Earning my Renfrew stripes

Yoo hoo! It’s another Renfrew!

Sooooo I actually made this not long after my stars Renfrew but have just got round to writing it up. Yay – another successful Renfrew. This pattern is awesome – seriously. I cannot recommend it ENOUGH.

But what to say that’s new? Well – I kinda fecked up the stripe matching even though I really did try, I promise! But the mismatch doesn’t bother me at all if I’m honest.

I really like that the neckline has that thin white band all the way round. Don’t ask me why. Simple things please me these days.

This top is so comfortable it’s unreal. You just pop it on and forget you’re wearing clothes – it’s soooo cosy. Even after my bump deflates I’m going to wear these as jammy tops in the winter. I could put a hot water bottle in the flabby bit left behind.

In other news I’ve been enjoying my first few days of total and utter freedom. I’ve officially left work and am JOBLESS. It feels really weird to a) not be working and b) not be actively looking for work. I’ve been batch cooking for post baby dinners so lots of spicy carrot soup and Irish stew is getting whipped up. Plus I’ve got some uber-cute crochet projects to show you too. But that’s for another day. Have a fabulous weekend!

Completed project: Nightie night

Just a quick one – am sure most of us are in the same boat, waiting for Downton Abbey to begin. But I wanted to share that I have in fact been doing some sewing this weekend and haven’t given myself up to the crochet hook completely.

I finished my semi-self-drafted nightie yesterday, using the neck yoke from New Look 6864 and copying the general structure of a nightie I’d previously bought from Zara home. I used the swiss dot I picked up in Walthamstow market and some pretty floral cotton from my stash.

Nighty nightI was a bit distracted yesterday when I was finishing the neckline and managed to inadvertently sew wrong side to right side, then had graded the seams before I realised my mistake. D’oh! Cue lots of dark mutterings while I got the trusty seam ripper out. So as you can see from the photo – the yoke is a wee bit of a mess and not very symmetric but I can live with it.

Inside I used french seams to enclose the raw edges and faced the arm holes with some pretty bias binding. The overall effect might be a little Cath Kidston for my liking but hey – tis nightwear. At the rate I toss and turn, it’ll be rucked up under my armpits before I nod off.

French seams and bias binding

French seams and bias binding

In fact I may go and slip it on now before Downton starts, slice myself a huge chunk of carrot cake and settle down with the cats for the opening credits. Sweet dreams!

 

Completed project: Maximus awesomus

Maximum Awesomus - New Look 6230

London has been a hotpot of scary looking rain clouds, biblical rainfall and the odd intermittent break of glorious sunshine (witness the pics!) over the past few weeks. There’s only one thing for it – a maxi dress of awesome-ness that keeps you cool, modest and removes the need for depilation. Hooray! The sun finally made an appearance in the back garden this morning so I hurried out to make the most of it.

I’ve never been a fan of maxi dresses as I find all too often they swamp my 5 ft 2 inch frame. But I’ve been toying with the idea of making one to suit my height and body shape after Mela made a really stunning version using New Look 6230.

Maximum Awesomus - New Look 6230

After I fell in love with the bodice on New Look 6864 I knew it would be perfect as a maxi dress. And finally, I could use my beautiful hand-blocked Indian cotton which Our Patterned Hand so kindly donated to me ages ago! Isn’t it perfect for the dress? Kind of Moroccan-y, terracotta pot-y, something-y… you know what I mean…

Maximum Awesomus - New Look 6230

Let’s get into the deets.

Pattern review: New Look 6864 View A+B+I+K.

Difficulty rating for StitchandWitter: 2 out of 5 – fairly straightforward.

Fabric and notions used: 3 metres of hand-blocked Indian cotton, one 20 inch zipper.

Total cost of dress (not including pattern): About £2.50 with gratis fabric.

Fitting issues: None actually – I cut out a straight size 10 in the bodice and a 12 for the skirt and it fit pretty much perfectly. There are only two darts under the bust; everything else is gathered so as long as you make sure the empire panel under the bust fits and the neck panel looks good you’re pretty much good to go.

Making issues: Um.. in my excitement to get this dress sewn up as quickly as possible I neglected to notice that the bodice actually calls for a lining. I only realised my mistake after I had attached the neck panel and thought to myself, “Hmm – those arm holes are unfinished… I wonder when the instructions will tell me to fix that… oh.. hang on… oh s*i*b*lls!” But all was not lost. I did a quick rescue job by turning the edges back a quarter inch and stitching, then another quarter inch and stitching. It’s not perfect, but it’s really not noticeable. The zip could also do with a better finish on the inside for the same reason (forgetting the lining)  but I can definitely live with it.

Skills learned: Continuing with my love of the French seam, pretty much all seams are nicely finished on this project. Makes such a difference knowing your seams are in order – it’s a bit like getting knocked over but knowing it’s alright because you’ve got fresh undies on, y’know? I also had my second ever attempt at a lapped zipper and I think for the most part it worked out ok. I still get a bit confused about how a 5/8  and a 1/2 inch seam allowance join together into a standard 5/8 seam allowance without some trickery going on but sometimes the magic doesn’t reveal itself to us because we are not ready to understand it.

How long did it take? Not long – I think probably about 6-8 hours in total.

Will I make again? This dress is a perfect maternity option as you can add extra width under the bodice and then just gather to add more room for the bump. I plan to make a shorter version using some petrol blue polka dot cotton (previously earmarked for another Simplicity 2444 – reluctantly shelved for now) and a magenta lining.

Maximum Awesomus - New Look 6230

Completed project: Arrgghh kimono

Hooray – a day where I finally had time to actually put this little beauty on and photograph it!  This is my Arrgghh Kimono – that’s an impression of a pirate by the way, me hearties.

Arrgh kimono

I gave a sneaky peek of this last week but I hadn’t quite finished hemming it. Which proved to be quite difficult actually given the slipperiness of both the outer and inner fabrics – crepe de chine from Marc Jacobs and a slippery plum charmeuse. With multiple ironings and a bit of luck I managed to get it looking even without it slipping on me. I ended up hand sewing the hem as it gave me much more control than using the machine.

So this is my first attempt at a Salme pattern. I’m pretty pleased with it overall. It was very simple to put together which made lining it much nicer. Note you must add your own seam allowances though!

I decided to underline the kimono but I was worried about the seam finishes on the inside… so instead of just attaching the lining wrong side to wrong side, I sewed it to the fashion fabric right side to right side with a quarter inch seam allowance, then turned it  the right way out and pressed, thus enclosing the seams within! This meant a much neater finish although again given the slipperiness of the fabric was bladdy tricky. I then used a half inch seam allowance instead of a 5/8 seam allowance to put the dress together. (Boffins will note that my quarter inch plus half inch adds up to more than the usual 5/8 but what’s an eighth of an inch between friends eh?)

I raised the waistline by seven centimetres because I wanted the gathers under the bust rather than at the waist. On reflection I wish I’d taken some of the width out of the pattern or cut a smaller size as the gathers feel a bit bunchy, but a belt disguises the join anyway so I’m not too bothered about this.

Here’s a peek at the lovely plum lining!

I LOVE how the plum is repeated in the parrot beaks! This lining makes a huge difference to the body of the crepe de chine and makes it feel uber silky when I’m wearing it. This is my second lined dress – hooray!

I like that this is a little different from the vintage styles I’ve been doing recently. It feels quite modern and practical. Less frosting – more cake, albeit a glamorous cake. Not sure what Gracie makes of the parrots though. Should I make her walk the plank?

Completed project: Simplicity 2444 – the Portlandia

OMG I think I’ve found my most perfect favourite pattern EVER… well until something else catches my eye bien sûr…

Portlandia - Simplicity 2444

Welcome to The Portlandia dress. Why Portlandia? Because it’s got a bird on it!

This pattern was uber easy to put together, but I must quote Roisin here –  ‘once you get over the needlessly baffling instructions’ (have you seen Roisin’s version? Gorgeous!). Basically Pattern Runway split out every bit of the dress and then give you yardage for each section so for maths durrs like me it was impossible to try and work out how much actual bladdy fabric I needed. Cue lots of cantering from sewing room to sewing table, arms filled with fabric, excitement turning to disappointment and a certain amount of mewling (yes I mewl, don’t you?)  when I would realise that successive fabrics which would have been just perfect, weren’t sufficient enough to the task.

Portlandia - Simplicity 2444

I’ve worn this dress all day without the petticoat – not too creased eh?

But not my ‘Put a bird on it!’ fabric, hooray. Three metres was just enough to squeeze a dress out of.

A lot of fabric goes into this skirt, and unfortunately the folded fabric was too narrow for the skirt pattern pieces, so I had to cut two identical lengths of fabric, place them right sides together and cut out the skirt pieces separately.

I used two pieces roughly 125 cms in length for the skirt, facings and sleeves and I was left with about 50 cms left for the bodice so I did that double fold thing, you know, where you have the fabric folding in on either side to the centre. Psst, I actually have a bit of selvedge in my seam allowance on the centre back bodice – it was that tight.

The obligatory cat photo

The obligatory cat photo

Pattern fit and adjustments

Anyway – on to the actual pattern! I cut out a size 12 exactly as was on the pattern after flat-measuring the pattern pieces, adding ease and subtracting seam allowance. It’s almost spot on but there will be some adjustments to make. I’m going to remove an inch or so from the neckline front and probably two inches from the back. This will neaten the shoulders and stop that dreaded bra strap from showing as well as removing any gaping at the back neck. I’m really happy with the waist – it has just enough ease to be comfortable but not so much it looks cinched in when I wear a belt.

New skillz learned

The double darts in the bodice are a first – I love how they pull the bodice in so elegantly. But this is such a simple dress there really are no special skills required to complete it. It would be a great project for a beginner.

I really made an effort to finish the seams nicely on this dress so everything is French seamed with the exception of the armscye seams and the bit of seam allowance under the zipper – I’ll try and work out a good way to do that for the next version but I find sleeves and zippers stressful enough without trying to French seam them! It was a little daunting at first but the effect was so lovely and neat.

The inside with french seams

The inside with french seams

For those who don’t know what a French seam is – it’s basically enclosing the raw edges within your seams. Here’s how to do it.

1.  With wrong side to wrong side (I know, weird innit) sew a 1/4″ seam allowance. Trim the allowance to about 1/8″. Press the seam both sides.

2. Now turn the edges right side to right side (like how you’d normally sew a seam) and sew a 3/8″ seam allowance, thus enclosing that previous seam within your new seam and hiding any nasty raw edges. Press as usual and marvel at your gorgeous 5/8″ neat seams, sans overlocker! Please note if your seams are supposed to be 1/2″ or otherwise you may have to revisit the maths.

This particular pattern is perfect to try the technique with, as rather bizarrely it encourages you to attach front bodice to front skirt and back bodice to back skirt before you sew the side seams.

Will you make this dress again?

There will be many versions of this dress I suspect. I really liked the stand up collar that’s included in the pattern but my next version will probably have a self drafted contrast Peter Pan collar and probably be lined. I’m thinking something in navy blue with a cute design (maybe even polka dots!), a white peter pan collar, piped sleeve cuffs and perhaps a slightly shorter skirt. Another silky evening version might have 3/4 length sleeves and a matching belt. Oooh the possibilities. You could even draft your own skirt – the bodice would look very slinky atop a wiggle skirt. It would also be really interesting as a fine wool knit for winter.

How much did it cost?

Fabric – 3 metres at £3 a metre

Zipper – from stash but let’s say £1.50

Pattern – £6 including delivery.

Thread – from stash but let’s say £2

Interfacing – from stash but let’s say about £1

Total cost: £19.50

How long did it take?

I cut everything out in a couple of hours on Friday night, spent about three hours in total on it on Saturday and another three hours on Sunday so approximately 8 hours.

Anything to add?

Did I mention I love this pattern?

Give us a twirl

Completed project: Grainline scout tee

So I’ve basically ripped off True Bias and her lovely polka dot T-shirt for this project. Once I saw her slouchy tee I knew it would be perfect for filling that essential casual top gap I’m seeing in my me-made wardrobe. And because I’m a big ol’ plagiarist, I opted to go for spots too! I used this polyester mix from my stash. I had been keeping it for my Hazel dress but since I don’t know when I’m going to be able to start it, I thought why not use this wonderful fabric instead of letting it sit unadored in the sewing room. It’s got a lovely drape to it and I love the slightly outsized dots and this particular shade of grey.

Scout tee shirt

The pattern is available here – think it cost me less than £3 overall as you just download and print it out. Although I HATE sticking multiple A4 sheets together because this is what happens…

Stealth cat

I can haz help? Naw? Is stoopid enewayz…

Anyway – back to the pattern. It’s very easy to put together – just a front, a back, a sleeve and bias binding for the neckline, which is even helpfully added to the pattern and sized for you. It takes a couple of hours for me to knock one up but the more experienced amongst you will be knocking one of these babies out in an hour tops.

Scout tee shirt

For my next version I think I’ll reduce the width of the sleeves a touch and not take so much off the length. This could also make the perfect pattern for a slouchy sun dress if you extend it, or a great nightie. Plus you could do all sorts of experimentation with the sleeves etc.

Scout tee shirtWarning – this is not fitted in any way. There are no darts at all so if you do prefer something a bit more fitted, this pattern might not be for you. But if you’re after an easy to knock up, casual slouchy tee for lazy summer days – this is it.

Karen, does this qualify for Ugly Amnesty?

You is UGLY

Ewwww

Ooh I was full of such high hopes for this project, but things just didn’t quite turn out to plan. Who knows what caused it – the fabric choice, the lack of lining and therefore body and structure, a few extra pounds around my waist… all I can say is – this is a big fat fail of a dress, and in the interests of public sewing health – I’m sharing it with all of you.

When the fabric first caught my eye I was fresh off my Mad Men challenge and itching to use Simplicity 5961 again. It was just such a pretty little shape and so easy to run up. I decided NOT to add trims and details (like I did with the Mad Men version) because I thought the stripes would be quite enough as it was.

I then made what might be called the fatal decision – not to add a lining. The fabric is floaty, yes, but not overly so. However I think this pattern calls for something sturdier. What flowed beautifully with wool crepe and satin is disastrous with cotton seersucker! It just… wilts on the body! I feel like me and this dress have just done ten rounds in the washing machine!

Don’t even get me started on the zip. It took two machine attempts and one hand-picked zipper to get to this point, and I ain’t doing it again, no sirree. LOOK at it undulating along my spine like that, just look at it! My zipper’s doing the rhumba! And where did the swayback come from?! WTF? I haven’t got the heart to redo this travesty of a mockery of a sham of a zip.

Yikes - what a nasty zipper

Did I do this with my eyes closed? Hilariously – no!

To conclude my friends – this is not a dress that will be worn often, if at all. True, it can be saved with a slip, a cardy and a pair of sturdy Bridget Jones underpants, but only just. I haven’t even hemmed it yet – it’s THIS CLOSE to going in the bin.

Ummm – will this do?

What do you think – should I finish it off? Stitch? Or DITCH!

Completed project: A teal Ginger

A teal corduroy Ginger

Well, I’d like to say I did a better job of the zip on this version than I did on the Ginger Bodgers… and I did… to begin with! Unfortunately I did it rather too well, with the annoying result that it was really tough pulling the zipper head up and down the teeth. Eventually, dear readers, it broke right in the middle of hemming the damn thing. I’d finished everything else, so heavy was my heart as I took the seam rippers to the zip. Luckily enough I had another concealed zip in the same colour.

I basically did a total hack job – ripping out the zip and just a bit of the top facing. It was SUCH a hack that my zipper left a good inch of fabric waving free at the top, so it was time for a hook and eye. Needless to say – the zip wasn’t so invisible now…

Ginger zip

Eurgh – I think I’ll leave invisible zippers for a while. They are not my friends. Hope you had a lovely Easter peeps!

A teal corduroy Ginger

P.S. Have you seen the new patterns from Sarai at Colette patterns? Gorgeous huh? My favourite is Lily – so retro-glamorous. What’s yours?

Completed project: Ginger Bodgers… plus a giveaway

You might have spotted this little lady in my OWOP! day 3 outfit post. It is indeed a Colette Ginger, created in bits and bobs over the last week or so. I had attempted to start it whilst in the throes of my womanflu on Friday night but after three sessions of seam-ripping I realised stitching and sneezing just don’t go together and left it to the Sunday to finish off.

OWOP! Day 3

So let’s look at what’s right with this make. The size is almost perfect for me – I cut out a straight size 4 but then freaked out once I saw the waistband – I was positive that it would be too small for me. So I constructed it using just a 3/8 seam allowance on the side seams. Now it’s complete, I think maybe I could have got away with the normal seam allowance but now I have the added bonus of pudding space and one must always consider space for pudding, non?

I like the shorter length – I removed about three inches when hemming so next time I’ll take that out at the pattern tracing stage.

Front back skirt

I used up some of what was left over from my Minoru – the grey corduroy. And it was here I made my first mistake. In an effort to save on fabric I thought it would be a great idea to place one skirt pattern piece from top to bottom, and the other alongside it from bottom to top. Happily on I worked, piecing together the front and back, only to realise to my horror that this really affects the colour of the corduroy! So now I have a dark front and a light back, or something like that. In some lights you can’t tell but in others it looks quite patchwork-y. But y’know – it’s kind of a wearable muslin so I’m not complaining too much about it…. yet.

'Concealed' zip

Now this is what we call a demi-concealed zip. It’s all the rage you know. Especially if you ‘feature’ it by making it a completely different colour from the fabric – cripes! I hope I’ll get better at these, and I’m positive I’ll never again go so far out of the colour palette in my choice of fastening!

All in all? I’m pleased with my first attempt, despite the obvious issues. It’s terribly straightforward to make. I’d love to try out the chevron stripe matching in another version but perhaps only after I have a few more version 1s under my belt. I specifically made this one to go with my Tuck ‘n’ lace ‘n’ silk violet and it goes perfectly with it so hooray!

Question for you Ginger-afficionados out there – any great tutorials for adding a lining? I’m a newbie to lining and can’t quite work it out for myself so every little helps!

Now for the giveaway bit!

You guys – this is a milestone. This in my 100th post – hooray! To mark the occasion I’ve got a lovely retro uncut pattern, all ready to whip up for the summer!

Butterick giveaway

It’s a retro 50s-style dress from Butterick patterns with bias binding straps and a full skirt. Just right for twirling the night away.

To be in with a chance of winning just leave a comment. The giveaway will be open until Saturday March 31st midnight, UK time. Good luck and thanks for sticking around!

OWOP! Day 3…

Me again – are you sick of me yet?

It’s back to porridge today. I’m feeling much better now so it’s back to work in the sunshine (boo!) and close proximity to John Lewis (yay!).

OWOP! Day 3

Today I have teamed my first Violet with a recent make – the Colette Ginger. More on that in an upcoming post. Blimey, I appear to be posting twice a day at the moment.

There are a lot of soft colours (jade, moss green, um… violet!) in this blouse which go nicely with grey. And I’m in heels again. These are (shush) Hush Puppies from (double shush) Clarks. I promise you they’re not for old women. They’re just a bit more supportive and comfortable than regular heels. Ahem.

So that’s OWOP! day 3 down. Four more to go… how are you getting on? Are you finding the pressure is on to create a new look every day? I’m rather enjoying it so far – it’s made me dress better for a start! I haven’t worn jeans in three days!