Saturday, 8 October 2016

My dressmaking year part 2

Now to reveal the other bits and pieces I've been whipping up this year.
Trousers, tops, accessories and a man shirt or two.

Many years ago I had to make trousers if I wanted any that were long enough for my 6ft self. Suddenly the shops figured out that tall women existed and hooray suddenly you could buy in lengths of 34" and even 36". Sometimes they're too long for me which is a very strange feeling indeed. I've never bought shirts for the same reason as the sleeves are woefully short.

Now I've always loved capri trousers. Shop bought capri trousers come up as pedal pushers on me (I might be exaggerating slightly here). Now there is far more choice in length, but not always in the print I want. I ordered the Sew Over It London Ultimate Trousers pattern for a quick and easy make. I loved everything about this style apart from the fact that the waistband skims the bellybutton. I felt as if the trousers were falling down all the time so I drafted a deep side fastening waistband to match the side trouser zip. The other plus of high waistbands is I can wear shorter tops without that bit of pink belly popping out.


My mum loves this style too so I've been making her a plain pair to wear, but she doesn't need them lengthening as she's far shorter than me. 


This is my most favourite, most worn top that I made this summer. It's from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual. As with most of her patterns you have to modify another shape to create your chosen one, but that's fine as I get more and more confident with this dressmaking lark.

Sewing with jersey is an acquired taste and can make you curse a lot. According to my daughter's I swear a hell of lot while I'm sewing anyway so what's a few more expletives thrown into the mix. When I popped off to our local fabric emporium I swooned when I saw this cloud print. 

Then I spied gold skulls too. Equally gorgeous, but not as loved as my bright blue sky and clouds top.


A dressmaker whose style and makes I love on instagram is Back to Blighty. She posted a picture of a simple, but sweet summer top she'd made which I immediately wanted to make. Simplicity 1467 includes a great jacket too which I plan to make at some point.


I had some white cotton with a subtle feather print hanging about so that was the first top I made in this pattern. 

Wanting to make another more colourful one I found the fabric guided me. I had a small amount of vintage fabric from Pomme de Jour. An edge strip from a bed cover I think. It was just enough to cut the front as two separate pieces with enough for stitching and careful pattern matching so the join wasn't too obvious. With just enough left to make the neck yokes I added plain green cotton to the back and I kind of think it works.


I bought some gorgeous 1950's blue rose cotton from Donna Flower early in the year thinking I'd make it into a skirt. Then I came across Butterick 6217 designed by Gretschen Hirst and it seemed the perfect pairing of cloth and pattern.


I have to admit to having never worn this top. I throughly loved making it, think it looks great, but everyone time I put it on I think No, not right. No matter, sometimes it's the joy of the making and the extra skills picked up along the way.

My most loved designs for clothes come from the 1930's through to the 1960's. I adore the bias cut shapes of the 30's, 40's feminine tailoring, the flirty fun of the 50's to the zinginess and simple shapes of the 60's. I've always dressed in vintage clothes and those with a vintage twist. Although I've never been one to favour the full look, I just prefer to mix it all up in the way that I want to wear it. 

The top above is a 1960 Vintage Vogue pattern 9187. It looks like a simply constructed shell top, but it was actually quite a fiddly little devil as was finding a bottom opening zip for it.

One of my other most worn and favourite shapes is this top of which I have a few. It's a pattern hack from a dress pattern into a shape that I wanted to wear. Easy to layer over long sleeve tee's, dress up or down with cut off jeans for fun days at the beach.


Having really enjoyed making up the Arielle skirt I printed off the pdf version of Tilly and the Buttons shirt Orla. I personally find pdf patterns a pain, all that joining up of pieces before you can even draw the pattern. It's another preparation job to add to the list before I can get on with the fun bit of actually sewing, but if that's how some patterns come then so be it.

I made this one up for Valentine's, you know red hearts and all. What I love most about this top is the petal like collar and the lacy exposed back neck zip. It's simply a fun and sweet design.


Now we're moving briefly into the world of man makes. I've made three fitted shirt for my love so far. The first one was ok, but was a sod of a pattern. Then I searched for another and found Burda 6931 which is a dream to sew up once I'd got my head around the difference of man shapes.

He likes skulls and wears some great silver skull rings so I thought he might like this cloth whipped into a shirt. 


Well he was really pleased with it and so was I as it fits perfectly. That inspired me to get on with making another one in a cloth I'd chosen with him in mind. This one I made in record time once I had the pattern firmly in my mind. In fact all ready to wear on a night out with me in my newly finished dress too so we were a handmade pair.


Sometimes I get the urge to make an accessory or two to pzazz up an outfit. 

Scarves occasionally.



But, more often a brooch. I tend to wear a brooch with every outfit so I can never have enough. My favourite are kitsch plastic ones which are jolly hard to sew and felt ones that are far easy to get a needle and thread through.

This floral posy is my most worn, all time favourite which I made from vintage felt. How I wish they made felt with this stronger texture and in these richer colours.



This is it for now for my makes of 2016 so far, but I do have a few more pieces cut out waiting to hit the sewing machine. I warned you it has become obsessional.

Friday, 7 October 2016

My year of Dressmaking

After what has been an incredibly long blog absence I've finally worked out how to download my photos so here I am once more. I'm not sure if anyone else is, but if you are, then Helllloooo.


Annoying technical glitches aside, I've also been busy with general life and endless sewing, bordering on obsessional. I decided this year to push myself with my sewing confidence and to learn new skills by tackling projects I might normally have avoided. I've also started drafting my own patterns. 
The other major change to my dressmaking adventures was the arrival of my mannequin, named Foxy Lady. She has helped me no end in my battle to actually get measurements correct. 

A project which greatly inspired me this year and had me sewing with frenzied gusto was the instagram daily share of sewing projects called MeMadeMay. A photo a day of a new piece sounded fun. I joined up and then did the maths....May has 31 days, that meant 31 pieces. I opted to share some older pieces that were much loved, a few cheat pics with handmade lampshades on my head, but on the whole I managed to create a whole lot of new tops, skirts, dresses and trousers. No more can I say I have nothing to wear. I'd be a great big fibber.

As my sewing confidence has grown over the years, it has taken me away more and more from shop bought clothes. They simply don't fit as well as a piece created for our own individual body shapes, how can they. I personally have narrow shoulders, a long upper body, large bust and long legs which I've squeezed into ill fitting clothes for years. Now I draft patterns to fit all my peculiarities in cloth, colours and patterns that I want to wear. It's all chosen to mix and match perfectly with my shoes and accessories so it actually gets worn, rather than lingering forgotten in the wardrobe. That's not forgetting three other things, It's far more cost effective to make your own clothes. A simple shop bought top costs roughly £30, whereas a metre of cloth is anything from £6 to £10 so it's an obvious saving.  The finished quality is often better (I'm a fussy perfectionist for my sins).  And finally, you can have shapes in your wardrobe that you know suit you rather than making do. 


This was the first picture I posted for the MeMadeMay challenge. A much made pencil skirt pattern Butterick 6326 that I've made as both pencil and wiggle shapes. 

I'd bought this neon bright stretch cotton the year before thinking I'd make a dress from it, but instead it became a skirt. Perhaps a top will follow to match.


I first made the Butterick skirt pattern in a stretch denim. Denim is a wardrobe essential for me as it's easy to dress up or down. I love the shaped high waist of this pattern and the six panels which are flat fell seamed to give it a more interesting design. I've added another denim in this pattern to my cupboard since too.


Another Butterick skirt in a green, navy, white and lilac stretch cotton. This time I added a zip to the back split so I can either wear it tight and wiggly or unzip and make it a speedy walking skirt.



Fancying a dress type option with this skirt, I whipped up a short top with a side zip from Vintage Vogue 9082.



I also made this skirt pattern up in this gorgeous slinky cat cotton print, but it doesn't keep its shape as well after a days wear as that fabulous stretch cotton does.

It's a design I'll keep returning to as it's a shape that I find comfy to wear, a bit sassy and flattering.


Another skirt pattern I've tried is Tilly and the Buttons Arielle. I've made three of these, but it's the denim one that gets the most wear. It simply goes with everything. 

I've found that full skirts just don't suit me at all and to be honest I immediately feel frumpy the moment I wear one.  So it's straight skirts and sometimes lightly pleated ones on dresses all the way for me. Ever since making shapes that I feel good in I've not had a day when I hate what I'm wearing. That adds to the confidence boost we all need now and again.


Now I do love to wear a frock. I have to admit to having quite a few and have added quite a few more to the collection this year. Admittedly, I lost just over a stone after the stress caused a couple of years ago. It wasn't a conscious choice, but boy that stone loss has made all the difference. No more uncomfortable bloated tummy that I try to hide and I feel tons more energetic too. That's largely down to happiness and sorting out my anaemia for sure. All the same I feel confident to wear figure hugging clothes again.

This dress in yet more stretch cotton has proved to be another firm favourite. It's Butterick 6582 and it was a bit of a sod to make to be honest. I went wrong with the neckline, I knew what had happened and the only way to resolve it was to alter the shaping from the pattern slightly. Oops, but never mind. It's perfectly wearable, only I know (which as a fussy perfectionist I'm trying to accept) and it all helps the stitchery learning process doesn't it.


Next we have a dress I made in a raspberry wool crepe from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing. This had a new to me challenge in the construction of armpit gusset's. A nasty word and not such a joy to construct and sew either. I regret not lining this dress as I've not worn it once since finishing it because it shows my undies lines. That all said, it's a great pattern, just me and my fussy ways.


After making the top from Vintage Vogue 9082 I made the dress included in the pattern that the top is actually meant to be worn over. Sewn in forgiving stretch cotton yet again. Only one outing to date for this one. Sometimes it's just the joy of making something and packing away in my memory the skills I learn as I make more and more.


I get all excited when I see these two frocks. The blue floral cotton is cut from a beautiful French bedspread that I bought from Pomme de Jour. For this make I wanted an easy to slip on summer days dress. I couldn't find the exact pattern I was looking for despite it being a simple shape so this is where I started to get braver and made my own bodice, after which I flat pinned the fabric into gently folded pleats to the bodice on my mannequin.  I even managed to pretty much pattern match too which shocked me that I can do it if I concentrate properly.


This yellow floral barkcloth was bought from one of my favourite fabric dealers at a vintage fair. It was pricey, but very well worth it. I've also made Happy Shoppers in this fabric which have gone to two lovely instagrammers. Instead of binding the neck and armholes of the bodice I chose to line this one in a yellow polka dot cotton, other than that it was the same pattern I created before.


I managed to get this Liberty Rose print for a steal and waited to get inspiration for which shape I wanted to make this in. My starting point was a vintage frock I saw but with a full 1950's skirt. I drafted up the bodice, added an A line skirt and made a quick belt from red webbing with a red deco buckle. This was made for a weekend away to Bristol in August, but instead the weather dipped suddenly from high 20's to freezing with constant rain. A fabulous weekend was had but the dress stayed at home. 


Another weekend away when the sun was hot hot hot. Another favourite and simple pattern, Eliza M's Eva dress which is is an all in one dress construction, no separate skirt or bodice making here.


My most recent dress makes are these next two. This first one is constructed using a me made pattern for the bodice, with a boatneck with cap sleeves and then I added my favourite Butterick pencil skirt pattern. The cloth is a just gorgeous blue and black Italian Ponte Roma that I found on a trip to Columbia Road and Brick Lane with my girls.

Final dress for now, but not for this year. I've got lots more in my head and cloth to match that I want to make up. 

Sew Over It London has a fabulous range of patterns to choose from. This is the first dress pattern I've used from them and I loved making it. I found this blue crepe on the way to meeting a friend for coffee, as you do when you just find it impossible to pass by cloth shops. With it's wonderful drape I thought it was the perfect match for this pattern. I have it in mind that my man and I will finally learn how to dance properly and then I can swoosh away in my 1940's Tea dress.

As you can guess I've got lots more makes to show you and I've already written that post too as I intend to get back to this blogging lark far more regularly than every few months.