Sunday, 4 October 2015

The Magenta Addams Dress

This dress was finished two weeks' ago, but I'm only getting around to blogging it now due to all the work I was getting done in my house that I mentioned in my last post.  The work is  finished, and is lovely; but, oh my goodness, the mess was unbelievable!  I feel like all I've done this week is clean!  I had the presence of mind to cut out two jersey tops, Bronte and Agnes, and have been working on them on and off.  They got finished yesterday, and you can see them on Instagram here and here.

Anyway, back to the dress.  I have to talk about the fabric first, because I love it.  It's from My Fabrics and is called Bi-Stretch Gabardine.  As it's name suggests, it's gabardine with a bit of stretch because it has some spandex in it.  It's lovely to work with, and also to wear. This colour is called purple, but is definitely more blue.  I also have it in a rust red shade, and I think I'll make a long sleeve Sew Over It Vintage Shirtdress with it.

I drafted this from my block, and it was inspired by a dress I saw in the internet (which I can't get a link to work to!).  I loved the collar, and the shape of the dress, but it had princess seams, and I wanted to experiment with gathers under the bust.  Also, I loved that it was a bit Wednesday Addams/Magenta from The Rocky Horror Show, hence the name that my sister came up with last night.

The back has darts, and there are shoulder darts underneath the back of the collar.

I think my favourite thing about this dress is the sleeves, because they turned out exactly how they were in my head.

I slashed and spread the sleeve head to make the puffy sleeve head, and also slashed and spread the main part of the sleeve to widen it.  Here's what my sleeve pattern piece looks like, complete with idiot guide instructions for my future self!

The elasticated cuff is created using a 1 1/4 inch hem.  I pressed it up, then turned it in on itself and sewed it, leaving a gap for the elastic.  I was trying to work out how to best do this, and remembered that that is how the sleeves are finished on Megan Nielsen's Darling Ranges dress, so I just copied the instructions off it.

The collar was made from some white peachskin fabric from Minerva Crafts.  I didn't do a great job on pressing the seams, but the fabric was a bit tricky to work with, I can live with it though.  I think a point presser/clapper would have helped because it was tricky to get the iron into the ends of the seam, so I may have to ask Santa for one. 

The neck is faced with some white bias tape.  I thought it would be less bulky than a facing, and the white tape works well with the white collar.


I flipping love this dress, (as you can probably tell!) and am already planning a sleeveless pinafore version.

Have a great week,


Saturday, 19 September 2015

Annalotte Dress

I'm going to start off by saying that this dress is just not as great as I was hoping it would be, but I do like it!  It's a pattern mash of the By Hand London Anna bodice, and the Charlotte skirt.  I've seen loads of lovely versions, and thought it would be a good replacement for this Elisalex dress.  In fairness, I wasn't too thrilled with that dress either (bad fabric), but it didn't stop me wearing it for two winters!


The things I don't like are the bodice darts and the waist.  I had drafted the bodice from my Craftsy drafting class block, and made this Anna-Lou dress with it.  I've never been entirely happy with where the waist sits on that dress; but, of course, I didn't change it on my pattern piece...  Also, I think the top of the bust pleats are too close together.  It's not noticable on the Anna-Lou dress because of the spotty fabric, but I definitely notice it on this red cotton sateen.  This is the same sateen that I used for my Arielle skirt; sadly, it wrinkles like nobody's business.  I can live with it though, and it will be grand with a cardigan, but I shall be going back to the original pattern from now on.



But there is one thing about this dress that I absolutely love, and that is the accordion pleat that I drafted for the back of the skirt - which turned out to be more difficult to photograph than sew! 



I have made one Charlotte skirt as on the pattern, but it has only been worn a handful of times because I keep ripping the split at the back.  It turns out that I am utterly incapable of walking in a pencil skirt!  I drafted the pleat using the Craftsy class "Pattern Making Basics, The Skirt Sloper", and it was really easy to do.  Also, I am now a big fan of spray starch, which I used to press the pleat, and will be using on the rest of it too.

In other news, this morning I had to (brace yourselves...) tidy up the attic/sewing room.  It was neither fun, nor pretty; but it's done.  The reason is that I am getting the bathroom replaced next week, and the workies need access to the water tank in the attic.  The house is going to be upside down, because I am also getting a new kitchen floor and ceiling too.   

Wish me luck!  And have a great week,


Sunday, 6 September 2015

Tartan Shirt Dress

I'm blogging this out of order of making because I have another dress that was finished before this one, but I don't love the photos of it, so the tartan dress is going first.  And, also, because it is the tartan dress of amazingness!

The idea for this dress came from a similar tartan dress I spotted on the interwebs.  The tartan on it was Royal Stewart, and I found this Mini Royal Stewart tartan at UK Fabrics Online.  It was a total bargain at £4.99 a metre and 150cm wide, so I ordered 3 metres, and have enough left for a skirt.

The bodice is the same as my Poppies Shirt Dress, and the skirt is from my Hawthorn dress.  I wanted to try a separate bias cut button placket, and although it gave me a few headaches (I even dreamt about it!), I'm delighted with how it turned out.

I couldn't find anything about drafting separate plackets (bias cut, or otherwise) in any of my drafting books, and the only pattern I had with a separate placket was McCalls 6696.  I couldn't really make sense of the instructions on attaching the placket - although I think it would have made more sense if I actually had the cut out fabric in my hands - so, predictably, I winged it.

I won't bore you with my first idea, it was weird and difficult to explain; my second idea was a bias cut front and a straight grain back, which you can see below.  I interfaced the bias cut placket, and am very please with how it turned out.

I also made a bias cut cuff for the sleeves.

I ended up cutting it all out on a single layer so I could match the stripes; and as time-consuming as it was, I'm glad I did it. 

I really love this dress!  I can see it becoming a big favourite to wear in the winter, but I am still subbornly holding out and wearing my summer dresses.  They, and my sandals, don't get put away until the end of September!

Have a great week,


Monday, 31 August 2015

My "The Made Up Initiative" pledge

I'm sure you've seen Karen's "The Made Up Initiative" by now; it's been all over the blogs.  As someone who has a sleeping disorder called reading, how could I not join in!

My pledge isn't very exciting - I wasn't up for a big project after The Coat - so I pledged to make a new cover for my sewing room ironing board.  Back in February, when I was making the Baby Star Quilt, there was an unfortunate incident with the iron versus some double-sided interfacing, which resulted in a red hot sticky mess on my ironing board.

You can maybe make out a star shape in the middle of the interfacing gunk!
The obvious solution would have been to buy/make a new cover... but I didn't bother, and put some fabric scraps over the sticky bit.  Result - every time I ironed something, the fabric scraps would lift off with whatever I was pressing.  This got very old, very fast.  Still I did nothing!!

In May, Tilly And The Buttons posted this handy tutorial on how to make a new ironing board cover.  I thought, "what a great idea, I must do that", I even added it to Pinterest!  In June, Ruth was having a de-stash, and gave me some wax cotton that would have been perfect - still no ironing board cover!!


It took The Made Up Initiative to give me the kick up the bum that I needed.  And you know what, it took about 45 minutes to make!

And once it was finished, I was so pleased with myself that I made some Margot pyjama bottoms with the rest of the fabric!

I've been using my new ironing board cover for about a week now, and am frankly flabbergasted that I put up with the old one for so long.

I'm looking forward to seeing what everybody makes for their pledges.  Good luck with your project if you are taking part!


Monday, 24 August 2015

Deer and Doe Pavot Coat

If you follow me on Instagram, you will see that my Deer and Doe Pavot coat was finished over a week ago, and I'm only getting to take photos of it today!  I'm not going to lie, this was a bit of an epic make.  It was entirely my fault though for wanting to add welt pockets and a lining.


The coat itself was pretty easy and quick, to make.  My fabric is Cotton Twill from My Fabrics.  I bought 2.5 metres, which was plenty.  The only alterations I made to the fit were to take 1/4" off the lower half of the back bodice centre seam, and shorten the sleeves.  I didn't change the length of the bodice at all, so would advice the rest of the sewing world to measure the bodice length and add a bit in, because no-one is a short as me!

The pattern instructions are very scant, as seems to be the way with Deer and Doe patterns. It was easy to put together though, and as it is an intermediate pattern, then I suppose there is an assumption that the sewist will kind of know what they are doing!  I find it bit frustrating that Deer and Doe instructions are not so comprehensive though.  Maybe I've been spoiled by the wonderful, indepth, instructions on other indie patterns; but for the pattern price, I would expect a bit more.  I think I'm being a bit moany though - sorry about that! 

I made one inseam pocket (as on the pattern) on my toile, but didn't love it.  So I decided to make single welt pockets.  Never again!!  I'm not really pleased with them, but they could have been a lot worse.  I googled "how to draft single welt pockets", and came up with absolutely nothing.  I did find this youtube video on sewing them which has some measurements in it, so used it.  I also found the welt pockets page on the Colette Patterns Anais sewalong very helpful.  But it didn't help that I got my pocket pieces mixed up, and had to unpick everything, which took ages.

I made this coat to replace an old raincoat that must be about six years old.  I am sick looking at that coat, I don't like the colour, the lining is ripped and I can't be bothered to fix it; but it fits.  After my welt pockets were finished, I had a look at my old coat, and it turns out that it has what I am calling faux welt pockets.  The coat front has a princess seam running from the shoulder to the hem, and the pocket is attached in the seams with the welt over the top.

You can see how the pocket is within the princess seam, and the pocket flap extends out from the centre front.
It looks like it's similar to the Sewaholic Robson coat.

I've now fallen down a coat pattern rabbit hole, and stumbled across Vogue 9040.  I love View A, and the pockets are brilliant.

Vogue 9040, view A

Also, it turns out that there is a Craftsy class on making it.  Another one for the wish list!!  But I'm getting off the point... 


The pattern doesn't have a lining (why?!), so I drafted one using this brilliant tutorial from Grainline Studios.  It was really easy to follow, and draft.  Cutting out the slippery lining was a bit tricky though.  I had originally planned to use some red and white polyester from my stash, but then I wasn't sure if it went with the purple fabric.  I asked Andrew, expecting lots of "umm, I've no idea!", but he glanced at it for about half a second, and said "No!".  He was right though, and I ordered some cream and black polka dot polyester on ebay.  I've had success with using the gelatin treatment on slippery fabric, but didn't want to use it on this because it would have meant having to wash the coat after finishing it.  I didn't want to do that, even though the purple fabric is machine washable.  I shall have to research this a bit, and if anybody has any tips for pre-treating lining fabric, please let me know!  I then used this brilliant tutorial from Grainline Studios on sewing the lining together.   

This is the smug face of someone who lined their coat and managed to chop a bit of the photo off!
My buttons are from Textile Garden (mine are the 25 mm size), and I flipping love them!  I would have loved to have used horizontal buttonholes, but the placket wasn't wide enough, and a thing that I though was weird was that the button placement, and not buttonholes, were marked on the pattern.

I love my coat though, because, come on, I made a coat!!  Take a look at that collar,


and the top stitching.


I used the edge of the satin stitch foot as a guide for the top stitching.

I'm now wondering if I can use this pattern as a starting point for other coat designs, instead of having to fit another pattern.  I'll definately not be doing welt pockets or bound buttonholes though!!

Have a great week!


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Poppies shirt dress

My new-found love of drafting collars continues with this dress.  This time I made a shirt collar, after being delighted with the success of the shirt collar that I drafted from my pattern drafting class

The fabric is the last of the fabric that I bought when I was visiting my friend in England.  It was £6 per metre, and I bought 2.5 metres.  Here is what it says on the selvedge - "Nottinghill, Joel Dewberry for Freespirit Westminster Fibers Pristine Poppy".  I didn't bother trying to match the print because I didn't think it was necessary, and it turns out I was right!

To attach the collar, I used the method from my Granny's Simplicity sewing book, which is the same as Four Square Walls excellent tutorial.

I have to admit that I got pretty fed up with this dress about half way through though.  I had some problems fitting the skirt, which is the full skirt from McCall's 6696 - I finally caved and bought this pattern after seeing so many lovely versions.  I forgot just how much ease there is in the Big Four patterns, and traced and cut my waist size - and it was huge!  After a lot of pinning the pleats together on the pattern pieces, and eventually basting the whole dress together, I got it sorted out.

Then there were the thirteen buttonholes. I knew the automatic buttonhole on my machine would throw a wobbly at that (as seems to be their way); but I sucked it up, put an episode of Miss Fisher on Netflix*, and got on with it.  My machine was very kind, and made about nine buttonholes before giving up, which was enough to sew on some buttons and try it on.  And I was delighted with it!  Especially as I wasn't sure if I liked the fabric; but I think that's quite a common thing with me - I just get tired of looking at the same fabric when I'm working with it for so long. 

And while I'm talking about buttonholes, thank you to Emmie for the comment about horizontal versus vertical buttonholes in my last post.  I again used horizontal buttonholes, and this time used 1cm buttons.  This made a big different for the number of buttons that I could fit on the bodice.  I also lengthened the bodice by an inch, and now the length is perfect.  You can see in the below photo that my hand is on my natural waist, which is where the waist seam is too.  Hurray!

I didn't use the McCall's bodice, but instead drafted mine from my block, and didn't do the yoke and gathers at the back.  I also made a fold-over placket, instead of a separate placket.  I drafted this from the Craftsy Pattern Making Design: Collars And Closures class.

I'm delighted with how my dress turned out, and even decided that it could be a replacement for this much-loved Anna dress with a gathered skirt, which had definately seen better days and has gone the way of the recycling bag.

In other news, I am now off work for two weeks (hurray!), and have decided that the time has come to make a coat.  I'm using the Deer and Doe Pavot pattern, which is a happy coincidence, as apparently pavot means poppy - I'm hoping that's a good sign!  I've made a toile, and the only thing I had to alter was to shave a bit off the centre back seam and shorten the sleeves.  Yey to a pattern company that fits me from the packet!  But, me being me, I can't make the pattern as it is, and want to add a lining and welt pockets.  Here's a not very good phone photo of my toile.

I got it cut out yesterday, and here's how much I did last night.

Due to a last minute change of plan re the lining fabric, I can't do any more until I get the new lining fabric that I ordered yesterday. But I will try and remember to put some progress photos on Instagram if you want to have a nosey.

Have a great week,


*Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries is my new favourite show, but sadly I have finished watching both series, and can't find out when series three is to show in the UK.  And if I sound all modern with my Netflix business; I have to say that I didn't exactly know what it was until about a month ago!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Sew Over It - Vintage Shirt Dress

This is some of the fabric that I bought while visiting my friend in England, and I had planned to make another Simplicity 2444.  I was inspired by Lara's gorgeous button-back version, and had even bought buttons to match; but after the success of drafting my own collars, the plans got changed, and I made the Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress.


I drafted the bodice from my block (and am still quite staggered that it worked!), and the skirt is from the pattern.  The instructions were really easy to follow, especially on the collar, as I hadn't sewn one like this before.

I mentioned in my last post about my problem with the gaping placket - I added a buttonhole as suggested by Knitlass (thank you!) using Handmade Jane's tip, which was inspired by Emmie's tip - and it made a big difference.  So I thought I'd try horizontal buttonholes, just to see how they turned out; I'd spotted them on Clarinda Kaleidoscope's version, and liked the look of them.  And the interesting thing is that they didn't gape as much as on the chambray Hawthorn dress.  I mentioned this to Andrew (who is not a sewing expert), and he said, "maybe it's the fabric".  Now, this was said just to agree with me in my general sewing ramblings, but I think he was onto something!  This fabric is a woven cotton, and the chambray is definately a slightly looser weave.

I cut this out before the Hawthorn dress was finished, due to running out of thread, so obviously hadn't got to wear the Hawthorn yet.  And something that I've noticed is that the waist is a bit high.   In the photo below my hand is at my waist, which is about level with the fourth button down (I missed the fifth buttonhole when I was buttoning it up!).  The waist seam is about 1 inch above the fourth button.  I can live with it on this dress though, and will add a bit of length to my bodice block.  I'm hoping this will resolve my problems with buttonhole placement, and I will be able to make room for that elusive fourth buttonhole.


I didn't realise the collar was caught up until I looked at my photos!

I love this dress!  The fit is brilliant, and I'm delighted with my print matching. I had 2.5 metres of fabric, which was 45 inches wide, and just managed to squeeze my dress out of it with only scraps to spare.  The fabric is Amy Butler, the pattern is called Angelica, and I got it for £6 per metre.

My favourite bit is the collar.  I'm am over the moon at having finally made something other than a flat collar, and my next dress will have a shirt collar.  It will be made with the last of my fabric that I bought in England, and I originally had different plans for it too.  I'm spotting a theme...

Have a great week,