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

Sunday, 6 September 2015

A Lesson

Soooo, a few weeks ago, I taught my first sewing class.  I say class, it was in actual fact my friend and her sister, but they are the first grown ups I have taught.

It all came about from my Flamingoes skirt and my friend's sister, Lucy, asking if I would make her one.  I calmly explained how much I hate sewing for other people, but tagged onto the end of my rant about how annoying I find other people 'but I'll teach you to make your own if you want'.  She took me up on this offer, but didn't want to do it all on her lonesome so talked my friend, Katy into doing the class with her.

We decided that the class should be held at Katy's as she has the most room and a mahoosive dining table, which is perfect for two people to sew on at the same time.  I also borrowed my mother-in-law's sewing machine - never again.  I forget to pick up the instructions after they fell out of the box (and I didn't notice) and weeks later, I still haven't heard the end of it!  It's not worth the hassle - I'll save up and buy another sewing machine next time.

Anyway, I instructed the girlies to buy their own fabric and pointed Lucy in the direction of eBay for the flamingoes fabric, as that is where I got mine from.  I still think I need some more of that fabric (I'm thinking holiday shorts).  I think Katy got her fabric from The Shuttle in Shipley - great bargains to be had, but it does feel a lot like a jumble sale in there sometimes, but as long as you are willing to search through everything you can find some gorgeous fabrics.

So, other than  totally underestimating the amount of time we would need to make the skirt, everything went pretty smoothly.  Both Katy and Lucy got the hang of the sewing machine easily.  I was really really impressed with Lucy, who I don't think had ever sewn anything  or used a sewing machine before - she took to it like a duck to water and was quite the perfectionist - much more than I am anyway.  I don't think we had any major mishaps at all.  Lucy even did her own buttonholes, which Katy chickened out of doing and I did them for her, but I don't mind - they can be daunting.

I don't care that it took longer than I thought it would, it just meant that I got to spend more time with my friend, who I don't see enough at all!

Anyway, here are the finished products:

Katy's skirt (which I stole from her Instagram account - follow her, she has loads of vegan food "delights")

And Lucy's skirt:

Not bad for a total beginner eh?

Katy had some fabric left over so I offered to take it and make up another Pippa dress for her daughter:

I got the cutest video thank you from Pippa - you'd never believe she is the terror her mother makes her out to be ;-p

After I had done that, there was a bit of fabric left over, which I used to make another Bertie hat for her son, Jake, who kindly modelled for me:

Anyway, I believe we have another lesson coming up when Lucy returns from her internship in Geneva (lucky cow) and I think it might be the Ruby dress.

In the meantime, I am working on some projects of my own and am about to get very very busy as I have just agreed to help out with the costumes for Addingham Panto.  I  thought I was volunteering to help out with some sewing - turns out I'm pretty much in charge of the costumes, so now I am terrified as hell that a) I might have bitten off more than I can shew and b) I am going to totally mess us.  A) is possibly solveable - I will just have to scale back all the rest of the crap that I do, although I do have an assignment due in half way through the actual panto run (as well, as one due while I am n holiday) so I'm going to have to work superhard to be ahead I think on college work.  This might just mean that I have to go into hibernation and not see anyone for a few weeks.  In fact, I might block out my diary now to stop myself putting stuff in there.  I might also be taking my uni books and some sewing on holiday, but never mind eh?  On the positive, I might have some awesomely gaudy costume projects to share with you . . .

So anyway, as usual I am going off topic and I really need to get on with some sewing . . .

Happy Crafting!

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