Friday, 18 April 2014

A Girl For All Seasons - Sew Dolly Clackett take 2!

My second #SewDollyClackett dress! I mentioned in my first post that I had originally bought the lovely synchronised swimmers fabric with plans on making an Anna dress, but I quickly decided that it wouldn't feel right to make an exact replica of one of Rosin's dresses, so I decided to make up the Anna in the floral fabric and use the swimmers fabric to make a Cambie - another one of Rosin's favourite patterns (or it was anyway).

I first made the Sewaholic Cambie as a practice for my Wedding Reception Dress, and then for the actual dress. However, as I mentioned in those posts, I made a very silly mistake and read the finished garment measurements rather than the size measurements - so I cut my pattern pieces are the wrong size! The main issue is around the waist, which was far too tight in the floral Cambie, so for this version I added a cm to each bodice piece as well as the waistband. 
Due to the way you assemble the Cambie, it's actually quite hard to tell fit until towards the end and when I first pulled up my zip I was dismayed to discover that the extra cms hadn't seemed to make much difference. As a last resort I trimmed down the seam allowances on the waistband and waistband lining as much as I possibly could - and was relieved to discover that that made a MASSIVE difference - phew!!
The other change I made was to try out the straight neckline variation (tutorial here - it's pretty simple!). I have always loved the look of the straight neck and thought that the dress would probably have enough going on with all the swimmers without a sweetheart neckline as well. I really love the way the straight neckline looks, but unfortunately it gapes a bit, which I'm disappointed with. I also seem to have decapitated a few swimmers, which, when I was cutting out the pattern pieces, I thought I wouldn't do - whoops!
Speaking of pattern placement - check out that centre back!!! I am just slightly more than chuffed with how well it lined up! You can see a few finger tips peeking out which actually wouldn't have happened if I had have aligned the zip up as it should have been. However I was getting worried about the fit and placed the zip as close to the edge of the fabric as I could (which I'm glad about now!!!). When I first bought this fabric, I didn't think for one second that pattern placement would be an issue, but when it came to cutting out I realised that the swimmers are in both horizontal and vertical lines - eek…it's essentially a plaid! lol. I spent quite a bit of time ensuring the ladies lined up properly, and thankfully it turned out pretty well (for the most part!).
In honour of Rosin's original Syncronised Swimmers make, I am calling this dress the Girl For All Seasons Dress and I'm not even going to pretend that I wasn't a big Grease 2 fan when I was little!!!
The second homage to Rosin are of course the spectacularly sparkly numbers on my feet, as we all know that Rosin has a wee bit of a soft spot for fabulous shoes (I want ALL of her shoes!!!):
I am really pleased with this dress and can't wait to wear it. I was a little nervous showing the dress to my husband as it's a little more out there (fabric wise) than my usual makes, but I was surprised to find that the husband loves it - in fact I think it might be his favourite make so far! So a massive thank you to  Sarah and Clare for thinking up this fun contest and of course to Rosin herself for her fab sewing style which has given me an excuse to sew outside my comfort zone!
Now let's have one last look at those shoes shall we…

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Spring is here - at least in skirt form anyway...

Well I have been showing sneak peeks of this skirt for so long that I am just relieved to finally be able to mark this project as finished and be able to share it on the blog!

This is the first pattern that I have used from Gertie's New Book For Better Sewing. It is a classic pencil skirt but with 4 front darts rather than the usual 2 and once again I have found a pattern that required next to no adjustments (WIN!). I think the main change I made was to significantly shorter the pattern as I don't really like the look of skirts below my knee (unless it's a maxi of course).
The fabric was the very same fabric that I featured in a recent "Make It Yourself", however, I bought mine from Truro so paid the higher price. I only discovered that Fabric Land stocked the same fabric for a cheaper price after I had made my purchase. To be honest though, when I say higher price, it didn't really break the bank! As soon as I spotted it on the Truro website I had to have it, without really knowing what I was going to make out of it (I have to admit, that is how I tend to buy fabric…which probably isn't the smartest way to shop!). It is a lovely cotton sateen with a nice amount of stretch, which means it is really comfortable to wear. The only down side is that it tends to wrinkle very quickly, as you can see in these photos!
The skirt is lined in a bright pink lining which I trimmed in some very cute lace. I also hemmed the skirt by sewing on a very sweet pink grosgrain ribbon, turning it up and blind stitching in place. That's the main reason why the skirt took so long to finish - I tend to procrastinate a LOT when it comes to hand stitching…and hemming. But you guys know that about me already, since I think I mention it in almost every blog post!!

There is a very small slit at the back (you can't quite see it in the above pic unfortunately) which I think I should have made a little bit longer. I normally put a vent in the back of my fitted skirts, but forgot when I was cutting this one out. It's not a very tight fit though so no big loss really. There is also a bright pink invisible (or perhaps, not so invisible - whoops!) zip and the waistband closes with a classic hook and bar. I find that hook and bar closures can sometimes pull out of shape a little and recently I read that adding an internal button and loop can add that little bit of extra support to the waistband and stop that pulling so I may add this to the skirt at some stage, and will definitely be adding this to my next pencil skirt.
The colours in these photos are not quite true to life, as they are making the orange a tad deeper and brighter than it really is - but saying that, it is still a pretty bright skirt!! Also I promise that the top does actually match one of the pink shades in the skirt, even if it doesn't appear to in these photos!!

I am really pleased with how well this pattern has fitted me and am marking it as a 'TnT' pattern for me, which is pretty exciting considering I wouldn't say I actually have too many of those! As I mentioned in a previous post I have already cut out another 3 pencils skirts to make, and this is the pattern I have chosen. So I'm hoping I will be able to whizz through the construction for them pretty quickly. If I do manage that in the next couple of weeks then I'm thinking I might try my hand at Me Made May. I gave  it a go a few years ago (when it was Self Stitched September!) but failed miserably due to having very little to actually choose from. Perhaps if I get the pencil skirts done I'll stand a better chance of making it through the month. We shall see!

Pattern:   Pencil Skirt from Gertie's New Book For Better Sewing   £12.75
Fabric:    Orange Floral Cotton Sateen from Truro                           £18 (£9/m)
                 Pink Lining                                                                        £3
Notions:  Zip                                                                                     £1.89
                Thread                                                                                £0 - Stash!
                Grosgrain Ribbon                                                               £0 - Stash!
                Lace for hemming lining                                                    £0 - free gift
Total = £35.64

Oh gosh, I really need to stop adding up the true costs for my projects - I was enjoying my blissful ignorance as to how much things were really costing me!! But not to worry, my future skirts will work out a lot better since I won't be adding the cost for the book - phew!
Oh and I'm totally claiming this as a stash bust since I have had that fabric for AGES! Yeay! Love bustin' that stash (gives me an excuse to buy more!!).

Oh and the lovely Katy was inspired by my "Make It Yourself" and made her very own version of the skirt - it is brilliant so make sure you check it out (P.S. I promise we didn't take our photos together - although it totally looks like it!)! And if anyone else fancy getting there hands on a bit of this lovely fabric? If so, she is also offering 1.5m of it in a giveaway! 

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Hey Dolly Clackett - this one's for you!

I'm so excited to finally be able to share my entry for the Sew Dolly Clackett contest! The sun was refusing to shine and life was getting in the way of photo opportunities that for a while I was thinking I was never going to get this project up on the blog. Thankfully the forces aligned and here we are.
This is the By Hand London Anna dress, which, to be honest, probably doesn't need any introduction at this stage as I am quite sure I am the LAST person to have tried this pattern. I was always a little bit nervous that it wouldn't be very forgiving on my tummy so up until now was giving it a wide berth, even though I loved the style. But then the really fun contest cooked up by Sarah and Clare came along and I knew this would be my opportunity to give the pattern a go. Rosin has made a number of Anna dresses, my absolute favourite being her Beauty School Dropout dress - honestly, it is just fab!
Next decision was what fabric to make it out of. This pattern asks for FOUR meters of fabric…which is quite a lot. I had actually managed to track down some of the fab synchronised swimmers fabric that Rosin had used, and did in fact buy 4 meters. But then when I got it I decided that an exact replica wasn't quite what the contest was about so I now have some fun other plans for that fabric. Instead I turned to my stash (yeay - stash bustin' time!). I didn't have 4 meters of ANYTHING in my stash but I did have some beautiful floral cotton from Thailand that I had been saving for just the right project. I knew it would be PERFECT for a maxi dress, but I was sceptical that I would be able to squeeze an Anna out of it. However, sometimes if you want something badly enough - you find a way!!
I had 3 meters of the fabric, which was helpful, but it was unfortunately very narrow and I had to do a lot of reshuffling of pattern pieces. I threw together a really quick toile/muslin as I had a suspicion that I wouldn't need to cut the full length of the skirt pieces, and I was right. 7 inches could be easily lobbed off the end and I'd still have enough for a narrow hem (erm…just! I had to do the smallest of smallest narrow hems and I can only wear this dress with flats!!). Even so, I still had to cut the back skirt pieces upside down. Initially I wasn't happy about this but eventually decided that the floral pattern was busy enough that no one would even notice. And based on Rosin's most recent blog post I am now thinking it was fate ;)
Even though I am late to catch the Anna train, I am now so fully onboard, in fact I think I'm going to ask the conductor for this hat - it is a brilliant pattern and I am so happy with how my dress turned out. Actually, one of the BEST things for me was the fact that I didn't do a single alteration - it pretty much fits straight out of the packet (so to speak) - LOVE THAT! If I had to be really picky I would maybe say I need to make the bodice a smidge longer/lower the waist line. But that really would be nit picking.
The dress was made using french seams throughout, apart from the centre back and the seam with the split. Speaking of the split, I decided to go a little conservative and not have it opening quite as high as the pattern suggests. And believe me, the split certainly shows enough when the wind blows! The seam with the split requires you to tuck the raw edges in and slip stitch down. This creates a really beautiful inside, but man is there a lot of hand stitching to do! I really wanted to keep the insides as beautiful as possible, which is why I went with the french seaming, but when I got to the centre back seam, which has a zip, I wasn't sure what to do to keep it 'pretty'. The fabric is really light weight and practically frays while you look at it so zigzag or pinking wasn't going to cut it. I could have treated the seam as I did the split seam, but to be honest I am not a huge fan of hand sewing. So I ended up using my overlocker. Not as pretty, but a compromise I was willing to live with.
Because the fabric is so fine, it is a bit see-through and I thought a lot about whether I should line the dress or not. One of the reasons I wanted to do this (apart from the obvious reason of making it less see-through) was because I thought a facing would be visible around the neck and would look ugly. The lining needed to be cotton because I wanted this dress to be comfortable to wear during summer but I only had white in my stash and when I held it up to the purple you could actually see it through the fabric and I didn't like the effect. So…I decided to forego a lining and to finish off the neckline I  used purple bias binding (bonus stash busting - I had a PERFECT match of bias binding in my stash with just enough to do me…I think I had about 10cm left after this project!!!). In order to combat the see-through issue I just wear this dress with a skin coloured slip instead.
Su Sews So So Floral By Hand London Anna Dress 14
The photo above has some strange wrinkles going on, but I don't think it has anything to do with the fit or sewing, more just the nature of the fabric - it creases very easily!!!
Anyway, all in all I am so happy with my new dress! It has already been worn out twice and I've received lots of compliments. So even if I don't win in the competition I feel I have won already (cheesy enough for you?!!!).
Oh and finally - here's to Ms Dolly Clackett and her lovely husband to be! All the best for the wedding and married life (oh, and have a fab time in Paris!!!).

And here's a wee fun gif of the dress in action!!!

Monday, 31 March 2014

Style Sudoku | How to build a capsule wardrobe

Style Sudoku - How to build a capsule wardrobe - Su Sews So So

Who doesn’t dream of a capsule wardrobe, where each piece works beautifully with multiple other items in your wardrobe? But building a capsule wardrobe can often be a daunting task. Personally my taste is too eclectic to even attempt to live by a capsule wardrobe alone, but I think it’s a fantastic way to plan for a holiday or trip – or, far more importantly, it’s a great way to make a sewing plan ( well, this IS a sewing blog after all)!

I’m not going to take credit for Style Sudoku, I actually saw this idea in a Grazia magazine a few years ago, and it has stuck in my mind since. I struggle to wear my handmade clothes on a regular basis, and I think one of the reasons is because I don’t have enough other things to pair with them to make workable outfits. So I thought that it might be more sensible to Sew With A Plan (as many of you will have done/talked about before). The Style Sudoku is a very clever and organic way of developing and building your own capsule wardrobe, or capsule sewing plan!

The principal is simple; 4 tops, 4 bottoms, 4 shoes and 4 accessories (It doesn’t work so well with dresses unfortunately. My thinking is that a dress is an outfit of it’s own almost anyway, so you could just add a couple of coordinating dresses to the mix to provide you with even more choice). The placement of your pieces are key to making this Sudoku work, so I’ve created the basic template to help you:

Style Sudoku key - su sews so so

From this grid, outfits can be created by reading horizontally, vertically or diagonally:

How to choose your outfit

Once you have this grid you can start building your wardrobe. I have found that it is easiest if you stick to a very limited palette, perhaps pick 2 neutrals and add one accent colour. For my example, I’ve gone with Black, Denim and Bright Pink:

Style Sudoku - Holiday 1

Here are some of the outfits you can get from this Style Sudoku:

Holiday Outfit OptionsIt’s worth noting that corner pieces coordinate with three possible outfits, so make sure those are the most versatile. It’s also harder to build your Style Sudoku if you have too many pieces with patterns – unless you are a pro at pattern mixing (I am not!!). Working with this grid system you can build 10 different outfit options. But actually, if you stick to a limited colour palette and pick simple styles, then essentially you open yourself up an awful lot more choice!

I have been using this Style Sudoku idea to help plan some of my future sewing projects and I can’t wait to share my Sudoku plan in a future post. I am excited at the possibility of so many different outfit options for my handmade clothes!

So what do you guys think? Is this a system you could adopt? Have I inspired you to start planning your next holiday wardrobe?!
If any of you try out your own Style Sudoku I would love to see it – please share a link in the comment section below or ping me an email!

(Links to the pieces in my sample Style Sudoku can be found here, and if you like to use Polyvore I’ve made a Style Sudoku template to help with your wardrobe planning)

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Under The Needle

So even though things are a little quite on the blog at the moment, things are pretty busy in the sewing room! I thought I’d share some sneaks peaks…

On Instagram the other week I revealed that I have FINALLY jumped on the Anna (By Hand London) bandwagon:

Anna Dress

I’ve been working on this dress for the Sew Dolly Clackett competition and I am sooo in love with it – now I can appreciate the hype that this dress was receiving when it first came out! Here’s a sneak at the fabric I’ve used:


I cannot WAIT to get some photos done so that I can share it with you. I just have the hem and a LOT of hand sewing to do first (doh – my two biggest nemeses!)…

As well as the Anna dress, I recently decided to give ‘production line’ sewing a go. So I currently have 2 Plantain tops and 4 pencil skirts cut out and waiting for me to stitch up! Expect to see Plantains in these fabulous knits appearing soon:


And these are 3 of my planned pencil skirt:

ZigZag Skirt Floral Linen Skirt Pink Linen Pencil Skirt

I’m hoping that sewing the skirts at the same time will mean I get things done faster and procrastinate less! Hmm…watch this space…

What are you working on at the moment?
Anyone else joining in with the Sew Dolly Clackett competition fun?
Have you ever sewn up a pattern in multiple fabrics at the same time and how did you find it?

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