Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Happy Washing

I know I'm officially a saddo but this photo makes me very, very happy - I hung the washing out and then realised the line was full of (a) fabric that I was pre-washing in readiness to sew and (b) clothes I have made for myself.


PS - please ignore the state of the garden - if you were in any doubt it is clear I am not a 'stylish' blogger with beautifully staged photos!


Monday, 29 July 2013

The Lisette Continental - like you've never seen it before!

I did say I was going to make another version of this dress, not for me this time (a red and green version are probably sufficient!) but for my DD's friend. 

S is a lovely young woman and is going to be a mother of twins in the next few months.  She has been suffering very badly with morning sickness and needed cheering up.



S loves pink, this packaging is very similar to the colour of her hair
So how do you make the perfect maternity dress for a girl who loves anything pink and sparkly?  Well, my daughter bought fabric with one of her favourite themes and I made this ...

Doris is doing a pretty good job as a stand in -
it didn't occur to me but I should have added a cushion to
show how the dress will accommodate a growing bump!

A close up of the print - S loves Hello Kitty!

Apparently S loves the dress - when she's feeling more herself I'll get a photo of her wearing it and we'll see how closely the fabric matches her hair.

I made the biggest size included in my pattern, to accommodate the twins, but took it up at the shoulders and under the arms because it was too big in those areas.  The belt helps with shape at the moment and can be left off as time goes along.

I must be feeling very selfless at the moment because I've also managed these this weekend ...

For my 2 year old niece A - who has had her eye
on the rabbit fabric since I brought it back from Japan


And for my 2 year old niece C - with bias binding to match her shoes!

I managed to get both dresses out of a metre of fabric
and made the bias binding out of some leftovers

And another dress for the Dress A Girl Around The World parcel -
I had enough to make a bigger size

I've had this fabric in my stash for ages - cannot remember where it came from.
I love the colours but they wouldn't suit me - this is a much better use of the piece

I think that's it for July - I'm not going to get anything else made this week.

I'm going to put the Lisette pattern away for a bit and find something else to make in August - I'm off to Goldhawk Road tomorrow with my brother Qui Gon Jinn (he has the best beard - it totally makes sense in my family).  We need to find fabric for the vintage dressing gown he's asked me to make.  I am so excited, I've never been there before, the stuff of sewing blogger legend!


Friday, 26 July 2013

I am not a Patternaholic

P and I had a day out on Wednesday, we went to Ardingly Antiques & Collectibles Fair. I took my actual non-working day this week - wonderful.
I refrained from buying this pattern of marvellousness, I clearly do not have a problem if I can resist this!
In addition to the family enthusiasm for Star Wars, P is a huge super hero fan - I mean massive, we have pictures and toys (I beg your pardon, 'collectibles') all over the place.
Thank goodness it only went up to age 11/12 - he was definitely tempted!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Lisette Continental Dress - The Sequel

Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night (please select appropriate greeting!)
It's another beautiful day here - I'm so glad I made another of these dresses
Close up of the triple stitching on my neck binding - I'm really enjoying the things I can do with my new machine. This photo is a much better indication of the actual colours.
P and I are trying to figure out if the terrible photos are my responsibility because I:
  1. can't abide having my photo taken
  2. take all the photos in this family (see 1) so he doesn't get much time behind the camera
  3. am much shorter than him so he has to stand very awkwardly to get a straight-on shot - often resulting in a Hall of Mirrors effect!
or, his fault because
  1. he's failed to find any way to make me comfortable when I know I'm having my photo taken
  2. see 2 on my list
  3. see 3 on my list, not helped by P's bad knees!
Needless to say I don't do the garment's justice but any attempted photo taking does end up with us both in fits of laughter so that's positive :) Apparently Doris is a lot less trouble.
I got brave and used some of my precious fabric stash from Japan - at current exchange rates this works out at about £6.30 for the 2 metres, I have only scraps left. It's lovely quality, really soft as if it's already a well-worn piece that's been worn a few times - does that make any sense?
This is the second item I've made in a couple of weeks that is linked to a trip we've taken - I think this is the best type of souvenir :)

I'm not going to review how this make went as I did that in detail with my red version last week. I'll just add that I cut the straight 8 this time and it's perfect. Oh, and I forgot to mention properly last time but one of the things I really like about this is that it's a cool, sleeveless summer dress but I can wear a normal bra - I avoid strapless as much as possible, have never found a comfortable/flattering one yet.
So I have No 3 to make for my DD's pregnant friend and then I'll put this pattern aside and try something new.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

I'm astonished to find that I've been blogging for a year today - that's a sign of getting older isn't it, that the years just race by!

It's a funny old business, this blogging lark.  It's been much harder than I thought ... I started off talking to myself and trying to motivate my crafty progress.  I was a bit wobbly this time last year, I'd had a period of sickness and my self-confidence had taken a knock.  Learning to sew really helped.

It was a bit odd when I realised there were people out there actually reading what I'd written.  I know this is ridiculous, I get that it is actually 'the point', but I then started to worry about whether I actually had anything to say.  Please tell me I'm not alone?  I don't really talk about my blog - only immediate family even know about it, it's not linked to my Facebook or anything.  This is just about me, crafting and all the brilliant bloggers out there I guess, who I feel connected to in some way.

I mean there are Sewing Wonder Women out there - making incredible things, producing tutorials and patterns like whirlwinds.  I got a bit intimidated.  But then I realised, it's me (and people like me) that they're talking to - that's my place and I love being in the audience, joining in the class, taking part. 

So now I just write what I think, it's honest, I guess that's not terribly exciting but it's real.  Veronica Darling wrote a really interesting post on this very topic the other day - and she's a Sewing Goddess!

And I sat with a pen and notebook, just like Veronica, and I have nearly a dozen unblogged garments or topics I need to get to - now I just need to find the time to do it!

Anyway, what I really want to say is ...

Thank you very much x


for your encouragement, for taking the time to comment, for being just all round marvellous actually.  I wrote about the generosity of sewing bloggers and I really mean it.

Thanks to sewing bloggers out there I have
  • made my first steps into refashioning
  • become open to the wonderful possibilities of charity shops as sources for sewing materials
  • am a total whizz with bias binding (sewing with it and making it myself - go me!)
  • I am the master of the French seam
  • I can draft my own facings and ignore pattern instructions and 'wing it'
  • I am working through my stash like a whirlwind - encouraged by a great group of people
  • I'm just more open to the possibilities of what I can do and will be able to make if I commit myself to it
  • I have a box of 150 hessian bags that were going to go in the rubbish bin because the logo on them is out of date.  Actually, I don't know how grateful I am about that, Paul's face was a picture when I came home with that lot.  I kind of blamed Zoe and I've never even met her!  My argument was pretty much along the lines of 'What would Zoe say about that lot going to landfill?  I'll think of something marvellous to make from them.'  If you're got any suggestions I'd be glad to hear them!

I don't have a grand giveaway for you, I planned one thought about it some weeks ago and then today kind of snuck up on me - how does that happen?  I will get to it I promise, I'll add it to my To Do List because I have some fab patterns I'm going to release into the world - let's face it, I cannot possibly make all the patterns I own!

I decided that as I know you're all generous already I'm going to tell you what I'm planning to do instead, to give back some of the kindness that I've felt come my way this year.

This is my first effort for Dress A Girl Around The World - I know this charity has opportunities to join in wherever you are in the world.  Here in the UK it is co-ordinated by Louise at Sew Scrumptious.  I used this pattern that I found at Nancy's Notions (there are lots of others out there).

I'm ridiculously busy a little bit pushed at the moment but these are not complicated patterns, so I'm committing to make 12 by the end of this year. 

This cost me nothing but my time - the fabric is from a dress I tried to make last year, total fail not a complete success; I had great fun decorating it with some of the fab stitches I have on my new machine; the bias binding was left over from another project.

I have someone close to me that I don't get to see very often (that is a whole other story!).  She is going to sew along with me, a joint project.  I can't even tell you how much that means to me :)

Enjoy the rest of your weekend

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Lisette Continental Dress

You might want to take a seat - I actually made a wearable item!

Summer appears to have arrived in the UK, having pretty much skipped Spring altogether.  Forecasts suggests it will last about a fortnight, I'd like to make the most of it! 

So I needed a quick make that would be comfortable in the heat - I appreciate it's probably not that hot but there's been no gradual build up.  You've seen photos of me, do I look like I cope well in the heat?  I love it mind you, I just need to be comfortable and eat lots of ice creams.  Actually, eating a lot of ice cream isn't seasonal for me - that and cheese and I have my perfect diet!

Anyway, sewing ... I've had this pattern for ages and thought that the dress looked perfect for my needs.

continental blouse, skirt & dress sewing pattern

And here it is, modelled by Doris ...

You can see I couldn't match the pattern eactly at the side seams,
no matter how I tried, but the hem is 'matchy'
So here's my overview
Does my version look like the pattern?

What skills did I need?
This dress is easy, just a front and back and basically bias binding to finish.  There aren't even any darts.  Despite that I think it looks good on, the gathering at the front of the neckline gives it shape.  You can definitely make more effort if you want to, so this is a good base to practice French seams, make facings instead or line it completely.

Was the fabric recommendation correct?
Probably about right.

I had 2.5 metres of fabric to start with, I have at least 0.5 of a metre left - enough for a Sorbetto I think!  The pattern called for 2.5 yards of 45" wide fabric (about 2.2 metres) so I used a little less but it would depend on the size you cut and the pattern on the fabric. 

How was the sizing?
Big!  Boy do they include generous ease - and remember I was after a cool, loose dress.

I have no shame, I'm prepared to share my size/shape with the world! 

Bust - 34" (small back, E-F cup); Waist - 28"; Hips - 36" - oh and I'm petite, that throws stuff out completely.  So, according to the pattern envelope I should be a UK 12, grade out to a UK 14 at the waist and back in to a UK 12 for the hips.  In the UK I wear a size 8 or 10 RTW.

The ease looked generous so I decided to take a risk and trace the pattern for a size 10 (get me, tracing like a sensible person!) .  According to the pattern this would make it fit for a size 32.5"; 25"; 34.5".  It was still too big - bonkers!

So I took it up at the shoulders and in under the arms (graduating it in down the side seams).  I've now retraced my pattern pieces as Size 8 and it's about perfect (but still loose).

How long did it take to make? 
Not entirely sure, I worked at it on and off on Sunday - and faffed around with the pattern and fit etc.  Also, I'm pretty sure I'm a slow sewer, or certainly slow at cutting, pinning etc.  However, I reckon the actual sewing could easily be done in an hour or so when I make another.

Does it pass all the 'wearability' tests?
Certainly does, gold standard.  The dress is super cool and comfortable in the heat.  The scoop neckline is flattering but if you bend over to get something from the bottom shelf in the supermarket you don't flash your chest at everyone!  Oh, and the shape of the skirt seems to be modest too, even though it hits just above my knee I'm not flashing next week's washing at everyone if I'm weeding or trying to reach stuff in the shops.  I'm sure everybody will be relieved to hear that!

Did I learn anything from the process?
Not really, because it's very simple to make.  However, there's nothing wrong with that!

Total cost?
The fabric is lovely quality cotton that I bought in the John Lewis sale in February last year - just when I started making myself clothes.  I actually used a remnant in a different colour (black background) to make a Sorbetto and it's so lovely (washes and presses like a dream and doesn't get wrinkled) that I bought the red too.  It was £8 a metre in the sale (50% reduction) so £16 for the dress.  Plus thread I had already - that's it.

I was given the pattern so that's £0.00.

Will I make it again?

Absolutely, in fact I already have the fabric picked out and pre-washed, a lovely 2m piece I picked up for a song when we were in Tokyo, now I know I'll get a dress out of that quantity of fabric I'm raring to go.

My daughter has also asked me to make one for her friend - she's in the early stages of pregnancy with twins and is (a) suffering with the heat and (b) very nauseous and can't bear tight clothes.  We have the fabric already, so a stashbuster - very quirky but perfect for the recipient.  I'll share when it's made.

I just have my fingers crossed the good weather will last long enough for me to finish another version!


Thursday, 11 July 2013

Thank you muchly!


Kathryn (who blogs over at Kathryn's Busytown) very kindly nominated me for a Liebster Award.  I've been fortunate enough to be nominated before so I'm not going to list facts about myself again - frankly I'm not that interesting!  However, I'm really grateful to be nominated and have found some new blogs to follow on Kathryn's recommendation - which is the real purpose of the award :)

I discovered Kathryn's blog during Me Made May '13 as we both contributed to the Flickr group - pop over and visit, she makes some great things and I always look forward to her new posts.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

An 'all manner of stuff' catch up!

Hello people, are there any of you still there?

I have lost count of the number of times I've planned to write a post over the last couple of weeks - the longer it's gone on the harder it is to get started. 

What can I tell you? I'm pants - I mean proper pants, not the kind of underwear your mother thought it was acceptable for you to get run over in (I never did understand that argument to be honest - and I've been run over in real life).  No, I mean sensible, keeping everything warm, no VPL, proper big pants. 

I would like to assure you I'll do better in the future - but I wouldn't hold your breath!  Life is tricksy.  And my beloved non-working days are not happening - sadly the organisation I work for is in a real place of uncertainty and it's all hands on deck.  What will be will be I guess.

Anyway, shall I actually tell you something sewing related?  Yep, OK then ...

One of the reasons I haven't had time to blog is because I have a new machine, I am in love.  Want to see her? ...

Ta, dah!

So I bought a Janome in the end - the TXL 607
I tried several machines - I'm so lucky to have a local sewing machine shop, Maidstone Sewing Centre.  One of the demonstrators, Sue, spent 2 separate mornings with me, letting me try different machines and showing me all the features.  I could have got a cheaper machine but this one has everything on my wishlist (including quilting extension table and all the extra quilting feet) so it's perfect for me. 

I know I'm really lucky to have it.  And she's a joy to work on, I put the buttonholes on my new skirt in minutes - bliss.  P says it's much quieter - partly the machine itself but mostly because it actually works and I've stopped swearing!

I've been trying all the stitches and having a good old play.  I haven't made much yet but I'm familiarising myself with her.  Oh, and thanks to Sue I've a bit more confidence with my overlocker too and I've been using that lots - mostly doing exciting stuff like cutting and neatening the bottom of P's golf trousers before I hem them properly - small steps!

I have even done some actual sewing - and I will blog about it properly (I promise, I promise) but I will just show you this one bag ... a commission from my nephew and niece (aged 6 and 2) for my sister-in-law's birthday today.

F is very into bird watching.  He bought his Daddy (my brother) a bird feeder
for his birthday in April because apparently 'he really wants one' - seriously!
This fabric (from my stash - result!) was perfect.

My new machine does a little bit of writing - this is the
exact wording F asked for.  And the heart shaped button is because
they love their Mammy.

A zipped pocket was essential because Mammy's carry
important stuff.
I can't tell you how chuffed I am to have been able to make a special present for F & A to give to their Mammy.  I love being an Auntie :)

I'll be back!

Update - Complete fail on my part, the tutorial I based the bag on is this brilliant one from Very Purple Person - terribly remiss of me not to mention it straight away.