Sunday, 22 November 2015

Sophia The First

Soooo, sorry I have been a bit absent recently.  I have had many projects on the go, but not actually managed to finish any.  This has been for a variety of reasons - waiting for things to finish, unable to get my head round an instruction, projects finished but turning out far from expectations, general not being bothered.

I did this morning manage to finish what should have been a fairly simple top, but has still taken me nearly a month to finish, due to nearly all of the above reasons, and to be honest, I'm still not sure about it at all.

This is the Sophia Top.  The pattern came free with last month's issue of Love Sewing mag, with a skirt pattern aussi, and I fell in love with both straight away.  However, the reality did not been the expectations in my head.

I ordered some lovely jade taffeta from Whitetree Fabrics for the skirt and hunted the internet for some sequin fabric for the top.  I eventually found some from Guthrie & Ghani, and ordered some silver.

Anyway, I made the skirt first, which was a simple and straight forward make, but I just didn't like the finished product on me.  It was just all wrong for my shape I think.  I am wondering whether to make it again, but go up a size and see if it then falls better.  I think I would also need to move the front pleats so that they sit in a more flattering position on me.  Anyway, I gave the skirt to my step-mother, who it fits perfectly and looks lovely on, but I haven't managed to get any pics of it.  She is on her holidays at the end of this week and I think she is taking it with her so I will ask her to get some pics.

I then moved onto the top.  I decided that as I was using sequin fabric, I should underline with silver satin.  I cut the satin out first and used it as a toile to check fit.  Following the toile, I decided to add some length, lower the neckline, add some bust darts, make the sleeves shorter and add some waist darts, so basically, it is nothing like the Sophia top now.

Following the decision to do these alterations, I then cut out the sequin fabric, and got sequins ALL OVER THE HOUSE.  Hubby was not impressed - he'd just vaccuumed.  Two weeks later, we are still picking up sequins, and we have vacced since.

Once constructed, the pattern calls for facings, but I decided against this and instead used some sequin binding from my stash.  I think it is left over from the Elsa dresses I made last year.  Anyway, I had enough to bind the hem and neckline, but not enough for the armholes.  Luckily though, Boyes still had some, so one more metre was bought and I was able to finish off the top.

I'm still not 100% sure of it - I just don't think it is my style and it doesn't fit as nice as I would have like it to, but I am not feeling particularly patient at the moment.  I wonder if part of why I am unsure of it is because I don't now know what I would wear with it, and I don't have time to make another skirt before I go on my holiday in two weeks.  I still have another of these Burda dresses on Doris to finish and a McCalls 6696 cut out ready to sew for holiday, and had a total panic this morning about how I am going to find time to get them finished, write an assignment (for which I still have the reading to finish) and finish of the tablecloth and napkins set I am making for my friend, Pam.  Oh, and I have a craft fair on 3rd December at work so still have some more little Pippa dresses and Peter Pan collars to make for that . . .


I suppose all this means I had best get off my backside and get sewing . . . 

Happy Crafting!


Saturday, 31 October 2015

Happy Halloween

Sooo, Happy All Hallows Eve people.

I'm posting today instead of tomorrow, as today I have my niece's Halloween costume to show you.  But first, a question:

When did Halloween get so complicated?!

When I was but a nipper, the costume ideas were pretty simple and limited:
  • witch
  • vampire
  • ghost
  • mummy (if it was dry and you didn't mind being covered in loo roll).
These days - no!  This year, my eldest niece is being Maleficent (I can see how that one works and her costume is pretty ingenious and she's done it herself) and the youngest, Evie, wants to be a Monster High cheerleader!  And this is the costume she wanted me to make:

Now, I for one I have never heard of this monster high shizzle - I keep confusing it with High School Musical - now THAT would be a Halloween costume.  Anyway, I had to google it and spend what felt like hours with Evie going through the pictures until we found the one she wanted me to copy.  This is after she had asked me to make her costume of course - she'd spent ages telling me what she was doing for her costume - I never twigged that she wanted me to make it . . . bad auntie (but still fabulous).

I would just like to say that I may not have watched Monster High, but I did watch Disney's Descendants the other day, and I loved it!  Total Disney Geek up in here!

So, anyway, after that, I knew what was expected, and I had an idea of what I was going to do.  A google of children's dresses of the shape required all seemed to be jersey - not a problem I thought, and at least it would me comfy for her.  My sister, however, had other ideas  "I've bought you 5 metres of some black fabric for Evie's costume - it was only £1 a metre."  Immediate alarm bells,  

An inspect of the fabric confirmed that, as suspected, it was not jersey.  In fact, I'm not entirely sure what it is, but you can definitely guess that it was £1 a metre,  If has the weight of heavy suiting, but feels scratchy as hell.  It is also the most horrible fabric ever to cut - give me heavyweight denim any day rather than this, which has pretty much blunted my otherwise nice sharp scissors.  Best find somewhere to get them sharpened.  Dear sister, if you are reading this, never fabric shop without me please - I may not buy £1 a metre fabric, but there is a very good reason for this.  Apparently she wants to me to make her a dress from what is left . . . I don't think my scissors can cope.

So the appearance of this apparently bargainous fabric meant back to the drawing board.  As the fabric is a woven, a jersey pattern was never going to work.  Eventually, I found Simplicity 1382, which had the skirt I wanted and the front bodice was pretty perfect for what we were doing.  I had seen this pattern a while ago and was going to buy to make Evie a party dress for her upcoming birthday, but she's decided she wants an elephant costume instead!!!  Even better, this pattern came in girls plus sizes.  Now, Evie is by no means fat, but she towers over the rest of her class, who all seem tiny and frail in comparison.  She is nearly as tall as her sister, who is 10, but built like a whippet - all skinny and gangly.  You couldn't get two sisters less alike in this respect.  Evie is also, like me, largest at her waist.  If I had bought the standard pattern, I would have had to make her an age 12.  With the girls plus pattern, I am making an 8 1/2, with a grading to 10 1/2 at the waist - much better.

So I traced the pattern off the main pattern sheets, thinking that I can use the pattern as she grows for further dresses if I don't cut into it.  Evie had decided to go for view A, with the heart cut out in the back.  I thought she would go for the other for this costume, but I have no objections to the heart cut out.  The pattern calls for facings from the same fabric, but as I don't like it, I decided to do  the facings with some pink  cotton I had bought to do the 'Monster High' motif on the front, but then realised I didn't actually need.  Maybe it was fate . . .

I don't think I did a bad job in the end:

This was a project done little and often.  One night cutting main fabric, another cutting the facings and interfacing them.  Another yet 'decorating' the front bodice piece.  Never has so much thought gone into how to attach some ribbon or where an M and a H should go.  A lot of measuring was involved.  I eventually got the motif central and then realised that the ribbon totally wasn't.  Luckily, nothing had been sewn down, so it was quite simple to rearrange the ribbon, which was actually from my stash, and the perfect colour.  I only had enough to do the neckline though.

I would just quickly like to share with you my ingenious way (or I think so anyway) of tracing the motif to the bondawebbed fabric - simply blu-tack the fabric to the laptop screen and trace.  Well, it worked so it is a method I will be sticking with.  Also meant that it was really easy to re-size before tracing, rather than printing out a gazillion versions.  The screen acts as a little light box  too.

I made the motif from white fabric from my stash and then appliqued around the edge with hot pink to get the desired look.

Once this was done, I could start on the actual construction . . .

Actual construction was pretty simple and straightforward and would have been even easier had the fabric been garment, or even quilting, weight fabric.  I finally figured out what the fabric my sister bought was - I do believe it is upholstery fabric of the type used to upholster office chairs.  I also discovered that when pressed, even though I was sensible and used a pressing cloth, it gives off a distinct, strange, sherbert smell.  Surely this can't be a good thing?!?

not a perfect zip insertion, but close
enough and there was no way I was
unpicking and doing it a second time!
It probably took me a couple of hours to do the main construction, but I did it in little bits here and there.  I substituted the lapped zipper of the pattern for an invisible zipper, as I find these easier - I know, I know, strange, but I just cannot get my head around lapped zipper insertion.  I'm sure it will click one day, but for now invisible zippers all the way for me.  Then it was time for Evie to try on the dress.

I love the back of  this dress
I already knew that the skirt was waaaay too long.  If I held the waistband up to my waist, the he of the skirt reached my knees.  Now, I know I am far from tall, but that was ridiculous.  After trying on, which in my amazement fit perfectly (check me and my pattern grading out), we agreed that the skirt needed about 6 inches taking off it, which I did.  As the fabric was so bulky I decided to hem using the bias binding technique.  I used self-made bias, for which I used a scrap of hot pink habatoi from my stash.  I made just enough, which was tres lucky - that skirt hem is longer than it looks!

Once the skirt was hemmed, it was simply a matter of stitching two pieces of ribbon - one white, one hot pink, along the hem to complete the look.  Et voila!  One costume for the niece.

Evie was extremely excited about her costume, and other than the icky fabric, I quite enjoyed making it.  I have plans to make her another in a simple cotton, which should be a lot easier to work with.  Then my mind started running away with itself and planned a sequin/glitter and duchess satin version - we'll see about that one . . .

In the meantime . . .

Happy Trick Or Treatin'


Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Casper The Friendly Ghost

Sooo, a quick Halloween-y share today, but not costumes, just a simple outfit for the day.

This is the Pippa dress, which I actually made for Pippa this time.  When I saw this fabric in the Little Fabric Bazaar Sunday Specials I just knew a dress for Pippa was going to happen.  There is just less than a metre, but the pattern only calls for 0.75m, even less if I don't use facings, but line in satin.

Not much to say - construction was straight forward, and I lined the dress with purple satin.  I nearly had a paddy at this as I knew I had some purple satin in my stash, but I hadn't actually looked to see how much recently, but when I was placing a big satin order I omitted to purchase purple, as I thought I had enough in the stash.

Then it came to cutting out the satin . . . duh duh duuuuuuh . . . not as much satin as I thought . . . ooops.  Luckily with a bit of creating cutting I managed to get enough lining for this dress.  The saving grace is that the lining can be shorter than the shell of the dress, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to do it.  Construction from there was straight forward.  I have made a few of these after all - see here here here here and here (with more still to be blogged about).

After cutting out the dress I had some of the Casper fabric left, but not enough to make another dress (I had held onto this hope but it just wasn't to be.  I considered putting the remnant on eBay, but then decided that another Bertie hat should be made, for Bertie of course, so that brother and sister could have another matching outfit.  I used some of the leftover black gaberdine from my new work skirt and lined the hat with the Casper fabric for a bit of subtelty.

I had been planning that if I had enough fabric left to make a matching collar for Katy, their mum, and maybe something for their dad, Mark, as he always seems to be left out, so they could be a matching family (they usually all have matching halloween costumes).

I had plenty of fabric to make the collar if I used the left over satin for the under collar, and even attempted some pattern matching, which was mostly successful.  Unfortunately, after then, there wasn't enough to make anything else.  One day Mark, you will get something.

So, that is that really - all things I have made before, but I wanted to share because I love the fabric, and it is nearly Halloween.

I will have another Halloween make for you on Saturday.

Happy Crafting!


Sunday, 25 October 2015

Black Lace

Soooooo, I was hunting on the White Tree Fabrics website for some fabric for a new rain mac (currently in production) when I got very very distracted by some beeeeee-autiful black lace with 3-d flowers.

OMG it is just stunning.

I had to have it.  I just knew that it would make the most awesome of party dresses.

I didn't have the pennies to buy enough to make myself a dress, so I bought myself a metre and decided to make a Pippa dress, of which I have already made a fair few if you do a quick search of the blog.

However, due to this gorgeous fabric, I would have to make some small changes to the dress.

edgy edgy
First up . . . how could I not use the gorgeous lace edge?  Now, the Pippa dress curves up at the sides, and if I did this with this fabric it would cut off half of the lace edge.  So, I decided to cut a straight edge on the pattern piece, which was simple enough - just extend the side seam down to the edge of the fabric . . . easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Second in the list of things that needed to be done . . . due to the lace nature of the fabric, it is see-through . . . not appropriate, so I decided to fully line the dress with some black satin.  I was going to originally do a standard underline, i.e. line each piece before making up the dress, and then add a standard facing.  However, I wanted the lace section to swing and sway away from the lining, and this would not happen if the side seams were attached.  So, basically I made two dresses - a lace one, and a lining one.  I then sewed the two together around the shoulders and then attached a standard facing.  I contemplated lining like I had my other dresses, but thought that as the lace was sheer, the raw edges would show through and I wanted to avoid this.

the photo doesn't show it brilliantly
bit the smaller flowers are 3-d and stand
proud of the main fabric
Thirdly - the 3-d flowers.  I didn't want any of these caught up in the seams when sewing.  To combat this, Those that would get caught no matter what were removed very carefully with my thread scissors.  Those that could avoid this fate were pinned back out of the way of the seams when sewing.  Good in theory, but I ended up stabbing myself a fair few times in the sewing process, but then again there is nothing new about that is there?  I'm sure I would make loads of money if I charged based on the number of pin and needle stabs I have received during construction!!!!

Anyway, all this was pretty simple and straight forward, other than me sewing when I was tired and doing a couple of things wrong and having to unpick, which I really wanted to avoid on this lovely lace, but it isn't a Holly-project unless at least one seam has had to be unpicked!

My biggest problem happened when it came to choosing the buttons for the fastening.  I searched Ilkley for some buttons for this dress, but I just couldn't find any I liked.  I did buy some, but I wasn't 100% sold on them for this dress, so I used them for something else. 

The breakthrough came when my Grandma gave me her mother's (my Great-Grandma, who I adored) button box.  I didn't even know this still existed.  I'm not sure how old the buttons in there are (my Great-Grandma passed away 19 years ago and wouldn't have sewn in her later years as she had bad arthritis in her fingers), but the actual box itself has to be at least 80 years old - there is a label in there as there is a little label in there with my Gran's maiden name and I remember her and my Grandad celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary.  The box is a treasure trove of buttons, and clearly I get my love of the colour blue from my Great-Grandma as there are more blue buttons that anything else in there.  Blue was not going to work on this dress though, but I did manage to find some silver art-deco style buttons, which I thought would do the job nicely.

I'm tempted to take the button box to the Antiques Roadshow, as my Grandma also let me raid her jewellery (the bits she doesn't wear), and I took pretty much all of her brooches.  I doubt any of them are actually worth much, but it would be nice to know the history behind some of them (one I found in the button box).  Also, some need restoring (missing stones etc.) so it could be worth finding out how much that is going to cost me.

So anyway, that is the dress, which is now in the Folsky shop.  It is a one-off.  As I had to cut the fabric out a certain way to get the lace edge for the hem, there is no way I am going to get another dress out of it.  I'm not sure what I will do with my leftovers yet - there isn't much edge left.  All ideas and suggestions welcome.

I will have some halloween makes to show you over the next week, so you will be spoiled with more than one post in a week!

Until then . . .

Happy Crafting!


Sunday, 18 October 2015

Venus in Blue Jeans

Ooooor, rather, Venus cutting up blue jeans . . .

Soooo, in this instance, I would be Venus, and I would be cutting up a pair of blue jeans that I got sick of falling down all the time.  Yes, I could have donated them to my sister, who is better endowed in the hip area that I, but I decided to cut them up instead.  It was actually quite cathartic.  

So, what did I do with my jeans I hear you ask . . . 

I made them into a Gather Tallis collar of course . . . duh!  I have made this a couple of times previously:  here and here.

To do this, I basically cut both legs off the jeans (the top part may or may not have a use yet - think Panto Dame in hot pants peeps . . . a request from the Director no less . . . or maybe don't think that if you are having your brekkie) and then cut up the inside seam of each leg.  I then laid the pattern pieces to see how they would work best.

I decided that for the back pattern piece, which is cut on the fold, I would like to use the outside, flat felled, seam of the jeans, so this is what I did.  I then cut out the front pieces from a 'plain' part of the denim.  I managed to get two back and two sets of front pieces from each leg.

I didn't relish the thought of sewing through two flat felled seams if I made the whole collar denim, so I decided to use a different fabric for the underside of the collar.  I also thought this could make the collar reversible, and whoever wore it could get two looks in one . . . genius eh?!  I decided to use a scrap of fabric from my recent groovy skirt, mostly because this was lying around on my desk still, so was in sight.

I took inspiration from the gold in that fabric to use some gold satin ribbon for the tie closure.

Construction was then pretty simple and straight forward.  I decided to top stitch in a golden colour to make the denim side more jeansy, and it blended well with the print side.

I have put this in the Folksy shop, as it matches a dress I have in there too, which I have not yet blogged about, but will do so.

I have four more denim side collars cut out, just waiting for the right fabric to come along . . . ultimate upcycling going on here.  I will no doubt blog them when I have made them.

In the meantime . . .

Happy Crafting!


Sunday, 11 October 2015

Up Above The Streets and Houses, Rainbows Flying High

Sooooo, I have finally got around to making a dress that has been in my head forever.  I have had the fabric for a while too, but I kept getting distracted and making other things instead.

This is my Rainbow Girl's Dress:

As I said, I have had this idea in my head for a while.  I probably saw something similar somewhere and then it just wouldn't leave me head.  I'm not sure where I saw the similar though . . . it will forever remain a mystery, particularly as my brain has most certainly not been up to scratch for a while.

This is the dress that got me back into my sewing room after my little (large) recent dip in enthusiasm for sewing/doing/life, and I spent a day working on it, just taking it slow and enjoying being back at my machine again.

It is a fairly simple dress, based on the what-should-now-be-famous Pippa dress, previous incarnations of which are all over my blog and can be found here here here and here, with a couple more to be blogged (when I think up suitable names for the posts) and some more ideas in the pipeline.

I used some blue cotton drill for the shell and lined with red satin.  I love the colour combination of red and blue, don't know why, just do.  This may be obvious with recent makes, such as my sailor shirt dress.

Anyway, so yes, as I have made so many of these recently, the basic construction was pretty straight forward and you don't really need to know about that.

What you do need to know about is the awesomeness that is the rainbow, clouds and raindrops on the front . . .

I knew that I was going to applique these - something always told me that I would.  And I knew that these would not be made from plain fabric, but from spotty fabric, especially when I saw the white on white dotty fabric at Little Fabric Bazaar, from where I got all my spotty cottons for this make.

Soooo, to make . . . I drew my rainbow, clouds and raindrops on some scraps of Burda tissue paper for my templates and then cut these out.  I kept the rainbow whole for the time being.  I then bondawebbed all my different spotty fabrics and the cut out the shapes.  I decided to cut out a full cohort of rainbow in each colour, then I would have enough to make some more of these dresses.

I then attached each piece to the dress.  However, I decided that the clouds should be fluffy if possible, so before ironing them onto the front piece of the dress, I stuffed them with a bit of toy filling, just to give them a 3-d effect (I've just finished another 3-d dress before I wrote this post, so maybe this is my new 'thing'.

Its so FLUFFY!
After ironing them all on, I then used a teeny-tiny zig zag stitch in a co-ordinating colour on each piece to finish the applique.  Top Tip for y'all:  If you don't have an embroidery/applique foot, I found that my buttonholing foot made the applique process a lot easier - no catching.  I just had to stop and move it back to the original position every now and again so I could see what I was doing.

Finally, to finish the dress, I buttonholed in blue (I seem  to have finally got this button-holing sorted - no issues this time) and used some red spotty buttons from my stash.  I think I did buy these specifically for this dress, but it was so long ago I can't remember.

This dress is now in the Folksy shop and I have enough fabric to make one more.  I also have loads more applique design ideas which I hope to get on with in the future, including some cute woodland animals, some balloons, a space-themed dress and loads more.  I could also do with getting on with making some things for me! 

As always, I'll keep you updated.

Happy Crafting!


Sunday, 4 October 2015

Workin 9 To 5

 . . . What a way to make a livin'

Barely gettin' by

It's all takin' and no givin'

They just use your mind
And they never give you credit
It's enough to drive you crazy
If you let it

And let me tell you, some days it does drive me crazy . . . and in actual fact has succeeded entirely recently, as the docs recently diagnosed me with depression and anxiety, most likely due to exhaustion, hence the little break I have taken from blogging the last couple of weeks.  You may also have noticed my absence from social media thingies.  But, part of it is my own fault, I was told I was suffering exhaustion a few weeks ago and that I needed to rest and probably take time off, but as I am a glutton for punishment, I refused to get signed off sick for a couple of weeks. . . I did cut down on what I do outside of work in an attempt to fight a bit of the exhaustion, but it was just getting worse and the anxiety and panic attacks were getting more frequent (4 in one week was the final straw, especially when one comes on just because you are putting your tights on, one at the theatre which I ordinarily love, and one when out on my bicycle, which is supposed to be helping me reduce them!).  

I eventually decided enough was enough and after a particularly horrific counselling session where all I did was cry, I took myself back to the docs and got myself a sick note, and then my biggest fear happened - because I stopped, I couldn't start again!  For the first few days all I did was sleep, I barely ate and I had no enthusiasm to do anything.  I made myself shower and dress each day (although most days this was in the afternoon) as I knew in the back of my mind if I stopped doing that then that might be the end of me, but I didn't leave the house for days and I had no interest whatsoever in doing anything but sleep - no sewing, no reading, no cycling - all the things that make me 'me'!

Work's reaction didn't help - Do they think I wanted to feel like this?!  That I haven't tried to stop feeling like this?  That I didn't want to feel normal and able  to go at my 100-mile an hour pace again (lesson learned to slow that bit down again though).  I was perfectly honest with them throughout what was going on and I just got it all thrown back in my face . . . lovely!  I think it set me back a fair bit to be spoken to like I was about something I was already feeling totally out of control of (cue another panic attack! Thanks).  So, if anyone is looking for a usually very efficient legal secretary/PA in the Yorkshire area, occasional panic attacks may occur but these seem to be more or less under control now . . . .

I did eventually start to feel more human - after about a week's worth of sleep in four days - but it still took me a while longer to have any interest in doing anything other than lying on the sofa watching telly.  I would like to say thank god for skyplus and ondemand as if I had been forced to watch daytime TV that might just have been the end of me :-)

Anyway, back to work I have now gone.  The first couple of days were pretty horrendous, but icy attitudes seemed to thaw towards the end of the week and I really feel for my lovely line manager who has been caught in the middle of the fall out.  but, enough about my woes though - I would like to share something positive, which is something I made before I actually ended up having my lovely nervous breakdown, but hadn't had chance to wear and photograph as I have been in my casuals since finishing it.

First thing is first: I really really need some new work clothes, but why would I want to sew work clothes when there are so many non-work pretty dresses out there to sew (and my list of those to sew just keeps growing).  Pretty dresses make me happy; the thought of work sends my anxiety levels through the roof, but I was down to quite literally 2 dresses (which can be found here and here) and 2 skirts (one of which can be found here and the other is unblogged) at one point - my outfits couldn't even get me through a full week, so I decided I had to take a short break from the pretty dresses and sew some work clothes, and after Christmas and Panto I shall crack on with some more work clothing (holiday clothes, Christmas makes and Panto will be taking up my time for a while yet though)

I had already bought some (what I thought was) lovely fabric for a top, and decided I just needed some plain skirts.  However, I am not one for totally plain, so I looked for a pattern with a bit of detailing.  I knew roughly what I wanted as I was basing it on an old skirt that got eaten by the washer a couple of years ago (I could've cried,  in fact if it had happened now I probably would have cried), and it had something akin to princess seams, so that was the look I was going for.  It took me a while, but I eventually found New Look 6312, which, while not perfect, would do and once I've mastered the fitting I can play with the design a little.  I knew that due to my chunky waist measurement (seriously - some of that fat needs to travel south to my backside so I can be a more sewing-pattern-friendly shape) I would have to make a couple of adjustments to the pattern with the old slash-and-spread (ooo-errrr).  So, I added about at inch altogether to make the skirt fit, or so I thought.

Please excuse the mess in my living room
but be in awe at my awesome, massive
fireplace (that doesn't actually have  afire in it)

Now, I had read blogs bemoaning the amount of ease in patterns of the big four, so I had even checked my measurements against the 'finished garment measurements' and these indicated that the extra inch was needed.  However, after cutting out and sewing up my lovely black gabardine and somehow managing to sew my waistband upside down (can you tell my brain was giving up?!), the skirt was mahoosive.  So, I took the waistband off (which I was going to have to do anyway, but I thought I might as well get the fit of the skirt before I sewed it on again) and took out all that extra inch and then some to make it fit.  I could probably go down to the size 18 on the skirt (maybe more now as depression = no interest in food/food tasting funny = weight loss!) and I need to figure out how to take some out of the hips, but it doesn't look too bad.  I then sewed the waistband back on, correct way up this time, and check out my zip - I thought I had got it nearly bang on when I had sewn the zip the first time (before my waistband discovery), but maybe it is a good thing I had to take it off an try again.  Maybe totally emotional breakdown is what is needed for me to finally get a good zip insertion.  I've not tried one since I have been feeling a bit better so it will be interesting to see the results . . . maybe some scientist peeps should do a study on this . . .

Anyway, onto the top.  As said earlier, I had bought some of what I thought would be lovely fabric to make a top from Boyes a while back.  I couldn't tell you what fabric it actually is supposed to be, just that it is polyester.  It had always been intended to be a GBSB shell top or variety of the same, previous versions of which can be found here and here.  After toying with the idea of doing the standard top with a big satin bow rather than the button and loop closure, I finally decided to do the button back hack as shown in the Fashion with Fabric book.  After my previous two creations, I decided that I needed to add another inch in length, but decided against an extra FBA, as it really depends which bra I wear underneath my others as to whether it looks as though it needs an FBA or whether it looks as though it could do with the existing FBA reducing slightly.
The back 

Cutting out was a smooth and easy process.  Sewing the damn thing however . . .

The fabric is lightweight and has a lovely drape so I decided to use a new size 8o needle, which might be wear I went wrong - I don't know.  This fabric is awful to sew.  Despite the floaty floaty-ness of the fabric, it felt like I was sewing paper!  Trying to get a needle through the fabric was a challenge, especially when it came to the handsewing, and trying to press the fabric just wasn't happening.

The construction process is pretty simple.  The button plackets at the back are formed by simply added some interfacing and folding the edge over, and the neck and arm edges are bound with bias.  With hindsight, I'm guessing that pre-bought simple black bias would have done the trick and look perfectly OK.  However, I had decided before I started sewing that I was going to make some self-bias.   This is where I discovered the stubbornness of this fabric when it came to pressing, but I persevered and managed to make enough after a few hours of pressing.
I tried to get a good pic of the buttons, because they are
pretty awesome, but it was really difficult because they
are so small but if you look really really closely you can see
that they have a little pattern on them, which I thought tied
in nicely with the print of the fabric

Even with the difficulties pressing, the sewing on the machine part only took me an afternoon.  What took me a further two weeks was the handsewing.  I wanted to hand stitch the bias binding at the back, blind stitch the hem (which is something I so usually do) and because the fabric was so very horrible I hadn't been able to do the buttonholes on the machine, so I had to do them by hand too.  It was so difficult to push the needle through that my poor fingers couldn't stand it for more than a few minutes at a time, so this could actually be the longest outstanding project yet (although I do now have one that has been left on Doris the Dressform for two weeks waiting for some more fabric to arrive), so maybe the longest outstanding continually worked on project.

Anyway, I wore the outfit to work one day this week and was complimented on it a few times, so that makes me happy.  I've been working on little projects since I went back to work to get me into sewing again, as I didn't go into the sewing room while I was off work because I didn't have the energy, and the couple of times I tried I just sat there in tears.  Anyway,  I will share those projects with you shortly and I have plans for bigger projects - the one currently on Doris, which is a dress for my holiday, which is now fast approaching, a new rain mac, halloween costumes for the nieces and an elephant costume for the youngest niece's birthday (I think I'm  now looking forward to the days when all they want for birthdays is money).  Also, I have been doing some panto designing, so I will be starting work on those soon - sparkly pink hotpants for the Dame anyone?!

I'll let you know how it all goes . . .

Happy Crafting!


and another one of my fireplace . . .

Sunday, 20 September 2015

In the Navy Part II

Sooooo, following on from my Sailor Shirtdress, I was still feeling in a nautical mood and was thinking of making a matching little girls dress similar to the Pippa dress, but then I made a ton-load of chutney, and in my search to find some cool gingham cotton to decorate the gazillion jars, I rediscovered some lovely red and ivory gingham with little blue hearts that I had previously used to make a top and a little light bulb went off in my head - if there was enough left after cutting out the chutney tops (because this fabric was perfect for them too), this would make an awesome nautically-themed dress.  The problems:
a lot of chutney was made
  1. I didn't have enough fabric to do the facings;
  2. There was a mark on the fabric that no amount of washing was removing.
Number 1 wasn't too much of an issue, I could use some satin or lining and do a fully lined dress, which may in fact work better as this was a lightweight cotton.

Number 2, however . . . hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm . . . 

Eventually, after mulling it over for a few hours I had another light bulb moment - a pocket!!  That is what I needed - a pocket.  A pocket would nicely cover the mark if I could cut the fabric out right so the mark would be where a pocket could reasonably be placed, which hooray! hurrah! I managed to do . . . yay!

So, the pocket . . . this was made from a scrap of the navy polycotton used to make my shirtdress and a heart cut from a scrap of the gingham, which I bondawebbed and then topstitched onto the pocket.  I then topstitched the pocket to the dress front.  I tried actual top-stitching thread, but my machine didn't like it.  It is still a bit not right from when I had to take it apart a few weeks ago, but we seem to be slowly getting back to how it should be - lesson learned re the topstitching thread for the time being though, and my normal thread looks fine I think.

Anyway, construction from thereonin was pretty straightforward - no giant mishaps and for once no unpicking, although I feel this may have jinxed my next project.  

Although this was easy and straightforward the dress did take me over a week to complete.  I've not been feeling too great recently - my stress levels have been through the roof and I am currently seeing a counsellor.  You know I'm not right when I can't be bothered to sew and instead just sit at my desk crying.  Anyway, the counsellor has diagnosed depression and anxiety as a result of exhaustion and advised rest and relaxation.  I do not help myself, because at that point I should have taken some time off work, but no!  Why would I do that?!  I carried on for nearly another two weeks - it took me a week to tell my boss what was going on, and even then I kept working.  Luckily, my boss, Sarah, is quite understanding, and she cleared my workload for me so I wasn't getting myself in a tiz.  BUT, it still took a panic attack at the theatre last week (Shrek at Bradford Alhambra - thank you Lauren for being so amazing and getting me back home) to make me realise that I really could do with some time off, so at the time of writing I am now off work to  relax.  I'm trying, but for a busy person to just stop and rest is very hard.  I must be feeling a bit better though because I have got myself back into my sewing room and I finished this dress and I have other projects planned, which no longer fill me with dread at the thought of starting, which is what I was feeling a few days ago.  A few more days of proper sleep and resting and I may be back to my normal self, but I have learned to stop saying yes to everything when someone asks me and to stop putting so much pressure on myself to do everything.  My future extra-curricular activities are now just Panto and Uni, which starts again in a couple of weeks.  I will only plan one other thing per week, instead of having something on every night/weekend.
the gorgeous fabric
and you can just see a peak of my
new labels, which I will gush about
in a later post maybes

Anyway, as I was saying - straightforward.  This could be something to do with the fact that I have now made this dress five(?), make that six times, previous incarnations are here, here, here and here (and yes, I have more planned).

I have also discovered that in order to get my buttonholes to go right first time without tantrum, I need to do these at after 10pm of an evening.  I had ummed and aahhed about doing these to finish the dress, and in fact thought about leaving them until the morning, but decided to go ahead, and they went perfect first time.  I am so proud of myself!!!

Finally, to finish the dress, I added some blue ribbon as a border to hide the hem top-stitching.  I think it just finishes it off perfectly, and I used some of the silver anchor buttons that I originally bought for my sailor dress but then decided against.  I think they are perfect on this dress.

Anyway, the dress is in the Folksy shop, and is, as usual,  one of a kind - I have now run out of that fabric.  I'm slowly filling up up the shop and am considering a Craft Fair in Ilkely in November.  I would like to do it, but I don't think I need to put that pressure on myself to make sure I have enough stock to take.  I'm thinking . . .

Anyway, in the meantime . . .

Happy Crafting!


P.s. I would just like  to do a shout-out to the comical Caroline, who has just started blogging and is in fact a comedy genius.  Check out her tres-hilare blog here ***disclaimer - it has nothing to do with sewing - I doubt she even knows what needle and thread are***

Sunday, 13 September 2015

In The Navy

Sooo, peeps, I have finally got around to making the shirt dress I have been promising for the past few weeks (read: months).  I decided a couple of weeks ago that I had a free weekend stretching ahead of me (this was the weekend before bank holiday), so I would dedicate that weekend to tackling the shirt dress.

***warning . . . this is a long post . . . I talk about many things other than sewing and my dress, including but not limited to Bake Off, my new found sewing engineer skills, general exhaustion***

I chopped my head off this pic as my face just looked awful

I was inspired to make this by the lovely Mary of Idle Fancy, who it seems is queen of shirt dresses.  I love to read her blog, so I see a fair few shirtdresses.  I love how they look.  I have also noticed that a few of the other sewing blogs I follow love this dress muchly.  I have always veered away from anything with buttons down the front due to the inevitable gapage, but that is the joy of sewing your own.  McCalls 6696 comes highly recommended AND it even has different cup size options for the larger buxomed amongst us (I still went for the largest of the cup size options - a D).

I bought the pattern (and the fabric for that matter) aaaages ago and cut out the pattern.  Then I left it for a few weeks, not daring to start it.  I always have a fear of the unknown so I usually try to put them off as long as possible (I would like to point out that this was totally acceptable with my disaster of a first pair of trousers).  But anyway, I had a day on my own coming up at work (the rest of my fellow LAs were on holiday) so I knew I wouldn't get to leave my desk at lunch, so I needed something I could do sat at my desk but didn't involve looking at the computer, so I decided that I would start to cut out my dress.

I had bought some cheapish navy polycotton, thinking along the lines of wearable muslin, and had done a little doodle in my sketch pad of what I wanted he finished dress to look like.  The step-mother (non-wicked) liked the drawing, so after being told that I knew that I needed to make the dress awesome, which probably upped the nervous levels of making the first cut.

Anyway, as usual I am transgressing (just for a change).

My desk wasn't quite big enough to deal with the 4 metres of fabric and the pattern pieces for the skirt were slightly wider than my desk, but I managed (just).  It took me about half an hour to cut out the skirt pieces, the band and some of the collar.  The rest would either have to wait until I got home or for another day.  Due to the fact that I immediately fell asleep on the sofa when I got home, it waited until the following lunchtime, and took me about half of that to finish off my cutting.  This was just the fabric though . . . the interfacing had to wait until I could go get some more.  And I have to say, out of 4 metres of fabric, there wasn't much left.  I might, just might, get a child's dress out of it with some creative cutting.

Cutting out the interfacing had to wait another couple of days - in fact Friday night when I got home, and I had intended in starting the sewing that evening, but hubby came home unusually early, so we had tea and then went for a walk by the river and then just watched some telly, but it is nice to spend some time with him, as we so rarely see each other these days - we are both such busy people.

So, anyway, actual sewing commenced on the Saturday afternoon after I had run my errands and had some lunch.

Sorry, this is turning out to be a long post. 

Normally, when making a dress, I am inclined to do the skirt bit first, as I always think this is easier than the bodice, but as I was so anxious about this one, I decided to follow the instructions in the correct order for once, and that had me assemble the bodice first.  This was actually quite straight forward - a bust dart and side dart at each side, some gathering to the top and bottom of the back piece, and sew on the back yoke.  Simples.  At this point I decided to go for a little jaunt out to Guiseley to see my big sister and the nieces (the eldest of which wasn't even dressed and it was about 3.30 - I am dreading her teenage years, can't imagine what my sister feels).

When I got back home I had some tea and watched a spot of telly (caught up on The Scandalous Lady W, which had been on a few days before, but I had only half-watched).  After that, I decided to crack on with the dress.

I wasn't too sure about adding the yoke facing, but unusually for me, the instructions seemed to make perfect sense, so that bit really was a breeze and I am pleased to announce that I now think that I am adequate at yokes.  The shoulder seams of the yoke facing needed hand-stitching, so I did that whilst watching The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice.  Who else is watching GBBO?  Who is your fave?  I have to admit that I had a soft spot for Sandy and I was sad to see her go - I don't know if it is because she is quite local to me, or because she is pretty nuts, but I like her.  Cake week upset me because I really wanted one of the black forest gateaux (by 'one', please read 'all') but as I can't eat chocolate I was getting a bit depressed about it.  By the end I was just thinking 'I'll take the migraine, give me a cake!!!!!'  Nobody brought be a cake :-(  At the moment, I couldn't say who I think would win - Ian is doing well, but it is never a good  thing to peak early in GBBO and I can't help thinking the other contestants are going to get annoyed with him and he will have a kitchen-related "accident" . . . I mean, there are a lot of sharp knives in that tent . . . .

Anyway, the dress, yes the dress.  I'm normally not a huge fan of hand stitching.  I don't mind it if I have some telly to watch, but otherwise I just can't be bothered, but at this point I was enjoying making this dress, so I wasn't minding too much.  I would, however, next time just top-stitch these seams and call it a design element.  I didn't do it this time as I was trying to be good and follow the instructions to this letter.  I can assure you this didn't last.  In fact, it didn't last long at all . . . 

Next up was the binding on the armhole edges.  Now, I had bought what I thought was coordinating navy binding, as I couldn't be bothered to make binding.  However, when I came to start the binding, I realised it didn't match perfectly.  I knew this would bother me.  Other people might not notice it, but I would know it was there and it would be glaringly obvious to me every time I caught a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye.

So, I decided to go for a total contrast binding and raided my stash, where I found a few options.  I decided to go for the red stripe, as I had already bought my buttons (or rather button options x 3) and these were red.  I had also been considering some red top-stitching and I knew that I would wear this dress with possibly a red skinny belt (if I ever find one) and some shoes which are navy and red.  I decided against the top stitching in the end, and I have to admit that I wasn't too sure about the binding, but I showed my little sis and my friend, Sally, and they both approved it.

The only 'amendment' I made was to hand stitch the binding at the back, as although the instructions say to topstitch, I couldn't decide what colour to use.  Of course,  this meant that I could watch some more telly, in this case Nashville, which I desperately needed to catch up on.  I think at the moment I am three weeks behind. 

I also turned some of the binding inside out so that I could get the stripes as mirror images of each other on each armhole, and that was me done for that day.  It did take me a while to figure out that I needed to turn the binding inside out - who knew that just turning it upside down wouldn't work!!!!  I do worry about my mind some days . . .  I didn't actually finish sewing the binding then, so I left it to the next day.

I left all the pins in etc. and started on the band and the skirt.  All pretty straight forward until my damn sewing machine broke.  Just stopped.  Couldn't turn the handwheel at all.   When I had about 3cm left to go on a seam - my last seam for the day!!!! SOOOOO annoyed, as it is only about 6 weeks since it went in for it's service, and I have already had it in pieces once as it hadn't been put back together properly.  

So, me and hubby wasted about an hour of our Sunday afternoon taking the machine apart, which was a trial in itself and trying to figure out what had caused the problem.  We still don't know, but the handwheel now turns again.  Random!  Anyway, I don't know what we did taking it apart/putting it back together, but then the tension was way off.  So, I ended up sewing that same bit of 3cm seam a gazillion times until I got it right,  I kept trying it out on scraps of fabric, and it would be fine, but when it came to the actual dress, it would all be off again.  I wonder if it has something to do with the three layers of fabric and one of interfacing?  Maybe that's what broke it in the first place?!  Hubby seems to think he may have put the tension dial back on wrong, but he has yet to remedy this.  The machine works, it just doesn't seem right, if that makes any sense?

Anyway, I got there in the end then decided I would do the handstitching sat in my sister's garden.  I had the band  to sew down and the armholes to finish still.  Again, I didn't quite get this finished - it rained, so we went inside and then I decided to have a colouring and designing sesh with the little sister and the eldest niece.  So, the band and armholes actually took me about 3 days to sew on rare lunchbreaks and when I had an even rarer few minutes free at home.  I got there in the end though.  Then it was time to do the button bands . . .

I have  to admit, I had to read the instructions about 5 times for this bit - it wasn't that they were difficult, I just couldn't visualise it in my head.  I was just about to go online for some help, when the light bulb finally turned itself on and I finally understood.  I am going to blame the fact that I had just had my B12 injection and was waiting for it to actually take effect for my brain to work properly again - it is well known that when my B12 is low I become more of an idiot that usual.  This was actually obvious from my uni grades last year - I did much better on the assignments that were written and handed in when my B12 was high/normal than those that were done when my injection was due.

I am also suffering with more tiredness than usual, so the B12 injection alone isn't solving the issue.  I've been seeing a counsellor recently as I have just felt rubbish, and she thinks that I am suffering from exhaustion, which would account for the extra tiredness.  She might not be far off the mark to be honest - I am one of those people who never stops . . . ever!  I fear that if I stop I will never start again, so I am always doing.  I am aware that I need to scale back my life a bit and learn to say no to doing things, but I always feel bad if someone wants to do something and I say no.  For example, last week, I had one evening to myself, and that was then spent doing the housework - see no rest.  So, I am trying to make a promise to myself to calm my life down.  I'm not sure if this would mean more time  to sew or if I should also take a rest from that?  I've got quite a busy September, but I'm hoping that October and November will stay pretty clear, and then I am on holiday in December, so that will be a bit of an enforced rest, as I can't very well say yes to everything if I'm in the Caribbean with my phone turned off can I?

Anyway, enough with my problems and moans, I would like to say all was going well with the button bands.  I had even inserted some piping.  Admittedly this was tres wonky, but it is the first time I have ever put piping on a garment, so I am impressed with myself.  It is made from the binding I used on the armholes.  So, as I was saying, all was going well, until I realised the damn button bands are too short.  I can't remember if from the reviews I have read whether this is an actual problem, or my cutting was just dodgy.  I wouldn't have  minded too much if I hadn't already chopped two inches off the hem because it was way too long for my short-ass self.

I hoped I could wing it and the collar would hide this fact.  In a way it did, but my collar is a bit of a bodge if I am honest.  It is the first time I have done a proper collar and I am still impressed with myself.  If it wasn't for the short button bands, it would have been perfect.  So, how did I resolve the short button bands issue - I added a 'design element' of course.  Basically, the top of the button band now turns back on itself for a lovely small lapel effect.  It works, and that is all I care about.

So that was that done, and I just needed to do the buttonholes and sew the buttons on.  Seriously people, do not let me sew when I am tired.  I started the buttonholes on the wrong side, but didn't realise until I had already done 4, so my dress now opens the wrong way, but never mind, I will manage I'm sure.
I do not know how I managed to achieve
THIS level of wonkiness with the

Then THEN . . . having done my buttonholes and sewed my buttons on - how cute are these little red hearts by the way? - I discovered that something had gone seriously wrong with my waistband.  The dress all measures up - the bottom hem is in line, as is the collar/top bit of the dress, but the waistband just doesn't match - it's about 1.5 inches out.   It was on when I was sewing the waistband that my machine broke, so I don't know if this has anything to do with it (doubt it), but I have absolutely no idea how I have managed this, and it wasn't even like I sewed the waistband on an evening when I was a bit tired - I did it Sunday lunchtime.  I suppose I could blame hunger. . . . Anyway, I'm hoping no-one will notice, because there is no way I am unpicking all the way back to that. 

However, when I came to try on the dress, it fit almost perfectly, and I did enjoy making it.  There is a bit of gaping at the armholes, but nothing a small FBA won't fix.  I had read on other blogs that there seemed to be too much blousing at the back.  I was concerned about this, and it did seem that this could be the case when I was trying the dress on as I was making it, but the final product has a manageable amount of blousing - might have something to do with my wonky waistband?  AND I think the shape and fit is quite flattering on me.  You may think otherwise . . .

Despite all the things that need improving, I am quite happy with this - it was only supposed to be a test muslin anyway, but I do have some awesome shoes that will go with it, and I'm hoping that unless it is pointed out to peeps, they will never notice the wonkiest waistband on earth.  I'm thinking not wearing a belt will be the best option - no need to bring attention to it now is there.  Or, I could make up a red obi belt and that would hide it completely, now there's a plan.
I could bind these inside edges

So, what would I do differently next time (there WILL be a next time, I promise)?

1.  Maybe forget about the piping - I need more practice before I let that loose ion garments again.
2.  There is a bit of gaping at the armholes, so maybe a small FBA is required, even though I did use the D cup
3.  Figure out what the hell I did with that waistband!  And not do it again.
4. Top stitch instead of all the hand stitching - we shall call it a 'design feature'.  It might mean I actually get it done in my intended weekend.  Hand stitching on this included:  the yoke facing shoulder seams; the waist facing; the binding; the button bands (x2) and the collar facing.
5.  Either make sure I cut the button band correctly, or add some length to it.  This might help me with the collar.
6.  As there are hardly any exposed seams, I could hong-kong finish those that are there.  I might also doing the facings in contrast fabric to add a bit of interest . . . maybe

As already said, there will be a next time, maybe with the narrower skirt, although do like the fuler skirt.  I have my eye on this seeksucker from White Tree Fabrics (hint hint hubby - don't think he actually reads this blog though - and I have just found out as I have an NUS card I get student discount - Awesome!) but maybe I should focus on autumn/winter fabrics and colours rather than more summer?  I do have a holiday in December though that I will need clothes for . . .

Anyway, that is this particular epic post done. I am on with a holiday dress next, providing all goes well with it.  I have also just downloaded the Deer & Doe Plantain Tee, so that will be a new challenge for me - any advice peeps?  

As always, I'll let you know how they go.

Happy Crafting!


the dress has a bit of twirlability

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