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Sunday, 28 December 2014

Dress In A Day - Christmas Dress


I had one day in which to make my dress for Christmas Day.  I started cutting out the pattern at 9am and, save for meals, worked solidly on it and finished just in time to watch my favourite hospital drama on the telly at 8pm.  And that, M'lord, is why I am never going to apply to be a contestant on 'The Great British Sewing Bee'.

I made it as simple as possible.  No sleeves, using the bodice from my last dress (Simplicity 1873) together with a gathered skirt that I sort of copied, sort of not.

The fabric is the reason I wanted to make this dress.  A pretty calico print from Ditto fabrics.  The bodice is lined with a white duvet cover that was given to me by a friend. 



I love the fabric and I love the neckline.


I clipped the neckline curve and I think that this is the first time I have done it where it seems to have kept a gentle curve rather than having some obvious dints in the line where the clips are.  If you see what I mean!

I also lowered the bust dart from my original version of this bodice and it has helped with the fit.  Merle is a bit smaller than I am at the moment but I've started running to work and am stubbornly refusing to increase her measurements in the meantime!!!

So those are the good points of my dress.  The pattern matching is another story however.  The skirt is a little odd in that that pattern dips centre front and back but it does match all the seams.  The bodice lines up at the side...


This was because I was careful to line up the bodice pieces to the same line of the print when cutting out.  I forgot, however, to line up the print centrally at the front of the bodice and as for the back...


...what?....  That had me sulking as I was eating my evening meal let me tell you!  It seems my lining up of the selvedges must have been wrong but that was something that I did check.  If it was something obvious please tell me what I did so I don't do it again!!

So not a perfect dress, but perfect for Christmas Day.  I wore it with a fairisle cardigan and it was surprisingly resilient.  Not creasy like quilting cotton would be.  I am just wondering if I can get away with this print on my summer holidays.....!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Great class - shame about the student!


I've pretty much got used to my all over machine quilting technique of wavy lines and nervous humming!  I thought, however, it was time to try something a bit more adventurous.

I decided to take Ann Peterson's Craftsy class Beyond Basic Machine Quilting.  (I've no affiliation with Craftsy by the way).  Watching this lovely lady calmly quilt away inspired me.  She gave some great advice but this is something that will take practice.     


My flowers are a bit wobbly!  The thing is; there I am quilting away, concentrating like mad, when suddenly I just quilt a huge wobbly line out of nowhere!  Then I just carry on with a confused look on my face muttering 'why did I just do that?'  Feel free to use my technique!

I did do some things that I was pretty pleased with after I had practiced a bit.



I am loving my little dragonfly.  Completely Ann's idea - I would never have thought of something as cute as this!

I have also got some other all over quilting patterns I can now use as well as my bog standard stippling.


There are leaves (some of them even look like leaves!)


And swirls.

As this was a practice I used some cheap as chips fabric.  Ikea were selling this cotton print fabric at £1 a metre.  That is cheaper than muslin/calico is sold for, so I've bought it for making up toiles.  I managed to feel very seamstressy when I picked up an uncut bolt of fabric and the assistant pointed me towards the cutting table, and I said that I wanted to buy the whole bolt!  Oh the extravagance!  Like a scene out of Pretty Woman.... maybe not!





Friday, 14 November 2014

Channeling my inner Cruella De Vil



cruella de vil

Yes.  I know it's silly.  

When I saw that the Sewcialists had November as #SewDisney time I thought I could definitely sit this one out.  As I mentioned in my previous post; I wasn't fussed about making any costumes at the moment.  But then I read on and became fascinated by the phenomena that is 'Disneybound'.  I hadn't heard of this before, but it made sense that adult guests were not allowed to wear full costume when going to the various Disney parks and so would wear regular clothes that only suggested certain Disney characters.  Several hours surfing the net later and I was hooked!

I decided to make Simplicity 1873 - a Cynthia Rowley design - simply because I had just got it as a free gift with a magazine.


Enough of the silliness - this is how I will be wearing it out in public!  As you can see my tweaking hasn't resulted in the best of fits.  My FBA went a bit overboard and the bodice is now too big.  Totally my fault.  I will have to work on that.  This was pretty much a test garment in cheap fabric but I am still going to wear it!


I have also invested in an invisible zipper foot.  Took me three attempts but I have managed to get the zip in.  I'll have to work on that too.  So much homework!

The pink underskirt is a bit of a cheat - my friend gave me a maxi skirt which was too small on my waist.  I cut the bottom off the skirt and put an elasticated waist into it and hey ho an underskirt. 


Finally, further proof that I need to step away from Photoshop!  (Thank you Mr Hoffi for designing my dalmatian background!)

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

I've got skirts, they're multiplying


I thought I would join in with the Sewcialists' October sewalong theme - Grease is the Word!  I didn't want to make a costume though - mainly because I am in the midst of persuading my friend to dress up with me for a 'Sing-a-long-a Sound Of Music' show next year - and my head is full of dirndls and lederhosen!

I decided instead to try and give an old pattern a modern twist.  I really wanted to make the bolero jacket from the sixties reprint BurdaStyle 7113.  (View B in the picture below.)


The dress, however, not so much.   Maybe another time when I have copious amounts of time to try and fit this style of dress to my pear shaped body.  I didn't fancy a pencil skirt either - although this would have made sense given the Grease theme.  In the end I made another copy of the BurdaStyle skirt I used for my recent cars skirt.  I had a tiny bit of black flannel left over from my sixties check dress that I wanted to use and there was only enough for a mini.  So decision made.

I tried out Hong Kong seam finishes for the first time.  Found out they are quite addictive.  Also found out I had a sewing foot I could use to more accurately stitch in the ditch.  Who knew!


The reason I wanted to make another of these skirts is my love of the contrasting pocket panel.  This time I used some leftover spotty fabric.  I've still got loads of this fabric left so I may well make another bolero in it so I can mix and match.


The bonus is that now I have something I can wear to an upcoming girls night.  Naturally I did consider skin tight shiny lycra a la Sandy but thought I put my friends through enough as it is! :)

Thursday, 23 October 2014

My 62 (and a half) pence scarf


Knitting can be an expensive hobby.  So many beautiful yarns - so little time.  Sometimes though you just want something that will keep you occupied while at the dentists, or waiting in line at parents' evening. (Just some examples of the rock and roll lifestyle I have been living the last couple of weeks!)

I was after cheap and cheerful and I found this acrylic yarn...


... for the princely sum of £1.25 for two balls at a charity shop.  I coupled this with a free cowl pattern I found whilst searching ravelry, and I even knitted it with a pair of needles that came with a knitting magazine.  I know, hey big spender!


My yarn choice/tension combo meant that my piece of knitting seemed narrower than that suggested in the original pattern, so I decided to change it from a cowl to a scarf.


It was really quick to knit up and I only used one ball of the pair so I am counting this as an investment of 62 and a half pence on this scarf.  Regarding the other ball - I can't get the thought of pink and grey Fair Isle gloves out of my head now!


Tuesday, 7 October 2014

She likes to ride her bicycle... and her scooter... and her skateboard... and her rollerskates... and her waveboard...


My sister gave me the offcuts of fabric she had leftover from making herself a dress.  (A love of dressmaking and quirky prints runs in the family!).  There was just enough fabric to make my daughter a pair of shorts.  I used Simplicity 1370 and cut out the smallest size.  

Despite only having a small amount of fabric to play with I did spend an inordinate amount of time trying to pattern match at the centre front and centre back seams.  I thought I had taken into account the seam allowances and was fairly confident I had matched the central bike up ok.


I am reasonably happy with the orange bike at the centre back.  Not perfect by any means but it looks like I have at least tried.  Which is why I have no excuse regarding the yellow bike on the front seam.


Pretty hard to ride a bike when the handlebars are missing!  I have no idea how this went so wrong!


I have consoled myself with the fact that the print is absolutely gorgeous and my daughter won't be bothered about my pattern matching.


After my faffing about fussy cutting the limited fabric, there was only one place left I could fit the yoke front for cutting out, but luckily the bicycles on it were fairly symmetrical to the front.  That was just pure luck.

Finally, I had to laugh at the side seams - I knew I was not going to pattern match as I was so concerned about the centre seams - but I did try and line up the bikes - resulting in a slightly hilarious 'tandem for an argumentative couple' perhaps!


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Cars Skirt


My friend gave me a pair of curtains printed with the cast of the Disney Pixar film 'Cars'.  She thought I could make something out of them and we did suggest sensible options like children's cushions.  Did I do that?  Nope, made myself a skirt.


I had wanted to make a skirt with contrasting side panel pockets for a few weeks now, and having looked through my BurdaStyle magazines found the perfect pattern in issue 7/2011.  (Note to Mr HoffiCoffi - those old magazines I store in that cupboard do come in handy from time to time!)  Well I say it was the perfect pattern - it was a petite pattern which didn't go up to my size so some tweaking was involved!


I do like the contrasting pocket panel though.  The red fabric is from a bundle of scrap fabrics purchased on Ebay - and judging by the edge finish on the piece I received I think it was probably a tablecloth in its previous life.  


This last photo has greatly amused my friends.  I know - such a classy lady!


Thursday, 11 September 2014

Charm Square Lavender Bags


I was given a present of a big bag of dried lavender this summer.  The smell of lavender has always reminded me of my childhood as lavender grew, triffid-like, in our front garden. As summer is coming to an end it is lovely to capture that smell in lavender bags to use in the following months.


I used a moda tutorial I found here.  They were straightforward to make out of two charm squares each, but as it involved manipulating the fabric it was quite a good exercise in controlling fabric under the sewing machine.  Definitely a case of the last one I made was quicker and tidier than the first one I made!


They are stuffed with toy stuffing along with the lavender to give the bags a plumper appearance.  I chose not to fill them too much so they are lovely and squashy.


It was a fun way to use a charm pack.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Up above the streets and houses, rainbow climbing high.


On returning from my holiday, I was catching up with blog posts when I stumbled upon the Repurpose, Reuse, Refashion competition via CharityShopChic, which is being run by Sew Amy Sew.  There was only a week to go before items had to go up on the Flickr page so I thought I would be unlikely to enter.  Still, it was the Bank Holiday weekend and we happened to go to my favourite charity shop town by the sea, and I thought I would only rush to enter if I could find something that I really, really wanted to refashion.


Kerching!  I found this duvet cover for £1.50 and instantly fell in love.  I was convinced this duvet cover is a print of the opening sequence of one of my favourite childhood television shows, Rainbow, but a quick search on YouTube proved me wrong.  It is uncannily similar though.  


The front section contains the rainbow, whereas the back of duvet cover is all clouds and sky.


It did leave me with another dilemma though, I loved the rainbows, I loved the trees, but they couldn't all fit into a dress.  Hence another day umming and ahhing and the deadline loomed.


Eventually, I opted for the rainbows and cut the fabric just above the tree line.  I had to do a very narrow hem to keep the length that I wanted.  The bodice of the dress is the Colette Peony.  The skirt is just the front and back section of the original duvet cover.


The back of the dress is made up entirely of the back of the duvet as the 'sky' was a little lighter on the back section.  I like how all the detail is in the front and how the back gives someone walking behind me a false sense of security that the person in front of them is not unhinged!!!


I have teamed the dress with a petticoat I made previously, together with the shoes I wore to my wedding ten years ago.

I love my new dress, and whilst wearing it outside it seemed to want to join its friends in the sky!


Thursday, 21 August 2014

My Holiday Part 2 - What I Wore


The joy of having sewn my own clothes for a number of years now is the increased confidence I have about wearing them on a daily basis.  I am no longer worried that badly sewn items will simply fall off me as I walk down the street!!!  I've never been one to 'fit in' fashion wise anyway and so am used to wearing something a little out of the ordinary.  It's just that these days I am usually wearing duvets and curtains I found in the charity shop or had donated to me.  So I can have a lot of fun - especially on holiday!




We stayed in a lovely cottage with sea views and as you can see, the bathroom lino rang a bell!!

I don't want you to think that my holiday was all about having photo's taken of myself!  When I wasn't thrusting the camera into Mr HoffiCoffi's hands and giving him instructions like "make sure you get the floor in" I was using the camera myself - to take photos of a LOT of food!  (I do have pictures of the kids as well :) !)

I know this post is photo heavy - but I just have to show you some lovely quintessentially British holiday treats!





Yep - I ate them all!