Diamonds are a girl’s best friend

Hi Everyone

cut-outYet again I have left it quite a while since my last update, I have been sewing but not blogging for some reason.  So I decided to make a grand entrance with this little ditty!  Now when I say I have been sewing, not as much as I have in previous years, so I felt the need to prove to myself that I am indeed still capable, and as such gave myself a bit of a challenge…

The pattern is Simplicity 1277, I thought a 60s theme would be a grand choice for my fabric which I already had from the last secret sale at Abakhan Fabrics back in July 2015.  It is cotton with a very fetching pattern, on the one hand fantastic to sew on the other, attention to detail is a must.

Now, just to give myself something more to think about (I quite clearly thought I needed it) I decided to line the dress. Pattern matching, lining, concealed zip, the only thing missing to make it one serious challenge were the set in sleeves (oh how I love those bad boys) – five years of sewing and they still escape me.

close-upSo the game was on, time to get my board out for cutting the pieces to ensure everything was in line before I started.  The black side panels were a doddle, to throw something more into the mix I reversed the pattern on the skirt, creating diamonds along the waistline.  Because the pattern is a perfect-fit type, the seam allowance is 1″ so a bit of measuring was in order when placing the pattern on the fabric.neckline

All going well so far, on with the construction, first off sewing top to bottom on the front and back to create the diamonds, this took me at least four attempts, at this point I thought things could only get worse when trying to get the zip in.  The side panels went in next, which contained little pockets, followed by the shoulder seams, then I created the lining and inserted this around the armholes and neckline.

All going swimmingly it was time for the pièce de résistance – the concealed zip.  Much basting ensued, the first side went in without a hitch, I then basted the second, paying particular attention to creating the triangles down the centre.  It is a well known fact in the sewing world that zips move or tighten on the second side, which would mean where I placed that zip ever so carefully on the fabric, frontmatching horizontal and vertical patterns, would not be the case when it was sewn it.  I was ready for at least half a dozen goes to put that zip in and much head scratching to boot BUT to my utter amazement it went in first time, boom, straight down the middle! Wahoo!!

What followed was a piece of cake,  I did have to sew the centre back seam, but without a zip to complicate matters it was easy peasy lemon squeezy. I then created the side seams, which were mainly black anyway, so no big deal. I finally hemmed the lining and the dress and hand stitched the lining to the zip and that was it, job done.back

I think I can safely say I have redeemed myself in the wonderful world of sewing. Even after a slow twelve months my creative side has not diminished. Yay! all is well with the world.

The return of my sewing mojo

Well hello there!

TemplateI am guilty once again of not sharing for quite a while, that is because I genuinely didn’t feel I had made anything worth sharing! I had lost my enthusiasm and felt in adequate, I honestly didn’t know if I could turn it around or if I was capable of it.  The dress I will be telling you about today I have made before (a few weeks ago to be precise) and it was a disaster on a spectacular level.  But rather than being defeated I slapped my own legs and reminded myself that my sewing is still a massive part of life which brings me great satisfaction and pleasure.Front

So, version number two was under way, the pattern is Vogue 1469.  I have always loved vogue patterns for their individuality, I have made a few now and they’re always very different and can be a challenge to sew.  I made this version out of Tweed suiting bought from a shop only 5 minutes away from where I work (I have to lock myself in my car every day to stop myself from going there in my lunch hour).  NecklineThis time I decided to omit the piping as it was a bit too bulky for my taste and looked awful.   The lined dress comprises of various different panels made from princess seams, with a raised neckline, scoop neck, side-front pockets, invisible back zipper and hemline vent –  plenty to keep me occupied and give me something to think about.

CollarWithout the piping the construction was a doddle, a couple of the seams needed matching and joining on the diagonal but other than that no big drama.  I love the pockets on the front, although I have to say initially I didn’t want to put them in but they worked a treat and look fab, the concealed zip was inserted and the back seam, the vent and the dress was ready for lining (doesn’t sound much does it, it really wasn’t much the second time around!)

PocketWhen I have lined dresses in the past it has been done leaving the side seams open, attaching the lining around the neckedge and armhole first then sewing everything together. This time the dress was fully sewn (except for the shoulders) and the lining was the same, once attached the whole thing was turned the correct way around via the open shoulders, which were sewn last.

ReverseThere is definitely something very different about this dress, the neckline front and back are quite out of the ordinary, having said that I think it also has a classic shape which is extenuated through the seams (a shift dress that is not quite a shift dress).  So my sewing mojo has been restored and my faith in my capability is well and truly on the mend.

Happy days are here again!

Life as we know it

Hey there everyone

Front I have another story to share with you, this is no ordinary dressmaking tale in the life of willowwears.  It is far far from the norm for me, in the fact that this little number has been created (by yours truly, no other) based on a dress I saw in a film, oh yes indeedy.  I did not see a pattern in a book, magazine or on the tintyweb, I watched Life As We Know it and took a fancy to a dress Katherine Heigl wore in it.  So, without a pattern I was well and truly on my own, quite literally left to my own devices, ideas were popping into my head in the middle of the night!

I haven’t yet got the ability and knowledge to design a dress freehand, however this was the closest I have ever got.  I created my pattern by tracing bits and pieces of patterns I have used before.  Putting a round neckline together with a lower back was a challenge in itself, then there was the short bodice and long skirt, darts, facings for the neck and armholes; My brain was working overtime.   Without any idea if this would all work together and fit properly making a muslin was a must, which to my surprise was a success first time.

AbakhanThe fabric I chose is red embossed Scuba and black plain Scuba from Abakhan Fabrics in Manchester. I saw it online first but decided to take a trip to the store for a browse. I am like a child in a sweet shop every time I go into that shop, I have to stop myself from squealing.   The construction of my dress was extremely easy (good job, as I was without instructions).  I started with the bodice, princess seams and side seams.  I then moved onto the skirt, sewing both side seam and matching this up against the bodice to create my darts. Fabric I have to confess I had a light-bulb moment wondering if this was the correct thing to do, then I thought, who cares if it isn’t how it should be, this is mine, all mine, I can create it any way I want.

I attached my facings around the neck and armholes before inserting the zip, at which point everything came to a grinding halt, four times I tried to get that bad boy into the dress, I am more than familiar with matching seams on a concealed zip but my red fabric is quite thick and stretchy, even after securing the zip at the seam beforehand, it felt the need to move every time I sewed it in.  Finally it was in, I tried the dress on for size Necklineand strutted my stuff in front of my husband, he was suitably impressed until I turned around – “your seam doesn’t match” he said “that’s not like you to leave it like that, it’s a millimetre out”. Now, there comes a time when even the perfectionist in me has to walk away from a garment and admit defeat and this was one of them.  As for my husband, I haven’t seen him for a few days, goodness knows where he is………..

ReverseFinally, came the vent, hem and a touch of hand sewing and my first willowwears design was complete.  I have had quite a few exciting moments in my four years of sewing, my very first vogue dress being one of them (smiles).  This is no exception (extremely exciting to be exact!) To have an idea and be able to wear it in a matter of weeks without buying a pattern is a massive achievement for me, I still can’t quite believe it.

Scuba dressing


High street dress

Hello there peeps, I have a special treat for you today, my take on a high street dress.  Occasionally I will browse the shops with a view to buying something to wear but mainly to get inspiration.   Little did I know at the time, that my new favourite thing (scuba fabric) is hitting the shops in dress form and is trending at the moment?! I toyed with the idea of buying the one I had seen (for about 5 minutes) whilst at the same time franticly running through all my patterns in my head before I made the decision to leave the shop empty handed.Front

The pattern I had in mind was, Simplicity 1873. However, I was slightly conscious that the pattern might be a bit on the young side for me and needed the ideal fabric to turn it into to something a little more appropriate. I headed straight to Abakhan Fabrics in Manchester to make my purchase.

ReverseSo, the scene was set, I decided to make option B – as the cooler weather is drawing in, I didn’t want to wait until next summer before I could wear it, so the high neckline was a top priority (and it also looked like the one in the shop). Next up, the sizing. Scuba dresses are renowned for being a little on the snug side shall we say, so I decided to make a smaller size than I would normally.  Finally, my alteration, I decided not to line the bodice as the pattern suggests, so I made my own neck and armhole facings.



The construction consisted of pleats, darts, pleats, facings, pleats, concealed zip and…..oh yes I almost forgot, pleats.  I have to admit I didn’t follow the pattern to the letter to make the dress, I have made so many now, I can almost do it with my eyes shut.  I tend to make it up as I go along and put it all together in my own order.  I pulled the pleats together and attached the side skirt panels before I started the bodice and facings (I was really pleased they worked, my first time making them was a success! Where will it all end I ask myself?)

SkirtNot much else left to say, concealed zip, matching seams, hem, pleats (only joking I was just dreaming about them at this point).  The dress, is a dream to wear, the drape of the scuba fabric works really well and the weight makes it easily wearable at this time of year, I have already partied in it.

Summer collection

FrontHello there! Yes, you’re not imagining things, ’tis me writing a blog post. I am ashamed to say it’s the first since May! How did, that happen?! My summer consisted of many dress creations, some of which I have blogged about previously, nevertheless, it is no excuse for not sharing.Neckline

So, this blog post will be a little bit different from the norm, it will be a collection of the various makes I have completed in the last few months.

FrontFirst up Newlook 6013 – this little number I originally made for my mum in-law last April.  This time I made it for my daughter. The fabric was from Abakhan Fabrics’ secret sale in March, I can’t even put a price on it as I came out with the roll and lots lots more, for a ridiculous price. Reverese

FrontThe dress is really easy to make, raglan sleeves (my fave), front and back darts and neck facing, job done!

Next little ditty is, Simplicity 1699.  I think I have made every garment on this pattern now. I love patterns with lots going on, they can be used time and time again.  I bought this fabric at a craft fair in Manchester earlier this year, it’s got a lovely soft finish, with a slight stretch too.  The pattern, as you can see, is split into skirt and bodice consisting of princess seams, raglan sleeves and a full skirt.Reverse

Number 3, Newlook 6095.  This fabric came from Abakhan Fabrics’ Mostyn store. I already had the pattern, so had an idea of the type of fabric I wanted for my daughter.  Again, it is knitted fabric (I had a thing about fitted dresses with plenty of stretch this summer!)  Another easy dress to make, I was churning them out at a fast pace, no time for blogging.  This one consisted of breast darts, neck and armhole facings and that is pretty much it – I could make it with my eyes shut.

FrontLast but not least, Simplicity 1665.  This little top is made up completely from linen I have acquired over the last three years – leftovers from various garments I’d made previously (I knew they would come in useful one day).  ReverseThe top, has three sections; the main body, middle strap and yoke.  The sides are sewn, followed by the middle section, the yoke is then attached through the front and back.  A concealed zip is inserted to complete the look and my final make of the summer is finished.

There you go, lots to look at. I have made one or two other garments in-between but as you can see, this season has been all about the dresses.

I have almost completed my current creation, I will make sure that my next blog post isn’t too far away…..

Plain and simple

Front_V2Hey there everyone, I expect you have seen the title of my latest blog post, seen the picture and thought what is that crazy woman going on about PLAIN?! Well the dress is really quite plain. You see, with this fabric I didn’t feel the need to sew anything too fancy and overcomplicated.Back_V2

The pattern is Newlook 6124, which came free with Sew magazine last year.  I have made another version of the dress which I blogged here.  I had an idea in mind of how I wanted the dress, I needed to adopt the pattern to create the look in knitted fabric.  I had a practice run first to check the size, I actually made a size smaller than I usually make and I also took it in around the hips to created the seriously fitted look.  Now on to the fabric, this little number was made from medium weight polyester knit which just happened to be sat in a bag full of other material which I bought at the Abakhan Fabrics secret sale a couple of months ago (I didn’t know what was in the bag when I bought it), it quite literally jumped right out of bag and screamed “check me out”, my husband and I both looked at each other and grinned.

Close_V2Moving on to the construction of the dress, here goes, blink and you will miss it. The front was made up of three sections creating princess seams on either side, the back was four sections made in the same way, I inserted a concealed zip in the back, although the fabric is quite stretchy, the neckline is a bit too small to fit my entire body through.  There is a facing around the neckline and armholes, which is inserted before the zip and then it’s hemmed, job’s a good’n.

ZipA simple little dress with the biggest wow factor I have probably encountered since I made my first vogue dress a couple of years ago.  Another creation which I will wear with pride and an incredibly massive grin on my face.

Golden opportunity

FabricToday I will share my story of an opportunity presented to me which I simply couldn’t refuse. One day, a couple of months ago I was approached by one of the owners of my favourite store, Abakhan Fabrics in Manchester (which I frequent on a regular basis). He asked if I would like a VIP golden ticket to a secret sale they were holding in March, I jumped at the chance.  Haberdashery

This involved free breakfast, 10% discount in the main store and a chance to enter the sale an hour before the general public.  I was on a mission, to fill my husband’s car boot with fabric and sewing goodies (I have to say I quite successfully fulfilled my expectations, and some!) Two huge boxes of fabric, a box of buttons and various haberdashery items, all for such a fabulous price I almost fell over in shock when I was told what it was.Front

My first make from my stash is Simplicity 1467, a delightful pattern containing various different items to make (I just love those).  ReverseI decided to do the blouse, quick and easy, just right for the gorgeous weather we have been having recently.  The fabric is crepe de chine which is extremely lightweight. I was quite pleased that it didn’t take me too long to make as the fabric made me quite nervous, it had a tendency to pull and leave little ladders upon itself when my back was turned.

NecklineThe garment consists of one front section, two back sections, yoke, neckline and armhole facings and back fastenings. The fabric was so slight I decided to create french seams at the sides rather than attempting to venture near my overlocker (it has a tendency to chew some fabric and spit it out again). These particular seams are lovely and neat and finish the garment off really well. The back fastening was created with loops (a first for me) which are sewn into the facing at the neckline.  I had a good old rummage through my new button box for a couple of matching buttons.  I suspected I would find something in there that would work perfectly now I have so many, from what I recall it is even bigger than my Grandma’s button tin used to be!