Saturday, 17 June 2017

Style Arc Stella Coat No 2

Sewing has taken a bit of a back seat because my College has had Ofsted  in, and for those of you in the UK you will know how traumatic that is.  9 days of stress!   On-top of  the terrible events in Manchester and London, and the results of the election it has been quite a month.

I finished my second style arc Stella Coat a few weeks ago, but have just got behind on my blogging.

After a very sensible camel cashmere version in January, I wanted to make a summery linen version.  Is this too crazy?  It definitely is a bit of sunshine and the linen fabric is quite a good choice.  This is a viscose linen, so all of the look, without all of the crumple.  I don't think it is still available.

I cut a size 12, reducing the shoulders by 5/8" and raising the waist by 1".  I wanted a jacket rather than a coat so I took around18" from the length.  This gave me a little problem with the pocket bags which dropped below the hem length.  I ended up solving this by chain tacking the bags up.


I just interfaced the collar lapels, and perhaps used a slightly too firm an interfacing in contrast to the rest of the jacket.  I probably would give the whole jacket a lighter interfacing if I was to make it again.

All the seams are top-stitched, though it doesn't show up much on this busy fabric.

I really like the little stand up collar and it is quite easy to achieve, so long as you get it level.  I added a couple of shoulder cigarettes (2 rolled up oblongs 9" x 7") to add a bit more structure without the more substantial structure you get from shoulder pads.

I like this pattern a lot, but this instructions are extremely minimal (even worse than Burda) so definitely not good for beginners.   The jacket is fully lined, this time in a champagne lining.

Just a heads up, this is the last time you will see long hair having a bad day for a while.  I have had it all chopped off.  The funny thing is that now I have short hair, I am completely rethinking my wardrobe.  The 50s fitted vibe seems less appropriate and actually the dress I was wearing when I had my hair cut which is Vogue Rachel Comey seems much more apt!  Anyway  the time I save on washing and drying my hair will mean more time for sewing!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Colette Laurel

I love this dress, one of my favourites, I just wish the photos did it justice!  This is my first time making the Colette Laurel.  I've been wanting to make a well fitting shift dress and I think I'm almost there!    This is a perfect transition dress, here worn with tights and boots, but also cool enough for shoes and sandals.

I cut a size  10 at the bust grading to an 8 at the waist  but had to take in about an inch at the back.     I made some of my usual changes, narrowing the neckline and the shoulders (I'm only 15 1/2 inches across) and cutting the lowest possible neckline.  I thought a dress like this really needed a neck facing rather than just a bias, so I drafted and interfaced neck facings, which I think work well.    Because others had commented on the need to lower the darts I lowered them about 1/2".  That has ended up a touch too much and I would lower by around 3/5" next time.

Laurel does have a slightly gathered sleeve, but I thought this wasn't quite enough and I drafted my own which are 7" x 23" oblongs gathered and hemmed with a narrow hem.  What makes me really love the dress is the fabric .... it is fabulous.  I love black florals and this reminds me a bit of D olce and Gabana last season (it was advertised as Italian designer so who knows).  It is Clara Viscose crepe from the Fabric Godmother, unfortunately now sold out and no wonder.  It wasn't cheap at £16.00 per metre, but for me worth every penny.    If it so soft and comfortable whilst retaining some body,  perfect.  If you find any anywhere let me know .... I would have some more.    I think the dress also looks good with a belt.

The back has two darts that give some nice shaping and prevent too much bagginess.   Another major change was to leave out the zip, it just wasn't needed as the dress easily goes on over the head.  It might, then, be better to cut the back in one piece.    The only change I think I still need to make is to move the shoulder seam forward a little.  I haven't done this before but the seams seem to want to slip back a little, which then also raises the neckline.  I will make this dress again, though doubt I will find such perfect material. 

 Isn't it great when you make something you are really happy with ..... and love wearing?  I've worn it twice this week already and it is still comfortable at the end of the day ... and just to prove it, this is in the evening after the third day of wear. 

Monday, 1 May 2017

Vogue 9243 and more sleeve love

Ok, so it does look a bit as if I'm getting too into trends .... but I do love a bit of sleeve action.

 Lots and lots of people are making  McCalls 7542   but that pattern is a little boxy in the body for  me, I much prefer this princess seam fitted body.  I haven't seen many versions of this, but that may be because some of the sleeves are a bit much over the top.  However, I think the plainest sleeve option is a winner.

Image result for vogue 9243

I cut a size 14 (having only bought the first size which goes up to a size 14), but was a bit worried that this was for a 36" bust and I'm a 37 1/2".  The size ended up to be fine and so it may be a bit on the large size.

The pattern calls for a 22" zip,  but I couldn't see the need for this and that it might be too heavy on my fine fabric, so I just made a short fastening with tiny buttons with loop fastenings.  The fabric is from Stoff and Still and is woven viscose at £11.50 a metre.  It is incredibly soft, one of the softest fabrics ever.

I really like the sleeves, though wonder if they should either be a little longer or a little shorter.  I used my small hem foot for all the hems.  I look the effect of this, but I just haven't cracked how to get over seams and also sew in a round.

I lowered the neck a little, because I hate high necks.  The neck uses bias binding as a facing and this worked pretty well.

I also made a skirt in the left-over fabric from my cashmere jacket  This is my second Colette Selene and I love this pattern.  It's a great work skirt and a very flattering fit.  The fabric was  little thick, but it is wearable.  I'm wearing  with a blouse I made last year, which is another on trend blouse!

Sewing apart I really enjoyed a week off during half term.  I met Dan and Gemma in Birmingham and we had a lovely day.  Especially as I did a bit of fabric shopping at Barry's and bought 4 great fabrics (2 for Gemma), this was on top of a bit of an internet haul from Fabric Godmother.  I had been pretty good over the last 2 month but it was only a matter of time!

Monday, 17 April 2017

McCall's 7468: The Easter dress

So this is my #EASTERDRESS2017 challenge, McCall's 7468.  This is a pretty "on-trend" pattern with a combination of the cold shoulder and boho look.  As I'm about to offer a lot of issues, let me just say I think it is quite a pretty dress, and I do love the fabric, not perhaps the most spring-like but a lovely soft drapey fabric.

I had really liked the pattern when I saw it, but I have to say I'm a bit mixed about the result.  Unfortunately I didn't enjoy making it.  The combination of slippy fabric and the neck and shoulder facing was a nightmare, and took ages to do.  Because you are fitting a curved facing on top of another curve, it is really difficult to get a smooth fit.  You need lots of clipping, and then trying to slip stitch the underfacing was really tricky.  This was one of the rare occasions when the pattern went straight into the bin when I finished as I definitely won't be making it again!

I cut a size 14 and made a couple of usual adjustment, narrowing the neck (which made sure that the facing covered my bra strap).  I also raised the waistline, but actually looking at the pictures I think this wasn't necessary as the waistline is a little high.  I also added about 4" to the length, perhaps a little too long, what do you think?  Because of the facings it is impossible to fit as you go on (and the pattern is far to complex to bother making a toile), so it isn't a good one unless you usually fit straight from the packet.

The bell sleeves add to the boho look, but here is the main problem.  The cut out really isn't comfortable.  You can see that with my arm at this height it is cutting into my arm.  Is this always the way with a cold-shoulder.  I love the look, but think if I may any more I will use a knit pattern for comfort.

So this has been a bit of a moany post!  The dress is far from a complete failure and I will get some wear from it, it just isn't a favourite and I certainly wouldn't recommend it if you are a beginner!  The skirt is cute, and good for a little swirl.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Prima Magazine cold shoulder shift dress

This wasn't a dress on my plan.  I turned up at my sewing workshop without some crucial pattern pieces and one of my friends had made me a lovely tracing of this pattern.  That meant more fabric and spending the day (and a couple more) making this cold shoulder dress from Prima December edition. (sorry the photos are a bit dark!)

Generally I do like it.  But there were quite a lot of tweaks to make.  Originally I cut out a 14 although from the bust measure I should have been a 16!  When I did a basted fitting, it was far too big and I ended up taking in 1/2" on all the side seams, so a reduction of 2" in total.

I also found the top of the sleeves stuck out quite a lot, so brought them in 5/8" on both sides.  Even now the dress would look better with the sleeve top a bit tighter, but my arms might feel a little restrictive.  The fabric is an 80% wool mix, with a bit of stretch, without that stretch I think the dress wouldn't have been as comfortable.

The fit on the back is quite nice.  (Took in the back at the top by nearly an inch on each side).  So a lot of fiddling and it's still not right.  I think its really helpful to have actually worn a garment a few times before blogging about it and this time I have.  For some reason the bust seems to ride up and I have to pull it down.  Possibly needed an fba for a little more room there.  This also mean that the neck rises higher and as I've got older I find I can't stand necklines resting on my neck!  Even with all this I do rather like the shape of this dress!  Another time I would; lower the neck line, do a 1" fba (but then might need to take out more at the sides).  Despite all this I think its a nice shape and I do love a dress which looks really sensible under my jacket and has a little more to say when I take the jacket off!

This has now crept into my SWAP (sewing with a plan), bit of a cheat really as I stood in the shop for 5 minutes planning it would go with the other items.  So here it is with my cashmere jacket (you can see here what I meant about the neckline).

Though I'm far more likely to wear it with my Vogue 7975 Linton Tweed jacket.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Burda 6901, a cashmere jacket

After 3 easy makes last week, this is a rather more complicated one.

This is Burda 6901, " Peplum jackets gently envelope the hips and emphasize the waist".  I loved the version made by Julie Starr.  I made a muslin and only made  minimal changes, reducing the shoulder and adding a sliver to the front side piece and about 1mm to the front edge, which I'm not sure was needed.  The main difference I made was to redraft the neckline, because I didn't want a high neck, I just wanted a simple collarless version.  This was partially successful, but there is a little gape on the left hand side, and I ended up with a bit of a point rather than a gentle curve.  I'm about to make another version and this time I want a shawl collar, so I will be having a go at drafting that.

I cut a size 14, and I think the fit is pretty good and it can be worn with different shaped skirts, though I think a pencil skirt would probably be the best shape.

The sleeve is well drafted and despite the fabric being thick the insertion went well.  I also liked that the sleeve is a two piece sleeve, where I think you get a better fit.

It looks OK unbuttoned.  I definitely made life difficult  by picking a fabric which is probably too thick and more suited to a coat.  It is fabulous though; a camel wool coating with 5% cashmere from Croft Mill, not cheap at £26.75 a metre but the quality is gorgeous and 2 metres made a jacket with enough left for a skirt.

I love the lining, which is a gorgeous paisley also from Croft Mill and great value at £5 a metre (I bought 2 colours).

Adding 1 mm to the front edge ended up making a few problems as I didn't add any to the inner edge of the facing and so the lining was too stretched.  I had to put in an extra piece which you can see below.

The photo below shows how crucial the pleat in a lining is as you can see how it has opened up for comfort.



To give a better shoulder shape, rather than using a shoulder pad I used a cigarette, with a softer fabric, this fills the shoulder but with a softer line.  I used a piece of fabric 9" x 6", rolled them and stitched closed.

You then fit these to the shoulders, so they slightly hang over.


The jacket has 2 bound buttonholes (quite difficult because of the thickness).

I've had a bit of an obsession recently with top-stitching and thick fabric definitely needs it.  I top-stitched all the seams except for the sleeves. 

I almost love this jacket, but not quite!  I do love the pattern, Burda patterns have such style.  The instructions weren't too bad, though I still would recommend this for beginners.  This is only the second of my SWAP makes, and it isn't looking likely that I will complete.  I keep picking difficult makes and also getting distracted by other makes which don't fit!  Never mind, it's more important I am enjoying myself.  I have almost finished a dress in two days to wear with this.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

A trio of Cleos

I wasn't sure the Cleo was one for me; as you know I prefer a fitted look (and perhaps thought the style might be a bit young for me), but I did think it would look great on Gemma, so I made two for her birthday, and then decided I would just whip a quick one out for me.  So here we are 3 Cleos in very different fabrics.

First up is mine.  All 3 versions came from stash fabrics.  The cleo can be cut from a metre of fabric so it's a great pattern for using your hoard.  I used a stretch brushed cotton, which looks like velvet.  It is a little lightweight, I think you are better using fabric with some weight (as with the denim below). 

I cut a size 4, about 1.5" shorter than the knee length version. There is plenty of room as you can  see (perhaps not very flattering from the side).  I'm wearing it here with a Tilly and the Buttons Agnes (no I'm not being paid to advertise), I did find this pattern small and wished I had cut the next size.

No back pockets on this one.  I used mustard top-stitching thread, which has given a lot of definition.

No 2 is stretch denim and probably my favourite, and looks great on Gemma.   

You can see the top-stitching here.  The instructions for all Tilly's patterns are really good and this is an excellent make for beginners.  Be careful when you are cutting the front facing out; there has been an error and mine had a sticker on it which wasn't quite lined up correctly.

Back pockets this time.

For no 3 I went a bit crazy with some fabric which may be for furnishings, but it's so cute (again for Gemma not me).  This is a little longer to fit a full dog in on the hem.


If I had thought it through I would have cut the front and the back on the fold to avoid having to pattern match.  You can't really see the top stitching, so the seam just isn't necessary.

The hardest part is probably turning the straps.  Make sure that the ends aren't wider (which is easily done) because the will peak through annoyingly.  You may notice a twist below, I did sort that out before I stitched the straps.  I used the dungaree clips and a jeans button.  Just a hint with jeans buttons, don't hammer from the right side, i.e. the top of the button, hammer the underneath, or the button bends!

I had a lovely half term; 3 days off.; fabric shopping (though spent nothing),   LaLa Land, which I really enjoyed.  Love Sewing has an interesting suggestions for inspiration copies from 2 of the dresses, including the sewaholic cambie for the main yellow dress  ... which sounds like a good idea, I might have a go, are any of your thinking of sewing a copy?  I also saw Moonlight, which is a fabulous film and worthy of the best picture and my lovely boy came home for the weekend.  What more could I want?