Summer Dreams

Summer time is for pretty dresses.  Neither of my girls require any new dresses, this year or the next.  So what’s a frustrated fabricaholic to do?!  Sew for someone else, of course!  I decided I’d use up a bit more stash making a summer dress for my best friend.  I also used stash fabric for the toile, hoping it would work out pretty well and be a wearable toile.

13724543_136632386777371_1922627600_n
The Cami Dress from Pauline Alice

We decided the perfect dress was Pauline Alices’s Cami Dress.  I had the perfect summer fabric, bought from Croft Mill Fabrics last year, or maybe even the one before….  According to measurements, I needed the 38.  My friend has broad shoulders, so I knew there would be an adjustment needed there, I just needed to know how much.

13652005_1486507234708240_2111425377_n
The toile, in a pretty floral cotton print.

The toile was made in a pretty floral printed cotton sent to me by another friend in America.  This is the same friend who sent me the Paris print and the grey plaid from the previous post!  She has a good nose for finding pretty fabrics.  The toile fitted pretty well , the shoulders needed to be 1.5cm wider, the sleeves needed a couple of centimetres in width and the waist needed to be one or two cm wider, for wearing ease.  I also needed to make the skirt longer, by 5cm.

The adjustments were quick and easy to make.  But, as I knew it would happen, my friend loved the fabric and wanted me to see if the toile could be made to fit better.  I changed what I could and added a false hem.  I also finished off the seams on the inside, neatening where ever I could reach.  I picked out some simple dark grey buttons from the button box to complete the garment.

13687332_294975510861505_476914518_n
The toile, at fitting stage.

This is a lovely dress to make, it goes together nice & quickly.  The instructions are clear and concise, pattern pieces are on a good quality paper which is easy to tape down and trace from.  The only thing I would (and did) change, is to apply the collar before sewing the side seams.  It’s always much easier to sew a collar on with the garment flat, ie no side seams!

13721329_880760515361784_706668610_n
Sewing the collar on before closing the side seams.

Best bit about the dress?  The pockets!  Best friend was chuffed to bits to find two decent sized pockets in the side seams.  She chose the buttons, after digging through all the blue/green/grey options, best friend found these little pink satin covered buttons.  Perfect!!

13658601_156100551494932_164235456_n
The cherry blossom print on this cotton is just perfect for the dress.

The dress has recieved loads of compliments already, and I’m really happy to have made her something she loves and feels happy in.

 

Welcome 2015, let’s get down to Business!

Happy New Year to you all, and a belated Merry Christmas, if you celebrate.  Boy have things been quiet on my sewing table, but now is the time to rectify that!  I’ve been very busy with a different line of work over December and now that that has quietened down I can get back to my sewing.  I’ll fill you in later on what I was getting up to, but if you follow me on Twitter, chances are you spotted a few plant & flower related photos…  That’s the clue!

Anyhooo, I bought a decent amount of fabric online while on the sofa watching movies with the family on Boxing Day, as you do, and it has started to arrive!  Soo exciting to get new fabric!  I am determined not to let it accumulate in the stash, so here’s my first project.  I have a 3m piece of olive crepe backed satin that arrived from Fabric Godmother – I know, olive green!  No black, grey, white or blue…  I’m being brave this year.  From my Wardrobe Architect board, I have identified this palette from Design Seeds with the olive as something I might actually like to wear, so this is a start at coming up with a selection of garments for it.

Natalie Top by Lolia Designs

I saw & pinned a blouse pattern by Lolia Designs called Natalie to my Wardrobe Architect board on Pinterest a while ago.  I liked the idea of the “panel” in the centre.  They call it a pleat, but it does nothing a pleat is designed to do.  It’s a folded back extension of the front so it flaps around a bit I would think.  I haven’t bought the pattern, it is not in my size and I’d like to change a few things.  I’m combining the idea of that central detail with the sleeve from my placket blouse, but deepening the cuff.  I’m also going to re-use but slightly alter the hem from the black & white spotty silk faux placket blouse.

I love the look of this blouse, the sleeve is something I’m going for with the new pattern, of course it won’t have the button placket or collar, but that can appear on a different top!

So the pattern was started in the evening of the 30th, the toile started yesterday afternoon (New Year’s Eve!) – yeah, not going out, and I’m finishing it off today.  I hope it turns out the way I imagine, the result should be available by the end of the day!

I’ll do some round-ups of last year’s projects in a bit, I managed 92 projects to the end of November, so I’m quite chuffed at that, I still need to see how I did on the Stashbusting front.  I know I used a lot, but I’m not sure I managed to stick to my 1 in for 2 out policy…

In the meantime, I hope you’ve all had a wonderful time with family over the holidays & are ready to tackle this new year with a vengance!  Also waiting with baited breath to find out who I’m partnering with for Jungle January 2015!

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.

DSC08449-1

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!

DSC08457-1

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.

DSC08452-1

DSC08440-1

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!  🙂

Tuxedo Bellatrix

Bellatrix Blazer - the tuxedo version
Bellatrix Blazer – the tuxedo version

Another Bellatrix Blazer finished!  What a shame Papercut Patterns aren’t participating in this month’s Sewing Indie Challenge, hosted all over, because I’d be entering this little number – for sure!

I’d almost finished it in the last post, it was just lacking a front facing & upper collar piece which I was going to cut from a black cotton stretch satin.  Before committing to the order online though, I had a quick rummage through my silks & satins stash box and I found a piece of black stretch satin – not strictly cotton either, but who cares!  By using this piece I tick off another stashbusting box and I get to finish the jacket over the weekend – bonus.

DSC08199-1

DSC08211-1

I really do love the contrast of solid black on the collar, none of the other versions have contrasts on the outsides (insides are a different matter altogether!) so this makes it a little different.  The peplum pieces are all cut on the cross (weft) grain so the stripes are perpendicular to the rest of the jacket, this also means they have no stretch..  no matter, across the back the is great movement which is supported on the inside with a stretch lining.

Left: canvas interfacing to support under collar, top right: interfacing supporting the upper back & armholes, bottom right: pinning a seam for a perfect intersection
Left: canvas interfacing to support under collar, top right: interfacing supporting the upper back & armholes, bottom right: pinning a seam for a perfect intersection

I don’t like stretch linings, they feel funny but they do do a good job on a project like this.  As usual, the project went together really well, I used fusible canvas on the undercollar to give extra support, and used a lightweight fusible on the remaining pieces.  Now Daughter No2 just needs to decide what to wear it with when she goes to school next!

DSC08210-1

DSC08192-1

Next I’ll show off the dress I cut at the same time as the jacket, yes, Daughter No1 came home quickly this long weekend & tried it on.  Thankfully it fits beautifully – and she loves it!  The boyfriend was suitable appreciative too…  😉

 

Something in the works

I left you with a little hint of what my next project was to be, a self drafted 50s inspired wiggle dress for Daughter No1.  The fabric is a John Kaldor print stretch cotton satin that is just absolutely fabulous to work with.  I’d bought it ages ago, so chalk this project up as a sash-buster!  It had always been intended for something for my eldest, but we never could agree what exactly to make.

Anyway, it’s done now, but I can’t show it to you properly just yet as she’s gone back to Uni!  I’m hoping we’ll see her & the boyfriend on Monday as it’s Bank Holiday in the UK & I fiugre we can do lunch or something & I can get her to model the dress for me (and you!)

Here’s what it looks like on a hanger.  Just the front, the back is something special.

Self drafted 50's inspired wiggle dress
Self drafted 50’s inspired wiggle dress

I can’t wait to see her in it!  🙂

While I was laying out the pattern, I happened to notice I had a bit left over.  I though about what I could use it for – a skirt?  Too short.  Shorts?  Not the right fabric.  *brain racing* A jacket???  I dugout my Bellatrix Blazer pattern – just to see.  I worked out that with careful placement, I could cut another Bellatrix!  🙂  So I did and this is what was left of the 2m of fabric once I’d chopped it all up.

Teeny tiny bits
Teeny tiny bits

It worked out really well, two garments from 2m of fabric, bonus!  I just didn’t have enough to cut the facing in the same fabric, so am awaiting delivery of a plain black stretch cotton satin. I decided to get cracking with it this morning so that when the black fabric does arrive it will be a quick job to finish.  Here’s how far I got by lunch time.

The jacket - sans sleeves at this point in the day
The jacket – sans sleeves at this point in the day

And by the time daughter no2 got home from school at 4 I’d finished the shell and made up the lining, as far as I could without the front facing and she just had to put it on!

show-off!
Without the facing, the canvas on the under collar makes a good contrast!

This is the 5th version.  I did think that I just might end up making 12, one for each month of this year!  Now that would be something, wouldn’t it??  😀

In the mean time, Me-Made-May ’14 is underway with so many cool outfits on show on twitter & flickr, not to mention the new Pinterest board!  Daughter no2 & I will be posting out photos on the Me-Made-May-14 page as well as on flickr.  She’s using Instagram too.  Are you participating?

 

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!!

Little Miss Smarty Pants

Miss Smarty Pants
Miss Smarty Pants

I have decided to delegate the Smarty Pants to Daughter No2.  I mean, she looks so smart in these pants, so why not!?  These are the trousers mentioned in my previous post, no 110 from Burdastyle 11/2013 in a damson coloured stretch cotton satin from Croft Mill Fabric.  I originally over-ordered the fabric to ensure I had enough for a pair of trousers as well as a vintage dress which I need to turn into a coat/mac.  I haven’t got round to doing the alterations necessary for the coat but Daughter No2 was desperate for these trousers.  So I gave in & cut, anyway, I can always buy more fabric, can’t I?

DSC07306-1The pattern is great.  Daughter no2 seem made for the shape of Burda trousers, including the length!  I always have to lop 5-6cm off for myself, but they are just right on my little giraffe.  She’s 174.5cm tall, so generally we have a problem with shop trousers being waaay too short – which is why I make them instead.  The fabric behaved perfectly, it irons like a dream & has enough, but not too much, stretch.  I took in the side seams (making the 34) 5mm each, so effctively narrowing the pants – from the hip – 2cm each.  She felt they were a little baggy before.

DSC07308-1I overlocked everything before starting sewing & hand stitched the hem in place.  The button & zip are from my stash.  As you can see, she’s pretty chuffed with them!  This outfit is completely handmade.  The top is a vintage Simplicity pattern I made last year (see my Vintage Belle blog for details) & the swing jacket is what I made for my Jungle January project in 2013.  As it’s half term here in the UK this week, she’s taken a day out from studying & masses of 6th form homework to go out with her friends, & this is what she went in!

DSC07316-1

smarty pants CollageIt’s not even that cold today, & thankfully no rain is forecast either!  But, rain or shine, I must get on with my own trousers.  I have some gorgeous caramel coloured linen from Ditto Fabrics that’s just begging to be used & a whole pile of patterns needing to be traced!