Sunday, 7 December 2014

Sewing Megan

Finally some time to do a bit of sewing. The Crafty Neighbour and I got together yesterday for a bit of crafty fun. I had a quilt to finish binding. I am afraid it wouldn't win any prizes for neat sewing, but it is snuggly, warm and colourful, so fits the purpose. 

Not a flash photo, but you get that with the I-pad. I used a roll of Kaffe Fassett fabrics and created a wave effect with the quilting to provide texture. It is machine quilted and bound. I usually hand bind because my accuracy is very rough and ready, but just went for it this time. 

I found some tulip fabric to have a go at a dress from Tilly's lovely book. 

I had a go an making a toile for Tilly's Megan dress, and needed to make some alterations to the fit. 
I need a lower neck because the high neck makes me look matronly with my generous bust. I lengthened both the bodice and the skirt. The bust fits but I altered the line of the dart to point to my apex. I am going to try a bias binding turning at the neck rather than facings to see if I can do it. 
The fabric is rather loud! It has a touch of stretch and is very easy to handle. Cotton blend I think. 
There is a sleepy helper nearby. 

I'm quite worried this will be another disaster project, and I'll be too embarrassed to show it off. I won't know until it is finished, so I'd better get on with it. 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Tilly's on the table

After a bit of a bloggy break - pop over to my big blog for news about that - I have cleared the dining table once again. I don't do that for just anyone. I invited Tilly Walnes, of Tilly and the Buttons fame, to join me. After a brief bit of umming and ahhing, I ordered her lovely first book, and am cracking on with my first challenge. 

Now I am really not sure how this project will go, as Tilly and I are quite different in proportions. She is apparently tiny. You couldn't say that about me, with my jutting bossom and ample hips. I also consider my knees and above strictly for private display only, in a very prim and proper way, so I know there will be some lengthening required. 

Tilly's designs are very sweet and girlie in a clean and simple way. She admires Breton stripes and self-covered buttons. I think she possibly wishes she was French. I can imagine her tootling around on a vintage bicycle with a bag of baguettes and bunches of flowers. 

I decided to tackle the "Megan" dress as I admire how simple it looks, and if I can make it work for my body, it would be a fantastic basic wardrobe item to create over and over. 
Tilly's version is above the knee, so I'll be adding several inches. I'm fervently hoping a FBA isn't required, but I guess this would be a great pattern to practise on. I'm also hoping that there is a lovely skimming effect over my tummy, which expanded in generous response to all of the delicious food I encountered on my recent holiday. 

The pattern is now made, so I'm going to dig out some old sheeting to make a muslin ( or should I call it a toile in honour of Tilly's imaginary bicycle rides through French brocantes). 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

In the post

Look what I got today!!!!
I am so excited by the patterns in Gertie's new book. She has created a whole wardrobe of vintage casual garments in knits and wovens. There's even a cardigan! I could sew forever from both of her books. More about the patterns next time. I can't wait to get sewing. 

Sunday, 31 August 2014

No sewing

I've been feeling a bit crappy because I haven't been sewing up a storm. Well, right now it is just not happening. The school terms are so much better suited to dabbling in activities that take less time and focus. Well, for me anyway. At the weekends I have riding, gardening, other jobs and catching up with people to do. So if you visit my big blog Poppies and Daisies to see what else I have been up to. The sewing will start again soon. I hope.

Saturday, 16 August 2014


Oh, dear. I've caught a horrible cold. Sorry no sewing activities currently. I am dreaming of the perfect summer dress. It would be 1950's in style (or late 1940's Dior New Look) with a nipped in waist, and flared skirt. Definitely tea length. Sorry, I don't subscribe to the belief that "tea length" = unflattering. If I was worried about unflattering I'd be avoiding gathers across my ample derriere. I can assure you that I could choose a much more unflattering length!

As well as finding and fitting the perfect pattern, I dream of glorious fabrics. Maybe birdies by Cath Kidston? These would actually look super cute in autumn.
 Anna Griffin fabrics are just gorgeous! I love these two colourways in Grace. Look at those roses:

 How about some Tilda? This one might present some pattern matching challenges.
 I have a fat quarter of this teacup pattern. I'm imagining afternoon tea wearing an afternoon tea dress.
I'd need to make some pretty tulle petticoats to wear underneath. Not to full, but just enough to give a bit of a lift and swish. Pretty colours would be fun to mix things up a bit. Each dress could have a matching cardie. Merino knit fabric would be perfect. Light but warm if required. 

Once this crappy cold is gone I'm going to carry on with the summer dress quest. 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Typical Term Time

There hasn't been much sewing around here. Typically I find it harder to fit in much sewing during term time. I'd rather be home sewing, but my horse, cat, dog, 'cello, garden and crafts have to be funded somehow! I do tend to flit from craft to craft, interest to interest in a similar manner to Grandma, who was a remarkably prolific crafter, energetic gardener and went through more dogs that you would think was possible in the time I can remember. Unlike me, she loved to move house, carting her stash of all sorts of stuff with her. Fortunately I am able to make use of some of her treasures, some of which are very old. I must show you some bits and pieces from the craft cupboard sometime. 

The reason I say I flit between crafts is that I found these dear origami dresses at our favourite second hand bookshop. The lovely lady who works there does papercrafts out of old maps and books. I couldn't resist purchasing them for my workroom wall. 
 They came as a set with the ribbon and tiny little pegs. How cute are these!?
So these set me off onto a bit of papercraft and scrapbooking. If I can't fit in sewing stuff I can sneak in a bit of papercraft here and there. It doesn't take much time, although I can make a bigger mess than sewing in a much shorter time. The origami dresses are really easy to make. I found a serious little man presenting a tutorial on making them on You Tube.

Don't worry, I'm sure to be back onto the sewing machine very soon. Possibly tomorrow. Unless I get sidetracked by making wee origami dresses!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Riding wear

 I love riding my horse. In fact I love horses whether I'm in the saddle or not! Riding wear needs to be very comfortable, and the top half needs to be good for layering, because it can be chilly up in the wind, or really hot if you are working hard. Not that we do too much of that! Sorry, these photos are not the sharpest - not sure what happened, but as it was mild today I wore one of my much modified Gertie Portrait Blouses.
This one is a light cotton and has shirring in the back to give it shape and stretch. It is already crumpled because it had been out to the saddlery shop. I promise I did iron it!
The back forms a sort of peplum which is ideal for riding. The colour is a bit risky for riding, but it wasn't muddy this week so Zanny, my horse, was clean. She gets extremely filthy on wet winter days, and shares a lot of that dirt with me. I had to put two photos of the back view in because you can see my furry children milling around in this one, and in the one above I love the way Fergus is patting at something. 
 I bought some new boots today. They are Shires paddock boots, and are much smarter than my previous pair. I'm wearing them with neoprene half chaps. When we were children we never had chaps but practically everyone wears them here now. I always wear Horze jodhpurs because I have found they have a style that suits my womanly curves. They have a nice high waist and are very sturdy. Some brands are hipster style, but who wants to see butt crack on horseback? Even horses hide their butt cracks with their tails.
 Zanny and I had a lovely ride today. I threw a cardie on over the top, as I usually do. I have several merino cardies that have been demoted from work wear to riding and gardening wear. I loathe the look of polarfleece, so only wear it for freezing days exercising or gardening.

Onto the details. I modified Gertie's original blouse pattern from her first book by narrowing the shoulders and adding a simple self-drafted sleeve. I used double ended darts in the front for shaping, rather than pleats, and used shirring instead of darts at the back. The blouse is longer than the original to stop it riding up while in the saddle and doing active things around the stable yard. My blouse is looser than Gertie's original to cater for my generous bust, so didn't need the side zip.

Would I make my own jodphurs? Not on your life as long as I can get my favourite Horze ones (although the brand name brings to mind the ladies of the night - am I right??).

Sunday, 27 July 2014

On my sewing table

This weekend I had intended to get started on a blouse, and I've also got a partly made muslin of Vogue 8998 on Ruby, my dress form. I have discovered it is not easy to get princess seams to run smoothly over a large bust. Nobody wants a rippled bodice right on the critical protruberances. As I was feeling very tired after a busy week at school, I took it easy on the sewing front. I was digging in one of my fabric boxes and came across these:

 Mr Mouse is wondering if these butterflies are going to take flight. These are two A-line skirts cut out by my lovely sister. She said she couldn't see herself getting them finished in a hurry, so gave them to me.

You can only imagine the excitement when I discovered one of them has horses on it!!!!!
 My sister Meg has practically patented the quickest version of A-line skirts known to sewing humanity. She chops out two identical pieces for front and back, pinked around the edges. Then she folds the top over and sews it down. Then sews the sides and probably gets mad cause she has to put a zip in (am I right Meg?). Then she'll fold up the bottom, and sew a hem. Brilliant! Put on a simple top with cardigan, your new skirt, some tights and boots, accessorize liberally, and you look fab.

We can't make these skirts without a zips, so Mouse and I delved into the zip box and hoped we'd find some to match. I have been given quite a few old ones, some pre-loved and ripped out of clothing. We found some that would do, and all was good until Fergus stole one of them. He loves carrying them around victoriously. I had a bit of trouble locating it. He had deposited it next to his food bowl while he had a snack, then walked away.
 Because I am curvy through the hips and waist, I find some darts help skirts to sit nicely. Meg is a different shape to me so she doesn't bother. On one of the skirts she had sewn down the top, so I removed the thread with my quick-unpicker so that I could do the darts before folding over.
 Then I had the genius idea to use some masking tape to remove the annoying wee bits of thread. Just like a wax strip!
 I got both skirts sewn together and hemmed, but did not get the zips sewn in. Fergus stole a zip again, so I took that as a sign that I was done for the day. Hopefully I'll get both zips in during the week, providing my baby Birman doesn't hide them in the meantime.
I wore my Tartan Triumph dress on Friday and got quite a few comments about how great it is. Several people were amazed that I had made it. Lucky they couldn't see how I need to do some repairs in the zipper area. In fact I think I'll have to remove it and reinsert it because it has some unexpected ventilation at the waist. Oops. I also had a success with my Not Quite Coming Up Roses dress - the one that looks like it is needlepoint embroidery. It looked great and I had friends (thankfully not creepy strangers) wanting to touch the fabric because it looked textured but wasn't. Fabric - it can be so fabulous or so hideous. Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Pink Roses

Here's my latest version of Gertie's Portrait Blouse. I have made seven versions of this pattern. Oh, and it formed the basis of my Princess Fiona Shrek costume for the school production. Yes, I was painted green for the part.

Actually, I have modified this pattern so much that I'm not sure Gertie would lay claim to it anymore. Here's the original:
And here is the first one I made.
 This vintage fabric was rescued from a rag bag at school. The pattern has four wee pleats to shape through the hips, and is looser above these. The first change I made was to lengthen the bodice, and then I changed the pleats to double ended darts. I made three more like that. Then I wanted sleeves. So I drafted some from scratch. I had to take some width out of the shoulders to the sleeves sat properly. I made a cute one with short sleeves and shiring for shape. I'd have to dig out a photo because it is fabulous.

Then came the rosy version, which has double the number of darts. I really like to make the most of my waist. The sleeves are a bit puffy, but I'm very fond of this version. The fabric is vintage cotton poplin (I think), and has quite a crisp feel to it. I saw the roses and HAD to have it.

This is a great wee pattern, and it has given me a lot of confidence in fiddling with a pattern to make it work for me. It is very simple, but when I first made it I had never sewn a facing before and had never sewn double ended darts for shaping a top. I don't think I'm finished with this pattern yet. I am imagining some experiments with the neckline and sleeves.

Not quite coming up roses!

This is the pale face of a lady who felt very grim. Self-inflicted grim, I'm sorry to say. We went out for dinner with friends, and someone very naughty (EP- I'm looking at you!!!), decided that after Indian food, we should move onto another restaurant for dessert. I stupidly ate Indian food then a creme brulee. WHAT was I thinking!!!???? Won't be doing that again in a hurry. Or ever. 

So I hunkered down grimly in my craft room and finished off my latest creation. This is the same bodice as my Tartan Triumph (refer to last post), but what happened? It is huge. The only difference is the fabric. This is a cotton sateen, which has some stretch in it, and is unlined. This fits my bust, but not my shoulders. 
 Oh, well. I'm sure my trusty cardie will come out again and it will still look fabulous.

Now, the tights have a story with them. When I got up feeling like crap, all I wanted to wear was pink. I have no children to embarrass, so I can please myself what I wear. So on went a pink dress, over a stripy pink and white merino long sleeved top, and my gaudy pink tights. I think they look horrid with these shoes. The shoes should be pink too. I'll be wearing the dress with black tights, I say with slight regret.
 The print looks amazing. I absolutely love this fabric. There is some unfortunate gaping at the back of the armscye, and the middle of the back gapes out at the top as I move. The skirt fits well, and the waist could be pulled in a little more for a smoother fit in this stretchy fabric.
 I've already decided that if I lose much weight I'll have to lop off the bodice and make the skirt into a stand alone creation. I have lost quite a bit of weight this year. I stopped eating crap (mostly) and I started shrinking from the top down, much to my surprise.
 Now, I have been enjoying reading some wonderful articles on The Curvy Collective website, and I read that when choosing pattern size you should select the one closest to your high bust measurement. This is measured around above your breasts and under your arms. I've been following instructions on my patterns and measuring my full bust, which is significantly bigger than my high bust. As you can see in the dress above, the pattern fits my bust, but not my frame well at all. What I need to work on is cutting the pattern at the size to fit my frame, then do a full bust adjustment. I'll need to grade through sizes to fit my hips and tummy (although I've already given Gertie's Pencil Skirt a bit of a resize to slim it down).

Since my dress doesn't quite come up roses, as I hoped, I thought I'd pop in some lovely photos of a few of the divine flowers from my garden. I miss them so much at this time of year.

 Oh, and here's a fabric collage panel I made a couple of years ago. I adore flowers.
I'm back to school tomorrow. Pop back during the week to check out a very rosy top I made recently. I got Johnny to snap a photo or two today. Sorry, you'll still have to look at my pallid sick face. Feeling better this evening, thank goodness.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

A Tartan Triumph

It is well into the evening after going out for dinner. I decided to wear my newly created tartan dress for its first outing. Sorry, the photos are a bit under par, and I was in the car for approximately 2 hours, so my dress is rather crumpled. Never mind, it is finished and it fits pretty well compared to the last dress I made. My furry assistants were on hand to ensure I had some fur stuck to me in the photos, and to plunder my sewing supplies at every opportunity. Fergus dragged the zip through the house triumphantly, and I had to inform him that no, we do not have snakes in New Zealand. 
 I had about three metres of this bright tartan cotton which was given to me with some other fabrics. As it is quite light I lined it with a red lining fabric, which was rather slippery and uncooperative. I am quite pleased with how comfortable it is. I made no effort to suck in my tummy - dinner was large, so I didn't bother. This is Gertie's Sultry Sheath bodice paired with a self-drafted dirndl style skirt (pleated rather than gathered). I put pleats at the sides of the front panel because I thought that would be more flattering.
 Yes, I can spot cat fur on my skirt. I really like the length as I find RTW dresses in this style are usually right on the knee or shorter. I am around 167cm tall.
 I thought I would briefly whip off the trusty black cardigan (it is freezing here!!!) so that you can see how it fits. Not too bad, and the pattern matching down the front is superb. Definitely not sucking that tummy in!
 I am not too happy with the zip because it is a bit wrinkly. I hand picked it because I wanted something to do with my hands while watching Game of Thrones. I love the costumes, and am inclined to scream unexpectedly at the scary bits. I'm sure the seam down the back is actually straight down the middle.
I am sure I'll wear this a lot. I am wondering about my next version of this bodice. The size up was huge. This one fits well, but not entirely sure whether my amble bosom has enough room. Do I need a slight full bust adjustment? Maybe it would gape open and show off too much. I want to wear this to school as a work dress, and cleavage is not welcome in vast swathes.

Pattern Gertie's Sultry Sheath Bodice with self-drafted pleated dirndl style skirt.
Fabric Tartan cotton (free) with red taffeta (?) lining.
New skills Self drafted dirndl. Pleating dirndl. Interlining skirt and bodice and creating self-drafted facing (not necessary but I wasn't sure how to make the lining into a facing).
Next time I would use a shorter zip and put it in by machine. I would teach myself how to line a dress properly.
I really like the weight the interlining gives the skirt. This dress is super comfy. Success!!!!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Fabric Shopping

Yesterday we took a little jaunt into the city because I felt the need to search for some more fabric. I don't have a glorious stash of dressmaking fabric, and I intend to keep it that way. I'd rather buy fabric and make something before I buy more. Of course if I was lucky enough to travel to a place that had loads of fabric I liked, there might be a wee stash built up. 

In Christchurch we have limited options for fabric shopping, and the biggest is found at Spotlight, which has all kinds of craft supplies, home decor materials, homewares, quilting and sewing departments. You could get quite excited at the thought of it, but then you remember all of your previous visits for fabric, which involved searching through bolts and bolts of hideous prints, cheap feeling fabrics and messy piles. There are some quite lovely evening types of fabrics, but I'm not in the business of making silk or velvet gowns (yet). Unfortunately things to my taste are few and far between. I did find three things to purchase. I got this pretty cotton. 
 It is quite a loose weave, which I wasn't sure about, but it looks fresh and cool for summer. I bought some navy bias binding for trim.
 I pounced on this cotton sateen. When I victoriously pulled it out to show off to Johnny he wasn't nearly as enthusiastic as me.
 Unfortunately there wasn't heaps left on the bolt, so I'm not sure if I have enough for a sheath dress, or just a skirt.
 They had a selection of Japanese lawn fabrics, which are light and finely woven. This one caught my eye.
 No wonder, with these wee creatures here and there. I am picturing a blouse.
 Everyone loves a free thing with a purchase, and I was the recipient of this cute wee sewing kit in a tin.
 It contains an assortment of useful bits and pieces. I guess maybe I could take it on holiday with me? From previous experience foot emergencies are more likely than sewing emergencies whilst on holiday.
I'm almost finished another project. The bodice looks fabulous compared to my last dress, so hopefully it looks good once finished.