Saturday, 9 July 2016

The UFOs are winning! But the match isn't over yet.

If you've read my blog,  you'll know that I made the dresses for my daughter's wedding. I ran out of time and bought my MOB outfit.
Photo from
She's much slimmer and younger than me; I wore a hatinator rather than the hat. A Condici outfit.
I don't yet have a photo to show the outfit better. I'm tall but the skirt length is still longer on me than the model.

Before that, though, I had planned to make my outfit and had a couple of possibilities.

After the wedding I lost my sewjo for a while. To be honest it's not back yet. I decided that I'd ease my way in with finishing a number of items I'd started. I didn't like all those unfinished items.

I had
  • An unfinished toile for a sheath dress (MOB)
  • An unfinished but started hacked from RTW lined dress (MOB)
  • A Betty Barclay skirt and top;  the skirt was too long for comfort but not long enough for full length (which it would've been on a smaller person and was designed to be) and it was also too tight
  • A linen sleeveless top which needed a FBA, the darts adjusted and some shaping
  • Plans for making some lingerie and a tank from leftover silk from wedding dress

Linen top

I've finished the linen top.

I had to dismantle most of the top - only the neckline and neckline binding was untouched. I made an FBA and altered the line of the darts. I needed more fabric at the front of course and this shortened the front relative to the back - I decided to make a feature of this and have a stepped side slit.

I also added some shaping to the waist,  though just a touch as I still wanted it to be loose fitting. Making the slit longer as I had to in order to balance front and back up made more room at hip level. I trimmed the top of the side seams to level them up. I had a bit of difficulty matching the grid for pattern at one side in particular but managed this - the need for matching is why the top needed a little trimmed. I then reattached the binding around the armholes. I now have a top which will be more comfortable and looks perfectly acceptable.

Trying it on again today to take a photo, I realise it's not perfect but perfectly serviceable. I should have ironed it. I feel the front bottom armhole is a little tight. I think the pattern matching is pretty good.

A win to me
Anne 1:UFOs 0

Betty Barclay skirt

No photos here due to last minute dismantling! Well, I had some but my computer won't read them from the sd card. If I sort out that problem, I'll post. Edited _ I switched the computer off then on again and it now read the sd card. So I can add a couple of photos.

I thought I'd finished my alterations to the Betty Barclay skirt. The original had a waistband, 6 panels,  was just short of ankle length and had a rear invisible zipper. It was much too tight. I cut off the required amount all around the top of the skirt,  a good 6”, to make it knee length or a little longer. I made sure that the skirt would fit around my hips and would be long enough. I then decided to use an elastic waistband rather than trying to remake a waistband which would have been very difficult. I did this simply by using a fold over casing. The elastic is stitched at each seam. I didn't touch any vertical seam other than the back seam, which had the zipper. I didn't touch the hem - lazy?
My elastic waistband

Incidentally, I've been told never ever to wear the skirt with the top I bought with it, as a set! It's strange, the patterns are very similar but not quite the same, ditto the colours and the fabrics are different. They don't work at all together.

The top half is the bit of (woven ) skirt that was cut off, the bottom the (stretch) top

Another image of the two fabrics together - this is the original waistband with the top behind

I took the skirt to class today as I felt the whole thing was drooping in front. I have a sloping waist and a large derriere but I thought I had taken this into account in an earlier fitting (I took to the previous class). Today, Lyn chalked the hemline and while the back was fairly even, the front was like the rocky road to Dublin. Quite a big chunk would need to be removed, tapering out to the sides. I unpicked the original hem  (I had hoped to do everything from the top but no joy), pinned up a new hem and basted and got Lyn to check. No! There is something very wrong with the right side seam - I don't just mean length. It twists and doesn't lie straight - this is the original seam. So more work is required. Is it worth it? I'm not sure how flattering it is on me. I'm really not sure about the elasticated skirt but we'll see.

Today was the last class until mid September so it has been temporarily abandoned. I'll take the hem down completely again and press ready for later work.  This was a much harder project than I anticipated

A win for the UFOs
Anne 1: UFOs 1

Sheath dress toile

My birthday is on the 4th July, not a holiday in the UK.  
I decided I'd like a birthday dress. I often read of people making a new dress for their birthday. I decided to finish the sheath dress as a wearable toile. This was a toile I was making for my MOB dress, later gabardine. The basic dress was already sewn up. This was as a toile and the seam edges were not finished;  however there was no evidence of fraying. The fabric is crepe and I love the colour. I therefore decided to finish the toile up as quickly as possible.

I could pull the dress on and off without a zip but this was before there was any arm or neck finishing and I eventually decided I would add a zip.  This was an invisible zip and I found one close to the right colour. However, I had major problems inserting this. Not because of the fabric. It seemed that the zipper teeth were too big for the groove on the invisible zipper foot and so it wasn’t moving through properly. I thought I'd try the invisible zipper foot on the industrial machine in class. Unfortunately that foot is missing; Rory put the zip in for me using an ordinary zipper foot.

I had planned to line the real dress and bought lining for this toile. However,  I decided to forego the lining. I also decided not to use facings but rather to use bias binding. I hadn't done this previously and wanted to practice the technique. I decided to attach the bias binding to the outside of the dress, understitch and turn completely to the inside.

There was an option to hand stitch the bias to the inside but I decided to finish as quickly as possible, so I topstitched around the armholes, neckline and hem. No seam finishes.  My seam allowances were wider than usual to allow for fitting and ideally would be narrower.

So I finished the dress, a wearable toile, in time for my birthday. This year, though, I'm like the Queen and have two birthdays - or rather we postponed my birthday celebrations due to other things I was doing - on the 4th, a golf match where I was an invited guest,  followed by a meal and presentation. Very enjoyable and we didn't get wet!! I was busy on Tuesday evening,  too. My special meal and ultra special bottle of wine was therefore on the 6th. David's present too. I didn't wear the dress for my birthday - either of them!

The dress  was rather tight across the bust and tight under the lower front part of the armscye. The fabric lacks body and needs lined.
Strange pose but shows the thin see-through nature of the fabric
The seams at the top looked puckered. I took it to class today and Lyn unpicked the princess seam at bust level to allow more space - just over a couple of inches of seamline and giving perhaps an extra centimetre of room.
We agreed the bottom part of the front armscye needed lowered slightly, tapering out to nothing above that. The back armscye was fine. Lynn felt the puckering was stitching rather than fit.
I've already let out the bust seam here and restitched. The armhole is not altered and is still tight.
The seam puckering is clearly visible.

The dress was supposed to be for a woven fabric. My original calico toile was for this. This fabric is crepe and has rather more stretch than I anticipated. The fact that the dress was tight shows that I've put quite a bit of weight on - surprisingly around my bust; the hips were fine. I still plan to make a proper dress and will have to take into account that I will not be using a stretchy fabric.

I restitched the princess seams. I'll adjust the armscye on my paper pattern. I actually won't wear this as a proper dress - it has moved back to being simply a toile.

When I showed the altered dress to David,  he agreed it was a lot better but felt that some excess fabric should be removed from the back. The zip is rather heavy,  I think but looking at the picture he took of the back I agree a little extra fabric could be removed along the centre back but also there is a bit of pooling of fabric - a faux sway back,  I think. I'll need to address that too. I still intend to move forward and will eventually complete.
The zip area is proud of the fabric - due to too heavy zip or excess fabric?
Could it be doing with more space at hip level?

I'm going to call this a draw. Anne 1.5: UFOs 1.5

That's as far as I've got with my list. Next up is the hack dress.

Wedding dress

I've been unsuccessfully trying to clean Helen's wedding dress. She sent me a beautiful message for my birthday saying how much she appreciates all I've done etc.  I really appreciate that. Helen wants the dress kept as a full length dress. She doesn't mind the train being removed if she could wear it again. Otherwise she'll keep it for posterity. The dress therefore joins my UFO pile as I had partly dismantled it. I took out hem, weights and braid and skirt lining and waiststay. I need to reassemble. First I want to show what we have to Helen and discuss options. This will be left until the autumn.

Other additions

I bought a pair of floral summer wide legged trousers which were much too long! Not a problem I usually have. I need to shorten them by 4.5 cms. Not a big job, but one which joins my list. Hopefully I'll get them done while it's still summer.


Having a finished and wearable top feels good and hopefully my sewjo will be boosted.
I'd really appreciate any comments.


  1. Gosh woman you have the patience of a saint. Love your MOB outfit. Good choice. Can't believe all the changes to the top but they were so worth it. Get the trousers shortened. A quick satisfying job is what you need. That and a large gin!! Love your detailed blog K xXx

    1. Thanks, Karen. I found the top alterations satisfying. Shortening the trousers will be a quick job. The actual hemming will be the slowest part as currently the stitches are not visible and I'd prefer to have it that way than do a top stitched hem. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  2. Sometimes you just need a quick project to get refueled. After months of complicated work on the wedding outfits it feels good to get a few things completed.

    1. Thank you for commenting. You are, of course, right.

  3. When my sew jo disappears, I just start on something, just to get back into the swing of things. Which you are of course doing. And something simple and new, to boost the spirits.

    1. Thank you, Sarah Liz. Maybe not simple enough, I'm afraid.

  4. Well I always say you do have the patience of a saint...really you do!
    The Betty Barclay skirt....there are just some times that you have to bite the bullet and send it to the charity shop. Elastic waists are difficult. I recently had a shirt-dress in viscose and for the life of me I couldn't get the hem the end I donated it and put it right out of my mind....
    I was amused at your usage of 'the rocky road to Dublin' - thankfully the road to Dublin is no longer rocky in the literal is a delight to travel on with lots of watering holes along it too....but the little ditty still gets used!
    My mother used to do some alterations just for friends and I well remember her diligently searching for the end of the thread which had been used in the original hemming...probably an overlocking job, if there was overlocking 30 years ago....then she carefully unravelled it and used it to handstitch the new hem - she taught me how to hand stitch a hem using a small stitch to 'lock' every stitch. Memories.
    Take care.

    1. I love Dublin - and its watering holes and golf courses!
      Yes, memories. I think I'll have to do this with the trousers.
      I'm not quite ready to ditch the skirt. Not this week, anyway.
      Thanks. You've changed your sign in?

  5. Wow! You loose your sewjo and then you tackle the UFO pile!! It's enough to put anyone off sewing! I have one too and haven't looked at it for months. I may just close it up and take it to Oxfam. I love your blouse - especially the up and down hem, and the pattern matching. Great fit. The blue birthday dress is nearly there but maybe you just need to take all the alterations into account and start again with a fresh piece of cloth that really behaves, such as a cotton sateen with a slight stretch. These close fitting sheaths need a little give I find unless you are one of those very composed, slightly uptight women...In terms of the skirt I think it is a good idea to enlist the help of your teacher to help and advise, otherwise this sort of complex alteration can be depressing.

    1. Thank you, I fear you are right! Depressing alterations all around. I have got rid of 2 - I mean got rid of not completed! It hasn't helped my virtually non existent sewjo. I'm redrafting the blue dress pattern but don't have a fabric as yet. The blue fabric has a slight stretch, but doesn't behave that well. Too puckery. I'll have a look at cotton sateen; I haven't used that before. The skirt has its hem tacked ready to sew but I really don't like it! (Joyce was right) I really don't like full skirts on me. I think I will just move on.


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