Romper stomper: Simplicity 2459

Hey everyone, I’m so sorry I’ve been so quiet over the last few weeks. It’s not like I’ve been mega busy, or super tired – I’ve just taken myself out of the zone I think! Thank goodness for Handmade Style. Without this regular feature there’d be tumbleweeds round these parts. Thanks for your suggestions on new questions – I’ll be factoring them into some exciting new interviews with your favourite bloggers, coming soon.

In the meantime, let’s all have a collective awwwwwwh for Simplicity 2459…

Simplicity 2459How gorgeous is this?? It’s made of leftover teal cord from my Beignet and Ginger skirts, and lined with leftover rabbit fabric from my self-drafted smock top. Dontcha love a ‘free’ make?

For the most part this was really easy to knock up, except that the instructions seemed to omit the adding of the shoulder straps for View G which was what I was doing, which was a tad confusing but easily remedied by seam ripping the top of the bodice back and tucking the straps in, then securing with some top stitching. I also added a snap on each side under the arm. BOY I hate doing snaps after a long hiatus. I always forget how to do them, then lose/break/throw-them-at-the-wall-in-frustration. We got there in the end though. But I was down to my last two snaps – I shit you not.

This little romper goes with everything it seems. Must be a baby thing…

I used ready-made popper tape for the bottom – I’m sure I could have done a neater job here but truth be told I have no idea how these things work. I reckon a day or two of changing nappies will shed some light on what’s really practical.

Less than two weeks to go! The baby is a teeny tiny bit engaged which means he/she is taking his/her own sweet time to get into position. That’s cool. We’re ready. The romper will be waiting.

I think this is more ‘me’

First up, thanks everyone who commented on my winter coat muslin. You’re all so funny and lovely and clever. I laughed, I cried, I nodded vigorously throughout.

The overwhelming consensus was that this coat is not working for me at all.  The collar is too big, the raglan sleeves too low, the swingy voluminous shape too voluminous for my small frame and the length waaaay too long. Plus, there was some very sage advice involving swelling bosoms, breast feeding and avoiding complex sewing while heavily pregnant.

So taking all that on board I’m going to put my winter coat plans on ice until next year. Any tips on storing three metres of beautiful expensive wool without getting perma folds in it?

And in the meantime, I’ve purchased… this!

Simplicity 7805I decided that something more fitted would suit me and my frame (even if I do end up a bit chubbier) and I love anything with an empire line. When I saw this I just thought of Moonrise Kingdom and fell in love instantly. I’ve actually bought it in a Bust 36 to accommodate any potential extra boobage I might be lucky enough to get.

Isn’t View 1 totally adorable with that double collar?! God I so want this coat to be made up now. But patience is a virtue and what a fantastic goal to get me back in shape post partum.

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

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!

The best laid plans…

…can easily be derailed by the arrival of some new treasures. I had previously scheduled all my sewing projects into a nice well-ordered list. But these little beauties are just crying out for some attention and threaten to disrupt ‘the list’. Oh well, never mind. But look at the shiny new things!

Striped seersucker

I went for an innocent browse in The Cloth House in Berwick Street last week and ended up coming home with two metres of this charming striped seersucker. Isn’t it just so Missoni? I love the colours – they’re unusual together and the texture of the fabric is so tactile. I keep stroking and scrunching it. I’m so enamoured with the vintage pattern I used for the Mad Men dress challenge (Simplicity 5961) I’m considering making another version using the seersucker almost straight away. Speaking of the Mad Men dress – here’s a better quality sneaky peek than the one I put up last week. You can tell I’m dying to reveal it can’t you?

Mad Men dress

I also received a couple of delightful vintage patterns in the post last week:

Simplicity 6535

This is such a sweet little A-line dress, especially with view 2’s neckline. I’m thinking of using this wonderful Japanese cotton that was donated to me by a lovely lady named Cassy. Possibly with a cream/ivory contrast neckline.

Japanese cotton

I’ve been searching for a pattern to recreate this blouse. It’s a vintage blouse from either China or Japan and it’s got the most beautiful ruffled neck which is one of my favourite looks.  Sadly the arms are a bit tight and the fabric is becoming a bit bobbly in certain places so it’s time to try and recreate the magic! A good look at the design reveals it’s actually just a simple low collared shirt with ruffles attached.

Vintage blouse

and here’s the pattern to (hopefully) do it:

Vintage Vogue pattern

What about you? Do you find your plans are constantly being reprioritised depending on what pretty new thing has caught your eye?

Mad Men: The challenge

Disclaimer: If this all goes t*ts up, please don’t be disappointed in me.

Fact 1. I love Mad Men. I’m a relative late comer to the series and had to catch up using certain nefarious websites and DVD box sets, but now I’m absolutely 100% hooked.

Fact 2: I love Julia Bobbin. Her dresses are always super-cute and flattering and her pics are to die for. She’s also a dab hand at adapting and creating her own patterns.

Fact 3: Julia Bobbin is also a BIG fan of Mad Men, and when I say fan I mean she’s openly admitted to hunkering down for the night with binoculars just outside their open windows (in her head anyway).

Fact 4: Julia has thrown down the gauntlet to stitchers everywhere with her Mad Men Dress Challenge: Recreate a dress from the series by the end of March.

Fact 5: I must be certifiably insane as I have signed up.

Fact 6: I have no more facts so let’s stop this nonsense.

Yes, it’s true. Despite the fact that I am woefully behind on the Minoru sewalong and I’ve signed up to Tilly’s One Pattern, One Week challenge which entails making at least another – possibly two – Violet blouses, I said YES JULIA.  I quite literally dribbled when I read Julia’s post. I may have had a little cry too, right there at my desk.

I’ve been pinning pics of Mad Men dresses on Pinterest and doing google image searches for hours, but I keep coming right back to one dress. In fact, the dress which may have inspired Julia to create the challenge in the first place. This one:

Joan Holloway - blue

It’s just too wonderful to resist. Julia has created the most divine version of this dress. I only wish I had her skillz in being able to draft patterns, but after a long search I think I’ve come up with a pattern to fit. I hope she doesn’t mind me shamelessly copying!

I’ve just purchased Simplicity 5961 on Etsy. I think the empire bust line is perfect and in fact the A-line skirt will be more wearable for my small height. I really do want this dress to be something I can wear a lot.

Simplicity 5961

I’ve already chosen and purchased two metres of royal blue pure wool crepe from Truro fabrics. Sheeesh – it was expensive. Whoever said making your own clothes is a money-saving option needs their head read.

If you’d like to sign up to this awesome challenge just mosey on over to Julia’s blog where she has a button and deets all waiting for you.

Wish me luck!

So long seersuckers! Simplicity 3835

Ola lovely readers. Just one week of sleeps left to Christmas, eh? Hasn’t it come quickly! I’ve been spending the last couple of days (in between Christmas dos and drinks of course) finishing up my first Simplicity 3835. Although I was desperate to get this finished so I could start on New Look 6000, I just know that’s not going to happen this week. So this is probably my last finished dress of the year. Here it be, the So Long Seersuckers! dress:


Simplicity 3835

 

I see my husband is getting a little enthusiastic about the quirky angles. Hmm. Anyhoo, I made this from some uber cheap seersucker cotton from Abakhan fabrics – it was just under £3.50 a metre. And of course it’s one of my favourite colours – teal, so I’m chuffed.

The pattern ran quite large so I cut out an 8 according to the finished garment measurements, rather than the 12 recommended for my size and I’m glad I did – there’s plenty of room.

Simplicity 3835

The hardest parts were attaching the little ties on the sleeves – lots of steps, each of which you just  had to trust. ‘So I have to sew round the edges between the dots? Why? For the love of God why?’ It all made sense in the end. Attaching the collar was tricksy too – the arcs don’t match! One is convex the other is concave (or something). It’s simply not natural, I tell you. Also I’d bought an invisible zip, and the pattern instructions called for a lapped zipper. Now I have no idea if you can do that with an invisible zipper and I wasn’t about to try it out. I ended up winging it a bit at the back but it’s alright.

simplicity 3835

I’d definitely make this again, but I’d work a bit on gathering more at the front than at the sleeves and I’d like a version without the ties (so I can pop a cardy on over the top). I’d also like to find a good walk through online first – anyone know of one?

By the way – how much of a show-off is our Gracie? I can barely take a pic without her sashaying into view with her tail in the air. Proper little madam.