Sewing some structured stripes for Spring

Hello there! This is Claire from the blog Belle Citadel (IG: @belle_citadel) with my finished project for #sewstripes month here at the Sewcialists.

I was pretty excited when the theme came up as I do love a bit of stripe action, but as I pondered what I wanted to fashion, I found I’d previously pretty much exclusively used stripes with knits – for Breton tops, t-shirts and the like. I’m already tired of grey winter skies, so when I spied this lovely Japanese cotton lawn from the Kokka 3 min. collection in my cupboard, I knew immediately this would be my challenge: a woven striped garment for spring! Yay!

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My immediate thoughts were that I needed a fairly structured garment, and for two main reasons. Firstly, this fabric is a blend of rather sweet pink tones and I do like a bit of contrast, so I decided to look for something more tailored to offset the slight saccharine. My other consideration, however, was that it not be too traditional or I might end up looking like I was either wearing a pair of pyjamas or being detained at her Majesty’s pleasure. Eek.

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The pattern I spied that fit the bill was the Deer & Doe Mélilot blouse. It’s been a popular pattern on sewing blogs and I’ve been meaning to make it for a while. If you’re not familiar with it, the Mélilot is a fitted blouse with drop shoulders, that offers two sleeve lengths and collars. I opted to mix the short, cuffed sleeves with the rounded collar to give it a classic, but feminine edge. The pockets and cuffed sleeves also gave me a chance to offset the main body with some horizontal stripes, which I personally always like in a garment like this – it adds some visual interest.

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The pattern for the blouse (only available in paper version at the moment) is pleasingly small for such a garment and it made tracing and cutting a breeze. The instructions are simple and succinct, although it’s worth noting the instruction pages were stapled in backwards. Deer & Doe patterns are loosely intended for more of a pear-shaped figure, which I am not, so I knew immediately I’d need to make 2″ FBA (full bust adjustment) on the size 46. This actually worked really well and the blouse fits wonderfully on the front – no gaping!

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I made a few other adjustments on the way to completion. I put the buttons on the opposite side of the shirt because the left placket was much prettier, adjusted the pocket placement for my bust positioning, and I also finished the hem with bias binding, because that hem is wayyy too curvy to fold.

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Not everything was completely plain sailing though – I had a little trouble with easing the cuffs and I didn’t make a great job of one side of the collar stand, but it’s just something I’ll need to practice a little. Next time I’ll also leave a little more space at the underarms and hips as they’re both slightly small/restricted and will also do a swayback adjustment. But there definitely will be a next time, because overall I love the shape of the shirt and I’m just so happy how it turned out! It’s such a quick sew…

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…which is a very good thing, because I have another garment to show you. You may be thinking “Urgh – overachiever”, but it’s actually the opposite – I completely underachieved in the matter of ordering the pattern on time, by forgetting there was no Mélilot pdf version available. Oh dear. While nervously waiting for the snail mail to arrive (which it did in the nick of time), I decided to rustle up a back-up garment along the same springtime lines, and went for the Colette Penny shirtdress.

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I’m not going to go into massive detail here (I’ll probably write longer construction notes on a post next week), but just wanted to briefly show you how I followed the spring stripes theming through here. It was a case of using another fabric with the potential to be very “sweet” and how I injected some of me (not so sweet) in there.

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With both these projects, there was no point in stripe-matching. The lawn has irregular stripes and this blue RK seersucker has maybe 3,465 stripes. Approximately. So it was more a case of playing with stripe direction and colour for me. I love the little chevrons that you get at the seam points and diagonals on the bias sections of the skirt and opted to add pockets too. But to add a little more contrast to all those teeny weeny stripes I decided to add some piping at the yoke edges. I think I just about got away with that yellow.

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Finding buttons to match was tricky with this particular shade, so in the end I had a brainwave and decided to paint my own. I used regular clear buttons and then added some yellow craft paint stripes using some masking tape to get clean lines. I layered them in varnish for protection, but am not totally convinced they won’t get mangled the first time in the wash.

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I had a few fit issues with the Penny and, in truth, the fabric was probably a little stiff for this exact iteration of the dress, but it’s a nice shirtdress nonetheless (if somewhat hard to photograph). I still find the final garment a little off my personal style, but will no doubt wear it somewhere along these lines (the belt would have to go), which is much more me!

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If you’re interested in all the gory details of both garments, you can find me at Belle Citadel or @belle_citadel on IG. I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone’s makes in February – have you decided what you’re going to sew for #sewstripes month?

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