A work in progress

Here’s what I’m working on this weekend.

Polka dotIt’s a petrol blue polka dot version of New Look 6864, as used in my Maximum Awesomus dress. And I’m using calico covered piping! This version will be knee length or shorter and is lined in a rich magenta.

Although I can’t wait to finish it my beloved mummy is coming to stay with me for a week and she arrives today! We’re hoping to knock out a Violet for her while she’s here so stay tuned for progress reports.

Hope you’re all having a lovely weekend. Do share what you’re working on. xxx

 

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: New Look 6000 – The Holloway

It defied a lapped zipper, it balked at a lining, it tried to do a vanishing act before my very eyes! But I defeated it! Ladies and gents… introducing… The Holloway, brought to you in association with New Look 6000 frock fest.

Inspired by Scruffy’s fabulous Pan Am photoshoot I’ve tried and failed to recreate a sixties office in North London, so instead here is Joanie (aka Joann-ie) at home, dusting and whatnot, as ladies in the sixties were wont to do. Thankfully we now live in more enlightened times and take husbands to do much of that for us.

Out with the old and in with the new as Joannie takes down the Christmas tree…

Holloway at the Christmas tree

Who wants a Dark and Stormy? (some odd creasing going on there around the bust – think I just need to pull the dress down a bit there. Plus I see my eager ironing of the bias bound hem has resulted in a visible border around the hem! Ack!)

Who wants a dark and stormy?

I subscribe to the Dean Martin school of drinking: “I’d hate to be a teetotaler. Imagine getting up in the morning and knowing that’s as good as you’re going to feel all day.”

Drink for one

Tidying up the armoire…

Dusting the armoire New Look 6000

And now for the infamous Joanie shot. Will it hold? Will it???!!!!

The Holloway shot

Jeez Louise… just about… hooray!

This year I will be trying to add more thoughts about the patterns I attempt, not just to give more info to anyone who might be thinking of trying it out but also for my own (entirely selfish reasons) use when I revisit.

Pattern review: New Look 6000 (View C with gathered waist)

Difficulty rating for StitchandWitter: 2.5/5

Fabric used: 2m of golden brown tweedy woven wool(?) that frayed VERY easily once cut (yikes) and some spare teal corduroy-covered buttons from making the Betty Blue Beignet, plus a 22 inch all purpose zipper and interfacing. Fabric was a couple of quid a metre from Walthamstow market.

Total cost of dress (not including pattern): Approx £6 (pattern was £12.72 including shipping from US)

Fitting issues: Well I was a little optimistic with my sizing, after all those Christmas feasts. I looked at the finished garment measurements and cut out an 8, which was a smidgeon too small in the waist and butt in my muslin (thank god I did a muslin). I had already cut out the pattern (instead of tracing it as I normally do on to swiss tracing paper – the impatient me was dying to get on with it) so I just sellotaped on a bit more paper around that problem area on the back piece and added about a centimetre to the outer edge. I also scooped out some width across the back with a crazy dart in the pattern piece, removing about 4 centimetres in total which on reflection might have been too much (not to mention probably the wrong way to remove width in that area) but hey ho.

Making issues: The pleated waist and the cutting of the front on the bias was a new thing for me and a little daunting, but it all made sense when you gathered up one side. My lapped zipper totally and utterly failed and just looks like a normal zipper. Must go back to lapped zipper school…

Skills learned: Adding a vent, adding a cuff with a kick, pleating, cutting on the bias. NOT a lapped zipper. Adding bias binding to finish the hem.

Anything to add? I really really wanted to add a lining to this dress but when it came to the crunch I was just a little too scared by the prospect, having not lined a dress before. I’ll revisit once I have more skills under my belt. I also wanted to finish the inside seams better than they currently are, but at the rate the fabric was fraying it was all I could do to add a zigzag stitch before they disappeared! As a result I’m not sure how long this dress will last or whether it will hold up to serious wear or whether I will be able to stand the scratchiness of the inside (so that’s what hair shirts feel like – I see!). But for now, it’s all mine…

Will I make again? Hell yeah – love this style. It’s so flattering and grown up. Better get me some kind of serious job just so I can wear it to work now…

Dusting

Works in progress

Updates from the sewing room

Hallo peeps – how is your run up to Christmas going? Is it the calm before the storm, are you in a whirlwind of frenetic sewing and buying and cooking, or have you finished all your preparations to the festive season and popped your slippered feet up for a well-deserved rest? Me? I’m somewhere in between. I’m pretty sure I’ve bought everything I need to with the exception of one present. The turkey and the sausage meat is ordered and the wine is in. So it’s time for some bonus sewing!

With the exception of Ann and Dale’s dressing gowns I hadn’t planned to give any handmade gifts this year. For one, I didn’t think I’d be able to do something so well that the recipient would love it and forsake a store-bought version for it, and for another – I don’t know that many people who would like handmade gifts to be honest. Maybe as bonus gifts to the real thing…

Which is what I’m doing! Over the weekend I did a bit of stash-busting. I have so many fat quarters (oi! oi! stop that sniggering at the back) I don’t know what to do with them and quite a lot of leftover fabric from other home-type projects like cushions etc.  This tutorial for making a double oven glove is brilliant. It’s so incredibly easy. I bought a couple of metres of Insul Bright filler from Doughty’s (think it was Handmade Jane that provided the link in one of her blog posts) and got to work. It only took a couple of hours – and here it is.

Oven mitts

There’s just one thing stopping me from giving this away as a gift. My bias binding was a little slim which meant there’s a teeny bit where it’s not quite pulled under one of the pouches. Try as I might to unpick and redo this bit it just kept slipping free so I’m going to fix it with a few hand stitches and keep it for myself. I’ve ordered  a bunch of wider bias binding so once that’s arrived I’ll get on with knocking out a few more.

Simplicity 3835

I’ve cut out my pieces for Simplicity 3835 (mini dress view) in a lovely seersucker teal cotton. I’m quite excited about this one. I’m hoping it will be a nice simple project to get on with while I wait (and wait and wait…) for New Look 6000 to land on my doormat. Why won’t the internet elves hurry up? You’d think they had something better to be getting on with. Hmph.  Want to join Scruffy Badger’s sewalong. Although it’s great seeing posts as they come in as I’m getting loads of tips on underlining and fitting before I even start.

I’m on the lookout for fabric now for the Minoru jacket sewalong starting in January. I’m thinking a soft grey corduroy outer shell with a teal/polka dot lining. What do you think? Any good tips for quality (but affordable) corduroy? I’ve just read that Suzy is doing the same sewalong, and I’m pretty certain Karen is which is ace. Anyone else?

Finally I have a UFO lurking in my sewing room. The Trudy-tribute coat is gathering dust motes at the moment. I’m not quite sure if I can return to it yet. I’m not quite sure that it can still be termed the Trudy-tribute coat either to be honest – I think it will be very different. But that’s cool – it could wait until spring as it would be too light to wear over winter anyway.

So that’s me. What about you? Are you itching to get on with a project pour toi and cursing all those evil lifelong friends and family for making you do selfless sewing? Or is it actually quite nice to have a change?

Oh, before you go, here’s a pic of Keef ‘n’ Gracie doing their seasonal Nativity play. Keef wanted to play Mary… again…

Cat nativity

It’s just all about me, really

Confession: I’m a sewing stalker, a plagiarist, and a green-eyed monster.

When I spotted a post from Scruffy Badger Time, pondering which winter dress she might knock up next, I immediately honed in on two patterns she was mulling over: the New Look 6000 and the Simplicity 7845. Within minutes I’d found them and bought them. Immediately the frothing at the mouth receded and my WANTTHATWANTTHATWANTTHAT bulging eyes had sunk back into my skull. Happiness was resumed and smugness had settled like a warm blanket around me… until next time…

Check these babies out.

New Look 6000

I absolutely love this pattern. It’s very Joanie, non? Specifically View C. I have a dark green fabric I could use for this – it may be crepe (not sure about my fabrics yet). But then I’m looking at the purple-blue colour of View A and thinking hmm might be time to hit me up some new fabric as an early Christmas present to me from me. Why, thank you me!

And what about this little darling?

Simplicity 7845

The neckline on the middle view fits all the boxes I currently adore: vintage, feminine, gamine. Ooh be still my beating heart (and related pulsatile tinnitus – more of that in another post). I found it on Etsy. Even with shipping from the US it came in around standard pattern price (about £12). I recently bought a really heavy sort of satin from Walthamstow market with a fabulous sixties vertical flower print on it. It’s almost curtain material and could be stiff enough to create a really dramatic neckline. And look at that hairdo! A dress like this requires some serious up-tresses.

The sewing monster has been placated even further today – Amazon has announced it has finally despatched my Colette Sewing Handbook. I’ve waited patiently (snarled, yapped, nipped and grizzled) throughout the sweet Colette posts on the Meringue and the Taffy and the Licorice. Now they will be mine – all mine! Can’t wait to get my little paws on it. What about my UK friends? Anyone else got the book on order? Have you got your copy yet?

In  other news I’m working on two top secret projects for an early Christmas present so I can’t give you any details yet. Suffice to say I’m struggling with a neckline that doesn’t seem to match up and calls for ‘pivoting’ in the most illogical fashion. I only hope it works out as I ain’t got no back up plan…