Sunday, 31 August 2014

Dress C- The Sweet Dress Book

After making the tie-neck camisole, as described here, I have been looking longingly at lots of the designs in the fabulous "Sweet Dress Book".  I had a hankering for the soft pleats of dress C.


Easy to throw on, but with enough interest to look nice. It was reasonably quick to put together too.


Here's the twist: I sized it down, so I could make it from a fine soft jersey rather than woven fabric.  I'd had the idea for a while and I'm glad I gave it a go.


I'm trying Oonna's tip for photographing from a low down angle, thus giving the illusion of height.  Not sure it's worked - I still look quite short! I'm also doing my best to stare off enigmatically into the middle distance.


The fabric is a thin jersey, light and stretchy. It flows nicely in this dress and I am very pleased with that.


I felt I would be able to tackle this after my recent practice sewing with jersey. I was confident cutting-out, pinning, and sewing the side-seams and the sleeve and dress hems.

Now, I said it was reasonably quick to sew. And I was sailing through, feeling I knew what I was doing; so, I confidently proceeded to the finishing of the neckline with self binding. It looked beyond awful, stretched out of shape and far too thick and lumpy for the delicate fabric.  I should have taken a photo at this stage, but instead I had a break and a beer and then another one!

Later, I delicately cut off the stretched neckline as carefully as I could.  At this point I knew I had to walk away and look afresh at the mess the next day. I was then able to salvage it: I cut thin strips of bonda-web and simply folded the mutilated neckline over, fixing it in place with a hot iron and later securing it with a decorative zigzag.  Phew.


I am so pleased that it is wearable because after two beers on Saturday night I was all for throwing it in the bin. The image of Iain's "Baked Alaska " being thrown in the bin on the Great British Bake Off this week gave me the motivation not to give up, but to finish the dress. (Sorry for the topical UK reference international readers.)


So overall I am really pleased. The dress is a perfect length for me (I shortened it by about 5 inches!) and though the neckline isn't perfect, it will do. I now want to make another and get the neckline right first time.

If you like this pattern, Sarah from the Creative Perfectionist (dress C) has recently made a version of this that I adore.  She made it in red polka dot fabric, and added very clever shirring to give her version a fitted silhouette.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Sweet Dress Book - Tie Neck Camisole


My latest project is the Sweet Dress Book's "tie neck cami". This is what it's supposed to look like:


And here is my version! I didn't add the tulle or the bow as I felt that would be a bit too glamorous for my lifestyle!  


Probably my last summer make, as we seem to be running out of summer to wear it in! This is made out of the remnants of this summer top here and is a lovely mauve cotton with tiny cream stars.


Its cleverly designed so it just pulls over the head. The back is slightly higher cut than the front, and - all in all - I enjoy wearing it, and love how loose and flowing it is.


I think I am going to call this a wearable muslin, as I have plans to play with this pattern. I should like to make one with two back pieces, as I prefer the higher back neckline.  I think this would mean I would have to make the neck band slightly bigger, or open and close-able with a button.


This is the blouse on backwards: it covers a bit more flesh, so I think I'd be more comfortable with this in a future make.


Here is the front at the back (if you see what I mean).  I have written myself notes and placed them in with the pattern pieces as I'm sure this will be made again next summer.


The perfect top for summer adventures. Talking of which, I'm off on hols tomorrow Wahoo!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Learning to like knit fabric

I decided the way to find my peace with knit fabrics was just to play with some, until I didn't find the experience so horrendously intimidating any longer. So, play I did, and this was the result...


A toddler dress. No pattern: I drew out a bodice shape based loosely on an old t-shirt of my daughter Immy's, but sized it up a bit, and extended it to a dress length.


It's a wee bit big on the poppet, but totally wearable. I surprised myself, setting out just to have a play, but managing to create a usable item of clothing.


My favourite bit has to be the cute ruffle. For this, I cut a wide rectangle the length of the fabric. Then, I used two rows of loose stitching to tightly gather the fabric up.


After that, I sewed it onto the outside of the fabric with a three-stitch-zigzag. The tricky part was removing the gathering stitches, but even that wasn't too bad. I could have put the ruffle onto the wrong side of the fabric, so as to get a smooth seam, but I actually rather like the mini ruffle that this method creates at the stitching line. It adds a bit of character.


The neckline and arm-cycles are finished with strips of self binding. Doing this taught me a lot: the neckline gapes a little, and I couldn't work out why as I had stay-stitched all the curves.

Doing some reading halfway through, I discovered that unlike woven outfits, the stretch binding needs to be a bit shorter than the length of the opening to avoid gape. This is why the arm-holes are loads better than the neckline. Still not perfect, but getting better. Now, I've just got to remember that tip on my next knit project!


The more I played around, the less frightened of the fabric I became. The fabric itself is leftover from my summer dress here which really isn't the best make in the world but I do wear it often as it's so comfy. I think Immy will be comfy in this too, perfect for clambering about in.


All in all, I really enjoyed this experiment, and want to have another go with knit fabric very soon.  I'm working on the basis that the fabric is cheap, and even if I muck it up while learning, it has to be cheaper than sewing lessons. Now sewing has very much entered the popular zeitgeist in the UK, the price of sewing classes in the South of England has shot up astronomically out of my reach! So, for me at the moment its learn by doing.  How did you learn to sew?

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Summer Halter Dress

It has been so hot lately, wearing anything is almost too much: light and floaty dresses are the order of the day.


This one was a bit "make it up as you go along" pattern-wise. For the halterneck part, I used the Tallulah dress bodice from Sis Boom's Girls World.  I actually bought this beautiful book to make dresses for my two year old; the pattern pieces, though, go up to age 12-14 years, but being quite flat-chested this worked out perfectly for - the slightly older than Fourteen - me!


The fabric for the skirt I just folded on the bias and literally cut a curved hole for my body, and another for the hem! As it's cut on the bias there's no gathering but there is plenty of swirl.


Perfect for playing the princess, twirling around in the garden.


I made a separate wide panel for the back bodice. I have no idea how big, I just eyeballed it and used thick elastic to ensure a snug fit to the back. Then, I simply sewed the bodice onto the skirt.


I really enjoyed making this. As I was essentially winging it, I didn't worry one jot whether I was sewing it up correctly - I just had a go. It was a fun make, and it's rather fun to wear too.


The flowery fabric is a really cheap cotton, only £2pm from Fabricland. And it was the cheapness which inspired me to take a risk and play with the fabric.

The bodice fabric is a beautiful piece of jade silk, the tiniest odd-shaped remnant from my grandmother's stash. (This was left over from a dress she made me when I was a teenager, which I still have - and it still fits! I may pop it up on the blog to show you, as it is beautiful.)

I lined my dress with a piece of white linen bed-sheet that is butter-soft and wafer-thin from at least sixty years of constant use.


Perfect summer dress to pose in, with an ice lolly.  I can't wait to road test it down the beach and have a paddle.


Seeing how well this has turned out I may make another just as a top, or maybe a maxi length one.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

A Simple Top

This top was the answer to my prayers! I was in desperate need of new short-sleeved tops to go with jeans, shorts and skirts. I don't own very many, even RTW, as I predominantly live in dresses.

But buy tops? No! I can sew: I'm buggered if I am spending £20 in the shops just for a flimsy rectangle of fabric!


I needed something plain and easy to coordinate, but most importantly loose and cool for the summer.  It's so hot and sticky at the moment that tight-fitting isn't going to cut it.


This is the Boatneck dress from Simple Modern Sewing. I've cut it down to a top length, and attempted a hi-lo hem.  But after giving it a wear, I've found you can't really see this feature; I think I will chop off an inch or two and give this a simpler straight hem - so it doesn't look accidental!


The fabric design is lovely: grey/lilac with tiny white stars, very subtle, pretty and feminine. It's cotton; I couldn't wear synthetic in this heat. I have a reasonable amount left as the top was not demanding in its yardage, so I'm hoping I can squeeze a different shaped top out of it. Otherwise it'll be destined to become a dress for little Immy!


The neckline is like a baby-grow, joined on just the outside edge. This allows it to slip on easily.  I've only sewn a narrow overlap, as I really want it loose. You could adjust this overlap and it would dispense with any underarm gape.


I'm really happy with this. If I get a chance to hit the fabric shops this summer, I can see more of these on the horizon!


The photos were taken by my eldest, who is keen to contribute to this blog. He is also sewing! He's currently working on a little bag for his sister, with the ultimate aim of making her a dress. Odd, though, as I'd have thought he would want to make something for himself! 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Thank you.

Thank you all so much for your advice about sewing with slippery fabrics: so motivating and inspiring. I'm pleased to say it has helped me to salvage the harem pants!


It was a lot easier once I got back to them. They are not the greatest sewing-wise (a little wonky), but they're oh so comfy.  Elasticated waists, how I love thee!

The main things I took from the advice were: lots of pins, baste well and go slowly! I'm also busy looking into starch spray, and sewing with paper, for when I work with my lovely new slippery and silky rayon fabric. But for now, here's the details of my practice refashion...


This was a very simple re-size.  I brought the sides and inside led seams in by an inch.  I managed to do the sides by using french seams.  The inside leg I just sewed straight, then used a zig zag to secure the edges.


I've tapered them in dramatically compared with the 80's original. I am looking forward to wearing them as they are so light and airy. Perfect for this heatwave we are experiencing.

I think they are pretty shapely, considering, but my husband thinks I look silly in them!  Arrggh! I'm going to wear them anyway, of course.


Thank you again for all your advice, The online sewing community is fantastic, and so supportive.  I love this bloggin' lark.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Abandon project?

Okay, this is a bit of a non post really I admit that.  But I felt I should be posting successes and failures. Although technically, this is neither, and is instead a story of giving up.

I needed a nice easy project that would fit in with how manic life is at the moment.  Last few days of the school term are coming up, though, so things should ease up soon.  Enter a simple refashion.


These are a pair of 80's Harem trousers in a size 20.  Easy job, I thought - take in an inch each side and again on the inner leg seam.

But I can't control the fabric!  It's a slippy-slidey thin rayon.  And it either moves under my needle, or gets pulled down to be chewed up in my machine.  Not sure what I am doing wrong.  I am cross, as I have just bought 2 metres of the loveliest softest drapiest rayon, and these pants were supposed to be my dress rehearsal for sewing it!

Any tips, peeps?   Think the pants might end up in fabric recycle, but I don't want my new fabric going to waste.