Revival of the peplum

Full I just adore the peplum dresses and tops that are in fashion once again. It all started in the 19th century and was at the height of fashion in the 1940s and again many times over the years that have followed.  I am so pleased to experience these divine garments now they have made another comeback this century, even more pleased to be able to make my own (I wouldn’t have been able to say that a couple of years ago). There are so many lovely patterns available this season, I chose Simplicity 1699 from sewing-online, it comes complete with jacket, a dress, blouse and trousers.Peplum

As I mentioned in my previous post I felt the need to make something simple this time but just as exciting all the same, I find myself getting giddy at each stage of the process these days, irrelevant of what I am making. On this occasion I decided to make the blouse and trousers, the fabrics are a heavy weight chemise with a cotton collar on the blouse and dark cream medium weight linen for the trousers from Abakhan Fabrics store in Manchester.  I have to say light colours only come out with me in the summer and even then they can make me feel nervous.

CollarThe construction of the blouse began with the princess seams and back darts followed by the raglan sleeves, (I was practically doing cartwheels when I put the sleeves in they were so easy, I almost unpicked them just so I could put them in a second time!) I then attached the collar, I went in my own direction next rather than following the pattern by attaching the peplum skirt.  I then inserted the concealed zip before adding the neckline;  I inserted the zip  first because I find it gives a neater finish at the top where it closes.  Last but not least the hem and voila another job done and dusted.  A lovely little summer top that can, in my opinion be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.  The one thing I would mention is the sizing is quite small.Full 3

Moving on to the trousers, these particular ones are extremely easy to make.  The construction was, in its entirety, as follows: inside leg seams, crotch, side seams and zip (I inserted a concealed zip instead of a side one) and some twill tape on the waist.  Again I chose a slight variation to the pattern and decided to put a facing on the waist, (made from the same cotton as the collar), which was much more comfortable.  Now these were quite the opposite to the blouse and were rather large, so needed some adjustment.

TopThere we have it, a couple of lovely garments for summer, for a fraction of the price I would pay on the high street.  I have also decided to make the jacket, (there is so much on this pattern I can’t help myself) the material is all ready and waiting but I will blog that another time.

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.

20130313-195135.jpg

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!

20130207-214744.jpg

My other little friend

 

Windswept and interesting

What can I say……? I am ever so slightly windswept and the neckline on this dress is rather interesting.   Full FrontI haven’t really decided yet if this particular look is really me, my other half thinks it definitely isn’t “what about for a Saturday afternoon trip out somewhere nice”  I ask, “not with me” came the reply, “what about for the office, I think it has its place there”?!  Some will love it and some will hate it, for now I am sat on the fence.  Anyway, the pattern is Simplicity K2146 inspired by Project Runway, which incidentally was another freebie off Sew magazine a few months ago, if it’s free these things have to be tried.

Funnel sleeves complete with v-shape cuffs

Funnel sleeves complete with v-shape cuffs

I chose a twill medium weight fabric with a slight stretch, which was suggested on the pattern. The dress comprises a back concealed zip, two darts and a vent on the hemline. The front is made up of three fitted panels to give the shape around the top half and of course the unusual neckline, which is lined. The neck also has a facing on the inside (facings are not my thing) this one in particular doesn’t lie flat as the detail on the front is so heavy it tends to be insistent on trying to pop the facing out of the top.  Last but not least the funnel sleeves with a v-shaped cuff, we can’t forget those little beauties.

I found the dress, in general, easy to put together after the false start that was the three pieces that construct the neck.  I don’t think any garment would be complete for me if I didn’t have something that doesn’t really work and I have to unpick it and start again.

Three piece neckline

Three piece neckline

I shall leave you with a little taste of what is in store next, I have been doing a spot of multitasking this week, working on two garments at the same time (check me out) my next creation is ready for putting together now, after lengthening the trousers and sleeves by three inches, oh it is massive.   All will be revealed in my next post, all I will say is it definitely isn’t for the faint hearted.

Time to take a risk

Following my first achievement many months ago in what came to be a rather long and complimentary relationship between me and lots of knitted fabrics; I decided to make something knitted and fitted for someone else.  I had received so many compliments for my creations and also the various different fabrics I chose to use.  Whenever I wore this top my Mother in-law would comment on how lovely it was, the time had come to hatch my cunning plan (sneaky grin spread across my face).

The garment had been decided but I was unsure of the fabric, I decided to sit tight in the hope she would inadvertently point me in the right direction.   A few months later I made this top and following more compliments I became confident that this fabric would be the one.

The finished article ready and waiting

The finished article ready and waiting

I have to admit buying clothes (let alone making them) for other people is not a road I tend to venture down very often, it’s all about personal preference, style, colour etc, so you can imagine my turmoil (should I, shouldn’t I, maybe maybe not, what if I make a mess of it, what if she doesn’t like it?), the inner fight lasted for a while until I told myself to take a deep breath and do something out of my comfort zone and take a risk.

So the garment was created with shaking hands and put in a safe place, for this was to be a secret until Christmas 2012 – eek!  As it  turned out it was a great success and well received to my relief.   I have realised there is something very rewarding when making garments for other people, the personal touch cannot be replicated.   Having said that I am still quite self conscious about the whole thing and very nervous. So  I won’t be doing it again any time soon then you would assume…………..oh no, no, no, that would be far to easy, my next creation is for my husband  (my biggest critic)  watch this space folks!