Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Sorbet Stripe Maxi Dress

I snapped up this striped knit from Fabricana in July. I remember admiring it a 2-3 years ago, so I was  delighted when I saw it on the markdown table for 30% off. At just over £5 per meter, I got 2m.

I had my wish list to make a cardigan with this pink stripe, but when I got it home, I decided that a maxi dress would be just the thing. It must be all that hot weather we were having, Londoners wearing their holiday wardrobes. It's not always pretty, but it's fun!

Being the wrong side of 40 (or 30 for that matter), I didn't want my maxi dress to be figure hugging. I used an existing dress I have for the width, and the Karen Drape Dress for the shoulders and high bust. I laid out the Karen Dress pattern flat, and laid my maxi dress over the top. I didn't worry too much about exact cutting, or seam allowances because my overlocker seams are pretty small.

I kept the neckline of the Karen Dress, it could have gone lower by a stripe or two, but this creates height and I didn't want to fiddle about with drafting a new curve. I finished the neckline and armholes with bands of self fabric.

My RTW maxi dress has side splits to above the knee, which I really like, and is also not floor length, so I copied these features in my dress. I hand stitched the edges of the splits and the hem, giving them a tiny hem in whip stitch. I didn't need to bother with a stretch stitch because the hem does not need to stretch.

I'm really happy with the fit. It honestly seems to skim and not hug, which is exactly what I wanted. The fabric is a little on the sheer side but, whatever, I'm on holiday. Unfortunately, the weight of the dress has pulled the hem down in the first washing. I'll have to figure out a fix for this. Maybe some clear elastic through the armholes.

 Fabric: 2m, Fabricana, £10.20 
 Pattern: Maria Denmark, used previously, £0 
   Thread, started one new spool: £1.89
Total: £12.09

Friday, 27 July 2018

Rayon Birds Sorbetto

I made this Sorbetto out of the remnants of a current WIP. The weather is hot, so I decided to finish this first and get myself a new summer top.

The fabric is a rayon that I got in Australia. I am trying to buy florals on a black background as they are more wearable as dresses than my usual choices. In a top this is more unusual.

For the Sorbetto pattern, I traced out the full size pattern pieces so that I can lay them flat and get the most out of the fabric. I left out the centre pleat as this is meant to be a scrap buster, and the pleat is very distinctive, and completely lost on a print. I think I need to raise the shoulders by half an inch, and I also need to add a centimetre to the hips.

With a small amount of fabric to work with, I had to cut the back piece upside down, and the length is as much as I could manage. The birdies are very secretive, so I don't think anyone will notice the odd one upside down, and I tried to compensate for the length by doing a faced hem, which gained me an extra cm. I actually think this is the perfect length for me.

I did french seams, but then I unpicked the bottom to create a side split so I had to cut the seam allowance. This isn't very tidy, but it will do. I had to hem around the split and create a bar tack over the cut edges. Without a short waist adjustment, I need the extra space at the top of the hip.

I hand stitched the neckline facing down. I was on holiday, so I took it with me as a hand sewing project. I stared on attaching the hem facing by hand, but didn't bother to finish it, and completed it by machine back at home.

I still don't utterly love this pattern. It is too boxy to be truly flattering on my, but in a drapey fabric, it works out very nicely, and as a free pattern, it's pretty amazing.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Girl's Summer PJs Refashion

With sincere apologies to my mother's lovely, gorgeous and talented friend, who made this nightie for her: I have refashioned it into girls' summer pyjamas.

The original nightie was super-fun to wear for the "before" photos: floor length and billowing fabric, but not so fun to sleep in. There was just too much fabric, and the underarms were a little too tight so the lace scratched my arms.

When I opened it up, I could see that it was just two straight rectangles, sewn selvedge to selvedge. It was very nicely done, and yielded about 2.5m of fabric, plus a lot of lovely lace and ribbon. I used almost all the fabric for these pyjamas, with none to spare. Partly because I had to work around a few stains as this nightie is quite a few years old.

For my pattern, I used Simplicity 1504 in the Child/Teen size M. There are a few printing mistakes on the pattern pieces, some of the child ones say teen/adult and are in fact child/teen. The sizing on this pattern is also a little funny in that the adult XS fits in between the sizing for the child M and L and then the child L fits between adult XS and S. They shouldn't bother with the whole child / adult sizing and just carry on up the chart, but I suppose customers are used to picking a certain size.

I shortened the sleeve to 28cm, to include a cuff detail. The legs, I shortened to the lengthen/shorten lines and then removed another 1 1/2 inches. I should have flared out for the cuff piece, the legs taper to the cuff and I lost some width when I turned them up.

I spent a long time adding piping to the front facings, the collar and the pocket pieces, plus the hem and sleeve cuffs. All told, it needed 3.4m of piping cord. I used one of M's old work shirts for the piping fabric. It was nice and stiff, which I needed since I was pulling apart a 3mm piping cord to make 1mm and the bumps show through if the fabric is not made of stern stuff. Plus, free fabric! All I had to put in to this whole project was the interfacing, piping cord and waistband elastic.

I made two breast pockets - the fabric is very sheer - and did a top hem, rather than piping around the bottom. I stitched a line of stitches around the fold lines of the pockets, and a row of gathering stitches around the corners to draw them up more neatly. Still didn't get rounded corners 'though.

I tried to start tracking my hours of work on a project. Not that I am trying to put a value on my labour - this is a hobby - but I thought it would be interesting to see how much time I do invest in these things. But I sew in bits and pieces of stolen time and if I record when I start, I usually forget to note when I finish.

After piping, a huge chunk of time was spent doing flat felled seams on every single seam. I stitched the seam allowance to the underside for the top, because this looks neater, and to the outside for the shorts, because I think this is more comfortable to wear. I used Carolyn's tutorial for sewing a flat felled seam on a curve. These meant that I had to set the sleeves in flat, and then sew up the side seams and underarm seams.

I added a back facing too, as I did for my adult version. I had forgotten that I'd done that. I think the collar is too heavy to just sit there on the back piece all by itself, and it neatens up the whole back neckline easily.

I made the cuffs by turning up the sleeves and leg cuffs. By sewing the piping to the bottom edge of the wrong side, I could fold it up, right sides together and flip it to the inside of the cuff piece. So the cuff is an additional single thickness, plus seam allowance. I made the separate casing for the waistband, thinking it was slightly smaller than the top of the shorts, meaning a few less gathers on the elastic itself. But it turned out to be the same size, so a higher rise would have been easier. I used 71cm of 20mm elastic. Since I can't at all tell the front from the back, I'll add a ribbon tie at the front.

The pockets would have looked better at hip height, but I wanted a bit of additional modesty at the front. You can see a pattern of her swimsuit through the sheerness of this fabric. Which my iron told me was polycotton.

 Fabric: upcycled, £0 
 Pattern: used previously, £0
   Lightweight Interfacing, 50cm: £2.26
   Piping Cord, 112cm: 49p
   20mm white elastic, 71cm: 49p
   Buttons, from school uniform: £0
Total: £3.24

Friday, 1 June 2018

Birds / Alex / Rayon / Navy Shirt

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this pattern, the Alex Shirt from Sew Over It's e-book, My Capsule Wardrobe City Break.

I love that it is a super easy shirt pattern, it's extremely quick, and it eliminates all the fiddly bits of shirt making. What I don't like is the very large sizing, and the casual dropped shoulder. I am wondering if I should put on my big girl pants and get a proper shirt pattern. But I don't wear a lot of shirts, so I don't feel like slaving away over making complex details in my sewing time.

That's why, when this rayon wanted to be a shirt, I reached for Alex once again. I got the fabric at Spotlight in Australia in April. It was on sale for just under $12 a metre, so I got 1.5m for a shirt. I also got 2.5m of a black with pink/green/silver florals.

Learning from my previous Alex Shirt,  I sized down from a 10 to an 8, leaving the collar and neckline as a 10 (this because the 8 was cut away in places when I cut the 10). I also added interfacing to the under collar. Next time I would interface the tips of the sleeve tabs too. The final change I made was to skip the pockets. They would have spoiled the drape and the pattern of the fabric.

I found the instructions for enclosing the yoke seams very confusing. It says to twist the edges, but doesn't say in which direction, or how many times. I used the "burrito method", detailed beautifully in Grainline's Archer sewalong. I'll be using that for all yokes from now on. In such a thin fabric as this, I didn't even have to roll it up, it just sat nicely inside the yoke, and it was fun to have it spill out afterwards.

This pattern doesn't work so well in a fabric that has an obvious wrong side. The lapels aren't faced, and the one piece collar means that the wrong side shows where the neckline opens. I fortunately/accidentally managed to have a bird at each point of the lapel, so the lighter colour saved the look of the neckline, but if it had been the navy background, it would have showed the wrong side badly.

The rolled up sleeves also need a fabric that doesn't have an obvious wrong side. I added cuffs to the sleeves, so I can turn these up and then fasten with the sleeve tabs. I didn't gather the sleeves into the cuffs, nor did I make button plackets for them. They are just the same width as the sleeves and are 5 inches, folded over. I like wearing the shirt with the cuffs rolled up once and then gathered into the sleeve tabs.

I set the tabs much higher than the pattern calls for. I can't understand why the pattern has them so low. It would roll them to about bracelet length, which is a bit pointless since they could be rolled to this length and not need fastening. I noticed this before I did the buttons for my white shirt, so I sewed the buttons higher up the sleeve. They are not on the anchor point of the tab, just floating on the shirt. For this one, I placed them much higher up, and the buttons are sewn on the re-inforced part of the tab.

I had four small navy buttons in my stash so I spaced them through the front. Five would have been better, there is a bit of gape between them. I didn't make buttonholes, since I will never wear this shirt open. So much faster! I had two larger, non-matching buttons that were close enough to each other that I could use for the sleeves. 

I shortened the hem by 7-8cm, so I can still tuck it in, but also wear it untucked if I want. I find the City Break hems much too long. This photo shows the shortened hem. Imagine if that was 8cm longer.

Will I make another Alex? My head says no, but if I get another drapey patterned fabric, it might be too much to resist. 

  Fabric: 1.5m £10
  Pattern: used previously £0
    lightweight interfacing, stash £1.13
    navy thread, used previously £0
    buttons, stash £0
Total: £11.13

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Me-Made-May 18 - Week 5

I, Cathy of Cathy Makes, pledge to wear a different item of me-made clothing each day of May 2018.

Saturday 26th May 2018
Clothing: Navy Linen Shirt Dress (2015)
Weather: Warm, sunny, 24C
Activity: Lunch in a box at Lords
Thoughts: This dress was perfect for attending sporting hospitality in the summer. But now I think I might need to let the hem down to it's original length.

Sunday 27th May
Clothing: Mustard Cardigan (2014)
Weather: Warm, sunny, 22C
Activity: Brunch
Thoughts: The weather was too warm for the rest of the day, so I changed into last weekend's outfit.

Monday 28th May
Clothing: Yellow Spot Top (2015)
Weather: Hot, sunny, 25C
Activity: Hosting BBQ
Thoughts: I didn't take a photo of this outfit on the day, so I had to re-create it.

Tuesday 29th May
Clothing: Martini Mustard Skirt (2013), Mustard Cardigan (2014)
Weather: Cold, stormy, 14C
Activity: Nothing, do you think I'm going out if I don't have to?
Thoughts: It's nice to wear this skirt, but I don't love it.

Wednesday 30th May
Clothing: Navy Birds Shirt (2018)
Weather: Cool, humid
Activity: Hanging at a friend's house
Thoughts: I finished two things in May! This one just in time to wear for MMM! Plus, I'll actually wear it again.

Thursday 31st May
Clothing: White Alex Shirt (2017)
Weather: Humid, unsettled, 22C
Activity: Friends to play for half term
Thoughts: This is quite a massive departure from my normal look, but I have to say, I do think it suits me. Working on being more "stylish Mom" and less on being "bag lady dressed as lamb".

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Me-Made-May 2018 - Week 4

I, Cathy of Cathy's Makes, pledge to wear a different item of me-made clothing each day of May 2018.

This is where MMM gets tricky! Final full week, last week of work before half term next week. Running out of clothes, scraping the barrel, wearing stuff I only wear once a year - in May. Never mind, it is almost over and the end is in sight.

Sunday 20th May
Clothing: Burda Cowl Neck Top (2013)
Weather: Sunny, 20C
Activity: Oiling the deck furniture, Bike riding in Regent's Park
Thoughts: Despite hardly ever wearing it, this top is a bit of a keeper. It's comfortable, cool and goes with a lot of what I have.

Monday 21st May
Clothing: Hibiscus Dress (2016)
Weather: Sunny, 20C
Activity: Work, School meetings
Thoughts: I wore this outfit in April already, but I liked it so much, I had to wear it for a photograph and check if it was all that I hoped it was.

Tuesday 22nd May
Clothing: Silk Poppy Top (2017)
Weather: Sunny, 20C
Activity: Work, Picnic in Regent's Park
Thoughts: I like this top a lot, and find it very versatile. I wore it on holiday this year and wear it to work semi-often. I only wear these trousers during Me Made May and it was fun to come home and throw on my denim shorts to head to the park after work.

Wednesday 23rd May
Clothing: Black Karen Dress (2016)
Weather: Cool, 22C
Activity: Work
Thoughts: I still love this dress. The fabric is on the cheap side (ie, a bit synthetic), but it is a marvellous staple in my wardrobe.

Thursday 23rd May
Clothing: Silver Maria Denmark Tee (2014)
Weather: Cool, 23C
Activity: Work
Thoughts: I don't wear this shirt very often, even though I do like it. I don't wear t-shirts very often and this one is a Wintery colour, even with the sparkle. Maria has released a new version of this pattern, but I don't think I'll download and print again. I like this one well enough, and I'm planning on using this pattern for a stripe version very soon.

Friday 24th May
Clothing: Tilly and The Buttons Coco Sweatshirt (2016)
Weather: Chilly, 18C
Activity: Yoga
Thoughts: I don't usually have an opportunity to wear this in May, so I wore it on a chilly morning walk to yoga.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Floral Scuba Dress

Blegh! It looks nice, but remind me never to wear scuba. I'm afraid that it is the worst fabric! It is pure plastic and it behaves as though you are wearing a plastic bag. It makes you feel cold if the weather is cold and sweaty if the weather is hot. Also sweaty if the weather is cold. Sweaty no matter what the weather.

Sorry scuba. I wanted to love you. You print such beautiful pictures onto yourself. You sew nicely, don't fray and don't need pressing as you go. All wonderful qualities, but I can't buy a knitted plastic fibre again. There is lots coming out in the fabric stores and the blogosphere is producing a lot of test garments.

Shall I talk a little bit about the dress? I wanted a pattern with a cap sleeve and a full-ish skirt, so I decided on Simplicity K1699. It is a pretty good outfit-maker pattern, with a dress, a top, a jacket and trousers in one. I got it with a sewing magazine a few years ago. The top and dress have raglan sleeves and princess seams. The skirt has a centre front seam, but I cut mine on the fold to remove this. 1.5m of fabric would have been plenty for this dress.

I cut a size 12 and did not make my usual short waist, sway back or small shoulder adjustments. It should be higher at the sides of the waist, but I didn't adjust it. You can see the puckers at the side of the bodice when I move:

I sewed almost the whole dress in March, and then put it aside for almost two months. There were two reasons for this:

Firstly, trying it on, it looked incredibly dressy. Like, wedding guest dressy. Since I am not invited to any weddings, nor Chelsea Flower Show, I felt like I was wasting my time on something I would probably never wear.

Secondly, the scuba fabric wasn't handing a facing well, so I was going to have to work out different neckline finishes. I thought I might have to experiment with a binding, or just a hem. Neither of which were making me feel the love for the dress. In the end, I just turned it under and top stitched it down. It looks fine as a finish and the spongy fabric creates quite an attractive rolled edge. I should have done this for the sleeves and the hem. These edges don't look that good, puffing out as they do.

The neckline on this pattern is extremely high. Way too high. It is because of the collar on the top, the bottom of the collar is about the right level for the dress neckline. I didn't lower it because I was going to experiment with the aforementioned different neckline finishes. But in this instance, I didn't change it - again, because this is not a dress that is going to be worn.

I broke one of my Sacred Rules of Sewing - I put it aside and worked on something else. I have never done this before! I was terrified of getting on a slippery slope of starting new projects and leaving them aside every time I get into a little bit of difficulty. I would never finish anything! I always make myself keep going until the bitter end. But this dress was truly a waste of time, and I needed something new to wear while Me Made May was still in full swing.

In the end, it was Me Made May that made me finish this at all. Since I pledged to wear something different each day, I have been a bit stuck on some of the days. I decided to finish this to wear while I was watching the royal wedding on TV so that I would have something to photograph that day. Then I could change back into my leggings afterwards. I finished it remarkably quickly, helped along by the fact that I was finishing it to wear in front of the TV, rather than out and about.

Cheating a bit on the whole Me Made May concept, but hey-ho, it's my challenge. And the pictures do look very nice.

 Fabric: £10.99 
 Pattern: £5.99 
  Zip: £0.60
Total: £17.58



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