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


Same Same But Different

Simplicity 2444 | Pattern . Paint . PanI think I’m definitely getting my money’s worth with Simplicity 2444. It’s the perfectionist in me wanting to get it as close to right as I can figure out how to. I really thought I’d nailed the chest bagginess this time, but perhaps changing the neckline brought a bit of it back.Simplicity 2444 | Pattern . Paint . PanAfter my last version, I overlapped my adjusted pattern by 1cm at the neckline and added it to the waist darts, before redrawing the neckline to be lower and wider. Now I think it should be a couple of centimetres lower.Simplicity 2444 | Pattern . Paint . PanI also decided to try an all-in-one facing rather than fully lining the bodice for two reasons; 1) I’ve not done any kind of facing before, and 2) I was getting fed up of having to trace, pin and sew 12 darts for every lined bodice. I interfaced and overlocked the facing before attaching to the bodice. I did sew the original pleat skirt but it just wasn’t looking right, so I ripped it off and just gathered it. I did my second blind hem by hand because I felt like doing some hand sewing (that lasted about 15 minutes max).Simplicity 2444 | Pattern . Paint . PanFor some reason, this is the first time I’ve sewn pockets into any of my dresses, which is wrong because pockets are virtually essential.Simplicity 2444 | Pattern . Paint . PanThe fabric is a polycotton I had on my Ebay watch list but then found at Trago Mills for less (£2.18/m) and as a double bonus, I was only charged for 1m of my 2m (I later found out there was a patch about 2cm from one selvedge edge that was mis-printed for about 5cm, so perhaps that was why, but it was small enough not to effect my cutting out). It’s definitely not great quality fabric, but it’s fine for a £2 summer dress. You can’t get a dubiously produced budget high street dress for that!Simplicity 2444 | Pattern . Paint . Pan

A Tale of Simplicity 2444, Part 2


Simplicity 2444 | Pattern . Paint . PanThe second 2444 dress started off as a self drafted hack, using the original bodice back (but with a slightly lowered neckline and narrower straps) and changing the front to a draped/pleated faux wrap. I really thought it would work and perhaps if I’d had more patience it would of eventually, but I wasn’t feeling the trial-and-error-ness, so I re-cut the front to the original pattern just with narrower straps and a slightly lower neckline. Simplicity 2444 | Pattern . Paint . PanThe outer fabric is a viscose I originally saw at Trago Mills last summer but didn’t purchase as I was having some dilemma about fabric stashing, and then regretted it as when I went back they’d sold out. But then, fast forward to a trip to Birmingham Rag Market at the end of March this year, and I found the exact fabric at £2.50/m, plus 25cm free as I finished the bolt. I’ve seen it in a different colourway on the Regency Rags Ebay store for £2.99/m and also on at a wayyyyy higher price. The lining is a polyester crepe du chine from the Remnant House in Bude, also for £2.50/m. Both of the fabrics had the potential to be a pain to cut out and sew, so I liberally doused them in spray starch first, and it was sooooo much easier. Simplicity 2444 | Pattern . Paint . PanI added a waistband just because I like them, and made the skirt of two very gathered rectangles. I wasn’t sure how long I wanted it, so had to cut the skirt bottom once the dress was assembled and it was horrible. I want to say the hem only looks wonky in the photos, but the reality is, I’m pretty sure it’s wonky in real life. As I’d only bought 1 metre of the lining, and had already cut out the wrap bodice front in it, I had to do some creative piecing when I changed plans, but it worked out fine, and actually gave me some ideas for some intentional piecing on future dresses. I decided to use a scrap of (totally unmatching) polycotton for the inner waistband just to give it a bit more structure. Simplicity 2444 | Pattern . Paint . PanThe lining skirt is another pair of pleated rectangles using as much of the left over fabric as possible. I changed the zipper to the side, and hand sewed the lining to it after machine sewing the outer fabric, and added a hook and eye at the top. Simplicity 2444 | Pattern . Paint . PanDue to my messing around with the pattern, I’m not really sure what size this dress ended up; it fits better than the peplum, but there’s still a lot of bagginess above the chest (not surprising seeing as I didn’t do anything to fix it). EDIT: I took the photos after it’d been washed (even though I prewashed both fabrics) and the chest bagginess seems to have disappeared, yay! Simplicity 2444 | Pattern . Paint . PanBut it’s really swirly and pretty, and I can pretend like the less full skirt lining makes it safer for windy days. I think it would have been dressy enough to wear to the wedding (and actually I think I should have worn it) but in the end I was swayed by the third version’s dressy-ness as I knew this dress would get worn lots anyway.  Simplicity 2444 | Pattern . Paint . Pan

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