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.



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:


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:


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!


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


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



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:



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.



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.

Sewaholic – the Davie Dress

My journey with knits continues ….

My wardrobe is full of knit dresses. I love them because I am prone to yo yo with my weight and a knit dress is very forgiving of the odd extra pound or two – oh let’s be honest and say it is the odd half a stone or two. I love the way that the fabric seems to stretch with you although like elasticated waists on trousers it can lead you to a false sense of security and a feeling that there is no immediate rush to do anything about those extra pounds – what extra pounds – my dresses fit just fine!

Anyway I digress – I decided to pick something simple for the next chapter in my knit adventure and after much browsing of the internet came across the Sewaholic Davie dress. I have never sewn a Sewaholic pattern before although I had heard through the blogging grapevine that they were particularly suited to pear shapes like me. The dress looked very simple and I especially liked the floaty hem at the bottom – I like a bit of girth in the hem department.

Davie Dress Pattern

Davie Dress 1

This was a really simple dress to make and I made no adjustment to the pattern apart from extending it slightly around the hipline because there are pear shapes and then there are my kind of pear shapes which are slightly larger than the average.

I used my overlocker for the whole thing and it was very quick to make up. I put bias binding around the armholes which were a touche on the large side for me – I don’t like the side of my bra showing when I lift my arm – but wasn’t too bothered as I always intended to wear a cardigan with it.

I missed out 2 design details – the first was the keyhole opening at the neck simply because I have no idea how to stop and start my overlocker mid seam so if anyone can point me in the right direction I would be grateful! I tend to let my overlocker just run away with itself. It took me ages to summon up the confidence and courage to sew a sleeve in using the overlocker. I wasn’t sure how to end so just let it veer off course when I reached my starting point.

The second was the top stitching of the seams as I  am not sure how you top stitch an overlocked seam – there seemed to be no point to it. Am I  missing something?

On the whole I am really pleased with how it turned out.

Davie DressIt is a nice little wardrobe staple for the office – this photo was taken at the office by my 21 year old male colleague who is such a sweetie – he is now my official photographer. Would you believe that we have a new dress code at work which is wear what you like. So I am now surrounded by staff wearing jeans and trainers. Yesterday someone came in wearing shorts and flip flops – I asked if he was going to the beach. I am sooooo old fashioned. There is no dress code at all now so I am thinking of turning up for work in my pyjamas and fluffy slippers to see if anyone complains. I guess it really is time for me to retire (if only I could afford it!)

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:



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!


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.

Following on from Basics

Following on from my previous post and the mission to get a return on investment with my pattern selection I have taken New Look 6356 a step further by deciding to lengthen the top into an A line tunic/shift dress.
One of my favourite items in my wardrobe is a dress I purchased many years ago from Wallis. It is comfortable, easy to wear and hides a multitude of sins which I really need following the walnut whips!
I took this dress as my base for lengthening the body of the dress and the sleeves. I measured the circumference of the dress, the length and then measured out a point on the pattern.


Point A is the length of the dress as I wanted it indicated by the blue line, the green line is the original length of the pattern and the rather wavy pink line is the new length where I calculated the width as ¼ of the circumference of my original dress. As you can see this is rather a simple pattern! I did the same for the back and used the same principle for lengthening the sleeve where I took the length and sleeve circumference from my original dress. This is not very complicated pattern drafting by any stretch of the imagination.
I also designed my dress as I wanted to learn some new techniques – welt pockets and exposed zipper.


What do you think of my drawing capabilities? Don’t be too impressed as I purchased this wonderful title from Amazon:


This sketchbook is packed full of croquis just waiting to be your muse! There are a variety of on-trend poses and a garment encyclopaedia. The good thing is the outlines disappear when scanned or photocopied. Of course the figures have fashion industry proportions and certainly bear no resemblance to normal women especially ones who have a diet packed with walnut whips!
Anyway cracking on with the dress I found 2 excellent sources on YouTube for exposed zipper and welt pockets which I will share with you:
Sewing an Exposed Zipper
Double Welt the Pocket
Anyway here it is:


Looks just like my sketch doesn’t it :)
I had some issues with this dress – firstly the exposed zipper. I ironed on some fusible interfacing before putting in the zipper as instructed in the video but when I turned my zip over a lot of the interfacing was exposed outside the zip on the front of the garment so then spent an hour or two unpicking it – not the easiest or the best job in the world!
Secondly the collar was a nightmare from start to finish – it did not sit well and when I put it on it was too short as it didn’t match in the front which was a surprise as it was the same pattern as my previous top but then I think that putting in the exposed zipper had lengthened the neckline but to be honest I could not be bothered to draft a new one so I left it and put in a brooch to cover the gap. The collar does not bear close inspection as it is wavy and has been stitched to the dress in a last ditch effort to get it to lay flat. In retrospect I wish I had just abandoned the whole collar thing.
The only other thing is that I wish I had made the welt pockets a bit longer as they are a bit lost in the expanse of material but I was really pleased with my first effort at doing a welt pocket.
Well that dress looks like an old sack on my dress form so here it is actually on me:


The photo was taken at work – yes I actually wore it out in public – by my friend Isobel although why she made me stand in the corner to have it taken is anyone’s guess!


Me and the original drawing/vision well we could be twins!!!

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.


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.




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!!


Reflections not Resolutions

I have given up making new year resolutions – it has taken me 56 years to realise that for the most part I never stick to them and then I just beat myself up for failing. Last year I vowed to lose weight, sew more, make regular posts on my blog and reduce my fabric stash. Well I think I weigh more than I did at this time last year, I definitely did not sew as much as I wanted and the posts on my blog definitely dried up after July. As for my fabric stash – well let’s not just go there.

Over the last few days I have been reading the round up for 2013 from some of my favourite bloggers – I am envious of some of their achievements. To date I can confess that of the many things I made last year I have probably worn 2 of my shirts and 1 dress and I cannot claim to have worn these on a regular basis. One of the blog posts that really stuck with me was from Lucky Lucille. It struck a chord and made me think about why I didn’t love the things that I sew. Here are my thoughts:

  1. I spend a lot of time on fitting, toiles and muslins so that in the end I lose interest in the thing that I am intending to make. When I look back there are lots of abandoned projects in my sewing room.  I should concentrate on a few basic adjustments and then get on with the thing.
  2. When making an item for the first time I use cheap fabric which means that although I may get a good fit I don’t love the item I have made enough to wear it. I buy a lot of clothes (and I mean a lot of clothes) and there is always something that I have purchased that is more interesting, more stylish and nicer than anything I have made. I have a lot of expensive fabric in my stash, some of which I have had for a very long time. It is almost as if I am frightened to cut into it in case I make a mistake.
  3. My fabric choices are a bit suspect. When buying RTW I tend to stick to a basic colour palette – I always think about whether or not a new item will go with a pair of shoes, handbag etc. that I already own. However, I do not apply the same rules to fabric buying where I am seduced by a pretty print. I have a multitude of different colours and patterns in my stash which bear no resemblance to the type of clothes I buy or wear. I know that sometimes sewing your own clothes does give you an opportunity to try new colours, ideas etc. but I don’t really want to waste the time and effort on something that isn’t going to work for me.
  4. The same really goes for pattern choices. I know what suits me in RTW but am then seduced by a particular pattern. Why have I got so many patterns for full skirts when I know they do not suit my pear shape?

This isn’t intended to be a whinge and I am not beating myself up but merely a reflection on why my sewing efforts have not given me the rewards I was hoping for. I love to sew – I find it calming and a great stress release from my job  – but I would like to have something to show for it at the end of the day.

There is no such thing as failure only feedback so although 2013 was not a great year sewing wise I have learnt an awful lot and will take this into 2014 ready to start afresh and may be I will start cutting into that expensive fabric after all!