Finished Quilts

Sunday, 27 April 2014

my dressmaking adventure: airelle

My avoidance activities took on momentous forms this week, including emptying, washing out and refilling most of the kitchen cupboards (the gnarly one is still to be tackled).  But I decided to suck it up and dive in to continue the dressmaking journey I started last year (one top made and worn, one top still to be hemmed and may not get worn by me at least).

I've been planning to make the Deer&Doe Airelle blouse for nearly a year now.  I even talked about it to Kerry at the FQR Retreat last year and Sue and Di kindly gave me the black bias binding from their FQR goody bags to use for the piping I was planning to add.  Months went by, where I thought a lot about making this top and enviously eyed some lovely makes on Flickr but did nothing. A couple of weeks ago, I girded my loins (WTF?!)  and publicly declared that I was fighting the fear and going to start.  I cut out the pattern and ironed every piece.  The Deer&Doe patterns are on pretty heavy paper, which I like (from my limited experience). I was ready to go...... and then it all stalled.

My problem is really all about cutting fabric.  I worry so much about doing it wrong and ruining the fabric. (same as with my quilting) The nano iro double gauze I decided to use (after a last minute change of mind) had been sat sitting waiting to be used for something for coming on 4 years now.  In the end, I did make a couple of cutting out mistakes, which meant I had to reduce the length of the sleeves by an inch or so and improvise the facing for the collar, which made me decide to also use the same fabric as the underneath of the collar itself.  I chose voile obviously because voile and double hard could that be for a beginner?

Anyway, my progress was slow and a bit stop starty (I nearly cried when I saw the beautiful jacket that Emily made in 4 hours!).  Half way through I was convinced the way forward was to ditch the pattern sleeves and make tulip sleeves instead but I realised that I should just do what I'm told until I'm good enough to do better.  And so, this afternoon I finally finished my first ever blouse (collar and cuffs matching, Mrs Garrett!)...

I also attempted a fashion shoot with Laughing Boy but he acted like I'd just asked him to sacrifice our first born and handed him a loaded weapon. I had planned a really cool "look my shoulder is broken" super model pose but wasn't given any more time! One vaguely usable photo later...

David Bailey he ain't!
Move along now...nothing to see here.

Overall, I chose to make the largest size because I was concerned about fitting in the chebbage. This was probably a mistake as it is a bit big on me, especially the neck/collar which I feel is a bit gapey round the back.  The instructions were very limited and if like me your a newbie to all of this malarkey, instructions like "clip the seam allowance"  made me fret as there were no pictures to show where to do this.  I turned to my Vogue Sewing manual for guidance but I may have over clipped!  The facing on the collar is now really bumpy (with empty bits).  Having said that, the instructions did the job.  I chose french seams for the back, sides and the sleeves and bound the gathered bits on the shoulder.  I think I will bind the armhole seams too.  Double gauze frays if you even look at it the wrong way.

My sleeves didn't fit into the armholes - they (the sleeves) were too big  - no idea why!  So again I had to improvise and did a small gather at the top of each sleeve, with mixed success to be fair.  I think they shoulders now look a bit oddly puffy and emphasise how big the top is.  Also, the collar is every so slightly overlapped...

can you spot the fish? or are you mesmerised by the lumpy facing?
..but I quite like that.

So, all in all a bit hit and miss but I think I learned a lot - an expensive toile if you will! I may give it away to someone who will love it or I might wear it to work tomorrow to test drive it.  Here are my favourite bits...

I love the voile under the collar..

my first ever collar!
I deliberately chose to keep the selvedge on the sleeves (well one of them anyway)...

my first ever cuff!
A couple of days ago a lovely parcel from the Village Haberdashery came through the letter box, containing....

The Mortmain
Mortmain by Gather .. for the "ambitious beginner"
Washi Sewing Pattern
Washi, obvs
So it looks like I have a way to go on my dressmaking adventure.... just hoping it won't be another year before the next leg.


  1. Looks gorgeous, well done, and i love the matching cuffs and collars *snort*- i have the washi dress pattern but haven't had the balls to try it yet!

  2. I am so impressed Moira! Well done for biting the bullet and coming out with a very lovely finished garment - the voile facings and the selvedge detail on the sleeve are very nice finishing touches. But what is "chebbage"?

    The only thing I would change would be if you went back in time and let me buy that Nani Iro off you because it's GORGEOUS and I can't get that print anywhere!!! I am pleased you saved it for something special - I too am afraid of being chop-chop happy and then running out of fabric.

    I have also been eyeing up the Mortmain and the Washi ... look forward to seeing your (rapid!) progress on these so that I can decide which one to buy! I am mid-way through doing a mock-up of the Meghan peasant top from Sis Boom which looks like the easiest pattern ever, so if I mess this up then I shall take it as a sign that dressmaking and I were not meant to be.

  3. It's such a pretty blouse! Do wear it and enjoy it!

  4. Chebbage is such a great word:-) I am so impressed that you could tackle anything with a collar and sleeves - and it looks fab. I will be watching out for the Washi.

  5. Wear it girl. Wear it with pride! I think it looks great (the picture looks about as clear as if I'd asked my own laughing boy to take it!). I wouldn't have known where to start.

  6. you have done so amazing well with your first ever blouse, not many of us could wear the fisrt thing we made but yours looks lovely, well done and a pat on your back from me, wonder what is next on your dressmaking to do list

  7. It looks fabulous!!! And you'll love the washi, so easy to make and the shirring bit is ridiculously exciting. I'm about to embark on my third with some melody miller arrows :-)

  8. it looks really lovely on you! Well done! I would definitely concur that the Deer and Doe instructions are a little light on info. They really love to say things like "attach sleeves" and leave it at that. Not the easiest first pattern to go for, so even more impressive that you ended up with a wearable top!

  9. Well I think you did a brilliant job - well done you! I think you are missing one very important step though. Before cutting into that expensive fabric and guessing your size, you really should make a muslin. Honestly, you think it'll take even longer, but it's so worth it, and the stitching doesn't haven't to be perfect as it's only a muslin. Then you could have seen where you needed to reduce the size so the expensive one fit...

  10. I think getting a pattern to fit is the hardest part of dressmaking as we all have non standard bodies! You've done a fantastic job and the fabric is soo beautiful!

  11. It looks brilliant and I hope you've got it on to work today!!
    I'm still sitting on my copy of the mortmain, as I can't pick a fabric!!! But, really I thinkI'm just too chicken to start!!!

  12. It looks fab! Dressmaking is so hard, because stuff has to fit! You might find Rae's pattern easier as she explains things with lots of photos and there is extra stuff on her blog. I've learnt a lot by making children's clothes - hems and cuffs and facings and all that. Less of a commitment fabric wise!!

  13. You did great! I love the little details, the fabric is just gorgeous AND it looks great on you! You mustn't give it away…that would be so wrong! xx

  14. Well done, you did so well, and don't worry about that Emily - she's just a show-off ;-)

  15. looks absolutely brilliant, Moira. Enjoy it!

  16. See you can do it! That looks fantastic, the topstitching is so neat, I hope you wear it loads...