Monday, 17 April 2017

McCall's 7468: The Easter dress

So this is my #EASTERDRESS2017 challenge, McCall's 7468.  This is a pretty "on-trend" pattern with a combination of the cold shoulder and boho look.  As I'm about to offer a lot of issues, let me just say I think it is quite a pretty dress, and I do love the fabric, not perhaps the most spring-like but a lovely soft drapey fabric.

I had really liked the pattern when I saw it, but I have to say I'm a bit mixed about the result.  Unfortunately I didn't enjoy making it.  The combination of slippy fabric and the neck and shoulder facing was a nightmare, and took ages to do.  Because you are fitting a curved facing on top of another curve, it is really difficult to get a smooth fit.  You need lots of clipping, and then trying to slip stitch the underfacing was really tricky.  This was one of the rare occasions when the pattern went straight into the bin when I finished as I definitely won't be making it again!

I cut a size 14 and made a couple of usual adjustment, narrowing the neck (which made sure that the facing covered my bra strap).  I also raised the waistline, but actually looking at the pictures I think this wasn't necessary as the waistline is a little high.  I also added about 4" to the length, perhaps a little too long, what do you think?  Because of the facings it is impossible to fit as you go on (and the pattern is far to complex to bother making a toile), so it isn't a good one unless you usually fit straight from the packet.

The bell sleeves add to the boho look, but here is the main problem.  The cut out really isn't comfortable.  You can see that with my arm at this height it is cutting into my arm.  Is this always the way with a cold-shoulder.  I love the look, but think if I may any more I will use a knit pattern for comfort.

So this has been a bit of a moany post!  The dress is far from a complete failure and I will get some wear from it, it just isn't a favourite and I certainly wouldn't recommend it if you are a beginner!  The skirt is cute, and good for a little swirl.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Prima Magazine cold shoulder shift dress

This wasn't a dress on my plan.  I turned up at my sewing workshop without some crucial pattern pieces and one of my friends had made me a lovely tracing of this pattern.  That meant more fabric and spending the day (and a couple more) making this cold shoulder dress from Prima December edition. (sorry the photos are a bit dark!)

Generally I do like it.  But there were quite a lot of tweaks to make.  Originally I cut out a 14 although from the bust measure I should have been a 16!  When I did a basted fitting, it was far too big and I ended up taking in 1/2" on all the side seams, so a reduction of 2" in total.

I also found the top of the sleeves stuck out quite a lot, so brought them in 5/8" on both sides.  Even now the dress would look better with the sleeve top a bit tighter, but my arms might feel a little restrictive.  The fabric is an 80% wool mix, with a bit of stretch, without that stretch I think the dress wouldn't have been as comfortable.

The fit on the back is quite nice.  (Took in the back at the top by nearly an inch on each side).  So a lot of fiddling and it's still not right.  I think its really helpful to have actually worn a garment a few times before blogging about it and this time I have.  For some reason the bust seems to ride up and I have to pull it down.  Possibly needed an fba for a little more room there.  This also mean that the neck rises higher and as I've got older I find I can't stand necklines resting on my neck!  Even with all this I do rather like the shape of this dress!  Another time I would; lower the neck line, do a 1" fba (but then might need to take out more at the sides).  Despite all this I think its a nice shape and I do love a dress which looks really sensible under my jacket and has a little more to say when I take the jacket off!

This has now crept into my SWAP (sewing with a plan), bit of a cheat really as I stood in the shop for 5 minutes planning it would go with the other items.  So here it is with my cashmere jacket (you can see here what I meant about the neckline).

Though I'm far more likely to wear it with my Vogue 7975 Linton Tweed jacket.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Burda 6901, a cashmere jacket

After 3 easy makes last week, this is a rather more complicated one.

This is Burda 6901, " Peplum jackets gently envelope the hips and emphasize the waist".  I loved the version made by Julie Starr.  I made a muslin and only made  minimal changes, reducing the shoulder and adding a sliver to the front side piece and about 1mm to the front edge, which I'm not sure was needed.  The main difference I made was to redraft the neckline, because I didn't want a high neck, I just wanted a simple collarless version.  This was partially successful, but there is a little gape on the left hand side, and I ended up with a bit of a point rather than a gentle curve.  I'm about to make another version and this time I want a shawl collar, so I will be having a go at drafting that.

I cut a size 14, and I think the fit is pretty good and it can be worn with different shaped skirts, though I think a pencil skirt would probably be the best shape.

The sleeve is well drafted and despite the fabric being thick the insertion went well.  I also liked that the sleeve is a two piece sleeve, where I think you get a better fit.

It looks OK unbuttoned.  I definitely made life difficult  by picking a fabric which is probably too thick and more suited to a coat.  It is fabulous though; a camel wool coating with 5% cashmere from Croft Mill, not cheap at £26.75 a metre but the quality is gorgeous and 2 metres made a jacket with enough left for a skirt.

I love the lining, which is a gorgeous paisley also from Croft Mill and great value at £5 a metre (I bought 2 colours).

Adding 1 mm to the front edge ended up making a few problems as I didn't add any to the inner edge of the facing and so the lining was too stretched.  I had to put in an extra piece which you can see below.

The photo below shows how crucial the pleat in a lining is as you can see how it has opened up for comfort.



To give a better shoulder shape, rather than using a shoulder pad I used a cigarette, with a softer fabric, this fills the shoulder but with a softer line.  I used a piece of fabric 9" x 6", rolled them and stitched closed.

You then fit these to the shoulders, so they slightly hang over.


The jacket has 2 bound buttonholes (quite difficult because of the thickness).

I've had a bit of an obsession recently with top-stitching and thick fabric definitely needs it.  I top-stitched all the seams except for the sleeves. 

I almost love this jacket, but not quite!  I do love the pattern, Burda patterns have such style.  The instructions weren't too bad, though I still would recommend this for beginners.  This is only the second of my SWAP makes, and it isn't looking likely that I will complete.  I keep picking difficult makes and also getting distracted by other makes which don't fit!  Never mind, it's more important I am enjoying myself.  I have almost finished a dress in two days to wear with this.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

A trio of Cleos

I wasn't sure the Cleo was one for me; as you know I prefer a fitted look (and perhaps thought the style might be a bit young for me), but I did think it would look great on Gemma, so I made two for her birthday, and then decided I would just whip a quick one out for me.  So here we are 3 Cleos in very different fabrics.

First up is mine.  All 3 versions came from stash fabrics.  The cleo can be cut from a metre of fabric so it's a great pattern for using your hoard.  I used a stretch brushed cotton, which looks like velvet.  It is a little lightweight, I think you are better using fabric with some weight (as with the denim below). 

I cut a size 4, about 1.5" shorter than the knee length version. There is plenty of room as you can  see (perhaps not very flattering from the side).  I'm wearing it here with a Tilly and the Buttons Agnes (no I'm not being paid to advertise), I did find this pattern small and wished I had cut the next size.

No back pockets on this one.  I used mustard top-stitching thread, which has given a lot of definition.

No 2 is stretch denim and probably my favourite, and looks great on Gemma.   

You can see the top-stitching here.  The instructions for all Tilly's patterns are really good and this is an excellent make for beginners.  Be careful when you are cutting the front facing out; there has been an error and mine had a sticker on it which wasn't quite lined up correctly.

Back pockets this time.

For no 3 I went a bit crazy with some fabric which may be for furnishings, but it's so cute (again for Gemma not me).  This is a little longer to fit a full dog in on the hem.


If I had thought it through I would have cut the front and the back on the fold to avoid having to pattern match.  You can't really see the top stitching, so the seam just isn't necessary.

The hardest part is probably turning the straps.  Make sure that the ends aren't wider (which is easily done) because the will peak through annoyingly.  You may notice a twist below, I did sort that out before I stitched the straps.  I used the dungaree clips and a jeans button.  Just a hint with jeans buttons, don't hammer from the right side, i.e. the top of the button, hammer the underneath, or the button bends!

I had a lovely half term; 3 days off.; fabric shopping (though spent nothing),   LaLa Land, which I really enjoyed.  Love Sewing has an interesting suggestions for inspiration copies from 2 of the dresses, including the sewaholic cambie for the main yellow dress  ... which sounds like a good idea, I might have a go, are any of your thinking of sewing a copy?  I also saw Moonlight, which is a fabulous film and worthy of the best picture and my lovely boy came home for the weekend.  What more could I want?

Sunday, 12 February 2017

McCalls 7432

Welcome to new readers.  I'm sorry I didn't resond as usual to the lovely comments on my Stella coat.  I really enjoyed reading them.

After my more challenging Stella coat, here is a couple of quick makes.  I've been so cold recently that I wanted something warm to wear at work. 

McCalls 7432 a "learn to sew for fun" pattern and is an easy fit knit shift dress. 
Image result for mccalls 7432

I wanted the extra warmth of a cowl neck and so I raised the neckline about 2" and added a cowl from a 14" x 13" oblong.  It worked well and I can honestly say this dress is cosy.

I cut a size medium, which according to the size chart should be a little snug, but the fit is pretty good.  Although I think I could do with a little more from the sides at the lower part of the skirt.

I prefer it with a belt but you can better see the shape without.  A little about the fabric.  I think it is amazing!  It washed well, sewed well, kept its shape and it really a warm .... but the most amazing thing is cost £3.45 .... a £7 dress (I did use a discount code its normally £4.49 from the Textile Centre.  I would definitely buy it again.

The second version is from and abstract print double border ponte roma also £4.49 and from the Textile Centre.  I'm not sure about this.  On  the website the print looked like it went horizontally and would have provided an interesting hem, but that wasn't  the case.

I will wear it with a plain black jacket for work, and for the price its a bargain, but the quality isn't as good.

You can see this version is a little shorter.  It was the first one I made and I think the fit of the second one is better.  This is a good basic pattern, which is suitable for work with a jacket and I'm sure I'll make a couple each winter .... but for now back to making a SWAP challenge.

I've also been making in miniature, for some newborn twins!  Little jersey dresses with baby cashmere ballet cardigans.  

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

First sew of 2017 Style Arc Stella Coat

A good start to 2017 sewing I think.  This is the project I worked on (amongst a few others) over my Christmas break and just finished this morning (when there was very poor light sorry).

I wanted a long-line camel wool jacket with a trench coat feel.  I found the fabric at the Harrogate Knitting and stitching show on one of the cheaper stalls.  It was £10 a metre and the stallholder had no information about its composition but he set fire to it and from the burning hair smell it definitely has a high wool content.

I feel pretty proud of this one; I think it looks almost ready-to-wear.  The pattern is Style Arc Stella.  StyleArc is an Australian company, you can buy some patterns from Amazon and some pdfs from Etsy, but not this coat, so I had to order from Australia.  It cost £20 including postage and I got a really nice blouse pattern free as well, so not a bad price.  I really love that they include an ideal fabric sample, very helpful.

I line it with some fabulous Jacquard lining from Clothspot (no longer available).  I just want to put a word in for this website; lovely fabric, well photographed and my order came next day (even though close to Christmas) and packaged most beautifully.  I will definitely use them again.

The lining was double sided so I used both.

The fabric was a little thick for this pattern and I was a bit worried about this, so I used lots of topstitching on all the seams, and collar etc.   I think this makes the coat and makes it look much more professional.  I love the stand up collar and the yoke detail.   The thickness also meant that turning the belt was a nightmare and literally took me hours!

You may just be able to see I struggled with the topstitching over the thickest part of the collar lapel join and ended up with one skipped stitch.

The key to success with this coat was pressing and using my clapper to do this.  When I bought my clapper I thought it was expensive, but I can honestly say it is one of my most used tools and worth every penny.  You can see below how just one press completely changes the collar edges.

So overall the coat is a hit and I have already cut a spring linen version.   It is also the first part of my SWAP challenge.  At first I thought the rules were a bit complicated, but I do like a challenge and really want to be part of this.  The challenge ends 30 April 2016.  So basically I will be making the following 11 garments using a maximum of 8 patterns which need to match with each other:

1 SyleArc Stella Coat
2 x burda style jackets 6901
2 Colette Selene skirts
21SewOver it Joan dresses (but adapted for knit)
2 McCall 7249 knit tops
1 Helmi tunic dress
1 named tyni cigarette trousers
1 sewoverit pussy bow blouse (or StyleArc free blouse to be decided)

If I end up not liking any of these I will replace with other ideas.

I will be using the following fabrics (at least definitely this colour palette; dusky pink (nude), mustard, brown, taupe and duck-egg

I will also be posting my 9 patterns choice for that challenge next blog.  More plans than time I'm afraid.  I'm happily reading  and watching the plans of many others, are any of you entering the SWAP?