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My November Minerva Make – The Abby Glassenberg Unicorn Head

November 22, 2016

Howdy!  This month’s project for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network is a wall-mounted stuffed unicorn head!  The pattern is Simplicity 1218 and it’s a really cool pattern.  You can make a reindeer/stag, a unicorn, a giraffe or an elephant!  I definitely want to make a reindeer in time for Christmas, with a red nose, obviously!

Unicorn Head!

Unicorn Head!

If you want to read more about how I made it and what I used, head on over to Minerva’s blog here.  Writing and opinions all my own!

I put unicorn heads in people's offices, cos I am the mob.

I put unicorn heads in people’s offices, cos I am the mob.

 

Vintage Pledge Pirate Dress

November 7, 2016
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ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

So my daughter needed a pirate outfit recently, to wear for ‘Pirate Day’ at school.  I knew about this in plenty of time, but, of course, I waited until the night before to get my ass in the sewing room to create something.  How else am I gonna be motivated and focused?!  IN NO OTHER WAY because my life revolves around deadlines, time slots, and feelings of obligation.  (You’ll have to just bear with me here as I’m drafting this post after several glasses of neat Sloe Gin sorrynotsorry.)

Pirate dress

Pirate dress

So, I had two options: make a fancy dress pirate costume, or make a normal dress using some pirate fabric.  Bearing in mind I had, that day, attended my daughter’s pirate-themed assembly, in which she heroically played the part of Ann Bonny the famous female pirate, wearing, erm, an old pair of stripy pyjama bottoms and a red tshirt, amongst her peers who all looked the part in amazing pirate outfits (even if they were all mainly from Asda), and me, her own mother, even going as far as to wear my own pirate dress (the Sewaholic Cambie, if you’re interested); I wanted not only to sew her something handmade to make up for my lack of adequate costume provision for her class assembly, but also to create something different to everyone else’s outfits, so I decided on a normal dress in pirate fabric, also reasoning that it would be something she could wear frequently (because why wouldn’t you want a pirate dress for everyday wear?).  This decision was in no way influenced by the fact that it would be easier and quicker.

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I had a look through my children’s dress patterns and found this vintage Simplicity Jiffy 5291 pattern from 1963 for a swinging sixties shift dress!  The pattern was sent to me a while ago by a friend who likes sewing but who has two boys🙂 After quickly taking my daughter’s measurements I decided to chance it.  I figured a loose fit would be quite handy because I wanted her to be able to wear a tshirt underneath to keep her warm.  This decision was in no way influenced by the fact that this is a single size pattern.

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The sewing was easy peasy and super quick.  The only zip I had in my stash was a regular dress zip in turquoise, so I thought the best way to conceal it would be to do a lapped zipper, and I’m mega pleased with it.  My daughter was really pleased with her new dress the next day and I’m hoping she’ll want to wear it again soon!  I reckon it will fit her for a few years yet – bonus!

Lapped zip

Lapped zip

This is the second vintage pattern I have used in 2016, which I know is not a major achievement or anything, but I do usually sew modern patterns, so I’m pleased to be able to include it in Kerry and Marie’s 2016 Vintage Pledge.

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I’m also quite pleased that in the writing of this blog, I managed to produce a sentence with 146 words in it.  My husband thinks the semi-colon in that sentence should just be a comma, and probably he is right, but I wanted to clearly separate the ‘what people wore’ part of the sentence from ‘what I chose to make in relation to what people wore’, so I’m keeping it, because I like it.

Daughter in pirate dress with my son in the pirate outfit I made for my daughter three years ago. CUTIES!

Daughter in pirate dress with my son in the pirate outfit I made for my daughter three years ago. CUTIES!

Bye.

 

My first Colette Moneta dress

November 2, 2016
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A few months ago, the director of Sew Essential, Lucy, contacted me to ask if I would consider writing a blog post linking to their site in exchange for some freebies.  Clearly I said yes, and I’m here to show you my new dress!  I chose the Colette Patterns Moneta pattern, which has been on my wishlist for aaaaaagges, and some John Kaldor jersey to make it up in.  Lucky me!

Yay new dress!

Yay new dress!

Having made many, many versions of the Kitschy Coo Lady Skater dress, you might surmise that I was not in need of the Colette Moneta dress pattern, but to you I just say HAHAHA NOPE.  They are different – different necklines, different sleeves, different skirts.  It’s always a pleasure to work with a Colette pattern – for me they are a tried and trusted, familiar, independent brand that just completely nailed it: they came at just the right time to the sewing community with their beautiful, vintage-inspired modern sewing patterns and they’ve gone from strength to strength.  You’ve got to admire Sarai and all her team, past and present, for having exactly the right vision.

On Ilka' Moor baht 'at

On Ilka’ Moor baht ‘at

Construction-wise, the Moneta dress is pretty darn simple.  Oh the joys of sewing with knits!  No darts!  Hardly any pattern pieces!  Can be whipped up in a few hours!  I reinforced my neckline with 1/4″ elastic, and I used the same width of elastic to shirr the skirt, simply because I didn’t have any shirring elastic to hand.  It worked out fine, thankfully.  I sewed it mostly on my overlocker, with a few stints on the sewing machine.

Neckline mid-construction

Neckline mid-construction

I made version 3 of the dress, straight up, no alterations.  This version has an unlined bodice and 3/4 length sleeves – perfect for autumn and winter.  I didn’t make a toile, as I know from previous experience that Colette Patterns work for my body shape, and the stretchiness of the fabric would allow for any slight imperfections.  Bonus!

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The fabric is a medium weight jersey with a very silky and drapey hand.  It’s actually 95% polyester and 5% spandex.  It works brilliantly for this dress which benefits from a fabric with good drape.  It’s so silky and smooth that it almost reminds me of swimwear fabric.  It feels lovely next to the skin.  The dress won’t get me through the depths of winter unless I cover it up with a massive jumper, but it’s definitely a great dress for autumn and spring (and, let’s face it, British summer!).  I love the hot pink🙂

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Thanks to Sew Essential for providing the pattern and the fabric.  As always, opinions and writing are all my own!

Grainline Studio Moss Skirt

October 17, 2016
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This is quite possibly the sewing project that has taken the longest stretch of time to complete.  I’m embarrassed to say that I ordered the fabric and the pattern for this skirt from White Tree Fabrics back in March to make for the White Tree blog team, and I only finished sewing it on 10th October!! Part of the reason for this, aside from my inability to get around to anything without a deadline, was that I made a toile of the skirt first and found out that I needed to sew the next size up instead.  It was meant to be a ‘wearable toile’, so I sewed it with the same degree of care and attention as I would the final garment.  I really hate leaving things unfinished so I just carried on making it even though part-way through I knew it would be too small.  Perhaps I can give it to a thinner friend or something!

Moss Skirt Toile made in green gabardine

Moss Skirt Toile made in green gabardine

I then got sidetracked for a few months with other sewing and my big commission, and then school holidays, but finally the skirt made its way back to the top of the queue!  I bought a nice chunky metal zip and some toffee-coloured topstitching thread, used a button from my button box and some scrap fabric leftover from something else.

Supplies at the ready

Supplies at the ready

I really like Grainline Studio at the moment.  Their designs are really simple and wearable: they give you the power to sew the kind of things you’d buy from a shop and wear to death.  This skirt is a very satisfying make. The instructions are good on the whole.  My only gripe is that they tell you to align the serged edge of the fly guard with the topstitching of the fly facing – whereas on their online tutorial they tell you to align the folded edge instead.  In my toile version, I followed the instructions in the paper pattern, but for my final version I followed the instructions from the online tutorial and it looks a lot better.  It’s not a big deal in terms of construction – it’s purely a cosmetic preference!

Grainline Moss Skirt fly

Grainline Moss Skirt fly

I’m really pleased with my topstitching.  I used special topstitching thread rather than doing triple stitch with regular thread.  It would have been better if I’d had a topstitching needle, as they have slightly larger holes to get the thicker thread through, but it was just about ok with my machine’s needle threader.  It took me a while to figure out that I needed my machine on the highest possible thread tension in order to make the topstitching neat on both sides, and that I was supposed to use topstitching for the top reel only and keep regular thread in the bobbin, but thankfully I worked that all out on a few scraps of denim rather than on the actual garment.  I wasn’t able to do my bar tack with the top stitching thread, which was a shame, or the button hole, so they are just sewn in navy blue instead.  Next time I must remember to buy a reel of regular thread the same colour as the topstitching thread!

Topstitching at the back of the Grainline Moss skirt

Topstitching at the back of the Grainline Moss skirt

The denim itself was great to work with.  Although it’s a 14oz heavy-weight cotton denim, I found it no problem to sew.  I made sure to trim and grade my seams where indicated so it didn’t get too bulky.  The skirt is a snug fit, but like all denim, it seems to have a bit of give in it the more you wear it.

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I had read quite a few reviews of the Moss skirt saying that their waistband pieces were too short by several inches, but I’m happy to report that I didn’t find anything wrong with the waistband piece at all.  Perhaps this was in the early version of the PDF pattern, but my paper pattern worked just fine for me.

Pocket lining!

Pocket lining!

The skirt is short on me.  I didn’t alter the pattern and I’m about 5’10”.  It’s shorter than some of my other stuff but it suits the style of the skirt and it looks good with boots and tights which is exactly what I wanted.  I think next time I might prefer to use a skirt hook and eye rather than make a buttonhole on the waistband, just because I think it looks neater, but to be honest I hope no one will really see the waistband anyway, as I like my tops to be a bit longer so I’m less likely to accidentally flash my belly!

Button fastening at top of fly

Button fastening at top of fly

Thank you to White Tree Fabrics for providing me with the pattern and the denim fabric.  I shall endeavour not to take so long over my next project for them!  Eek!

Grainline Moss back view

Grainline Moss back view

Sometimes Vogue patterns are wrong, or, The Matilda Wormwood Dress

October 10, 2016

Have you ever known a Vogue pattern to be wrong?  No?  Well, I have!  Earlier this year I was using the Vogue pattern V9142 as a basis for a custom design jacket I was making, and I found several errors with the pattern drafting.  The front and back did not match up at the shoulder seams, the armhole was too big for the sleeve (even accounting for the pleats), and, although a minor issue, a front notch was missing.  Now, the jacket was the first time I had ever worked with a Vogue pattern, and I have to say I had extremely high expectations.  I mean, Vogue are meant to be la creme de la creme, aren’t they?  When I first spotted the error, I thought it was me making a mistake, but after checking it and rechecking it obsessively, I concluded that the pattern drafting was incorrect.

V9142 - pattern drafting error

V9142 – pattern drafting error

Having purchased the pattern from Minerva Crafts, I first of all contacted them to ask for a refund.  They asked me to return the pattern and were good enough to refund the money upon receipt of the faulty pattern.  They then put me in contact with the head of Vogue/McCall Pattern Company customer relations in the UK, who apologised and forwarded my enquiry to the head dressmaker in New York.  I explained the errors to her via email, and when she checked, she confirmed that the pattern had errors.  I was afterwards compensated for my wasted time and fabric – Vogue sent me a cheque to cover the cost of the fabric and notions, and two Vogue patterns of my choice.  I chose the Claire Schaeffer Advanced Jacket pattern V8333, and a girl’s dress pattern, V9141.

V9141

V9141

I used V9141 to make a dress for my daughter, who wanted to dress up as Matilda on the day of Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday.  It’s a lovely design of dress and I’m happy to report that I detected no errors in the pattern!!  I used a denim-style cotton poplin from Boyes for the dress, and it is fully lined with some light blue antistatic lining fabric.

Fully lined dress

Fully lined dress

The circle skirt is gloriously full and swishy, as you can see in the rather blurred photos below!

Twirly whirly fun

Twirly whirly fun

I used some vintage buttons for the back, given to me by my great aunt.  I sewed the buttons on by machine, which is, in my opinion, worth the initial faff of setting the correct width.  It’s easier as well if you sellotape the buttons in place before sewing, that way they stay put and then you can just peel the sellotape off after sewing.

Sewing buttons on by machine

Sewing buttons on by machine

I really like the back detail.  There is also a hidden button in the continuous lap of the skirt (basically a placket finishing the overlapping slit edges of the top of the skirt).

V9141 - back view

V9141 – back view

I even did actually do some hand sewing to secure the button placket to the lining without it showing on the outside.  I’m not the best at hand sewing, but it turned out ok.

Hand sewing on the inside

Hand sewing on the inside

I think the dress is beautiful.  It worked brilliantly as a Matilda dress, and it will continue to be worn all year around.  I even got into the spirit of the day by wearing my Roald Dahl/Quentin Blake ‘Lickswishy Sweets’ dress, made with the By Hand London Flora pattern.

Roald Dahl day outfits!

Roald Dahl day outfits!

 

Cherry print little girl’s dress

October 3, 2016

I did a good bit of stash-busting, recently: I used up a short length of fabric I had left over to make a birthday dress for a friend’s daughter who turned four in September.  I used an old favourite pattern – New Look 6309 – to make a simple sleeveless dress with a gathered skirt.  This pattern is great as it has many sleeve options, all of which I have tried at one point or another.  I have definitely gotten my money’s worth out of this pattern!

New Look 6309

New Look 6309

The dress was fairly straightforward to make – I managed to get it done during a school day whilst my kids were at nursery and school.  I opted for an exposed lace zip in contrast red – I had one leftover from Minerva who sent me the zip on a metre-long roll with two zip pulls.  The zip is a lovely touch which makes the dress that bit more special and eye-catching.

Exposed lace zip

Exposed lace zip

It seemed quite difficult to get satisfactory photos of the dress – I tried lots of different locations and lighting set-ups!  The bodice is lined with the same fabric, which makes it pretty on the inside, too, and all the raw edges are enclosed, except for the skirt which is overlocked in red.

The dress shown inside out

The dress shown inside out

A good day’s work, if I do say so myself!

A new Lady Skater dress!

September 26, 2016

Hello, hello!  I am finally getting around to showing you a dress I made a few months ago – a new Lady Skater dress!  I got the fabric from Abakhan in Manchester, and it was sold by weight so it cost less than a fiver!

Lady Skater

Lady Skater

It’s quite a thin single jersey fabric with apples printed on it – I wasn’t sure if it would even really survive a wash to be honest, but I have been pleasantly surprised to find there has been no shrinkage and the print hasn’t faded at all after a few washes.

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This pattern is a TNT pattern for me – meaning that the dress was fast and easy😉 I first wore it to the Leeds Gin Festival, which I went to with Amy, Sarah and Ruth.

CHEWIE!

CHEWIE!

Amy very kindly put me up for the night, so I took the opportunity to get her to be my photographer the next day, in the garden where she normally has her own blog photos taken!

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The dress turned out really well.  I did three-quarter length sleeves for a change (just turned raw edge under and hemmed).  The neckline is good too.

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All in all, a happy and colourful dress!

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