Sew Lah Di Dah Blitz

To be honest I am not really one for vintage sewing or having my photo taken so this is a real treat. I bought this pattern at the Knitting and Stitching show a few years ago from Sew Lah Di Dah because I liked the style of the dress which I though would be flattering for a pear shape like me.

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It is described as the perfect go-to day dress and I love it. I love it so much that I have made 3 of them. It is superbly flattering for a pear shape like me. I made the first 2 versions a couple of years ago but they  never made it to the blog. Since then I have put on a bit of weight but the dresses still fit well.

This is  the first version made in a red floral fabric which I thought went well with the vintage look:

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I didn’t have much trouble with the pattern although I did a muslin first and there were a few fitting issues requiring some editing. As you can see below my finished bodice pattern was vastly different from the original. However this is not unusual for me as I have a narrow chest and shoulders but am full busted:

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The instructions were clear and some nice photos although there were no instructions about inserting the collar. I hope this has been rectified in later pattern edits. It wasn’t a problem as I used my common sense. I fully lined the dress in a white polycotton. I did have some gaping in the central bust area at the seamline where it joined the skirt but I inserted a piece of elastic to pull it in. I still can’t recall why I put a dart in instead of gathering but there you go!

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For my second version I decided to make a sleeveless version – I did like the sleeves but wanted to make it a bit different:

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I like this version but not as much as the red one – not sure I will keep it. It may end up in the charity bag.

Having left the pattern alone I came back to it this year for my latest version. This is where I made a fatal error and cut the front on the fold along the seam line. This left me with a problem on the front which I solved by adding a placket – my newly found technique from Butterick 6099

 

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I bought this material from a market stall in St Ives on the last bank holiday. This stall was a real find as I have seen the same fabrics in John Lewis for double the price. This is a cotton fabric with a bit of stretch in it which I managed to overstretch on the sleeve hem but this is still my favourite version.

From Sew Lah Di Dah:

And in case you thought Blitz was only suitable for daywear, think again! Use silk or velvet, and get creative with the collar using vintage or embroidered lace – or better still, remove it altogether and finish with a ribbon bow fastening – the possibilities are as endless as your fabric stash!

This is very true. I ha thought about making another version in a posh fabric. For the moment I have a sewing queue as long as your arm so will revisit later.

 

 

 

Butterick 6099 – a right royal tussle!

Well it has been a busy few months – my lovely Mum died and then I lost my job through redundancy and then I moved house so all in all quite a trying time. The plus side of losing my job is that I have had time to sew but not blogged so I have made a resolution that at the end of every project I will:

  1. Tidy up my sewing room
  2. Put up a blog post.

Unfortunately the house move meant that I lost my  dedicated sewing room and am now using the dining room which is not ideal considering the amount of stuff I accumulated over the last 3 years. I packed 32 boxes not including my fabric which is stored in plastic containers. I am sure I don’t need half of it but most of it is new enthusiasms which are picked up, equipment bought and then discarded. I also have lots of bibs and bobs of things made that somehow never got out of the sewing room plus all those UFO’s. I have been a bit ruthless with the latter asking myself if I am ever going to finish them. If not then I have binned them.

Anyway having a wardrobe clear out at the same time meant that I deduced I was short of a few tops to wear with my jeans. Not being able to purchase anything (my new year resolution was no buying new clothes in 2016 and so far I have stuck to it!). I pulled out Butterick 6099.Capture4

I decided to go with View D and purchased some lovely chambray fabric from Plush Addict who recently opened a new store in Peterborough – of course I was there the first week although restrained myself and went on the second day after opening.

I decided not to make a muslin for this as it was quite a loose fitting top and didn’t really anticipate any fitting problems having chosen a size that was correct for my bust, waist and hips. HOW WRONG WAS I?

Having duly made up the top it was HUGE! The garment was hanging off my shoulders by a good 2 or 3 inches. Of course I hadn’t put it on before I inserted my sleeves. At this point I was about to give up and shove it on top of my UFO pile but then knowing I would never get around to finishing it – see above – I decided to push on. I painstakingly removed the sleeves (which were beautiful by the way) and narrowed the shoulders. I took 4″ off the length as it was more of a dress than a tunic top  – it certainly didn’t look that long in the pattern drawing. Having shortened it I had to remove the pockets as they were now hanging down past the hem. I could have made them smaller but I am not keen on pockets in my clothes as I think it tends to spoil the line of the garment. I didn’t add the top pocket as I didn’t like it.

Anyway here is the finished article – it still isn’t a perfect fit but just as good as anything I get from shop bought clothes. The sleeves aren’t lying perfect but that is probably as a result of my edit:

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I learnt a lot from this make – how to sew a placket although I don’t think the pattern method is the best for the sleeves. If you make this pattern I would recommend research into better ways as mine turned out a bit messy. I also used covered buttons which I think really adds to the garment.

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Another few tips/feedback for me:

  1. Make sure you have enough thread before sewing an automatic buttonhole as there is no going back once you have started.
  2. Interface goes on the top collar piece not the under collar.
  3. Try the garment on as you sew and make adaptations early in the process and do not adopt a “it will be fine” approach when it clearly isn’t.

I probably will make this again but with a lot of pattern modifications.

Ring the Changes

The last few months have been absolutely manic with work – 50 hour weeks being the norm and lots of travelling spending most of my week nights in various hotels which is not good for the figure or my  sanity. Sewing and crafty stuff has been confined to the weekends – mostly Sundays as Saturdays are spent catching up on washing and general household chores. I have been busy  making stuff but it comes down to a choice between making things or blogging about them and the former usually wins.

However, I have a week’s holiday now and am off tomorrow on a narrow boat on the Grand Union Canal (I know – must be mad in this weather) for 3 nights but thought I would drop ina quick post just to let people know that 1. I am still alive and 2. I am still crafting.

As you may already know I am always keen to try new things – something will stimulate my interest and I want to have a go. The last few months I have gone from flower making which provoked an interest in beading – french beading in particular then to corsages, bouquets and then jewellery making is the latest interest. Perhaps later posts will include details on my journey to where I am now but I wanted to share these simple nested rings with you.

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The one good thing about spending so many nights in hotels is time to spend on YouTube where I can easily become distracted for hours. I do not propose to show how to make these rings as there are loads of video tutorials on YouTube but this one was my favourite:

Wire Wrapped Rings

To  make these rings you just need some 20 gauge wire (0.8mm), some beads, a pair of round nose pliers and a pair of flat nose pliers as well as a ring mandrel. I had a couple of false starts but once I got the hang of it I could knock one out in about 5 minutes.

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I started with a single bead and then progressed onto a 3 bead ring as shown above in the right hand side of the image.

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I then experimented with nesting 3 beads for a real knuckle duster of a ring – known as a cocktail ring but certainly something that can’t be missed on your finger!

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These are great ideas for a fund raiser as they are very cheap to make and very effective.

Flower Obsession

It started with a book ‘Kanashi in Bloom’ and then became an obsession. During the last couple of weeks flower power has hit the sewing room! I have probably made around 60 odd flowers, each one a learning curve and then taking me in new directions. If only they had a perfume my sewing room would be a fragrant, floral haven.

It started with Kanashi which is the fabric origami equivalent. Kanzashi is a traditional Japanese art form of folding and stitching fabric petals for use as beautiful decorations. You can buy all sorts of makes from companies like Clover but there is really no need as it is quite a simple method to make without any additional help.

Kanzashi1I made these flowers using a variety of different Kanashi techniques – these are great for stash busting all those odds and ends of fabric that we all have lurking. Not enough to make a garment from but too much fabric to throw away!

My interest now moved on to other ways to make flowers from fabric so researched the internet and my many sewing magazines and books to find other methods. I then produced these which are similar to the Kanashi flowers but do not require any folding:

Fabric BloomNice but still moving on I found a great tutorial on YouTube for flowers using the ‘burnt’ method. That was it I was off to QD to purchase a plethora of tealights.

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Burnt1Aren’t these pretty and so much fun – these were used with leftover lining material. I then moved on to roses:

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By now I really had the bit between my teeth and then started making loads with different themes, using jewellery and bits and bobs from the sewing room – combining flowers to make corsages, adding wire for floral displays etc. Some of these are, in my opinion, a bit tacky as the gold material I used is a bit strong but this was just for fun and kept me amused for hours and hours!

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Finally I had the great idea of combining a few to make a fabric corsage:

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Vogue 8819 – a tale of two cardigans

I have always been scared of sewing with knits – I don’t know why but I had the impression that they were difficult. This year I made it my sewing resolution to conquer my fear of knits and venture out of my sewing comfort zone and have a go at some more ‘difficult’ fabrics. I started with Vogue 8819:

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This is a Very Easy Vogue pattern. I decided that matching stripes may be a bit daunting on my first attempt to sew a knit so chose a very stable knit with no pattern matching required and I also just cut a size 16 without any muslin first – to be honest the first fabric I selected was bought in a sale and so cheap that I thought it worth a sacrifice if it didn’t work out. Actually I was very impressed with my first attempt and using my overlocker made the actual making up of the garment very quick although the collar did pose a period of head scratching before I cottoned on to the construction technique of attaching one collar before the facing is applied. I was really pleased with my first result:

DSC00574This is me wearing this with no styling – I did think about applying a fur collar to it but the fabric is, in my opinion, a bit lightweight to carry this off. The only alterations I wanted to do after was to raise the waistline on the front an inch. The other criticism I have on this pattern is that the sleeves are a bit tight – I have a long sleeved t-shirt under this and the cardigan did feel a bit tight around the sleeve and I don’t consider that I have fat arms (fat butt maybe but not arms!).

Anyway, inspired by my success I thought I would have another attempt with some more expensive fabric and try a bit of pattern matching so purchased some jersey fabric from the fabric godmother (sadly no longer available). I don’t normally buy fabric online but my jersey stash was non existent and my local fabric shops did not have anything I liked. Here is my second attempt having forgotten to raise the waistline doh!

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I was quite pleased with the pattern matching and the final attempt. I am not sure if I will make this again but it was a great start to my knit adventure.

I am now inspired to go on and try a few more garments using knit fabric. I am considering a wrap dress but not sure if this is a step too far.

Waxing Lyrical …..

I came across this interesting video on YouTube for creating decorative candles using plain wax candles and napkins/serviettes (whatever you want to call them). It is really simple and very effective.

I had a go with a few napkins and odd candles I had lying around. I think they are very effective and I could easily get carried away here!

Learn from my experience and don’t do it over your ironing board otherwise you will end up with blobby bits of wax on your ironing board cover and make sure you clean your iron properly when you have finished!! I tried it with my miniature iron which did give more control and was easier to clean. Here are my efforts below – everywhere I go now I see lovely napkins that would look great with this technique applied. Although a bit early I think you can make some great Christmas Candles.

Candles

Back to Basics

I had such good intentions this year to keep my blog updated on a regular basis. Unfortunately I have had nearly 3 months of back pain caused by a herniated disk pressing on my sciatic nerve which has made it impossible at times to sit down let alone do any sewing.  The pain was intense – worse than childbirth and that was bad enough. It has been a challenge to work let alone do much else but lay prostrate on the sofa eating walnut whips and catching up with the box sets.

I was inspired earlier this year by a blog post by Sunni of Fashionable Stitch on basic patterns. I don’t know about you but I have a lot of patterns – most of which I will probably never get around to making up. Every time I try a new pattern I have issues with fit and spend a lot of time making a toile and adjusting fit – this usually takes more time than the final construction of the garment. If I want a return on investment of time then I need to be able to make several looks from one basic pattern which makes sense to me.  When I thought about it there seems to be quite a lot of different ways you can change the look of a pattern by simple adaptations, choice of fabric, embellishments etc. If you are interested in finding out more then Sunni also has a pinterest board where she has collected a series of basic patterns which lend themselves to this ethos.

With this in mind I selected New Look 6356 as it has a variation on necklines and I was intending to lengthen this to create a tunic dress. I also wanted to try out some new sewing techniques but more of that later.
New Look

My first challenge with this pattern was to make a basic top that actually fitted me well as a base for further adaptations. I also chose to add a collar in black leatherette as my first new sewing technique challenge.
I chose to make a basic shell but elected to add a collar to the top. Bearing in mind my recent failures with commercial patterns I measured up and chose the size according to my upper bust measurement and attempt my first full bust adjustment (FBA). I am very narrow across the shoulders and back but a bit sticky out at the front! I have struggled with commercial patterns for this reason. Up until a few months ago I had never heard of an FBA but thanks to the wonder of the internet I have learnt a lot about fitting issues.
Some time ago I bought the Threads archive and went with the method in a special fitting issue from May 2009 – Issue 142.
I went to my well thumbed Aldrich book on metric pattern cutting for drafting the collar.

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Aldrich recommends overlaying the shoulder seam by 1.5 cm at the sleeve side when drafting the collar. Do you see the additional bits I have stuck on at the centre back and front? That is because I forgot to add on the seam allowance first time around! I could not work out why my collar was too short – attention to detail Gill!

Working in the leatherette fabric was a challenge due to trying not to use pins. I tried to pin inside the seam allowance but also used magic tape where a pin was inappropriate plus the fabric was really slippy but I am pleased with the result. I used the top fabric for an undercollar.

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Back

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The collar is a bit bigger than I would like but I can live with it. I haven’t got any photos of the garment on – not warm enough yet plus I put on a few pounds with all those walnut whips and haven’t been able to get into my black trousers lately.

If you are interested then I have a pinterest board myself with 75 pins for shift/A line dresses which I think are all doable from this one pattern with a few adaptations. I have already created 2 dresses from this pattern but more of that later – hey one post in 3 months – count yourselves lucky!!