I’ve been struggling this year to motivate myself to sew. I think I had a touch of the winter blues after new year and there were lots of occasions that required my time, money and attention, such as birthdays and parties etc, as well as a few unexpected bouts of illness for both me and the children, which completely threw out my normal routines. I stopped sewing around mid-February and haven’t made anything blog-worthy since.
Another thing that reduced my desire to sew was that I felt like I had undergone a complete change in personal style since my daughter started school in September. I used to wear dresses EVERY SINGLE DAY. If you saw me in trousers, it was bound to be a sign that I was having a really bad day. But since September I have bought five pairs of skinny jeans. I think because they are practical to tuck into boots and walk to and from school twice a day. I never even liked skinny jeans. In fact I hated them. But suddenly I’m buying them. And I like them. But I’m not going to sew them. So what’s the point of sewing?
Then the ‘I haven’t been sewing’ thing grew in my mind, to the point where I’d find myself with the opportunity to sew, with absolutely no impediment whatsoever, except the fact that I hadn’t been sewing recently made me feel somehow worried about starting again. It sounds strange, and I haven’t adequately put into words how I felt, but I guess you’ll get the idea. There were times I’d sit on the sofa thinking about how I could be sewing, even how I should be sewing, but instead wasting time faffing about on my phone, achieving nothing.
After Easter, once my eldest child had gone back to school, I decided to try and get back on track. I returned to eating more healthily and running, and I planned on getting back into sewing, too, because the weather is getting warmer and I don’t need to rely on my ‘Mum Uniform’ of skinny jeans tucked into boots with a parka. I still have a Francoise dress to make for White Tree Fabrics, but I wanted to alter it a bit after being unhappy with my first two attempts. I tried out some adjustments and made a toile, and it wasn’t right, so I made further adjustments and made another toile, and that one was even worse!!! Not a great way to motivate oneself! I felt like I’d put the effort in and completely wasted my time. Normally, I could take this in my stride, but at the moment it just resulted in demotivating me further.
Hey ho. A week ago, I had the pleasure of attending a sewing meet up in Leeds, with a small bunch of ladies who I’m getting to know a bit better, and although I wasn’t planning on spending any money, I returned with a few exciting purchases and some goodies which I totally just grabbed in the swap! I donated a skirt length of 100% Welsh wool, with matching lining and zipper – Simona was the one who ended up taking that home. I got some thick stripy jersey from Ruth and the Sewaholic Thurlow pattern from Not Sew Simple. The trip made me feel enthusiastic and excited about sewing again, it was just what I needed! Many thanks to Craft Alchemy for organising the trip – it did me a power of good.
This week, I had my Minerva deadline looming, so I had to buck my ideas up. I temporarily put aside the Francoise and concentrated on making my Minerva project (which I’ll be blogging on Tuesday). I got that done quickly and easily, and made a Coco top with the fabric from Ruth as well. Two completed projects in one day?! I must be getting back on track!
So…hopefully you’ll be seeing a bit more of me from now on. I’ve got lots of ideas about things I want to make, it’s just a case of getting down to it. And getting that darn Francoise dress done and dusted!
I have been meaning to buy the Kitschy Coo Lady Skater dress pattern for sooooooo long, after admiring it on so many other sewing bloggers. I don’t quite know why it took me so long to get around to it, but I’m glad I finally did as I love my new dress. The pattern comes as a PDF, which made me think twice before buying, but I was relieved to find it’s very simple to assemble and doesn’t use tons of paper. It’s also a quick project to sew up: once I had assembled the paper pattern, I was able to cut and sew up my toile in just over two hours.
The fabric is Ponte Roma stretch jersey in red and black dogtooth. It is LOVELY and I want MORE. It’s quite a sturdy knit, which I like, and it feels so smooth and soft. It also comes in grey and black, tan brown and black, and a rather lovely royal blue and black, too, but of course I had to have red ;-)
Before I used the fabric, I made a toile in a size 5, using some plain purple jersey I got from The Man Outside Sainsburys (TM). This is just regular single jersey – actually from the handle, drape and finish I’d say it was viscose jersey. The dress turned out ok, but I wanted it to be a bit tighter. It didn’t seem to hug my waist in the way that I would expect this style of dress to do. I know that last sentence may make you think I’ve been replaced by an imposter, as I usually complain about things being too tight, but to me the bodice of this dress needs to be a snug fit.
I think the dress looks nice with this jacket (the jacket was not made by me, unfortunately). I have worn it a few times, and it’s ok, but I definitely prefer my dogtooth version, for which I retraced and made a size 4. I think it’s miles better on me, but I’m open to other opinions if you have them!
I don’t know if you can tell, but I haven’t hemmed either of these dresses. I know you don’t technically need to finish the raw edges of knits because they don’t fray, although there’s still part of me that feels a bit naughty for not ‘finishing’. But then I saw jersey skirts for sale in H&M the other day and they weren’t hemmed either! Not that H&M is the pinnacle of high quality, of course.
Perhaps I ought to get a twin needle and give that a try. As it happens, I didn’t really want to take anything off the length of these dresses so that was another reason to not bother.
I love the simplicity of this pattern. I would recommend it to others although I’m pretty sure that I’m the last person on earth to buy it anyway?! I’m sure I’ll be making more versions once I get my hands on some more nice fabric. Thanks to Minerva for the supplies – they sent me the fabric, thread and some clear elastic for stabilising the shoulder and waist seams. It’s the first time I’ve used clear elastic and I really liked it because it’s less bulky than other elastics.
And now I’m off to drink a cup of tea and maybe start a new book. Bye for now!
It’s been a while since I made a shirt for my husband. Like, two years. The first three shirts I made him using the Colette Negroni pattern were fine (each an improvement on the preceding one), but when I tried a Simplicity pattern for a Western style shirt, it all went a bit wrong (my fault) and scared me off sewing shirts. It was way too big, and to top it off I accidentally sewed the buttonholes on the wrong side. Ooops.
Finally I felt ready to tackle a shirt again but I wanted a different style this time, more in keeping with what my husband likes wearing – a fitted shirt with a regular collar (not a camp collar like the Negroni) that could be worn with a tie if desired. I found Burda 6931, and was at first put off by the contrast sleeves, collar and pocket of view A, but the line drawing showed potential so I ordered it, along with some really lovely quality cotton poplin which is perfect for making shirts with. My husband chose the colour, Claret, and I think it’s lovely. I neglected to see that the fabric recommendations are for fabrics with elastane, and having made the shirt I can now see why – it is very fitted!
After the disastrously big shirt I made last time, I wanted to make sure I didn’t get it wrong this time. I measured him and after consulting the size charts and the finished garment measurements, I opted to cut a size 36 for the chest but to grade down to a 34 at the waist.
I wanted this shirt to be beautifully finished, so I chose to sew flat fell seams for most of the seams, but when I was attaching one of the sleeves, I accidentally snipped into the seam allowance of the fabric (which when sewing a flat fell seam is on the right side of the garment). I was very, very annoyed with myself and I just couldn’t think what to do to fix it. I left it a whole two days before it suddenly occurred to me that I could unpick the sleeve and sew it the other way around, so that the snipped bit would at least be on the inside of the shirt! So it’s still a flat-fell seam, just that the overlapped part is on the inside – but you still get the second row of stitching showing on the right side parallel to the seam, so it looks good from the outside, too. Phew!
After having made several shirts before, and two shirt dresses, I was mentally prepared for the task of sewing the collar. Good job, too. Burda instructions are a bit sparse, to be honest – there’s none of the hand-holding that you might get in patterns from other companies. I remembered to ensure that the interfaced sides of the collar and collar band would be facing out when the collar is turned down, and when I was attaching the collarband piece to the neck edge, I clipped a scant 1/4″ into the neck edge of the shirt to help with the curve and avoid puckering. Incidentally, this is the first time I’ve ever sewn a shirt without a back yoke!
The sleeve vent instructions were extremely basic, and my previous experience means I’ve only ever made sleeve plackets rather than simple vents, so I had to consult one of my sewing books instead to get my head around what to do. They turned out ok to look at, but my husband did say that the vent seems to want to sit too far to the front, so perhaps the position of the vent needs to be further to the back next time.
I’d pretty much got this shirt all sewn up when I did a fit check. I basted the side seams together and, when husband returned home from the gym, I asked him to try it on. I was mortified to see it was too tight! I measured him again and he did seem to have grown a bit since I first measured, but I couldn’t understand how the ease built into the pattern didn’t cater for this! He claimed that he was bound to be a bit bigger directly after lifting weights, so all I could do was just wait and see if he’d shrunk again by the next day. I was sooooo disappointed – I felt like the shirt was looking perfect, but what good is a shirt that is too tight? He looked as though he’d been vacuum-packed into it!
Between this trying on session and the next, I undid the side seams and sewed them up again with a seam allowance of 1/4″ – which would give an extra 3/4″ width each side. In hindsight, I should have only done this at the side seams and not the underarm seams as well, as the sleeves didn’t need any extra width and now I think they look a bit billowy in comparison with the fit of the rest of the shirt. Decreasing the seam allowance to such an extent meant that I was unable to do flat fell seams at the sides – very disappointing. I didn’t want to overlock it, so I sewed a reinforcing extra line of stitching and then pinked the raw edges.
Because of the extra width in the sleeves, I had to increase the depth of the pleats in order to fit the cuffs. This could perhaps be a contributing factor to the not-quite-perfect fit of the sleeves. I wanted to create as much extra room as possible in the shirt, so the final change I made was to move all of the buttons over so that they were nearer the edge of the centre front. When my husband returned home from work, he tried the shirt on, and due to a magical combination of him shrinking and me making the shirt bigger, it fitted him!
It is very fitted, although I wonder if I’m hyper-sensitive to it because I made it. I think next time I’d like to sew a size larger and see how that turns out. Anyway, my husband likes it and demanded to wear it for an applicant day at work, and he said it was nice to wear and didn’t feel too tight. There isn’t any straining at the buttons, which I think would be the most obvious sign of it being too small.
Overall I really enjoyed making the shirt, despite the problems I encountered. I like the precision of shirt-making, and I take great pride in making something to the best of my ability, and solving problems when they occur. I’ll definitely be using this pattern again! I think I’d sew a size bigger and then I know I’d be fine to use a regular, non-stretch cotton. I’d definitely want to use the same interfacing, too. The woven interfacing from Minerva is THE BEST. Seriously. It’s my favourite. Love it.
Right, I’m off to sew some pretty dresses. It can’t all be selfless sewing around here, after all! ;-)
Here’s for something a bit different! As many of you will know, our fellow sewcialist and spoolette Vicki-Kate is expecting a baby. She’s already started her maternity leave, so there’s not long to go now. However, unbeknownst to her, since the end of September 2014, a group of us have been plotting a surprise for her – an online baby-shower!
We have each made her a gift, and today we’re all revealing them. It took me a while to decide what to make for Vicki-Kate as we didn’t know the baby’s gender, but in the end I settled on baby trousers using a pattern called ‘Mr. Two-Face Pants’ from the book ‘Sewing For Boys’. Despite the pattern’s provenance, these are unisex trousers as the design is basically the same as a pair of pyjama bottoms with an elasticated waist.
The fabric choice will look familiar to anyone who has been reading this blog this month, as it is the same fabric as I used for my Foxy Cambie dress. I looked through my (quite sizeable) fabric stash to find a unisex fabric, and with the exception of plain green, I found nothing that would be suitable for a girl or a boy, except this. But I think this is a brilliant print for kids’ clothing, and I hope Vicki-Kate likes it!
I made these for a 12 month old baby, so they won’t get worn straight away, but the growth rate of the baby starts to slow down a bit after the first year anyway, so that means that when the baby is big enough for them, they will last much longer! Also, having had two kids myself, I noticed that people love giving teeny-tiny baby clothes because they are so cute, which is brilliant of course but it’s good to have some bigger sizes ready and waiting.
The trousers have a patch pocket on the back right, which is a really cute detail. I sewed the inside leg seams with flat-felled seams, which is a hard-wearing finish often used for childrenswear. The crotch seam was too curved for a flat-fell seam so I did a French seam instead.
I really hope you like them, Vicki-Kate, and I wish you all the best with the birth and everything after. I will be posting these to you in the next few days.
Finally, thank you to Ann, who organised this – such a kind and thoughtful thing to do – I’m really pleased I was able to be part of it.
Recently my daughter has started to express a preference for skirts or dresses that ‘spin out’. If they don’t spin out when she twirls around, she’s not interested in wearing them!
Sometime last year I bought the book ‘Sewn With Love’ by Fiona Bell, which is full of vintage-inspired sewing patterns for children’s clothing. There are loads of sweet dress patterns in the book but I was quite taken by the idea of making the ‘Dirndl Skirt’ for my daughter.
I was very disappointed with the quality of the pattern, its markings and its ease of assembly. The patterns come on a CD so you can print them and stick the pages together, but there were no numbers or markings to help you match them up. This skirt pattern was basically a series of longer and longer rectangles, so it was pretty difficult to work out the order. It would have been much more helpful to give the measurements of the rectangles to cut.
Once I had finally assembled the ‘pattern’, I thought I’d be able to whip the skirt up in no time, but I had forgotten just how long gathering can take, and there is a lot of gathering in this skirt! The bottom tier alone was 5.5m long. For the third tier I had to split the gathering into eight sections to help control it and spread it evenly, and the bottom tier I split into sixteen sections. Although it was fiddly and took longer than I planned, I did enjoy making it a lot. I kept on imagining my daughter’s reaction when I showed it to her and imagining her twirling around in it.
The fabric is City Weekend by Liesl Gibson for Oliver+S by Moda. I bought it a couple of years ago so I’m glad to have finally used it up. It lingered in my stash so long because I only bought 1.5m – not quite sure why! I added extra fouff to the skirt (completely unnecessary, but it adds to the fun) by adding in a yellow crystal organza tiered underskirt, which I had made for a previous project but not used. I added it into the second tier so that it would hang a little below the final tier. There’s no point in having it if you can’t see a little peek of it, after all.
I had originally intended to give this to my daughter for her birthday, but I was too impatient to wait and I know she’s got tons of other things to open on her birthday. Of course, she loves it! It’s pretty long on her, and the elastic is pretty tight at the back, so I think this will last a couple of years actually if I added in a bit of extra elastic when it becomes too tight.
I’m not sure I’d use this book again. I love the finished skirt, and I still really like some of the other designs in the book, but assembling paper patterns with no markings or numbers is a big fat pain in the ass. Oh well, at least I got some use out of it!