Monday, 29 December 2014

McCall's 6772 Zipped Hoodie

Pattern: McCall's 6772
Fabric: Main - Marl sweatshirting from Josery Fabrics.  Contrast: Winter Flowers by Ottobre Design.

Very often I'm lured by a pattern by how stunning it looks on a model or on a fellow sewer (sewist?) and I don't think about whether a) it would actually suit me, and b) would I actually get a chance to wear it.  My Dahlia dress is a case in point - might be OK in an office, maybe not so suitable for the school run.

I do wear hoodies though.  Constantly during cooler weather.  I bought McCall's 6772 very cheaply as an out of print pattern.  It looks like 6772 has transmorgified into McCall's 6614. 


I was going to make the sweater at first as funky sweaters in contrasting fabrics are popular at the mo.  But I found it quite hard in the UK to find sweatshirting fabric.  There are a lot of plain options, and a lot of options for thin sweatshirting.  Cute patterned sweatshirting though?

Enter Ottobre Designs which has a gorgeous range of fabrics on Etsy.  Pricey, but definitely good quality.  I splurged on half metre of their Winter Flowers design.  But what colour to contrast it?  Very helpfully they had made up the fabric as a child's hoodie.  Marl grey worked perfectly.
So cute.  Made by Ottobre Designs.
I had also heard good things about Josery Fabrics.  Their website isn't as inviting as other fabric shops, but if you call them with a query, they are friendly and delightful!  I asked for samples and got a full range of all their coloured sweatshirting free of charge.  It is thick proper sweatshirt fabric.  Very decent quality.  And having all the colours helped confirm which would go best with the Ottobre fabric.  If you want to order a few metres, call them about reduced postage.

Now I had to think do I really wear hooded tops or zipped hooded tops?  Look at how cute that little girl's hoodie is! How easy would it be to add a seam allowance down the centre front, cut it off the fold and whack in a zip?  I asked on The Sewing Forum and was advised to be aware of hemming first before zip insertion - maybe obvious and yet I know I would have missed that somehow.

So some other changes I had to make:
- shortened body by 3cm - I only had 50cm length of fabric.
- took over 6cm off the sleeve width.  They were HUGE.  I don't have flappy sleeves syndrome with ready-to-wear, so why especially with the Big 4?
- shortened the sleeves by 6cm.

I figured that if the hoodie was too short, I could add a hem. I decided not to as the shape curves inwards at the side bottoms. Pity, as it could have helped stop that little kick at the front there.

I also learnt that sweatshirting isn't that stretchy.  The same fabric is used for the cuffs and I mistakenly thought if I had cut 6cm off the sleeve width, I should do the same with cuff. Maybe that would be the case with ribbing but not this fabric!  On the other hand, I am absurdly pleased at how the cuff turned out.

One thing that I'm not crazy about is how humongous the hood is.  It's more like a cape's hood. 

Also, I tried to cover the hood seam with cotton tape.  I'm not the neatest sewer and just had to make do in the end.

But I love the hoodie!  It's had plenty of wear and has made me think a bit more carefully about my next makes. 
From the back pondering next makes...

Monday, 8 December 2014

Dahlia: two toiles and many adjustments later...

Pattern: Colette Dahlia
Fabric: slight stretch, quite thick dogtooth something - feels manmade.  Lewisham Market GBP3 per metre

I'm a sucker for a sew-a-long, and when Colette brought out their Dahlia pattern, I leapt on it. Such elegant gathers, such a gorgeous neckline!  And the modelled green version is to die for.

I ignored the fact that high waistbands are not a good look for me - I don't want to be asked "when's it due?" again!  I also saw a few blog posts about loose necklines and gaping shoulders.  But with a sew-a-long to help, I thought we could work it out.

I made two toiles which revealed that size 4 would be tight and confirmed that a) yes, high waistbands look rubbish on me, and b) the shoulders gaped.  The waistband was lengthened and darts put at the shoulders.  I also lengthened the sleeves as I wanted something for winter.

lengthened waistband

Once sewn up, the dress was roomy at the sides and the sleeves flapped.  The bodice and skirt are encapsulated by the outer and inner waistbands.  It looks lovely, but is a pain to unpick!  If the fabric is thick, there is quite a lot of bulk in this area for the zip.

The shoulder darts were too pointy due to the fabric, so they became inverted pleats. 

shoulder pleat

I have seen some gorgeous versions of this dress, especially lovely plaid ones.  My dress looks a little formal, something to wear to an office maybe?  Now that the pain of fitting it is over, if I make another one (and there are soooo many patterns on my to do list that this is a big 'if'), I would make a brighter, lighter, fun one!

If only I worked in an office again...

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

New Look 6154 Kilt and Simplicity 1283 Top

Skirt pattern: New Look 6154
Fabric: Needlecord from Rolls & Rems (Lewisham)
Kilt buckle: Hemline

This is another Boden rip-off homage!  I loved their cord kilts, but when I see something I think could be relatively easy to sew, I definitely want to make not buy!
Boden kilt

I bought the fabric from Rolls and Rems in Lewisham and as it's just one metre, I splashed out on the more expensive needlecord (GBP10.50 a metre).  I've worked with their cheaper cord before and it just was not a nice experience: fraying, huge crease down the middle where the fabric had been folded, immediate creasing elsewhere... this needlecord was so much softer, more pliable and much better quality.

New Look 6154 is a fairly straightforward pattern.  I used view E which has a mock wrap front.

I made a toile in size 14 originally - it was huge, so I went down to a 10.  Omitted the belt loops, made the front 'kilt' part a sharp corner instead of a curve, lined it with lime green cheap fabric and hand sewed a kilt buckle on.

I'm quite pleased with it.  There were two buckles in the pack but I thought one would be a bit more subtle.  So I have a spare buckle and there are some really nice tweed kilts on Boden that look very inspiring for another make!

Pattern: Simplicity 1283 Mimi G Style
Fabric: Walthamstow Market

When I was little, my dad used to take me to Walthamstow Market every Saturday.  I hated it then, but I LOVE it now.  There are about five or six bricks and mortar fabric shops.  It's quite a trek for me so I have a prepped list!  This fabric is some lightweight jersey, I think it was GBP2 a metre. Great for summer, not so good for making polo necks!

I saw Mimi G's designs at Simplicity - so sexy and smart!  And a chevron polo neck, what's not to love?  Although after 2 kids and zero crunches I was not going to go for a cropped look.
But this turned into an exercise in mishaps! It's frustrating when something I think should be a quick make turns out to be an exercise in unpicking, re-doing and ultimately re-fashioning!  

It's probably my fault:
  • I generally use cheap fabric on the first try as a wearable toile.  Here I should have paid attention to how much stretch is needed i.e. not much. I definitely needed something with better ping back!
  • All those stripes to align!
  • I was wondering why I needed two pieces for the back and thought I could get away with just cutting on the fold (think of aligning those stripes). But there's a zip at the collar and partway down the back.  That's why you need two pieces.
  • I should have used some kind of stabiliser around the neckline.

Anyhow, the upshot was that the collar was very loose, very messy.  The zip at the back of the collar was floppy and uncomfortable.  I had to reline stripes a number of times.  And the armpit area was verging on bat-wing territory.

I tried to make a shorter collar but in the end took the whole collar and zip out.  Amazingly the bodice fit well, and so did the back - even though I had taken about 3 cm out due to the cut on the fold business.

But I really like the chevron effect.  And I still love the designs.  Every project is a learning exercise, and I would still like to have another go at the polo neck.  Plus that cardigan looks great to snuggle up in.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Lady Skater Keyhole Dress

Pattern: Lady Skater with Simplicity 8722

Fabric: Indigo jersey from my favourite Lewisham Market stall.

This is my Lady Skater Keyhole Dress!

The story goes: I saw this dress on Boden:

and I thought: must have, 89 quid!, can I wait for the sales? mind you that fabric print isn't great...
and the light bulb moment came when I thought maybe I could actually make it. The skirt sort of flares out like the Lady Skater dress... but what about that pesky keyhole bit?

I searched on the internet a fair bit for a similar dress pattern, or any pattern with a similar keyhole neckline.  I came across this gorgeous dress from Shanni Loves blog, promptly bought the Simplicity pattern below:

and incorporated the neckline onto the Lady Skater bodice.  I lengthened the skirt a few inches and shortened the bodice by an inch. After taking photos now, I can see the back still bunches up unattractively:

so I will need to fix that.  The neckline was a little fiddly too as I didn't use facing, but used binding.  It's all a bit uneven and so I'm not posting any close-ups!

I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.  Here it is with a belt:

So with Chinese New Year coming up I think I'm going to make a red version, in a thicker knit.  I've heard good things about ponte roma fabric, so I may just shy away from the cheapo fabrics and invest in something more expensive...

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Simplicity 2246, Lisette Traveller Dress

This is Simplicity 2246, the Lisette Traveller Dress.  I'm not sure the pattern is available now, though ebay should have it. I made this a while ago, so am hazy on the details.

The great geometric fabric was bought from my favourite stall in Lewisham Market.  Perhaps cotton sateen?

Not sure what size I cut out.  I knew I didn't want to mess around with matching up the fabric pattern for the pockets.  Also, I lengthened the dress to touch the knees.  I've seen some super-cute versions on the net above the knee though, so as an autumn/winter shirt dress with tights and boots, I may very well make another one.

It's a fairly easy pattern as version A is not separated into bodice and waist.  Also the collar is simple and relaxed.  But it definitely needs a belt!  Without the belt, it's a sack!  

I think I read somewhere that sewing a separate placket for the buttons and button holes was unnecessary.  It certainly would have made my life much easier if it had been a simple fold-over job. Wonder what the reasoning is behind a separate placket?

My mum helpfully noted that the back bunches up quite a bit.  If I get round to it, may put a few darts in.  Also, respect the overlocker!  As I was finishing a seam edge, some of the skirt fabric got chewed and sliced - you can see my the unevenness of the skirt here on the bottom right.  

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Long Gabriola

Here is my long Gabriola skirt.  When I was looking at other people's Gabriolas, this one struck me as one of the most beautiful.  I was desperate to find similar patterned fabric, drapey enough to flutter with the flowy lines of the skirt.

After hours of trawling the internet, I found this fabric at  I know, you're thinking the fabric must be crap from a place called 'cheap fabrics', but honestly, it's lovely.  Soft, swishy printed crepe. And at GBP3.99, who am I to complain?  My photos make the skirt look a lot bluer, but it's actually pre-dominantly grey.

It's also quite slippery and I stay-stitched selvedge trimmings to the top pieces meeting the waistband, which helped to prevent stretching.  The waistband is thinner too as I was using waistband interfacing.  I actually prefer it as there is a little gape at the front which perhaps could be exacerbated by a thicker waistband?

I lined the skirt to the knee with some cheap anti-static stuff.  I didn't want to pfaff around with sewing up all the pieces again for the lining so I just took the skirt before it had been sewn up the sides, and rotary cut around it.  Not ideal, but prevents the 'Diana' effect!

I wore this out and felt really rather glam!  Lovely to go out in on a not-too breezy day.  Not especially practical though! (Tip: don't take your little boy to his swimming lesson in this).

A few more pics:

swirling this way... 

and that... 

and stop.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Short Gabriola

Sewaholic's Gabriola is a gorgeous maxi skirt pattern.  It hugs the hips, then flows out gently over the legs.  I desperately wanted to try out the pattern but I didn't want to fork out for the 4 metres plus fabric.

I came across some other versions on the web, and this knee-length one caught my eye.  What a brilliant idea: shorten it, get the fitting right, then make a long one.  So this is the wearable toile.

The fabric is a remnant I found in my local shop.  It feels like cotton.  The fabric pattern is so jumbled, it wouldn't need pieces pattern-matching and any seam mis-matches wouldn't be noticeable.

I think I cut the size 8, graded down to 4, then graded down to 0 as the skirt descended to the hips.  This post was a great help in explaining how to do this.  In the end though I ended up hacking away at the waistband and bringing in the seams a number of times before I got a nice fit.  I was so bored of constantly taking in the sides that I even stitched through the waistband.  Naughty!

Definitely stay-stitch/tape the pieces that meet the waistband.  Trying to ease an elongated top edge into a waistband is probably not the look that you're after.

Also it may help to mark which is the top edge and which the bottom on the trapezium pieces - it can get confusing otherwise.

Next: the long version!

Monday, 15 September 2014

OWOP: One Week One Pattern

Last week saw the One Week One Pattern challenge.  I have a tiny collection of Colette Moneta makes - it seemed the obvious choice.

I never thought I was a dress person until I started sewing again, and I have to say, I do enjoy wearing them now.  The Moneta is an incredibly comfortable knit dress with a elegant, flattering neckline.


Short-sleeved purple Moneta

My first Moneta 'dress' made in a lightweight purple jersey.

I think I made at least half a dozen mistakes with this dress - three of which are still quite evident!
- I cut one of the skirt pieces off the fold instead of on the fold.
- I had to do and redo the clear elastic on the skirt at least three times.
- There are small gaps that need mending where the skirt meets the bodice.
- The hem is longer at the back!

And yet, the Moneta is an incredibly forgiving pattern, and despite all these errors, I still enjoy wearing this dress.  Which I think will actually become a tunic once I've sorted the hem and the gaps in the waistline!


Sleeveless Moneta

Sometimes you see a fabric and you have to grab it, even if it's on Ebay.  I didn't even bother to get a sample - it turned out to be much more turquoise than the seller's pics indicated.  But I still love the fabric and managed to eke out two more tops out of it.

This Moneta was made with the Sewalong which was invaluable in helping me rectify many of the mistakes I'd made before.  I love that the bodice is lined - everything is so tidy that way.  

With the sleeveless version, I did notice a lot of gaping around the armholes.  With the help of this tutorial from Miss Make I bumbled my way through the problem.  I find it initially irritating to have to fix fitting problems, but incredibly satisfying to muddle my way to a solution.

I added a few inches to the skirt because my knees are not really fit to be seen by the world.  Also, I wish my legs would tan like my arms!


The MonSkater: Moneta & Lady Skater mash-up

Before I made the Moneta, I already had the Lady Skater pattern in my stash.  I love the neckline of the Moneta, but gathering with clear elastic was definitely not my favourite part.  

Nervously, I decided to use the bodice of the Moneta with the skirt of the Lady Skater.  I normally like to follow patterns to the letter.  Alterations, mash-ups, doing things in a different order ... those things make me nervous.  But I gave it a go, and I'm really pleased with the result.  

The skirt was lengthened by two inches and I adapted the long sleeves of the Skater dress to the Moneta bodice.  I also bound the neckline and cuffs in the same purple knit that I'd used for the first Moneta.

I do like this dress - I love the flow of the skirt.  Plus, the Skater uses a little less fabric than the Moneta.  I ended up using a rolled hem on the skirt as I didn't want it any shorter. 


Nothing exciting here.  The sleeveless Moneta with a black blouse.  The blouse is one of my oldest items of clothing.  It was from M&S many moons ago but has managed to keep its condition very well.  They don't make them like they used to...


Moneta sweater top

When I made the Moneta dress in this fabric, I had to redraft the bodice due to the armhole gape.  I couldn't bear to discard the ill-fitting bodice, so used this pattern hack to make it into a sweater top.  I didn't bother with any special ribbing for the cuffs, neckline etc.  Just used some left over jersey.  I added the standard Moneta collar.  Won't show you the back though as the serger managed to nip out any markings for where the collar dovetails at the back.


No picture - nothing missed.  Just the purple Moneta with a belt.


TGIF!  I was rapidly running out of ideas by now.  I mean I could have worn the sweater top with a skirt but as it hadn't been washed....  So I threw on the MonSkater with a sweater which had to be taken off later due to warm weather.  

To tell the truth, I'm not really one to mess around with accessories.  I did enjoy the OWOP though.  I think I would choose a blouse / top next time!  

The First Post

Welcome to the first post of my sewing blog!

I started sewing back at school, then left it and now some 20 years later, have picked it up again.  

I sew mainly for myself, usually using the cheapest acceptable fabric I can find.  One day I'll get some Liberty cotton lawn and really treat myself.

Anyhow, hope you enjoy the makes!