A Snowball for the Summer – with Butterflies

The Snowball dress by Waffle Patterns
The Snowball dress by Waffle Patterns

UPDATE

Voting has been re-opened for the Dressed to the Nines category following some unusual voting activity.  You can vote for me on Seamster Patterns Blog until midnight CST on Friday 20th June.

With very few days left until the end of May (what – how the heck did May disappear so fast??) here’s my entry for Sewing Indie Month.  Well, one of them at any rate! It all depends on how quickly I can run up the other patterns..

I browsed through all of the designers on the list – most of whom were complelely unknown to me, looking for something I could make and that would be worn, either by me or one of the girls.  I had other criteria – not too expensive, not too many pages to print if it was a PDF & it had to be something I wasn’t going to (or couldn’t) draft myself.  I also had to think about the categories that stuff has to be submitted in.

First on my list was this dress by Waffle Patterns.  I loved the 60s look of it & I can see it being made in fabrics suitable for all seasons – and occasions.  It went into the basket & was printed by Husband at work. Interestingly, you can chose to just print the size you want, makes it easier to trace, but I went for all of them, then I can trace from one size to the next if necessary.  The instructions & illustrations are great, actually the whole dress makes up really easily – depending on your finishing choices…

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We had a Dickens of a time finding the right fabric.  Daughter No2 eventually chose this butterfly print heavyweight cotton (like a twill but without the twill weave) with a cream ground.  We were going to use a printed cotton canvas from the stash but discounted it because of the large print.  What followed then was a fair bit of fabric shopping, mostly just looking because nothing we saw felt right for the dress – until she spotted the butterflies.  We got it in a shop in Leamington Spa, but I notice Ditto Fabrics stocks the same stuff.

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Making the dress was pretty straight forward, once I got my head round the unusual 1.2cm seam allowance.  My machine has a mark for 1cm & 1.5cm – I used a piece of masking tape to show where I was supposed to be, no way I wanted to make a mistake.  I added 3cm to the hem, my only adjustment.  Daughter No2 is – as said before – pretty tall & the dress as toiled without turning up the 3cm hem was the perfect length for her.  I made no other alterations, cutting the 36.  Although if I use a sturdy fabric like this again, I will grade from the 36 at the shoulders to a 34 at the waist.  I think it could have done with being taken in a little there.

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I decided to finish the seams of the skirt with a pale blue bias, this finish was repeated on the hem edge and the edge of the facing pieces in the bodice.  I didn’t use it on the bodice seams because when you use Hong Kong finish on seams you add structure.  This fabric has enough structure to be getting on with – and the bodice did not need any more!  the hem was handstitched into place using herringbone stitch.  It’s a stitch I use a lot on hems, quick to do and holds in place well.

Pretty on the inside too!
Pretty on the inside too!

I am very happy with the result.  So very happy!  I had looked online for other versions of the dress to see what other people had done, but couldn’t find anything.  Has no-one else used this pattern??  Really?  Same!  It’s fab, and I’m definitely making more..  I have a feeling that grey & black wool houndstooth I wanted to make the 1935 cropped jacket in will be fabulous in this for the winter.  I can see it with a black long sleeved t-shirt underneath & a madly coloured pair of tights & long boots.  This is the shape of dress that suits Daughter No2 down to the ground!

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I didn’t spend a huge amount of time on trying to match the pattern.  It was not symmetrical, being a half drop meant that I’d have spent a lot of time on my hands & knees cutting out one layer at a time.  Instead I tried to get some sort of continuation.  The front bodice has a clump of butterflies near the waist seam on the left, another in the centre and more on the right shoulder.  For the skirt I tried to place the centre front panel where the pattern was best & fullest and let the rest land where they did!  It worked out ok in the end – I think!

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Happy with her choice!
Happy with her choice!

Now to pick a category for Sewing Indie.  I’m going to take a chance and enter it in the “Dressed to the Nines” category.  It’s a dress afterall, & who says this isn’t fancy??

Pattern Testing – The Honeydew Skirt

Honeydew Skirt from Seamster Patterns
Honeydew Skirt from Seamster Patterns

About a month ago, Mari from Seamster Patterns was looking for beginner sewists in small sizes to test her new skirt pattern.  I immediately offered up Daughters 1 & 2 for the job.  The size Mari needed to be tested was perfect for Daughter No1, so she got the job over the Easter holidays.  We rumaged through the stash and found a piece I’d bought about 3 years or so ago – perfect.

DSC07987-1The skirt has an A-Line shape, consisting of a single front panel cut on the fold & 3 panels in the back, fuller and longer than the front.  It also has in-seam pockets.  I love fullness in the back of a skirt, it’s really feminine.  There are a choice of 3 waistbands, and the skirt can be worn on the hip or the natural waist, depending on which waistband you choose.  Daughter No1 likes to wear things low, so she chose option C with the overlapping font waistband.

DSC07986-1The pattern was easy to trace out, and the instructions great for a beginner to follow.  I hovered over her shoulder to help out where needed, but Daughter No1 did ok. We made no changes to the patern, apart from the hem.  With this crisp fabric and the width of the hem, it was not going to be a neat finish, so I suggested cutting off all but 1cm and attaching a wide bias binding.  We turned the binding to the inside and I hemmed it with herringbone stitch.  This means that with the slight drop at the back that you get a glimpse now and then of the dark blue bias, which we rather like.

I like the finished skirt, it looks fantastic & I also like seeing her in a slightly longer skirt than she normally wears!  However, she would have prefered it to have been about 15 to 20cm shorter.  Not that she won’t ever wear it like this, it just makes her feel “too mature”.  I think that means – old.  Ha!  She’s in her 20s now, she’d better get used to that feeling!  🙂

I love the fullness in the back panels.
I love the fullness in the back panels.

She has said it would be perfect for going out with Boyfriend & his family, or for a summer barbeque where most of the attendees would be older than her.  Daughter No2 of course, loves it and would happily have grabbed it for herself – but it doesn’t fit!  Now one thing about fabric choice with this skirt.  You must choose something with stretch.  This stretch cotton was fine, but for Daughter No2 to steal it we’d have had to put a zip in the side seam, it just will not go over her hips.  Another factor to consider is the drape of the fabric.  The cotton we dug out of the stash was rather crisp and didn’t drape as well as it could have in the back.

DSC07995-1So would I recommend this pattern?  YES!  It is called the Honeydew Skirt & is available as a PDF in a large scale format so you don’t need to paste together all those pesky A4s, or, if you’re a sucker for punishment, that option is still available.  There is also a paper pattern in the works, see Seamster Pattern‘s website for more details.  Thanks Mari, for letting us test another of your patterns,

I’d like to make this pattern myself, one for Daughter No2 and another for Daughter No1, but shorter, and see if she’s happier with it.  Now, I wonder if I can claim this as an entry for #SewingIndieMonth??

 

Tuxedo Bellatrix

Bellatrix Blazer - the tuxedo version
Bellatrix Blazer – the tuxedo version

Another Bellatrix Blazer finished!  What a shame Papercut Patterns aren’t participating in this month’s Sewing Indie Challenge, hosted all over, because I’d be entering this little number – for sure!

I’d almost finished it in the last post, it was just lacking a front facing & upper collar piece which I was going to cut from a black cotton stretch satin.  Before committing to the order online though, I had a quick rummage through my silks & satins stash box and I found a piece of black stretch satin – not strictly cotton either, but who cares!  By using this piece I tick off another stashbusting box and I get to finish the jacket over the weekend – bonus.

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I really do love the contrast of solid black on the collar, none of the other versions have contrasts on the outsides (insides are a different matter altogether!) so this makes it a little different.  The peplum pieces are all cut on the cross (weft) grain so the stripes are perpendicular to the rest of the jacket, this also means they have no stretch..  no matter, across the back the is great movement which is supported on the inside with a stretch lining.

Left: canvas interfacing to support under collar, top right: interfacing supporting the upper back & armholes, bottom right: pinning a seam for a perfect intersection
Left: canvas interfacing to support under collar, top right: interfacing supporting the upper back & armholes, bottom right: pinning a seam for a perfect intersection

I don’t like stretch linings, they feel funny but they do do a good job on a project like this.  As usual, the project went together really well, I used fusible canvas on the undercollar to give extra support, and used a lightweight fusible on the remaining pieces.  Now Daughter No2 just needs to decide what to wear it with when she goes to school next!

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Next I’ll show off the dress I cut at the same time as the jacket, yes, Daughter No1 came home quickly this long weekend & tried it on.  Thankfully it fits beautifully – and she loves it!  The boyfriend was suitable appreciative too…  😉

 

Something in the works

I left you with a little hint of what my next project was to be, a self drafted 50s inspired wiggle dress for Daughter No1.  The fabric is a John Kaldor print stretch cotton satin that is just absolutely fabulous to work with.  I’d bought it ages ago, so chalk this project up as a sash-buster!  It had always been intended for something for my eldest, but we never could agree what exactly to make.

Anyway, it’s done now, but I can’t show it to you properly just yet as she’s gone back to Uni!  I’m hoping we’ll see her & the boyfriend on Monday as it’s Bank Holiday in the UK & I fiugre we can do lunch or something & I can get her to model the dress for me (and you!)

Here’s what it looks like on a hanger.  Just the front, the back is something special.

Self drafted 50's inspired wiggle dress
Self drafted 50’s inspired wiggle dress

I can’t wait to see her in it!  🙂

While I was laying out the pattern, I happened to notice I had a bit left over.  I though about what I could use it for – a skirt?  Too short.  Shorts?  Not the right fabric.  *brain racing* A jacket???  I dugout my Bellatrix Blazer pattern – just to see.  I worked out that with careful placement, I could cut another Bellatrix!  🙂  So I did and this is what was left of the 2m of fabric once I’d chopped it all up.

Teeny tiny bits
Teeny tiny bits

It worked out really well, two garments from 2m of fabric, bonus!  I just didn’t have enough to cut the facing in the same fabric, so am awaiting delivery of a plain black stretch cotton satin. I decided to get cracking with it this morning so that when the black fabric does arrive it will be a quick job to finish.  Here’s how far I got by lunch time.

The jacket - sans sleeves at this point in the day
The jacket – sans sleeves at this point in the day

And by the time daughter no2 got home from school at 4 I’d finished the shell and made up the lining, as far as I could without the front facing and she just had to put it on!

show-off!
Without the facing, the canvas on the under collar makes a good contrast!

This is the 5th version.  I did think that I just might end up making 12, one for each month of this year!  Now that would be something, wouldn’t it??  😀

In the mean time, Me-Made-May ’14 is underway with so many cool outfits on show on twitter & flickr, not to mention the new Pinterest board!  Daughter no2 & I will be posting out photos on the Me-Made-May-14 page as well as on flickr.  She’s using Instagram too.  Are you participating?

 

It’s Atomic!

Sliding over the end of the month with a couple of days to spare, I have a third entry for the Sewing Double challenge from the Monthly Stitch!  It also only just qualifies as a #Sewcialist project too.  April was the month to sew with pink, but as that colour doesn’t present itself around this house very often, a light blush sort of pink will have to do!

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The fabric used is one of the pieces I got my husband to buy me from John Lewis in January.  I was determined it would not end up in the silk stash box, so the two pieces have been languishing on my sewing table, taunting me into making them up!

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Trying to look model-like in the gardens at Upton House with a whole bus load of tourists coming up the path!

I didn’t use a self drafted pattern for this fabric – it’s a well used, tried & tested Burdastyle one.  Style 138 from August 2011 has been made 4 times already, and I do love the shape & of course, the sleeves!  🙂  I also love how quickly it can be made, even when French seaming the entire thing.

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I only made two alterations – one is the length.  The pattern in the magazine is 10cm longer.  There is no reason to exaggerate my short legs, so I lopped that off the paper pattern when I made the first one & have stuck to the revised length.

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The other alteration was not to have the bias-trimmed opening at the back neck.  The neckline is wide enough to pull over your head without it, but I did keep the separate back yoke with rouleau loops because I’d found the perfect vintage glass pearl buttons in the button basket at a charity shop!

So that’s one more top in my wardrobe – a coloured (slightly) and printed one to boot!  I have spent some time developing a couple of patterns, they await a toile and all that jazz, but I am hopeful for them.  I also made a pattern for a dress for Daughter No1, but left it until the day before she was to go back to Uni, so while the dress is now finished, I cannot show you it on her!  I can show you a little bit…

Sketch for a 50s inspired wiggle dress & the fabric - stashbusting!
Sketch for a 50s inspired wiggle dress & the fabric – stashbusting!

I really must get cracking on those toiles, but I got inspired by a mad print in my stash box & decided to do a little vintage sewing with it.  You’ll have to see Vintage Belle to see what I’m up to!

For those of you interested in seeing the other versions of the Burdastyle top 138, here are the links:

Green & Black – the first version

Dotty Spotty top

Liberty Silk top

Cool Swap Blouse

 

Geometric Trousers

Geometric print trousers
Geometric print trousers

Here’s another of those fabulous, “make me more than once” patterns.  I posted a whole pile of my own tried & tested Burda patterns last month, this is definitely another, but for the girls this time.  I have used this pattern, which comes as a petite in the magazine, five times now, all successfully.

DSC07930-1The pattern is Style 123 from Burdastyle magazine, June 2011.  Daughter No1 is the lucky recipient of this particular pair, and I used the pattern in the petite format, making them an extra 2cm shorter.  I think the German ladies these patterns are designed for must have really long legs.  When I made this pattern for Daughter No2, who is pretty tall, all I needed to do was to adjust the pattern for “normal” height.  I had thought I’d need to lengthen it again for a “tall” person, but the length was just right.  However, for Daughter No1, whose legs are a fair bit shorter, I actually needed to shorten the pattern some more!  I took those extra 2cm out of between the kneeline and the hem.

DSC07932-1Looking at the photos now, I think I’ll be taking them in a little more from just below the crotch line to the hem, they are a little too wide on her legs.  I made the 17, which would equate to the 34 in the ordinary sizes.  The fabric is pretty cool.  I’d seen it on the Stitch Fabrics website, labelled as Prada twill and wanted it!  It is a cotton/lycra blend, but hasn’t got so much lycra that it gets all stretchy out of shape.  Originally it was going to be a jacket for me, but the beige is too – well, beige!  🙂

DSC07934-1I offered it to Daughter No1 for trousers & she was definitely in agreement.  It was she who suggested using this pattern as she loves the last pair I made in a black & white mini-houndstooth.  I used a black grossgrain ribbon in the centre of the waistband.  I love the way it looks like a belt, but it also serves a practical purpose.  As the fabric has stretch, this stops the waistband getting sloppy through the day.

DSC07927-1  I used a hook & bar closing instead of a button, it makes for a smoother finish.  The insides were all overlocked before I started sewing, and boy did that make me sneeze!  There was so much fluff!  I also used a stretch needle.  I have found that with fabrics with a certain amount of lycra or elastene, that a normal needle leaves holes.  I used a stretch 75/11 for these trousers.  Overall I am happy with this make, I will go back and taper the legs a bit more but I love the print, it’s perfect for trousers!

I also think this makes a good entry for the Monthly Stitch Sewing Double…  Here are the other versions:

For the Love of Hibiscus, made for Daughter No2;

I Love it! Vintage style Trousers, Daughter No1’s first pair;

Vintage Style Spotty Trousers, made for Daughter No2;

Vintage Style Cropped Trousers, the first pair I made.

Now I have to cut out some pretty silk, for my next “Sewing Double” instalment! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Sewing double – twice!

Bellatrix the Fourth
Bellatrix the Fourth

April for the Monthly Stitch sewists is “Sewing Double” month.  We all have those tried & tested patterns that we have no problem running up quickly, loving the fit, style, etc.  My favourite pattern this year just has to be Papercut Pattern’s Bellatrix Blazer.

This is the fourth incarnation – and most certainly will not be the last!  The fabric is a gorgeous pistachio-y green medium weight linen that was part of my haul at the Sewing for Pleasure 2 weeks ago at the NEC.  It was going to make a vintage bolero to go with an early 50s sundress I’m making but….  I miscalculated the conversion from yards to metres.  I bought 1m but should have got just 20cm more and it would have worked.  Never mind, as you can see, Daughter No2 is pretty pleased I cannot do Imperial to save my life.  As usual, she’s come out the winner!

DSC07857-1Only one problem, 1m is barely enough for Bellatrix.  I had to cut the sleeves on the cross-grain to fit them in & had to forgo the matching facing pieces on the peplum thingie.  I had toyed with the idea of doing some contrast fabric for the welt strips and the front that forms the outer collar, but it would have restricted the number of outfits Daughter No2 could have paired it with.

DSC07854-1The lining…  I did say at the end of the last post with those MAD trousers that the lining in the jacket would look familiar  🙂  I used almost the rest of the handpainted cotton for 90% of the lining for the jacket, the exception being the sleeves.  I dug out some left-over bremsilk for the sleeves.

DSC07859-1I used Gill Arnold‘s fine sheer polyester fusible on the linen peplum pieces, the front & facing front & on the back above the shoulder blades & into the armholes.  For extra structure on the shawl collar I used a fusible canvas, also from Gill.  If you’re going to use a stiff interfacing like this, make sure you remove the seam allowance – you do not want that bulk in your seam!

Interfacing , front & undercollar and the back
Interfacing , front & undercollar and the back

As usual, the whole thing went together really quickly, and..  I have fixed the sleevehead vs armhole issue!  YAY!  The answer (for me anyway) was to raise the sleevehead 1cm, keep more of the height on the front than the back, and merge the extra into the existing shape at the front & back notches.  I forgot to take a photo to show what I mean, but next time I’ll put up a picture.  This adjustment has now finally worked, the last time I didn’t leave enough height on the front, so it was still a little short when fitted into the armhole.

DSC07852-1The sleeve fits really well now, and there is plenty of movement without the drag lines that appeared on the previous versions.  So, there it is, four Bellatrix blazers since the start of the year.  I have some pinstripe cashmere blend wool that I think will be enough to make another – that can wait a little though, I have a feeling another couple of linen or cotton canvas blazers are lurking in my near future! How many times have you used one pattern?

DSC07858-1Three blazers

Three blazers

Clockwise, left to right: le Bellatrix Blazer français, Curtains for Bellatrix and Bellatrix III

I have another “sewing Double” project to be getting on with this month, so bye for now, I have silk chiffon to cut up!  🙂