Here's my entry into the Sew Dots, Raise Lots challenge as organised by Rosie over at DIYCouture. The challenge is to make up something using dotty fabric to raise funds and awareness of Braille and its crucial importance for giving people with sight loss access to written communication - you can read more over on Rosie's blog here. I rarely enter challenges – I don't like having the pressure to make something I'm not sure I would have chosen for myself, or feeling the need to buy more fabric or patterns when I already have so many of each that I struggle to see how I'm going to do them all justice!
However, this one appealed to me as something achievable (as well as a good cause, obviously), as it came up when I was putting the finishing touches to my first Melilot shirt, which is the pattern I'm auditioning to finally put to use my Paul Smith elephant print fabric. I like long-sleeved version A, but I was keen to see if I might prefer version B. When I saw Rosie's challenge, I thought I'd go ahead and use some of this lovely dotty stuff I picked up a while ago from Mermaid Fabrics (which I now think might be viscose or rayon, given how stiff it feels fresh out of the wash) which you might recall from my Clemence Skirt. I really like the fabric but have struggled to visualise what else to make with it, but when this challenge came along I realised it would make a really cute Melilot, and might even work paired with the Clemence for a faux shirtdress look (I haven't yet tried but I bet I'm going to love it!).
There are a load of photos in this post, sorry! I really like how the shirt came out and think it looks great both tucked in and untucked, so of course had to get photos from all angles of both, plus some of me goofing around on the park gym because I felt like there was a bit of an '80s muscle shirt vibe going on. I enjoyed wearing this multi-textured outfit too (an unintentional link into the Braille theme), with the leather skirt and velvet shoes. I was also wearing a very Teddy-girl esque wool jacket that didn't make it into the shoot.
From my experiences with the Clemence I remembered this fabric was quite tricky to cut accurately and does tend to slip. To help avoid this I starched the fabric when ironing and used a fresh blade in my rotary cutter. I did still cut on the fold though, which perhaps I shouldn't have, but I haven't had too many issues. When sewing I used lots of pins and a small sharp needle. One thing I hadn't realised during Clemence construction was that the dots are not printed on-grain (so I can stop giving that slightly hectic-looking gathering at the waistband the side-eye, turns out it's not my fault!). I've been trying to be better at respecting grain by always straightening my fabric with a weft thread tear across and it's been very revealing!
Armed with this knowledge I decided not to give myself too much of a headache trying to make things match up, which is why the pockets might be less than pleasing to the more eagle-eyed among you! I made this up again using the 44 bust/ 42 waist + hips pieces traced from my first version, and made it up as instructed except to add a full collar again rather than just the mandarin collar as I really like the shape.
This came together swiftly as I didn't have to worry about the concealed button placket, although still had a moment of self-doubt as to how many times to fold back the edges to form the button bands – I should really start making notes on instructions when they don't make total sense to me! This pattern takes a LOT of buttons, so I'm glad I finally got the courage to try out machine-sewing on my buttons, it is so much faster, and easier on the fingers than hand sewing. The buttons I used are from my boyfriend's grandmother's stash, and in amongst the plain black I found this one engraved with 'Lewis's of Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham' which was at one time a major department store in those cities and decided it should grace my collar stand. I wonder what garment it originally came from, and when?
Another thing I found tricky in my first version as getting the curved hem even. In the instructions it has you hem the shirt pieces separately after forming the darts and button bands, but in this fabric I thought it best to construct the whole shirt and let it hang for a day or so in case any of the pieces stretched out. Luckily they don't seem to have done so unevenly! I also rolled my pieces after cutting to avoid them getting misshapen in handling, and made sure to stay-stitch the neckline of all my shirt pieces immediately too.
To give me a neater hem, I sewed a guide line of stitching to press around in addition to the guide line to fold around as given in the instructions, and I think this has given a more accurate finish as well as saving me a headache with measuring and pressing in tiny sections all the way around. In my first version I wasn't very successful at keeping the hem even so I wasn't taking any chances this time!
Nothing more to report other than I really like this pattern, but haven't yet decided which version to use for my elephants! Version B I think is more flattering on me, but would mean shelving the make for the Spring as realistically it's too nippy to bare arms at the moment. But I may yet give into temptation as it's very satisfying to have a project that fits nicely, isn't too tricky to construct, and also uses up stash fabric.
Have you been tempted to Sew Dots yet this October?