Hey guys! It’s been too long since we talked, but I finally have a new dress to show you, not to mention a whole new haircut.
Recognise this little number? Yes, it’s the new By Hand London pattern, Flora, and once again the ladies have totally smashed it. I predict this will be the sewing sensation of 2014.
I have to admit I was a bit hesitant about making this one. I loved the design but I wasn’t sure about the high-lo hem. My opinions on my knees are similar to those of Coco Chanel – I prefer them covered by either fabric or black tights.
But actually, I love the drafting of the skirt. It’s got really deep pleats so it feels very floaty to wear, and spins out around you when you move.
My fabric was very kindly provided by Raystitch, and it’s an amazing Liberty print called Tiny Dancer. Check it out:
It’s covered with lines of dancing men and women in unitards, giving it the full Martha Graham. HOW AMAZING IS THAT. Raystitch do have a beautiful range of more traditional floral Liberty prints too, but I couldn’t resist this one.
I did try recreating some of the poses for you, but the results really weren’t good. I couldn’t bring myself to put them on the internet for future employers to discover. Ask me in the pub sometime and I’ll show you.
I had to make a couple of fit alterations – lengthening the bodice two inches, as usual, and also sewing a larger back pattern than front. The fabric was a tiny bit too narrow for the full back skirt, so I just shaved a bit off the side.
The pattern asks you to clip into the seam allowance and then stitch the armholes closed by hand. That was way too much hand-sewing for me, so I just finished the armholes with bias binding. I got away with it as the fabric is so light.
I didn’t do full-on pattern matching but I did try and make sure the lines of dancing people matched on each side of the zip. It looks as though they are jeté-ing their way around my torso, which is awesome.
The back isn’t really ill-fitting by the way, I’m just standing weirdly.
I really love this wrap-effect bodice. I interfaced and stay-stitched the edges so they wouldn’t stretch out of shape, and I also understitched the lining.
Basically, this is the perfect summer dress and for once I’ve made it in time for the right season!
Huge thanks to By Hand London for providing the pattern and Raystitch for providing the beautiful fabric.
I’ve cracked it!
At least, I think I have. I’ll let you decide. Here’s what I’m talking about:
I’ve finally managed to make a shirt for my husband that fits.
You might remember my first attempt was not a success. After another failed muslin of Burda 7045 I decided to give it up as a bad job and trace one of his existing shirts.
This was a solution suggested by the shirt guru David Coffin who actually commented on my original post, but I have to admit I was dubious I could make it work. I just didn’t trust my own tracing skills. I also suspected it would be deeply tedious and fiddly, so I put it off for a couple of months before giving it a go.
I used the method David explains in this video tutorial.but with cardboard instead of foamboard because it’s all I had lying around.
Do you know what’s weird though? I really enjoyed the tracing process. It was like taking an omelette and turning it back into a fresh egg. I’ve always seen the process the other way round and couldn’t quite believe it worked in reverse.
The fabric I used is a lovely denim that Rosie from DIY Couture kindly sent me when she was having a fabric clear-out. The buttons were 10p each from Ultimate Craft. And the pattern was, obviously, free. So this was a thrifty project.
This was intended to be a muslin but the fabric was so nice I couldn’t resist doing it properly, although some bits are slightly wonky.
I saved time by using this method to do the plackets, although really this fabric is far too bulky for it. It worked out okay, but for the next shirt I’m going to tackle a proper placket.
I did do a lovely clean finish on the yoke, using the ‘burrito’ method. It’s hard to describe but very easy to do, and it looks so neat.
I probably should have ironed the shirt before forcing Alex into a photoshoot. Anyway, I think the fit is okay, but I’m not sure if I should bring the shoulders in a bit? There’s some alarming wrinkling round the armscye area but I don’t know if this is normal for men’s shirts. What do you reckon?
The sleeves are the only bit I’m not sure I traced correctly. I should have marked the shoulder point, as the yoke is coming too far back. The top button on the stand is also straining a bit, so I think it might need more room added to the armhole.
This uneven two-button pocket was my only artistic flourish. Predictably, Alex doesn’t like it, but that’s tough. If you’re getting a shirt for free, the shirtmaker decides on the design, that’s my thinking.
Overall, I think this counts as a DOUBLE THUMBS UP SUCCESS! I also enjoyed being on the other side of the camera for a change and bossing Alex about.
The only issue is that Alex really doesn’t need any more denim or chambray shirts. I just counted and he’s already got 5. At least he’s a man who knows his own taste. The next one is going to be a plaid, so I’m limbering up my check matching skills.
I need a short break from shirtland first though. This one was made in an epic weekend sewing session, and I don’t want to see another buttonhole again for a while.
I tried really hard to come up with a moss related pun for the title of this post, but sadly the brain cells are running dry. It is Sunday night after all.
I made my first denim Moss skirt in Nov 2012. It’s done valiant service but it’s nearly ready for the great charity shop in the sky. Here are a couple of replacements I sewed just before Christmas.
The first one is made from blue wool left over from this pencil skirt:
The wool is a tiny bit too lightweight for this pattern, but it’s nice and warm. The top is another Grainline special, the free Hemlock tee. This is an amazingly fast pattern to sew, even for a slowcoach like me.
I added a small useless pocket as per usual. If you can add a tiny useless pocket, you should add a tiny useless pocket, that’s my motto in life.
Here’s the second Moss, which is also made from leftover fabric, this time from my spotty trousers. I only just barely managed to squeeze the pattern pieces out of the remnant I had left.
I love this dotty skirt. I’ve been wearing it all the time. Winter is the only time I wear mini skirts, but luckily there’s no shortage of winter weather around here at the moment. As long as it’s cold enough to wear fleece lined tights, I’ll be wearing short skirts (second life motto there for you).
I’ve found it quite hard to adjust the Moss pattern to suit my shape, and I’ve hacked it around so much I’m going to have to print out another version, which is one advantage to pdf patterns. I think the secret for me is stretch fabric – probably why this dotty one is my fave.
I had the perfect big white button in my stash for the waistband:
Get your own Moss skirt pattern here. I can’t wait to see what Jen from Grainline comes up with next (and I still need to make an Archer shirt…)
What is it about elbow patches that’s so appealing? You can’t see them when you’re wearing them. They bring up memories of geography teachers. And they’re not very useful, unless you salute people for a living, or have another job where you frequently bend your arms at a sharp angle.
But somehow they still make a garment totally irresistible. They’re the main reason I sewed up the new Deer & Doe Plantain top for my latest Minerva project.
The fabric is a really nice thick double-knit, with thin stripes on the reverse. I turned up the cuffs to show the two sides:
Here’s the enhanced elbow patch close-up. You can see the major error I made with this top, which was to make it way too tight.
I should have sized up as this fabric isn’t very stretchy. It’s still wearable, but if I make it again with a thick knit I’ll reduce the seam allowance.
I finished the neckline with stretch lycra binding from Minerva Crafts which is my new favourite thing. This pattern has a very low neckline, it must be the French influence. I hoicked it up an inch when cutting out.
Here’s the front where you can see my standard ‘take the photo already’ face.
And that’s everything. Apart from one last thing – I miss blogging!
I’ve been so busy in January with a new job and various other New Year type things that I haven’t had a chance to write any posts.
I have tons of sewing projects to post about and lots of half-finished screeds in my head, but no time to get them out into the world. This sucks. Hopefully I’ll be back to a regular blogging schedule soon.
p.s. did you see the Great British Sewing Bee starts again in two weeks?? I am seriously, sadly excited about this.
How’s everyone holding up this January? I’m doing okay, thanks for asking. Unlike the Arctic temperatures of 2013, the weather in London is surprisingly mild. Also, I haven’t pledged to give up alcohol/sugar/fatty foods so I’ve been consuming all three with gusto, which always helps.
To be honest I think February and March are probably the worst months of the year anyway. It’s a long slog until the Easter bank holidays.
Anyway, enough misery, here’s something to cheer you up. Liberty have released their new range of fabrics for 2014!
It’s based on the London store, with different designs representing each department. This is my favourite, and I don’t usually like novelty fabrics. But I’ve fallen hard for this one:
It’s ‘Forget-me-Nots’, and it’s based on the contents of a lady’s handbag, although for some reason they have left out the lidless biros, crumpled up tissues and chocolate bar wrappers that live at the bottom of my bag. I love how meta it is with the tiny Liberty prints on the hairspray, notebook and purse.
Here’s my second favourite, called ‘Holly’:
It’s based on the texture of ripped jeans, overlaid with splattered ink. I love the more abstract Liberty prints and this is a beauty. You can buy it from Shaukat here.
The rest of the collection is all very nice, but has lots of little floral prints which aren’t really my thing. You can see the whole range here.
Incidentally, did you saw the recent TV documentary about Liberty? One jaw-dropping fact that I can’t stop thinking about is that their top customers spend over £40,000 a year there. I’m not sure whether to feel disgusted or envious about this. I definitely wouldn’t pass up the chance to do a Supermarket Sweep style trolley dash in Liberty.
p.s. how do you all feel about sewing with Liberty lawn? It has a very crisp, almost cold feel to it for such a delicate fabric, with not much drape. I think it can be tricky matching it to the right pattern – sometimes I prefer it as an accent rather than a full garment. The prints are so gorgeous though…
This month’s Minerva project sprang from my wish to make a pair of trousers that involved no topstitching whatsoever. It was also inspired by the totally awesome pairs that Rosie from DIY Couture makes, and these overpriced Moschino polka dot trews.
Here’s the result:
You can see more about the project and the fit changes I made on the Minerva Blogging Network here.
These trousers have caused no small amount of controversy within my household. My husband thinks they look like pyjamas. I do own a pair of pyjamas made from extremely similar fabric, so I can see where he’s coming from, but hopefully the fabric is sturdy enough not to look like I’ve just woken up and strolled to the corner shop in my loungewear.
The pattern is from Burda magazine 11/2013, available on the Burda site here, and it’s pretty good, with a shaped waistband and well-drafted pockets. I didn’t bother making a muslin, just compared them to my existing jeans pattern, and the fit isn’t bad, if a little bit tight.
If I’m totally honest, the main reason I chose this pattern is because there are four pieces to trace, and no welt pockets. Although this doesn’t help to support my ‘not pyjamas’ case.
They also have a turn-up cuff thing going on which I like although it’s not that noticeable in this fabric.
I’m not sure if I’ll be wearing these much, but I’m glad I made them. They might be more use in the spring. I’m not convinced this is the most flattering style for the pear-shaped of us. Also, I think this pattern might work better in a slightly heavier wool fabric, as the knees tend to bag out a bit.
Still, I’m counting these as my first win for 2014. I made a wearable pair of non-jeans trousers! Hooray!
Read my Minerva post about these trousers here.
You can buy the polka dot stretch fabric here - I think it would make an amazing fitted dress.
Download the Burd pattern (11/2013 #110A) from the Burdastyle website here.
(sorry for the terrible photos. This is about as light as it gets in Britain at the moment.)
Hello and happy 2014! My blogging muscle feels a bit rusty. I’ve been in Scotland since Christmas Eve, eating at 4 hour intervals (plus snacks), and watching classic musicals on TV. I’m not sure how I’m going to get my brain back into gear for real life but a blog post seems like a good place to start.
I’m a bit late, but I wanted to join in the year-end review mania currently sweeping across sewing blog land. Here’s my attempt.
Top 5 sewing successes
Based on what I wore the most:
- Giraffe print blouse from a Burda magazine pattern. This is a surprise late entry! I didn’t like this at all when I sewed it, but I discovered it looked great with the top button undone and the sleeves rolled up and I’ve worn it a lot.
- Vintage Maudella shirt. I’ve made a few shirts over the years but this is the first one I’ve been pleased with.
- McCalls 6355 dress. This is probably my most worn item this year. It’s so comfortable and simple, and it was ridiculously easy to sew. The fabric was from the magical Tottenham warehouse, which I plan on visiting again in 2014.
- Blue skinny jeans. Wore them to death this summer and they’re a bit tired and saggy now. But it was good while it lasted.
- Emerald green skirt. I was particularly pleased with this because it was a rip-off of a designer skirt I saw online and it worked out perfectly, which almost never happens. The fabric was perfect.
From the evidence of this, I need to make more separates and use more geometric prints.
Top sewing failures of 2013:
- I have still massively FAILED to make a jumpsuit, after talking about it in, er, February. Blogging about potential projects seems to be the kiss of death for me.
- I am bad at reusing patterns.Then I put off sewing new patterns because I know I’ll have to make fitting changes. This seems a bit short-sighted.
- My biggest sewing disasters this year came from mismatching pattern and fabric. My yellow skirt wasn’t crisp enough to hold pleats, and I ended up having to re-jig it. My denim skirt was way too heavy, and the bias hem I did constantly flips up.
- I also need to take into account what I actually wear. My second pair of jeans are languishing in a drawer because I can’t be doing with brown. The skater dress I made ended up way too short to be practical.
- I need to take better photos. Don’t think I’ll be able to do much about this until it starts getting light for more than 2 hours a week (sometime in mid-May judging from last year’s weather). I’d quite like to do a whole blog revamp as well but my design skillz are somewhat lacking.
Weddings seem to be the only time I dress up nowadays, and in 2013 I attended three (as well as my own, but I didn’t make a dress for that), and managed to finish a new outfit in time for each of them – a pink New Look shirtdress, a floral number also from New Look, and a Pretty Woman style spotty dress from a vintage Maudella pattern.
Top 5 blog posts of 2013, according to WordPress:
- Where I buy fabric in London and online - I need to re-write this. If I’d known it would get so many views I’d have spent a bit more time on it.
- 20 Top Tips for Topstitching - Probably the only genuinely useful post on this blog.
- Psychedelic jungle By Hand London Anna Dress - I have fabric to make another one of these; one of the top patterns of the year I reckon.
- The Great British Sewing Bee - Can’t wait for the 2014 series!
- The Scientific Sewing Enjoyment Chart – 100% scientific nonsense.
I really feel like my sewing has improved 100% this year, and blogging has been a huge part of that, particularly being part of the Minerva Network which has been loads of fun.
I’m so grateful to everyone who reads this blog, even if you’re only doing it because we’re related, or if you enjoy laughing at my strange facial expressions. Thank you all anyway. Here’s to a brilliant 2014!