Skip to content

The Ziggy Dress

January 25, 2016

I have named my latest finished sewing project the Ziggy dress, because a) it is zig zag print and b) it’s a reference to David Bowie.  The news of his death broke the morning after I had laid out this fabric to begin sewing, and as I was making it I listened to a lot of Bowie on the radio.  What an extraordinarily talented, interesting and downright cool musician he was.  May he rest in peace.

So this fabric is one I bought on a Leeds sewing meet-up in 2014, I think.  It was 55″ wide and I bought 3 metres, so I decided to make the most of the width of the fabric and make a dress with a circle skirt.  I chose Simplicity Amazing Fit 1606.  As it turns out, the pattern is only a half circle skirt, but it’s big enough to wear a huge poofy petticoat underneath, so it’s still a winner.

Simplicity 1606

The Ziggy Dress: Simplicity 1606, and very very old shoes from Topshop

I first used this pattern to make my 50s style halterneck dress, and then I used it again to make my red lace overlay dress.  Both of these dresses have been worn to weddings and both are very special to me.  This version is a bit less fancy, and consequently more wearable.  It still has nice little details though, such as the back opening, which fastens with a little button at the top, and the zip starts further down.  The pattern instructs you to do a centered zip, but I much prefer lapped zips and I’m really happy with how it turned out.

Back opening with button and zip. The wind caught my skirt here!

Back opening with button and zip. The wind caught my skirt here!

I was lazy when fitting this dress, in that I basically didn’t bother: I just cut the same size as the last two times.  It seems I might have changed shape again since then, since the bodice looks a teeny bit bigger than I anticipated it would.  The top half of me seems to change shape a lot more easily than the bottom half!

Simplicity 1606 and Built By Wendy Bolero jacket

ANCHOR EARRINGS!

In these photos I am wearing a black linen bolero jacket I made in 2014.  I used a Built By Wendy pattern for it to start with, but changed the shape.  It’s really simple and plain but it does look nice with the right dress.

Look at that interesting thing on the floor!

Simplicity 1606 and Built By Wendy bolero jacket

In terms of finishing – the bodice is lined with white cotton, and the seams are mostly pinked as I thought that would keep the zig zag theme going.  I did overlock the centre back seam, though, and the seam where the bodice meets the skirt.  I machine stitched the hem after letting it hang for about a week (not necessary to leave it that long – just didn’t get around to it!).

The Ziggy dress - front view again

The Ziggy dress – front view again

I really like how the linear pattern looks curvy due to the cut of the skirt.  And I know I’m going to sound like a massive sewing geek, but I actually found it fun doing the pattern matching of seams on this dress, and immensely satisfying to get such good results!

Pattern matched like a boss

Pattern matched like a boss

I’m very happy with my new dress!

Happy face!

Happy face!

Shimmery Lady Skater

January 2, 2016

Hello and happy new year to you all!  Today I am showing you a dress that is like, so 2015.  It’s a dress I made to wear on Christmas day.  I wanted to make something super easy, comfortable and flattering, but just a bit sparkly.  I bought the fabric from Minerva – it’s a black lurex Ponte Roma with silvery shimmer, and it’s quite a bargain at £6.99 per metre (I ordered 2m).

SHIMMER!!

SHIMMER!!

As you can see above, the shimmer really shows in electric light, but in daylight it’s more of a subtle effect.  There was a moment where I was worried that I might look as though I was wearing a bin bag, but thankfully I’m pretty sure I managed to avoid that.

On Christmas Day. I tone in with the in-laws' new kitchen!

On Christmas Day. I tone in with the in-laws’ new kitchen!

The fabric was lovely to work with.  It’s very stable.  It would make a lovely Coco dress!  As I already have a plain black Coco dress, though, I opted for the Lady Skater.  It’s the third one I have made as I really like the pattern.  My only gripe is the wrinkle from the underarm above the bust, perhaps indicating I need a full bust adjustment, but it doesn’t bother me so much that I would mess about with the pattern.  I just feel obliged to point it out!

Neck line, top stitched with metallic silver thread

Neck line, top stitched with metallic silver thread

I topstitched the neckline with some silver metallic thread and although it’s only a little detail I really like it.  I hemmed the dress is the same way as I have hemmed my other three Lady Skaters – with a tiny rolled hem on my overlocker.

Overlocker rolled hem

Overlocker rolled hem

There’s not much else of interest to say about this, so I shall leave you with my Christmas Day ‘selfie’ – because I know you all want a giant photo of my face – which I mainly took to show off my new ‘Mancunian’ necklace made by my friend Jody.  I was born in Stockport which is in the southern part of Greater Manchester, so naturally I think Manchester is the best city ever and I am proud to come from there, and always happy to visit our family and friends who still live there!

20151225_120030.jpg

 

 

Seven pairs of pyjamas

December 26, 2015

For Christmas I thought it would be a nice little extra to make pyjamas for some of my family members.  Although I considered making everyone some Christmas-themed pyjamas in matching fabric, I decided that might just be a bit too much, so instead chose fabrics for each person that I thought they would like and that they could wear all year round.  I bought all the fabric from Leon’s in Manchester, except the fabric for my sister-in-law’s pyjama bottoms which I bought from Minerva.

I started with a pyjama set for my son who will be three in January and who loves vehicles of all kinds.  For these I used Simplicity 1574.

Emergency Vehicles pyjamas

Emergency Vehicles pyjamas

I had a small amount of leftover fabric from these, so I made some pyjama bottoms for my nephew.  He will only be three months old at Christmas, but these are size 6 months as it was the smallest pattern I had.  I used Simplicity 1574 again.  I then bought a three pack of long-sleeve baby vests, and added some applique motifs cut from the same fabric as the pyjama bottoms to make a mix and match set.

Baby pyjama set

Baby pyjama set

Next up I made my daughter’s pyjama set in an age 6.  I bought this London-themed fabric because she has been learning about London at school throughout the autumn term, and at half term I took her to London to see the sights, and she loved it.  But when it came to making the pyjamas, I thought that a top and bottoms made from the same fabric might be a bit over the the top, so I raided my stash and found some red fabric with tiny white polka dots which co-ordinated pretty well, so I used that for the pyjama bottoms and the London fabric for the top.  The pattern is New Look 6932.

London-themed pyjama set

London-themed pyjama set

Now the kids’ pyjamas were all done it was time to start on the adults’ pyjama bottoms.  I began with some cowboy print pyjama bottoms for my husband, using Simplicity 2317.  I had to trace the small for these!

Cowboy pyjama bottoms

Cowboy pyjama bottoms

Next was the pyjama bottoms for my brother-in-law.  Now, I don’t know him terribly well but he takes part in a lot of theatre stuff and is often in plays and pantos etc, so I figured I could get away with some novelty pirate fabric!  I used Simplicity 2317 again for these, in a medium this time.

Pirate pyjamas

Pirate pyjama bottoms

For my mother-in-law I chose a fabric with lots of nature-type things on it.  She likes woodlands and woodland creatures and generally being outdoors and gardening and stuff.  She also likes turquoisey colours, so I opted for this fabric.  I was originally planning on using the Tilly Margot pattern for her, but she tried mine on and didn’t like the fit as much as Simplicity 2317, so I went with that pattern again!

Woodland creatures pyjama bottoms

Woodland creatures pyjama bottoms

The final pair of pyjama bottoms to make were for my sister in law, who asked me to make her pyjamas in the same fabric as these Liquorice Allsorts pyjamas I made for my son back in April.  This was the only fabric I didn’t buy from Leon’s – I ordered it from Minerva instead.  I traced her size using the Tilly Margot pyjama pattern and made a matching drawstring fastening.

Liquorice Allsorts pyjama bottoms

Liquorice Allsorts pyjama bottoms

So there you have it – seven pairs of pyjamas.  And if you are wondering – no, I didn’t make any for myself!  I didn’t have time.  I also recently made myself some superhero pyjama bottoms AND I have the holly-print Christmas pyjamas I made for myself last year.

Last year's Christmas pyjamas for myself

Last year’s Christmas pyjamas for myself

Read more…

The Christmas Stocking

December 23, 2015

Back in September my sister in law had her first baby – a little boy called Jacob.  I was very excited about being an aunt.  Whilst trying to decide what to make for my next White Tree Fabrics project, I came across the embroidery and sewing kits they sell, and thought it would be nice to make Jacob a Christmas stocking.  I felt very smug because it was only September and already I was planning a Christmas project.  The older and wiser me looks back at the younger, smug, more foolish me and laughs scornfully.

If you know me, or have read my blog for a while, you will know that this is not my usual kind of project.  I’m not a fan of hand sewing, really.  But still, I thought it would be nice to try something different, and I thought that it would be pretty easy.  I mean, it’s a kit, right?  You just, like, sew on some bits here and there and a few sequins and you’re done, right?  I envisaged setting aside one (child-free) day, and just sitting down with the radio and a pot of tea and making a lovely stocking.

Dimensions Felt Applique Christmas Stocking - Sequinned Santa

Dimensions Felt Applique Christmas Stocking – Sequinned Santa

Under this misconception, I decided it was too early to start making this when it arrived in October.  Instead I made a start on the family Christmas pyjamas, and by November I had made three childrens’ pyjama sets and two pairs of adult pyjama bottoms.  SO SMUG.  Then I made the dinosaur dress for my friend’s wedding at the end of November.  Then I did some boring sewing I had been asked to do but was putting off.  And then it was December.  Eek.

A child-free December day arrived – Monday 7th – and I got out the kit, made a brew and put the radio on.  I had six hours before I had to collect my daughter from school.  Plenty of time.  Six hours later, I had this:

Six hours

Six hours

Hmmm.  Maybe this was going to take longer than I thought.  The following Monday – 14th December – I had another child-free day.  I spent another six hours and got this far:

Twelve hours

Twelve hours

I started to get very worried that I wasn’t going to finish this in time.  I started to prioritise it and try to do as much as I could here and there.  By December 19th I hit the 18 hour mark, and was still only on step 9 of 20.

Eighteen hours

Eighteen hours – ignore leaflet from Jehovah’s Witnesses who called round to ask me ‘Will Suffering Ever End?’…spreading the joy, there!!

Suddenly I was thinking of everything I had to do before Christmas (I won’t bore you with a list – but be assured it was long).  I was going to have to really knuckle down to this and just get it finished so I could do all the other things in time.  It took a further ten and half hours to finish – so twenty eight and a half hours in total to complete.

Twenty-eight and a half hours

Twenty-eight and a half hours

Looking at it, I still can’t believe it took that long.  This kind of craft is so deceptive!  Having said that, I want to state, just for the record, that I did actually really enjoy the process.  It was a very absorbing activity and I listened to a lot of radio whilst doing it, so it felt relaxing in one way – I just wish I’d started it earlier so that I wasn’t worrying about all the other things I had to do.  I don’t love hand sewing, but that’s usually because I prefer to use a machine.  But this project wouldn’t be possible to make by machine – so it’s a totally different kind of hand sewing.  I have never done embroidery before and I’m pleased with how it turned out even though the embroidery is mainly just very simple stem stitch.

As for reviewing the kit itself – well I thought it was very good.  The instructions were excellent and the quality of the materials was top notch.  The only criticism I have is that you are supposed to stuff some of the applique pieces to give a more prominent, 3D, quilted effect, but the stuffing was not provided.  Everything else was provided – right down to the needles – so why they couldn’t also provide stuffing is a mystery to me.  Having never done a project like this, I have no idea what sort of stuffing I need, and frankly I didn’t have time to traipse around a craft shop guessing.  So, the stocking is not stuffed, and I think it looks fine, although I think a bit of stuffing would have made it look even better.

I’m very happy to have finished the project, and have already informed my own poor children that I will not be making one each for them: they can make do with the mass-produced £1 stockings from the Card Factory.  As for Jacob, I’m going to get him to sign an agreement to use this every Christmas Eve until he is at least 21 ;-)

Merry Christmas one and all!

Dinosaur Wedding Dress

November 30, 2015

Over the weekend my best friend and her partner had a party to celebrate ten years of being together…and they got married at the same time!  They kept the wedding a secret, so most guests had no idea they were coming to a wedding until the ceremony began!

For many years, the groom had often joked about wanting to dress up as a dinosaur on his wedding day, so when I found out that they were planning a wedding, I immediately asked him if he was going to be dressing up as a dinosaur.  He said no – no doubt much to his fiancee’s relief – and that’s when the inspiration struck for my own wedding outfit!  Obviously I was planning on making a dress to wear, but when the idea popped into my head to use dinosaur-print fabric, I just went with it.  Perhaps dinosaurs are not traditional wedding attire, but this wasn’t a traditional wedding…and I knew the groom would like it!

The Dinosaur Dress

The Dinosaur Dress

I ordered the fabric from Sparkly Fabrics, which I was bit nervous about because I’d never heard of it, but it was brilliant service and it arrived the very next day, so I was pretty impressed.  The fabric is a Timeless Treasures print, and look at that selvedge!!!  I have saved it as it is too cute to throw away!

Dinosaur footprints!

Dinosaur footprints!

The pattern I started with is the Eliza M Vintage Eliza dress pattern, and this dinosaur dress is what I had in mind when I used the pattern last time for the Gin Festival dress.  I was disappointed with the quality of the pattern and I changed the design of it last time, and this time I wanted to make a few more changes to make it look exactly how I wanted.  The main thing I wanted to change was the neckline, which I thought came up too high on the Gin Festival dress.  I lowered it by almost two inches and added in the sweetheart dip at the centre front.  I also changed the shoulder straps, thinning them out a little as they were too chunky before.  I kept the waistband that I drafted last time and made a gathered skirt again – this time a couple of inches longer.

Just before the wedding

Just before the wedding

What I have ended up with looks a lot more like the By Hand London Kim pattern, except that the front doesn’t have princess seams – only waist darts – and the back doesn’t have any darts at all.  So it’s actually better in terms of pattern matching, and it’s quicker to sew.  I think I got a good fit, too, so overall it’s a win and I may well use the pattern pieces again.

Alterations to the neckline and straps

Alterations to the neckline and straps

I’ll have to think of a name for the pattern: it feels incorrect to call it the Eliza dress because I altered the pattern pieces so much.  Crucially, though, the changes I made only made it look more like it was supposed to in the first place according to the picture on the pattern envelope – so I guess it’s a ‘redrafted’ Eliza dress – with a waistband and a different skirt.  Whatever.  I’m even boring myself now.

Back view - concealed zip

Back view – concealed zip

I used a concealed zip for the back which worked out pretty well, except I totally didn’t realise I hadn’t fully zipped it to the top for the photo below of the back – hahaha!  I can’t be bothered to put the dress again to get another photo of the back – so this is what it looks like when it’s partially unzipped. LOL.  Also this was before I had straightened my hair.  Nevermind eh.  Later that evening my husband noticed the zip and zipped it up properly for me!

Whoops...

Whoops…

And here is a photo of me and the bride.  She is wearing a gorgeous 50s style polka dot dress with a big frilly petticoat underneath, and she had her hair and make up done by a make up artist who specialises in retro/vintage styling.  Doesn’t she look beautiful!!

Frocks!

Frocks!

It was a brilliant wedding and I got to spend time with some very dear friends who I don’t get to see as often as I would like to – friends who I spent the majority of my formative years with!  We no longer all live nearby one another and we have very different lives now, but there’s a bond between us that, as far as I am concerned, will always be there. It was fabulous to all be together dancing to Pulp and taking lots of silly photos (which I will save them the embarrassment of posting here).

Congratulations to the happy couple xxx

The Gin Festival Dress

November 17, 2015

I have quite a stack of sewing patterns which I haven’t gotten around to using yet, and as I was looking through them I came across the Eliza dress pattern from Eliza M Vintage.  Claire, the lady behind Eliza M and Simple Sew patterns, gave me this pattern a few years ago now, along with the Audrey pattern for reviewing purposes (reviewed here) and the Betty pattern, which I haven’t yet made.  However, although I started with the Eliza dress pattern, I’m not calling this an Eliza dress, as it ended up nothing like the original design!

The Gin Festival dress - so called because the first time I wore it was to a Gin Festival.

The Gin Festival dress – so called because the first time I wore it was to a Gin Festival.

From previous experience of using Simple Sew patterns and Eliza M Vintage patterns, I knew the fit wasn’t going to be quite right for me without any alteration, so I used up some African wax print cotton (leftover from my Belladone dress) to make a toile.  I basted together the bodice (minus facings) and basted in a zip to find that the waistline was nowhere near my waist, so I drafted quite a deep waistband to lengthen the bodice so that when I attached the skirt it would be starting at my natural waist, which is where it should be according to the design on the pattern envelope, I think.

wpid-photogrid_1447162666268.jpg

I had enough fabric to cut a circle skirt, but I wanted to see what the dress would look like with a gathered skirt as I have something specific in mind for the final dress (which I haven’t made yet).  I cut the pieces for a gathered skirt using the whole width of the fabric and a length of 24″.

Future Patrick Grant inspecting my sewing...

Future Patrick Grant inspecting my sewing…

I’m sorry to say that the instructions for the construction of this dress are pretty terrible.  The pictures don’t always match the design of the dress – for instance a round-neck dress is sometimes shown when this has a square neckline.  Side darts are included in the instructions and the diagrams but there are no side darts drafted in the pattern (or indicated in the line drawing).  And, most crucially, there are no instructions whatsoever on how to create the sweetheart neckline (even on the other side of the paper pictured below).  It seems a bit shoddy to me: I’m certainly glad I didn’t actually pay for the pattern.  I did also mention in my review of the Audrey dress that the pattern envelopes are sealed with sticky, gummy glue that sticks to everything once opened – not a good feature – and the pattern tissue is all in one mega-gigantic piece which makes it extremely tricky to handle.

Pattern instructions which tell you to sew non-existent bust darts, and which show a different style of dress in some of the diagrams. Poor.

Pattern instructions which tell you to sew non-existent side darts, and which show a different style of dress in some of the diagrams. Poor.

I’m happy enough with the outcome: it’s a pretty dress… but it isn’t exactly how I’d like it to be, so for my next version I’ve still got a few small changes to make in addition to the added waistband and the gathered skirt.  I’m quite pleased with my lapped zip in this dress, although at the top the left side is a scant 1/8″ higher than the right – arrgh!  I’ve already bought a concealed zip for the next version.

Lapped zip

Lapped zip

I wore the dress to a Gin Festival with my good friend and co-blogger Aileen (she hasn’t blogged on here in a few years now, but maybe she will come back if we ask nicely!).  She was also wearing a handmade dress – a By Hand London Anna dress with a gathered skirt that she made last year sometime I think.  Isn’t it gorgeous?!  I love the print!

By Hand London Anna dress in bookshelf print fabric

By Hand London Anna dress in bookshelf print fabric

I like that photo a lot, but I’m going to leave you with a sillier version:

Gin. Dresses. Books. Friends.

Gin. Dresses. Books. Friends.

 

 

 

My October Minerva Make – Superhero pyjamas!

October 27, 2015

Hmmm.  I feel as though I’m always making pyjamas.  I suppose they do get worn more than anything else, though, so it’s nice to throw a new pair into the mix.

Tilly and the Buttons Margot pyjama bottoms

Tilly and the Buttons Margot pyjama bottoms

Three of my oldest pairs of homemade pyjamas have bitten the dust recently.  I was getting tired of them so I wore them to do some fence-painting, then when they got paint splashed onto them I had a valid reason to chuck them away.

Handmade by Tabatha Tweedie

Handmade by Tabatha Tweedie

For this pair of pyjama bottoms I used Tilly’s Margot pattern from her book ‘Love at First Stitch’ (reviewed here) and I am suitably impressed – they fit really nicely and of course they’re easy to make.  I will be using the pattern again to make Christmas-present pyjamas.  I didn’t make any alterations to the pattern, but I pimped it a little by adding an elastic waistband for comfort as well as the drawstring, and by adding a patch pocket to shove my phone in (not in bed, more like as I walk around the house!).

Patch Pocket

Pattern-matched patch pocket

The length of the trousers is perfect for me (I am 5’10”), which made a refreshing change, as other patterns I’ve used always end up way too long (and use longer lengths of fabric, too, making them more expensive to sew and resulting in more waste).

Pyjamas outside (the light was better!)

Pyjamas outside (the light was better!)

Isn’t the fabric ace?! It’s by Camelot fabrics and it features three DC Comics superheros: Wonder Woman, Cat Woman and Super Girl.  They do it in grey and in red, too, but despite my usual preference for red, I opted for the blue colourway this time.  It’s a poplin quilting fabric so it’s medium weight but really soft and smooth.

Apart from the patch pocket, I didn’t bother pattern-matching the print, which has resulted in an unintentional-but-quite-amusing ‘BOOM BOOM’ just above my bum crack.  I’m not sure what else I can really say about that…

BOOM BOOM

BOOM BOOM

Overall these pyjama bottoms were fun to make and they are fun to wear.  Thanks to Minerva for sending me the fabric.  Over and out.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 589 other followers

%d bloggers like this: