Saturday, 11 June 2016

Gather - Buchanan dressing gown

I have something a bit different to show you today, which is the Gather Buchanan Dressing Gown.

I really needed a new dressing gown, as the one I had had most definately seen better days.  A few holes in the seams had been fixed along with the hem, and also the ties to hold the fronts together on the inside.  It looked a bit like this one that Kim Novak wears in Vertigo, except it was dark blue with white polka dots.

My fabric is some viscose from Textile Express, it was only £5 per metre, so I ordered three metres.  I think I used about 2 metres, and am hoping to be able to squeeze a sleeveless blouse out of the rest of it.  It's quite lightweight, and perfect for a summer dressing gown.  It's very fluid though, so I stablised it with some spray starch that I washed out once it was finished.  My top tip is to peg it on the washing line well out of the reach of paws.  As certain Mr Luke Spookling thought it would be a great game to start playing with the belt!    

Don't be fooled by that wee face.  The only time Luke behaves is when he's sleeping!

This pattern is lovely.  Firstly, I ordered it one lunchtime, and got it in the post the next day; and secondly, the instructions are brilliant.  The pattern suggests using a contrast fabric for the neckband, cuffs and belt, but I used the same fabric for everything.


I made View 1 in the smallest size, and it comes to just below my knees, but that's because I'm small.  The only mod I made was to the raise the pocket by 6 cms, as it was too low for me, and the way this pocket is constructed is very pleasing.

All the seams are french seams, which was very time consuming, but look lovely and were worth it for this fabric.  Also, I ended up top stitching all the edges and the joined seams on the cuffs, pocket and neck band for no other reason than I thought it looked nice.


Pocket top
I also added ties to the inside as on my old dressing gown.  As this fabric is so slippery, I felt it needed them, but they probably wouldn't be necessary on something like a cotton lawn.  I made them in the same way and width as the belt loops and hanging loop, and cut them 24 inches long.  The one on the side seam is level with the belt loops, and I eyeballed the one on the front, but really should have measured it up from the bottom as it is a bit high!  It was attached to the inside front before attaching the neck band.

Here are the inside ties in action - in case you're wondering what I'm talking about!  I wearing this with my sweetheart neckline dress as I photographed it at the same time.



This is one of those things that I didn't realise I didn't until I made it, because I've been wearing all the time - like right now.  That's always pleasing!


Saturday, 4 June 2016

Red crepe sweetheart dress

This dress was inspired by my black crepe dress.  I flipping love that dress, and it's all down to the fabric because it's gorgeous (I used the left overs to make this blouse).  As I said in the post about it, the fabric was only available in black, so I ended up buying some lighter weight red crepe for this dress.

I had originally planned a bodice similar to my tartan summer dress, with either a half circle skirt or the skirt from Tilly And The Buttons Lilou dress.  That went out the window when I got the fabric in my hands, as it is lighter weight than the black crepe.  A big skirt and a gust of wind would not have been a good match!


After a bit of pondering, I kept coming back to two sweetheart neckline dresses that I have saved on Pinterest.  The skirt is the same as my black dress.  I think one of the reasons why I like that dress so much is the shape of the skirt, and decided to try drafting a sweetheart neckline myself.  Princess seams on the front seemed like a good idea, so that's what I went with. 
The whole dress is lined; I used the red fabric, which is from Minerva Crafts, for the bodice and sleeves, and some white peachskin for the skirt.  The peachskin was from ebay, and is very lightweight, so really only good for lining. 


Those blinking sleeves fought me all the way though!  In order to line them, I cut four sleeves, sewed them together along the bottom edge, and turned them out wrong sides together.  So far, so good.  The trouble began when I tried to attach them to the bodice.  Even now I can't say exactly what went wrong, but it took a few goes to set them in.

I finished the inside edge with a strip of fabric cut on the bias (as on the cap sleeves on the Sewaholic Alma blouse), and stupidly sewed one strip to the outside edge!  I got there in the end though.

As with my black dress, this one works with sandals for the summer, and will hopefully also work with tights and shoes for the winter.  Another win!!


Sunday, 22 May 2016

The "Tartan isn't just for winter" summer dress

The inspiration for this dress came when I eyeballed the fabric on Dress Fabrics.  Maeve has some gorgeous fabrics, her customer service is tip top, and I may have already bought some denim from her to make jeans.  (I bought my fabric with my own hard-earned beans, and just think this is a great shop, and also I like to support local businesses.)


Anyway, back to the dress.  As soon as I laid eyes on the fabric this dress jumped, fully formed, into my head - I love it when that happens!  The tartan shouted pleated skirt, and I liked the idea of a By Hand London Anna bodice with it.


I didn't make the Anna bodice, but instead drafted this from my block; I rotated the bust dart into the waist dart, extended the shoulders to make kimono style sleeves, and that was that.  The skirt is pretty similar to the By Hand London Zeena dress skirt; but, oh my goodness, did I make heavy weather of those pleats!!


Won't bore you with the details, but there was a lot of crawling around the floor and pinning to decide how deep the pleats should be versus how much fabric I had.  It took way more time than it should have... 
In consequence, the skirt is about 1 1/2 inches shorter than my preferred length as it was the only way that I could get the checks to match at the waist.  It has the world's narrowest hem, and I was a bit concerned about the shortness.  But I have worn it, and nobody said that my skirt was half way up my bum, so it's obviously all in my head!

The fabric is cotton, and is a bit like a double gauze as it is tartan on one side, and purple on the other.  I bought 2 metres, and ended up with scraps after making the skirt.  It has a slightly lose weave, so it was a bit tricky to match up the stripes completely, but I love how it turned out.  Also I am very happy that my love of tartan can now extend to summer clothes, although I did get some grey and purple tartan during the week for a winter dress.


Have a great week,


Thursday, 12 May 2016

Deer and Doe Melilot shirt and Fumeterre skirt

After the success of my first Deer and Doe Melilot shirt, I cut out the second one straight away.  My inspiration was this gorgeous version by Camille who was one of the pattern testers.

The fabric is some white peachskin from Minerva Crafts that I stablised with spray starch.  This time I made View A with the long sleeves and concealed button placket.  The construction was straightforward, but my top tip is not to use a coloured chalk to mark the buttonholes on white fabric.  I used a Clover Chaco chalk pen which is yellow, and all I can say is thank goodness for the concealed button placket!!  I can still see some chalk on the buttonholes at the cuffs, but it's not the end of the world.



I had to wash this when it was finished to get the starch out, and thought the chalk would come out then, but it didn't.  So I put some Vanish stain remover on the chalk marks and washed it again.  They faded a bit, but I thought I could live with it.  So I took it up the sewing room in the attic to take some photos of it on the dress form, and accidently dropped it on the way down the ladders.  It met with the same fate as my first self-drafted shirt, as the sleeves hit the side of the ladder and got grease all over them!  So, more Vanish stain remover, another trip around the washing machine and the grease came out (thank goodness!).  So this was washed three times before I even got to wear it!




As suggested by Camille, I too thought this shirt would go well with the Fumeterre maxi skirt.  Green came into my head, so I ordered some green linen/rayon mix fabric on the internet.  Then I went looking in my great big fabric box for something else entirely, and came across this green linen-look cotton that I had completely forgotton about!  It was from My Fabrics, and was something like £3 a metre in a sale.

I have made this skirt before, and this time I went with View A which has buttons down the front.  I made the same mods to the waistband as on my first version, also I changed the construction of the waistband at bit by sewing the outside waistband to the skirt first, then sewing the inside waistband on.  The instructions have you do it the other way around, but I found it tricky to get a good finish on the first one.


I added the pockets from View B because I love them on my first skirt, and decided to add some piping to the pockets, waistband and button placket.  This meant cutting the placket separately, but it was easy to do.   I also put the buttons right down to the bottom as I don't really love a split in a skirt.

This was not without it problems too, when actual blood was spilled trying to get the elastic into the back of the waistband.  Let's just say it was Lynne versus safety pin, and safety pin won.  But thumbs heal and I didn't get blood on the fabric, so it all worked out ok.  My top tip is that if you have top-stitched the waistband, use half inch elastic...

I haven't actually worn this yet, because the weather has taken a turn for the better, and I have been able to wear some of my summer dresses this week.  So I have been hunting through the fabric stash to make some dresses.  

Long may the nice weather last!


Friday, 29 April 2016

Starlet Suit Jacket - Craftsy Class

I had loved this jacket since the class was first released, but didn't buy it then because I was pretty new to sewing.  I did manage to get it during a Craftsy sale, which is just as well as it doesn't seem to be available any more.  The teacher is Gretchen from Gertie's Blog For better Sewing, and if you like the look of the jacket, there is a similar pattern in her book, Gertie's Book For Better Sewing.


I finally decided to have a go at making it after buying this lovely lilac herringbone fabric on ebay for £33 for 5 metres.  It's 65% polyester and 35% wool and was a lucky find, and I knew I'd have enough fabric to re-cut if I needed to.  In the end, I didn't need to re-cut, and the jacket only took 2 metres of fabric.  I made a toile before Christmas, and then spent some time gathering together all the other bits and pieces that I needed.  I had planned to start it over Easter , which I did by cutting it out on Easter Sunday.


I'm delighted with how it turned out, and have a lot to say about it, so I'll break it down.

Hand Tailoring

I did all the hand tailoring when I was off work on Easter Monday and Tuesday.  It was enjoyable, although it did get a bit tedious towards the end.


This is both fronts with the pad stitching done on the lapels, and the roll line and edges taped.  I think the bit that turned out best was the under collar.  I didn't take a photo of it by itself, but it stood up beautifully after it had been shaped!


I think I will investigate some different hair canvases for my next coat.  I got this canvas on ebay, but if anybody has any recommendations, please let me know. 


The lining is some lilac peachskin.  This is what I had planned to use, but I couldn't find any on the interwebs.  I know!!  So I got some white instead.  Then I considered using some cream silk that I have, but it turned out that the hair canvas showed through, and there was a minor panic.  The good old Spinning Wheel in Belfast came to the rescue with two different shades of lilac peachskin.

Welt Pockets

I have come to the conclusion that I do not like sewing welt pockets.  They are fiddly and time consuming.  Also, my tablet computer threw a wobbly when I was at the crucial stage of sewing down the little triangles at each end of the cut into the jacket front.  It just refused to play my Craftsy class, and I ended up having to watch the rest of it on the tiny screen on my phone.

The right pocket turned out well, but I'm not so happy with the left one, and I'm fairly certain that I couldn't be bothered to sew welt pockets again.


Bound Buttonholes

These are made using the patch method.  I think next time I will use the welt method as I think it would give more even horizonal edges.


Shortened sleeves by 1/2" above the elbow dart to raise the dart a bit - and that was it!!  It turns out coats are more forgiving in fit that dresses and blouses!  That said, if I made this again, I think I would go down a size at the shoulders and underarms.


The way the collar is attached is different to a dress or blouse, and unfortunately this bit of the class wasn't very clear.  It did reference an artical from Threads Magazine, which I found here, but predictably I didn't bother looking at it at the time, and just winged it!  It turned out ok though, and then I found some more references to this method in a couple of my books.  I'll know again though.

The under collar is cut on the bias, and the top collar is cut on the straight grain.
Setting in the sleeves

The class shows a method that I hadn't heard of before, which is to gather the sleeve heads using a strip of bias cut fabric.  It suggests using hair canvas or the coat fabric.  I was a bit sceptical about it, so cut out two sleeves heads and practiced on them.  I tried both hair canvas and the coat fabric, and ended up using the coat fabric.  


The strips are cut 2" wide and 12" long, and then you line the long edge of the strip up with the edge of the sleeve head.  Starting at the top of the sleeve head (the bit that lines up with the shoulder seam), you sew it in within the seam allowance - I think it was 1/2".  You stretch out the bias strip as you push the sleeve head under the foot.  I pushed the sleeve head a bit too much on one and got some puckers, but just unpicked and did it again.

I really wasn't sure how this would fit into the armhole, but it did!  There is a little bit of give if you need to stretch it out a bit, and I was delighted with how the sleeves looked.   

This was taken on my phone, but you can see the strip around the top of the sleeve head after the sleeve has been set in. 

Shoulder Pads

It wouldn't be me if there wasn't some overthinking involved, and with everything that's involved in making a jacket, it was quite a surprise to find out it would be on the shoulder pads.  I had bought some shoulder pads, but when I pinned them in I thought they showed though to the outside.  So I remembered this great post from Manju, and basically copied how she made her shoulder pads.

Then came the sleeve heads which fill out the very top of the sleeve.  I would have sworn there was a bit about sleeve heads in the class, but it turned out there wasn't!  After a lot of doubting my own mind, I realised that they were in another Craftsy class I have.  Then I couldn't decide if it was the right thing to do to add them.  Eventually (and be glad you don't live in the same house as me!) I thought I'd put them in because I could always take them out if I didn't like them.  

I forgot to take photos of all of this until everything was sewn in place, and even then this photo was taken on my phone.


I really enjoyed making this jacket, and it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be, but it definately helped to have a class to follow along with.  I'm already planning more coats after finding these vintage patterns on ebay.


The one on the left was £3.99 and is a single size pattern.  I think it is roughly the right size, but will make a toile first.  The pattern company is Le Roy Weldon, which I hadn't heard of before, but my mum said she remembered her mum having some of their patterns.  It's from the 1960s, and the price sticker in the top left corner say 5/9'; my dad said that worked out at about 35p.  The green coat in View B is the green winter coat of my dreams, and also the lady wearing it reminds me of my mum.   

The pattern on the left is from Family Circle which was a magazine that I remember my Granny buying.  This pattern was £2.50, and is a multi sized pattern.  I can see this in a charcoal grey or charcoal purple, although I think I would add buttons and widen the skirt on the back a bit.

Apologies for the slightly wind-swept photos, it's been very breezy today, but yesterday morning we had snow, so I shouldn't complain!  You've got to love the British weather!  And Monday is the May Day bank holiday, so it will be a long weekend of sewing for me.

Enjoy if you're off too!


Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Deer And Doe Melilot Shirt

As mentioned in this post, this is my first version of the Deer and Doe Melilot Shirt I really love the shape of this shirt, it's not fitted, but not too baggy either.  Shirt nirvana!

I made View B with the collar from View A.  I had a bit of trouble with the instructions for the button placket, but then I realised that I had cut it with the extra bit for the concealed placket on View A.  Once I'd trimmed that off, it was plain sailing.  That said, I made a toile, including one long sleeve, and the instructions for the single piece placket on the long sleeves were perfect. 

My fabric is some chiffon from local sewing chum Evelyn (thank you Evelyn!).  She got it on holiday last year, and said when she saw the 70s print, she thought of me.  There was exactly the right width and length for the short sleeves version, so it was clearly meant to be.

I used French Seams throughout, and attached the collar using this method.  I interfaced both sides of the collar and stand as the fabric is thin, and the print was showing through.

My good friend spray starch came to the rescue for stablising the fabric.  It definately helped with cutting out, although I think I would have been better off using my rotary cutter; and the starch also helped with stopping the fabric fraying so much.


There were a few mods - I moved the bust dart up by 1/2", and have shortened the long sleeve pattern piece by 1.5".  I didn't love the long shirt tail, and also it was just too long on me, so I shortened the back by 4" and the front by 3".

Melilot number two is nearly done, I just need to finish the cuffs and do the buttonholesThe fabric is some white peachskin that was going to be another version of my self-drafted shirt.  And I'm also planning to make a Fumeterre Skirt to go with it after finding some medium weight green cotton that I forgot I had!


In other news - I got my hair cut.  It wasn't supposed to be this short, but apparently this is what passes for "cut two inches off please" these days...  I don't hate it, and am getting used to it now, and also it looks much better in these photos that it does in my headAlso, if you follow me on Instagram you will know that my Starlet Suit Jacket is finished.  I need to take some photos of it, and write a post because I've plenty to say about it - all of it's good though!