Sunday, April 06, 2014

Deer and Doe Anemone Skirt

anemone skirt 8

I bought this pattern as soon as it was released, not entirely sure it would suit me, but hopeful. I've gained a lot of weight over the past year and I'm once again in that weird place of trying to figure out what suits my current shape. I hoped the high waist would flatter my curvy shape, and the peplum would balance my hips with my bust, and I think it does?

anemone skirt 5

I used a thrifted tablecloth for this skirt, it cost £3.50 from a local charity shop. I didn't want to cut into good fabric for a first try, when I wasn't sure of whether it would even suit me, and wasn't sure of the fit.

 2014-04-04 10.20.212014-04-04 10.52.15

I had to do some creative cutting out to fit the print onto the pattern pieces, it was a bit of a head scratcher, but I'm fairly pleased with the symmetry at the front and the back, I just wish I'd been able to match at the side seams, and realised after I'd sewn it together that the two back side panels would have been better if I'd flipped the pattern piece. I'm sure very few people will notice, but still, it would've been nice.

anemone skirt 9

anemone 9

As for fit, I cut out the second to largest size, thinking the waist would be a tiny bit tight and the hips a tiny bit big, but when fitting found I was just 1 cm out on both, so took 5mm off each of the side back seams when joining to the back. This morning the waist is a little loose, but my waist grows during the day sadly.
I also added the wrong size zip, I just reached for a regular skirt size zip, thankfully though I can wriggle it easily over my hips so it's not a problem.

I really love this pattern, and plan to make another very soon.

anemone skirt 2

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

A spur of the moment dress

emery dress 5

One of the reasons I love sewing, is that for me it is a kind of meditation. I had a day off from my mindee on Wednesday, and after dropping Sid at school and Ernest at playgroup, I made a little detour on my way home to a local furnishing fabric shop. I'd been feeling down, the extra walking always helps, and I'd heard they had a 50p a yard sale in the remnant room. I wasn't expecting to find anything much, maybe a few pieces for a bag or a skirt, but I was lucky I rummaged through the shelves and found four pieces of co ordinating fabrics in greys and mustards, I also bought a yard off the roll in the same range, and the whole lot cost me £10. I wasn't sure then what I was going to do with them, but when the sales lady asked me if I was going to make cushions, I found myself saying "no, I think I'm going to make a dress." I wouldn't usually tell a sales person in a furnishing fabric store I was going to sew clothing with their fabrics. She seemed nice though, and wasn't at all sniffy when I told her my plans. (She also knocked £1.50 off the bill.)

I started work as soon as I got home. I didn't pre wash the fabric. Now, I'm not much of a pre washer anyway. I only usually pre wash fabric if I expect it to shrink. Furnishing fabrics are often dry clean only, and not made to be washed frequently. Usually with furnishing fabrics I might test wash a swatch to see if there was any shrinkage or fading before deciding if I was going to pre wash the rest of the fabric or have the final garment dry clean only. This time, honestly my priority was to sew. The act of  cutting, and sewing a simple familiar garment with no particular fit issues, for me is a kind of therapy. I can feel myself breathing again as I work through each stage. 

The bodice is the Emery dress bodice pattern. The skirt is a part circle skirt pattern, the same vintage pattern I've used before on my Wool dress and as a skirt for both of my vintage pledge makes this year.
I trimmed the sleeve edges with the same patterned fabric I used for the skirt.
I decided against the collar and the bow for this dress, but I am tempted to make a co ordinating bow belt using Jennifer Laurens tutorial. I think it might be nice to have the option of a bow if I feel like it.

I still have enough fabric left too to make a bag. I think I might be stepping dangerously into that weird middle aged matchy matchy business though...not sure? I am rather smitten though with the Charlie's Aunt bag patterns, and think the remaining fabrics would work well with several of the designs, just trying to decide which one...

As for washing, hmm, I'm not going to try. I will spot clean for now, and if the dress needs a wash I'll try a cold gentle wash with gentle detergent and see what happens.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

More Tania Culottes

tania culottes 2

I'm most definately not going to win any prizes for the photos in this post, so apologies in advance. These were taken at 6.30 am this morning, so the light was terrible, I still have tired eyes, but I had to take them before everyone else was up, and before my mindee arrived while I was still nicely ironed, with fresh make up and hair. Trust me, by 9.30 I'd done one school run in the pouring rain with no umbrella and already had bits of Ernest's breakfast down me!

Tania Culottes 5

I used some of the fabric I had left over from my Emery dress to make these culottes yesterday. This time I didn't lengthen the culottes. The model wearing them on Megan's site must have very long legs because the culottes are very short on her which is why I lengthened my first pair. Of course it is possible I just have very short legs....

For some bizarre reason this pair have come up slightly smaller than my first pair. I can't fathom why and can only think that it's to do with a slightly firmer weave of fabric.

I am still unhappy with the hem. I think my proportions between waist and hip are the problem. I don't have particularly big hips in relation to the rest of me, but the culottes pull up at the sides, and at the back. (over my bum, which also isn't particularly big I don't think.) If I make another pair I will have to add length just to the back and to the sides of the front pieces, I think only about 5 cms should do it. It's not really obvious, but I notice it each time I look in the mirror, and find I'm pulling the sides down as I wear them.

tania culottes 6

A great pattern, one I think I will be coming back to in the summer.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A trip back to my college days.

tania culotte 1

I started Art College back in 1989, and the general uniform for surface pattern design students at that time seemed to be flippy floaty skirts or culottes teamed with dms, oversized t shirts (layered.) and granny knitted cardigans, bum bags were optional! I even wore a pair of oriental print culottes to my friends wedding, with the obligatory dm's a crocheted top and a large straw hat. Thankfully I don't have photos!
The Tania Culottes kept popping up in conversation with fellow sewers, and then on Pinterest, and I was intrigued. I liked the idea of a culotte that most definately didn't look like a culotte. I had, when India was a baby experimented with the skort, and shudder I definately didn't want to go back there again!
Reassured that the Tania Culotte looked like a circle skirt when worn, but offered the reassurance and practicality of a short trouser, I thought I'd give them a go. I took advantage of the 20% discount on all PDF patterns over at Megan Nielson, and ordered a copy on Friday evening.

 2014-03-22 10.56.59

Saturday morning I began taping all the pieces together with parcel tape; seems a certain toddler had used up all our sellotape making presents for Larry and Leo, his imaginary friends.

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I had a rummage through my fabrics and couldn't decide between these two. The olive and brown cotton lawn is definately more within my comfort zone with the colours, but afraid it wouldn't drape enough I decided (with help from Facebook and Instagram) to use the blue fabric, which is a very drapey lightweight synthetic that I'd picked up at The Vintage Village some time ago.

The culottes stitched together nicely, it's a very straight forward pattern, with good clear instructions. I was a little slapdash lengthening the culottes, which meant I gave myself an absolute nightmare hemming them, and had to unpick my first hem. Honestly the final hem isn't great, but I figure it'll do, still better than anything I might buy from a high street store.

tania culotte 3

I thought I might get away with this fabric by picking out the black in the design and wearing with tights and a sweater, but it doesn't really work. I think they will look better in Summer with bare legs, ballet pumps and a green t shirt. Of course the ultimate accessory would be a gorgeous ladies Pashley bicycle with basket.

I did discover today that culottes are not public loo friendly, but maybe that's too much information. Also, worn over tights they bunch up, which is not an attractive look in the crotch area.
Despite that though, I am going to make another pair, just so I can prove to myself that I can get an even hem on them!

Ernest says they are beautiful, and seemed very excited when I was trying to get photos.

tania culotte

tania culotte 2

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Emery Dress, Why has it taken me so long?

emery13, originally uploaded by Lazy Seamstress.
I am yet again late to the party on this one. I have loved this pattern since it was first released, but kept finding excuses not to make it. I really shouldn't have. This was a total delight to sew from start to finish and I love the end result.

I was initially unsure which size to cut out. a problem I always have with dresses because of my ample bosom. My chest measurement is 42", waist 32" and hips 39". So, if using those measurements I fit across from the size 12-16.
My high bust measurement is 36", so knowing a full bust adjustment would be necessary, I cautiously cut out a size 14 bodice in my toile fabric (which was also my lining fabric ) expecting to have to do a fair bit of adjusting.

2014-03-13 11.20.51

This is the rather blurry photo I posted on instagram of the completed toile. To my surprise the only adjustment needed was the positioning of the darts, which you can see here are too long for me.
I unpicked the darts and re positioned them, keeping my toile to use as my lining.
Here is another blurry instagram photo of the bodice with new dart positioning.

2014-03-13 13.30.16-2

From here, the dress went together easily, in fact so easily I began to worry something catastrophic was going to go wrong before I finished...I'm such an optimist!

I decided to make the collared version this time, (Oh yes there will definitely be a next time! ) and I decided on short sleeves, in honour of my first Spring dress this year.
I didn't make the fabric bow because I remembered I had this cute bow belt that would be perfect for this dress.


The fabric was an impulse buy in Abakhan .I was waiting in the queue to pay for some other fabric, when I spotted this peeking out from one of the huge baskets. I pulled it out and knew immediately it would make a fab Emery dress. The piece was rather large, I still have enough left for another dress, so I'm guessing I must've bought about 8 metres. (For those that don't know Abakhan sell much of their fabric from enormous baskets by weight, it's a real rummage sometimes, but great fun!)


The lining is a cotton blend also from Abakhan.



I think the Emery dress might just be one of my favourite patterns yet. I love the retro style, the flattering fit and it has pockets too! I love a dress with pockets.
If you haven't made this dress yet, do! I'm already planning my next one!


Sunday, March 09, 2014

Stretch Banksia Top

stretch Banksia 4, originally uploaded by Lazy Seamstress.
One of the great things about living where I do is I'm just a short bus or train ride from two fabulous fabric shops. I spotted this fabric remnant in Abakhan in Manchester a couple of weeks ago, and ear marked it straight away for a stretch Banksia Top.

(The other great shop is Leons in Chorlton, )

stretch Banksia 3

This top went together easily, apart from one minor hitch when my overlocker decided to have a hissy fit when attaching the collar. Please tell me it's not just my overlocker that has tantrums mid project for no discernible reason?
Some sewing friends and I were chatting about this weeks episode of the Great British Sewing Bee and wondering if they have technicians on the show to thread the overlockers? Most of those contestants had never used an overlocker, but the overlockers seemed to be behaving perfectly....maybe they knew they were on telly! ( tell me I'm also not alone in thinking my overlocker has a conscience! At least she isn't completely evil like my old embroidery machine.....)

Anyway, back to the top. I'm fairly happy with it, not sure it's really me. I don't think I like wearing knits if I'm honest.
I think I look rather matronly in it. I possibly could've sized down as well as taking out the placket and bust darts, relying more on negative ease, maybe if I make another I will.

stretch Banksia 6

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Box pleats and pattern matching.

box pleat, originally uploaded by Lazy Seamstress.
Sometimes I get a bee in my bonnet and I have to go with it. Tuesday night watching The Great British Sewing Bee , and seeing many of the contestants struggling with the pattern matching and box pleats of the technical challenge, it occurred to me that I hadn't ever made a box pleated skirt where pattern matching was an issue. And I've certainly never had to pattern match box pleats under a time restriction with a camera pointing up my nose at the same time, so kudos to those on the show for keeping their sense of humour, I'm not sure I would have under those circumstances. I hope I would have had the sense to pick a stripe fabric and use it horizontally as my friend Vicki mentioned on Twitter.
After watching the show, as is often the case I felt inspired to improve my sewing skills, and I simply could not get those box pleats out of my head. I resolved to make a box pleated skirt with perfect pattern matching!
I should say at this point I had no thoughts whatever about how a box pleated skirt would suit me, or fit into my wardrobe, I was merely interested in the technical challenge.
I didn't set out to make the exact skirt they made on the show, but simply to play with the pleats, and this I did in stolen moments over half term.

2014-02-28 12.11.16

I had to use fabric from stash for this, so was limited in what I had that might work. I fished out a large floral Amy Butler print, but soon realised the pattern repeat was too large , then I found this African print, and began playing.African prints really don't want to play ball, the prints are hand block printed by eye, often not even on the straight grain, so yeah not ideal at all ! (But I may be able to resurrect this skirt at some point I think!)

2014-02-28 11.07.41

After struggling with the African print, I began playing with this geometric print cotton. Again not ideal, but slightly better to work with.
I only had a small amount of fabric to work with, so after checking my maths with my 8 year old ( I never did get a maths O level ) , I decided I could get three small box pleats across the front and back of a skirt. (I didn't use a pattern for this skirt.)

I pressed the pleats in, tacked them securely in place, and then began to construct my skirt.
Two side seams, a lapped zipper and button fastening.
I hadn't intended to make the exact skirt featured on the show, but I thought just for fun I'd half machine sew, and half hand pick my zip. I wouldn't usually hand pick a zip unless using a delicate fabric, or I particularly wanted to achieve a vintage look. For example Jemma's prom dress made last year ;the zip was entirely hand sewn into that delicate lace in the bodice.

lapped zipper (hand sewn)

You may notice my side seams don't exactly match. Again I was working with the small amount of fabric I had and couldn't match front and back vertically without losing too much off the length.

I machine stitched my waistband on too, as they had on the show. I have to say, I'm in full agreement with Julie who hand stitched her waistband down. that is my favourite method. I think it gives a nicer finish, but to push me out of my comfort zone, I top stitched my waistband.

top stitching

And yes, my waistband doesn't match! I had nowhere near enough fabric left to pattern match the waistband, so I flipped the design instead.

I finished off my skirt with a vintage button, and a machine sewn hem.

box pleat skirt 2

Am I happy with the finished skirt? Well, yes and no. I enjoyed the challenge I set myself. I'm happy with the finish of my skirt, glad to have pushed myself out of my comfort zone of invisible zips and hand stitched waistbands. Mostly I'm happy with my pattern matching using a not really ideal print, but I really don't like this skirt on me!
The print is one I wouldn't usually wear, nothing in my wardrobe goes with it, and it is not particularly flattering. (These photos of me wearing the skirt have made the print on the skirt look very washed out, that is a trick of the light, it is a bright print in reality.)
I may wear it in the summer with leggings and ballet flats. That might work.
I'm not disappointed that I've made myself a skirt I don't really like, as I've already said, I enjoyed the challenge!