Perfectly Pear Shaped: Simplicity 1800 - Amazing Fit Dress

Simplicity 1800 Amazing Fit dress

This one was a challenge. My Christmas present of an adjustable tailor's dummy got me thinking I should have a go at making something a bit more fitted than usual. So, inspired by Laura Fisher's beautiful version of this dress, I took a chance on Simplicity's 1800 pattern from their Amazing Fit range. 

Simplicity 1800 Amazing Fit sewing pattern
Promises to fit all shapes and sizes

I'm so glad I thoroughly Googled this one before starting out and am eternally grateful to the clever blogging women (at Lizzy House, Binenstich, Pretty Grievances and of course Behind The Hedgerow) who'd already tried and tested this pattern and divulged what did and didn't work. I therefore dispensed with some of the instructions regarding initially sewing it inside out and went straight into sewing the finished dress. I also (as usual) decided to cut the back panel as one piece without a zip.

Fabric choice: a superb piece of Dutch wax print cotton – an Ebay win!

My first cause for alarm was discovering that according to Simplicity's measurements my bust should be cut out in size 10 pattern pieces, my waist in size 12 and my hips a generous size 16! I didn't have confidence that cobbling these three sizes together would produce a fitting garment but noting that the design allows for 10cm ease in the hips, lopped that 10cm off my hip measurement and decided to cut out the hips and waist in a size 12, keep the bust at size 10 (an easier configuration to fit together) while crossing my fingers that my real hips would fit into the skirt.

Adjustable dressmakers dummy
Meet the mannequin: My adjusted dressmakers dummy - now with hips and paunch

When fitting the garment to my pear-shaped mannequin I had to take a further 5cms out from the bust area. This means that the curved lines running through the bust seam and down through the edge of the pocket finishing on the hip don't perfectly match up. At this point I'm past caring.

Front seam, wonky.
Seam discrepancy. Ouch

I'm left to conclude that while promising to fit all shapes and sizes, this dress isn't really designed for the pear shaped woman. Constructing it to fit my figure was so fiddly and the written instructions were so confusing that I kept losing momentum and abandoning the project. Only the desire not to waste this gorgeous fabric kept me going...

Simplicity 1800: Amazing Fit dress
Simplicity 1800: not a bad fit after all

Incredibly all the effort paid off and yes, I am amazed to find that the finished dress fits. My only reservation with the frock's appearance is that the wide open and deep neckline leaves me feeling too exposed – I prefer to be more covered up.  Other than that, I think in the pictures at least it looks quite good... but I'm not quite sure I'll be rushing to make another.

Simplicity 1800 Amazing Fit dress
Simplicity 1800

Worthing Fog and Fishing Nets

Homefield Park in fog

Worthing woke up in a thick layer of fog this morning. Visibility was just five metres ahead and made for an eerily still and silent walk through the park to school. 

Foggy pier

Down at the seafront the foggy cloud was even more dense but gradually brightened without dissipating as a luminous white ball of sun rose higher in the sky.

Fog covers Worthing Pier
Shades of oyster, lavender and grey were only broken by the sight of colourful rags of fishing nets and rope wrapped around the steel girders beneath the pier. Worthing Pier had been yarn bombed by the sea!

Fishmermans nets caught under the pier
Yarn bombed Worthing Pier
Under the pier, Worthing
Fog clearing beyond Worthing Pier

Green Cocoon Coat: Easy, Cute, Straight Stitch Sewing

Square coat with Tyrolean trim: Easy Cute Straight Stitch Sewing

It was love at first sight. The Square Coat is the fourth design I've sewn from Japanese minimalist sewing book Easy Cute Straight Stitch Sewing

The garment is made up of three big rectangles of fabric for the body, two small rectangles for the sleeves and two tiny square pockets, much like this dress but with a front opening. The book shows the Square Coat made up in a fine woven wool fabric with raw frayed edge front, neck and arm seams (no facings). There is no front fastening, the coat is shown secured with a simple pin.

Yoshiko Tsukiori's Easy, Cute, Straight Stitch Sewing book

I used a stiff double sided green/blue felted fleecy synthetic fabric bought for a song from Fabricland, Brighton and added some embroidered floral braid for Tyrolean folk effect.

Centre front finish with folk braid trim

I turned over a narrow hem to finish the centre front, neckline and sleeves as it looked too accidental (i.e. awful) in this fabric when left as a raw edge, then added bright blue metal poppers for an easy and secure front fastening – essential when living on the windy south coast of England!

Easy Cute Straight Straight Stitch Sewing: Square Coat in green felt

My favourite thing about the coat is the contrast between the vast boxy shape of it and these tiny square front pockets. I used a fancy zigzag machine stitch to edge the pockets.

Square coat, square pockets

I love the finished coat and can see this design working in many different weight fabrics. It's another simple Japanese pattern that I think I'll make again and again.

Yoshiko Tsukiori's square coat

Stormy Sunday in Worthing

Seagulls over Splashpoint

Yesterday's high Spring Tide saw the sea lashing Marine Parade and pelting Worthing's promenade with shingle, driftwood and seaweed. This afternoon the weather seemed calm enough for us to attempt a seaside walk at low tide so we dressed for the occasion in warm woolly layers, raincapes and waterproof boots.

Worthing surf

Even as the tide went out great waves crashed ashore and huge swathes of sea foam lapped in as far as the beach shelters on the prom. Worthing Pier reopened today (after being closed for the past few stormy days) but we felt safer heading across the road to Macaris for hot chocolate and waffles.

Worthing Pier in stormy sea
Worthing Pier, view from west side
Billowing on the beach
Sea foam and wellies

Hotchpotch Painted Portrait Dress

Patchwork Painted Portrait Dress

In the spirit of using up leftovers after Christmas I decided to make another Painted Portrait Dress with remnant pieces of fabric from some of last year's projects. 

Painted Portrait Dress with patch front yoke

These are all Japanese cottons - some I'd used to make Christmas presents and others are offcuts from clothes I've made like this Japanese one-piece. This time I tried making the sleeveless version of the Painted Portrait but couldn't resist adding those fantastic roomy pockets again. 

Patchwork Painted Portrait Dress

Anna Maria Horner's sewing pattern is ideal for using up smaller pieces of fabric – the patchwork front yoke looks so beautiful (and it's very easy to sew). I predict that there'll be many more patchwork dresses appearing in my wardrobe in 2014! 

Lovely yoke!