Sunday, 31 December 2017

Peruvian Purses - a little extra

I saw a cute little purse on Emmaandhermachine's  Instagram. She had received the kit as a gift and told me where it had come from (Craft and Cotton) I liked it, thought it would make a good stocking filler for one of the girls and bought a kit and a spare set of fittings - the fittings are the most crucial part of it.

I took photos of the two purse together but can't find them!! This is my first. I should have put a scale next to them

The kit came in 3 choices - printed canvas (?I'm not sure canvas is the most appropriate
term) type fabric, black faux leather and red faux leather. I really liked the fabric shown on the website so went for that.

The kit arrived quickly. The front of the purse is in the fabric, the back in black faux leather. There is no interfacing. There was a set of instructions, the pattern for the back and the front and the hardware in the pack.

I’m not a crafter as most people who read this will know. However, even I managed to finish this pretty quickly although a couple of things puzzled me. Firstly, there was no indication of the size of the seam allowance around the purse - I guessed at 1/4”. Dan pointed out that the finished length of the purse would match that of the hardware. I went for ¼”. Secondly, I couldn’t for the life of me work out how to get the hardware into the purse properly. With some help from Dan and encouragement from others who were watching, it was achieved.

The scariest bit was cutting through the fabric for the magnetic catch!

The purse is small - smaller than I realised it would be and I’m not sure how useful it will be. Nevertheless, it was a fun thing to make.

I made another with the spare set of fittings. Two of the girls got them for Christmas as a little extra. The one I gave to Alison fell apart as she tried to open it so I had to put together again - and show her how to do that in case it happened again. The girls thought they were cute and really liked the fabric (a town scene).

I don’t think, though, that I’ll make any others.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

A 'funny' story? AKA Cashmerette Concord part 3

Well, not that funny tbh!

I have done two previous posts on the Cashmerette Concord tee shirt and was still far from happy with the result. I made another tee incorporating the changes - and still wasn't happy. I was going to throw my attempt as a wadder but my sewing tutor see suggested I persist after making a few changes to the armhole/sleeve area.

The big disadvantage to these changes was that my careful stripe matching was to no avail!

The sleeves were too short so I added a band, which I like. Otherwise pretty standard. My tutor agreed with me when I said that some of the lines at the front suggested I might need a FBA - though I used the G/H cup size (I'm DD) and it certainly didn't feel tight.

Nevertheless, I persisted and finished the tee shirt. In class, I used a coverstitch machine for the first time for the bottom hem and perhaps fortunately for my pocket and my house, I can't see that I need one of these. Maybe also because my result is pretty shoddy! Okay from the outside but not great inside. I like my insides to look good but it's not absolutely critical.

This was months ago. I didn't blog about it. I went on to other things, put it away.

So what's the funny story? This week, I went into my wardrobe, pulled out a tee shirt and wore it all day with no concerns. Only when I took it off at night did I realise this was the Concord tee I had finished but ‘abandoned!’

Lesson here?

None of my RTW tops are perfect - this self criticised top is probably better than most. I know that I'm overly self critical (and know I'm not alone in this) and am trying to change. Not to drop my standards but to accept that things can be ‘good enough’. That's what I was trying to do with my murder mystery outfits (see previous posts) - not putting in more effort than was warranted by a likely once worn garment. In fact I will probably wear them again and I can as they are well constructed; the time I saved was in fitting not in construction. David always planned to wear his yellow jeans again. There are fit issues but he was happy, they were certainly good enough for the event and I'll change for the next pair I make him.

So I resolve to continue to do my best but not to sweat it if things aren't perfect. That's my plans for 2018 and for the red silk dress I'm making Helen at the moment. A future green one might be better. Don't they say you have to make something is it 3 times before it goes smoothly and you get it right? There are also more TNTs  on the cards. I say more but in fact I don't have any as yet!

I hadn't got around to making the necessary changes to the Concord pattern from the last lot of adjustments and hope I can remember what they were - otherwise there won't be any more!

I decided to put the top on for some photos and immediately saw lots of flaws. It IS wearable. I'm not making any changes to it. Note to self - don't be so hard on yourself!

I wore it to sewing class. The tutors agreed that it might not be perfect but what RTW garment was and I would have worn that as a RTW with no concerns. True -  probably.

Today I got rid of a lot of garments that were in the adjustment pile - I was just never going to get around to them. The pile was mainly RTW with various fit issues but included some worn out polo shirts where I had planned to recycle the fabric to make child’s tees and a few me-made items that are not worth any further effort.

I also donated around 60 metres of fabric to my sewing class. Around 45 metres was stretch lining type fabric bought as toile material when I was making Helen’s wedding dress and the rest was upholstery fabric and some fabric left over from makes. I still have all the toiles from the wedding dress - these are next to go.

I’m joining the 2018 RTW Fast, starting 1st January. So anything I don’t have now, I’ll have to make! First on the list and this time I’m determined to finish is of course trousers! My weight has gone up again as I can’t exercise at present due to a flare up but hopefully I’ll start to get it under control after Christmas. I got to the stage of being ready to make up a pair of trousers in fashion fabric but then I ran out of time - hopefully it will still be okay. So - January.

Sorry folks!

Thank you to SewRuthie for pointing out that on my recent posts, the text did not wrap and was therefore unreadable. 

I cut the text and re-inserted.

I hope I have sorted this now - but I still don't know why it happened!!

Friday, 29 December 2017

A kimono for Joanne from Simplicity 1108

I had intended to do some sewing for Joanne for Christmas. She likes the lace edged shorts I’ve made for her, cloned from a RTW pair, and needs more. I’ve made her two pairs so far - they look identical but the fabric on one is nicer than the other. I’ve run out of time to order the nice fabric online and get them made for Christmas so that’s a task for the new year. I decided against using the fabric I bought when I was in Liverpool earlier this year to consider for a pair as I think it’s maybe not a nice enough quality and I don't have time to experiment. Also, it has a pattern and I haven’t discussed with Joanne anything other than plain black ones. (Edited to add that she definitely wants a black pair)

A year past in November I was at Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show (I didn’t make it this year) and I bought some fabric thinking of a kimono for Joanne. David was with me. We liked this dark flocky fabric which has a very slight stretch but is really quite stable. I bought quite a bit. I can’t remember who we bought it from.

Well, I only this week got around to thinking of it. I had previously made Joanne a kimono but decided to use a different pattern this time  - just to mix it up a little! I didn’t want to use a border. I gave Joanne the choice of the previous kimono pattern or this one via WhatsApp. She chose this pattern in view D but said she’d like it longer. Originally, I had thought of making it a lot longer - around 12” - to match the length of view A but decided this wouldn’t work with the nice curved front. In the end, I only increased the length by 4”. This view also has optional lace around the edges and sleeves but I didn’t do that - if Joanne wants, I could add it later.

This was a fairly speedy make - and I’m sure many of you could make it far faster than I did. In fact, the longest time was in cutting out. I did my best to get pattern elements level and lying in a suitable place. I think there is a very big repeat though many of the large elements seem similar but different from the next one. The pattern is not symmetrical around a midpoint so I tried to take that into account too. It took me a while - yet when you lay the fabric down, it almost disappears so I decided to try to level only the largest element.

One change I did make was to cut the back in one piece rather than have a centre seam. The back seam was straight and I couldn’t see a real need for that seam. Otherwise, I followed the pattern. I used a lengthened view D with the longer sleeves from view C. There is only a back piece, two front pieces and two sleeves. There is no interfacing, no facings, no fastenings. My fabric doesn’t fray but I decided to finish all my seam allowances by overlocking in black thread just to finish off and give the inside a neat appearance.

The edges around the kimono and the sleeves are finished in bias binding, understitched and turned to the wrong side, then topstitched in place. This took me the longest time. I was wishing that I had simply overlocked, turned and topstitched - but I must admit the finish is lovely. I used a commercial bias binding. Actually, does this count as a facing?

So that was another item ticked off my Christmas list. I took photos on my dressmaking model and on me but hoped I would get a photo actually on Joanne.

I saw Joanne a couple of days after Christmas at our late family Christmas celebration in Cambridge. She liked the kimono and the fabric and it appears to fit well. Unfortunately I didn't get a photo as it was too dark and hectic that night and next day when she came round she wasn't wearing it. She says she'll send me a photo. In the meantime it's photos on Madame and on me.

I think the pattern sizing is pretty accurate.

I’ve had the fabric so long that I can actually enter PR’s fabric Stash contest. No chance of winning of course - but there is a random prize. I used 3 metres of fabric.

Notebook covers

Christmas sewing

I didn't really have any plans for Christmas sewing as I was so busy in the run up. I would like to have made myself a dress and Joanne some new shorts but I knew realistically that it wouldn't happen. No point in putting pressure on myself.

A couple of years ago I made wine holders and was considering making one for a Magnum of prosecco. I'd have had  to work out the sizes from scratch - I decided it'd be best just to wrap in Christmas paper!

I actually gave away several metres of Christmas fabric as I knew I wasn't going to use it. That’s on top of the many metres of linings I gave away. I’m really trying to downsize.

However, Alison said she really fancied a silk covered notebook and gave me the link. I bought a notebook from the link and was disappointed with it, largely I think because it was so thin - a school jotter (edited to add that Alison loved it!). As a result, I decided to make some notebook (oh I mean those you write in not a mini computer!) covers and give a covered notebook to each of the girls. For  Alison, I had the choice of a lovely black and turquoise Linton tweed or a Japanese cotton with an owl pattern. For Joanne, I thought I was going to use a black or maybe it's charcoal grey Linton tweed with a silver thread through it. It was lovely but it turned out I didn't have quite enough. I knew there was another piece but my fabric has been put away pre-Christmas so it wasn’t accessible.  I considered using a piece of the red silk from Helen's dress for hers but used a piece of red Linton tweed as that's likely to be more robust. I have quite a few pieces of Linton tweed picked up in one of their mixed remnant/scrap bags. Some are too small (Joanne’s) but the piece for Alison fitted and no more - there was certainly nothing to spare. I bought the fabric for notebooks after seeing some in the Linton tweed shop so perhaps the stars have aligned! Maybe the fabric I used for Alison had originally been intended for that purpose! I pass reasonably close to the Linton Tweed shop fairly often as it’s just off the route I use to visit my mother.

I bought some notebooks, deciding to go for spiral backs as they'll be easier to put in and out of the covers.

I wondered how I would cover them. Some of the tweed frays quite a bit. I looked up a couple of online tutorials. The choice seemed to be to cover like I used to cover school books, cutting a section out for the book spine and folding the rest over and taping it, or perhaps gluing down and then adding a fabric covered cardboard front and back piece - but these aren't reusable. So I went for the other which is basically making a sleeve, with slots to hold the back and front of the book.

My notebook cover is basically the front fabric, interfaced with a fairly stiff interfacing, which I trimmed short of the seam allowances. This is sewn to a lining, right side to right side,  leaving a gap, then turned through and the gap closed. Then I topstitched the whole thing.

The cover was then placed on the book and the flaps turned over. I had hoped I could edgestitch on the machine to secure but this didn't work. In the end I did as Dan thought I would have to - namely slip stitch the flaps by hand.

Overall they look nice, I think.
Alison’s - black and turquoise Linton tweed, lining teal cotton from a shirt I made her years ago
Joanne’s - black fabric with red spots, cotton, lined with a nice red linen. The linen, also left over from a previous project, wasn’t big enough so I pieced it down the spine of the book where it will offer extra protection to the fabric
Helen’s - a finer weight plain red Linton fabric, lined with red spotted pink cotton fabric from Ikea. I thought I had used this fabric for one of the wedding dress toiles for Helen, but that wasn't so.

These fabrics and the interfacing had been in my stash for a long time. Nearly two years or even longer. I’ve decided to enter PR’s Fabric Stash contest with them - well why not? There’s a random prize.

I used 6 pieces of fabric and 3 pieces of interfacing  20” by 10.5” - total 9 pieces of fabric.  My fat eighths were too small. There was a bit of waste due to trimming onto the straight grain etc and cutting away a hem which had been sewn on Helen’s fabric. There appear to be complicated rules for calculating amount of fabric used so I don't know how much this will count as. I think I could call this a yard, though. It’s a bit more but I believe you can’t count the bits of a yard.

At our late family Christmas get together, the notebooks and sleeves went down quite well. Steven has requested an A4 notebook covered in Crab Nebula fabric which week have to print (David led him to that point). David wants one in his tartan.

Talking about David's tartan, Helen still hasn't told me what final shape she wants for her tartan skirt. She recognised this but sensibly realised I was busy with other things. Next year!

Helen's red silk dress is finished! Red silk dress part 5. Designin' December entry.

The finished dress, taken indoors with flash, yesterday
Original Designer Dress Inspiration

I posted about this nearly a year ago! Part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4 - so this is part 5! Briefly, Helen had an RTW red silk dress that she loved and was on its last legs even then - though she continues to wear it to this day! (I started writing this earlier in the month - edited to say the dress finally died on Christmas Day this year. Great timing!) I made a pattern from her dress and made up a toile in green. Helen liked the toile and regularly wears that dress still. It was meant as a wearable toile, though, and wasn’t completed to the finest standards. I  practised the pocket which was the main reason for the toile.

This is Helen wearing the original designer dress
A photo of the green toile on Missy

Rather belatedly, I decided to ask Helen if this had been a designer dress, expecting the answer ‘no’. In fact, her dress was by Markus Lupfer, bought from Net a Porter in a sale in 2011 for £90. The cost per wear is virtually zero as she has literally worn this dress to death, which is why I am recreating it - as, admittedly, has been on the cards for a year. In previous posts (linked above) I show the dress on Helen and some of its wear problems (worse now as she is still wearing it a year on; edited - see above that the dress has finally expired) and a toile I made to test my pattern of it. This means, though, that I can participate in Linda of Nicedressthanksimadeit’s Designin’ December challenge with this copy of a designer dress. However, I cannot participate in MAGAM, which is linking with Designin’ December as the dress is not for me. The only change from the original is for fit. Helen is 6' and needed the waist dropped by about 1" (I can't remember the exact amount - that will no doubt be on my posts), however, she was happy with the length and asked for the skirt to be shortened by the amount I had lengthened the bodice

Photos of the original dress from website:

I bought red sandwashed silk months ago and had originally planned to make the dress at that time as a very late Christmas 2016 present but life gets in the way! Then I planned to make it for Helen’s birthday at the end of November, but I didn’t manage that either.
I confess that there was a very large part of fear in this! I had drawn the pattern pieces to cut out with the fabric in a single layer but was still scared. I asked Rory’s advice re laying out the fabric.

The original dress lacks any stabilisation or interfacing but this one needs to have some inserted ‘invisibly’ to allow any support for the poppets. Oh, and that was another issue - the poppets I used on the green dress didn’t stay poppeted, Helen told me.

So roll forward to the beginning of December. I looked out the pattern and asked Rory to check it for true-ness (is that a word?). There were a couple of minor changes needed. I hadn’t been entirely happy with the pocket placement on the green dress (not to mention they are lopsided imo) so spent some time drawing out a better placement while keeping the essence of what Helen wants as per original pocket.

I had taken advice from Rory on how best to cut out my fabric - I was scared to do it and had been putting it off and off and off. I also read about how to cut silk. Rory strongly advised against trying the starch trick. I had made Helen’s wedding dress which was sandwashed silk crepe  but a much heavier weight and relatively well behaved. This fabric is a different beast!!

I’ll gloss over the next bit! Despite my care and help from David, my cutting (rotary cutter and mat) is far from perfect and the front hem looked like the rocky road to Dublin. I didn’t have enough fabric to redo. In any case, I wasn’t sure if I would get it any better a second time!

I spent a long time carefully marking the pocket placement on the dress.

Because the pockets cross the side seam and it was previously difficult to sew on once the dress was made up, I decided to make the front plus pockets sewn short off the seam, joined front to back and continue the pocket stitching over the side seam, as I did with the trial dress.

I decided to start with the back of the dress. The bodice is in 4 parts, princess seams. I sewed these up and then pressed  and then overlocked and pressed seams to one side as per original and top stitched. I thought it was looking good but the topstitched princess seams appear twisted or puckered, apparently this is called ‘roping’. Still, the original was like this I seem to remember, so I carried on. Rory said there is little I can do about this. The next step was attaching the back skirt, which I carried out without any hitches.

I then attached the casing on top of the waist seam by edge stitching. Admittedly not at the first attempt! I wasted some fabric here. Again the ends weren’t attached at that stage as they also go to the front.

The pockets caused me a lot of grief. I found I couldn’t remember exactly how I went about doing them. They are cargo type pockets with flaps and poppets and are a main feature of the dress (or I certainly wouldn’t have done them!) I tried to cut out the gusset part using the silk on the bias but it would not cooperate! I spoke to Rory who suggested that I had previously used straight grain and that bias would be tricky. So I cut out on the straight grain. I was originally hoping that I could use the bias cut strips I had cut for the pocket, but didn't use, for the bias binding around neck and armholes but that didn’t work out.

The original pockets have no stabilisation but this is required and I added to the last dress but this time around, I couldn’t quite work out how I did it so that Helen wouldn’t see it!

I had used tailor’s tacks to mark the pocket placement but I wasn’t  sure this was good enough so I thread traced. I was still not sure this would work as the fabric is so shifty!

Pocket position marked on dress front (similar on back - rest of pocket)
I wasn't sleeping very well at that stage. Instead of counting sheep, I would go over dressmaking techniques and try to solve the problems I was facing. I’m not sure it got me to sleep but I did sometimes solve problems! Or at least, find dressmaking solutions. I realised that I had to fit an interfaced facing to the top of the pocket. I know Helen is not keen on that, but needs must! Anyway, the pocket flap would largely cover this. Further, I realised that I would have to finish the exposed fabric edges inside the pocket (by overlocking) as this silk frays a lot. Lastly, I planned my bias edging.

In sewing bee the next day I received confirmation from Rory that my thinking was okay. She recognised that I was procrastinating because of fear and reiterated that there was no need. So I went ahead and created my box/cargo pockets ‘perfectly’. Yes, there were a couple of issues - I attached the facing to the wrong side of the pockets but decided to keep it that way as both had been done and understitched and the difference between 'wrong side' and 'right side' isn't noticeable, at least to me!. Rory suggested that I bag the top of the gusset with the facing and demonstrated how to do that. This makes for a neater finish, less likely to fray. Last time around I was most unhappy about this particular element. This also meant that I didn't need to overlock, after all, which would have been bulkier.

In class, I finished my pockets to the point of needing edge stitching, ready to attach to the dress.

I showed Rory my rather sine-wave-like hem and she said not to worry as the dress would drop anyway, especially with heavy pockets attached to it. I placed it on Missy (see other posts - the model I made for Helen when I was making her wedding dress) for a few days before completing the hem

Pockets basted on dress front - see the squiggly bottom cut line

Pockets, front of dress

  • In class, I had already attached the strip for the cargo/gusset pocket to the pocket on all sides bar the diagonal opening. The diagonal opening was backed with interfaced facing and understitched. This facing concealed some of the possible raw edges
  • I then pressed the seams, folded carefully on the edge and pressed and basted the edges together. I ended up doing a lot of hand tacking. It takes time but saves me from making mistakes so it's worth it.
  • Along the diagonal fold, I stitched at ¼”. I found this surprisingly difficult! I had to make several attempts. It's fortunate that the bits at the start are concealed by the flap!
  • Then around the seam line of the main pocket bag, I edge stitched with my needle set to the maximum offset ‘5’ around all sides.
  • The loose side, to be attached to the dress, was overlocked and I stitched a marking line of stitching at 1 cm, the seam allowance. I then folded and pressed along the line and, yes, hand basted in place.
  • Now I was glad that I had marked and thread traced the position for the pockets on the dress!
  • I pinned the pocket in place, hand basted and sewed to the front of the dress, stopping well short of the side seams. Again I used an edge stitch at 5.
  • They seem even so I stitched up the side seams avoiding the pockets and the waist casing of course!! Then I pressed and overlocked the raw edges together and folded and pressed to the back. I think a French seam would be nice but the original has overlocked edges.
After I sewed up the seams, I attached the pocket to the back of the dress in the same way as I had to the front. In addition, I attached the waistband casing to the front across the seam. I realised that I should have attached the pocket flaps too, but I didn’t at that stage.

The pocket flaps are two layers of silk, one interfaced, sandwiched together and the whole edge stitched. In addition, I overlocked the raw edges which are attached to the dress.  I marked the poppet position. I flattened the dress as much as possible to see where the pocket edge lay. Although I had marked this previously, it wasn’t exactly the same. I put the pocket down wrong side up with the overlocked edge along the line of the pocket opening. I pinned and tacked and left it overnight, ready to stitch the pocket flap to the dress, turn over the flap in place and edge stitch.

Well, nothing is as easy as it seems! I managed to sew the first flap on successfully, but the second wasn’t right - I then found I’d caught the dress in with my stitching (I didn’t notice any change in the stitching). So I unpicked the second flap. Fortunately the needle marks eventually disappeared! I tried again. The two sides aren’t absolutely identical but I was worried about pulling out the stitching too often. A lesson learned here - although I had marked the points where I wanted to attach, they weren’t good enough.

Also, the gusset parts of the pockets appear puckered. Rory recommended a good press but clearly, although I practised, my choices of tension, stitch length, foot pressure etc weren’t perfect. Also, I didn’t use my dual feed at this point because of the foot I was using. Lesson learned.

Bias edgings
Although the bias binding was already cut for the armholes and neckline, I didn't have enough - fortunately I still had a piece of fabric left and was able to cut another strip. I folded the strips in two, sewed at 1 cm (⅜”) to the armholes and neckline, pressed, understitched, trimmed, pressed, topstitched. Help! Despite trying to be careful, I obviously stretched the bias. The neckline wasn’t lying properly - so this was something else I needed to ask advice about. Fortunately I still had one sewing bee left before Christmas where I could seek advice.

I also realised that I hadn’t cut the waist tie/belt which is pretty long and thought I might have to use elastic in the centre and fabric at the end as I might not have sufficient fabric left. However, I succeeded in cutting two strips to allow a long enough belt. The join won't show as it is inside the casing. No problems making the tie up. I couldn’t remember if the original belt had edge stitching - I asked Helen and it doesn’t.

End stages

Before I went to class, I decided to wash the dress again as a couple of my markers were showing (as far as I can see they washed out okay). I hoped that washing it might help the neckline lie flatter - forlorn hope, I fear. I asked Rory about that baggy neckline (could kick myself!). It was a bit better after washing (not pressed) and Rory said to use a cloth (I used silk organza) plus plenty of steam and press well. It was a lot better after that.

The dress was now all but finished. I had Missy wear it to see how much the hem dropped. The answer was quite a bit! I took the dress but not Missy to sewing bee (the last one before Christmas; my last chance for help with this dress) and put it on one of the models there to give me an idea of how the hem lay. Rory helped me level it. After that, at home, I overlocked the edges, pinned and tacked the 1” hem in place, pressed it and top stitched in place.

And of course, I still had to add the poppets. Helen was unhappy with the poppets on the toile so I did some research and asked questions and was given a recommendation - I had to send off to the States for these so I hope they are genuinely better! David helped me apply the poppets. No major problems.

I’ve learned that even if you have made a design previously, and even if it is your own pattern,there are still going to be tweaks and changes required. I don’t mean to the sizing as I really have no opportunity to test that out beyond learning that Helen is happy with the fit of the green dress, but rather the way of creating certain elements.

Final result

I thought the dress looked pretty good. Final press then I photographed it on Missy in case I wouldn't get photos on Helen. Helen braved the cold outside for these photos, complete with Christmas socks as it was too cold to take them off.

I gave it to Helen for her Christmas - we were having a late Christmas celebration on 27th, in Cambridge, hosted by my oldest daughter. It was lovely to see all 3 daughters, 2 sons-in-law and 2 grandsons.

Helen's husband thought the dress was identical to the original. Helen tried it on the next day and even braved the icy weather outside to allow photos. Her comments were that it fitted better than the original (I had made some changes to original fit, mainly dropping the waist by 1”), that she had forgotten how nice the silk originally felt and that it was ‘perfect’. She had stopped using the pockets on the original and doesn't actually intend to use the pockets on this - but she was pleased to learn about the interfacing and felt that these poppets already felt much better and more secure.

Helen would love a wardrobe full of this dress in different colours. I asked if she wouldn't tire of it and she thought not. I'm a glutton for punishment I think! I offered to make a bottle green silk version. I confess I had offered even before Christmas! Helen has said that with each subsequent dress (!!!???), I can lengthen it a little to account for her maturing tastes as she gets older! She said that it would then eventually be at a length I would consider acceptable.

For my Christmas from David I got an edge stitching foot #10D suitable for use with my dual feed and I hope that will help me achieve a non-roped seam finish.

We came back home early, last night instead of today, because of weather warnings for today. It's a winter white wonderland outside.

I'm not going out today so can get some posts together. I have also linked here to previous posts so you can if you wish read about the earlier parts of the journey including pattern development.

Monday, 25 December 2017

2018 RTW Fast

I am going to be taking part in the 2018 Goodbye Valentino Ready-to-Wear Fast. This means no purchasing clothing from January 1st to December 31st, 2018. I did enter previously (it has run twice before, I believe) in 2014, or was it 2015, I can't quite remember and did pretty well - by not purchasing, but not making either!  I feel more confident now that I can actually make some items to fit and suit me (quite honestly, I have lots of clothes so I don't really need to be quick; those of you who read my posts will know that I am usually a pretty slow sewer, though I can often rise to a challenge!! I am excited more than scared to say I've signed up!

Here are the rules, from Sarah's Goodbye Valentino blog:

What exactly is the Ready To Wear Fast?

The Ready to Wear Fast is a vow to abstain from buying clothes for one year. You will give up buying clothes from January 1 – December 31, 2018.  You may sew anything, and you may fabric shop as much as you would like!  The purpose is to Save Money and Improve Your Sewing Skills, but believe me, the rewards of the commitment will exceed your expectations.

1.May I buy sweaters since I don’t knit?
No, you may not buy sweaters.

2. What about bathing suits?
No, you may not buy a bathing suit.

3. I’m attending a ball this year. May I buy a ball gown?
No you may not buy a ball gown.

4. Do I have to make my wedding dress?
Please buy the wedding dress of your dreams. A wedding dress or bridesmaid’s dress is the only exception.

5. What about scarves?

6. What can we buy during 2018?
You many buy underwear, socks, jewelry, handbags and belts.

7. Can we buy shoes on a Ready to Wear Fast?
Y E S !!  Shoes are allowed – Enjoy 😉

8. Can I wear the Ready to Wear clothes I bought before the Fast?
Yes, absolutely.

9. May we accept gifts of clothing?
Of course.

10. Can we buy thrift shop clothes to refashion?
No. I encourage you to refashion clothes from your closet.

I was surprised (and relieved!) that will be allowed to buy underwear - with all the blog posts about people making lingerie, I thought that might be included - fortunately, it is not!! I have actually made knickers and made a bra block in class last year but it is not something I wish to pursue. I am wary about not being able to buy a swimsuit - but then, the last time I used a swimsuit was nearly in the last century! One that needed to be stylish, that is, I have been swimming in the pool. If I need one, I will just have to learn to make it. I am feeling very confident that I can tackle anything, given time and a little help, if required, from my wonderful sewing tutors.

I am confident that I won't need to buy anything! Admittedly, I did look in the shops pre-Christmas but, not surprisingly, there was nothing that suited/fitted well. I did buy two items but sadly had to return them. I say not surprisingly, since poor RTW fit was the main reason I started to sew and took up pattern cutting etc after I retired.

Buying fabric is allowed, but I hope to use my stash as much as possible. I bought some lovely silks and wools and had great plans for my daughter's wedding last year and for my 40th wedding anniversary and 40th university reunion this year that didn't come to pass. I still have all those lovely fabrics, though! I want to make things that are useful. Nice, smart, too but useful rather than simply one-off use pieces.

By the end of this year, I hope to have finished my Chanel type jacket and I have more planned for next year - and already have the fabric. I've just finished knitting and sewing up a waistcoat for me which I'll blog at some stage and have another garment planned. I also hope to bring out the knitting machine that I nearly brought out from storage two years ago. At one point, I was quite proficient though it was mainly children's clothes at that time.

I have no intention of making things I have many of already - basic tee shirts and polo shirts for golf. I have enough of these to last me a long time. If I make anything, it must have something a little bit extra. Or I really need a particular colour. I would like to make crops and skorts for golf. That's been a long time ambition.

Of course, I still haven't managed to create a well-fitting block for trousers, so that remains way up there!

If you want to participate, please note that you must sign up with Sarah by the end of December! I hope to see you there!!

Friday, 1 December 2017

A flower power dress for a silver flower child!

I decided that for the ‘F’ theme of the Saturday of the Murder Mystery Weekend I attended last weekend, I would be a Flower Child. I looked at various possibilities. I couldn’t manage the shorter shift dresses with boots. The dresses were easy but I don’t have boots like this - nor could I find them in my size (and even if I could I wouldn't have use of them again). I didn’t think there was any chance that the outfits with very flared trousers would fit me and I’m not yet ready to make trousers with that degree of fitting. Anyway, the whole point was not to buy or hire an outfit but use what you had. I couldn’t do that either! One of the images was of a very nice maxi dress in a 60’s floral fabric - I loved it. I even looked at buying the actual dress but it was extortionately expensive so I resolved to make a dress. I wasn’t able to get fabric even half way similar despite extensive searching but found a paisley pattern which is also reminiscent of the 60s/70s. I’m not sure what type of fabric it is. It wasn’t expensive. It is a woven fabric with no stretch. I bought enough to cover any possibility, at least that’s what I thought.
The pattern has a raised front waist

I looked at what patterns I had available - I didn’t feel I wanted to buy a completely new pattern when I have so many in my stash. The one I decide to make had come free in Love Sewing Issue 37, back in February, McCall's 7381. I liked the long version because of the length and the tie but wanted sleeves - and I wanted my sleeves to be flared and very long. So I drafted new sleeves for the dress, based on the existing sleeve pattern.

I was going to insert photo of sleeve pattern but I can't immediately lay my hands on it.

Again, I decided not to make a toile (this is becoming a habit but I am sure that once I get back to normal sewing that normal service will resume!). The fabric was absolutely horrible to cut out. It squiggled and twisted and didn’t want me to cut it out well. I wasted a whole piece, a skirt back, as I found that I had cut off grain and the two sides did not match, by quite a significant amount. I had cut out with the fabric doubled. My tutor Lyn came to the rescue and helped me cut out. I was going to draw full pattern pieces but Lyn helped me cut out with folded fabric - faster.

My problem with the skirt piece meant that I didn't have enough fabric to cut the sleeves as drafted. I had to shorten the sleeves by quite a bit to get them to fit into the remaining fabric - a good two inches at least as the skirt back wasn't big enough to take two sleeves. Anyway, it's probably just as well as they are very long and one of the other ladies at the sewing bee wanted me to shorten them as she said she couldn’t see my hands and I wouldn’t be able to work in them. I’m happy with the length for the purpose I have in mind.

I chose this pattern as I thought it would be an easy make. However, I found that it was not. There are lots of little fiddly steps. The instructions, however, are mainly fine so each step wasn’t difficult. But it certainly wasn’t a quick make. I can’t say I really struggled with any step though the front portion with the ties was a little tricky. The bodice is lined and has a facing which is interfaced and the bodice itself extends into long ties.

Showing the bodice lining and facing

I overlocked all the seams after stitching together on my regular sewing machine. I serged together and pressed to one side. Then I attached the skirt to the top and this went together okay. However, the next step was to create a casing for elastic by folding the seam allowances together and stitching nearer the cut edges to create a channel for elastic. I realised that I would have raw edges - and this fabric frays ++. I discussed this with Rory in sewing bee and she advised binding the seam. So this is what happened. Rory showed me how to attached the first edge of the binding all the way around the waist seam (not just the back where the elastic was going to go). The seam allowances were then trimmed and Rory helped me by sewing on the elastic while creating the second side of stitching on the bias tape. Rather than use a casing, she zig zag stitched the elastic while stretching across its path.

The dress was looking pretty good and getting close (finally!) to being finished. I tried it on and Rory and the others felt that the waist was much too loose. Rory kindly suggested that I forget that I have a very tiny waist - it isn’t but as a pear shaped person or ‘A’ shape, my waist is significantly smaller than my hips. The solution, which worked (thankfully, as plan B was going to involve a lot of unpicking), was to unpick just the two ends of the back waist seam and insert a shorter piece of elastic. I think I should have cut the waist out a smaller size in the first place. The dress is more bumphled than I like here.

Rory marked the length. The dress had dropped unevenly, so she marked it right around to the shortest length. I then put the dress on Madam, my model, to allow any extra drop before I finalised the length and created the hem. I then completed a simple overlock, turn and stitched hem.

At this late stage I found that the front part where the ties meet the bodice was less than perfect but in fact it was too late to do anything about it. I lived with it. Next time I'll have to take much greater care at this point.

I’m not keen on the dress as a dress for me - being tall and big, there is SO much fabric! The fabric, too, was chosen specifically for the event and is not in my colour pallet. I'm happy with the construction.

I wore the dress with sandals. I bought a wig to wear but that wasn’t suitable so it was just my own hair. I decided to get or make some form of headdress. Not a bridesmaid one. Too many of the floral ones I found were for bridesmaids. I unsuccessfully tried some vintage headbands - they just didn't work. I had enough fabric left over, despite my problem with one piece, to make a headband in the form of a long piece of folded fabric with angled ends which is tied to fit.

Over the course of my sewing weekend away with Susan, Kate and Chris, I completed the dress. Sue helped me re-level the hem again and I pressed and cut away more excess then sewed through.  I was thinking that this dress wouldn't be worn again so I didn't need to over worry about fine finish. Kate pinned me into the dress to get the poppet placement and used tailors’ tacks to mark the position. At home, I stitched the poppets on. Then I made a head sash.

So ready for the murder mystery weekend!

I wore the dress with sandals, head band, CND necklace, bangles etc. And a flower.

  • The dress was really comfortable.
  • I enjoyed wearing it and would happily wear it again. It's a dress rather than a ‘costume’ and can readily be worn again, though the sleeves mean that it is not quite everyday wear.

Less good
  • Nothing major, really.  
  • I'd make a full size, maybe two, smaller next time as I feel the shoulders are a little wide and I had plenty of room all over. I had to gather in a lot at the waist. There's a lot of fabric! Had I made a toile first I would’ve discovered this.
  • My outfit wasn't immediately recognised for what it represented by lots of those present.
  • Not quite my colour palette!!

David in his William of Baskerville (Franciscan monk) robe that he made absolutely on his own

Should I change the steeves away from these fancy sleeves to more ‘normal’ ones? The original long dress was sleeveless.
There is enough fabric in the current sleeves to slim down to more regular sleeves or I still have some fabric, enough to make a band for sleeveless. I’m not sure if I have enough to make short sleeves - maybe.

Update and Continuing with Machine Embroidery Course

I haven’t been sewing anything recently. I’ve managed a few alterations and repairs and a little bit of machine embroidery - though I’ve f...