Tuesday, 23 August 2016

61: 3 Dresses from one pattern - The Monthly stitch challenge August 2016

Buy Simplicity Costume Dressmaking Leaflet, 5363 Online at johnlewis.com I actually made a muslin first for this dress. Its a wearable muslin being my red dress shown here. When we moved into our current house, we sold the last house complete with curtains which meant we did not have any for this house so I went to a local Oxfam and bought three second-hand Saris which we used for temporary curtains until we got proper window coverage sorted out. They are probably polyester rather than silk. That was 9 years ago and I still had two of the three saris in my airing cupboard. Well the last few weeks I have been sorting out my wardrobe and also the airing cupboard since I am just hoarding lots of stuff and do not have a big house and really have no room for things we do not use. Then, I went to a festival a couple of months ago having realised these saris are still in my cupboard and of course at most festivals recycled sari clothing is everywhere which got me thinking. I had to use two of my saris for this since the pattern takes a lots of fabric since the skirt is actually circular despite being a handkerchief hemmed skirt.
Shame about the bra strap!

Then, I read about the August Monthly Stitch challenge. I had been hankering after making this particular pattern for ages but I want it be wearable not just a costume. I love hankerchief hems and so I decided first to make my muslin/ costume for a festival dress from my recycled and now well used sari fabric. That gets rid of it out of my wardrobe and provides a nice festival dress for any other events we go to this year or even for next spring. Having said that it has turned out very wearable despite being a costume pattern and made from scrap fabric.

The pattern is easy to put together although to be truly honest I gave the instructions a quick read and the just did it my way. I did use the pre-marked channels for the elastic and the front and back skirt panels and front and back bodice panels are slightly different so you do need to join the right way up. When I changed the pattern for the black dress (see later) I moved the skirt around so it is actually slightly longer one side to the other. It does not notice but if you are a real stickler for perfection it would be easy to correct this. I did not bother. 

I had already decided to make a summer dress from this fabric here: Blue leopard spotted fabric.  This dress took most of one 3m piece so there are still two peces left after making this.

The red and blue dresses are really nice to wear. In both I folded the edge of the neck over to form a channel rather than make a frill. I would say I am not really a frilly type of person but I do love my black dress and it IS frilly! I used 1 inch wide elastic for the neckline and under bust but thinner elastic for the sleeves in all cases.  The necklines stay where I want them by using the slightly thicker elastic. I have previously made similar tops but had problems keeping them either one or off my shoulders as I wanted. These work. Interestingly I prefer the red dress worn on the shoulders but both the others off the shoulders.

Each dress has different sleeves as well. The top is gathered on the red dress just above the elbow but the edge I made use of the border print and left loose mediaeval style. Then for the blue dress I elasticated both the edge and above the elbow. For the black dress I did frills because of having the lace edging. I left out the above elbow elastic as well for the black dress.

Shame I did not fill my white bits in with fake tan!

Dress number 3, I wanted to make so I can wear it this Autumn /Winter. I bought this lovely fabric for 99p from Ebay about two years ago now. It is unusual because it is quite heavy weight and is satin one side which I used for the inside of the dress and matt the other side. You can see the satin on the pointy hem bits which gives a nicer effect. It is not crepe on the other side though as seems to usually be the case with satin backed fabrics but more like lightweight canvas. I got about 6m for 99p so have been waiting to make something lovely from this. The fabric was very creased but I did not iron before cutting so was a bit worried about how it would all work out. Recently, have managed to melt some really nice fabric so I was not risking this. Once I finished the dress which was over a week ago and hung it up all the creases miraculously hung out so its now really crease free.

For this dress I altered the skirt. On the first two dresses I followed the pattern and the side seams join up to the bodice side seams giving two front points either side of centre front and centre back, but on this one I moved the pattern around so that the skirt point ends centre front and centre back with two side points.  This black dress also has a seperate petticoat of unlined black lace. Its simply the same skirt pattern with 1 inch wide eastic sewn around the waistline. Since the dresses are high waisted this petticoat hangs quite a bit lower than the rest of the points but it looks really nice and gives an extra interesting layer I really like. It has no lace frill either which the dress does and that seems to near enough compensate for the slightly longer length due to the movenet of the waistline on this piece back to natural waist. It also makes the dress a bit longer. Depending on how I put the petticoat on I can either line up the points with the dress or better still have them in between the dress points. Hopefuly that will make sense.

I used wide stretch lace all around the hem and sleeves as well as the neckline and made this a frill. I also used the wide lace as a channel for the elastic so this version the channels are on the outside whereas the other two they are all inside the dresses.I also missed out the straps/ belts that are meant to zig zag down to the waist. The first two dresses have these.

I am very pleased with all 3 dresses but especially with the black dress which I can quite honestly say is the nicest dress I have made or owned for around 20 years. I love it! I cannot wait to go somewhere to wear it since its wasted wearing this for every-day life. I suspect I will wear this over Christmas.

I realised whilst writing this and waiting that you cannot see my satin backed pointy hems or the lace petticoat so I took some new pictures.

neckline showing satin inside with lace edging

Satin inside with matt outside on my pointy hems

more pointy hems with sleeve insides

My lace petticaot

Close-up of elastic waistband

The skirt pattern is actually a circle inside a square making for a pointy hemmed circular skirt with hole in centre for the waist - hard to show due to lack of table space

Petticoat on Harriet

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Monday, 15 August 2016


Well I have been very busy doing DIY. Not clothing you understand but house stuff and it has taken all my time it seems. I decided stupidly to redecorate my living room so I stripped off some of the wall paper. The first wall my partner has started to tidy up. Here it is:
It started out similar to the picture at the start of this post but he has chiseled away the edges to get it ready for the plasterer. This is what the second wall is like. Now I really never intended for us to have to replaster but I now we must. So my great idea to redecorate is really a compelete disaster!

Worst of all is on the first two walls I spent ages actually stripping off the old paper. On the third wall I had realised all the plaster is loose so I just pulled it off and did not waste time stripping it.
I will still have to strip off the bits where the plaster is not loose of course but no point when half the wall is this bad. I am devestated to be honest since have bought some lovely new wallpaper and although Christmas is months away I am now worrying it will still be undecorated then! So I now have three out of four walls that need plastering and yet to strip wall number 4! Such is life eh!

So sewing-wise: I am not too sure about the rules of the Monthly Stitch challenges but I have been very busy making my 3 items for the August challenge. Hopefully finished tomorrow when I will do a proper sewing post. I do not want to show anything before I put it onto the Monthly Stitch in case it is not allowed to do that so my new items must for now stay secret. I will reveal all very soon I promise.

I can tell you that I am intending to make this outfit next:

Recently I bought this Burda from Ebay for £2.99 which I consider a bargain because I am after lots of patterns in this issue. Of course I will still need to trace them. I want to make the trousers from this pattern here:
With the bustier from 06/2016#114 here:113-062016-B

I bought this really soft stretchy woven cotton fabric in  a citrus colour last summer with an idea to make a shirt.

Anyway I thought better of it. I have 2m in total so its a risk because really I do not know if I have enough to make this work but with luck I might do and I think it would be lovely amd comfy to wear.If I carefully cut out the trousers I should have just about enough left to make the top because the top is all tiny pattern pieces. I suppose I can always add a second fabric to my bustier. So once I get the Monthly Stitch challenge up online that is my next sewing project which I think should just about take me comfortably into Autumn. Then its make a coat time I think since I planned to make one all last winter but never did it. This year I will be better.

Thanks for reading and see you soon

Saturday, 6 August 2016

59: Upcycled vest top from old 1990s T shirt

I have had to clear out lots of no-longer worn clothing from my wardrobe. Much of it I have owned for twenty-plus years and no longer wear. Having once lost absolutely everything I owned,  I tend to hang onto stuff because one day it could be useful. It all goes back to when I was illegally evicted by a nasty landlord ( who later had to pay compensation for making me homeless when it went to court), and I really did lose everything I owned and ended up in a hostel.

Anyway,when I bought this T-shirt new it was from C&A childrens department. It was the mid-1990s and most tops were either very tight or huge so I could get away with this even though it was childrens. I just love the fabric to this day but I have not worn the T-shirt for years so I decided whilst clearing out my wardrobe to send stuff I no longer wear to the charity shop but to do something else with this. Really I should have taken a photo of the T-shirt for the blog before attacking it,  but I am afraid I forgot and just got on with cutting it appart before I even though of that.

  Its kind of a batique type of print. Here is a close up of the fabric:

Anyway I used Mcalls M6612 which is the same pattern as for this dress: 57:Upcycled vest dress
and again missed off the sleeves. I actually still have quite a few offcuts from the rest of the T-shirt so will save them to trim something in the future.

Its worn here with RTW rousers which have a serious pattern match problem. May have to do something about updating them soon as well...........

Like my previous upcycled vest dress the side seams had gone very wonky with wear so I cut it all appart, positioned my pattern pieces and then cut out and sewed up. This time though I was a bit cleverer and kept the hems intact so I did not have to do any hemming. I just sewed up the sides and of course the shoulders. I simply overlocked all the edges for a nice new top. It was a very fast make and definitely worth the effort.

Thanks for visiting,

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

60: Upholstery fabric trousers

I made these trousers quite quickly using the May 2015 pattern I used here: 50: 05/2015 Burdastyle trousers 114/115
I added about two inches or 5cm to the length and used a waistband instead of ribbing. I did not gather in the ankles. I made a self-tie belt and added some  belt loops to the sides and fastened the belt to the trousers at centre back. It just ties in front.

Other than the fact my other half says they make me look fat, I actually rather like these trousers.  Maybe best to keep them for the days when you really feel like covering up and being hidden from the world. I am having a whole week feeling like that right now so they suit my mood.
They were an experiment because I bought this fabric off Ebay and do not fancy it for curtains after all so may as well make something else from it. Maybe I might make a jacket or fitted skirt later. I have about 6m of it left. The fabric is really good.

It looks like linen but cannot be 100% if it has any linen in it at all because it does not crease which is great when I am in a hurry first thing in the morning. I hate ironing at the best of times and will happilly wear a very creased outfit just to avoid doing it. I know I am meant to iron necks and seams etc and I do have times when I get really good and behave properly with my sewing but more often than not I just press the seam between finger and thumb quite a bit and hope. Most things work out fine. I would love the skill to make couture clothing but really I know I would wear it never or very little if I did. I do not like lined clothing either which makes me less skilled probably than I should be. I know I visit loads of blogs where people line everything and make a wonderful job of it. I find most of the time though if its something like a summer dress I really do not want to wear it lined because I want it as thin as possible.

Maybe I am not getting the point or something. I know linings generally mean better quality but I do not really make my clothing to get that. I want individuality rather than high couture quality. I do not necessarily want my clothes to last for twenty years. I have wardrobes full of stuff that is that old and really I only own it because I became very poor due to becoming self-employed and I could not afford to buy anything so I had to wear my old stuff. It has nothing to do with loving it especially. Although there are obviously a few treasured items. Mostly for me though keeping my clothes long term has been a survival thing. I simply had no other choice. So really my aims when making my own clothing is to have lovely clothes I like to wear for less money than a similar item I could buy and in different fabric to everyone else because I HATE turning up somewhere only to find several other people have the same top on. I want to dress individually. After all are we not all diferent?
Thanks for reading and come back soon

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

58: Another sewing disaster; Sewing Bee curved hem shift dress - not so simple!

I found this pattern here:
I thought it would look really good made in my small piece of camo fabric which I had only one meter of. I did not want to have sleeves because I have a thing about cutting my tattoos in half. I either like no sleeves or long sleeves or at the very least three quarter. Don't ask me why but I just feel it is a bit weird to have half tattoos so I just either show them or cover them. Anyway the piece of fabric I had was a remnant and had some weave defects so I need to cut round them or miss them out. Now I had only 1m of this so its critical I get it all right.

 According to my measurements I cut the correct size ( size 12) but I think either I cut it out wrong.- the pattern definitely says I cut the right size or something else went wrong or the pattern is simply wrong.

Anyway I cut out the pieces and decided to cover the defect by adding an exposed zipper to the back rather than the side zip the pattern calls for.

I also had to shorten the dress a bit but do not mind since will be wearing with leggings anyway. So its going to be  along top or tunic really.

I used a Youtube video to do the zip since have never done an exposed zipper before. It also leaves the whole of the zip exposed even the end which I am not so keen on. As it turns out it was a messy method where you can see the raw edges on the inside and I have since watched a better video so will change how I do it next time but it does work so thats OK.

Then I used bias binding to do the neck, armholes and the hems. Everything is going well and I am thinking I can wear it for my birthday which was then tomorrow ( So I started this back in June because my birthday was the first of July! I have been writing this post for some time now it seems as I keep trying to sort out the mess and keep trying out different things.)

Sewed up the side seams and tried it on. 
The top fits great as you can see but whether its me or the pattern does not matter. The bottom is too tight. I have not put loads of weight on since cutting out honest! According to my measurements this should fit. 

  I really wanted a camo top/dress. So what to do to rescue this? I hate wasting fabric!

My top came to a halt here for over a week while I decided what could be done. I have no more of this fabric - just a few offcuts and already had to cut it shorter than the pattern. 

How to rescue this from the bin?

I toyed with the idea of adding godet type inserts into the sides in green faux leather or in black cotton. I could possibly even have enough camo to add a triangle at the sides. Trouble is I am unsure how professional this will look if I do that and I do want to aim for a nice hand made effect not just a thrown together botched home-made look. If you understand me. I want as good as or better than RTW but more original and not just rubbish obviously home-sewn up rags!

In the end I opened up the side seams with the idea of adding the godets and realised as I tried the dress/tunic on that I actually do not need any extra fabric but can simply trim the bias binding off, raise the side openings and redo with more bias strips. Then having spent ages redoing my bias strips I decided I preferred to just hem the top since the bias strips were just too bulky and made my curved front and back bits kind of stick out funny. So then I spent ages unpicking these and simply finished the hems with overlocking and a single row hem. Easy! 

 And with a shrug - cos its a cold wet day today!

 Well its a top not a dress, but I think I will wear this and maybe it worked out even more wearable as it is because I am not really a dress wearer but wear lots of leggings, jeans and jeggings so this could be a great little tunic for summer/autumn. One thing to remember though next time I wear it: my bright orange exercise top shows through which I never realised till I saw these photos!

Thanks for reading