Thursday, 26 March 2015

Hawthorn Dress

This was supposed to be posted about a week and a half ago.  I even had most of this post already written, and then I ran out of thread when I was topstitching!  But I'm getting ahead of myself; let's start at the start.

This dress is the Colette Patterns Hawthorn dress, I've loved this pattern since it was released, but what I don't love is the fit on the first one I made.  That busy fabric print hides a multitude of sins!  I'd been planning to make another one for ages, and when I dug out my pattern I nearly passed out when I saw all the alternations that Past Me had noted to make on the next one.  So I drafted my own version from my block.

I re-drafted the bodice and used the skirt pieces from the pattern.  The only changes that I made were to make a separate placket for the skirt, and to draft a 5/8" seam allowance on the bodice neckline and front.  The original pattern has 1/4" seam allowance there, and I remember having a bit of trouble with it on the first one.

As you can see, this one doesn't have the Peter Pan collar.  I spotted this lovely version by Marie, and that's what inspired me.  Marie is the queen of Hawthorns by the way, she's made so many lovely versions.
My fabric is some cotton sateen from ebay, and was only £3.99 per metre and 145cm wide.  I bought two metres, then kicked myself for not buying three so I could have made sleeves.  I didn't think that the print would need to be matched, but it turned out that it did.  Two and a half hours later, and with sore knees, I finally finished cutting it out.  Oh, and everything had to be cut on a single layer...


I used some cotton lawn for the facings as I thought the sateen would be too thick on the buttonholes, and the buttons are from The Spinning Wheel in Belfast.  I also used bias tape to face the armholes.  After a bit of practising on a fabric scrap, I used the triple stitch for the top stitching, and am pleased with how it turned out.


It went together without a hitch, until the aforementioned running out of thread on the top stitching.  That was two Saturday evenings ago.  I made an Emergency Thread Dash (because that's a bona fide thing in my house) to Dunelm Mill on the Sunday afternoon, but they didn't have the colour I wanted, so I had to order it on ebay.  I didn't get the thread until Thursday because we had no post on Tuesday as it was St Patrick's Day, and then I went to visit Friend in England on Friday where I had a brilliant time.  Fabric purchases were made, but I'll share them another time.  


I have to thank everybody who suggested recycling the skirt on my Sureau of doom.  I think I'm going to make Tilly's Delphine skirt with it, and maybe put a trim beneath the waistband to brighten it up a bit.  I'm so glad I'd just chucked the dress in the corner of the sewing room, and not in the bin!


Sunday, 8 March 2015

The Sureau of doom

My sister bought me this pattern for Christmas (the pattern being Deer and Doe Sureau), and the fabric is some suiting that came from the sale table in The Spinning Wheel in Belfast.  I think I paid about £12 for it.

I'm going to start off by saying that this is an epic fail (hence no modelled photos) - except for two things (I am nothing, if not contrary!).  Let's start with the bad...

1.  The front shoulders.  I made a toile and the shoulders were too high, so I took a bit out at the neck edge of the shoulder seam on the front and back.  On my toile I got some drag lines going from the neck seam to the front underarm.  I hadn't set the sleeves in very well, and though that was the problem.  Turns out I was wrong.  I should have only taken a bit out of the shoulder seam on the bodice back.  Of course I realised this one the dress was finished!

2.  The next problem is that the bodice is too wide between the underarms and waist.  I could take it in, but it has a side zip, and as I'm not going to wear it, there is no point.

3.  The gathers skirt. From past experience I know that the only gathered skirts that suit me are ones' that are made from the width of the fabric, and the fabric is cotton.  Frumpsville anybody?!  What was I thinking?

4.  The colour of the fabric.  A valuable lesson was learnt here.  Up close, ie when I was holding the fabric in the shop and sewing it, this fabric is lovely.  It has little stripes of red, green and purple/blue.  I loved it. 

See what I mean?
But from a distance - blurg!!  It looks like something straight out of a Victorian melodrama!  In future I shall be taking a few steps back from the fabric to see what it looks like from a distance.

The good bits:

1.  The sleeves are great because they fit.  I've working on my Craftsy pattern drafting classes, and had been having trouble trying to get my sleeves to fit.  I have finally (hopefully!) cracked it with these.  After a lot of toiles, these sleeves are a Sureau/self-drafted hybrid; but, crucially they fit.  I can actually reach forward without fear of the back giving way - always a bonus!

2.  I mentioned in this post about trying to come up with a way of attaching an invisible zip into a side seam with a pocket.  I really got a bee in my bonnet about this, and was determined to find a solution - and I think I have!

I've made lots of notes, but want to try it again before I blog about it.  It seems to have worked quite well though.

I did take a bit of a gamble with this dress.  I couldn't decide whether or not to try and draft it myself from my block, but I've found the Deer and Doe patterns fit me pretty well, so I went with the pattern instead.  It also turned out to have a lot of fitting issues with the back which I won't bore you with.  I will try it again at some stage, because it's a lovely pattern, but I will draft the bodice and do something different with the skirt.  Ah well, it's not the end of the world and I don't have many epic fails, so all in all, I can live with this failure.  

I did learn from it though, and drafted my next make from my block.  It's the Colette Patterns Hawthorn dress, but the details are for another post.  It's nearly finished, I did the buttonholes and buttons after lunchtime today, and now I'm waiting for some bias tape that I ordered on ebay so I can do the hem and armholes.  

Have a great week,


Saturday, 28 February 2015

Cameo Shawl

Nearly a year ago I started my Whippoorwill shawl, then you may remember that disaster struck with it!  Well, it lay in the knitting bag until just before christmas, when I decided to have a look at it again.  I really wasn't feeling the love for it because I wanted to make the largest size, but didn't have enough yarn.  So I frogged the lot, and washed the yarn that I had used to get the crinkles out.  Then I hit Ravelry; specifically the snazzy pattern search feature where you can specify the weight and amount of yarn and type of item you want, and came up with the Cameo Shawl (Ravelry link).

This was just what I was looking for; a triangle shawl using two colours, and a bit of lace work and picot edging for added interest.  The thing I really liked about it was that it is knit differently to most triangle shawls.  Most start at the centre of the top edge, and are increased in each row, ending at the bottom point.  This one is started at one end of the long edge, it is then increased on each row, ending on the bottom edge of the lace pattern.  It can then be knit to a longer width, without making it too long in depth.


I made two mods: I didn't do all the stripey repeats in the middle because I ran out of purple yarn (this seemed to be quite a common thing on Ravelry), and I did an extra repeat of the lace pattern because I had enough of the yellow yarn, and also I liked it.

I really enjoyed knitting this; it's all garter stitch, which I appreciate not everybody loves, but I liked it and found it was easy TV knitting.  The big challenge was blocking it.  In fact, I finished it at the end of January, and only blocked it last week!  My fear was that the colours would run, and I didn't want the lovely golden yellow turning into a muddy brown.  When I had washed the frogged yarn from the Whippoorwill shawl, loads of dye came out from both colours.

I started knitting with the purple yarn that hadn't been washed, then joined the washed purple about half way through the purple section.  In the above photo of the unblocked shawl it is obvious to me where the colours change, but I can live with this.  What  I can't live with is the purple dye coming off on other clothes if the shawl gets wet in the rain.

Somewhere at the back of my head I remembered something about setting colours using vinegar.  So I googled it, and came up with a lot of vague-ness which isn't worth linking to.  I couldn't resist the urge to wash it though (I know!), and ended up sort of washing it in sections by trying to only get bits of it into a basin - and unbelievably it worked!  I did the yellow lace pattern bit first. This was yarn that hadn't been washed before, and loads of yellow dye came out of it.  The stripey bit was all pre-washed yarn (I knit it that way on purpose), and it was fine.  Then finally I washed the purple bit, and loads of dye came out of it too.

I left it to dry, and then cracked out the vinegar.  What little I could find about this process involved cold water and vinegar, so I filled a basin with cold water and poured in some white vinegar.  I didn't measure out the vinegar, just poured away in a renegade style!  I used about a quarter of a bottle.  And it wasn't any fancy kind of vinegar, just Tescos own brand white vinegar at 40 something pence a bottle.  I left it to soak for 20 minutes, and not a drop of dye came out.  Now, this could mean one two things: either the vinegar worked like a charm, or the dye doesn't run in cold water - only time will tell...

I rinsed it out in cold water until the vinegar smell was gone - at this point my hands were absolutely freezing and all I could smell was vinegar, so I shoved the shawl in Andrew's direction and bleated, "does this smell of vinegar?".  He said no, so I decided my work was done. I ended up not using my blocking wires, as it looked ok, and just left it to dry on a flat clothes horse.

The yarn that I used is Malabrigo Sock Yarn, the yellow is called Orche and the purple is called Africana Violetta, I had one skein of each.  I think I am a bit over these hand dyed yarns now because I am currently on the first sleeve of my Chuck jumper; I'm using Cascade 220 yarn which is dark red, and the colour is coming off on my hands.  Sigh.

The finished measurements are 24 1/2" deep, and 94" long.  This is indeed pretty long, but it was kind of what I was going for and I love how it turned out, and have been wearing it already.

If anybody has some top tips on fixing colours, please let me know!


Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Thurlows of meh

I had been wanting to make a pair of denim Thurlows for a while after seeing some lovely versions on the blogs, but I'm not in love with mine.  It turned out that I wanted denim jeans, not denim Thurlows - but you win some, you lose some.


Let's talk about the good bits first.  I love the fly zip.  I got the metal zip on ebay, and am delighted with how well it turned out.

I also love the welt pockets, and lengthened the insides of the pockets as I did on my first pair.

I am much happier with the belt loops, as I shortened them a bit;

and the fit at the waist is perfect.

The fabric was easy to work with, it's the denim from Craftswoman Fabrics in Carrickfergus that I mentioned a few weeks' ago.  The facing and pockets are leftovers from this Anna dress.  Sewing them was easy too, again I followed the sewalong by Lauren at Lladybird

Now for the bad bits.  As mentioned above - they aren't jeans.  I love my jeans, I have two pairs that fit beautifully.  They are from New Look (the shop - nothing to do with the patterns), but they have seen better days.  Naturally, when I looked on the New Look website, they don't have them anymore; so I have done the sensible thing and bought Kenneth D King's Craftsy class called Jean-ius which teaches you how to reverse engineer a pair of well fitting jeans.  So far I have only watched it, but it's great (and Kenneth is a hoot!).  What I need to do is source some denim fabric that is suitable for jeans, and available in the UK.  If anybody knows where I can get some, please let me know, as the denim I used for these trousers is a bit lighter weight than jeans denim. 

I started these during the Christmas holidays, then fell out of love with them, and finished them in the middle of January.  The problem with them is that there is too much fabric around the top of the legs.  I had to take them in at the hips twice, and they are baggy under the bum - although, when I looked at these photos, it's not as bad as I thought it was.


In fairness, I had to take in my first pair at the hips too, and I even remembered to make the changes on the pattern.  But the first pair are a lot lighter weight fabric, so they seem like wide leg trousers and the bagginess doesn't show; also this denim has a little bit of stretch to it.  Anyway, they aren't a complete disaster, and are comfy, so I will wear them.  It just goes to show how the same pattern can be so different with different fabrics!

Have a great week,


Monday, 9 February 2015

Baby Star Quilt

As I mentioned in my last post, I did what I said I wouldn't do again and made another quilt.  As with my last quilt, this one was made for Friend's Baby. 

This quilt was actually Plan B.  Plan A was a knitted blanket using the double knitting technique, whereby the blanket would have a front and a back which are knitted together at the same time.  It was going to have the Hogwarts crest on it (I mentioned it in this post), but it turned out my tension was all over the place and I was also the world's slowest double knitter - Baby would have been about nine by the time I'd finished it!  So I went with a quilt instead, because I'd been feeling the urge to quilt again.

And there's nothing quite like a deadline to add to the mix - my deadline being last Thursday afternoon when my sister and I were getting on a plane from Belfast to London to go and visit Friend and Baby.  So, no pressure... 

I didn't use a pattern for this quilt, which makes it sound a lot more impressive than it was - that's not actually true.  I used the instructions from the first quilt, and cut the same width of border and binding.  The idea came from this quilt on Megan Nielsen's blog.  I loved the triangles, they looked easy to put together and are a lovely design; I knew I wanted stars on it, and thought they'd look good together.

I struggled a bit with deciding on the colours.  I had initially wanted dark blues for the background, but then thought it would be too dark, so went with sea green and blue.  I also struggled with picking the fabric, but stumbled upon a flash sale at The Village Haberdashery in the middle of January.  I was very taken with this quilt in the photo below on the website.  I liked that the fabric pattern is the same, but the fabric colours are different - also the circular quilting is amazing.  I had a look at the fabric used in it; but the yellow was too bright for what I wanted, so I ended up with a fabric called  Pearl Bracelets, and the colours I used are Juniper, Basil and Citron.
Source - The Village Haberdashery

Cutting was a breeze, I used my rotary cutter (which now really needs a new blade!), and it was cut out in no time.  Sewing the triangles was also a breeze, after I had the sense to google it.  I found this great tutorial on sewing triangles which basically tells you to put two squares right sides together, draw a diagonal line down the middle, and sew 1/4 inch on either side of the line.  Cut down the line, and dah-dah - two sets of two triangles sewn together!

I attached the stars using fusible web.  I had cut out an extra star to practice on, and was glad that I did; because, as the yellow is so pale in colour, the green and blue showed through underneath it.  I ended up fusing two layers of white cotton lawn under the stars to stop the colours showing though.


I am very pleased with the yellow stitching around the stars.  I attached them using a narrow zig-zag stitch and a satin stitch foot.  My stitch width was 2.0, and stitch length was 0.2, and I narrowed the stitch width slightly when sewing to the point of the stars.  I learnt to do this from a quilting book called Quilting For Dummies, and can definately recommend it.

Sewing the squares together was fine, as there were only 25 squares; but it was after this that it got a bit tedious.  Hand-basting the backing, batting and quilt top was slow going, and the quilting seemed to take forever!  I stitched a 1/4 of an inch from the seam lines, and found myself marvelling at how I ever managed to get the bigger quilt under my machine!  I forgot to measure this one, but I think it's about 30 inches square.  I told Andrew that if I took the notion to quilt again, he was to take my machine off me - but I might amend this to saying that I'll only make cushion covers! 

After a bit of panic sewing, I got it finished and washed in time, and only remembered to take some photos of it on Thursday morning before I left.  Hence the fold creases, as I had to take it out of my suitcase!  The most important thing is that Friend and Baby loved it, and Baby is absolutely gorgeous.  I hadn't seen her, except for photos, but my sister had already visited them before.


Another reason for our trip was that Friend's Mum and I are on christening dress making duty.  It turns out that the patterns for christening dresses are completely underwhelming, and after a lot of emailing, we decided to use New Look 6115, which turned out to be out of print!  Some frantic internetting later, Friend's Mum and I both ended up with a copy each (thank goodness for ebay!), but we were better to have two patterns than none.

Source - Simplicity

Friend wanted to have a dress with sleeves; so I completely winged it, drafted raglan sleeves and made a toile.  I brought it with me, we tried it on Baby, and the sleeves fitted!  The dress was a bit too big, but the christening is at the end of March, so it was grand.  The only other mods we did were to raise the neckline by 1 1/4 inches and lengthen the skirt.  Friend's Mum had already made the skirt and skirt lining, and I made the bodice and sleeves.  We then sewed lace ribbon to the centre front and back panels, and it's just gorgeous!  We didn't hem the skirt because we ran out of time and bias tape, but Friend's Mum can do that.  And I have to show you what we sewed it on - this is Friend's Mum's fancy new machine that she got last year.

Not very good phone photo...
It was just a dream to sew with, and it even has a button that cuts the threads for you!  Naturally Friend's Mum had to take me to the local sewing shop, where she is on first name terms with the ladies who work there.  We went on Friday morning, and we were all chatting about The Great British Sewing Bee that started on Thursday night.  Sister and Friend had no choice but to watch it.  Anyway, here's what I bought.  The top one is called Fuschia Tree by Amy Butler; at £7 per metre reduced from £12.99 it would have been criminal not to buy it.  And the bottom one is called Asian Blossoms by Alfred Shaheen, and it was £8.50 per metre.  They are both going to be summer dresses.

Another rubbish phone photo!
We had a lovely weekend, and get to do it all again at the end of March when we go back for the christening.   Although next time, when we are coming home, my sister and I will try not to have to be called by name on the tanoy in order to get us onto the plane, as we were mooching around the shops in Heathrow...

Have a great week,


Saturday, 31 January 2015

The Anna Lou Dress - Sewcialists #polkadotjanuary

I'm sliding this dress in under the wire for the Sewcialists #polkadotjanuary.  I finished this  in the second week of January when I was off on leave, but then I got a cold and had to take the next week off sick!  I was only fit for lying on the sofa with a box a tissues and a bottle of Irn Bru, and alternately watching Craftsy classes and knitting.  On the plus side, I finished a scarf/shawl thingy that I started before christmas, but it still needs blocked.


Anyway, this post was mostly written about two weeks' ago, but I only got to take some photos today.  It's bright and sunny here in Belfast today, hence the sun flare in my modelled photos; but don't let that fool you, it is also blowing a hooley - which is Belfast for it's really windy.  There was nearly an embarassing incident this afternoon when I was coming into the house.  The wind caught the back of the skirt, but luckily my sister was right behind me, and grabbed it.   So, onto the dress!  This is the second of my three planned dresses using the Tilly And The Buttons Lilou dress skirt, and this time the bodice is the good old By Hand London Anna dress bodice. 

It's a bit breezy!
It was pretty easy to mash the two patterns together, all I had to do was to move the  front and back bodice darts a few millimetres to line up with the pleats.


My fabric is some cotton sateen that I bought in Craftswoman Fabrics in Carrickfergus last November.  Some of our local sewists adviced me to make the trip, and I can't believe that I left it so long to go to this shop, because it's fantastic.  The thing that put me off was the distance, about 40 minutes drive from my house (although some of that was being stuck in road works).  Now, I fully appreciate that that is nothing to most folks, but after about 20 minutes of driving I get really bored, and also I have absolutely no sense of direction.  Thank goodness for the sat nav on my phone!  Here's what I bought:

Rubbish phone photo!
Top left: Blue denim for a pair of Sewaholic Thurlow trousers.  These  were mostly made during the Christmas holidays, but I fell out of love for them, and only finished them just over a week ago.  But that's for another post.

Top right: Black ponte roma that has already been made into a Tilly And The Buttons Coco Top.  I didn't blog it, but you can see it here on Instagram.

Middle left: Flowery cotton poplin which is going to be another pair of Tilly And The Buttons Margot pyjama bottoms.

Middle right:  Black and light brown ponte roma which is going to be a Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte Top.

Bottom left: Cotton sateen for this post's dress.

Bottom right: Purple flowery cotton poplin for another pair of Tilly And The Buttons Margot pyjama bottoms.  These have been made, and you can see them here on Instagram.

This is the first time that I have used cotton sateen, and it's lovely.  It's heavier that poplin, and has a slight stretch.  I bought two metres at 58" wide, and it cost £8.95 per metre.

This went together with no problems, and I added some pockets from Simplicity 2444.  I'm very pleased with my pattern matching on the front at the waist,

sadly the pattern matching part of my brain must have went for it's tea break when I cut out the back...

As mentioned above, this was made when I was off work two weeks' ago.  I had to get my car fixed after one of my neighbour's reversed into it, (neighbour was very apologetic, but these things happen, and I'm not going to fall out with someone over a car). I got a courtesy car, but I didn't like driving it, so it sat on my driveway until I got my own car back.  This was a good thing, because it meant that I couldn't go faffing about anywhere, and I could tackle my list of sewing jobs.

I made most of this dress in one day, which impressed me mightily, and then left it to hang to see if the hem would drop and hemmed it the next day.  I made this dress a bit shorter than my other dresses, and whilst it feels short, I really like this length.   I also made this shopping bag, which was trickier that it should have been, and my machine did not appreciate the many layers of thick fabric.  Then I finished the above mentioned trousers and shawl, and traced and toiled my Deer and Doe Sureau dress pattern, but the sleeves still need a bit of work.

I have also started another quilt (after I said I wouldn't!).  This one isn't as big as the last one I made, and is also for my friend's baby.  Oh, and I have cast on the Chuck jumper, and it's going well.  But they are all for other posts.

Have a great week,


Monday, 5 January 2015

The Darling Lou Dress

This is the very seasonally inappropriate Darling Lou dress.  It's a mash-up of Megan Nielsen's Darling Ranges dress, and Tilly And The Buttons Lilou dress

This dress has been in the planning for a while now.  Since last May to be exact, when I saw Lizzie's Darling Ranges dress with a gathered skirt.  I really loved this, (especially the birdies fabric!) and thought the gathered skirt looked great.  Also, it has a faux placket (so no faffing about with buttonholes) and a zip in the side seam.

And this is what I had planned to make until about three weeks' ago when I saw Jo's shirt dress.  How gorgeous is this?!  I love this dress for several reasons.  1 - It's purple, and I have some very similar purple fabric which I had already planned to make a shirt dress with.  2. I love the details of the pleats on the skirt and the sleeves. The skirt pleats reminded me of the Lilou dress, so this is what I decided to use instead of a gathered dirdnl skirt.

I used the sleeve cuffs from Tilly And The Buttons Mathilde blouse
I drafted the bodice and sleeves using my block, but instead of following Lizzie's example and using a faux placket, I gave myself extra work by making a proper placket.  I'm glad I did though, because I wanted to practice plackets, and I love how it turn out.  Also, it helps to be able to unbutton the placket to get it on and off.  

Placket innards
Which leads me onto the side zip.  I like pockets in my dresses (these pockets are from good old Simplicity 2444), which meant that I had to end the zip above the top of the pocket on one side seam.  As I'm small, the distance between the underarm and pocket top was 10.5", so allowing for 1" below the underarm and 1/2" above the pocket, I ended up using a 9" zip.  I was hoping that this would be long enough, and it just about is (I'll just have to be careful when putting on/taking off), but it would be better to have a longer zip.  Which lead me onto thinking about how to sew an invisible zip into a side seam with a pocket.  I have googled it, but haven't had much luck.  There has to be a way around this, so if anybody knows, I'd be very grateful if you'd let me know!  I'm going to have a play about with some fabric scraps and a zip to see if I can work it out.


I'm so glad that I went with the Lilou skirt, it is lovely and flouncy, even in this light weight fabric.  I just folded in the seam allowance on the centre back and cut the skirt back on the fold.  Expect to see this skirt featuring in other makes; I have fabric for two more dresses that I plan to use it with (one being the purple shirt dress), and have ideas for another two.


The seasonally inappropriate fabric is some random viscose fabric from Sew N Sew in Belfast.  It was £3 per metre and 60" wide, so I bought 3 metres, and have about a metre left.  I soaked it in gelatine to stiffen it up a bit using the tutorials here and here, which I have done before with success.  It is then washed out when the garment is finished.  I recently read a tip about laying slippery fabric out on the carpet before cutting it to stop it shifting so much.  I wish I'd tried this, as I cut it on the wooden floor, and it still shifted a bit even with the gelatin.  But I'll know for next time, as I have some more of this fabric in a different print.

And because my fabric is so light, I thought a rolled hem might look nice on it.  Ages ago, I had got a Craftsy class called Beginners Serging, and learnt how to do a rolled hem on it.  This is a 4-thread rolled hem, and I thought it looked a bit sturdier than how my 3-thread rolled hem turned out.   My overlocker is a Brother 1034D which seems to be a popular model, so for anybody that is interested in trying this out, here are the settings that I used.

Remove the stitch finger - see page 42 of the instruction book for how to do this.

Left needle tension - 4
Right needle tension - 4
Upper looper tension - 4
Lower looper tension - 6

Stitch width - R
Stitch length - R


This is the first rolled hem that I've done, and I love how it turned out.  I would definately advice practising on a fabric scrap first though!

I'm delighted with my dress, even if it's too cold to wear such a light weight fabric just now; and because I didn't have any instructions to follow, I wrote some out as I went along on this notepad that my Dad gave me.  How great is this?  It has buttons on it, and ric rac! 


Have a great week!