Sunday, 20 August 2017

Rainbow Taffy Blouse

I am so late for this party, the Colette Taffy Blouse but as they say: better late than never!

I have had this pattern forever.  It was offered as a freebie download in a sewing magazine and never one to pass up a freebie, I grabbed it and a quick look around blogosphere reveals it could be as early as 2011; I think it was given as an enticement when the Colette Sewing Handbook was released.

Anyway, it has sat there quietly gathering dust, along with a chiffon remnant I have had in my stash for not quite so many years.  I may have mentioned before that I love a good rummage through the remnant bin of my local fabric shop.  I never pay more that £5 and manage to come away with enough fabric for dress and this was no exception.  This chiffon is the female equivalent of Joseph's technicolour dreamcoat.  It has every colour under the sun and most are in my autumn colour palette (so unheard of) and will go with just about everything.  Trying to get through my stash of fabric I paired it with the Taffy pattern.

I decided to wing it and not make a toile for this.......there is method in my madness.  Colette is known for making their patterns to fit a C cup (unlike the Big Four, who only do a B), it is a bias cut pattern (so will stretch) and it has big floaty sleeves.  The downsides mainly mentioned are the sleeves are HUGE and the neckline quite wide.  Being a C/D cup and thinking I am fairly broad shouldered, I decided it was worth a shot without the toile.

It is a very easy pattern - only 3 pieces: bodice front and back and sleeves.  There are ties but I didn't have any instructions so didn't make them (and was wondering what the marks on the side backs were, sigh!).  I couldn't pattern match but I did try to go for colour matching at the sleeve head and figured it wouldn't matter too much if I didn't get it spot.  I didn't and it doesn't!

The edges of the sleeve and neckline are edged in binding and I didn't have a light-weight fabric so decided to make chiffon intake of breath!   I managed it and do not intend repeating that particular task EVER!  I decided to use the binding as a type of facing for the sleeves but did a bound neckline as I didn't want to take anymore off the edge, just in case it did prove to be on the large side.  Oh and a word of warning, those sleeves are massive, they are almost full circle.

And here it is.

Have to say that the comments re the wide neckline are right, it is a bit wide, even on me (of course it could mean I'm not as broad-shouldered as I thought), but I can live with it.   That said, I love it and I have to say, I think it may become a favourite staple.  It is a dress-up-dress-down item.  It will go with loads of things, pencil skirt, jeans, smart trousers and I have a few cardigans that will go with it.  And I really love the sleeves.   They are big and floaty and hang beautifully (and hide a multitude of sins, if you catch my drift) and the fit of the top is great.  The ties aren't really necessary, not for me anyway but I may make a belt just to jazz it up a bit.  Definitely worth a go and is spectacular in the right fabric!

Monday, 14 August 2017

Honig Design Garden Party Dress (aka Sit-on-my-bum-and-do-nothing-dress)

Well I've finished it, at last.  My Garden Party Dress.  I came across this dress a few years ago whilst on my blogosphere travels and loved it.  It's simple and modern but with a vintage vibe.  It's a free pattern so I decided to give a whirl and have to say that I was impressed.  It is beautifully presented, clear instructions and pattern.  There are 2 options each for sleeves, neckline and skirt, which ain't bad for a freebie! About 2 years ago, I was in my local crafty gift shop and spied a length of Art Gallery fabric.  It was enough for a dress and so found it's way into my sweaty little paws.  I later decided to marry it with the Garden Party Dress.

I had to make quite a few changes to the pattern.  The bodice is fairly fitted and because I suffer from back neck gaposis on dresses, I decided to do a size 12 with an FBA, and to be fair, having to do an FBA is a standard alteration for me these days.  However, Miss Honig Design must be a tiny petite thing as the bodice was waaaaaaaay too short; I'm not even talking crop top here , more bolero length on me!  But, changes made and it went together pretty toile stage.

You know sometimes there are clothes that just refuse to play nicely, well this was one of them.  I pinned the pattern to the fabric, was just about to cut it all out, when I remembered that I had to pattern match it, so off it all came.  Next day, I laid out the skirt (which I hadn't done the day before) and found the front skirt was too wide for the fabric, so a bit of jiggery-pokery on a quick pattern alteration and the skirt was cut out, with the panels on the front skirt nicely matching.  I then managed to arrange the bodice have it match beautifully across the back bodice, only to realise I had forgotten to match the back skirt, doh!  It was this point, the dress got its alternative name.  A friend spied it on the back of the chair midway through making, and (ever the truthful person I am), explained the mishap.  "So what are you going to do?" she asked.  "Sit on my bum and do nothing when I'm wearing it!" said I!  And actually, truth be told (see, I told you, ever truthful), it would have been impossible to match the back skirt as I didn't have enough fabric (that's the trouble with a pre-cut length!) though I did try!

Anyway, it all went together beautifully, I managed the concealed zip without a concealed zipper foot although the zip did come out once!  The difficulty came attaching the skirt to the bodice.  The skirt was a size 16 and the bodice a 12 so the skirt pattern markings didn't match the bodice.  I eyeballed it,  sewed it all together and found I had the pleats going the wrong way on one side.  So out it came and then it didn't line up with the waist dart, so out it came again.  Third time lucky, hurrah!

Here's the dress in all its glory.  I don't love it but I will wear it.  I love the dress style, it is very easy to wear and is a lovely swishy skirt (even in cotton and lined with cotton), not too much for daywear.........just maybe not in this fabric.  I don't normally wear pattern (actually, I don't normally wear dresses but I'm trying to change that!) so it is quite a departure in style for me.  There are a few niggles:  it is a bit baggy under the bust in the ribcage area.  I tried to fix it but the waist darts were going right up to the bust point and I'm not a fan of the pointy boob look!  I have since found a potential fix but will leave it on this dress for now.  Also the armholes are a bit tight and need adjusting; I think this is the difference in toile fabric (an old duvet cover and then curtain lining, both of which are softer than the fabric I used for the dress) compared to the dress fabric.  But I love the style.  Think I'm going to try tweaking it and make a couple of wintry dresses, using the long sleeve option.  But I really do suggest you try it.  It's a lovely pattern and with so many style options.......a girl can never have too many dresses, right?

And again excuse the semi-ferocious face......I really must learn to make more time for photo-taking rather than throwing my camera at Little Miss as we are rushing out the door!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Swedish Tracing Paper

Good morning my lovelies and Happy Easter.  It's a long weekend and so I thought I'd do some sewing (and yes it is a distraction technique to avoid the chocolate that is really shouting my name!).  I have a list and a plan (more of that on another day) to tackle, I mean use,  my stash and thought I'd make a start; actually I'm picking up a dress I toiled probably a year ago and bought the fabric probably a year before that!  Hey ho, what can I say other than "Life!"

Anyway, I digress.  Today, I thought I'd talk to you about Swedish Tracing Paper.  I was browsing through my instagram one day and "creative_ind_ "appeared on my feed with swedish tracing paper. I don't know about you but I trace off all my patterns and keep the originals in tact.  My weight has fluctuated over the years and I don't want to be stuck with one size of pattern I love and want to use again.  Also, I use Burda Magazine patterns, when I can face tracing off their trainwreck of a pattern!  I nearly always toile a pattern but I tend to skip pin fitting on the paper pattern as I find it just does not really work (but don't ANY of you tell my old tutor!), It's not an ideal process as it invariably means more than one toile and I am running out of toile fabric (note to self to find some cheap alternative fabric!).  Enter Swedish Tracing Paper!

 For those of you that don't know, swedish tracing paper is used as pattern paper.  It looks rather like a lightweight interfacing but it is far crisper, but not paper crisp.  It is see-through, making tracing a cinch; you can pin it and even sew it and because it is kind of fabric like, you can easily pin fit as it contours properly to your body.   It doesn't tear easily (although I managed to rip it having discarded in disgust an ill-fitting toile with a zip which I later yanked it out of pile with said zip caught on something else!)  so it is fairly robust and will put up with a toile fitting or two.  And you can use it as your pattern piece when you do (finally, in my case!) get round to making up your item of clothing.  The only downside and this really is so minor, I feel churlish mentioning it, is that felt-tip type pens (I use fineliners for my pattern marking and toile adjustments) will bleed if you keep the tip on it for more than a millisecond, which is fine if you are marking dots and notches, but not great if you hesitate on tracing out lines, but like I say, it is such a minor thing, it feels wrong to mention it.

A sneaky peak at my current project on the swedish tracing paper, and this is the reverse side

So in summary, so far I'm liking the swedish tracing paper.  Head over to Creative Industry if you fancy trying this out.  Clare also sells a great journal if you want to keep a track of what you are sewing.

Whatever you are doing today, enjoy and if you do use the swedish tracing paper, let me know; I do like to compare notes!

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Vintage style Simplicity 8050

Well, I don't know if you know, but I do a little acting. Yes, I'm a luvvie but I don't really tell many people.......well until now!  I belong to a small local am-dram group.  I kind of fell into it.  I thought I was going to help with costumes one day but ended up standing in on a read through and was offered the part.  The rest, as they say, is history.

The last play we did was "The Actress" by Peter Quilter.  It's about the last show night of a retiring colourful complicated actress and I got the part of her dresser.  The play was set in the 1940s (love the 1940s).  My character was unglamorous, no-nonsense and  working.  I figured I needed a uniform, a no-nonsense dress.  A visit to our local fabric shop with Miss Frillymingoe found Simplicity 8050.  I bought a bottle green polyester fabric for it.  Yes, yes, I know that polyester isn't the right fabric for the era, but, the last week of  the play is full on - everyday from Sunday (2 rehearsals) through to the Saturday, which is last night.  I needed something that could be washed and dried easily, and as non-iron as possible - ergo a "lovely" polyester.

If I were making it for me to wear everyday, I would have done a whole host of fitting changes - FBAs, waist adjustments etc etc, but being I was so short on time, I just made it to my bust size and hoped for the best.

It has an interesting side front seam and by interesting, I mean a little tricky.  The curved seam of the skirt is an opposite curve to the bodice when sewing together and, according to the instructions, requires pivoting the needle on a set point before continuing the seam.  Three attempts later, I abandoned those instructions, sewed to the point, cut off the threads, re pinned the next part and then started the seam again.  But other than that, it sewed together really well.  I was going to leave it plain but on stage it was too dark and plain, so I sewed some white bias binding over the seams and around the collar, and actually, it really lifted it.

All-in-all, it turned out not too bad.  It was a tad big in places, but not so big it looked ridiculous.  I got seamed tights and authentic styled shoes, did my hair and make-up authentically and you know what?  I crushed it, to coin a phrase.  I had quite few of the older ladies say how their mother had worn a similar dress or their hair the same way.  I have to admit that a glance in the mirror saw my grandmother looking back at me!

Sunday, 5 February 2017

A Mourning and a New Look

Well Happy New Year to you all (can I still get away with that.........well, my blog, my rules, so I guess so :-D )

My planned forays into sewing were severely curtailed last beloved Janome MC9000 died.  I loved that machine.  It was bought with an inheritance from my grandmother and was a good solid machine of many talents, many which did, in truth, remain unexplored.  However, she dealt with whatever I threw at her without shudder or skipped stitch.......until last year.  I was making a dress for my daughter when she seized up and refused to move.  Luckily Miss Frillymingoe has her own little machine (a basic Janome) so I was able to finish the dress.  I put Lady Naomi (the Janome!) into the menders and luckily it was just a mechanical fault, and she had obviously been poorly for a while as she was positively purring when she came home.  However, a couple of months later I switched her off at night and the next day found her touch screen had gone.  All she would do was a straight stitch at 2.2 size.  A frantic search from Lovely Sewing Machine Man (really known as Rona Sewing Machines) did indeed prove that there were no longer any parts for her, so she has been retired.  I did have Miss Frillymingoe' machine, but it is very lightweight and doesn't have all the features I use and need so no sewing.  Then unexpectedly, I was gifted 2 machines from 2 different sources - an overlocker (the pedal of mine got lost in transit years ago in a house move) and a singer sewing machine.  Joy of Joys!  The machine is heavy, so it won't walk across the table when I rev her up and it has the main functions I require as a minimum.  This lady is back in business!

I had a little trip to Stockholm last September for a friend's Big Birthday and had decided to make a jumpsuit for it (before the demise of Lady Naomi) and found New Look 6413.  I love  multi-option patterns and this is no different - jumpsuit, dress, tunic, and 2 different sleeve options.  I had in my stash a browny-purple satin-backed crepe which I had picked up in the remnants box at Rolls and Rems in Edmonton (Note to all:  always have a look in remnants; you never know what you will find!) but alas it wasn't enough.  However, it was enough to make the dress but then got put on the back burner because of the demise of  Lady Naomi.

I had a bit of spare time over Christmas and decided to start tackling my stash and the New Look 6413 dress was calling me.  As it is a baggy style, I decided not to toile it and just cut my size.  Now I'm going to own up here.  I've been sewing for years......and years.......and years so you would think that my cutting out would be beyond reproach, wouldn't you?  I have no idea what happened, but I had 1 half sleeve that was longer than the others, and worse, the front facings ended up different lengths.  I have no idea what happened whether the underneath moved, it wasn't smoothed out properly or it stretched before I stay stitched it (the facing) but there it is - errors galore.  Mind, it meant my friend who is reasonably new to sewing felt mightily gladdened that it wasn't just rookies that end up with daft mistakes.

The pattern calls for an invisible zip, but I decided to funk it up a bit and make it an exposed zip, not that the dress needs a zip at all.  Then came the problem with the facing; one side fitted perfectly well but the other was short and did not reach where it needed to along the centre front.  Whilst wondering what to do, I remembered the wise words of my tutor from years ago advising to make a design feature of any mistakes so I decided to bind the facing edges in a funky cotton bias binding; a secret pop of colour!

Not my finest work, but it serves a purpose and only I (ok, we) know about it!

The waistline is elasticated (I don't normally do elasticated) and I really wasn't sure about the dress when I tried it on to do the elastic; it felt too baggy and shapeless but as I needed it for a night out, I just decided to go with it.  Having finished it and worn it, I have to say that I love it!  It's very comfortable to wear, not at all baggy or shapeless, with some cute side pockets (I love a pocket or two!) and feels quite chic - effortless chic, that's me! There are a few niggles, eg the front neckline could perhaps do with a smidge taking out of it and I'm not entirely happy with the elasticated waistline; it feels bulky but I guess these are things that only I notice in my full-on critical being!  But I will definitely wear it again and I will make it again, in the jumpsuit version.  It's very easy to long as you don't make silly mistakes!!

Scuse the semi-ferocious face and walking pose.  I was heading towards Miss Frillymingoe to sort out, I mean help her in taking the photo......and this was the best of bad (and rushed) bunch, just as I was heading out to meet the girls!

Saturday, 13 August 2016

The Pretty Woman Kimono (aka The Slippery Sucker!)

Goodness me, I can't believe it is 2 years since I last posted.  I won't bore you with the details, but life got in the way BIG time, but now I am on an even keel and and am determined to sew more (actually, I have been sewing, just not blogging it, maybe I will showcase those at some point!)......and tell you more :-D

I was having a coffee with my mother-in-law on Thursday and she showed me a lovely dress she'd bought for a lunch at her golf club.  It is a sleeveless shift dress in cream with a black and red pattern.  She was bemoaning the fact that she had been unable to find any lightweight jacket and had really wanted a silky kimono style one.  A light-bulb moment occurred........I decided to make one for her.  I can and do cut my own patterns, but I was too short on time and brain cells to be be bothered with trying to work out what I needed so I went on a tinterweb hunt and found a freebie pattern from Sew Caroline  and then went on a fabric hunt (my stash was not forthcoming this time!).  I found some black slipper satin which had a lovely drape and was perfect so 2 metres of that and 2 metres of narrow black ribbon for hanging straps (is that what they are called?) came in at under £10.

I debated about which side to use the fabric, ie make it all in satin (and run the risk it looked like a dressing gown) or use the matt side.  In the end I went for the main body in the matt side with satin bands at the end of the sleeves and hemline for bit of dressiness.  I figured that this way, it could be worn more casually but still be dressed up when needed.  The pattern and instructions printed out well and were easy to to put together and follow.  It should be a quick make, but me being me decided to complicate it.  The satin (as you will know if you have sewn with it before) frays like made and so I decided to french seam it.  The bands were also sewn on the enclose the seams.    To do this, I sewed a line of stitching along one edge, 1cm in to be a foldline marker.  I then used a narrow seam and sewed the band to the jacket on the opposite side.  To finish off, I folded along the stitch line and pinned it in place just over the seam line and then "stitched in the ditch" which held it all in place whilst enclosing the seam.  

Reverse of pinned satin band

Stitching in the ditch

For finishing the front edge, the pattern recommends a rolled edge or a fold over and top stitched finish.  I decided to go for a bias binding edge, to enclose the seam but also to give a bit of weight to the edge.  I made my own binding Colette's fab tutorial.  However, sewing the satin onto satin was fiddly as, in the words of Vivienne in Pretty Woman, it was a "slippery little sucker" but I got there in the end.  A quick press and it was delivered.

It's a great little pattern.  My only criticism, as such, is that I would change the work order slightly: sew the shoulder seams, attach the sleeves then sew the side seams (particularly if you are going to french seam them!), but no real biggy.  Think I'm going to make one for me and my niece will probably get one as she has just said how much she loves it (unless she steals her grandma's one first lol).

The Pretty Woman Kimono Jacket

Monday, 1 September 2014

Toiletries Bag

Little Miss FM had a residential trip with her school early in summer and bizarrely her toiletries bag had disappeared, so we had to organise a new one.  When she was little I made her some cloth nappies and had collected a veritable stash of fat quarters for the creation of said nappies.  She loves butterflies and I had in my stash a funky butterfly fabric so decided it was about time to use it.  I bought a cheap shower curtain for the lining.

To make it, I cut out the shower curtain to the same size as the FQ.  I also decided to make a pocket for it so that wet stuff could go one side and dry the other (I just hate my toothbrush rubbing up against soap!!!) so cut out a piece of the curtaining that was half the size of the FQ.  Then with wrong sides together (ie right side out) I stitched down one of the long edges,along the bottom and up the other side.  I then turned it inside out and repeated the stitching, effectively making a french seam and enclosing and securing the pocket part.

The next step was to fold down the top to make a channel and then thread through the rope to close it.  It was a very quick job and Little Miss was thrilled with her new bag.  It is funky and different and plenty big enough to hold all she needs.

Hope you like it!