Ready for summer

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So I’m looking forward to the summer! Here is another make which was started in January and has taken a while to finish ( it’s hard to motivate myself when there’s snow on the ground, it’s raining and the fine weather need seems to arrive)

This was my first Project at The Cotton Club, a dressmaking club I joined this year which is a great way of meeting other sewists and learning new techniques.

The theme for the half term make was to use a pattern you already owned ( post Christmas  economy) . I went one further – I used a pattern I had acquired free at a pattern swap ( from memory at The Sewing Weekender last summer- as it was a swap I didn’t look too closely at the details, just the model in the picture)

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and fabric I already had in my stash- a cotton fabric I think in purchased in Goldhawk Road c 2016  which definetely qualifies for #sewyourstash

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When I looked at the pattern closely I realised it wasn’t quite what I wanted…… which was probably McCalls6696!

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Despite the appearance of a collared dress , the collar is not part of the dress. It is actually a shirt worn under a collarless, sleeveless almost pinafore Design.

There is a side zip – I find these uncomfortable.

The front buttons only go down to the waist.

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And finally , the instructions were missing!

Undetered by these minor(?) differences, and determined not to spend more money on patterns, I altered the existing pattern to give me what I wanted.

Getting rid of the zip was easy ( just sew the side seam together) and was not a problem as I intended to extend the button placket all the way down the front of the dress for opening. My Janome automatic buttonhole Stitch did wonders at making perfect identical buttonholes ( all I had to calculate was the spacing) , and I used some flower shaped buttons to echo the fabric design

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I used the blouse pattern to redraft the front of the dress to a higher neckline for the collar, and the collar pattern piece from the blouse, which would then fit the neckline.

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I slashed the front skirt panel piece down the centre, adding allowance for button placket , plus then readjusting the pleating to allow for this.

I have done enough dressmaking to manage to put the dress together without the pattern instructions , but half way through the process Simplicity came up trumps and sent me a pdf of the instructions which was useful as a check

All  edges have been top stitched using a twin needle.

The  finished dress in the unseasonal U.K. April weather

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Yes- it’s got pockets

I am really pleased with the results. It’s just what I wanted!

 

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Another top for my #designyourwardrobe project

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Having identified my colour palette for my spring / summer wardrobe I used this as the constraint for my fabric purchasing ( yes I do need to be constrained) at the recent Knitting and Stitching show in Olympia.

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I also recognised that I needed to make some tops to go with skirts and trousers I already own. The resulting purchases at the show included fabric for a number of tops, as well as a pair of culottes

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This top is the first of my makes using the hummingbird fabric . It some sort of drape polyester and cost me £4 for a metre.

I decided to make up the Scout Tee again as having made it in a light lawn fabric I knew it would work well with the drape of this fabric. I cut the same as before with the exception of narrowing the bottom edge slightly.

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This  was a really quick sew versus the previous occasion. Firstly I was not distracted from the sewing by chatting to other attendees of The Sewing Weekender, and secondly I used my overlocker.

The skirt was made by me too – Maria Denmark Yasmin skirt, definetely one of my go to skirt patterns

 

Result, a simple but useful little top to add to my wardrobe.

 

Scalloped edge blouse

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I have been busy  resting some pieces that were flagged for my Design Your Wardrobe project. Unfortunately not many of them fit in with my #2018makenine plans but that can’t be helped!

One of the key missing areas in my planned Wardrobe was tops to fit in with my colour scheme and match existing and planned blue skirts/ trousers/ culottes.

This first make was made at a sewing club I have joined- The Cotton Club- in my local town. It meets every Wednesday morning in term time and is run by Abi, a lovely dressmaker who used to sew costumes for Strictly Come Dancing before starting her family. It’s great fun , especially chatting to other sewers ( sometimes more chatting than sewing on my part) and each term Abi tries to introduce a theme or new technique. Before Easter this was learning how to sew a scalloped edge and how to then add this to a garment. Here’s Abi’s inspiration for us!

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So first I had to practise the technique. Now if I was doing this at home I probably would have dived right in- but practise makes perfect.

The scallops were drafted onto tracing paper using the lid of a coffee pot

and then transferred ( I used a friction pen) to 2 pieces of fabric placed right sides together. Careful and accurate sewing followed, and then equally careful trimming and snipping

before turning and pressing.

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All having gone well so far I was told to choose an easy pattern to modify . In retrospect I could have gone easier( eg the Scout Tee) as having a back seam created a further stage of scallop matching.

The fabric I chose came from my stash (yay #sewyourstash) and is a very lightweight cotton viscose blend purchased in May 2017 from Fabworks

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I chose  butterick B6184 for the top- a pattern I acquired at a pattern swap I think possibly at the Sewing Weekender).

This is where the tricky part started- drafting / adding the scallops to the hem and sleeves. It’s not as simple as just randomly placing these on. They need to be even, and fit the pattern ( with seam allowances)  for all pieces PLUS where seams join the scallops should match, ideally seaming at the indent of the scallop. After much fiddling, calculating and thinking( think twice, cut once) I finally managed to cut the top out.

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The rest was relatively easy: the scallops were stitched in the same way as my practise piece before constructing the blouse as per the pattern instructions.

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I did have to adjust the pattern – I had done my usual checks( short waisted) and checked the size( I cut a 10) but was surprised when I made it up that the bust dart was much too high. This isn’t a problem I usually experience. I lowered it by about an inch, with corresponding lowering of the waist fish darts too.

I am pleased with the final result. The scallops have been successful

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The invisible zip looks good.

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The fit again looks great

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However  there is a problem. Whilst the fit looks great, the sleeves pull. I thought maybe the armsync wasn’t right or something, but having consulted with Abi her suggestion was that the sleeve piece itself does not have enough width  and needs to be adjusted. I can only believe this is a pattern drafting issue as I have pretty scrawny arms! As I want to use this pattern as the basis for a draft she suggested I did a toile altering the sleeve to try to address this.

Luckily the top is still wearable !

Seamwork Design your wardrobe weeks 1&2

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The first thing to say is that this has been great fun. Every day ( except weekends when you can play catch up) you are given a little task which is helping you to design your own wardrobe. This was offered as a free 4 week activity to Seamwork subscribers.

So far I have particularly enjoyed creating the inspiration, mood and colour palette boards

I am aiming at creating a spring /summer wardrobe  with interchangeable pieces that will be ideal for taking away on holiday ( city breaks not beach)/ wearing around .

I intend to mix it with some items I already have in my wardrobe

During the first week we focussed on Inspiration

I had to set goals for my project and then seek inspiration creating a Pinterest board of 50inspiration pictures. I tracked through existing images, patterns etc that I had already collected for this rather than starting completely from scratch

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This was then given a story – a title pulling together what the main themes were. Blue definitely featured with more fitted styles, stripes and nothing too floral

Then the tricky part- editing this down to base it on reality

Finally in week one I created a mood board that summarised this into all of this for the wardrobe I wanted to design for.

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The interesting thing was that I wasn’t sure how well the above reflected me- but I took a look at the mood boards shared by others on the dedicated Facebook page and was amazed how different they were. It really brought into focus that the above board does reflect your inspiration and likes.

Week 2 was all about fabric and colour.

Our first task was to “shop our stash” for fabrics that fitted with the wardrobe we were designing for and our mood board.

I had no problem finding loads of fabric!

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Then we moved on to virtual shopping for more options

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( oh look- lots more blue)

The next stage was more challenging – categorising the swatches into neutrals, basics and statement colours and on the following day balancing between these groupings to create a final colour palette .

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Finally we plugged the gaps. My gaps were mostly in the statement colour area. I used this and the swatches and palette I had created to shop at the knitting and stitching show in Olympia at the end of the week. It was a great way of focussing ( and constraining) my purchases

my fabric purchases

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Palette board with new purchases boosting statement group

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I’m looking forward to the next two stages where we start to put together fabric and patterns to design a wardrobe to make

Patty do Carol sweatdress

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This is a new pattern company to me which I looked at after seeing Kathy( Sew Dainty) post about Pt a dress she had made. They are German, downloadable pdf patterns which can be slightly customised ( you choose the neckline, sleeve etc) and at £ xxx it was a bargain

I chose the Carol dress as I liked the casual nature of the design and it is different from the usual dress patterns I buy with its drop waist toggle effect waistline.

I added this to my plans s for #2018MakeNine identifying two fabric possibilities

Both  of of these were bought by weight ( yes the bargain basement) from Abakhan in Manchester

Well  this whole project seems to have been beset by difficulties and issues

Puting  together the pdf went fine. I chose my size based on the measurements given, opti

Then the cutting out. My first choice was the black fabric . Believe me I tried VERY hard but I just couldn’t squeeze the dress out of the available amount. So onto choice number 2 which with some very careful shuffling ( made more of a challenge of course by placement of a border print) I just about managed to achieve.

First stage sewing went to plan. I’m a reasonably confident/ experienced sewer – be warned if you are a beginner the instructions are brief and no pictures to help. There is an online video which I whizzed through and a tutorial to insert the pockets( which I needed as It was a slightly different method for in seam pockets). But be warned th tutorial was in German. School German came in very useful – but at least there are pictures too!

So on I ploughed and happily joined the top to the skirt using the prescribed overlocker then a stretch stitch 2cm away to create a channel for the elastic or cord.

I really should have tried it on first / tacked the channel construction. Despite having shortened the bodice( my usual short waisted adjustment)  the dropped waistline was more like a drop butt line. It came way too low and was really not a good look ( should have taken a photo….)

Now I have to be fair and admit that my fabric is not sweatshirting and maybe not as thick / structured , but it’s not overly stretchy either. This may not have helped the structure though!

The top is also a bit wide on me but this was easy to fix.

Finally I found the pocket making overly complicated for an inseam pocket – and you have to find the video tutorial for instructions.

However what a pain it is to unpick stretch stitch in a knitted fabric.

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Skip  forward many hours and much muttering and I finally got back to actually constructing the dress.

I removed a huge amount of length from the bodice and reattached it to the skirt. I also took in the side seams by a considerable amount ( an inch each side)

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Elastic channel was recreated and elastic added.

So my view on the final dress.

The best part is that the border pattern is striking and unusual and it is really comfy to wear ( the combination of elaticated waist and stretch fabric)

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However I don’t think my dress looks anything like the pictured dress! I probably took slightly too much length off the bodice so it now sits more on the waist than high hips.  Also my skirt is definetely gathered unlike the pattern picture which shows a much straighter, fitted skirt.this is probably a result of fabric type and waist seam level.

I don’t dislike the dress – but I don’t love it either. I think this is a combination of the stress making it, the fact that I don’t think it looks like the pattern / how I imagined it would look and finally the fabric is slightly more muted / not my usual colour palette. Maybe a heavier weight sweatshirt fabric would give a better result, but I’m not sure I will make this pattern again.

So that’s another of my #2018makenine completed

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Time for 2018 Secret Valentine Exchange

6DE95CA0-CEB6-440C-BD63-6F12549D42FBI participated in the 2017 challenge for the first time and enjoyed both making and gifting and receiving a little surprise through the post. Last year I sent my gift to Kathy of Sew Dainty who I have subsequently met at The Sewing Weekender and follow her prolific blog. So when I saw a 2018 secret Valentine Exchange pop up I immediately signed up

The organiser s, Sanae and Ute, of the challenge pairs you randomly with someone and send you a short profile about their likes plus a name and address. I also filled in my profile form which would have been sent to someone else( it’s not a direct gift swap).you are asked to make/ put together a small portable gift from existing stash materials and send it out by February 7th.

The  information I received for sending a gift was

Abigail ( lives in U.K.)

Favourite Colors: Pastels
Preferred Designs, Symbols, etc.: Anything floral, girly, sparkly

The preferred designs were a challenge as I don’t do a lot of girly , sparkly things! Unfortunately there was no link to a blog so no major clues there, but Abigail’s Instagram confirmed the sparkly!

i decided to make a little bag ( again) . Clothing really isn’t an option when you don’t know anything about the person’s size. I “cheated” – the fabric, which I hope will be to Abigail’s taste – came from the scrap box at my local sewing club. Flamingos are in yes????

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I also added a few little goodies which I hope she can use in her own projects – some lace, beads and labels

And lastly I put a short letter in the parcel so she can find out a little about me

In return a parcel has arrived in the post for me- and excitement, it’s come all the way from AUSTRALIA ( turned out it was from Tasmania when I opened it.)

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My presents were from Dot who knits and crochets and works in a craft shop on the other side of the world.

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If you you are wondering what the item in the bottom right hand corner is ( I admit I was before I read the letter enclosed): it’s an apple cozy to stop apples getting bruised in your bag! Dot has obviously made quite a few( picture below is from her Instagram)

So thank you Dot from Tasmania

and what a wonderful idea #2018sve is connecting people across the world

A departure from dressmaking

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My sewing skills are currently being applied to some upholstery work!

My son ( remember the one who wanted the red James Dean jacket? Here) has requested another make, but this time it is a project to cover a tub chair.

He had his eye on an Ikea Tullsta tub chair, but there were two problems – the coverings are not in his chosen colour ( mustard to match the grey white and mustard colour scheme in the living room of his new house) and they cost from £80-120 . Given he has just bought his first house with his girlfriend, there isn’t a lot of spare cash floating around.

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They have done an amazing job of sourcing second hand items on Freecycle and Facebook marketplace. They were lucky enough to pick up a free ikea Tullsta tub chair on the former. The cover was very battered and faded, and one leg couldn’t be screwed into place as the screw fixing had fallen into the inside of the chair.

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So over to the handy parents. My husband has a bit of a reputation of being able to fix anything  and justified it by fixing the leg.

My task of course was to create a new cover.

First part was to source the mustard fabric( an estimated 4-5 metres based on internet searches). I soon found thatupholstery fabric doesn’t come cheap! The solution ( a brainwave) was to buy some ikea curtains. Unbelievable it was cheaper to buy these and cust them up than buy fabric!

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So fabric obtained  the next stage was to take the existing covers off( secured by what seemed like hundreds of metal staples) and use the existing cover as a template .  I carefully wrote on and photographed every single section of the old cover BEFORE doing this so I will hopefully not be in danger of mixing up pieces and will remember what goes where

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( cutting out on my new Aldi wallpapering table after seeing this on Sewin the UK being bought for sewing)

Following sewing up some of the main seams the chair was ready for a quick fitting!

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  1. At this point the front of the arms were not attached, or the seat base cover and front of base of chair- and all looked good so I went on to do this.

On my next fitting I hit a problem – I had eliminated the central back zipper on the cover ( looking at more recen5 versions in store this had been done).but when all the front panels were attached I could no longer pull the cover onto the chair. To solve this I have opened up one of the back seams and will hand stitch closed. I decided not to insert a zip as this seems pretty pointless as the whole cover is staple gunned to the frame so will not be removed for cleaning.

I also discovered that the inside back of the chair had collapsed backwards. So back to the man who can fix anything who with some ingenious use of duck tape, cardboard and other trickery has solved this!

Cover ready for staple gun with all panels sewn.

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The next stage was to make the cushion pad cover- much easier. I reused the zip too.

And finally out came the staple gun to attach the cover to the framework and the chair is finished

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It’s not perfect but a huge improvement on th broken battered( but free) original. With a total cost of £18 for the fabric( zip and other materials reused) and nearly all of one curtain left for sofa scatter cushions( or any other future projects) it should pleas my son!