My day out at Love Sewing Magazine wearing Butterick 5488

A couple of months ago Amy, the editor of Love Sewing Magazine, got in touch to see if I’d like to review one of the upcoming free patterns.  I was happy to give it a go as I’d been in the sewing doldrums and hoped a bit of a challenge would bring me out of it.  I was a little concerned about getting a half decent picture when Amy asked if I would like to go and do a proper photo shoot; hair, make up and everything!  They wanted to showcase readers makes but also show them on real bodies.  I must admit to being a little apprehensive, it’s one thing taking a few photos in the back garden to put on a blog but being in a national magazine (the UK’s No 1 sewing mag) took it to another level.  But my family encouraged me to do it, saying I’d never done anything like it before and may never get the chance to do it again!

So one bright morning in February I ventured across the Derbyshire Peaks to their studio in Stockport.  Amy was first up modelling her Vogue eve appeal dress which looked stunning.  Meanwhile, Nina did my hair and makeup. I’d worn black tights and taken my blue wedding shoes to wear but Denise the shoot director persuaded me that blue tights and blue suede heels would look better in the pictures (I was worried I’d look like a Smurf but looking at the photos she was so right, I could really do with her restyling me every morning before I leave the house!) Then it was my turn in front of Renata’s camera.

Who knew modelling could be so difficult? I quickly exhausted my blog photo poses (hands by side, hand on hip, I couldn’t do the usual hands in pockets as I didn’t have any!) I was at a bit of a loss what to do so went to my default setting of giggling and messing around.  The problem was I screwed my eyes up when I laughed so I had to try and master smiling with my eyes open.  I was a bit worried they wouldn’t get a single shot of me with a straight face but after taking umpty nine photos (along with some of me and Amy giggling) they were satisfied with what they had.  (Renata also took a couple of head shots which now grace all my online profiles, I only wish I could use it for my driving license!)    

Anyway, here’s the review and loads of photos.  (I’ll post the full text of the review afterwards in case the snapshot is unreadable) 

 

 

I’d just like to say a big thanks to Amy, Nina, Denise and Renata for making me feel so comfortable and making it a day I’ll never forget!    

Here’s the review:

I think it’s sometimes easy to be put off a pattern due to the way it’s been styled on the front of the envelope.  Bearing this in mind I wouldn’t have initially been drawn to this pattern but going by the line drawing I could see that it had potential.

The fabric I used was a midnight blue animal print Crepe de Chine from the Fabric Godmother. Very lightweight and floaty with a lovely drape to it.  After a test sew I decided to use a size 70 needle and a slightly shorter stitch length to minimise the risk of puckering, which is one of the pitfalls of sewing with fine fabrics.

Although my measurements (42-34-42) put me at size 20 I know from experience that Butterick patterns come up large on me so decided to size down to an 18.

I made a quick muslin before cutting into the good stuff and although the fit was fine around the yoke and bust there was a lot of ease in the dress and it came up very large.  There’s no shaping to the dress so it’s straight up and down.  The pleats at the back also produced a lot of volume which is a place where it isn’t necessarily needed.  I decided to tweak it a little and add a bit of shaping. I graded right down to a 12 at the waist and then graded out to a 26 towards the hem to give it a bit of flare around the bottom.

As the fabric was very lightweight I used Vilene superfine interfacing on both the yoke and yoke facing which gave it an extra bit of stability.  I used French seams throughout and it came together very quickly.  The most time-consuming part was sewing the yoke.

The grading between sizes seems to have worked quite well and I am much happier with how the dress falls now.  It has also pulled in the back a little across the waist but there is still a lot of volume above.  I think pinching out a couple of the pleats at the back might help reduce this.

Advantages: quick and easy to make, no fastenings so easy to throw on.

Disadvantages: a lot of extra ease and unnecessary volume at the back (but these can be fixed with a bit of tweaking).

It’s quite a difficult dress to fit as you go along, it’s impossible to try it on until the yoke is attached (by which time the dress is essentially finished)  One option would be to only sew the top few inches of the side and back seams and then add the yoke.  This gives the opportunity to tweak the fit of the dress before finishing the seams.

It’s an ideal dress for summer, the loose fit is perfect for hot days when you don’t want to be restricted by anything fitted.  There’s also the option to shorten the dress into a top, which is what I plan to do with the muslin I made.  I think fabric choice is key to making this pattern work, it really needs to be fairly lightweight with plenty of drape, anything with a bit of body could have the potential to look bulky. I would add in seam pockets next time, one of the best things about sewing your own clothes is the opportunity to add pockets to everything!

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2015 – Some Year End Musings

Is it just me or did 2015 whizz by? They say time gets quicker as you age but at this pace a year will be more like a month by the time I’m sixty. One of the culprits seems to be having school age children, we seem to be living term to term and counting down the weeks until we can have a break from the weekday routine and stay in our pyjamas until mid-day. Contrary to this (and thankfully) Christmas seems to be going by at a nice steady pace. I finished work on the 19th which gave me a whole week to get organised. I was actually settled down with a Baileys and Tia Maria by 7pm on Christmas Eve. As the New Year approaches I thought I’d have a look back and see where my sewing had gone over the past 12 months.

My main plan at the beginning of the year was to get rid of the plan. Like many, I had built up a huge ‘to sew’ list with no chance of ever getting to the end of it. I wanted a bit of spontaneity, to just go where the fabric took me. I also wanted to slow down a bit, spend time concentrating on finish and just letting projects take however long they took. I expected to be less productive but a quick tally shows I’ve made 38 garments this year which, strangely enough, is the same amount as last year. It’s been mainly dresses, 18 of them, closely followed by tops at 16, 2 jackets and 1 coat. I’ve only made one skirt which seems a little odd but probably very telling about what I’m drawn to.

2015 was also the year when people started to comment that everything I seemed to sew was blue! I’d never noticed before and I’m amazed as it was staring me in the face every time I opened my wardrobe. I have no idea why I am drawn to it. I’ve since become quite self-conscious about my fabric choices and it has become a bit of a running joke on Instagram. I’ve been making a concerted effort to choose other colours over the past few months but one look at my favourites indicates it’s just not working.

On the knitting front I’ve produced three cardigans and two sweaters (only one of which is blue you’ll be pleased to know) My favourite by far has been my Audrey in Unst which has had a lot of wear and I’m itching to make another.

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Following in the end of year tradition I have a few favourites.

My number one has to be my Cascade Duffle Coat. I finished it at the end of November but haven’t managed to blog it yet as getting pictures in the dreary overcast light of recent weeks has been impossible. It has been worn constantly since I finished and exposed to both wind and rain. I can report that it has kept me snuggly warm and dry and is the best coat I’ve ever had!

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My second is definitely my blue Liberty Carline Edith blouse, I can’t emphasise enough how much I love this. I wore it at every opportunity and have since invested in a few more metres of the fabric to make a very special dress.

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My Liberty Summer M6696 is also up there, it took me ages to finish as it coincided with the summer holiday and a rather overwhelming bout of decorating. As I finished it at the end of the summer it didn’t get much wear but I’m really looking forward to getting it out once Spring raises its head.

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My Spotty Plantain and Kimono tees were also easy go to’s as well, unfortunately the jersey wasn’t very good quality so they are looking a bit forlorn but I’m on the lookout for more polka dots to make replacements.

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Lastly my recent Blackwatch Tartan Frankenpattern. It’s just the perfect me dress!

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There have been a few things that have been left languishing in the back of my wardrobe.

The main disaster was my silk Sutton Blouse. It gave me such a hard time sewing it that I took an instant dislike to it. I thought time would soften my view but it hasn’t and I’ve only worn it once. It was only afterwards I remembered the can of starch I’d bought to tame tricky fabrics!

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My next one was my Lemon Edith Dress. I’m a bit peeved about this as the fabric was from Louise at Notsewsimple at last years SewBrum. I should really have used it to make a skirt as the yellow next to my face makes me look a little washed out and ill.

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Finally is my Rachel Wrap Dress. I liked it as a dress but just not on me. It was a little too clingy around my stomach and I felt like a sack of potatoes tied in the middle. Afterwards I found tying it at the side improved it vastly but I still wasn’t 100% sure about it.

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Looking forward to 2016 I have a few ideas

  • I need to learn to take things easy in general and take advantage of any downtime I can get. I tend to push myself so hard that when things quieten down a bit I’m absolutely knackered and it takes me all my time to get back to some semblance of normality.
  • I’m definitely going to continue with the spontaneous sewing, it really has taken the pressure out of something which, in essence, is supposed to be enjoyable and therapeutic.
  • I want to revisit old patterns that have worked well but been pushed aside by all the shiny new ones. I love the Deer and Doe Sureau and have only made two Emery dresses. McCalls 6696 is also a winner which needs another rendition.

That’s about it really, I think the best plan is not to have one. I’m also carrying this over to New Year Resolutions, if I don’t make them I can’t break them!

Wishing you all health and happiness for 2016!

My Simplicity ‘Star Sewist’ Submission!

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In March Simplicity launched their Star Sewist search. The challenge has three categories, each using a set Simplicity/New Look pattern:

Best dressmaking project -the NewLook shift dress 6145

Best Newcomer -Simplicity’s It’s So Easy 2286 skirt

Best Vintage Make – Simplicity’s 1364 blouse

I decided to attempt the vintage category using their vintage reproduction pattern 1364, a classic top with French darts

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The fabric I used actually came from the rummage box in my local fabric store and cost £1. I had a summer top in mind for it so when the challenge came along it seemed like destiny!

I cut a size 14, shortened the length by four inches and lowered the neckline by two inches. I omitted the zip; I basted the back seam and tried it on and although it’s quite fitted managed to wriggle in and out of it quite easily.

To get into the vintage theme I sewed it up on my old Singer. It was actually nice to get back to basics (although I did find myself reaching for the thread cutter button a few times!)

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I used French seams throughout and finished the neckline, armholes and hem with co-ordinating bias binding from my stash.

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I cut out the tie belt as well but once the top was made decided against it as I thought it would be a bit too fussy. Instead I took inspiration from a vintage pattern and added two little rouleau bows on the shoulder.

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I’m really pleased with how this turned out, the pattern really does do the fabric justice. It’s probably the cheapest thing I’ve ever made as well, only costing £1!

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It’s that time of year again – Me Made May 2015!

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Hosted again by the lovely Zoe of sozowhatdoyouknow

What is Me-Made-May’15?

‘Me-Made-May’15 (#mmmay15 for social media interaction) is a challenge designed to encourage people who sew/knit/crochet/refashion/upcycle garments for themselves to actually wear and love them. The me-made and self-stitched challenges have been taking place for five years now and they work on both a personal and community level. The participants decide the specifics of their own challenge pledge, so that the month is appropriate and challenging for them. For example, a very common pledge is for a participant to aim to wear one self-stitched or refashioned garment each day for the duration of May 2015. The participants can also choose to document their challenge with daily photos (though this is in no way compulsory for taking part) and share them with other participants.’

 

This years pledge

Last year I made things difficult for myself by pledging no repeats. Although I did manage to achieve this by swapping around tops and cardies by the end of the month I was a little desperate!   It was good to know that I had enough clothes to see me through but what killed me was only being able to wear favourite outfits just the once!

This year I am pledging to wear all me made clothes (apart from Jeans, bras and maybe the odd pair of socks) along with me made knitwear and knickers for the whole month of May.

I have thankfully lost a little weight so should be able to fit into last year’s clothes. If not I may spend the first couple of weeks in Lady Skaters and Weekend Doris’!  I’ll be posting daily blurry bathroom selfies on instagram.  I have finally realised that I can link my instagram account (justsewtherapeutic) up to my twitter account (helen_justsew) so they’ll probably end up on there too.  (I’m trying to persevere a bit with twitter, although I am a little worried about adding to the time sink of Instagram and Feebly.  I do spend a fair amount of time admiring others projects when I should be getting on with my own!)

Are you joining along this year and if so what are you pledging?

SewBrum Meet Up October 2014

On Saturday I was able to attend the ‘SewBrum’ meet up in Birmingham which was organised by Charlotte at English Girl at Home. Unfortunately it was raining, but I was really excited as I waited for my train. (I did think I may get a little overexcited by the time I got there but managed to contain myself!) We gathered at the station and made our introductions. I was really pleased to finally meet Louise of notsewsimple after spending so long communicating through our blogs and Instagram. Claire from Sewincidentally had actually brought a trolley along filled with fabric for the swap! I did take a couple of photo’s but I have borrowed some far better ones from Suziela and Charlottes post!

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With brollies up our first point of call was Barry’s Fabric’s which was literally stacked floor to ceiling with rolls of fabric. It was a little bit like when Willy Wonka first opens the door to the Chocolate Factory, I didn’t know where to start! I spent ages wandering around stroking fabric without actually picking anything out. I eventually tried to focus and decided to search for some fabric for my planned Deer and Doe Bruyere Shirt. I had initially wanted to find a Chambray but came across this blue floral cotton poplin which was very soft and ideal for a shirt. I also picked up another cotton poplin and two needlecords which will be perfect for winter skirts.

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When we finally emerged from Barry’s the rain had almost stopped so we headed up to Fancy Silky Fabric’s. I had wanted to get a lightweight denim to make one of Marilla Walkers new Maya dresses but whilst rooting amongst the denims came across this stretch border print, I fell in love with the embossed flowery border and figured it would fit the pattern well. I unfortunately didn’t have time to look around the rag market as it was soon time to meet up again.

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We caught the bus to Moseley (after a little detour!) and arrived en masse at Gutherie and Ghani. The shop and studio is fantastic, I really wish there was something similar near me. Lauren had set up the studio for us and after unloading our bags we went down to look around the shop. I came away with some blue polka dot rayon, this gorgeous mustard cotton with tiny dragonfly’s on (can’t remember who designed it, should have paid more attention to the label!) and an advent calendar panel which is really sweet and has the instructions printed on. I also bought the Deer and Doe Bruyere pattern and a Liberty print ruler!

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We headed back upstairs for tea and cake and then had the raffle, all money raised during the day was being donated to Parkinson’s UK. Charlotte had managed to get some fabulous prizes including a Singer sewing machine. I won the Sewoverit ultimate trouser pattern which I had been thinking of getting, as apart from pyjamas and shorts for the not so little one I have never made any trousers, I have no excuse now!

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Emma was the lucky winner of the sewing machine!

 

After the raffle was over the tables were put together for the fabric and pattern swap, I managed to get a piece of nautical stripy cotton and also the lemon fabric that Louise had brought! I also picked up a vogue dress pattern and a children’s trouser pattern.

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Laden down with bags we headed off for home and said our goodbyes. It was such a good day and I met so many lovely sewists, it’s quite strange to meet people in real life when you have had a window into their sewing lives via their blogs and Instagram. I’ve also got many new people added to my feed and blogroll! it was so nice to spend time with people who shared a passion for sewing, fabric shopping is much more fun in a group!  Thanks again Charlotte and Lauren for organising such a great day!

My Autumn/Winter sewing and knitting plans

My sewing has been in the doldrums recently, I just can’t seem to muster up the enthusiasm to start a new project. I think this is a tricky time of year, in the spring I can’t wait to get started on some Summer dresses but now, well I’m more than a little apprehensive about the dark nights and cold Winter days that lay before me. I decided that while I didn’t feel like doing any actual sewing I should spend my time planning and getting organised. I have put together a list of projects and have not only got the patterns but the fabric and all the notions to go with them. So I have no excuse, if I publish my list here then I’ll just have to get on with it! I really want to try and concentrate on getting the fit right with my makes so have decided to make at least two versions of each pattern, using the first as a wearable muslin before cutting into my more loved fabrics!

I’ve been meaning to try some Deer and Doe patterns for a while, the patterns are drafted with an hourglass figure in mind and so offer the prospect of being a good fit for me. I tried their free Plantain long sleeved tee pattern when it came out at the beginning of the year. I loved it so much I made three which were in constant rotation before I had to change it up for me made May. It’s one of those patterns that looks very simple but seems to be drafted by fairies, it fits perfectly around the shoulders and bust and then gently flares skimming the waist and hips (and in the process hiding any wobbly bits!) I’m planning on making at least two more of these and have this stripey knit and soft duck egg blue jersey as the first contenders.

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I have also realised that I could use another basic skirt pattern in my wardrobe and love the inverted pleats of the Chardon. I’ve had this purple cotton in my stash for a while, meaning to make another Kelly skirt which never happened. I will use this first as a wearable muslin before cutting into this leafy green cotton that I got while on holiday.

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I’ve seen so many Belladones around the blogesphere and have wanted to try it for ages. Although it is a sleeveless dress I’m hoping to be able to wear it layered up with a long sleeved tee, cardigan and wooly tights. I’m going to make it up first in this Navy cotton twill (both fabrics are darker in reality!) I think I will actually muslin the bodice before, a rare occurrence for me! Once I get the fit right I’ll give this Autumn flower fabric a go.

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The Lady Skater was something that I planned to do last year but never got around to. I bought this purple Ponte Roma for it (it’s darker than the picture shows, as are all the other pictures!) but it kept getting bumped down the list and before I knew it Spring was here and it was flowery dress time! I’ve since found this heavy denim blue knit so I’m hoping to have a couple of work horse knit dresses to see me through the colder months.

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I’ve made Simplicity 2444 once before, the fit was nearly spot on but I had a slight hunchback thing going on with the zip. I hadn’t made any adjustments and should really have shortened the bodice to take my short waistedness into account. It’s such a great pattern and I love how the diagonal waist darts mirror the pleats in the skirt. I’ve been putting this off but I think with a couple of tweaks this could become a TNT dress pattern. I bought this grey cotton well over a year ago with no particular plan in mind. The flowers have a velvety nap to them and I think it will lend itself well to an Autumn/Winter dress. I’ve also just recently got this purple tartan (I’m a sucker for tartan!) and in my head I think it might work well with those darts, it could turn out to be a disaster in reality but I’m willing to take the gamble!

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So that is my current plan, I’m going to try and focus and not get distracted by other new patterns but since I’ve drawn up my list Deer and Doe have released the Bruyere shirt! I haven’t got any fabric for this yet but really want to try and squeeze it in somewhere!

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My knitting plans are a little easier and more practical. I will be needing a new hat and really like the look of the Wiksten Jul hat:

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I’ll be needing some arm warmers to go with it and have a couple of options:

The Kumara arm warmers:

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Or possibly these slouchy gauntlets:

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And finally I’m planning to knit Kate Davies’ Owl sweater because it’s cute and will make me happy when I’m wearing it!

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So that’s the plan, I’ve decided to start with the Grey Simplicity as I really want a new dress to wear and hopefully I won’t have to do much to get the fit right!

What projects do you have in the pipeline for the Autumn?

Me Made May week 3 round-up

Well we are moving into the last week of Me Made May already.  The sun was shining for the first part giving us a chance to get out those summery things but the past two days have turned on the rain and I’ve had to pull on the tights and boots again!  I’ve managed to stick to the no repeat pledge but I must confess we are off out for a rare night on the town tomorrow and I desperately want to wear my swishy Anna dress again! (I’ve finally persuaded the other half to go to the Japanese restaurant I went to on a girls night out, he’s not keen on Sushi but it’s my turn to choose!) I figure I can be allowed one repeat if I wear something different in the day?

Anyway, this week has been a mixed bag of outfits, some more successful than others!

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Day sixteen: Blue Broderie Anglaise Christine Haynes Emery dress.  This is my second Emery (will try and fit in the first before the month is out) Really like this dress, it’s very comfortable to wear but it does crease as soon as I think of sitting down!

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Day seventeen: Green Linen Colette Hawthorn.  My first Hawthorn and I really like this dress (even though it doesn’t have pockets!). It is Linen though so creases a lot.  Also I’ve never quite managed to press the waist darts flat so it does have the pointy nips problem!

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Day eighteen (Sunday) Red Colette Sorbetto.  Not quite sure about this but we were pottering about at home and then up to the allotment so it was a case of ‘it’ll do’.  I liked the fabric but it is a quilting cotton and quite stiff so I feel a bit like I’m wearing a cardboard box at times!

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Day nineteen: My newly made Macintosh Grainline Moss Mini.  I do love this skirt and it was very comfy to wear, I’m really not sure I should have worn it with that T-shirt though (and I could have done with a better Bra!). I think next time i’ll try a white shirt during the summer.  I think it will get a lot of wear through Autumn and Winter though with black wooley tights and a black boat neck sweater.

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Day twenty: self drafted A-line skirt. Hmm… you know when you have one of those days when  everything feels wrong?  This was a bit of a rush job, I decided I was going to wear the skirt the night before and thought I’d put a plain white shirt with it.  When I came to get dressed the next morning (5 minutes before I had to get out the door). The shirt looked too long left out and I didn’t feel comfortable with it tucked in.  I resorted to grabbing a white vest (which you cannot see in the photo as it has blended into the whiteness of my chest!) and the blue cardigan and ran outside for a quick picture.  Faced with photographic evidence I realised a, I should have stuck with the white shirt and b, that blue cardigan has got far too small for me (or rather I have got too big for it!) It’s now in the charity shop bag!  I did however like wearing the skirt and surprisingly I have never worn it before, even though I made it over a year ago!

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Day twenty one: Purple Miette cardigan and Blue Sorbetto.  I like this top as the cotton fabric is a bit more drapery so it hangs a lot better.

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Day twenty two: By Hand London navy Anna dress and green Miette.  Woke up to find it raining heavily! Determined to wear this dress though so out came the boots and black tights and the old faithful green Miette. Felt really comfortable in this as it was ‘me’.  One thing I’ve noticed over the past few weeks is that when I am wearing something I really like I feel a lot happier and have a better day!  Looking back over the photo’s from the past few weeks I see how I feel when wearing different things.  It’s hard to explain but I think feeling comfortable and confident in your clothes just enables you to get on with your day without fidgeting, breathing in, pulling down hems and being self conscious about lumpy bits!

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Day twenty three: Friday theme ‘polka dot parade!’ Denim Megan Nielsen Kelly skirt with navy and white polka dot buttons and pocket lining’s, stripey Grainline Hemlock Tee and Levi’s spotty cardie (worn with a navy and white spotty scarf and cream and navy spotty raincoat, just to make sure I’d properly covered the polka dot theme!) I do have quite a few polka dot scarves and cardigans but surprisingly this skirt is the only thing I have made with polka dot’s!  Will have to remedy this!  Also wore my Hemlock tee which I made using two back bodice pieces to make a boat neck.  Quite happy with this and I love wearing spots and stripes together, must be the rebel in me!

I can also report that I have indeed been wearing my me made knickers all week, not the same pair!, I’ve now got 7, I’m fighting the urge to put days of the week on them!

All in all I don’t think I’ve done too badly this week, i’ll have to see what I can conjure up for the last week!

How are you getting along with your me made days?  Have you had any major revelations about which clothes feel like ‘you’?