0 Degrees Bleuet

You guys have heard of 6 Degrees of Separation right?

New Zealand has a bit of an inside joke regarding that saying (we even have a mobile phone company named for it), but in Wellington it seems even less and we often joke that it’s actually 0 Degrees.We know this is technically not possible but live in Wellington for even a short period of time and you’ll quickly realise the exaggeration is no understatement. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve met someone new and we’ve discovered some way we are linked through circumstance or mutual friend/s.

So, moving on to the point of this post: The Wellington Sewing Bloggers now number more than 30 lovely ladies with a passion for sewing and blogging and Wellington.  With a group this size you won’t be surprised to learn that several of us own the same patterns and we also often buy the same fabric.

Sometimes inadvertently, sometimes deliberately.

This is what spawned Leimomi’s idea for the 0 Degrees of Sewing Separation Challenge. We would all link up by pattern or fabric and create a branching chain of fabulous clothes that  all link us together.

This is my link in the chain, a second Deer and Doe Bleuet:

Excuse the wrinkles, I wore it all day at Fabric-a-brac 🙂

It links to Kat who has made the same dress in a cute mushroom fabric and Jenna who used the same mushroom fabric to make a Pauline Alice Alameda…and that’s how it goes. Check out all the links in the chain as they are published on Leimomi’s post.

The main fabric from Cotton and Steel and it is AMAZING (capital letters required). It was beautiful to sew and feels great even after a few washes. Japanese fabric is like that.

I had 2.5 yards but due to the narrow width I didn’t have enough to cut all the final small pieces. So I picked up some matching pink broadcloth of similar weight and weave from Spotlight.

Spot my new sewing toy – an ElnaPress – Squee! Perfect interfacing.

I initially thought I would cut the button band (which I cut off last time), collar, bow and sleeve bands from the pink but I was worried it would become too bitsy and the beautiful main fabric would be less special. In the end I squeezed the button band and upper collar (by piecing the under side) onto the Tangrams and only cut the collar upstand, bow and cuffs from the pink.

Kat helped me alter the sleeves because I didn’t want the gathers and puffiness and then I decided I wouldn’t use the chunky cuffs.

I stitched most of this on a Sunday and I had the dress about 80% finished (just needing collar, sleeves and hemming) when I put it on my dress form at the end of the day.

I felt so happy with my fabric choice and I decided that, although I normally prefer dresses with sleeves, I actually quite liked this one without. I consulted with members of the WSBN who mostly agreed with me but suggested I make up one sleeve and baste it on to check.

I tested the altered sleeve in calico first and it was pretty close. There was still a bit too much width so I folded that out and cut the first sleeve from the tangrams. I basted it in place and then I decided it needed more pink. I cut one of the cuffs down to bias width, folded it up and pinned it in place. It looked so good that I just went ahead and attached the second cuff and didn’t bother asking any more opinions 😉

I’m not very good at inserting sleeves. I usually catch each side three or fours times and have to do a lot of unpicking so this time I tried something new. I can’t remember where I first saw it or if it has a technical term other than Use All The Pins but it worked really well.

My only real hiccup with this make was running out of thread while sewing the hem the night before our meet. I had to steal some off the bobbin and even then I only just made it.

We celebrated our challenge with Yum Cha:

Mango Pudding!
Me, Kirsten, Kristina, Jenna and Kat

And then we wandered over to Te Papa for some fun group photos:

Leimomi, Me, Jenna, Marta, Zara, Kirsten and Nina

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Deer and Doe Bleuet Dress, straight size 42

Altered sleeves, removed self button placket and reattached.

Fabrics – Cotton and Steel Moonlit Tangrams Navy, pink broadcloth from Spotlight Kaiwharawhara.

footer_kiwi-kitten-follows

We’re all different…especially him. But there’s something kind of fantastic about that, isn’t there?*

My second dress for The Monthly Stitch Frocktober was a Deer & Doe Reglisse.

This is my 4th Deer and Doe pattern and I feel qualified now to admit that I’m not a huge fan of their instructions, however I’m confident and experienced enough to get by. The fit on the models on the website isn’t always the best representation but if you squint past all that then the patterns themselves are cute and have interesting details.

I went a bit outside of my usual colour palette this time around. While looking at fabric on the internet I fell in love with Patty Sloniger’s Socks the Fox and after it arrived I picked up some plain grey cotton for contrast to try and tone down the cuteness. It still ended up way too cute overload for everyday wear but I do feel super girly in it and who doesn’t like to feel super girly occasionally?

The website I purchased this fabric from classed it as a quilting cotton, but it is very light weight with a soft hand. Perfect then for a floaty dress, however I struggled to get the skirt pattern pieces on the narrow width, especially after adding 5cms in length.

I had the same issue with my first La Sylphide but this time I decided to try piecing a small triangle onto each outer corner instead of altering the angle of the side seams.

It worked really well. The cotton was easy to keep still when stitching and while this photograph makes the the joins look quite prominent you can hardly see them when the dress is being worn, lost in the pattern and fullness of the skirt.

The instructions for this dress are quite good except for the collar where they suddenly become very sparse.

I knew there was a sew along on the Deer & Doe blog but I tried to get through as much as I could without it but truly I was stumped. A lot happens with very little detailed text and not enough diagrams. There is no picture of the bias being sewn onto the collar so I had no idea how much I was supposed to unfold my bias tape.

So I jumped online and found the Reglisse sew along. It’s all in French (you could translate it through Chrome) but really the photos are all you need. As soon as I saw them everything clicked into place.

It’s a bit tricky to find the posts but you can read the collar section here.

The dress is finished neatly inside, even the elasticated waistband but I am not entirely convinced on the finish at the center front, it feels a bit rough.

It would also be nice to encase the seam on the short sleeve version with bias or perhaps attach one side and then turn them over with the raw edge folded under and stitch in the ditch to sandwich them over the arm hole.

Being a pull over style dress with elastic waist, the fit is very different to what I usually sew but it makes for a comfy wear. This is the fullest skirt I have ever sewn and despite the cuteness overoad I really quite like it.

If you’d like to see more construction photos you can look at my “Sew with Us” posts on The Monthly Stitch.

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Deer & Doe Reglisse, size 42, lengthened 5cm

Fabric – Socks the Fox in Aqua from Patty Sloniger’s Les Amis range

Other notions  Elastic, me-made bias.

*Fantastic Mr Fox

Crazy Cat Lady Belladone…meow

I have been procrastinating a bit over writing this post because it is out-of-order.

I stitched up two other dresses before this one but I am behind in my blogging so it makes my eye twitch to write this post first…however I am late to The Cat Lady party so here goes…

When I spotted Miss Crayola Creepy’s Cat Lady Sewing Challenge on Instagram I shared it with the WSBN and as is our style is became a Big Deal.

A picnic was planned and we spent several days sharing cat fabric image after cat fabric image with each other.

It took me a few days to decide on my final selection. I trawled the internet like a crazy cat woman because I wanted kitties but nothing too crazy. If I am going to spend time making an awesome dress then I need to be able to wear it out in normal situations…like to work!

Kokka Japan, Tossed Kitties in Pink and Aqua Images from fabricworm.com 

In the end I settled on this Kokka fabric called Tossed Kitties. The cats are a small enough scale to not be in-your-face but still recognisable.

Plus it makes me think of this:

BEG8

I went for the slightly less crazy Aqua and I was really pleased when it arrived because the light blue was actually much darker and more teal in real life. I love it!

Deer and Doe’s Belladone was my pattern of choice, selected for cuteness and lack for bodice/skirt seams.

This pattern has been on my to-sew list for a while. I pulled it out and traced it a few months ago, compared the bodice against another favourite pattern, decided it needed 4cms in length and then got distracted by another project.

So my pattern was all ready traced with a small sticky note attached reminding me about the 4cms. I just needed to decide where to add them! The bust darts are super high so 2cms went there and the other 2cms below. I find it a little bizarre that this bodice is so short when the Bleuet dress fitted me really well with almost zero alterations.

I did briefly consider sewing a muslin of just the bodice to test out my changes but…well I couldn’t be bothered so traced a second bodice piece, added my extra length and tissue fitted it to Scarlett.

Looks good to me!

My only other alteration was to add an extra 6cms to the skirt.

Harriet approved of this fabric early on

After I had cut everything out and started sewing I found a pretty big drafting error. My pattern is a bit older so I’m not sure if it’s been picked up and corrected.

The upper back bodice pieces square off at the side seam but the squared off section is 2cms wide. With a seam allowance of only 1.5cm this means that after stitching the side seam you would end up with 0.5cm raw edge poking out on each side. Not good 😦

It made me kind of mad at first. Is this not the sort of thing that should be picked up during pattern testing? Lucky I had extra fabric to re-cut these small pieces after altering the pattern. It’s an easy fix to extend the angled edge to a point.

My grey bias tape was left over from one of those dresses that I haven’t yet blogged. I originally intended to use a dark blue but it wasn’t right with the teal. The grey bias strips were already cut and ready to be ironed into shape.

Win.

I mostly followed the instructions except that I attached all my front pieces together and then all my back pieces so that I could sew the side seams as a continuous line and adjust the fit.

I also saved attaching the neck binding until last so that after inserting the zipper I could adjust the fit there.

When it came to joining the back of the neck I came across the same drafting error of a 2cm squared off edge. This edge is too large for the bias to cover, it looks nothing like the image in the instructions, which has these edges finishing in points.

I was not going to recut the same piece for a third time so I trimmed the edges to points, adding a bit more scoop to the neck, then I pinned my overlap to test and tried it on

I found the under bodice pieces a bit gapey so I hid a small pleat under the overlap and I will adjust the pattern to take this out for next time.

I put in an invisible zipper and I’m not super happy with how the upper edge is finished. It looks fine from the outside but inside it looks messy and exposed at the top. It’s a bit tricky to line up the bottom of the V so I ended up putting my zip in a little low so I fixed that with a hook and eye. I’m still thinking about how I’ll do it better next time.

Even after the few hiccups and grumbles I have with this pattern I really love my dress and now that I have ironed out the issues I am definitely making a couple more. I’d love to use the bodice with a different skirt pattern and vice versa and maybe even make up the skirt just as a skirt.

Sandra took these fabulous photos at the Wellington Botanic Garden. We had a lovely picnic and everyone had a Cat Lady outfit, even our newest member Alison who was given almost no notice. She made a cute hat with cats on it.

This sounds pretty cool but wait…the cats are wearing hats.

It’s like hat inception…Cat in the Hat-ception.

Awesome.

Here are a few group photos taken by various kiddiewinks who tagged along.

Laura, Alison, Joy, Sandra

Teresa, Me, Juliet and Sophie-Lee

Laura, Me, JulietSandra

Sophie-Lee, Teresa, Joy and Johanna

Does anyone else own the Belladone? Does your pattern have the same drafting errors as my older pattern? I’m keen to find out.

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Deer & Doe Belladone, size 42

Next time I will remove 1cm from below the bust darts because it feels a tiny bit long now. I need to adjust the inner upper back bodice to remove the excess fabric. Outer upper bodice piece has already been adjusted at side seam but I need to adjust CB at neck as well.

Fabric – Kokka Japan Tossed Kitties in Aqua from Voodoo Rabbit

Other notions – Me-made bias, grey cotton from Spotlight

 

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…oh deer!

The WSBN are great at scheming!

Our most recent collaborative idea was to sew a garment from one pattern brand. Votes were cast and Deer & Doe won…and then the four of us who participated all managed to sew the same pattern, the Bleuet dress!

We have graduated from Twinsies to Quadruplets!

So where do four sewists go for photographs when they are all wearing the same dress by a pattern company called Deer & Doe?

Duh, they go to Staglands of course, because with a name like that there MUST some deer there, right?

RIGHT!

But first we ate, because not only are we excellent at scheming and sewing (and sewing scheming) we are also good at eating!

So we picnicked:

You may notice we also included significant others, both large and small, for this outing.

Wellington put on a beautiful day so after our picnic we wandered, looking at the animals, chatting and photographing as we went.

The Bleuet Quadruplets:

Nikki, Kat, Me and Jenna

Apart from the odd sneak peek this was the first time I’d seen all the dresses complete and together. I really love that we each put our personal style twist to it and while it’s clear we all used the same pattern we all ended up with a unique dress.

Sewing is awesome, yes it is!

Near one of the picnic areas a lady complimented our dresses and was brave enough to ask, “Why are you all wearing the same dress?” so I quickly explained that we were part of a sewing group and that this particular dress was from a pattern company called Deer & Doe so we were hoping to have photos with deer (we hadn’t actually seen any deer at that point).

She seemed very impressed and that was when I realised we are not normal but it made me happy in a weird sort of way 🙂

Me, Kat, Jenna and Nikki

I saw this check print while on a sneaky fabric shopping mission with Nikki. She picked it up first and I was going to get some cut from it after her but there wasn’t enough left on the bolt. I figured it wasn’t meant to be, then Enabler Nikki texted me one weekend not long after to say she’d seen another bolt of it. I couldn’t get to the shop but put out a cry for help on the WSBN Facebook page and MaryLousie came to my rescue – sewing friends are the best!

I channelled my inner Ladybird and cut the side panels on the bias, then I chopped off the self button placket and cut that on the bias too.

You may have noticed I have an extra panel on the back of my dress, just below the collar.

This is, err…a bonus design feature.

Ok, maybe I had a little boo boo.

While trying this dress on I got my arm stuck one of the arm holes and heard a terrible ripping sound! At first I couldn’t find any damage so I assumed it was just some basting stitches ripping out. I carried on sewing…and then I saw it!

NooOOoooOOOoooo!

I was really mad at myself for about 30 seconds. Then I sat down at my machine and zig zagged the rip together. After staring at it a little longer I realised I had to patch it. I am sure I’ve seen patches on the back of shirts so I drew a semi-circle on the back bodice piece that would cover the rip and cut it on the bias for interest.

I top stitched it in place and it went unnoticed for about half the day until Nikki spotted it 😉

After solving that little problem I needed some stress relief – for the first item ever, and inspired by Kat, I decided to try snap fasteners instead of buttons.

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#sewing with a hammer #fyeah #bleuet #DeerandDoe

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I bought 12 pearl snaps and took out my frustration installing them.

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Beeeeaaaaauuuutiful! 🙂 #sewcialist

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Sewing with a hammer is fun!

We found the deer eventually and I’m glad we remember to buy food at the entrance!

Check out this guys antlers, so soft but also mean looking 😉

The pattern:

This was my first Deer & Doe pattern, but I own 5 of them in total. The pattern comes in a cute envelope and is printed on nice sturdy paper – a dream to work with compared to some of the thin tissue I’ve been tracing from lately.

You get two instruction booklets, one in French, one in English and I was a little disappointed to see that they are mostly text with very few diagrams. This did not stop me getting through the project but for someone who has not made a shirt or shirt dress before it could slow them down.

I felt there were a few gaps in the instructions, I couldn’t find any mention of stitching the shoulder seams and no guidance of which side to top stitch your panels. I also felt the collar is constructed in a very strange way so I decided to sew mine in a more traditional way that I have done before because the Deer & Doe instructions wouldn’t work in my head.

I found the sleeve cuffs a bit strange to construct too. After interfacing you fold them in on themselves so that you end up with 4 layers of fabric plus interfacing that you then have to sandwich onto the gathered bottom of the sleeve. It’s not easy and if you are using a thicker fabric I suggest you cut the sleeve cuff in half and attach it a different way.

This pattern cost me NZD$22.00 so I guess I just expected a little bit more love in the instructions. It is labelled an intermediate pattern but I feel that an advanced beginner could tackle this with a bit more guidance, or while consulting a general sewing book.

The draft is good, all my pieces lined up and it sews up quite quickly. The princess seams give you lots of fitting adjustment and I think the bow at the back adds a cute detail. I also I like how it is constructed.

I was a bit worried the puffy sleeves would be cute overload but after basting them on I decided to leave them. NH thought they looked OK plus I wore this dress to work last week and no one laughed at me 😉

Staglands:

I was pleasantly surprised by Staglands. I am Wellingtonian born and bred so I assumed I must have been there at some point in my life but apparently not. It was completely new to me and I really enjoyed myself!

The park is huge and from Wellington CBD it’s a good hour by car through the amazing Akatarawa Valley road. Leave home early because you really do need an entire day to enjoy the whole park.

Anywhere that has baby bunnies roaming around will get a glowing review from me!

I (and when I say I, I mean Nerdy Husband) took heaps and HEAPS of photos, over 400, a lot of which didn’t come out. This is bad, but also good, because now I am motivated to finally replace my faulty camera lens…and maybe try to get a deal on a macro for detail shots too 😉 So I have a few more photos, lots of animals and some funny out-takes, and rather than bombard you with more photos here you can click through to my Flikr album to see the rest 🙂

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Deer and Doe Bleuet Dress, straight size 42

Fabric – Cotton check from The Fabric Warehouse, Kaiwharawhara, $10/m

Other notions – 12 x pearl snaps