Wednesday, August 11, 2010

So Little Time...


I just wanted to make a small post, as I don't seem to have very much time to blog at all right now, though I'm quite desperate to, as I have been sewing. I also have a pile of finished garments I haven't blogged yet. My six-year old son is off school at the moment, so it's all go. He's a great companion though! We play lots of board games, go for long cycle rides, and chit-chat a lot. We might bake or make ice-cream...whatever (even discuss ideas for the new kitchen extension)! He's jolly good company. I LOVE the summer hols.

Anyway, yes I have been sewing. I must make a proper post about it, but I've been employing some simple couture techniques in my latest efforts. Don't get too excited, though, it's just simple handsewing (I'll explain in a post about it). It may be simple but, boy, what would have taken (honestly) about three minutes on the machine took about five hours by hand (no, really, it did). It was enjoyable though.

I've also been busy ordering some samples from Linton Tweeds, for a "Chanel-type" jacket. I already have some bright red Italian wool boucle from MacCulloch & Wallis for one version. Oh, and some pure-wool trim for the edges, also from M & W. Don't have the lining yet. Again, I'll post my Linton samples and my red boucle when I get some time to take photos. Speaking of which, sorry for the odd photo, above (it could sort of be sewing-related, as I did make the curtains!); I recently transferred all of my ten-thousand photos to an external drive, and now have none left on my pc. Except for a couple of odd ones.

I must go now, but I'll be back with a proper post soon.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Simplicity 3835 Built by Wendy Finished


I made this dress in a Kaffe Fassett cotton, Clouds, in Charcoal colourway. Kaffe Fassett cotton is crisp and has a lot of body. It's so different to the Liberty Tana Lawn, which has a much higher thread count and is almost like silk. The Kaffe Fasset doesn't have the "rustling" quality that Tana Lawn has, but I like it. It seems it will be strong and can be treated quite robustly.

This was an easy dress to make, except for the gathers around the neck band, which drove me round the twist as no matter how I tried, I just couldn't seem to get them completely even. I used masses of pins at right angles to the seamline, and really tried hard. Mind you, Miranda was on the TV, so I was fighting a bit of a battle there. Miranda is the funniest thing on TV and cannot be competed with. Not that I see much TV. Mary Portas, Dragons Den and Miranda (and Top Gear, if I'm telling the truth) are the only things I watch, unless there happens to be a good pop-science prog on (I have a weakness for anything that merely whispers "quantum theory" or "nature of reality" or "uncertainty principle" or "Schrodinger's Cat". I could go on). Oooh, but I did manage to see Tom Ford's A Single Man recently, having had the DVD for ages. Beautiful...absorbing.

But I've gone off-topic.

So, the gathers around the neckline aren't as absolutely mathematically even as I would like (but I am a person who has to have all my shopping up the right way, even in the trolley, on the conveyor belt, in the shopping bags, etc) and the gathers will probably irritate me for ever, but I do like this dress.

The sleeves would have been a tad tight where the tie attaches to the cuff but, as others had mentioned it, I was prepared and took a little off the seam allowance.

Others have also said this dress comes up very short. Being a mere 5ft 2 I thought it wouldn't be an issue for me. I was wrong. I could not wear this dress if there was a slim chance of raising my arms above shoulder level. Knickers would be on show. Very undignified.

If I made this dress again, I would probably spend a whole day trying to get the gathers even. And I would make it a couple of inches longer, just for the sake of common decency.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Vogue 9771 Disappointment


I made this top in a polyester (I think) jersey, a very slinky, drapy fabric. The top was so easy to make, I couldn't believe it (if you allow for the horridness of sewing any stretch fabric - yuk). There is a self-facing in the front of the neck and separate facings in the armscyes and the back of the neck (no fastenings of any kind - you just slip it on over your head). Anyway, within a few hours it was finished and I couldn't wait to wear it. But, oh dear. When I looked in the mirror I noticed straight away that one armhole was bigger than the other, though it didn't seem to be something anyone else would notice when the top is worn. It still bugged me like crazy. I laid the top on the floor, to inspect it, and horrors! it was totally and utterly lopsided. I don't understand why. Fair enough, the pattern is cut on the bias, and the whole thing has stretched diagonally somehow. So it's something to do with the bias but I don't know if the fabric wasn't "square" when I cut it, or whether it has just stretched out of shape in one direction. I'm confused, because the facing for the larger armhole still fitted, tabs and everything, when I sewed it in. Or could it be because the pattern didn't say to use a stretch fabric. I don't see why it would matter...


I was so excited about this top, as I really like the fabric a lot, and the shape of the garment, too. I'm so disappointed. I'm developing a small phobia of stretch fabrics! It's a real shame because half the patterns I choose call for stretch fabrics.

I would make this again, but in a NO stretch fabric.

By the way, I am having real trouble getting my photos the right size. Sometimes they come up HUGE and sometimes small. Bear with me!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

"Vivienne Westwood" Top Vogue 8385

A short post...

The other day a fellow blogger mentioned Vivienne Westwood and I happened to say I liked the Anglomania Sunday Dress. Literally five minutes later, and purely by chance (I was looking for something entirely different) I came across this pattern:


Yes yes, I know it's not the Sunday dress but just look at the loveliness of it.

And here is a BRILLIANT version:

This top (the Westwood one at the top of my page) is the Anglomania Atlantis Sunday top. And now that I've found a great pattern to recreate it (yes, okay, I bet I'm the last blogger to know about this pattern) I find it's blooming well out of print. Out. Of. Print.

What can I say? I'm still hyperventilating over it. I may have to order it from the States - I know I've seen it available somewhere.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Vogue 2091 DKNY Finished (weeks and weeks ago!)

This was my first project made with a stretch fabric. In fear of the task ahead, I ordered some cheapish white lycra, with grey flowers on it. Seriously, I would never ever go near a fabric like this with the thought of actally wearing it, so what possessed me to buy it I don't know. Maybe it was the thought of ruining a fabric I actually liked. Anyway, no matter how many times I admire the dress itself, the fabric still makes me feel a bit sick!

I realised that this fabric was going to be very different to work with, compared to the cotton I usually use, but right from the get-go, it was a little devil. First off, my brand new pins didn't seem sharp enough to pierce the fabric first time every time. They kept just nudging the fabric and moving it out of position, which was very frustrating. So, first lesson learned: use the sharpest pins possible, and anchor the fabric firmly whilst pinning the pattern to it. Next, I started cutting, and my scissors seemed weirdly blunt. Honestly, I had thought they were pretty sharp, but cutting this fabric was so difficult: the scissor blades kept meeting without actually cutting, so I had to resort to the tiniest pair of sewing scissors to cut out the whole, huge thing. I obviously need a new pair of scissors (or can scissors be sharpened?)

On to the actual sewing: the directions said to stretch the fabric slightly whilst sewing, so I did. It made the seam a little bumpy. Maybe I stretched it too much. I sewed the front and back together, having dealt with the neckline, which has a strip of sort of hanging self-facing on the inside, but which works remarkably well, in my opinion, just tucking itself under the neckline nicely, when the dress is worn. Everything was going smoothly, including inserting the little cap sleeves, until I had to deal with the underarm part of the sleeve. I've never been stumped by sewing directions before, but in this case I just could not get it, no matter how many times I read it, so I kind of winged it and they came out fine. I won't go into the details, as I'm not sure how to explain it. I sewed a short way across the side-pleats too, to keep them in shape. Apart from that, no mods.

This dress was such a quick project, and would have been pretty straightforward if it hadn't been for the fabric I used, and the funny little sleeves (which actually look great on). Trouble is, the combination of...

I have put on more than half a stone since Christmas (though I am addressing that 5ft 2.5 I have to).

The fabric is white.

The fabric is stretchy but not terribly firm, therefore it highlights my bumps, rather than holding anything in.

...means I look totally lumpy in this dress and if I'm ever able to wear it anywhere, it will mean I suddenly got the bod of Elle McPherson (the impossible). I have some black lycra in my weaponry pile, though, and I will use it for another of these. I really like this dress a lot, and the white fabric grew on me. It's not flattering to me in that combo, though. Not the pattern's fault, but mine.

(I made this dress a month ago, at least. I've done hardly any sewing since then, as I've got back into my yoga, and I don't seem to be able to be passionate about more than one thing at a time. I'm such a flake. But I will try hard to get some sewing done soon).

Edited to add: This dress actually looks much nicer in the flesh. It's grown on me and I really like it now, especially with a little black tight-fitting puff-sleeved top over it. And my sudden urge to get back into doing my yoga vinyasas is helping me "tone-up".

Oh, and I will be getting on with the Built by Wendy sort of smock dress I last posted about. I have got my sewing mojo back.

Also, MacCulloch & Wallis have some sale stuff online (not much...there is also some Missoni-type zigzag knit but not in the colourway I like, which is a shame because I have wanted some for ages and ages) and I ordered a bit of red boucle to make a little jacket (£12 down from £20). Trouble is, around here there is nowhere to buy any notions at all so I'll have to wait until I can get to John Lewis at Milton Keynes (about 40 mins away) but even John Lewis isn't so fab for sewing these days. Or knitting.

Oh, oh, and I made a top yesterday which I'll post about soon.

That's it!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Simplicity 3835 Built by Wendy

Oh dear, I've made my photos much smaller than they were, and they're still HUGE. Never mind. And I look pretty yuk as I'm still recovering from an allergic reaction to an anti-biotic which should never have been prescribed for me due to my history (should have been my usual suspicious self and researched before I took it). I'm Very Cross Indeed about the whole thing but won't bore your pants off with it.

In the pic above I'm "wearing" some Kaffe Fassett cotton, in Clouds Charcoal. It's for the dress shown below, and the version I'm making is the one on the left. It looks very simple, which is good news, as I could do without a challenge at present. The downside is that it doesn't have a lining. I could line it I suppose, but can't be bothered (I must try to be more like this person when it comes to finishing my garments!).

I mentioned before (a few years ago) that I would love to have the cool, understated style of Audrey Hepburn, but no matter how I try, I still end up looking more like Cyndi Lauper. I was reminded of this when looking at the pattern reviews for Vogue 2091. There are some really cool versions out there, all nice and simple and plain, and I had already ordered a white and grey flowered lycra fabric with which to make mine! I just can't resist it. I want to be all urban-cool but somehow a part of me resists. A large part. I suppose it's like wanting to be twig-like and still eating all the buns. Or when I think next time I'll decorate in neutral colours and end up choosing wallpaper adorned with pink and green humming birds (no, really). I just can't do understated, though I admire others who can. One day sooner or later I'm going to try again.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Vogue V8511 Finished

I'm afraid I was having some trouble getting any clear photos of this dress. At the time I couldn't go out into the daylight as it was raining. Since then the weather has been mega-hot, at least for the UK in May, anyway (26C).

Anyway, back to the dress. It was finished just after Easter, in fact, but once again I've been really lazy about blogging. Uploading photos, actually bothering, you know. I seem to spend hours on the net looking at other people's sewing - something is wrong there! But as I was saying, the dress is done. It didn't take long, and was pretty easy, though I really, really dislike sewing when it involves that horrid slippy lining. Yuk.

On this dress I found that the seat area was totally baggy, so I had to elongate the darts at the back of the skirt, which helped somewhat. Should have planned in advance and made a toile first, and probably will do in future, though I can't bear the thought of spending on the fabric for it.

I really like this Kaffe Fassett cotton: it's quite crisp and not too fine; it has what I'd call "body". It doesn't slide about and seems quite robust. I made another of this dress in Liberty Tana Lawn Strawberry Thief, which I'll show when I can be bothered to blog again.

Before I go, you might notice that I sewed the centre pleat the wrong way round. Grrr. It's bugging me a bit, so I may unpick the bodice/waist seam and re-do the pleat. Or not.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I Have Been Busy, but Not That You'd Know it

It all started when the paisley dress went wrong. At least, I thought it had gone wrong, but just discovered today (thanks Jorth, for the prod, if you're reading this) that it, in fact, was totally okay and still on course. I'll explain: having washed the fabric, cut out all the pieces etc. I was about to start sewing and realised (or so I thought) that I should have cut a particular piece on a fold, but hadn't. I didn't have enough fabric left to cut out another piece, so had to order more. And of course that had to be washed first (in case of shrinkage) and so I couldn't be bothered, and hid the whole lot away in a cupboard for a few weeks. I was about to resurrect the whole thing today, when I thought to double-check which piece needed cutting out again, only to find, to my total and utter amazement, that I hadn't made any errors at all. Aaaaargh. I can't for the life of me figure out why I thought I had gone wrong in the first place. I have cotton wool for brains, but I suppose that beats having snot for brains. So, I'll get back on the project and will have something to show sooner or later. Well, once I've got the zip, lining etc.

As you can see, I did make some bread. I was very pleased with it, as I thought I couldn't make bread. In actual fact it was a bit doughy in the middle, but at least it's not like a piece of kryptonite, like before.

We have been going on plenty of family bike rides. As you may know, I love cycling. Being out in the countryside on my bike, with no sounds but the country ones, is truly one of my favourite ways to pass time, and now that Charlie can ride his bike (albeit in quite a hair-raising manner) we all go together and have great fun.

I haven't been blogging; I seem to have a problem committing to it. But I have been very productive with different things. Must try to post more often.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

In Progress

This is the fabric I'm using to make another dress for the warmer weather. It's Kaffe Fassett Paisley. At least I think it is...I'll check. Anyway, it's bright and cheery and I can't wait to wear it.
I may not have my knitting mojo back, but the sewing is coming along nicely. I like the fact that a project comes together much faster in dressmaking, than it does in knitting. And for me, the process of knitting is a sort of end in itself, whereas with dressmaking, although I enjoy the extra attention required when laying out pattern pieces, cutting, marking up and sewing (not to mention fitting), mostly I get lots of satisfaction out of wearing a dress I made myself. My knitting seems to be a bit more hit and miss.

Monday, March 22, 2010

My New Most Lovely Best Friend (who knew...?)

You know how it happens: you're supposed to be looking up something useful online, and suddenly you've come across at least ten relatively obscure items that you never knew you needed, but now absolutely cannot live without? In my case this usually applies to books, but just recently it could be anything. Like a Jaeger bag (don't ask....I didn't even know the site existed when I logged on that morning), a candy thermometer (like I make a lot of confectionary...NOT), and the list goes on.

The other day I was looking up something to do with Nigel Slater (my other new best friend) and quite by chance came across something he said about not needing many gadgets in his kitchen, but his ice-cream machine was (I'm paraphrasing terribly here) the love of his life and he could never be without it. I thought, if it's good enough for Nige, it's good enough for me. Before I knew it, I'd taken delivery of a Magimix Le Glacier!

I must say, it hasn't let me down. I LOVE it. And we're not even a big ice-cream family. I think we just like most things we've made ourselves, as much because of the sense of satisfaction at having made something edible, as the fact that it tastes so good. Also, we like knowing what has gone into it.

So far we have made Vanilla Iced Yogurt (very refreshing and zingy), Chocolate Ice-Cream (very rich, made with mostly cream instead of milk), and Raspberry Ice-Cream (nice with coulis). I have found I prefer the less rich ice-creams, made with more milk than cream, as they are much more refreshing and the flavour comes through more.

But good grief, I have to be organised...with strainers and ice-baths and ingredients all standing by. The custard-based ice-creams are quite time-consuming to make but they are worth it. On the other hand, you can't beat just chucking a few things into the churner and scooping them out as a delicious frozen dessert about fifteen minutes later. Like Greek yogurt, caster sugar and vanilla.

If I start to inflate over the next few months, you'll have a sneaking suspicion why!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

After All These Years...

I can't believe it's been two years since I last posted here. I don't know why, but at that time I just lost my blogging mojo. And my knitting mojo too. Well, I have knitted a few things (another Ella shawl and floaty scarves for friends) but I just lost interest. Also, I think I was feeling the pressure to write something other people actually found interesting (which is crazy, but I do have a habit of making everything more complicated than it needs to be) and I was never that entertaining or witty anyway! So, I have decided to start again, but this time keeping the blog as a kind of diary for myself; an account of things.

I have been doing some sewing (down to having popped in at
Jorth's - she always motivates me to do But mostly I've been cooking. So, I'll be blogging about whatever I've been doing. It may not be very often. And it's good to see some of you lovely people are still out there and going strong. I admire people who can start something and stick at it.

Hope all you people are well, and enjoying the spring day, at least those of you in the UK. It's about blooming time, isn't it?!

BTW...because I changed my blog template, all my links disappeared so I have to start adding them all back. Grrr.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Watch This Space....I'll Be Back!