Archive for category Dressmaking Projects
I am writing this at an ungodly hour of the morning because there were cats yowling outside from around 3.30 a.m. which caused our dogs to bark, which caused us to wake up and throw missiles out of the window which, as we thought to open the window first, caused a blast of frosty air to render us wide awake so we decided to give up the unequal struggle, get up and get on with things.
I don’t know which cats were making all the racket but at least I know it wasn’t this one who, since turning up on our doorstep shortly before Christmas, rarely goes out and sleeps a lot, usually in a cute fashion.
Anyway, in case you started following my blog originally because you thought I was a fellow dressmaker but have since been regaled with cat and dog stories, knitting projects, patchwork blocks and various other random ramblings, I thought I’d reassure you that I do still occasionally turn my hand to clothing of the fabric variety.
Some time ago, on a visit to the U.K., I bought some fabric at Ditto Fabrics in Brighton. The blue and gold ‘teardrop’ effect fabric caught my eye because it reminded me of African wax fabric but in a more ‘manageable’ small design though still with those lovely bright colours. I always had it in mind to make a plain, straight skirt with it but all my skirt patterns had ‘features’ and I thought the fabric didn’t need anything else going on with it being busy enough in itself. It was added to the stash and left to languish. ( I love the word ‘languish’ almost as much as the word ‘lush’ – but I digress)
I suddenly remembered that Pippa over at ‘Beads and Barnacles’ had included a pattern in my ‘Stitching Santa’ parcel at Christmas for a very plain skirt so I thought I’d sweep the patchwork rulers and itsy bits of quilting fabric off my cutting table and finally make that fabric up into something wearable.
I know I could probably have drafted such a simple shape myself but
I’m too lazy I like to have a pattern to follow so I can blame somebody else if something goes wrong. I usually have a trawl around the web to see who else has made any sewing (or knitting) pattern I’m contemplating before I start so that I can benefit from other people’s mishaps and not make the same mistakes. I found that Beth over at After Dark Sewing had blogged about making this skirt and she had found the pattern piece for the waistband to be between one and two sizes too small. As I was squeezing the skirt out of a metre of fabric, I didn’t really want to have to cut a second waistband so that was useful to know in advance.
My ‘me mannequin’ was brought into service as a model as it’s cold outside and I would have had to set up the tripod and faff around with the camera and this was quicker! Anyway, it looks better on her than me (bitch!!). I didn’t make a toile as I thought I’d just baste the side seams and try it on which I did and it seemed fine but it is actually a little big for me around the waist and I could have taken the hips in slightly too – in fact, I should probably have made a size 8 rather than a 10 and I will do that if I make it again. With a size 10, I had to cut the waistband between a 12 and 14 to make it fit the top of the skirt. (I’m talking U.K. sizes here btw)
The skirt has a back split which you can leave open or you can cut an extra pattern piece to get a sort of kick pleat effect, which I did.
I shortened the skirt at the cutting stage by 3 inches but I still think it might look a bit ‘office wear’ for me (as I don’t work in an office) and, as others have said, the pattern doesn’t have you interface the waistband but I think – albeit belatedly! – it would be a good idea. So, what with those things and the fact it’s slightly big on me at the waist and hips, it might join my pile of ‘never worn dressmaking projects’ which is a shame as I do like it and, to celebrate the resuscitation of my dressmaking mojo, I had treated myself to these gorgeous pattern weights.
However, as you can see, I am easily swayed from my purpose.
I hope my Liberty fabric sale ‘heads up’ didn’t cost any of you too much money but I’ve not got too much sympathy as I’m always spending money thanks to other people’s blogs Sheila over at Sewchet – whom we also have to thank for organising Stitching Santa – blogged about a lovely teal cardigan she’d made and put on a photo of some matching boots she’d ordered. Teal Boots!! Really!? But I’ve been looking for some for ages! (well, navy ones actually but teal will do just fine). Done deal. I love them, however, so thanks for that Sheila and I hope you are enjoying wearing yours and your dogs love them as much as mine seem to 😉
Right, it’s almost 6.30 a.m. now – it’s going to be a long day 🙂
Despite having six cats and three dogs roaming around the place, we put up a large ‘real’ Christmas tree in one room and a smaller ‘artificial tree’ in another. They survived – relatively unscathed – until the new kitten (don’t ask) discovered he could shin up the centre of the artificial one creating havoc and mayhem among any food and drink stuffed, semi-comatose humans in the vicinity who were then forced to move at an unwelcome rate in order to prevent bauble breakage on a massive scale. I suppose he found it all very amusing as, once achieved, he repeated it ad nauseum until, last night, I got fed up and took it down.
Having mulled (and drunk) enough red wine not to want to count the empty bottles, I decided to get up off my arse while still possible and hike up a small mountainside with the dogs. I made Mr. T. take a photo of me to show me wearing my hat that came in one of my Stitching Santa parcels. Despite the dark glasses and luminous dog harness I am not registered blind – just saying as I suddenly realised it might look like that. Stan’s harness actually says ‘Ball Junkie’ and not ‘Guide Dog’.
Ignore the clove stuck orange – she didn’t send me that – I was on the way to mull (yet more) wine when the photography urge came upon me.
Pippa had made some very useful pouches and a bag for me to keep stuff in and even a length of bias binding she had made. Can you spot the blue fabric in the middle? I did take larger photos of it but the colour didn’t come out right so this is the best view of it. It is boiled wool jersey which I have never used before. Any tips or suggestions on what to make with it? Pippa suggested a sweater. I have 1.5m and it has a slight stretch to it.
Also in the parcel was a useful pattern and one of her lovely knitted hats which I am modelling for you in the above dog walking picture just to prove to her that I will actually wear it – she seemed doubtful for some reason.
As I’m a knitting person as well as a sewing one, I thought I’d go for the knitting Santa too and, just in the nick of time, a day or two before Christmas, my package from Anne in Australia arrived.
(There’s that orange again – don’t worry you won’t see it again as it is now saturated with spiced wine – a bit like me – at the bottom of the bin)
Anne chose two lovely hanks of wool from Plant Craft Cottage in the Botanic Gardens in Melbourne where the yarn is hand dyed – these ones with eucalyptus leaves apparently – so I’m now looking for something to knit with them – there is 25g of each colour, it is 8 ply Australian wool, needle size 4mm and gauge 22st to 10cm. Any ideas knitting friends?
Three beautiful ceramic buttons were in the package
Plus a lovely pencil drawing of a shell from Anne who is a talented nature and botanic artist so I’m very happy to have a little example of her work.
I was chuffed to bits to receive all these generous gifts and thanks again to Sheila for organising us all. Sign me up again for next year!!
There was another gift that wasn’t quite so successful. A few days before Christmas I went out to lunch with a friend of mine and we browsed about in some shops for a while. We went into a home décor shop where each section was themed by colour and, as we passed through the orange and yellow ‘retro’ section she said ‘I can’t stand those two colours – I wouldn’t have them in my house’
Which was a shame because this was what was in the gift bag I’d handed her to put under her tree when I picked her up at her house earlier.
A more successful gift was this satchel that Mr. Tialys made for a close friend of ours who spent Christmas Day with us this year.
It is modelling for me on the bonnet/hood of her car as she was leaving the next morning with the bag stashed in her boot/trunk and I remembered I hadn’t recorded it for posterity and made her unpack it again.
So, that is that for another year. I have made a couple of New Year’s resolutions but, after the disasters last year of my Firsty February (where I attempted not to drink any alcohol for a month and failed) and my Fabric Fast (which lasted 4 months instead of my pledged twelve) I will let you know what this year’s ones are if I actually manage to keep them and, if I don’t, nobody but me will be any the wiser.
Have a brilliant 2017 and I hope everything you wish for comes true.
For all of you that were concerned about the nasty thing on Stan’s paw I’m pleased to say that it appears to have shrunk to nothing after his course of anti-inflammatory tablets. I will keep an eye on it but, for the moment, he is back to normal which means he is constantly worrying the life out of me to throw a ball for him
To celebrate I spent some rare moments making sweet things. I could probably hold the Bake Off in my kitchen with the amount of equipment we have despite the fact we are not really big dessert/pudding/cake eaters – although Mr. Tialys can put a whole McVities Digestive biscuit in his mouth at once – and does – sometimes until the biscuit tin is empty. Anyway I made these Coconut, Cherry, Chocolate Fingers and very nice they
are were too.
In the photograph accompanying the recipe I made these from (which you can find below if interested), the coconut part was very white but our ‘home grown’ eggs make everything we use them in turn very, very yellow so that’s why mine don’t look the same. That, and the fact that I haven’t cut mine into delicate fingers but rather little slabs.
When you see some interesting looking fabric that says 110cm wide x 2.8m long for 4 euros you just have to go for it even if there’s a sign saying you’re not allowed to unroll it. One of our rare charity shops has lots of such rolls and I suppose, if you ask one of the volunteers to have a better look, they would let you but I like surprises.
It had a sort of Liberty look about it. Anyway this is the fabric unrolled.
The panels run down the length of the fabric.
So this is it turned on its side.
It’s pretty but what could I make with it? I don’t know what the fabric is but it has a very nice drape to it. The only thing I can think of is a summery maxi dress for next year (or a midi dress as I’m short but not that short) or a maxi skirt also for next summer. Anybody have any other ideas? Have you had any experience with this sort of panelled fabric? They must have a purpose in mind when they manufacture it mustn’t they?
Out of interest, I did a burn test on the fabric to see if I could tell what it was. I do like an experiment especially if it involves flame but, typically, my results were inconclusive as it seemed not to fit any of the categories given in the burn test list you can find here. This burnt brightly with a yellow flame and didn’t melt or smell icky but it didn’t leave a soft grey ash. It left a black residue but it crushed easily so wasn’t a ‘bead’. I think it must be a blend but there is definitely something natural in there.
Stan is very grateful for you all keeping your fingers and paws crossed for him and would like to invite you for a game of ball any time you have a few hours to spare.
Be warned, I got tendonitis!!
Coconut, Cherry & Chocolate Fingers
200g dessicated coconut
85g caster sugar
150g dark chocolate chips
85g glacé cherries, halved
2 eggs, beaten
150g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
Combine the coconut, sugar, choc chips and cherries in a bowl until evenly distributed then mix in the
eggs to make a gooey paste. Spoon the mixture into a 30cm x 20cm brownie tin that you’ve lined with baking
parchment and spread evenly with a wooden spoon, packing it down firmly. Bake for 20 minutes at 180°C/Gas 4
until golden brown and set. Melt the chocolate pieces carefully
(in a bowl over hot water or watched like a hawk in 20 second bursts in the microwasve is best)
and pour over the top of baked mixture spreading evenly
over the top. Leave to cool in tin, cut into fingers with a sharp knife and refrigerate until well set.
Whenever I see phrases like ‘quick project‘ , ‘make it in an hour‘, ‘I made a ball gown during the ad break in Eastenders‘ (o.k., I’ve never seen that last one) I should know not to touch it with a barge pole.
If I ever say, I’m just going upstairs to run up a quick bit of gear to take on holiday or to wear for a ‘do’, my sewing machine and overlocker (but especially the overlocker) somehow hear me and, in the time it takes me to get up there, they have conspired together to make any quick project as long and frustrating as possible.
Take the summer cardigan pattern which I saw on Girl Charlee’s blog and decided to make with a piece of jersey, dotted with cute gold fawns, that I had bought from them a few weeks before.
Firstly, I had only bought a metre and the pattern calls for just over that so it took me (and a friend) at least an hour to try to lay the pattern out economically – although if it had been a non directional pattern it would have been a lot easier.
Secondly and most importantly, my overlocker decided to thwart my plans and chew up the seams.
I had to wait until I saw my friend again to use her overlocker and took mine with me to see if we could work out the problem. Her husband tutted at how ‘sale’ (French for ‘dirty’) my overlocker was and wanted to know how long was it since I’d cleaned it. I said ‘jamais’ (French for ‘never’). He tutted some more and swept out of the room bearing my machine aloft and did things to it with little brushes and blowers and things and I trusted him because I’ve seen under the hood of his car and the engine looks like something you could eat your dinner off.
Anyway, despite his ministrations, it still didn’t work properly so I re-threaded it for what seemed like the zillionth time and, obviously deciding it had p***ed me off enough for one week as I had started muttering darkly about buying a new one, all was well.
Anyway, I made the cardigan for Mlle. T. the younger but she’s not keen on modelling so I asked Mlle. T. the elder – who’s not keen either but she is more
Next time, I would make the cuffs a little looser and alter the pattern slightly so that it is slightly wider at the bottom edge.
…..and if anybody tells me the fawns on the cuffs are upside down I might get nasty.
I am determined to get my F2F blocks made into a quilt for Mr. Tialys’s London flat before winter – although he has central heating there which we don’t have here so I don’t know why I worry. Anyway, yesterday I took all the blocks and the squares of wadding and backing out into the garden and went crazy with the basting spray so they are now all ready to quilt.
I think one of the cats has a more bristly tail than she should have as she may have got in the way of me and my spray at one point. I’m sure it’ll brush out.
Here she is, giving me the stink eye, in the antique french confit pot that should be for sale in my shop but is not as she has adopted it as her own and, having raised her from a 3 week old scrap with cat formula milk and bottle, I find it hard to deny her anything at all.
I’m off to see if I can make a skirt – complete with zip – in under an hour. (The word zip is a clue here to the likelihood of my succes).
Time for Teal (2)
In case you thought I had totally given up on dressmaking in favour of patchwork and kitten rearing, I thought I’d post about a ‘wearable’ fabric item for a change.
Ages ago I showed you some fabrics I had bought on a shopping trip to Toulouse and, almost as long ago, I actually started to make something out of one of those fabrics. Since then, it has been on a hanger in my sewing room waiting for the warmer weather to make an appearance and inspire me to finish it.
Nothing exciting really, just a Sorbetto with sleeves but I thought it suited this gauzy fabric and the pleat down the front serves as a little ‘modesty panel’ because, as you can see below, you would need to have your best bra on if standing in front of a sunny window.
As the fabric is so fine, I used French seams. These are apparently called English seams here in France in the same way (sort of) that those horrible ‘hole in the ground’ loos are called ‘Turkish toilets’ by the French but ‘French toilets’ by the Turks. This is according to my friend Sandra who may well be mistaken – although she is French so I tend to take her word for these things.
The fact that I had run out of good weather by the time this top was nearly finished last October was not the only reason for the delay but I decided an ordinary hem wouldn’t look right on the fine fabric and wanted to do a rolled hem. I can never be bothered to change the spools on my overlocker unless it is for a VERY good reason and I also don’t like unscrewing one of the needles in order to do a rolled hem so I kept putting it off. The jersey pencil skirt I made recently, however, required a navy thread and, as a bonus, I broke the left hand needle while I was overlocking the seams so that presented me with the perfect opportunity to do a rolled hem on the blouse and complete an early ‘me-made’ addition to my Summer wardrobe.
I put it on for the photo but it hadn’t quite reached ‘thin blouse temperatures’ as you can tell by the tights so it’ll be going in the wardrobe until it warms up a bit more.
I wish that Romeo bloke would just leave me alone.
The top photo – to get back to patchwork for a minute – is the second block I’m going to be sending off to Kate for her ‘Time for Teal’ quilt she is making to raise funds for ovarian cancer. It’s been ages since I made a Dresden Plate block – I hope that doesn’t show too much – and big thanks to Ali at Thimberlina for sending me some pieces of leftover teal fabric she had after she also made blocks for Kate. I was having trouble finding the right colours in my stash or in the limited local fabric shops.
I’ve just eaten a home-made hot cross bun – courtesy of my daughter – and I’m intending to tuck into some chocolate Easter egg tonight – courtesy of Mr. T .
A Happy Easter to you too.
Trying to get back into ‘dressmaking mode’ after an excess of quilt block making and knitting, I bought a metre of dark blue ponte roma and traced off the pattern for the ‘Easy Knit Pencil Skirt’ from the Gertie Sews Vintage Casual book I bought Mlle Tialys the elder for Christmas.
Firstly I had to perform the dreaded task of changing the thread on the overlocker but the signs were good as I managed it first go.
Then, it all started to go pear shaped. I forgot the sizes are probably American (that or I’m skinnier than I think) so cut the skirt out at least two sizes too big. However I did realise this before it was too late because I actually followed the instructions which tell you to baste the side seams and try it on before overlocking them. You should apparently do this each time you make the skirt as all jersey and knit fabrics differ in stretchiness, which is a very good point. However, once I had cut it down to my size, the edges weren’t quite as neat and I had also managed to slice through my fingertip with the rotary cutter for good measure.
Then I cut the elastic for the waistband a little too generously as I didn’t want to feel it digging in so instead of stretching the elastic slightly to fit the waistband, I found myself stretching the waistband slightly to fit the elastic. Which is probably why one of the needles in my overlocker broke and also why the waistband doesn’t lie quite as perfectly flat as it’s supposed to. I replaced the needle, adjusted the tension and broke another one. I finished off using the 3-thread overlocking stitch as I find that getting into a tizz with my machine puts me in a bad mood for the rest of the day. That and having to do housework.
I don’t play the guitar and neither do I usually stand as if I’ve put my hip out but there were no photographers available and the only decent light and big mirror were in eldest daughter’s room so a selfie it had to be.
On the plus side, I did the neatest twin needle hem I think I’ve ever done. Nice and straight with no tunneling. As my overlocker is on the right hand side of my sewing machine I used the thread from the extreme left spool as my second twin needle thread so there was no wobbling going on, a technique I might employ in the future as it seemed to work so well.
That was, however, after I broke the first twin needle on the sewing machine probably because I started off at a side seam and going through an overlocked seam and hem thickness all at the same time might have been a bit of a stretch – no pun intended but it works so I’ll leave it in.
So £ 6.99 for a metre of ponte roma – 3 broken needles, one of which was a twin – and several items of bloodstained clothing before I realised my finger had been sliced with the rotary cutter meant it wasn’t quite as quick or cheap as I had originally planned. In my experience, it rarely is.
However! With one pattern piece only – which you cut out twice on the fold – and around 0.8m of fabric – this really is a comfy yet quite smart skirt and I will be making it again hopefully without breaking any more needles or attempting to slice the top of my finger off. Where I will wear it is a different matter. Will it go with wellies do you think?
A few weeks ago, Ali over at Thimberlina, had a competition whereby you had to guess how many miles had been travelled by all the people who went up to Dewsbury in Yorkshire for a meet up of the Yorkshire Spoolettes. Only people who hadn’t actually attended were allowed to enter and there were two prizes, one for U.K. based entrants and one for us ‘foreigners’.
I don’t usually bother to enter these things as I never win and, anyway, I am useless at working out mileages and, being a ‘soft Southerner’, have a very sketchy idea of ‘the North’. However, there weren’t 100s of entries as there often are with these things and it was the last day so I decided to hazard a guess based on absolutely nothing at all and I won the ‘foreigner’ category* which meant Ali would choose something for me from the enviable range of fabric shops in Dewsbury and send it to me.
*this wasn’t what Ali called it btw
Only afterwards, when I looked for a map of the area to illustrate this post, did I realise I actually do have some northern knowledge. Forgive my map scrawling, but the ‘circle’ in the centre represents the venue in Dewsbury I believe and, not far from there is Harrogate, where my in-laws live. Over to the East a bit is lovely York where I spent a week at the university there
drinking studying and living like a student in the halls of residence for a summer school when I was doing my O.U. degree I also spy the Peak District in Derbyshire where Mr. T spent his childhood and Stockport where my Sister-in-law lives and, just off the map a bit is Liverpool where I spent a weekend or two whilst engaged in a very ill-fated relationship with a local and where I did indeed take the ferry ‘cross the Mersey and wish I’d pushed him in as it would have saved me a lot of trouble. Anyway, I digress, my guess was wild but successful and, yesterday, my prize arrived.
Ali had asked for some clues as to what I would like and I did say I had the ‘Agnes’ t-shirt pattern but hadn’t made it yet so some sort of knit fabric would be good.
As you can see, there were two kinds of fabric and a couple of bags of buttons and bows.
The black and white fabric seems to be a sort of viscose jersey which has a lovely drape but there is enough of it to make several Agnes tops so I will probably make a Lady Skater, a wrap dress or I have seen the ‘Agnes’ lengthened into a dress so I might even look into doing that.
Here it is, in all its monochrome glory, draped over my ‘Mannequin Me’. I love it.
The other fabric I believe should be a contender to replace the orange prison uniforms worn by women prisoners in the States (if Orange is the New Black is to be believed). Look! It has pretty little feminine arrows all over it although they don’t all point upwards (or was it downwards) the way they did in prison uniforms of old – or was that just in films? Anyway, I jest, this is really unusual and pretty fabric – I love the pink with the navy and I think this would make a great top or, Ali being generous to a fault again, even a dress.
It just goes to show that sometimes it’s worth taking a guess, you might just get lucky as I certainly did. A big thanks to Ali for organising the competition and for picking out just the right things for me.
It should have been so easy! It was a pattern that came free with a sewing magazine that I picked up a while back on a trip to the U.K. I like the shape with the darts back and front and, who knows, I might even get around to making the jacket one day. The fabric was bought locally in France – a rare event – and was reasonably priced but a good quality cotton.
What could go wrong?
Well, almost everything as it happened.
It started off well with lovely neat french seams and I even managed a perfectly acceptable invisible zip insertion but then I decided I didn’t like the facing around the neck. It made the neckline seem stiff and seemed to be pulling the top of the dress out of shape. That’s when it all started to go horribly wrong. Pear shaped, in fact.
I took off the facing and replaced it with bias binding. Then I didn’t like the way the binding had gone on and, anyway, it turned out that it wasn’t just the facing pulling it out of shape there were other issues too.
The darts were pulling on both back and front. Crosswise and downwards. The back was pulling tight either side of the zip.
In some places, it was too big – around the neck for instance and in others, it was too small but only on one side.
Basically, it didn’t fit me.
This trauma was a while ago now – I’ve only just been able to bring myself to blog about it – so I can’t even remember the amount of different fitting issues there were with this dress and the more I messed around with it, the worse it got and the more I hated it.
So I decided, on this occasion, to admit defeat and might give it another go in the Spring (‘perhaps the silly cat will make a muslin next time’ I hear you say!!) but, in the meantime, the fabric has already come in useful here and there and will continue to do so as it’s that sort of fabric – a good blender.
To get back on that
horse sewing machine before I got too depressed I decided to make an old favourite – Kitschy Coo’s Lady Skater dress – which (almost) never fails me and found this knit fabric that I bought in Toulouse before my fabric fast began. It sort of reminds me of a splodgy impressionist painting.
This time I remembered the clear elastic at the waist – my favourite Lady Skater dress (below) has to be pulled down over my body like putting sausagemeat in a skin because I forgot the elastic last time and just used twill tape to stabilize. Never again. But it is my favourite so I persevere and hope I never have an accident and have to be taken to hospital wearing this dress because they will have to cut me out of it.
Clear elastic – a complete pain to attach but worth it – trust me!
The Lady Skater shows you a nice easy way to attach the neckband to the dress – only one shoulder is sewn up – and although you need lots of pins and risk your overlocker’s blade every inch or so (or is that just me?) the results are nice and neat and you feel a little glow of pride (probably also just me.)
So now I’m back on the sewing horse again but I’m in knitting mode at the moment – with a bit of patchwork thrown in – so, although I’m going to make one of these in plain purple for Mlle. T. the Younger, after that I might not be sewing any more clothes until next year. Although I never say never. Unless it’s something like ‘I’m never (knowingly) going to eat an anchovy again’ or ‘I’m never going on a sea cruise because I know I’ll get hideously sea sick and I don’t think I’d like the onboard entertainment’.
Do you persevere with projects that go horribly wrong or do you always try to put it right?