Friday, 9 February 2018

Simple Sew Bella Dress

Well exciting times! I have been asked by Gabby of Gabberdashery if I would like to join the team of bloggers on the
Simple Sew Blogger team. Gabby asked me at the beginning of the year and this is my first post to go live. I am
one of several new faces to join the team and we are allowed to post our makes on our own blogs once the Simple
Sew post is out. I have been blogging sporadically here for a few (9!) years, and I thought that being part of the 
Simple Sew team might spur me on to write a bit more frequently!
Gabby asked us to have a look at the patterns available on the Simple Sew website and choose some that we would like to sew.  I realised that I already had several of the patterns as they had come free with Love Sewing magazines over the last couple of years.  

I am normally a jeans and cosy top kind of person as it fits my day to day life of being a stay-at-home mum. However, every now and then I feel a bit bored with the mum uniform and want to wear something different.  Recently that ‘something different’ has been jersey/knit dresses, so having looked through my pattern collection I thought that my first Simple Sew make would be the Bella Dress.

I really liked the shape of the dress and the collar, but wasn’t so sure about the shape of the sleeves. I decided pretty quickly to slim down the sleeves and at the same time Iengthened them by about 9 cms to make them full length - I hate being cold so full length sleeves are a must in winter!

The fabric I chose is some kind of slightly embossed heavyish knit that I bought from M.Rosenberg/Stitch Fabrics at the Knitting and Stitching Show, Ally Pally in October 2016.
I had always envisioned this as a long sleeve top (to go with my jeans!) but thought that it would be a good choice for the Bella dress. I think I only bought a metre and a half, and surprisingly this was plenty for the dress due to the width of the fabric. I didn’t really use the lay plan but managed to get the dress cut out perfectly with minimal fuss.  I even managed to cut the collar piece about 5cm deeper for more slouchiness.

I have made many garments in jersey, but this was the first time that I have sewn darts in a knit fabric, and also the first time I have put a zip into a knit.  The instructions didn’t specify what type of stitch to use to sew the darts, so I did a couple of practice ones on some scraps using both a small zigzag stitch and a slightly longer than usual straight stitch. I tried the zigzag stitch to try to keep the stretch of the fabric but it didn’t really make much difference and it also made a slightly lumpier looking dart, so I used the straight stitch.
I made the dress up on my sewing machine using a zigzag stitch (apart from the darts). I normally finish the seams on a knit by overlocking the seam allowances together, but this made for quite a bulky seam in this fabric so I left some seams unfinished and and finished some singley with the overlocker.

Once I had cut out the dress, I did a quick hand baste together to check the fit.  I was slightly alarmed to find that it was rather more form fitting than I had thought, and thought it was a good job that there was a zip in it. However once I made it up properly I realised that the fit was ok and that actually I probably don’t need the zip - I managed to get the dress on this morning without undoing the zip! I may take the zip out just to get a slightly sleeker fit on that side seam, but I don’t notice the fit when I am wearing it so I may leave it.

All in all, I am very pleased with this dress as my first sew for Simple Sew!

Thursday, 8 February 2018

2017 catch-up - part 2

So this is my first blog post of the new(!) year and the second instalment of completed projects for 2017.  I mentioned at some point last year that I would like to blog more as I still really enjoy reading other peoples blogs. The blogging doesn't seem to have happened so much - but, as you will see I have done a lot of sewing and I felt I would rather sit and sew, rather than sit and write about sewing.

First up are some self drafted linen trousers.  I have been taking a patterncutting class for some time and was very excited to get to making trousers. I made one pair form my block that were ok, but still not great so last spring I decided to revisit my block and make some more, better fitting trousers.  I ended up making 4 muslin/toiles for these and whilst they are much better than the other ones, they are still not quite right - the waistband is far too high at the front so to make it comfortable I have on occasion folded the band over at the front.  I need to take it off and lower it by about 2cms

My Eldest bought some cheap trousers on the internet from some where like Boohoo (brown pair). When they arrived they looked nice, but she had the problem of them being too big on the waist even with an elastic waistband.  I managed to adjust them to fit better which involved adding a couple of darts in the back and shortening the elastic. The elastic was interesting as it was sewn into the trousers as if it were a facing.  Eldest decided that she really liked the style and asked me if I could copy it - which I managed to do (blue pair) and I used up some poly crepe from my stash.

One of my girls bought a playsuit from somewhere like New Look a while ago and whilst it doesn't get a huge amount of wear, Eldest decided that she really liked the style of the top and could I copy that too please? I traced off the pattern as well as I could  and made a muslin from an old jersey skirt  to check the fit.  It was proclaimed perfect,  so I then cut into the fabric she had chosen. The fabric was one of abut 5 or 6 knit fabrics that I won as a raffle prize at the Dressmakers Ball in May! I tried the top on having thought that the fabric colours wouldn't suit me but I think I might make something for me out of it too!

Around the same time as making the top above, I signed up to pattern test a skirt for Sinclair Patterns. It was the Amaya Asymmetrical Pencil Skirt.  I made it in a mystery textured knit that I picked up at a fabric swap a couple of years ago. I made it up exactly as the instructions said, then ended up shaving some width off at the hips, as my hip curve was not as defined as the pattern.  I believe that the final pattern had some of this width taken off, as other testers had done the same thing.  I wasn't sure that I liked it on me when I first finished it, but it actually got quite a lot of wear over the summer.

A while ago my Mum had been going through stuff at her house and had found a couple of patterns that I used when I was a teenager.  One of them was the dress pattern that I used for my textile GCSE in 1986.  It was Butterick 6603 which now qualifies as vintage. It still looks a nice dress, so I thought I would try it again - it actually reminds me of the True Bias Southport dress.  I made the flared skirt version for my GCSE so thought I would try the slimmer version this time.  I made the same size as before (!), managed to cut the front out wrong but saved it by adding a button placket, and covered my own buttons. It felt like a never ending project at the time but I think it worked out OK in the end.

After a rather unsuccessful shopping trip early last summer I made a Pauline Alice Rosari skirt for my middle daughter. She had had the problem of trying skirts and trousers on, only to find if she could get them over her hips then they were massively too big on the waist.  Rather demoralised by this I offered to make her a skirt - the Rosari was almost identical to one she had grown out of  and I was - surprise surprise - able to make it fit her properly! The denim is a rather stiff, very black denim so at one point I was experimenting with distressing scraps with sand paper and bleach! None of my experiments met with approval though.

Over the last year or so interesting sleeves seem to have a moment in the spotlight.  I was pondering various patterns with flouncy sleeves and realised that a peasant shirt that I have made before, had the type of sleeve I had been thinking of trying (New Look 6179).  I shortened the main bit of the sleeve so that the flouncy bit finished at my wrist and I made metres and metres of bias binding for the neckline. I have tons of binding left over! A very successful light summer top that actually went rather well with the self drafted trousers (above) and the Amaya Asymmetric skirt (also above)

This next make is one of my rare fails.  The pattern, McCalls 7094 came free with one of the sewing magazine that are now available on the high street.  I liked the look of the shirt and had what I thought would be the perfect fabric.  However, the pattern came up massively too big for me.  I felt that the collar and placket instructions were particularly fiddly. I took some width out of the sides and stitched down the pleats at the shoulder, which both made the top better to wear.  I wore it a couple times but didn't really like it on. I packed it away with my summer stuff so when it warms up I will give it another chance, but I may see if my mum is interested in having it as she had admired the pattern envelope.

I am going to cut it short here as otherwise this will be super long. I have several more makes to share, so look out for part 3! Oh, and I also have an exciting post for tomorrow!

Thursday, 13 July 2017

2017 catch-up...

Waiting to blow out my birthday candles wearing my favourite me-made dress!

So, I have been doing lots of  sewing recently, did Me-Made-May again, went to a fantastic sewing party, celebrated several family birthdays, did some pattern testing... and haven't blogged about any of it! Instagram has made it very easy to post makes straight away, but I still get great enjoyment out of reading other peoples blogs, with a bit more detail about the makes - in fact I added quite a few new blogs throughout May as I discovered new people in the sewing community. With this in mind I am going to try and post a bit more, but for now here are some of this years makes. This is going to be quite a long catch up post I feel....

The last thing I posted was my sparkly Drop top, which I actually made in March but posted in June. Straight after I made that top, I made another Mouse House Creations Julia Cardigan in a loose sweater knit fabric that I bought from the Girl Charlee stand at the Knitting and Stitching show in October.  It was not very seasonally appropriate when I made it and I wasn't sure I liked it when it was finished, but I did find myself wearing it quite a lot for Me-Made-May. I have also had quite a few compliments on it which is always nice!

The next make was more PJ's for Youngest daughter. The fabric was a gift from my sister-in-law, who had been to Hong Kong and Singapore with her husband just before Christmas, and found herself in the fabric district of one of them at some point. I made True Bias Hudson pants again (and spent a long time stripe matching when cutting out), but this time she wanted short sleeves, so I made a Kristen Kimono Tee by Maria Denmark:

Next up I cut out multiple projects to get me over the 'starting a project' hump. I cut out a Syrah Skirt from Lauren Dahl/Baste and Gather. This is a flared skirt with a yoga style waistband that I made in some lovely navy cotton/spandex jersey, from Girl Charlee UK online.  The pattern doesn't include pockets so I used a pocket piece form another pattern and just did simple side seam pockets. I also added some elastic to the waistband as I wasn't sure how secure it would be without!

The other garments I cut out were two tops for me and a denim pinafore dress for Eldest. If you can bear to do it, it is definitely worth cutting out more than one project at a time. You can dive straight in after finishing one project, or you can try something different if you hit a stumbling block with another project.

For the tops, I made my two usual styles, the Burda raglan top and the MyImage cowl neck top. I have made both of these quite a lot, and whilst I still like them I feel it is probably time to choose a new favourite!

A while ago I made a pinafore/dungaree dress for Eldest using the Cotton+Chalk Sunday Set pattern that came free with a sewing magazine last year (I think). She has wanted another for some time, but I wanted her to have some input in to the choice of fabric.  Whilst clicking around instagram one day I found what I thought would be the perfect fabric from @SewMeSomething. Eldest agreed (it is her favourite colour) so I placed an order and amazingly it arrived the next day! When I made the previous dungaree dress I had to draft a half circle skirt due to fabric limits.  I used the same pattern pieces for the skirt again and then had to try and remember the modifications I made to the cutting out and construction. Even with the notes I have made in my makers workbook it took me a while to work through what I had done! She was very pleased with it and has got lots of compliments from her friends.

Well I haven't even got half way through yet so I am am going to stop here and continue in another post! I hope you have all been making lovely things over the last few months.

Monday, 5 June 2017

FO: Drapey Drop Top in sparkles

Earlier this year I noticed quite a few interesting draped tops around the internet and discovered the Drop Dress and Top by Made-it Patterns. I made this back in March.
I had a couple of fabrics that I wanted use, but it took me ages to choose! I ended up with this sparkly jersey that I bought on Goldhawk Road a couple of years ago. It has sparkles stuck to the surface of the fabric and also a silvery thread going through the yarn on the knit. At the time I bought it was planning to make a version of a dress in Crew Clothing, but I decided that it would be too Star Trek-y for me. 
The instructions for the top were easy to follow, and they included doing a type of neckline binding that I hadn't done for a long time. I was a bit concerned it would be too bulky, but it actually turned out really nicely.
Here are a few pictures of me wearing it - we went out for dinner and to the theatre the day after I made it and I sparkled my way through a local disco the day after!

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen these pictures already.  Very excitingly, Made-it Patterns saw it and asked if they could repost!

I am looking forward to making it in a more light weight fabric for the summer, although with the sudden change in the weather I could easily be wearing this one today.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Me-Made-May 2017


It is that time of year again where we sewists celebrate our makes throughout the month of May. Me-Made-May was started Zoe of Sozowhatdoyouknow fame, eight years ago!

This time I am actually signing up before May starts ( although only just!).  If you click on the #MMMay17 button in the side bar, that will take you to Zoe's 'sign up post' on her blog. Here is my pledge:

 'I, Tamsin from Pimp my Curtains blog or Tamsinwp_pmc on Instagram, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '17. I will endeavour to wear at least one me-made item of clothing each day for the duration of May 2017. I am going to remove rtw clothing from my wardrobe excluding underwear, socks and sweaters.  I also want to sew as much as possible from my 'stash', which shouldn't be too hard as most recent purchases have had a loose plan'

Nothing ground breaking. I removed rtw from my wardrobe for my pledge last year, which seemed to work quite well. I shall enjoy the challenge of not reaching for jeans everyday (unless I make some new ones - which are on my list!) 

Have fun everyone!

Friday, 21 April 2017

FO: Pj's for me

Some time ago, when visiting friends, I realised that the ancient rtw pyjamas I was wearing were actually not really worth wearing. Fortunately I realised this before exposing myself in an embarrassing way, but resolved to make myself some new pj's when I got home. 

I knew which fabrics I wanted to use, The plain slightly crinkley purple jersey I got from the first ever sewing meet up I went to back in 2012 and the stripey patterned fabric I got at a fabric swap meet-up in London last summer.  I had offered Eldest and Youngest pjs using these but neither seemed that bothered so I thought I would use it myself.

I used the true Bias Hudson Pants pattern for the trousers. I have made this several times already and didn't have any problems putting them together. The top was a pattern taken from a rtw top from H&M, which I have used a couple of times before. Fitting it on the fabric was a bit tricky as I didn't have a huge amount and I wanted the stripes to match as much as possible. I just about managed to to it as you can see here:
In order to fit the pieces, I felt I needed to slim down the sides of the top, but looking at this lay out it looks like that was unnecessary. I also used the stripey fabric as a contrast on the trousers.
After I had finished, I gave the pj set a final press and some how managed to slightly melt the waist band of the trousers, pretty much at centre front:
The melted waist band isn't noticeable when I wear them, but I'm guessing the fabric isn't the 100% cotton that I thought it was!

I wasn't sure about them straight after I had finished them, but now I really like them!

Friday, 3 February 2017

FO: Static Dress - Sew Over It Heather Dress

So, the Sew Over It Heather dress has been all over the Internet recently. I believe that it was initially only available if you took a class at Sew Over It, but it was released as a pdf pattern in the autumn of 2016.
I have been looking at it off and on as it is very similar to a rtw dress that I bought from Cos a couple of years ago.

The Cos dress is still fine and I wear it alot, but it seems to shrink in length when I wash it and it seems considerably shorter than when I bought it. I had considered taking a pattern from the Cos dress, but the Heather dress is close enough  in style for the time being.

The fabric I wanted to use is a double knit and has been in my stash for a year, from MRosenberg/Stitch Fabrics at their Trumpington fabric sale. When I laid it out I realised that there is quite an obvious white stripe going vertically down the fabric, but also that the horizontal pattern had quite an obvious repeat.  I decided to cut on the single layer so that I could see the stripes and I could actually fit the pattern pieces on better than if I had tried to cut on the fold.

I think I spent the best part of a day trying to work out the stripes vs layout conundrum in the end. Portia from  Makery suggested just sewing a swatch together to see what it looked like unmatched:

I decided that it was good enough and started cutting!

For an easy sew, this took me a while. I made the size (10) I thought I would be comfortable with from the finished garment measurements, but I lengthen the torso by 5cm (2") just above where the pockets started. I copied @jenheartssewing on Instagram (you should look at her makes, she has some lovely stuff!) by doing this. I am not as tall as her, but have a reasonably long torso and didn't want the pockets starting just under my boobs!  When I tried it on, I found quite a lot of excess fabric in the waist area at the back

As you can see in the picture above I ended up taking the back seams in by about 1.5cms on each side. I also took about 3cm off each of the side seams at the hip, in several goes. This does mean that the back and front seams don't quite meet up on the side seam, but it is really not noticeable in this fabric. I found that the side seam where the pockets and panel seam meet is very bulky and I have had trouble getting the seam to lie flat when I am wearing it.

The pockets are fab and I can't keep my hands out of them! The construction of the pockets could seem a little tricky, but having done similar pockets in my Lisette Portfolio dress years ago and in Youngest's Sunki Tunic dresses, they were a piece of cake. It was much easier to put these in with a stretch fabric than in stiff denim!

I had a little trouble with the neckband this time... it was too loose the first time I put it on, so I trimmed it down by 10% and that seemed to work.

By the time I got to hemming it I was getting a little fed up with the whole thing, I just turned up 5 or 6 cms and hand stitched it - couldn't be bothered with wrestling with my machines! I left it hanging in one of my photo spots for at least a week before I felt I could wear it, and then wore it about four times in one week! I can safely say that I love it now!
with my newly made Bell Town Vest

This is the first time I have made a Sew Over It pattern.  The pdf was easy to put together and not too big, but I was quite surprised that there weren't any lengthen/shorten lines on the pattern. I am wondering how I can alter the pattern a bit to accommodate the alterations I made. I think I may start with cutting a smaller size and see how that goes, or may be take a sliver out of the centre front and back...
I could easily wear dresses like this all the time, even though I usually tend towards jeans and me-made tops. I have some more fabric that I picked up from MRosenberg at the Knitting and Stitching Show, which would be ideal, but I was thinking of trying the Made it Patterns Drop Dress with it too - decisions, decisions!