The Assembly Line – Cuff Top and Apron Dress

This has to be the most joyful sew I’ve had in some time. The Cuff Top and Apron Dress from are patterns created by  The Assembly Line which is based in Sweden. Their range of patterns clean and simple with well thought out design lines that really elevate each piece. dress 8

I stumble across the company when Sal from @sewingunlimited posted a pic on IG with her Cuff Top and I fell in love. I purchased without looking at the currency conversion as I knew I that I would take a hit with postage and am so glad I did. Obviously to make the most of it 2 items were needed (always being savy with my spending : ) )and I’ve always loved the appeal of an apron dress. dress1

In making, the Cuff Top is noted as easy beginner and I would agree with that. I added some shaping at the waist (from my much loved Sewaholic Granville shirt).The top stitching is most satisfying, especially when you have the edge stitching foot for your machine.  It also involves the clever use of elastic to get that wonderful cuff shape which involved a little bit of wrestling with the machine as mine was not very stretchy elastic. There were moments though when it was woman vs machine and the needle was at breaking point. Woman triumph in the end #thefutureisfemale.

The fabric I used for the top was purchased from The Drapery has a reasonable amount of structure which allows those cuffs to shine. And that colour! It really struck me when reviewing the photos how it acts as a chameleon and blends in with the green surroundings. One of the aspects that drew me to these patterns were the solid darker colour palates of the samples in mostly black, green and navy. Quite the step away from my usual floral confections. Dress 3

The Apron Dress was noted as beginner and I’d say probably advanced beginner although the instructions were excellent, particularly as they would have been translated into English. I’m a very visual person, so I found the diagrams along with the notes really supportive and it came together beautifully. I made mine in Lithuanian linen, again purchased from The Drapery, and I was a little worried there may have been too much drape but I think it is well suited to the pattern.dress 2

The detail is wonderful, both the design lines on the side seams, those pockets which seem to go on for days, and the clever pleat at the back that really gives the waist good definition. There is also lots of top stitching which is subtle but ever so satisfying.dress 6

The only adjustment I made to the dress was too increase the size of the pleat at the back by moving the the buttons and button holes to pull it in at the waist a little more as that is my preference, harking back to the old fit and flare days. dress 9

My only sewing note with the dress would be to finish the front end of the straps before turning through to the right side as I didn’t see on the instructions how to finish them once they are sewn down to the front bodice. I ended up turning them up/inside 1 cm and then stitching down, but it could have been neater. dress 7

This just may become my winter uniform. I was going to place it aside for my trip to Europe, but as that is only a couple of months away (so excited/nervous) I think I’ll pop it in rotation now. The top will lend itself to layering as well so should keep me toasty warm in the frost that is now making itself known in the mornings. I have to mention as well that the comfort factor is high whilst maintaining a whimsical feeling stylishness. A huge achievement for me. dress 10

For sizing, each pattern comes in single size only and is only available in print.  Based on my measurements I went with the M which was a European 40-42. The dress was a little on the large size but as it was so well designed I was able to easily adjust the button placement. I would say that their sizing is more on the generous size if you are in doubt. cufftop_sketch

For those that are local in Australia, Leslie announced that Fibresmith will be stocking the The Assembly Line patterns shortly and I know that Drapers Daughter in England also has a full compliment. Otherwise you can purchase the patterns directly from their website, The Assembly Line.aprondress_sketch

I can’t recommend these patterns enough. Next up on my list is the Tulip Dress and the Three Pleat skirt. I’ve also seen on their website that they sell fabric specifically matched for their patterns as well. If post wasn’t so prohibitive I would likely go down that path. Maybe I might do that when in Berlin…

Sometimes it pays to be adventurous, try new things, and be overwhelmingly surprised at how well it all comes together. Happy Sewing Days.

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Note: This is not a sponsored post. I purchased all patterns and fabric and all opinions are my own and not paid. I’m just happy to share the sewing love I found.

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Stunning Ellie Cashman Floral Linen

No ones opening the door… guess it’s clear she’s gone. 

I have found true fabric love with Ellie Cashman and her moody dark floral designs. I recently made a ball gown (here) that is a digital print silk charmuse. The fabric I chose for the Chardon skirt was a printed linen because if you are going to spend that amount of money on one piece of fabric and postage from overseas, you should always make the cost of postage more reasonable by ordering additional fabric. That, dear readers, is logic!Ellie’s designs are exquisite and the underlying darkness in her design ensures it stands apart from that prettiness that is so often found in florals. Her designs are a mix of over sized blooms with digital enhancement and the odd butterfly floating in a sea of petals that give it a strong edge.

This is my Dirty Dancing moment, much to the horror of B1 and B2. I was, after all, having the time of my life. The water lilies were in fine form. And my death pose. May my inner gothling always be present.
The top is the Tiny Pocket tank (OOP) from Grainline Studio which I believe has now been updated to a similar pattern called  Willow. I find this top very flattering with the addition of some shaping in the side seams. I stumbled upon the cotton lace overlay and silk remnant at The Fabric Store and was down to the millimetre to cut the Tiny Pocket out. The silk hangs below the lace which I’m quite pleased with when it is sitting over the skirt but I think it will be more likely tucked in. I used some black silk bias to finish the neck and arms that I’d made many moons ago to add some contrast. The the ribbon was originally threaded around the waist however it didn’t sit well so I’ve left it at the back to give a little extra gather and definition to the waist. The linen I used for the Chardon skirt was the Dark Floral II light by Ellie Cashman and it was heaven to sew with. No fading with washing and it retained its original beautiful structure which held the pleats of the Chardon skirt so well whilst providing a little pouf. The pleats seemed to give the flowers even more depth as they overlapped. The skirt went together beautifully and having sized down from my previous version, is now more fitted around the waist. And of course it has pockets. As this is such a special skirt, I hemmed it with vintage lace gifted to me by Marjorie. She was kind enough to send me a collection of vintage laces from her personal collection last year that I could incorporate into my sewing. My mantra remains the same after all these years: Liberty, Linen and Lace. I hand picked the zip  due the thickness of the fabric and to ensure greater control over where it was placed. It sits flatly across the derriere and has all the good curves in just the right places.That centre flower looks so three dimensional within the folds of the pleats. Even when laying out the fabric it looked magical. I also caught a reclusive bug and lonely cute butterfly on the front skirt piece.

Thank you also to Chuleenan who convinced me with her versions of the Deer and Doe Chardon skirt that it is a fabulous pattern.

I suspect I may have enough left fabric over to make some beautiful cushions as well for my bedroom. Or should I try a top? Too many decisions for the poor brain today.

On the health front, my recent surgery was a complete success however surgical menopausal shock is about as much fun as it sounds. Hopefully with some more adjustments I’ll be back to work in a week or so and can get back to this wonderful thing called life. And my belly can deflate again. The poor little thing is still swollen. The scaring has healed beautifully but the poufiness of the tummy remains. In the meantime it’s rest, sew, and keep up fluids. And try not to complain too much. How do women not talk about what a horrendous thing menopause is! It’s really rather horrid. And I’ve been through many horrid things. But I now have this beautiful dark floral skirt for which I am most grateful.

Photos by Bruce. Location at Deakin University Waurn Ponds. Dark floral II fabric purchased from Ellie Cashman. (I’m saving up to purchase another piece to make a bed head…). Chardon skirt pattern by Deer and Doe. Tiny pocket tank by Grainline Studio, now reissued as the Willow.  Shoes from Camper. Tights from Wolford. Vintage jewellery from JeanJeanVintage. Flower crown by Gardens of Whimsy.

Sirena Dress

Sirena DressAllow me to introduce you to the Sirena Dress. Designed by Itch to Stitch, this is Kennis’ latest design offering from her range of patterns designed under her Itch to Stitch label. Given this is a formal review of the pattern I may down play my text, but fear not there will be outtakes at the end. Sirena Dress

I have previously made up the Marbella Dress, (also known as the English dress due to the gorgeous benefactor of fabric) so I was happy to offer my sewing services to pattern test the new Sirena Dress. Sirena Dress

This dress is something of a classic, with a high round crew neck line, options for bell or cuffed sleeves, inseam pockets and a subtle A-Line skirt that for most falls at the knee but due to my height fell well above. Scandalous! There are also options and instructions to line or not line the dress. Sirena DressSirena Dress

As with the Marbella Dress, the bodice comes in a range of cup sizes from A to D which eliminates the need for SBA and FBA’s for many of the ladies. I cut a B cup size 6 and ended up grading out to an 8 at the hips. The PDF is also layered with sizes if your measurements fall into one size you can choose just that layer only and the one size will print. How wonderful for tracing! If you fall between two sizes as I did you can print just those sizes as well to allow for grading. Again, this is a fabulous option and I think should be part of all PDF patterns. There needs to be some compensation for sticking together 50 odd pages! (I accidentally taped all four options of cup sizes for the bodice, so really I’ve no one to blame but myself.)Sirena Dress

My first toile needed a few adjustments as I cut a straight 6. I had to bring the fabric on the bodice in at the waist at both front and back darts and I also took 1cm off each side of the invisible zip. I may size down to a  4 of my next version an grade out to an 8 at the hips. The skirt is a very subtle A-line. As it is a fitted dress I would recommend making a toile to check the fit before cutting into precious fabric. I added 2.5cm to the length of the bodice as is my normal practice. Beautiful lengthen or shorten lines included on both the bodice and the skirt. Sirena Dress

Sirena Dress

Believe it or not there is an Invisible Zip in that Centre Back Seam

So what do I adore about this pattern? I love the high neck line. It’s perfect to add a little nana lace collar which is what will occur when I make my next black version. I will also add lace to the sleeves to give it a little victorian feel. I have ordered a black and gold memorial locket from etsy to complete the look. The bell sleeves are just adorable. I think they will be a little hard to wear under a normal cardi so shall invest in some long sleeve tops which has always been part of my winter layering look. The instructions were very clear and detailed, and I felt this pattern was a little more challenging than your basic indie pattern which I really enjoyed.

Kennis has advised that from the feedback from testers the front neck line has been dropped 1/2 an inch and just a few amendments to the instructions so nothing that would really change the look of how my dress turned out. Sirena-Illustrations-03 Sirena-Illustrations-01

To see other versions of the dress visit itch-to-stitch.com. It was also great to see a large range of sizes tested for this pattern. Sirena Dress

Sirena Dress

Dancing Queen – The Real Me – Bruised Legs from Falling Down Stairs

Sirena Dress

The Flamingo Stance

Sirena DressI really do love this dress, and I already have the fabric for my victorian gothling version. I may use a different skirt, most likely gathered and with lower pockets, and will definitely lengthen to below the knee.

The pattern for the Sirena dress can be found here

Curtsy

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