Liberty Silk Crepe de Chine M6696 Shirtdress

May 29, 2017   /   byFiona Parker  / Categories :  Feeds
At the start of the month The Fabric Store got in touch to see if I'd be interested in trying out a selection of their fabrics. Of course I jumped at the chance as I've been addicted to this store since I visited their LA branch 18 months ago and was blown away by their carefully curated selection ideal for dressmaking. They are New Zealand based but their online store has been shipping to the UK for about a year now with free speedy delivery over $150. If you're a long time reader of my blog you'll already be aware that I adore their merino wools so this time I tried to branch out a try a wider selection...although I couldn't resist snagging a piece of this merino/polpropylene honeycomb jacquard. I've never seen anything like it and the idea of some merino sportswear was too tempting! I sewed up my new favourite t-shirt over the weekend from this marle rib knit and to get a good variety in my selection I added a couple of metres of rich teal linen which I am considering making a pair of slouchy dungarees/overalls from. Every piece is top quality and it is a treat to work with such gorgeous natural fibres. They looked so lovely when I unwrapped them I could hardly bear to unfold them to get them in the wash!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Crepe de Chine M6696 Shirtdress from The Fabric Store

The fourth piece of fabric in my order was this beauty of a Liberty print in sand-washed silk crepe de chine. I'm not usually that much of a sucker for a Liberty print but The Fabric Store do stock a great selection of the kind of prints that I would actually wear and I fell head over heels for this one. I prefer larger scale prints and I like that this is vaguely floral but has a more organic feel. It is the perfect summer dress or blouse weight and has that liquid type of movement to it. Although more opaque than a georgette it is quite sheer in direct sunlight so I will probably be wearing this with some sort of slip. The sand-washed aspect means that it is missing that sheen that crepe de chine usually has which for me makes it infinitely more wearable. It gives the fabric a soft, matte texture but the effect on this particular silk is a little more subtle than I have seen on other sand-washed silks which have the feel of a peach skin.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Crepe de Chine M6696 Shirtdress from The Fabric Store

This project 100% started with and was driven by the fabric. This print has such a romantic vibe and I knew before it even arrived that it would have a beautiful delicate drape. I wanted to be able to waft around in it all summer. I've been really enjoying the trend for midi and maxi shirt dresses with vents which enable the skirt to billow and float around your legs as you move and decided this silk would be the perfect match. I looked at a few different patterns (including the Capital Chic Cuba Libre and Named Reeta which would both be great choices for this style) but suddenly realised I already had a shirtdress pattern I adored and which I could easily adapted to have the floaty feel I was after. I still wear my denim version of McCalls 6696 to death and know it is a favourite among many other sewing bloggers due to it's classic lines and clean finish.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Crepe de Chine M6696 Shirtdress from The Fabric Store

The pattern does come with the option for a fuller pleated skirt than the fitted version I originally made but I decided not to use the pattern for that as I was after more of a contemporary straight cut and a gentle gather so it didn't get too bulky around the waist. The skirt with the pattern is a knee length style and I thought if I lengthened those flared panels I was going to end up with way too much fabric around the hem. Instead I cut four simple rectangles as my skirt panels, using the pattern I drafted for my pleated midi skirt last summer. I was really happy with how much fabric and volume there was in that skirt and the rayon for that had a similar weight and drape. I then extended the M6696 pattern piece for the front placket to match the length of my new skirt as the placket running all the way from neck to hem is a feature I really like of the original pattern.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Crepe de Chine M6696 Shirtdress from The Fabric Store

To assemble the skirt I sewed the centre back seam then the side seams, leaving them open from about 25cm above the hem. I finished the seam allowances then pressed them open; continuing down to fold back and press the seam allowance of the open part of the seam in place too. Then I topstitched up from the hem pivoting to sew across the seam about 1cm above the opening and back down the other side. It turns out that the split hem was really hard to capture in photographs as you can see above! It's much easier to show you in flat photos.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Crepe de Chine M6696 Shirtdress from The Fabric Store

After running some basting stitches across the waist of the skirt and pulling them up to create a light gather I attached it to the waistband in the same way as the original skirt. I followed the pattern instructions to hem the skirt before attaching the front placket pieces as I love the way that is so neatly finished at the hem. One of the reasons 6696 is such a great pattern is that it's packed with these lovely techniques to achieve a clean finish inside. There are only a few seam allowances exposed as the yoke is lined, the armholes finished with bias tape and the placket and waistband hide many of the other raw edges. I french seamed the side seams of the bodice and the centre back seam of the skirt but the side seams of the skirt I opted to overlock as it was going to make creating those hem vents so much easier. I did think the silk might be too delicate for the overlocker and I might end up with a bit of puckering but I had a little experiment on some scraps and it's actually worked really well. I think it's a common misconception about silk that it is usually very delicate and fine but despite its weight it's usually super strong although easily stretched out on the bias.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Crepe de Chine M6696 Shirtdress from The Fabric Store

I know some people shy away from and even hate working with silk but I love it. It doesn't need to be a huge challenge especially when it's a top quality crepe like this. The sand-washed nature of this silk gives it a slight texture which means it has some grip against itself so doesn't slip about too badly. It does still move about and shift as any silk will but patience and plenty of fine pins in the seam allowance can soon sort that. If you're having trouble laying out your silk to cut I would recommend either cutting in a single layer or if folding it pinning your selvedges together. I also like to cut silk on the carpet rather than a table top or smooth floor for a bit of extra grip. I thought this crepe was rather beautifully behaved and all those shirt details came out so well because it responds so well to a press and holds a nice crisp corner. The fine silk also meant limited bulk to deal with around that collar. As always I followed Four Square Walls' tutorial for sewing a collar as I find that order so much easier than any other I've tried.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Crepe de Chine M6696 Shirtdress from The Fabric Store

I love so many things about the classic design of this pattern but did make a few tweaks to suit my personal taste. I've worn my denim version a couple of times recently (hello British sunshine!) and am still very happy with the fit so as before I removed the gathers from the back of the bodice and stuck with those alterations. If I remember rightly I cut the size 10 with the B cup (yes another great thing about this pattern is that it has different cup sizes!) and removed a smidgen of length from the bodice. The pattern instructions do involve quite a lot of slip stitching by hand but I actually avoided all of it as I love the look of topstitching on a shirt or shirtdress! I used the 'burrito' method for the rear yoke which eliminating the hand stitching at the shoulders and topstitched the whole collar, front placket and waistband as well as the bias finish of the sleeves. I used the standard white thread I'd been using to keep it subtle. I found a fine microtex needle and Gutermann Sew All thread worked best for this silk by the way. Good quality silk crepes can sometimes be nightmare for skipping stitches!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Crepe de Chine M6696 Shirtdress from The Fabric Store

The buttons are from a beautiful East of India card that my Mum gave me yonks ago! I've been wanting to use them for ages but never found the right project. As soon as this fabric arrived I knew they had met their match. I'm really pleased with how my buttonholes turned out on this project too. I've had a few disasters sewing them recently so made the effort to clean out the machine and get it freshly threaded before starting them and luckily it seemed to love this silk! I interfaced the collar, stand, front plackets and waistband with a lightweight fusible woven interfacing which I'm pleased to say hasn't affected the drape of the silk too much.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Crepe de Chine M6696 Shirtdress from The Fabric Store

Being quite petite I would never have considered wearing skirts and dresses of this length a couple of years ago but I'm absolutely loving this. I'm not sure exactly what it is but there's something about the combination of delicate wafty silk, the close fitting waistband and figure skimming bodice that's really working for me. I can see me wearing this to death this summer as it will be so easy to dress up or down for many occasions. Thank you so much to The Fabric Store for offering me the opportunity to try out the fabric and adding some real gems to my summer wardrobe. I'm looking forward to showing you what else I've made!

This is a syndicated post. Please visit the original author at Diary of a Chain Stitcher

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Ida Clutch Bag

I have something a bit different to show you today, which is this little clutch bag that I made for my sister, who absolutely loves it.  I first spotted it on Instagram when Kirsten from Fifty Two Fancies made it, and instantly though that my sister would like it.


The pattern is called the Ida Clutch Bag, and is a free pattern from Kylie And The Machine.
One of the bags on the introduction page is leather, as is Kirsten’s, and I really loved them, so decided to give it a go myself.  

Much googling finally brought me to Leather4Craft on ebay, where I bought some veg-tan goat skin leather for £22.00.  It came as a rectangle of leather, which I stupidly forgot to measure, and is lovely and soft.  There was more than enough for this little bag.
More googling was done on cutting and sewing leather.  I used my rotary cutter to cut it out, and pattern weights to hold the pattern piece down.  I say pattern weights, it was really my phone and some masking tape…

You can maybe, sort of, judge the size of the leather from this photo.  There was enough leather to the top to cut out another pattern piece, and there was a bit left over that is probably about half as wide as the bit that my rotary cutter is sitting on.
Sewing the leather turned out to be a lot easier than I thought, but leather needles are a must.  I practised a dart on some scrap leather first, and my machine handled it beautifully.  Sewing leather is a bit of a one shot deal, you don’t want to be unpicking, and my walking foot was great.

I marked the point of the dart with a pin, which left a little hole in the leather, then clipped the dart ends within the seam allowance.
I marked the dart legs with a pencil on the wrong side of the leather.
I obviously couldn’t use pins on the leather, as they would leave little holes, so I used a mini clothes pegs to hold everything together.  Quilting clips would be great, but I don’t have any.
 This is what the darts look like from the wrong side,
And this is the right side.
The instruction page on the interfacing mentions that the sample leather bag is interfaced (I think it’s in the comments), but I was a bit too scared to try that!  So I just interfaced the lining.  I used a medium weight interfacing for the whole bag lining (Piece B), and then a woven interfacing on top for Piece C.

I added an inside pocket, and made it as big as I could without interfering with the darts.  It’s big enough for a phone.

Next came inserting the zip, and the instructions for it are brilliant.  I didn’t take any photos of it, but here’s what it looked like when it was finished. 
The pin in the photo above is marking the tailor’s tack for the snap placement, which leads me on to attaching the snaps.  I wasn’t looking forward to this, because I was afraid of ruining the leather.  But some more googling showed me how to do it.  
Everything I read called for interfacing, but, as already mentioned, I didn’t want to interface the leather.  So I didn’t use any, and it’s grand.  Here’s what I did.
First of all, I practised on a leather scrap!  The snaps have two prongs on the back that are secured with a little washer.   

I stuck a pin through the lining and leather where the tailor’s tack was (the tack was just in the lining), to mark the snap position on the leather.  Then I used the washer as a template, and marked the position of the prongs with a pen (making sure it wouldn’t bleed through to the front!).


Admire that lovely top stitching!


Then I snipped into the leather using some embroidery scissors.

The prongs on the snap go through the holes from the front, then it is held in place with the washer.  I just put it through the leather, so the snap is not visible on the inside of the bag.

Here’s what it looks like from the right side.

I did the same with the other snap, and here’s what it looks like when it’s closed.

As suggested in the instructions, I sewed the edges of the bag with a zipper foot.  It was tricky to get over the closed end of the zip, and I ended up just turning the hand wheel.

I’m delighted with how this little bag turned out, and leather definitely isn’t as tricky to sew as I thought.

Now I sort of want to make a leather purse…  Have a great weekend,
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New Look 6500 shift dress: a simple pattern that I couldn’t leave unmodified

How much adjustment do you do on a very simple pattern? Do you feel it’s worthwhile to make very small changes to get it just right or perhaps you sew up simple things as is and save your efforts for a special dress or coat.
This simple dress pattern is something that I choose as one of the suggestions for my Sew a Dress class at Hello Stitch in Berkeley. (scheduled again for Sun. July 30 – the first one was great fun. More details at the bottom of this post on all the upcoming classes). As it happens Craftsy asked me to write a longer post outlining all the steps to sew a simple dress, consequently I decided to sew up this pattern and get a lot of things done with one project. Plus I’ve been on a shift dress kick lately. They are such simple and pleasant things to wear. Since it was 107˚F in the SHADE here yesterday I would rather have worn a dress made of ice cubes but since that is not going to happen a shift dress it is.

batik shift dress

I have had this fabric in my stash for a good 5 or 6 years. It’s a cotton batik that I bought in Hawaii, quite a large amount (5 yards) and just never found a use for it. Slightly heavy as a lot of batiks are, so not really good for most dresses plus the vertical stripe had me stumped. I think I found the perfect style for it that uses the stripe best. Plus I can wear my stripes navy blue espadrille sandals – double win.
Here’s the pattern envelope, with a sneak peek of a subsequent version of this dress. Which everyone has gone wild for on my Instagram teases, embroidered denim must be the thing this summer. The envelope says D0569 but all the pattern pieces say New Look 6500 so I’m calling it that. I really like New Look patterns, they come up with some super cute dresses and tops, plus they include all sizes in one envelope and cost $ 3.99 all the time.

New Look Shift dress pattern

batik dr front view

Onward to my adjustments: I sewed this dress for the Craftsy post, not as a wearable but as a “photograph-able” item, i.e. something that would really show in the step-by-step tutorial but I had no intention of wearing it. It was actually quite a pleasure to just sew up a dress with no changes, I sewed the size 12 and went from there.
Here is the version I sewed for Craftsy, in a quilting cotton that I had in my stash, I think a remainder from a project I did for someone on Etsy ages ago. And I really loathe this color of green so don’t even tell me that you like this dress on me 🙂 Plus for the most part sewing/wearing garments with quilting cotton is a bit NO for me. With some exceptions they always look a bit off: too wrinkly, too juvenile, too unsophisticated to claim my interest.

green shift dress

green shift dress3

But I include the photo of me wearing this one to show the neckline fit. That neckline was choking me – I don’t like that high round neckline and when you move your head forward it’s so uncomfortable. Good shoe match thought, right?

Back to the blue and white batik version. Can you see the difference in the neckline? It is so much more comfortable for me in the second version. I wanted to figure out exactly how much to open the neck so I made a version of just the top half of the dress in swedish tracing paper – and every time I use that I remember that is has absolutely no give. While it seems like a good idea because you can sew it – putting it on is not so easy. I did put a zipper so I could actually try it on – which worked in the end but it was kind of shredded. However it was good enough to slice and dice a bit, figuring out how I wanted the final neckline to be shaped.

neckline comparison

I cut out the batik version based on my new neckline, and basted it together at the shoulder seams to see if I liked the neckline. It still seemed a bit too high for my preference and also I like the armholes to be more cut in at the shoulder in a sleeveless dress. So instead of cutting more off the edges of the dress I made a one piece facing for front and back, and then used tracing paper to mark a seam line. At the neck I took away a further 5/8″ (total seam allowance now 1.25″) and then on the armholes I think I sewed it at around 7/8″ which makes the armhole a bit bigger all around. You have to be careful that it doesn’t make the armhole too low but this dress had a very tight armhole so there was plenty of room.

batik dress facing new seam

On my next version of this dress (the embroidered chambray fabric)  I’ll show how I make the one piece facing plus this upcoming version is lined so it incorporates facing and lining together.

The original New Look pattern had separate neck and armhole facings which works ok, not my preference but not as horrible as some make it out to be. But there’s a better way. Another option for these simple summer dresses is bias binding but I wanted to show the traditional or basic type of dress sewing.

But we are not done yet! In fact this adjustment should have come up first in my writing but I only remembered to take this picture a few minutes and include it. The bust dart on this dress is both large and high. I measured it on the pattern piece and could see that it needed to be lower so I did that before I did anything else, just a straightforward shift downward about 3/4″. The bust dart is kind of larger than it would be had there been other darts (vertical waist darts)  or other shaping. Trying it on it made the dart a bit too pointy – not my favorite look. So I reduced the width of the dart.

dart adjustment on shift dress

On the tracing paper on the left you can see the faint outline of the original dart, too high. The second placement, lower but too big, and then the final version in the purple dotted line, just right. I sound like Goldilocks don’t I but if you’re going to do adjustments you might as well go all the way until you like the fit.

Batik dr side and back view

Back and side view, you can barely see the dart but that is the ideal, at least for me. Since the side seams were not even in length I split the difference at the top of the seam at the armhole and sliced off about 3/8″ off the side back at that point. Worked out fine.

batik dress front 2

So that’s chapter one on my summer shift dress extravaganza. I have some more complex things in line for my sewing table but not sure what order I will sew them.

Here’s the link to that Craftsy post: The Complete Beginners Guide to Sewing a Dress.

Update on classes at Hello Stitch Studio on Berkeley. The Fit Lab was great – we are going to schedule this class again soon. In July we are repeating Saturday classes for sewing Skirts, Tunic Tops, and a new on starting on Wed 7/26 in the evening is a Button-front shirt class. All these classes are two sessions scheduled a week apart so not a long term time commitment and you will get a project done (or nearly) and learn some new and useful techniques. The Dress class is an all-day one on Sun. 7/30. FYI: I’ve found parking to be surprisingly easy around the studio and it is no more than a 10 minute walk from the Berkeley Bart station so really convenient to get to.

This was yesterday afternoon. Survival mode with an iced coffee. thankfully lots cooler today (ha ha only mid 90’s˚F).


Happy weekend sewing,

today’s garden photo, this white daisy just looks so calm and cool, even in this heat!


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Surprise Watercolor Drawings

Surprise Watercolor Drawings are a fun way to paint! Kids can make their creations, give them to a friend, and watch as their friend uncovers the magic drawing using watercolor paint! We’ve partnered with Imperial Sugar to bring you this fun activity, featuring sugar glue that you can make at home!   Surprise Watercolor Drawings…

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The post Surprise Watercolor Drawings appeared first on Kids Activities Blog.

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