Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Burda 6829:The Little Red Dress Project

The last thing I thought I would make is a red velvet dress, but at the Harrogate knitting and stitching sew I sew this fantastic stretch velvet on the Bombay Stores stand at only £6.95 a metre, so I decided to join the little red dress project after all. 

As soon as I got the fabric I was sure that I had seen the perfect pattern, Burda 6829.  I had 2  metres of fabric and easily got this shorter version with a bit to spare.  The velvet was a little  heavier than  ideal for this pattern, the main problem turned out to be the facing.  As you can imagine around the neck facing with two layers and (stretch) interfacing it is pretty bulky.  Even with my usual understitching the facing would not stay down and I have had to use my twin needle to top stitch to solve the problem.

What I really love about this pattern is how figure flattering it is, it definitely minimizing the tummy area, which I had worried might be accentuated by the gathers it definitely isn't.

I did my usual changes, raising the waist by 1" and  reducing the width of the shoulders.  I cut a size 12, in a lighter more stretchy fabric the fit might be a bit too loose.  Shame about the folds at the back waist I really need to sort this issue out for the future.  The other change I made was to fit the sleeves in flat.  I'm not sure why they have you fitting these after you have done the side seams.  The way they have you doing the hem (front first then then the back later) was a real pain to line up, both the length and lining up the twin needles, so I will look if there is a way to do the whole hem at once.

So there we are a red Christmas dress and I will be posting it as part of Renata's Little Red Dress  project (#THELITTLEREDDRESSPROJECT) when loads of red dresses will be appearing this week.  I do really like this pattern and will made another less dressy version.

So that is probably it until after Christmas.  If you celebrate Christmas have a great one.  I have my boy home so I'm happy and planning to take it very easy indeed!

Friday, 9 December 2016

Butterick 6388

Time for some winter sewing ..... and I made two in a week.  This is Butterick 6388, a relatively new pattern.

I love this pattern, it is so cosy and is completely different in the different fabrics.  The first one I made is  from a sweater knit, bought from Abakhan at Preston.  If you haven't been to this shop you don't know what you are missing, most of the fabrics are bought by the kilo.  This was incredibly light so 2 metres cost less than £8 and is a fabulous duck-egg blue, my favourite!

I cut a size medium initially, and as you can see this version turned out quite loose and could probably have been a little more fitted.  I found a vintage button to put on the neck.

You can see more of the details on the second version (which I really love).  The fabric is probably the best quality ponte I have every bought.  It is from Fabric Godmother, not cheap at £16 a metre (so much more expensive than the last one) but it is so thick and warm and I know I will get loads of wear from this dress.  I think it would make a good Molly for those of you wanting a substantial version and I have already made a Coco from a black stripe similar fabric .... perfect.


Using a stripe means you can really feature the back yoke and the side panels, which I cut on the opposite grain.  I also cut the sleeves originally on the vertical grain, only to find that the stripes now followed the shoulder stripes and that wasn't what I wanted.  The back yoke was a little fiddly but I love this extra detail.  The collar is pretty easy to achieve, the hardest bit making sure you stretch it just right.

I also love the dropped sleeves (makes fitting for those of us with narrow shoulder easier).  Because of the roominess of the first version I cut it a little smaller .... mistake!  The fabric made the fit completely different and it was much tighter, so I ended up with a 3/8" seam rather than a 5/8" seam at the sides to give a little bit more ease.    This is my argument against toiles.  Unless you use pretty identical fabric the fit will be different in any case.  I do make toiles but so often you think the fit is OK and made up it just isn't the same.  I hold a lot of store in sewing shoulders/any front or back seams and then basting the remaining seams to try.  I also know that for most patterns I need to narrow the shoulders and the neckline (though not in this case), raise the waist, and lower the hem!

I will usually wear this dress with a belt, as I like the extra shaping.  I wore it to the Harrogate Stitching and knitting show last month.  My sewing friend Gary and I went and we had a great time.  I spent a fortune; camel coating, dragonfly lawn, teal blouse fabric.   My favourite stall was Fabrics Galore, I bought this gorgeous Italian double crepe, it's very busy but I'm going to colour block it in a dress with black crepe.  I also bought some fabulous mustard wool jersey, but it doesn't seem to be on the website.  If you live near Battersea I would definitely recommend a trip to this shop!

So definitely recommending this pattern and it is easily made over a weekend (mm a red one would be rather fantastic for Christmas and comfortable, plenty of pie space). 

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Colette Selene skirt

There has been a bit of a delay in posting due to internet access but this hasn't topped me sewing and I have a few makes to catch up on.  The first is my Colette Selene skirt and definitely a hit.

I bought both the fabrics when I was shopping with Ruth from CoreCouture at Minerva crafts and I totally copied her!  Ruth is truly great at creating a wardrobe of wearable matching separates.  We both bought a wool and matching drapey burgundy fabric and  have made quite different items. 

So the skirt is my first attempt at the Selene and it will be a go to pattern in the future for a work skirt.  I think the shape and fit are perfect for me and really flattering, and the thing I was actually a bit worried out, the amount of interfacing on the front panels turned out to be the thing that helped the skirt to be flattering as it provided a sort of corset effect which hold the tummy in!

A really nice feature are the slanted welt pockets.  All the interfacing and the layers made it pretty thick on the two side panels, but as mentioned above it worked well in the end.  (Sorry seem to have lost the close ups on the pockets!).  The instructions for the welts were clear and the most important thing is to get the clip into the corners perfect.

I cut a size 10 but then had to take in the side seams quite a bit and a size 8 would probably have been the right fit.  The only other change was to add 4" to the length - I'm only 5'4" so it would be really short.  The back has a vent (pretty easy to do).

There is a separate lining pattern, and I really like not having to draft my own.The lining is shorter, so there is no issue around the vent.

I hand stitched the hem, but as usual it turned out to be my least favourite part of the skirt.  Does anyone have any tips for hemming to stop the very slightly lumpy luck?  Does interfacing help at all.  I am careful and do very tiny stitches but I'm never completely satisfied with the result.

So what about the blouse?  I bought this fabric to match and it does .... but the observant among you may notice it isn't finished and I'm afraid it won't be.  The fabric was a devil to work with and whilst I did lovely French seams and it went pretty well the fabric seemed to stretch and the shoulders ended up dropping spoiling the fit.  So I won't both completing it, but have worn the skirt with a mustard top.

I would definitely recommend this pattern and will be buying more fabric for more versions.  I'm going to the knitting and stitching show at Harrogate on Friday and will be looking about for suitable fabric.  (If you are going and see me - I'll be wearing a striped ponte dress - come and say hello).

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Vogue 8333

This was an epic make and most of the time I loved it.  I have made a couple of jackets from Gertie's book, but wanted to try a fully tailored one; enter Vogue 8333; Claire Shaeffer's Custom Couture Collection. 

.... and tailored it is!  This pattern includes instructions for a fully tailored jacket (as well as a simpler version), and it is pretty fantastic if you can cope with 106 steps.  I made version a) the fully tailored one and I have been plugging away at it for months.  I attend a sewing class every second Saturday and I use that time to make something more complicated, then sew lots of other things on my own at home, which is why it probably took 3 months to complete.  I did enjoy it though, lots of challenges and new techniques.

I thread traced all the seams, darts etc with silk thread (silk thread is fantastic, so much nicer to both sew with and then remove).

I used sew in horsehair for the facings, this was then pad-stitched at the collar.  Pad-stitching is  revelation, it makes such a difference. magically curving the collar.  I interfaced the rest of the jacket with silk organza.  You can get an idea with the gubbins below of how much work there is on the inside.

I cut a size 14 with a little extra added to outside of the princess seam only.  I made my usual changes; raising the waist by 1" and taking 5/8" from the shoulder width and the fit is pretty good. For some weird reason I made the sleeves a little wider and as you can see the result is that  the sleeve is a little wide and the sleeve cap just a little puckered, but that's the only thing that bothers me, so not bad!

The shape is great a really nice fit with a nipped-in waist and I like the seam lines at the back as well.

You can see there is a very interesting "double" pocket which is a really interesting feature,  although you do end up with a lot of fabric at seam, which only works with quite a light wool, a melton would be no good at all.

When you put this many hours in you splurge on the lining, and I could only find the colour I wanted in real silk (and then expensive Beckford silk at that), but I love it.  It feels fabulous, infact you want to wear skimpy tops so that you can feel that silk.


 I made one change and used bound buttons holes instead of hand sewn ones.  Not a great photo, but you can just about see the bound buttonhole on the right, and the back of the button ready on the left.

More insides showing the cigarette roll on the shoulder under the shoulder pads.

Starting to fit the lining.  The lining is put together by machine, but then sewn in entirely by hand, which took me most of a week!

I wish had kept a timing so I could estimate the hours.  I love the jacket with the exception of the sleeves, and it must have been worth it because I am contemplating making another with this gorgeous dusty pink silk I bought in Rome.  Hopefully I would be  quicker on a second attempt.

It's either Vogue 8333 or this Burda 6901 pattern, which I love the shape of, but not sure about the high neck.  I wonder if I could adjust it.  What do you think?

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Vogue 1493 and New Look K6483


This is one of those times where the pictures don't do the garment justice.  I love this kimono.  I oringially bought the fabric which is a heavy viscose to make a Bettine, but as soon as I saw it it had to be a kimono.  The weight of the fabric is perfect, I think you need a bit of weight for this pattern.

Image result for vogue 1493

The pattern is Vogue 1493 and it is described as Advanced, so not one for beginner sewers, unlike most kimonos.  I loved this pattern as soon as I saw it on the McCalls Youtube vlog, and I would love to copy the version on the cover in the future.

I cut my usual size medium and didn't make any changes other than taking the length up at the waist by 2".

So what makes it an advanced sew?  Mostly the sleeves, which are definitely fiddly at both of the points (top and bottom of the cuff), but this is the detail which I love.  I would recommend starting sewing at the top of the cuff so that you get the neatest part where it shows.  For some reason my sleeve seemed a little big for the cuff so I would check that another time.

I made the sleeve cuffs and front facing from contrasting heavy crepe de chine.  I cut the facing from one piece rather than two and only interfaced half, because the crepe de chine is heavy and I wanted to reduce the thickness a little.

The seams are hong-kong bound.  My bias was a little cheap and nasty and I would definitely try and find a better quality another time.

Another of the difficult elements was binding the side slits around the corners.  I didn't bind the arm holes because I thought it would be a little thick.

When I bought the black silk I was given an extra half metre because of sellotape marks and manged to squeeze a New Look 6483 to match.  I got this pattern free with Sew Magazine and I think it is a great basic pattern.  The fit is great with a nice shape.  I cut a size 14, raised the waist by 1", narrowed the shoulders to a size 12, reduced the length by 1/4" because of fabric constraints.  I used a bias facing on the neck and arms rather than full facings, this works better with a weighty silk and because of the weight I didn't use French seams.

This is a great staple, and there will be more.  Free pattern, free fabric, what could be better?

So two successful sews, just sorry that I don't think the weather will be good enough for much longer to enjoy them, as its time for Autumn sewing now.

Monday, 5 September 2016

The Melilot shirt and Pattern Runway scalloped shorts

A pair of summer separates as the end of summer sewing draws regretfully nigh.  The shirt is Deer and Doe Melilot, a casual shirt with dropped shoulders. 

I like Deer and Doe patterns, I believe that they design for a C cup which means no fba!  This is a roomy top so I cut a size 40 (36 1/4" bust, 28 1/2" waist and 38 1/2" hip) and as you can see it there is plenty of room.  I think you need a really drapey fabric to get the best out of this pattern.  This is a fine silk crepe and if I could remember where I got it from I would get some more.  It feels great and was easier to sew than silk.

 I made view B with a collar, and the hidden placket.    I left off the pocket and also the sleeve cuffs because I thought the unstructured sleeve would look better without.

I struggled to follow the instructions for the hidden placket and ended up facing and folding the wrong bit which meant the inside isn't quite as smart as it should be.  The instructions would have been clearer with photos or more illustrations.  I also still can't work out how you are supposed to do the top button hole if you leave it until the placket is finished, another time I would do the button holes before adding the collar.  I ended up with the lower placket peaking out and you can just see this below.  I loved the deep curved hems, but try as I might I could not get this to lie nicely and I ended up having to take out at least 1 1/2" from the depth of curve and making a really tiny hem.

So here is the shirt with a pair of shorts.  If you are of a nervous disposition look away now to avoid my (still) white legs!

These are Pattern Runway scalloped hem shorts. 

Now I haven't bought shorts for over 15 years, as I can never get them to fit, so I'm reasonably pleased with these as they are definitely wearable.  They are a size Medium, but overall a little large (and definitely less pert than the pattern photos!), so another time I would probably reduce to a Small.

For a pair of shorts there was plenty of challenge.  For a start there are the scallops at the front and a faced hem curving down a little at the back;

There are welt pockets at the back.  Even with the Pattern Runway tutorial as well as the instructions I find their instructions pretty undecipherable and pretty much ended up winging it!

I cut the stripe on the vertical here which I really like, and I wish that I had done the waist facing with the stripes going in the same direction.  Although the welts worked quite well you might just be able to see that the back dart went longer than the pocket opening and I have ended up cutting through it.  Another time I would make sure the dart stops before the pocket starts.
The front pockets are nice, but it did make the zip harder to fit.  Can you see that a zip would go lower than the bottom of the pocket making it difficult and bulky.  I cut some off my zip and found that actually a 6" zip (with this size) would be long enough.

The insides are quite neat and I used bremsilk for the pocket linings.   The fabric is a fine denim (Chambray?), slate grey stripe from Unique Image in Ulverstone; a metre was plenty.   I like the pattern.  I would say it is at least an intermediate and if you were a beginner I would probably advise leaving all the pockets out.

Just to prove I do wear my clothes.  Here is the shirt worn on Dan's 25th birthday at Go Ape in Grizedale forest.  High up in the trees selfies (love my boy)

Gemma wasn't always this relaxed.

Yes, the shirt is coping with the harness (not so much my legs on this tortuous crossing which involved almost an ariel split.

For Dan its all easy!

... but we did it and had a great time.