Suited and booted

JacketMy latest creation has certainly given me some new challenges and also a few familiar elements I haven’t done for quite a while. I decided to make a trouser suit for a couple of reasons, the first being the challenge (here I go again giving myself far too much to think about) and the second being the wear I will get out of it at work. There is nothing more disappointing than making something, being really pleased with the end result, feeling fabulous in it and never getting the chance to wear it. The pattern is Burda 7134, the fabric is a grey tweed wood blend suiting from Minerva Fabrics. The suit is fully lined, complete with a slit on the back hemline, slits and buttons on each sleeve and fully lined flap pockets on the front.Jacket

It all started with cutting out the 24 pattern pieces for the fabric, lining and interfacing (not a small task by any stretch of the imagination). Initially the construction started well, sewing the front princess seams and the back seams and then I came to a grinding halt with the lined pockets; something I haven’t done before and unfortunately to my horror the instructions were very limited (this pattern is for advanced sewers who know what they are doing and I’m clearly not one of them). Time to turn to my twitter sewing friends for some much needed advice. I must have spent two weeks (around my day job) putting those little beauties in but I got there in the end. Onward with the creating the collar and attaching the facings to the jacket, constructing the lining and putting it all together. The next problem I faced was finding ten buttons two different sizes, I visited many shops and markets with no joy and finally found some online (what is that all about?) I finally revisited buttonholes with shaking hands added the buttons, label was inserted and that was that.   Or so I thought and then I washed it and the shoulder pads decided to head south on a journey to the bottom of the jacket, lining was then unpicked and the shoulder pads were inserted once again (securely this time).Jacket

Time to make the trousers, these compared to the jacket were a doddle, sewing a few seams, the waistband and buttonhole, the most difficult part of the construction was the zip and even that was straightforward, there isn’t anything more I can say about them really, I struggle to get excited about a pair of trousers.Suit

I have to say this suit gave me the challenge I was looking for and accelerated my sewing talent in the process, even though there were times when I really didn’t think I was capable of mastering something I haven’t achieved before.  Although I must admit now I feel the need for making something simple next time, I was going to make an evening dress (something else new for me) but first a couple of separates.

Vintage glamour

Here we have another step in a new direction for me and I TOTALLY loved every minute of it!Full Front View Inside

The pattern is Burda 7132.  I was immediately drawn to the design, I very much liked the Audrey Hepburn style. The fabric is a medium weight wool mix courtesy of Minervacrafts. I had already decided before I hunted the fabric down that it had to be dog-tooth check.Front View with Jacket

The dress consists of two halves, the top front is made up of three front panels to create the shape (something I am becoming very familiar with). The skirt front has two pleats either side to create the wonderful box shape at the top (this helps to hide a multitude of sins in the stomach area). The back has a concealed centre zip and vent at the bottom. The neckline, being very straight, is slightly different from other dresses which I think adds to its individuality.  Finally it has little capped sleeves which are sewn on with their facing.  On the whole it was fairly easy to put together, the skill involved was matching all the checks.

Front View with LabelNow we move on to bigger and better things, the jacket. I can honestly say the construction was  straight-forward, the reason being the fabulous instructions put together by Burda. Anyway, this. after 14 months of sewing is the first fully lined jacket I have attempted and I was ever-so-excited with each and every step.  We will start at the beginning, each of the front and back panels are sewn together and the sleeves (still in half at this point) are attached. Then the top seams on the sleeves are sewn to create the overall shape, the collar is then inserted (4 times I might add, we know how much I love to unpick!).  After which the whole process starts again with the lining. The two are put together using the collar and its facing and turned inside out (I was very giddy at this point). Time to add the cuffs, do a bit of hand stitching and away we go.

Full Back View

I particularly liked the box pleats in the back lining creating a pocket to prevent it from ripping when I am doing joyous cartwheels in it later. The one thing I didn’t do was stitch the lining to the inside along the fold at the hem, this again I think will give more maneuverability.

I would say this is definitely another win;  some you do and some you don’t.  I would definitely recommend Burda patterns, I really liked the seam and marking numbering on the pattern pieces, it all adds to the enjoyment of making such a wonderful garment. I am chuffed to bits with how it all turned out, so much so that I have decided to make a trouser suit next, including another fully lined jacket, I think I will need another wardrobe soon to accommodate my new clothes.

Stepping into some rather large shoes

Now then, these little beauties are my first attempt at men’s attire. I don’t remember making anything “male” when I was first sewing many years ago. The pattern is Simplicity 3971 which to my amusement is a unisex pattern, you will understand my amusement when we touch on the sizing later in the post. I decided to start with a pair of PJs for two reasons, number one, my husband quite liked the idea of handmade lounge wear and number two, I was reluctant to make a pair of trousers or a shirt in case I had another sewing disaster which wouldn’t venture out of the wardrobe; at least with these, only a select few people will see them in the flesh.

The trousers were extremely easy, especially with an overlocker, sew the inside leg, middle seam, side seams, make the waist casing, insert the elastic and away we go, happy days.

The shirt was more difficult, although the pattern was very easy to follow and the construction was quite painless. I revisited button holes and inserting a collar, both of which I haven’t done for some time now. The hardest part was matching all the stripes. When you’re dealing with so much material, it can be quite daunting. As I mentioned earlier this pattern is for male and female, now my husband is 6’3″, he is not a small chap by any stretch of the imagination. I did a bit of measuring, added a bit of length on the arms and legs and definitely cut the pattern to a size medium, make no mistake folks these are indeed a size medium. (I think he was in short trousers the last time he wore medium clothes) and they still swamp him, huge is not the word!

Anyway, we think jammies are most comfy when they are not restrictive and have more than enough room to lounge around in.

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Two for the price of one

I thought I would share this little story with you all. For those of you who are in the know, you will chuckle and also for those of you like me, who aren’t in the know, you will be soon.

I received a message from my husband yesterday, telling me he had bought me a little present, oh I do like surprises, I couldn’t wait to get home to find out what it was.

My husband had decided to do a little secret detective work on my behalf following my recent decision to look into buying a new sewing machine. You see one of the things I seem to be lacking with my current machine is the art of double stitching, I have so wished that my machine had the ability to hold two needles at the same time, this became more apparent last year during my knitted fabric phase, when I would stitch the hem and then stitch another line close to the first one. (I will add this isn’t the only reason for wanting a new super-duper machine).

Twin Needle

My new found friend

Anyway my husband managed to find a twin needle and bought me one. You can imagine my surprise at the gift (going red at the thought) I didn’t even know they existed, now do I feel a right numpty? Oh very much so! Do I still want/need a new sewing machine? (rubs hands together) of course I do!

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My other little friend

 

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!

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 🙂

Stranger things have happened

Front ViewWell, I am back in the game as the saying goes. Following my recent disaster(s) my sewing ability felt like it was hanging in the balance once again but I moved on swiftly to ensure I didn’t give myself too much chance to ponder.  This time the fabric caught my eye first, on a website I have recently started using. The descriptions are always detailed and precise so I know exactly what I will get when it arrives.

Gathers & Twists

The centre comprises of three separate pieces to create the gathers and twists

Still focussing on the stretch fabric I had an idea of the type of top I wanted to make.  I already have a pattern with a twist in the centre which I adore so I decided I wanted something similar. With the help of my friend Google I was on the hunt to find it. Finally I chose Simplicity 1716 which features 2 different tops/dresses, with varying sleeve lengths, just the job.

Part Front & Back

Upper front attached to the back, I didn’t quite know what was going on there

It was relatively easy to make, although a little baffling half way through when I had fabric dangling from the front and couldn’t quite decide what the purpose was. It was all a bit strange at this point but it all came together nicely in the end including the sleeves; I love how they fit directly on to the armhole and drape beautifully from the shoulder.

Sleeves & Centre

I love how the sleeves drape

There you go, all in all a productive weekend restoring my confidence and faith in my sewing once again.  Next I will be moving on to my Donna Karan inspired creation, it will probably be a wee while before I return!

The dress that wasn’t and still isn’t

One of the things I have noticed since viewing other sewing blogs is that we are all capable of creating sewing disasters, it doesn’t matter how hard we try for some reason, things sometimes just don’t want to go right.  Well, this dress is mine, this is the second attempt I have tried after seeing it on another blog (and I must say the lady who made it looked lovely in it).  I bought the pattern Butterick 5676 some time ago and decided to use the fabric suggested, which is a Ponte, it has a gorgeous soft and smooth feel to it and a slight stretch.  Front Full View As the focus of the dress is the topstitching I initially wanted to use a dark colour so it would stand out but decided quite quickly that I didn’t like it, I then moved on to grey, green and brown and finally decided the safest option was to go with one that matched the material.

Tipstitching

Topstitching that is carried through the front and back seams

I found the whole process quite difficult, matching seams and topstitching but I was reasonably pleased with my handy work, until once again, for the second time, the neck completely failed me.  On my first attempt I used the suggested facings including interfacing (4 thicknesses no less) and the neck gaped.  So this time I decided to use only one thickness of fabric rather than two and used bias tape instead and there is still a gape around the neck edge.

On the plus side the sleeves went in very well,  although I think they are too long to be three-quarter and too short for full length, I also think the dress on the whole is too tight.  There we have it folks, my sewing disaster, this dress was not meant to be, for me anyway but I thought I would share the experience.