Monday, 31 August 2015

My "The Made Up Initiative" pledge

I'm sure you've seen Karen's "The Made Up Initiative" by now; it's been all over the blogs.  As someone who has a sleeping disorder called reading, how could I not join in!

My pledge isn't very exciting - I wasn't up for a big project after The Coat - so I pledged to make a new cover for my sewing room ironing board.  Back in February, when I was making the Baby Star Quilt, there was an unfortunate incident with the iron versus some double-sided interfacing, which resulted in a red hot sticky mess on my ironing board.

You can maybe make out a star shape in the middle of the interfacing gunk!
The obvious solution would have been to buy/make a new cover... but I didn't bother, and put some fabric scraps over the sticky bit.  Result - every time I ironed something, the fabric scraps would lift off with whatever I was pressing.  This got very old, very fast.  Still I did nothing!!

In May, Tilly And The Buttons posted this handy tutorial on how to make a new ironing board cover.  I thought, "what a great idea, I must do that", I even added it to Pinterest!  In June, Ruth was having a de-stash, and gave me some wax cotton that would have been perfect - still no ironing board cover!!


It took The Made Up Initiative to give me the kick up the bum that I needed.  And you know what, it took about 45 minutes to make!

And once it was finished, I was so pleased with myself that I made some Margot pyjama bottoms with the rest of the fabric!

I've been using my new ironing board cover for about a week now, and am frankly flabbergasted that I put up with the old one for so long.

I'm looking forward to seeing what everybody makes for their pledges.  Good luck with your project if you are taking part!


Monday, 24 August 2015

Deer and Doe Pavot Coat

If you follow me on Instagram, you will see that my Deer and Doe Pavot coat was finished over a week ago, and I'm only getting to take photos of it today!  I'm not going to lie, this was a bit of an epic make.  It was entirely my fault though for wanting to add welt pockets and a lining.


The coat itself was pretty easy and quick, to make.  My fabric is Cotton Twill from My Fabrics.  I bought 2.5 metres, which was plenty.  The only alterations I made to the fit were to take 1/4" off the lower half of the back bodice centre seam, and shorten the sleeves.  I didn't change the length of the bodice at all, so would advice the rest of the sewing world to measure the bodice length and add a bit in, because no-one is a short as me!

The pattern instructions are very scant, as seems to be the way with Deer and Doe patterns. It was easy to put together though, and as it is an intermediate pattern, then I suppose there is an assumption that the sewist will kind of know what they are doing!  I find it bit frustrating that Deer and Doe instructions are not so comprehensive though.  Maybe I've been spoiled by the wonderful, indepth, instructions on other indie patterns; but for the pattern price, I would expect a bit more.  I think I'm being a bit moany though - sorry about that! 

I made one inseam pocket (as on the pattern) on my toile, but didn't love it.  So I decided to make single welt pockets.  Never again!!  I'm not really pleased with them, but they could have been a lot worse.  I googled "how to draft single welt pockets", and came up with absolutely nothing.  I did find this youtube video on sewing them which has some measurements in it, so used it.  I also found the welt pockets page on the Colette Patterns Anais sewalong very helpful.  But it didn't help that I got my pocket pieces mixed up, and had to unpick everything, which took ages.

I made this coat to replace an old raincoat that must be about six years old.  I am sick looking at that coat, I don't like the colour, the lining is ripped and I can't be bothered to fix it; but it fits.  After my welt pockets were finished, I had a look at my old coat, and it turns out that it has what I am calling faux welt pockets.  The coat front has a princess seam running from the shoulder to the hem, and the pocket is attached in the seams with the welt over the top.

You can see how the pocket is within the princess seam, and the pocket flap extends out from the centre front.
It looks like it's similar to the Sewaholic Robson coat.

I've now fallen down a coat pattern rabbit hole, and stumbled across Vogue 9040.  I love View A, and the pockets are brilliant.

Vogue 9040, view A

Also, it turns out that there is a Craftsy class on making it.  Another one for the wish list!!  But I'm getting off the point... 


The pattern doesn't have a lining (why?!), so I drafted one using this brilliant tutorial from Grainline Studios.  It was really easy to follow, and draft.  Cutting out the slippery lining was a bit tricky though.  I had originally planned to use some red and white polyester from my stash, but then I wasn't sure if it went with the purple fabric.  I asked Andrew, expecting lots of "umm, I've no idea!", but he glanced at it for about half a second, and said "No!".  He was right though, and I ordered some cream and black polka dot polyester on ebay.  I've had success with using the gelatin treatment on slippery fabric, but didn't want to use it on this because it would have meant having to wash the coat after finishing it.  I didn't want to do that, even though the purple fabric is machine washable.  I shall have to research this a bit, and if anybody has any tips for pre-treating lining fabric, please let me know!  I then used this brilliant tutorial from Grainline Studios on sewing the lining together.   

This is the smug face of someone who lined their coat and managed to chop a bit of the photo off!
My buttons are from Textile Garden (mine are the 25 mm size), and I flipping love them!  I would have loved to have used horizontal buttonholes, but the placket wasn't wide enough, and a thing that I though was weird was that the button placement, and not buttonholes, were marked on the pattern.

I love my coat though, because, come on, I made a coat!!  Take a look at that collar,


and the top stitching.


I used the edge of the satin stitch foot as a guide for the top stitching.

I'm now wondering if I can use this pattern as a starting point for other coat designs, instead of having to fit another pattern.  I'll definately not be doing welt pockets or bound buttonholes though!!

Have a great week!


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Poppies shirt dress

My new-found love of drafting collars continues with this dress.  This time I made a shirt collar, after being delighted with the success of the shirt collar that I drafted from my pattern drafting class

The fabric is the last of the fabric that I bought when I was visiting my friend in England.  It was £6 per metre, and I bought 2.5 metres.  Here is what it says on the selvedge - "Nottinghill, Joel Dewberry for Freespirit Westminster Fibers Pristine Poppy".  I didn't bother trying to match the print because I didn't think it was necessary, and it turns out I was right!

To attach the collar, I used the method from my Granny's Simplicity sewing book, which is the same as Four Square Walls excellent tutorial.

I have to admit that I got pretty fed up with this dress about half way through though.  I had some problems fitting the skirt, which is the full skirt from McCall's 6696 - I finally caved and bought this pattern after seeing so many lovely versions.  I forgot just how much ease there is in the Big Four patterns, and traced and cut my waist size - and it was huge!  After a lot of pinning the pleats together on the pattern pieces, and eventually basting the whole dress together, I got it sorted out.

Then there were the thirteen buttonholes. I knew the automatic buttonhole on my machine would throw a wobbly at that (as seems to be their way); but I sucked it up, put an episode of Miss Fisher on Netflix*, and got on with it.  My machine was very kind, and made about nine buttonholes before giving up, which was enough to sew on some buttons and try it on.  And I was delighted with it!  Especially as I wasn't sure if I liked the fabric; but I think that's quite a common thing with me - I just get tired of looking at the same fabric when I'm working with it for so long. 

And while I'm talking about buttonholes, thank you to Emmie for the comment about horizontal versus vertical buttonholes in my last post.  I again used horizontal buttonholes, and this time used 1cm buttons.  This made a big different for the number of buttons that I could fit on the bodice.  I also lengthened the bodice by an inch, and now the length is perfect.  You can see in the below photo that my hand is on my natural waist, which is where the waist seam is too.  Hurray!

I didn't use the McCall's bodice, but instead drafted mine from my block, and didn't do the yoke and gathers at the back.  I also made a fold-over placket, instead of a separate placket.  I drafted this from the Craftsy Pattern Making Design: Collars And Closures class.

I'm delighted with how my dress turned out, and even decided that it could be a replacement for this much-loved Anna dress with a gathered skirt, which had definately seen better days and has gone the way of the recycling bag.

In other news, I am now off work for two weeks (hurray!), and have decided that the time has come to make a coat.  I'm using the Deer and Doe Pavot pattern, which is a happy coincidence, as apparently pavot means poppy - I'm hoping that's a good sign!  I've made a toile, and the only thing I had to alter was to shave a bit off the centre back seam and shorten the sleeves.  Yey to a pattern company that fits me from the packet!  But, me being me, I can't make the pattern as it is, and want to add a lining and welt pockets.  Here's a not very good phone photo of my toile.

I got it cut out yesterday, and here's how much I did last night.

Due to a last minute change of plan re the lining fabric, I can't do any more until I get the new lining fabric that I ordered yesterday. But I will try and remember to put some progress photos on Instagram if you want to have a nosey.

Have a great week,


*Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries is my new favourite show, but sadly I have finished watching both series, and can't find out when series three is to show in the UK.  And if I sound all modern with my Netflix business; I have to say that I didn't exactly know what it was until about a month ago!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Sew Over It - Vintage Shirt Dress

This is some of the fabric that I bought while visiting my friend in England, and I had planned to make another Simplicity 2444.  I was inspired by Lara's gorgeous button-back version, and had even bought buttons to match; but after the success of drafting my own collars, the plans got changed, and I made the Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress.


I drafted the bodice from my block (and am still quite staggered that it worked!), and the skirt is from the pattern.  The instructions were really easy to follow, especially on the collar, as I hadn't sewn one like this before.

I mentioned in my last post about my problem with the gaping placket - I added a buttonhole as suggested by Knitlass (thank you!) using Handmade Jane's tip, which was inspired by Emmie's tip - and it made a big difference.  So I thought I'd try horizontal buttonholes, just to see how they turned out; I'd spotted them on Clarinda Kaleidoscope's version, and liked the look of them.  And the interesting thing is that they didn't gape as much as on the chambray Hawthorn dress.  I mentioned this to Andrew (who is not a sewing expert), and he said, "maybe it's the fabric".  Now, this was said just to agree with me in my general sewing ramblings, but I think he was onto something!  This fabric is a woven cotton, and the chambray is definately a slightly looser weave.

I cut this out before the Hawthorn dress was finished, due to running out of thread, so obviously hadn't got to wear the Hawthorn yet.  And something that I've noticed is that the waist is a bit high.   In the photo below my hand is at my waist, which is about level with the fourth button down (I missed the fifth buttonhole when I was buttoning it up!).  The waist seam is about 1 inch above the fourth button.  I can live with it on this dress though, and will add a bit of length to my bodice block.  I'm hoping this will resolve my problems with buttonhole placement, and I will be able to make room for that elusive fourth buttonhole.


I didn't realise the collar was caught up until I looked at my photos!

I love this dress!  The fit is brilliant, and I'm delighted with my print matching. I had 2.5 metres of fabric, which was 45 inches wide, and just managed to squeeze my dress out of it with only scraps to spare.  The fabric is Amy Butler, the pattern is called Angelica, and I got it for £6 per metre.

My favourite bit is the collar.  I'm am over the moon at having finally made something other than a flat collar, and my next dress will have a shirt collar.  It will be made with the last of my fabric that I bought in England, and I originally had different plans for it too.  I'm spotting a theme...

Have a great week,


Monday, 20 July 2015

Hawthorn dress

Thank you all for your comments on my pattern drafting class post.  I was amazed that so many people found it interesting!  So, without further ado, here is the dress I made from the pattern that I drafted in class.

It's the Colette Patterns Hawthorn dress, but with princess seams on the bodice.  I showed you my toile in my last post,

but, as this is a summer dress, I decided not to add the sleeves.  I also lowered the top of the princess seams and made the collar a bit narrower.  My fabric is some chambray that I bought last summer from Calico Laine.  I also have it in lilac, and am going to make another version without the collar.

This would have been finished about a week ago if I hadn't have ran out of thread!  We had a public holiday here last week, and I wasn't sure if the fabric shop would be open to buy some more, so I ordered some on ebay and had to wait for the Postie to deliver it, so only got the dress finished yesterday.  But, on the other hand, my next dress is nearly finished!  It just needs buttons, and the armholes need finished. 

I am absolutely delighted with the collar, it sits perfectly.  I had a bit of trouble sewing the princess seams, and ended up having to ease them in.  I measured my pattern, and the stitching lines are all the right length, so I might reduce the seam allowance to see if that helps for next time.

I have to show you how my teacher showed me how to made the button plackets.  They are drafted all in one piece with the centre front.

Here's the bodice front with the facing extending out from the front edge.  The green vertical line is the fold line, with the placket to the right.
And here it is with the placket folded back on the bodice front.
Right side on the left, wrong side on the right.

The first thing to do is to interface the placket.  In the photo below, the piece on the left is the right hand side bodice with the wrong side facing up.  The interfacing finishes at the fold line where the placket folds back on itself.  The piece on the right is the left hand side bodice, right side facing up. 

And here are both pieces with the placket folded back in place on the wrong side.  You can see the infacing on the left piece where I've folded over the neck edge.

I attached the bodice front sides, and sewed the front and back bodice together at the shoulder seams.  I then sewed the back neck facing to the front plackets.  You can see this at the bottom of this photo.

Then I layed the bodice out, right side up, and basted the collar onto the neckline.  You can just about see the edges of the collar at the front neckline in the photo below.  Next I folded the plackets and back facing, right side down, onto the bodice, and sewed it in place.  In this photo, it is pinned in place.

I hope that makes sense!  It's the same method of construction for any flat collar and facing, but in this case the edge of the placket extends out from the bodice front instead of being sewn on separately.  I'd never come across this before, and was quite taken with it!  I'd love to know if anybody else has seen this before.


I top stitched the hem, placket edge, collar and armholes with the triple stitch on my machine; and also finished the armholes with some bias tape.


Looking at these photos, I see some gaping at the front.  I thought I had lined the middle button up with the centre of the bust, but it looks a bit high.  I can sort this out on the next button-front dress that I make, because it did seem a bit strange to me to only have three buttons on the bodice front!  I can sew a fastner on this dress and see if that helps.  It's a pity I've already sewn the buttonholes on my next dress though!

I'm delighted with my dress, and am full of ideas for more self-drafted garments!

Have a great week!


Monday, 6 July 2015

Pattern drafting class

I don't have any new makes to show today, so feel free to skip on if that's what you're here for - I won't be offended!  Today I want to talk about my pattern drafting class that I mentioned in my last two posts, because this has been all-consuming for me for the last three weeks!

First of all, I have to tell you how I came upon it.  You may remember that I had been doing the on-line pattern drafting classes on Craftsy (which are brilliant).  The fit on my bodice was great, but I was having a lot of trouble when I added sleeves.  The back would pull between my shoulder blades (cross back), and I was having a lot of trouble with the back shoulder darts.  Adding a collar turned it into a red hot mess.  I did a lot of work on the sleeves/collar issues over the bank holiday weekend at the start of May, and was pretty disappointed when it turned out to be a disaster.  Wearing sleeveless garments all year round is not an option in Northern Ireland, so in desperation I googled "pattern drafting Belfast".  All my sewing prayers were answered when I found The School Of Pattern Design And Sewing website.  I looked through the whole website, and had to check twice that it really was in Belfast in Northern Ireland!

Before I go any further, I just want to say that I paid for my class myself, and I didn't even mention my blog to my teacher as I was so busy soaking up all the pattern drafting knowledge!  The lady who runs it is called Pat, she teaches fashion design at Belfast Met College and is a complete superstar!  I had initially emailed her about one-to-one classes, and she suggested the pattern drafting class that isn't on the workshop list.  It was over three Mondays from 15th June, cost £280, and was completely brilliant.  I haven't looked forward to a Monday morning so much in my life!

The maximum number of people on the class would be four, but there was only me and another lady.  Pat provided our text books, which was "Metric Pattern Cutting For Women's Wear" by Winifred Aldrich, metal right-angle metric rulers and loads of dots and crosses pattern making paper.  

In the first class we did our measurements, which is were I realised where I was going wrong on my own because I had my shoulder measurement too short, which affected the cross back.  Then we drafted our blocks.  If you've done the Craftsy class, then you'll know that you need a lot of measurements; we didn't need so many for this method.  The book explains how to do the draft, but there would have been a lot of head scratching without Pat's help.  For example, she took one look at me and knew my bust was larger than average for my frame.  She was then able to add some height to the front shoulder on my draft to lengthen the bodice front.  That wasn't in the book, and because I like to ask all the questions, I wanted to know how I would have fixed it if the extra hadn't been added, and the answer was a full bust adjustment.  Also, both of our armsyces looked a bit different that in the book, but Pat said they were ok, and she was right!  Then we sewed our toiles, and both only had to pinch in a little bit from the bust to the armhole.


Here's my toile.  You can see the diagonal darts going up from the bust point to the armsyce.  This is the bit that got pinched out, and was only about a centimetre at the armsyce.  Below is the finished bodice block.  The front is on the left, and the back on the right.  Hopefully you can see the fish-eye darts in the middle, and on the front there is one large dart extending up to the neckline.  On the back there is a small shoulder dart.  To draft a bodice with a separate skirt, you cut along the waistline in the middle of the fish-eye darts, and just work on the top half.

In the second class we drafted and sewed our sleeves.  Mine ended up needing a bit of work, but we got it sorted out.  I still need to trace it onto some card though.

Then we did some dart manipulation.  


On the left is an underarm/horizontal bust dart, and on the right is an armhole dart.  These were made by firstly drawing a line where the new dart should be, and then cutting along one leg of the large dart going into the neckline.  The neckline dart gets closed up, revealing the new dart.  So in these examples, the waist dart would also be sewn.

Then we drafted some collars.  This was a revelation for me because I've only ever sewn a flat Peter Pan collar as I never knew how to alter a collar with a stand to fit me.  The weekend after that class I fell down a collar-drafting rabbit hole!  Here's what I made:


First of all is a convertable collar, and horizontal bust darts.  This is the collar we drafted in class.  Please excuse the scrappy facings and lack of removing tailor tacks in these photos!  I was so excited about my collars, that I didn't want to waste any precious collar sewing time! 

Then there is a shirt collar, with diagonal darts coming up from the side seam corner.  I was beside myself with how well this turned out, and I found a brilliantly easy explanation on how to sew it in my Granny's Simplicity Sewing Book.

After all this success, I was dreaming of all the lovely collared garments I could make, and remembered about the new Sew Over It Vintage Shirt dress pattern.  Thank goodness for the instant gratification of PDF patterns, because it was the work of a few moments to click on buy, and start printing!  Then I'm not really sure what came over me, but I decided it would be no problem to draft it from my block.  And it flipping well worked!!

I sewn one pleated dart as on the pattern, and one waist dart to see which I liked best.  The pattern instructions for sewing the collar were really easy to follow.  I'm going to add a toile of the skirt to see how it looks, and then I can't wait to sew it up properly.

Pat asked us to think of a garment that we would like to draft, so we could do it in our last class.  I wanted to do the Colette Hawthorn Dress, as that is what I'd had all the trouble with myself.  To be a bit different, I wanted to use princess seams on the bodice, so we ended up drafting princess seam blocks from our original blocks.

The front is on the left, the back on the right.
Then Pat showed me how to change the bottom half of my block to make a wider skirt.  It was really simple.  We cut a straight line from the bottom to the base of the dart, then divided between the side seam and dart in two, and cut up to the waist.  The dart got closed up, and then the three strips were be widen by however much I wanted, and the spaces filled in.  I hope that makes sense, because it was so easy, and is the basis of any skirt shape. 

The front is on the left, the back is on the right.
I finished drafting my pattern, spent last weekend making a toile, and here it is!  Not too shabby, even if I say so myself!  It fits perfectly, and I can move my arms (which is always helpful!).

I'm delighted with the collar though, as it is sitting perfectly.   Unlike the complete and utter dogs dinner of a collar that I had drafted myself.  It turns out I had been messing with the back darts when I shouldn't have!

What the beep?!

I'm thinking of lowering the curve on the princess seams, and also making the collar a bit smaller.  It serves me right for not measuring the collar on the pattern first!  I like the bigger collar though, and think it would look nice on a winter dress.  So if anybody wants me, I shall be surrounded in paper and sellotape in true Blue Peter style - and if you got to the end of this post, I congratulate you because I didn't realise that I had so much to say!!

Have a great week,