Emily@BelgianSeams

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Bishop sleeves and flounces abound

These two dresses I made in springtime this year and they are both made using the Myosotis dress pattern from Deer and Doe patterns which I added a bishop sleeve to.

I love the purple one so much! The fabric comes from Passion Tissus in Saint-Gilles, Brussels where I seem to have made pretty much all of my recent fabric purchases, which I suppose is hardly surprising given that for much of the last 18 months I’ve been mostly in Saint-Gilles and perusing fabric shops was not illegal. The blue fabric comes from Goldhawk Road which I bought in February 2020 when I went to London just before the pandemic.

Make something!

Sometimes you just need to make something, ANYTHING! I took a bunch of random fabrics I wasn’t that fussed about but have been cohabitating with for many years and used them to test out some pattern drafting/adapting, the result was this dress. And I actually quite like it.  But more importantly it got me out of a sewing fear rut. Here are some silly pictures of me wearing the final result.

 

             

The zip looks a but rubbish but that’s fine, it’s just a test!

Jazz hands!

A tale of three Shelbys

Over the past few months I’ve made three different versions of the Shelby dress from True Bias. I can’t really remember when I made them all specifically as, of course, looking back on the last few months memories are a bit mixed up. But, that’s not what matters here (or ‘peu importe’ as they say in French), the most important thing I want to say is that I love love this sewing pattern! When I first saw versions of this pattern popping up online I really fell for it: a 1990s princess seam slouchy cut that I feel would also be a good basis for making a 1940s tea-dress style.

So from the 1940s via the 1990s to the 2020-2021 pandemic era, all through my sewing machine. Or something.

First up is my second and favourite Shelby dress – the fabric is a gorgeous viscose that I got a few years ago from Saint-Gilles best fabric shop, Passion Tissus. I previously used it to make another favourite dress, the Teahouse Dress from Sea House Seven. It really is so obvious but the formula for wearability rate/success of a sewing project is all about the perfect match of fabric and pattern.

Talking of whether a fabric is the correct one for a pattern, enter my most recent version of the Shelby dress. I love the print (another find from Passion Tissus) and I’m really happy with the finish I achieved on this (come closer and I’ll show you my neat seams). But as it is a cotton lawn it doesn’t have the same flowy-ness as the viscose version and is really unforgiving on the fit around the bust – it kind of bunches out as it doesn’t drape well. But that said I’ve still got a lot of wear out of it so far!

And, finally, here is the very first Shelby I made to test this pattern. The fabric was also from Passion Tissus, from the bargain bin (I swear this is not an advert for them). The print is gorgeous but the fabric is a nasty synthetic that is not nice to have near your armpits.

To get more wear out of this I think I will likely hack it into a skirt and a sleeveless top. I can’t express enough how much you don’t want this fabric up in your armpits.

I know what you sewed this summer

I spent some lovely days this summer sewing another version of the Myosotis dress from Deer and Doe! After making two shorter versions during the lockdown sans ruffles, I was curious to make a dress version that fully embraces the ruffle trend that seems to be big both in and out of the sewing world at the moment!

I didn’t have that much of this fabric so I spent a long time deciding how to best place the pattern pieces and how big to make the skirt pieces and the sleeve and skirt ruffles. It’s so fun when you only have a limited amount of fabric as it forces you to be creative and methodical and flex those problem solving muscles. It’s also interesting when design choices – in this case the length and width of the ruffles, and the length of the skirt – are determined by what is possible – so you end up with something you might not have chosen if you had had more fabric to play with! I used nearly every last inch of the fabric, with just enough left over to make a face mask and a handful of tiny pieces to add to the ‘don’t know what to do with these but don’t want to bin them’ pile.

In any case, I’m really pleased with how this dress turned out – and I’m keeping with my waist tie theme. It’s quite a crisp cotton so it gives it quite a structured feel – would be interesting to make this dress in a floatier fabric too. The fabric was bought on a pre-lockdown trip to Goldhawk Road in February – it was one of those ‘ok, now this is actually the last piece of fabric I’m buying today’ purchases.

An unashamedly cheerful summer dress I’m also looking forward to wearing with tights come colder days!

 

 

Snap Happy

Let me introduce you to my industrial hand press for setting snaps!

After a few frustrating adventures with hand held snap pliers and good-for-nothing cheapo plastic snaps, I started researching different ways of snap setting. This incredibly useful blog post from Closet Core Patterns on how to install snaps and the different types of snaps spurred me on to buy my own hand press and some good quality spring snaps.

I found it really hard to find where to buy one from though! I wanted to find a seller as close to Belgium as possible but in the end I bought one from the Laughing Lizard Store on Etsy which ships from Ukraine – going by the box I think the press itself is manufactured in Turkey. I definitely recommend this seller. It was about 100 euro including the delivery – certainly an investment but I can’t see why I wouldn’t keep it forever, so worth the money!

Here are some recent projects I’ve added my lovely brass spring snaps to!

Firstly, this is a yellow tote bag I made using some fabric I bought in the sale at Dille and Kamille – couldn’t believe they were selling a decent amount of this lovely embroidered mustard yellow fabric for only 5 euros! It was sold as a tablecloth but I’ve given it a more exciting life as a tote bag with three snap closures at the opening.

Its previous life as a tablecloth….

 

Snaps are of course incredibly useful for sewing child and baby clothes! I recently made this dress for one of my favourite little people using the Madrid Dress/Playsuit pattern from Ikatee Patterns. I think this is such a lovely pattern and with so many mix and match options that you could make a whole wardrobe for a baby/young child with just this pattern! And making baby clothes is great for using up those small leftover pieces of fabric.

A good skirt pattern can be hard to find – but I really recommend the Fiore skirt from Closet Core Patterns. It is described as a ‘chic, high-waisted A-line skirt with just the right amount of flare and volume’ and I have to agree. This version is just ever so slightly too big for me but it is perfect with a t-shirt or top tucked in, so is great for the colder months. I used a really nice denim twill that I think comes from Passion Tissu in Saint-Gilles but I couldn’t be 100% certain – oh how I wish I had kept a log of where all the fabric I have bought over the years came from!

Love the brass snaps on dark blue!

The press in action!