Tag Archives: dressmaking

She had so much fabric she didn’t know what to do

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.

OMG…throwback to dark hair! I look soooooo young!

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.

image copyright: sewmesomthing.co.uk

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!


The Gentleman’s Wardrobe – Book Review

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!


Sewing room reveal

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 crap supplies 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.

 


Pattern giveaway

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.


Newlook 6024 – Review

Yet more flamingos for Miss Button.

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A cute summer dress that looks like polka dots from a distance but gives you a happy surprise close up.

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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!

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Most importantly….it has the twirl factor!

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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.

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Thankfully, she’s got enough personality to bounce back, as these outtakes show.

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This is her “rock chick” pose and face. Often accompanied by air guitar!

These are the Miss B we know and love.

Project details

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.


Summer in the City

City_dress_5

It’s nice to share some sewn stitches for a change.

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How could I resist this adorable London themed fabric?  It’s so very charming.

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How cute is this?  I just love it.

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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.

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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.

City_dress_4

Thankfully, Miss Button loves it too.

I’ll call that a win!

Project details

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.

 


Flamingo geranium top

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.

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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).

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Oh she looks so very, very tired.  Summer holidays can’t come quickly enough!

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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.

flamingo_geranium_4

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.

Project Summary

Pattern:              Geranium from Made By Rae

Pattern Cost:      $10

Fabric:                 Hawaiian-style flamingo print cotton

Fabric Source:   Fabrix, Lancaster

Fabric Cost:        £5.95/mtr


Burda Scarf Sweater

Do you remember this monstrosity?

Burda_scarf_sweater-1_edited-1

This was  BurdaStyle 123 – 11 /2014 before I set to work on it.

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That’s better!

To be honest, though, this sweater has been a disaster from start to finish.

First up, I bought the PDF version of this pattern and it was simply awful to tape together. It had been printed in a batch of other patterns that all seem to be ok, so I’m laying the blame for that firmly at Burda’s door.  It was all over the place and nigh on impossible to get two pages to line up properly.

Having compared my measurement to Burda’s measurement chart, I did a 4cm FBA.  That was fine.  But I ended up having to fiddle with the bust darts to make them point remotely in the right direction. They’re still a bit hinky. And I chopped inches off both the sleeves and the hem. They were crazy long!

Burda_Scarf_1

Most importantly I hand-stitched the scarf to the neckline.  It looks so much better this way and resolved the issue I had with the neckline being a bit too wide.

The fabric was bought at the Knitting and Stitching Show last November.  When I opened it at home I was really disappointed to find these circular marks all over it. They look like faded grease stains and don’t follow the grain of the fabric.  Another disaster!  It’s so disappointing because this fabric is so soft and cosy and just the most amazing colour.

In real life they’re less noticeable than in the photos, but it means that this sweater is probably relegated to chill out wear for home.

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My adorable photobombers!

I’m confident that I won’t be making this pattern again in a hurry.  Not only is it fabric hungry because of the scarf, but the way the front pleats adds bulk where I need it least.  I also prefer the scarf as an integral part of the sweater, so all in all this is just too much faff.

However, I’m glad this fabric is out of the stash and in the wardrobe. And whilst the weather is finally warming up here, this will be waiting for me on chilly nights.


Burda 6985 – a very wearable muslin

I’ve made a start on the first of my planned TNT patterns, which is this BurdaStyle slim legged trouser.

6985-front-envelope

The fabric I used is a 100% polyester crepe from Abakhan.  I’m slowly edging away from polyester, but I’d booked myself onto a Sewing for Fun day at Stitchscape with Celia Banks, and new this was one of the patterns I wanted to work on.

I’d already cut them in a cotton drill but when I’d tacked them together for fitting it was really obvious there was a problem. It turns out the fabric was completely twisted on the grain. So I needed a replacement fabric.  And fast.

It had to be navy and this was it!

Whilst it was a bugger to sew, it drapes really nicely and worked well in a pinch for the sewing class.

Burda_6985_1

For the purposes of fitting, I cut without pockets or fly zip and did an invisible zip in the back seam. This isn’t my favourite style of trouser but I believe it’s a great way to simplify the pattern and work on the fit.

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Ah…the obligatory derriere shot!

This clearly shows how flat I am at the back.  I’m straight up and down with no waist or hips to speak of.  This is one of the reasons I have such issues with RTW.

But I’m really happy with the fit at the back. I’m not sure I could get it much better than that.

The front is pretty good too.

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All in all I’m quite pleased with these.

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I think with a couple of tweaks they’ll be spot on.  I definitely need to take the waist in at least 1/2″, maybe as much as 1″.

I also think that I need to drop the waistline by about 1/4 – 1/2″.

And I may scoop that front curve just a smidge too.

Finally, I’d like the leg to be slightly slimmer, as the next pair I make will be the 7/8ths length shown on the pattern and I like a more slender leg for that style of trouser.

But…these are a great pair of smart trousers and a very wearable toile!  I’d definitely wear them for formal meetings (although those are few and far between) or, more likely, with a pretty top and my wedding heels (as here) for dinner out with the husband.

Now if only he’d book the table…..


What to sew – part 3 – tops

I have finally dusted off the sewing machine and very nearly have two new garments to show you.  This one needed quite a bit of work and a stern talking to!

Burda_scarf_sweater-1_edited-1

Rest assured that scissors and expletives have been deployed and it’s looking much nicer now!

Between curses, I’ve also been narrowing down the possible patterns for tops for my proposed TNT pattern selection. As my daily uniform is jeans and a cute top, these patterns will, if I get it right, get a lot of use.

My criteria for this selection was that they’d be reasonably simple sews and would reflect the types of tops I chose in RTW.  They also need to smooth over lumps and bumps whilst I work on getting rid of them, and be modest at the school gate.  I just can’t deal with any garment in which I have to worry about flashing Father Gerry if I bend over to administer a hug or zip up a coat.

I’m fairly sure Father Gerry is grateful for this consideration.

Moving on! First up are popover shirts.  I love, love, love a good popover shirt and this is the garment I wear most at the moment.

Newlook 6267 is pretty much perfect.

6374

View A with bracelet length sleeves with a narrow cuff or elastic, and the back hem brought up to the same length as the front. In all the colours!  I have several versions of this in RTW in my wardrobe and I love. love. love them!   Honestly I could wear this and a pair of jeans all year round and be a happy girl.

Newlook 6267 is also a clone of a RTW favourite.

6267

I had a navy RTW similar to view A, but with lace inserts rather than embellishments, and I wore it to rags with jeans and clogs in the summer.

As an aside, can I just say (again!!!!) that I do wish pattern companies would sort out their styling (bright orange and washed jeans….really?!) and their construction (that hem!) on their pattern envelopes.

Moving on again…I was inspired to purchase Newlook 6217 having seen Jane’s beautiful versions.

NL_6217

I’d been contemplating adding a woven tee to the mix and couldn’t resist.  I’ll be honest that I’m not sure how this one will work for me, but I bought all of these patterns on sale so it’s not a great loss if this is a bust.  And again with the crappy styling!

With the wovens out of the way I absolutely have to have a knit t-shirt pattern.  I have two in mind.  I like to be contrary in that way!

First up is Burdastyle’s Scoop Neck Layered Shirt.

Scoop neck layered shirt

I love this layered look although again it’s a bit of a departure for me.  But I can see this working really well for cooler days when a tee on it’s own is a bit too cool, but a cardigan or jacket is too much.  And its a great way to add some pops of colour to my wardrobe without scaring the horses.

Although the horses would probably mistake that necklace for a tasty snack and not be remotely perturbed by the top.

And last, but by no means least, is Cashmerette’s new Concord tee pattern.

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I’m intrigued by the multiple cup sizes, but I was most swayed by a conversation at a sewing class last week.  A friend of my sewing teacher has made it and only had to make the tiniest tweak to the side seams to get a perfect fit. She was astonished.

Also this has all the things I’m looking for in a tee pattern….scoop neck, shirttail hem, set in sleeves.  So expect to see this in all the colours too.  I think the v-necked version with a short sleeve would work perfectly with the Syrah Skirt.

And that’s a summer uniform that would get me out of jeans in a flash.