Why buy a dressform, tailors dummy, mannequin, dressmaker’s stand thing?

Adjustoform lady valet dressform bust

I managed a good few years of dressmaking without a dressform… tailors dummy… dressmakers mannequin… whatchamacallit! I didn’t consider myself at all worthy of such a professional tool. I don’t have room enough to swing a mouse in my house let alone space to accommodate an extra lodger, with a price tag.

But one day I took surprise delivery of a delightful pair of such assistants – one male and one female. Mr O had sought to surprise me with this very generous gift. Strings attached of course.

I’d always contested that it would be too tricky to make him shirts what with him being the illusive musician and the need for checking fit and all. So hats off to his persistence and problem solving skills!

I did make him a few shirts. Years ago, mind. And the tailors dummy was great for checking all the aspects of shirtmaking. It’s become a little redundant of late though.

But the female dressmaker stand  was dressed and draped repeatedly and undoubtedly earned her keep. The main issues I had with the female one were the colour and all the plastic bits. When I stood back from the mannequin and looked at my displayed work I couldn’t help wishing she was more classy – more graceful and more like those neutral coloured dressmaker stands with the tiny wooden ‘heads’ that didn’t distract from the garment and had better pinnability to boot! I also had illusions of practicing draping techniques to create some crazy unique styles and I just wasn’t inspired to work on this blue, now-rickety dressform.

She didn’t age well. The adjustment cogs became stiff. I think they were quite tight to start with. The covering got a bit patchy and loose in places. it wasn’t particularly padded, was difficult to pin to and the hem gauge accessory at the bottom just broke off one day. I never managed to use that part of it to be honest. Ended up with a more wiggly line than I would have created without it!. Instead I would stand her on a table and measure the hemline up from the table with a metal ruler, turning as I went.

But that in itself was a bit of a disaster one day when I realised the body had become loose on the stand and was spiralling down as I turned it.

She almost got her marching orders that day but guilt set in when the more caring me realised how ungrateful and wasteful I was being. She did the job… but she wasn’t nice to work with. That’s all. But that’s such a thing!

Well they do say ‘be careful what you wish for’. (I wished so much to have a nicer dressform, I can’t tell you.) One fateful day earlier this year my ‘delightful’ son had a proper tantrum and vented spleen on blue lady dressform. Rather her than me to be honest, though to be fair, the ensuing bisection was way more of a shock to him than it was me. He had no idea I was upstairs and had witnessed the attack and that I spied on him as he tried to reassemble the twisted wreck, quite-rightly panic-stricken.

Oh the joy on two counts of asking ‘does anyone know how my dressform came to be broken?’. He fessed up, with shameful apology and offered to contribute to a new one. I couldn’t take his dosh. I was too happy that I now had an excuse for a replacement.

May I introduce Adjustoform FG202 | Lady Valet Small 8-Part Adjustable Dressmaker’s Dummy. Naked as the day she arrived. And almost perfect in every way…

Dressform tailors dummy

I first caught sight of her at John Lewis Department store. And I know you shouldn’t judge on looks but that is definitely what drew me in for a closer inspection. The adjustment wheels turned easily – way easier than my previous model. The wooden stand is way more attractive and sturdier than the flailing metal legs of before and the ecru body covering is much easier on the eye and conducive to shooting garments of all colours. Best of all it has boobs!

adjustoform dummy from side

Well, kind of… I do exaggerate! But there is definitely more boob than I had before which helps immensely when checking, shooting or simply displaying a garment. As expected there is no means to change a cup size so a good workaround is a bra stuffed with a pair of two of secret socks! Or I have seen more accurate ways of padding the body with batting to create a more closely replicated size.

Although I was sold already, I’ve learned to reccy online and resist an impulse buy. In any case it wasn’t available to buy in store at the Westfield branch so I found one – a whole £40 cheaper – on Amazon. I took full advantage of the free delivery with my Amazon Prime subscription and she arrived box fresh the following day.

Assembly was a doddle. I didn’t question that there was no instruction booklet, deeming it superfluous to requirement in any case: The body slots into the pole and is tightened with a screw and the feet slot into the base.

lady valet wooden base

I later found said booklet under the flap of the box as I crushed it for recycling. But I’m glad I did as I would have never guessed to rotate the metal device at the base of the stand to hold the feet on. If you don’t do this the feet fall out of their slots when you pick up the dummy!

dressform metal device

So was it worth the investment I hear you ask?

Yes is the short answer. I definitely needed one since more often I am dressmaking professionally. I can leave a circle skirt to hang for the bias to drop, I can achieve a level hem in the absence of a client. I can stand back and see how the garment looks and hangs and I can rotate the body to see how it works at all angles.

The only shred of doubt in my mind is that I know that my Adjustoform Lady Valet is only a slight upgrade, mostly for aethetic reasons and will never be a substitute for a real person’s proportions

This isn’t a one size fits all. And so even with padding will only ever be as near as dammit. Only when I progress to super successful fashion designer extraordinaire status (in my dreams) can I afford the space and the expense of an army of models in varying sizes.

There is better padding on this dressform compared to the blue one but only of marginal difference. You still hit underlying plastic unless you go in at an angle with those pins.

The gaps in the adjustment areas not conducive for draping. For the records I haven’t ventured down that road properly yet. I tend to work with existing or self-drafted flat patterns, but if I wanted to drape and pin a design I would be better off with one of those other kinds of dressform/tailors dummy/mannequin/dressmaker’s stand things with collapsable shoulders like they had on the Great British Sewing Bee.

Do you use one of the aforementioned? What are your views? And pray tell… what on earth do you call it?

Vintage Vogue 2934 jacket revisited

Vogue 2934 jacket

I first made this Vintage Vogue jacket and blogged it back in 2013 (see here) but somehow, sometime soon after, I managed to loose it! It’s still a total mystery.  Quite possibly a drunken misplacement and if that was the case I’m so annoyed at myself. I hope sincerely that someone found it and loved it as much as I did.

But hey, the advantage of being a crazy sewing lady is that one can whip up another at will, right?

The pattern is a reprint of Vintage Vogue 1950s cape-like jacket.

Vogue 2934 sewing pattern

It’s a great pattern and comes together really swiftly. Two backs (for a centre back seam) and two fronts with cut-on dolman sleeves and clever neckline darts that create a superbly structured stand up ‘collar’. There’s quite a lot of hand stitching inside but I actually enjoyed that bit. Not just because I took it to the park one sunny afternoon to finish off!

vogue 2934 collar detail

It helped of course that the fabric I chose – a remarkably cheap flocked, brocade-type of furnishing weight fabric from Dave the Drapers in Shepherds Bush Market – had the right amount of structure to hold that shape, but I was a bit worried throughout the process that there wasn’t quite enough drape for the swing back.

Vogue 2934 jacket by ooobop

And there wasn’t really. It stuck out like a comedy shark fin! I should have taken a side view photo to prove that I wasn’t being a drama queen but I was so fixated on solving the problem and not throwing in the towel and instead of grabbing the camera, I grabbed my purse and dashed to the nearest charity shop in search of a weighty chain.

After all, that’s what Chanel did, right?

chain weight in hem of jacket

To be fair I’m sure House of Chanel has a special kind of chain and rules on how to sew it in – anybody know? I just stitched every other link with a couple of stitches for security and hey presto, it worked a treat!

Incidentally that picture above also shows the detail of the lining I bought from Oxfam. It was totally biding its stay in my stash for this immensely appropriate pairing!

As with anything you make twice, it’s always good to change things up a little. I felt the black frog fastenings I chose last time sunk shamefully into the fabric so I went for a contrasting gold set and matching metallic braid to edge the cuffs, second time round.

gold frog fastenings

It was the best choice! This jacket is so much fun. I love the textures, the overall shape and the slightly bonkers nod to a Christmas drummer boy! I’m not saving it for best and I’m definitely not letting it out of my sight!

vintage vogue jacket by ooobop

School reports (or shorts to the layperson!)

I have created some fabulous projects recently (blows own trumpet): A mother-of-the-bride dress for me, an original and self-drafted dress design for a new customer and a tiered dress that I helped a friend to realise from some fabulous sketches she’d made. But before you get too excited, those posts are very much waiting on the back burner of the publishing pile until I can get hands on the photographic evidence.

In the meantime I have a small and rather underwhelming pair of shorts to report. Or ‘school reports’ as the cheeky cockney mister would have them called!

wearing handmade in Quadrophenia Alley
Classy shot in Quadrophenia Alley, Brighton!

This is third time out the packet for Simplicity 2659. Such a great little pattern that came free with Sew Magazine a good few years ago. I made my first ever pair (see here) in May 2012 where I declared it a small baby step towards the making of actual long pants / trousers. And I followed up with a second more wintry pair here. Simplicity 2659 easy chic Six years on I still haven’t made any ‘longs’ for me but I did make a couple of pairs of satin brocade jogging pants for my youngest so I guess that counts… in a toddler step kinda way. I’m itching to try drafting a proper pair for myself as I’m convinced its the only way to get a proper fitting pair. Just got to find some time… and the courage!

handmade shorts simplicity
Even classier shot, in Brighton, day after Pride!

The only thing different I did in the making of the shorts this time was to invest in a facing rather than use this twill tape to finish the waistline. Twill tape worked great for the last two versions. It certainly is a quick and unfussy operation but I didn’t have any left and couldn’t even wait the single day for a Prime delivery! So I measured 7cm down from the waist of both the front and back sections and traced off the top portion of the pattern. I then closed up the darts to form facing pieces, cut the pieces and sewed the right hand side seam and pressed open. The zipper is on the left and so the left hand side of the facing was going to be slip-stitched to the zipper tape. With right sides together I sewed the facing to the waist seam of the shorts. I understitched that seam allowance to the facing, close to the line of stitching to prevent it rolling out and also tacked the facing to the front and side seams.

Talking zipper – I hand sewed it in this time. Just because I had a spare mo and also because I had the inclination. I like the little visible little prick stitches and it feels like I have more control over the insertion. I always seem to miss catching in the underlap of the overlap when I sew by machine. If you know what I mean?! I finished off with a hook and eye at the top. lapped zipper I just love the turn ups. In fact I get a little moment of joy from sewing the bias strips onto the hemline. It’s like they bring the party to an otherwise ridiculously small and simple garment. And of course because they are cut on the bias there is a contrast in the direction of the fabric pattern. In this case the diagonals meet the vertical lines in the fabric. I can’t explain why this makes me so happy. It just does! You might have to imagine what they actually look like as it appears that it’s harder to shoot a pair of black shorts than actually make them! simplicity 2659 shorts And I finished them up just in time for a little day trip to Brighton. This weather is still  up until Sunday was sweltering in the UK and I’ve decided that minimal coverage of body is the only way forward! Ordinarily I’m a little bit shy about too much naked leg on display but in Brighty, anything goes and nobody bats an eyelid so I was happy as Larry paddling in the sea…. simplicity 2659 shorts … and sitting astride a scooter, care of Mod Roy! But boy did I feel like a traitor. My dad was a rocker after all! (Spot the guy who seriously wanted to feature on ooobop!) With Mr O on Modroys scooter Incidentally. The top I am wearing is handmade too. The pattern I used is Butterick B4685 . I made it from some fake linen border print fabric along with a matching skirt and blogged it here.

Pattern-free cowl skirt in African wax fabric

Cowl skirt front

I’m pretty sure I once said I’d never make clothes for anyone else. But owing to my rubbish memory I now seem to be making a habit of it!

Lucy is one of my beautiful returning customers. and I love the challenges she throws my way. It seems I’m happy making things for other people so long as they are not boring things, lol!

Lucy has a way more interesting social life than me and loves pinning her favourite styles on Pinterest for future reference. It’s a great way for us to share the possibilities of what she’d like me to make next. Most of what she pins, slightly terrifies me but I already overcame my fear of sewing trousers by making her a jumpsuit (which you can see here). She was so delighted with the outcome and that spurred me on to investigate the method of making a cowl skirt.

I’d seen them before, but couldn’t for the life of me work out how to set about it until I came across this tutorial on YouTube by Ruralafricanshop.

It’s a pattern-free tutorial that transforms a length of fabric like magic! Thank you Ruralafrican shop!

I set about making one for myself first. You know, just to test the waters (*read, because I really wanted one too!) and the great thing about sewing with African wax fabric is that it is so darned cheap you can afford to toile it and make one out of the same bolt. Which is clearly the best thing to do in order to see the results for real.

I found me some red and black, of course. It’s quite an unusual colour palette among the wax cotton shelves it seems. Everything else under the sun but not much red and black without other colour interference. I just love the sunbursts. It’s got a great graphic feel about it. And totes lends itself to this crazy sculpture of a skirt!

It cuts some pretty cool shapes with one little turn here and there:

cowl skirt by ooobop

It looks so elegant from the back.

cowl skirt by ooobop back view

And does it’s finest heart-shape impression in the wind!

cowl skirt by ooobop

The trial was a success. I added a few refinements to the instructions, re neatening seams, interfacing the waistband and inserting an invisible zip on a centre back seam. And I rehearsed using different lengths of fabric to see the difference in length of the skirt. The pleats were formed by eye rather than maths.




Lucy supplied her own fabric which was the chosen fabric for the event. And it was a little bit lighter than what I’d used so the pleats and the drape worked even better the second time around. And the border on the fabric worked beautifully on the waistband.

Lucy cowl skirt detail

She is far taller and way more leggy than me so I made sure the length was appropriate, and warned of the shortness of the front seam!

To be fair, she’d rock a potato sack but still, what joy to see her wearing another ooobop special… I was chuffed to bits when she sent me these photos!

Lucy wearing cowl skirt by ooobop

Lucy wearing cowl skirt by ooobop

I’m not stopping here. African wax fabric is such a pleasure to sew. And I’m ready for my next challenge. Bring on the party!

Other things I’ve made from African wax fabric:

Jumpsuit and baby dress

Self-drafted wax print dress




Gypsy dress and panel placement

 

ooobop soladida gypsy dress front

I am flexing those self-sabotage skills again. I have had notice of my daughters wedding for almost a year and with only a month away, have I begun making my mother of the bride dress? Don’t be daft. But I did make another Sew La Di Da French Gypsy dress. And I must say, I’m not even a little bit sorry!

ooobop soladida gypsy dress front

I totally blame that upstairs bit at Misan Fabrics, in the Goldhawk Road, where they have the most desirable remnants on sale, way cheaper than the fabrics they have downstairs. There was this 3.5m bolt of bright red panel fabric that was signalling from the top shelf. I didn’t have a clue what I’d do with it at that point. Cutting it up for headscarves was an option. But not a very exciting or fulfilling one. Maybe posh napkins or a gathered skirt? Seriously, I’m so uninspired sometimes. I spread it out on the table and looked to the assistant for a suggestion. A shrug of the shoulders translated that she wasn’t the least bit interested and was I going to buy it or not? The reason I was stalling was that the label said £10. I didn’t imagine for one minute that meant for the whole lot. So when the penny dropped, so did the idea that I could indeed make a gathered skirt but with a French Gypsy dress bodice attached to the top of it… for a tenner!


It’s great to revisit a recently-made sewing pattern: It’s already been traced; the fit is established – though I had to keep in mind that the fabric I used last time had a bit of stretch – plus having rehearsed it already, it’s a more confident sew and the process is therefore quicker.

ooobop soladida gypsy dress bodice

There was an issue of placement though. There were not going to be any happy accidents here, oh no! The skirt was dead easy to work out. I just used the width of the fabric for front and back and then halved the back for the seam allowance and zip. But I did think to make sure the panels aligned from the same point at the top/bottom… just before I cut, lol

The midriff – which I must have told you a hundred times before, is my favourite section of a dress – deserved a small floral border that came from the centre of the larger panel. I like how it kind of looks like a giant buckle from a distance. The little floral bits at the side were a bonus.

ooobop_soladida gypsy dress midriff

That same little patterned square worked for the sleeves just as well.

ooobop soladida gypsy dress sleeve

Back bodice pieces always give the most placement jip when there’s a zip to factor in. So annoying. Even more annoying when I’d already cut the back skirt pieces apart and could have made life easier for myself if I’d have thought it out properly and allowed for a side closure instead. But then I had a little brainwave and made sure that the placement didn’t need any matching up. I just needed to make sure the design was the same distance away from the zip on either side. Which it is. Kind of!

ooobop soladida gypsy dress back

The only section I’m not crazy about is the front gathered bust section. There wasn’t enough plain red and I didn’t want to repeat too much the ‘lacy’ edging of the panel section. I can live with it though!

I still had enough duchesse satin left over from the last time to make the black binding which is lucky because I love how it outlines the dress at the top.

My new dress had it’s first outing today and proved to be very picnic-worthy and received lots of lovely comments. It also attracted some attention on our little shoot in the neighbourhood earlier this evening. One passing stranger couldn’t resist joining in and worked it so well it would be rude not to include him. Thinking of you, Karen (didyoumakethat). I didn’t even have to tell him what it was for!

ooobop soladida gypsy dress guest

Thanks as always to the lovely Mr O for these lovely photos. x




Self-drafted Liberty lawn dress

Liberty Lawn dress by ooobop

What a glorious weekend. Unlike almost everyone I know, I didn’t make any plans and for a while I was fighting the fomo as I scrolled through hundreds of family getaway posts. But today I am glad. Not only have I ticked off a few niggly household jobs but I’ve had lots of me time to stop and think and evaluate. Those kind of days are as rare as hen’s teeth despite a generalistic view of ones freelance ‘flexibility’.

self drafted dress by ooobop

I did however manage to squeeze in a lovely river walk with Mr O who kindly took some photos for this blog post. He’s so busy with plans for a new show (a very exciting show that I will tell you about soon) that it’s quite difficult to sync a weekend together. But we managed a trot from Hammersmith to Barnes and back and talked and laughed… a lot!




Liberty lawn dress by ooobop

I’m wearing another self-drafted dress. I don’t self-draft nearly often enough, mostly because it’s a time-hungry process but every time I do I’m reminded of how much more satisfying it is to make a dress that is totally bespoke.

Now it’s not the most original or ground-breaking in design… that comes later (lol)… but it fits. Because I made it fit following various stages of tweaks. My pattern pieces look such a mess with all the scribbles and notes but they are truly important scribbles and notes which tell the story of the journey of fit each time they have been used.

self drafted bodice pattern ooobop

My first fitting was practised on a retro-style top in 2014. The next time I used the pattern was for this wax-print dress – same bodice but a half-circle skirt. I had minor issues with the neckline and corrected it for the third fitting: my skulls and roses dress.




The beautiful fabric is of course a luscious Liberty Lawn. It was a birthday present from a very thoughtful friend. I had 2 metres and didn’t want to waste any of it. The bodice is self lined which feels so good against my skin and was perfectly breathable for a hot sunny stroll. I drafted the armholes to cover that squidgy boob-fat bit (is that the technical term?) and so that the straps don’t fall off my shoulders. That combination involves a fine balance as my shoulders are quite slopy. There is a zip in the left hand side –vintage-style –  so that I didn’t have to split the fabric on the back piece.

Dress design by ooobop

For the skirt section, I took the whole 60″ width to make a dirndl. For anyone who’s tried – I’m sure you’ll share my appreciation of how damned satisfying it is to gather lawn. And out of respect for such a beautiful fine fabric, I hand- sewed the hem. Not only does this fabric gather beautifully but there’s a pleasure in pressing it too. It just stays and makes the whole hand stitching thing a breeze.

Dress designed by ooobop

I give small leftover scraps to my local primary school for them to use in their craft projects and I’m sure they’ll be delighted with the quality this month. I’m certainly glad that I didn’t have to bin them. I absolutely could not have brought myself to have even put my foot on the bin pedal!

Our walk was lovely. The air was filled with warm wisteria  perfume. Not too dissimilar to doughnuts I think. Or is that just me?

Liberty lawn dress with wisteria

And can I just mention my shoes. Quite a step away from my usual heels and platforms. They are Lotta from Stockholm Clogs. Handmade and verified well made! And they come in all sorts of styles and colours. Go check them out! I’m not sponsored by them. I’m just very happy to pass on a good find.

Handmade dress by ooobop and Lotta from Stockholm clogs




French Gypsy Dress

1952 French Gypsy dress

And finally, after two years of waiting in the wings, and following a match-made fabric and pattern eureka moment, my French Gypsy Dress is finished and worn already.

The pattern is by Sew La Di Da Vintage, and I knew I would love it but I could never quite decide on the fabric. The samples shown on the site and exhibited at the shows I’ve visited are so gorgeous I could never hope to get close. I love the packaging and the styling of all the patterns.

Gypsey Dress sewing pattern

I found the fabric online at Minerva Crafts, which is unusual for me. I much prefer shopping in real life! I have to touch and feel and think about it and walk from shop to shop and talk about it with the assistants before I make a call. But when I found this beaut on a random scroll, I didn’t give a second thought to what it would feel like or indeed what it was for – I just loved the colours and the black background of course. It’s a stretch cotton sateen. Quite sturdy, moderate stretch and a great lack of creasibility!




Thing is, I didn’t connect to two to begin with. And when sometime after I considered pairing them I thought it would be too weighty for the gathered upper bodice and sleeves. Though I knew the skirt would totally benefit from a bit of weight and the silhouette would be awesome.

French Gypsy Dress back

Then I got busy and all sewing plans were out the window until I got a free weekend. Woohoo! A whole undisturbed Saturday and after a pep talk with my mum it was full steam ahead. She basically said, “What are you so scared of? If it all goes pear shaped you can just get some more fabric.” Which is true of course, if not a little bit wasteful. And I could have tested on something else first but I had a window of opportunity and I wanted a new dress right there and then!

And I couldn’t be more pleased. It fits in all the right places, is flattering and comfortable too.

Construction-wise its really quite simple. The most complicated thing is taking time to make those bodice and sleeve gathers even. I know now after heaps of lazy and rushed gathering attempts in the past, that the key is to sew 2 rows of gathering stitches, either side of the intended seamline and there’s every chance your gathers will keep evenly distributed and pucker free.

1952 French Gypsy Dress

I made the binding for the neck and sleeve edges from some leftover black duchesse satin. I was prepared to rip it off if it didn’t work because I wasn’t entirely sure if it was the right kind of fabric for the job. But it was. Just perfectly right, actually!

There is a length of elastic inside the bias casing that starts and ends on the back sleeve seams. This is such a great idea because it allows for the dress to be worn on or off the shoulders and keeps the back bodice pieces completely flat. Incidentally there are no darts in the back pieces of this dress. Instead, the instructions call for a brilliant fitting stage whereby the back seam is pinned to fit and marked with chalk or an erasable pen (you will need a partner for this). Then the seam is machine tacked and pressed open so the creased edges give the perfect guide for zip insertion. It’s such a cool stage of instruction and one that I am definitely going to consider using on future makes. Is this a typical vintage construction method, I wonder?

French Gypsy dress reflection

I’m so happy with the outcome. It brightened a very drizzly day and feels so great to wear. And better still, it’s another strike off my #makenine2018 – wahooo!

I might try poomfing the skirt more with a layered petticoat and styling it up with flowers in my hair. Definitely a contender for what to wear when the Frida Kahlo exhibition hits the V&A this year.

Well it’s back to work tomorrow. But I’ll be returning with a head full of plans. That’s the trouble with a bit of time off!

 




Burdastyle satin joggers

I’m definitely on a Burdastyle roll this year. And largely thanks to Saturday Night Stitch who prompted said roll with her #burdachallenge2018 over on Instagram. I didn’t commit to a set number of projects because, knowing me, I’d end up self-sabotaging my own plans (because that’s my favourite hobby apparently) and not make any at all! So in not making a declared commitment I’ve made two glittery bell-sleeve dresses, one black, one red (quelle surprise), a red raglan sleeve top which I’ve yet to blog and these awesome satin joggers that I made for my daughter:

Satin joggers by ooobop

I feel I can say ‘awesome‘, not to big myself up but because the fabric choice and the style was all down to Little Miss O. It’s very rare that she will accept a hand-made offering these days, preferring a high street label or a funky second-hand designer deal from Depop. So when she came to me with this request I couldn’t wait to get started.

I’m so thankful for my collection of Burda mags. There’s always a something I can use or adapt but in this case, the exact pattern I needed was nestled inside issue 04/2017. And if you don’t have it in your collection it’s available as a pdf download from the Burda website

Burda satin joggers
Satin joggers from Burda Style issue 04/2017

I was a bit worried about the non-stretch factor of a satin brocade but the cut of the pattern was excellent. Allowing enough room to negate the need for expansion!




She didn’t want to include the zippered pockets. She felt that it would upset the shape of the leg, create more bulk and look ugly… Who’s the dressmaker round here?! She also rejected the drawstring at the waistline so I just incorporated an extra channel of elastic instead. talking of which, I’m a bit irritated by the ‘roll’ of the elastic. Doe’s anti-roll or non-roll elastic really make that much difference? Please let me know I’ll invest if it does. My loyalty to my Shepherds Bush haberdashery stall is strong but I feel I could possibly betray allegiance for the sake of a well-behaved elastic. Just don’t tell!

I included 3 channels of 1cm elastic at the waist. This technique worked so well for Amelia Fang’s petticoat so I didn’t see why it wouldn’t work so well for these.  The instructions called for 1.5cm width. Maybe that’s where I fell down. Or maybe that there was more fabric to gather at the waist for the petticoat and so less room for the elastic to move around.

satin joggers waistband

It’s not such a biggie when they are on. Seems to straighten out. I did stick to the instruction of 2cm wide elastic for the 2 channels at the ankle cuff and that seemed to stay in place a bit more.

satin joggers ankle cuff

These joggers sew up real quick. Especially if you’re leaving out the pockets. And even quicker when your daughter needs them in half an hour because she is going out and has ‘literally nothing to wear’. These inimitable words groans are recited literally every week accompanied by a stomp up the stairs. I’d like to say they took half an hour though the threading of the elastic probably took that long! But it really wasn’t much longer than an hour or so.

satin brocade joggers

She’s had so many lovely comments about them and already wants another pair in black with pink stripes. I’m sure she could find those in the shops but to be fair, I really like that she wants me to make them. I like that she dictates how she wants them and recognises faults and fitting issues in RTW styles. It might sound a bit princess-like. But it’s also a learning curve. She can see what time is invested and she can see what works and what doesn’t. She’s currently in the process of making herself a slip dress that she is sewing all by herself along with a group of friends, all making the same. I’d like to think that I’ve got something to do with that but I don’t like to pressurise her. I prefer just to plant the seed!

So the trade-off for a second pair was that I got to take some photos of her wearing them for my blog post. Ordinarily not too much to ask but you’d think I was asking the impossible – sabotaging her schedule and ruining her whole life! I managed a five minute shoot. With no head. And a lot of huffs. Oh those hormones. Oh the joys!




Red glitter dress with bell sleeves

red glitter bell sleeve dress

Oh what a difference a sunny day makes. Meant I could withstand a shoot for a whole 15 minutes without a coat! And I’m so happy that Daniel could do them as he did such a fab job and I’m hopeless and impatient at the whole remote thing.




This dress is a bit late to the blog but was well on time for the party. It’s the Burdastyle bell sleeve dress that I made for New Years Eve. I clearly had a bit of time on my hands because I made two of these up in the space of that week between Christmas and New Year. You can see my black glittery version in the previous blog post, here.

red litter bell sleeve dress full length

This one is way more glittery and more red and more suitable for a dance at the disco than mooch down the Marks and Spencer aisles but I think its very likely I’ll be breaking those kinda rules.




The fabric doesn’t have as much stretch as the last one but I still managed to forgo a zip, just the same. It’s a lot less snuggly on account of the high metallic thread-count but that also means it doesn’t need an iron. I only tend to press seams during the making-of, these days and avoid at all cost those mum-style marathon ironing sessions in front of the telly. I’d sooner sew than iron!

red glitter bell sleeve dress Burda style

The downside of a fabric that won’t behave under pressure (and low heat) is of course the issue of pesky popping-out facings. I tacked them down at the shoulders and at the centre back seam and still they found an escape route. So I sewed by hand, tiny little stitches close to the neckline. It’s vaguely visible but way less annoying than flappy bits of fabric spoiling the picture!

red glittery bell sleeve dress

Because I was in a rush with this one, I didn’t overlock the seams. They are ‘pressed’ open. In the loosest sense of the word, lol. But the fabric isn’t ever going to fray because I tested that by giving it a bit of rough treatment and it remained calm and intact under pressure!

red glittery bell sleeve dress

The temptation is to make another 5 of these, so then I will have one for every day of the week. It give’s no grief to sew and it gets so many compliments in return for such little effort. I haven’t really styled it much here but chokers, big floppy 70s hats, a neck-tie, a faux fur scarf or some massive earrings, could all transform this dress for a totally different look.

red glittery bell sleeve dress by the fence

Bell sleeve dress burdastyle pattern

I still might make another one at least, though! I’d like to make it in a woven – with a zip of course – just to test the difference.

 




 

 

Burda bell sleeve dress

burda bell sleeve dress

Happy new year my lovelies! I do hope you’ve all had a fabulous time and that January 2018 hasn’t arrived with too much shock to the system.

Such a weird time of year this first week of Jan. My lead up to Christmas – probably much like everyone else’s – was a flurry of work and panic shopping, drinking and feasting to excess like crazy bear people and without so much of a sniff of sewing time, and then… it’s all back to normal. Or as normal as it gets. And now I’m left in a constant state of thinking I’ve forgotten to do something, or that I’m meant to be somewhere. And it’s really hard to to rein in the graze and remember to go for the tap and not the wine bottle. Sound familiar?!




I awarded myself some sewing time between Christmas and New Year and the balance is still good so far, following week one in the work-house so I’ve signed up to Rochelle’s #2018makenine on Instagram – an easy enough challenge whereby we are encouraged to declare nine things we’d love to make throughout the year. And last night I managed to strike one of my intended projects off the list. Well two, actually, if the one I made for New Years eve counts!

ooobop 2018makenine

This dress a very gentle casual-style ease back into the sewing game kind of project: Burda Style Issue 12/2016 Bell-sleeve dress. It’s been a long while since I made anything Burda and I forgot all about wanting to make this dress till I had a had a sort out of my magazine collection. I’ve been collecting them since December 2010. I’m sure it would be easier to search up what I wanted on the site and download the pdf pattern but I quite like that I always have the pattern already and don’t mind tracing it off too much. Especially when there’s not too many pieces involved.

Burda bell sleeve dress in magazine

Really not very much to report on construction: A couple of bust darts and a neckline facing with a bit of understitching being the only faffs. And then my usual alterations. A sway back adjustment for one. So I just located the waistline and effectively took a horizontal dart 5cms from the back seam tapering to nothing at the side seam. It’s amazing how much of a difference this makes.

burdastyle bell sleeve dress by ooobop

I used a stretch jersey as recommended but was confused by the need for a zip. So I tacked the back pieces together to check the fit before I went and sunk those tiny stretch stitches into the fabric.

It was a good bit of hindsight and proved that I didn’t need a zip at all so I hi-fived myself and stitched it down.

The only other adjustment I made was to nip it in at the waistline a bit by marking in an inch and tapering back out to the side seams. Not too much of an issue as I was going to overlock a small seam allowance afterwards.

The fabric is a very soft, substantial jersey knit with a bit of glitter action so I can still carry a bit of a party round with me even though the season is done and dusted.

burda bell sleeve dress full length

The funnel sleeves are what sold me. They add a bit of fun and create a great silhouette to what is otherwise a very simple V-neck dress. The flounce is added to the sleeve before sewing up the under arm seam and insetting.  And not for the first time, I am so impressed with the perfect amount of ease Burda gets right on the sleeve cap every single time. Not a pucker in sight!

Well this dress has definitely filled a gap in the wardrobe: It’s perfect for work, 80 deniers and boots; worked great with a pair of Doc Martens (and a warm coat) for a river walk today and I’m sure a pair of heels and some twinkly earrings will transform it from a day to night-out dress. All bases covered!

It really does feel so good to be back behind the machine. I was so busy with work leading up to Christmas that there was no time for sewing and I missed it so much. I’m hoping to cut into the next one on my list soon and keep up a bit of wardrobe re-stocking while I can.