Tag Archives: dressmaking
Sewing seems like such a distant dream at the moment. On top of the usual stuff, for the last 4 weeks at least one of us, and most often all of us, have been suffering from some sort of lurgy.
Flu, the proper, debilitating, put you on your back in bed for 3 days, sort.
Gastroenteritis. I’ll let you work that one out! Eugh!
And, drum roll, chest infections. That’ll be me. Of course. Because its a month with a date in it so therefore I’m due a chest infection. However we’ve got to what we hope might be the root of the problem, a massive deficiency in Vitamin D*, so I’m hoping as that is improved, my immunity will strengthen right alongside it.
I’ll be honest, I’m not even knitting that much because I’m so tired. I’ve been knitting the same sleeve on Lemongrass for what feels like forever, but is definitely weeks.
What I am doing is scheming as to what I’m going to sew with my new found guidelines. And I’m planning to get down with the TNT patterns. I’ve been sewing since Noah built the ark and still don’t have a TNT pattern.
Which is ludicrous. Because if I’m honest I could get through to Armageddon with probably 6 – 10 patterns and just keep sewing them in different fabrics.
So, I’m going to make a start on that and see where it takes me. I’m going to chose patterns that will be the bread and butter of my wardrobe. Which then will leave me time to be creative with the jam. Or brie. Or hot crispy bacon.
For the Husband
The Husband loves a good checked shirt. But even quite pricey ones don’t cut the yoke on the bias and it drives me nuts. And, because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut, it now drives him nuts.
Don’t get me started!
So, seeing as I’ve completely ruined shirt shopping for him, it’s time for me to put on my big girl pants and get him a TNT shirt pattern sorted.
The-rod-for-my-own-back shirt is on it’s very last legs. To be honest it should have been
shot turned into cleaning rags a while ago but he won’t let go until he has a handmade replacement. And as it’s 2 years since I made that shirt, (hangs head in shame) and I have a great length of fabric in the stash, I’m well overdue on this.
I have two options for this.** First up is to tweak the pattern I used last time, namely McCalls 6613.
I need to add a bit of length to the body and sleeves, draft a tower placket, and I think the cuffs look a tiny bit narrow, so would revisit them.
But I’m also intrigued to try a Bootstrap pattern and if I go down that route the pattern I’d chose is this Vado Modern Fit Shirt.
We’ll see which way he wants to go. But, this will be my first sewing project once I’m back on my feet. It’s his birthday in a month. A new shirt would be a fine thing, but I’m making no promises (you listening, Mr?! 😉 )
For the kids
I haven’t sewn for the kids in ages. To cut myself a bit of slack neither of them have complained. Which is possibly the only thing they’re not complaining about at the moment! That said, Button is keen to learn to sew so we have fabric for a project that we’ll probably work on over the Easter break. The fabric is awesome. It’s going to be fun!
I digress. The big issue I have with both of the munchkins is jeans. They aren’t particularly tall but they are mighty skinny and have both hit that “all legs” stage. It’s a RTW nightmare. Baggy waists end up so gathered to get them to stay up that they look bulky and are uncomfortable. Legs that are only just about long enough and so they grow out of them in no time.
Time for a good jeans pattern. The Titchy Threads Small Fry Skinny Jeans is the one I’m planning to try.
It looks like a really versatile pattern, with a proper zip rather than just a faux fly, instructions for reversing the fly for girls and a good range of sizes. It gets good reviews all over the interwebs, and it’s reasonably priced.
What’s not to like?
And the fun thing about making a TNT pattern for kids jeans is that they grow more up than out so for a while the only tweak I’ll need to do once the fit is sorted is to add some length.
Sweet! Or lazy? I’ll run with sweet, I think!
And whilst I on a shirt making tip, I’m going to crack the Ethan pattern by Sis Boom from my stash and fit this for my little man.
He has the same issue with shirts as jeans. Just soooooo skinny. Bless his heart. I swear you’d rather feed him for a week than a month, but he just doesn’t. stop. moving!
So it’s a start. Although with current productivity levels Armageddon or the Zombie Apocalypse will probably arrive before I fire up a sewing machine.
That said….if you have a great man’s shirt pattern or kids jeans pattern you can recommend, I’m all ears!
*Vitamin D levels in a healthy adult should stand at 80 nmol/litre. 50 is considered deficient. Mine are 12! It explains a lot.
**I do actually have more menswear patterns, but they are in storage at the moment. Under a pile of other stuff. I’m not even going there until we move house.
It’s a week in hospital and a plaster cast for sure if I try to liberate them!
Sewing for others has made something very, very clear. When I sew for myself I’m really, slapdash. When I sew for others I do things by the book.
And guess what?
The stuff I make for others always turns out better. Like….miles better! Even if I’m time constrained. Or it’s a ridiculously tricky fabric. Or, as is usually the case, a combination of the two! Who knew?
I know I’ve touched on this before but I’ve never really instigated a plan. Or maybe its more a set of guidelines.
Rules to Sew By!
Ooooh, that has a good ring to it! There’ll be a book offer on the table by the weeks end!
But seriously. I’ve been sewing for the best part of 40 years and still I’m focused on cranking out stuff to wear rather than upskilling to make them more beautiful. And it’s not like I’m making 20 garments a month. I’ve got no excuse.
So here are my new Rules to Sew By!
Rule 1 – Measure twice…..
I’m about to make an admission that will have seamstresses up and down the land beating a path to my door bearing pitchforks and burning torches.
I don’t have an up to date set of my measurements.
I know…it’s sewing sacrilege. It would explain why I have such issues with fit. And why, because stuff doesn’t fit as I want, I’m loathe to start sewing something for myself.
I need to fix that problem post haste and get my measurements down on paper. Regular updates wouldn’t go amiss, either.
Rule 2 – It’s all about the fit!
With my new found measurements in hand I’ll be all set to get the fit perfect first time, right?
wanted to poke admired those folk who say such things as “I made my usual 1″ SBA, 1/2″ sway back and 1/4″ forward shoulder adjustments and I was done”.
It struck me that if I kept ordered notes on each pattern brand of the adjustments I make for each brand, then I too could be one of those
smug clever folk who know just where to start to give them a fighting chance of a toile fitting with fewer adjustments.
you we all know, all the patterns are cut from the same blocks.
*hits desk with forehead repeatedly*
Rule 3 – It’s all about the fitting!
No….it’s not Rule 2 again. Not only do I have to figure out what adjustments I need to make, but how to make them, dare I say it…..properly!
You know…actually do a FBA before you even make a toile because you’re haven’t been a B cup since you were 13!
And its time to learn to do a dartless FBA too. Just sayin’
And when you roll the shoulder forward, you need to adjust the sleeve too! No, really…you do!
Rule 4 – Make a damn toile!
For every new pattern.
Rule 5 – Follow the damned instructions!
I know that I know how to sew, but I’ve also been doing it long enough to fall into some appalling habits. So actually, I suppose, I’ve gone all the way round to the beginning and really shouldn’t be let loose with scissors and thread!
So it’s back to basics.
Using the instructions and (when they’re out of storage) the rather fabulous range of sewing texts I own.
Rule 6 – Fit as you sew
Just because the toile looked ok, doesn’t mean the fashion fabric is going to behave in the same way. It’s better to fit as you sew than just stick your fingers in your ears, sing la-la-la-la-la and hope it works out at the end.
And then wonder why it doesn’t.
Rule 7 – Stop buying all the things
Why yes…that fabric is beautiful, but purple and green poppies aren’t really your thing.
Oooooh, look at that fabulous new indie pattern that every single sewing blogger and her dog is making….but don’t you already have something similar in your pattern stash?
Amazon called…can you please leave some sewing books for everyone else!
I’m not saying don’t buy stuff…just not All. The. Things.
Rule 8 – Make what you wear
This follows neatly on from Rule 7. Because whilst all the cool kids are making party dresses out of purple and green poppy silk dupion, what you wear in real life is jeans, tops and Ugg boots.
So why aren’t you making jeans and cute tops?
It’s probably pushing it to make your own Ugg boots. Unless someone out there has come up with a kit. In which case I’ll be all over it!
Until then…if you sew what you wear you’ll wear what you sew.
I should make that into a poster!
Rule 9 – Rome wasn’t built in a day
Primark may be able to make a bajillion t-shirts a day but thats why they are crap. Not even getting starting on the conditions and pay of workers in fast fashion sweat shops.
I don’t need to make a bajillion t-shirts. In a day or otherwise. I need to make a few really well fitted ones that work with my life and my style.
And if it takes me two weeks to fit the pattern, then so be it.
And it it takes me four versions to really nail the fit…….I think you know the answer.
Rule 10 – It’s meant to be fun!
I know I’ve discussed before how when I create I focus on the product, not the process. This isn’t necessarily a good thing. For starters, being focused on the finished garment doesn’t give me much headspace for creativity. And my life is probably the poorer for that. Felicia discusses this topic far more eloquently than I do. If you’re all about the product I highly recommend you check out this post. Even if you’re all about the process, go read anyway. She’s fabulous!
So there we go. My new guidelines for sewing.
Except they’re not new, really. They’re what I should have been doing all along. They just got lost in the rush to get stuff made.
Does any of this ring a bell with you? Or are you one of the smart ones who remembers to do things right?
It felt good to be back in the sewing saddle this week. Although the shameful layer of dust on the overlocker was testament to how long it’s been since I’ve ridden this particular pony!
I made this simple blouse for my friend Liz in payment for her sewing up of the Longfellow cardigan. We often trade skills and it works out really well.
The pattern I used is OOP Style 1035, which comes from Liz’s stash.
Whilst the styling on the pattern is quite dated, the pieces in this are really good, solid basics.
Liz decided on the little jacket, but the fabric she chose was a fantastic charity shop find that made the end result more of a blouse. It was a pale green cotton voile scarf that, if memory serves, cost her less than £2. As she’s petite and slender there was no issue in cutting a short sleeved version of this for her from the fabric available.
I’ll admit that it was a bugger to handle. Shifty, fraying, downright pesky. And I’m fairly sure there’s not a straight seam to be had! Although I can confirm that the hem is even, although it doesn’t look it in these photos.
Seams were simply overlocked. French seams would have been preferable but we were pushed for time. Sleeve and bodice hems were hand stitched – primarily because they’d look prettier, but also because it was so much easier than trying to get this fabric to behave and sew a straight and neat hem!
The upside of this is that it drapes beautifully (and hides a multitude of sins doing so) and is lightweight and airy.
The buttons are from Liz’s stash. Liz’s stash is impressive. Her sewing room is a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of haberdashery, yarn and patterns…both knitting and sewing.
All in all not a bad start to the sewing year.
Although the north of the UK has been battered by storms for the past week or so, last Saturday started off chill but calm as we headed off to Harrogate for the Knitting and Stitching Show. The ‘we’ comprised Ma, her best friend Pauline, Hubs, and The Boy. We set off early as we were meeting our friends Sue and Dave who were up from Surrey for the week and whom we hadn’t seen since our wedding, 5 years ago.
Our rendezvous was an Italian cafe restaurant opposite Harrogate International Centre.
Stuzzi is a complete find and highly recommended if you’re ever at a show at the HIC. We had excellent coffee and pancetta or sausage on delicious bread rolls with homemade tomato sauce. The Boy inhaled his doughnut and proclaimed it the best he’d ever had. Praise indeed as that boy loves his cakes!
Replete and happy, us womenfolk bade goodbye to the men and turned them loose on Harrogate whilst we headed off to the show.
It’s been 6 years since I last came here (I can’t believe how quickly time is flying) and things were very different to my last visit.
Whereas last time the queues for entry were halfway around the building, even for those of us who’d purchased our tickets in advance, this time we were in through the door in minutes.
Last time the halls had been jammed with folk and their wheelie trolleys, all anxious to get to the next stall and oblivious to who was on the receiving end of their sharp elbows. This time the crowds were manageable and the whole atmosphere much more genteel.
Whilst this undoubtably makes the shopping experience much pleasanter, this can’t be good for the exhibitors. Which might explain why there were fewer actual stalls than when we last visited.
Which has got me thinking. Is the mega craft show (like Harrogate, Alexandra Palace, or the NEC in Birmingham) in decline? Are the new specialist shows like Yarndale, Wool Fest or Wonder Wool Wales taking over?
Click on any of these logos to go straight to each show website.
These boutique shows seem to be happily maintaining theirs crowds and exhibitors. Or could it just be a North/South divide thing? And if that’s the case for yarn, will we ever have niche events here in the UK for fabric and sewing too?
I’d be happy to hear your take on this. What do you think?
For as long as I’ve known him, which is nearly 10 years, the husband has been giving me a very hard time about the state of my wardrobe.
I’ve know women who have snuck bags of clothes into the back of the wardrobe and burnt the receipts in the vain hope of their other half not noticing that they’ve been shopping again. I am not one of those women.
Neither am I one of those women who struggle to fit another thing in the cupboard and have no idea what delights lurk at the back of the closet.
Nope…I’m the girl with 6 things in her wardrobe and who, when an event comes up unexpectedly, genuinely has nothing to wear. I’m not even kidding! I can wear a pair of jeans and 3 tops to destruction…and frequently have. That’s why tumble dryers were invented! And why hubby has been so frustrated with me!
Whilst I can in clear conscience say that during the early years of our relationship our finances meant that it was more important for the kids to be clothed well and for the husband to be kept in suits than for me to have an outfit for every event; or that, at 5 foot 7 and plus sized, clothes shopping isn’t the most fun because I sit squarely between standard and tall sizes and, well, everyone over a size 14 knows how tricky finding your size on the rack can be, these were really nothing more than excuses for not having anything to wear.
No. In reality, the single most significant contributor to the lack of clothing in my wardrobe is one small and seemingly innocuous phrase.
“I could make that.”
I could make that blue instead of lime green with pink dots. I could make that cheaper. I could make that with a better fit. I could make that better quality. I could make that and people in Bangladeshi sweatshops wouldn’t die so I have clothes on my back.
I could make that.
Except…I have 2 young children who have faced challenges due to the circumstances of their births. Boy didn’t sleep through the night or past 5am until he started school. It’s only in the last 3 months that he regularly sleeps past 6.30am. He used to sit and scream for hours on end. Hours. I’m telling you…that makes for one tired mum!
Except…For the early years of their lives I was studying to finish my degree. Then I was doing up the house. And doing it again. And now I’m studying to become an accountant.
Except…my husband works away from home all week. He leaves at 6.15 on a Monday morning and gets home late on a Thursday evening. It used to be Sunday to Friday. This is bliss!
Except…I have a home to run and family and friends.
Now don’t get me wrong. My life is exactly how I want it to be. Well…apart from the husband working away bit, but we’re a team and it’s the nature of his work, so I’m not complaining. And my kids are champions to have come through some much.
But adding to everything the desire to make every. single. item of clothing I wear. And for the kids too. It wasn’t my greatest idea!
Let’s face it, though. We are surrounded by people who do this. Who sew fabulous garments one after the other. Who have drawers full of beautiful handmade lingerie. And stunning hand knit sweaters.
We are reminded that oftentimes the clothes we can purchase are made with the sweat and blood and lives of people who will never have the luxury of choosing whether their wardrobes are handmade, ethically produced and locally sourced. Sadly the tone is often one of reproach towards anyone who strays from this path.
I hasten to add at this point that I’m not advocating mass consumerism. Regular trips to the shops is not my idea of fun. I have never and will never purchase a thing from Primark. £2 t-shirts cannot be considered a Good Thing for anyone.
I still want to get to a point where I’m making more than I’m buying. But let’s get real. At the moment this ain’t gonna happen.
Over the last few months, however, as my thinking on this has shifted, I’ve been making a few strategic purchases.
So now, if the hubby wants to take me out to dinner, I’ve got a couple of nice dresses that do the trick. Coffee with friends…jeans and a cute top. Ditto cinema dates or a day out with himself.
I have cosy boots to do the school run and cute loafers for a lunch date.
It is wonderful.
I used my Wardrobe Architect knowledge to ensure that everything goes together. And something quite marvellous has come out of this.
I now have a very, VERY clear idea of what I want to sew. I know what it is I reach for in any given situation. I know what colours garner the most compliments and what shapes I feel most comfortable in.
This has been a revelation. Not only is this one less thing to stress about, but it’s also given me a plan for moving forward with my sewing. I promise to share that soon in another post.
The moral of this story is that whilst the goal of a completely handmade wardrobe is a worthy and worthwhile aim, it’s ok if life prevents you achieving that right now. It’s ok to cut yourself a little slack and shop a little. Who knows…it might be as revelatory for you as it has been for me!
With the estate agents coming tomorrow to put our little house on the market I have no sewing of my own to share.
I think this is a wondrous substitute.
….and the living is busy!
So much going on here. The kids are on holiday from school now for 7 weeks. Already we have a playdate with friends and sleepovers at grandparents planned. A week at playscheme will be a good break for all of us, as will spending the last week with friends in Bedford. It’s hard to believe but when they go back in September Button will be in juniors.
Needless to say everyone is tired. Boy threw the mother of all tantrums this morning and after 3 hours (I kid ye not) of yelling and stamping and tears and throwing toys around the place he’s finally asleep. Button is enjoying the respite as much as I. Things will settle soon after a few days of chillin’.
Husband and I are shattered as, despite not completing the reno on this house, we’re thinking the best option might actually be to move!
I know….it was totally outta the blue for us too. But our current home is teeny tiny with a garden the size of a postage stamp. After a recent visit to our friends in Bedford and their half acre garden, Button would stand at our bedroom window wistfully wishing that we could knock the fence down between us and our neighbours. Add in that we have need of a home office and a dedicated sewing room and only one small room that could eventually be argued over and we decided it’s time. Trying to sew, eat and run a business from the kitchen table is getting old! We’ve spent the last few weeks looking at everything on the market that remotely fitted the bill. We think we may have found the ideal candidate. There’s another interested buyer so we may lose out…time will tell. I’ll let you know as things develop.
So, as you’d expect, there’s not much creativity happening here.
A little knitting…..
This is Brooklyn Tweed’s Longfellow by Michele Wang which I’m knitting in Drops Alpaca in Navy (colour 5575) for Hubby.
There’s also a quilt to be layered ready for hand quilting:
And a new bag kit that I received as a birthday gift from my in-laws:
Mine will be red leather.
That should keep me occupied over the holidays. I’m hoping to get a little time at the machine too. I’ve two lots of fabric for shirts for Boy and the yellow blouse is going to be remade for Button.
I’m planning a version of her Liberty blouse, this time with a pleated front as per her request.
I think it will suit her more than me!
I also have a couple of makes that need photographing. Perhaps we’ll have a day of nice weather soon and we can get out and about with the camera.
Priority for the next 7 weeks, though, is picnics and playing in the park. Reading and drawing. Visits to the zoo and museums. Playdates and pyjama days. Pretty much taking the days as they come. Hopefully without too many meltdowns! Either theirs or mine!
So posting will sporadic…I’m sure you’ll understand. In the meantime I’m off to do some colouring with a small girl. I’ll see you soon.
POSTED IN: craft projects, dressmaking, fabric, knitting, life in a Northern town, my family and other animals, patterns, yarn
Despite the unusual 30+ degree heat here last week I managed to get the silk prom dress sewn in plenty of time and delivered on Saturday morning to a very happy neighbour. She popped round last night on the way to her prom to let me snap a couple of quick photos.
As I mentioned in my last post the pattern is BurdaStyle 12/2011 #130 and I made it in silk crepe backed satin in Royal Blue from Beckford Silk. I sewed the dress with the matte crepe side of the silk as the right side of the fabric. We both agreed it gave the dress a more elegant look.
As usual the instructions from the Burda pattern were ‘interesting’ and so I made some of the construction up as I went along!
As the silk is very lightweight I wanted to put as little weight as possible in the seams so I finished them with a ‘stitch and pink’ edging. French seams would have been beautiful but ran the risk of being simply too bulky and heavy. As this is an occasion dress that won’t get a great deal of wear, I’m not concerned about the seam finish not holding up to wear and tear.
The above photo shows the inside of the armhole which is gently held in place with herringbone stitch which catches just a couple of threads of the main fabric to hold it in place and is virtually invisible when you look at the finished dress.
The neckline facing and hem were hand-stitched in place, this time with teeny tiny slip stitches. I wanted them to look almost invisible from the outside…I think I succeeded.
When Katie collected the dress on Saturday morning it looked less than stellar on the hanger.
But…we’d had three fittings and I was confident that all would be well once the dress had been to the dry cleaners for a professional press.
I was right!
Being ultra critical there’s still a little wrinkling on the seams, but only us in the know will notice that and, let’s be honest, all eyes were on Katie, not the seams!
And, of course, the demure front of the dress hides a daring secret at the back…
I lengthened the neck tie, which threads through a casing at the neckline of the front bodice, to nearly 3 metres long to get this dramatic effect.
Hello m’dears. I’ve been absent for what seems like ages and thankfully this time it’s been down to having fun rather than coughing like a badger!
Last week was my birthday and Hubby took the week off work and we had a lovely time. Monday evening we celebrated with the family and the rest of the week we pootled and had outings and rounded the week off with a lovely Italian dinner and rather too much champagne.
This week I’ve got my nose to the grindstone. My neighbour has her prom a week from today and I’m making her a gown. I thought I had a lot of time….but, in typical fashion, I’d got the dates wrong and need this finished by the weekend!
I’m making her this BurdaStyle gown sans the rosette.
Her fabric is this beautiful silk crepe backed satin in royal blue from Beckford Silk:
This is the first time I’ve purchased from this company and I’ve been really pleased with the levels of customer service and the quality of this fabric.
The colour is saturated and whilst the fabric is, of course, a bear to cut, it’s a joy to stitch and feeds through the machine with no shenanigans. For which, in my current time constrained manner, I’m eternally grateful.
I’m sewing the medium weight silk for this dress and my preference would have been the heavier, but 16 year olds have definite ideas so who am I to argue?
Thankfully I’m on schedule (yep…I have a schedule for this one…no room for slippage on time) and I’ve just inserted a beautiful invisible zip…hence the time for a quick coffee break and a quick pop in here to say hello.
I’m off now to start on those pleats. Wish me luck…I’ll see you on the other side!
Over the last year I’ve been gradually whittling down my fabric stash. Some of my lovely readers have bought patterns and fabric from me…thank you. Some of it has been donated to the local charity shop.
Needless to say my stash is considerably smaller than this time last year.
As we’ve been packing up the sewing loft ahead of its conversion to a bedroom, I’ve also taken the time to sort the remaining fabrics into “summer fabrics I’ll sew now” and “winter fabrics that can go to the storage locker”. The majority of the winter fabrics are also fabrics that I want to wait to sew until I’ve got the new sewing room set up and all my tools and books out of storage and available to me for more complex garments.
This change of sewing venue has definitely had something to do with this new found love of a stashless state. My new sewing room will be about a third of the size of my old one. Necessity is the mother of invention, or, in this case, the mother of all stash clear outs!
Another impetus for permanently reducing my stash is the work I did with Wardrobe Architect and the realisation that a lot of the fabrics I had were unsuitable because of the changing needs of my wardrobe. I had been buying fabrics with my head still firmly in the corporate wear camp, whereas what I actually wear on a day to day basis is jeans and a top. I need more of these in my wardrobe and all my planned upcoming sews for myself will be items I’ll actually wear.
But the main reason I’m determined not to build a large stash again is the two blouses I showcased in my last post.
The blue is a fairly recent purchase, definitely this year.
The yellow was a gift from my lovely husband in 2012.
In 2012 I was a dark brunette. Now I’m very light blonde working my way back to my natural colour of badger grey. Had I made this blouse in 2012 the strong colour-way would have looked stunning against my dark hair. Now, its still a very pretty top, and I’ve had several unsolicited compliments from folk who aren’t family members and therefore obligated to be nice, but the blue is by far the better colour on me.
I’ve very little summer fabric left in the stash…one piece of which is another bold yellow piece that I bought whilst still dark haired. The jury is out on that piece at the moment. I’m not sure if it will stay or go.
But the fabric I’ve bought since the change of hair colour is all differing shades of blue, because blue is definitely the colour for me. And not only does it look better but I feel really confident in blue. Which can only be a good thing, no?
I love how even after all these years of sewing I’m still learning something new with every item I create.
And whilst a well stocked stash might be just the thing for some sewers, for me I’d much rather keep it to just the next couple of projects. Not only will this reduce erroneous purchases that I then need to sell on, but it will also, hopefully, help me build a coherent wardrobe of garments I’ll actually wear that work together to create cute, versatile outfits.
I rather like that sound of that!