Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Calluna Cami in Herringbone - The sewing details

Oakshott fabrics are always a pleasure to sew with: beautiful colours and great feel, they lend themselves to quilts, cushions and also to clothing.  There is a post on using Oakshott's newest fabric, Calluna Herringbone over at Lily's Quilts, this post repeats a little of that along with some more detailed construction info.

Since I made the Carme blouse, I have been wanting to make Pauline Alice's Cami dress.  Pauline also has a sew along for the Cami. The Calluna  Herringbone is what I would describe as a shirting weight.  Imagine a beautiful, quality men's shirt, from the sort of gentlemen's outfitters that sells brightly coloured socks and cashmere sweaters- that is the weight of Calluna.  It is light to medium weight, perfect for shirts and dresses.  It is soft and the weave produces a two tone effect with a light colour on one side and a darker version on the other so perfect for contrast details like the button plackets, collar stands, cuffs and pockets on this dress.  This fabric most definitely needs a prewash.  I washed mine twice with  with non bio powder and on a 40 degrees synthetic wash this is the one that has one line beneath the 40.  My top tip for pre washing Oakshott or any other woven, is to clip a triangle off each corner before you pop it in the wash.  This lessens fraying and tangling.  Calluna Herringbone is wide at 132cm/52".  I used around 2.5 metres to make the Cami dress.  Prewashing (i did two) is essential as there was quite a lot of dye loss.

For a change, I sewed the entire dress using Minty, my singer Featherweight and this was a bit of a turning point.  I already love sewing with this machine but had never done an entire garment.  I have been missing out.  She is a dream for top stitching and because all operations are manual, it was a faster more instinctive and intimate process.  I used my overlocker for all seam finshing where needed although this fabric was great for french seams in in the shirt part of the dress.

I did apply a little of my experience from Chinelo Bally's free cutting class from a few weeks back.  For me this class cemented the importance of detailed and accurate measuring.  I find my bodice area hard to fit.  I am small busted, a little round shouldered and rather spare around the breast bone.  I always need to do a small bust adjustment which I have struggled with and still the fit will be wrong.  With Chinelo, a chest measurement isn't just the circumference around the fullest part of your chest, or even over or under that measurement.  This can be broken down into more detail- apex to apex is useful for me- the easiest way to explain this is nip to nip ( you know what I mean), although this presupposes the cherry is on the fullest part of the bun (again, you know what I mean).  This area is relatively narrow for me.  On a pattern with a waist dart like this, it can generally be found half an inch from the top of the dart.  In a bodice or shirt, this is usually a fitted area for me, so I don't need to allow ease- that would come instead at the side.  I also recommend Joi Mahon's Craftsy class Fast-Track Fitting
from:, she covers lots of popular pattern adjustments and detailed measuring is all part of the process.    I found it very helpful, especially armhole and sleeve adjustments and her aim is to avoid where possible making muslins which I think every garment sewer can identify with!

I didn't make a muslin for this shirt, but I did do a small bust adjustment on the pattern and my main aim was to reduce the apex to apex measurement to 7" instead of 7 ⅜".  This is an area that is narrower on me than on the usual pattern size that would fit me.  It is also an area that doesn't really need ease so it is a direct measurement I can apply from my body to the pattern.  I was thrilled with the result, best small bust adjustment yet, hence the chest close ups and no muslin!  Pauline covers a small bust adjustment along with lost of others like lengthening the bodice here in the sew along.

For the cuffs, I used a single layer of interfacing as I like these to be relatively soft.  They fall in just the right place for me and I can still comfortably put a cardigan over the top.

I had pink snaps from this shop that have been waiting for the right project- I will follow up with a tutorial on these as they can be fiddly but once you get the hang of them, they give such a clean finish.

Pattern: Cami dress by Pauline Alice, size 38 waist ( with a little grading from 36 in the shirt section)
*Small bust adjustment reducing apex to apex to 7"
*Lenghtened the skirt from 50cm to 65cm
*Lengthened the bodice by ¼" by sewing a ⅜" seam at the waist- I think I would lengthen this a little further
*Lowered the collar by ⅜" and cut a larger collar and stand 
*Single layer of interfacing on cuffs.
*Reveresed the button plackets so the fabric folded from reverse to the front so I could used the reverse side of the fabric as a detail.
*Raised the pockets slightly- using a 12" zipper allows for this
*Snaps replacing buttons
*Shoes- Orla Kiely 'Matilda' for Clarks.  (Very flash I know)

Love the dress pattern, love the fabric and a very wearable, pretty and comfortable dress.  Result!

sib blog


  1. it's lovely on you! Thanks for the link to the craftsy class - I hate making muslins ;-)

  2. Lovely dress and that fabric is to die for! I was also going to say thanks for the Craftsy class recommendation. I keep looking at the fitting ones but didn't know which one to choose.

  3. This dress looks so great on you Kerry! Love the colour and those incredibly cute cuffs!!

  4. Love the color on you, and those cuffs and snaps just sing.

  5. Lovely dress! I love this color (pink is my favorite one… and this fabric looks so gorgeous! And your cute green shoes are perfect with this dress!

  6. Another superb make Kerry! Love the fabric, I have an Oakshott voucher that's burning a hole, I might try some of this for a top for me, thanks as always for your helpful tips.

  7. Lovely dress and the fabric is wonderful! loving those green shoes too!

  8. I love it! Great job and suits you so nicely!


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