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?.......

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Lovely Ladies in London!!

I left my house this morning to meet a bunch of strangers off the Internet...
Sounds like the beginning of  a bad made for TV movie that doesn't end well doesn't it?

Well, I never! Did Miss J come out from behind her sewing machine and socialise with the sewing community!??

Oh yes she did.
Today I went to the fabric shopping and social meet up organised by Lauren of Lladybird

Turns out to have been a good day! Met ladies with fabulous sewing/patternmaking skills who's blogs I follow so I recognised them from the Internet (obviously Lauren) and also Sally which in a way was a bit weird, but good weird, kinda like meeting a celeb!  Of course nobody had a bloody clue who I was, but that's what you expect from never posting your picture on your blog!

Met some very talented, friendly, interesting women today. Some of them have great eye for fabric
 (very dangerous to go fabric shopping with them as they notice all the hot fabrics - you know who you are!) Amazed at some of the garms they had made not just in sewing but other crafts also. Some are sewing vets and some are just starting out, just a shame I didn't get to speak with everyone.

Got lost in all the talk about Renfrews and Collett patterns etc. but as I've been on a major pattern fast and spending untold time trying to draft my own, it all seems like another language to me! Will have to lurk these Indie patterns to know what the hell everyone is on about!
Believe I've made some new friends,  looking forward to future meet ups and keeping in touch and comparing what we've made!

Today has taught me:

1. It's good to meet up with like minded folks

2. Miss J, please sew something that is weather appropriate!! You don't live in Southern California so what's with all the floral dresses and pencil skirts?! Please sew a pair of trousers and a jacket so you coulda had something to wear to a Winter meet up to show peeps you can actually string a needle.

3. Close the purse sooner.  Do you really need to add to that fabric stash? You're a metre of cotton away from being declared a hoarder.

4. I'm an antisocial luddite.  Must get on this Pinterest/ Instagram/ Twitter stuff.

Here's what I bought.  Very conservative colours for me, seems like this Autumn/Winter thing might be kicking in!


Thursday, 13 November 2014

Books, Bloggers and You Tube to the Rescue!!

I line most of my items because I like the way it makes the garments feel a bit more expensive and well made. It even makes them easier to iron, the VPL doesn't show through and I like the idea that the inside of the garment can be as cute as you like!

 BUT lining vented skirts was something that I just couldn't get.  I went to a class where it was demonstrated and it just seemed like some form of magic that I wouldn't ever be able to get.   I just didn't get it and I wasn't even sure about drafting the pattern for the lining. I'm okay with drafting the pattern for the skirt itself.

Now, I could have just left the linings free hanging like this dress I bought from Marks and Spencer, but I wasn't feeling it, I mean I'm trying to get skills here!

The lining on the back of this vented dress ain't sayin' nothing!
Now Connie Long's Easy Guide to Sewing linings is a great book which I used as a basis for cutting the pattern for lining my pencil skirt but even then I was still being a bit thick on the mechanics of actually sewing the thing together.   Thanks "A Fashionable Stitch" and "Fashion SewingBlog" your clear descriptions and diagrams were the final piece of the puzzle in explaining the conundrum of how to line a vented skirt! If you need help with lining vented skirts see here for Sunni's great tutorial. and see's excellent video explains it all.  Thanks guys.

Now, I've got a thing about pencil skirts.  They go with so much, lend themselves to all kinds of fabrics, patterned or plain. I hope to make more, here are my two lined, vented creations.

Memo to self - cotton linings and opaque tights are not really friends.  The skirt seems to want to ride up. Very annoying! I'll try the smooth viscose lining for my winter skirts. 

Pencil skirt with invisible zip through waistband
The lining, made with viscose material that bad colour run on the test wash and then an even worse dye job to repair, but waste not, want not eh?

Yeahhhh!!! No more shop bought pencil skirts that are too big in the waist and too tight in the hip. No more compromise on the length,  now I can have vents in the back, side or front of my skirt if I want!

Love it!!!!

Pencil skirt made with scraps of mustard cotton with a decorative pleated waistband,
poppers closure with belt loops and lapped zip. Lining is polycotton.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

1950's Cherry Dress- Ms J's Flat Pattern Cutting and Draping!!!

Just as the Summer draws to a close, I finally finish my Cherry Dress.  It took my so long to make in between my other commitments, but it was so worth the effort! This dress is just lovely.  Even if I say so myself!!!
These dresses were my inspiration.

My challenge was:
Can you, seriously, draft a dress similar to this from scratch and sew it together??

This took me out of my patternmaking box, as I had to think about how to draft these design features instead of just doing what I know to do. Although I didn't do the pockets. Old habits die hard eh?

I had to call on my trusty tailors dummy so we could do some draping together. I then translated that into a flat paper pattern.

This cherry fabric is louder than I usually wear, but sometimes a girl needs a change.  It's a lovely cotton but to make the double pleats pop like I wanted, I decided to underline with a plain cream cotton instead of lining the traditional way.

Yes, I know, I could have ironed the fabic before taking the picture. Hangs head in shame.

And here it is!

 Low back, double inverted box pleats, waistband, lapped zip and underlined thoughout.
The Cherry Dress feels heavy, pleats look crisp, it's very eyecatching and looks even better on, but there's no picture coz you know me, I'm shy!!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

I Love a Peplum! I never had one so I designed my own!!!

I don't even know if peplums are  in fashion anymore and I don't care ! I fancied a pepum so I made my own.

I found some old black cotton blend material from years ago that I never used, if I spoiled this then it's no disaster.

 I like a princess seam, so challenge number 1 was to change my basic bodice block with the darts into princess seams. I wanted the princess seams coming from the armhole not the seams coming from the shoulder. Like this...

My basic block

I got a thing for pleats at the moment  Not pleated skirts coz I got enough going on in the hip department, but pleats as detail. This frock needed to have a pleat in the peplum.

To make the peplum I measured the amount of fabric I'd need to go around  ( allowing for the pleat), cut paper to match and then slashed and spread the paper to get the pepum width at the bottom.  I them stuck this template to another piece of paper and that became the peplum.
I know there are much more elegant, mathematical means of doing this, but I can't be doing with them.
Can't believe one frock has so many pattern pieces!

The finished article!

The sleeves were orginally three-quarter length, but since I had a lil bit of the fabric left, I decided to make a decision to add an additional pleat detail to the sleeve to match the peplum.


My first peplum!