A Rather Vintage Vogue

A Rather Vintage Vogue

One thing I hadn’t dare attempt was a vintage pattern. I had had a brief look before but the instructions left me cold so I left well alone. The sewtogetherforsummer hashtag changed all that. I began with a Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress and then a Megan Nielsen Darling Ranges and loved both of them. I then the found the Vogue pattern of all Vogue patterns. An Oscar De La Renta designer pattern that had some dubious stains on the packet, was a bit moth eaten but all the pattern pieces were there and…gulp..the instructions too!


I cut out all the pattern pieces using a gorgeous coral and cream shirting fabric from Fabworks Mill Shop. I decided that I didn’t want too many gathers on the back bodice so I moved the fold in a couple of inches making it narrower. Then I started on the collar, wowsers. As it’s a classic seventies design, the collar was a bit too Noddy Holder for me so I decided to shave some off. It ended up being pretty much half the original depth so that gives you some idea of how huge it was!

The bodice went together surprisingly well, a few gathers and pretty straightforward. That is until I got to the front facing which eventually becomes the lapel. I somehow had to attach the the front facing to the upper collar and then flip it over and sew the two collars together. I looked at it, made a cup of tea, looked at it again, made dinner, went to work, looked at it again (you’re getting the gist). It seemed as if the more I read it, the more confused I became. The instructions seemed to be in some alien language that just teased me into stringing words together that made no sense what so ever!!


Two weeks later I decided that I was just going to sew the damn thing and see what happened. This actually paid off but then I completely messed up where the lapel meets the collar. A few chosen words and screams later and I took a deep breath and cut out another bodice in its entirety. If I had made a toile this wouldn’t have happened so I have massively learnt from this!

The second bodice went together better, more knowledge about its construction goes a long way. The nifty ties went nicely into the side French seams and the skirt was thankfully uneventful. The sleeves were also HUGE so I adapted them using the sleeves from the SOI Vintage Shirt Dress. I love the sleeves and think they compliment the dress perfectly.

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I have to say that when I completed this dress there was the usual sense of satisfaction but there was also something extra. A sense of achievement and a new found confidence that I had managed something much more complex than I had ever attempted before. I also genuinly love this dress and the fit is perfect!!

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Making a Skirt for Everyday

Making a Skirt for Everyday

The instagram sewing community is incredibly supportive nurturing and inspiring and it never ceases to amaze me! I happened to mention to fellow instagrammer  Suzy Roberts that I adored the fabric of her latest make. A couple of weeks later, she messaged me to say that she had some left and would I like it!! It was so kind and thoughtful, I was utterly overwhelmed!!

The parcel came in the post and was beautifully wrapped in a vintage ribbon and even more bright and beautiful in real life!!

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It is the most beautiful drapey and soft brushed twill with a border print. It felt like such a massive responsibility to make something perfect for the fabric, something I would wear a lot and something that would fit me well and not end up on the reject pile!

I scoured the internet for skirt patterns as I decided that the border on the edge of the fabric would look perfect as the hem and the darker border for the waste band. I have always admired Karyn Valino owner of  The Workroom, a sewing studio and community space in Toronto. I saw her version of the everyday skirt and knew that I had found the pattern.

The everyday skirt is by Liesl & Co, a pattern designer from New York. Their mantra is ‘Everyday style that is easy to sew’ and they have a fantastic range of dresses, shirts and skirts. The PDF is a bit different to the usual in that it uses every spare corner and you have to slice some pieces in half and fit them to the corresponding numbers. It was a great use of the paper with absolutely no waste!!

The pattern had very clear instructions with easy to follow diagrams and step by step guidance. I made it in a couple of evenings and didn’t have to make any adjustments, the fit was perfect. As the pattern uses elastic on the waistband with no zips or fastenings that also cuts down on the make time. Im really pleased how the bordered fabric works with the skirt and i love the pockets…obviously!!

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It’s a really fab skirt which could be dressed up or down and I’m already planning my second using some Liberty lawn from my stash!!

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A Sylko Obsession

A Sylko Obsession

I have a confession. There is something about those little wooden cotton reels that make me go weak at the knees. I can’t really put my finger on it. It could be the lovely little brightly coloured labels, the stunningly beautiful colours that cling onto their brightness after fifty or more years of life or maybe its the quirky names such as Forget-me-not, Turkey Red or Gay Kingfisher. Whatever it is, my obsession has led to me collecting quite a few of said cotton reels, buying one or a bundle of them whenever I can get my hands on them. Then one day, I set myself the task of collecting all 500 colours. I have a spread sheet (did I hear a snort then) which I must say is decidedly out of character, so that I can keep track of what I already have and what I still need.

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So far I have around 84 and they are stuffed in shoes boxes and bundled onto shelves in my sewing room and it seems such a shame to have such beauties hidden away. As I work in the Antiques trade, I am well placed for finding shelves and cabinets but I decided to make my own ‘made to measure’ shelf unit to display the ones that I have and to grow into as I collect.

Firstly, I worked out a simple design and measured my cotton reels to decide how wide I wanted my shelves to be. I also measured an overlocker reel as it will be useful to store these too. I then went to my local wood merchants and got them to cut me nine, 1 metre lengths. As they use a circular saw it ensures that the cuts are at right angles which is vital for accuracy.

Using my omnigrid ruler I divided up two 1 metre lengths to accommodate seven shelves, marked them on and then marked two screw holes onto each shelf.

Using a drill I drilled all the marked holes, I then used a countersink bit to sink the screws so that they are flush. I then drilled through the side pieces into the shelves and glued and screwed all the shelves together. It is vitally important to line the shelves up exactly and at right angles to the sides and also to make sure that the screws ‘bite’ when tightened up.

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Then it was just a case of filling the holes and painting it up ready to go on the wall!!

Im so pleased with the final result and now I can buy as many Sylko’s as I like!!

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A Mother’s Day Bettine

A Mother’s Day Bettine

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On the morning of Mother’s Day my daughter produced the most beautiful handmade card (I have 18 years worth kept in a treasured pile in my bedside drawer). She also gave me a Tilly and the Buttons Bettine paper pattern. I was absolutely thrilled as it was pinned into my Pinterest ‘Stuff I want to make folder’ about a year ago. It’s also lovely to have a paper pattern as I often use the PDF style and there is something a little more luxurious about a paper pattern.

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I had ear marked a vintage fabric that I had found in an antique centre so I was ready to go. It is a thick polyester, has a good drape and it was £5 for 3 yards! I don’t know why but I agonised over which size to make. Possibly because the fabric had absolutely no ‘give’ to it what-so-ever but also because of the design. I didn’t know how roomy I wanted my finished garment measurements to be. My actual measurement being size 3, I decided to make size 4 as I hate my clothes being too tight.

Cutting out was easy as its a really thick quality paper but the fabric I had chosen was a complete nightmare. It frayed, it moved, no stretch (at all) and because I bought it as a vintage one off, I knew I only had just enough. No mistakes, no pockets, concentrate….

My first mistake was sewing the skirt pieces the wrong way round (I wasn’t concentrating and hadn’t bothered lining up the notches). Thank goodness the thick polyester was very forgiving when unpicked!! Sewn back the right way and fabric aside, the pattern was a pleasure to make. I had cut out the size 4 skirt and it made me look like I should be coming in at 2:1. Was it possible my hips could look that wide…clearly yes. I looked at the pattern and you could clearly see that it bulged on the pattern too. I graded the skirt down to a 3 in the middle, a new couple of seams and the skirt fitted perfectly. I also had originally cut it 2″ longer as I had done some research and a rather short skirt was one of the complaints.

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I will definitely be making this pattern again but not with temperamental fabric like this!! I shall make the pocket version next time and I shall make one in a stretch fabric too. I read on Tilly Blog that you don’t have to change the pattern for jersey fabric, although it’s best not to make pockets as they can look a bit saggy!

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A New Look in Coral

A New Look in Coral

Whilst on a shopping trip to Lincoln, I muttered those immortal words ‘I just want to pop in the fabric shop, won’t be long’ (yeah right). It amuses me that he still believes me when I say this or maybe he’s just resigned to the truth! Anyway, there I am in Fabric Corner, doing my usual fabric stroking and I spotted this pretty coral floral viscose. Extremely soft and a wonderful drape, I bought 2 metres of it having no idea whatsoever what I was going to make. I always buy 2 metres and it always seems to be more than enough!

The last two dresses that I made were Colette Laurels but I find a high neck style doesn’t particularly suit me. I’ve wanted to make a scoop neck dress for ages and was thrilled when my daughter bought me the Tilly Bettine pattern for Mother’s Day! I cannot wait to make it but I wanted some practice using interfacing first. Rifling through my ever growing pattern stash, I came across the New Look 6803.  I originally bought it planning to chop off the pattern and make a top but decided on dress B in a size 10.

Cutting out the fabric was quite tricky as I always use a rotary cutter and this fabric moved very easily. It was good experience though and didn’t put me off, I just put more pins in and that seemed to do the trick. When cutting the sleeves out, I decided that they were too short and I would prefer longer ones. I only had a small amount of fabric left but recut the sleeves and added some length, having no idea if it would work. It worked perfectly, thank goodness!

It’s the first time that I have used facing on a neck line and I was a tad worried about it. I needn’t have as it was far easier than I expected. In hindsight the fabric being very floppy made it hang strangely so I should have made it a bit deeper to ‘tuck down’. Instead I just did a line of top stitching close to the neckline which was remedy enough.


What went well

I’m really pleased with the end result and fit, it’s so comfortable and soft. I will definitely make this pattern again and I will also try a top too as the scoop neckline is perfect for me.

Even better if

I’m tempted to make a belt to try with the dress as it will make it more flattering being cinched in at the waist.

A Couple Of Laurels

A Couple Of Laurels

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It is because I have always wanted a shift dress that I decided to make my first Laurel. I chose the Colette Shift dress pattern and printed it PDF style and methodically cut off the strips and stuck all the bits together. In my rather extensive stash I had a lovely purple tartan in a fairly light and slightly stretchy fabric that I had purchased from Fabric Corner in Lincoln

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I found the pattern easy to follow but although I payed particular attention to the finished garment size, the end product was really roomy waist down. I took a little bit more off the seam (about 1/2″ each side) and that was enough. I also found the neckline rather high for my taste so I shaved 1/2″ off the front too.  I really enjoyed the fiddly bit of fitting the sleeves and the end result of the neat little sleeve was worth all the pinning. I wore my first attempt to a friends birthday bash and was so pleased, I went straight on to make my second.

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I wanted my next one to be more structured so I used a cotton poplin that I had bought from Coolcrafting. It is an exquisite shade of grey and reminded me a little bit of Liberty fabric!

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Cutting out was a breeze and because of the previous sizing issue,  I graded the pattern one size smaller below the waist. I have no idea why, but this time it really gaped at the back on the neckline. I was so frustrated because it hadn’t happened before !! A quick emergency text to my sister in law and it was decided that I should put a couple of ‘garment saving’ darts in the back. Hey presto, they worked thank goodness… panic over, or so I thought.

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Using the poplin which is quite stiff and doesn’t drape that well made it really quite shapeless and I began to wonder if I would ever wear it. Out popped the scissors and before you could say ‘shapeless shift dress’ it was a top and I’m much happier with the result. in fact…I wore it all day !!

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Will I make another Laurel ? I most certainly will but I will use fabrics with draping properties and I’m going to lower the neckline a bit more. I will also try to sort out the gaping neckline by adjusting the pattern.

My First Pattern !

My First Pattern !

I first made some clothes when I was a hormonal teenager. One night I decided that I needed a new hoody, had a look at my sisters, rummaged in my mums rather extensive fabric stash and then I made it. It was navy blue and I wore it until it fell off me. When I look back, I’m really not sure how I did it but now as a grown up (pulls a face) I have always wanted to follow a pattern and quite like the idea of ‘me made every day’.

My twenties were a blur of babies and house renovating, I started seriously quilting in my early thirties and now here I am, gulp, in my forties. Its my sister-in-law who really inspired me to give it a go. She was already writing a very successful blog which I always avidly read and every time I see her she has the most fantastic collection of beautifully made clothes. Let just say that she is rocking ‘me made every day’.

So about 18 months ago, I bought my first pattern  The Colette Dahlia. Now I know what you’re thinking, probably not the easiest of patterns to start off with (which I now realise) but I have always been very optimistic!

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I had a beautiful Liberty fabric D’Anjo which I had purchased from Shaukat some time before. I cut it all out and painstakingly marked all the darts and notches, sewed the bodice together, read the instructions about the yoke and then… nothing… I stopped… I was scared. What if it didn’t fit me?  What if, gasp, it looked like I had made it?  I never thought these things when I was 16, sewing stretch fabric with no pattern. I’m ashamed to say that the result of these thought’s were the pattern pieces and partly made bodice being slung over the back of my chair, for over a year.

January 2016 something happened to me. I think it was a combination of Instagram and all the inspirational pictures, my sister-in-law came to visit and I tried on some of her new makes and finally I just really felt like I needed to get stuck into something new. I was ready.

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I used The Colette Dahlia Sewalong quite a bit because I don’t know about you, but sometimes I really struggle with reading instructions and actually seeing all the different stages helps it to make sense.  I actually really quite enjoyed making the yoke and managed to catch all of the inside with the topstitching (which you are supposed to).

My proudest moment was making my own bias binding. I used the Continuous Bias Binding method demonstrated here by Colette. It really seems to give the dress a good finish and I didn’t want to use a solid colour to detract from the beautiful liberty fabric.

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What Went Well

Considering its my first ‘proper’ make, I’m really pleased with the general fit and yoke sits really well. The tana lawn was a dream to cut out and to sew and you really can’t beat the feeling of wearing something that you have made from beginning to end.

Even Better If

My first attempt at a hidden zip leave a lot to be desired so lets just say I have been wearing a cardigan with it. I realise my error though and have bought a proper invisible zipper foot which will fix the problem . If I make it again I would also like to splice out some of the back pattern piece as the neckline is a little bit ‘roomy’.

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