Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Top Five Sewing Hits 2015

I thought I would join in with Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow this year and share some of my top fives with you.   So first up is my top five sewing hits for 2015.

I haven't done as much sewing as I would have liked this year, as things have been pretty busy, as usual, but I did manage to make quite a few things.  I also went on a diet in September so this put my sewing on hold for a bit while I focused on that. I have now lost a stone in total, so feeling pretty pleased about that.

 I was also job hunting which can be time consuming, and the good news is that I start a new job on 4th January, eek...

So in no particular order, here are my top five sewing hits:

Strawberry New Look 6262

I have made this pattern three times now (once unblogged) and I was pleased how I perfected the fit of the bodice by making a muslin and then adjusting the pattern pieces accordingly.

It's a lovely fit and flare style dress, which I think is super flattering on all body shapes.  It is similar in style to the Emery dress, which I would like to try next.

Polka Dot Ultimate Shift Dress

I have worn this dress loads - it is so comfortable.  My only regret is that I didn't pre-wash the fabric as now it is more like a tunic than a dress as it shrunk considerably and is only decent when worn with leggings!

Everyday Skirt

Another skirt that has been worn loads. I have made two versions of this pattern, this one and one in denim (unblogged). It's easy to wear because of the elasticated waist at the back. I also love the inseam pockets!

Washi Dress

I fell in love with the Washi Dress after seeing so many cool versions on pinterest.  I wore this loads in the summer and think that a long sleeved version would be great for the winter. Check out this tutorial if you are thinking of making one!

A Sixties Simplicity 1609

I made this for a Christmas party. Although it's a fancy dress, I love this pattern and can see why they are so many versions of this dress around.  I can definitely see myself making this dress again, in a less loud fabric.

All in all some great patterns that I will definitely be revisiting in 2016.  If you liked reading about my top five hits, check out the other posts in this blog series over at Crafting a Rainbow.

Catherine x

Monday, 14 December 2015

A sixties Simplicity 1609

I went to a Christmas party on Saturday night. The theme was the 1960s, so I decided to sew my own costume!
Simplicity 1609

I used Simplicity 1609 which is a reproduction of an original 1960s pattern. The pattern was free with Sew Magazine.

Misses' Jiffy 1960's Vintage Dress.

The dress is a classic A-line dress made from two main pattern pieces. The neck and arm holes have a combined facing and there is a centre back zip. There are 3 variations and I chose to make the plain version as the material I chose was very loud!  The front has a centre front seam, bust darts and flattering French darts. There are also back darts and neck darts. It can be made with a scalloped edge collar, a neck bow or plain round neck.

I cut a straight 14 based on my measurements and made no changes to the pattern. It's quite a fitted dress but surprisingly comfortable and flattering to wear. The only changes I would make next time would be possibly to remove an inch or so from the bodice length as there was some wrinkling there at both the front and back and fixing the slight back neck gape. I think this is an adjustment that I am going to have to remember to make as this is a recurrent problem. I have used this method from the By Hand London blog before and found it very successful.

Another thing to know about this dress is it is quite long. I cut three inches from the paper pattern and then removed another two inches from the finished dress as I wanted a more sixties feel! The finished dress is shorter than I'd normally wear but I think it was just right for my fancy dress.

Simplicity 1609

I finished the look off with some thick whites tights and a headscarf. The headscarf is the Brigitte pattern from Tilly's book Love at First Stitch.

It was a great night out and I loved my dress. I will probably be making this dress again as it's a relatively simple make and super flattering.

Simplicity 1609

I've also entered my dress in the end of year vintage pattern pledge competition. You can check the other entries out on Pinterest.

Catherine x

Saturday, 14 November 2015

A polka dot Ultimate Shift Dress

My latest make is another version of Sew Over It's Ultimate Shift Dress.

Polka dot Ultimate Shift Dress - Sew Over It

I bought my pattern last year, from the Knitting and Stitching Show and I made a version that I blogged about here. I saw the dress recently featured on Did You Make That and then I watched Lisa's vlog on youtube featuring her collection of Ultimate Shift Dresses, so thought that I would revisit this pattern. In fact my polka dot version, was totally inspired by one of Lisa's versions!

The Ultimate Shift dress is a versatile pattern that anyone could tackle, so it's great for beginners. The only thing that is slightly tricky is setting in the sleeves but if you are a total beginner you could omit the sleeves, and make one of the sleeveless versions. 

My first version was a bit tight, but I joined Slimming World in September as you might have read on my blog, I've now lost 12 pounds in total since I joined. I decided to make the same size and as you can see it's a much looser fit on me! The material is also a looser weave man-made material that I picked up at the Knitting and Stitching Show and the dress is much more drapey as a result. The choice of material is really important for this dress and I think you should avoid anything too stiff.

Polka dot Ultimate Shift Dress - Sew Over It

I made a size 12 as before, grading to 14 at the hips and this time I sewed the correct seam allowances.

I also used interfacing for the facings which the pattern doesn't mention as otherwise I think they would be a bit floppy.  To be honest something funny happened with my darts on this one, and they don't quite line up, but I don't think that anyone else would notice. I kept the long sleeves on this version which I really like for the winter. I also made a button loop and fabric button rather than a hook and eye, although I think that I could omit the back neck opening totally next time.

I can see myself making this dress again as it's a quick and easy make.  Have you made the Ultimate Shift Dress?

Catherine x

Thursday, 24 September 2015

8 pounds lighter and a Laurel dress

Those of you that read my blog regularly, know that I joined Slimming World a month ago.  Anyway tonight I got my half stone award and I am 8 pounds lighter than I was 4 weeks ago!

As a treat to myself, I have started sewing the Colette Laurel dress.

There are loads of gorgeous versions out there, and I've been adding them to my pinterest board Laurel Ideas. I've had this pattern in my stash for a while now and the material is a tartan that I scored in Goldhawk Road ages ago. I'm making version 1.

Have you made the Laurel, if so leave me a link to your blog or photo....

Catherine x

Monday, 21 September 2015

A finished pair of last

I've finally got round to finishing a pair of socks that I started a long time ago! I had one knitted and one on the needles this time last year, so it's been pretty slow progress.

The sock pattern is from an excellent book called Favorite Socks. There are twenty five patterns in this book and these are the first pair that I have got round to making

The socks I chose to knit are called Retro Rib Socks by Evelyn A. Clark.  They are a relatively simple knit and purl pattern made a bit more special by the twisted rib created by knitting through the back of the loops on the knit stitches.

The socks are knitted on four or five needles in the round. The books gives instructions for five needles but I prefer four.

I used 2.5 mm needles and the yarn used was Regia Stretch 4ply (now discontinued) which is a mix of pure new wool, nylon and polyester. The instructions are clear and easy to follow and I think a beginner sock knitter could tackle these socks if they wanted to try something a bit more interesting than a plain stocking stitch sock!

It has taken me about 2 years to finish these socks and I'm quite pleased with the end result!

However I have discovered it is very hard to get a decent photograph of your own feet. Any tips for photographing socks welcome!

On other news, I've now lost a total of six and a half pounds, so feeling pleased with myself.

Have you got any knitting UFOs?

Catherine x

Thursday, 10 September 2015

A Lilou Dress

In my last post, I mentioned that I was trying to lose some weight before making myself anything new! I've lost another pound this week, so that makes five pounds in total so far! I've been trying to finish a few things off instead...

sLilou dress - Tilly and the Buttons - Love at First Stitch

Anyway I finally got round to finishing off this dress that I started ages ago this week.  The dress is the Lilou Dress from Love at First Stitch by Tilly Walnes.  The dress features a scoop neckline and the bodice is fully lined. There are also options for making a scalloped neckline version and normally features a pleated skirt.

Lilou dress - Tilly and the Buttons - Love at First Stitch

This is the hardest project in the book. This is the first time I've attempted a lined bodice and I'm very pleased with how it turned out.

Lilou dress - Tilly and the Buttons - Love at First Stitch

The material was a cotton that I had originally planned to make a skirt from. As I only had a metre and a half of fabric, I did not have enough material for the pleated skirt.  I decided to make the version using the Clemence skirt pattern from Love at First Stitch, which is a simple gathered skirt that you draft  yourself.

Lilou dress - Tilly and the Buttons - Love at First Stitch

Unfortunately the really gathered skirt isn't that flattering on my hips at the moment although it looks lovely on my dummy! If I was to make this pattern again I would make sure that I had enough material to make the pleated skirt or use a less gathered skirt such as the skirt from my  New Look 6262.

Lilou dress - Tilly and the Buttons - Love at First Stitch

For the bodice, I cut a size 5 based on my measurements and the fit is pretty good. I did not need to make a FBA this time. I made a muslin of the bodice first and moved the darts down by an inch, something I seem to have to do on most patterns.The bodice is lined with a cotton voile that I had in my stash which is lovely and lightweight.  The instructions were very clear and I think I would like to use this method again as it finishes the dress beautifully inside.   Unfortunately I think I should also have shorted the straps by a small amount as they do tend to slip off my shoulders.  I didn't notice this at the muslin stage.

Lilou dress - Tilly and the Buttons - Love at First Stitch

The bodice is hand-stitched using tiny invisible stitches to the skirt. It took me a bit of time to work out how to do the slip-stitch but it definitely is worth doing.

Lilou dress - Tilly and the Buttons - Love at First Stitch

The invisible zip is pretty good too although it does gape out a bit at the top of the back neckline. I don't know if maybe the fabric stretched out even though I stay stitched the neckline?

Lilou dress - Tilly and the Buttons - Love at First Stitch

I didn't want to shorten the dress by turning a double hem so I used white bias binding to finish the hem and I think this is a really neat way of hemming a dress.

Lilou dress - Tilly and the Buttons - Love at First Stitch

I'm pretty pleased with this dress, and as the weather has improved it might even get worn this week!

Have you made the Lilou dress? Did you have to make any adjustments to it?

Catherine x

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

A little update!

So summer seems to be over, the kids are back to school this week and I really didn't get much sewing done this summer at all!

In fact my only completed make this summer was my Strawberry New Look 6262 that I blogged about here! I have worn it a lot though so it has been a success.

As well as a lack of time, one of the reasons for lack of sewing was the fact that quite a few more pounds than I'd like have crept on over the last couple of years. Coupled with a lack of exercise in the last year caused by achilles tendonitis, even some of the handmade clothes I'd made in the last year were starting to get a bit tight!

Rather than half heartedly dieting, I decided two weeks ago to join Simming World. It's a sensible eating plan, and it's pretty easy to follow with out feeling like you are denying yourself.  So far in the last two weeks, I've lost four pounds  in total and I have a target weight loss of two stone in total to reach. I'm feeling optimistic as I know Slimming World works as I followed it before when my daughter was small. I thought sharing my plan here on my blog would further incentivise me to stick to it! I also went a physiotherapist about my achilles tendonitis last week and had acupuncture and ultrasound. I'm going back next week so hopefully the treatment will help so I can get back to running.  In the meantime, I can go to the gym or use my exercise bike.

As I'm following a healthy eating plan,  there will be no stitching for myself in the immediate future. I've created a Pinterest board from my existing pattern stash that I'd like to stitch this winter once I'm nearer my target weight. I'm not going to make any official stitching plans though.

Instead I'm going to concentrate on my knitting as I have quite a few UFOs to get on with,  including the cardigan I'm making for my sister after she saw mine here - so expect a few knitting posts! I might also try my hand at making some accessories if I fancy sewing...

Anyway here are a couple of my favourite patterns for Autumn/Winter:

Deer and Doe Pavot

New Look 6298
Burda B8281

I've also treated myself to a new pattern, Mcalls M7241, lovely isn't it!

Mcalls M7241

I'll let you know how I get on with the diet! In the meantime I'd love to know what you've got planned to stich for Autumn/Winter 2015?

I'm also planning on going to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace in October so that's something to look forward to!

Catherine x

Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Strawberry New Look 6262

This is my latest dress and I'm so pleased with it! The pattern is New Look 6262 which I first made last summer. The fabric is from the market stall in St Albans, a bargain at £6 a metre. I noticed the market man had the same fabric in white yesterday, maybe I should get some more?

The front bodice has side and waist darts, and the back bodice has waist darts. The skirt is gathered and attached at the waist and an invisible zip is inserted.  

There are also options for cap sleeves, short sleeves and a v-neck.  The dress can also be made with a lace overlay so it's a pretty versatile and simple pattern to have in  your stash.

I made a size 14 as with my previous version  but this time I made some fitting adjustments after making a muslin of the bodice.  I am totally converted to making muslins now as I think you get such a better fit.  I also think it is worth investing in a book about fitting.  I am currently using "Dressmaking to flatter your shape" by Lorna Knight which I have out on loan from my local library but I think I will be investing in this book as it's very user friendly and easy to understand!

In my muslin, the front neckline gaped quite badly around the neckline.  I used a method from the book which involved removing the excess from the neckline  and rotating it into the side dart.

I also used a method that I found in a tutorial on the excellent By Hand London blog to fix the gaping back neck.

The result  is an excellent fitting bodice and no weird sticking out at the back neck! Result!

I also made a bow belt to finish the dress off as I didn't have a suitable black one.

I made the bow belt from my copy of "Learn to sew with Lauren" by Lauren Guthrie of Sewing Bee fame. It was easy to make and really sets the dress off  I think.

I will be making some more of these belts I'm sure. It's a good use of the leftover fabric too.

The neck has a facing and the armholes are finished with bias binding. I made my own bias binding strips using the same fabric as the dress as I like it when the binding matches. I find it's nicer to sew than shop bias binding also.  I would like one of those bias binding making gadget though.

The skirt is gathered and an invisible zip inserted. I'm getting better at inserting invisible zips and I think the trick is to iron the tape so the coil lies flat. I do hate changing the foot on my machine though!

I didn't pattern match at the back but I don't think it matters.

I still find gathering tricky though. I turn the tension low and sew two lines of gathering stitches, using a different colour thread. Somehow I have trouble getting the gathers to stay in place and getting them even. I'd love to hear any tips on how to perfect this.

I left the length of the hem as per the pattern as I liked it as it was.

Have you made New Look 6262? Or can you recommend any similar patterns in this style as I think it's super flattering. I'd love to hear from you.

Catherine x


My Sewing Machines

Today I thought I'd share my sewing machines with you! My original machine is a John Lewis JL125 that I got for my birthday from my...