Highlands Wrap Dress for Autumn

Hello everyone! It’s been a while. I can’t believe that we are already in October. I had a great summer, sewing-wise pretty productive too. Everyone who follows me on Instagram will have seen some of the pieces I made: some clothes for my parents, some repeats of patterns I have made a couple of times before or muslins for future projects. But for some reason nothing that lent itself to a full blog post. This dress however does. It’s the Highlands Wrap Dress by Allie Olson / Indiesew and had been on my to-sew list since it came out; I bought it with the Indiesew Spring/Summer collection.

I even printed it out right away but then I got stuck trying to find the right fabric. Originally I had ordered the magenta viscose crepe that I used for my Ogden Cami but then I felt the colour was a bit too much (and now the dress is orange, haha). Over the summer, visiting my parents for a couple of weeks, I picked up some beautiful linen twill in a not-quite-white light pink colour (this was the before). While the colour wasn’t great, it had the most beautiful drape and I realised that it would be perfect for the Highlands dress. I also had the perfect occasion to wear it to, a wedding coming up next week. It was clear that white was a no-go and after some deliberation I decided that I wanted to go with a terracotta colour. However, I couldn’t wait for the dye to arrive so I had to sew it up with a thread in the colour of what I was going for, which was a little bit of a gamble.

Let’s talk about this pattern. I didn’t think I was a wrap-dress person and never felt the urge to sew one up until the Highlands dress was released. And it’s such a good pattern! I love that it is for wovens and there is something very modern about the shape and those little details, the high slits and the elastic at the back. I made a size 6 in the bodice and graded out to a size 10 in the hips. The construction was very straight forward and everything came together really quickly until I reached the mitered corners and was left with a weird not quite right angle. I then realised that I was using the old instructions, that have since been updated. It was totally my own fault because I had read the update back when it was published but completely forgot about it. In the end it doesn’t make a huge difference in the final dress so I didn’t even unpick to correct the error. The dress is closed with a button on each side and ties on top, which makes it feel very secure. Also the amount of wrap is pretty perfect, and I’m not afraid I could accidentally flash people. Overall the fit is great, especially through the shoulders and the skirt. There is some excess fabric around the waist but with this linen fabric I don’t mind it being a little bit loose. Also looking at the product pictures, the ease seems to be intended that way.

Finally, let’s talk about this colour. So, the dress was finished but was still waiting to be dyed. I had ordered some washing machine Dylon dye in terracotta but for some reason it got lost in the post. When I contacted the shop they promised to send another one, but the days before we had to leave for Germany were numbered. So when it didn’t arrive before the weekend I had to resort to plan B, which was a packet of hand wash dye in the same colour. Intended for probably half the amount of fabric I knew the dye wasn’t going to be enough to get the originally planned colour but I was willing to take the risk (I couldn’t go in a white dress after all). It turned out a bright orange with a terracotta undertone. It’s a gorgeous colour but pretty “loud”, at least for my standards. It is growing on me though and it feels very autumnal. So let’s see if I’m brave enough to wear it to the wedding or if I’ll over-dye it in a darker shade. In any case, this was a super fun dress to make and it’s lovely to wear.

It’s getting to cold for pictures in sleeveless dresses though, I guess that’s the sign to move onto cold-weather sewing. I just started a coat and am actually very excited. Happy autumn sewing!


Ogden + Flint = The Perfect Pair

Today I bring you the perfect Indie summer pair. The True Bias Ogden and the Megan Nielsen Flint. Two patterns that you can’t escape in the Indie sewing world.

I’m probably the last person on earth to make the Ogden. Everyone seems to have made it and is raving about it. To be honest when the pattern came out I wasn’t that tempted to buy it. While I do appreciate a good cami, I wasn’t completely sold by the deep v in the back and overall it seemed to be too simple a pattern to spend my money on it. However, when Indiesew released their 2017 Spring/Summer collection, I bought the full bundle. Mainly for the Hampton Jean Jacket and the Highlands Wrap Dress but I was also quite excited to see what all the fuss around the Ogden was about.

I decided to make a first version of the Ogden with some viscose crepe from Ditto Fabrics. I’ve been looking for viscose crepe since someone had mentioned online that it was one of their favourite fabrics (I can’t remember who though). Ditto fabrics stock this crepe in a couple of different colours but for some reason I went with this magenta, which is a colour I don’t often wear. When it arrived I was really impressed by the nice texture and drape of the fabric. The fabric does wrinkle quite easily but also straightens out when it’s hanging freely. My original plan for the fabric was the Highlands Wrap Dress; however, the colour is quite loud so I wasn’t sure if I would like it as a full dress. So I decided to make a Ogden instead, to see if I even enjoyed wearing this colour (disclaimer: I do!).

I made a straight size 6, which corresponds to my bust and waist measurement. Due to the ease of the pattern I decided to not grade up at the hip. The fit I would say is spot on. It’s quite loose, which I love for a casual summer top. I finished the side seams with french seams, the facing is only pinked. Overall it was a very quick sew. The only thing that took a little bit longer, was determining the best strap length. I cut the straps longer than the pattern suggested, to have some room to experiment. The final length is very close to the originally suggested length though. Even though the pattern suggests it, I still haven’t added a tag to the back of the cami. I really should! The different sides look very similar and I’m sure half the time I’m wearing it the wrong way around. Oops…

Next up the Flint. While I’m still not sure about the whole culottes trend I had the pattern on my radar, in particular because of the interesting cross-over closure hidden in the pocket and the cute little ties. Since I didn’t have a specific project in mind; however, I just made a mental note and didn’t buy it straight away. Then the other day, when I was fabric shopping in Abingdon at Masons with the lovely Lamorna, I came across this mustard cotton twill and thought of the Flint. I very much prefer a paper pattern over pdf (too much cutting and taping!) and bought the pattern from Fabric Godmother (actually the only place in the UK that had it, in all the other shops it was either out of stock or arriving soon). I cut a size M, which according to the measurements was slightly too wide at the waist and too tight at the hip but I figured, the darts and pleats at the waist would allow for an easy taking in, and the cut of the leg was very wide already, so a couple of centimetres difference would not be an issue. In the end I had to indeed take the waist in by roughly 3 cm (through the back darts and the back centre seam). The legs on the other hand were actually super wide and I slightly took them in through the crotch seam to avoid weird fabric pooling between the legs. I also shortened the shorts at the hem by 3 cm to look a little bit less like I was going on safari (not sure if I succeeded there…). Shortening the hem meant that the bottom of the pockets were caught in the hem, which actually helps the pockets sitting forward when putting the shorts on.

The most exciting part of these shorts are of course the vintage inspired opening in the pockets. I like the clean look of high waisted shorts without a front fly, but I’m not a massive fan of side or back zippers. So this solution is genius! So neat! I lined the pockets with this cute blue and white striped cotton which in my opinion goes perfectly with the mustard fabric. In addition to the ties, the shorts are closed with a hidden button. I did debate whether to do the ties or the closure only with buttons, the latter being a bit more practical if I want to wear a top over the shorts. In the end the cuteness of the ties won (they were one of the features that attracted me to the pattern after all). So how do I like the final shorts? I think overall they are really cute. This pattern has some really lovely details. I’m not 100% happy with the fit though. This medium weight twill is not very forgiving (in a more drapey fabric these issues might not show up at all). Around the backside the shorts could be a little bit snugger, just to avoid some weird folds of excess fabric at the centre seam. At the front the combination of the waistband not being snug enough (and the shorts riding down a little bit) and the release tucks at the front result in some poofiness. For a next iteration I might turn the tucks into darts to avoid some of that. Overall they are really wearable though and even got husband approval.

So all in all, I can really understand why everyone is going crazy over these two patterns. Both are quite simple and quick makes with super thorough instructions. The result are some great wardrobe basics which pair super well together. I actually love both looks the top tucked in or loose. This colour combination is actually something completely new to me, both not my usual colours but I really like them, individually and together. I already put this outfit to the test at a summer barbecue on the hot weekend that we just had. The perfect pair!

Silk ruffle top

Here a little silk top that I whipped up last weekend. This sand-washed silk is from my favourite shop on Goldhawk Road (UK Textiles) who have an amazing selection of silks in the most gorgeous colours. The first time there, I picked up some rust coloured silk and made a simple shell top. It’s become a firm favourite in my wardrobe, so when I went back to the shop in December, I picked up some more silk. This time I went for a summery turquoise. The fabric has been sitting in my stash ever since, mainly because I was contemplating whether to make the exact same top again or something a little bit more exciting. In the end I decided to use the same pattern, but hack on a ruffled hem.

The pattern is from the book The Great British Sewing Bee – Fashion with Fabric. It’s called the Sleeveless Shell Top and is a simple little top with an all-in-one facing and two hem options, a high-low hem and a straight one. While I love a high-low hem, this one is rather pronounced. So this time I decided to even out the hem a little by adding 3 cm in length at the front and shaving the same amount off at the back. Then I separated the pieces roughly at the waist seam, following the shape of the hem curve. It’s a little bit difficult to see in the pictures, but the top now still has a slight high-low hem.

Since I had only one metre of the maybe 120 cm wide fabric the rest of the design was determined by what I could squeeze out of the piece. Basically I needed two rectangles with a 17 cm height and significantly wider than the waist seam to allow for some nice ruffles. The best I could manage was a ratio of 1.25:1. I’m not sure what the perfect ruffle ratio is but I think it works well enough. Was does help is that the piece is cut on the crosswise grain, which gives the ruffles a little bit more structure. Cutting it that way was the only way to fit all pattern pieces but it also had the added benefit of me being able to use the selvage as the hem. In this case the selvage is so pretty that it totally works, and who doesn’t love an opportunity to avoid hemming? I gathered the ruffle piece with two rows of wide stitches. Once attached, I topstitched the waist seam to make sure the seam allowance sits towards the top of the bodice.

In terms of sizing I cut a size 12, taking out 1 cm at the centre front and back. I omitted the back keyhole detail that the pattern suggest since the neck opening is wide enough. The ruffle has french seams, the rest of the top is finished with pinked seams. While it’s not the most durable of finishes, I struggle to find anything better on such delicate fabric. I used the treatment for my other silk top and it’s still holding up so it should be fine, especially since I tend to hand-wash my silk garments.

All in all this was a super quick and satisfying make. I’m glad that I finally sewed this lovely fabric up. After all it’s so much nicer wearing a fabric than having it sitting in your stash. And this really turned out quite cute and will be perfect for snazzing up my work wardrobe. Oh and this?

Just me trying to flirt with my photographer…