Posts Tagged dressmaking

Another Flounce of Frocks

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!

Creases and flaws but that’s linen for you.

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?

 

 

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A Flounce of Frocks

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 –

Image result for easy vogue princess seam dressPerfect for me as you can choose between cup sizes which meant I wouldn’t have to do my own alterations – or not many.

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.

I lined the bodice, though not the skirt as it is a fabric beast and I didn’t think it was necessary (aka I’m too lazy)

I hemmed it using bias binding to make it neater and give it a bit more weight.

The only alteration I made was to bring the back V up by 2cm so as to be certain not to have any bra strap on show

This might actually be the best dress I’ve ever made.

The sun even came out

Very difficult to avoid photo bombing by dogs at my house.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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Tiptoe Through The Tunics

Remember I made a tunic for Madamoiselle Tialys the Younger recently? (If not it’s here). Well, I fancied making one for myself and it just so happened I had the perfect fabric already in my stash which doesn’t happen very often.

Not last time, but the time before that when Ali over at Thimberlina organised the Yorkshire Spoolettes meet up, she ran a competition for people who couldn’t attend to guess the total mileage undertaken by all the people who did.  By some amazing stroke of luck I hit upon the nearest mileage (in the international entry category) and Ali sent me some goodies.  I had said I wanted to make an Agnes top but she was very generous and sent me more than enough of this black and white stretch fabric so I thought I’d save it for something a bit more substantial than a t-shirt.

So I did and here’s what I made with it.

I made the same view tunic as before but with the straight hem instead of the pointy one.

In other tunic news, I’m currently having a rocky relationship with scuba fabric.  I thought I’d give it a whirl for a different style of tunic I wanted to make for Mlle T. and she chose the fabric (so don’t blame me!).

I bought this pattern which seemed simple enough but the Mademoiselle had other ideas.

She wanted bell sleeves so following Ali over at Thimberlina’s example ,although using a slightly different method,  I adapted it as requested.

I had a bit of a struggle with the neckline, back and front,  as it came out too gapey which might be due to the scuba fabric although the pattern does list ‘novelty knits’ as one of the suggested fabrics.  I’ve improved the neck problem a little by taking off the facing which I wasn’t keen on using anyway, reducing the back seam allowance and cutting the facing slightly smaller than it was before so I could stretch it round the neckline a little more which brought it in a bit though it’s still not perfect.  The sleeves and the bottom require hemming and I’m not sure how to tackle that yet – I’ll do some research.  I know I could leave it as it won’t fray and the hem of the tunic would probably be O.K. but the sleeves don’t look right unhemmed in my opinion as you can see the plain white reverse of the fabric which just looks odd.  (The trailing thread will be cut off though – I didn’t leave that as a design feature).

My conclusions about scuba fabric are that I don’t much like it.  I don’t like the slightly spongy feel and the vaguely ‘cheap’ look and feel of it – although there might be different qualities I suppose.  The designs are a bit ‘urgent’ too if you ask me.  I don’t like the floral one Mademoiselle chose – I think it looks frumpy but there you go.

I must try and get over my dislike though as she also chose this one 😮

I know what I’d like to do with it but I think the only way to get away with actually wearing it would be as a very fitted t-shirt with 3/4 length sleeves perhaps.  Any ideas or would you accidentally on purpose lose it at the bottom of your bin fabric stash?  How do you feel about scuba fabric if  indeed you have ever encountered it?  Is it just me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Redemption of the Dressmaking Kind

After making a dress for one of my daughters where the pattern matched everywhere but on the back and my suggestion that she walk backwards all the time fell on deaf ears, I got a bit dispirited.  Even though some of you kindly assured me it must have been the fabric that was at fault and how it didn’t matter because hardly any ready to wear stuff is pattern matched I still lost the will to ‘dressmake’ – (made up verb).

I even got proof through the mail when I ordered a cheap and cheeful (though organic!) dress in an online sale and the first thing I spotted was the back seam wasn’t matched.  What’ s more – the side seams don’t match either so that made me feel a bit better because mine do.

These are the colour and design of the tiles I want when I have my family bathroom re-done – if the builder ever comes back to me with a quote that is. :/

But I digress.

To get back on that horse I thought I’d make something nice and simple which would be bound to turn out right.  I used some very nice quality spotty jersey that I bought on my jaunt to Walthamstow Market when I was in the U.K. recently and, although I had not yet made up this particular pattern, I know that Tilly and the Buttons patterns can usually be relied upon and I’ve made up several of her knit patterns before so I was confident.

Et voila!  This is the ‘Agnes’ pattern minus the fancy sleeves and neckline.

The creases on the right shoulder are due to the tortuous way I’m standing and the others due to the fact that I had denim shorts on and all the thick seams on them are showing through the lovely jersey.  I knew they would but I couldn’t be bothered to change.  What can I say?

A great pattern with variations in sleeve length and also a ruched sleeve option and lightly ruched front at the neckline.  I might well make the version with the ruching at the neckline for Mlle. Tialys the Younger but, correct me if I’m wrong, didn’t this type of sleeve used to called a ‘leg of mutton’ sleeve.

I am definitely not Tilly’s target audience but I won’t be taking the risk of having ageist insults flung at me due to a reckless sleeve decision.  My ruched sleeve days are long behind me and I’m trying to avoid the mutton ones.

As promised in my last post, here is a stunning shot of my roots that I didn’t realise needed doing quite so badly until I saw this photo.  Hairdresser visit now accomplished.

Minerva Crafts were having a sale with New Look patterns at half price and I spotted a couple of lengths of fabric I fancied so, newly confident, I filled my trolley.

This is New Look 6393 and I bought it because I like the simple shape for summer but with the princess seams giving it a lovely fit and drape.

Before you say anything, I made absolutely no attempt at all to match the pattern because it is a big, splashy one and I would have needed quite a bit more fabric to accomplish a match on all those princess seams.  So even though this lovely cotton with a slight stretch was also in the same sale at just £3.99 a metre I only ordered 2m and let it do its own thing, pattern -wise..  My head is missing because my daughter wouldn’t get out of bed to take the photo so I had to set up the tripod and I couldn’t work out how to convert the tripod to support the camera in portrait mode.

Then she got out of bed but I was cross by then – can you tell? – and had to force a smile.

The dress is constructed with neck facing and interfacing and bias binding around the arms.  I don’t like facing much – it just annoys me – so I decided to go ‘maverick’ and line the bodice with the same fabric which was a stretch as I only had 2m of it to start with.  Anyway, usually when I go ‘off piste’ disaster ensues but I was grimly determined and all went well until I wondered how I was going to turn it the right way with the seams ending up on the inside.  I found quite a few tutorials on how to do this when the back is in two pieces – where there is going to be a central zip – but this has front and back central pieces cut on the fold.  I panicked just a little bit.  Then I found this tutorial from Blithe Stitches which I just couldn’t envisage working at first but I just went with it and, like magic, you pull a sausage fabric through the fabric bun and there you have a beautifully constructed lined bodice.  You’ll have to look at the tutorial to appreciate the food references.

It isn’t a totally perfect fit – though almost.  The back gapes a little at the top, one of the shoulder straps could be tighter and the armholes could be a little less deep (although they’re not so bad when I’m not doing my pair of scissors impression) and the waistline needs to go up as at 5’2″ and a bit, I’m a short arse (I had to take 5 inches off the length.)

I think I need to cut one size smaller at the back neck and shoulders and shorten the waist by an inch at least.  Somebody more accomplished than me will tell me if that’s what’s required.

Got to protect that hair colour.

By and large though, I’m happy with it and think I’ve redeemed myself enough to get my dressmaking confidence back again.  I even faced my nemesis ‘The Zip’ and inserted one correctly in the side seam on the second attempt.

   You may notice that, by some miracle of coincidence – I’ve already told you I took no notice of the pattern at all – the back centre bodice and skirt panels almost do match.  The mysteries of pattern matching continue to confuse and confound.

 

 

 

 

 

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Posh Frocks For Chickens

I am very disappointed with the weather up to now this year.  It is the middle of May and yet the sun seems reluctant to show its face and we keep having rain and the occasional hailstorm.  I haven’t even taken the winter tyres off my car yet.  The first few vide greniers (aka boot sale/yard sale) have been rained off or, because there has been the threat of rain, nobody has bothered to turn up.  Although I did manage to find this fetching Madamoiselle yesterday morning.  I must say, she gave the dog a nasty turn.

Plaster Bust

Thank goodness then, that I have got back into my dressmaking mode as it has whiled away a few wet and windy hours.  I was rather taken with the New Look 6873 skirt I made but obviously had to hand it over to Mlle Tialys the Younger as it is  a little on the short side  for a woman of my life experience, not to mention it is covered in grinning death’s heads.  Still, it’s an easy pattern and I like the style so I plundered my fabric stash to see what I could find.  I’m one of those people that has to do something IMMEDIATELY when I make my mind up and it was a sunday so I couldn’t go shopping (no, not in France!).  Anyway, I found some Kaffe Fasset fabric I had bought at one time but there wasn’t quite enough so I made the pocket linings and yoke facings with plain chocolate brown material and, because I didn’t have enough fabric to hem it at a decent length, I used bias ribbon to hem it.  Can you bear it?  I’ve only just got back into dressmaking and am already doing tricksy things like that .  Here it is hanging on a hanger as it was too cold today to model it with bare legs and it would look hideous with tights.

kaffe fasset skirt

My next project – which I have already cut out – is from a French magazine.  Impressed aren’t you?  Well, I will take it slowly and, if I get stuck, take it to my mini sewing bee on Thursday so my friend can help me translate the more complicated bits.

french dress

I like the panelled skirt and the neckline which is a little bit different.  Also, as soon as I saw it I could imagine it in the Liberty of London Carline design, some of which I just happen to have in purple.

Liberty of London Carline

I have now received my pattern for the Elisalex Dress, which alone is a little work of art, and I have been contemplating fabric.  It is supposed to be made in quite heavy weight fabric – even upholstery weight –  in order to hold the shape of the tulip skirt which, I am assured, is flattering to all but I am not totally convinced and may reserve the right to draft the beautfiul, fitted top onto a different shaped skirt.  Also, I don’t like exposed zips so I will have to adapt that.  Whoaa! There I am again going all tricksy.  Anyway, I haven’t quite gone ‘upholstery’ but I have gone ‘home décor’ and bought these fabrics with which to give the lovely Elisalex dress a go.

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I actually bought the white patterned one – which is called ‘Marie Antoinette’ – for another pattern I bought – Simplicity Project Runway 1803  – so I might make the spotted one up in the Elisalex in a short sleeved version and, if I like it, I’ll use the ‘Marie Antoinette’ to make a sleeveless version.  If I’m not keen I’ll go with the Project Runway dress.

projectrunwaydress

Where, I hear you ask, am I  going to wear all these pretty, feminine dresses and skirts when regular readers know that, not only do I live in a beautiful yet cultural backwater with very few opportunities to wear a posh frock, but I have the sort of lifestyle that mostly requires jeans in the winter and shorts in the summer.  Well, once I have a small but versatile stock I am hoping to start making more things for my Madamoiselles.  The Elder is very into fashion and would probably throw herself into choosing patterns and fabrics and might even have a go herself.  Unfortunately, she is in the U.K. at university most of the time so, when she comes back for the summer, I will tie her down, take her measurements, ban her from eating the usual student’s diet of crisps, chocolate bars and vodka so that she stays the same and then I can make clothes for her ‘in absentia’ .  Didn’t know I speak Latin too did you?  The Younger (as we have seen) is more into black, red, skulls, wolves, etc., hasn’t got much interest in fashion and certainly not frocks, so she might prove a bit more difficult.

I haven’t been completely idle on the craft front and here is another cartonnage box I completed recently.  No sewing involved – lots of glue and different thicknesses of card.  I was making this at my friend’s house and, as the glue was still drying, left it there weighted down with some of her antique flat irons.  Ooops!  When I returned the following week, she was all upset because some rust had transferred itself onto the fabric.  Ho hum. Another lesson learned.  I still like it though.

cartonnage

On the quilting front, I bought a Moda Layer Cake in ‘Little Black Dress’ design and I am having a go at this ‘handbag’ quilt from the book by Pam and Nicky Lintott.   I was drawn to it as it is a little bit different, fun to make and not too huge.  I think, when it is all joined together, I might quilt it again simply using cotton perlé maybe around the handles and outline of the bag.  What do you think about that idea and what sort of colour thread do you think?   I cannot get the hang of free motion quilting and, after all the hard work of piecing, I would rather do something by hand not least because it is much easier to unpick if it goes wrong.

Handbag Quilt

So that should keep me busy.  However, bowing to pressure, I agreed to add to our little flock of chickens today as the chicken man was at the market.  We only have 2 ageing hens left now (thanks for that Stan the dog) and a cockerel so I have had to start buying eggs again.  Whaaaat?  There is no comparison.  Even if you buy the most organic, free range, pampered eggs in the shop, they cannot compare to your own chickens’ eggs.  So we have another 3 now, some Light Sussex.   Here is Mlle T the Younger with Isis (don’t ask).  I wanted to call them Milly, Molly and Mandy but she had other ideas so I might just have to be content with Milly and Molly although it doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Young LIght Sussex

So, chicken wrangling – and everybody knows you need plenty of posh frocks for that.

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Made It, Making It, Going to Make It

tweeddressI think I told you, back in the mists of time that was 2012, I was having a dabble in a bit of dressmaking after a long time doing other things.  Well, I bought a pattern (Simplicity 2648) and some vintage tweedy stuff (it smelt and I had to wash it twice!) and I enlisted the help of my friend Sandra who is always making clothes and, anyway, has an overlocker.  I apologise for the photos but Madamoiselle Tialys the Elder is away at Uni and I had to model it myself and, as you can see, I am shy.

I was fairly pleased with how it turned out and I might even wear it in public.  I think I will use the pattern again to make another for the spring in less wintry (and smelly) fabric.  I used the rare occasion of allowing myself to be photographed to show you my gorgeous leather bag that I picked up in a flea market recently, intending to put it in my vintage shop.   Even though I don’t have that much occasion these days to carry anything resembling an ‘officey’ type bag (made up word!), it is the perfect size for an iPad, a couple of documents, a book, a wallet and a phone which came in handy when I had to go to Toulouse for an appointment the other day so perhaps I will keep it for myself after all.

Leather Satchel

I have been pondering on new things to make for my handmade shop as, although I love those  Bunny Bentos, they are a bit fiddly to make and I am getting bored with some of the other items as I’ve been making them for a few years now.  I was lucky enough to find a range of lovely Liberty Tana Lawn locally and, although the price in euros is not particularly cheap, at least there were no shipping costs.  I always feel a little guilty cutting up  Liberty fabric too small so, this time, I’ve gone in the other direction and kept it in one big piece, backed it with soft, cosy stuff, ‘quilted’ it together in a minimalist fashion and made a lap quilt, throw, baby blanket, whatever.  It’s a nice way to showcase the fabric I think and, of course, it feels lovely and buttery soft and silky on one side because of the tana lawn and cosy and cuddly on the other because of the towelling or flannel (I’m experimenting with both at the moment).

peachpaisleycuddleup (1)

 libertybirdsblanket

I’ve free motion quilted (new verb!) some bird shapes on the second blanket but I used an erasable marker to transfer the shape and, I must say, it is taking a remarkably long time to disappear so I am hoping it will go soon, or at least after I’ve washed it, because I am panicking just a bit.

I went through a phase recently of throwing those retro crochet blankets over arms of chairs and backs of sofas.  I am ashamed to admit I bought them rather than made them myself as I don’t crochet much – although I am going to re-teach myself soon – and they seem to sell for ridiculously cheap amounts of money considering the work that goes into them.  However, they are a magnet for cat hair and, as anybody with cats will know, those buggers are incredibly difficult to get rid of once they are in the weave.  I can never understand why they sell dog and cat blankets made from polar fleece either – same thing happens and those hairs are there for life, even after being put through the washing machine.    So, I started thinking lately that I might make a throw from good old cotton fabric and, rather than keep it upstairs away from all fur babies as I normally do, I will sacrifice it to my lounge and I am sure it will stand up much better to the occasional sleeping cat as, surely, the smoother cotton surface will be less attractive both to the hair and maybe even to the cat!

Relaxed CatHenry – Wearing His Superman Pants and Getting Hairs Into the Weave

I was thinking of something simple but then this caught my eye on the Moda Bake Shop site and it would be a perfect match for my colour scheme and look brilliant over the back of my leather sofa (even though it’s described as a wall hanging) so, after foraging on Ebay U.S. for the exact same fabric, I will start collecting newspapers and embark upon a paper pieced, patriotic, luxury cat blanket.

unionjackwallhanging

I could have gone for different colours but this one suits me fine and I want to follow that tutorial to the letter and I feel that having the exact same fabric will make it somehow a little easier!  Maybe I should get my Mum to send me a copy of the Daily Mail too so that I can follow it even more slavishly.  This tutorial was put on the Moda site by Lynne at Lily’s Quilts and, when I popped over to have a look at her blog I found lots of things to slaver over and also interesting things to read so I’m a new follower.

And no, I haven’t finished Madamoiselle Tialys the Younger’s 18th birthday quilt yet but the fabric for the Union Jack  is coming from the States so it will take a couple of weeks and, anyway I have 32 days, including today, to work on it – it’ll be a doddle!

By the way, on the vintage side of things, did I show you this wasp waisted beauty? She’s missing her stand but still a bit gorgeous.

I wondered whether she was original at first but, the wood underneath the base is very old and the découpage is a bit ‘off’ in some places which wouldn’t be there if it were a repro.  However, I do believe somebody has varnished it at some stage, presumably to preserve it better which is why it has that shine in my photo.  The date, as proclaimed just under the right armpit, is 1898. when they obviously didn’t eat anything or waists were sucked in to the size of my thigh with a corset.

Decoupaged French Mannequin

I’ve been a bit ‘diverse’ in this post but haven’t written anything for such a long time that I got carried away.

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