Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Heather: August Sewing Roundup

August seems to be the month the sunshine forgot, so my sewing hasn't been the floral explosion you might have expected! Still lots of nice makes on this month's roundup, and glad I've finally been able to get out in this end of summer sunshine to take some pictures. I've been doing quite a lot of sewing for family this month, including a jacket, skirt and jumpsuit for my sister-in-law. Maybe she will let me share some pics in the future!



I decided to make some more Ginger Jeans this month. You may recall I made my first pair as my 'piece-de-resistance' at the end of my first year's challenge. I wear that pair all the time, so when Sew Essential announced the same denim was available in black, I jumped at the chance to make a second pair. Unfortunately, the path to good jeans did not run smoothly and I, rather over ambitiously, made the new pair a size smaller than the previous, to account for the amount the first pair stretched. Having had an exceptionally successful few hours at the sewing machine (who knew you could make jeans in under 4 hours?!), I was absolutely furious when I reached the first fitting stage, and they were so tight that the zipper broke (seriously, even the teeth fell out) when I tried them on. Lots of seams let out, a new, and repositioned, zip later and they are a pretty good fit, even if they did cause me some serious stress at the time. 
Doing my best teapot impression in my new Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans


I added some metallic top stitching to the pockets and some detail areas, and was very impressed with how well the Gutermann thread showed up on the dark background. (Still furious about the zip though!)

I stumbled across the Nina Lee London Kew Dress entirely by accident, and I had purchased this lovely parasol print cotton lawn with the intention of making a(nother) Sew Over It Vintage Shirt dress. But I immediately fell in love with the sleeves, and the slight high-low hem ,and the buttons and... well, you get the idea. So I laid the pattern out at about 4pm one afternoon, went to bed at 11pm and stitched the last of the buttons on before work at 6.30am. Mad? Maybe. But totally worth it for such a nicely fitting dress, and lovely to use up a good chunk of my inherited button stash in one go.

Nina Lee Kew Dress in floral cotton lawn

I liked the Kew Dress so much that I also decided it was the solution to my disastrous Seamwork Veronica Dress. I think you'll agree it's much improved?!


Here's my version of the Colette patterns Sencha Blouse, made for a work "away-day" as a smarter top to wear with jeans. The finished garment is actually much altered from the picture I have shared because, on completion, I realised that the bust-to-shoulder length was far too long and actually ended up strangling me a bit. Plus the difference between my bust and waist measurement is only a few inches, so I had to grade and move the majority of the darts to make it work. I actually ended up taking the back darts out completely.  I'm pleased with the finished top but it's very unlikely that I'll make another one. 
Colette patterns Sencha Blouse in printed linen from Weaverdee.


I'm totally head over heels for my next make; the Parrot dress, otherwise known as Butterick 6318. The pattern was free with Love Sewing last month, and I nearly didn't keep it. Undeniably the pattern is lovely, but I've had a few 'misses' from that kimono sleeve (see Veronica Dress above) and I didn't have a piece fabric 'in stock' for the 3m requirement. I spotted this parrot print cotton entirely by chance on the Fabric Guild Facebook page and chanced buying 3 yards (yes, yards, be careful when you place your order...!). 
I made quite a few adjustments to the pattern, shortening the bust to shoulder length on the front and back by an inch, shortening the skirt by 3.5", and cutting the skirt as a single piece, on the fold.
 Changing the skirt cutting layout was the biggest fabric saver, and despite the fabric only being 45" wide, I do have a small panel left at full width. The fit is excellent and I've worn it a few times already!

I've seen a few other blog posts about the lovely new Sew Over It Coco Jacket. It knew it was just exactly what I wanted when it was released with the PDF club this month, and I found the most beautiful wool remnant, just a metre, at lovely Fabric Corner which was made for this. I knew immediately that I wanted to take this with me on our upcoming holiday but also that I would want to be cosy enough to go without a coat. I decided to add a zip to my jacket, also cutting the centre front lining piece in the outer fabric to act as a facing. I'm already cutting out my second version of this in a gorgeous orange crepe which I'm looking forward to sharing with you!


Finally, I had a go at making the Jennifer Lauren Laneway Dress. You may recall I made a lovely dress in a pineapple print cotton earlier in the year, which was really lovely but didn't fit well at all; in fact I've only worn it twice in nearly six months as a result. 
I attended a funeral last week with a "no black" theme and decided that a remake of the pineapple dress would be a good option. The make itself was straightforward enough. I took a lot of measurements and decided not to alter the bust length, though in hindsight I definitely could have taken an inch out at the shoulder. The back length was spot on and no bulging zip, which is my bugbear. It was ideal for the funeral as it had nice big pockets for my tissues, and I will definitely think fondly of the person every time I wear it!

It actually looks much nicer on me than on the mannequin!! 

That's all for this month! Next month's roundup will feature a fabulous holiday wardrobe. Hope you're looking forward to it!

Last thing to do is to introduce the September Dressmaking Blogger Challenge. Of course, the only possible theme for September is... Back to School. 


As usual it's a just-for-fun challenge and you can share your makes on the Dressmaking Blogging Network Facebook group, or by using the hashtag #dressmakingbloggerchallenge. 

If you're coming along to the September Sew it Yourself Meetup (9th September), the challenge this month is "Zero Waste" so have a go at making a project that uses every  last inch of the fabric!

Happy Sewing!

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Heather: July Makes

July was another lovely month at the machine with a few makes for friends and family as well as a few pattern challenges of my own. 

First up, a few months ago I bought some lovely geometric floral print cotton from the Craft Outlet at Springfields Shopping Village in Spalding. It was always intended to be a Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress, but I hadn't got around to making it yet. I managed at last to make it along to the Lincoln Sew it Yourself meetup (only the second time this year!) and the challenge was buttonholes, so I decided to get on with it. I've made this a couple of times before and I didn't make any changes this time around meaning I was able to run in up in about 2.5 hours. At some point I want to figure out how to take some of the fullness out above the bust, but as I now have three of these dresses it's not exactly at the top of the sewing list! 



Modelling my dress in the gardens at Springfields. The staff at the store were delighted to see the finished dress!

My next make is my new Sew Over It favourite, the Juliette Blouse. I made this the day it was released through PDF Club in a gorgeous leaf print silk crepe from Fabric Corner, which frankly was like sewing with water, but totally worth it for the end result. 


By the time the pattern was released to the public I had also hacked a sleeveless version in white linen! 


And used the rest of the white linen for a simple plain white blouse, from a self drafted pattern, that I've been meaning to make for about 3 years. 



In fact I liked it so much I used the back sections in a hack with the bodice of the Penny dress to make this lovely longline shaped blouse which is a dream to wear for work. Plus it has hidden flamingos, which gives it extra added blouse points. 


I also made the first of my garments from the patterns I picked up at Sew Up North last month. The lovely New Look 6224 is absolutely perfect for this autumnal viscose from Fabric Corner. 


I took a bit of extra time adjusting the fit as the pattern was a 10-20; a bit big across the bust for me. I decided to shorten the bodice above the bust by an inch, front and back, as well as narrowing the back at the shoulder by an inch, tapering in to the waist. I graded the bodice down a size between the bust line and shoulder to get a closer fit. And finally I added some pockets, because frankly O don't know why patterns are ever released without them! (I did run into a challenge with the side zip, but got away with it with a shortened zip.) 


The alterations were totally worth it because it's probably one of the best fitting dresses I've ever made! I've worn it three times in a week and already planning another one. 

Remarkably, all of my other makes this month have been for other people! My sister-in-law picked the most fabulous floral printed denim for a Cleo, and I also made her a bright pink Etta dress, but you'll have to wait for a good picture of that one! 


A visiting friend expressed an interest in making some cushions for her garden, which heralded an impromptu sewing lesson that I was more than happy to give. We had fun with the pattern placement! 


And finally, my first foray into Childrenswear. My very good friend recently had twins and told me she wanted some more dresses for them to wear over the summer. No further excuses needed, I found a newborn pattern in an old Burda magazine and some adorable Benjamin Bunny fabric from the new Beatrix Potter range that is widely available at the moment. I bought a metre of complementary coral fabric and managed to make them 4 little summer dresses. 


They weren't especially difficult to make but I wanted them to last and be comfy, so I french-seamed them throughout and secured the facings with machine tacks. The bias binding on the armholes was pretty fiddly and I think I'd just line them if I make this style again. 


There are 7 buttons down the back of each of them and I have subsequently invested in a good thimble and a button sewing foot! 


Don't they look adorable?! I've definitely got the children's sewing bug so look out, all those friends with small people!


And finally, your Dressmaking Blogger Challenge for August is... "Wedding Season". Whether you're the mother of the bride or a member of the wedding band, we want to see your celebration makes.



As usual it's a just-for-fun challenge and you can share your makes on our Facebook group or online using #dressmakingbloggerchallenge. 

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With special thanks to Fabric Corner Lincoln for fabrics supplied for this month's makes. 






Sunday, 2 July 2017

Heather: June Sewing Roundup

Welcome back sewing fans, I'm really looking forward to sharing some of my favourite makes with you from June!



I'll start with my June #dressmakingbloggerchallenge dress. The theme for the month was "Garden Party" and my parents conveniently indulged the theme with a BBQ right at the beginning of the month;  a perfect opportunity to show off this lovely B5209 dress from the Butterick Retro collection. 
Butterick 5209

The fabric is makower cotton from Fabric Corner in Lincoln and it was a super straightforward one evening make. The bodice is fully self-lined which is worth noting if you're short of fabric, as this could easily be substituted for a complementary fabric. The pattern is also true to the vintage sizing so I ended up making a 12 and grading the skirt out to get a good fit. From the pattern diagram I hadn't realised that the skirt was gathered all the way round (the illustration makes it look as though it's only gathered at the middle of each section) and if I were to make it again I would alter the panels to achieve that look instead. I'd probably also take an inch out of the bodice length at the waist but I don't think this dress suffers for it.

My next super speedy make was for an unexpected night out. A sudden flash of mid afternoon inspiration led to 1m of this gorgeous sparkle print jersey being made into the lovely Vogue 1208 bow shoulder dress. The pattern is intended for stable woven fabrics cut on the bias, so it's a bit too big. Subsequently I didn't wear it on the night out but I promise to share a better picture when I do eventually wear it! 



Last month I mentioned that I was making an effort to fill some of the gaps in my work wardrobe. I snapped up this cocktail print fabric from Fabric Godmother within minutes of them posting it online (good job, as it sold out in minutes) and made the Simple Sew Pussy Bow Blouse (minus the body darts for a floaty fit) and old favourite skirt pattern Butterick 5466 which is my new favourite work outfit!

Simple Sew Pussy Bow Blouse and Butterick Skirt 5466
Well... it was my new favourite for all of a week until I made this New Look 6471 blouse in floral cotton lawn which I didn't want to take off! I can see my wardrobe being flooded with these.
New Look 6471
Continuing the black and white theme, this McCalls 7085 dress is made from quilting cotton from The Craft Outlet at Springfields Outlet in Spalding. They have hundreds of beautiful cottons at hugely reduced prices; worth a visit if you're in the area. This is the fifth time I've made a dress from this pattern and a close contender for my favourite. I shortened it a few inches and went for a more a-line skirt than previously, for a more 60s look. I quickly drafted the collar to top the dress off, and used a visible lace zip on the back, which I promise I'll share a picture of at some point soon!

McCalls 7085
Also in the amazing fabric selection at Springfields was this lovely Dashwood Suffolk Garden cotton that Mum picked out. I had intended to make her another Butterick 4443 but I needed to reshape the pattern, and when the Nina dress by Cotton and Chalk dropped through my letterbox it was decided that this was the better option for the fabric. 

Cotton and Chalk Nina Shirt Dress
I had seen a number of reviews online that said this dress came up large, and checking the finished garment measurements I could tell that even the size XS was going to be massive on Mum. Like me she also has a sway back so I altered the shape of the back panel and cut the size XS. Cutting the pieces presented an interesting challenge because I only had 3m at 45" wide. Most of the panels are godet/triangle shaped and the print is very directional so I had to be a bit creative with the cutting. I managed to add an extra inch to the sleeve length but hadn't appreciated that the dress itself is quite short. And it was still huge even in XS! I finished the dress with mismatch pink buttons which add a fun twist. Mum was very grateful, but I don't personally think it's one of my best makes, and I don't think she'll wear it half as much as the next make...

The Sew Over It Penny Shirt Dress has taken the sewing world by storm, being released right in the middle of the #sewtogetherforsummer Shirt Dress challenge. As a PDF Club member I got my mitts on the pattern a week early and knew straight away that I had the perfect fabric. Frustratingly, I didn't actually have enough of the perfect fabric because the dress has a half circle skirt, cut as a single piece on the fold (which is totally unnecessary in my opinion). Having sourced more fabric I still needed to put an extra seam in my skirt, not that you would know, in order to get my pieces out of the fabric. I think it would be just as easy to continue the facing through the waist into the skirt seam, which I'll maybe try in future.
 It's a pretty quick make with some lovely details at the seam placket and collar. I took the dress over to show Mum, and suggested she see what the fit was like so I could perhaps make her one in the future...
Sew Over It Penny Dress
... and it just suits her so well that I decided to leave it with her! I think it's such a lovely fit and the colours are perfect for her. She tells me she might wear it to the upcoming 1940s weekend in Woodhall Spa which will be ideal.
I made myself a replacement in some soft denim and stripe which is much more casual but really comfy for a lazy day round the house.


This is a good time to mention a couple of other lazy-day makes; the Seamwork Aurora Top (pictured) and Mesa Dress, which I shortened to t-shirt length. I've had a Seamwork subscription (<- referral link) for a while but have primarily made the Colette patterns which can be purchased for 3 credits. Seeing as I had 6 credits available I cashed 2 in to buy the top patterns. I made the two side-by-side and got them both finished in 90 minutes. A good top up of wardrobe separates. The keen eyed amongst you will spot this fabric from my Sister-in-Law's dress back in March- I had just enough left for this top and great to use up remnants too.
Seamwork Aurora Top
My final two garments to share this month have rocketed straight to the top of my favourites pile. First up is the By Hand London Orsola dress, which I totally fell in love with from the line drawing, so it was destined to be a good one. I had no idea how the fit would be, having been challenged by BHL patterns in the past, and I worried that the back wrap would not provide enough coverage for my curvy bum. A toile was necessary and seeing as I had also decided that I wanted to wear the dress to Sew Up North with my comfy orange pumps (Not even joking!), I chose a piece of lovely green viscose with an orange fleck from Montreux Fabrics for my practice run. I made a size 6 bust graded to a 14 waist and hip for extra bottom wrapping security. 

 I absolutely love this dress. My fears for the back wrap were unfounded- there is plenty of coverage even for my generous bottom, and the wrap shape through the back is so flattering! I could definitely have gone for a 10 waist but I'm happy with the skirt fullness.
By Hand London Orsola Dress
As it was intended only as a wearable toile, I have a few regrets about this make. I didn't bother to stay stitch any of the curves, and the soft viscose just grew and grew throughout the day. Typically, it didn't shrink back in the wash (they never do when you want them to), and had lost a bit of shape, so I have subsequently taken the shoulders up by 2", bringing the bust dart back up to my actual bust point, and shortened the back sections at the waist by 2" too. I also did some surgery on the rushed sections and it's now destined to be worn on a bi-weekly basis until it falls to pieces I think.

And finally... the totally lovely McCalls 7534 maxi dress in this floral scuba from the NEC Sewing Shows in March. I had exactly this dress in my head when I bought the fabric, but had been waiting for the perfect pattern to make it with. Honestly, the pattern itself is not particularly amazing, but it did the job and I'm really pleased with how this turned out!


And finally, here's the July Dressmaking Blogger Challenge: At the Beach!
We want to see your beach themed makes, whether that's a swimsuit, Sarong, sunhat or something else!



As always it's a just-for-fun challenge and you can share your makes using #dressmakingbloggerchallenge on Instagram or by joining the Dressmaking Bogging Network on Facebook. 

Thanks for reading. Happy Sewing everyone!!!


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Heather: May Sewing Roundup

Roll up, roll up! It's another sewing extravaganza! Somehow, despite an exceptionally busy month month both at work and play, I've managed to make a whopping 14, yes FOURTEEN, new garments. Grab your candyfloss, folks... we're ready to start the show...


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We start the month with the Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress. If I'm being entirely truthful I actually made the majority of it in April but it wasn't quite ready in time for last month's blog. I chose the Liberty Cotton Lawn from (ever fruitful) Fabric Corner in Lincoln and knew exactly what I was going to make with it. I've made this dress once before, with limited success after making some dubious alterations to the pattern. This time round I decided to make the dress as a straight size 8 without any alterations, and I'm really pleased with it.  


After a couple of wears, I would definitely shorten the front bodice across the collarbone as it's a bit gapey; and I have subsequently added two extra buttons at the bottom of the skirt after a slightly unfortunate gust-of-wind-and-first-day-in-nude-tights incident last week. 

I'm going to make another one of these for the #sewtogetherforsummer challenge, though I need to get my skates on!

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I picked up this next fabric, a lovely stripe and floral cotton, from Fabric Corner last summer, fully intending to make it into a pretty summer dress. Then, I wanted to make it into a night shirt. Then a few weeks ago I found some fantastic orange sweat-shirting (once again at Fabric Corner) and the decision was made... summer PJs! Over the course of two evenings, armed with a well fitting pair of Jack Wills PJ bottoms and my trouser block, the Tilly and the Buttons Fifi Pyjamas cami top, and a Burda raglan sleeve jumper pattern, I made these gorgeous summer PJs. I love wearing these and the fit is absolutely perfect for lounging!



The next make of the month was a really unusual choice for me; Vogue 1395, a slouchy wrap dress. I spotted the pattern on a reselling group on facebook for the bargain price of £2 and I was sufficiently intrigued to give it a go. I had picked up some fab printed polyester for my Birthday back in March and it seemed ideal for this make. 

As is so often the case with Vogue patterns, this was definitely not what I would call easy! There is a sweet back gather detail, not pictured, which requires significant dexterity (not to be attempted after a couple of wines, it turns out) and an awful lot of precision top stitching. The pattern also has a full lining, I can only assume because it's intended for more sheer fabrics. I wanted this dress to be cool for those warmer days we had in the middle of the month so I omitted the lining pieces and instead cut a very creative facing piece out of the absolute scraps of fabric I had left over. I was really proud of myself for getting this whole garment (include made up facings) out of 1.5m, seeing as the pattern requires 2.5m!

I'm happy with the finished dress though I'll be honest and say I'm not sure how much I'll wear it. Next time I would shorten the back by at least an inch and probably lengthen the skirt by an inch too. 

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Next up is a bit of a failed project. The lovely Simona from Sewing Adventures in the Attick sent me this lovely abstract poly from her destash, and upon first glance I knew wanted to make it up into McCalls 7094, the free blouse pattern from last month's Love Sewing magazine.

As nice a pattern as this is (and once again kudos to Love Sewing for the multi-sized patterns) I just don't think I'm a baggy blouse kinda gal. The neckline detail was really complicated and definitely not a beginner make. And although I'm really pleased with that part of the blouse, and the fit across the shoulders in size XS is exceptional... everywhere else it's just vast. Huge. Enormous. You get the idea. In a drapier fabric I think it could have worked really well but, sadly, after just one wear this has been relegated to the remake pile.

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Throughout the month I've been taking part in MeMadeMay (#MMMAY17) and whilst I haven't kept up with the pics on Instagram, I have successfully worn at least one hand made item every day throughout May. The idea behind the challenge is to help identify some of the gaps in your wardrobe, but I found it had the exact opposite effect. Having worked in retail for nearly 7 years my wardrobe is absolutely full to bursting with gorgeous, hardly worn high street clothes... which I don't wear! I really love wearing my handmade wardrobe and will turn to one of my own items over a ready-to-wear garment any day. So I had a clear out! A proper, bin-bags-and-stuff-on-ebay clear out. And it feels great! I now have just a handful of RTW garments in my wardrobe and I'm looking forward to filling that space with more handmade items. 

One gap I did identify, however, was in my work wardrobe. Last summer I made quite a few lovely floral dresses, but I didn't feel I had many items that were smart enough for work. Resorting to my favourite Butterick 6166 I made this birdy print jersey dress in about 90 minutes on the overlocker...


... and then did some remnant busting by making these two simple t-shirts from a Burda pleated roll neck pattern which is another tried and tested favourite. 


I also made this elephant print blouse for my work wardrobe, mashing up the Simple Sew Pussy Bow Blouse with a front button channel and some self-drafted sleeves. A very quick win!


(We're more than half way folks, I promise!)
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You'll remember previous blogs that I've made a few items for my sister-in-law, who is always appreciative of a wardrobe top-up! She spotted the Sew Over It Ella Blouse pattern when it was released last month and I made it up for her in this floral viscose as a surprise gift for her holidays. 

Apparently it's a great fit and she really likes it- every sewists favourite sentence. 

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I've been coveting the Butterick range of vintage style dresses by Gretchen Hirsch for several months now and finally bought the pattern in a half price sale last month. It was with dismay that I realised the pattern required 4 metres of fabric and, despite having a pretty healthy stash, I didn't have enough of anything that I could use to make this! Luckily there's a fabric shop just around the corner...


This Palm Tree print viscose was the perfect pick for this dress, and the pattern itself is quite an easy make. Unfortunately everything that could go wrong with this make, did. Having secured my 4 metres of oh-so-perfect fabric, I discovered that there was a very slight, but unavoidable, hole right in the middle of the design. Each skirt panel takes about a metre and a half of fabric, and with the amount of gathering you really wouldn't know it was there, but there was no working round it sadly. Next, I snipped through my stitching when clipping the neckline and the whole thing unravelled quicker than a ball of wool at the paws of a kitten. And then, just as I had finished and pressed the dress, and snipped off the last few stitches ready to get dressed for a night out... the zipper broke. Straight down the middle and no saving it. (As I had made the dress fit really rather well, I can assure you it was a pretty stressful experience getting out of it with no one else in the house too!) Furious, and without time to resolve the issue, I resorted to one of last year's sundresses and popped a new zip in the next morning as well as a hook and eye at the waist to support the weight of the skirts. Lesson learned.

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In the same stack of viscose temptation as the previous make, I also picked up this lightweight black viscose with an abstract check pattern which I made up into another tried-and-tested pattern, Butterick 6016. Perfect for a warm but grey day in the office!

And last but not least, hot off the machine this evening is this totally adorable Sew Over It Tulip Skirt in some red floral border print.
 And I think it's probably the nicest and best fitting skirt I've ever made, not to mention a super quick sew at just an hour after all the pieces were cut out.

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Finally, next month's Dressmaking Blogger Challenge will be... "Garden Party"!


As always it's a just-for-fun challenge and you can share your makes using #dressmakingbloggerchallenge on Instagram or by joining the Dressmaking Bogging Network on Facebook. 

Thanks for reading. Happy Sewing everyone!!!