Seventies Floral

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Lekala tie front blouse

Another new blouse, another new like!  I know lots of sewists have had success with Lekala patterns and I was tempted but unsure of how they would be on me.  I had some credits from a sewing competition prize a few years back and decided to give this pattern a try.  It’s only taken 3 years to get to this stage!

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The fabric chosen for the blouse was given to me by a friend.  It’s a retro 70s fabric, dark blue with orange and mustard floral details.  Some of the flowers are rather large, definitely eye-catching!  It’s got some man-made fibre content and is fairly transparent.  I think I will be needing a cami to get full use out of this top though.

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So, with Lekala you enter your measurements and, like magic, a pattern is generated just for you to print off and start making.  The instructions are brief, much like the Burda magazine patterns.  I made a toile to check the fit first, and overall it was quite good, the shape was promising but I needed to make a 2.5cm FBA, raise the neckline a little, for me it was a trifle low, and widen the sleeve in the bicep area.

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Adjustments done, the making process was relatively painless.  I used the overlocker on this instead of French seams, the man-made fibres aren’t too keen on precise pressing so French seams probably wouldn’t have turned out nice and neat.  Fine sheer fusible interfacing was applied to the cuffs and the side seam to support the seams containing the invisible zip.  It really didn’t take too long to make, although the instructions are brief & consise, they are clear and direct.  I must make the cuffs a little tighter though, they hang a little, rather than sit nicely above the elbow.

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I like the result, although I wish there’d been a little more fabric to enable me to pattern match across the back.  It’s no train-smash, but it would have looked nice.  I love the shape of the top, the tie is just right, not too big and floppy and the print is fun.  I will run up a cami in a beige silk soon and then I can safely wear it out and about, and show my friend what I’ve finally made in her fabric!

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I’ve got another couple of patterns that have hung around for ages to make up this week, I managed to trace the Morgan Jeans by Closet Case Files on the weekend, and have cut a toile for a pair of Burda trousers.  Fabric will be from the stash – I’m getting through it at last!!

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Blue Tropic

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Blue Tropic, #138 Burdastyle 8/2011

Making a start on delivering on my revised sewing plans for the last 1o days in March.  I might have been ever so slightly optimistic about what I’d get through when I changed tack in my last blog post, but we should always aim high…

So of the 7 projects I had on the new list, I managed 5.  I’d have done better but a nasty cold (man flu) held me back badly and no sewing at all was done for at least 4 days!!  That would definitely have been enough time to finish the entire list.  But no matter, those projects will be on April’s list instead.

This fabric was supposed to be realised in a different pattern, but when I made the toile of 115B 8/15, I just didn’t like it.  It was too straight, too long and I wasn’t convinced it would take me into spring and summer.  So I nicked the pattern that was supposed to be made in the cotton voile.  It was the right decision!  I just love the fabric.  It is viscose, but like no other I’ve had before.  It’s fluid and soft and has a cool touch, not to mention a fabulous sheen that makes it look like silk.  The colour is just stunning too.  The fabric was bought 5 years ago from a shop called Tatler’s in Derby.

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The front of the top has been lengthened by 10cm and the line flows well into the dipped back hem.  I also omitted the opening on the back, only having the button loops on the yoke.  It isn’t necessary to open the buttons or to have the extended opening to get the top over your head.  Those are the only changes made to the pattern.  Usually I would have used French seams on this fabric, but in the interests of a quick make, I overlocked the lot.  I do love this pattern, having made a fair few versions over the years in different fabrics.  This might just come close to beating my up-to-now-favourite, the black and white spotty silk version.

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Narrow rouleau loops encircle bronze flower buttons from the stash.
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Soft gathers from the neckband are very flattering
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Caught chatting, this is a very comfy top!

I’ve no regrets at all about switching patterns on this top, the cotton voile will be allocated a different pattern, perhaps one with ruffles….  There have been a load around on Instagram and although I’m not a ruffly person, I’m ever so slightly tempted….

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I must remember not to wear my new things too long before getting the photos taken, creases!!

Stick around, the other items on the list just need photographs (although I’ve worn a couple already).  I am missing my resident photographer and am in the process of training up Mr W.  It’s a slow process…..  😉

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.

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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!!

Make that another blouse – & more stashbusting!

Riding high on my success with the Jungle January blouse, I thought I’d dive straight in & make another while all was going well.  I used my Wardrobe Architect Pinterest board to decide what elements to combine, without going overboard.

One thing has become apparent over the last couple of weeks doing the Wardorbe Architect thingie.  I seem to be chanelling a bit of the 70s.  Not full-on retro stuff, but hints in the sleeves, bootcut or flared trousers & little jackets.  So while everyone else is looking to the glamour of the 50s & 40s – I have to pick the funky, glamourous 70s!  Now I am a 70s girl, but what I remember of the decade is definitely not stylish.  My mum dressed us kids in tartan trousers, turtlenecks, corduroys that got static & made the dried grass stick to them & pinafores in the winter.  I vaguely remember long dresses & floral prints for the summer, & a denim shirtdress??  No way I am going back to that, I prefer the idea of glamourous 70s!

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So with that in mind, the fabric for the new project is from my stash, a piece I bought in Cornwall last summer on holiday – because the first thing you do when looking for a place to stay is to Google “fabric shops in…”.  Right?  Along with various other pieces, I bought 3m of this polyester satin, large black dots on a cream ground – & I think it’s rather retro.  Normally I don’t buy polyester, but I could not resist these spots.  The Remnant House in Bude did well from that little excursion on a rainy day.

bishop sleeve blouse collage Going back to the bodice block, I traced off the front, added a 1.5cm buttonstand & 4cm wide grown on facing.  The hem was shaped like the Jungle blouse & the shoulder dart moved to the underarm.  The waist darts were eliminated & the side seam taken in an extra 1cm.  I think with this one though that I will sew a narrow dart, the fabric is so lovely & floppy but there needs to be a little more shape.

DSC07149-1On the back I measured a 12cm yoke & separated it from the rest of the pattern.  I drew a line up to the yoke seam line from the centre of the back dart positions, & cut up it to add 3cm of fullness to enable me to have gathers above the shoulder blades. This has worked out well.  One of the toiles I’d made for the jungle blouse had had a yoke, but I’d made it too high (only 8cm from the neck) & it didn’t sit right.  Again, the darts were eliminated, the side seam taken in an extra 1cm & the hem shaped.  I’m really happy with the back, so no adjustments needed there for the next time!

DSC07170-1The sleeves are my favourite bit!  🙂  I traced the pattern piece from the Jungle blouse, adding in the lines where I’d slashed & spread.  I cut up the centre of these lines on the front & back and added more!!  The back ended up with 10cm of fullness, the front with 6.  Then I widened the sleeve seems by 2cm on the back & 1 on the front, added 4cm to the length on the back and only 1 on the front.  This means that the back is fuller & longer & should have a fabulous hang when done.  And it does!  It is a bit of a bishop sleeve – to do it properly you should  go for full length with a deep cuff. Mmmm, I do love a bishop sleeve!  🙂  If you want to make your own, this is from Patternmaking for Fashion Design, by Helen Joseph-Armstrong.

DSC07165-1The collar is just a simple convertible collar, permanently disabled!  I never wear tops buttoned up to the neck so I placed the first button to have a decent “v” and an open collar.  I’ll make the stand & fall shallower next time, although it doesn’t bug me like this.  One thing that does bug me though is the front.  The rows of spots don’t line up across the front!  AARRGGHH!  The fabric must have slipped while I was on hands & knees pinning & measuring, & of course, I didn’t notice until it was too late!  I must remember not to look in the mirror – at least when its on I can’t see it!  Oh dear…

DSC07162-1Onto the stashbusting!  January was pretty good really.  I used some white linen that I’ve had for aaages to make a vintage jacket.  Bellatrix has scored really well with 4 stash fabrics used!  Woot!  I’ve decided to stick with my use 2, buy 1 from last year.  That means I get to buy 2 new pieces – if I need them..  Ha!  Who am I kidding, of course I NEED it!  Husband & I went up to Solihull on the weekend, he looking for lighting for the living room, me tagging along in the hopes of finding some goodies in the John Lewis sale.  As luck would have it, we both struck gold! I win though, because I managed to persuade him to buy my fabric!  I left clutching 4m of silk, two 2m lengths, & grinning like a Cheshire cat!  I’m-a-gonna make some fabulous blouses with these…

DSC07111I just need to decide on which details to cobble together from all the lovely images on my Pinterest board.  It may take a while.  😉

Silver Lining

Silver Lining blouse

Ok, so this post has nothing to do with an actual lining – but it felt right as a name for this next project, and it’s a pretty good song too!  (Silver Lining, by Hurts)  The fabric is a Liberty print cotton voile with what looks like draped fabric printed in shades of grey on white.  I loved it when I saw it in the shop, and loved it even more when I noticed it was only £6.99/m!  Naturally I hadn’t a clue what it was to become, so I played it safe and got 2m.  I am so glad I did, because when I finally made a pattern I had just about enough.  Here’s the sketch again:

Blouse with oversized polo placket

The pintucks were substituted with twin needle tucks as the voile was so soft, the last thing I wanted was wobbly tuck lines!  I have made the yoke a double layer, I just think it looks better that way.  The remainder of the bust dart was incorporated into gathers, and the bodice front was widened 3cm to allow for some draping and fullness.  I also made the back a little wider, basically cutting up the back dart and opening up 3cm there as well.  Originally I had added more width at the centre back, but when I did the toile it was too full, and I didn’t like it.  The yoke at the back also has twin needle tucks.

Silver Lining - blouse

But it’s the sleeves that really catch the attention!  That big poofy bit was cool to make!  I had fun with that.   First, I drew a line 5cm above the elbow line, then another 5cm below the halfway point between the elbow and the wrist.  That was to be the extent of the poof.  To keep that poof, however, you need a stay on the inside.  So I traced that bit of the pattern, adding balance points and grainlines, then divided it into 9 sections, adding 2.5cm between each piece.  This made a very wide section, perfect for lots of poof!  Then I added 8cm at the lower edge for “blousing.  Once it was toiled, I realised the blousing was hiding the cuff completely, so I chopped 3cm off, and now it works quite well.

The three sleeve sections, the top, the "poof", and the stay to hold the poof in place!

I really like this blouse, and am definitely going to use the pattern again to make more!

Poofy sleeve

Pictures are a little dark, I got daughter no 2 to take them after the sewing class today, we were way too busy to do it earlier!  It is amazing how busy a class with 6 people in it can be!  Here’s a peak at the class today:

Working hard today! And yes, that's me on the right at the back.
Yup, we're Burdastyle fans too!

So it is half term this week, Daughter no 1 will be galivanting with friends, except for Thursday when we head into Birmingham for another University interview and possibly a little fabric shopping at the Fancy silk store then straight home!!  Yeah, right!!  Daughter no 2 needs to start work on her prom dress, so guess what I’ll be doing..  playing with paper again!  Yay!  😀