The 10 year UFO and 5 take outs from finally finishing it

This was my oldest UFO. Now , I don’t have many of these – in fact there is only one other garment (which is much more recent ) lurking in my sewing room. My weakness is Un-Started Objects ( the fabric stash) not unfinished ones.

This dress has however hung around in a plastic carrier bag for ( estimated) about 10 years.

I only really returned to sewing seriously just under 5 years ago when I retired/ was made redundant. I had sewn when I was young, and dipped in and out as my boys grew up, being much to busy raising a family and having a career to indulge heavily in sewing. But occasionally I had a go.

I can’t remember where this fabric came from! It may well have been in my Mum’s stash which I acquired ( as well as the gene to hoard) as she sadly went blind and could no longer sew. It is a beautiful soft cotton – I am guessing a cotton lawn. I had decided to use a free Prima pattern, and before my days of regular sewing and learning about pattern adjustments for my body, I obviously just cut out the dress  and sewed it up – to a point.

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And this is when it became an UFO. The bodice just didn’t fit me well. The V neck was much too low, the neckline/ shoulders too wide,the top of the back around the zip gaped and the sleeves just pulled and didn’t sit comfortably.

So it sat, unfinished, unhemmed…

Every now and again I would take it out of the bag and look at and try to work out how to make it wearable. Most of these thoughts centred around how to fill in the neckline (lace?)but nothing looked right.

So ten years on, and five years of sewing and trying adjustments, and I pulled it out again this summer. This time I finally decided to go for broke. After all it certainly wasn’t doing any good in a plastic bag.

So based upon adjustments I have been making I decided on

1. Darts in the back neck to pull upper shoulders in and prevent gaping around the central zip.

2. Raise shoulder seams/ increase shoulder seam width to raise Vneckline (too late to take length out above bust as fabric cut )

3. Remove sleeves . Recut armhole to sleeveless shape and recut / lower underarm to adjust armhole depth after raising shoulders.

4 Straighten the skirt to reduce the A- line flare.  Not a fit issue, just a preference regarding how fabric fell and dress looked on me.

This did mean some serious unpicking of the lined bodice to access the required seams for adjustments.

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Internal lined bodice. Seams neatened with overlocker

The other thing I did not like about the dress was the finish. Now at the time of making it, I really don’t remember I had any problem with this. But isn’t it interesting how your standards and expectations change as your skills advance? So out came the overlocker ( I didn’t have this ten years ago) and as many seams as possible were neatened.

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Recut armholes finished with bias binding

So all completed, adjustments made and a dress that fits and is wearable. One empty plastic carrier bag added to the pile of reusable bags.

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Darts inserted either side of zip at neckline to prevent gaping. Before the days of pattern matching……

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And then I realised……I didn’t take any before pictures. If you have read this I am sure you would have liked to see the ill fitting version. I would have liked to have had a record of it too as I think it’s really useful to see the failures as well as successes. But too late I’m afraid.

So what have I learned from this UFO?

1. Prima bodice patterns are much too wide on my body ( I had another failure with this brand)

2. You don’t always notice your own progress. My knowledge and ability to fit to my body have improved dramatically.

3 My standards for finishing have increased – and my overlocker is a tool I would not now be without.

4. Don’t be afraid to hack / substantially alter something that hasn’t worked. Better to try and maybe get a wearable garment .

5. Take “before” photos!

 

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Backless to the future

This is one of those dresses that has been definitely fabric led .

I spotted this fabric in Abakhan’s buy by weight section when I was in Manchester last February and just fell in love with idea of what I might be able to do with the border print. It really isn’t my usual colour choice ( except the teal in the flower pattern) but at £7.50 for 2 metres , how could I resist?

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I have no idea what type of fabric it is. It has a sort of linen weave look, but does not crease much, and is medium weight. The border was on each edge leaving a plain strip down the centre.

I thought originally I might wear this make at my son’s wedding – but have since decided that the colours do no match the blue dress code for family photos.

So- on to the pattern. As the wedding is in Greece something sleeveless was planned. I also thought I needed to make the most of the border print in the skirt, which meant a fuller skirt than my usual makes.

I had been eyeing up a number of patterns with interesting back details, in particular McCalls 7740

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I even almost bought the pattern , and then in a mad moment of trying to resist buying yet another pattern, I decided to have a go at drafting my own!

I had already made a number of alterations to a Burda dress pattern to get a good fit. these included taking width out of the upper back and front  , squaring the central line and then redrafting the bottom part of the pattern to allow for the squaring. I had help with this at the weekly sewing class I attend- it was a bit mind boggling! The resulting toile fitted well, so I decided to use this, altering the back to create the open cross over.

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I definitely did a sheet toile of this one to check the fit- and tweaked  the placement of the back cross over to try to get bra strap coverage.

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For the skirt I used the skirt part of a pattern I already owned -which had the required fullness achieved with box pleats.

Cutting  out involved a lot of fabric jiggling as there was only just enough . I usually buy 2 metres as a standard length for dresses when I am stash purchasing, but the style of dress I make is not normally so full.

Due to the light colour and the finish of the bodice, the dress is lined in a very light viscose. Viscose has been used as it is breathable / cool for Greece

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Work in progress- back closures fitting
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Work in progress
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Internal lining – pink viscose

I did have some problems with the back closure.

I decided that just a button would not be secure enough. My first attempt was to use large hooks and eyes ( skirt / trouser type) – but these did not lie very flat and looked messy ( the black thread is the marking for overlap/ placement which my friend did for me. It’s impossible to accurately do this on your own back!)

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My second attempt has been to use Velcro. I managed to shape and stitch this to the very edge, and this has given a much neater/ flatter finish. I added a button from the button tin ( I think everyone of a certain age must have one of these, in my case passed down from my mother and mother in law) just as a decorative finish.

The final dress has a lovely swishy skirt, and the border pattern works well. I think I need to add a turquoise necklace to break up the plain bodice  but otherwise all finished and pleased with my first attempt at partial drafting.

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Summer sundress for Greece

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So I am still busy making clothes for my trip to Greece in August with the latest make being a sundress.

I spotted this pattern on a Facebook post, and found I already owned the pattern. I will be honest, it wasn’t a pattern I had at the top of my list to make, but seeing the made up version made me rethink

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I already had fabric in my stash – it’s a sort of textured lightweight cotton bought in Goldhawk Road in June with the pattern in mind. £6 a metre.

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I chose version D . The bodice is lined, but because the fabric is light coloured and lightweight, I also lined the skirt. Both linings are a very lightweight viscose I bulk bought specifically for the purpose of lining dresses for Greece ( lightweight and breathable)

This was a pretty straightforward make . There isn’t too much fitting required. The bodice lining gives a nice clean finish.

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The only difficult bit was fitting / adjusting the position of the straps at the back. My poor husband got roped in for this as it’s impossible to pin the back shut and view strap placement on yourself. I think this is the part of my sewing hobby he hates the most. He vailiantly puts up with finding pins everywhere , the huge stash of fabric and the “ I must visit Abakhans” when we go to Manchester but helping with fitting/ hems is not his favourite. I suspect this is why he encourages my attendance of the local sewing club- a room full of women who enjoy and understand sewing and will help.

Anyway, his skills are improving, and the straps were successfully placed

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So another dress ready to go, and more fabric used from the stash too.

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I finally made an Ogden Cami

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Am I the last person in the Sewing universe to make up the Ogden Cami ?

Possibly….but there may be others out there…….

So not much I can add to the many posts on this one. It does make you appreciate a really well drafted pattern though. It goes together well and it just lies right on the body somehow.

I made mine up in “scrap “ fabric left over from my  just finished McCalls dress, so it’s made in a nice drapey viscose and is “free”.

I made zero adjustments to the pattern.

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This is the first time I tried out my strap turning gadget. This was given to me by a friend after helping her to make some tie trousers and wrap skirt, when we both sat for ages turning straps. The Ogden cami straps are narrow so this method would have been even more of a pain. So first try of the widget – and it works, and it is easy! You have to grab the fabric with the end and fiddle a little bit to get it started , but then it is sooooooo easy

They are available on Amazon at under a fiver ( link to one – not sure if this was the one I have, but I know it came from Amazon)

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And then, oops, I must have caught the Ogden bug. Two more Ogdens made within days of finishing the first. again both are made from fabric scraps in my stash.

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Two more Ogden camis on the go – batch production!

In this case they had been picked up in The Sewing Weekender fabric swap – so more free tops. In both cases the fabric was enough to cut the main pieces and straps , but not quite enough for the facing. This was solved by using my bulk bought lightweight viscose for facings. ( This has been such a good , useful buy) .

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For the multicoloured chiffon top I lengthened the facing by about 2 inches to provide a larger non see through area over the bust.

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So I recommend buying the Ogden pattern and a widget, and get scrap busting for summer

 

Cocktail (Glass) Dress

 

FDCDA64C-E443-43F4-A081-60E7660AF3D3This is another dress made to wear at my son’s wedding in Greece. The fabric was bought in the spring Knitting & Stitching Show from Stitch Fabrics – it’s a crisp cotton with cocktail glasses all over it

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Who could resist a cocktail ( glass) fabric for a dress?

I bought my standard 2 metres for dress stash fabric and searched for a simple sleeveless dress pattern amongst my many patterns ar home.

I chose New Look 6020 based on its simple lines, but also influenced by the many versions Roisin ( Dolly Clackett) had made in a variety of interesting fabrics. Version B looked like an interesting neckline with the little notch detail, and the V back is hopefully going to be ideal for Greek heat.

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I have made up a couple of New Look dresses in the past and have found that they are pretty true to size. I did however spend time with the help of my sewing teacher refracting the princess seam bodice to get a better bodice for for me. This not involved my usual adjustment of shortening the bodice length, but also taking a little length out of the above bust area and width out of the back. I made up a sheet toile to check the adjustments , and given they seem to have worked, this may be my go to starting point for future princess seam bodices!

The bodice has a nice crisp outline created with a facing not a lining. I twin needle top stitched around the sleeves and the waistline

Whilst I am not usually a fan of side zips, I decided to stick with this, but following advice , make sure that it was low enough under the arm that the top of the zip does not irritate when wearing.

There isn’t much else to add about the construction of this dress. It’s pretty straightforward. The little notch at the front of the bodice neckline is a nice little detail, and the panelled skirt gives a lovely flare/ fullness without bulk at the waist.

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Panelled skirt
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Love the deep v-neck back
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Aperol spritz anyone?

This dress actually ticks two challenge boxes. #2019MakeNinehad the requirement for 2 dresses for my son’s wedding. I’ve also recently decided that #off with her stash is highly appropriate for me. The fabric was bought on 28 February 2019 so that counts!

Ready for cocktails by the beach

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I can’t believe how many times recently my makes have been inspired by someone else’s.

So here’s the next one- another dress ready for the wedding in Greece.

There will be a cocktail bar reception on the evening before the wedding for all those travelling out to Greece. One of my classmates at my local sewing club ( Cotton Club) was just finishing making a dress which she was trying on for hemming / final bodice fitting. Yet another pattern which I would never have chosen as definetely not my usual style, but when I saw her version ( and tried it on) I thought – ideal for swanning around a Greek bar on a hot evening.

The pattern is McCalls 7119 .On this occasion I don’t think it was the pattern envelope that hadn’t pulled me in, but just the fact that I wouldn’t have considered this as my sort of style , let alone where I would wear it. Skiing and biking holidays don’t really lend themselves to this sort of wear.

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Whilst  my friend had made hers up in a low stretch jersey, I wanted a viscose, which I knew should be floaty and cool

The fabric was purchased from Loubodu Fabrics , arrived very quickly and was packaged up with some sweets! Lovely, it’s beautifully bright and drapes.

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The bodice of this pattern is quite different from the usual sheath dresses or princess seam type bodices that I usually construct. The way the armholes / neckline are constructed in particular are new to me. I have to say that I did not find the instructions particularly clear to follow. I am not a beginner sewist but I had to go over them a few times to get it right. Comparing notes with my friend, she had exactly the same problem. She has not made a lot of garments and said without the help of the teacher she could not have done it alone at home.

There  was also a problem with the bodice fitting. The arnhole is created using a band which is stititch, understitched and then topstitched under the arm and then onto a  band that creates the front edging and back top of neck. My friend had already experienced gaping on this under the arm, which we put down to the stretch in her fabric. However I had exactly the same problem with my woven.

I ended up completely unpicking the bands ( yes all three lots of Stitching ) and shortening the band significantly ( about 1 and a half inches on each arm band)

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This felt a little  more like the pattern piece had been drafted too long, rather than minor modifications to improve fitting to my body.

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The actual results though are good, and the bodice fits!

As you can see from my model above, a standard bra does not work well with this pattern. So braless ( not for me!) or strapless works.

The final modifications I will be making to this dress are a couple of fastenings. The wrap style is lovely but with a bit of movement and / or wind wardrobe malfunctions are highly likely! Nothing that a couple of fastenings won’t solve( I hope)

The  end result is just what I envisaged. Floaty, relaxed but special enough to wear for cocktails on a Greek beach. In the meantime though , it’s just pictures in my back garden!

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Zadie Jumpsuit-a leap onto the bandwagon

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I had been considering making a jumpsuit for a while , and even put out a request for advice on the different options to see if I could pick up any tips on Facebook

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The problem was, I just couldn’t make up my mind which one to go for…..

The Papercut Patterns Sierra took my eye first, but my concern was that if it was warm enough to go sleeveless, would I be wearing trousers or one of my summer dresses?

Then Paper Theory Zadie started to be featured on line in a big way, and I loved the informal relaxed style. But I usually go for something a little more fitted .

And finally Deer & Doe’s Sirocco came onto the scene. Every picture of makes on this looked super flattering. It’s fundamentally different in styling from Zadie. And of course this is what the advice said – both great jumpsuits, just different.

In the end , I went with my initial thoughts/ impressions and opted for Zadie. I think the final decision was after seeing and reading Fiona’s ( Diary of a Chainstitcher) blog. She looked great in this style, and gave / echoed some really useful advice regarding adjustments and sizing, all of which I felt would be relevant to me as I am also petite and relatively short !

I decided to make a toile in old sheeting to check adjustments and style before cutting in to my chosen fabric. For this I jumped straight in with the adjustments. I went down in size to reduce the volume ( I cut the smallest size, size 6. I would normally cut an 8/10). I also reduced the bodice length ( a common adjustment for me on all patterns) and raised the crotch as suggested.  Finally some length removed from the trouser legs too.

I was happy with the results,

My chosen fabric was a cotton linen in light blue purchased from My Fabrics on a weekend offer ( at the time just under £11 – offer no longer on and light blue no longer available but other colours available here) I had 2 metres of this- slightly less than the stated requirement of 2.25

When  cutting out I didn’t follow the layouts, or the suggestion to cut single layered( not required in my humble opinion unless dealing with pattern placement on intricate fabric). I also placed the back piece on the fold to eliminate the seam here ( couldn’t work out why this was required)

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The final adjustment I decided to do was to follow online suggestions of replacing the bias binding around the front with a facing. This seems to be a common suggestion , and I suspect was probably less fiddly than making and applying bias binding ( although I would consider doing this in the future if I was using a contrast fabric or directional stripe)

Drafting  a continuous facing was easy – just remember to subtract the seam allowance at the waist for both the top and pants.

The only problem I had was not enough fabric for the facing. I used a contrast patterned fabric in my stash , left over from a dress I  made last year , which has been perfect.

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The instructions to make up the jumpsuit were really clear, and assembly was quick and easy as there isn’t any close fitting required. The design is also really unusual which made me feel I was justified in splashing out on yet another pattern when I already have so many!

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It feels like a really comfortable garment. I can see why it is so popular amongst sewists.

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If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, I would certainly recommend doing so

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Maybe Sirocco next?