Sunday, 22 June 2014

A Sewing Hiatus

A sewing dry patch took its toll so it's been awhile since I’ve had an urge to be creative. I’ve done plenty of mending and repairing, run up some cushions and had a go at some light upholstery.  A quilt for a new baby along with some dinky knits but nothing for oneself. I’ve never had an overflowing wardrobe and I wear and rotate most of what I have and to be honest I felt I really didn’t need anything.

However a bit of sunshine and a London meet up has inspired me to pick up the threads again. Thanks to Rachel and her NY assistants the Nylon meet-up at the VA was inspiring just to look at everyone’s makes. Played guess the pattern with Tanya and met some new and old sewing faces.  A trip to Goldhawk Road later led me to make a couple of purchases and I was a bit more restrained than previous visits.  

Anyhow quiet a few makes now completed the first was already in progress a reduced Anna Marie Horner mustard print discounted in Mansfield department store and I just awaiting the right lining fabric. I like to work with natural fibres so finding some lightweight cotton in array of colours at £1.50/metre was a bargain which softened well after a pre-wash.

So here is my first make an Easy Vogue (8723) My version doesn’t really look like the pattern although I didn’t really make many changes. I shortened the bodice and dropped the skirt to a maxi length. It's been washed and worn constantly during this spell of warm weather. It fits really well and is so comfortable to wear.



Make number two was going to be my entry for the Outfit Along 2014 (Simplicity 1803)Picked up the dress pattern on ebay but was itching to go so selected view C - I don’t think the cut out versions are really me. I cut into my navy white geometric rayon print purchased on Goldhawk Road. I did my usual shortening and lengthening and hip and waist fit fine.  But unfortunately I have a fitting issue over the shoulders they drop off and the front of the bodice gapes. Maybe I should of done a toile first but I’m usually pretty standard in this area so usually I take a chance. The construction went so well too and I binded my neck facing so I’m waiting for the mood to take me before I start to address the issue.  Has anyone else had any fitting issues with this pattern?


Not wanting any more fitting issues I went for another tried and tested Reglisse (Deer & Doe) but this time without the collar – very tight in getting out all the pieces my fabric wasn’t wide enough for the circle skirt so cut out 4 pieces instead of 2. Pattern matching isn’t brilliant either but think I can get away with it. Fabric is a taupe rayon with a black lace effect print purchased of Birmingham Rag Market – very reasonable.

My last makes are vintage finds or a swap.  Sleeveless rayon top pattern top Simplicity (2892) view A without sleeves.  This fabric only cost 50p had to use a plain cotton for facings. Another Sassy Librian Blouse but sleeveless version (omitted the bow) in a lovely checked swap fabric both very cool and comfortable to wear.




Finally my first adult male make. I was set to take up Karen’s sporty-summer-sewathon challenge but himself took a fancy to the fabric a Vintage Airtex (1.50m/£1.50) in sage blue (my school gym top was in this fabric). So it became short sleeved shirt Simplicity (4760) view A with short sleeves. Himself is a fussy bugger and did have a bit of input on the design but he actually loves it. Again not enough fabric for facings, so out came the white cotton which I added under collar and half way down button facings – so if collar is left open necked, the fabric is still the same. 




Phew a few more makes planned but will try to post more regularly and only one/two makes at a time.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Final Summer Make - Vogue V1348



Vogue V1348
I’ve recently acquired a couple of Vogue dress patterns so thought I’d give one a go.  Although the design looks pretty simple on the envelope I was deceived, although the bodice and skirt front and back are cut in one piece, the dress bodice is interlined and there were some tricky pleats to deal with. If you like a bit of a fiddly challenge then I would recommend but don't expect comprehensive instructions.

When I purchased this fabric for some reason I was under the impression that the fashion fabric design was fans – I’ve now realised that they are shells, so it really had to be a summer holiday dress.  
The bodice joins with a princess seam and then you have two pleats at the waist back and front as well as at the sides (in which you incorporate side pockets) this took a few attempts to do with the instructions non to helpful.  The facings also join the lining fabric which I thought I would have problems but actually they matched quiet well.  A conceal zip is at the centre back. 

Left - cotton/silk    
Right - Voile content not known
In all, it’s come together better than I thought it would – although I found it very difficult to finish the seams (so out came the pinking shears).  I interlined the bodice with cotton silk and lined with a fine cotton lawn but did have enough other of either to make a gathered petticoat lining.  So went on a quest to find something similar that had a bit of body, that wasn’t too heavy or itchy.  I’ve end up with a voile, which is similar in texture and weave to my cotton silk (to be honest, I think it’s really meant for hanging up at windows) but at £1.75/metre I can’t complain - it seems to be holding together. 
Pattern included the designer label
Modifications included usual lengthening of skirt, but it wasn’t until I was halfway through cutting out, when it occurred to me I’d forgotten to do my usual waist shortening, so it does pucker a little above and is a bit snug below the waistline – also had to scoop the neckline a little, as it was throttling me across my collar bone. The pattern didn’t really recommend cotton lawn, I think it is more for a satin/silk type fabric so I may consider making it again in a black crepe (for my evening wear collection?)

Now off to contemplate my autumn wardrobe.

Monday, 19 August 2013

A ‘Tilly’ Double Miette and Mathida

Whilst many have of you have your holidays, we don’t go away until the last week in August – absolutely no idea of how the weather will be but taking a chance that it will be sunny in Suffolk.

A wrap skirt is a holiday essential I’ve made a few wrap-around’s in the past but this is by far the best pattern I’ve used. I like the fact that it wraps from the back to the front and has a great flare. Past makes have been front wraps which seem to blow sky high in the slightest gust of wind. They have also been a straighter style which always has the front flap setting at an angle due to my wide hips. This style is far more flattering and wearable - although yet to do the wind test.

I used my linen purchased from A1 Textiles, Goldhawk Road which is a lovely denim blue however I only bought 2 metres and the pattern asked for 2.75 so I was prepared for a bit of juggling especially as I would be adding length.  Luckily as there was no pattern matching I managed to just squeeze it out. Although originally my fabric was the right width I had pre-washed and it lost a bit to shrinkage, so even with no lengthening the skirt back overshot the selvedge edge.  So I cut out the back in three pieces which also enabled me to lengthen. To do this I folded the back piece in half and cut out one the first half on the fold and added 1.5 cm for the extra seam.  I then cut out the second half of the pattern piece matching aligning the straight grain (again adding an extra 1.5 cm along the folded edge to join pieces together). I then joined the pieces together at either side of the central piece by stitching, overlocking together then pressing towards side seam and top stitched – before making up.  I also narrowed the waistband and ties due to fabric shortage (which actually works well for me as I’m short waisted). Didn’t think I get out the pocket but just managed to cut the pieces for the front and used a matching cotton lining fabric for the facing – which worked well as main fabric is has some bulk.  I also used bias tape for the hem as I didn’t want to lose any more length.  Excellent instructions which for once I followed.  Very comfortable and easy to wear.

I had purchased the Mathida when it was first launched but somehow never got round to making it up. Over time I and have seen many excellent variations, so also made a few adjustments of my own.  It didn’t start too well as my printer decided to jam as I was printing the pattern, resulting in some lost sheets. I joined the pattern together but somehow I cut along the fold line for the back edge instead of the cutting line, which meant there was no fabric to turn for the button /buttonhole facing.  All not lost as I decided to add a contrast facing which I overlapped to show a narrow boarder which I think looks quite effective.  I also used the same contrasting fabric to make some bias tape for piping across the bodice.  


Other modifications included shortened length and only stitching the pleats down as far as the bust, leaving the fabric fuller (around my problem area). Used the cotton lawn print remnant I purchased locally in sale the fabric pattern colours compliment the blue of the linen skirt fabric well.

I’m finding now that I don’t just dismiss some styles because of my shape but consider ways to make modifications to accommodate my figure. However there are still plenty of patterns out there that will never be for me. I would love to hear how some of you have tackled some of your shape issues and how you made pattern modifications that have been successful by making something that you would never previously considered.

On a final note I’ve had a fantastic relationship with my Janome (New Home) overlocker over the last twenty years but sadly the time has come to say goodbye. At the time she cost a pretty penny not much less then you pay a similar model make now.  She has also had some hammer over the years and never let me down, but this week she has been behaving badly (missing stitches and tension uneven) and be honest she is well overdue a professional service. I was at first going to take her for an overhaul but I’m planning some jersey makes and I really want that fourth thread (she’s only a three). A three thread only overcasts the edges it misses out on the extra line of stitching – so you end up having to add a line of machine stitches which I find often stretches the fabric especially if I use a stretch stitch. So I’ve traded in for a new model - budget was tight so I was just looking for a make/model which does the job. I went back to my original dealer amazingly the original shop I bought it from is still in business (although it’s moved site) and is still run by the same owner (no he didn’t remember me). I‘ve gone for a Singer (best deal) it’s a bit noisy but simple to thread.

However I can’t believe the lack of accessories that you get now - in my original purchase I got a box of attachments to suit all spool and seam types, plus tweezers but only got a couple of needles and needle threader this time.


Accessories included with my old Janome
Currently finishing off my last summer make and in the final stages of a Vogue pattern dress – forgot how time consuming they are and instructions are certainly not for a beginner.




Wednesday, 7 August 2013

You Wait Ages for a Dress and Then Three Come Along at Once

Again the roll keeps rolling on the dress front and I now have another, to add to my collection. My Handmade London - Anna was on the doormat when I arrived home Saturday, but I was too tired to sew on Sunday but managed to get cut out on Monday. I had already decided on my Liberty fabric purchased from Birmingham (Fri) for this make, which was to be interlined with the cotton/silk purchased on the Goldhawk Road (Sat). Made a few adjustments for fit on pattern by adding to the waist and narrowing the front pleats a little. The length is really long but I didn't just want to cut off to shorten as pattern suggested, but folded the pattern up and graded in towards the waist as I wanted the skirt fuller. I somehow also cut out the V-neck version, which I didn't intend, but went with it. I definitely didn't opt for the split - my legs remain not for public view.


I already had added facing, before I forgot I wanted to add piping to the neck edge, so instead I added some vintage ric-rac, which is an exact match for the turquoise flower which is top stitched into place around the neck. I initially turned and stitched the sleeve edges but they puckered a bit as seam was very narrow, so I used bias binding (again vintage - didn't have enough fabric left over to make my own) which is turned and stitched. 


Added the professional handmade label which they include in the pattern. Fashion fabric is backed and with cotton/silk, which has given the cotton lawn more structure but still allows the dress to drape - would certainly do this again.

I would highly recommend this pattern especially for a beginner and style is flattering to range of shapes and sizes.  Both Emma (a lovely red floral) and Roisin who has modelled hers from every angle) looked wonderful in their versions on Saturday.

Hawthorn is next on my list, again so many wonderful versions viewed especially Daniela's whose dress I recognised immediately on the Goldhawk Road meet-up, as I had voted for it the day before. 

Sunday, 4 August 2013

This Month we're Eating Toast

This week I’ve been in whirlwind of sewing mania from which I must calm down before it goes overboard.  

I started with good intentions and I produced two makes from June’s Birmingham meet up (which now only leaves me one purchased piece of fabric left). 

So here’s a Hollyburn skirt and a Sencha top, both easy makes, which I managed to whip up in a day. The skirt is a grey/mauve chambray type fabric, with the warp in the grey and the weft in the mauve. It was only £2 a metre. however the fabric had a small defect of a few pin-sized holes along the selvedge, which luckily I managed to avoid. No adjustments required and the width of the fabric enabled me to easily extend the length.





I used my Viking fabric for my Sencha, which didn't interrupted the pattern too much. Really pleased with my buttonholes my machine behaved itself and I now have mastered how to line up my markings with the machine points (my machine Singer 150 years Anniversary Model) has the most complicated one stop buttonhole gadget I ever used).  

I found some thin flower shaped mother of pearl buttons from my stash which hang with the fabric well. The only suggestion I would make is that the pattern does not mention interfacing the button/buttonhole bands, which I would highly recommend to prevent the fabric from fraying (just cut a strip from the edge of the fold line from your main pattern piece).


Ran out of interfacing on the above so went to a local fabric warehouse which mainly specialises in curtain fabric but also carries a few sewing notions and craft fabric. A sale on and an extended range in craft/dress fabrics since my last visit. I picked up some teal fabric to make some cushions for new chair/sofa (been on my to do list since Easter) and found a cotton lawn which I should get some kind of top out of.  

Although pleased with purchases felt rather guilty as I had two major fabrics event later in the week.

Event 1 - A trip to Birmingham Rag Market I've a colleague at work who also sews and we often share our ‘makes’ and patterns, I had mentioned my Birmingham Rag market-ups to her and we did our ‘we must go sometime’.  Well we actually managed to pin it down to a date and I also found that a couple of ladies in the office were both sewer’s so we asked them along too.  However, for me it was the day before the Goldhawk Road meet-up so had the intention as going as guide and would restrict myself to only a few necessities e.g. some thread for my overlocker and sewing machine needles and only any fabric that was an absolute bargain.

I did try, I bought some satin cream/navy polka dot and a white cotton lawn with interwoven squares (both £2/m). Succumbed to a Liberty fabric and bought 3m for a dress (I’d ordered both the By London, Eisalex and Anna patters the date before). We had a great day (Café Soya for lunch) and all came away with many excited purchases – amazed at prices and choice. 


Event 2 – A meet-up Goldhawk Road – sorry I’m rubbish at remembering to take photos but I’m sure there will be a few around as there were some very professional looking camera’s around.

Another amazing event organised by Claire (see for photos) and so many different ages, nationalities, shapes/sizes and distance traveller's all meeting together to share their sewing passion and experiences. Claire summed it up so well in her closing speech not only had we found inspirational fabrics but also new friendships and I’m sure all attendees will agree, another meet-up to remember.

So I blew my budget, left with only loose change in my purse. So as follows my haul a lot of these are things that I can’t get locally. They were not the cheapest but I went for quality (I think you are supposed to say ‘not quantity’ as well but this was not the case).
Plain fabrics don't look very interesting or maybe
it's my colour palette

5m cotton/silk £4/m
3m white cotton lawn @ £3.50/m
2.5 m each of navy & black light-weight cotton for lining @£2/m 
2m French navy linen @£5/m
3m length of Liberty lawa print @ £20
Liberty print - possible Anna
Lunch at Liz’s £7.50 and some fantastic swaps – sorry I don’t know from whom they are all from, so please let me know.

3m of an aqua/mustard dot – a dress in the making here. From a lovely lady whose name has escaped me but many thanks
Just over a metre of chocolate jersey from Claire
2 hanks of variegated yarn – a possible shawl
A vintage pattern – love the neckline of this and another pattern which was destined for the charity shop which I think I can do something with.










Thanks to Claire for organising the event and all the wonderful people (too many to mention) I spoke to and shopped with on the day and for Rachel’s company on the train journey home. On arrival home to top it all a jiffy bag to open with my ‘By Hand’ patterns – they are just so stylishly packaged.



Living on toast for the rest of the month looking forward to reading lots of new blogs. 










Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Addressing the Dress or Two

I eventually made a dress well in fact two.  I only had one in my wardrobe (which is cut on the bias). I found it difficult to find ready-made dresses that fit, due being short-waist, large hips etc.  So really got out of the habit of wearing them plus I don’t do short lengths either.  So as a change from separates, I have eventually made a Sewholic - Cambie and also went for a Doe and Deer - Robe Réglisse


The Cambie is made from a cotton satin picked up on ebay and lined with cotton poplin.  Tried unsuccessfully to source some cotton silk but non available locally and was desperate to getting going with It. It’s ended up a little heavy so certainly a dress for a special occasion – pity I don’t have a summer wedding to go to this year. As everyone else has previously commented, it’s so easy to put together and there will certainly be another coming up.

Changes I made – usual shortening of the bodice, increased the waist little, added length so it lands mid-calf (a much more flattering length for me) and used pinch pleats instead of gathers around the waist so not to draw attention to my large bum.  I feel like a lady in it, the only problem it I need assistance in zipping it up as I’m not a contortionist, never thought I’d utter the words, ‘Can you zip me up darling’.

I originally thought the Réglisse wasn’t for me until I saw it on others and with a few modifications I now have my own.  I used my blue dot I which I purchased from the Birmingham Rag market which is a rayon and boy it did move around a lot whilst cutting out, but it was worth it as it drapes beautifully.

Changes I made - well for once I didn’t need to shorten the bodice, just by looking at it (it’s cut on the bias) and although I knew it would have a waistband attached (which is elasticated) I knew I didn’t need to change it. The fabric width didn’t allow me to lengthen the skirt as the pattern just missed the selvedge, so narrowed the width to enable me to add another 15 cm to the length.  I then cut another two panels for the sides - so the skirt side seams sides now move to the front and back.  I managed to match up with the waistband with slight gather – slightly gathered my stay stitching.  This dress reminds me of a tea dress - very lightweight and swishy.

So now combated and made two successful dresses - so now on a roll.

Off to the Goldhawk Road, London meet up on Saturday.  Now which one shall I wear?

Thursday, 27 June 2013


Birmingham Meet-up Two (belated) 


Saturday 15th June was the second Birmingham meet-up organised by Marie, Kat and Claire and again met a wonderful bunch fellow sewers with which to chat and share – instead of boring those around you who fain interest.
Apart from the heavens opening and getting soaked through which only marred the day slightly, (luckily I’ve not spotted any shots of me looking like a drowned rat).  Why do some lucky people have hair that remains the same even after getting drenched whilst even a fine drizzle gives me a furry halo.

Anyhow wasn’t too sure whether I could manage the walk to’ Barry’s’ but somehow, a sudden adrenaline rush got me there and back (although much wetter on my return).  Barry’s has a good selection of fabrics, it’s certainly a place you can go with a list and actually find what you’re looking for. I was really saving
A bit of a pale shot but it does have Viking Ships on it
my cash for the market but temptation won and I purchased an unusual Liberty print which I have not come across before. It’s going to be a top of kind possibly Sencha which l was lucky to pick up in the swap.
After getting a bit lost found Café Soya for lunch and after a wide choice swaps available. Like most I’d had a clear out and got rid of more than I brought home.  Unfortunately I don’t know who most of my swaps are from so if you spot something you recognise please let me know who you are.  So as follows:

- A grey/turquoise check – I think I can get a sleeveless top out of this
- A mauve pattern crepe which is from Kat
- The aforementioned Sencha pattern
- Some very fine crochet cotton – I going to have a go at a lacy collar with this and a few vintage buttons

After a good lunch at Café Soya we were off to the market (I could have spend at least another hour here).

Indoor market - Some braiding, ribbon and bias tape.  Ric-rac 10p a metre poor women had to repeat 3 times as I couldn’t believe the price.

Some very soft chiffon fabric which apparently is a strawberry print @£2/metre.
Outdoor market – there was some excellent fabric available at good prices

A grey/lilac chambray which initially was sought for lining but on closer inspection is now destined for a skirt @£2/metre
A spotty rayon in an unusual blue with off white spot again @£2/metre.  Unfortunately after pre-wash I’ve noted a slight flaw but the dress I've picked has some gathering so shouldn’t show too much.  Do check if you bought this fabric as I know I wasn’t the only one who was attracted to it.
Another Liberty bargain which Marie spotted too, which initially we thought was a copy but on feeling the fabric you could tell it was the real thing and @£8/metre a real bargain.

So I’ve gone ahead and ordered two new patterns from Doe and Deer loved the Réglisse dress that both Claire and Sabs and wore so the dotty fabric is already allocated for this.

 …So I have now progressed with my first Birmingham make with my Liberty floral.
I had had the Craftsy tutorial for Christine Hayes ‘Sassy Librarian blouse’ gifted to me which I had watched, then completely forgotten about. It wasn't until I read Tilly’s blog, who met up with Christine recently in the UK that I remembered I had it.  The video tutorials are very good and although I’ve been sewing for a while it is good to see how others put things together. Easy to construct (didn’t make a muslin) but shortened the length and added width at hips (I do this with all patterns).  This is a very close fitting style and ideal for those who like a tailored fit. For me I found I had to take out one of the back darts and narrow the front ones for it to feel comfortable and I also had  to narrow the hem in the sleeves (I have fleshy upper arms).  However the neckline and collar I’m really pleased with and they lay and sit well.  So almost a perfect blouse but oh dear… a slight accident! On the neckline buttonhole my buttonholer (which I’m still not 100% with) jammed half way through and broke the needle and I had to unpick. The Liberty lawn is so fine and stitches were so embedded I sliced the fabric a little when unpicking.  I’ve gone over with a zig-zag to prevent fraying but it’s in such an obvious place.  Anyone have any ideas of how I can disguise this?

I think Rosie is a bit drunk because the
collar looks a little wonky - but because
I'm rather anal I've gone and measured
it and it is equal.
...Just to ran up another top this morning another Liberty print which I bought at the Harrogate Knit and Stitch show last year. Pattern is Simplicity 1693 very simple and easy to construct - would recommend it for a beginner plus quite a few different options.  I did view D with contrast collar and B sleeves only shaping is the darts so a looser fit. 
My next project is a dress not yet made one as I generally find dresses hard to find that fit, and have got out of the habit of wearing them.  So here we go...