Despite my love of novelty print fabrics, my December 2016 project for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network represents my first ever Christmas-themed dress. I loved the red fabric print with black and white reindeer, some stripy, some spotty, some floral and some plain – it seemed Christmassy but not too babyish. Better still, it was 60” wide so I only needed 2m to make pretty much any dress I wanted.
The week before making this, I rediscovered a dress I made with Simplicity Amazing Fit 1606. I put it on and instantly loved the style and the fit. Recently I’ve been sewing and wearing more practical clothing: straighter skirts, layers, plainer colours, less shaping etc (pinafore dresses especially), and putting on this fit and flare dress made me feel like I was going to back to an older version of me that had got pushed to the background somehow. This style of dress is what I think of as being my ‘signature style’ – colourful novelty print with fitted bodices and swishy skirts. It felt good, and I wanted more!
If you want to read a bit more about the making of the dress, or see more pictures, there’s a fuller account over on the Minerva blog here. I accessorised the dress with a plain black sash belt, and this amazing reindeer ring! I hope you all had a good holiday period, and that despite the difficulties facing the world in 2017, you can find some happiness, somewhere!
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!
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!
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.)
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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 🙂
Thanks to Sew Essential for providing the pattern and the fabric. As always, opinions and writing are all my own!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
The circle skirt is gloriously full and swishy, as you can see in the rather blurred photos below!
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.
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).
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.
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.