What did I do?

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I made an outfit almost exclusively for one or two days wear.  A bit of a waste?  Well…  Hopefully not!  I’ve seen people making Christmas and Birthday dresses on Instagram for ages now, and I never really saw the appeal.  Sure, I might wear something recently made on the day, but it wouldn’t have been made specifically with that purpose in mind.  So why did I do it?  I had just over a metre of sparkly sequin fabric leftover from a 1920s dress I made for a friend a few years ago.  And every time I looked in the special fabrics box for other things, this sparkly sequin fabric said “Hi!”.  And I love a bit of sparkle.

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So I hatched a plan – use the sequin fabric for the top part of something, and go plain on the rest.  I cannot see myself wearing a fully sequined getup anywhere!  I just don’t lead that sort of lifestyle.  I had in my mind a jumpsuit, and the Zadie fit the bill rather nicely.  I wouldn’t need to try to hem or face edges, and the leg part of the jumpsuit is nice a wide, so a flowy fabric would work perfectly.  I took a leap of faith and ordered 2m of black crepe from Croft Mill Fabrics and stashed the lot until I had the time to think about working with sequins again.

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Of course, when not planning things out properly, something is always going to go awry.  The leftover sequin fabric was’t nice and neat, and the pieces for the Zadie top are big, especially the crossover front.  I just couldn’t get the front, back and sleeves onto the remaining shape of the sequins, so the back had to go.  Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, from the back you’ll still see sequinned sleeves, and it might be more comfortable to wear as a plain fabric.

But that meant I needed space on the 2m of 150 wide crepe for two lengthened (by 10cm), wide trouser legs, one (the front) with a crossover extension.  And the pocket bag, tie belt and bias strips, and the bodice back.  It just didn’t all fit on, so I decided to forgo self bias for shop-bought black satin bias, and to echo that, and bring in a bit of texture contrast, to cut the pocket bags from some leftover black crepe-backed satin.  A bit of tuxedo vibe, if you like.  To line the sequin front bodice pieces I dived back into the special fabrics box and found another leftover piece of fabric, this time a lightweight piece of dark grey satin that worked perfectly under the sequin fabric.  The sleeves are unlined and would be finished with black bias instead of being hemmed.

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With everything cutout and marked up, I then proceeded to have endless fun flicking sequins around the sewing room.  They had to be removed from the dart area on the bodice front (FBA) and in all the seam allowances.  To be fair, I tried not flicking the sqwuins too far, I needed to keep some for reinstating along the seam edges to fill the gaps.  However, two weeks later, I’m still finding the little sparkly buggers under and behind things, and nestled in the pile of the carpet.

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I used a narrow zigzag to sew the seams of the sequin fabric as the mesh has some stretch, then the seam allowances were zigzagged together and pressed – carefully- to the back.  I herringbone stitched the seam allowance onto the back bodice so it wouldn’t be flapping around.  The grey satin lining was attached to the front sequin pieces after the darts were sewn and the two treated as one.  The sequins did end up making the pleats on the waistline a bit bulky, but I really couldn’t have removed any of them.

I overlocked the crepe trouser pieces and satin pocket bags before starting to sew, and French seamed the bottom seam of the pockets.  As always, the Zadie goes together really easily, it’s just choice of fabric that might take time…  I took this project a little slower than normal, I had no intention of trying to use a seam ripper on a mesh seam!  I used just under 2 rolls of black satin biasbinding, I like the definitive edge it gives to the front, and the sleeve edges.  On trying the jumpsuit on to check the hem length, however, I realised it was the right length as it was!  Damn, should have lengthened the legs by 12cm!  But that would have given me other issues with getting the pieces on the fabric.  Anyway, it wasn’t a disaster, I just used the bias binding as hem facing, sewing it on the bottom edge with 5mm seam and turning it in to make the proper hem.  It’s worked ok, and the length is now right.

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And now I have a very sparkly outfit, fit for Christmas, birthdays, New Year and just about any wedding (evenings only) we might get invited to for the next few years!!  I’m glad I only needed to buy the crepe and bias binding, and that the sequined fabric now has a use, rather than sitting in the stash.

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Merry Christmas!!

 

La Dee Da

I have another dress in my winter wardrobe!  I finally got round to making my second Assembly Line V-Neck Dress, in that lovely rusty windowpane wool I bought at the end of the summer.  This takes my winter dress total to 3!  Woohoo!

I made a couple of adjustments to the pattern this time.  I stayed with the size I made the first time, the large, which fits well enough and I like the feel.  The first change made was to narrow the shoulders.  I took the shoulder line in by 1cm and gradually shaped the armhole line back to the original line by about halfway down.  The fit across the shoulder is much better now, so that’s an alteration that’s staying.

The Assembly Line V-Neck Dress

Now, the first dress I made with this pattern, fabulous as it is, has a small problem.  Although other people have told me over and over again that it’s fine, I still feel akward abaout it.  It’s the depth of the V.  I keep pulling the dress back so the v isn’t so low, or, now that it’s chilly, I wear a jersey vest top underneath.  This just keeps me from feeling that it’s too low and I’m showing a little too much.

The new neckline is perfect!

Sooo, I decided this time to lift the V by 5cm.  I traced the existing neckline, and taped paper to the front to extend the centre front line up by the 5cm.  Then I just taped the traced line so that that front point lined up and tilted the new line until it lined up with the existing line at around the shoulder point.  A bit of truing to make the line nice and smooth and it was all done.  Then I traced that and made a new facing.  I’m much happier with this new line and height of the V, it still has the shape intended, but leaves me feeling more comfortable wearing it.

Now for the fabric!  I bought it from a little shop in Kenilworth, Karen Delahunty Sewing & Knitting Centre.  It’s a lovely, soft, draping wool, and is very comfortable to wear.  I am glad I’d bought 3m originally, because with the shapes and length of the dress pieces – and trying to line up the pattern, you need almost all of that!  There’s very little left.  As it was keen to fray, I overlocked everything before starting to sew.  Now, as for the instructions, they’re dead easy to follow, plenty of images for those who prefer pictures to words!  You end up with a very neat inseam pocket too, which is always nice.

So, I’m happy with my new dress, I just need to figure out a good colour of tights to wear with it.  Initially I thought grey would be good, but now, seeing these photos with the black tights, I’m thinking navy….  And I need better shoes!

Scrapbusting Projects

I had a nice big collection of leftover pieces of denim from this year’s denim projects, and some I’d kept after making my Birkins.  I had an idea to make something from the proper scraps as well as the larger pieces that weren’t big enough for something on their own.  I started with all the really small pieces, thinking if I just sewed them all together to make a “piece of fabric”, then I could make something out of that.

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I made piles of the different colours and weights and literally just grabbed a piece, tried to see if there was another that I could fit the shape into and topstitched them together.  I used a combination of the demin thread and ordinary navy thread to give some contrast, and some stitches were just zig-zag, others were from the decorative stitches on the Bernina, which aren’t anything like the fancy stitches you get on a modern machine!

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I mixed up the colours a bit, and tried not to get too caught up in making sure the fabrics were equidistant from each other.  I tried not to think too hard about it, just get sewn up, otherwise it starts to look “planned” and I wanted to try for an organic look.  That’s something that’s not easy for me!  Eventually I figured I had the right length of “fabric”, although now I think maybe I could have made it a little deeper.

But for now, I sewed the short ends together to make a tube, but without doing it the normal way, with a seam allowance.  I simply laid the ends over each other and topstitched with a few rows of fancy stitch.  Next I sewed the bottom closed, with the seam allowance on the outside.  The allowance was pressed open and I decided a width of around 10cm would be good.  I marked the sides, which would eventually be the middle of the 10cm wide side “panels” and lined those side lines up with the seam line on the bottom.  By sewing across this and making a triangle (with the baseline of 10cm), I made the “gusset” or width of the bag.   Then I folded those triangles up and topstitched them in place.  I quite like the look of everything on the outside for this bag, no hiding the construction!

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But, I was worried that it might not be terribly strong, so I rifled around in the scrap bag and found two pieces of linen, green, but different greens.  There wasn’t enough of each to be full linings, so I have two colours of lining, constructed in the same way as the denim outside, but with the allowances all hidden this time.  The handles are just long straight pieces of one of the denims that had enough for me to use!  I left a 20cm gap in the base of the lining and then sewed the lining to the outer bag around the top, catching in the handles.  After a quick press I bagged it out and stitched the gap closed.  I’m rather happy with the finished bag, although I do think I should have made the fabric piece deeper, the proportions aren’t quite right.  But seriously, no train smash!!

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I managed not to use any of the bigger pieces of the denim scrap for the bag, only the small scraps.  That means, of course, that I will have to find something else to use all those bigger bits for.  Maybe another shopping beg, maybe a cushion cover.  I can’t see myself making an item of clothing, I just don’t think I’d wear it, although I love the idea.  It just wouldn’t be me, and that would be a waste.

But wait, the title is for projects, and I’ve only showed you one so far!

I’ve also found a use for all the rest of the small scraps from my cutting table!  Earlier this year I started to see poufs on Instagram all made using the free pattern from Closet Case Patterns.  That lightbulb moment happened, and I started to save those little bits instead of putting them in the bin.  No more fabric going to landfill in my house!  I filled a bag, well compacted, from the Fancy Silk Store, which isn’t a small bag!  Once it was overflowing, I thought I had enough, and started to assemble my pouf.

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First I needed the pattern, so I signed up to the website, which gives access to various free goodies and advice sheets.  Pattern downloaded and printed, I traced the triangular pie shapes for the top and the rectangle side pieces so I’d have more to pin on to the fabric.  I had 6 of each, so I could easily place and cut many at a time.  I decided to keep it low key and muted, so cut some leftover linen in dark green, olive green and some lime green leftover from my Teddy Designer pants made this year.  I cut four of each and sewed them together symmetrically.  I didn’t do the piping, not enough scrap for that!  The base is also a bit patchy, one piece of linen and one of a thick-ish cotton.  I’m not bothered with that, it’s the bottom, no-one’s going to see it!!  The zip wasn’t quite as long as that required, but I figure it’s long enough, and it’s from the stash.

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But – I realised I’d need a bag to put the scraps into, if I ever needed to wash the linen outer pouf.  This I made from the pillowcases of a duvet set that has finally given up the ghost.  I used the bottom pattern pieces and cut 4, there’s no way I’m cutting 12 triangles from pillowcases for the inside bag!  The side is also made from bigger pieces than the original 12 rectangles, long strips from the pillowcases did the job.  I used a small zip from the stash just big enough to stuff the scraps through.

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Now, as the zip in the outer bag doesn’t extend all the way across the pouf, I put some of the scraps into the inner bag and then put the inner bag into the outer.  I finished stuffing scraps into the inner bag while it was in the outer bag.  Possibly completely negating the whole reason for making the inner bag in the first place!!!  Oh dear.

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And then I realised I didn’t have enough scraps!  How??  I was sure there was enough, but nope.  So I added the stuffing of a lumpy nasty cushion, a couple of hubby’s shirts that have been cut up to make jeans pockets, and two jumpers that he’s put his elbows through and won’t let me patch, but it’s not enough.  I can’t believe I need more scrap fabric!  So I’ll just keep adding fabric as it turns up, eventually the saggy baggy elephant impression will go, and I’ll have a nice big pouf for the living room.  It’s already made itself handy as somewhere to put the laptop, Good Food magazines, and my feet!  But I don’t think I’ll be making many of these, given how much they need to fill them up!

 

The Misses of 2019

To be fair, there haven’t been that many items I made this year that haven’t made the grade, for whatever reason.  So this might be a short list!  Of course, if the project was that bad a miss, there won’t be photos, or many, and maybe not even a blog post…

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The first project that springs to mind is the black and white gingham top made back in January.  I have not worn that top.  At all.  In fact, I cut it up and turned it into a cute little dress for a 3 year old.  It was a case of wrong fabric, wrong pattern and wrong adjustment.

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Second is another top, and another case of wrong fabric for the pattern.  I’d thought the Kabuki Tee from Paper Theory would look good in viscose.  I was wrong.  And the pattern wasn’t for me, I had liked the colour and thought I could get away with the pattern because of the colour, but it felt all wrong to wear.  It felt like it was wearing me, rather than the other way around.  It’s another project that’s been cut up to make something for a cute little girl.

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That’s the only photo I have of me wearing the top.  And that’s only because all my other clothes were in the wash after coming home from 3 weeks away!

And the only other fail I can think of is the pair of Ash Jeans I made at the end of November, in the wrong size!  But are they really a fail?  They made up really well and looked good, and I managed to sell them to someone who (hopefully) was the right size.  So I’ve bought replacement denim and plan to make another pair as soon as.

It was at this try-on stage that I realised things weren’t going as well as I thought.

Honestly, they’re the only projects I can think of that fit the fail bill, I seem to have had good luck this year!!  How about you?  Has it been a plus or a minus year for your projects?  I do enjoy looking back over the year at everyone’s projects, and seeing how you all feel about the projects you’ve put your time and effort into.

Top 5 Hits of 2019

I can’t quite believe it’s that time of year again, December, christmas, and the time to review what has worked well, and what didn’t.  The end of another sewing year, this is when I start looking at all those projects that I’d intended to make and haven’t quite got round to.  Joining the Socialists in reliving the best and “worst” projects of the year, I still start on a high!  Of course!

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There have been many highs this year, my favourite pattern has been the Paper Theory Zadie.  Although I’ve “only” made two jumpsuits from it, I have loved wearing them so much.  I’ve actually started making a fancy Zadie for my Christmas outfit!  I don’t usually bother with a specific, purpose made Christmas outfit, but this year, I’ve decided to give it a go.  So my Zadie jumpsuits are definitely on the top 5 hits list!

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The Style Arc Teddy Designer Pants are another pattern that’s hit the mark with me, and having made 3 pairs this year, I really can say it’s a fabulous pattern.  I always get compliments when I wear them.

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For Daughter No2, the best loved projects have been the skirts make using 117 from Burda February 2017, again, used three times.  I have a pile of fabrics waiting to be used for this pattern, so I know this is a hit!  Two of the skirts made for Daughter No2 were in summer fabrics and she’s loved them.  Now she has a canvas print that’s good for winter and she loves that too.

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Skirt 117 from February Burda 2017

I haven’t been able to make much for Daughter No1 this year, it’s tricky when we don’t get to see each other that often, so fitting is tricky.  I have, however, managed to make her the trousers so so wanted earlier in the year, although I don’t have blogable photographs of them yet.  But I know she loves them, and when she wore them to work, she got many complients.  And I could have had many orders!

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1987 Vogue 1199, much altered!!

Last has to be my corduroy jacket, the most recent of a whole string of jackets made from the jacket pattern 116 from April Burda 2009.  Everyone loves the colour so much, it’s quite unique in a sea of black, grey and beige in the winter!   Until I get to make my Peppernoot and Tosti and Sienna Maker Jacket and nameless other Burda patterns, this is my favourite winter jacket so far!

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Next up will be those projects that, for some reason or other, didn’t quite make the grade.

 

 

 

 

Cold Day in the Sun

 

It’s been tricky to catch up on the projects made for the daughters lately, they’ve had stuff delivered, either in person or by the very helpful Royal Mail, and I never see it again!  I have asked for photos, but so far nothing has been forthcoming.  So  I managed to persuade Daughter No2 to come home to help with the putting up of the Christmas tree, and to bring at least one item she’s had recently so I can get photos!

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Skirt 117 from February Burda 2017

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She brought one of the skirts I made using skirt 117A from February 2017 Burda.  I’ve been using up various bits of leftover fabrics on this pattern, and this one uses some fabric I bought aaaaages ago in Derby.  I had planned to make a jacket with it, I liked the leaf print at the time, and the canvas has good weight.  But – I never used it, and when I dug it out of the stash earlier this year, I knew I wouldn’t use it for myself.  I offered it to Daughter No2, not expecting that she’d go for it, when she said yes please!  Another of “those skirts”!

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I added the pockets, again, and tried a chunky, exposed zip in the back.  I left the flaps off this time – not exactly intentional!  I’d been putting the pockets togeter and admiring my handiwork, when I realised the flaps were still sitting on the cutting table!  Oh well it’s worked out ok without them!  She’s actually had this skirt a while, and it’s been worn in both the warmer weather with tees and trainers, and now with tights, boots and a jumper.  The neutral colours of the fabric means it goes well with pretty much most of her wardrobe, and I love it with the orange coat I made her two years ago!

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It’s been rather chilly these last few days, winter has properly arrived with cold frosty mornings and bright sunny days.  I have a little pile of wintery stuff to use for more of these skirts, one a nice bit of leftover wool plaid that I’d made a jacket for Daughter No1 when she was in Sixth Form.  That fabric has been hanging around for a while!  Time to be used, and removed from my stash!

 

Ash Jeans for the Win!

For those of you waiting for the results of the jeans! They’re done, worn and I’m rather happy with them!  I have had my fun and games trying to chose the right size to make, initially going purely with my measurements and toiling the 31 in the slim leg version in some left over pieces of denim in the stash.  The toile fabric wasn’t quite stretchy enough, but I figured with the proper stretch, that the 31 was  just fine.  But I was wrong – so wrong!!  They were like leggings, but without the amount of stretch that leggings have – I felt like I was back in the late 80s again, having to wiggle and jump into my jeans!  So if anyone out there would like a pair of slim leg Ash jeans in size 31 – I have a pair looking for a home!

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Wide leg Ash Jeans by Megan Nielsen Patterns

It was tricky to figure out which size to actually make.  In the end, I retraced all the sizes from 31 to 35, and graded between the sizes.  I toiled the wide leg this time, using the left overs of that fabric I used for the slim leg version, so be sure of the stretch percentage.  This time I had the 35 at the waist, going to the 33 at the hip, eventually ending at the 32 for the legs.  The fit was much better, but slightly loose higher up, so I went down to the 34 at the waist.

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Fabric for this pair of jeans came from the stash.  I had initially bought two pieces of stretch denim from Croft Mill for these jeans, and the first pair was made with the Brexit – Devine fabric.  It’s a lovely fabric, good dark blue colour and good weight for slim leg jeans.  After the poor fit, I immediately put another 2m of the fabric into my basket to replace it!  I didn’t want to use the next piece if it was going to go bad again, and I remembered that I had a piece of denim in the sewing cupboard.  I cannot remember where or when I got it, but it was probably from Croft Mill too!  They do tend to have good denims.  Thank goodness for a stash!

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As most of the construction details have already been covered in my Work in Progress post, I’ll leave that out here.  Here I’ll tell you that I’m pleasantly surprised with this pair of jeans, they fit well, after all that faffing with different sizes, and I will definitely be making another pair, this time I’ll be brave and make the slim leg version.  The sizing I chose seems to have done the trick, so I’ve transferred all that information to the slim leg pattern.

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So, for me, it wasn’t a case of “fits straight out of the envelope”, but then that really doesn’t happen to many of us, does it!?  The instructions are good and easy to follow, I just did my own zip thing.  (See previous post about pattern designers making fly front zips overly complicated!)  Initially, I thought the length of the “regular” height, full length was perfect, I cannot remember when last I didn’t need to cut a large chunk off the bottom of a pair of trousers.  But, after wearing these a couple of times now, I feel they could be a smidgeon longer, max 2cm.  Of course, that’s just about the hem allowance, so I’ll have to make a hem facing if I actually want to lengthen this pair.  Perhaps with the slim leg, this length will be ok – but with the width of this pair of jeans, I feel they could be just that little bit longer.

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So, it seems I can put my Birkin Flares (now 3 sizes too big) to bed, because Mama’s got a fabulous new jeans pattern – yeah!  And with 4 leg styles to choose from, I’ll be busy for a while here…  ps, I also have a length of another denim from Croft Mill Fabric to use on another pair, I can’t link to the fabric because it seems I bought the last 2m!  Check out their denim fabrics though, I’ve honestly yet to be disappointed with their denim fabrics.  Always get a sample first though, before you part with your hard earned money.

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