Thursday, 19 September 2013

Getting my sewjo back?

First off, apologies for the radio silence!  I've had a pretty busy few weeks (including getting a mini promotion at work, eek) so my poor sewing has suffered.  Now that we're into September, it's time to go back to school and get back into the swing of sewing.

After the success of my mum's New Look 6184, I planned to make one for myself using the Rag Market fabric.  I cut and overlocked all the pieces at the end of the Bank Holiday bonanza, then it sat on the dining chair looking at me dolefully until I cracked and started making it.  As with the other, it came together quite quickly, but the fabric for this one was a bit of a pain (I've no idea what it was, a kind of thin drapey viscose maybe?  Lesson learned there...) and I had to put the zip in no less than four times (I'm very embarrassed to admit that).  This resulted in some stretching, and as this bodice is also a little too long, there's some slightly unsightly bulging at the back.  Here are some slightly rubbish photos for a slightly rubbish project:

If it was still the summer then I might have more drive to unpick and redo, but sometimes you have to know when you're flogging a dead horse.  I'm disappointed, but think that with a belt (and a cardigan) it should look alright.

In happier news, say hello to 'Claudia', my new dress form!  She was a very generous birthday present from my bf and his parents, and is named after Ms Winkleman, lovely presenter of the Great British Sewing Bee.  I'm hoping that she'll be a valuable asset to my sewing and happy model for my projects.

To try to get my sewjo back, I'm going to participate in the By Hand London 'Anna' sewalong and have bought some cheap cotton to practice with.  Making this dress reinforced that I have quite a strange upper body shape, so a bit of trial and error in the sewalong will be help me to perfect it for when I find some really fab material.

I also bought a *ton* of new patterns and had some for my birthday:

DO NOT LET ME BUY ANY MORE.  I'm excited to get going with these, particularly the retro blouses (Simplicity 1590) as I've never made clothing with button holes before!

What's on your cutting table for autumn?  Do you change your sewing style for the colder weather or persist in making unsuitable summer frocks?!

Until next time

Amy x

Thursday, 29 August 2013

New Look 6184 finished!

Success!  The dress for my mum is finished!  Suprisingly, the insertion of the invisible zip went wonderfully and I even hand-stitched the hem (I *hate* hand sewing).  Here are some pictures:

I'm really pleased with how this turned out, and I think that it's one of the most 'perfect' dresses I've made.  The bodice and skirt darts lined up wonderfully, the invisible zip truly was about as invisible as it could be, and it fit like a glove!  The contrast belt worked well too.  Here are some close up shots:

All in all, a big pat on the back for me!

As this was finished just after lunch, I got on with making McCalls M6744 (view A), which I cut out ages ago.  I bought this pattern and some cheap jersey from Fabricland to practice sewing with stretchy materials.  It's certainly different to sewing with cotton and I can't say that it's the neatest job I've made of anything, but it was quick to do.  Here's the finished item:

The neckline is quite low so I'll need to wear a vest underneath, but I think that it'll be Ok to throw on casually with leggings and a cardigan.  This is the second time I've used this pattern; the first time I made the short version of view C.  It turned out to be a little too large for me so I gave it to my lovely friend Carly.  She's worn it in public on a few occasions so it can't be that bad!  I'm definitely planning to make it again for myself as it's a much more flattering style than this.

So what next?  I'm going to try to reproduce the success of my mum's dress and make one for myself.  I've got some lovely fabric in my stash from The Rag Market in Birmingham, and will hope to wear it on our trip to Goldhawk Road in October.  I'm also very tempted to participate in the By Hand London 'Anna' sewalong, as I'm very envious of all the lovely Annas in the blogosphere (I'm looking at you Sew Busy Lizzy, Dolly Clackett and Did You Make That?).  In addition, I succumbed to Simplicity's half price sale and bought three new patterns: 1873, 2215 and 1590.  I think it's going to be a very busy autumn!

Are you sad for the end of summer, or do you secretly looking forward to rainy Sunday afternoons with a hot chocolate and your overlocker?

Amy x

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Time to call in the expert...

In my last post, I was a little stuck on how to proceed with my latest project, so I decided to get in touch with Karen, who's my dressmaking tutor. I mentioned Karen before; her 'real' job is as a wedding dress designer, though she also teaches several classes at the Bristol Folk House, including sewing for beginners and dressmaking.  Karen's been in business for 25 years (though you'd never guess to look at her), and was recently featured in our local newspaper:

Doesn't she look great?!  In addition to being hugely talented, Karen has the patience of a saint and a wonderful sense of humour.  I've been taking her classes for a few years now and always look forward to Tuesday nights.  We go 'back to school' on 17 September and I can't wait!

Anyway, back to the sewing.  As predicted, Karen showed me how to line the bodice in a jiffy, and an hour later it was done!  Now that she's explained it so clearly I'll have no problem doing it again.

All that's left is to whizz down the side seams of the skirt(s), then insert the zip and stitch the hem!  Easy peasy (famous last words).  I'm going to make the most of the long weekend and get this finished, and hopefully make a start on something for myself.  My sewing buddy for the day is my boyfriend's mum, who's a pretty nifty stitcher herself.  In fact, she made this dress for our holiday in June, and it looked so lovely that I decided I had to make it for myself!  Thanks Cathy!

Have you got plans for the Bank Holiday?  Whatever you do I hope you have fun  :)

Until next week...

Amy x

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Sunday sewing (for someone else)

On Sunday I sat down to make some progress on the dress I'm sewing for my mum. Despite having a deadline (she's going on holiday on 8 September) and knowing that I'm pretty busy until then, I was feeling rather lethargic. We'd hosted a dinner party on Friday night, then had a wedding on Saturday, so energy levels were pretty low. However, TMOTH* was going to see a friend so I thought I should take advantage of the peace and quiet. 

Here's what I started with: 

Here's what happened in the middle: 

And here's the result three hours later: 

 As you can see, no *tah dah* moment. Though I did make a belt:

So why the lack of progress? I think that this is one of those projects where it all comes together quite quickly at the end, but in the interim you're sewing darts, endless darts. Now I know that this is pretty much as basic as it gets, but I personally find them a little tricky as I start well but nearly always sew merrily past the tip. Fabric permitting, I often draw a line to follow, but this fabric is quite thin (hence the lining, more on that later) so I was doing it by eye. Out of 16 darts, I had to resew six because of my incompetence/tiredness. Bad times indeed.  Does anyone have any tips on making them perfect every time?!

The second reason is that pesky lining. The pattern isn't lined, so I'm having to wing it a bit. Winging it is not my style. Knowing this, I went online and read/watched about 10 tutorials on lining a sleeveless bodice, to no avail. My sewing buddy Mishka is an absolute whizz at lining, and boy, was I jealous of her at that moment!  Rather than get frustrated, I've decided to ask the professional (Karen) for advice; being shown how to do something seems to make it click for me.

Until then, I'm going to get cutting!  I've got lots of fabric and patterns in my stash at the moment, along with an unfinished playsuit, so I've got no excuse to be idle.

Amy x

* The Man of the House