Archive for category Dressmaking Projects
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.
You may remember that last year my dogs ate the plums from our trees from the unripe to rotting stage and would do so all day long if allowed to. The evenings were not pleasant.
Mr. T. decided that he would cut all twelve trees down as they are very old and the plums are not particularly nice anyway – well, at least we didn’t think so. The fig trees are also a doggy favourite but I couldn’t quite part with them so they are staying for the moment.
In future, all fruit trees will be planted on the other side of the fence that cordons off a part of the garden that the dogs haven’t got access to (apart from when they dig holes and get under the fence).
All three dogs have now discovered acorns so our walks are slowed down considerably by them snuffling around eating all the acorns they can find but, luckily, these do not seem to produce the gaseous emissions that plums do so I’m not overly worried about it although I must check they’re not toxic to dogs or anything. (Update: Yes, they are – please see note at the bottom of the post). I truly believe my dogs will eat anything – the more disgusting the better.
I have also become a bit more squirrel this month and have reverted to my old habit of hoarding fabric. I made a pair of trousers at long last and, flushed with success, placed an order for dressmaking fabric in the mistaken belief that I need more clothes or that Mlle. Tialys the Younger will be persuaded into dresses any time soon. The trouble is, dresses are my favourite clothing item to make but I live in jeans and so does Mlle. T. What am I to do? I think perhaps a solution might be to make more ‘tops’. That way I can indulge myself with nice fabric and make pretty things but put jeans on underneath. Of course, that might mean I’ll have to buy more patterns as most of mine are for dresses.
I have a clear cutting table at the moment while I await Mr. T’s return from the U.K. with my latest haul so I will make a second pair of trousers while I remember how to do it.
Meanwhile, I am making progress with the Eastern Jewels crochet blanket and have joined the first two rows together – only two more to go! The more I do, the more I love it, the less I feel I will be able to part with it.
I took some time off from the crochet to knit up a couple of cotton dishcloths in my bid to cut down wasteful buying of kitchen towels, etc. but I’ve only managed two so far. I’m going to try crochet ones next as they will probably be quicker.
I’ve also been making waxed wraps in an attempt to cut down on single use plastic such as cling film but they are in use around cheese and the tops of bowls. When I make some new ones – using beeswax this time instead of pure soy wax – I’ll show you some pics.
My fabric arrived from Laughing Hedgehog – don’t you just love the name – a company I hadn’t used before but they had the French General fabric I was looking for to back my Shabby Union Jack.
I was very lucky because I had ordered 1.5m which was being very optimistic but this was apparently the end of bolt so she kindly put all 1.8 m in for me which turned out to be just right. I used the plain grey/brown for binding and, as you can see, decided to put a sleeve in just in case it ended up as a wall hanging rather than a throw.
Here it is as a throw
and here is the long, plain corridor – leading to the loo and Mlle. T. the Younger’s
chamber of horrors bedroom – where it might end up on the wall.
I think it needs a bit of something don’t you?
I’ll let you know where it ends up.
I did eventually Google the risks and found this amongst lots of other warnings –
Exposure to acorns in dogs is common in the autumn and winter months. The toxic ingredient is thought to be tannic acid, which can cause damage to the liver and kidneys. Signs include vomiting, diarrhoea (with or without blood), abdominal pain, inappetance and lethargy. Ingested acorns can also cause an intestinal blockage.
So, best not let your dog be more squirrel after all.
I showed you the muslin for the Kwik Sew pyjamas I made from the vintage sheet last time, now the real thing is finished.
I used some plain scrap fabric for the collar, cuffs and pocket top and some buttons I’d bought for something else at one time or another now lost in the mists of time and memory.
I bought the Liberty tana lawn on Ebay – 3m for 20 quid which was a bargain – somebody was having a de-stash which I might do one of these days (yeah, right!). I’ve only used 1.5m for these so I have yet more Liberty tana lawn in my stash now. I’m sure I’ll find a use for it eventually. Maybe I could make the long bottoms for when there are visitors.
I’m sure you will be glad that I decided to let one of my old mannequins model them, rather than subject you to another view of my legs (even though it was a blurry photo). I had to faff about with the shorts because of the pole and they’re still not hanging right but you get the idea.
I suspect flat buttons are the norm for pyjama tops but these go so well with the colours I had to use them even though they might dig in me when I’m asleep. I don’t sleep on my front so I should be O.K. but, if not, I’ll change them for something more practical. I don’t know how women sleep on their fronts – don’t their lady bumps get in the way? It’s not supposed to be good for your back anyway so don’t do it although it is supposed to be good for preventing snoring so I might suggest it to Mr. T. who is a champion snorer and hasn’t got any lady bumps so there’s no excuse. Anyway, I digress – note the double top stitching. One line is just down the edge and I did that easily enough on the muslin but I chickened out of doing the second line which follows the line of the facing. I didn’t want the bobbin thread on top so you sort of have to follow the line of the facing on the inside from the outside, if you know what I mean. It’s the sort of tricksy finishing touch you do at the end that usually goes wrong for me and then I get upset because everything else went well and then I mess up at the last hurdle. However – this time it worked.
Even though, in close up, they look like I’ve already slept in them (because I didn’t iron them again before taking the photos) I haven’t so I will report on the comfort factor after several sleeps.
Just to let you know – my hand seems to have recovered quite nicely from the repetitive strain injury, arthritis, tendonitis or whatever else it was that was causing me pain. I am still wearing my craft gloves though – when I remember – and have bought some more so that I have one up in my workroom for sewing and one downstairs for when I’m wrestling with wool.
Speaking of which, here’s my progress on the Eastern Jewels blanket. I’m making the squares and triangles for each row and joining up as I go, as well as weaving in the endless ends, so it won’t be such a shock at the end.
The more I do the less I feel I will want to part with it.
Now I’ve finished the second pair of P.J.s I am tackling a quilting project I started a few years ago which I kept glimpsing, peeking at me accusingly from a corner of my workroom. I’m not even sure whether I like it any more but the fabric was too expensive to discard so I’ll press on and see what happens. I want to get quilting projects out of the way in preparation for the next block swap I’m participating in which will probably start in March/April this year.
What are you up to this weekend? Are you starting a new project or continuing with an existing one. Or are you doing nothing whatsoever to do with crafting? I’ll still be interested. Honest!!
Now my hatbox wallhanging is complete and in situ, I realised that my sewing mojo has returned – woohoo! – and so I thought I’d start with a pair of pyjamas and why not?
This is the pattern I used and this is a vintage sheet I unearthed from my ‘vintage sheet stash’ – hasn’t everybody got one of those? I wanted to make a pair of these (the shorts version) for both myself and for Mlle Tialys the Younger but we are different sizes so I thought I’d trace off the size I thought she’d be and make a muslin we could both try on and then go from there. I’m trying to be good about tracing off patterns – especially those I might use more than once and for different people.
This is an easy make but it re-acquainted me with basic collars, cuffs, elastic casing, buttonholes and top stitching after the knitting and crochet fests that have been my crafting activities of choice lately – the wall hanging doesn’t count as I really only had the assembly to do.
I wasn’t going to do the contrast bits but I decided to go with it in the end and used some fabric sent to me by my Susanna over at Pins, Needles and Threads who was my sewing Stitching Santa for Christmas 2015 (was it really that long ago?). I think it makes a difference.
The shorts have an elasticated back and then you make ties from the fabric which are joined to the elastic at the sides and emerge through buttonholes on the front so very adjustable and handy if you decide you want to make room for a midnight feast. I had lots of fun turning a narrow tube of fabric the right way out again – I might use ribbon next time!
I did all the seams on my overlocker which is very underused at the moment and, considering I paid a small fortune for it, deserves to be used much more and for more varied tasks than it is now. I need to get online and do some ‘different ways of using your hideously expensive overlocker that you are currently only using to do stuff you could do on a very basic one’ tutorials. Anybody know of any good ones 🙂
Mlle Tialys wouldn’t pose in her P.J.s but I’m not so proud – at least the photo is relatively blurry and you can only just make out the unmade bed behind me 😮
This is a very wearable muslin for Mlle T and has shown me that, when I make mine, I need to go down one size for the top and two for the bottom (as I no longer have one 😦 )
It’s sometimes a nuisance that dress forms only have one leg but you get the idea.
You may remember that I bought some rather striking Liberty tana lawn with which to make my p.j.s.
This was the seller’s photo I showed you before and the pears looked enormous.
However, when it eventually arrived in France in Mr. T’s cabin bag, they were a much more discreet size as I have tried to show by artfully placing a spool of cotton on top.
So I’ll get on with them while the mood is upon me but I might have another rummage through my vintage sheets too – I need the space.
Have you ever used vintage sheets to make anything wearable?