Tiptoe through the tulips

Front Hi there, I am back ever so soon, this post will be brief as the construction of my tulip skirt was extremely brief, there really isn’t much for me to waffle on about!

I decided to make the skirt out of leftover fabric from my Vogue dress, waste not want not and it made sense, my machines are all geared up with the correct needles and threads.  The pattern was yet another freebie from Sew Magazine (I’m sure you will be getting the impression I don’t buy any patterns). It is Simplicity 2512 inspired by Cynthia Rowley.  It comprises two skirts with different waistbands and front panels.  I chose the full gathered front with side pockets, a high waistband and a belt.

High waistband with tie belt

High waistband with tie belt

The construction started with the pockets (love them) followed swiftly by the side seams.  Then came the most difficult (in my opinion) part of the creation, the entire top of the skirt was gathered. It started out loosely resembling an upside down triangle and the two rows of basting stitch were pulled together to create the wonderful fullness.  Now this little activity took me back to when I made my red Vogue number, oh my, there was some serious gathering going on on that bad boy.  I find the whole gathering thing another heart stopping moment because when that thread snaps mid gather then it’s game over!

Vent and binding along the hemline

Vent and binding along the hemline

The waistband came next, which consisted of two pieces and a binding on the top, very swish.  The first piece was attached to the skirt, then the second followed and the binding was what I can only describe as teased around the top.  The concealed zip was inserted next and the back seam and vent, the base of the skirt also has a binding on it to add a little bit more variation.  There we have it, not a bad effort considering it didn’t really cost me anything and I made it in a matter of days.

Family values

FrontThis post is a little out of the ordinary for me, I decided to share with you two garments that I have been making in tandem over the last month or so (the mind boggles!) As the story unfolds it will become clear as to why I took on the task of sewing two completely different dresses at the same time (I think you all know me well enough now to know that I thrive on the challenge).

NecklineThe first pattern is Vogue 1316, a fully lined panel dress, which was (how can I put it) inadvertently dangled like a carrot in front of me by Kim from Sewing-online on her Facebook page.  It is a doozy, lots going on with various different panels and colours (I just love it).  The fabric is polyester knit in various different colours which I bought from Abakhan fabrics in Manchester.  Before I began cutting out the pattern, I had to make sure the colours would coordinate well in the order I had in mind.  I downloaded the stencil of the dress and coloured in each panel (ever so organised if I do say so myself).  The only change I made was on the centre back, which should follow through with the black panels and I chose white the same as the front.

SideviewThe construction started with the neck edge and progressed sideways and downwards (I was rather confused at one point). Now, with patterns such as this one, it is imperative that the seams are pressed in the correct direction. If not it can all go horribly wrong, inches can be lost forever and seams won’t match, it could cause all sorts of panic BUT thankfully my faithful friend the unpicker was always there to lend a hand if such a problem occurred.   Once the panels were assembled through the front and sides the concealed zip was inserted into the centre back pieces and this was then added to the rest.  What followed was some serious bulkiness on the seams where the white met the mustard fabric at the base of back (not a nice look) these had to come out, tampered with and reinserted.  Reverse

So, the dress was made more or less, the yoke which is in blue was added to the top section on the front and back, ready for the lining.  This is a straightforward three piece dress pattern which when sewn together and inserted around the neckline and the armholes, leaving  the yoke pieces open at the shoulder so the whole thing could be turned through easily.  The shoulder seams on both dress and lining were then sewn to create the final part of the dress.

Front_1I mentioned two garments at the beginning of the post, the other one is Newlook 6013 which came  free from Sew magazine.  Mum-in-law asked me if I would make her a dress for a wedding she was attending (no pressure!) It just so happened the pattern she picked was the one I already had. We had a family outing to Manchester to get the fabric (which is simply gorgeous and a pleasure to sew I might add).  I made a toile first to make sure I had my sizing correct, which to my relief was spot on.   The construction was extremely easy (this fabric didn’t need a complicated dress it shines on it’s own), a few darts, concealed centre zip in the back and raglan sleeves (gotta love raglan sleeves, no easing them into the armhole, yay!) We had one or two fittings along the way and in between I carried on with the Vogue one, which by this time I had decided would be my dress for the evening reception at the same wedding.Neckline_1

Time was of the essence, lots of thread changes and me making sure I didn’t try on the wrong dress and start making alterations all over the place.    It all came together this week and I am thrilled to say my Mum-in-law was very pleased with hers and she looked fabulous in it.  My dress was the second vogue dress I have made and as with the first one, I am extremely happy with the end result.  We went to the wedding yesterday, with heads held high comfortable in the knowledge that there definitely wouldn’t be anyone else there in the same dress.

All things bright and beautiful

FrontHere we are again folks, me sharing my most recent experience in the wonderful world of unpicking (whoops I meant sewing!).  This is my second blog post for the Calico Laine Blogger Network, the fabric and haberdashery came from their website.  The pattern, Newlook 6124 is another freebie from Sew Magazine.  The fabric is Red Poplin (a new one for me to sew with). I have to say it was very well behaved and didn’t give me any grief (although if it had taken me much longer to make it might of started fraying out of sheer boredom).  To add my own variation I decided to fully line the dress, I personally prefer a shift dress when it is lined.

The pattern comprises of different variations of the same dress, with or without sleeves and a square or round neckline.  I haven’t actually sewn a garment with a square neckline before so I decided to give it a try.  I ploughed straight on with the construction, which consisted of three front panels, shoulder pieces, sleeves and four back panels with a centre concealed zip and a vent at the hemline.

NecklineIt all started with the princess seams at the front, then back panels, which were swiftly followed by the shoulder pieces.  The sleeves were joined at the top of the shoulder and finished three quarters of the way down the armhole.  As I mentioned before I decided to line the dress, I was very conscious of making sure the lining was inserted at a specific point so I could turn it the right way round easily (oh no that did not happen).  I rushed headlong into sewing mode without thinking and stitched the side seams (BIG mistake, I realised that as soon as I had done it, clearly having a sewing melt down).  So, much unpicking ensued and I attempted lining insertion number two.  To complicate matters the half sleeves meant that the lining had to create a facing at the base of the armhole only and the little sleeves sat proudly inside the lining at the top.

ReverseThe rest of the construction was really straightforward, zip went in without a hitch (I’m getting so used to those) a little hand stitching and the vent and hem to finish it off.  This number will be put away for the warmer weather (I am confident we will get some), it will probably venture into work with me at some point.  My mind has already moved on to what I am making next as it always does, I don’t like to be without my sewing in hand and subsequently the fabric, pattern, cotton and zip are always ready and waiting before I am anywhere near finished.

Back to business

FrontFollowing my recent creations which have very much steered towards party wear, I decided to make something for the day job once again.  A couple of months ago I won a competition with one of my evening dresses and the prize was a gift voucher from Abakhan Fabrics (joy!).  I headed straight for their Manchester store, with no particular creation in mind. More often than not I go into that shop and rummage through the bargain bins without an idea of what I will eventually make. Any how I came out with a bag full of fabric and only spent 3p (whoop!).

Seam

Matching the stripes

After sifting through my pattern stash I decided to continue the New Year with something easy, a skirt would do nicely (rolls on the floor laughing). One of the fabrics I bought was a fleece backed woolen fabric, perfect for a winter skirt.  The fabric is black with a white check and it immediately caught my eye as something different for me as I do tend to make garments out of plain fabric.

The pattern is burda 7135, which comprises of a suit with two different jackets and a fully lined skirt.  Like I said I decided to sail on the easy side of things and make the skirt (haha).  The construction was very simple, when I started it I thought I would complete it within a couple of hours, that may have been the case if I hadn’t decided to use checked fabric (oh yes indeedy, let’s not forget the fabric I bought).  The front comprises of a centre panel and two side panels, the back is the same including two vents.  Now the one thing that in my opinion made this little project a total nightmare for me was matching the checks.  I made sure when cutting out each piece they lay in exactly the same position, to ensure the fit didn’t lose dimension (I have sewn large checks before and the garment almost ended up on the diagonal trying to match the pattern).

ReverseOn with the sewing. If I made the skirt once and unpicked it I made it a million times (slight exaggeration, but it certainly felt like a million times!) As soon as Mrs Perfectionist made her appearance, I didn’t stand a chance and my critical eye had a field day.  I decided enough was enough and carried on regardless, inserting the side zip and creating the lining, which was attached to the top.   I did the usual hand stitching on the inside, securing the lining to the vents and stitched the hem in place and there it is job done.  I only hope I make friends with it one day, for now all I can see are the imperfections.  I am determined to beat my battle with checked fabric at some point in the future, for now though the remainder of this fabric will stay hidden away in my sewing room.

Finally, I will draw your attention away from those checks and mention the lovely little scarf I am modelling.  This was a gift for me made by my Mother in-law, oh yes ladies and gentlemen another crafty person in the family, there is no stopping us!

A swift start to the year

Front Here we are again so soon, my second post in as many weeks (I can’t keep up with myself at the moment). So much to sew, so much to share.  This is my first post of the New Year and also my first post for the Calico Laine Bloggers Network (currently strutting around the room like a peacock).

I decided to kick the year off with a simple little ditty, us girlies can’t resist a new top or two in our wardrobe.  The pattern is Burda 8347, which comprises of four different tops in varying designs.  I decided to choose one similar to something I have seen on the high street in recent months (I browse the shops making mental notes as I go along these days).  The fabric is a cerise crepe from Calico Laine, it has a gorgeous feel to it, so soft and drapes beautifully. Collar

The construction was fairly simple and having only four pieces, I had it cut out in a matter of hours (I checked the instructions numerous times to check I hadn’t missed something. I am so used to having at least forty pieces to cut out these days I was left feeling the need to cut out the other tops too!)  The sewing started with the diagonal seam which goes from the neckline to the underarm, this was then top-stitched to give a little more detail.  Well, I had a brainwave and took it upon myself to sew delicate little flowers rather than the usual straightline (ever so cute they are too).  ReverseNext came the bust darts, shoulder seams and collar, which is attached to the neckline with a facing and hand sewn into place on the inside once the zip was inserted.  The back has two darts, one either side of the concealed zip.  The armhole edges are finished with bias facings which are cut out of the same material as the top itself.  I decided to stitch the hem to follow through with the stitching on the armholes.

All in all a lovely little top, easy to make and can be worn for various occasions depending on the type and colour of fabric used.  It was a speedy start to the year and has now paved the way for something a little more complicated for me next time, I haven’t had a serious head scratching sewing moment for quite some time…….

This has been my year

1.Top Five of 2013

As 2013 draws to a close, I have been reflecting on the previous months and what they have meant to me from a creative point of view.  Last year I blogged about the highs and lows of 2012 (oh my, I did have a couple of lows).  This year I have decided to join in the fun with Crafting a Rainbow and tell you about the Top 5 of 2013.  I have decided to share with you the opportunities and experiences that have come my way this year because of my wonderful hobby.

1. Road Testing a couple of Patterns for Sewing-Online

Back in April I was approached by Kim from Sewing-Online who asked me if I would like to create something from a couple of patterns of my choice from them.  When I had blogged about my creations my posts would be mentioned on their site. Well I was beside myself with giddiness, I had shared one or two of my projects with Kim (as I do love to show anyone who remotely shows an interest in what I make) but it came as such as shock that someone thought my dressmaking was worthy of promoting on their website!

Simplicity 1699

Simplicity 1699

I decided on the two outfits pictured here and completely loved both of them.

Simplicity 2442

Simplicity 2442

2. Appearing in Sew Magazine

I do love a bargain (who doesn’t?) and also any freebies I can lay my hands on.  Sew Magazine are fantastic for putting free patterns with their magazine.  I have quite a collection in my sewing room, some I have used already and others I have earmarked for the future.  I decided to make one of the dresses from a Simplicity Project Runway pattern.  Sharing my progress with companies who have an interest in seeing what I make from their own products is something else I find very rewarding.  Lo and behold a couple of months later there was Dolly (my mannequin) sat proudly in the magazine.  That was me giddy as a box of frogs for the second time this year.

Simplicity K1913

Simplicity K1913

3. Winning a competition with Abakhan Fabrics

Moving on with my love of sharing creations with companies who have had their own input in some way shape or form.   I have purchased most of my fabric from Abakhan Fabrics store in Manchester this year and I like to show them what I have created out of their gorgeous fabrics.  As it happens, a dress I made in October this year was entered into their Project of the month competition (without my knowledge) and it won!

Flowers

Simplicity 1874 Flowers

I was beginning to get a little overwhelmed at this point with all the attention, totally gob smacked is the phrase I would use!

4. Becoming part of a Bloggers Network for Calico Laine

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any more exciting, in November I was approached by Calico Laine who asked if I would consider joining their Bloggers Network. I will make some of my future creations from fabric (which I will get at discount price) from their site.  When I blog about it they will share the experience on their site………wow!  How could I turn that down?  I am currently in the middle of finishing my first creation, it is sew exciting.

Blogger

5. My ever so over the top dahhling dresses

My final entry in the top five reflections of the year has to be my evening gowns, both sit proudly at the top of my accomplishments this year.  After all none of the above would have happened if it wasn’t for my sewing.

Simplicity 1874

Simplicity 1874

I still can’t quite believe I do something in my spare time that brings me so much joy and happiness and to top it all it has introduced me to some incredibly wonderful people.

Smplicity 2253

Simplicity 2253

Once again I wonder what next year will bring, but if this year is anything to go by my sewing future will be a glorious one.

Happy New Year Everyone!

A dress fit for a Queen

Seasons Greetings one and all!

Formal Evening Photo You will already know of my cruise this year on board the Queen Mary 2 (I’m sure I have mentioned it once or twice recently).  This was a very special holiday to celebrate by husband’s 40th birthday and as such I felt the need to create two very special dresses.  Actually, I will rephrase that, I decided to make one dress which I finished a couple of months ago (you can read all about it here).  The dress was such a success my daughter decided she would not be upstaged by her mum and wanted one too.

Full Length FrontSo I went on the hunt for something just right for a teenager who is never out of sweats and joggers (no mean feat I can tell you).  I decided to make Simplicity 2253 a gorgeous dress inspired by Jessica McClintock.  It is very similar to the first dress in that it comprises of front panels to create the bodice and is off the shoulder with added detail to the front.  This dress as with the previous one has two different lengths, my daughter chose the shorter length and the fabric which is Duchess satin, bought from Abakhan Fabrics in Manchester.

ReverseThe construction was very simple, all front and back panels are sewn together to create the design.  The skirt comprises of a back centre seam and front and back darts, which is then attached to the bodice.  One of the main differences between the two dresses is the cute little sleeve which sits underneath the lovely folds of fabric on the shoulder.  The dress is partially lined, which is attached around the neck edge and armholes, it finishes just below the waistline.

Finally there is a concealed zip and folds of fabric which cascade around the shoulder seam to add a lovely finishing touch.Front

I am very proud and pleased as punch to say my daughter loves her dress and wore it with pride (twice) on our cruise; she even mentioned wearing it to her prom next July.  I am sure with my new found ability to throw the odd evening gown together I will be able to rustle up something else by then.

Happy holidays everyone!