Bed of roses

Greetings everyone!

FrontIt has been far too long since I did my last update I’m afraid but I do have a very good reason for it.  I have been a busy bee learning my new job which I started in October.  I have to confess it has taken up the majority of my brain power the last couple of months, leaving my sewing out in the cold.  Do not despair people, my fabulous hobby is still very much a part of my life but for the first time in seven years I also have a fabulous job to go with it.

NecklineAny how, my most recent creation is Simplicity 1651, I just love the the Project Runway patterns, they always have so many variations of one dress.  I bought the fabric from Abakhan Fabrics in Manchester, I have mentioned many times the stunning fabrics I have bought from their bargain bins at wonderful prices and this one is no exception.  I decided to throw caution to the wind and make a dress with many variations which consisted of a straight skirt with side vent,  sweetheart neckline, 3/4 sleeves and bodice with an open back (you all know how I like a head turning dress, it is Christmas after all).

BackOn the whole the construction was really easy, the bodice has a facing which the back panels are inserted into, this did need a bit of tweaking as it was gaping a little too much for my liking.   When this was created and side seams were finished it was attached to the skirt, which you will notice has a little bit of gathering on the front and back. When it was the same size as the bodice the whole thing was sewn together, including the side zip.  The only difference I made was creating a lining for the skirt.  I created it in exactly the same way and attached it through the waist.Full Back

The end was fast approaching but I never leave anything to chance and don’t really relax until the sleeves are in. I still, after 3 years sewing have not mastered the art of set-in sleeves, this is a job for 2015.  Do not fear the set in sleeve, meet it head on and be happy with the result (we shall see).

Speaking of 2015, I hope you all have a very Happy New Year and have good health & happiness in the coming months.  Live life to the full and enjoy every minute of it!

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It’s a wrap

FrontHere we have another one of those patterns which seems ever so easy because there are very few pieces to put together. Not the case, I know from experience that these little beauties can be far more testing on the brain, which is why it has taken me over a month to complete it.  Having said that, many of you will know I do love a challenge and do not give up, I just tend to stray onto various other creations along the way, just to prove to myself that my sewing skills haven’t completely done a runner.Reverse

This fabulous pattern was pointed out by Kim from Sewing-Online.  She has dangled one or two patterns in my direction recently which she thinks are just my thing; I feel like I have my own fashion stylist, its fab!   This particular one is Vogue V1341 which I bought from their site.  Now, some of you might look at this dress and think nah, that’s not for me, whereas I saw the pattern and thought, wow I could add even more oomph by choosing just the right fabric to compliment it, bring on the animal print! This is stretch sateen bought from my favourite store in Manchester, Abakhan, I just adore it.

PatternOn to the construction, this is where it all gets a bit confusing.  The sizing has to be spot on because there are no side seams to take inches in.  In its entirety the whole thing consists of 6 pieces (excluding the lining), 3 of which are stuck together to create the strangest looking thing I have seen in a long time.  This creates the main body of the dress and one of the sleeves, the other sleeve is separate, as are the back yoke and another back section. Basically, it starts with many pleats and tucks, the main piece is then sewn to itself and the right sleeve is added on.  Simple, err no, I sat and pondered this bit for quite a while picking the pieces up and staring at them before reading the instructions again and again.  Right NeckFinally the light bulb went on (hallelujah) and we were on course once again.  I could see it taking shape almost straight away but there is always the fear with garments like this, that you could get to the end and it really doesn’t look right (and it’s game over).  When the body of the dress was done and both sleeves were on, the concealed zip was inserted, which runs almost diagonally up the back.  Then it was a case of adding more pleats to create the folds along the front.

Front close upThe lining, which is also stretch fabric, was a basic front and back shape with a strap creating the armhole on the right hand side.  This is sewn into the dress along the seam which lies across the front at an angle, this then creates more of a fold below the neckline.  The neckline needs a certain amount of teasing into place when the dress is on because there isn’t a definite edge. I felt the need to adjust the shoulder seam as the right sleeve wasn’t creating the angle with the dress as it should, it was more of a flop and the flop wasn’t working for me one little bit.  That in itself is one of the greatest elements about the fabric being so busy, I could make my own alterations and it still looks great.

There ya go, another dress for me to strut my stuff in.  I get so excited when I wear the garments I have made, I still can’t quite believe I can actually go out in the big wide world in clothes I have put together myself.  On the rare occasion that I do wear something from a shop people are now starting to ask me if I have made it myself, so my stuff can’t really be that bad, wahoo!

Dot to dot

1 Front I have much to share on this post, where to start?  Well, we shall start at the beginning with the pattern (although I have been known to buy fabric without a pattern in mind, there is no harm in increasing a fabric stash every now and again).  This particular pattern was sent to me (as a swapsy) by one of my sewing friends from Wear.A.Wyatt.  I didn’t know which one it was until I received it.  Now, my friend clearly knows my “type” and was spot on (pardon the pun) with her choice.  However, I decided to make one of the dresses that is slightly out of the ordinary for me (and I LOVE it).  The pattern is Vogue 8872, there are variations on the bodice and also the skirt. I made the low neckline and full skirt (when I say full skirt I mean full skirt!).2 Front

I bought the delightful polka dot cotton fabric from Calico Laine, this post is another share courtesy of the Blogger Network I am part of for them.  So here we have it, I started with a garment style I have never worn before and a fabric design I have also never worn before (my daughter told me people will see me coming from a mile away). This, my friends, is all about the experience of creating the garment. It’s about the thrill of making something different and unfamiliar and watching it develop into something fabulous that gives me such a buzz, after all, if I don’t like it someone else will (job done).

NecklineThe construction was quite straight forward, the front bodice is a double thickness (diamond shaped) piece of fabric. The back section is part lined, as is the midriff. The sleeves are inserted onto the bodice once this is completed, followed by the midriff sections.  The lining is created in much the same way and attached.  I then added the skirt before inserting the concealed zip in the centre back.  Easy peasy so far you may think, as did I, until I started to align the dots. Some of the sections matched quite well, when others were inserted Mrs Perfectionist took one look and they had to come out, cut out again and put back in (this went on many times).  At one stage the dots lined up horizontally but not vertically, out they came again (I had to hide the unpicker from myself at this point).  ReverseFinally I had to say enough was enough and go with it. I finally finished with some handstitching on the inside and turned up the hem, the longest hem I have ever done, the base of the skirt goes on for miles.

All in all, I am pretty chuffed with myself at the outcome, from the wonderful reception I have received already I suspect other people like it too.  From something I was a little unsure about and probably wouldn’t have bought on the high street, to something I love and feel really comfortable in, yet another “grinning like a Cheshire cat” experience for me.

Things aren’t always black and white

Front 1It seams ever so long ago since I last updated you all. I have been doing a spot of multitasking in recent weeks, a little red top here and a shift dress there, it’s all go.  Anyway back to the matter at hand, this is another post for the Calico Laine Blogger Network and it is the “Amazing Fit” dress.  This pattern was suggested by the lovely Kim from Sewing-online (after our successful team work with Vogue 1316), it is Simplicity 1458.   I decided to to make it out of White Crepe from Calico Laine (I’d previously made a little cerise number and fell in love with the fabric).  In my usual unique way I had to make a little change on the garment, this one being the lining.

The pattern does what it says on the tin (so to speak) in that it enables the seamstress to make the perfect fit.  It comprises of 3 different designs and 3 different shapes. With a little added detail if one so desires (we will get to that shortly).

Neckline

Neckline

Piping

Piping

Firstly I had to match my measurements with one of the styles, slim, average or curvy (I will leave you to guess which one I landed on).  Each of the panels is sewn at 1″ rather than the usual 5/8th, this is for better adjustment if necessary.  As suggested in the pattern instructions I made a toile first just to make sure all was well.  The construction is fairly straightforward, sewing the panels together with one or two princess seams here and there, but as I mentioned earlier, there is the extra detail I chose to pop in.  Oh yes indeedy ladies and gentlemen lets have a round of applause for the piping.  I haven’t attempted to make my own piping before so had to use my very good friend google to check it out.  Basically the piping cord is surrounded by bias tape, which is ironed flat and sewn quite close to the cord to encase it (so far so good). A length of piping is then attached to the edge of the panels, without squishing the piping itself (screwdriver at the ready an adjustable zipper foot was in order). Front 3

Each parallel panel is then attached, you will notice when looking at the front of the dress there is significant curvature going on up top. Well the piping was determined to pull the rest of the dress in the opposite direction, so much so that Mrs Perfectionist insisted that it be taken out and reinserted many many time (did I mention I do love a challenge?)  It’s all part of the fun and the immense satisfaction when it is finally beaten into submission.

Front 4Whilst all this was going on I constructed the lining, once again sewing the panels together.  I decided to attach the lining around the neck and armholes which requires the side seams and back to be left open. Oh dear, by this point the zip was already in and the side seams on both lining and dress were already done.   So my faithful friend the unpicker was to hand once more.  There is always great fear when I have to unpick so much in case I really won’t be able to redeem myself and put it all back together again.  All was not lost and I could finally begin to see everything taking shape.  The dress is a dream to wear, so comfortable, the  crepe drapes beautifully and the lining has a slight stretch which compliments it perfectly.  There we have it, my first made to measure a-line dress.  It was such a lovely sunny day yesterday I went a little further a field to take my photographs and realised an even bigger bonus after getting out of the car – there wasn’t a single crease on me…….amazing!

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.

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!