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“You’re quite creative; you could just whip something up…”

June 29, 2015

It was Monday afternoon.  I was planning out my week and liaising with my neighbour about when our kids can go to each other’s houses to play after school.  She says ‘It’s school disco on Thursday’.  Errrr what?!  I had no idea!  One of those instances where your child loses the important letter and you’re totally oblivious to what’s going on!

As I’m waiting to collect my daughter at hometime that day, I chat to another mum and I’m telling her how I didn’t even realise it was the disco on the Thursday, and that leads her to inform me that it’s Hawaiian themed!  I feel so unprepared!  She suggests my daughter could just wear generic summer clothing – shorts, tshirt, sunglasses etc, but then says “Mind you, you’re quite creative; you could just whip something up, couldn’t you?”, to which I laughed and said that I could, but I wouldn’t really have time as I knew I had my Minerva dress to make by the following Tuesday, and having made plans for the weekend, that basically meant I’d need to get it made that week.

But the thing is…I knew I already had the perfect Hawaiian fabric in my stash.  I got it in a swap, so long ago I can’t even remember which swap or who it was from, but that 1.4m of fabric had been waiting to be made into a little girl’s dress and now it’s time had come!  I had even bought a matching zip, matching thread and I had prewashed the fabric!  Past Louise was extremely organised!

That night once the kids were in bed I got to work.  I chose New Look 6205 because it’s such a lovely style, but I needed to trace age 5 this time as my daughter’s previous versions of this dress no longer fit.  And, y’know, she’s 5.  I wanted to fully line the dress to make the white part of the fabric stand out properly, so I cut a full lining out of plain white cotton.  The only thing I would have ideally had to hand would have been either purple or white bias binding for the neckline, but I made do with hot pink as it’s turned to the inside anyway.

New Look 6205

New Look 6205

I lined the bodice as directed in the pattern, but the pattern doesn’t include instructions for a skirt lining.  Having made several versions of this dress with various different types of lining, I knew what I wanted to do for this particular fabric: I wanted to ‘underline’ the skirt and have it as one piece with the main fabric.  This would help to keep the pleats together and to keep the opacity of the white parts of the main fabric.

New Look 6205 - back view

New Look 6205 – back view

The final touch was to make the flower corsage.  I had a flower garland from a Hawaiian party a few years ago so I detached a couple of the red flowers for contrast and sewed them onto the dress with a lovely big green flower button in the middle.  I then made two co-ordinating ‘corsages’ for my neighbour’s two daughters who also went to the disco.  In fact the younger of the two sisters wore a dress I made for my daughter last year which can pass for a Hawaiian print too!

SO. MUCH. CUTE.

SO. MUCH. CUTE.

I finished making the dress on Tuesday night about 24 hours after I started it.  It didn’t take that long to make of course, I did things like sleeping and eating, the school run and taking my son to the park etc during that 24 hours as well!  I was pretty pleased with the outcome though and I still had time to make my Minerva dress the same week!  Hurrah!

New Look 6205

New Look 6205

My June Minerva Make – Zig Zag Dress

June 23, 2015

This month’s project for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network is Simplicity 1610 in red and cream zig zag striped fabric from the Playground Collection of quilting fabrics.  The red is very orangey, but that means it goes really well with my new sandals which are also meant to be red but seem to be more orange!  Bonus!

Pockets!

Pockets!

I chose this pattern because I was looking for something that would work well with a striped fabric.  I knew it was going to be a bit of a challenge to pattern match, but I managed to match up the stripes at the side seams, lower princess seams and across the centre back.

Pattern-matching across seams!

Pattern-matching across seams!

The bodice of the dress is lined with plain cream polycotton.  The pattern doesn’t call for a skirt lining, and although I would have liked to add one in, I didn’t have any lining fabric at the time of sewing so I didn’t bother.  Because of the colours I can’t see me wearing this dress in the winter anyway.

Husband trying different camera angles!

Husband trying different camera angles!

I really like the fit of the bodice of this dress, and can see me using it again.  I’m not sure if I like the skirt pattern, though.  I’ve gone off gathered waistlines because they add too much bulk around the waist, and I’ve realised circle skirts are impractical if it’s a bit windy, which it nearly always is here.  I’m leaning more towards a-line skirts, and thought this might fit the bill.  I’ll have to see how it feels when I wear it properly – these photos were just of me trying it on for a short while.  In any case, I do like the built-in pockets!

Simplicity 1610

Simplicity 1610

Perhaps the most pleasing thing about making this was that I managed to get it made in a school day.  I had already cut the fabric, but I started sewing it around half nine and it was done with time to spare before I had to go and pick up my daughter (my son was at nursery for the day).  I can’t remember the last time I started and finished something in the same day – it was a good feeling!

The back

The back

Thank you to Minerva for sending me the things I needed: the pattern, zip, fabric and bodice lining.

Cynthia Rowley 1607 – The Hummingbirds Dress

June 17, 2015

Greetings!

Cynthia Rowley 1607

Cynthia Rowley 1607

Today I’m excited to show you my newest dress, made with fabric bought on Goldhawk Road at a sewing meet-up last year, and the Simplicity Cynthia Rowley 1607 pattern.

Sparkly shooooeeeessss!

Sparkly shooooeeeessss!

Last summer I made the crazy strap version of this dress, and although it was fun to wear out on a hen night, the straps really got on my nerves, so I haven’t worn it since.  However, I really liked the shape of the dress and so I finally got around to making the other view of the pattern, which is the same silhouette but with a vest style bodice with a mini crossover detail at the back.

Cynthia Rowley 1607 - back view

Cynthia Rowley 1607 – back view

This dress is very fitted around the tummy, and as it’s not exactly my best feature I wanted to build some support into the dress, so as well as interfacing the midriff section (which is basically more of a waistband), I also interfaced the ‘yoke’ section (i.e. the stomach bit), and made a facing for that as well, and then I thought I might as well add in a skirt lining so that I can wear the dress over tights in the winter.

Midriff and yoke interfaced and lined with main fabric, skirt lined with premium viscose lining

Midriff and yoke interfaced and lined with main fabric, skirt lined with premium viscose lining

When the dress was made I was pretty unhappy with the crossover straps at the back – they stuck out and looked really silly, so I had to unpick the stitching and reposition them.  I love the strap detail but the dress would work just as well without, as a low V back.

New dress!

New dress!

At first I thought the dress was too tight, but having worn it today to walk to school and back, and to take my son to playgroup, I’ve decided I don’t care!  It wrinkles a bit at the back, but I’m not going to let that worry me.  I think it goes without saying that I did not wear those shoes all day, however!  I wore these for the photos then changed into my silver Birkenstocks!

Max weight 45kg. LOL.  I laugh in the face of danger.

Max weight 45kg. LOL. I laugh in the face of danger.

 

Vintage-style toddler pyjamas

June 10, 2015

The daughter of a good friend of mine is turning three today, and although I live 100 miles away from her, I was passing in her general direction over the weekend and so was able to pop in to personally deliver her present – a pair of hand-made pyjamas!

Birthday girl!

Birthday girl!

I’ve used this pattern several times now – New Look 6932 – and always been pleased with the result.  The pyjama top is a bit fiddly, especially the yoke and its facing, but nothing a few deep breaths, gritted teeth and pint of gin can’t get you through.  The thing I love most about these pyjamas is the leg frill: it’s so cute!  The last time I made these for my own daughter, I forgot to trace that particular pattern piece, but this time I made sure I had it.

New Look 6932

New Look 6932

I’ve had the fabric in my stash for over three years – funnily enough the only thing I had used it for before now was for an applique heart to put on some personalised baby bunting…the baby being none other than the beautiful three year old recipient of these pyjamas!  When I bought the fabric I had no idea it would be destined for her and her alone!  It’s a medium weight cotton and the background colour is white, although on some of these photos it looks almost pinky but that’s down to my photography/lighting/camera.

New Look 6932 Pyjama Top

New Look 6932 Pyjama Top

I didn’t really expect my friend’s daughter to be so excited by the gift, to be honest, because I assumed when it comes to presents most children would rather have toys, but she liked them so much that she demanded to wear them immediately!  This was brilliant as it allowed me to get a few snaps of her wearing them!

Pyjamas: perfect for......the garden?!?!

Pyjamas: perfect for……the garden?!?!

Apparently she has declared all her other pyjamas are rubbish! :-)

The pyjama top has a button fastening at the back

The pyjama top has a button fastening at the back

Happy birthday, beautiful girl, have a wonderful day :-)

My May Minerva Make – Polka Dot Shirt Dress

May 26, 2015

Greetings.  I hope you all had a lovely weekend.  Today I’m showing you my latest sewing project for the Minerva Crafts blogger network: a shirt dress made with some lovely red and white polka dot fabric.

McCall's 6696

McCall’s 6696

I have made two shirt dresses before using the ‘shirtwaist’ pattern from Gertie’s New Book For Better Sewing, but I wanted to try McCall’s 6696 this time because I prefer the collar and it has more options for variation.  For this particular project I decided to start with view A – the sleeveless version with a full pleated skirt.  The fabric was a pretty obvious choice for me given that I like polka dots and red is my favourite colour.  The added bonus was that this fabric is 60″ wide and it’s a really lovely quality.  It is described as ‘stretch cotton designer dress fabric’.  It has quite a heavy drape and it’s sturdier and thicker than regular cotton.  It has a very smooth finish to it and I was very impressed with it.

McCall's 6696

McCall’s 6696

This dress took me a few days to make as there are lots of pattern pieces and lots of markings to transfer to the fabric.  Cutting the fabric and transferring the markings was the most tedious part.  I’m not the most patient of people and I often find that as soon as I start a project, I just want to get on with the sewing bit!  Once I did start the sewing though I really enjoyed making the dress and everything seemed to fit together perfectly.

wpid-20150524_180733.jpg

I did have two upsetting moments when making this though: first of all, I accidentally chopped a bit of it off.  It’s the bit right at the bottom of the front button placket/band.  Whoops!  I could have shortened the whole dress but instead I interfaced the back to hold it together and then carried on sewing it.  I’ll have to see how it holds up in the wash and maybe patch it or something if necessary.  The second stressful moment was when my sewing machine decided to stop working!  I was extremely worried but after I dismantled it, cleaned it and oiled it, luckily it decided to work again.  Thank goodness!

It was a bit windy in this photo which is why the dress is hanging not quite straight and my hair looks a bit odd!

It was a bit windy in this photo which is why the dress is hanging not quite straight and my hair looks a bit odd!

I’m not 100% sure about the fit of the dress.  It’s actually quite loose, especially under the arms, but when my arms are down (i.e. most of the time) it certainly isn’t noticeable.  I realise that shirt dresses aren’t meant to be too tight, and it is comfortable, which is good, and most importantly it isn’t pulling or straining anywhere.  So maybe it is how it’s supposed to be!

Back view. I love the pleats!

Back view. I love the pleats!

I think I would like to get a narrow white belt to wear with it.  There is no button on the waistband itself, just either side of it, which means when sitting down it has a tendency to gape open.  I think a belt would help disguise that a bit, or maybe adding a hidden hook and eye fastening on the waistband would be another option.

I'm sitting on a hay cart.  How awesome is that for a photo opportunity?!

I’m sitting on a hay cart. How awesome is that for a photo opportunity?!

One final thing I’d like to change is that I think it would look nice with turquoise buttons instead of white.  Obviously the white buttons are a good match, but I think turquoise would just give it something extra and make it more unusual.  So maybe I’ll get around to doing that at some point!

Thanks to Minerva for sending the supplies :-)

My third White Tree Fabrics Make – The Tilly and the Buttons Francoise Dress

May 19, 2015

Hi there!  I am extremely happy and relieved to be able to show you my final version of the Tilly & the Buttons Francoise dress, made for the White Tree Fabrics blog team.  I have already shown you two previous versions, both essentially acting as toiles for this project.  The first one was too small for my liking (even though it perhaps didn’t look small to anyone else) and the second one had something fishy going on at the back…something I thought might be improved by making a sway-back adjustment to the pattern.

For my third toile, I made a sway-back alteration of 1″, re-positioned the lower part of the back darts to line up better, reduced the centre back seam allowance at the very top by 1″, adjusted the facings to match and lengthened the dress by 2″.  It was not good.  The problem at the back seemed to have worsened, so I concluded that the sway back alteration needed increasing.  I made a fourth toile, this time increasing the sway back to 1.5″, and reducing the centre back seam only by 1/2″, and increasing the length of the dress by a further 2″.  It was AWFUL.  I threw away both the third and fourth toiles without taking photos.

I was feeling pretty depressed by this point.  I’ve been trying hard to find the motivation to sew as I mentioned in a previous blog post, and I felt like I had wasted effort and time (not to mention fabric!) trying to get this dress to work.  It enraged me.  This is a simple dress!  How simple could it get?  Why is it I can make a coat or a shirt but I can’t get a shift dress right?!

I decided to give it one last go, but this time I planned on keeping it simple.  I’ve been sewing for five years and I’ve never needed a sway-back alteration before, and it didn’t seem to be working now, so to hell with it.  I retraced the pattern, lengthened the dress by 4″ and took out 1/2″ at the centre back tapering to nothing.  And that’s all.  If there was going to be a bit of wrinkling over my bum then so be it, I was past caring!!!

Back when I first started planning this dress I wanted it to be a special Francoise.  I wanted it to be just that bit different.  I wanted it fully lined and I wanted the collar to also feature some lace.  I chose the Tilda fabric ‘Olivia Red’ for the main fabric, which I think is more pink in real life.  I chose to make the collar with contrasting plain cream cotton and an ivory lace overlay.  I chose a lovely ‘premium’ viscose lining which feels far superior to the polyester linings I have used in the past – much softer and smoother.

I made the dress with the 3/4 length sleeves, but for the lining I followed the directions for the sleeveless version.  The lining is attached at the neckline (like the facing would have been) and it is sewn into the zip but otherwise it hangs free.  The armholes of the lining are finished with bias strips.

The lining - sewn into the CB zip

The lining – sewn into the CB zip

For the lace collar, I cut two layers of collar pieces, a layer of interfacing and a layer of lace and basted the lace onto the upper (outer?) collar before sewing.  I think it works quite well although maybe a heavier lace would have stood out more – I don’t know whether understated is better or worse in this case!

Lace collar

Lace collar

Making this dress has made me realise I’m not a fan of raglan sleeves.  They make my shoulders seem too rounded, I prefer the definition of the seam on a regular armscye.  I want to see where my shoulder stops and my arms begin because otherwise it feels as though my shoulders are slopping halfway down my arm.  I also think regular sleeves are easier to fit, even though they are (slightly) harder to sew.  The raglan seams wrinkle a bit on this dress and it’s probably down to my apparent lack of ability to sew well but whatever, I JUST DON’T LIKE THEM OKAY?!

The Francoise Dress - front view

The Francoise Dress – front view

Fit-wise, this dress is thankfully better than its four predecessors: loose enough fit to be comfortable, and a better length.  The full lining is lovely, and means I’ll be able to wear it all year round over tights etc.  The back still needs work, but I’m not a complete glutton for punishment – Francoise and I are done!  One thing I noticed when I looked at a lot of other Francoise dresses with collars was that the collar pieces at the centre back seemed to be very far apart.  I bore this in mind when altering the dress so although I took out 1/2″ per side of the centre back neckline, I kept the original length of the collar pieces, hoping they would meet closer together at the back.  In hindsight, obviously I should have actually measured it, because there is still a pretty large gap between collar ends.  What is that about?!

Back view

The Francoise Dress – back view – with creases from when I had been sitting down!

Luckily the main fit issues and the gap in the collar are both at the back, and I can’t see the back when I’m wearing the dress so I’m not too fussed.  I like the dress from the front and I know I’m being about 1000% more critical than most other people would be anyway…so this dress is going to get worn.  All that effort has to be worth something, right?!  Besides, I love the fabric!

The Francoise Dress

The Francoise Dress

Thank you to White Tree Fabrics who sent me the pattern, the Tilda fabric, the lining, the lace and the cotton – all beautifully packaged :-)

Last one!

Last one!

My April Minerva Make – Toddler Liquorice Allsorts Pyjamas

April 28, 2015

This month’s project for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network is a pair of Liquorice Allsorts pyjamas for my son.  I chose Simplicity 1574 – a toddler pyjama pattern for a traditional woven pyjama set (although it does also have options for a t-shirt top, and even a robe!)  I chose the fabric by searching through all the novelty prints and choosing one that wasn’t too cutesy or babyish, but still fun, but not so cool that I’d rather make myself a dress out of it.  It might surprise you to learn that I don’t want a Liquorice Allsorts dress, despite my penchant for novelty, so the fabric was safely destined for my son from the word go.

Simplicity 1574

Simplicity 1574

When it came to choosing what size to make him, I was already thinking I might have to go up a size bigger than his age.  He’s not quite two and a half yet, but he’s a 91st-centile baby for both height and weight, so when I measured him I wasn’t surprised to find I’d need to cut him the age 3 size!  The pyjama bottoms have turned out a teeny bit long, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be long before he’s grown taller again, so I’m leaving them as they are.

Morning pose

Morning pose

The pattern came together really easily.  The construction of the shirt top is well designed, and the pyjama bottoms are easy peasy to sew.  I’ll definitely be making him some Christmas pyjamas using this pattern!

My little sweetie...haha

My little sweetie…haha

The insides are all overlocked.  I could have faffed around with enclosed seams, but as this was my first major sew since February I just didn’t have the patience to make it unecessarily complicated.

Milk and muslin before bed

Milk and muslin before bed

When I presented him with the pyjamas, I also bought him a packet of Liquorice Allsorts and we had fun matching the sweets to the pyjamas.  Us teachers have to make everything educational, you know.

In bed

In bed

So there you have it – a very tasty pair of pyjamas!  Thank you to Minerva for sending me all the supplies I needed for this project!

I want to leave you with a pointless, non-sewing related question: which is your favourite Liquorice Allsort?  I like the blue and pink bobbly ones.  I’m pretty sure that’s the technical term for them.

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