Sunday, January 25, 2015

Another Weekend Doris Dress

weekend doris

I can't leave this idea alone! Maybe it's the bleak cold grey January making me want to snuggle up in comfy clothes, or maybe it's my poor swollen tum. I'm struggling with gall stones and currently waiting to hear about surgery to remove my gall bladder. No fun at all, not least because my abdomen is so swollen and tender, so much so that most of my usual favourite dresses are not as comfortable as I'd like, and even though they still fit, I'm very self concious about my bloated tum.

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I bought this dogtooth check poly/wool sweater knit in Abakhan on Friday, think I paid about £6 for 2 metres. It has slightly more body to it than the sweater knit I used for India's sweater top, and it feels like a higher poly content.

Again, I used my third draft of this pattern, but added a decorative exposed zip at the centre back. I've never been a fan of exposed zips, but I think it works well on this design. I did consider making it a working zip, but the dress doesn't need it to function, so why make extra work for myself ?

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Ideally I'd have placed the zip a little lower, you can see here how it is pulling rather more than I'd like at the back neckband. Next time!

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I am though, really very pleased with this pattern, might have to play a little more with it, but so far so good.

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Home for the weekend.


India is home from University for the weekend, so I made the most of her, in payment for modelling she gets to keep this sweater, plus a few more of my Weekend Doris samples that she has taken a shine to, and of course they look a lot better on her.


This sweater is made using my third draft of this pattern, and a piece of polyester/wool mix sweater knit I bought in Abakhan yesterday for £3!


The sweater goes together very quickly, a satisfactory make leaving me enough time to also make myself a Weekend Doris dress too, but you'll have to wait for that one, only till tomorrow.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Weekend Doris

doris 3

Despite my less than flattering attempts to re create a sweater and dress from a vintage sweater last weekend, I simply could not let this idea go. When my friend Jayne sent me a pin of the most wonderful mid weight quilted cloqué jersey dress fabric, I knew it would be perfect for this vintage style.

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I re drafted the pattern with a lower and therefore hopefully more flattering neckline, and also adjusted the underarm and side seams to accomodate my bust, but skim my waist and end in an A line hem, to hopefully balance my top heavy figure.
I also added pockets.

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I decided against adding a zip in the back. The dress no longer needed it with the lower neckline, but I think an exposed zipper would be a nice design feature at the back, especially if I could get one with a silver ring as a pull....very 60's!

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I'm mostly very pleased with this version, I adore the fabric, the lower neckline is much better, and I like the neckband as a finish on this fabric.

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I also still love the 3/4 length sleeves and band finish.

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I like the size and positioning of the pockets, but I think having them double layered was a mistake. They pull in the side seam too much and spoil the line of the skirt.
The hem too, is not perfect. I pondered adding a band to the hem, but didn't want a sweatshirt style look...although that is an option for future makes with this pattern.

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This pattern still needs a little refining, it needs to come in a bit at the side seams, especially at the waist, and maybe take the A line in a little further too.
Mostly though I'm pretty pleased with it. Really not the most flattering dress on me, but as a Weekend Doris dress I think it is almost there.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A rub off and the deeply unflattering results!

rub off 2

When I have a piece of ready to wear or vintage clothing in my wardrobe that I love, and wear and wear again, I often copy it. Sometimes I take apart the original piece of clothing and trace each piece, and sometimes I trace the item without taking it apart. Both of these methods are often called a "rub off" or "rubbing off", which sounds vaguely rude so I've not been brave enough to google it!

vintage top

I've had this vintage top for a while, you can see the dark patches where my arms have rubbed against my boobs and worn the fabric thin. I admit this top is not particularly flattering, especially recently because I've gained a lot of weight, but I still love it. I call it my "Weekend Doris" look because my husband has frequently found me doing housework in heels and a pinny during the week, sighed and said "Oh dear you are having a Doris Day moment again", so at the weekend when I dress down a little, either in a comfy dress or cigarrette pants and a top, I like to think I'm having a weekend Doris moment! (And now you all know way too much about the general state of my mind!)

Always hopeful I will magically lose weight, I decided to rub off this top and that way I'd have a pattern for it should I want to make more in the future.

I started by laying several flannel sheets folded to make a good firm pad on my dining table. I then lay swedish tracing paper over the sheets, and the pressed top over that. Carefully smoothing out the sleeve so that the underarm seam was flat I pinned the sleeve to the pad and then traced around it.

rub off 1

Removing the pins and the top, I then trued up all the lines using my ruler, and labelled my pattern piece.

 rub off 3

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I then repeated this same procedure for the front and back, only tracing half . I traced the front neckline onto the same tracing.

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I cut out my pattern pieces and made sure they matched up.

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I then used these tracings to make the pattern pieces, adding seam allowance and labels to each piece, including grain lines, and direction of stretch.

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Finally I had a sleeve, a front and a back pattern piece.
The vintage top has limited stretch and a very high neck, so like several other vintage tops/sweaters I own it has a zip at the back neck, and the neck is bound with bias binding. I really like this little vintage feature, so used it again on the first top I made from this pattern. Also binding the hem using home made bias binding.

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Looks good on the hanger....really not so much on me!!

rub off 2a

Undeterred and enjoying the process I made another....

rub off 3a

....and a dress....

dress 2

...hmmm yes!!

That high neckline and lack of shaping in the waist on my curves is an absolute no no! Despite that though, I am wearing the dress today, it's a comfy sunday dress that I can layer under scarves and cardigans, so not a total disaster. I don't feel very Doris in it though, such a shame.

I'm not dissapointed though in my weeks work, I've enjoyed playing with this design, and I think with a few tweeks and a bit of re drafting, I might yet come up with my perfect "Weekend Doris" sweater top or dress.

Do you have a weekend look? I'd love to hear from you if you do, or even if you don't. Oh, and if you want to see my weekend Doris inspiration board on Pinterest just click here.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

More pattern testing, tights and leggings

leggings 15

I've had a lot of fun testing the new tights pattern by Marilla Walker, and can see me using this pattern again and again. I pin frequently used patterns on my shed studio wall, and this one is there right next to my two most frequently used dress patterns. I'm going to be on the lookout for ideal fabrics everytime I shop from now on.

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Fabrics to make these tights and leggings are not too difficult to find, I have had mixed results, because of course I wanted to use some fabrics that were not strictly ideal. Some of my fabrics had great stretch in one direction, but less than ideal stretch in the other. The pattern calls for a 50% stretch in both directions, and ideally a knit that has good recovery.

Two pairs I ran up didn't meet that criteria and were not surprisingly too tight to get over my ankles, so not wanting to waste the fabric, I cut them into leggings (there is a cutting line on the pattern for leggings), finishing the hems with lingerie elastic. They were still not quite right for me, but as you can see worked great for my gymnastics mad Eden.

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I loved this stretch lace in the shop and took a risk buying and using it knowing full well it wasn't quite stretchy enough in one direction, at only 35% stretch instead of the required 50%.

leggings two

As well as the one piece tights option and the leggings option with this pattern, there is also a pieced option with a heel turn, great for stash busting smaller pieces of knit fabrics.

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I made these leggings using a stretch mesh and a polyester knit, finishing the hems with lingerie elastic again. I often wear footless tights with socks and boots in the winter, and I expect I will layer these over an opaque legging or tights. They remind me of teen years back in the 80's when my friends and I wore layers of lacey leggings and tiny skirts, with backcombed hair and lace gloves too...not a look I'm eager to re invent, but the memory invoked by these leggings makes me smile.

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Finally I have made up a pieced pair of tights with heel turn. I used a black polyester knit and some printed jersey from stash. I only had a few small pieces of the printed jersey left so I used those for the body and heel turns. I like the pop of colour on the heel and body, it makes me smile.

pieced tights


Green leggings: 100% polyester knit. At least 50% stretch in the length, but only 35% in the width. Cut out straight size 6, short leg one piece tights. Later altered to leggings.

Purple Lace Leggings: 100% polyester stretch lace. 50% stretch in the length ,but only 35% in the width. Cut out straight size 6, short leg one piece tights. Later altered to leggings.

Grey Leggings: 100% polyester stretch mesh, 100% polyester knit jersey. Both fabrics good stretch in both directions, at least 50%. Cut out pieced leggings short leg in size 6, no alterations. Hems finished with lingerie elastic. 

Black and Print pieced tights: 100% polyester knit jersey, (both) 50% stretch in the length and around 45% in the width. (not ideal). Cut out size 6 pieced tights, short leg, no alterations. Good fit. Could be longer in the leg, but that is because I used the good stretch in the width, and the less than ideal stretch in the length. I got away with this because my legs measure 27.5" and the short leg pattern is 29".

Overall, a great pattern, that I will use again and again. The heel turns can be a bit fiddly on the pieced tights, especially if using a very lightweight fabric, but otherwise it is a very straightforward project if you choose your fabrics carefully. I recommend going to a fabric store and feeling, stretching,testing before buying.

This is the second part of my testing this pattern, for the first part click here.


Friday, January 02, 2015

Pattern Testing Tights

tights 4

I can honestly say I've never really had an urge to make tights, so when Marilla Walker asked me to test her new tights pattern I was not really convinced. Having seen the ones she had made though, I was intrigued, and agreed to the testing.
The pattern arrived in my inbox, and having carefully selected my size, I printed off the appropriate pages. There are two styles of tights included in the pattern, a one piece, and a two piece with heel turn, plus a leggings option. Each come in three leg lengths, my legs were unsurprisingly short!
So far I have only made the one piece variation, and am currently waiting on a fabric delivery so that I can try the two piece, with heel turn and the leggings option.

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I rummaged through my fabric stash for suitable fabrics with mixed results, and browsed the cheap rolls section of Manchester Abakhan, where I found this sage green 100% polyester knit lace/mesh fabric. It has a really good amount of stretch in both directions so was ideal for this pattern which requires fabric with a 50% stretch.
The tights stitched up quickly and easily on my sewing machine. I am still overlocker less after my Brother 1034 died, but that wasn't a problem. The stretch stitch on my sewing machine worked perfectly.
The instructions with the pattern are clear, although I admit to rarely looking at them, other than to check details like the seam allowance ( 5mm ).

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tights 8

I wore my completed tights all of New Years Eve (day), and they were so comfortable. I really like the high waist. I hate tights that skimp on the waist and inevitably roll down. I did wear them over a pair of black opaque tights simply because I thought the sage colour looked better with a dark background rather than my lily white legs, plus it was jolly cold!
You can see in the above photos though how the tights looked without the black opaques underneath.

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I'm now anxiously waiting for more fabric to arrive to make more tights, and will report back on the other styles included in the pattern as soon as I can.
I did try and stitch up a couple of extra pairs with fabric from my stash that I knew was risky as the stretch was only about 35%, and they didn't work at all sadly. The pattern clearly states that a stretch of 50% is required in both directions though, so I wasn't surprised or dissapointed.

Stats: I made the short length one piece tights in a size 6 with no alterations. I used 100% polyester knit lace/mesh with a good amount of stretch in both directions (at least 50%) .The fit is excellent.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas dress disasters part two

dress 1

I recently got my hands on some post world war two utility fabric. A four metre length of Dayella made by Viyella. Dayella was a wool and cotton blend fabric made with a higher cotton content than Viyella and therefore more hardwearing and ideal for childrens wear. I however wanted to make a dress for me, with it.


This was going to be my "perfect" fitted dress for Christmas. I happily stitched away at the bodice in between school concerts and nativities. Everything was going perfectly.

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I had used my basic bodice pattern, and since I know how perfectly that fits me I had no need to try on the bodice. I put in the sleeves, and moved on to adding the skirt, that is when I realised something was horribly wrong! I had cut out the pattern the morning after a sleepless night, and while I was feeling poorly, and I had not added the seam allowance to my bodice pieces! Yes, I do have my bodice pieces labelled and underlined reminding me to add seam allowance, but still I had made that mistake.

Of course, this meant the bodice was not going to fit me at all. I would have cried, but I couldn't. I was so cross with myself I just stomped around until I was calm enough to try and rescue it.
After a lot of head scratching and some maths (totally not my strong point), I decided that I could take out the sleeves, unpick the shoulder seams and re do them with only a 5mm seam allowance, and then add panels under each arm.


I must've got the maths right because the skirt then fitted onto the bodice. The resulting dress is ok, but far far from great, which is such a shame because it is such beautiful soft fabric that I will probably never find again.

dress 2

I did wear the dress for Christmas day, but to cheer myself up and try to rescue my outfit I added some iron on appliques to a plain yellow cardigan.


Hard to be too cross with little birds on your cardigan.

outfit 2