) I ever bought was the Perfect Pattern Parcel #1 earlier this year. Previously, I was loathe to spend the money for two main reasons; firstly, because the few vintage patterns I’d got from charity shops had ended up unfinished due to fitting issues, and secondly because I naively thought I could draft out whatever pattern I wanted myself and have it fit perfectly. (I think a lot of my early sewing was spent stitch-ripping and sewing in my underwear as I trial-and-errored my way through projects).

When I read about the Perfect Pattern Parcel, I decided maybe I shouldn’t be so prejudiced against every sewing pattern ever drafted. Even if my mistrust of patterns was validated, part of the money was going to charity and I’d have to get some good karma back for that, right?Ava dress | Pattern . Paint . Pan I decided to start with the Ava dress by Victory Patterns (and now you understand the post title, non-sewing friends!), thinking it could be a possible dress to wear to my best friend’s wedding. But with my pattern mistrust, I decided to use some cheap fabric first: a floral polycotton on sale at my sort-of-local fabric shop (Trago Mills near Liskeard), and a polycotton broderie anglais from my local fabric shop (The Remnant House in Bude), both at about £2.50/m. Ava dress | Pattern . Paint . PanI didn’t make a muslin, which was probably was my first mistake. I did however add 2 inches to the bodice along the lengthen/shorten line because of my height. I swear I measured properly and chose the right size for the rest of my measurements, but after sewing the darts and one bodice side seam, it was obvious it was ridiculously big and no pinning (admittedly I gave up pretty quickly) fixed it, so it got thrown in the corner for a few weeks.

After reshaping and increasing the width and length of the front darts, and increasing the seam allowance at the top of the side seams, I figured it was acceptable enough and finished the bodice, and added a waistband and gathered rectangle skirt instead of the pattern’s skirt (due to lack of fabric and because I was being lazy).Ava dress | Pattern . Paint . Pan

The zipper went in without any hassle, and was pretty well hidden, except that since the dress has been washed one side of the lap has decided to flip the wrong way just above the waistband. I could get the iron out. But I won’t. Ava dress | Pattern . Paint . Pan

I wasn’t really sure how to finish the seam allowances on the zipper side, so used some extra self-fabric bias binding from the neckline and arm holes. The seams on the opposite side are faux french seamed on the bodice and french seamed on the skirt. I also faux french seamed the shoulders and the contrast fabric to the main fabric, and hand stitched the waistband facing down, although my patience did not extend to hand stitching the hem so it’s a narrow double turned machine hem. (Spot the multiple thread colours in the photos below!)Ava dress | Pattern . Paint . PanAva dress | Pattern . Paint . Pan

And then, once it was all finished, somehow the combination of not taking enough time over fitting and losing a few pounds has meant that it’s got quite a lot of excess space at the bust, and a little at the waist, although that comes in handy for those big lunches and sneaky summer ciders. Ava dress | Pattern . Paint . Pan

So, when I remake Ava, which will be happening in the near future, I think I’ll be going down a size, however this dress is still my most worn item at the moment, so it’s a win in my book.Ava dress | Pattern . Paint . Pan