Friday, 22 July 2016

Ginger Flares

The Ginger jeans pattern was on my radar from when it was published, I loved the skinny version but just didn't see myself making it.  I already have skinny jeans that fit, but prefer more boot cut jeans.  But when I first eyeballed the flares expansion, I nearly fell of my seat!  Big 70s flares a la Led Zepplin - yes please!!


First thing to do was find the fabric.  I spotted this pair that Maeve made on Dress Fabrics blog, and ordered the fabric from the shop.  This fabric is gorgeous, it has 5% stretch and the colour is lovely.  The zip came from my stash, buttons and rivets from ebay (more on them later), and the pocket lining was left over fabric from this dress. It turns out that I have a lot to say about these so I'll break it down.



I didn't make a toile as I didn't have any other fabric that was suitable.  Instead I took some measurements from another pair of jeans that fit me well.  The measurements I took were:

Hip - widest part
Top of front waistband to bottom of crotch  
Top of back waistband to bottom of crotch

Using the finished measurements on the pattern, I picked the closest size, and drew in the stitching line on my pattern (which was the PDF so I was happy to scribble on it).  From this I was able to work out the above measurements on the pattern, which, happily, turn out to be pretty much the same 

I knew I would have to shorten the legs considerably, and the pattern says to shorten/lengthen the legs from the knee, but I didn't, and I'll tell you why.  Being petite, I find that any regular length trousers with shaped legs end up with the knee being too low on me.  As these jeans are all about the shape, I wanted the knee in the right place, so took these measurements from my old jeans:

Crotch to knee
Knee to hem  

I then ruled a line 2 inches above and below the knee - it was 2 inches because that's the width of my ruler.  I then shortened crotch to knee, and knee to hem to my two measurements.  I had to redraw the cutting lines, but below the knee they matched exactly with a smaller size, so it was easy.



Sewing these was really easy as the instructions are brilliant, as is the sewalong.  The only thing I would do differently, and I'm being really picky,  would be to shorten the width of the interfacing on the right front zip extension.  The instructions say that when you have attached the zip guard to the right fly extension, you then trim a bit off the edge.  Which I did, but then the edge of the interfacing was showing behind it.  I added some bias tape as suggested in the instructions, but next time I will make that bit of interfacing narrower.

You can just about see the interfacing at the bottom right of the zip extension.
I also unpicked my zip and sewed it again, but this was personal choice.  I had sewn a few fly zips before, but they are always a bit confusing.  The instructions said to line up the zip teeth anywhere between right up against the centre front, to (at the most) 3/8" away.  I erred on the side of caution and went with 3/8", but then decided 1/8" would be better because the zip pull was too close to where the top of the top-stitched curve would be on the front.  Which brings me on to top stitching...

Top Stitching

Ah, top stitching, you fickle mistress...  What can I say about top stitching?  Well, I kept telling myself that if you're not unpicking it, you're doing it wrong.  I used two spools of top stitching thread, and there were honestly a few inches left on both.  Admittedly, a fair bit of this was practising, and deciding on a design for the back pockets, but a lot was user error.  Here are my top stitching top tips:

1.  Remember to change the stitch length to 3.5 (or whatever your preferred length is) when top stitching.  I kept forgetting.  Yeah...

2.  When you basted the outside seams together to check the fit, and lowered the thread tension to make removing the basting thread easier, REMEMBER TO TURN THE THREAD TENSION BACK TO NORMAL!!!  I forgot.  Then tried to sew on a back pocket, then wondered why my machine, and then I, were having a total meltdown.


Top stitching the belt loops wasn't fun either.  It really didn't like all the bulk at the top of the waistband (the bottom of the loop was ok).  So I threw it out to Instagram, and both Manju and Nicole suggested using normal thread in the same colour as the top stitching thread.  This is genius people.  Genius!!  The two top stitching thread belt loops took forever, with much unpicking - the four normal thread belt loops took ten minutes and not a stitch ripper in sight.

The belt loop on the left was stitched on with normal thread, and the one on the right with top stitching thread.


The pattern calls for five belt loops, but I used six because I wanted two on either side of the centre back instead of one on the centre back.  You can see that some of my top stitching is coming undone in the centre back seam, but I'm still waiting for another spool of thread that I ordered on ebay, then I can fix it.

There was much procrastination about the design for the back pockets.  In the end I took inspiration from this pair made by Heather Lou, and used a loop decorative stitch that is on my machine.  I also used it on the inside at the top of the right leg, and bottom of the left, because - why not?


I wish Heather Lou had posted this before I started the top stitching.  The bit about the stitch ripper nearly made me choke on my tea when I was reading it on my phone in work!!  Wise words people! 

The pattern calls for a 5 " zip, which I bought, but I had a 4" zip in my zip box and it turned out to be the perfect length.  Which is just as well, because I didn't fancy having to shorten a metal zip.

I had got some random buttons and rivets on ebay, but they turned out to be rubbish.  Three of the buttons bent or broke when I was hammering them in, and in the end Andrew put the fourth one in using a vice.  The rivets refused to attach at all.  Again I threw it out to Instagram, and Sian suggested MacCulloch and Wallis, but the postage turned out to be nearly the same as the buttons and rivets!  Maeve suggested Hemline buttons, so I got some of them and some rivets. 

Making jeans gets a bad rap as being difficult, it really isn't, but I'll tell you what is - putting in those blinking rivets!!  The best thing I found to use was one of these hole punchers for putting holes in belts.

I have only put three rivets in at the coin pocket and outside edges of the front pockets.  I'm going to see how they hold up in the wash before I put them on the back pockets. 


I also made this shirt to go with them because I thought the fabric had a 70s vibe to it.  If it looks familiar, it's because it was left over from my Buchanan dressing gown. The blouse is self-drafted, and I went a bit overboard with the big lapels.  I had to trim them down, twice...

 I absolutely love my jeans!  They are so 70s that I had to get my big 70s sunglasses out.

Have a groovy weekend!!

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Liberty Carline Shirtdress

At the minute it feels like all I've been making is shirtdresses, but a look back over my posts has proved me wrong.  There have been a lot of blouses and shirts, so maybe it's just all those buttonholes.  Anyway,  this most definitely is a shirtdress, and it's a beauty, even if I say so myself!


This dress is all about the fabric, which is Liberty Carline.  I've seen so many gorgeous dresses made from this fabric.  I was going to link to some but there are too many, so here's a google image link which includes some of my favourites.  I have to mention these two dresses (here and here) as my two recent favourites though.



My fabric was bought on the internet last year and was sold as red, but when I got it, it was most definitely pink.  I was a bit disappointed as I'm not very fond of pink, but I absolutely love this print, and there are enough red tones and green in it to counteract the pinkness.  Also, I was a bit concerned that it might clash with my red hair, but I decided to embrace the clashing in a devil-may-care style!


Having drooled over the above-mentioned gorgeous makes, I knew that there was no point in using a pattern with detailed style lines, as they would get lost in the print.  So I went with my shirtdress bodice, and used the full skirt from good old McCall's 6696.  The collar and neckline is a follow on from this blouse, because I loved how it turned out.  I cut the upper collar in two pieces so I could get the small flowers on the front collar edges, but forgot that my hair won't cover that back seam just now!


Sewing it up went well, the only thing I stalled on was the buttons.  I had wanted buttons to match the colours in the flowers, but they turned out to be difficult to get.  The buttons I used were the only ones that I could find.  When I went to do the buttonholes, I decided that I didn't really love these buttons, and thought cream buttons would be nicer.  Cue another button hunt, but I ended up going back to the pink buttons.  They are a bit too small though, and therefore fiddly to do up.

I absolutely love this dress, and would be very happy to get my paws on some of this fabric in red.  I've also seen some dresses made up in purple, so if anybody knows where I can get it, please share.




Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Hemingway Fabrics Shirt Dress

This is a self-drafted dress made from Hemingway Design fabric.  This fabric range was released about two years ago, so never let it be said that I will rush into using something!  I also have another piece which is red, but can't make my mind up about exactly what to make with it.


Anyway, I was a bit disappointed when I got this because it looked more green on the internet, and is more blue in real live -which is probably why it took me so long to use it.  The colour is lovely, but I'm a bit pale for blue, so I decided it wouldn't be a disaster if this didn't work out.  

Also, this fabric is a bit crispy.  Once this dress was finished, I washed the red fabric and then put it in the tumble dryer, which has softened it beautifully.  I washed this dress and tumble dried it for 30 minutes, and it's softened a bit.  I might try it again to see if it helps some more.  All these photos were taken before I tumble dried it, and I think the crispness shows, especially in this photo.


The collar is a follow-on from this blouse, as I wanted to make a few tweaks to it.  I lowered and widen the neckline, so the curve at the front is more open.  The skirt is my old favourite half circle skirt.


The armholes are finished with some bias tape which I made from the same fabric.  I had done the same with the blouse mentioned above, but when I went to make the tape for this dress, I couldn't find the card that the tape maker was attached to.  You know the one that tells you what size of tape it makes?!  But then I had a brainwave.  I still had some tape left over from the blouse, so unfolded an end and measured it, so problem solved.

To stop this happening again, I made this little label on my machine.  I'm really quite pleased with this!


It sounds like I don't like this dress, but I really do!  I've worn it a few times, including on my birthday, but I just wouldn't say that it's one of my favourites.  Now I need to decide what to make with my red fabric.  

Predictably, it may become another shirt dress, feel free to suggest something else.


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!