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#MeMadeMay completed

I have taken part in this a few times before but – hooray – this is the first time I have actually managed to complete the challenge!
Yes , this a May I wore something me made every single day of the month, and some days I even wore two things / outfits.

I also posted every day on Instagram

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It hasn’t been a “ normal” month , so maybe that’s why I have managed this.
With lockdown followed by slight easing of restrictions my usual socialising, gym going and if possible holidaying lifestyle has completely changed. Maybe this is why I have completed the challenge?

Activities  have been different – and clothing will no doubt reflect this. The weather has also been amazing ( for the U.K.)  which tends to make t easier for me to wear me made  as I seem to make a lot of warm weather clothes.

So what have I observed about what I wear from my Me Made items?

1. There have been some  day to day pattens that keep popping up in what I choose to wear – and most of these could be called basics. The SCOUT TEE was worn in various fabrics 12 times and the Linden  sweatshirt photographed 4 times ( although I know I slipped the pink one on in the evenings sometimes too!)
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2. I wear a lot of shorts and tops especially when the weather is good and I am walking every day! This is probably not totally representative of the “old normal”  but it does mean I have bought a metre of fabric to make some more shorts for myself ( I only have one pair I have made myself)

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3. I like wearing dresses when it’s hot. No news to me.  But even when I have been “Staying At Home” I like to put a dress on in the garden or in the late afternoon ( preferably to enjoy a drink on the patio)

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4 Me Made gaps in my wardrobe are trousers. When the weather was cooler I wore trousers ( RTW)  . I have to admit though that although I couldn’t reach for any I had made myself, I didn’t lack choice

5. Make more basics

And onwards to June!

 

 

 

Where did the summer go?


I haven’t written many blog posts this year and realising that I decided to look at when I last posted something  and realised it was June.

So what happened to July and August? I’m calling it the Covid factor – days , weeks and even months seem to merge  into one another. It seems the sudden change of weather and the noticeably more autumnal mornings have signalled that time is passing though. And a realisation that I haven’t written up any of my more recent makes

So this post focuses on the first of a couple of summer makes – shorts. Whilst I normally wear lots of dresses and skirts when it’s warmer, the changes in routine during this summer – less going out, more walking- has changed which clothes I have been wearing. So more shorts.

The first pair I made were the   Angelia shorts from Itch To Stitch, view B

The fabric – a Poly Cotton drill – was bought on line and turned out to be an ideal weight for shorts.

I made a number of adjustments to the pattern.

I cut the waist slightly larger than my measured hip size as I am more of a rectangle than an  hourglass shape.  I also lengthened the shorts as I find the knee length cargo shorts I have bought really useful for walking and general wear when not on a beach or holiday situation. I added a turn up and a second inner leg tab which enables me to lengthen the shorts [ copied from a RTW pair).

Finally I omitted the coin pocket

Most of the instructions are really clear. I took time doing lots of top stitching to get a crisp finished look.

And so to the part that I had the most trouble with – the fly. I have not made many trousers or garments with flies so I tried to follow the instructions carefully. First attempt just didn’t line up and had to be unpicked.

Second attempt better, but not quite correct

I resorted to looking for video tutorial and found link on Itch to Stitch website to a tutorial which did help.

I am still not 100% convinced I have completely nailed the fly, but it looks ok and functions – and there are only so many times I can unpick and redo .

I vowed at the time to use some scrap fabric and try / practise this method again- but of course this hasn’t happened yet!

The finished shorts are great looking – but I will admit are slightly more fitted on the waist than I usually wear mine. As the fabric has no stretch this makes them a little more restricting ( no big scone lunches and not so great for climbing over stiles)


Would I make this pattern again? Yes – it is beautifully detailed and well drafted. I enjoyed doing all the top stitching . But next time I need to master the fly first, and would size the waist up further to give a bit more ease . Then I just might get my perfect pair of walking shorts

Legs looking very short…..

Sewing Weekender Make and Thoughts

FC76DA45-66C1-484C-9479-9C7F8B3F7712I signed up for the on line Sewing Weekender 2020 as soon as it advertised. Although I missed out on getting a ticket last year, I was lucky enough to have attended the weekends in a Cambridge in 2017 and 2018. It was great that Charlotte, Kate and Rachel   Managed to organise an alternative to cheer us all up , and even more amazing that they managed to raise so much money for charity .
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As I didn’t need to travel, had all my sewing room facilities to hand and knew I wouldn’t be heavily distracted by talking to loads of sewists, I did not pre prepare my project as I had in the past. So my first job on Saturday was to prep the pattern and cut out,

I put the You Tube videos up on the TV to listen to and started.
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I had decided to make Kwik Sew 4154. I have been wanting to make a dress with waist ties like these for a while, and this pattern seemed versatile as it can be made in knit or woven fabric.

My chosen fabric was a knit purchased fromThe Fabric Manon Etsy ( I bought a number of pieces of fabric and all were good)
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The pattern specified a back seam zip which I thought may be unnecessary with a knit. So I posted on Instagram to see if anyone else had made the pattern and could confirm this.
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I contuued preparing pattern and started cutting out….and that’s when I got responses on Instagram. As well as general agreement with not needing a zip, I got a response from the always helpful ( and extremely knowledgable) Susan Young. She had made this pattern and was kind enough to share her experience ( and picture to demonstrate. The back of the dress did not fall in a flattering way, but created a humped bunch. She had tried to rectify this by moving the zip to the side, but this had not worked. However she said the skirt was lovely.

And that was when I fell lucky- I had started cutting out, but had only actually cut the skirt!

So rethink…..

I was wearing one of my Moneta dresses ( I have made 3). By the 3rd I had achieved a good fit knit bodice- so I decided to adapt the Moneta bodice to reflect the features I wanted from the Kwik Sew pattern.

I copied the Moneta bodice pattern onto newspaper ( I didn’t have any drafting paper). I then changed the back bodice neckline to create the higher neck line.

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Next I copied the Kwik Sew front neckline to the front bodice piece.

And then widened the waistline of the front bodice ( copying the Kwik Sew pattern) to allow for gathers.

Finally I drafted the back and front neck line facings As used in he Kwik Sew pattern.

I used the Moneta sleeve pattern and also decided to add pockets – because we all love pockets- to the skirt ( again I used the Moneta pockets)

This all took up a considerable amount of time – the whole morning – but it went by very quickly listening to the Videos .
As I went out walking in the afternoon I missed the end of day Zoom

Day 2

…and I actually got some sewing done.
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The  most challenging bit here was how to construct the waistline. I wanted to stabilise it at the back, but the Moneta method of using elastic to gather the skirt ( and thus stabilise to some extent) was not required for a circle skirt.
In the end I created a channel in the back of the bodice and sewed in 1cm wide elastic

Construction  was also different from the Moneta, which joins a completed skirt to a completed bodice. Due to the need to insert the ties into the sides of the dress overlapping the bodice and skirt, the front top and skirt and the back top and skirt had to be joined first before sewing the side seams.

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Once I had sorted all this out in my mind, the dress came together Reasonably quickly.

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Dress in progress

Again I was entertained during the morning by listening to the videos. This time I listened in to the Zoom session, but did not have anywhere enough of a finished garment to share.

The dress – and the videos- were completed in odd moments over the week after the Sewing Weekender . I am very pleased with the results, and very grateful to Susan for her advice.

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and YES the skirt is lovely.
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So finally, what did I think of my Sewing Weekender digital experience?

Well  of course it was very different from a weekend away. There were elements that were “easier” – having all my things to hand, no 2 hour car drive are the major pluses, anyone and everyone could attendBut I did miss the social element. I love chatting to people about what they are wearing, admiring the fabric, guessing the pattern etc etc. The videos were really great in creating an atmosphere / chatty background to help get some way towards this – so well done to everyone who contributed to those. And we did still all get a Goodie Bag ( which I hope will help any shops who have been struggling)

Personally  I would love to see any future digital format include opportunities for small scale meetings ( Zoom rooms) which could be used to meet new people / chat during the day for those of us who don’t have an established network of sewing pals. Maybe themed? Eg  at specific times  #Sewover50 chat room, a room for anyone making jeans / TAB / whatever the latest popular indie pattern is. what do others think?

So, very well done to all for organising this digital get together. You really did a great job of re defining the Sewing Weekender to make the best of current constraints. I hope in the future we will see BOTH experiences again- a summer weekend away maybe and a winter digital weekend? The best of both worlds – a chance to physically meet and immerse if you can but also if you can’t travel or get a ticket the opportunity to be included ( with the addition of winter weather so I don’t mind staying indoors all weekend)

 

 

 

Making Shirts

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I have just finished making my second man’s shirt  – I just never got round to posting the first, so time to rectify , and cover both shirts in one post.
Originally  this was one of those “ challenge myself” projects . A shirt just seemed a really difficult thing to get right but I had seen some beautiful one in blogs ( can’t believe the stunning ones made by malepatternboldness ) and wanted to give it a try.
In order to give me some scope for creativity I decided to make one for my son, not my husband! I felt the former might be a little more adventurous in what he would wear.

I looked at loads of patterns, and came close to buying a few ( still think maybe MimiGStyle  have been a good pick). In the end I bought  Simplicity 1544 because I felt it was traditional enough, but would walk me through some of the little touches of contrast fabric( view A)

My son lives over 300 miles away, and I wanted to make the shirt as a Christmas present so I resorted to using an old Shirt for a size guide. Key thing he said was to make the body fitted / not too loose.

For the first shirt I sourced fabric from the internet – ( Doughtys) a fairly traditional shirting cotton.

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but I paired it with something more flamboyant – an off cut picked up at a swap  , a lovely quality cotton lawn ( I think) with flamingos on it

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Pocket construction

I also took time to read up on and source some interfacing for the collar in order to get a really good crisp collar, I ended up buying this from William Gee on line

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Construction of yoke. Back tab was removed as my son did not like it

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I was pleased with the final result. It’s not perfect . In particular the collar does not sit correctly when buttoned right to the top – but as my son doesn’t wear a tie, this isn’t an issue.

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Son was impressed.
His only comment was that the sleeves were a bit wider than he would ideally like.

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Well the proof of liking was when he handed me some fabric late last year. He and his girlfriend had bought it thinking she might try making him a shirt, but with starting work this never happened .

This is a very different fabric. An interesting colour choice ( not one I would have guessed at for him) and quite heavy. More like a linen than a cotton.( you can see the texture in the photo collage below)

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The  lockdown finally got me started on making the shirt. That and a few subtle hints like “ where is my shirt you said you would make?”

So it was very much a repeat process. I adjusted the width of the shirt body as before using the old shirt as a guide. I reduced the width of the sleeves following comments from the first shirt.

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Same interfacing used in collar .I used standard heavyweight interfacing in other areas.

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Found scrap fabric to use for contrast, but used in slightly fewer places

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All seams are flat felled finish ( as was the first shirt

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The  sleeve placket  – I forgot to take photos of this for the first shirt

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And due to lockdown a rummage through my button box to find buttons – settled on a dark grey which I think works well.

 

I took extra care with the collar to ensure it buttoned this time

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It was definitely easier making this a second time, even though there was quite a gap between makes.

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The finished shirt

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I have waited to publish this as the shirt was sent to him for his birthday last weekend. So the update is that he wants white buttons – but his girlfriend will go to Abakhans to get some and do the replacement.

I’m still tempted to try a different pattern for a future make. Anyone got any recommendations? It needs to be slim fitted on the body and ideally with a narrow sleeve, suitable for slim late 20s man.

A basketball cushion

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My eldest son is a big sports fan ( he also teaches sport) and buys lots of sportswear.
Quite some time ago he bought and wore a Chicago Bulls Jordan baseball shirt which is now too large on him. So he asked whether I could turn this top into a cushion for him, inspired by some he had seen on Etsy

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He had very clear ideas about how he wanted it done / laid out. 

The baseball shirt was unpicked at the side and shoulder seams.
To get the placement of the numbers correct on the front and back I had to take length off both the shoulders and the bottom hem.

The shirt is mounted onto a cotton backing ( an old sheet).

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Fabric cut from the bottom of the shirt has been used to fill in the arm holes and the front neck so that none of the cotton base is visible.

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Photo above shows this being worked out – in the end I actually ran the dot pattern in the same direction as the main shirt.
I placed and stitched all elements onto the front and back – including stitching on the sides and bottom before joining back and front to keep all layers securely in place.

A zip has been inserted at the bottom for easy washing of the cover.

The size label ( previously on the bottom of the shirt ) was removed

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and stitched across the front and back

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The end result

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Ogden Cami Batch making

There is little to add to how I make Ogden camis now, or to the fact that this really is a TNT pattern for me – and my most made pattern ever.

Much of this is because my son’s girlfriend loves these tops. After making the first one for her and her comments that she had paid £30 for a very similar one, the requests and makes haven’t ended.

The latest request was for some summery camis. Up until now most that I had made were more winter layering / darker colours. I bought some fabric ready for this in the stitch show in February, and then bought a few extra pieces of fabric on line during lockdown.

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Double gauze light blue

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Textured cotton ( remnant from a me made dress)

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Viscose fabric

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Crinkle viscose fabric

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Viscose fabric

 

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Broderais anglais

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And here is the double gauze one being worn

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From Scrubs to Face Covers

The next project in my Covid-19 lockdown has been making face covers.

Having looked at a number of patterns and read a few reviews on fit, I decided to use the Craft passion face mask pattern with a filter pocket , nose wire and ties to secure.

I also read a fair bit on the internet about materials to use . My decision was tight woven cotton, a layer of interfacing and the pocket to add a disposable layer as an additional filter ( I use kitchen towel)

I actually made, and started to wear mine before the British government changed tack and decided to suggest the use of face covers in indoor environments where social distancing may be difficult.  I must admit people did look ( or pretend not to!j initially in Sainsbury’s, but now there are more people starting to wear face covers.

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The face  cover is not a complicated make And fits me well. It can be cut out so scraps ( I hoard left over fabric , so ideal!)

I have used some garden wire in the nose bridge which I bend over at the ends to stop it poking through the fabric. Initially I left the wire channel open ( as pattern) but subsequently  sewed the wire channel shut so it can’t fall out when washed.

After mask one it was on to a mask for my husband

and daughter in law.

and then it began in earnest……

I put a picture on my WI WhatsApp chat and immediately two members asked if there was any change the crafty members could make a mask for those who couldn’t.

At this point in time there were loads of people making for NHS/ carers etc but  nobody locally making face covers for people . As this was also just as the suggestion was made to start wearing them I decided to organise 3 other WI sewists and offered our members the opportunity to request a mask with a suggested donation to charity of £3 per face cover. My rationale was simple. Wearing a face cover is done to help prevent people from spreading the virus – so the more people I / we make it easy for to wear masks, the more it helps stop the spread.

I was a little apprehensive as we have 70 members ( although some can sew!) and I had no idea what the take up would be.
In the end we had requests for 63 face covers . I made 25 myself.

Members were really generous too. The sewists donated the fabric, interfacing and more importantly , their time. And members donated to our chosen charity – the Air Ambulance – who gave a presentation to one of our meetings a couple of years ago ( we were surprised to find that this is a charity  rather than NHS funded ) We have raised over £300 Which we hope will help them with their emergency Covid -19 appeal
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Scrubs, but no blogging

I knew I hadn’t written up anything on my blog for a while, and this morning I finally checked to see when the last post was. February – 3 posts just before I went skiing in early March.

There is my dress I made and then wore in Sri Lanka.
And did I mention travel? That’s right – Sri Lanka followed in March with a week skiing in Austria.

Since then the world has changed. At the moment, never mind travelling abroad, I would be happy to go to a local cafe with my friends for tea, scone and chat.

I made a list at the beginning of this ( I love lists) of the things I could do in lockdown. Of course there were lots of sewing projects, catching up on blog posts amongst other things. And despite all the “spare time” very little has been ticked off.

My “new normal” consists of zoom chats with mates, walks / cycle rides and indoor exercise classes ( I was prepared – my son who is a doctor gave his “elderly “ parents a stern talking to about not taking risks a week before lockdown even started. Result was we both suspended gym membership and I ordered a spin bike before lockdown started).

But my wish to sew things for myself completely evaporated. After all, where was I going to wear anything, what was the point?

That’s when I spotted the on line effort to make scrubs for the NHS.

And  that is what I have been doing.

I spotted a weekly post from a doctor at my GP surgery and approached her directly to ask if they needed any scrubs. Not long before scrubs for 5 – 2 sets each- we’re requested. I added to this 2 pairs for my son who is working in a Manchester hospital.

The fabric was ordered ( Cotton and poly cotton)and I waited to see what 50 metres looked like! It didn’t look as much as I thought but was really heavy to drag in

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Next stage was to pretest shrinkage. The poly cotton was fine, but I got about 5% shrinkage with the cotton which posed the challenge of calculating sensible lengths to cut the fabric in to and pre washing it all.

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The pattern I used was a free one from For the Love of Scrubs Facebook page.

I actually mocked up a couple of sizes ( XS and L) to check on myself and my husband before cutting in to the fabric – I had all the measurements of the doctors but of course no opportunity to fit anything. Anyway, this gave me a known size for 2 of the sizes enabling me to “guess” knowledgeably at what to make for who.

I soon gave up on trying to use my cutting table with 6-7 metre fabric lengths and resorted to that old tried and tested method of laying out  and cutting on the floor

After an intense week and a half of sewing ( with breaks for exercise etc of course) I completed 12 tops and 12 trousers and delivered to the local surgery and posted to my son.
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Here is one of the local doctors in her made to easier scrubs

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and here is my son in his

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All are made with a neater V neck rather than a facing ( see You Tube video here)

and with a tie waist ( rather than elasticated) to withstand washing at high temperature.

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It was great to feel I was contributing in some small way.

In the meantime my son has actually been off work with Covid 19. I guess it’s not surprising as he is working in a hospital that has been 50% converted to Covid-19 treatment and had 4 cases on his non Covid ward not long before he became ill. His partner also caught it – and the two consultants  on the same ward. The latter were hospitalised, but I guess the benefits of being young and fit hAve worked in son  and girlfriend’s  favour and both are well. My son is back at work.

And my next make ? Fabric masks

 

 

 

 

Moneta dress number 3

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The Moneta dress was one of my earlier makes (here) when I restarted Sewing about 5 years ago. I have worn both dresses numerous times as it’s one of those dresses that is so easy to wear. My versions have sleeves, so fit that in between British weather when it’s not quite warm enough for sleeveless.  It’s made up in jersey with an elastic waist – so comfy. The top is fitted but it has a lovely swishy skirt . And of course, it has pockets!

One of these early makes is definitely beginning to show wear . That’s sad as it is a favourite dress, and don’t you find it even harder to admit a me made item is no longer at its best?

But it does provide the opportunity to make another one.

So given I have loved my blue Moneta, it had to be another blue one.

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I was slightly surprised to see that I bought this fabric at the Ally Pally Stitch and Knit Show in 2016 – a definite #offwithherstash.

This also gave me the opportunity to try to rectify some of the issues I have had with previous makes. Both, to varying degrees, stretched out around the neckline when sewing up. And both were slightly wide at the neck too. I dealt with this after the event on the previous dresses by adding darts at the neckline.

 

For my latest version I tackled things differently. Firstly I cut a size smaller at the neckline above the bust. This bought the width of the neckline  and shoulders in slightly.

I then cut a narrow facing in fusible interfacing for the  neckline and applied this before constructing the dress.

The rest of the dress was completed as previously.

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I’m pleased with the result. The neckline has held its shape and there has been no need for darts.

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And here I am wearing it – with an unusual guest appearance by my husband ( he’s usually taking the photos)

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So have  I disposed of my old blue Moneta? What do you think?

Of course not…..maybe when I don’t wear it in the summer???????

 

 

Highlands Wrap dress

img_8946I have just completed theAllie Olsen Highlands Wrap dress .Following my production line sewing of Scout Tees and Akita tops this was a welcome change – and a lot more involved.

Fabric choice was a John Kaldor lightweight linen/ cotton type fabric picked up from Rosenbergs at a Knitting & Stitching Show in  February 2019 for £8 ( for 2 metres- an absolute bargain)

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The first thing to note  is that there are a lot of pages to print out with this pdf . ( Husband noted that the printer cartridge had almost run out yesterday – I wonder why?).

Sticking  together was not too bad though as all the lines seemed to match up well ( some pdfs do seem to be better than others for this).

I have made a sleeved midi version. Whilst I love the sleeveless version – and will definitely make it in the future – I wanted sleeves for my holiday due to information that they are more culturally acceptable in Sri Lanka.

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Its worth noting that seam allowances are unusually only 3/8 inch .

I adjusted bodice length slightly to shorten , and reduced length of the skirt ( I’m a petite 5’ 2” so standard adjustments for me).

Due to my fabric being lightweight and with a tendency to fray, I followed the suggestion to interface the front facings, and used my overlocker heavily to prevent fraying.

For some reason I had a bit of trouble getting my head around the waist / tie construction with the button packets. After a bit of pinning and looking I worked it out – I tend not to follow instructions very closely and had missed that one of the button packets is placed on the inside, and one on the outside.

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My final change to the pattern was that I have not used elastic in the back waist section. The size of the waist seemed to fit me anyway, so no requirement to use elastic to pull it in. I also read in some other reviews that this could lead to a tendency to pull the side seams to the back slightly. Finally I had a dress in the 80s which had a very similar back waistband with skirt and bodice gathered in to it and a looser tie front which I loved so felt I would like a flat back waist and better.

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