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Tag Archives: dressmaking
Back in June I catalogued my ridiculous stash, and then discussed how it was actively blocking my sewing mojo. This isn’t a new topic on the blog. Back in 2015 I chatted about why a fabric stash doesn’t work for me.
But, as you know, thanks to the generosity of friends, and fabric shopping but not sewing, my stash had grown again. And, I’ll be honest, it was making me uncomfortable. I know that having a fabric stash is a bit of a contentious issue, and that many people would feel bereft without theirs, but I find it, quite frankly, oppressive.
When I started sewing, back in the days before the internet, I didn’t stash fabric or patterns, but simply decided what I wanted to sew, and then bought the fabric and pattern needed for that garment.
My goal at the moment is to pretty much get back to that state of affairs. There are a couple of pieces of beautiful wool coating that will be the last things I sew, and some summer weight dress lengths that I’m not sewing till spring. But everything else is going to be sewn as quickly as possible, just to get them out of a crate and into the wardrobe.
I even have a list!
So, October has been a bit of a crunch month for me, stash wise. Not only have I been tweaking Newlook 6217 to perfection, I also decided to bite the bullet and go through the fabric book with a more critical eye.
I revisited each and every single piece of fabric, in a Marie Kondo fashion, and anything that didn’t “spark joy” was put to one side. I filled two of the large blue Ikea sacks with fabric that I couldn’t see what I would make, or how it would fit into my wardrobe. The friends who originally gifted it to me were happy for me to pass it on to a good home…so I did. Another friend, who is learning to sew, was the overjoyed recipient of 71.9 metres of fabric that was weighing me down, but which has buoyed her up. The gifting of this fabric sparked much more joy than the stashing of it ever did. I highly recommend it.
I used another 5.4 metres for toiles, wearable or otherwise, and binned 2.5 more when I completely ruined version 3 of the Newlook top by completely not paying attention to cutting out!
So at the end of October I had 99.7 metres left in the stash, and I’ve pulled out about 8 or 9 pieces that have been pre-washed and pressed and are ready to go. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll already have seen that November is shaping up to be a productive sewing month.
Stash Stories, then, is a monthly roundup of all things stash, where I’ll tally how much fabric I’ve used, what, if any I’ve purchased, and how much is left. Hopefully, I’ll get to the bottom of the crates sooner rather than later.
By the way, if you’ve not already listened to the Love To Sew podcast “How big is your stash” then I highly recommend that you do. In fact, I highly recommend you listen to all episodes…they are great!
With the weather being so overcast and dull, it’s been nigh on impossible to get photos of finished knits and sewing, so I’m taking this opportunity to share another of the books that Tuttle Publishing recently sent me.
This time its a sewing book, Basic Black: 26 Edgy Essentials for the Modern Wardrobe by Sato Watanabe.
This is a beautiful book. I do love the Japanese aesthetic, but often find that it leans a little too much towards simplicity, or, even, too young. But this one is full of clean, stylish, wearable garments that would be equally at home in the wardrobes of 20-somethings as well as those more *cough* mature, like myself.
The patterns include blouses, dressed, jackets, skirts and coats. Pretty much a whole wardrobe’s worth of designs.
My personal favourites include:
J. Jumper Dress with Square Neckline
K. High Neck Shirt with Three-quarter Length Sleeves
S. Dress with Stitched Skirt
U. Asymmetric Jumper Dress
Y. Flannel Short Coat
Z. Raglan Coat with Pin Spots
See, I told you they were gorgeous!
I particularly like that Flannel Short Coat! Just the most perfect Autumn jacket.
The instructions are quite basic, in a style reminiscent of Burda magazines, and just list a series of sewing steps. However, where you’ll need a bit extra help, there are diagrams to assist you.
The sizes are quite generous…these are finished measurements:
Although it’s still not a book for fuller figures, unless you’re happy to do some grading.
Which I’m not. I just don’t have the headspace for that at the moment. I’m concentrating on clearing the stash and filling the wardrobe as quickly as humanly possible.
So, I thought that maybe one of you guys would like to have this copy of the book?
If so, please leave a comment below, before noon on Friday 3rd November, and I’ll pick a winner after that.
I’m happy to ship internationally.
The lovely Ann over at @TuttlePublishing supplied me with a free copy of this book in return for an honest review. However, all opinions expressed here are my own and in no way influenced by @TuttlePublishing.
One of the things that’s been missing in my life for many years is the time to regularly sew for myself. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s just that life has been full of too many other things to allow me the time and brain space to as creative with fabric as I’d like.
But as the kids get older, and I shed obligations that no longer work with our life, I’m hoping to change the sewing situation.
I’ll have to admit that there’s one other thing that’s kept me from sewing quite as much as I’d like, and that is fit.
I’m have not yet mastered fitting myself. This isn’t just down to time, I think it’s also due to my ridiculously fluctuating weight over the past few years. I think I just have to acknowledge that this may continue for a while and embrace the need to carry out alterations or pass clothes on.
It became very clear to me recently in my adventures with Newlook 6217 that I still don’t have a clear plan of what I need to do to a pattern to get a half decent fit without multiple toiles.
This top is so, so simple to make. Two pieces. Four seams. Five hems. Nothing to it.
But as with all simple garments, fit is key as it has nowhere to hide.
My original unblogged version of this had been worn to rags, but had needed a little more room in the bust and a little less in the neck. It had also needed the shoulder and side seams shifting.
So I carried out the changes (thankfully I’d noted these down!) and now have the side seam exactly where I want it. The black line helps you see it, as it’s well hidden in the fabric pattern. I know it looks odd but that’s due to me carrying all my excess weight to my front.
It does look like I need a small sway back adjustment in the photo, but I’m sure that’s the way I’m holding my arm up to take an iPhone photo. I’m going to monitor that situation with future makes as in real life it doesn’t look as pronounced.
So I’m happy with that.
Having moved the shoulders, I’m still not happy.
The seam is still rolling to the front. I have appalling posture. Thank goodness I’ve got a yoga teacher coming next week!
Ok…on a top like this it’s easy to adjust the shoulder, so, I’ve done another seam adjustment for the next iteration.
I added another 1″ to the FBA. I didn’t want to add a dart to this top so I followed the instructions for the Y-shaped FBA in Fit for Real People: Sew Great Clothes Using ANY Pattern. I removed the sleeve portion of the pattern before doing the alteration and it worked a treat.
As I’ve added a significant FBA to this top (a total of 6″), I’ve got some pooling above the bust.
I’ve pinched this out into wee darts to make this top wearable, and I’ve transferred this to the pattern.
I promise I’ve sewn them more evenly!
This second iteration is still very wearable.
Even with the fit flaws its still better than anything that I would buy off the shelf. And because of the FBA it fits around the bust but flatters across the tummy, rather than having too much fabric swimming about there.
The other joy is having a top that fits at hip level and actually covers the bits I want it to. At 5ft 7ins I have such trouble with RTW tops hitting too high and rising up in wear. This doesn’t do that!
I have another version cut out and ready to sew. It’s a knit fabric this time, which is really not the greatest idea when you’re perfecting fit, but was top of the fabric tub. I’ve also got another length of fabric washed and ready to go which will, hopefully, be the last wearable muslin to get me to my first Tried And Tested pattern.
Pattern: Newlook 6217
Fabric: Soft cotton lawn.
Purchased from: Preston market
Total cost: £4
Similar fabric can be found here: Croft Mill Fabrics*
*This is more spendy!
Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you! I only recommend goods or services that I am happy to use myself.
I’m sure you’ll remember this recent post when I happily declared that I had worked through my stash, sorted and catalogued all the fabric, and was set and ready to sew.
And then I made blinds.
And looked at the crates.
And I sewed nothing.
And I looked at the crates some more.
And I flicked through the patterns.
And I flicked through the fabric catalogue.
And I sewed nothing.
Because, when you’ve got 176 metres of fabric in the stash, (I know!!!), and you haven’t really sewn properly for a couple of years, there’s a question that your poor, overwhelmed brain keeps coming back to.
“Where the heck do you start?”
I have a huge pile of fabric, and enough patterns to last me till doomsday. But I simply couldn’t decide what to make.
Should I make this pattern in that fabric? Or would the other one be more appropriate? What about this one?
Completely stuck! Completely frustrated! And still not sewing.
A couple of weeks back I decided that I would start with jeans. The rationale being that I really need some more jeans in my wardrobe. And my favourite sort-of jeans, RTW, but made from a soft stretch chino, had finally given up their last fibre.
Also…I wear jeans pretty much every day.
Oh…and I already had the pattern printed off and ready to tape. Perfect.
So I taped up the pattern. Got to love a big sewing table!
Then packed it away.
Turns out, I’m not quite ready to go from zero to jeans fitting.
So….I sewed nothing.
And then, I opened my wardrobe and realised that I’ve hit that point where everything is running close to shabby and I need some new tops. (I’ve still got a couple of pairs of jeans that have only just come back into rotation after losing a bit of weight. The jeans weren’t a priority after all!)
I was just about to suggest a shopping trip to the Hubby, when I realised that, quelle suprise, I do know where to start.
So, on Saturday, whilst he cleared the last of the boxes and assorted crap from the garage, I pulled out a length of fabric that I’d already earmarked for toiles, and a couple of patterns that I’d already made up before.
First up, Simplicity 1886, which I’d previously made up in a pretty floral poly and worn to shreds.
If you follow me on Instagram you’ll already know that I’m really glad I made that toile!
The fit was so very far off that I binned the toile, and the pattern. I’d already hacked it to death and, quite frankly, would much rather start again from fresh.
I’ll admit to being quite shocked by this as, if you’d asked me, I would have told you that it would be too small!
I quickly moved on to Newlook 6217, which I’d made up, loved, and worn to shreds before blogging it. This is one of the patterns that I’d like to be a TNT that I can pull out, pop on the fabric, and whizz up whenever the mood takes me.
It’s the kind of easy-to-wear top I love for day-to-day wear when you’ve got to get yourself together quickly in the morning, but don’t want to look like a complete schlep!
I knew there were some tweaks needed to the pattern, so did a quick toile, clarified the tweaks, and applied them to the pattern.
I’m pretty sure it’s good to go, but I’ll make up in some cheap fabric just to confirm. I’ve then got at least 2 or 3 other lengths of fabric that I can quickly whizz up and get out of the stash and into the wardrobe. Whereupon I can recycle the tatty RTW.
And I’ll have my first ever TNT!
Once that’s done I can move onto the next pattern I want to sew. Which will either be the Ginger Jeans or the Sew Me Something Imogen top.
Cue, the next of the TNTs.
The moral of this story? Turns out there’s a couple.
First up, when your sewing room is in boxes and you don’t know how long it will be before it’s unpacked…..stop buying fabric.
When you’re so busy that you’re not sewing….stop buying fabric.
And when you’re so stuck you don’t know where to start….Stop. Buying. Fabric!*
Oh…and Just. Start. Somewhere. It doesn’t matter if its the perfect fabric/pattern combo. Or if there are 73 other patterns that a given piece of fabric can be used for.
Just. Sew. Something.
“Done” is better than “Perfect!”
*Obviously, if your lovely friend texts to say that she’s popping round at some point in the week with a gift of free fabric, that absolutely, positively doesn’t count.
Just make sure it’s stuff you love, or let it go to another good home!
Sewing for my man isn’t something I’ve done a lot of in the past, although he’s not short of woolly socks! I’m hoping to do more for him in the future, but there is a dearth of good menswear patterns out there.
So it was with bated breath that I’ve been awaiting my copy of The Gentleman’s Wardrobe, Vintage-Style Projects to Make for the Modern Man by Vanessa Mooncie.
The book is beautiful to look at. The styling is reminiscent of Japanese sewing books. Moody shots in a modern industrial setting. Whilst the styling appeals to the “hipster” look my husband likes, the patterns are really quite classic.
The shirts, trousers and a jacket could all be made up in different fabrics to achieve different looks. They are the kind of patterns that once you’ve got the fit nailed you’d have a set of basic styles that you could make over and over again for the man in your life.
There’s also a selection of useful accessories and nightwear.
It really does cover all the bases. The only thing really missing would be an overcoat. But that’s nit picking.
The book is, for a change, not aimed at the beginner sewist. There are some basic techniques included, but this is not a “learn to sew’ book.
There are full sized pattern sheets included. They do require tracing but are nowhere near as busy as a Burda pattern sheet so should pose no trouble.
As you can imagine I was really excited to look through this book and was, quite frankly, planning to make everything except the wallet and bow tie and short sleeved shirt for my mister. The styles are that good and these are the only garments he wouldn’t wear.
And then I checked the size chart.
My man has a 19″ neck. And his chest is definitely more than a 42! The grading to get these to size would be ridiculous.
And lets be honest. As with us ladies, the 16″ neck market is widely served with both RTW and vintage patterns. This was a great opportunity to hit an untapped and underserved market with cool patterns that a wide range of men would be glad to wear.
Sadly it’s an opportunity that once again has been missed.
Thankfully I’d ordered this from the library to “audition” it. It’s not a book I’ll be buying.
I’m so disappointed!
This project has been a long time in the making. Not just the months since we moved into our wonderful new home in August, but the 10 years I spent sewing in the tatty loft room in our old home.
(Not that I didn’t love having that tatty old loft. I had some great sewing fun up there. But it was very tatty. And boiling in summer. And freezing in winter. With no storage)
But this room. This room is just perfection.
It was originally going to be our company office with a projector and screen so we could use it as a home “cinema”. The previous owners had wired (and decorated it) as a cinema room:
However, I pointed out that:
- we only use the office for a couple of hours a week
- we have the most ridiculously large tv in the sitting room so why the heck do we need a projector
- there is no way on God’s green earth I’d have got all my sewing
crapsupplies into the fourth bedroom that is now the office
- I wouldn’t get a large cutting table in what is now the office
- I want the big room, dammit!
No one was more surprised than me when The Husband said yes! Love that man!
And so began the plotting and scheming. I knew that my main priorities were storage and cutting space. I’m so sick of not being able to lay hands on a pattern, or thread, or whatever. And also trying to cut out on the floor or kitchen table.
So, off to Ikea I went.
The first thing to purchase was supplies for the cutting table. It’s about 150 x 160cm. It’s constructed from 2 of the 8 box Kallax units with a 4 box unit at the top end. They are screwed together in a U-shape and then topped with 12mm MDF.
A pinnable surface proved invaluable in the tatty sewing loft. Sadly we couldn’t lay hands on any of the insulation board that we had used 10 years ago, but I’m giving it a go with layers of the underlay that you use under laminate floorings piled 3 high on the MDF.
Finally it’s wrapped with curtain lining stapled to the underside of the MDF to secure. And set on castors so you can move it to get around all sides for large projects. Or cleaning!
The top layer of spaces on each long side have drawer units, with boxes in the bottom. This gives me loads of storage options for tools, notions, patterns, yarn and all the other wee bits and bobs you have in a sewing room.
It is a joyous thing!
For books and magazines I have a run of Billy bookcases with half glazed doors.
I may have quite a few sewing, knitting, embroidery and quilting books!
There’s plenty of room for the odd magazine or two, too!
Crates of fabric and the stuff I don’t need to access often are stashed out of sight in the understairs cupboard that runs along the back of the room.
I’ve also got all my drafting/measuring tools hung up here, as they’re too big for the drawers.
All of this covers my need for storage and a super cutting table. Now all I needed was somewhere to sew.
We picked up this little table at GB Antiques in Lancaster a couple of years ago. It’s perfect for this corner, with a daylight lamp for when I need it, and a bluetooth radio for listening to music or podcasts as I sew. An Ikea Raskog trolley holds projects handy, and my overlocker sits to the side of my gorgeous new Bernina.
I have the luxury that if I decide I need a larger table for sewing on, there’s one in storage in the garage that I can swap for this.
The chair needs a lick of paint, but I’m in no hurry for that.
After, all, I do have sewing to do!
I love this room so very much. It makes me smile every time I think “I need a needle and thread” and can put my hands right on them.
And when we were house hunting, I never in my wildest dreams thought I end up with something so perfectly perfect.
Of course, none of this would have happened without my wonderful husband. Despite rolling his eyes at some of my ideas, he worked it out and brought them to life in the most amazing way.
“Thank you” seems so inadequate in the face of such a wonderful gift, but I hope he knows just how grateful I am for such an amazing room, and how very happy it makes me.
If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that at the weekend I decided to tip out the boxes into which I’d hurriedly unpacked patterns and have a bit of a sort out.
Hubby has kindly offered to scan everything into an Evernote catalogue for me so I’ll never duplicate a pattern again, and I’m itching to sew but not sure where to start. It’s been so long, I don’t trust my hands at the moment for much other than sock knitting!
As I emptied each of the 4 boxes that will be the permanent home of the pattern stash, I sorted them into piles of the same…..dresses, trousers, skirts, etc., etc.
It’s a bit of a revelation. I’ve some fabulous contemporary patterns in there, Big 4 and Indie, and also a growing collection of vintage ones that is bigger than I’d originally thought. This is entirely thanks to the kindness and generosity of my lovely friends Liz and Christian, who have gifted me some corkers over the last year or so. Liz is a whizz with the charity shops and is the person who always finds the most amazing things. Vogue Couturier for £4 anyone!?!?
I think I need to get some archive envelopes for these and store them separately. I’ll happily share details in another post if you’re interested.
But for today I’m sharing some spares I have in my stash.
I’ve got half a dozen Cake Patterns up for grabs and a Frozen costume. Here are the ones available:
If you’d like any of these patterns then please let me know in the comments. If more then one person wants it I’ll draw names out of a hat!
Let’s say I’ll close comments on this on one on Friday 7th April. I hope they’ll find a good home.
Yet more flamingos for Miss Button.
A cute summer dress that looks like polka dots from a distance but gives you a happy surprise close up.
It fastens with a side zip and cute halter neck. Elastic at the top of the back keeps it snug and modest. And no pattern matching is required!
Most importantly….it has the twirl factor!
I was astonished to get Miss B into this dress today. She’s been really reluctant to wear her handmade clothes recently. However we finally got to the bottom of it this weekend (thanks Nana!).
A girl at a school party had commented that she looked “awkward” in this dress!
They’re 8 and already the mean girl stuff starts! It’s horrifying and heartbreaking. She’s already having confidence issues, but this is the second time this particular girl has said something thats knocked her sideways. Last time it was that Miss B is “fat”. Please feel free to insert your own expletive at this point. I did!
Sadly the girl’s mother isn’t remotely engaged. School keeps a tight rein on unpleasantness, but still it sneaks through.
As someone who was bullied hideously at school I’m trying to arm Miss B with the tools to fight this nonsense. And reminding her how beautiful she is…inside and out, how individuality is to be cherished, and how the people who love her love her for the amazing person she is. Anyone else’s idiocy doesn’t count in our family.
Thankfully, she’s got enough personality to bounce back, as these outtakes show.
These are the Miss B we know and love.
Pattern: Newlook 6204
Pattern cost: £2.98 (on half price sale)
Fabric: Cotton flamingo print – John Lewis
Fabric cost: £10/mtr – I used 1.5 mtr.
It’s nice to share some sewn stitches for a change.
How could I resist this adorable London themed fabric? It’s so very charming.
How cute is this? I just love it.
Fabric constraints meant that I couldn’t pattern match the bodice. So I fussy cut cute scenes instead. I’m happy with how it works.
I cut the skirt as one piece to maintain the integrity of the design, and managed to get an almost perfect match on the seam there.
Thankfully, Miss Button loves it too.
I’ll call that a win!
Pattern: Geranium from Made by Rae
Pattern cost: £10 – this is my 5th version, so it’s excellent value for money
Fabric: Cotton novelty print from The Buttonhole
Fabric cost: £5/mtr (I think). I used 1 mtr.
The majority of things I’ve made this year (and my productivity isn’t high at the moment) have been woolly socks for my lovely husband. However I’ve also been sewing for Miss Button, but getting her to pose for pictures has been a whole other ballgame. 8 is the new 14! Small girls are so stroppy!
However, en route to a friend’s party at the weekend, she was in a good enough mood for a quick 5 minutes of photos, despite the overcast and gloomy weather.
She’s mad for flamingos at the moment so I couldn’t resist this cute and colourful retro Hawaiian flamingo print. This is yet another geranium top (my fourth time with this fabulous pattern, I think).
Oh she looks so very, very tired. Summer holidays can’t come quickly enough!
I’ll be honest that I made no attempt at pattern matching. And because of this I managed to squeeze this top out of a metre of fabric. I had to skimp a bit on the gathering of the skirt. We’ve reached a tipping point where I need to start buying a bit extra fabric for her. She’s growing so quickly these days.
Ah….that’s my girl!
As always the Geranium was a quick and simple make that gives great results. The simple lines really show off the fabric at it’s best. This is a sweet pattern for little girls and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Pattern: Geranium from Made By Rae
Pattern Cost: $10
Fabric: Hawaiian-style flamingo print cotton
Fabric Source: Fabrix, Lancaster
Fabric Cost: £5.95/mtr