Monday, 31 March 2014

Free pattern - vintage bias slip

If you've never heard of this blog then please go visit 'Sew Vera Venus'! She has just posted up this gorgeous free pattern for a vintage inspired slip. Go see here

It is available as the knee length pictured above or a floor length as well as 3 sizes. How generous is that? This is definitely on my 'need to make' list, although slinky bias cut fabric sounds like a whole world of pain (in the sewing sense), but what's fun about taking it easy all the time?

Me made jeans pattern drafting

I have been determined that I must make my own pattern for my jeans project and it's been alot of work, but after alot of slashing, cutting and sewing I think I now have a good close fitting trouser block to work from.

It has been a valuable process and I have learnt alot about my shape. I now know why I have NEVER been able to find decent fitting trousers!

Here is the toile I have just finished in a rather jazzy floral!

 The view from the inside as it's hard to see the fit from the front (due to jazzy floral). The side seam seems to fall back a bit around the ankle, but a minor detail that I'll hopefully be able to rectify.

 This block can now hopefully be adapted to be tighter, looser etc...

You can see from my final pattern pieces that this is nothing like a commercial trouser pattern. I have, shall we say, curvacious legs, so need quite alot of shaping to the thigh on the trouser front and calf to eliminate uncomfortable pulling. There is also more shape added to the hip side seam on the front to accomodate my shape. Look how high the centre back seam is too!!!

It's a good feeling to have made this pattern and I now feel happy that I do not have gross legs or am somehow distorted, I just don't fit a regular mould when it comes to trousers!

 It's hard to believe these two pattern pieces belong together, but they do.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Big Spring contest dress!

A few weeks ago I entered the 'Big Spring Contest' from Offset warehouse. Offset Warehouse has got a substantial selection of ethically produced, sustainable fabrics and four people have been selected to make a design in the fabric of their choosing from the collection.

Four blogs hosted the first stage of the competition, each with a different subject, and I entered 'Scruffy Badgers' category. I had an idea for 'the first frock for spring' and hoped that Winnie (blog owner) would like it as much as I did. Well, she did and I have now become a finalist in the competition!

The fabric arrived today, so I can now get cracking. Below is the design I want to make up. It is a free downloadable pattern of a 1950's inspired dress from the V&A website here.

I now need to turn this...

Into this...

It needs to be completed by the 9th April, so I have just pre-washed the fabric and have the pattern all printed out and ready to go. In the interests of remaining eco friendly for this challenge I am not going to make a toile, as this would, in theory, be wasteful of fabric.

The final part of the competition will rely on the public vote, so I'm going to need as much support as possible to win. Fingers crossed! xxx

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Me made jeans!

Ok, I'm going to climb that mountain and attempt to make my own bespoke jeans...pattern and all! Da, da, daaaaa!

I have been thinking about trousers alot lately and making myself the perfect pair, which has now moved onto thoughts of jeans and is rapidly becoming an obsessive niggling thought that I can't seem to shake from my mind.

I have found this beautiful ethically produced denim from Merchant and Mills to start with. I was looking for some selvedge denim and was pointed in this direction by Katie, from 'what Katie sew' blog. It is so tactile and soft. It's very narrow (78cm), but I think that it's going to work really well and I'm going to try and retain as much of the selvedge as possible on the outside leg.

I think I have created a basic block that works, so I just need to mock up a toile and see where I need to go from there! Exciting!!!

Stripe button front shirt dress

This is the second incarnation of the button front shirt dress from the Japanese sewing book 'wear with freedom' the first being here.

I made a mistake when tracing the pattern for my first version and didn't add enough length in the front. This was only discovered once I'd sewn the button placket, pocket and front gathers...doh!

Here is my new and improved version without any mistakes.

The only topstitching detail on the top half of the dress is on the pocket, placket and collar stand. I omitted this from the back yoke and only cut one yoke instead of a double layer. Interfacing has been added for the placket, but not for the collar or stand, which is stable enough without. I have chosen stud fastenings, as these SEEMED like the easiest option. Not so! Almost every single one got mangled when I tried to hammer them in. I just kept bending them back and re-trying and eventually ended with an acceptable finish.

I have french seamed the sleeve and doubled over the hem, so that they can be turned up without looking a mess. The rest of the dress was machine stitched on straight stitch and overlocked.

Check out the pattern matching on the yoke! More pattern matching glory on the side seams (see above picture). Didn't work on sleeves, but who cares???

A success! I'm even wearing this dress as I'm typing.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

By Hand London - 'Eloise' skirt

As soon as I saw this first fabric offering from the 'By Hand London' girls, I knew it was for me! It reminds me of a Liberty print, but with a creepy twist. I love it! The peachy tones are just my kind of colours too.
Yes they are creepy critters, not the beautiful flowers you first thought!

I must confess, that although I am fairly knowledgable when it comes to fabric, I have never worked with a cotton poplin before and didn't expect it to be quite so thick. It was lovely to work with, but maybe the summery print would have suited a light cotton lawn better, or maybe that's just my Liberty reference clouding me...

Never the less, I don't really want that to sound like a complaint, just a suggestion, as I am supremely happy with it and how it's turned out as a finished garment.

I did do a pre-wash, as I wanted to eliminate any coatings, risk of shrinkage, colour runs from the outset. No need to worry there, as it washed very well!

I made a really simple, but ultimately wearable skirt and used almost every inch of the metre I purchased. It was a make-up as I go pattern, which even managed to include some cheeky pockets!

Here's the finished article! I can honestly see me wearing this for years and years and years and years and I can't wait for their next offering.

Where did that stray loose thread come from?

FYI - BHL are looking to expand their fabric printing potential and are looking for help to fund a new printer, so that they can go on and conquer the fabric world as well as the sewing pattern one. If you want to read more on how you can help this young indie business you can find more details here.

Next on the agenda is to make a 'Polly' camisole to go with my skirt (free 'BHL' download). Pattern pieces all printed and cut, I just need to choose a fabric!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Vintage pattern giveaway!

Does anyone fancy having a go at making this? I have just made up a toile of the dress and decided it's not quite me. It's too narrow in the skirt for my liking and rather than fiddle with it, I thought that someone else may suit it better.

The pattern is for a sleeved/sleeveless dress, tunic and trousers. The bust is 36", which in real terms is roughly a size UK12. That's what size I am and it fitted me well!

If you fancy giving it a go then leave a comment and I'll pick someone from the hat on Sunday 23rd March.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Miss Bossy patterns - I'm going to make...

Miss Bossy patterns can finally take a break as the polls have closed!

Taking on the challenge for the first time from 'The Monthly Stitch', I have been bossed into making up a vintage blouse pattern from my stash. Read more about the challenge here if you are not already familiar with this site.

I put the following 3 patterns to the vote and fellow monthly stitchers voted the Butterick blouse a clear winner and this is what I must now make by the end of the month for this challenge.

The winner!

The results were as follows:
  1. Butterick Blouse - 62%
  2. Simplicity shirt dress - 34%
  3. Vintage coat - 4%
My fabric choice is not going to be easy, as I am torn between 3 pieces. I could do with being bossed around for this too! Hey ho, I'm sure I'll figure it out!

Vintage printed voile - I have had this in my stash for ages, but can't bear to cut into it!
Striped jersey - I think this would work well for this style, but some pattern alterations would be required to make it work for a knit fabric.
Sheer black voile with opaque stars - This is the one I'll most likely go with

Friday, 7 March 2014


As mentioned in a previous post, myself and my good friend Ella (Bombella) are challenging each other to a Friday art project. This weeks theme was Paisley and this is what I have come up with!

Ta dah!

The Paisley pattern is traditionally made up of all sorts of intricate detailing, but typically includes a teardrop/kidney shaped motif somewhere within the design. This was originally inspired by Indian/Iranian designs, but is named in the Western world after the Scottish town of Paisley, a centre for textiles, where it was largely produced.

I did not quite know where to go with this initially. As I couldn't steer my mind any further than reproducing the Paisley pattern, rather than paint, draw or print it, I have opted to machine embroider it. I have used the machine free-hand without any pencil guidelines with white, grey and coral threads on off-white paper to create texture with tiny hints of colour. The reverse side (stitched with a white bobbin thread) is the side I prefer, as the colour only justs peeps through. I have not machine embroidered much before, so I found it difficult to control, but I enjoy the effect.

Reverse side detail

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Mum and Dads new clothes

I very recently had my Mum and Dad come to stay. They live far far away, Belize to be precise, so for that reason came to stay for a whole six weeks. This gave me ample opportunity to ply them with handmade clothes to take back with them. I find that my generosity is limited when it cones to making clothes for others, but when it comes to my parents no amount is too much.

Here they are in some of their new togs
I made mum several bits. The first being this dress from my favourite... 'stylish dress book: wear with freedom'. This book never stops giving! It's a combination of the boxy dress and pleated front top, but I neglected to photograph mum in just the dress without the jacket. Doh! The fabric is a textured spotted cotton (I can't remember the technical name just now). It was all stitched with french seams and bound with self made bias strips.

The jacket is from 'Stylish dress book: clothing for everyday wear', as per my Crimplene suit. This was made from a very soft tapestry, which frayed to buggery by the way. I've never known anything like it. I french seamed the side seams, overlocked the armholes, but then had to bind the armholes on top, as the seams were not holding up too well. I managed to salvage them though and hope they will last now. The inside of the jacket, although unlined, is something to behold! I am so proud of it that I made my Mum turn it inside out, so I could take pictures. All the binding matches the dress and I even printed a little label (my woven labels hadn't arrived at this point).

My beautiful Mum!
The next item is this little a-line skirt. Self-drafted, it is made from some very lovely heavily embroidered silk. This was a bargain that I picked up from a car boot for 50p can you believe? It was a joy to work with and I love how it turned out. I also made this same skirt in a purple psychedelic print, but Mum had already packed it by the time we were taking pics.

And now onto my Dad! Unfortunately I only had time to make him one shirt. I would have loved to have made more, but by the time I'd made the paper pattern and constructed this one, there was no time! Where did it go? For his pattern, I made a copy from an existing shirt he'd brought with him. He liked the fit and it was easy enough to do.

He chose the fabric, which was from our local market and was £1 a yard. It's a Teal crinkle cotton with embroidered flowers. At first I thought it was a bit too pretty, but I love how it turned out and how it looks on him. The crinkle was a bit tricky on such a structured garment though, as you really need to get it flat for the collar and the centre front. I opted for easy popper fastenings instead of buttons. Job done!

I need to make more of these shirts to send in the post, but overall I feel really good that my parents have been able to go home with such personal gifts from me.