Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Wool Crepe & Silk Chiffon Anna-lotte

I'm so excited to be sharing my first make for the Mood Sewing Network with you guys today! I've got to warn you all that the post on here contains a lot more of me waffling on and is therefore a fairly lengthy post as I'm completely in love with the dress and put a lot of work into it!

Diary of a Chainstitcher Mood Sewing Network Powder Blue Wool Crepe Fabric Annalotte with sheer hem By Hand London Sewing Pattern

I've recently been drawn to garments with sheer inserts and panels that are so popular at the moment. So with all these beautiful new fabrics now on offer to me I decided to expand my repertoire and dip my toe into sewing with chiffon. When I say 'dip my toe' I mean that fairly literally as I only opted to use it for a wide band around the hem of this dress, but it was the perfect amount for a first go and I have conquered any fear I had of working with it!

I spent a fair bit of time looking up tips for working with chiffon and ended up more worried about it than I probably was to start with. However this silk chiffon is surprisingly easy to work with, it presses beautifully, holds the kick pleat at the centre back well and my machine didn't try to eat it even once! I opted to use the rolled hem foot on my machine, as this widely seemed to be the recommend hemming technique for chiffon, and even this decided to play nicely for once: it might be the best rolled hem I've managed yet!

Diary of a Chainstitcher Mood Sewing Network Powder Blue Wool Crepe Fabric Annalotte with sheer hem By Hand London Sewing Pattern

To create the chiffon hem I marked the depth I wanted on my skirt pattern piece rather than just cutting a strip, as I wanted to continue the pegged shape of the pencil skirt. I added enough width at the centre back seam to create the box pleat then cut the back on the fold to avoid extra seams in the chiffon. I assembled the chiffon panel entirely separately to the skirt (including basting the pleat in place, french seaming the side seams and hemming) and attached it in one to the bottom edge of the skirt. I bound the edge of this seam, pressed it up towards the skirt and slipstitched it down as you would with a normal hem.

Diary of a Chainstitcher Mood Sewing Network Powder Blue Wool Crepe Fabric Annalotte with sheer hem By Hand London Sewing Pattern

The main body of the dress is wool crepe which is one of my all time favourite fabrics; it looks lovely, wears beautifully and is just scrummy to work with. I saw this powder blue wool crepe on the Mood Fabrics website and was sold. Who can resist wool crepe in such a delicious colour?! Apparently not many people as it's now sold out (!) but this ivory Italian crepe is very similar.

There's quite a lot of discussion on the internet about how to pretreat wool crepe (the post Carolyn wrote on it ages ago is really great). The most preferred method involves chucking it in the dryer with wet towels and while the speed and ease of this really appeals I don't have a dryer so instead I steamed it like crazy with my iron. I'm not too worried about further shrinkage as it's a special dress and with that silk chiffon hem it'll be going to the dry cleaners anyway.

The crepe was perfect for this style of dress; nice and soft to suit those lovely bust pleats but with a good amount of body for the shape of the skirt. I love how your stitches sink almost invisibly into this stuff too. This particular crepe does need lining as it's fairly lightweight. I went all out and used this china silk for the lining which feels so great, I'll be using it in every special dress I make from now on.

Diary of a Chainstitcher Mood Sewing Network Powder Blue Wool Crepe Fabric Annalotte with sheer hem By Hand London Sewing Pattern

I wanted to make this dress extra special so drafted a full lining in a style which has intrigued me ever since I saw a dress Gertie made in this way (although I cannot for the life of me find that post to share with you now!) I used all-in-one facings of the wool crepe and then the china silk beneath that. I am absolutely in love with the professional look of this inside and also how it eliminates the risk of lining peeking out of the neckline or sleeves.  I know some people have had trouble with the Anna facings flipping out over the neckline and it eliminates that problem too! It's a bit of extra work as after drafting the new facings I then had to remove them from the pattern pieces for the lining, remembering to add seam allowances of course. But I think it's totally worth it, don't you agree?! I carefully clipped and under-stitched the neckline to prevent the facings from rolling out and am really pleased with the nice clean finish.

Diary of a Chainstitcher Mood Sewing Network Powder Blue Wool Crepe Fabric Annalotte with sheer hem By Hand London Sewing Pattern

I'm sure most of you will recognise this as By Hand London's Anna Dress combined with their Charlotte Skirt and (unsurprisingly as my love for both patterns is hardly hidden!) I totally recommend that little mash up! I've been meaning to pair these together ever since seeing Roisin's amazing version. I made a fair few modifications to get the look that I wanted, in fact I decided this dress should really be named 'the tutorial dress' as I gathered together so many tips and tricks from other sewing blogs!

Diary of a Chainstitcher Mood Sewing Network Powder Blue Wool Crepe Fabric Annalotte with sheer hem By Hand London Sewing Pattern

I've been making a conscious effort to put into practice a lot of the tips I've been picking up from you guys (and pinning to my Sewing Tips Pinterest board!) This dress was the first time I tried interfacing the centre back seam allowances before I inserted the zip. I've seen this tip a few times lately, including in Lladybird's amazingly thorough invisible zip tutorial. It makes such a difference! Those waist seams matched up first time and the finish is beautifully smooth. To finish off the now lovely and pain-free zip I used Karen's tutorial to insert a concealed hook and eye at the top.

Diary of a Chainstitcher Mood Sewing Network Powder Blue Wool Crepe Fabric Annalotte with sheer hem By Hand London Sewing Pattern

I put a lot more work into the paper pattern before cutting than I usually do (I even made a muslin!) As I was using a plain fabric in a pale colour I knew all my seams needed to match up perfectly so I moved the darts on the skirt to match the pleats on the centre front bodice and combined the double back darts to match the single darts on the bodice back. It involved a bit of maths and some head scratching but was fairly straightforward! Next I used Sonja's tutorial to remove a bit of the width from both the front and back neckline as my previous versions of Anna gaped a little in this area and I knew in the wool crepe this would create unsightly bulges. The final adjustment I made was a result of the muslin. The kimono sleeves were perfect on me in a drapey silk or viscose but in a fabric with more body like the crepe I was looking a little bit like an extra from Star Trek! I simply reduced the length of the shoulder seams by folding the required amount under at the outer edge of both front and back pattern pieces, tapering away to nothing at the underarm.

Diary of a Chainstitcher Mood Sewing Network Powder Blue Wool Crepe Fabric Annalotte with sheer hem By Hand London Sewing Pattern

The extra little bit of time it took to make all these adjustments was completely worth it as I'm incredibly pleased with and proud of the fit on this dress now, especially down the back. It's definitely the best fitting thing I've ever made and has really challenged my sewing skills. If this is what sewing with top quality fabrics does to my sewing I can't wait for my next MSN make!

58 comments:

  1. That looks absolutely gorgeous!! Well done for such a good job!! :)

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    1. Thank you! It feels really gorgeous to wear too!

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  2. That really is gorgeous and so well finished, that lining is amazing!!

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    1. Thank you! I'm so so proud of the lining and pleased that it turned out just as I imagined! Definitely worth the extra effort

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    1. Aw thank you Claire! I feel really great in it and can't wait to wear it, I don't feel too dressed up or down, just really comfortable!

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  4. this is so stunning fiona! the fabrics look beautiful and you definitely did them justice. i love the little pleat in chiffon at the back! brilliant work!

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    1. Thank you Jo! I'm more proud of it than anything I've ever made because I spent so much time putting my own touches to it! I wanted it to be extra special because the fabrics are!

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  5. Awwwww So beautiful! Do you know that you look like a fairy in it? The extra work with paper pattern has totally paid off: Anna fits you like a glove! The dress is truly amazing and I can't stop admiring it :) And congratulations with your first MSN make!

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    1. Thank you! I'm so excited to see myself on the MSN blog! I'm so pleased with how it fits

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  6. Oh. My. Goodness. This dress is fantastic!!! I am swooning over your fabric choice, AND your beautiful 'innards'. Your dart matching is perfect (something I always notice and think is very important) and your all-in-one facing/lining is divine!

    A dress to be very proud of for sure! MSN are lucky to have you in their group :)

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    1. Thank you so much! I was so pleased when I finished stitching the waistband, flipped it over and all the darts and seams lined up! So satisfying! I'm glad you can appreciate it!

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  7. What a work if art! Absolutely beautiful details.

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    1. What a lovely comment thank you! I spent a long time thinking over what I wanted to do and all the little details and it turned out pretty much just as I wanted!

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  8. Classic.Elegant.Impeccable. A lovely and beautiful dress!

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    1. Thank you so much! That is just what I wanted it to be!

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  9. What a beautiful dress, perfect colour for you. & I love your lining.

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    1. Thank you! I'm not usually one for wearing pastels but I really do love wearing this blue!

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  10. I am in awe! beautiful dress, well done on making sure you use all those lovely tips people share, you finished result looks amazing x

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    1. Thank you Jenni! I'm really trying to remember all the little tips that I read and work them into my sewing so they become habit

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  11. This is gorgeous - the colour is beautiful and it fits you really well. Definitely worth all the hard work you put into it, and thanks for sharing all those tips you used!

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    1. Thank you! I'm most pleased with the fit. I definitely recommend all those little tips, they just make your makes that little bit more professional I think!

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  12. This is absolutely amazing. You have seriously outdone yourself, and I can only dream of ever making something so beautiful and professional looking! I hope you have somewhere to wear this sometime soon. How are you going to top this next time, though?!

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    1. O thank you for your lovely comment Helen! It really wasn't all that complicated if you just take it little step by little step. I've got lots of weddings to go to this year which I think it will be perfect for! I'm going to have to find some even more amazing fabric next time aren't I?!

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  13. This is so beautiful! It's a stunning debut!

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    1. Thanks so much Vicki Kate! I was feeling the pressure to come up with something good!

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  14. Perfection!! I've never worked with wool crepe, but it's something I'll add to my winter sewing list.
    This dress looks fantastic, the length is so classy, you look lovely.

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    1. Thank you! I spent some time deliberating the length as I normally go above the knee but I'm really loving this! I highly recommend wool crepe, you won't go back!

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  15. A cracking start to your tenure as a mood blogger. Look how sweet you are giggling in the last pic! The lining has me really intrigued :-)

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    1. Thanks so much Amy! Half the pictures my boyfriend takes are always me laughing, mostly very unattractively! His photo taking tactic is to make me giggle apparently!

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  16. It's a very lovely and elegant dress! You can see all your hard work in the beautiful finish.

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad the effort shows!

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  17. Exquisite! All the work you put into this paid off. The chiffon panel is perfection!

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    1. Thank you! I was a bit scared about the chiffon panel but am so pleased with how it turned out!

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  18. amazing, Fiona. It's nice to see the extra planning work pay off! I look forward to your next mood project.

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    1. Thank you! I'm so pleased that working with these nice fabrics is pushing me to improve my techniques, it's what I wanted to do this year anyway!

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  19. There's only one word this esquisite! I think this what a beautiful snow flake would look like if it morphed into a dress :) That lining is a ring a ding, dinger too. I hope you gave yourself a well deserved pat on the back.

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    1. Thanks lovely lady! There has been much back patting!!!

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  20. This is gorgeous!! You're a great inspiration for a beginner like me to keep working on it!

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    1. O that's a lovely comment thank you! I still don't see myself as more than a beginner even though I should probably admit I am now. I really think anyone could make something like this if you just take it really slow and break it down into little steps

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  21. This is gorgeous! That fabric looks divine. Is it wrong to be so in love with the innards?!

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    1. I'm almost so in love with the innards I'll wear it inside out!! Thanks Lynne

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  22. It's just beautiful Fiona! Lovely soft colours. I'm hoping to make up my project this weekend!

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    1. I can't wait to see Lizzy! So exciting! I couldn't resist this colour...

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  23. This is so lovely! I'm beyond impressed! What a perfect dress!

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    1. Thanks Sonja! I needed to make a special effort to be any where in the realm of the makes you other MSN guys come up with!

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    1. Thank you! I think I'd have to say it's my biggest sewing achievement so far and I'm very proud of it!

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  25. Absolutely fabulous, what an inspiration!!!

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  26. Wow, so elegant Fiona, love your 'hack'! I like how you lined it, as well.

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    1. Thanks Catja! I'm incredibly proud of the lining!

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  27. Wow Amazing! I think I might have just found the perfect pattern mash up inspiration for a friends wedding dress! You've done such a great job, very inspiring!

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    1. Thank you so much for the lovely comment Erin. It is a great combo of patterns which I really recommend! Super flattering and unique

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  28. Your dress is absolutely amagazing and you look lovely in it ! Congratulations, I'd love to sew that well !

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    1. Thanks! You absolutely can sew like me I'm sure! It's just come out of lots of practice and jumping in the deep end and trying new techniques!

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!