Dance like no one is watching.
Blog like no one is reading.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Sing-Along-A Sound Of Music

Naturally I left it to the very last minute to finish my outfit for the Sing Along A Sound Of Music event held in Cardiff recently.  I had chosen something very easy to do though - I cut out lots of rectangles self drafted a novice's apron using one of the duvet covers given to me by my friend.

The back is fastened with a rather weather beaten button from my button tin, I already had the jumper and a long black skirt, so this outfit really cost nothing to make.

The only problem I had was that the front bib was a bit too high, but I rectified this when safety pinning it to my top, but otherwise I think it is a reasonable representation of the original.

Yes, I did already have the DVD!

Genuine fan here, genuine fan.

Anyway, on arriving in Cardiff with my friend and her son I did what every novice would do - went and had a pint.

Which it turned out I really needed as I ended up on the stage!

If I look a little uncomfortable with it, it is because I was.  I think I am more keen on making fancy dress because of the challenge - and then I realise I have to wear it out in public!

Anyway, I was in good company.  Look at all the nuns coming back after the interval!

You also got a goody bag of things to wave about during the performance. 

Note in particular the swatch of floral fabric to 'feel the quality' when Maria realises her drapes could be made into play clothes for the children. There is also a party popper to release when Maria and Captain Von Trapp first kiss.

My view of the nuns!

I really enjoyed my night (apart from the stage bit!) and would recommend it for a great night out.  Be prepared for a sore throat after all the singing, which I remedied with an ice cream on the way home!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Woman MP.11 (Catchy Title!)

I was the successful bidder for a bundle of patterns on Ebay the other day, and the reason I wanted to place a bid was mainly for the pattern above.  It's a 'Woman Easy-Makes' pattern with the mysterious code 'MP.11'...

The bundle was all complete apart from, wouldn't you know it, this pattern.  I'm afraid it was missing view C completely and the shorts for view B.  Oh, and all the instructions!

No hipster bikini for me then.  (The world breaths a huge sigh of relief!)

I decided to make the shorts in View D.  All the pattern pieces for this were there.  It was also an opportunity for me to try out a fitting book I have recently purchased, 'Create the Perfect Fit' by Joi Mahon.  An excellent opportunity because this pattern was a UK size 12, waaaaaay smaller than I am, but the book does aim to get you fitting yourself whatever size the original pattern is.  So how did it go?

All in all I was very pleased.  My main area of difficulty was that my centre front waist to hip measurement seemed very small.  It wasn't something I had noticed as being a problem before but I dutifully made the corresponding adjustment on the pattern - only to find that the shorts now dip at the centre front.  Hmmm.  Either I've measured myself/the pattern incorrectly or I did need a full abdomen adjustment I had ignored as I thought I had quite a flat tummy..... where's the wine.....

Anyway, I will undo this adjustment in my final version.

Another thing I will do in the final version is increase the depth.  They are a bit too snug when sitting!

I do like this pattern though - particularly the turn ups at the hem. Without instructions I was going to sew them the most logical way I could think of - but luckily I looked at another pattern I had that also had turn-ups and there was a  better way.  It must have been a better way as I've managed to get them to match up at the side seams which I am pretty pleased about.

So these are my shorts mark 1.  I have highlighted the original pattern pieces in green for you to see the amount of adjustments I made.  Will have another go when I've decided what fabric to use.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

All The Small Things

I am not saying that I have entirely lost the plot - but I have spent some of the Easter holidays designing Barbie clothes?!?

It started because I had all these itsy bitsy pieces of material leftover from my last dress and I love the dragonflies so much I didn't want to throw out a single scrap.  Many a happy hour was therefore spent researching what other people had achieved with barbie designs, and it became very clear that I was not going to match up with those who design for collectors.  I therefore set my sights on velcro and rather more basic designs.

The main problem I encountered was in finishing the seams.  There was no way to do this neatly without perhaps very fiddly french seams so I lined everything.

This skirt is just a circle of fabric which I quilted with poly wadding and backed with the cotton fabric I used to line my dress.  The exposed edges were then finished off with bias binding - with the binding running on past the waistline to make a tie.  Easy to do up with no back seam necessary.

I did search online for help in drafting this bodice and combined it again with the full circle skirt.  The skirt has a pleat in the front as I didn't measure correctly and when I went to attach it to the bodice it just happened became a considered design element! :)

Pop art face!

The tie ribbon is attached with the only slightly fancy zigzag stitch I have on my machine.

And is tied at the back.  Again the overlap of the skirt means no back seam is necessary.

I really enjoyed making these but man, they are fiddly.  Weirdly addictive though....

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Cotton Dragonfly Dress

I finished my final version of this dress just in time for a weekend away with the girls. It is a sixties pattern from The People, purchased on Ebay.

The inspiration in choosing the fabric for the final version came from a gorgeous little purse my friend gave me for my birthday.

Dragonflies flew into my head and obviously stayed there when I was browsing the Japanese fabric selection on Ebay.  I purchased two metres of fabric and was aware that it was quite a narrow width, but I only just got away with it. 

No fussy cutting pattern matching for me!

I tweaked the fit from the toile, making it more fitted at the bodice and giving myself more room at the hips.  I did make the skirt a little bit more a-line in the end but was pleased to keep the collar and neckline exactly as drafted on the pattern.  Even if it was a bit of a faff lining up five layers of fabric at the neckline.

Can you ever use too many pins?!

The zip was my best attempt yet at inserting an invisible zip.  There were no bumps or blips and I was so pleased I took a photo.

I love the finished dress.  I'm afraid the photos of the finished article are a bit grainy, as I was more interested in partying than posing...

Cue selfie with my friend!

 Grainy black and white photo, but you can see the back detail in the mirror!

The dragonflies seem quite happy together!

I had a great weekend and am now looking forward to lots of chocolate!

Linking up with Vintage Pattern Pledge and Spring for Cotton.


Sunday, 22 March 2015

Revisiting My First Love

Before I thought it might be possible that I could make clothes that would fit me both at the hips and waist I made quilts.  I began doing this when my first child was a baby and I needed something silent to do when she napped in her cot beside me.  And so began my love of hand quilting.

I have recently been trying to perfect my machine quilting technique and, whilst I love the speed this offers, I missed the act of hand quilting.  I decided to print out a simple quilting pattern from Electric Quilt and see if I could still do stitches that show up on both sides of the work!

I think hand quilting is one of those things that is best to 'just do' without worrying too much if you are improving.  Some stitches I like - some not so much - but I think I will improve with practice.

The fact that I was quilting by hand also meant that I could use one of my favourite things.  I strengthened the variegated thread I was using with this beeswax block that I got from a honey farm whilst on holiday in West Wales.  It may seem a shame to make thread marks into such a pretty thing but it will last me a lifetime!

The finished piece will hopefully be made into something I can give to a friend who has a birthday coming up, maybe a bag or small cushion, I haven't decided yet.  I didn't really have anything in mind at the outset.  I just wanted to quilt. :)

Monday, 16 March 2015

I blame the Great British Sewing Bee.

After I saw them refashioned Eighties' dresses on the Great British Sewing Bee, I was itching to have a go myself.  That's when I got this beauty with a 99 pence bid on Ebay.

With the styling of 'Challenge Anneka' combined with the colour of 'Bucks Fizz' this screamed Eighties.  It must also have screamed 'don't buy me!' as I was the only bidder.

I knew that it would be too small before it arrived but I just had to try it on for a giggle.  Yes, I did hear a rip just before this next photo was taken....


I placed a bid because I loved the colour and it looked like it had a nice drape.  And it does.  It is a viscose which has the softness of butter as well as its colour.  I decided I wanted a full skirt and I was also keen to re-use the elasticated waistband.  I mean, how often can you get a colour match that good.

I unpicked the waistband from the top and bottom of the dress and cut the skirt at center front and back.  I realised I would have to use all of the fabric from the top if I was to make a nice full skirt so the front of the top became the front of the skirt and the back of the top the back of the skirt.

I'm not sure about it though.  The large pockets make it look like an obvious refashion to me, but if I took them off I would be left with distinctive stitching holes.  I know this because I picked apart a seam from a scrap of leftover fabric and there was no way of disguising the previous stitching line.

On the minus side it is a bit short but on the plus side I already have matching shoes! 

It will definitely get worn but do I like it?... I'm still 'making my mind up!!'  (Sorry - had to get another Bucks Fizz reference in!)

Monday, 9 March 2015

Note to self - stop finishing your toiles.

Otherwise my entire wardrobe is going to be made up of this fabric!

I have sewed up a vintage pattern I managed to get in a bargain bundle from Ebay.  Namely The People Pattern Service number 173.

I did my usual FBA and altered the hips.  My first version was a disaster as I really overcompensated for my larger hip measurement.  I ended up pinning over an inch back off my toile - adjusting my paper pattern - and throwing toile number one away.  Hurrah!  Got rid of some of this fabric then.

I thought I also had to do a swayback adjustment but I overdid that as well, as I ended up with a very wonky hem!  With nobody around to measure the true hem whilst laughing at me I created my own version of 'wonky hem mugshot'.

Wanted for crimes against hems.  

Anyway, I'm fairly pleased with how the end result came out.

Hips still need a bit of adjustment I think as the fabric is riding up a little - and, although I lowered the bust darts they need lowering just a little more.... sigh...

But the best part of this pattern is definitely the collar.  I had the perfect soft orange fabric from a bundle of fabrics I also got with a low bid from Ebay!

This was my first time attaching a collar.  I researched tips on how to do it and, of course, every book said something different.  Some said to interface the undercollar, some said to interface the uppercollar, some said to make the undercollar fractionally smaller than the uppercollar - others had you rolling the seam a little.  In the end I had a cup of tea.  Then I did a miss-match of techniques and I'm pleased with the results.

Now all I need to do is make more, more adjustments to my traced pattern and I'll be able to start making the dress with the real material. 

(Linking up with the Vintage Pattern Pledge.)