Sunday, 23 October 2016

I Made a Dress for Absolutely No Reason

Hello! Long time no see. I've been a bit lazy about blogging because of the quick hit provided but Instagram and the like. With blogging, it feels like I have to have a long involved background story to each project when sometimes I just don't.

So I'm not going to lie - I made this dress just because I felt like it. I didn't need it, it was probably a bit too late in the summer for it - but who cares! This was the pattern:   

Butterick 5281 from 1946
I made view B in a Robert Kauffman quilting cotton which I picked up a few months ago in Manchester. And here it is:

I made this dress once before here, and even though I really like it, I was a little uncomfortable with the fit. I jigged around with the pattern again, and the result is a much better fitting dress.

It's kind of hard to see in this busy pattern, but the bodice has some asymmetrical draping with pleats at the right shoulder, and gathering on the left side seam.

With this version, I also made the effort to make a matching belt, using a little clasp from I found years ago in a charity shop:

I'm late posting about this dress - it was finished about 6 weeks ago - but the re-vamped fit has made it so comfortable that I wore it nearly every week until it got cold.

And that's it - see you soon!

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Stocking Up on Seperates

I have been known to build outfits around very small things. Like a few buttons becomes a need for a dress, a pair of shoes needs new trousers or something, and so on. I bought this ring while on holiday in Los Angeles:

- and then I bought these boots from Ebay:

And - I came across this picture somewhere on the interwebs, and became obsessed with, of all things, the belt loops!-


I noticed a western theme bubbling up. As luck would have it, I had these two pieces of fabric in my stash which I'd never quite found a use for:

I really wanted to make these into blouses, but looking at my wardrobe, I realised I also needed skirts to go with them. And it would give me a reason to make something with those belt loops! I had fabric left over from my Birkin flares, and some other black twill from a long ago project, enough for 2 skirts. And so 2 western-themed outfits were born!

Here's the first:

The blouse is Simplicity 3414 from 1950:

I made view 1 with short sleeves:

And added a subtle western touch with some top stitching and arrowhead tacks around the fabric channels on each side:

The skirt is a denim-weight black stretch twill, which is a hack of my self drafted pencil skirt, and a flared section taken from Burda 122 and added at the back:

I have worn this skirt constantly since I made it - it's like the skirt equivalent of a favourite pair of jeans. I added some denim details to it like topstitching, belt loops, and a jeans-style zip at the back:

Centre back fly zip

On to outfit number 2:

The blouse is Simplicity 6110, from 1973:

And the skirt is mostly Simplicity 6017, with pockets borrowed from Butterick 4990:

And with self drafted belt loops!:

I carried through the theme of topstitching and arrowheads on the inverted pleat at the front:

And that's really it! I'm off to listen to some Patsy Cline and eat some bbq. See you soon!

Saturday, 9 July 2016

My Vintage Pledge for July - Leaving an Impression with Vogue 1054

Hello! Having agreed to sew something for the Vintage Pledge in July, it gave me a good excuse to make this pattern from my collection, Vogue 1084 from 1956:

I bought this pattern in a sale a while ago, then took it out from time to time to look at that lovely neckline. I have a thing about dresses with stuff going on at the back - don't know why! I think it's partly the idea of turning on your heel and swishing out of a room dramatically, and as you do your outfit makes a final statement as you leave. Not that I'm often in that situation, but I like to daydream...

Anyway, I also had this fabric from Ikea, which is part of their collaboration with Katie Eary:
Have a look at the collection - there are some other brilliant fabrics, as well as some fab homewares. I bought the fabric on a whim, with no project in mind. It's a pre-cut piece of cotton, measuring 3 metres in length, 150 cm in width - what was I going to do with all of that blue leopard! It sat to one side for a little while, then the request for this July Vintage Pledge came along, and fabric and pattern seemed like the perfect combination

When I bought this pattern, I made a mistake and bought the wrong size - must've been tired or something... I bought size 6 - 12, but I'm more of a 14 really, so I graded it up then made a toile of the bodice just to be on the safe side. (I'll go into how I did that another time) I decided it fit pretty well! The only further adjustment I made was a slight sway back adjustment to the back bodice. Besides fitting, the toile was good practice for constructing the dress. Though it appears simple, there are a lot of details in the construction which you have to plan for, as it were, or else you'll be unpicking a great deal!

Here's what I mean in more detail:
I've circled the areas where you have to take extra care!

Because the sleeve is cut in one with the bodice, on the front you have to reinforce with a small machine stitch, then snip into the bodice to make attaching the side front easier. I also ironed a little patch of interfacing to these snipped areas for extra reinforcement. 

The interfaced corner on the inside of the bodice

Then on the back, when sewing on the facing, you have to 'interrupt' your stitching along the neckline when you reach the armhole and shoulder seams. This makes it all easier to turn and lie flat.

So other than having to take extra care over where some seams meet and the facing, the rest of the dress goes together pretty easily. 

There's a cute little bow at the back which slots through a gap in the centre back seam:

The circumference of this skirt is huuuge! 

I was considering being lazy and just machining it, but the stitching just stood out too much. I bound the edge with bias tape, then spent an evening slip stitching it in place:

I also bound and hand stitched the sleeve hems:

The instructions don't call for any lining; I generally don't line the bodices of dresses because I don't like the feeling of all those layers. To keep the insides neat I used French seams where possible, and overlocked the rest:

Centre front is a French seam
But I almost always line the skirt. I wanted to add some extra fullness to this skirt, especially at the back, so I added a gathered frill at the hem of the lining. Luckily this lining was only £1 per metre - I think most of the 3 metres I bought went into this frill!:

But it was worth the effort - it provides extra swishi-ness and the skirt is the right amount of full without being too puffy. And using the rolled hem on the overlocker made it so quick and neat.

I can't wait to find an excuse to wear this dress - luckily I have a wedding to attend in August, so it will get an outing then. Otherwise, I might just wear it to Sainsbury's, I love it so much!

See you soon!

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Frivolous Frills

Hello! I have tons of clothes, and really have no need to make any more except for the reason that I feel like it and enjoy it. It keeps me out of trouble! I usually see something in a film, or something pops up on Instagram that takes my fancy, or I buy some random fabric and then have to think of something to make with it. My imagination will be sparked, out come the patterns, and away we go.

It was a combination of these events that resulted in the latest dress. First, I've been really taken with all the off the shoulder styles that are around at the moment; I particularly liked the tutorial that By Hand London put together showing you how to draft your own. 

Next, I've always wanted to make this pattern from my collection:

Simplicty 4669 from 1954 (image from Vintage Patterns Wiki)

I had an idea that since the straps on this bodice seem to sit on the edge of the shoulder, this would somehow work well with a ruffle or frill.

And finally, I had a big piece of this polka dot fabric in my stash:

I think I got it from Ikea many moons ago; I don't remember how much it cost, but it can't have been much!

I decided to make view 1, with the body in plain black, and with the neckline frill and some extra hem frills in the polka dot. I bought some cheap-as-chips black twill from Walthamstow market and started working on the bodice.

But as I was working on the bodice, I went off the idea of a full skirt. I often feel a bit swamped in a full skirt; I think pencil or just slightly flared suit me. 

Out came what is starting to become my old stand by, Butterick 8571:

I've used this skirt here, here, and here - I find it just works for me. But I wanted to tie it in with the frill. At first I was going to add another polka dot frill at the hem - but no, just too much. I decided to draft some pockets with flaps at the hip to tie it all together:

Everybody loves pockets, right?

Close up of the left hand pocket, with the hand picked zip

Excuse the rubbish bathroom selfie, but the dress is actually quite nice in this plain version - maybe a future project?:

But now the frill! The obvious course to take would be to cut a rectangle that was the required depth (plus hems), and was the measurement of the neckline and shoulders times 1 1/2. That method is fine, but I find that can make for a rather boxy frill. Instead I cut the frill as a circular piece, then gathered it to drape across the neckline and around the shoulders:

Completed frill

This way the frill has a flare at the hem without too much bulk at the top. It seemed I was pretty much making it up as it went along with this dress, so I decided to do something similar at the hem:

This time the inner measurement of the frill was the exact measurement of the hem, without any gathering.

So here it is all together:

Here are some details:

I gathered the frill with a long machine stitch, then tried it on with the dress to adjust the size. The off the shoulder section had a piece of elastic applied with a 3-step zig-zag to keep it in place:

Elastic applied with 3-step zig-zag 
The rest of the gathering was stitched directly to the neckline:

I didn't line the bodice - I get really hot! - but I did line the skirt in this rose pink polyester, as well as the hem frill:

Despite having no need for this dress in my wardrobe, I did find a reason to wear it at a friends birthday party. Of course, I forgot to take any photos of it in action!

That's it for now - see you soon!