Dance like no one is watching.
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Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Cotton Dragonfly Dress

I finished my final version of this dress just in time for a weekend away with the girls. It is a sixties pattern from The People, purchased on Ebay.

The inspiration in choosing the fabric for the final version came from a gorgeous little purse my friend gave me for my birthday.

Dragonflies flew into my head and obviously stayed there when I was browsing the Japanese fabric selection on Ebay.  I purchased two metres of fabric and was aware that it was quite a narrow width, but I only just got away with it. 

No fussy cutting pattern matching for me!

I tweaked the fit from the toile, making it more fitted at the bodice and giving myself more room at the hips.  I did make the skirt a little bit more a-line in the end but was pleased to keep the collar and neckline exactly as drafted on the pattern.  Even if it was a bit of a faff lining up five layers of fabric at the neckline.

Can you ever use too many pins?!

The zip was my best attempt yet at inserting an invisible zip.  There were no bumps or blips and I was so pleased I took a photo.

I love the finished dress.  I'm afraid the photos of the finished article are a bit grainy, as I was more interested in partying than posing...

Cue selfie with my friend!

 Grainy black and white photo, but you can see the back detail in the mirror!

The dragonflies seem quite happy together!

I had a great weekend and am now looking forward to lots of chocolate!

Linking up with Vintage Pattern Pledge and Spring for Cotton.


Sunday, 22 March 2015

Revisiting My First Love

Before I thought it might be possible that I could make clothes that would fit me both at the hips and waist I made quilts.  I began doing this when my first child was a baby and I needed something silent to do when she napped in her cot beside me.  And so began my love of hand quilting.

I have recently been trying to perfect my machine quilting technique and, whilst I love the speed this offers, I missed the act of hand quilting.  I decided to print out a simple quilting pattern from Electric Quilt and see if I could still do stitches that show up on both sides of the work!

I think hand quilting is one of those things that is best to 'just do' without worrying too much if you are improving.  Some stitches I like - some not so much - but I think I will improve with practice.

The fact that I was quilting by hand also meant that I could use one of my favourite things.  I strengthened the variegated thread I was using with this beeswax block that I got from a honey farm whilst on holiday in West Wales.  It may seem a shame to make thread marks into such a pretty thing but it will last me a lifetime!

The finished piece will hopefully be made into something I can give to a friend who has a birthday coming up, maybe a bag or small cushion, I haven't decided yet.  I didn't really have anything in mind at the outset.  I just wanted to quilt. :)

Monday, 16 March 2015

I blame the Great British Sewing Bee.

After I saw them refashioned Eighties' dresses on the Great British Sewing Bee, I was itching to have a go myself.  That's when I got this beauty with a 99 pence bid on Ebay.

With the styling of 'Challenge Anneka' combined with the colour of 'Bucks Fizz' this screamed Eighties.  It must also have screamed 'don't buy me!' as I was the only bidder.

I knew that it would be too small before it arrived but I just had to try it on for a giggle.  Yes, I did hear a rip just before this next photo was taken....


I placed a bid because I loved the colour and it looked like it had a nice drape.  And it does.  It is a viscose which has the softness of butter as well as its colour.  I decided I wanted a full skirt and I was also keen to re-use the elasticated waistband.  I mean, how often can you get a colour match that good.

I unpicked the waistband from the top and bottom of the dress and cut the skirt at center front and back.  I realised I would have to use all of the fabric from the top if I was to make a nice full skirt so the front of the top became the front of the skirt and the back of the top the back of the skirt.

I'm not sure about it though.  The large pockets make it look like an obvious refashion to me, but if I took them off I would be left with distinctive stitching holes.  I know this because I picked apart a seam from a scrap of leftover fabric and there was no way of disguising the previous stitching line.

On the minus side it is a bit short but on the plus side I already have matching shoes! 

It will definitely get worn but do I like it?... I'm still 'making my mind up!!'  (Sorry - had to get another Bucks Fizz reference in!)

Monday, 9 March 2015

Note to self - stop finishing your toiles.

Otherwise my entire wardrobe is going to be made up of this fabric!

I have sewed up a vintage pattern I managed to get in a bargain bundle from Ebay.  Namely The People Pattern Service number 173.

I did my usual FBA and altered the hips.  My first version was a disaster as I really overcompensated for my larger hip measurement.  I ended up pinning over an inch back off my toile - adjusting my paper pattern - and throwing toile number one away.  Hurrah!  Got rid of some of this fabric then.

I thought I also had to do a swayback adjustment but I overdid that as well, as I ended up with a very wonky hem!  With nobody around to measure the true hem whilst laughing at me I created my own version of 'wonky hem mugshot'.

Wanted for crimes against hems.  

Anyway, I'm fairly pleased with how the end result came out.

Hips still need a bit of adjustment I think as the fabric is riding up a little - and, although I lowered the bust darts they need lowering just a little more.... sigh...

But the best part of this pattern is definitely the collar.  I had the perfect soft orange fabric from a bundle of fabrics I also got with a low bid from Ebay!

This was my first time attaching a collar.  I researched tips on how to do it and, of course, every book said something different.  Some said to interface the undercollar, some said to interface the uppercollar, some said to make the undercollar fractionally smaller than the uppercollar - others had you rolling the seam a little.  In the end I had a cup of tea.  Then I did a miss-match of techniques and I'm pleased with the results.

Now all I need to do is make more, more adjustments to my traced pattern and I'll be able to start making the dress with the real material. 

(Linking up with the Vintage Pattern Pledge.)


Saturday, 7 February 2015

I've got socks older than that doctor/dentist/teacher!

How old is your oldest pair of socks?  I tend to hold on to mine until the bitter end.  They inevitably get a hole in the heel and then I have to admit defeat and chuck them out.  Handknitted socks are another matter though.  Even then they don't get the chop.

I was sorting out the laundry and realised that a pair of my husband's handknitted socks had developed a hole.  Thanks to my back catalogue of posts I can see that I finished these socks at the end of 2010 and they have been going strong since then.  Not bad for socks that have been in regular use.  I bought a darning mushroom from a charity shop a few years back and it has been put to good use.

I'm afraid I can't give you a masterclass on how to darn socks as I am fairly slapdash.  I just sew sort of ladders back and forth across the hole and then weave the yarn up and down these ladders to fill in the gaps. 

I think it's supposed to look like you haven't needed to repair it at all, which is not quite how it looks when I do it - but, well, it looks better than before!

The socks live to fight another day!

Thursday, 1 January 2015

It's not that warm in Wales actually.

I love the time between Christmas and the start of the school term, as I get a bit of sewing time in before going back to work.  

This year for Christmas I was lucky enough to get a copy of Gretchen Hirsch's latest book 'Gertie Sews Vintage Casual' from my sister and I decided to have a go at making a toile for the shift dress in the book.  I fancy making myself a summer holiday wardrobe and the patterns in the book fitted with my ideas.

I started with a US size 8 at the bust and graded it out to a size 12 at the hips.  I was really pleased with the grading on the pattern and appreciated Gretchen's bias towards drafting on the curvy side.  It meant that I had a wearable toile without any major adjustments.

The back did show up a few problems.  I have a bit of a swayback issue and I will re-draft the centre back I think to take this into account.  This is something I have dealt with before so I wasn't too surprised this was the case.  It may be a bit too tight in the hips as well but I think the swayback will help with the fit and I can look at this again.  This is meant to be a basic pattern and I hope to make a few versions with different necklines and I suppose I should lengthen it a little!

I think that's all the sewing I can fit in before going back to work.  It was time to take down the Christmas decorations today.  It was lovely looking at all the decorations myself and the children have made over the years.  Can't wait for next Christmas to put them all up again! 

Happy New Year.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Dress In A Day - Christmas Dress

I had one day in which to make my dress for Christmas Day.  I started cutting out the pattern at 9am and, save for meals, worked solidly on it and finished just in time to watch my favourite hospital drama on the telly at 8pm.  And that, M'lord, is why I am never going to apply to be a contestant on 'The Great British Sewing Bee'.

I made it as simple as possible.  No sleeves, using the bodice from my last dress (Simplicity 1873) together with a gathered skirt that I sort of copied, sort of not.

The fabric is the reason I wanted to make this dress.  A pretty calico print from Ditto fabrics.  The bodice is lined with a white duvet cover that was given to me by a friend. 

I love the fabric and I love the neckline.

I clipped the neckline curve and I think that this is the first time I have done it where it seems to have kept a gentle curve rather than having some obvious dints in the line where the clips are.  If you see what I mean!

I also lowered the bust dart from my original version of this bodice and it has helped with the fit.  Merle is a bit smaller than I am at the moment but I've started running to work and am stubbornly refusing to increase her measurements in the meantime!!!

So those are the good points of my dress.  The pattern matching is another story however.  The skirt is a little odd in that that pattern dips centre front and back but it does match all the seams.  The bodice lines up at the side...

This was because I was careful to line up the bodice pieces to the same line of the print when cutting out.  I forgot, however, to line up the print centrally at the front of the bodice and as for the back...

...what?....  That had me sulking as I was eating my evening meal let me tell you!  It seems my lining up of the selvedges must have been wrong but that was something that I did check.  If it was something obvious please tell me what I did so I don't do it again!!

So not a perfect dress, but perfect for Christmas Day.  I wore it with a fairisle cardigan and it was surprisingly resilient.  Not creasy like quilting cotton would be.  I am just wondering if I can get away with this print on my summer holidays.....!