Sunday, 16 April 2017

A New Dress for Easter, NEW LOOK K6184

Easter is my favourite celebration of the year. Yesterday we enjoyed a family fun day with bouncy castles and an Easter egg hunt and today we have sung our praises to God and had lunch with friends at church. I think that such a great time deserves a new dress!

There are so many things about this dress that I love that I can excuse its imperfections. I wonder whether I would be quite so critical of a RTW dress and I certainly wouldn't have complained if someone else had made this dress for me, I would have been delighted. So I am not going to be too hard on myself.

First of all I just loved the fabric. It makes me think of a greenhouse full of exotic flowers. There was almost 1.5 metres so I took a risk buying it and the style of the dress was dictated in the end by the small amount of fabric that I had. I already had NEW LOOK K6184 in my pattern collection and the narrow skirt version needed 1.2 metres at 150cm wide. I believe that this pattern was given away with the April 2015 issue of Sew Magazine although I bought mine in a batch from eBay. There were several reviews of the pattern on other blogs and the consensus seemed to be that the waist was a bit tight.

I rather rashly made a size 12, thinking that this was a stretch fabric and I wanted a close fitting dress. It is rather tight on the waist, which I really should have expected, but it reminds me that I would like to be slimmer and that a bit more exercise wouldn't do any harm at all.

I used more traditional sewing techniques to make this dress. For the seams I used a small zigzag stitch. This jersey knit is very stable and doesn't need any neatening.
I took up the hem using the blind hem stitch on my machine, I don't know whether you can see the stitches in this picture but the hem is finished with a zigzag while the needle also picks up small, even stitches from the main skirt just like a hand finished hem.

The internal neck facings are interfaced and edged with a simple zigzag stitch. I understitched the facings 2/8 inch from the seam but as this is a rather springy jersey the pleats at the neck still don't lie very flat and the facing is inclined to roll out a bit. I think I just about got away with this but a woven fabric would have suited this design feature better.

I finished the armholes with some commercial satin bias binding that I had left over from a previous project.

I was quite pleased with the invisible zip. It is invisible, but its bulges slightly. This doesn't matter too much, except on very hot days, because I will usually wear a jacket or cardigan with a sleeveless dress and that will cover up the back. I still need to attach a hook and loop at the top of the zip and will do this one evening when I want to stay awake watching TV.

I love a straight skirt with a back vent and this skirt has one.

So here I am wearing my new dress under a flowering cherry and doing my best to blend in

In our front garden admiring the spring flowers

And wearing a denim jacket to keep the cool wind at bay

Hope you have all enjoyed Easter Sunday as much as we have

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Green Tartan Shift Dress, Another Butterick 6258

Signing up last week for Me Made May '17 has given me a boost to try to make a few more things to wear before May. I have had this tartan jersey since the beginning of the year with the intention of making a shift dress but hadn't got round to it yet. I thought​ I had better make it before the weather gets too warm to wear such a dark colour.

I have returned to a pattern that I have used before here. It was my second ever post. I agonised over this dress for several weeks. I loved the fabric and I liked the dress on the hanger, but when I put it on I felt so frumpy! It felt like a Crimplene granny dress from the 1960s and not  my style at all. I had lots of reassuring comments but they didn't help. I still felt about 75 years old whenever​ I wore it. Anyway, I took my courage in both hands and cut another 2 inches off the bottom...  What a transformation! The dress no longer makes me feel old, it makes me feel young! I love,love,love it and am now enjoying wearing it all the time.

I even enjoyed posing in the garden to take these photos, but I thought you should see what a mother of three boys does more usually in the garden. It really is a very versatile dress!

So now I have made another dress for work from the same pattern. It was so easy to make. I cut it out one evening and sewed it up in just 2 hours. I would recommend this pattern for a stretch jersey with a little bit of body.

The tartan fabric is another jersey remnant from Leicester market and I think it is a bit reminiscent of Black watch tartan. It cost £1 per metre so it was also a bargain. It is really soft and warm on the inside and smooth and slightly shiny on the right side.

I took a lot of care to match the checks when I was cutting out which has paid off. I chose the narrow green line and pinned every third stripe carefully before pinning the pattern in place. I also cut the fabric right side out so that I could see the pattern, which is only printed on the right side. There is a really good tutorial on matching plaids on the Sewaholic blog which shows the technique I used. I find matching the sleeve head seams the most difficult, but I am quite pleased with these, even though they aren't quite right.

I used the overlock stitch on my machine for all of the seams. The hems on the bottom, neck and the sleeves were all taken up with the double needle to allow them to stretch.

It is lovely out in the garden today. The spring bulbs and blossom are in bloom and the grass is beginning to grow. I have a week off work for Easter and have lots of sewing projects lined up along with some gardening. I hope that the weather stays mild and you all have a good Easter break.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Self Drafted Peg Apron

The maid was in the garden 
Hanging out the clothes 
When down came a blackbird 
And pecked off her nose.....or his!!

About six months ago my husband retired and went back to work part-time. Since then he has taken on responsibility for the family washing on his days off. This is why I now have time to sew and write this blog. Last week he asked me to make something for him, and how could I refuse?

We have a peg bag which hangs on the washing line and looks like a little dress. I made this about a year ago. However, this really doesn't suit the man in my life. He doesn't like having to walk backwards and forwards to get pegs out and put them back. He asked me for a peg apron that will hold all of the pegs within easy reach. 

I found lots of patterns for peg aprons on line but none that really supported the weight of the pegs. A family of 5 generates a lot of washing and we use a lot of pegs! I have drafted this peg apron from an old cookery apron and put a big pocket on the front to hold the pegs. I cut it much shorter since it doesn't need to protect his clothing from spills. 

I needed a sturdy fabric so I bought one metre of 100% cotton London Street Signs craft fabric from Dunelm, which I thought looked suitably masculine.

For a contrasting binding I used 3 metres of red tape or webbing. I could have cut bias binding instead, the Butchers Apron in my Great British Sewing Bee book from series 1 recommends 3 ½ cm wide bias binding for their apron, but I was worried that bias binding would stretch and not hold its shape for long.

Using the old apron as a pattern I allowed 2cm hems along the top, bottom and sides of the apron. I stitched these straight hems first.

Then I drafted a pattern for a large pocket from newspaper. I knew that the pocket would need support in the centre so I designed it to have two openings and a seam along the centre top. I allowed 1cm seams all around the pocket, which I pressed before top-stitching in place.

Instead of bias binding I bound the openings of the pockets with the red webbing, tacking it first and then top-stitching through all of the layers. This binding seems to have really brought out the red lettering on the fabric, which wasn't very noticeable before. I hope that the webbing will be strong and will stand up to lots of wear and tear getting the pegs in and out of the pocket. Once I had bound the pocket openings I attached the pocket to the main apron. I have double stitched around the edge for extra strength. 

I have created some fullness by attaching the top of the pocket slightly lower so that the openings gape a bit and make it easier to get your hands in and out without looking down.

Last of all I used the rest of the bundle of tape to bind the curved arm hole edges of the apron and to make the neck strap and waist ties all in one piece. I turned back and hemmed the ends of the ties  to stop them from fraying. This apron is made for one person to use so the neck strap doesn't need to be adjustable, But you could add some D rings if you wanted to make a similar apron and couldn't be sure how long the neck strap needed to be. 

There shouldn't be any more frustrating moments, not having a peg to hand when he wants one. And the pegs will be stored in the apron, hanging on a hook by the back door, right by the washing machine.

The added bonus is that I didn't need to use the whole width of the fabric for this apron so now I have enough to make myself a new bag. 

Monday, 3 April 2017

Me-Made-May '17

I have just signed up to Me-Made-May 2017. This is the first time that I have joined in with this challenge and I feel really excited to be part of something so big. Here is the challenge that I have set myself

"'I, Rosemary of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '17. I will endeavour to wear one me-made item each day, including weekends, for the duration of May 2017 and to make my first pair of jeans"

I wear a lot of my own makes to work. Making my own clothes enables me to have lots of different outfits at a small cost and the pleasure of putting something new on in the morning gets me out of bed on a work day. By taking part in the challenge I will need to be a bit more adventurous and not just wear the current favourite over and over again. 

I haven't made a pair of jeans for myself although I have a pattern. My weekend wardrobe is smaller so I am challenging myself to complete a pair of jeans by the end of May

Sunday, 2 April 2017

A Mother's Day Gift and a new sewing project

As I said in my blog last week my son gave me a new book for Mother's Day. He bought me Cath Kidston's Sewing Book published in 2014.

This is a beautiful book and all this week I have been looking forward to making something and waiting patiently for the weekend to find the time. There are so many projects in the book that will make a nice change from making clothes and lots of things that will be lovely to give as presents

The book comes with everything you need to make the pocket sewing kit so I started this morning with this quick project. It reminds me of the small sewing kits known as housewifes of Hussif  which soldiers used to keep in their kits. I found a really interesting article on Soldier's Hussifs written by Nicola Parkman on the blog Hands Across the Sea Samplers which you can read here.

Everything was supplied in the pack and the fabric was already cut out so it has been great just to follow the instructions. The sewing kit came together very quickly. I love the contrast between the little birds fabric and the shocking pink trimmings and altogether it has been a pleasure to make.

What did I enjoy most? I liked making something so small and compact. The instructions advised me to pin and tack everything together before machining and I really enjoyed the hand sewing. The pieces fitted together well and once all the different sections were tacked in place the sewing was easy.

This project reminded me why I like to make my own bias binding. Commercially made binding is so stiff and much more difficult to ease around the curves, but it does look good now.

There are three pockets in the sewing kit and each one is made in a different way which gave this quick project lots of variety. It would make a lovely present for a friend who likes sewing and I would love to make another one in a different fabric.

I altered the pattern slightly when it came to the button loops. I have made buttonholes to replace the cotton loops in the original design. I thought these would be stronger and would stand up better to me filling the sewing kit with lots of useful items, which I am sure that I will be tempted to do.

Spring is coming and the weather is getting slightly warmer here. This always makes me start planning holidays away. We have a touring caravan for family holidays which feels just like having a grown up play house. I like to make things like this to personalise our caravan and I will be filling the sewing kit with useful things so that if anyone tears their clothes or looses a button while we are away I will be able to fix it. 

Monday, 27 March 2017

Sleeveless Tunic Dress, Kwik Sew 3691

First things first! Congratulations to Dawn who is the winner of my giveaway last week. I hope you enjoy using this beautiful fabric Dawn and would love to see what you make with it. As soon as I have your address it will be winging its way to you.

Now for the new project...

One of the first pieces of fabric I bought for my stash three years ago was this piece of beautiful flowery jersey. Since then I have looked at it so many times trying to decide what to make. I was limited by the fact that I only had about 1 1/2 metres, not enough to make anything with sleeves, and I always imagined it as a tunic.

Finally I decided to make up a sleeveless tunic dress using this pattern that came in a batch from eBay.

My measurements came at the top end of the medium size so this was the size I cut out. The tunic was very easy to make. I used a ballpoint needle throughout, apart from the hem which I took up with my twin needle. My only reservation was that the pattern recommends fine fabrics and my jersey was more of a medium weight. I didn't have enough fabric to cut the bias collar in one piece so I made mine in 2 pieces with seams down the sides, not a centre seam at the back. With such a busy pattern I don't think you really notice.

Front view

It was very important to centre the design which has an obvious vertical stripe between the rows of flowers.

Back view

This is the first time that I have used a Kwik Sew pattern. I had quite a lot of issues with the fit and I think the best way to record these would be by writing a pattern review.

Pattern review

Pattern description
Pullover tunic and top have a round neckline with tucks on front. Neckline and armholes are finished with facings. View A has bias cut cowl collar.

Pattern Sizing
I cut out a medium, bust 94-98. My measurement is 97 and I usually choose the size which best matches my bust measurement and make adjustments as necessary to the other measurements.

Did it look like the picture on the envelope when I had finished sewing it?
I would have to say that it didn't really. It was simply enormous!! I really liked the neat finish of the collar on the pattern photographs and the line drawings. I do not have such a small collar on my tunic but more of a boat neck. Looking at the pattern pieces with hind-sight, the collar gets bigger with every size increase and I am not sure that as women get larger their necks get that much bigger!
I took an extra 4 inches in total off the size seams to get a wearable tunic. I do like my tunic but it is not really the style I was hoping for.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes they were. It was really important to read the instructions in full because Kwik Sew patterns only have 1/4 inch seam allowances, not the usual 5/8 inch or 1.5cm we are used to.
This was a very easy tunic to make with no fastenings or difficult techniques, It just pulls on over your head.

Fabric choice
Recommended fabrics are lightweight, woven fabrics. I used a medium weight jersey with some stretch. I don't think that this accounts for the problems I had with sizing.

Did I make any alterations?
Because I used a thicker fabric than recommended I was worried that the pleats wouldn't sit well at the neck. To help them to lie flat I stitched along the fold line for 1 inch with a stretch machine stitch. I later unpicked the stitching on the centre pleats because they gave the tunic a deep, unattractive box pleat down the centre.

Instead of using the facings I finished the neck and armholes with bias binding that I made myself. I find that narrow facings keep popping out when the fabric has body and I prefer binding. I am pleased with the result, which is much less bulky than facings would have been.

I had to take in the size seams a lot to get a good fit. Next time I will make the small size.
I used the over-lock stitch on my machine for the side seams and trimmed off the excess seam allowance.

Would I make it again or recommend it to others?
I expect that I will make this pattern again, either as another tunic or as a summer top. I will definitely cut a smaller size next time and try to make an adjustment to the size of the collar.
I don't think I would recommend it to anyone else because of the amount of alterations I have had to make to the pattern.

My conclusions
I have a comfortable tunic made from a beautiful floral jersey which has a 60's vibe because of its large cowl collar. I have had lots of compliments which is always nice. I really love this material and I think the pattern shows it off very well.

So finally, I hope that you have all had a happy mothering Sunday. I enjoyed spending the day with my three sons and I visited my Mum. The house is full of flowers, one of my sons has bought me a new sewing book; what more could a Mum ask for?

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Let's celebrate! Two months! One thousand hits! One Freeby!

Lets party!

My sewing blog is 2 months old today and this week I also achieved a bit of a milestone. When I first started to write about my sewing projects on 17th January I set myself a target. I thought that if I could achieve one thousand hits by the time I reached 17th April, I could feel pleased and I would be making contact with other sewing enthusiasts.

So a great big thank you to everyone who has had a look and especially to those who have commented on what I have made. You are inspiring me to make more things and am really enjoying keeping a record. By linking up with other people I am also learning so much and this is driving me on to try new challenges. Two weeks ago my friend Pam, who had seen my blog, gave me a bag full of patterns. It was a real treasure trove and I feel so blessed! If it wasn't for me starting this blog she would never have known that we shared our interest in making our own clothes.

I really felt that I wanted to give something back so I am launching my first giveaway. I love a freeby and hope that you do too.

In my stash I have a beautiful piece of jersey. It is 150 cm wide and about 147 cm long. Just enough for me to make a straight dress or a spring top. It was the last piece on the roll.  I bought it from Stuart's Fabrics on Leicester Market. The sun was shining as I walked through one lunch time and it felt like spring. This material sang to me and I bought it on impulse. Now in the cold light of day I have to admit that, sadly, this colour combination really doesn't suit me. My loss, but it could be your gain.

Showing the yellow a bit more true to colour

It is a really soft jersey with 4 way stretch and it drapes very well as you can see.

If you would like to have this lovely floral print in your stash then please leave a comment about something on my blog. I will draw the names out of a hat at midnight next Saturday, 25th March 2017. The fabric is light so I can post anywhere in the world. One of the things I have found so exciting about having a blog is that it has put me in touch with dressmakers in America, Germany, Romania, Japan and so many other countries. I never anticipated this when I started. I wasn't really looking much further afield than the rest of the UK.

I look forward to hearing from you and Good luck.