Sunday, 14 December 2014

Francoise - a touch of the psychedelic!

Something a little different, the Francoise 60s shift.


This isn't my usual type of dress and I wasn't going to give it a go, because I do love a sew-a-long and Tilly gives such clear instructions, also I thought I had the fabric in my stash, so that was the decision made.  Unfortunately my plan to use some cheap crepe for the dress was completely squashed when it stretch horribly and seemed to have a stomach of its own, not flattering at all.  So I had to buy some more Brussel's washer linen (more Robert Kaufman) in my favourite colour, mist.  The sleeves are left over from my other shift dress.  I just love this fabric, it's so comfortable and doesn't crease.

I love the raglan sleeves, very comfortable and pretty easy to fit.

I originally cut a size 5 in the bust and graded down to a 4 at the waist.  Because of the clingy tummy when I made the linen version I graded back out so the finished dress is a straight size 5 .  Now I think it could be a little snugger in the waist.  Still it means there is plenty of room for a bit of a watusi!

I did add an extra 3" to the length, not because I don't like the mini version on others, but I think those of us who actually did wear the mini in the sixties may need a few extra inches now!  Because the linen is rather thin, I did have to line the dress and that was a little fiddly.  I lined the dress part, attaching the lining to the facing and then slip stitching the lining to the shoulders.    I machined the lining to the zip to get a nice neat finish.

The tab is a cute feature, though from the photos I think I need to check that it is quite level, it may well be the way I stand!

All in all I think though this won't be one of my favourite dresses it is a good pattern, fairly straightforward with very clear instructions (backed up by the sew-along).    Tilly has been running a competition, with great prizes, and I'm sure there will be some fabulous entries. 

Not much else to say this week, lovely lunch with Dan today.  Lots of wind and rain in Cumbria.   Very busy at work and so looking forward to the break at Christmas. Hope you all have a great week, I'm sure many of you are extremely busy with Christmas preparations.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Mabel .... mabel ... etc. etc.

Firstly welcome new followers!  Clearly the Bruyere is a popular pattern (I'll be making a liberty lawn version in spring) and I was really excited that I got a lot of new followers on Bloglovin.  I hope you like some of my other makes as well.  

Last summer I managed to find a vintage top for £5 which I really love, and this needed a navy skirt to go with it for work.  Enter the Colette Mabel.  I wanted a pencil skirt which was comfortable and easy to wear and the Mabel definitely fits the bill.  The styling on the pattern didn't really look like what I had in mind, much to short.  I wanted something high waisted and below the knee and thought version 3 could probably fit the bill.  I cut a size small because the hip size looked right (I'm 28" waist and 37" hips and the sizing is 27-28 waist and 37-38" hips).   Big mistake, much too tight (so version one went to Gemma).  I then cut a medium and graded the waist in slightly .... perfect!

I'm really pleased with the fit here.  The length is great, just what I wanted, and I like the kick-pleat at the back.  This is a really easy make, easily done in a couple of hours, and even this length only takes one metre, so it's really cheap to make.  I used Ponte Roma and this usually costs between £7-£12, so this is an £11 outfit!  (Sorry about the strange things I seem to be doing with the remote here!)

Well I liked this so much I made another five!

(The second from the left is actually a black dot - more later).  They are all made from Ponte Roma, so you might expect they would all fit pretty much to same.  Not at all.  The dot one fits well, but is very tight to pull over my hips and the cream ......!  Well see for yourself.


Here with the Bellini blouse (not blogged because its too tight on the bust and has gone to Gemma) and with the Bronte top.  Look how tight it is around the rear!  Definitely not a look I feel comfortable with (yes, Gemma got the skirt too).

So I still have 4 Mabels myself, and my favourite is probably this one (sorry its on the model)

Now all these differences in how this same pattern fits in 5 different ways even though the material is ostensibly the same, has led me to wonder if it is really worth making a muslin.  I have made muslins in the past which seem to fit well  only to find the finished garment is too tight around the bust.  Some websites suggest you make the muslin from the same fabric but that just seems so expensive, and if the slight differences in these fabrics made so much difference to the final fit, then a muslin wouldn't be really helpful!  What do you think?  Do you always make a muslin?  Anyway I would recommend this pattern as a wardrobe staple which is easy to sew and easy to wear (and really cheap!).  What more can you want? 

Sunday, 30 November 2014

oh la la, bruyere love!


I really liked many of the Bruyeres I saw on the internet, especially Tilly's  and Sally's fabulous bicycle version.   I didn't know if it was the right shape for me, but I thought I would have a go and I'm afraid pretty much copied Tilly's!  The fabric is Robert Kaufman dot chambray (yes, more Robert Kaufman chambray, and I've already bought this fabric in maroon dot for a shirtwaister!). 

 I got the fabric from M is for Make and can I just say the service was fabulous, as I made a mistake with the amount I bought and they sorted it out so quickly.

The pattern is a Deer and Doe and comes from France.  I found the instructions generally good though I got a bit stuck at the sleeve placket and had to use the photos from the sew-a-long (the text was French!) to help.

Anyway, I have to say I love it.  I think the fit is probably the best I've ever found.  It's really fitted without being tight.  I usually take an inch our of the bodice length because I have a high waist, but I noticed that it looked quite high on other people, so decided to leave it as it was and I think it's just right.  If you don't have a high waist you may want to lengthen it. 

The only change I made was to narrow the shoulders by 5/8" which is a common alteration for me, otherwise I think the fit is perfect.  The other thing I love is how neat you can make the inside!  It's becoming a bit of an obsession.

I used French seams everywhere except the arm-sythes (must learn how to French seam the sleeves as well).

 The only bit I struggled with was the cuffs, this was tricky and my actual cuff has ended up not quite square.

I'll be making more of these!  Perhaps a Liberty print.

I've also been crocheting and finished the first section of my blanket (a bit of doggy photobombing!)


I think haircuts are long overdue!  One Saturday a month I go to Unique Image in Ulverston for my Saturday sewing workshop and this Saturday it was also the Dickensian festival, a sort of surreal day when people dress in Victorian costume (and obviously as a cracker!), so we had a fantastic view from our window, checking out the costumes whilst sewing (A coat - more to come later).  I've so many projects on at the moment; crochet blanket, crochet scarf, in the middle of a coat, a skater dress to hem, 3 jumpers to block and make up, Francoise dress and shirt waister dress cut out and ready to sew!  How on earth did I let this happen!  What are you making at the moment?

Sunday, 23 November 2014

It's a wrap Simplicity 1653

This is my first wrap dress.

(Sorry about the strange sunlight effect and the bad hair day, difficult to find the right light at the moment!)  This was a free pattern with Sew Magazine, so it seemed rude not to have ago.  The fabric is  Jersey Leaves Mosby at £8.50 a metre.  You need 2 metres so the dress cost well under £20. It is a lovely soft knit fabric, which really does feel gorgeous to wear, although I think it will only work with a dress with a lot drape.


It's a good fit across the bust with no gaping.  I staystitched the neck edges immediately to try and stop any stretching, and also added some invisible elastic to the front waist to try and give some extra strength.

The pattern is the first "Amazing fit" pattern I've tried and I'm not really sure what I think.  There is a 1" seem allowance so that you can play around with the fit, but that's such a lot of fabric that I think it is quite difficult to deal with.  In the end I took in a bit more than the 1" at the side seams and an inch on the sleeves.  The sleeves are still too big though, and actually I think I could probably have cut a size smaller all round (though at least it isn't fitting too snug around the tummy!).    I cut my usual size 14, and took my usual 1" from the bodice length.  Not easy in this case as it interfered with the pleats on the front wrap piece.

This is such an easy dress to wear and I can stick a jacket on for work.  I made it with the lightening stitch on my machine and then overlocked it.  All the hems are stitched with a twin needle.  I don't love sewing with knits because I can't seem to get a neat finish.  Overall, its an OK dress and actually I've already worn it 5 times (so as you can see it has held its shape), but I don't think I would make another. 
Just want to make a film recommendation.  Dan and I went to see the Imitation Game yesterday and I thought it was an interesting, moving film with great acting (we love a bit of Benedict Cumberbatch, especially in Sherlock). 
 I found out a lot more about Alan Turin, the man who broke the Enigma Code, it is appalling how he was treated.  So if you are looking for an intelligent, informative film this is a good one.  What have you been up to recently?

Sunday, 16 November 2014

McCalls 6696 Shirtwaister love

Well, this isn't the most flattering dress I have made, but it is the one I'm proudest of, because it is definitely the best finish I've achieved.


I think this is a great pattern.  It comes in different cup sizes, and I cut a size 14 C cup, and it actually fits.  I graded down at the waist, but it could still be a little smaller at the there.  I took 1" from the bodice length, to accommodate my high waist.  The fabric is Robert Kaufman chambray union and it was lovely to cut and sew, presses really well and easy to wear (maybe I look a bit like a nurse, but it is greyer in real life).

Some bloggers mentioned that the back is a bit puffy and I actually took 2" from the gathered portion in the back, and I think it is the perfect amount of "puff".


What I'm really proud of is the finish inside!

I used scraps of Tana Lawn for the pockets and the back facing.

 Look how neat the French seams look.

I used a fantastic tutorial on Four Square walls to help with sewing the collar stand.  I really recommend sewing the collar stand this way, though not perfect it's the best one I have done.

The sleeves are hemmed with a tiny little hem.

The only mistake I made was not to include the belt loops, it needs a belt and without the loops it slips around.  I'd definitely recommend this pattern, in fact I'm going to make another, this time in a maroon dot chambray. 

I had a bit of a treat this week, I ordered Lucy's cosy blanket pack to start a crotchet blanket (probably take a year).  I think this is really good value £25 for the pack to make a single blanket.  Not the colours I usually pick but I wanted to try something different.  The wool came in a lovely little bag.

and the colours are really vibrant.  Its nice wool for the price.

Shame its Sunday night already, till next weekend, have a good time.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Colette Macaron

Well I'm actually glad October is over.  My cold/flue/whatever ended up lasting 3 weeks and I even took a week off work, not like me at all.  Thank you so much for your kind wishes, sadly Meg has not returned and I fear the worst.  All of this is to explain my absence from my blog.  But I'm back now and feeling much better and I've got lots of makes to tell you about over the next weeks.

First the Colette Macaron.  I really love this dress and I do think it is a great pattern.  I had some duck egg blue Brussels linen left from my New Look 6095 dress and I just thought it would be great contrasting with some lace.  I cut my usual size 14 grading to a 12 at the waist and taking 1" out of the bodice length.    I also changed the sleeve shape to follow the scallop of the lace.

I found some fantastic advice in one of my  books and managed to produce a really neat curve.  You reduce your stitch size (in my case from 2.2 to 1.1) and then just trim your seam back without clipping.  This stopped that lumpy effect you can get from clipping.

There was some great seam matching.

... and the invisble zip went in quite well (though spot the mistake, it's on the wrong side!)

I love how the lace looks with the linen.  I love the sweetheart neckline.

So is this dress a great success? ...... nooo .... because its a bit tight.  Yes I did make a quick muslin, but the final dress is just a little bit straightjacketty around the bust and upper arms ... damn ... cause I really do want to wear it.    I am finally beginning to understand that I need to make a full-bust adjustment on most patterns even though I'm only a C cup, as I keep making the same mistake and ending up with dresses which I can get on but which don't feel comfortable.  I might be able to wear for a couple of hours, while I'm sitting up straight!
We had a fantastic treat this week, Dan, Gemma and I went to see Paolo Nutini in Manchester

What a fantastic concert , I'd certainly recommend seeing Paolo, he sounds as good as on his records and really gives everything.  I'd definitely see him again.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Moneta Mark 2

So I've made a second Colette Moneta. 

I  fell in love with Caroline's maxi dress,  and I really wanted the fabric, which is Valorie Wells Sea Glass knit.  I couldn't find it in the UK and believe it or not I bought it from the USA.  Crazy!  I'm not sure it is the right fabric for this dress because it is so soft, in fact the only garments I think it really is suited to are pyjamas, but very expensive ones!  It looks OK for now, but I don't think it will wash and wear well.

I wanted to try adding a cream collar, but found it really difficult to find a suitable weight of cream knit, so I tried one collar from a thin knit, it looked floppy and insubstantial and one from ponte which looked like a puritan collar.  So I gave up and decided to just bind the neck (I used the binding pattern from the Lady Skater's pattern just 2" shorter), which seemed to work.

This is a great pattern except for the gathering the skirt method, which is almost impossible to do with only two hands.  You are supposed to stretch clear elastic to gather.  I tried just gathering with a long stitch first, but that wasn't effective so went back to the clear elastic method.  It was OK, but very fiddly.  The bodice is a great fit and very flattering.  I am going to include photos of me in the dress, but apologies the quality is poor, I can't be bothered to crop them and there is a strange posing thing going on!  Still not used to using the remote!

I will get better at self-photos, promise.  Otherwise it's not been a great two weeks, I been feeling unwell for 10 days, just a virus but rather tiring, but much worse my lovely cat Meg has not been home for more than two weeks.  She has never stayed away before so I fear the worst.  We got Meg and her kitten Jess from a rescue home 6 years ago and she is a lovely, loving cat whose strangest habit was coming for walks with us.  She is very missed.