Archive for category Dressmaking Projects
I’m making a coat – my first ever.
This coat has welt pockets and I’m very much hoping the hardest part is over.
If only you could see them I think you’d be impressed.
With apologies to James Bond for nicking the title of one of his films, regular readers will know there are certain things I have vowed never to do. In the sewing arena this included never bothering to make a pair of jeans. I don’t have any problems getting ready to wear jeans to fit me properly so I couldn’t see the point and, anyway, what a faff!
In the end though, I couldn’t resist the challenge – I wanted to prove to myself I could do it so I bought some grey marl denim and some ‘only just’ contrast thread – not brave enough yet to do so much very visible top stitching – bought Closet Case’s Ginger Jeans pattern, measured the pieces against an existing pair of jeans that fit me well and off I went.
Curved front pockets – no problem (I’ve even lined them in a blue ditsy Liberty fabric just for fun).
Fly front complete with bar tacks- a doddle.
Back pockets – just a question of where to put them to enhance my ‘only just there’ bum. This isn’t ideal placing but I had started to realise by now that these jeans were never going to be worn and I just wanted to get them attached and move on to the next bit.
I thought I might as well carry on until the bitter end and call them a muslin/toile/practice run – anything other than a complete waste of time.
So, I added the waistband, complete with fancy facing, put on the belt loops and a proper jeans button.
All in all I have convinced myself I’m perfectly capable of making a pair of jeans with all the necessary bells and whistles.
If only they fitted me.
Totally my fault – the ‘denim’ fabric I chose has got hardly any stretch in it at all. So, even though, when I hold them up to my favourite pair of shop bought jeans, they are exactly the same size, the lack of stretch means I can hardly bend my knees…..
….and sitting down for any length of time, if I could even manage it, might crush my internal organs.
I realised about mid-way, they were going to be too tight but it was good practice. So, if you’re about to make jeans – they’re really not too difficult but just make sure you have the right fabric and practice your top stitching.
I think I’ll give them another go once I’ve got over the trauma and, when I do, I will be extremely picky about the denim I use. Apparently, too much stretch is not good either so it’s a bit tricky and I’d suggest finding somebody who has made a successful pair (i.e. not me) and copy their choice of denim if possible. If you’re in the U.S., this will not be a problem at all – in rural France it’s more difficult.
Just to be a bit more upbeat, the top I’m wearing with them is another Sewaholic Renfrew top – is there anybody out there who hasn’t got this pattern and swears by it? I made this one using the cotton jersey I bought which had ‘Kid’s Collection’ or something similar printed down the selvedge. Ask me if I care.
So that’s the jeans off my ‘never say never’ sewing list.
Next up is the coat.
My sewing friend Sandra and I are making this together (the unbelted version) – or rather, we’re making one each but at the same time. The cutting out of the interfacing was the worst bit so far. I have a feeling those welt pockets are going to be nightmarish too and that is the point I’ve reached as of yesterday when we had our weekly sewing session. Yes ‘weekly’ – and we spend the first hour yakking – so it might be some time before the finished article emerges.
So, that’s two sewing ‘never say nevers’ ticked off but, even though I did give in and buy a sparkly top over the festive season, I am still adamant that I am never, ever going on a sea cruise .
Have you ever said ‘never, ever’ to something – either in crafting or life in general – and then changed your mind?
Firstly, thanks to everybody who kept their fingers crossed for the safe and timely arrival of the other half of the Tialys clan this Christmas. It worked!!
As you know, secret sewing (and crochet) projects had been in progress for a little while leading up to Christmas and I can now reveal the results – both good and bad.
I had acquired some cute Peter Rabbit fabric and, as the quote says ‘Too Much Lettuce Makes Me Sleepy’, what else could I make but pyjamas?
I chose a New Look pattern I’d used before but only had enough to make the shorts.
I did have enough to make some bias binding though ….
…….and some white broderie anglaise in my stash so used the free Colette Sorbetto pattern to make a little top to complete the set.
That was Mlle Tialys the Elder sorted but what about the Younger? Well, she’s a bit of a home body and sometimes wraps a blanket round her shoulders when sitting at the desktop. I thought a shawl would be a bit more elegant so I downloaded the free pattern for the Grinda Shawl which is rather beautiful but, as I found out, more challenging than I expected as the yarn is finer than I’m used to using for crochet and the stitches more lacy.
This is as far as I got and that’s after frogging it on numerous occasions.
It soon became obvious I wasn’t going to finish it in time for Christmas. I have since become more adept and no longer feel like flinging it in the nearest bin so, hopefully, it will be ready for her birthday in February.
I didn’t have enough for a top and anyway, she would have looked like the Michelin Man with both pieces of the pyjamas in such thick fleece so I bought an RTW top in thinner fabric which matches well enough to make a set.
‘But‘, I hear you ask, ‘these projects don’t explain the mangled looking piece of fabric you showed us and asked us to guess what it was going to be.’
Well, Kate’s guess was the closest because she said – and I quote – ‘is it one of those complicated lined garments where you turn it inside out through the shoulder seam?’
Yes! It is.
You join the inside and outside yokes together (I made the inside yoke in contrasting fabric), rolling up the fronts inside, like a burrito, and then pull it all out the right way. It’s one of those magic things you can’t believe is going to work – until it does.
The fabric is a chambray and, as Mr. T. already has a dark blue shirt with a similar floral design, I was fairly confident he’d like it. I used some scraps of Liberty tana lawn to face the inside yoke and the cuffs.
I was going to use ordinary buttons but thought pearl snaps would be a nice touch. The installation of these was hit and miss as I hammered a bit too hard occasionally and, on my first try, didn’t line them up properly and had to take those on one side out again which was a bit scary.
I had made the shirt before as a short sleeved muslin so it was my first time making sleeve plackets and cuffs and I was quite pleased with how they came out.
I feel as if my sewing skills have moved up a level over the past year or so. Better late than never I suppose!
So much so that, next year – in another ‘never say never’ project – I am going to embark upon a coat. Yes, you heard it right. I know I said I’d never make jeans or a coat and, even though I haven’t shown you the jeans yet, as soon as I can get them on again after my Christmas indulgences, I will.
Mr. Tialys has not yet worn his shirt because I need to make an adjustment to the top stud which isn’t staying closed (heavy handed use of the hammer again probably) so, no photo of him but here’s Mlle T. the Elder sporting her new P.J.s and ending my final blog post of the year by wishing you all a very peaceful, prosperous, healthy, happy 2019 .
You may remember, in a previous post, I was wondering if there was a collective noun for dresses/frocks and, in the absence of any definitive answer, came up with ‘a flounce’. This time the ‘flounce’ is bigger.
As the weather’s been so hot I couldn’t countenance wearing my usual style of dresses and tops which tend to be quite fitted. I just wanted something I could pull on and float around in when I need something more than shorts and a t-shirt – nothing too dressy, just comfortable and cool in the heat. I searched through my patterns and the only one that fit the bill was this one which – probably due to the fact there is a very young girl modelling it and it’s very short – I bought to make for the Mademoiselles some time ago but never got round to it.
I made the first one in some cotton chemise in grey which looks really boring until you get up close and there are some sprigs of embroidery on it. It creases a lot like linen but it’s supposed to be a ‘washed/distressed’ look so I guess it fits the bill.
It’s meant to have a back zip but what a pain they are to do up if you’re on your own in the house when you want to wear it – am I right? So, I thought I’d try making it without a zip at all and see if I could pull it on over my head. I know I can insert invisible zips quite efficiently so I wasn’t being lazy or a scaredy cat here, honest! The dresses are lined so there are no facings or bias trims but you have to do that cool trick of partly constructing the dress and then pulling the backs through the shoulder seams to turn it all right side out. One reason, I suppose, why I wouldn’t be able to cut the back on the fold instead of in two pieces if I want to use this lining method.
The dress was slightly too big for me on the neck and above the bust so, next time I made a size down but graded the back seam out a little around the area of the bust darts.
For the second version (my favourite so far) I used a rayon I’d bought in the Goldhawk Road a couple of years ago when I was there with Mlle Tialys the Elder where we went just a little bit crazy.
So, this one is almost perfect and I’ve worn it quite a lot so I thought I’d make another in a ‘distressed’ linen which I like but there are some flaws in the linen – a faded stripe here and there – one of which I managed to place just above my bust and the other just above my bum. It’s almost as if I planned it like that. Then, when I was using a tracing wheel to mark the darts on the fabric, I blindly reached for my small rotary cutter instead and ran it over one of the ‘legs’ of the dart. The blade is getting a little blunt and the linen is quite tough so I thought I’d got away with it but, after construction, I noticed some of the threads pulling out so I did a bit of a repair, fortunately hidden on the inside by the lining, which may or may not hold. Typical!
I’m hoping the white lines will blend in a bit more with washing but it’ll be fine to wear to go to the supermarket etc. so I’m not too bothered.
The last one – because I was definitely on a roll this time and had all the alterations marked on the pattern – I decided to make with a round neck instead of a split neck. However, the neckline is far too high for my liking so I scooped it out a bit more – another pattern piece change that I’ve remembered to mark in case I ever decide to made a 5th one!
Some of you might remember the rather odd fabric I bought in a charity/op/thrift shop for 4 euros a while back. Something about it appealed to me but I had no idea what I’d make with it.
A maxi skirt would be good but the style might be a bit ‘hippyish’ for me. Anyway, I thought it could work with this dress……
…and so it did (just needs hemming).
So, I should be able to see the rest of the Summer out with these handy little dresses that I can just pull on over my head and be done.
This pattern can now join my list of other ‘go to’ patterns which I know will turn out well without too much fuss. Sewaholic’s Renfrew top is there at the top of my list too.
And, just to prove I do actually wear them and don’t just use them to dress up my mannequins –
Do you have a favourite pattern you keep going back to?
I’m having a bit of a run on frocks at the moment – when that sun decides to come out and stay out for longer than two days, I’ll be ready.
If ‘flounce’ isn’t the collective noun for frocks it should be.
Anyway, the navy and white swallow dress I showed you that I made for Mlle. Tialys the Younger is languishing in her wardrobe and will presumably make an appearance when she is ready and not before.
I needed something to take to my sewing class the other day – I am an erstwhile visitor needing help with certain ‘tricksy’ bits in projects rather than the whole thing – so I picked up a dress I made about four years ago which looks at me reproachfully now and again whenever I inadvertently uncover it from wherever I happen to have stuffed it away last time I had a guilt trip about it. If I remember correctly, I’d put the invisible zip in the back but the front of the dress wasn’t laying right against my shoulders, neck or chest, a common problem for me as I really should make a smaller size and do an FBA (full bust adjustment) instead of making the correct bust size and then having to alter everything else. I thought it would be a case of the tutor pinning me in properly and then me re-inserting the zip which is plenty for a two hour session once I’ve had a chat and a nosey at what everyone else is doing. Of course, being the perfectionist she is, it wasn’t that straightforward and I ended up hearing I needed to take out the sleeves and re-do one of the back princess seams before I could even think of putting the zip back in.
Anyway, back at home, I did all the alterations she suggested, put the zip in and it still gapes a bit at the neckline so I’ll have to take it back and do some more fiddling with it under expert supervision. I don’t think I’ll ever actually wear it because the fabric isn’t great – it wouldn’t be something I’d use now – and to be honest, I’ve fiddled about with it so much I’m sick of the sight of it.
Here’s a quick look – the neckline doesn’t look too bad in this photo as I’m leaning against the table with my shoulders up and back but that’s not normal is it?
Here’s the line drawing of the pattern in case you thought I’d gone a bit weird with the neckline anyway.
A friend of mine moved house recently and, as she was downsizing, asked me if I knew anybody who would want her mother’s 1950s Singer sewing machine in full working order. Well, of course I did?
It arrived in its original carry case which, together with the machine, weighs so much I don’t think I’ll be walking around with it any time soon.
I haven’t used her yet but she will be pressed into service when I do the top stitching on the jeans I’m making.
The same friend also gave me some fabric which included a 3m length of this lovely Dutch African Wax fabric. I have fancied some of this type of fabric before but it’s often too bright for me or the pattern is too large so this was perfect.
It has enough structure to make a fitted dress and I had just the pattern ready to go –
I was worried about the pattern matching though as there are side seams, a back zip, princess seams and a pointy uppy waistline seam so it was an ideal candidate for taking to the sewing teacher.
In the event, she suggested cutting the front bodice on the fold which did away with the problem there and then and we matched the back bodice almost perfectly.
It then became apparent that, although there was 3m of fabric, it’s not very wide at 110cm and I couldn’t get the panels of the full skirt to fit on to the fabric I had available. We made the panels a bit narrower which, to be honest, I didn’t mind as it is a very full skirt but exact pattern matching more or less went out of the window as I had to get those pieces on any way I could. The folds in the skirt hide a multitude of sins so I don’t think it turned out too bad in the end.
This is the one of the very few dresses I’ve made where I’m happy to show the inside – so I’m going to.
The sun even came out
Despite the weather hotting up I am determined to finish a crochet blanket I started – it’s nearly finished so it’s long enough to cover my knees and overheat me even when I’m wearing shorts so I need to get on with it before Summer really sets in – as I hope it will.
Sneaky peek of the very beginning which I forgot to show you at the time
Well, thanks Aristotle and I’m here to tell you that, apparently, neither do zillions of swallows as the weather is still wet, thundery and generally rubbish and there are plenty of swallows around who probably wish they’d stayed where they were.
I even did the dressmaking equivalent of a rain dance (only for sun) by using fabric liberally scattered with swallows to make a summer dress.
This one –
……..but it didn’t work and we are still having the wettest weather – December through June to date – since records began (probably) but definitely since we moved here over thirteen years ago. If we have a rare hot, sunny day it ends up in a thunderstorm.
If it wasn’t for the lack of English pubs, bluebells, good Indian restaurants and the sense of humour, we might as well be back in the U.K. although they have been enjoying the warmest May since records began but I don’t begrudge them because nobody appreciates a bit of sun like the Brits.
Anyway, I have been busy inside making the Sew Over It 1940s Wrap Dress which I decided to make for Mlle. Tialys the Younger.
It has a few tricksy features such as the shawl collar on the bodice and pleated shoulders and there was quite a lot of hand finishing involved but…..
…….I have had an epiphany and found that the more challenging or involved a project, the more liable I am to concentrate on getting it right. The jersey ‘dress in an hour’ type projects are good for instant dressmaking therapy but, because they are simple and quick to do (especially on an overlocker/serger), I tend to plunge right in and steamroll through and that’s often when I make mistakes.
I’m not saying I didn’t make any mistakes on this project. The first time I sewed the skirt on to the waistband of the bodice, I didn’t match the right seams up and couldn’t work out why the wrap wasn’t wrapping in the way the designer intended. Still, you get my drift.
I’m very pleased with the way this fabric sewed up especially as it was around £3 per metre from an Ebay seller with some rather good bargains.
A close up of my lovely collar and pleats and set in sleeve because I’m so chuffed when I get things right and it makes a change from me pointing out my mistakes.
A back view because you need to look good when you’re walking away don’t you.
Here it is on a real life model, albeit headless, as I promised her she would be.
I’m definitely going to make one of these for myself – just got to fall in love with some fabric……….
and wait for the Summer to start.
Remember my kimono wrap that turned into a Sorbetto top that was then turned into the bin….
..and my troubles with a crocheted dog’s nose?
Well, just to prove I can triumph from time to time, I will cast modesty aside and show you my Ultimate Trousers which fit me so well I daren’t put on or lose the tiniest bit of weight.
Made from this pattern by Sew Over It, they are very simple being four pieces plus a waist facing and an invisible side zip – the secret of course is getting the fit right.
I’m not overly keen on stylised pattern sleeve drawings because these trousers don’t really come out as narrow as that – well, not on my skinny legs they didn’t – but that can be changed along with the other fitting issues.
I signed up for a couple of lessons with a local teacher who is multi talented in that you can go to her with projects from patchwork to upholstery to dressmaking and lots of other things in between. I thought if I could just get the fit right on these, being such a simple style, I could use the altered pattern on any future trousers I might be tempted to make.
Anyway, it was very helpful to be pinned in professionally and guided through where I needed to make the alterations. My crotch was O.K., you’ll be delighted to learn, but my hips were way out and I wanted the legs narrower so I made the toile in a U.K. size 12 and then much pinning of seams was done by the teacher. The resulting block veers between a size 8 in places through size 10 and I think the waist stayed at a size 12 albeit with a pinch taken out at centre front and back. No wonder my original pair that I made straight out of the packet don’t come anywhere near fitting me. Having said all that, there is a sew-along on Sew Over It’s blog which guides you through fitting issues but being professionally pinned in was very helpful as it would have been difficult to do that myself and it’s not something I would entrust to family members for many and various reasons.
So, a side view with me hitching up my t-shirt to show the whole thing.
and a back view to show you that success is possible even when you have a fear of trousers/pants which I was disappointed to find there is no word for – after all, there is even a word for a fear of beards (pogonophobia) and it’s not as if you see people running down the streets in panic when they see a bearded man or blocking up their chimneys at Christmas in case they catch sight of Father Christmas’s snowy white example. Anyway, I digress.
This fabric was admired by those in the sewing class although I wouldn’t normally wear patterned trousers but this was something I had in my stash, I think originally intended for a shirt dress. However, they could be a wearable toile as long as I don’t eat too much or too little (the latter being less likely).
Anyway, I went to my bin, shook off all the bits of thread and pattern tissue paper thrown on top of it and retrieved the failed Sorbetto top.
I cut off the sleeves (which were a hack of the original pattern anyway) and bound the armholes with the same stuff I’d used for the neck….
….which looked fine and also served the purpose of getting rid of the slight puffiness on the shoulders I’d managed to incorporate when setting in the sleeves…..
……did a rolled hem on the overlocker
…… et voila.
It’s not perfect but it’s not in the bin either and Mlle. T. the Younger has already hung it up in her wardrobe ready for the warmer weather.
I’m now on the hunt for the perfect fabric to make another pair of trousers – not denim, not stretch and preferably not overly patterned – anybody got any suggestions?
Back in dressmaking mode, I ordered some fabric online. I know, I know, I’ve got plenty in my stash – although not as much as in my patchwork stash but we won’t go there. Anyway, I fancied this ‘satin’ type fabric would make a nice kimono style robe to wear in the mornings to replace my big fluffy dressing gown now the days are getting (a bit) warmer.
I searched for a freebie robe tutorial online and found one here
I should know by now that free online patterns and me do not go together well especially where measurements and calculations are involved but this one seemed very simple. After all, it basically involves five rectangles. I did notice, in the comments, some people had found the measurements resulted in a somewhat ‘skimpy’ fit so cut it out a little bigger. At least, that was until the ‘satin’ slid about under my rotary cutter and I ended up having to trim it up a bit where the bottom layer had shifted out of place. Pressing on regardless, I got the thing sewn up and looking gorgeous – until I tried it on and realised I couldn’t actually move my arms in a forward direction without risk of hearing the ripping of fabric.
Mlle. Tialys the Younger had admired the fabric so I thought I could salvage enough to make her a Sorbetto top. This is a free pattern from Colette which I have actually had lots of success with in the past.
All was going O.K. until she tried it on and the shoulders were too wide so I took them in but alterations aren’t my strong point and there was a bit of puffy action going on here and there.
Still, I thought she could live with that and proceeded to bind round the neck and sleeves.
I used commercial binding because I couldn’t bear the thought of making it myself with the satin fabric which moves and shifts and generally makes a nuisance of itself badly enough without trying to make binding out of it. I couldn’t find any satin binding locally though so used the stuff that is usually available which is of some unknown cheapo material and a bit stiff. You know what’s coming don’t you?
Flushed with the success of neck and sleeve binding and wilfully ignoring my better instincts, I bound the hem too. Which, as you can probably guess, removed the drape and made the hem stand out from the body in a way I couldn’t possibly pretend was intentional.
Shame – the back looked very nice.
If the sleeves had been perfect I would have taken the time to unpick the binding from around the hem but, it wasn’t, so rather than spend more time on what was, in any case, a second go round, I decided there was only one thing to do.
Sometimes it’s just best to move on and get on with your life.
I have learnt some good things about binding and some bad things about slippy fabric so as long as I remember those things next time, which is not guaranteed I’m afraid, the process will not have been a complete waste of time.
I have also learnt that ‘pressing on regardless’ and ‘ignoring my better instincts’ are stupid things to do. Lessons I’m sure I have encountered many times before but, again, sometimes I live and learn and sometimes I just live
Satin – especially the type that is cheap and creates electricity when you move – is now dead to me.