Tuesday, 24 July 2012

just about ticked off the list..

I promised Lindsey a short orange pencil skirt for her birthday many (many) moons ago, and then it has sat waiting fro me to finish off for aaaages. I had loads of tweaks to make, and then I forgot what I was going to do, and so it sat.

But now it is done (I think), Lindsey still has to try it on, and there may be issues yet, but I at least fixed the zip which was the major thing holding me back.)

I still need to properly iron it, so its a bit crumpled looking, but its pretty much there. I used Jessie's pencil skirt drafting tutorial to make it, and it went together really easily (barring my own laziness!). I also added a kick pleat. I found it surprisingly hard to find orange fabric that didn't resemble safety wear, and this cotton from Mandors was a little thin, so I underlined the whole thing. The only bit I am not super happy with is the hem, which was my first real attempt (that worked at all) at a machine blind hem. It actually worked pretty well, and it looks quite nice, certainly better than a normal top-stitched one.The stitches are however a little big, and I think I didn't get the tension quite right as there are some places here it doesn't quite iron perfectly flat. there is progress in my skills yet to be made I think. Looking back though this is one of my first projects designed for normal wear (ie not a costume) that uses a block colour, and those are meant to be more difficult to look perfect.

Overall I think it is really fun, and I am pleased with it. I think I am going to use the same tutorial to make myself some pencil skirts.

These skirts will hopefully be worn with some tops made from this pattern (mainly versions of view C). I had a slight set back yesterday though when I couldn't find the back piece, I'm sure it used to have one.. I shall have to search through my random pattern pieces pile!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Channelling Oona

Over the last few weeks I have been very busy with uni and more uni stuff, and sewing has taken a back seat, with the second half of Roswell Week postponed. To cheer myself up slightly, and completely disregarding my pledge to sew from my stash, I popped into Edinburgh Fabrics and bought the jazziest fabrics I could see.. Oops!!

These magnificent fabric choices make feel a little bit closer to the awesomeness of the lovely Oona, and her love of pattern and colour.

First we have a peacock feather cotton, probably to become a simple dress..

And then this fabulous flamingo print cotton, DESTINED to be a hawaiian stylee 50s shirt dress.

Now I just need some time to sew.....

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Roswell day 3 - bird box cushions

Item completed - Bird box cushions.
State before Roswell Week -cut out. 
Reason for abandonment - I got distracted
Time spent as an UFO - as foam cushions that needed covering, a year? as cut out pieces, about a month. 
Time used to finish - about an hour
"chump" factor felt for not having done it sooner -pretty terrible for the amount of time it took me to buy the fabric, not so bad for the rest

Ok, this isn't actually finished, as I only finished one, but I though I would check it worked properly for sewing the other one up. 

For many years we had some uncomfortable kitchen chairs, which I cut out some foam squares to make more comfortable. These gradually became slightly disgusting, as I never got round to covering them. Then I got some new chairs, from a second-hand scrap yard in Prestonpans. They were far more pretty, but the foam was still useful.We also have window seat, and the cushions at the end always flopped down and weren't comfy, so I rolled up a bit of foam to make a bolster to prop everything up, which I also never covered. 

eventually found some fun bird fabric in Ikea. I have never made a box cushion before, and I am not sure I sewed it all up in the correct order, but it seemed to work. I put in zips and everything. As stated in my previous post, the bolster was a bit tricky as it isn't a perfect cylinder or anything, and I made a bit of a hash of bits of it, but luckily these are not visible in use! yay!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Roswell Week day 2 The Meringues don't agree with me skirt

OK, its not day 2, but the weather was so nice over the weekend that I didn't sew anything, instead choosing to ride around on my bicycle.

Item completed - The Meringues don't agree with me skirt.
State before Roswell Week - finished apart from hand stitching the facings, but it didn't fit right. 
Reason for abandonment - I wasn't sure what to do with it. 
Time spent as an UFO - about a month (borderline current project!)
Time used to finish - about an hour
"chump" factor felt for not having done it sooner - not too bad, I tried this fairly recently, and I did need to think about it. 

Well, as you may remember from my previous post, I (like every other sewer on the planet) had tried to make a meringue skirt from the Colette patterns sewing book, only I wasn't very happy with it. Now this wasn't the fault of the pattern, it came together very easily, and for once, wasn't the fault of my inability to read instructions. I really  like the way it looks on other people, particularly Sarah's nice denim version and Scruffy badger's pinstripes.  I just didn't like it on me. I used some nice sturdy stretch cotton, with bright flowers. The fabric isn't quite as lurid as it looks in these pictures. I managed to follow the instructions and worked out how to do an invisible zip perfectly for the first time. I did forget that with Colette skirt patterns I always end up taking a bit off the waist/hip area (I thought it might be just the waist, but it turns out its not) so it was a little large, but reasonable. I thought the scallops might be tricky, but they weren't at all. And then I tried it on and I didn't like it. Rats. As you can see from the pics below, its perfectly wearable, its just a little blah, which is much more visible in real life than the pictures, it just didn't move right on my figure somehow.

I hemmed and hawed a bit, and decided that it was the shape that was wrong. On me I think it either has to be more aggressively A-line, or tighter, this treads a line in between that doesn't work with my hips. I was then a bit stuck, if this was a normal skirt I would just peg it, but this had scallops.. it was going to be a horrible mess if I got it wrong. So I tried first sewing down inside to remove one whole scallop from each side of the front and back. I would have taken a comedy picture of the result, but I couldn't walk far enough to get a clear shot, plus I hadn't taken it from high enough so it poofed around my hips-the end result looked a bit like I was wearing one leg of a massive pair of jodhpurs. I pulled that out and tried again, this time I sewed down so I ended up exactly in the middle of a scallop, so the scallop goes across the side seam. Result! the skirt now looks much more plausible on me. I also cut an inch off one side of the waistband (sloppy I know to only do one side, but the other side had the perfect zip in it, anyhow it looks fine!)

In case anyone is wondering about the title, it is referencing to the fact that I have problems with meringues in real life too, as they are made with eggs which I am allergic to. 

beautiful invisible zip (no, I didn't even try to match the pattern. but it's so busy it doesn't matter)

I am also making progress on my box cushions, with some more nice neat zip action.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Roswell week day 1

I thought I wasn't going to be able to carry out day 1, as I went for some drinks out in the sun, but I decided instead to just have a stab slightly half cut, though sadly not on a glamourous cocktail made by a sexy man, just some beer I got from Tesco. Never the less, I think I may be a convert, as I knocked out two things in about 10 minutes, no drama, no procrastination. Excellent.

Item completed - Shifting skies petticoat
State before Roswell Week - finished but too long
Reason for abandonment - I had two options, either hem all the bottom (never going to happen -it took me about 6 hours to rough hem them to start with) or take it up at the waistband, which I thought would be difficult. 
Time spent as an UFO - over a year
Time used to finish - about 5 minutes.
"chump" factor felt for not having done it sooner - MASSIVE. 5 minutes.. sigh, I have been tripping over this on the floor by my desk for over a year and it took me 5 minutes..

I started this last march, and quickly realised that lining fabric is a pain in the arse to do anything with. It snags, it moves about, it frays horribly.. I do however love the way it feels and ever since I was little, due to an excessive amount of Victorian literature in my youth, I have always wanted a petticoat that rustles.. The skirt is a circle skirt top layer, which is then sewn onto a double ruffle and a deeper single ruffle (on the inside). I can't remember how many meters length there are in the ruffles, I think possibly 10m per ruffle..
The difficulty came attaching them, to avoid the fraying nightmare, I decided to french seam the joins, but this ended up in a wibbly wobbly shambles. However, due to the dark nature and the massive size, this isn't actually that obvious as the wibbles seem to even themselves out!. (more anti lining fabric whining to be found in my Roswell week 1 post).

I put the waistband on and then tried it on with all the things I wanted to wear it with, and it was an inch and a half too long. Rats. 

So today I turned the waistband down on itself, and sewed it down. Job done! Here I am wearing it with my checky dress (which I did not make, but is very swirly). I rather love it, it isn't scratchy like net petticoats, and it squishes so it's less stiff. And it may be a bit of a hot mess, but it's a luxurious silky hot mess! I feel very decadent and flirty wearing it. 

Item completed - Old lady polka top
State before Roswell Week - dart seams unpicked, not resewn
Reason for abandonment - I just got distracted. 
Time spent as an UFO - 6 months
Time used to finish - about 15 minutes
"chump" factor felt for not having done it sooner - pretty big again, really took no time or effort to finish. 

This is a classic "shops make nice clothes for old women that don't fit well" item. I spotted this blouse in a charity shop and loved the vintage collar style and red polka dots. It is however clearly aimed at an older audience, and is cut accordingly. It actually fitted me perfectly well based on its loose fit. It did not however look good. I look like I am wearing a top I borrowed from my gran. 

So I unpicked the darts (shown pinned back up in the shots above so you can get the effect), and then forgot about it. Today I simply put on my dressform inside out, pinned out the side seams and waist darts and then sewed them up. Took no time at all.

Now it fits, and is not an old lady top any more! It looks nice untucked and tucked in. Yay! It's slightly clingy around the rib cage, I think I need to pin it so it doesn't gape (which is odd, as it's not actually very tight..), but otherwise it's looking pretty good. 

Drawing a line - Roswell Week 3

Ok folks, I will admit. I have completely fallen off the sewing bandwagon in the last month or so. I just haven't been at all motivated. I think about a project, and then I sit down at my machine and I just can't be bothered. I don't know what is wrong with me! Well I do, I have had a very stressful month and haven't felt like doing anything. And now the weather is nice so I have been outside playing in the sun (for some reason the weather is pretending it is July instead of March). But no more procrastinating.I shall make things, and feel the joy that comes from doing so. I have made a cushion cover for a bolster pillow for our window seat. Which really needed doing. But it was a serious bodge job (luckily you can't tell when it is insitu!) though it still looks much better than the uncovered roll of foam we had before. I also altered a skirt for a friend, which had been weighing on my mind.

I think that's slightly the trouble, I have a lot of unfinished jobs that just clog up my mind, I shouldn't start things until they are finished, but I have got stuck for whatever reason and haven't done them. BUT NO MORE! I shall finish them all!! (well some of them). Roswell Week 3! For those who don't know. Roswell Week is a week where I try and finish as many UFOs as possible, ideally posting everyday. I have done it twice before, the first time a magnificent success, the second a dismal failure.. Hopefully this time will also be a success..! I shall either finish stuff, or just properly abandon stuff, but the pile will go down! It is a blitz attack sort of approach!

So on the list:

Orange pencil skirt for Lindsey. This is shaming, I should have done this months ago but I keep forgetting what alterations to make. It was meant to be for Christmas... Oh well. This is the skirt of the infamous zip sewing in upside down incident. All it needs is the waistband taking in a bit, the hem redoing and the waistband sewing down. IT SHALL BE DONE!

Mystery project. This is one of those brilliant successes or horrible failures in the making, and probably won't be done this week because there is an awful lot left to do. So it shall remain a mystery.. for now. ( I promise if it is horrible I will show it too). But I shall make some progress.

Meringue skirt. This is so close to finished, but it has ground to a halt for a sad reason. namely, that despite loving this on everyone else who has made it, I hate it on me. The scallops just look peculiar. It may be the fabric I used which is flowery, but it just looks a bit of a mess. The scallops aren't finished but I think they wont be as they just don't seem to work. I think part of the problem is that is a very straight skirt. In an ideal world I would peg it and make it narrower at the hem, which would make it look less odd on on me, but there are those blasted scallops which mean that that doesn't work as I would have to cut off half a scallop or something. Argh.. I am tempted to cut off the scallops entirely and then just have a straight hemmed skirt, but it does seem rather a waste, plus it might be a bit short. All in all I probably would have binned this weeks ago, except that I finally managed to do a perfect invisible zip! It is beautiful and I can't waste it! It appears the trick with my zipper foot is to sew the line it wants to (about 2 mm out) and then sew another one closer, when the zip behaves better.

Cushion covers for the kitchen. This is a follow up to the before mentioned bolster bodge. Again, been waiting a long time for these.

Pendrell Homage. OK this one has been on the list since the first Roswell. I am just scared to cut it out. CHICKEN!

Pink pencil skirt. I traced the pattern, I cut out the pieces. No further progress.

Pink wrap top. Pieces cut out, and will probably only take about 3 seams.. (though it may not work... it a bit of an experiment)

Check pencil skirt. Cut out. Not sewed.

Shifting skies underskirt. Again, been on the Roswell list for a while. All it needs is taking up a bit at the waist.

Yet unknown contents of the mending bag. I had actually lost my mending bag.. for about a year, but spotted it again the other day. I will have to investigate its contents (and possibly bin them!).

Spotty checked vest. Another Roswell regular. This is the result of the Sew Weekly pillowcase project. Last year.

Red shirt refashion. Half unpicked the darts, then abandoned. Really small project that has been hanging about for months.

Turquoise underskirt. Cut out, not sewn up, even though it is only 4 seams, and I wear my other underskirt almost every day. Pathetic.

The list seems to have got rather long, and I haven't even checked my sewing area yet.. Oh well-BRING IT ON! ROSWELL WEEK 3!

Feel free to join me, any other UFO gatherers out there! The challenge doesn't really have any rules, and you don't have to finish, but it is always good to get through the pile!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Liebster award

I have been super busy with uni and stuff over the last few weeks so I have been missing form the blogosphere, but now I am back I am so excited! I was awarded my first blogger award-the Liebster award, for blogs with 200 followers or less. I was selected as one her five top picks by the lovely Sue at Sewing Steady. Thanks honey! 

"The origins of the Liebster Blog Award are somewhat unclear but the general consensus is that it means favourite or dearest to showcase bloggers with fewer than 200 followers." 

1 - thank your liebster blog award presenter on your blog. 
2 - link back to the blogger who presented the award to you. 
3 - copy/paste the blog award on your blog. 
4 - present the liebster blog award to 5 blogs (with 200 followers or less). 
5 - let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment.

My choices are:

I love quiet and small, who mixes sewing and science. I am loving her inspiration pics, that grey and turquoise dress is beautiful. I love how she makes vintage patterns look really wearable and not scary at all!
Over at Creative Accomplishments, My makes beautiful vintage dresses in fabulous colours and patterns, some of which she sells. I have been considering making a bright jacket, and hers is gorgeous!
Laura in a tangle is one of the bloggers who seemed to start about the same time I did, but she has done far more! She keeps running ahead with complicated patterns and stuff while I don't dare!
Steavie over at Beebee's vintage dress makes really pretty stuff in great colours and patterns, she is currently considering branching out into underwear..
Kat at All the whimsical things makes really nice clothes with a mix of modern and vintage looks. I love her full skirt, the fabric is beautiful!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Sew Grateful Giveaway Winners

Well thanks very much to everyone who volunteered to take patterns off my hands (I may now actually be able to shut the drawer with my patterns in (who am I kidding, it’s drawers and they still don’t really fit!)
I accordingly made a set of lists and random number picked people. Drum roll please…

The Simplicity 8228 dress is going to Little Red Emo Hood who blogs over at skates and stitches

The Woman’s Own 5257 blouse pattern is going to Jill of laugh but not loudly 

The lederhosen companion dress/blouse/apron  Burda 2 9050 is going to Megan and the machine

The furry sleeved Simplicity 6618 is going to Roobeedoo 

The Maudella 5829 smock is going to Gabrielle of Up Sew Late.

And finally, the most hotly desired item, the Style 1157 overall, is going to Ashley Nicole of Bramblewood Fashion. and Bramblewood Dress Diary 

And just to say that I am Sew Grateful to the lovely Debi, who put all this week together with her fantastic summary posts, there is going to be a little surprise for her also…

In other news, I have been holding off making pattern tracings recently as I wasn’t very happy with the paper I was using. I had been using normal tissue paper, but the sheets were too small which was annoying me (far too much wastage). So I finally got round to hopping over to the Edinburgh College of Art student shop (where they don’t seem to care if you are a student or not, or at least don’t ask you) and bought some massive (about 70cm x 100cm) sheets of greaseproof paper, thin enough to see through but more study than standard tissue. They were only 15p each! Yay! I have now traced about 4 different patterns and can get round to starting to make them!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Skirt du Soleil

As part of Sew Grateful, we are meant to finish or make things with materials we have been given. At the pattern swap at the Crafter's Ceilidh, there was some bright orange glossy eyelet fabric that no one could think what to do with. It was quite stiff and looked like it might have been a table cloth. As no one knew what to do with it, it was given to me to take home, as a challenge to my ingenuity. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! 

Except that my ingenuity wasn't needed, the moment I showed it to Lindsey she wanted a full gathered skirt made of it. And the material was perfect, it was a border fabric, with the edges finished in a deep glossy scalloped band, so I didn't have to hem it or anything, and I used that part for the waistband too. It was very easy to make, I made a lining out of some cream pillowcases from my stash, which were the perfect size, and put in the zip I had put in her pencil skirt upside down the other week (I hadn't wanted to put it back in that tight skirt in case it wasn't as robust anymore). 

It is a great success, Lindsey danced about in it looking very cheerful! It has a little girl party skirt feel, but in the orange it is fine for day. It is very cheerful, both in shape and colour, so Lindsey named it the Skirt du Soleil. CHALLENGE FULFILLED. 

Tutorial: the Tree Skirt

This tutorial, again as part of Sew Grateful Week, is covering one of the first sewing projects I ever did, and (certainly the first I was really pleased with), and is a great easy project for anyone. It's a nice alternative to the basic gathered, A-line and circle skirts that are good to make as quick projects, and is very fabric efficient.

My flatmate Lindsey asked if I could make her a copy of a skirt she had bought and loved. It was a simple skirt with small box pleats and buttons and it was made of a fun tree print cotton. It was my first experience of cutting a pattern off something, and luckily it turned out to be very simple!

The skirt is unlike other box pleat skirts I have in that the pleats don't hold in all the way down, the skirt fluffs out about halfway down, creating a sort of tulipish effect, but with the simplest pattern. It has an easy button fly opening. I have only put 2 buttons on, but you could continue them all the way down if you wanted that effect.

Since making that copy I have made two more, one for myself and one for my other flatmate! Lindsey has worn her skirt a huge amount of times, its one of her favourite pieces, I always feel really fun in mine and Charlotte insisted on having one for her birthday recently to complete the set!

The three skirts are all slightly different. Lindsey's ditsy flowery skirt has very narrow box pleats, about 3/4" each side and has a slim tulip shape. For my geometric flower skirt I used larger 1 1/4" each side pleats and it therefore jumps out more, like a rounded cheerleader skirt. After mine ended up sticking on my tights, I lined it retrospectively, and so when I did Charlottes' bird skirt I put the lining in properly and hemmed it so that the green lining showed out the bottom properly.


The skirt requires very little fabric, and you draw the pattern yourself. It is based on a simple rectangle made from your measurements. You only need the cotton (unless you want to line it, in which case you need a similar amount of lining fabric as the main fabric), interfacing to stiffen the waistband, and 2 buttons. 

The only measurements you need is your waist (well the bit where you want the waistband to sit) and the length you want it to be. The skirt ends up as a long strip of skirt and waistband with pleats in it that then overlaps by 1 1/2" at the front for the button placket. 
Draw a rectangle that is the the length of the skirt + 05" seam allowance and 1" hem allowance, and the width of a 1/4 of your waist measurement + the pleat. This is your basic pattern block.  
You then cut out a back piece that is two of these with a seam allowance on each side.  You also need two front pieces, one of which is the piece plus a seam allowance on one side and 1 3/4" allowance on the other side (for the underside of the button placket) and another which is a piece plus seam allowance plus 3 1/4" (for the top of the placket). You also need a piece for the waistband which is your waist, plus 1 1/2" and two lots of seam allowance, and twice the width you want plus 2 lots of seam allowance.
Iron fusible interfacing onto the inside of the waistband piece. Mark the position of the pleats on the pieces. You can then finish all the edges (I used a zig zag stitch). 

Fold in and sew the edges of the front pieces that make the button placket, the placket is 1 1/2" wide and the front piece folds under to be double thickness.  In the diagram, the top one shows the way the placket works at this stage (and at the top of the skirt in the finished skirt). The bottom one shows how you sew the two bits together later on. 
Sew the side seams.

Fold the long rectangle you now have into the pleats, and pin them in place at the top edge. 

Sew the front edge of the waistband onto the skirt pieces, right sides together, and then fold back up. Fold the seam allowances at the ends of the waistband in so they match the skirt edges, then fold the waistband in half and stitch in the ditch (ie along the seam line on the front of the waistband) to hold the back of the waistband down. Iron the waistband and pleats and then topstitch along the top edge of the waistband and down the edges at the placket. . 
Sew the button holes on the top layer of the waistband and placket.

Overlap the placket on the front pieces and sew up each side from the bottom until about 4 inches from the top, where you angle the seam line. 

Hem it (which should be easy, just take an inch up all round, as it is a straight bottom edge).

Attach buttons. 

And you're done! If any part of this seems confusing, I will have explained it badly, as it extremely easy, so give me a shout if I have lost you somewhere!

If you want to line the skirt, just make an identical pleated skirt out of lining but with the seams going outwards (so that all the seam edges when you are done are hidden between the lining and the outside fabric) and then sew it into the waistband. If you want the lining to be visible along the bottom, make the lining longer, sew it into the waistband but then hem both the outside fabric and the lining separately before you sew up the button placket. 

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Sew Grateful Pattern Giveaway

OK, I am a little late with this, but better late than never right? As many of you will know, the lovely Debi has organised another Sew Grateful week, where we remember to be grateful for the free stuff, cheap stuff and fantastic support we get from our friends, real life and online! It has a schedule and everything, but due to work stuff and uni I am a little behind. Oh well.

At the recent Crafter’s Ceilidh meet up, we were meant to bring patterns to swap. I, like the chump I am, managed to leave them at work, and so couldn’t swap them. Doh. However, I got some lovely bits at the swap, and met some great fellow sewers, for which I am very grateful (I feel a lot more inspired since the meetup!), so, now that I have retrieved them from the carrier bag in my office,  I am now giving my patterns away to anyone who wants them (subject to random numbering of course on the off chance that more than one person does!). You do not have to have been in Edinburgh, and I am happy to send them anywhere in the world. To enter, just say hello in the comments and say which one you would like. Since I have started somewhat late, the give-away is open until 11.59 GMT on Tuesday 14th Feb. 

First up we have a pattern from the 60s(?) Style 1157 in a Bust 34”.
Is it a dress? Is it a coat? You could easily make it either, but it claims to be a hybrid –a “coat style overall”. Overalls sound exciting, like this would be worn by glamorous lady mechanics, in denim, or in stiff blue or white for nurses. On the other hand, if you made it in drapey material, it would be a pretty shirt dress. I like the big feature pockets. Or in gabardine a nice coat. So many options.

It is a bit battered and the envelope has some antique sellotape holding it together, but it seems to all be there except the cuffs for the sleeves, which are just rectangles so easily made.

Next, we have 60s Simplicity 8228 in a Bust 42”. A nice simple dress with more flattering darting than you often get in a shortish dress of the time. I keep wanting to do something with the one on the right, with the nice open mock skirt collar, very cute. Again, a bit battered but it has all the pieces.

This is a nice basic skirt pattern with various options of cuff, collar and darts, Woman’s Own 5257 in Bust 34”. The version with the wing cuffs appeals to me.

Now for a classic “why did you do that with the pattern cover” pattern, Burda 2 9050 in a 38 and 40” bust. For some reason they have played the cover very much towards an “I’m going to a party with some guys wearing lederhosen” angle. When I showed my flatmate this she winced. 

I quite like it however, it’s really just a pattern for a nice fitted dress with double waist darts,  and a really cute jacket/top with buttons and a mini peplum. I actually quite fancy that jacket in a nice bright green, worn over a fitted shift dress. Hmm maybe I will trace it before I give it away. Plus of course you also get a pattern for a gathered  skirt and a simple apron.  

Its been cut out in the 40, so the 38 lines are still visible so you can use either size. There’s also some extra bits where the previous owner has been playing around with button placements-I always love it when you can see how the pattern has been made up before!
Now for some kids patterns, Simplicity 6618 has two teen sizes, 33.5” and 35” bust. From the look of the pieces they were traced not cut out so both sizes are still useable. People on the Sew Weekly community may recognise this pattern - I showed it as one of the unpromising pattern cover conversations! It does seem unlikely that anyone would want some of the colour and furry combinations shown on the envelope, though furry sleeves now seem to have become fashionable again, so who knows! The basic pattern is however a fitted jacket and wide legged trousers, which could be made very plausibly in any number of less extreme fabric combination!  

And finally a children’s’ smock top pattern with a square yoke, Maudella 5829 , in a 7-8, 9-10 and 11-12 years, with all sizes still looking useable. Again, envelope is torn, but the pieces are all there, including some handmade additional sleeve pieces from the previous user. 

Monday, 23 January 2012

The Joan Process Dress

Sometimes you make things and they look great, and sometimes you make things that drive you mad doing it. This is my first real experience of being driven mad and then loving the final outcome. I was actually very worried that I wouldn’t, I had that nagging feeling that, “this is the dress I learned how to sew so I could make and it’s going to suck, or be horribly uncomfortable and I’m going to cry”.

To recap , I wanted a tight fitting, brightly coloured dress that would make me feel like Joan from Mad Men.  I bought some luscious bright blue double knit (It is apparently one of the base colours used to make all Pantone shades, like cyan but stronger, and it’s therefore called Process Blue in that system). I found a vintage pattern for the sort of dress I wanted in knits, Woman W400 (see previous post for more details).
I had already cut out the main pieces, FBAd, and redid the darts on my dressmakers dummy Agnetha, and on Thursday night I decided I wanted to get it finished for the sewing meet up on Saturday. This was partly a desire to get it finished, and partly as I wanted to wear something I had made but most of my self made clothes are summery!

So far so good, I finished sewing all the darts, and then tried it on. Uneven dart disaster. Argh! I tweaked the darts (making them slightly shorter and tapering the ends so they were less pointy), altered the shoulder seams so the thing was straight, and made the whole thing substantially tighter. I wasn’t sure if this was going to work, but it did, the darts pulled smooth and it looked great-yay!.

I decided to put cuffs on the sleeves, so made up a pattern piece and sewed it on-and they went on beautifully. As the first time one sleeve had gone in a little stretched I re set them in using the flat method (I had had to unpick all the side and shoulder seams anyway to adjust the width and I  also took this opportunity to reduce the length of the shoulder seams).

So it was all going quite well. I considered the skirt, decided there was no need for 6 different darts on a stretch skirt and just cut it out. I then got knobbled by the traditional vintage patterns which are bizarrely long problem. On the envelope it clearly sits just below the knee. I am not short but the thing was grazing my ankles, and completely impossible to walk in. This is where it all went a bit wrong. I looked at the whole thing and said, the waist needs to come up a bit, and the bottom needs to come up about a foot. I therefore chopped away. As it turns out, I did not take into account the length lost at the waist, so when I tried it back on, after unpicking pretty much every seam in the entire dress, it was now a mini dress. By this point it was Saturday morning.. I panicked and cut out a folded band and sewed it onto the bottom, which looked fine, except that I had sewn it on with the side seams on the outside… Hannah looked on sympathetically (she had arrived by this point as we were already meant to be there!) as I cursed and seam ripped away again. I also still had to do the neckline, which I had altered and recut about three times as I kept realising it was a bit lopsided, and then merrily cutting away the wrong side (curse you mirrors!). Luckily I sewed the collar on and though I had made it more of a scoop than the pattern, and changed the way the collar finished to it went off to a point at one side. so it was a bit of a gamble,  it looked pretty good!
I then put on my finished dress hesitantly, and LOVED it. I wore it all day, it was incredibly comfortable, and it is probably one of my favourite items of clothing ever! Its tight but not too trashy, so I could wear it for work, but also felt completely at home in the Voodoo Rooms with cocktails-perfect! All it needed was my white belt and I felt just like Joan!

Super Sewing Saturday - the Crafter's Ceilidh

This weekend I was lucky to be part of the super fun day of sewing chat and fabric buying that was the Crafters Ceilidh. The meet up was organised by the lovely Debi, Kristen and Kerry, and they did an excellent job!  There were lots of sewing ladies there, some had even come up from the South to meet with us, so that was pretty exciting, plus I discovered the various sewers who live in Edinburgh and I had no idea! Me and Hannah went along, though we were somewhat late due to a slight mishap with the dress I was finishing off (more to come on that later), but we went round Armstrong’s Vintage, Edinburgh fabrics, Mandors and the Cloth Shop for hours, took a rest and pattern swap at the new Sewing CafĂ© that will be open soon and then ended up in the Voodoo Rooms for delicious food and cocktails! 

The day has already been described brilliantly by a number of more on the ball bloggers, so I won’t repeat it all too much (see the posts by Debi, Kerry, Karen, Roobedoo and Scruffybadger –sorry if I have missed anyone elses!).

As I have a massive fabric stash already, and live in Edinburgh so the shops weren’t new, I intended to be good and not buy stuff. I failed pretty significantly in this!  I held out well in Ed Fabrics, only getting some lovely turquoise lining that I split with Scruffy Badger, but then I fell off the wagon completely in Mandors at the sight of reduced price Liberty lawn, and then just kept going at the Cloth Shop!

It was lovely to meet everyone in the flesh and talk about sewing all day, with lots of chat about fabric types and wool and how to do darts well. 

When I got back home and assessed my purchases I think I did pretty well (in the “I’ve got lots of nice fabric” way, not the “stash busting” way!”).
I got some nice fabrics to make skirts out of.

And some lovely liberty and a drapey green spotty fabric to try and make blouses

I also obtained these lovelies at the pattern and fabric swap, one piece of pretty blue border print cotton for a summer dress, and some slightly mad orange eyelet  that may once have been a table cloth that I was challenged to take and make into something!

A big thanks to the organisers, it was a great day, and thanks to all the other sewistas who took the time to come along and enjoy it!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Pluses and Minuses

I currently have about 5 sewing projects all being sewn at the same time and I am making very slow progress with all of them!

It has so far been a new year of pluses and minuses in my sewing exploits.

I have learned two new techniques! Which are awesome!
For my flatmates skirt I tried blind hemming with my machine (without a specialist foot). I tried this after reading this, which slightly blew my mind, I thought it would be really hard! But it's so easy! Admittedly some of my "pin pricks" on the outside of the skirt are somewhat larger than I would like, and the whole thing seems oddly tight stitch wise so it isn't quite perfect, but if I bought something with a hem like that I wouldn't think anything of it! It looks SO much better than my normal hems, partly possibly because I was forced to fold the hem over properly for once, and take more time going in a straight line! My hems are normally terrible-but this isn't! Now I just need to finish it and get Lindsey to try it on again, and hope that the ease I have added in is enough!

I also tried a new approach to sleeves. Easing in sleeves is again not a task at which I excel. Generally I find it super fiddly and end up with tucks everywhere, not always in places where they look intentional. Plus I hate that you can't really see what your doing, making it terribly easy to put the things in backwards, or upside down or just weirdly wonky. So for my Joan dress I tried doing it on the flat (ie before I sewed the side seams). It was a revelation! It was so straightforward, you could see what you were doing, it was easy to adjust the sleeve head ease, no sewing in a tiny ring of fabric and no tucks! They went in so easily and looks great (except that I seem to have overstretched one part so it wrinkles when I move, but that is a knits/feed-dog problem, not a sleeve problem.

I whipped up the bodice of the Joan dress, and the darts are horrible. Nipply doesn't really do it justice! I am going to have to do them again, and I'm not sure that I can fix it easily...darn. Also, one of the darts seems to be an inch lower that the other, for no apparent reason, I've checked the pattern and they are the same height. hmm. As I had to slash and spread the darts to get them to lie flat at all, moving it up an inch isn't really an option unless I re cut out the entire front. As its a knit and therefore inherently bodgeable, I am going to try pulling up one shoulder a bit (possibly where I went wrong anyway, I shall have to have a close look at the grain and see if I have just done the seam wrong to start with). Plus I should probably try and fix the sleeve bucking problem if I am doing things properly.