Christmas Presents

img_0461Look what I got!
It’s a hem marker.  You fill the little cup with chalk powder, adjust the height to where you want your skirt to end, then do a twirl whilst pressing the bulb.  The result is a series of neat white lines on your skirt.

I’ve practised with it once using a skirt that had already been hemmed.  You have to stand quite close which is awkward if you have feet.  The white lines are very clear but I didn’t get them completely straight, probably because I need to stand better.

I think with practice it will work well.  Did you get any sewing related Christmas presents?

The Drapey Dress

IMG_1321I wasn’t sure whether to blog about this or not. Usually I like the things I make but this one – not so much.

The pattern is the Drapey Dress from the British Sewing Bee book and the fabric is some navy ponte roma I’ve had hanging around for sometime now.

So what is the problem – well it’s a just a weird shape.  Don’t get me wrong I love wearing rather shapeless dresses but this one is just a bit strange and not at all flattering. I think the problem is that there are some strange angles in the pattern which would be better if they were curved out. 

Oddly enough shortly after I finished it an email from StyleArc came in advertising an almost identical dress. I think theirs has a slightly softer line which might be better.

Have you every finished a project and then found you hated it?

The Ultimate Shift Dress Goes Casual

Did I tell yoIMG_1310u how much I like my ultimate shift dress?  Well I made another.

This one is made out of a dark grey cotton flannel I bought in Raystitch sometime ago.  They have a lovely selection of Brannock and Patek flannels  – all ripe for making Toast like pyjamas.  To add cosiness I lined the dress in a cherry red muslin from Cloth House.

I avoided the problems I had with the last dress by using a waxed cotton cord (also from Raystitich) to make a little loop for a button.  Also I felt the facing on the last dress needed some interfacing, so I used the muslin on this dress to give it a bit of body.

Are there any patterns you enjoy remaking?

 

 

The Maker’s Atelier – Summer Coat

imageHave you come across The Makers Atelier? I first came across them at the Selvedge Winter fair last year and was attracted by the simple, stylish shapes made up in neutral colours and fabulous fabrics.  The proprietor is Frances Tobin who runs sewing workshops as well as making up all the patterns.

After seeing them at the fair I must admit I copied Frances’s idea for a silver PU pencil skirt.  As I have also bought some of her patterns I don’t feel too guilty!

The pattern I bought at the winter fair was the Unlined Raw-Edged Coat which can be made up in neoprene or boiled wool (i.e. something with a bit of body which can be left with raw edges).

I had some embossed scuba bought on one of those late night internet shopping expeditions and sitting in the back of my cupboard without a purpose.  Not that I didn’t think the fabric was fabulous just that I didn’t know what to do with it.  Fabric Godmother still has the same fabric for sale but no longer in the Navy.  I’ve also seen it in the fabric shop in Brixton if you are in the area.

If I am being completely honest the fabric is a little too light for the coat, but as it’s a summer coat I’m not sure it really matters that much.

Cutting out the coat took several hours, as usual I was a bit short on fabric (2m rather than 2.3m) plus the pattern pieces are so huge it was difficult to lay it all out on our table.  Eventually I managed it though I think my coat is about 2-3cm shorter than it should be (no problem, I’m a few cm shorter than I should be too!)image

In contrast sewing it up took me about an hour – yes it really is that quick even for a slow coach like me. You will notice that my coat doesn’t have any buttons. This is partly laziness and partly intentional.  I haven’t actually found any buttons or press studs that I like, I’m also worried that the fabric is quite light and might pull, so for now it’s buttonless.

I’d like to make this again but want to use a heavy-weight boiled wool to give the coat more structure.  So far I haven’t found what I am looking for (and boiled wool is quite expensive so I need to be sure it is exactly right).

So my verdict.  I love the shape of the coat and am looking forward to making it up again. Makers Atelier have a good range of stylish patterns now and they are all very simple to make up.  Great for instant gratification but probably a bit too simple for anyone wanting to stretch their sewing skills.

Ultimate Shift Dress

I do like a quick project and I do like a shift dress.

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Did you make that recently made a couple of fabulous dresses using the Ultimate Shift Dress pattern from Sew Over It.  I had a free Saturday so one very wet day I sloshed my way over there.  The shop is in North Clapham and for those of us who live in SE London it is also only ten minutes walk from Brixton station.  Whilst I was there I could hear a class going on in the basement but I was in for fabric and a pattern!  For a small shop they have a good range, beautifully displayed.  I chose some teal triple crepe which is a very intense colour with a nice swing to the drape.  I’m not usually a polyester sort of person but I suspect that’s a prejudice born out of my age, artificial fabrics have improved a lot over the years and it’s about time I started to use them.

imageI measured the pattern against my block and added in about 1.5cm for my broad back and shoulders and about 1cm for my fat arms.  I am a very slow sewer and often it’s because I spend too much time faffing around with tracing pattern pieces and making toiles, however this time I decided to be brave and just dive into making the dress.  Sometimes it’s important to take your time but this is a simple dress and shifts don’t take much fitting.  I found my adjustments meant I needed a bit more fabric than the back of the packet called for – but fortunately I had bought a few extra centimetres so this didn’t matter.

So what did I think of the pattern? Well it’s very simple and quickly comes together. Sew Over It don’t recommend it for beginners but I think most people could handle it.

The dress has a nice shape, more feminine than most shift dresses.  If you go to the Sew Over It vlog there is a post Lisa has done showing her shift dress collection which proves how versatile the pattern is.  I like the idea of using a lighter material and adding a belt. I might also use it to make some blouses.
The dress is closed with a hook and eye which I have found comes open.  I had to add a safety pin the first time I wore the dress but I think I will make a little tab for a button hole when I have a chance.  It would be very easy to substitute a zip but I quite like not having one.
This will be a dress I wear a lot and you should expect to see others on this blog!

Woven leggings

 

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Woven jacquard leggings and Cos wool dress

This is a story about some trousers I made, using a pattern I traced, from some trousers I bought, after reading a blog post. I then decided they were too wintery for spring weather and didn’t wear them.  This weekend we are in Stockholm for a pre-Christmas break and so their time has come!

About a year ago That’s Not My Age wrote a blog post about leggings and mentioned Winser London.  When I looked at their Website I found that in addition to the ordinary leggings they did something called a Woven legging. Clearly I had to have a pair!  Actually they were so fabulous I had to have two! They are made out of a fabric that looks like twill but has a lot of stretch (strangely all lengthwise none widthwise). They are high waisted and very flattering, also just as comfortable as leggings should be. Somewhere between a trouser and and a legging but definitely not a jegging!

At about the same time I noticed Dragonfly Fabrics were offering this Stretch jacquard fabric which I thought would look great in a pair of trousers.  The odd thing about this fabric is that the stretch is all  along the selvedge not across the grain, perfect for a pair of rubbed off woven leggings.


I’m not sure I got the pattern exactly right, the originals have darts at the back set at an unusual angle and this coupled with the elasticated waistband made it a bit difficult to see exactly how much fabric I needed at the waist.   After a bit of guess work and playing around with the darts I don’t think I have made too bad a fist of it.

These are every bit as comfortable as the originals. I love the subtle pattern of the jacquard (and are you impressed with the pattern matching?) which gives them just the right amount of glamour.


Do you wear leggings? Have you ever rubbed off a garment from something you love?

Blogging

I had thought my blogging days were over.  The last year has been one of upheaval and sadness which has meant dedicating all my time to my family. But we are through that now and I slowly find myself turning back to my old pursuits. 

It started with Ruth at CoreCouture whipping up some of the patterns in Merchant and Mills latest book (a book I bought but couldn’t get inspiration from because of the photography). Then Did You Make That made and ultimate shift dress followed by a drapey dress.  Marianna at Sew2Pro made a very sexy little skirt.  Then I noticed that Roobeedoo‘s knitting continues to be as prolific and beautiful as ever and Carolyn’s style and skill is still an inspiration.

So thank you dear friends you have reminded me why I enjoy making and sharing.  My blogging will probably be as infrequent as ever but I will continue.

A long story….

Some dresses take a few hours, some dresses take a few days and then there’s this dress.

I first wrote about the StyleArc Emma dress in January 2014 in which I admitted to having procrastinated for some time already because of the fit.  I see my second post was February, also 2014, at which time I managed to fix one of the fit issues.  By December I was bemoaning the fact that it, and many other, projects had ground to a halt.

In order not to play with your patience too much I’ll just list the problems I had with it.  I should stress that there is nothing wrong with the pattern itself, all the problems are of my own making

  • Stylearc patterns only have 1cm seam allowances, this doesn’t give you much room for fit adjustments so I traced all the pieces out and increased to 1.5cm. There were a lot of pieces and all the symmetrical pieces were drawn out flat.
  • I had to increase the bust which took a bit of working out, but I am quite pleased with the result. I should have done the same on the lining piece but I couldn’t work out how so I just used the shell pieces
  • I was so pleased with having fixed the bust issue I completely ignored the fit around my hips and stomach and it was only when I made up the actual dress I found it was tight around my hips but had a bizarrely huge pouch of spare fabric around my stomach. I had to spend quite a bit of time playing around with the side panels and their fiddly right had cornered seams to get this resolved.
  • My sewing skills were just not up to fitting in the pockets neatly and I decided to leave them out. A good decision as the fit issues would have meant I would have had to adjust them too.
  • I decided the cap sleeves were just too unflattering on me so I removed them.
  • Having put the dress together and getting the fit right, I then had to take it all apart so I could add the lining, aaaaagh!

The fabric I used is a wool from Misan fabrics in Berwick Street, it’s dark navy but with dark grey or black undertones. I bought the lining from Bernstein and Banleys who were recommended to me by a friend.

I find it odd that although lots of people have written about ordering this pattern, I couldn’t actually find any photos of any made up dresses.  I’m actually very pleased with the result, it’s just as flattering as I expected from the line drawings and has a fabulous collar.  Now I’ve got the fit right I can imagine making it again. Maybe in a less formal fabric with a bit of stretch. 

Do you have any long term projects on the go? Am I the only one who takes the best part of 18 months to knock out a dress?  Have you tried this pattern?  What was the result?

British Sewing Bee 3

Have you been watching the British Sewing Bee? I’m rather behind here as I’ve only just got around to watching the final.

Previous series have left me rather cold; I couldn’t see myself being inspired to make any of the garments or have a go at any of the techniques.  This series has been different though; from the welt pockets on the waistcoat, to the leather jacket and lace skirt the challenges were technically more exciting and had the potential to turn into something fabulous.  I can’t imagine that I am ever going to be in the position where I need to make a kilt but having seen one made I’d love to have a go.  Was I the only person googling the asymetric t-shirt in the last episode and ordering a copy of Drape Drape 2 before they’d even finished making it up?

I still think the time challenge is frustrating, the whole point of sewing is to take your time and get it right, even if it involves spending an unhealthy amount of time with your unpicker.  But this is television and giving people days or weeks to make a garment would be rather boring.

I was also frustrated that Neil didn’t win, he was consistently the best sewer in the competition, turning out one beautiful garment after another.  Both Matt and Lorna were great sewers but they didn’t have Neil’s consistency.  Had Neil not tried so hard in the last episode I am sure he would have won.

What did you think?  Did you enjoy the series or just not bother watching it?  Who would you have chosen to win?

Pattern Puzzle Continued

Thank you Studio Faro for the comments you made on my last post regarding the curved seam draped dress.  Spurred on by your encouragement I have made another toile.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA First of all though I should show you the back of the dress.  This is made with my usual block which gives a good fit.  The fabric I used is a very lightweight cotton (from Ikea), much lighter than the usual calico.  I haven’t made the alteration to the central seam as yet.  Also I haven’t added the back vent. This photo was taken with toile 2 (from my previous post)

I started again with the front of the dress and redrafted the curve to end higher on my hip. I also dropped my arm hole by 1.5cm but didn’t add the cap sleeves.  I am never sure that cap sleeves suit me and I will probably wear this dress with a jumper underneath so I think a sleeveless style will be more flattering.

Toile 3

Toile 3

You will see that the dress itself it much more flattering, I have managed to get rid of the excess at the waist and the pleats are more evenly spread. The armholes still need some work though!  The front here is attached to original back with the cap sleeves so it will look a bit odd.  I probably need to make the curve of the armhole a bit deeper and shorten the shoulder seams.