Saturday, 29 September 2012

Off to a ceilidh (apparently)

Pattern: Butterick 5782

Fabric: Purple check polyester from Mason's (£2.99 a metre - let's hope it doesn't look cheap!)

Size 12

Option B

I must admit, that I wasn't looking forward to using this pattern having had some awful Butterick experiences. But I thought the fabric I bought was so well suited that I had to attempt it. I didn't do a muslin as the pattern pieces are full length and that would have been a lot of fabric so I just hoped for the best and cut a 12. It seems to fit rather well so that's a relief!

The pattern, as anticipated, wasn't the easiest to follow. There was a good deal of guess work and trust that it would all become clear involved. Things were even more complicated by the fact that there are instructions for three different styles of dress within the same pattern, so on a couple of occasions I wasted time being very confused and then realising I was reading the instructions for dress A or C.

This was a good test of my skills so far though, and I feel I have made progress as I was able to work out what they were talking about based on past experience. I love that it's fully lined - it feels very special and grown-up and makes a nice swishy sound when I walk.

Is there anything more luxurious than a nice, bright lining?

There were some bits of handsewing which made me nervous as I'm not the neatest and most patient person, but actually it was quite therapeutic, and attaching the lining to the zip was very pleasing and looks really neat so yay to that!

Things I'm not so happy about? The fabric is a bit too thick for the cowl neck to hang nicely but I think the addition of a brooch should fix that. I think I shall make another of this, as it's a great shape for work, but I'll try the V-neck. The waist is a tiny bit low on me. I always (I say always, I've only done this twice) make a mess of finishing the shoulder lining. It ends up bulky and not very pretty. I will press it to death and hope that works!

I was pleased with Big Minx's initial response of "Really? you made that?" and amused by the follow-up of "You look Scottish, like you're off to a ceilidh". :-)

Oh look - it has pockets! :-)

Thursday, 27 September 2012

What Jalie wallpaper!

Pattern: Jalie Scarf Collar Knit Top

Size: U (there are so many size options in this pattern so it can fit children and all sizes of adult!)

Fabric: Navy Flower Power interlock from Tissu Fabrics

I've wanted a top with a pussy bow (or a 'cat' bow as I have to call it when my best friend's email filters kick in!) for ages but there don't seem to be any around at the moment. So I was overjoyed when I found this pattern and ordered it straight away.

I was a little worried when the pattern arrived as there weren't the usual pages and pages of instructions, just a little list and a few pictures. But it turned out to be sheer joy! It's actually a really simple construction and therefore the instructions were ample, with the images to clear up any questions.

I'm a lazy sewist and usually pink my edges rather than do any finishing on them. This pattern recommended that each seam should be sewn with a zigzag stitch on the edge, and then a straight stitch whilst stretching the fabric a little. I did as instructed and it resulted in a really nicely finished garment that I'm very proud of. I would tentatively say that it looks shop bought. In a nice way.

The seam allowances are small in this pattern (1/4") and I get so used to be able to do quite big snips for marker points that there were a couple of times when I had to sew a slightly larger seam so as not to end up with a hole! Oops.

The hardest part was finding some nice jersey fabric! The one I bought is great, really nice and soft and a good thickness, although it's only a 2-way stretch when the pattern calls for 4-way. Luckily the top fits beautifully so it's not a problem but when (definitely when) I make it again I'll try to find a 4-way. I'm also a little concerned that the pattern on the fabric is a bit much, but it's growing on me and I'm testing it out on my colleagues today. Nobody has shrunk away in fear yet.

This is definitely the best pattern I've used so far in terms of picking a size based on my measurements and it fitting perfectly. The whole thing, pattern and fabric cutting, and sewing, took about 3-4 hours so this really is an instant-gratification project. I even squeezed in an episode of Great British Bake-Off in the middle.

I'll definitely be considering more Jalie patterns in the future.

The rain and the nights closing in are making mid-week outdoor shots rather difficult so here's a nice wall / door combo. Please excuse that I'm not looking my best - it was getting late and I'd been busily sewing all evening (hence the flushed cheeks).

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

It's curtains for you!

Pattern: It's a rectangle

Size: My window

Fabric: Summersville by Lucie Summers in green.

For a while now we've needed a curtain for our little hallway window and after some deliberating, we agreed that Summersville was really rather cute and the right fabric for the job. It was a pretty simple job and barely blog-worthy, but as it's something I sewed, it gets on here! The fabric was just wide enough that I didn't need to join panels, although not enough to pleat it so it's a pretty straight curtain. I attached curtain tape to the top (that was fun, I now want to put curtain tape on everything!) and hemmed the sides and the bottom. And hung it. So simple!
I did have issues however in that my thread kept snapping and jamming which means unfortunately the hems aren't as neat as I would like. After trying every fix I could think of,  I eventually just changed thread and it worked fine. Lesson learned - sometimes sewing machines and threads just don't want to play together.

Here are some little pics!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Crafter Math

Craftermath: The resulting and overwhelming mess left lying about after creative pursuits
Pattern: Sally Shirt Dress from Serendipity Studio


Fabric: Cotton/lurex from John Lewis (again!)

Size: Small
There is always plenty of craftermath in our house, but I felt it also related to this dress as it was born from craft and maths. More on that below.

I love shirt dresses. They're classic, smart, but flirty and fun at the same time. But they are impossible to find unless they're in fashion and even then they're often khaki, with a zip down the middle and only just cover the bum. Shudder. So, imagine my joy when I found the Sally Shirt Dress pattern from Serendpity and the realisation I could make my own. As many times as I like!

I loving trying out the patterns from smaller designers and this was no exception. I was fascinated by the design idea of making a big sack dress, then taking it in using pleats to fit each wearer perfectly. There's maths involved which was fun even for a number-phobe such as myself. Using some simple calculations, all guided by the pattern, I figured out how many pleats to use and where to place them.

I'm always worried that things are going to be too small on me, so as usual, I ended up with something a bit loose, but the joy of this pattern is that I could just stick in another pleat around the back, and BAM! a beautifully fitted dress. The only other adjustment I made was to elongate the pleats at the top of the back to stop it being baggy, and the same for the first pleat on each front side, under the arms. I guess this is a small bust thing.

Even though they're far from perfect, I love making buttonholes so found the eight required for this dress quite therapeutic. Hopefully they will hold!

I love the little touches on this dress and if I make another (quite likely) I think I'll go for a plainer fabric and add contrast accents, such as the sleeve trim and the fun bias-cut hem (pic below). Also, the pattern has instructions for a tie belt or a buckled belt. I didn't make one although I think a belt would look lovely, particularly in a contrast fabric.

Bias-cut hem. I think it's marvellous with the check fabric:

My only criticism of this pattern is that some of the instructions aren't that clear and I think assume prior knowledge. I worked some things out based on prior experience (i'm such a seasoned expert now, of course ;-) ) but others I needed to look up. Thankfully I had my trusty sewing bible to hand. I love this book, it's incredible and made all the more beautiful because it cost about £2 at a village fete.

Me and my sewing bible:

It has the problem that all shirt dresses have, in that when you sit down and the inevitable spare tyre(s) make an appearance, there is some gaping between buttons. I'm not sure how to combat that and also have the dress fit nicely when I'm standing, so i shall just wear a modesty top under the dress.

I love this dress. It makes me feel girly and like I want to roll in some hay. Although I probably wouldn't for fear of losing a button.

Looking a bit like it's the first day of school!

P.S. It just dawned on me that if i had done the buttonholes vertically, they might not be so gapey. Ah well. Next time.


A Zipiphany

Pattern: Peony from Colette

Fabric: Cotton/lurex stripe from John Lewis. Sadly, the lurex stripes don't show very well on the photo.

Size: 8 (US sizing)

For about 6 months I had planned to make Butterick 5708 to wear to a friend's wedding. I finally embarked on the project and it was another nightmare Butterick Retro pattern. That is two that have failed now due to awful fit. I won't be trying these patterns again in a hurry. I had been so sure of what I was going to make for so long that I couldn't envisage anything else and spent hours trawling through patterns feeling glum. Then I found Peony. I had assumed I wanted something a bit fancy but Peony made me realise that simplicity could be just as beautiful. Phew - job done! Oh, except I then couldn't find the right fabric. I don't know exactly what I was looking for, but I certainly didn't find it online or in Mason's. In fact, I did about 5 laps of the shop and started attracting strange looks from the staff before I just gave up. There ensued a fraught trip to Milton Keynes (never again!) which did luckily result in me buying fabric in John Lewis. I nearly bought something else entirely but changed my mind due to the cost. I can't believe I almost didn't buy this fabric. It's all my favourite colours combined AND has lurex stripes for a bit of glam.

I had done a lot of perusing the internet looking at other peoples versions of Peony and the overriding message was that it was a joy to make, but you must, must, MUST make a muslin to get the shape of the bodice right. I am so glad I took the advice of my fellow sewists because I really did need to do some big adjustments to the darts. It's different for each person and body shape, evidently, as every blog I read seemed to tell of different alterations. I tried mine on a hundred times moving things around and eventually settled on moving the waist darts down and out and making them narrower. This gave me a lovely fit. I don't know about the theory behind it, but it worked, so i'm pleased.

This is another fantastic pattern. They just come together so easily - no guess work due to the really clear instructions and illustrations. I skipped around the house declaring I had a sleeve much to the bemusement of Big Minx. I had expected I would need a few tries before getting the sleeves set in neatly but no...first time!

I must have put the zip in four or five times before I was satisfied. It's not entirely invisible, and there is a weird bump at the bottom that sticks out but otherwise I'm rather pleased! I found this fantastic tutorial and will always use this from now on I think!

Despite having done a muslin, I found the dress was a bit baggy once finished (the problem with trying something on yourself - must get a mannequin!) but really didn't fancy unstitching it all, so did some clever unpicking of side and waist seams to bring it in and I'm glad I did as it fits so much better.

I would definitely make another Peony and there are so many options with this dress that I bet it would look entirely different.

Oh, and I forgot to say...there are pockets again. :-)


And here's a bonus shot of Peony in action at the wedding itself. With me is the gorgeous Elena from Tea for Two Diary wearing her incredible homemade creation! Much dress and talent envy.