Sunday, 29 December 2013

Measuring up

Well, having blogged last month that I would probably make up this pattern in this fabric, I decided not to wait for spring and cut it out earlier this month. It’s a very quick make and I can see me getting a lot of wear out of this when the weather warms up. I love this fabric, which I bought on the Goldhawk Road back in the summer, it makes me smile whenever I look at it and I have some more in one of the other colourways – I haven’t decided what to use that for yet though.

I cut this as a straight size 12 and followed the pattern exactly except, as before, I just cut two widths of fabric for the skirt. Even with this narrower width fabric (45”) it’s plenty full enough and I got the whole thing from less than 2.5 metres which is a lot less than the envelope suggests is needed. I added fusible interfacing to the fold-back facings because I thought that the print might show through, which would bug me, it’s done the trick!

Looking at the photo of this I think I should probably adjust Myrtle (my dressform) in some way, because although she has the same vital stats as me she definitely looks thinner!

Pink tape measures
Now I have an Anna maxi dress to hem.  Toodle pip.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Check these out

Well, so much for getting a couple more posts in before Christmas.  Time just ran away from me but there is now a lull in the festivities between now and New Year, so time to catch up with the blogging.

I really like gingham but the fabric that I have sewn with so far hasn’t been great, so I’ve realised that actually I really like cotton gingham, and there doesn’t seem to be nearly as much of that around as the polyester & cotton gingham that the next three dresses are made from.

The first one is Vogue 8727 made with ⅛” gingham from Fabricland.  I bought this pattern mainly because I thought it would be a good starting point for recreating the shape of the Limb teadress which I blogged about last month.  I think with the NL6824 narrow skirt option and some self-drafted (should that be self-draughted? Hmm… not sure) cap sleeves it’ll work rather nicely.  This is a pattern which would have completely passed me by if I’d only considered the initial photograph, however, the line drawings showed that it had potential and so I bought it.  For its first outing I cut it according to the pattern and did view D in a size 14.  Which as I now know, turned out to be too big and so I had to do some fiddling around with the side seams to get it to fit.  Next time I’ll cut a size 12.

Vogue 8727

I love the shape of this dress and it can be dressed up (with a smart plain navy jacket) or down (on its own with some wacky jewellery) but is now put away for the winter since I don’t have enough wardrobe space to not have to pack away summer clothes in the winter and winter clothes in the summer.  As an aside, there was a thread on Ravelry which I came across whilst noodling about, asking how many dresses ravellers had.  So I did a quick count this evening – there are currently 26 rtw and 4 handmade dresses hanging in my wardrobe, so I reckon the total count (including summer dresses) is probably quite a bit higher.  I do love me a dress.  In fact I really like the one I’m wearing right now which I got in H&M a couple of weeks ago.  Let me see if I can get a link to it.  No, sorry, not on their website.  It’s black, sleeveless, just above the knee (probably half way up the thighs of a 5’ 10” model), fitted through the waist and bodice and with a flared skirt.  I may take a photo of it at some point, it’s a perfect go-anywhere LBD – I wore it out for lunch today and could just as easily wear it to work or for an evening out.

On to dresses two and three, both made in purple gingham fabric which I bought because 1. gingham and 2. purple.  However, these fabrics are truly unpleasant imo, they’re shiny, full of static and fray like be-atches.  So they have both become trial versions of patterns which I will be making up in better fabric later.  The 1” gingham is Simplicity 2444 (and yes, there is a seam down the bodice front, don’t ask me why I cut down the fold because I truly have no idea), and the ¼” is New Look 6567.

Simplicity 2444

New Look 6567

For both these dresses the sleeves feel a bit skimpily cut, so I might try them with the sleeves from Butterick 5813  which fit fine.  I don’t think I have weightlifters’ arms by any means, but they’re not stick thin either.  I’ll see how I get on, if it’s too much hassle I’ll probably stick to making sleeveless dresses, but as it’s winter I wanted some sleeves.  Or it could just be that the fabric has no give in it at all and cotton, with a bit of widthways stretch, will be fine.  The New Look dress is also surprisingly short.  So far, I’ve either hemmed dresses per the pattern instructions or chopped off between 5” and 7” of the length, but this pattern could do with being a bit longer – not much – just enough for the finished length to be at the cutting line, but it was a bit of a surprise when I tried it on.  It sewed up very quickly but once I put the sleeves in I found that they pulled the shoulders down, so when I make this up with ‘proper’ fabric I’ll probably cut either the square or the sweetheart neckline, because they have more fabric at the shoulders, and I might cut the back neckline a bit higher.

I have another gingham dress cut out waiting for me to sew it up which will also be a test version because it has several small flaws in it.  Not sure that anyone else would notice them, but I know they are there so it is a trial run for Simplicity 3673.  I’ve got some 1” gingham for the final version – I thought this pattern would be good for a version of the Peggy Olson check dress which has popped up on various blogs as part of Julia Bobbin’s Mad Men challenge – but that won’t get made up until next year.

Well that’s all for now, I hope to be back tomorrow.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Everything's coming up roses

Or more accurately roses, pansies and a mixed bouquet (aka I'm not sure what they are, other than flowers).

So, three floral dresses in today’s post.  The first one is Butterick 5748, a vintage reprint from c1960.  I really like the cut of this dress and will definitely be making more.  I started out cutting a size 14, but once I’d sewed it up, attached the skirt and put the zip in I tried it on and it was too big, so I unpicked it all and recut the bodice to a size 12.  I sewed the side seams up at ½” rather than ⅝” and took in more fabric on the waist darts.  I think I might have also taken the shoulder seams up as well.  I bought the fabric from A One on Goldhawk Road and could have just got this dress out of 3 metres except for the fact that I was picky about the pattern placement on the front bodice – but for a plain fabric, or one with a small all-over pattern 3m would be enough.

B5748 red roses

Dress number two is a New Look pattern 6723.  Again I cut a size 14 and had to cut it down to a 12.  I’ve done this a few times now, Partly because I’d rather cut too big and then take in, than cut too small and end up with a dress that I can’t wear.  Also, I think I had in my mind that because the Elisalex in size 14 was such a good fit, that is the size I should cut for everything.  But now that I’ve made a few dresses I feel more confident that, as long as there is enough wearing ease, a 12 will be fine, at least with the patterns from the big pattern companies.  The small independents don’t seem to follow the same sizing schemes so I’ll cut whichever size I think will be the best fit for those patterns.

Pink pansies

I didn’t bother to interface the neckline on this dress and I also fully lined it and made the sleeves a bit longer.  The fabric was a 3 metre coupon (not sure what the English word for this is – a 3m cut length) from Classic Textiles on Goldhawk Road.

Dress number three is another vintage reprint pattern, this time from 1946 – Vogue 8728.  And made with another 3m coupon from Classic Textiles.  I made the skirt 5” shorter than the pattern and actually cut this as a size 12.  It’s a reasonably good fit although the neckline is quite wide, so I need to either wear a bandeau bra under it, or go out and buy one that has transparent shoulder straps.  I’ll probably make this again because I like the design, but I might try it with a size 8 neckband next time to avoid the bra strap issue.  I also might line the midriff section another time.

V 8728 yellow floral

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Hello again dear blog

Well, I don’t know where this month has gone so far, but I would like to get all the dresses I’ve made this year blogged about before 2014 so I guess I need to get a wiggle on and post more frequently  :-).  I’ll start with Elisalex from By Hand London.

I made two of these one after the other back in August.  I love this pattern, it is such a flattering style.  I’ve since made another one and got the fabric ready to cut out for a fourth but they will be for another blogpost.

Both are a straight size 14 and fit really rather nicely thank you.  Sewing the princess seams was a bit of a faff if I’m honest, but once they’re done it’s downhill all the way with the rest of the sewing.  I also cut them 7” shorter than the pattern which meant that I needed less than 2 metres of fabric.

The first one is made from fabric which I bought in Fabricland.  Their website is really not a joy to behold, but they do have a good selection, it’s reasonably priced and the shops are well worth a visit if you happen to be in the vicinity.


The fabric for the second one I spotted in Fabricland months ago, before I had started sewing again.  I’d gone into the shop to get some buttons, or something, and it was on a stand at the front of the shop and caught my eye.  I did fleetingly think, hmm, I could make a skirt out of that, but having had to wean myself from buying yarn because it’s just. so. lovely. and then once I’ve got it home and stopped petting it wondering what I’d actually make with it, I didn’t want to fall into the same trap with fabric, so it stayed on the roll.  Of course, once I’d made my first Elisalex, and also by this time seen a dress made up in this fabric in Brighton for over a £100, I decided I should really go and buy a couple of metres.  Well obviously because I hadn’t bought it when I first saw it, when I went back to buy some they had sold out so that was the end of that idea.  Until… I spotted the end of a roll in Toni’s on the Goldhawk Road in London.  More expensive (actually it would be fairer to say less cheap) than Fabricland, but still nowhere near £100 for a dress, and in fact enough for two dresses.  Cue big smile and a purchase.  So, here is Elisalex number two.  I haven't decided what to make with the remaining fabric yet though, but that's a lack of decision that I can live with.


That’s it for this evening folks - if there are any folks reading this of course ;-).  Will aim to back again tomorrow.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Watch the birdie(s)

I do like me a bird print fabric, no particular reason that I can think of, I am not a twitcher (or twitterer come to that, yet), I just like bird print fabric.

So… here are three dresses which when I saw them in their respective shops I had to have.  The first one is a current season Cath Kidston which first came to my attention on Coopknits'  blog.  It’s the garden birds dress and gets a link because it’s still available.  I tried on both colourways and decided that the charcoal looked better on me, although I’d gone shopping intending to buy the olive/khaki version.  I love this print, and inspired by Dolly Clackett’s recent post about her mushroom dress I also bought some of the furnishing fabric – same print but a different background colour – although the birds are the same colours as on the rtw dress, just a bit larger.  Not sure which pattern I’ll use for this, possibly a sleeveless Elisalex, definitely NOT anything with a gathered skirt as it will be too bulky round the waist.  It may be months before I get around to making this up though.
Cath Kidston garden birds dress

Dress number two I got in White Stuff three or four years ago and it’s now a bit big on the chest as I’ve lost weight since then so I really should take it in a bit (it’s pinned at the back in the photo).  Haven’t yet added it to my enormo pile of clothes which need altering though.  I keep everything which needs altering or mending in a large blue Ikea bag next to my sewing area – thinking that if I can see it every time I sit down at the machine I might actually do some of it.  This only works very occasionally unfortunately, I’d probably be better off blitzing it in two or three sessions.  Anyway, I digress.

Skein Queen was wearing this dress at Unravel (she is on the left in the photo on Coopknits’ post, so we now have at least two dresses the same) and it was another case of see it, want it, buy it.

White Stuff birds dress

And the third one is a tea dress which I bought at Zegerman & Lusky in London this summer.  It’s by Vanity Project and I love it.  Unfortunately they don’t seem to do this style any more, but I have plans in my head to make something similar (actually probably several somethings similar) because it is such a flattering shape.  I also love love LOVE the fabric and am very tempted to buy some and make another dress in a different style from it.

Vanity Project tea dress

Vanity Project tea dress back view

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Oranges and lemons

Yes, there are an orange dress and a lemon yellow dress coming up.  The orange one is Vogue 8789, I can’t remember when I bought this, but it was one of my first pattern purchases.  I like the neckline and kimono sleeves and the fact that the bodice is cut on the cross – I think I’ll probably make one of these out of tape measure fabric at some point.  I altered it to put the zip in the back but I won’t do that next time I make this (and there will be a next time – it was a quick make); I’ll also make the bodice a bit shorter and maybe take the bust darts in even more than I did on this version.  I also didn’t use the skirt pattern pieces; I think there would have been too much bulk around the waist if I had.  So the skirt is just two widths of the fabric (about 60” wide) and that is plenty full enough as it is quite thick cotton.


And now to the lemon.  This is the first dress I made back in June of this year when I returned to sewing.  I had seen lots of lovely Cambies by Sewaholic on the interwebz, decided I wanted one and that I had to start somewhere so that’s how this became the first dress I’d sewn for hmm… let’s say 20+ years.  The yellow seersucker fabric which I used I’d had for so long that I can’t remember when or where I bought it, and it was 36” wide which I seem to recall used to be a standard width for fabrics in my dim and distant youth, but not any more.  Because of this I didn’t follow the recommended cutting layout and used pretty much all of the 3m that I had.  I put a centred zip in this, and after it was finished decided it was time to buy an invisible zipper foot and all the dresses I’ve made since have had concealed zips.

This is such a pretty pattern, I really like it a lot a lot a lot and will definitely make more.  Although not in the depths of winter.  But come next spring – oh yes, I have lots of fabric permutations in my head already.

Yellow A-line Cambie

Monday, 11 November 2013

Anna the first

On Saturday I took part in a sew-along for the lovely Anna dress at the newly opened Anthropologie shop in Guildford.  There were 8 of us and Elisalex and Victoria of byhandlondon were there to help and answer questions.  We all started from scratch, so there was fabric to be chosen - we all chose the same one - and then cut out.  Everyone made really good progress with their dresses and by the end of the afternoon I’d got most of it done.  Once home I put in the zip, hemmed the skirt and did a few little bits of finishing off et voilĂ  my first dress in a day!  I’m really pleased with this, it fits beautifully and is a very flattering silhouette.  There will definitely be more Annas in my sewing future!

Spurred on by this, I finished another dress on Saturday and two more on Sunday, although I should point out that they were all mostly done – I don’t sew at the speed of light.  So, all in all an excellent sewing weekend.

Anthro Anna

Post the first

Well, I've been thinking about starting a blog for ages, and now finally, I've set one up.  Just need to learn how to use it now!