Hi! I’m Rachel and I have a recently-rediscovered passion for sewing.
The wait is finally over and the time has come to say hello or should I say bonjour to my Chardon skirt!
The Chardon is my latest make from French pattern company and my new-found love Deer and Doe. Here I am taking my brand new jupe on a test drive at Columbia Road flower market.
My Chardon skirt has formed a key part in two of my recent Cheatsheet posts: firstly as a tutorial for inserting inverted box pleats and secondly, going a little off piste with this pattern, as a walk through for inserting an invisible zip.
For those of you who have followed those tutorials, I thought you may like a closer view of the finished article. Here is an example of the back of skirt where you can see that slinky invisible zip.
I hope you agree that this style of zip was the way to go here, I feel that the seamless continuation of the design fully vindicates the decision.
As you will soon discover the tension between following the pattern versus making sacrifices to preserve the overall design of the garment runs heavily in this post. The greatest of these decisions relates to the choice of fabric and as a consequence the structure of the skirt.
Let me explain. When I first purchased 2 metres of the gorgeous fabric in Barcelona I didn’t quite notice that the pattern was different on both halves of the fabric. As you can see in the below image, one half of the fabric featured small tight green triangles and the other larger green, blue and white triangles with bird designs.
This was a fantastic discovery for me, the fabric was even more beautiful than I imagined! However in spite of this great luck, preserving the actual design presented me with an alternative problem – if I were to cut the fabric along the grain line as intended I would at worst lose the pattern or at best have the left side of the skirt displaying one design and the right side featuring another.
Remembering I had only 2 metres of fabric to play with and unfortunately for me no imminent plans to return to Barca, I had to make a decision as to whether to use an alternative fabric or to cut the fabric on the cross grain which presented me with a tremendous risk. All of my research told me that cutting on the cross grain would ultimately lead to a sacrifice in the fit and shape of the design, this would surely be an unwise move. However I also discovered that the effect could potentially be minimised if the design was fitted and had a strong structure.
I thought long and hard about this and reasoned that the Chardon would fulfil this criteria and a design of smaller triangles falling down into the larger shapes was worth the risk. I went ahead and cut my fabric and I’m not afraid to say I’m tremendously and even a little disgustingly proud of the result – just check out that shape and volume. I hope you agree that it was definitely worth the risk!
I also made two additional alterations to the pattern, the first in name of necessity and the second by way of design. Firstly I lengthened the skirt by an additional 1.5 inches to match the length of my Belladone dress. Secondly I omitted the bow and belt loops from the pattern as I did not want to distract from the waist band design. I really wanted those triangles to cascade down the skirt like so:
That’s all from me today, I am planning on posting my grain line research here in the coming week if you would like to find out more.
In the meantime I would love to hear about some the risks you may have taken with your garments. Where do you fall in the pattern versus design debate?
After suffering what can only be described as a brain freeze when putting in the pleats for my Belladone dress I have decided that I need the practice and so have put together a little tutorial which I hope will be of use not only for myself but for my readers as well. Today’s Cheatsheet is the first of a series of posts walking you through the humble pleat.
To begin we will be looking at the inverted box pleat which is a key feature of my next make Deer and Doe’s Chardon skirt. The Chardon features no less than nine inverted box pleats making it the perfect opportunity for pleat practice!
Inverted box pleats are formed on the wrong side of the fabric, therefore we need to ensure all foldlines and pattern markings are made on this side of the garment.
Continuing to work on the wrong side, fold the fabric so that each set of foldlines meet to form a seam or underfold; the Chardon includes some very useful arrows to help with this. Pin and/or baste the fabric together at the foldline to secure the seam ready for stitching like so:
It is worth taking your time at this point so you can ensure that the folds are straight and correctly matched. I tested my pleat by folding it to one side of the fabric and checked to see that the top seam matched the top of skirt piece.
Once you are happy with the placement of your pleats it is time to stitch them in place following the instructions in your pattern.
Stitching complete, press the underfold of your pleat flat against the wrong side of the fabric. Turning the fabric to the right side, press again.
Here are my well pressed underfolds:
To keep those pleats firmly in place I would recommend topstitching on both sides of the foldline. With tailors chalk or a strategically placed pin, mark your starting point on the fabric. I would recommend starting from the bottom of the foldline and working your way upwards towards the waistline. This will flatten out the fabric and prevent any unwanted puckering.
Here I am topstitching my skirt with a 0.25 inch seam allowance.
Happy? Your pleats should look like so:
Have you tried making inverted box pleats? Let me know how you got on.
a.k.a Belladone for Barcelona… a.k.a the one week dress…
The observant among you may have noticed that whilst fabric shopping in Barca I was wearing something new. If you did spot this then congratulations, you were correct! I was wearing the Deer and Doe Belladone in a lovely blue chambray.
I’ve been a long time admirer of Deer and Doe patterns having seen some gorgeous examples online, and the Belladone has always struck a particular cord for me. I’m clearly not alone in this as the Belladone seems to be an addiction for lots of seamstresses out there. You can see a couple of my favourites here, here and here.
Here’s the first of what surely will be multiple Belladones:
The opportunity to make my Belladone came when my boyfriend and I made a snap decision to book a trip to Barcelona leaving in a week’s time. Cue plenty of panic on my part – I didn’t have anything to wear!
I scoured pattern makers for the perfect mooching-around-the-city-and/or-beach dress but kept coming back to the Belladone even though as an intermediate make it would be a bit of a challenge for me. What the hell I thought, it’s just too pretty to resist! I mean it has pockets, pockets! And it’s all about the back…
Full disclosure here, this image has been ever so slightly airbushed but only to remove a very unhappy looking insect bite. Trust me it’s better for all of us this way!
First up alterations: Deer and Doe state that their patterns are designed for an average height of 1.68m or 5ft 5″. I am quite a tall lady at 1.77m or roughly 5ft 10″ so I was ready from the outset for some major alterations. Rather helpfully, Deer and Doe’s pattern model, Camille, is 1.72m. Understanding where the average length fell on Camille was helpful in working out where and by how much I would need to extend the dress in order for it to fit me.
I do love getting my legs out more than most but felt a midi-length would be best for the Belladone and so I added an additional 1.5 inches to the length. My experience of Simplicity 8523 E has also taught me that I will automatically need to lengthen my bodice going forward. I added an additional 1 inch to the front bodice and the centre back.
Just as note on the pattern here, unlike the majority of independent patterns I have tried out so far the Belladone does not come with a lengthening line. This wasn’t really an issue for me but would have been a helpful addition to the otherwise brilliant instructions.
As many a blogger will tell you one of the greatest challenges for this dress is in getting the back to lie flat. I was well aware of this potential banana skin before I began but with a strict time limit I didn’t have time to make a muslin. What I did have time for however was to buy a lot of chambray ready to rectify any hiccups along the way!
Not having had too much time to reflect on 8523 E I cut my bodice to a size 38 which whilst fitting at the bust left me with a bit of gaping at the back neckline. I had to make a choice at this point and decided to rectify the back neckline as, let’s face it, that’s the money shot for this dress. I moved the neck points further over, creating more of an overlap and a narrower diamond to get the fit at the neck. The sacrifice was slight gaping at the front neckline as you can see below:
Once completed I also seemed to have too much fabric at the centre back which led to further gaping. I didn’t panic here however as I remembered my Anna and followed the same technique in moving the zip to create a larger seam fitted exactly to the arch of my back. I really should credit my boyfriend here as without him pinning it together whilst I was wearing it I would never have got it to fit so well – little does he know he’s now got a job for life!
I should also take this moment to talk pleats. The pleats were the bane of my life for the dress. My brain just couldn’t seem to compute when making them!
For this pattern the pleats are made by making the fold on the reverse of the fabric so that the marks meet. The pleats are then stitched using a 0.75 inch seam allowance to form the pleats.
Reading this back now this all looks very simple but what I couldn’t quite understand was whether the fabric was stitched together at the fold first anyway, my first attempt was an accidental but very well formed inverted box pleat and on the second attempt I went through both layers of the fabric.
As you may know chambray doesn’t really like too much unpicking so I was using up my spare fabric pretty quickly and I was getting worried. Finally whilst thinking nothing of sewing but only, as I sprinted for the train, how I was late for work, I finally got it and it was so simple. I just needed to treat the pleat as a seam however I also needed to sew away from the fold of the pleat so it would become a soft tuck. Hurrah!
Double hurrah as you can see below I managed to get my pleats to line up perfectly with my front darts – hurrah x2!
Whilst she may not be perfect I’m a big fan of my Belladone and in taking on this challenge I’ve managed to put in my first pockets and my first machine-stitched blind hem, I’ve used bias tape for the first time and of course made my first pleats!
I also discovered in the course of this make that there doesn’t seem to be too much picture-heavy advice on what to do if you suffer a pleat meltdown like I did. I’ve made note and I will seek to create some pleat related Cheatsheets in the near future.
I leave you for today with my final Barca photo: