Shout to the Top

Take a bag of fabric scraps and a simple pattern, no small amount of time and fiddling and you’re rewarded with a pretty unique item of clothing.  I’d wanted to make a tee from the different white and blue pieces of jersey in the scrapbag for ages, inspired by a tee from a Burda magazine from a couple of years ago.

I decided to make the Lark Tee, traced the 4 with slightly widened shoulders, moving to the 2 at the waist and then out to the 6 for the hip.  This was to be for a friend.  I started by tracing the outline of the tee from the pattern art/line drawings and playing around with placement of the different prints.

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Trying out different pattern placements

It needed to be done hand in hand with checking the actual amounts of the different fabrics, no point in deciding to do a large panel and finding out later there was only enough for a neckband!  Once I decided I’d have enough of each of the pieces to do the required panels, I started blocking off the traced pattern, making sure each piece had a grainline and was labelled with the intended fabric.  I also marked the top and bottom of each piece.  The fronts and backs were cut separately.  There were two types of blue and white stripe, a solid navy blue and a piece of navy blue with randomly placed white blocks.  As each piece was cut I pinned and sewed, making a full front and back.

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On the left are the pieces for the back, front pieces on the right with the sleeve in the middle and the neckband on the top front panel

I’d have liked to have been able to have more of the solid blue, but as I told myself I was only using what I had this is the result.  I’m pretty chuffed with it, for a pretty much free tee, can it get better?  Afterall, I’ve used the narrow stripe on 3 other tees, and the solid  blue on two.  That pile of stuff on the right of the above photo is what was left once I’d finished cutting!  Not too shabby!!

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The finished tee, modeled by Betty.

I haven’t been able to persuade my friend to show it off herself yet, so Betty will have to do.  It’s a little baggy on her as she hasn’t the same shape.

navy lark tee 1
Neckline detail
navy lark tee 3
Left side with the wide stripes running round from front to back
navy lark tee 2
Right side with narrow stripes matching
navy lark tee 4
Last, but not least, the back!

Now that this has turned out so well, I’m keen to make another – but for me this time!  It’ll join the sewing queue, so it might be a while before I’m showing it off! I have just finished my Morgan Jeans today, so perhaps their blog post will be ready mid September…

What’s on your sewing table for the weekend?

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On my Sewing Table – 1920s Evening Dress

Oh my word, how fast is this year spinning by?  I still have a pile of fabrics to use up and patterns to find, not to mention still ploughing through daughter no2’s summer wishlist.  I have done pretty well using up stashed fabric this year, I haven’t calculated any totals yet, not measured anything, but I’m feeling positive that I’m going in the right direction!  The project I’m working on at the moment is also a stash bust, but only half.

Earlier in the year, I was asked by a friend to make a 1920s evening dress for her to attend a charity ball in September.  At the time I said, yes, why not?  Sounds like fun.  I started looking at patterns online and had a few ideas, then when I won a pattern of my choice from Decades of Style I thought I might as well pick something useful.  So together we decided on the Zig Zag dress.  I duly ordered it and promptly forgot all about it.

A couple of months passed and said friend mentioned that we probably ought to make a start on the dress…  OH DEAR!  I admitted total forgetfulness and then thought, where’s that pattern??  Decades of Style assured me that it had been sent out long ago, so someone else is enjoying my pattern – grrrr.  They sent out a new one, but of course, now we’re getting twitchy.  In the meantime we bought what we thought was the perfect fabric, but it was all Croft Mill Fabrics had left, and it was less than the Zig Zag dress required.  We needed to figure out contrast areas.

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Ideas based on the Decades of Style Zig Zag Dress

So I went back online, made a few sketches, had a few ideas.  Eventually we settled on a new design and I started to draft from her close fitting bodice block.  I drew a panel at the hip, divided the skirt into three and added 3cm of flare to the hemline of each panel.  The front and back bodice both got a v-neckline, the back deeper than the front.  Because the fabric has a zig-zag sequin motif I decided against any curves, so the hip panel is straight and angular.  The pattern pieces fitted comfortably on the fabric, I had enough black silk charmeuse in my stash to use for the lining, we were sorted.

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Top left, curved hip panel and fuller, non-paneled skirt with straight hip panel and 6 gored skirt. Right, straight hip panel in plain black with 6 gored skirt. Zig Zag sequin fabric, bottom left.

Except that we couldn’t decide whether the hip panel should be sequins or plain.  A general agreement on Instagram was that it should be sequins, you can never have enough!  I had only one way to make sure we were on the right track.  I had my friend hold the fabric up against herself and I tied a width of black chiffon around her hips.  Folding the fabric up to the finished length, we then looked in the mirror.  We liked what we saw, then I removed the chiffon…  Not so dramatic.  Even though we thought sequins would be better, turns out we both preferred it with a plain black hip panel!  Go figure.

The lining has been made up, all seams French seamed and the neckline stabilised with Vilene bias tape.  As of now the sequin fabric has been cut and I was left with masses of chopped sequins on the cutting table, and everywhere else in the sewing room where they’d ricocheted after being cut.  Thankfully my new vacuum cleaner made short work of the stuff on the carpet, but I’ve a feeling I’l be hoovering up sequins for a while yet.

Now my task is to hand baste the skirt seams, remove the sequins that are in the way and then machine the seams.  The sequins are attached to mesh, so there won’t be any fraying.  I’m tempted to run the seams under the overlocker, but I’m not sure it’ll play nicely with that fabric.

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Sequin casualites everywhere!

The Decades of Style pattern eventually turned up on Friday morning, sadly, too late for this project, but hopefully I’ll have occasion to use it.  I really appreciate the company sending out another pattern, who knows where the first one ended up, but I hope the person who has it eventually gets a conscience.  So, this is my task for the weekend and into next week.  I want to get it all finished by next weekend, partly so I know it’s done and partly because there are lots of piles of things still waiting on my cutting table!!

Little Black Pencil Skirt

The Little Black Skirt
The Little Black Skirt

Just like the essential LBD, everyone needs a black skirt.  I’ve made this one for Daughter No2 from 1m of black stretch cotton sateen I bought from Fabric Godmother on Boxing Day – what else was I going to do on such a lazy post-Christmas day??  It was in the sale at just a 1m piece, so was only ever going to be a skirt and I had intended to use the Burda pattern I’d used last year for this plaid version.  I decided this one would be lining free, more of a summer skirt.  Possibly not my best decision, I now need to either make a slip, or find some stretch lining.

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Burdastyle skirt #120 from July 2012

I used the same alterations I’d used on the previous version, tapering the side seams to make it more pegged, but otherwise the waist fitted really well.  I think I might put some stabilising something or other either in the top or on the waistline, because this stretch cotton does stretch really well.  I don’t want any complaints that it’s moving too much or not sitting properly.  So there might be a strip of grosgrain ribbon appearing at a later date.

DSC09654-1So, lining – as you can see in these photos, the sateen clings to tights, so if Daughter No2 were to wear the skirt now, in the cold weather, she’d be fighting a losing battle to keep the skirt off her legs.  Now I did think of it more as a summer item, needing no lining.  Needless to say, now that the skirt is made, it will need to be worn, so I will have to make a plan.

DSC09652-1In the meantime, I’m happy, she’s happy and I have used up fabric before it’s had a chance to disappear into the stash – it’s a win!

DSC09655-1Talking of fabric…  Daughter No1 is now in her last year as a Textile Design student and has uploaded some designs onto Spoonflower.  Her plan was that loads of people would buy her designs, and she’d have enough money to go travelling for a year to Thailand, Australia and South America in September.  My plan was to print loads out for myself, but I just couldn’t decide which designs to print onto which fabrics, and then there was the waiting time, the cost of postage to the UK and of course, the UK customs tax..  So when the ladies at By Hand London announced they’d be printing custom fabric fabric I thought all my prayers had been answered!  It’s still taken me 3 months to pick a design, but finally last week I bit the bullet and ordered 2m of the “Thread” design.

Thread design by Hauser Prints, printed by By Hand London
Thread design by Hauser Prints, printed by By Hand London

I didn’t order a test swatch first, naughty I know.  The initial design is more grey than the fabric that arrived, this has a blue/green tone to it, but I don’t dislike it.  The fabric is a sturdy, crisp cotton and would stand up well to being a dress with either pencil or full skirt, it has plenty of body.  But I don’t do dresses, so I’m thinking a tailored shirt.  For me!  I just need to draft a pattern.

In the meantime, I am shamelessly going to ask that if you like a design on the Hauser Prints Spoonflower page, that you go ahead and buy some fabric!  Otherwise I’m going to have to fund more of this trip than I’d really like!  You’d be supporting a really good talent (I’m not just saying that because she’s mine) to explore more of the world and hopefully return to us in one piece, fully inspired by all the fabulous places she’s seen and the new cultures she’s experienced.  Then she can knuckle down and get a job in a design studio somewhere and start living her life!

Look Ma, I’m Wearing a Print!

It's a print!
It’s a print!

I’ve finished another self-drafted blouse!  I really needed more tops & blouses, Me-Made-May has shown that pretty clearly!  I have enjoyed it so far, especially showing off what Daughter No2 has in her wardrobe, but I’m having to repeat stuff.

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I used some of the pieces from the Midnight Blues blouse for this.  The back yoke & collar, neckline and front bands are the same.  The fabric I finally chose is a Liberty City Poplin.  It is pretty sturdy and very crisp, so perfectly suited to a more structured style.  I love the colours, the flowers are off-white and the ground is a blue-grey.  The pattern has alternating bands of small & larger flowers, so I lay the pattern pieces so that the smaller flowers lined up with the waistline.  The hope is that it looks like I have more shape in that area – not sure if that’s worked!

Front details
Front details

The front has a yoke at the shoulder that the bodice gathers into.  I converted the large shoulder bust dart into 3 areas, first the gathers at the yoke, then a 5cm underarm dart & the remainder went into the waist dart.  This was sewn as a dart tuck instead of a full double point dart.  I wanted more of a relaxed look, this fabric is quite sturdy, and while that lends itself to a more structured style, I wanted to be able to relax in it!

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The back also has a yoke, but there are no gathers here this time.  A central back panel & two side panels  make for a fitted look, something you need when using a sturdier fabric.  This stuff does not drape!  I curved the hem a little more than I have on previous patterns, mostly because it was going to be closer fitting.

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I love how the blouse looks with my dyed linen trousers, it also looks good with jeans but slightly all too pale with light linen.  Perhaps I just need more summer, that’s when the pale colours work!  I recon this is a good pattern, now I have another two still to toile, not to mention all sorts of other things to make.

I want to take part in the Sew Indie Month & have ordered the Snowball dress by Waffle Patterns (they’re a new one to me, but I love this dress!) which I’ll make for daughter No2, and the Carme blouse by Pauline Alice, which has had a fair bit of coverage on the internet.  Best I get cracking!  🙂

Wardrobe Architect & Me Made May 2014

Wow, two big things to get me out of my sewing rut & into something better and more interesting!  I was in quite a funk earlier in the year & the kind comments of my readers & the discovery of the Wardrobe Architect managed to drag me out of it.  I just need time and space to think of all the lovely goodies I’d like to make to suit, and then find the fabric to realise those day-dreams!  I made a good start with 3 blouses, then stopped to make fabulous things for skinny daughters & catch up on a bit of vintage sewing.

Now Me Made May is fast approaching, & I haven’t done much more to sort my very teeny-tiny wardrobe.  Very teeny because I switched over my winter & summer things this week.  There were loads of nice things in my summer boxes, the problem is that some I really don’t want to wear anymore & others I simply cannot wear (to put it plainly, I eat too much of what’s not good for me & I don’t exercise).  So it’s my fault I have only 2 t-shirts…

I do plan to make some more Plantains, once I find suitable fabric.  My local fabric store has a pitiful selection of jerseys, basically a handful of plains and some Liberty’s.  Not what I want!  One of the “tasks” for the Wardrobe Architect sessions was to create palettes, neutrals, accents etc, that we liked, then to narrow them down to form one particular palette from which to work.

My wordrobe consists mainly of neutrals – that’s where I’m happy, but I do realise the need for a little splash of colour here and there, and with summer knocking faintly on the front door I want to inject some colour or lightness that takes up some of the black & grey I live in in the winter.  That has been hard to do.  Whilst I like lots of colours, I don’t necessarily want to be wearing them.

I also find prints tricky.  Again, I like them, I can admire them, but wearing them….  I get scared.  My favourite pattern or print is the spot.  They’re safe.  But I want to be more adventurous!!  When I look into my fabric pile – meaning the pile I want for myself, I see spots, circles and more spots!  And variations on spots & circles…  I think I have an obsession.

silks, spotty & plain
Silks, spotty & plain

One thing I have managed is to get more pants! Or trousers, if you prefer.  There were a couple of pairs of linen trousers from the summer box that still fit – and that I still like the shape of (or can re-cut a bit).  But their colours were all wrong.  I didn’t take photos, not that long-sighted!  One pair was a chocolate brown, like milk chocolate.  I have always found them tricky to wear, even though I wanted a pair, I stick with turquoise or white on top.  The other was an interesting shade…  It was a shot linen, a kind of teal-green and violet.  Sounds weird, but I liked the effect.  Again, there was a problem of what to wear that with!  This time I decided to take action, if I was to wear them, they had to change colour.

So I threw them into the washing machine with a box of Dylon Antique Grey dye and waited for the result.  I love the new colours!  Because I didn’t use a dye stripper first they have come out of the machine with their own take on the grey.  The chocolate is now a warm, rich grey that I LOVE, the shot linen has hints of it’s original shade, but overall looks a blue/purple black/grey.  They’re perfect!  I will re-cut the legs of the purple/grey to make them narrower, but the chocolate grey is a perfect match for some of the colours I came up with for the colour project.

Chocolate linen trousers now a lovely warm dark grey
Chocolate linen trousers now a lovely warm dark grey

While I was dirtying up the washing machine, I also dyed a lightweight beige linen black, & re-blacked a pair black linen trousers that will also be re-cut.  All in all a great result!  Now to sort the tops…..  I have 3 pieces of spotty silk, different weights, weaves & colours and one black & white “blob” silk-cotton blend I made a blouse from a couple of years ago that needs attention.  I managed to catch the back on a door-handle or something & ripped it.  So I need to come up with something that can re-use parts of it, it’s far too gorgeous to chuck out.

This is my current collection of fabrics to work with - help?
This is my current collection of fabrics to work with – help?

If you want to see where my whirling head is going with the Wardrobe Architect exercise, I have far too many ideas on my Pinterest board.  While I love a floaty, not too structured blouse, I don’t want to make them all look the same.  I seem to be taking the same shape at the moment, and just adding different sleeve & collar details.  Will they be different enough?

Three ideas
Three ideas

At the moment, my hope that me Made May would be giving me the opportunity to really see if my new wardrobe was working properly is off to a stuttering start.  I know there’s still a week left, but pattern making takes time!  If only I could just decide what to make – with the foresight that it will look fabulous, I wouldn’t be stalling so much.

I need input from you fabulous sewists.  The sketch above on the left shows what I was thinking of doing with the “blobby” blouse that got ripped.  I had the idea from seeing this great blouse on Kollabora.  I’m just not that willowy, so I need to be careful of where the contrast goes, and how much to use.  Ideas??

My apologies for what seems to me to be a rather rambling post, I just need to get my head round what I should be sewing – and fast!!

Chasing my Tail

Well I certainly didn’t expect a whole month to go by before I got back here!  And what a month it has been.  I had a trip to hospital (won’t go into details), we found our dream home, we put our current home on the market in order to get said dream home, only to have it snatched from underneath our feet days after putting our house out there.  So now my days are filled with making sure everything is neat and clean and tidy and there is no sewing lying around.  It’s not exactly conducive to being creative.

I have managed to sew up two dresses from a vintage Vogue (unprinted) pattern for daughter no 2’s 6th form wardrobe.

Vintage Vogue 9971
Vintage Vogue 9971 isn’t it just devine??

I have to say I am really happy with the results, she looks amazing in these dresses!

Vogue 9971 in black cotton
Vogue 9971 in black cotton

The fabric is a black cotton I bought about 5 years ago, intending to make a skirt.  The organza ribbon flowers run parallel to the selvage edge.  It was fun cutting this out, to make sure the repeat of the flowers was correct, being sure there was enough for the bodice, as I’d only bought just over a metre!

I just didn't get it right on this side with the flowers.
I just didn’t get it right on this side with the flowers.

She liked the fit so much we made another….

Vogue 9971 in cotton batik
Vogue 9971 in cotton batik

This is no stash fabric…  I bought it from Fred Winter’s in Stratford at Easter time, funnily enough, with this dress in mind!  After digging through the stash at the beginning of the year I had earmarked the black embroidered fabric for this pattern, and before I’d made that up I found this batik, perfect!  So it was just as well Daughter No2 liked the pattern enough to have two!  Phew.

Vogue 9971 - the back
Vogue 9971 – the back

I have managed to use up another stash piece.  I had bought this particular linen easily 5 years ago, if not more.

Kohn Kaldor print linen
Kohn Kaldor print linen

I loved the colours, and again thought I’d end up with a skirt.  But I never got round to it, and now I know not to bother with skirts, so what to do?  I couldn’t part with it.  In April Kat & the Curious Kiwi came up with a Burda Sew-along idea.

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I figured I’d join in, it’s not like I’m short on Burdas, afterall.  I decided to use this linen to make Blouse 107 from Burdastyle  January 2011. It’s a pattern I’ve used 3 times before so I know it works, and it suits me.  I have suffered from lack of ooomphf on this project, not helped at all by the whole house thing.  And the weather.  Spring started, then it went away again, what’s with that?

All cut out & ready to sew
All cut out & ready to sew – apologies for the grainy quality, phone photo.

I was doing well until I put the collar together.  In my blissfully un-concentrating state I did the collar the “normal” way for a shirt, completely forgetting that this one does not go together like that. grrrr.  It took 2 days for me to go back to it and cut another.  Then it came together quite quickly.  I had wanted pretty buttons but the shop only had 2 of the ones I liked, so I raided the button box & found enough Jasper Conran ones that came off one of Husband’s discards.  Win win..

I like the fabric, and I like the pattern, but did I do the right thing by putting th two together??
I like the fabric, and I like the pattern, but did I do the right thing by putting the two together??

I’m in two minds.  It feels right when it’s on, but I am not sure I was in the right place when I married this fabric with this pattern.  Is it too busy?

I love the sleeves on this pattern.
I love the sleeves on this pattern.

Excuse the wrinkly bits, I’d been wearing this all day waiting to take photos!  In addition to the sleeves, I love the darts.  There are 4 across the back, and another 4 on the front.  The pattern calls for them to be sewn on the outside which makes for an interesting textural contrast, and means you get to play with a contrasting or matching thread.  Of the 4 blouses I’ve made, 3 have the darts on the outside.  There is also this cool pleat down the centre back, stitched in at the waistline.  This means there is still shape at the waist, but extra movement for flingin’ your arms around & reachin’ for stuff.

The back with cool central pleat.
The back with cool central pleat.

We have had a little lull in the demand for viewings for the house this week, so I might just take advantage and get the pattern cutting paper out.  I really want to get cracking on some skirts for Daughter No 2, not forgetting the Sewlutions!!  I do hope Karen isn’t going to be doing a round up anytime soon, because I have no idea where the pattern I cut for Husbands shirt is.  Nor do I know where the fabric went…..  On making the house presentable all the exploded stuff had to be stuffed back into the cupboard.  Heaven help the person who yanks the doors open ’cause there’s an avalanche in there, just waiting for an opportunity to strike…

Here are some of the sketches for skirt (& shirt) ideas I’ve had for daughter no 2.

Skirt ideas
Skirt ideas

img023She has a thing for pencil skirts at the moment.  So that’s me then, I just need to get on with it!  😀

Miracle

A double Christmas present, the fabric was a gift a few years ago!
A double Christmas present, the fabric was a gift a few years ago!

Well now, would you look at this.  I have actually made two of the items I had planned to do lately..  This from someone who doesn’t plan!  I finished this jacket on Tuesday, but the weather was not playing ball for photos.  With a breather in the clouds and rain today, Daughter No1 & I decided some fresh air and photos was in order.  I still had cards to deliver too!

Delivering Christmas cards in my new jacket!
Delivering Christmas cards in my new jacket!

This is the pattern I made back in November – last year!  I had been toying with the darted sleeve head idea and ran up a toile, but realised with the extended shoulders that the rever and collar were going to need adjustment. No problem, but I couldn’t make up my mind on the fabric.  I eventually used the original collar and rever and made a different sleeve, which resulted in this jacket.

Jacket unbuttoned.
Jacket unbuttoned.

I finally chose a fabric to use for the darted sleeve version,  a duck-egg blue fine wale corduroy from Ditto Fabrics that a friend had given me for a Christmas present.  But I had no lining or buttons so it languished in the cupboard for a while.  More than a while, actually!  If you check out the other jacket photos you will see the difference in the collar and revers.  I actually prefer the width of these ones, I think the previous revers were too narrow for that jacket too!

A walk in the park, loving my big shoulders!
A walk in the park, loving my big shoulders!

I did lengthen the front of this jacket, something I noticed after wearing the other one was that it could have done with being about 2-3cm longer in the front. I also added welt pockets.  I realised at the first fitting that the jacket was looking a little plain and boring, so I quickly got cracking with the welts!  Note to self – decide on pockets before making up fronts and attaching to backs…     The pocket bags use some left-over silk from my Pattern Magic blouse.  I know you’re supposed to use some of the shell fabric so the lining fabric isn’t seen, but this is way too pretty to hide!

Dotty silk from the Pattern Magic blouse
Dotty silk from the Pattern Magic blouse

The extended sleeves have some fusible wadding sew into the sleeve head seam to add support, and I moved the shoulder pads over slightly too, nothing worse than a collapsing sleeve head!  The lining was a bargain from the Fancy Silk store in Birmingham, Jaeger cupro for just £3.99/m!  Buttons are metal from Fred Winter’s in Stratford.  I would have prefered to have a matching set, but so few places sell the same styles in different sizes.  So I have horses on my sleeve vents and pretty ones down the front.

Lining & pretty silver buttons
Lining & pretty silver buttons
Silver horsey buttons, appropriate for living in the country.
Silver horsey buttons, appropriate for living in the country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love this jacket.  I love the colour, love the fit and love, love, love the sleeves!  What is it with me and sleeves?  :s  Anyhow, I now need to move onto the herringbone twill for Daughter No1’s biker-ish jacket from the Burda mag, but I will be pattern cutting it to her measurements.  Maybe I will wait a couple of days first, something tells me there is an important date approaching sometime next week.  ;p

jacket

jacket

So, Happy Christmas to everyone, I hope you all get loads of what you’ve asked for (fabric & some new books in my case…).  Enjoy spending time with your families and friends.  😀