Tag Archives: finished projects 2013

She wore Red Velvet – FO 19/2013 – pattern review

You may have had a version of this post pop up in your reader yesterday.  Ooops!  I had a WordPress Meltdown Moment, for which I apologise.  This is the post I meant to publish.

Ok…I finally get to spill the beans.  I, dear reader, am having my Cake and eating it.

I’m a Cake Patterns Red Velvet Muse.

RV cover

I can hardly believe it.  You know I love Red Velvet. It was our wedding cake, for goodness sake!

But here am I wearing my red Red Velvet dress…so it must be true!

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I’ve had so much fun making this dress.  Obviously I made mine from the PDF version. I know many folks don’t like PDFs, but, Steph has spent so much time working on the fine details of this that I think even the most die-hard PDF-phobes could be persuaded to use them.

This pattern is as close to perfection as a PDF is going to get because you don’t have to print off 732 pages just to get the ones you need.  Steph has done all the work and tells you which page ranges you need to print for the size you want to make.

It’s genius.  And time/paper/ink saving too.

And the tiling on this pattern is fabulous.  It goes together perfectly and therefore quickly, meaning you can get on with cutting out and sewing your dress, rather than swearing at piles of paper and setting fire to your sewing room in frustration.

Secondly, the drafting and sizing are amazing.  Below is a little table that shows a comparison between my sizes and the pattern sizes:

measurement on my body on Red Velvet
high bust 42” 45D
full bust 47”
waist 43 45
bust length 15¾ 14 3/8
height 5’ 7”

Because all the information is there for you, printed on the pattern, it’s so easy to work out what, if any, alterations you need to make.

Now, this is where it gets interesting.  My original alterations were 1″ added to the bust length because I have, ahem, a bosom, and 1″ removed from the waistband depth because I’m very short waisted.

This is Red V1.0.  Almost straight out of the “envelope”.  Almost perfect apart from a little bunching around the underarm.

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I have pattern tested before and am used to working exactly to the pattern with only minimal, or even no, alterations.  My job is usually to check out how the PDF goes together and how the pattern itself sews up.  Steph takes a more collaborative approach, and with her guidance and blessing, I cured that bunching at the side of the bust very quickly and easily.

I removed the 1″ from the back bodice that I’d added to the original length.  I carried this around to the front bodice at the side seam, and then tapered out to the seam at the pleats.

Its called a Deep Bust Alteration and Steph explains is far more elegantly than I do over on her new, and fabulously detailed Red Velvet Measurement and Size Guide.

This is what the alteration looked like on my front bodice: IMG_9192 So simple.

So effective.

This is how my dress looks now. Red V2.0.

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Morning photos…this is the most smile I can conjure before coffee! 😉

Perfect.

And because the drafting is superb, the dress comes together quickly and easily. If you’re used to battling the wonky drafting that we often encounter in the Big 4 pattern offerings, this will come as a delightful surprise.

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Also, Steph has written excellent instructions that, if you’re a beginner sewist, will walk you through the process from start to finish.  However if, like me, you’ve been around the sewing block once or twice, her tips and techniques are a wonderful reminder of things you may have forgotten, such as block fusing and under-stitching a neckline.

Either way, you’re not alone in the sewing room.

My fabric is a red ponte from my local sewing shop, The Buttonhole in Chorley. Without a cardigan to break up the lines, and because I’m not skinny, it’s a whole lot of red! But, for me this isn’t a bad thing.  The world in my neck of the woods gets awfully grey at this time of the year, as you can see from the morning photos above. A boldly coloured dress is the perfect antidote to that. And, with a cardigan, it’s just to adorable for words!

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Yeah I’m happy. I love this dress. The Husband loves this dress.  I can see it getting lots of wear this autumn because it’s as comfortable as pyjamas.

But pyjamas you can do the school run in:

Please excuse the fuzzy background.  I didn't feel it was appropriate for the kid's friends to feature here without parental approval.

Please excuse the fuzzy background. I didn’t feel it was appropriate for the kid’s friends to feature here without parental approval.

And if that wasn’t enough….

rv collection

There’s a whole Red Velvet Collection.

I know…so cool.

I’ve already got fabric on order for the Cocoa Shrug and cannot wait to give the innovative Espresso Leggings pattern a whirl.

espresso chart

I love leggings (and would probably live in them given the chance) but have trouble getting them long enough or in a fabric that doesn’t show your pants every time you move.

No more.

I also quite fancy making these as funky training leggings for CrossFit.

So much Cake, so little time. And not a calorie in sight!

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this pattern in return for my opinions and photos. All opinions, of course, are entirely my own.  I should also tell you that going forwards I’ll be the UK/EU distributor for Cake Patterns.  So exciting!


Simplicity 1886 – FO 18/2013 – review and a splendid Simplicity pattern giveaway

Ye Gods!

I’m so glad to finally be able to post this review. I’ve been exceptionally tardy with it. Although we’ve had a lovely time, the summer holidays really got in the way of my creative time. On Sunday The Husband whisked the kids away to the park  and for ice cream.  He’s my hero!

Of course, I’d have been posting this much sooner if I hadn’t had that pesky ironing escapade!

Anyway…back to the patterns.  As you know I was approached by Simplicity who very kindly offered me some free patterns in exchange for me making up and reviewing them.  I was delighted to accept, but all opinions are my own.

I chose:

2406

and

1606 (1)

My third pattern is the one I’ll be reviewing first, although I will get to the other two over the coming months.

1886

As the weather is cooling down a little as we head towards autumn, I decided to shop the stash and make this up in some pretty John Kaldor print that’s been waiting far too long to make it to the sewing table.

John Kaldor floral

John Kaldor floral

Yes it’s poly, but I thought it would be a great little basic to wear with my denim skirt and a little cardigan for slightly cooler days.

I chose this pattern as I’ve been looking for a replacement for Sorbetto.  I love Colette’s aesthetic but really had trouble getting the darts right because of the FBA I needed.  I’m still a bit hit and miss with FBA’s.  I’ll crack them eventually.

With that in mind, this pattern seemed a great option as it’s already drafted for different cup sizes…although I’m a DD/E dependent on who you speak to, so even with the extra cup size options, I knew I’d have some finangling of the fit to do.

So…how did I get on?

It’s a mix of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!

The Good

Well, despite the discrepancy between my bosom and that of the pattern, it took me a surprisingly small amount of time and effort to to fit this top.

I cut the pattern in the D cup option in the size that fits my high bust measurement at the shoulders and armholes.  I cut the side seams at the next size up.

This is the muslin straight off the pattern:

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I was really surprised that this worked.  Yes, I still had gapping at the armhole and front and back necks…but I always have that gapping.  It’s down to the shape I am.

You can see that I’ve already pinned out a dart on one of the armholes.  I just replicated that at the front neck and back neck, transferred those darts to the pattern and cut out the fashion fabric.

Voila!

Alterations made and transferred to the pattern within about half an hour. Which is without doubt the quickest turnaround of a muslin in my whole sewing career! It was so easy and I am a very happy camper!

The multi cup size pattern options really do work.

So I was ready to sew, which is when we came to…

The Bad

Perhaps calling them ‘Bad’ is a little harsh.  Perhaps ‘Pesky’ would be a better word.  Or just a little bit ‘Naughty’.

Semantics aside, the first hiccup came when I was making the ruffle for the front. Let’s just say the instructions for inserting the ruffles are less than clear.

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The neck band was a complete and total bear.  I’ve lost count of how many times I unpicked the wretched thing.

However, I think it’s most likely that the problems I encountered were created by the fabric being very slippery and fidgety.  Because it was very slippery and fidgety indeed.  But! I suspect that it would have been easier to draft a simple stand collar than the band and facings used here.  It was all a little bit fussy to apply and turned the air in the sewing loft blue on more than one occasion.

Despite it being a slippery customer, once done, it looks really cute, and if I did it again it would be a whole lot easier.  That said, I’m grateful for the printed fabric. It hides a multiple of sins! 😉

The Ugly

This is where I’m going to take the opportunity to speak to Simplicity (and the other major pattern houses, to be fair.  They’re just as bad) about the styling of their pattern envelopes.

People…you really need to up your game on the envelope styling!

You don’t make it at all easy for us to choose your patterns.  I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen a really cute dress/top/trousers/whatever on a blog only to realise that it’s a pattern that I’d previously totally discounted due to the styling on the envelope.

I can understand that back in the day, before the independent pattern companies flourished, that you could get away with it.  But now…not so much. The Cynthia Rowley envelope isn’t all bad but 1606 and 1886…I feel that they really need some work.

I recognise that the big 4 are aiming at a much wider audience than the indie companies, but I’m not sure that’s a strong enough argument.  How hard can it be to pitch at multiple markets with the same envelope? Especially as most of the design is sketched. Even Knip Mode magazine, which isn’t always the most fashion forward of the sewing mags, manages to do this on a regular basis.

Yep...same pattern...different fabric and styling! Although the camel ones could do with a better fit...more whiskers that O'Malley the Alley Cat!

Yep…same pattern…different fabric and styling!
Although the camel ones could do with a better fit…more whiskers that O’Malley the Alley Cat!

As the sewing market grows, both in the number of customers (due to the resurgence of interest in the craft), and of the range of patterns available (because of the growth of independent houses), I feel that the Big 4 are missing a real opportunity to reach out to sewists and provide them with a well drafted product in a packaging that appeals to a wide range of tastes and styles.

Conclusion

I hope you don’t think this is a negative review because, despite the niggles I had with the neckline on this top, I’m really, really pleased with the result and feel that it really fills a gap in my wardrobe. I know it’s going to get quite a bit of wear over the next few months.  It goes with my denim skirt and a pair of cropped RTW trousers.

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Please ignore the creases…this was the end of a very busy day of last minute school uniform shopping!

I also think the ruffle, which I’d normally avoid, works very well and is surprisingly flattering thanks to the lovely drape of the fabric.

For me, this pattern works in a way that I couldn’t get Sorbetto to.  The darts are great and as a result it’s not too boxy.  Lord knows, I need no help in looking boxy!

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Happy dart and a lovely snug armhole.
Ignore the wrinkles…they’re just there because I’m pulling my arm back to show the dart.

I can see myself playing with the neckline and hemline to make variations so that I can get some much needed quick and easy tops into my wardrobe. Although, rest assured, next time I’ll be binding the neck and armholes and not faffing with the wretched neckline and facing pieces given in the pattern.

And the scorch…

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I just slapped a teeny tiny patch on it…and a matching one on the other side seam. I promise they are much less obtrusive and inelegant in real life. You can hardly see them. And they mean I can happily wear this top.  As most of the time I’ll be wearing this with a cardigan, this is a solution I can easily live with.

But most of all I am totally sold on the idea of multiple bust size options, and salute Simplicity for introducing them.  Being able to remove/reduce the FBA/SBA makes fitting so much faster and easier. I think we’ll all agree that this is a Very Good Thing.  For sure, I’ve never fitted a pattern so quickly and with such a good result.

I can only encourage more/all pattern companies to embrace this feature going forwards.  It’s a feature that will definitely influence my pattern purchasing decisions in the future.  I suspect I’m not alone in this view.

So I’m patting myself on the back for selecting this pattern, and am patting Simplicity on the back for giving me the opportunity to try it.  I’m also looking forward to making up the other two patterns and am hopeful for an equally happy outcome.

But now, if you not asleep at this point, here’s the bit of this post you’ve really been waiting for. It’s time for you to get your hands on a Simplicity pattern of your own!

Actually, it’s time for 3 (yep…three) of you to get a Simplicity pattern of your choice!

Here’s how you can win:

  1. Go to www.simplicitynewlook.com and choose which pattern you’d like to add to your collection.
  2. Leave a comment below telling me which pattern you’ve chosen.
  3. For an extra chance to win, just follow Simplicity on Twitter – @SewSimplicity – and leave me another comment to confirm you’ve done so.
  4. Get a third chance to win by posting this giveaway on your blog and pop a link to the post in your comment.

Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy!

I’ll close this giveaway on Friday 6th September at midnight GMT and choose 3 lucky winners to receive the pattern of their choice.

This giveaway is open to international readers as well as those in the UK.

Good luck!


A Gardener’s Journal Quilt – FO 17/2013

I suppose that should be FF0 17 – finally finished object!

I posted the first completed stitcheries for this quilt on 11 July 2010.

We’re now in August 2013…so just over 3 years to finish this quilt.

*hangs head in shame*

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But finished it is.

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And, having fallen out of love with this project halfway through, I’m thoroughly besotted with the finished object.

The backing is just some inexpensive polycotton sheeting from Abakhan.

IMG_8784_edited-3I quilted around the edge of each patch and then straight lines around the borders using the edge of the foot as a guide.

Although I suspect I could be pushing the limits of the Trade’s Description Act by calling them ‘straight’ lines as I swear there isn’t a single one of them to be found on this quilt. But that’s OK. It’s turned out far better than I’d envisaged. And I’m just really, really relieved to have it finished and out of the sewing loft.

That said I think it’s only fair to clarify that the my tardiness with this quilt is no reflection on the pattern.

BK002_gardenersJournal

It was purely a case of having started to sew I realised that, whilst I absolutely love machine sewn quilts, they aren’t something I particularly enjoy making.  But this was the first quilt I ever attempted so I didn’t know.  I also knew nothing at all about quilting in general, but it turns out that didn’t matter…Anni Downs knows plenty and she makes it really easy to cut, embroider, piece and finish this quilt.

I just took it step by step and here I am, so I highly recommend this pattern.

And, after all this time, I’m really happy I made this quilt…I just don’t think I’ll be in a hurry to start another machine sewn quilt.

Back to the hexies I go!


Green Bee Amelia – FO 16/2013

After the success of Button’s dress and the coming together of the quilts, its time to share a big fat fail with you.

Before I get to the photos in all their hideous splendour, I’ll share my review of the pattern with you.  I think that’s fair.  I’ve waited a while to post this because I didn’t want my review to be coloured by the results, so I’m happy that this is now a considered opinion, rather than a rant over yet another fail.

First up the pattern is printed on lovely study paper that makes tracing it a dream, and it’s well drafted with all the pieces going nicely together.

I did, however have some issue with the sizing. Namely, it turns out not to be designed with us bigger girls in mind, and I think this was half the cause of my problems.  As well as the usual adjustments to accommodate my height and bosom, I also needed to grade the pattern up all over.

In Green Bee’s defence, they do publish the sizes, I just got all swept up in the excitement of the loveliness of this dress and didn’t bother checking.

My bad!  Not the pattern’s.

Lesson well learned.

I also had an issue with the pockets.  I sewed them as drafted and they are teeny tiny.  I can’t get my hands in them properly, never mind a phone.  So if you do decide to sew this dress, please do yourself a favour and add some size to the pockets.

And finally, I found the instructions to be so densely crammed onto the page as to be more hindrance than help.  I think I’ve been spoiled by the likes of Elegance and Elephants and Cake Patterns, who produce clear well spaced instructions with photos or diagrams to illustrate the point.  Amelia’s instructions are effectively just a typed list.  Thankfully I’m at the point in my sewing career where I can toss the instructions and still get a garment to work, but I think a beginner would find these directions lacking.  It’s a shame.

For all that, and for the resulting catastrophe of a dress, I still think Amelia is a pretty dress.  It didn’t work for me for 3 major reasons:

  1. I foolishly didn’t check the sizing before ordering the pattern.  Shiny squirrel syndrome kicked in.  A rookie mistake.  I should know better.
  2. Like the Washi dress, I don’t think this works on my figure.  And that’s not the fault of the dress, the pattern, or my figure.  It just is what it is.
  3. I was rushing to get this finished because, as always, I needed something for an event and was doing this at the 11th hour.  Hence, I ran out of time to keep tweaking the fit.  Though, to be fair, I don’t think I would love it even if the fit was better.  It just would be a better fitting shambles!

Do you want to see it?  Those of a nervous disposition may want to look away now.

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Ok…you still here?

Don’t need smelling salts?

Let’s look at what’s going on.

  • A shows the problem at the bust. I added a 3 inch FBA.  In the muslin it looked OK. In the dress fabric, not so much. Because the darts are French Darts, I had a problems actually working out the FBA as I’d never attempted one before…and it shows.  I need more room to accommodate The Ladies.
  • B shows the problem around the sleeves, which are little cap sleeves all in one with the bodice.  Again these are dragging…I think linked to the lack of room in the bosom.
  • C shows what happens when you fit to your natural waist knowing you have a longer torso and really need to fit the waist a little higher to create a better waistline illusion.
  • D is the one that caught me completely unawares.  The dress is cut on the bias.  The fabric is a chambray…red threads one way, white the other.  When you cut it on the bias as a double with the fabric laid on the table right sides together, you end up with a harlequin effect dress.

I can’t even show you the back.  I have waaaaaay to much pride for that.  I know it’s a sin, but lets just say the back is even worse.

And I’ve lost 5lbs in weight since I made this dress…

It doesn’t bear thinking about.

But, there is hope in this.

I was talking to one of the other mums at dance class at the weekend.  She is learning to crochet and was saying that in time she’ll look back on her first attempts and laugh that she could be so thrilled with such a small accomplishment.

I reminded her that even if she crochets for 50 years, she’ll still be learning something new and increasing her skills.  It’s the nature of the crafty beast.

This dress is a timely reminder of some basic rules of sewing that, in my haste to get a garment into my wardrobe as quickly as possible, I conveniently forgot. Namely:

  1. Always, always, ALWAYS check the pattern size.  If you are competent at grading patterns, or have the time to do it slowly, learn the new skills and make it work, then of course you can ignore this.  If you’re in a rush…don’t.  Buy a size that only needs minimal alterations.
  2. Don’t rush the prep.  This would have been a much better garment if I’d taken the time to work out the fitting kinks and make more than one hasty toile before cutting the fashion fabric.
  3. Don’t rush the sewing.  If I’d have allowed myself more time, I could have double and triple checked the fit as I sewed.
  4. Work with the fabric. I’ve got to admit that I never even considered that this lovely fabric would trip me up with this shading.  It’s tantamount to the fabric having a nap, such as velvet.  This would have been much more suitable for a garment cut on the straight grain.
  5. Work with your figure.  I know I don’t have a waist and need to create the illusion of one.  I should have raised that waistline.

This dress is a cautionary tale to all of us.

But it’s not all bad news.  Apart from the kick up the backside to remember the basics of dressmaking, I’ve also discovered another silhouette that doesn’t work for me.  This is A Very Good Thing.  Years and years ago I used to work in sales and sales training and our mantra was if a prospective client genuinely has no requirement for you product or service, then it’s a good “no”.  It’s one more out of the way to a “yes” and a sale.  It’s the same when you’re working out your personal style, as I am.  Every time I make something that has the Fashion Police banging on my door, I’m one step closer to establishing my own Look.

And, of course, I can always chop it up, destroy the evidence, and make pretty things for Button out of it.

Cut on the straight grain, of course! 😉

PS…if you’d like this pattern, do shout.  

I’ll be happy to stick it in the post for you. It’s a pretty dress, just not for me.


Dotty New Look 6881 – FO 15/2013

NL_6881LNew Look 6881 is my go to pattern for party dresses for Button.  The lovely purple satin version I made her last year was not only unsuitable for the warm and sunny weather we’ve been having of late, but also it didn’t fit her any more.  So when a birthday party invitation arrived recently, we high-tailed it off to our local fabric shop, The Buttonhole in Chorley, and I turned her loose.

She skipped around the shop pulling bolts of fabric off the shelves, finally settling on some gorgeous red and white dotty Michael Miller cotton.

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It was, of course, some of the most expensive fabric in the shop.

What can I say??? Our girl has taste!

IMG_8655_edited-1I made the age 4 size, but added an inch to the bodice and an inch and a half to the hem, which means there is plenty of growing room in this one!

IMG_8629_edited-2The dress is lined in cotton lawn (I know!  But it’s so beautiful it seemed a shame not too!).  There is 4 metres of broderie anglais trim gathered around the hem, and 4 metres of net gathered onto the petticoat to give the skirt some twirlability. Which surely is the raison d’etre of any party dress!

IMG_8630_edited-1This is, without a doubt, one of my favourite makes, ever!

Strike a pose...

Strike a pose…

And, more importantly, Button loves it too!

 


Pavlova out-of-the-envelope – FO 14/2013

It is many, many years since I made anything except children’s clothes from a pattern pulled right out of the envelope.  But as I explained in my earlier post, I ran with Pavlova without any alterations.

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I don’t regret it one little bit.  And this is going to be possibly the shortest pattern review in the world ever.

IMG_8427_edited-2I cannot rave enough about this pattern.  It’s brilliantly drafted.  The instructions are clear and very easy to follow. Did I mention I didn’t need to make a single alteration to the pattern?

The resulting top is just lovely. And it’s sooooo comfortable to wear. I’ve already worn it twice, on both occasions to full day meetings where it’s stood up to long train rides, stiflingly hot meeting rooms, and me bending and stretching, without the faintest hint of a paparazzi moment with my bosom.

I’m wearing it with the ties at the back, simply because I don’t need any more bulk at the front.  I like the way I can arrange the ties to create a cummerbund effect. I also love the way the pattern on this fabric flows around the garment.

IMG_8442_edited-1Now if you’re wondering why I’m standing like some demented wannabe superhero, it’s because I’m desperately trying to draw your attention to the sleeves.

They are a little loose, no?

I stand by my original assertion of Steph’s genius.  This isn’t a problem with the pattern…nope, the reason that the sleeves are loose on me is my shape.  I hold my weight around my middle but have proportionally slimmer arms.  The pattern is drafted for someone whose limbs are as slender or plumptious as the rest of their body, not like twigs on a snowman! 😉

So I am going to take them in a little.  Just because I prefer a slimmer fitting sleeve.

Other than that…this is pretty darned perfect and I’m a very, very happy girl.  I cannot wait to make another version of this and highly recommend you make it too!  I don’t think you’ll regret it.


Burda Plus Spring/Summer 2013 – Skirt 407 – FO 13/2013

Thank you all for you lovely comments on my last post.  Apologies for not responding to each one but it’s been a very busy few days.  I know I’m a terrible tease…so I today I managed to get photos of the new skirt to share with you.

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Please excuse those front creases…my hands are pushing the fabric! Doh!

I LOVE this skirt.

It’s so comfortable.  I doubled the width of the waistband and it sits so much better on me.  Waistbands are the bane of my life.  I usually find them hideously fidgety and uncomfortable, but this one is a joy!

Also the stretch denim contributes to the comfort and wearability of the skirt. This is from the Cloth House on Berwick Street in London.  I scored it on my last visit and at £12 a metre I really couldn’t leave it behind.  It’s wonderful. It’s quite a heavy weight but has great stretch and recovery, meaning I can bend and stretch without restriction.  As any mum knows this is a critical factor of any garment!

The back has a walking vent which means that even though the skirt is slightly pegged, you can still chase around should you need to!

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This is a better representation of the colour.

The pockets were cut on the cross grain.  Mainly because I didn’t have enough fabric left to cut them lengthwise.  But lets call them a design feature, shall we?

skirt1Even with the topstitching this is a really, really quick make.

I know from the comments that some of you have reservations about sewing with denim, but I have to tell you that I find it an absolute joy to work with.  It’s a very well mannered fabric.  It behaves on the machine, presses beautifully, and holds a very crisp topstitch. Even with the stretch this was a pleasure to sew. I heartily recommend it.

My only caveat would be to use a jeans machine needle.

jeans needle

It’s a thicker needle with a sharper point designed specifically to punch cleanly through all the layers of fabric.  It makes life so much easier and they are readily available…not remotely exotic.

I also think it needs to be said that there is no mystery or witchcraft around topstitching.  I lengthen my stitch to at least 4.0 and work out what I’m going to use as my guide for the line of stitching.  Sometimes its the edge of the foot, sometimes I use a specialist foot such as an edge-stitching or 1/4 inch foot.  It all depends on what effect I’m looking for.  I always make a note of what I’m doing because I can never remember which stitch length or guide I’ve used, and the note ensures all seams get the same treatment.

Then I simply take it slowly.  I’m very lucky as my machine has a slider on it which slows down the speed of the machine no matter how heavy footed you are.  But I was doing some topstitching for a friend the other day and her machine doesn’t have this function so I just kept a light touch on the pedal and got a great result.

The moral of this is that if I can do it, so can you.

But back to the skirt.  I have just a couple of reservations…

  1. should I raise the hem a bit?  I don’t want to be flashing my underwears* to the world, nor am I thinking as short as the Washi dress of doom, but I am wondering if it wouldn’t look a bit better a hem width shorter than it is.
  2. Should I peg the side seams a little more?  It’s a very comfy fit around the waist, but I’m suspecting it could stand just a little more tapering to the knee. I’m a classic apple shape, so I’m thicker around the waist with slender legs…perhaps a little more tapering would offset that imbalance somewhat.

I’d be interested to hear what you think…you guys always give the best advice. And, as I’ve ordered a sample of some red stretch denim from Ditto fabrics…

image from dittofabrics.co.uk

image from dittofabrics.co.uk

…I could always whip up another version with the alterations and compare and contrast. 😉 As this only takes a metre of fabric, it’s a pretty inexpensive experiment.

I think with a little tweaking this could become my TNT skirt pattern.  Its quick and easy to make, and economical with fabric. I could easily draft some diagonal pockets for the front.  Or a fly front to give it a more classic jeans skirt styling. And, of course, there are the front welt pockets already on the pattern.  Endless opportunities to experiment…all resulting in a very useful wardrobe staple that will get lots and lots of wear.

* underwears = under garments.  This word was coined by Button and has stuck.  Generally used in the phrase “Mummy, I can see your underwears” when I’m getting dressed in the morning and accompanied by much chortling .  I’m running with the explanation that it’s the fact that I’m only in my underwears that causes the chortling, not how I look in them! 😉  You never know with a 5 year old!


Pillar of the community tee – FO 12/2013

I’ve mentioned before how much I use my local library to access sewing, knitting and cookery books. It’s a win-win situation.  I get my grubby little mitts on all the latest books for 60p a go.  They have another regular customer, which can only help to keep the library open for the whole community. Use it or lose it, no?

I find the fact of my community spirit faintly hilarious.  Before I met The Husband I worked in Soho in London and between commuting, working and spending far too much time in bars with colleagues and the odd glass of Jack Daniels or several!  I wouldn’t have given two hoots for keeping the library open for the community.

Now…I’m an active member of the PTFA at Button and The Boy’s school and I sit on Adoption Panel every month.  So when I was recently by our village library to put together a little display about sewing I was happy to oblige. After much thinking I decided to talk a little bit about how simple it is to start sewing, using the Beachy Boat Neck Tee as an example, and upcycling a t-shirt donated by Ma SIL. Three birds with one stone…or t-shirt!

beachy boatneckOf course I left it rather to the last minute.  I suspect no one is surprised by this.

IMG_8111_edited-1Thankfully the Beachy Boat Neck comes together in no time whatsoever.

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He looks like he’s about to board a clipper for adventures on the high seas!

I used Photoshop to make a load of speech bubbles which lead the reader through a simple “how to” upcycle a shirt.  That was the hardest part as I’m not particularly technically minded and have never done anything remotely graphical. On Monday I pinned everything in place, added a selection of available and relevant library books to complete the display, et voila!

IMG_8167_edited-2I don’t think it turned out to badly and the ladies at the library were pleased. I suppose if just one person decides to have a go at sewing, or to come back to it, or even to try something new, like upcycling, then I’ll be able to consider this a real achievement.

That The Boy got a new t-shirt is not to be sniffed at, either!


Little Red Riding Hood – FO 11/2013

The Boy’s nursery recently asked me if I’d be willing to make a Red Riding Hood cape for an activity pack they were putting together for the children.

Of course I said yes.  They are an amazing nursery and have been fabulous with both our kids.

I used a really great tutorial I found over at Make it and Mend It and although I only grapped a quick snap as I hustled everyone out to school/nursery yesterday, I think you get the idea.

IMG_8155_edited-1I suspect I may have to make one of these for the home dressing up box as Button was rather doleful when she realised it was for nursery.  If I do I think I’ll add a little elastic in the front of the hood, sewn into the seam allowance, just to add a bit more shape.

And maybe Miss Button should have her fringe cut this week! 😉

 


Wishy Washi – FO 10/2013

The thesaurus tells me that synonyms for the adjective “wishy-washy” include “insipid”, “mediocre”, “blah”, “boring”, “drab“…to name but a few.

I have to say these are probably a bit harsh on my poor Washi dress, and I think I’ll just settle for “meh“!

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oooooh…my expression says it all, no? And I should have put some lipstick on! oops

I sooooooo want to love this pattern. It’s a doddle to sew and would be a great way to get some summery dresses into my wardrobe in double quick time to fill the gaping hole where my warm weather clothes should be.

It’s also a super comfortable and ultra quick school day dress.  You can be out of the shower and into something presentable in a flash, as long as you’ve remembered the fake tan for the high vis white legs.

It looks cute with ballet flats, which is pretty much a necessity for me these days.  I cannot do heels on a daily basis any more.

And yet, still, I’m not sold.

This version has a much better fit…I increased the FBA a little and it has made a significant difference to how this dress looks. Although the under bust seam could stand a little tweaking, I don’t feel quite so…hmmm…what’s the word?…’pneumatic’ this time round.

Could it be as simple as fabric choice?

This fabric is a crinkly polyester that is interlined because it’s too wibbly on its own, but stretches against the interlining so your hem looks like the cat sewed it.  I’m tired of sewing polyester.  I’m craving cotton dresses (although the dress on the table is some stash poly, and the red that I’m planning a skirt is also poly…but they are nicer than this, and when they’re done there will be many more natural fibres coming into the sewing loft).

It could also be a colour thing.  For as long as I can remember black has been my default neutral.  I love it. But I’m starting to feel that it’s an unrequited love.  These days when I wear black I feel drab and frumpy. I had to throw some hot pink at this to lift it. And whilst black might be generally considered “slimming”…I’m not totally convinced.  I feel more like I just look like I’m trying to hide something that can’t and, more importantly, doesn’t need to be hidden.

Conversely, when I wear colour, I feel perkier, walk taller, and invariably get more complimentary comments.  The Giverny dress, which is a fabric I would never in a million years have chosen for myself, is the most complimented garment I’ve ever worn.

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It’s got to the point that I’m seriously considering returning a piece of black linen I was  kindly gifted, and am kicking myself that I’m making the “birds” fabric up with the black/cream side as the right side, and the navy/cream as the wrong.  Where was my head?

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Anyway…the question of the day is…do I give Washi one more go in a lighter, brighter fabric?  Or do I cut my losses and go in search of an alternative quick win summer dress pattern?  The Husband thinks the former…he likes this look. What do you think?