The highs and lows of 2012

This was the year I decided to revisit my love of dressmaking. After completing my Open University Course in Business Studies last year I found a hole in my time that needed to be filled with something more than the TV, Facebook or Twitter.  So it came to be in January my sewing machines made an appearance out of the dark depths of the spare room cupboard where they had resided for many many years.  My journey so far has been sprinkled with triumphs and disasters (which make me Front View_3shudder at the thought of them).  We will start will the greatest high of all, my little black dress, which I might add, made its grand appearance on my Birthday last Thursday.   I totally love this dress for so many reasons, most of all the challenge and the accomplishment that came with making it and that the chances of seeing someone else in it are minimal.

A two piece garment, using layered gathered outer seams

My second high came from another Vogue pattern V1259, again I was drawn to this for the challenge and a challenge it certainly was, more so than V8705 before it.  I realised that fewer pattern pieces doesn’t necessarily mean that something is going to be a doddle to make.  I did some research on this before I started and with each version came very different experiences, some loved it some wouldn’t touch it again with a barge pole. I for one love the fact I receive compliments about it and people cannot believe I have actually made it myself (cheesey grin spreads across my face at the thought).

Front ViewNow we shall take it down a notch and touch on some middle ground where I experienced my first disaster, so much so that when the garment was completed I couldn’t really stay friends with it as it had upset me so much.  This one was Simplicity K2588.  The problem was of my own doing really after buying fabric that was the wrong weight for the dress in its original form, this being a lovely flowing skirt.  Upon completion I realised that the skirt did NOT flow it flared out at the middle because of the pleats and continued to flare out towards the hem, a most unflattering look.  As you can see from the picture once unpicked and reconstructed with a fitted skirt it did manage to redeem itself but the damage was done, I had embarrassed myself by creating the monster in the first place.

Front Full ViewOnward we shall go to the biggest disaster of all, this was Butterick B5676, oh the shame of this creation, I made it not once but twice (what was I thinking) it was wrong from the start really but I persevered and had a second attempt, what can I say? The wrong colour for a start, not to mention the fit which was rather on the small side (too many lumps and bumps on show for my liking) and then there was the gaping neck, for some reason this did not and would not work for me on either version, I tried the facing and also bias tape without the facing and neither one looked right.  I know from seeing it on other blogs that it can look truly gorgeous but not for me, oh definitely not for me.

So to conclude my first year of sewing again after a 10 year break has given me so much to think about and I can honestly say it it has been the most wonderful experience with all the highs and lows that came with it.  What 2013 will hold at the moment I don’t know, I think I will venture into the world of men’s trousers (as my husband is showing a preference in this direction) and might make my first coat or jacket. I am sure it will be as rewarding and fulfilling as this year has been.

Happy New Year to you all!

Advertisements

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Close up Front View_2Seasons greetings to one and all.  I decided to make my Christmas attire this year rather than combing the shops trying to decide what to buy.  The first top I made is from another “old” pattern I bought many years ago when I went through my first sewing phase.  I originally made this little halter neck 4 sizes bigger than the one here (oh happy days).  The fabric has a slight stretch to it, although the pattern doesn’t call for it.  It was really easy to make, the straps are basically made from a facing which extends down past the V with elastic around the inside at the front.  The back also has elastic and a centre zip and that’s it really, nothing more to say.  Close up Front ViewMy next creation is the second top off the Simplicity 1716 pattern, it comes in three different lengths with varying sleeve lengths too.  The fabric is a nylon lycra with sequins, many many many sequins.  These were an effort to sew, either my machine needle decided to skirt round them or at one stage it decided to tackle one head on and lost miserably, I had a needle casualty shall we say.  This top was easier than the first one to make, no zips, no gathers, nothing to give me any heart stopping moments.   There we have it my festive creations, one little backless number to wear on Christmas Day when my oven is on full blast and the other for Boxing Day when I will be enjoying a meal out with my family.  Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas, enjoy the holidays!Full Front View

Taking it up a notch

Skirt Front View

The gathered seams starts at the top left and travels down the length of the skirt

Full Front View

A two piece garment, using layered, gathered outer seams

Where to begin with this one……….? As with many other patterns I bought Vogue V1259 by Donna Karan because I liked the look of it rather than deciding first if it would suit me or if I could actually make it.  It was only after a bit of searching the internet I realised it was for advanced sewers and was a nightmare to make (mentioned by many fellow sewers).  Nevertheless I took the bull by the horns and moved on.  I decided to make it out of the suggested Lycra knit.  The first thing that surprised me was the lack of pattern pieces, the skirt has two (which are put together to create one) and the top has five.  I decided to be on the safe side and make the skirt first. Ahh yes the safe side; I actually unpicked the skirt three times for various different reasons, it took me a couple of attempts to realise where the gathers and seams overlapped and it was made on the right side of the fabric rather than the wrong, just to confuse.  Anyway it came good in the end.

Close up Front

The gathered seam on the front starts around the back, travels under the arm up the front, through to the collar

Now I was familiar with how it all worked the top would be  straightforward right? Not the case, I had many a head scratching moment and plenty of time staring at the instructions open-mouthed in utter disbelief.  I genuinely felt like I had a blindfold on and really didn’t have a clue what it would look like when it was finished or even if it would work.  There are so many overlaps, seams on the outside, seams on the inside, there is an armhole with a hem on it on the inside, I really didn’t understand what that was about until the end.    The pattern relies heavily on the squares, small and large dots but the difficulty with this is there are so many of them that it is hard to determine which dot to use.  The gathered seams are all on the outside of the garment, very careful precise cutting out technique is required as all raw edges are on show, the pattern suggests to cut back seams to the stitching but I decided I quite liked the extra texture brought on by the gathered material so kept mine as it was cut out.

Full Back View

The back seam starts on the left, travels diagonally up the top and meets the front seam below the armhole

As with fellow sewers who have tackled this garment before me (some of which stated they would not attempt it again) I found that once assembled and all the gathers have been teased into their rightful place and it all looks as good as it can be everything heads South the minute you move and the skirt becomes twice the length – I think some velcro tights are in order.

Half FrontI hope I haven’t sent anyone running for the hills never wanting to attempt this fabulous outfit, it takes a lot of determination to make and a lot of guts to wear but I for one am chuffed to bits with it.  I felt the need to share the pitfalls but  all in all the immense feeling of achievement and satisfaction that follows this garment is more than worth the feeling that I was going slightly mad once or twice 🙂