I am back today to share my second make for the Like Sew Amazing Blog Squad. For my first LSA make I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to make, and just perused Sarah’s gorgeous selection of fabric for something that I loved (I ended up making a fab cropped Kalle Shirt out of the most beautiful palm print cotton lawn, you can check it out here). However, this time around, I knew that I really wanted to make one of Tilly and The Buttons’ latest patterns, the Seren dress.
The Seren dress is a button down strappy sun dress, with an a-line skirt and a very pretty (optional) flounce at the top of the bodice. It needs fairly light weight fabric, and if you are sewing the flounce version then drape is going to be your friend. Sarah actually has an option on her drop down menu specifically for ‘drapey‘ fabric, which is simply genius, and made my picking process a *little* bit easier (I say only a little, because all her fabric is gorgeous! lol).
I ended up picking the Medium Blue Tencel Chambray. Like Sew Amazing is one of the very few fabric shops in the UK that I have come across to stock tencel, so I was very excited to find this. And I decided that since I ALWAYS go for a big, bold pattern, perhaps I should introduce a little bit of solid into my wardrobe, so a soft blue dress would be perfect.
When the fabric arrived I nearly DIED! I just wanted to curl up in it and fall asleep. Talk about soft. I have never felt fabric as soft as this. And so much drape – it really is like liquid chambray. Truly astounding. But, be warned, it isn’t without its challenges – more of that later!
The Seren Dress
I was pretty excited when Tilly revealed her two latest sewing patterns – a simple shift dress or boxy top (the Stevie), and a button up sundress, (the Seren). If you watched my last YouTube video, where I took you shopping with me for sewing inspiration, I list a number of styles that I wanted to sew up…and these two patterns ticked a lot of my boxes…perhaps Tilly had watched my video and designed these patterns especially for me? Probably not, but I snapped them both up straight away.
I came across a rather strange situation while decided what size pattern to cut…my bust was coming in as size 6, while my waist and hip were size 5. This never happens to me. I am very much a pear shape and I have a pretty small bust, so I was a bit confused by this. Nonetheless I went with it and cut a 5 waistband and skirt and a size 6 bodice, grading to 5 at the waistline.
Something to note when picking your fabric for this pattern – due to the a-line nature of the skirt, it needs a wide fabric! And if you are going for a flounce and the midi-length be prepared to use the FULL 2.5m that the pattern recommends. I had about 1cm left under my last pattern piece! This hardly ever happens as I usually try and play ‘pattern tetris’ and squeeze all the pieces into the smallest amount of fabric possible (in the hopes I’ll have enough left for something else…Ogden Cami anyone?).
Tips for working with Tencel
As beautiful as this tencel is, it is definitely a bit of a challenge to sew with. I would perhaps not recommend this fabric to complete newbies, but if you are up for a little bit of a challenge then go for it!
As I described the fabric before, it has such an amazing drape that it is almost like liquid. Unfortunately, it is that movement that makes it a little tricky to work with. Here are some tips to making your sewing process as stress free as possible:
- Instead of cutting out your pieces with pins and scissors, it’s a good idea to switch to a cutting mat, rotary cutter and pattern weights
- You might also like to try a spray starch to give the fabric a bit of temporary structure while you work with it. I haven’t tried this, but hear it’s very good. Don’t forget to do a test with a small piece of the fabric first!
- When ironing on your interfacing, get out the paper pattern piece and make sure your facings are exactly the right shape before attaching the interfacing
- Pins, pins and MORE pins when sewing!
- If you have a walking foot, now is a good time to use it. This fabric can creep quite a lot while being sewn and a walking foot (along with all those pins I just mentioned), will help prevent this
- Press with a pressing cloth as much as you can to avoid shine
- And don’t forget about the PINS!
That being said, I don’t want to put you off! If you take your time and follow these tips it is completely worth the extra effort. This dress is so soft and ridiculously comfy that I could nearly put it in the Secret Pyjama category.
Somewhere over the rainbow
So, you may have notice my colourful buttons? They are, in fact, snaps! When I first started on this project I had a much more muted, understated version in mind. I picked up some really beautiful grey buttons and was excited to use them. Unfortunately, my sewing machine had other plans. I just could NOT get it to sew a buttonhole on the waistband! It would sew up beautiful buttonhole after beautiful buttonhole on my test scraps, but I just kept getting big thread ‘nests’ on my actual dress.
So, because time was against me, I had to come up with a plan B. Searching through my sewing stash I pulled out some lovely pearl snaps….but I only had 6, and this dress requires 15 (YES, 15!) buttons/fastenings. I also had some heavy duty black snaps, but again I only had 10 and they were really a bit too clunky for this fabric. Finally, I pulled out my large stash of colourful plastic snaps which I had originally bought for baby clothes. I was not convinced. Every colour I held up to the dress looked tacky and a bit childish. I really didn’t know what to do.
That day my Instagram feed had been filled with rainbow coloured pictures to celebrate Pride2018. I think that is more than likely how I ended up deciding to just use every single colour of snap that I owned on this dress! Initially I thought it would look ridiculous, but as I laid them out I just KNEW this was it. And so my rather proud Seren dress was born!
Does anyone else have issues with their machine sewing buttonholes on waistbands, collar bands, or just fabric with a bump near it? Do you have any tips of how I can overcome this? Or do I just need to get a better machine?!!
I always say that everything happens for a reason, and had my machine sewn up those buttonholes perfectly, I never would have dreamed of using a rainbow of snaps down my dress! But I’m so glad I did!