Jaipur tablecloth dress!

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Our family go to the amazing Womadelaide festival every year. I usually pick up a few interesting pieces of clothing at the market stalls there. Last year I picked up two of these beautiful Jaipur tablecloths and bought them with the intention of making a dress out of them. The fabric appears to be wood block printed by hand, and has a border print.

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So in December I finally got around to making a dress out of it. Enter Burda 7547. This is a young, plus pattern. I love that Burda releases plus size patterns in younger, trendier styles! And this pattern is a perfect sundress pattern – you can wear a normal bra and have the straps completely concealed, and the body skimming fit quite flattering.

I traced the bodice in a size 42, the smallest available, and did a big FBA, sewed the side dart and lengthened the whole bodice.

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This resulted in a dress with quite high armholes which conceals those little fleshy bits under your arms, but does feel a little constricting to wear. I traced my hip size in the skirt section, but then ended up taking in both side seams considerably. I think I did not leave quite enough ease at the hip, it sticks a bit, but I think I just need to get over my preciousness about that. I am also not used to wearing straight skirts. If I made it again I think I’d deepen the back darts and let out the side seams from the hip down.

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The front and back deep V necklines are my favourite part of the dress. The front is low, but not unwearably so.

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The pattern instructs only the bodice to be lined, but I lined the whole dress. The lining hangs free on one side, and is caught in the side seam on the side with the invisible zip, as that was much easier.

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You can see that the hem drops a little at the sides due to my use of the border print.

The gathered shoulder is a nice feature and I finished it according to the instructions.

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I was a bit unsure about this dress when I first made it. A relatively fitted, straight dress is not something I’ve worn before, and the print is quite out there. However a close friend gave me some very positive feedback on it yesterday, so I think I will wear it. I shall certainly give it an outing at Womad itself when we go in March!

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Fly front construction for the Chelsea pants

I’ve made the StyleArc Chelsea pant twice now and the StyleArc Sally jean skirt. Both patterns have a fly front with a facing and a separate fly bearer which covers the zip on the inside, protecting you (and your underwear) from the zipper teeth. I really love this fly front – it seems like a ‘proper’ menswear style fly front zip, rather than most¬†women’s sewing patterns which often leave off the bearer (compare to the Colette method here). The front topstitching for this method looks very much like it is constructed in the same way as my factory-made jeans.

StyleArc provide instructions and several diagrams for this method. but I found that it wasn’t quite obvious enough for me, so I wrote down these steps and took some photos (which are intended to augment the instructions in the pattern) so that I could do it perfectly when I make these again. I also added when to finish edges. I hope that this helps you too!

1. Overlock/finish curved edge of fly facing.

2. Sew fly facing to right pant front.

3. Turn to face and press.

4. Sew zip to left pant piece using zipper foot. You can line up the edge of the zip and pant piece due to 10mm seam allowance. Don’t sew to close to zip, I like a 2-3mm gap between teeth and stitching.

5. Fold fly bearer in half wrong sides together and press, overlock/finish bottom edge.

6. Cover zip with bearer and sew.

7. Turn to face and topstitch.

8. Zig zag finish inside seam raw edges on both right and left sides. (I find it too narrow and fiddly to overlock)

9. Attach right and left sides of pants along crotch seam, right side up so you can meet the seam line at the zip opening. Back stitch securely at zipper opening.

10. Attach fly facing to zip keeping bearer and right front free. Use a zipper foot.

11. With bearer still folded out return right front to its place and topstitch up to start of curve using zipper foot. (The straight line of stitching on the left in this image.)

12. Return bearer to its place and topstitch curve connecting right front to bearer, narrow zigzag to secure. (This curve is shown in white chalk in image above and below.)

Done!

Construction method for Chelsea pants

So I’m making the StyleArc Chelsea pants for the second time. I have devised my own method of construction that allows me to fit as I sew. This is tailored to my particular fitting needs (adding back darts, taking in the waist etc) but I’m putting it up here so that it may help others. I hate it how instructions never tell you when to finish seams, or choose a construction order that makes it really hard to fit as you sew. This method is just one I made up as I sewed along. I’m hoping to power through all subsequent pairs now that I have this worked out and documented!

1. Interface waistband pieces.

2. Stay stitch upper edges of pant pieces to prevent stretching.

3. Construct fly front. See separate post here. After this step the zipper is inserted and the front crotch seam is sewn and finished.

4. Sew and finish back crotch seam.

5. Sew and finish inseams.

6. Pin outseams (outside leg seams). Try on and adjust to fit. Check that the side seams sit straight on the body, I usually need to take in the front pant pieces at the side seams to get the seam to sit straight.

7. Sew outseams, try on to check, finish seams.

8. Try on, pin in some back waist darts (the pattern doesn’t have any but I always need to add them). Measure darts, straighten and repin, try on, sew darts.

9. Iron belt loops piece into thirds lengthwise.

10. Topstitch both sides of belt loops piece, cut into four equal pieces.

11. Pin loops to right side of waistband pieces at the top where indicated by notches.

12. Sew belt loops on, noting 5mm seam allowance.

13. Sew centre back waistband seam to bottom of cut out notch (10mm seam). Press open.

14. Sew same seam with waistband facing pieces.

15. Pin waistband pieces to pant top matching notches (10mm seam), keeping belt loops free.

16. Pin waistband side seams to match pant pieces (in my case this will involve quite a bit of taking in). Try on to check.

17. Sew waistband side seams, trim allowance, press open, repin to pant.

18. Sew waistband to pant (10mm seam), pant piece up so that you can see the stay stitching line.

19. Press seam, press allowances up towards waistband.

20. Pin waistband facing to top edge of waistband (5mm seam).

21. Pin and sew facing side seams to match waistband, trim allowances and press open.

22. Sew facing to waistband along sides and top (5mm allowance on top and diagonal seams, 10mm allowance on vertical seams but adjust allowance so that waistband centre front and back seams match pant pieces).

Sew very close to point of notch at centre back.

23. Press seam, clip corners, turn and press.

24. Turn under bottom edge of waist facing, press and pin.

25. Stitch in the ditch from the right side, removing pins as you go. I like to sew this in sections from right front to centre back, and from left front to centre back so that if I get any bubbling it is at the back where I it won’t be as noticeable.

Check that the facing is caught in the stitching all around.

26. Press under ends of belt loops. Pin and sew securely.

27. Mark and sew buttonholes.

For me this involves following this entire page on instructions – you may have a machine that does automatic buttonholes, I have heard about such newfangled devices. I do love my machine, but the buttonholes suck.

Sew on buttons. (Apparently some machines do this, I obviously do this by hand).

28. Try on pants, mark hem length, finish hem, pin and press hem, try on, sew hem (I like a hand stitched hem).

Whew! Seems like a lot but really it wasn’t too bad at any step. I hope that this helps someone else make these great pants! I intend to print this tutorial and then whip up a few pairs quickly without having to think over each step.