Saturday, 9 July 2016

Strapless Cherry Dress with full skirt or I've been a good student of the sewing school of life- I won't be naughty and rush a frock again!!

I was sent back to school on this one!

Lesson No.1
Never make a garment in a hurry with unrealistic timeframe

Lesson No.2
Pattern matching requires tracing paper

Lesson No.3
Don't make a circle skirt when you're short on fabric.

Lesson No.4
Patternmatching takes additional fabric (see lesson No.3)

 The bodice on this strapless cherry frock is based on Burda  The Bustier Dress with Draped Detail 5/2011 #122A (see the one I posted previously the skirt is a basic circle skirt from Butterick B6019 as I was so short on time I didn't want to take time to draft my own.

Did I mention that there is horsehair braid and boning in this one.  All stuff that you do when you're in a hurry right???
The cotton lining

I was so fixated on getting the frock finished to wear to my event that I rushed headlong into this project.  On the bodice I managed to pattern match the back but at the bust and side bodice pieces I opted to try and place the cherries in a nice way.

Looking back, I could, with tracing paper and more fabric and time have matched the pattern across many of the bodice seams. Can you believe I sat through a pattern matching class before doing this.  Ha!

Now I cut the bodice before the skirt only to realise the fabric was insufficient.  Damn it!

Fortunately the cherries are fairly random, so I turned the skirt along the weft and then horror of horrors, had to put a seam in the front of my skirt to make it fit.

Now, here I put my foot down with myself and decided that pattern matching was a must on the now mandatory front seam.

Cue frantic searching for repeat patterns and finding the match on the other front skirt piece and a heck of a lot of glass head pins.
The pattern matched cherries are horizonately across the photo

Did I mention that I underlined the bodice and lined the skirt?   I allowed the skirt a couple of days  hanging time for the bias and wow, did that lining show under the skirt.  Put my horsehair braid to give me that swing, and wouldn't you know it, the lining is still showing under the skirt.  I mean really showing so wavy and uneven that looking at it could make you seasick.   Aaaahaahaahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!
If you've ever unpicked horsehair braid when you've stupidly sewn it on with your machine on 2 stitch length, you'll know it takes time.
Horsehair braid

The waist stay
Well now, out of the mouth of disaster comes a wearable garment.  I'm well peeved coz I was sewing in the horsehair braid back in on the day of the event and had to leave the dress, unfinished, and wear something else. Just another half hour would have done it!

Anyhow, my dress form is looking rather lovely in her new frock. I've still not worn it it.

My cherry print full skirted frock
I've been a good student of the sewing school of life- I won't be naughty and rush a frock again!!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Tiki Dress, Perfect Bombshell Dress, Burda Bustier Dress with Draped Detail 5/2011 #122A - Whatever you call it, I'm so late on this, everyone else did this four years ago!


It's been a long time. Has anyone missed me?
Perhaps not, but none the less, it's good to be back!

You know what? I just don't have enough time to sew and therefore it takes me an age to complete anything and I've not yet mastered the art of blogging when I haven't got any garments to show.  This is going to be the most picture heavy post I've ever done, hope you'll remain on board!

Let's get into this!

The Craftsy class : Sew Retro- The Perfect Bombshell Dress came out years ago, but I've never been first in the queue for anything so why start now?


Lemme tell you right now, if you're looking for a quick sew, then this aint the frock for you. We're talking hand sewing, boning. lining, underlining - you get the picture. Anyone who's done this frock will remember the time and love that needs to go into it, but with Gertie the class tutor guiding you through the journey it's not so bad.  
Now this class is no longer available at Craftsy, but the pattern still exists it's Burda Bustier Dress with Draped Detail 5/2011 #122A, just leave off the weird flappy piece on the side, I don't think it looks cute, but feel free to disagree with me if you do.

Muslin/Toile - Mandatory.   Please don't skip this step as there is no ease in this bodice.  It's strapless so unless you want to run the risk of exposing your boobs, muslin it is. Now is the chance to make sure your cup fits right.Yes, its a huge time stealer, but it least you get a run through on how to put this thing together.

Know your fabric: My fabric is a peach cotton which has a bit of body, but the class advises underlining it for stability.  I used muslin to underline the bodice and poly cotton to underline the skirt. Gives everything a bit more oomph, but I tend to underline everything, this is becoming a bit of a habit.

Structure: This thing needs to stay up and hold its own. Padding out the cups and boning is required.  For the padding, I used cotton batting.  It seemed a bit flimsy, so I doubled up on it.  


For the boning, I used spiral steel on a roll.  This was extremely time consuming. Sewing in the boning channels was okay, but I'm telling you now, cutting the spiral steel to size was no fun. See the cutters in the picture?  Couldn't touch it.  In the end, the technique that worked for me was to mark the length with tape and the then bend the steel forward and backward until it snaps. Then cover with end caps. 

Vintage details : This pattern featured a waist stay and also a zip guard - so good so that you don't catch yourself in your zip.  I opted to make my own zip guard and interface  instead of using a length of petersham as suggested. Figure that I'd gone this far, might as well make the zip guard nice. The tried and tested Sunni Standing Mastering Zipper Techniques on Craftsy worked for me.  Sorry Gertie, I couldn't get with the technique used in the class, but I suspect that would be a good method if you were pattern matching at the back seam. I finished the hem with ribbon and handstiched the hem. 

 The gathered skirt is a nice feature, but I found out that unlike the rest of the world, gathering on the machine didn't work for me.  Gathering by hand was the key and it was a whole lotta material to sew through. An unexpected time stealer that turned out nice in the end. Almost forgot to mention that the halter straps are removable - attached via buttons inside as suggested in the class.

I'd make this frock again, maybe with a different skirt, but it's a no quick sew, but it's a solid pattern and the Craftsy class is good.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Wow-That Dress Sure is Yellow!

Sometimes I draft a pattern, take ages over it, and never make it again.  That ends now! 

If this seems familiar it's because I've made it before

It's a solid pattern that fits me well so I did it over again in yellow cotton fabric and shortened the hem to just under knee length.

 I drafted an all in one facing which I rarely ever do and in this version of the dress I used a ribbon hem. Hand sewing this took the longest time- just look at the width of that hem!

Underlining this in cotton made it a heavy weight, but I like that as it feels lovely -  really nice quality.

The back has a lapped zip. I'm learning to love these more and more. I think the next frock I make will have a side zip with a zip guard.  There's loads of Craftsy classses that show these features.

I feel lovely when I wear this,  the dress has a lovely solid feel to it.  The colour shows even brighter due to the underlining and it's a bold look.

Considering that I never wear yellow it's a statement piece!

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Ikea gets me domesticated!

What the hell was I thinking when I bought this material? It's called Gunilla and is from Ikea.
I knew that when I discovered Ikea sold material there would be a problem....

It came at time when I had to buy stuff for the house, hate buying housy stuff, I would wander over to the material section where I felt happier.

Now normal people would know and recognise that Ikea is a furniture store so the fabric would be geared towards curtains and upholstery.  I don't let that stop me, my motto is "if it's pretty, get it if you can afford it and worry about what to do with it later!"

Buyers remorse kicked in when I realised I had this hella stiff cotton fabric on my hands with birds, branches and its bright orange to boot!

Frantic internet searches threw up folks who had used it to make all matter of garments, however, I'm not going out on road in this as a skirt or as bag.  That's. just. not. happening.

Days, weeks, months, years pass... and then it hits me.
Make an apron fool!

I fancied a twee "girly" type of apron to go with the kitsh design of the fabric.  I used my ruffle foot to make the frill at the bottom, love that foot, but it'snot designed to handle fabric this thick. 

I love my two huge pockets.  Now what to cook!?

Sunday, 21 June 2015

They said "jacket", I said "pyjama top".


It's been ages since I posted anything, and I know that's the first no no of blogging, but I'm sure that anyone who has visited my little corner of the Internet will forgive me. It's not like people have been waiting in their droves with bated breath!

Now I wanna say that I've been setting up my own business, climbing Everest and curing illnessess, but alas, I've just got caught up in real life and work.

I have, for the first time in ages, used a commericial pattern. Quite a departure from drafting my own and fumbling though how to construct.  It was quite refreshing being told what to to!

The pattern I used was the Islander Sewing Systems Jacket Express, a jean jacket pattern.
I'm not feeling this as a jacket for me straight out the packet as it's too boxy, too long and the collar is too rouned, but I can adapt these on the pattern later.

For this effort, I  thought "pyjama jacket" as I've got a lovely piece of paisly cotton in my stash.  I chose to leave the pattern alone and see how it comes out.

I used the Craftsy class that features this pattern.  (am I the only person who never used these before?) 
I've been to some awful classes at prestigious fashion Universities in London that really ought to do better, so I've sought refuge in the Internet.

Great class, easy to follow, and as the class advocates, mainly sewed without pins.Perfectly drafted pattern as all pieces fit perfectly and are clearly labelled. The instructions even come in a little book with very good diagrams.

It's all stuff I've done before, except the "burrito" method, which took a bit of thinking about, but the pattern is solid, I can just make a few changes and I'm sure I can get a nice cropped jacket out of it.... We'll see!

Monday, 23 February 2015

I saw my lovely Cherry material on the Great British Sewing Bee - Series 3 Episode 1 !

I'm a bit late on watching the Great British Sewing Bee, I forgot that the new series was starting and still have no clue what night it's on so I'm catching up on BBC Iplayer.

I say catching up, still haven't finished episode 2, but I have seen episode 1 and there was my beloved cotton cherry fabric in the hands of Alex in the pattern matching challenge.
Alex- Great British Sewing Bee - BBC website

I say my cherry fabric, it's not like I designed it, I bought it in the shop like anyone else, but this fabric caught my eye as soon as I saw it and I kinda knew what I'd do with it  - I made a Summer Frock, so when I saw they were doing the same thing on Great British Sewing Bee - well I became extra interested.

 See  for my adventures with cherries.

It's always so funny to see someone else make a garment out of the same material you used and how their vision of what it will become is different from yours.

The challenge was pattern matching, can you imagine pattern matching under a time restriction? This is Alex's creation.

Believe me, - pattern matching and I are.not.friends. I like my plain fabrics me. Call it lazy, unadventurous, cowardly. I'll take all of those, but sometimes you meet a fabric where you have to make an exception.

How do you pattern match a lapped zip?  I dunno.

Let's call this flashback Monday, this is the frock I made.

Would this pass a Great British Sewing Bee challenge?  Hell no! I sew too slow and let's not even talk about the pattern placement, but I feel great when I see it in the wardrobe, feel glamorous when I wear it and most of all, it's my pattern, drafted by me on my dining table.

Always learning and striving to do better......

When was the last time you saw your fabric made up by someone else and what did you think?
Also -  Does anyone know why this series is only 6 episodes???

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Goodbye Hawes and Curtis!? I know, it's not half as glamorous as saying Goodbye to Valentino but it it is what it is!

For those who don't know, Hawes and Curtis are a retailer in the UK specialising in  shirts and accessories.  I own about 11 of their shirts and one pair of their cufflinks, so safe to say I got a lot of their stuff that  I'm happy with.

However, after purchasing this red blouse for approx £25, I started to have buyers regret.

Why did I just buy a polyester blouse for that amount of money when I nowadays I don't even buy polyester for my fabric stash, even during the times I can't afford more than £3 a yard material?  So the challenge was on. 

Now, once upon a time, I used to buy polyester. I had a bit of blue polyester left over from a frock that had gone horribly wrong and I've had in the scraps for the last decade. I'm a fan of pussy bow blouses, so I found a use for those polyester scraps.


I was in a lazy mood, so I actually used an old 90's New Look shirt pattern as a basis.  I've never made a pussy bow blouse before or used a commercial pattern for many years so there was scope for a disaster here.  So on I pressed without doing any kind of toile!

 I just drafted a long piece of fabric long enough to go around my neck, down past the chest and tapered at the ends. I changed the cuff elongating it so I could have a least four buttons. I recycled buttons from my Mum's long discarded blouse from the late eighties.

I think it turned out OK.  I feel good wearing it and considering the buttons were free, the material was a couple of pounds a yard, and I didn't use much thread, I'd call this a bargain.

Can I make more of my own shirts and blouses and wave goodbye to the retail shirtmakers?.......