A sneaky peak of my Dressmakers’ Ball dress

I thought I would share a few snaps of my Dressmakers’ Ball dress – because I want to keep the grand unveiling until the night. And also because I haven’t finished it yet!

I haven’t hemmed it yet:

I’m using the leftover fabric from when I made my By Hand London Alix Dress, because I ended up with quite a lot left after ordering almost twice as much as I needed so I’d have enough to underline the whole dress. I still love the colour, but I don’t like how it frays and creases like a bitch – I did iron it before taking these photos, but you wouldn’t know!

Because of the fraying – and to give it a ball gown-y feel – I’ve used french seams. You may be able to make out 2 lines of stitching, though. I trimmed the seam allowances down to what I thought was teeny tiny, but then I sewed the second part of the french seam and the fabric edge was sticking out on the right side. I trimmed it down as much as possible, but you could still see the edge on the right side, so I sewed another line of stitching with a slightly bigger seam allowance. This slightly ruins the couture effect I was going for, but I didn’t really want to unpick the original line of stitching because this fabric does not like being unpicked!

My dress has sleeves! (And darts, which you can just about make out)

And although the bodice is lined, I decided to do french seams through both the shell and lining layers because of the fraying problem, and I feared any hand stitching would show on the right side of the fabric – it’s pretty thin and bruises easily, so even picking up one thread might have left a mark.

Also pockets because pockets. And pockets with french seams (except for the first seam where you attach the pocket to the skirt pieces, because I forgot/wasn’t sure that was possible.

Part of the skirt is pleated….

And there will be a split on the front, if I can ever bring myself to cut the fabric! I found a Burda tutorial that said you can make a split by sewing fabric on the top in 2 lines really close together, then you cut between the 2 lines of stitching and turn the fabric to the inside, which neatens what would have been an exposed edge. It said to interface the piece you sew on the top, but I haven’t because I didn’t want to mess with the drape and didn’t have any interfacing light enough. This weekend I’ll have to suck it up and cut the split. Or unpick it completely, but that might leave a mark!

Are you going to the Dressmakers’ Ball? If so, do you have as much to finish on your dress as me!? What colour are you wearing? Are you making something new or wearing something you’ve already made? I was tempted to wear my navy lace dress I made to go to a wedding in last year – if only it was like the Oscars and there was an after party, then I could wear both!

I made trousers!

These are my Simplicity 1696 trousers in navy twill, which I’ve been saying I would make since October!!!! I finally finished them! OMG! It turns out it’s almost as difficult to photograph navy blue as it is black!

I did have to make a few changes to the pattern to get it to this level of fit, which is still not perfect. Any tips on tweaks I can make will be gratefully received! I took about 4cm off each outside leg seam and 2cm from the inside leg seams. I also had to shave a little of fullness of the bum curve and angle in the waistband, but I didn’t note down by much, which is stupid because I’ll have to work it out again if I make these again!

I think the tweaking of the outside seams means that the pockets now stick out a little from the line of the trousers, but I’m not too bothered about it to be honest. The pockets are nice and deep, which I like! Also I wore these to work (exactly like this, with my melilot shirt) and no-one said anything, so clearly they weren’t thinking ‘wow, those trousers look weird.’

I think the fit is a little bit less good across the back. The pattern gives you room to tweak the fitting as you go, but I maybe will count these as a wearable toile and make some more adjustments if I make them again. There are some drag lines across the back of my thighs, so I’ll need to work out how to fix that!

This side view photo is possibly one of the least flattering photos I’ve taken of me wearing something I’ve made. My natural posture (if I’m not thinking about standing up straight) is with a pretty curved back and with my stomach sticking out (and with hunched shoulders too!), which is particularly unfortunately if I’m a bit bloated, as I was when I took these photos! I’m not pregnant, I promise!

I feel like these trousers may not be the most flattering shape on me – they do make my bottom half look quite heavy, but I don’t really mind as they are comfortable. I was conscious not to over-fit the waistband so they’d still be comfortable to sit down in.

Speaking of sitting down, here’s a close up of my arse! The fake welt pockets are definitely not my finest work, but hey ho. I’d almost rather have done real ones to be honest, or left them off as they were a kind of irritating fiddley step, but without the payoff of actual pockets!

And here’s a close-up of the front. I’m pretty happy with how the fly turned out as it did not look like this when I first sewed it, so there was some unpicking and some fiddling to get it looking okay. I also got a bit confused by the pockets, but luckily I had made the moss skirt for my sister, which has a similar pocket/fly arrangement, so I managed to figure it out. I think part of the problem is that it’s so long since I made a big 4 pattern, I was unfamiliar with their instructions – I’m too spoiled by the extra help and sewalongs that indie patterns give you. The button was just one from my stash.

I can’t think of much else to say about these trousers, except I MADE MOTHERF*CKING TROUSERS!!!! I’m pretty please with myself, if you can’t tell!

I’ll leave you with these outtakes from my photoshoot. The boyfriend suggested we take an action shot of me walking in the trousers and this is what happened……

This is me trying to think of other interesting ways to photography navy blue trousers, but it looks like I’m talking to our penguin (which doesn’t have a name, any suggestions?)

Then I gave up trying to think of photos so just posed with the penguin!

Have you tackled trousers yet? Have you been scared like me?

Fabric shopping in Birmingham

Last Saturday I went with some of the ladies I met at Sew Brizzle to go fabric shopping in Birmingham. I was sad to have missed the bigger meet up the previous week but in a way it was nice to go in a small group as it gave me the chance to chat with everyone (which I didn’t manage to do the time I went to a big London meet-up).

Here we are outside Guthrie and Ghani. Thanks to Sarah from Like Sew Amazing for the photo – she remembered to take pictures when I didn’t! A very kind man took this picture for us 🙂

From left to right: Karen, Amy, Me, Sarah, Ruth and Jen.

Our first stop was Fancy Silk Store. I felt a little overwhelmed when we first went in as it’s deceptively big – and has an upstairs – and I couldn’t take everything in! I did spot that they had reasonably priced denim and after we’d been around some other shops, we circled back and I bought some stretch and non-stretch denim for Ginger and Morgan wearable toiles.

This is the stretch one – it has a nice flecked weave and looks a little like linen, but is thicker. It was £6.99 per metre and I got 1.4m.

And this is the non-stretch. I did want something a bit lighter for my Morgans, but this will do for a practice. It is a little lighter than the stretch one. It was £7.99 per metre and I got 1.6m.

After this first shop we headed into the rag market, where there are loads of fabric stalls, inside and out. I had made the mistake of not taking out any cash as I thought if I did I wouldn’t buy anything! But I did have enough to get some black and some white cotton twill (I think it was twill and not drill, anyone know the difference?!).

I’m planning a 60s style colour blocked Tilly and the Buttons Megan Dress. I bought 2 metres of the black and one of the white, and it came to £12 in total (so £4 per metre). I bought this fairly early on and for some reason it weighs loads, so I got pretty sick of carrying it around by the end of the day – I was glad I waited until the end to get the denim!

After the rag market, we all got on a bus and went to Moseley to visit Guthrie and Ghani. I was not-so-secretly hoping we would go there, and I’m so glad I was with people who knew how to get there! I just followed 🙂 I could easily have spent a small fortune in Guthrie and Ghani – you can tell everything is really good quality. And the shop is so pretty!

I decided to treat myself to a couple of patterns which I wanted – the Ebony Tee and Dress by Closet Case Patterns and the Guise Pants by Papercut Patterns.

They have a really great selection of remnants and I couldn’t help picking up a couple of them. I just loved the pattern on this Robert Kaufman cotton. It’s navy blue, though it looks kind of black in the photo. It seems to be called Storm Drown, and I can’t find it anywhere online so I guess it’s not available. This bolt end was 275cm x 90cm and was £15.50. I’m hoping there will be enough for a Colette Aster blouse.

I also couldn’t resist this gorgeous mustard loopback jersey. The photo doesn’t do the colour justice, nor how soft it is. It’s honestly one of the softest fabrics I’ve ever touched. It was £6.50 and there’s only 155cm x 40cm so I’m not sure what I’ll be able to make, but I had to have it.

The final thing I bought from Guthrie and Ghani was this coral crepe fabric. It has a lovely drape and a slightly mottled texture and I got 1.7m of it at £10.50 per metre. This is one of the more expensive fabrics I’ve bought, but the Anderson Blouse I’m planning to make will still only cost £17.85 which is pretty good for a blouse made of such nice fabric!

The last fabric shop we went to was Barry’s. I would have no idea how to find it on my own, but it’s definitely a hidden treasure!

This is another shop that is very, very full of fabrics and I think you could easily spend 4 hours in there and still not see everything!

I did manage to find one treasure, thanks to Jen (Gingerella). It’s this nice blueish-greyish cotton and I bought 2 metres – I can’t remember how much I paid, though. I think I’ll make a short-sleeved Melilot Shirt for when the weather finally gets warm!

So there we go, that’s my haul for a day’s shopping. Not too bad I think. Have you been fabric shopping in Birmingham? Did we miss anywhere good?

 

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Silver Toaster Sweater

It seems like whenever a pattern goes a bit viral amongst bloggers and on instagram, I’m at least a month (if not longer) behind! So here is my Toaster Sweater. I’m sure you’ve heard of the pattern, but it’s from SewHouse7 and there are 2 versions of the Toaster Sweater – I made version 2. And I really like it.

It’s maybe a tiny bit short to wear with these jeans, so if I make it again I might lengthen it by an inch or two so the top I’ve got underneath doesn’t show so much when I move around!

I do like the funnel neck detail, though I’m not sure it’s supposed to sit exactly like this, but it doesn’t feel strangle-y so I don’t mind it.

The fabric is a lovely silver ponte roma from my local sewing shop, Sew ‘N’ Sew. It has a slightly ribbed texture, which is really nice. I also really like how the sleeves fit – they’re a bit wrinkled here because I’d been wearing it for a whole day.

I like the swingy shape of the back…..

But it does seem to give me a hunchback! Not sure why. I don’t have great posture, but I do stand up straight in my blog photos.

One of my favourite details of this pattern is the topstitching around the slits on the side seams. And I love how the back is slightly longer than the front.

And the corners of the hem look so lovely on the inside because the instructions tell you how to make them perfectly mitred.

This is also the first main thing I’ve made where I’ve used my overlocker to neaten the edges – I’m not quite at a skill level to feel comfortable sewing the seams on it too, especially with a new pattern. And I did have to unpick a couple of bits, so I’m glad I was unpicking sewing machine stitching and not overlocker stitching!

Am I the last person to make this pattern?

February Makes and March Plans

I literally can’t believe we’re already in March. (I’ve been watching a lot of Parks and Recreation recently, so this sentence is my homage to Chris Traeger!) I was moderately successful in completing my makes for February – I made only one thing I planned, but I made 2 extra things I hadn’t planned. I also had a mammoth cutting out session so I still have a few projects ready to go!

In a rare moment of blogging, I’ve actually blogged everything I made in February already (this may come back a bite me on the arse when I run out of things to blog!). First up I made this Colette Mabel skirt, to match the one I made for my sister for Christmas.

my-grey-quilty-mabel-1I also made what I thought would be my entry into the #MonetaParty, which was in the end my first version of the pattern, from the navy-with-white-flecks jersey:

moneta-party-dress-1Then I made my second, way more successful version of the Moneta, which rescued the pattern in my eyes – I felt it was a bit frumpy and not really my style in my first version. It goes to show the importance of fabric choice!

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So my plans for March are pretty much the things I didn’t get around to making in February……including these effing trousers which have been on my to-make list since I started doing these posts back in October! They are at least cut out! I’m planning to tackle them this weekend.

october-planning-simplicity-trousersI do also want to make my Toaster Sweater, which is also already cut out. I think it will be a good top for the still-quite-cold-weather we’re having in Gloucestershire! And I love the silver jersey I’ve got for it. Now if I could only get my overlocker working……

toaster-sweater-fabric

If I have time – which is unlikely to be honest as I’m away for 2 whole weekends in March – I’ll try to make my denim Moss Skirt, which is basically a copy of the one I made for my sister.

I want to try to get some fabric this month to try to make a start on my #2017MakeNine. The Moneta Dress was one of them, so I’ve at least made one. I also have Christine Haynes’s Marianne Dress on there and I do have fabric for that so hopefully that will be made in April.

I also want to get back into refashioning – I have quite a stash of garments to refashion – as that is one of the things I consider to be under the ‘thrift’ part of my blog name! Though as I’m away for some of March, this might have to wait until April!

What are your sewing plans for March?

Definitely my #MonetaParty Dress

jazzy-moneta-party-dressAfter what turned out to be my wearble muslin of the Colette Moneta, I was persuaded by Sarah from Like Sew Amazing (who has a fab new vlog, the first episode of which is about all 6 of her Monetas and features yours truly!) to make another one when she invited me to her house for a irl Moneta Party. It was really fun to sew with someone else – it’s normally such a solitary pursuit, it was a novelty to do it with company!

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-2I feel the main saving grace of this Moneta compared to the other, is the fabric. Eagle-eyed readers may recognise the fabric as the one I used for my Coco Dress. I used the pattern in a different way, centering the space between the diamonds instead of the diamonds themselves as I did for the Coco. I think it works better this way, which is good because to start with I was going to place the diamonds around the bodice in the same was as the Coco. And the diamonds pretty much line up on the side seams. Yay!

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-4The fabric looks even more trippy and like a magic eye picture from the back!

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-7The black fabric is some ponte I bought from my local sewing shop. I had thought they didn’t have that much of a range of dressmaking fabrics, but actually it’s pretty good when I looked closely and ignored the boxes of fat quarters! They have needlecord, lots of patterned cottons and a pretty good range of jerseys for a shop of that size. They also have everything you could possibly want in their massive range of haberdashery items.

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-5I really like the ponte as it has a nice structure to it, making it a lot easier to sew with than the thin fabric from my last version! The jazzy fabric is quite thin, but not too difficult to manhandle for just a couple of seams! The only problem with this combination of fabrics is the skirt pulls down the bodice slightly because the jazzy fabric is much more stretchy.

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-6I again cut out the straight size xs and this time didn’t need to make any fitting changes under the arms – I guess different jerseys behave in different ways. I also cut out the short sleeves instead of the longer ones because I didn’t think the 3/4 length sleeves would work in the black fabric. I did cut out the sleeves in both fabrics and asked Sarah’s opinion and she thought the black would look better – and she was totally right!

The main change I made, which I hadn’t initially planned, was to add a neckband.

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-3I measured the neckline of the bodice – the front neck was 34.5cm and the back neck 31cm. Added together this comes to 65.5cm. I decided to take 4cm off this length, guessing that this would be enough smaller to sit flat but not so much smaller it puckered the neckline. I’m sure there is a science to this, but my guess was okay. I then added 2cm back on for the seam allowance to be able to sew the 2 ends together into a loop. I cut the band to be 5cm wide. After sewing the 2 ends together, I folded the band in half lengthways, wrong sides together and tacked it all the way around. I then lined up the 2 edges of the band with the neckline of the bodice, stretching it slightly to make it fit. I then stitched it with a 1cm seam allowance, flipped it to the inside and topstitched it with my twin needle.

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-8If you follow me on instagram you’ll have seen that while at Sarah’s house I played with an overlocker for the first time. She had it all set up ready and it wasn’t as scary to use as I thought it would be – I feared the fabric would run away and cut itself in half before I knew what was happening! But it’s pretty much like a normal sewing machine, of course! Some of the insides (which I had time to do at Sarah’s) look lovely so I’m definitely a convert to overlockers, and I even got mine out the box for the first time, having bought it a couple of months ago! I managed to thread it but the stitches were all loopy and no matter how much I changed the tension, it didn’t fix it. Any ideas? Is it possible I did actually thread it wrong and it kind of works but not properly?

I’ll leave you with this outtake from my photos – this was me testing the camera set up, feeling really cold and wearing my glasses (which I took off for the photos!)

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Possibly my #MonetaParty Dress

This was going to definitely be my #monetaparty dress but I’m currently half way through another one which I like more, so that one may end up being my official entry for the competition/party. This one was probably more of a wearable toile!

But it does have pockets! This is my face when I have a dress with pockets!

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After asking on instagram, the consensus was to use this fabric which is navy with white flecks, instead of some teal stuff I also had in my stash – which I’m glad about now, because I think that will make a better Christine Haynes Marianne dress.

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I made the size xs and did have to take it in a little under the arms. I think because it’s quite a thin, drapey knit, it looked a bit saggy!

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I also sewed the waist seam with a 2cm seam allowance and not the 3/8″ that pattern says, because I felt it just sat slightly too low to be flattering. I have an H&M rtw dress that is a similar style to the Moneta, but without pockets and with a v-neck, and the waist seam is really quite high, so I was aiming for that, though it still isn’t quite the same.

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I do like the fabric, but when it’s stretched it goes white, the colour it is in the wrong side. The bodice therefore looks like it’s stretched too much, because the tiniest bit of stretch makes it look too stretched, because of the white showing through. I am wearing it with a navy vest underneath, which you can’t see, because it’s not really see-through, it just looks like it is, if that makes sense?

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Luckily without changing anything except the underarm seam, the xs size fits me snuggly across the back, which is the place I usually have issues with fit.

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The main issue with this dress, and what makes it a wearable toile, is that I messed up the neckline. I sewed it with a twin needle, but it didn’t quite catch the whole hem so I thought I could sew it again, overlapping one row of stitching so I ended up with 3, but that didn’t quite work. So I unpicked all the rows, and sewed it again. But by then the neck was stretched out and doesn’t look great. I wonder if I could rescue it a little with a neckband, but I’m not sure I like the dress enough to go to the extra effort.

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I decided to try full outfits that I’ll wear when wearing this dress, and I think it looks good with mustard yellow, with a cardigan done up (to hide the terrible neckline!).

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Even with the cardigan undone, it distracts from how wide the neck sits on my shoulders. And I’m sure people wouldn’t notice the neckline too badly if I don’t point it out!

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I also really like it with my Colette Astoria – it sits just at the right place to hit the waist seam. It looks like it could be a top and skirt. This is how I wore it to hang out with Sarah from Like Sew Amazing today to have a irl #monetaparty, where I sewed most of my second Moneta, which is looking more promising, as long as I don’t mess up the neckline again!

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I couldn’t resist showing you this outtake from my photoshoot, where The Boyfriend came out of the room which is behind the doors I use as my backdrop! You can’t see him, but I like the photo my camera, which was on a timer, took of me!

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Twin Mabels for Twin Sisters

You know how I was making those skirts for my sister for Christmas? Well one of the 3 I made in time for Christmas was a Mabel made out of this cool quilted jersey from Fabricland (though we got it in grey and it seems to be only available in khaki now).

This is mine:

my-grey-quilty-mabel-1And this is my sister’s:

phoebes-grey-quilty-mabelLike us the skirts are more fraternal (non-identical) twins than identical twins. They are both a size small – I traced off a size bigger in this pattern after the too-tight original Mabel I made a couple of years ago. Phoebe’s is 3 inches longer than mine, which was the length she requested. I made mine in the standard length for the pattern, which hits me just on the knee.

I’m pretty pleased with my pattern matching skillz on both, if I do say so myself! This is Phoebe’s:

phoebes-grey-quilty-mabel-3And this is mine:

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Mine isn’t quite as good as the  pattern isn’t uninterrupted – I’ve got two poofy bits and 2 flats bits (technical terms, obviously!) next to each other, when they should alternate. But at least the lines match up.

I managed to mostly match them on the waistband too, at least in terms of the vertical lines, if not the horizontal zigzags perfectly.

phoebes-grey-quilty-mabel-4Mine was a bit better matched across the back – sorry Phoebe! One of the back panels of hers ended up slightly on the wonk – I guess the fabric wasn’t perfectly folded in half. I haven’t done a huge amount of pattern matching, so I’m pretty pleased with how these turned out 🙂

my-grey-quilty-mabel-7I love the little kick pleat at the back!

my-grey-quilty-mabel-3These are definitely really quick skirts to sew up. At least they are when you don’t sew the waistband on upside down, without realising until you’ve finished the skirt and topstitched the top edge to stop it rolling. Though I’m just guessing that this would be really annoying and time-consuming to fix……… I actually didn’t topstitch the top edge of mine because I was feeling lazy!

my-grey-quilty-mabel-5I used a twin needle (heh!) for the hem and stitching in the ditch of the bottom of the waistband, and topstitching the top edge of Phoebe’s skirt, but for mine I just used a normal zigzag for the hem and stitching in the ditch. You actually really can’t see the stitching on this fabric, so it didn’t matter to me too much on my own whether it looked all professional like a twin needle makes it look.

my-grey-quilty-mabel-8I modelled the skirt with a tight rtw top tucked in, so you could see it, but I’ll really wear it with this black jumper in the Winter, and maybe my Astoria when the weather gets a bit warmer. I actually wore it exactly as in the above photo to work on Monday and I got quite a few compliments. And I love saying ‘thank you, I made it’ when I get complimented on something I’ve made. #sorrynotsorry.

Who would you like to wear matching clothes with?

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