Posts Tagged lady skater dress

The Last Makes of Winter

Well, I’ve been back from my visit to see Mlle. Tialys the Elder in the U.K. for a week now but, as usual with me, it takes a while to get back into what passes for any sort of routine in my life.

I was very lucky with the weather and I know this because people were in shorts, t-shirts and other summer clothing and frolicking on Bournemouth’s sandy beach while the ice cream vans were doing a great trade.  England in February is not how I remember it but, being made soft by the warmer climes in S.W. France, I still had my coat on and, at times, a scarf despite it being the hottest February day ever (allegedly).  When I got back to Toulouse last week the temperature was 25 degrees C and that’s not right either although it has dropped to ‘normal for the time of year’ here now and I believe the British tabloids are predicting an ‘icy blast’ for the U.K. which remains to be seen but I think they are even more obsessed than usual with the weather in a bid to write about anything other than Brexit.

I did the usual things – fish & chips, Dorset cream teas, curry, Sunday brunch,  bizarrely flavoured hot cross buns from M & S  and even popped into a Japanese restaurant for our last evening there which happened to be the birthday of Mlle. Tialys the Younger – lover of all things Japanese.  I descended on the ubiquitous charity shops and had a lovely smoked haddock dish in a quayside pub (the smoked haddock here is over-dyed to the brightest orange you’ve ever seen and very expensive).  I also had the best facial treatment I’ve ever had, using the voucher Mlle T. the Elder gave to me for Christmas, in the spa section of the original Lush shop in Poole.  I was so relaxed I didn’t even feel the urge to shoot the seagulls keeping me awake at night until two days later.

We went to the Oceanarium right on the beach in Bournemouth which was good – especially their lovely sea turtle. ( NOTE;  Re-reading this I realise it makes it sound like a restaurant 😱)  We were lectured on the terrible problems of plastics in the ocean and the top ten single use plastic items found in the sea.  As is usual with most such places now we were forced to walk through the gift shop before we could exit which was ironic considering it was filled with a lot of plastic goods, including balloons which were in their top ten villains chart.  I feel a letter coming on.

I wore a dress I’d made but not blogged about.  It’s another Lady Skater dress – one of my go to patterns.  This was actually made for Mlle T. the Younger but due to the fabric being a very stable cotton jersey without a lot of widthways stretch, it didn’t fit her and I had to keep it instead.  Shame. I did have enough fabric left to make her a t-shirt though which she will probably get much more wear out of.  I don’t have as many winter dresses as summer dresses so it will come in useful.

Now where did I put the iron – that hem needs a press.

The two person coat making workshop my friend Sandra and I are doing on Wednesday afternoons has been held up by her missing a couple of weeks due to illness and by me going off to England.  However, I haven’t forgotten it and have done a few bits alone otherwise it won’t be ready for next Winter, let alone this one.

The sleeves are quite ‘snug’ but I’m not going to undo the top seam because the stitches just sink into that fabric and are hard to find, plus the fraying is horrendous if you fiddle about too much with it so I’ll just have to remember I can’t wear a thick jumper underneath which I don’t normally do with a coat anyway.  I wouldn’t mind but my arms are anything but thick so I would recommend sewing that top arm seam at 1cm rather than 1.5cm if you’re using this pattern.

You can see the swing shape in this back view.

‘Just’ got the facings to go on those fronts and then the collar to do and the exterior is finished.  Then comes the lining, which I’m scared of as it’s slippy and has to fit nicely inside and I’ve never lined a anything other than a skirt and a dress before.  It’s starting to look like I actually might successfully make a coat!

So, I have been reading all of your blogs but that’s an update of some of my goings on – should be able to get back to normal now I’ve written a post.






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The Dress that Nearly broke the Camel’s Back….

…Or mine anyway!Dress pattern

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.

Nightmare Dress (2)

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.

Nightmare Dress (3)

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.

Nightmare Dress (1)


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.

Anvil Block

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.

ProcessSkaterDress (3)

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.

Lady Skater Grey & White (3)

ProcessSkaterDress (1)

Clear elastic – a complete pain to attach but worth it – trust me!

ProcessSkaterDress (2)

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.)

ProcessSkaterDress (4)

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’.

LadySkaterImpressionist (2)

Do you persevere with projects that go horribly wrong or do you always try to put it right?



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Just One More Shade of Grey

I know I said that, after my two ‘shades of grey’ quilts, I would be moving on to something more colourful but I’ll just get this out of the way first.

Also, I know I said I had sworn off making dresses for a while but I went upstairs to my workroom yesterday, couldn’t remember why and, before I knew it, decided to make a dress.  As I’m sure happens to all of you from time to time.   A Lady Skater dress to be precise, several of which I have made before because it is such a good, easy pattern and because I like the style and fit on me and because I had put the radiator on in my workroom for the reason I couldn’t remember and didn’t want to waste the electricity.

Lady Skater Grey & White (3)

I apologise for the headless shot but there are three reasons for this

1) I meant to use a mannequin but, at the last minute (see next reason), I couldn’t and hadn’t done anything with my face or hair since getting out of bed

                                       2)  I couldn’t get the dress on the mannequin

                                       3) I don’t like having my photograph taken anyway.

Lady Skater Grey & White (1)Before I tell you why I couldn’t get the dress on the mannequin, I wanted to point out the good things like the neck laying nice and flat and the really nice fabric so that you don’t think I’m quite such a numpty when I ‘fess up.

As I said, I’ve made this dress several times before for me and for both my Madamoiselles.  I meant to make notes but didn’t.  This time I have.  I must have a shorter waist than this pattern is designed for because the seam at the waist is one or even two inches lower than mine.  No matter, I call it a ‘dropped waist’ dress and feel it makes my torso look slightly longer than it is – however, I will remember to adapt the pattern next time so I don’t have to make those excuses!  It is quite a short dress and, in order to avoid having to take up a fiddly miniscule hem next time I need to remember to add some length before cutting so as to avoid flashing too much knee on a breezy day.

However, the really stupid thing I did – and it really was stupid – was to put twill tape around the bottom of the bodice pieces instead of clear elastic.  Oops!  I hate clear elastic and so does my overlocker which is what I used to put this dress together apart from doing the top stitching which I do on my ordinary machine with a double needle.  So I used twill tape to stabilise the shoulders which is fine but they don’t need to stretch.  Whereas, having no zips, the rest of the dress does.  I have to perform wriggles and squiggles and all sorts of contortions my yoga teacher would be proud of in order to get the static waist over ‘the girls’ and down to where it should be.  None of my mannequins were able to oblige.  So, you got me.

Lady Skater Grey and White


…or most of me anyway.

You can find the Pattern here

The fabric was from this seller who has loads of lovely stretch and knit fabrics.

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Little Liberties

Regular readers will know I love Liberty fabric and use it whenever I can but, there comes a time, and my time came a while ago, when a pastel pink floral Liberty print dress will not look good on you.  I would put the limit at, maybe, 25 years old but you may differ.  It is possible I believe, and hope as I have done it,  to make blouses and other tops with a ditsy, floral Liberty print and get away with it but, dresses, no. **

I have lined bunny ears with it, made coin purses and fabric storage baskets but I wanted more from my Liberty stash.

So, as I long ago left the age of 25 behind, I decided to make teeny tiny dresses in order to indulge my addiction.

Here are a few I’ve finished or semi-finished.

Little Liberty dresses

Actually, that last one in red and white is Tilda fabric but you get my drift.

I have even been using Liberty of London cotton jersey to make miniature skater dresses like my Lady one.  It’s a good use  of my new overlocker and I still can’t get over how the seams look so professional when done on a proper serger.  The cotton jersey is gorgeous but it is quite difficult to find, especially in prints that are suitable for very little girls.  These ones were from Sewbox who have quite a good range of Liberty fabrics at reasonable prices.

Liberty of London Baby Dress

This one is teeny, for 0-3 months, it makes me feel quite broody although that’s something else I have passed the limit for.  Perhaps the dogs would like a dress.  Somebody stop me!

** I must here mention a notable exception because there is a blog I follow ‘The Little Tailoress’ and she made a ditsy, pink, floral Liberty dress and looks damn gorgeous in it.  She is, however, probably only 25 or very near to it anyway.  You can see it here.

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Lady Skater Dress No.2 for Autumn plus Zinnia Skirt Muslin

Well,  I think I’ve found my favourite dress pattern, for now anyway, so here’s another version of the Lady Skater Dress.  This time, I made it for ME, and I used some lovely Liberty of London jersey – yes, jersey, who knew?  Well, they knew at Sewbox ‘cos that’s where I bought it but I only ever really thought of tana lawn when thinking of Liberty fabric before.  Anyway, the first pic is a silly, take it yourself in your daughter’s bedroom because everybody else is out and you can’t wait, type of photograph but, also, the autumn colours came out really well here and in the next photos, in the garden, they don’t look quite as bright.  As a bonus, my physog is hidden by the camera so even more reason to like this one best!

SkaterDressNo2 LibertyJersey1

Oh, here I am. having changed grungy boots for cream patent court shoes – don’t ask me why because even I don’t know – and gazing at the hem as if I have done something magic with a twin needle which, indeed, I have.  Interestingly, I had to revert to my trusty old(ish) Singer for that as my Janome doesn’t seem to have the capability or, if it does, I haven’t found out about it.Skater Dress No.2 Liberty Jersey (2)Who knows what is happening here.  I look as if I am calling all the creatures of the woodland to come and gaze at my creation but, really, I just wanted to show you the back of the dress which isn’t crinkly when I’m not performing.

Skater Dress No.2 Liberty Jersey (1)That’s better, a good shot of the frock and not so much of me.  I have to say that, at the time I was buying this Liberty fabric, I didn’t realise they do both cotton and viscose jersey and this is the latter.  It is four way stretch and very drapey so time will tell if the dress will pull out of shape.  I will have to wear it for a whole day to see what happens.  However, the clear elastic which the pattern tells you to put around the bottom of the bodice pieces should ensure nothing too hideous occurs.  By the way, it’s quite hard to find that elastic – I had to spend even longer trawling the internet than usual – but it really does seem to do the job

Skater Dress No.2 Liberty Jersey (4)I have learnt that the sizing seems to be dependent on the fabric you use.  The last one, made in not such stretchy jersey, was a little tight but, as I had made it primarily as a muslin but in some sale price fabric I knew my daughter would like I could still put it to use.   This time, even though I made the same size, it fits perfectly.   Also, I notice that the waistline on this version appears to have dropped a little which might be to do with the stretchier fabric or I might have added a little on when I cut it out .  I don’t actually mind the slightly dropped waist and, anyway, I couldn’t adjust it because it would have made the skirt too short – as it was I only took up 0.5 inches for a hem.  I know you can leave knit fabrics unhemmed as they don’t fray but it doesn’t seem quite right somehow.

My last make of the summer was the Jasmine blouse from Colette patterns.  I bought the pattern when I was in the U.K. in July so I at least saved the cost of the postage.  I made the version with the notched cuffs rather than the gathered  sleeves which I thought might be a bit ‘puffy’ for me.  Although I think these ties were meant to be the ones you tie them in a bow, I haven’t because it would make a very underwhelming one and, next time, I would make these quite a bit longer.

ColettePatternJasmineAlso, next time, I might make it in something a little less extravagant – this one is Liberty (again!) – and because it is cut on the bias, it eats up the fabric.  I would also go down a size because there seemed to be quite a bit of ease and I ended up adjusting the neckline and seams after I’d sewn them.  Also – another also – I wouldn’t use interfacing on the cuffs and maybe not on the collar unless it was a very fine one.  With tana lawn, the effect was to make the cuffs a little too stiff for the rest of the blouse and to make the fabric design more prominent where the interfacing is.  Having said all that, I like it and especially like not having to faff with zips or buttons so I will make it again for next year.

Tempted by an introductory discount off the new Colette pattern, the Zinnia skirt, I went for the PDF version so I didn’t have to pay international postage and also so I could get it quickly and, yet again, as with the skater dress, had a fun time cutting and taping the pattern together.

ColettePatternZinniaI decided I would definitely make a muslin and had a roll of fabric I was given as a freebie which I hadn’t known what to do with.  I was considering making it a wearable muslin until I realised that I had used the wrong side of the fabric but no matter.  I slavishly followed the instructions and was very pleased with myself until I realised that they had missed the zip insertion step out of  the instructions for Version 2 so I had a fully completed skirt, waistband and all, without any sort of back closure going on! Perfect for a hospital visit!  I should have realised before I got to that stage really but my mind was full of side pockets and topstitched pleats.  Never mind, I pinned myself into it to check the fit and all was well.   I contacted Colette Patterns to let them know there was an omission and they have now put it right.  Now I’ve got the waistband size right, this will be a versatile pattern for all year round as there are three versions and you can mix and match and it is suitable for lots of different fabrics.  Now I’ve completed the muslin, I think I will make version 3 which hasn’t got side pockets or belt loops and is a little longer.

Zinnia MuslinBy the way, what looks like a giant metal hand holding on to the skirt, is actually a light fitting  on our conservatory wall.  It is one of many pieces of ‘fashion victim’ lighting that Mr. Tialys and I have bought which seem like a good idea at the time but subsequently appear incapable of throwing  out any decent light at all.

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Lady Skater Dress No.1

I call it No. 1 because I just know I’m going to be making more of these.

This great grown up skater dress pattern from Kitschy Coo is perfect for those of you, like me, who have a fear of fabric with one or more of the following words in the title – ‘knit’, ‘stretch’, ‘jersey’, ‘lycra’.  This is a downloadable pattern which you tape together and there is a full, illustrated tutorial or, for the more cocky  advanced amongst you, a crib sheet with more ‘to the point’ instructions.  Also, loads of help on Kitschy Coo’s blog for sewing with knit fabric.

This actually started out as my muslin because I had bagged the fabric at a bargain price and thought it wouldn’t matter if I screwed up but, Mlle T. the younger has a thing for roses at the moment and it swiftly became a ‘wearable muslin’.  She’s still a reluctant model though and made me cut her head off , photographically speaking, so don’t think it’s just bad camera work on my part.

Lady Skater No.1

It’s a shame that the pattern doesn’t match up at the waistband although I have somehow managed to match it up at the sleeves which was, I have to admit, completely by happenstance (don’t you just love that word!).  I think it would look really cool with a wide belt round it  so you won’t even notice and, anyway, it was meant to be a muslin.

Skater Dress - Back VIewI’m quite happy with the back too – not too many untoward wrinkles going on.  I just need to hem it  – she’s too young for knee length – but I was so chuffed with it and posing opportunities with my younger model are so rare that I couldn’t wait and snapped it straight off the machine.  I am a convert to jersey fabric now – even more so than when I made the Renfrew – and I’m already planning my second and perhaps third version.  I’ve just got to get a baby quilt out of the way – must get on, it’s due in a couple of weeks – and then I’m free to play with stretchy, knitty, 5% lycra-y things again – see, those words don’t scare me anymore and I haven’t even got an overlocker.

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