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!!

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We Like to Boogie

Flared jeans, I’m never taking them off!

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Jeans.  The staple of just about everyone’s wardrobe since the 70s.  They come in various guises, colours and lengths but we cannot get enough of them.  Since their introduction as basic workwear they have undergone dramatic transformations in style, detail and of course, the fabric they’re made of.  The quest for the perfect pair of jeans is rather like the Quest for the Holy Grail.  We’d do anything to find them, including shelling out large amouts of money on designer jeans.  But us sewists are the lucky ones, we can make our own!

I’ve made jeans for the girls before, but never made a “proper” pair for myself.  I bought a couple of Hot Patterns jeans, came very short with the one and gave up on the idea.  Then the Closet Case Gingers came along & I bought the PDF immediately.  I even bought fabric, but when it came to the crunch I chickened out of actually making them.  I just wasn’t convinced about the styling and fitting – that they’d look good on me. I’d already justified the purchase of the pattern, I was going to use the skinny version for the girls, of course…

In the intervening months I bought more stretch denim, black, caramel & beautiful blue.  They liked my stash, too happy there to ever come out & be used.

The style is always the thing I get stuck on.  I like a straight leg, but you just cannot beat a bootcut or flare to make your legs look longer, or to balance out a larger body/hip.  I buy bootcut jeans whenever I can and love a flare.  My ordinary trousers can attest to that!  Then in December I started seeing flared jeans aplenty on the internet.  Sewists were making flared jeans!  Where is that pattern!  I NEEDED it!

I bought the Baste + Gather Birkin Flared Jeans on my birthday at the end of December (getting Mr W to print the pattern on A0 at the office, ssshhhh).  I had the fabric, I had the pattern.  Just to make it up…  Now Daughter No1 is safely wandering around Thailand with a rucksack of handmade goodies to wear, I can turn my attention to sewing for myself again, and JEANS are on the top of the list!

I started tracing the pattern last week, finishing on Monday this week and finally making a half toile.  I really wanted to check the fit around the top half, the length wasn’t a big worry.  I made the size 35, based on my waist measurement.  Apparently the hip should have been a size lower, but I have a bum & tum to fit into that space and with 3inches (7.5cm) negative ease, I wasn’t taking any chances!! After the toile I decided to add a little (5mm) to the inseam on both legs to accommodate wide thighs and curved out a little extra on the CB seat seam.  I also wanted to change the opening of the fly from the right to the left.  All of my trousers are left hand opening, & I can’t explain how confused I was trying to open and close the toile with my right hand!  Silly, yes??  The rest seemed ok & I couldn’t wait to start!

I chose a dark charcoal denim with 2% lycra from the stash.  I’d bought it from Croft Mill Fabrics around this time last year!  It has a fabulous handle, soft on the underside, and a slight sheen to it.  I thought it would be perfect as a slightly dressier look than “normal” coloured denim.  Threads, zip & button were all from the stash.

I really like the instructions for this pattern.  All are well written and illustrated and you really cannot go wrong with them.  I think quite a few pairs of jeans were taken apart to provide the exact level of detail that has gone into this pattern.  It’s the best way to learn to make things – take something apart and see how it was put together in the first place!  I used white pocketing for the pockets and instead of simply sewing the bottom seam and overlocking, I make some quick French seams.  Hopefully this should be stronger, depending on what I decide to jam into my pockets!

Collage fly zip front pockets
French seamed pockets, a vintage button and more topstitching details.

The fly is inserted in a way that not many sewists will be used to, it’s a method used mostly in industry for men’s wear.  But it’s well described and goes together well.  The only thing I’d say is, if you have the right length zip (I had 5″) you will not have to cut off anything, pliers will be unnecessary and you will skim past the bottom end of the zip with your topstitching.

Collage fly topstitch detail
Zip details & topstitching

Topstitching……  I don’t use topstitching thread most of the time but for jeans you need that thicker thread for a more authentic look.  I have in my needle box a twin denim needle, perfect for accurate double lines of topstitching on the perfect jeans.  Except my Bernina didn’t like it at all.  It allowed me the satisfaction of neatly stitched pocket top edges and then stopped.  Any more attempts resulted in a hissy fit and a nice lump of thread under the fabric.  Similar effects happened when trying to use a single row of topstitching.  I have to add here that I didn’t use a topstitching needle.  That’s one thing I didn’t have to hand and the local haberdashery didn’t stock so exotic an item.  The stitching looks ok from the top, but when you turn the fabric over there’s a lovely collection of loops of topstitch thread and the bobbin thread is ineffective.  I tried tightening the bobbin tension but nothing worked.  Just to show how perverse my fabulous Bernina is, it was perfectly happy for me to use the jeans twin needle with normal thread in one needle and topstitch thread in the other.  Machines! *throws hands in the air*

Collage topstitching pockets
Adventures in topstitching, using the twin denim needle only lasted the top of the pockets. No decorated back pockets this time, I was far too impatient!
Collage twin needle topstitching
Various attempts at topstitching, bottom left you can see the loops of topstitch thread on the underside, right you can see the compromise, twin needle with 1 topstitch & 1 ordinary thread.

There is even a little trick to make sure the centre back seam still looks like it’s in the centre, topstitching and all.  You place one back leg piece 1cm away from the other, then stitch at the normal 1.5cm seam, once you iron the seams in one direction and turn it over to the right side, you’ve (hopefully) got a matching yoke seam and what appears to be an even placement of the pockets.  Topstitching can seriously throw the symmetry off, even if it all measures the same, visually it’s tricky!

Collage back seam detail
Centering the CB seam

But seriously folks, my misbehaving machine was the only issue I had with the construction of these jeans.  That and my over-enthusiastic estimation of the length of my legs!  I measured the inseam of 34inches (84cm) with my boots on and determined it was a good length for me…  Erm, nope!  I chopped off 8cm and turned up 2.5 for the hem!  I didn’t have to worry about loosing too much of the flare (there’s plenty!) thank goodness.  I have now used the shortening lines to take out 2cm in the mid-thigh and another 2 mid-calf.  The remainder will come off the bottom, it’ll be fine! 😉

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Never taking these off…

Once on, the jeans are so good!  The high waist, and it is high, ensures no muffin top, HURRAY!  In photos of other versions of the jeans the waistand doesn’t to be as high as it is on me, but the lower edge of the waistband sits on the top of my hip bones, so it cannot go any lower if it is to be a high or natural waist.  But I likes it!  I didn’t think I’d be going back to waistlines on the natural waist ever, but I might be persuaded now.

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By the way, that’s a new tee!  Made last night after a day of gallivanting, I needed to do something productive.  Luckily it was already cut out the night before so all it needed was a little Vilene bias tape for the shoulder seams and it was good to go!  The pattern is a self drafted one.  I shortened the sleeve from the original version which I wore to the dreaded wedding in December.  The fabric is the most beautiful viscose jersey from Ditto Fabrics, the drape is fabulous and it’s so soft!!  It’s my second make for the summer (who said I was wishing the year away??)

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Happy in my new jeans, just need a bit of healthy eating to remove that tummy sticking out there!

Mr W likes these jeans, says the fit is really good, so I must have done something right! 🙂  Apparently there will be an “add-on” for this pattern which involved making the legs into skinnies.  Could be interesting.  I’d prefer a straight leg myself, and with a fit around the top as good as this one, playing with the legs to make millions of pairs of jeans will be so much more fun!

ps, this is my just-in-time sumbission for Jeans in January!

 

A Hot Weather Dress

My sewing machine has been working overtime during the last week and a bit, quickly trying to make the last few things for Daughter No 1.  The departure for her planned travel to Asia, Australia & America has finally come.  Amongst the things I made for her (which I will cover in another post) was this dress.  She wanted something that would just hang, not cling, and be cool to wear in the tropical humidity of Thailand, something suitable for cocktails on the beach in Fiji & totally wearable when exploring Rodeo Drive.  It needed to have fullness, but not be a tent.  She didn’t want extra fullness in the front, hanging from the bust.  She drew me a sketch of what she had in mind, then left me to it.

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A sketch of the dress Daughter No1 wanted for her travels

I started with her close fitting bodice block, drawing a one piece dress block and then converting it to the lingerie block.  This involves reducing ease and doubling the size of the bust dart.  For the dress pattern the bust dart was moved to the underarm position.  I added a section to the side, from the waist to make the fullness.  The double darts in front and back were eliminated, but the back dart was effectively transferred into the centre back, making the back shaped and fitted.  I also needed a swayback adjustment of about 2cm.  I intended to use an invisible zip in the centre back, French seams throughout and self bias for the top edges and straps.

Collage Handkerchief Dress Toile
The toile in cotton. The swayback adjustment hadn’t been done.

The toile revealed that I needed a swayback adjustment, and that I needed to alter the fit of the top.  Daughter No1 wanted it a little looser.   I was concerned about the hang of the handkerchief section, but hoped that in the silk that we’d chosen that it would look a lot better.

Collage handerchief dress
Dress in progress, silk definitely drapes better than cotton! And the swayback adjustment worked a treat.

The silk was given to me by a friend, it’s got the most beautiful sheen and drape, but for me, it was just a little too bold.  However, Daughter No1 loved it!  The bands are a red and white hatched pattern, while the blue is actually purple and black.  I only had two metres and it was pretty narrow but we had just enough to squeeze the dress out.  I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough for the bias strips.  Thankfully that wasn’t the case in the end, I didn’t really need that much bias.  But please remind me that working with narrow bias in silk really isn’t easy, and tries the patience of anyone, especially when you’re up against the clock.

Collage zip
Putting an invisible zip into a french seam, reinforcing the area with fine interfacing.

I made the pattern on Saturday night, toiled it midday Sunday, made the adjustments and got cracking immediately.  It had to be finished by 11am on Monday morning!!  Needless to say I was still handstitching bias at 11am so we left a little late for the airport, but all was good, she loved the dress and stuffed it into the rucksack straight away!  I am hoping to see photos of it in far of exotic places on Instagram soon!  Here it is on Betty, my vintage mannequin.

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I love the drape at the sides, and the slight drop of the handkerchief hem.  I really do hope it sees lots of wear in the next 6 months!

Best laid plans & all that

Sooo…  Sewing an Autumn/Winter wardrobe.  Sort of going ok, but a little sidetracked!  A wedding invitation has scuppered my sewing plans a little.  Admittedly, we did receive the invitation some time ago, definitely way before I made my sewing plans, but like all things I dread, I’d pushed it to the back of my mind.

The dreaded invitation...
The dreaded invitation…

Initially I thought of chanelling a bit of a 70’s vibe, maybe some flared trousers, a crossover top with bishop sleeves, that sort of thing.  But then I reconsidered, I didn’t want to be looking like I was supposed to be attending a themed Christmas party and got lost.  The wedding is on the 19th December and we’re invited to the whole shebang, not just the dancing and snacks afterwards, so I wanted something that would look good from 1pm to 1am!

Some outfit ideas - no 70s vibes!
Some outfit ideas – no 70s vibes!

Now I’m a daywear sort of person, sure I like the idea of dressing up, but we just don’t go out much – blame Mr (not) Compulsive, he works too much.  So I have nothing I could just whip out and wear, not that I’d do that anyway, who needs an excuse to make another outfit??

Here's an idea...
Here’s an idea…

After much deliberation, head scratching and hair pulling I had a brainwave.  Plain simple black trousers (there was a nice pattern in a BurdaStyle magazine last year) with a silvery coloured top, drapey (cue the timely launch of Colette Patterns Wren crossover dress) and something to keep me warm, I liked the Longley Cardigan by Wendy Ward.

So I bought said Wren PDF pattern with bonus sleeve pack (why don’t they just sell it with one longsleeve, marked for short, elbow and 3/4 length??), thinking I’d chop it at hip length and make a peplum sort of thing, I already had coming in the post a silvery-grey slubby jersey from Clothspot. I’d been eyeing it for a while and when I discovered it has suddenly moved into the remnants section I realised I could put off buying it no longer!  It seemed perfect, crossover top with peplum in silver-grey slubby jersey, the black trouser fabric was on its way from Croft Mill Fabrics and all I needed to find was the perfect colour boiled wool for the cardi.

Wren toile
Wren toile

But I didn’t like the Wren-as-top.  I’d made some pre-toile alterations, widening the ridiculously narrow sleeve, making it 3/4 length instead of elbow, doing a FBA and lengthening the bodice slightly.  Turns out I needed to lengthen dramatically and choose a different size to FBA.  I decided I couldn’t be bothered right now.  I wanted to make all the other fabric taking up room on the cutting table too!!

Unimpressed face
Unimpressed face

I reverted to a favourite shape, a drape cowl.  Using my tee-shirt block developed earlier in the year I had a little play with cowl depth and drape and made 3 versions, the last was the happy choice.

Making the cowl drape front pattern
Making the cowl drape front pattern
Testing the drape and cowl depth on vintage Betty
Testing the drape and cowl depth on vintage Betty, this is version two.

So quick to make up and the silver-grey jersey is perfect in it!  I didn’t go straight to the silver stuff though.  To make sure I was perfectly happy with it all I used a sort of denim blue-grey jersey from Fancy Silk Store and made the pattern up.  I’ve worn that tee soo much!  (Really needs its own post)

A very wearable, and much worn already, first version of the cowl drape tee.
A very wearable, and much worn already, first version of the cowl drape tee.

The wedding version was cut & made in a couple of hours using the overlocker and twin needle on my sewing machine.  One down, two to go! You’ll see good, proper pictures when the whole outfit is done..

Almost done just needing hems.
Almost done just needing hems.
Trying it out for the first time, I like it!!
Trying it out for the first time, I like it!!

I hae toiled the Burdastyle trousers I thought I wanted.  Turns out they weren’t quite what was in my mind, so I’ve drafted a pair from my own block, toiled and fiddled and am ready to cut the main fabric – today!! Fingers crossed…

ps.  I still haven’t given any thought the the “fancy headgear” referred to in the invitation.  Help…?

Hello Sailor

What is it about navy and white stripes that gets us thinking all summer and seaside?  I’ve been hankering after a blue and white, or white and blue stripey tee-shirt for months now, but never found the right one in the shops.  I’d steered clear of sewing my own until I had a decent knit block to work from, and that was taking time to get right too.  Then, by chance, I popped into one of the ladies shops in my local town and found a navy and white stripe jersey maxi dress, in my size, and that fitted rather well!!  On sale it was a snip at £34, so I bought it, with the idea of lopping off the bottom half so I’d have two tees!!

I should have taken a photo of the maxi dress before it got chopped up, but there you go, I was in far too much of a hurry!  It was/is from Scottish company Marble Clothing and can be seen here.  The first tee was made pretty easily, I simply put the dress on and marked with a couple of pins where I’d like the finished edge to be.  On taking the dress off, I measured down 2cm, then went a bit further down to get a stripe and cut along that line.  I used a twin needle to stitch the new hem and ta-daa…DSC00091-1

I love it!!!!  The neckline is really good for me, the scoop is perfect, just the right depth and width and it doesn’t stretch out while wearing, unlike my Plantain tees.

DSC00104-1I have taken the side seams in a bit since seeing these photos, and I wish I’d cut it a stripe or two longer, but of course, if I had, I wouldn’t have been able to make another tee!

DSC00106-1The bottom half was saved for another tee, but this time it wouldn’t be as easy or quick!  I’d made a start on a knit block earlier in the year and had to do loads of fiddling, only to make a tee that was too small.  So I decided to revisit the block and fiddle a little more.  I haven’t documented the process, I just kept changing and tweaking with each toile.  I’ve used a lot of jersey in toiles!!!  Eventually I managed to come up with a shape that worked and fitted, but course, I’m aware that with every different type of jersey it’s going to be very different, which is what’s annoying about knits…

I decided I’d like a v-neck tee with short sleeves – the sleeves ended up being shorter than I’d wanted, but lack of fabric dictated what I could have in the end.

DSC00117-1I started by cutting up the side seams of the skirt and then pinned the stripes together.  The front and back were placed to use the existing hem which helped with lining up the stripes on the side too!  The sleeves had to be cut separately, one on each skirt half and they had to be squeezed in so there’d be space for the neckband.  I had to piece the neckband, there just wasn’t enough length in the fabric to get it out in one shot.

DSC00122-1Making up was dead easy and really quick, the only issue was the neckband, getting that point right in the front meant I decided to sew it on with the sewing machine first, after a little fiddling I got it perfect, then went back over it with the overlocker and messed it all up!!  grrrrrr  I couldn’t do too much with it because – overlocker….  Damn.  The rest went together swimmingly, and I got those stripes on the side seams matching like a dream.

I love my new tee shirts!!  The fit is fabulous, the jersey itself is amazing.  The content is cotton with lycra and it’s lovely and soft.

Matching stripes - like a boss!
Matching stripes – like a boss! 
Not 100% happy with that flippy sleeve…

The only thing I’m not happy with in the second one, is the sleeves. The hems tend to roll up to the outside, I think it’s because they’re quite short and the hem is just 1cm. I might try adding a band to the bottom, I have some white cotton jersey in the stash that may help.

Now for the trousers..  I wanted a pair of trousers with flare/wide bootcut as a nod to the 70s trend this year.  There is a great pair in the July issue of BurdaStyle, but it wanted stretch fabrics and the fabric I had in mind was a beige linen – no stretch fibres built in.  So I reverted to another TNT pattern, 118 from April 2009.  I just love the shape of these trousers, but I do have to shorten them drastically!!  6cm has been folded out of the leg length of this pattern in order for it to fit my short Scottish pins.  The pattern goes up to a 44, so I did a little extra grading and made a 46 from hip up.  I just don’t go in enough for the 44 to fit comfortably!!  I think actually that I can get rid of a bit of this extra though, and take in a little down the thigh.  After putting on a bit of weight while I was out of sewing action and very, very bored, I have been able to get rid of the extra flab.  This means that I don’t actually need some of that extra ease I built in to the making of these pants!  So I’ll run a new line of stitching from the knee to hip and get a better shape for the flare from the knee down. (  Update – I have actually taken the side seams in from the waistband to knee, making for a much better fit and look overall.)

DSC00102-1I picked the perfect thread to sew with, you can’t really see any of it in the topstitching.  These little front patch pockets and just right, they try to discourage me from having my hands in my pockets too much, but are just the right size for my phone or a little change.  I am addicted to pockets, I never really know where to put my hands if I don’t have any!  I used seam tape for the hem, another occasion of just managing to fit the pattern pieces on the fabric.

Details, left, the inside of the zip, top right, the patch pockets, & bottom right, the hand stitched seam tape on the hem.
Details, left, the inside of the zip, top right, the patch pockets, & bottom right, the hand stitched seam tape on the hem.

DSC00089-1I love how these trousers look with the stripey tee shirts, they’re going to be the first thing I pack in my suitcase for my week in Cornwall!

In other sewing news, the prom dress was finished in time and looked fabulous! I have a couple of photos on my phone, but have yet to persuade daughter no2 to get dressed up again so I can take decent ones for you all to see.  We need details!  I also downloaded the Mandy Boat Neck Tee from Tessuti Patterns after spotting a few online and seeing Thornberry’s latest versions.  I’m obviously not over my quest for a square tee.  I made it quickly a couple of weekends ago, mid prom dress, and I’m dead chuffed!  So that’s another post waiting for photos.

Perhaps, if the weather’s not all it’s cracked up to be next week, I’ll be writing blog posts from our holiday apartment instead of exploring the Cornish countryside with the family.  I won’t be taking any sewing stuff with me this time not even patterns to trace!  I need desperately to crochet loads and loads of granny squares for daughter no2’s granny square afgan for University, I can’t believe there’s only one month today until she goes!  Time flies people…

*UPDATE* I thought I’d posted this particular post before setting off on holiday, then wondered why things were so quiet…  Turns out I’m a bit of a numpty and did nothing of the sort.  So I have been on my Cornish break, altered the trousers and next week will be adding a band to the sleeve hem of the self drafted tee!  I have also made loads of granny squares, and as I add this postscript, have just 12 more to do!  Then I need to block them all and start putting it all together. It’s going to take time & Daughter No2 leaves on the 8th of August…..

Slow Sewing

This year is going to be a different one for sewing. If you haven’t already noticed, things are going much slower. By this time last year I’d completed 22 projects, this year I’ve done 13 and am working on my 14th. It’s not as if I have less to make, or less fabric to play with. Just less time.
I have stuff I need to photograph, neither Camas Blouse have made it to the pages of the blog yet, despite them being completed late January, early February!  Here’s a glimpse.

Marking the seamlines on the reverse of the sequined shoulder yokes.
Marking the seamlines on the reverse of the sequined shoulder yokes.

 

The completed sequined shoulder.
The completed sequined shoulder.
A sneaky selfie in the back of the florists, the first outing for my Camas Blouse
A sneaky selfie in the back of the florists, the first outing for my Camas Blouse

I decided this year to get my act into gear regarding trousers too, the styles in the Burda magazines aren’t floating my boat and there really is a limit as to how many times you can remake a pattern, no matter how you think they look so different in different fabrics.  So I’ve managed to get a new pair of self drafted trousers up and running too.  I stole a couple of different styling ideas from different patterns I like, like pocket shapes and cuffs.  I’m pretty happy with the first pair, I think the proof will be in the wearing though, so I’m holding off rushing to make a new pair before I’ve worn these a couple of times to identify areas of improvement.

Sketch of the intended pattern and a pile of taped together bits of paper forming the pattern pieces!
Sketch of the intended pattern and a pile of taped together bits of paper forming the pattern pieces!
Adjusting the style lines after the first toile.
Adjusting the style lines after the first toile.
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Almost there, fly zip, topstitched square shaped pockets.

My current project is a simple v-neck tee from a self drafted block.  I’d needed to adjust the original block heavily, apparently Winnie Aldrich doesn’t really mean 0 ease when she says it for a tee block!!  I think it’s sorted enough, so I’ve marked the fashion cut and created the style pattern I’m after. I need to toile it today, so fingers crossed.

Simple shaped tee, 3/4 sleeves and a wide v-neck band embellished with beads
Simple shaped tee, 3/4 sleeves and a wide v-neck band embellished with beads

The one thing about making garments with jersey is that each and every jersey behaves differently. I’ve even had different results from the same bamboo jersey in different colours!! Does the dying process have an effect?? Who knows.  This time I’m using a pale grey viscose jersey I bought from Croft Mill Fabrics last year, it’s not one of those flowing jerseys, so hopefully it works well with the simple shape.  I decided to lift it from being a boring grey tee I’d dig out a tube of silvery beads and embellish a bit.  We’ll see if my hands behave enough for me to hold a beading needle long enough to get any beads attached!

Speaking of hands, I’ve been rushing to crochet enough granny squares to make a throw for daughter no2 before I have to stop.  Holding a crochet hook is not easy at the moment, but I’ve managed fairly well so far.  I crochet like mad when my hands behave and then have to leave if for days other times.  I hope I get it all finished and put together before she heads off to University in September.  I have a long way to go yet!

This was the last photo I took of the growing pile.  I have another 18 to add to this.
This was the last photo I took of the growing pile. I have another 18 to add to this.

Of course, just because I am not sewing much doesn’t mean I’m leaving the growing of the stash alone.  I persuaded Daughter No1 to attend the Sewing for Pleasure at the NEC last week with me, on the promise that I’d buy the ticket, lunch and any fabric she required.  Sucker.  We got a good haul, she left with silk and wool tops for embellishing, wool felt and silk woven pieces to add texture to her latest project.  Me?  Well, I left with these, amongst other things…

Cotton poplin for a dress and 40s stye shorts for daughter no1
Cotton poplin for a dress and 40s stye shorts for daughter no1
just one of the pieces of Linton tweed, this is a cotton weave, destined for an edgy, modern jacket for daughter no1
Just one of the pieces of Linton tweed, this is a cotton weave, destined for an edgy, modern jacket for daughter no1
Silk print onto cotton, the most amazing colours!  I got 2 lots of 2 metres, neither for me!!
Silk print onto cotton, the most amazing colours! I got 2 lots of 2 metres, neither for me!!
You can never have too many books to assist with fitting issues.  Everyone has a different opinion!
You can never have too many books to assist with fitting issues. Everyone has a different opinion!

So that’s me for now.  I have lots to sew and lots to crochet and lots to photograph!  Daughter no1 will be home for the Easter Hols soon and I have lots of things I want to make for her before she goes back to University, so I’m going to have to hurry up just a little.

Abstract in Watercolour

Abstract in Watercolour  - self drafted silk top.
Abstract in Watercolour – self drafted silk top.

How to start a blog post almost two whole months after the last one, especially when it was full of positivity & promises of action..  Well, something is better than nothing I guess, so here goes with the first project I’ve actually managed to get photographed this year!  I bought loads of pretty fabrics just after Christmas and found the most gorgeous print silk at Croft Mill Fabrics.  The colours I liked, the print I thought I could deal with, so I swiftly added 2m to my basket and sat back and waited for it to be delivered.  I was not disappointed.  The fabric is even better in real life than the photos – the print looks so very much as if a watercolour artist has created a fabulous abstract with his/her favourite colours and it has a beautiful drape.  It’s not a satin so was very easy to sew with.

The hem is slightly longer in the back, curved like a shirt hem.
The hem is slightly longer in the back, curved like a shirt hem.

I decided to use a self drafted pattern I’d used for silk before, this polka dot crepe de chine.  It took me a while to make, simply because I had to find the time with all my other commitments.  This week though, was crunch time.  I’d dedicated a day at home to “getting things done” and one of those things was to finish the top!  It’s all French seamed inside, as you’d expect with a gorgeous fine fabric.

Faux placket detail
Faux placket detail

The faux placket (facing on the outside that looks interesting) was easier to get right with crisp edges than the last one, slight variations in the silks I suppose.  I love this pattern, and the print.  Colours and print, how unlike me!  I sort of wish I’d got more, but maybe I’ll take a second look at the other colourways instead, as this particular one is all sold out – I have a feeling I may have got the last of it!

abstract 3I suppose I ought to tell you I spent hours making sure the pattern was matching across the side seams and sleeves, but I didn’t.  I thought about it for about 5 minutes and decided life was too short!  By happy coincidence things worked out just fine!

abstract 5Next to make is a Day to Night Drape Top by Maria Denmark for Daughter No2, the fabric from Kat as part of the Sabretooth Swap organised by Anne.  I have decided to make her a pencil skirt to go with the top, using the pattern for the plaid skirt I finished in November.  It should all go together quite quickly (famous last words!) so maybe by the end of today I’d have finished two projects!  *shhh, don’t jinx it…