Pretty Peplum Stash-Buster

I’m not sure how other sewers do it, but I’m the kind of sewer that buys A LOT of fabric whenever I see stuff I like. I do not buy a pattern I wanna make and then look for a suitable fabric.

No. I go to a fabric store to stock up on notions for the projects I have on the go and accidentally end up in the fabric stacks. Or, I go to a new city, and a trip to a new city is not complete without a trip to the fabric shops.

 So I have a MASSIVE stash of fabrics. Now, because I don’t buy fabric for specific patterns, I have to guess how much fabric I’m going to need. I know, for someone who preaches sustainability and is into saving the environment I’m not exactly living what I preach. Terrible.

So, this often means that I end up with fairly large scrap pieces, because we’d all rather have too much fabric than too little, right? Enter my quest for patterns which use under 1m of fabric AND that I would actually wear (see, sorttt of sustainable). This is how I discovered the In the Folds Peplum Top made for Peppermint magazine. I’m not that into peplum tops, probably because I’ve never worn one before, so I decided to take the plunge and download the pattern. It is free after all! I also recently discovered a cheap online copy shop which prints A0 and ships to you. Wonderful, I don’t even need to leave the house!

I recently made the Avid Seamstress Day Dress in this toucan print fabric I bought from Leeds when I was meant to be buying graduation shoes. I really loved the dress and the fabric so was more than happy to try and use up the excess I had. Now the pattern calls for 1.2m of fabric, but I only had 90cm. I did manage to fit it all on and it wasn’t really a squeeze so I would suggest less fabric is okay. I’ll be making it soon with more offcuts I have so let’s see how little fabric it will take me (sustainable to an extent see?!). Its pretty easy to try and squeeze on to a small amount of fabric as the back comes in two pieces and the front in four (it has these handy shoulder panel) which made it easier to play Tetris! I definitely would have got away with less fabric if my pattern hadn’t been directional, but I ideally wanted my toucans sitting on the branches, not hanging on for their dear lives. Although, if you look closely at the shoulder panels, they are upside down, but no one has noticed yet.

I was looking forward to making the peplum because even though I’m not a peplum gal, it did incorporate things I hadn’t done before. The pattern calls for making your own bias binding to bind the neck and armholes. I hadn’t done this before, so I was quite looking forward to it. The pattern itself was straightforward and the instructions were easy to follow, it’s a pretty simple bodice with a rounded neck and V shaped back. When it came to the binding I first had to do the fold-y thing with it and then began to bind in the normal manner. I did the armholes first which were easier and then the neck. The neck was tricky when it came to the V as the binding was a continuous loop but I managed it with a bit of fiddling about! In the end it looked really neat! I did double top stitching and I liked how the top turned out.

The other thing about the pattern which I hadn’t seen before was the method of gathering for the peplum skirt. Normally I like to gather either using the elastic method or with two lines of big stitches. However, the pattern suggested using three lines. Somehow this made a lot of difference! I will definitely be doing that in the future!

All in all I’d say this pattern was a pretty easy one and a great one for using up excess fabric if you’re a hoarder like me! My next scrap-busting pattern I’m going to be testing out is the Closet Case Pouff so we’ll see how that compares!

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A V Speedy Seren

Whilst I would consider myself a fast sewer, I’m certainly not speedy and nor do I do well under pressure. In fact, pressure is one of my least favourite things. So, imagine this; it’s the days before I’m meant to go on holiday to Asia for three weeks, I’m yet to pack, or think about packing, and I realise I don’t have a ‘modest’ dress for India and for visiting temples. Now if I were a normal person, I would do the normal thing and head into town to Primark and try and find a suitably long dress for my travels so I can spend the day packing and not stressing.

IT HAS POCKETS!!!!

However, I am not a normal person.

No. Instead, I dig through my patterns to find an un-cut, unused, Tilly and the Buttons Seren dress. I dig through my fabric stash to find a lightweight, incredibly bright fabric and I get to work. The fabric I chose had fortunately already been washed (applause for past Izzie) and, even better, my mum had found it in a charity shop (go mum for fuelling my sustainability goals).

Now, one of my biggest issues when sewing is that I always tend to make something that hangs off me and is slightly-too-big. Well, today was apparently the end to that. I graded across three sizes under time pressure (still unsure why) and tried to make it fit as I wasn’t going to be doing a toile first. Now usually I have problems getting a fit in my bust as patterns are often too small, which is probably where making things too big comes from. I should probably learn to do a FBA, but that still seems a bit advanced for me/ I’m scared/I don’t know what pattern I’d do it on/I’m lazy. Spoiler alert- the Seren did not fit my bust.

I had a few teething problems with this dress which were all 100% stupid and 100% down to time pressure. Constructing the top part of the dress was nice and quick and constructing the skirt was nice and quick. However, when I came to do the waistband it all went a bit Pete-Tong. The outer waistband is first attached to the top and bottom before the inner waistband is sandwiched between the bodice and waistband before doing a fancy flippy thing to turn it the right way. In my haste I accidently sandwiched it between the skirt and waistband, and thus the fancy-flippy-thing would not work. But I was quickly running out of time. So, I did the messy thing and left it as it was. Fortunately, this can’t be seen from the outside of the dress but if you were to look inside my Seren it’s a bit of a mess. The inner waistband is half attached and the short ends aren’t even finished, just rolled under and stitched in my haste to finish the dress.

My other issue with the dress is that I did not try it on as I went along and did zero fittings. Turns out, the waist was the perfect size and fitted incredibly well, but there was so much weird gaping in the bust. Like, there were two weird gape-y bits under the arms. There was enough room for my to have another two boobs. Now again, I had already put the facing on, and I did not have time to unpick, so I added a couple of quick darts. Now if you’re standing in front of me and I’m waving my arms in the air (like I just don’t care) then you can see this weirdness that obviously shouldn’t be there. But, if you’re three feet away, its invisible. So, I decided it would do.

After finishing my dress and making these weird adjustments/silly mistakes I then realised I was short on buttons. So, I dipped into my button stash inherited from my grandma for a few buttons which actually looked okay.

Ft. my lovely Henna and delightful POCKETS!!

And Volia!!

A rushed, but still functional and pretty Seren! I added patch pockets to it (because honestly what’s a dress without pockets?) and wore it an awful lot on my travels. And let me tell you- I got a lot of compliments! Some tailors in a fabric shop were even shocked that I had made it and were very complimentary. But then again that could have been because we were in India and here was a white gal making her own clothes.

Yes, this dress has several mistakes and isn’t perfect, but I’m deeming it sustainable. I already owned the materials and I didn’t have to go out and buy one. I also plan to continue wearing it in the winter with a nice turtleneck and some tights. I learnt that rushing a make is not a good idea, check which way the waistband should be put on and take the bust in before you make it again! I’ve already bought some more fabric to make my next Seren so watch this space. I should probs learn how to fit my bust before then but hoping that will come with more pattern experience!

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