So totally Made Up with this dress!

Burda 0315 maxi dress on the lawn

Marylin Manson gig is a couple of months away so I’ve got plenty of time for make up and hair but the dress needed to be made in time for Karen’s Made Up Initiative September deadline. And by George, I did it with 10 days to spare!

I love how that little charity challenge had me think on my toes and come up with the goods quicker than I usually do. And I love how it made me think out of my usual box too.

walking in burda maxi dress

This is an unusual maxi dress from Burda Style mag. Well, unusual for me! I previewed the contents of that March 2015 issue as I do sometimes, to selfishly earmark things I would like to make so that I don’t have to physically rummage through the hundreds (tens) of actual issues on the shelf. And it paid off once again.

The hankerchief hem is what gives this dress its character. It’s effectively a square skirt drafted onto a fitted bodice. And works beautifully with stripes, or the horizontal pleats in this fabric, to highlight the draping sides.

hankerchief hem

The bodice has a lovely fit too with some long diagonal bust darts for shaping. Sorry, no chance of seeing them. They are totally cammo’d!

The fabric I chose isn’t your regular jersey, as Burda suggests, but it has just as much across-stretch which meant no need for zips or closures. Result! It’s black with splashes of silver dye/paint across it and the aforementioned horizontal pleats add a great texture to the overall design.

As you can see, I omitted the sleeves. I really liked the almost raglan seamline and wanted to retain that shape.  To do this I raised the top of the under arm seam by 1″ and just redrew the curve of the armhole. That left a very narrow shoulder seam of course but that’s what I loved about it. There was a facing piece for the neckline, I just had to draw one for the armholes given no sleeves. But having done that I realised there would be a clash of facings so I faced both armholes and neckline simply with black bias binding instead. It was a breeze and finished it off so neatly.

ooobop standing by waterfall

I didn’t have to overlock the inside seams because this completely unnatural fabric doesn’t even fray. Incidentally I didn’t even hem it for the same reason. Just made sure the hemline was a fold line of one of the pleats!

walking away in the maxi dress

Instructions were given to sew the in-seam pockets after the rest of the dress was put together, leaving the pocket holes unstitched. Bit odd I thought but not unreasonable. The only unreasonable thing was how exactly my brain responded to that. First I couldn’t decide what way round the pockets got to sit and then, because I’d decided the underside of the fabric would be the inside of the pockets, I can’t tell you how much of a sweat that brought on!!

Burda maxi dress by the riverside

I did consider leaving them out altogether… whilst having the first of the hissy fits. But then I considered how this would be a brilliant back-up camping maxi dress. And that meant it had to have pockets for matches, torch, bottle opener etc. See, to all who doubt, I can be forward thinking when I want to be!

ooobop standing by a waterfall

And that was really the only fiddly bit. Yes I know now how daft that sounds. But if I were to have used an ordinary fabric, say jersey, as Burda suggested, it would have been a total doddle!

I’m sure you’ve already guessed that the talented Mr O took these pics. Most impressively, I might add following his return from three consecutive gigs this weekend, in the pouring rain, on pretty much nought sleep! He’s a keeper! 😉

burda maxi dress shot overexposed

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A good cause and some odd fabric

manson dress in progress

I’m sure, by now you must have heard about Karen’s (Didyoumakethat) Made Up Initiative, a brilliant scheme to fundraise for the National Literacy Trust. And by the looks of it, heaps of you have signed up already: 114 donations to date and £1,224 so far.

As much as I’d like to partake, sewing challenges, blog hops and other sewing teasers don’t get much of a presence on my pages, mostly because of time restraints but also because I just like to do my own thing in my own time. I’ve got deadlines coming out of my ears on a daily basis and to self-inflict any more would be ridic!

But, and this is a big BUT for sure… this challenge is different. It relates to a industry where I am strongly connected and brings both work and personal pleasures together. I can’t bear the thought that children be deprived of such a basic life skill especially in this country. Access to books and help with reading should be a given, not just for the privileged. The National Literacy Trust helps to make this happen, all the while inspiring and motivating children to read for enjoyment by engaging them in fun and exciting workshops.

So what have I pledged? It’s an odd one. Not one of my run of the mill vintage makes, not a boring pencil skirt for sure; no quilt block (even though the last one I made was in January!), no funny hats and I need a little recovery time from the Boer War jacket already…

It’s a new dress for me to wear to a Marylin Manson gig coming up in November! And there’s a few birds being killed with this Made Up stone!

I’m working with this very odd fabric. It’s a hundred percent synthetic, don’t you know. With a bit of elastine thrown in for good measure. Kind of pleated with splashes of silver paint thrown all over it. No prissy prints for Marylin, oh no! I found it in A-One Fabrics at least four or five months ago and have always wondered what I could do with it. Little Miss O has presented me ‘that’ screwed up face and steered me with a ‘walk away from the goth fabric’ grab of the arm each and every time. But I literally went running back to the shop when I found this damned good reason for it.

The pattern? Drum roll… It’s a Burda pattern at long bleedin’ last. From Burda Style March 2015. I’ve been longing to work with another Burda pattern. The only draw back is the pain of tracing the wretched thing but when I think about it, I trace to preserve most of my vintage ones, so it’s no different really. If you can get over the spaghetti junction of other lines set to confuse you!

It will look kinda like this but with no sleeves…

burda maxidress 03 2015

I’ve made a wee start. And already realised that I’d overlooked the pain in the backside bit which is the matching of the ribbons. This is the back centre seam. Not done very well!

centre back seam

I hope to make some headway today. It looks like a doddle but I’m not going to count my chickens just yet!

Has the Made Up Initiative inspired you to make something new?

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Make a PINsentry card reader case

 

Barclays PINsentry case

It’s one of those annoying but imperative things that live in the bottom of my handbag. Forced to live there because I need it, always: The PINsentry machine. But the trouble is, there’s all sorts of other stuff residing at the bottom of that bag too: bobby-pins, small coins, powder-puffs, crumbs… you get the picture. And these things are not conducive for a healthy device. It’ll get sick and at somepoint refuse to recognise my card at the most crucial time. Two previous ones have already met with their demise. In justified protest, no doubt.

So after all these years, I decided to do the honourable thing and replace the obligatory deflated bubble-wrap protector for something slightly more glamourous. And I have decided for the good of the nations PINsentry card readers to detail each step in the making so you can give yours a better future too.

Please note that this size fits the regular Barclays Bank PINsentry machine for other sizes you will need to adjust the template.

Materials:

  • 2 small pieces of fabric each measuring at least 320mm x 160mm
    (1 kind for the outer, 1 contrasting piece for the lining)
    I cut mine from Cath Kidston fat quarters
  • Small piece of wadding (final size: 212mm x 137mm)
  • Choice of closure: velcro, button or press stud
  • Matching thread

Step 1

Print out the template from the link here: PINsentry_machine_case_pattern (making sure you print it at actual size) and cut the following pieces from your fabric:
1 x case outer in main fabric
1 x case lining
1 x wadding piece
1 x flap outer in main fabric
1 x flap lining

pieces for pinsentry case

Step 2

With right sides together, sew flap pieces together with 1.5cm seam allowance, leaving the top edge open as shown in (A) below. Trim the edges close to the stitching (B).

 

Flap construction

Turn the right side out and press. Top-stitch a quarter inch from edge, all round, excluding top edge.

flap topstitched

Step 3

Position the flap with right sides facing to the outer fabric piece as shown below. The flap should sit 20mm in from the left side. Sew along the top, inside the seam allowance. About quarter inch from the top edge.

flap to outer

Step 4:

Now to make a ‘sandwich’ of all the pieces! Following the image below, first place the wadding on the bottom, then your outer case piece with the flap attached, and lastly your lining piece, face down on top.

Stitch all pieces together along the top edge as shown.

fabric sandwich

 

Fold back the lining piece  and give a good press.

top edge sewn

Trim the wadding so it doesn’t extend past the fabric edges. And also trim the wadding close to the stitching on the reverse seam as below, right.

trim the wadding

Step 5

Fold the assembled pieces over – right sides facing – to make one long tube with lining at one end and the wadding at the other as shown below.  Make sure the central seam matches:

fold over assembled pieces

Now stitch all round, leaving a gap to turn through in the bottom of the lining as shown by the black line below:

stitch all round

Trim seams all round, close to stitching but don’t trim the fabric above the opening (C).

Clip and then ‘box’ the corners of the end with the wadding, as show below (D). Just sew diagonally half a cm or so in from the point.

trim leave opening

Step 6

It’s getting exciting now! Turn through, give a light pressing and sew the open end of the lining closed. You can slip stitch by hand or just machine stitch over the end as no one will ever see inside!

turn through and close end

Push the lining inside the outer case and admire those box corners!

right side out

Step 7

All that’s left to do is to hand sew some velcro or closure of choice and snuggle your PINsentry machine safely inside.

velcro finish

 

Sure beats a dilapidated placcy bag!

PINsentry machine

Little things like this make me smile and this little thing is no exception. There’s something quite cleansing about stepping away from the larger projects (I’m looking at you, Boer War Jacket) to get a sewing hit from the smaller ones.

But don’t worry. I’m not ditching the bigger stuff. Oh no! Just procrastinating…. just a little! 😉

 

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Plans for this Boer War jacket

Boer War Jacket Project
This jacket has seen better days. Though it can be forgiven for it’s ripe old age of 110 years or so. It’s an authentic British, Boer War military jacket. And it’s in need of a bit of love. The owner assures me it sees him through many a British summer festival period and so a bodge job on the lining will do.

But I can’t do a bodge job, can I? Not like what he means. It’s not in me. It might be a bodge job as defined by the thousands of tailors and historians that are currently whispering plans to send me to sewing hell (if such a place exists). But I’m going to do my best.

I state ‘plans’ in the loosest sense of the word. I actually haven’t got much of a clue. But I’ve decided to fly in the face of criticism and go with gut.

Externally it’s grubby. Very grubby, but, that’s mostly it. That red wool is sturdy stuff! It’s incredibly dense and felted, I’m sure. And there is not a single tear or hole in it anywhere. The collar however, is mostly dilapidated and detached and there is an epaulet missing. I’ve got fingers crossed that it’s missing at the back of Kev’s wardrobe somewhere.

It’s the inside that’s a mess. The silk lining and parts of the padding is ripped to shreds and that is the main issue.

Incidentally, here’s an interesting fact for you. Did you know, that the reason these jackets were lined with silk, wasn’t to be all posh-like. It was so that if and when a soldier were to be stabbed with a sword or dagger, the silk lining would wrap itself around the blade as a barrier against infection. Clever eh?

Still makes me cringe a bit with some of the staines on this jacket. I’m hoping Kev made them more recently through cider or festival food spillage and that’s where the authenticity stops!

So, now I’ve put it out there, I’m duty bound to bloody well get on with it. I’ve been sweating about this for far too long. And it’s time for action.

This will be done in little shifts with lots of thinking and head-scratching in between and I’ll try and fill you in as I go along.

Ever bitten off more than you could chew?!

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A Very Happy Mail Day

Yesterday was a very, very happy mail day. There I was, beavering away like a goodun, working from home, though at just about tipping point from the bloody noisy builders banging about next door, when not one, but two substantial thuds landed on the front door mat. My fuse was half blown and I was about to yell at the usual runaway estate agent delivery boy, when I remembered  what could possibly be in those two packages.

Package number one:

ooobop moo cards

This is the second batch of cards I’ve ordered from Moo. The third if you count the ones I ordered for Mr O. The first ooobop ones were way before I’d decided on my identity and so I’d ordered the cute little mini ones. But they’ve since run out. I secretly wanted them to run out when these fabulous new square formats were introduced to the range. My logo sits so perfectly in the middle and there’s plenty nuff room on the reverse to add details plus another image. Plus, they properly match my garment labels too!

If you’ve never used Moo before I wholly recommend them for a fabulous service and great quality. There’s even a real person on the end of the phone if you need any help. Though the process is a very simple step-by-step online operation.

I’m not being paid to big them up, by the way. I properly love them! And if you fancy some of your own there’s link here you can use which gives you 10% off your first order:

http://www.moo.com/share/ytsw9k

And I get rewarded in ‘moolah’ if you place an order. And so do you once you’ve placed your order and recommended a friend.

I don’t make any money from my sewing but I do make lots of friends. Like for instance I got chatting to a lovely lady the other day on the bus who was knitting with some fabulous yarn that looked like pencil shavings! I couldn’t resist asking her about it and within seconds we were chatting all things sewing and knitting. She had run out of cards but luckily I managed to dig out the last remaining dog-eared one from my bag just before she had to get off at her stop. It was then that I realised how useful they are and how I must get some new ones. I’m never quick or dexterous enough to tap in a new contact on my phone in a hurry. I come over all fingers and thumbs, so these are perfect!

And so what could possibly be as exciting in the next package?

Package number two:

I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited to get a copy of this film. I don’t even know anyone else who’s ever heard of this film: The Yellow Rolls Royce! Anyone? Anywhere? The last time I watched this film was nearly four decades ago so I was hoping my love for it wasn’t a romantically distorted view! How could it be. Check out the all star cast: Shirley MacLaine, Omar Sharif, Ingrid Bergman, Rex Harrison, Jeanne Moreau, George C. Scott, Alain Delon, with surprise appearances from Art Carney, Joyce Grenfell and Lance Percival!

The Yellow Rolls Royce dvd

So why does this news belong on my sewing blog (besides the fact that I love watching an old movie while I sew)? Well. As I watched, and I indeed loved, I remembered exactly why I truly loved it so so much. Not just because I absolutely fell head over heels for Alain Delon at a very illegal age, I also totally fell in love with Shirley MacLaine and her wardrobe. She was a gangsters moll. ‘Fidanzata’ to George C. Scotts character of Paolo Maltese. And even at that age I wanted her clothes, her hair, her make up: tight wiggle skirts and dresses, stripy halter tops, swing skirts and chiffon scarves. Black, white and red, candy pink with black trim, polka dots, chiffon and fur. Pretty sure they were faux!! And there was me thinking it was all about Alain. Ha! I’m going to watch it again and again until I’ve clocked every item in her wardrobe and then make them all!

Shirley MacLaine Yellow Rolls Royce

Source: Fookdamorph

I just adore all the black buttons down the back of that pink dress. Mine would be red of course! And if you click the source for the image below you will get a little clip of the movie so you can see where I’m coming from!

Shirley MacLaine Yellow Rolls Royce pink dress

Source: TCM.com

I could just watch this film over and over. In fact I just watched that clip 3 times! This will now be my favourite movie to sew by.

Do you watch movies while you sew? What are your besties?

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ooobop review: Burda Style August 2015

Burda Style August 2015 cover

Grab yourself a cuppa, some delicious snacks and pull up a chair. This may take some time. The little gasp of joy I inhaled when I picked up the latest issue of Burdastyle is about to manifest itself as an exhalation of excitable word spray!

That said, the cover is probably the least inspiring of images. I don’t know, something to do with a grubby looking pink jumper teamed with a skirt that doesn’t make much sense but don’t diss that skirt till you see it later on…

The first section is titled ‘Call of the Wild’. It’s mostly about animal print but get behind that if it scares you, to see some of the sophisticated lines that are very camouflaged by it.

Burda Style August 2015 magazine
For instance this sheath dress (A). The print totally hides it’s streamlined seamlines but what a shape. Further on you’ll see some colour blocking to illustrate them. I love the neckline. Not too dissimilar to the BHL Flora dress which we all know and love. Skirt (B) is a classic pencil with gold buttons along the front two dart lines as far as I can make out. They are kind of hidden in that print too but it’s a nice detail all the same.

The choice of contrasting blue pleated panel with the print on dress (C) is a little mind boggling to say the least. I don’t hate it, I don’t think. Just not really sure about it. It’s an add-on rather than an inset. I much prefer the version that comes later.

Animal print parka (D) I can deal with though. This one’s made from polyester poplin so it’s very lightweight and it’s got lots of pockets too!

I’m loving the contrast of ribbing against animal print chiffon in this shirt (E). I’m loving that it’s described as easy to put together too!

So here is that skirt from the cover (F), teamed with a top that also has ‘an enhanced added panel’. It makes much more sense altogether, if you like that sort of thing. Definitely better balanced. But perhaps still a little odd!

Not so keen on this flared jacket (G) though. I think I’d prefer a more cropped look like the Vogue jacket I made (and have since lost… I’m so gutted!!). It kind of looks a bit maternity at this length.

Next section is Western. Fringe, kilim, wool and leather. Not generally my style but there are still some lovely things going on here.

Burda August 2015 Western

I can just picture the envy of all my camping buddies if I were to turn up in that blanket coat (H) Its made of Jacquard and leather. A most special kind of parka!

The dress (I) is all a bit too much for me. The kilim design and the long bodice. I’m sure if the accented rib knit sat on the actual waistline it might appeal more. In a different fabric though.

This funny little garment (J) is classed as a waistcoat. It’s not for me, I’m afraid. But the urban western leather suit (K) totally is! I’ve only ever done an alteration on a leather skirt, never sewn one from scratch so all the topstitching on those panels scares me but excites me in the same breath! There’s a sewing class included for the jacket too.

And could this tailored blazer (L) be any more stylish if it tried? I properly love this jacket!! And I don’t even mind the ruffles that poke out on the little top (M) Though I foresee a nightmare and an expensive tantrum if 100% silk chiffon were indeed to be used! The ruffles on top (N) only decorate the front.  but looking at the back view, I quite like the way that only the sleeves are ruffled.

Loving the dropped hem on this midi skirt (O) and especially how the centre front seam is embraced with diagonal stripes. A cotton/wool mix – I bet this skirt feels amazing.

The Timeless Beauty section brings forth polished cuts, sophisticated fabrics and delicate colours…

Burda August 2015 Timeless Beauty

Here’s that funny little waistcoat again (P). A little more classically acceptable in leather, wouldn’t you agree? But I don’t like ruffles enough to deal with a full length dress worth of them! This dress  (Q) just says ‘pain in the backside from beginning to end’ or ‘patience of a saint’ however you look at it!

Here’s another version of that top and skirt (R). A touch more casual but still very elegant. The sweater/slacks combo (S) is not really my thing though.

And just look how much more elegant that kilim dress gets to be in grey poly crepe (T)!

Shirt with accent and skirt with buttons (U) are a good office combo and I even like the variation on that blazer in velvet with details (V). Or do I?! Maybe it is a bit odd. But the classic sheath dress (W) is not only good as a classic staple, it’s designed for tall sizes too. This issue is definitely teaching me that there is sophistication to be found in plain colour dresses. Step away from the print!

There’s some cute little Cowgirl tunics and dresses in this issue. Some lovely details going on and I adore the fox purse. Surely that’s not for children alone?!

Burda August 2015 Cowgirls

The next section is called The Art of Colour. Lots of colour blocking with high tech fabrics.

Burda Style August 2015 Colour

For instance you can now see some of those seamlines in that first sheath dress that were previously hidden by animal print, in this colour blocked version (1). It’s made from a high-tech reversable jersey, though you’d have to have darned neat seamwork to reverse this I would have thought! I find the blocking of this top (3) is quite jarring and unnecessary. It’s like one of those optical illusion vase pictures where you’re not sure whether to look at the black or the white bits. But, strange as it still is, because of the different colours employed, I’m quite diggin’ the weird pleated panel on this dress (4) now.

Whilst dress with no pleats is refreshingly, classically simple (5).

The giant pleat of fabric in the teal top (7) quite appeals now. Just with that contrasting neckline. Turns a very ordinary T shirt into something far more interesting.

There’s a lovely choice in the Plus Fashion section this month.

Burda Style August 2015 plus fashion

Who doesn’t love a shirt-waist dress (9) ? I’m currently working on a second version of the 60s shirt dress I made but I’ve already got sleeve and pocket envy, looking at this one.

The pretty cape collar dress (10) is so pretty but this fabulous bohemian knitted coat (11) is a total winner. Just imagine how cosy that would be in Astrakhan (71% new wool, 19% mohair).

I love the lace cuffs on that blouse too (13). Guipure lace in case you can’t see. Totally poshes up a peasant blouse! That neckline is repeated on the tunic dress (15) and the short sleeved version (16) too which incidentally works beautifully with leather strides. I think I want some.

And that just about wraps it up as far as this months gorgeous garments are concerned.

Did you get your issue yet? Any thoughts? Any faves?

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Bugsy’s showgirl and a lot of tears.

Bugsy Malone Bangles

Friday was my daughter’s last day as a primary school child. The final school pick up was an emotional one to say the least. There’s been 8 years of to-oing and fro-ing from that lovely little school, including those spent there by my son. And in those 8 years both Dan and I have accumulated as many good friends and memories as our children. Tears were inevitable!

The last couple of weeks have been jam-packed full of parties and celebrations. Back to back, I kid you not! And last week the year 6 children, directed and inspired by their fabulous drama teacher Arwen from Dramatic Dreams, performed an amazing version of Bugsy Malone.They turned all this around in the space of about a week. Pure magic, I can tell you. And I can also tell you how much of a relief it was when I remembered I’d already made a flapper-style dress for my neighbour’s daughter a couple of years ago. So no stressful last minute sewing for this performance… hoorah! Little Miss Ooobop was Bangles.

Bangles sitting on edge of stage

The dress was a simple design. There’s not much hip definition in a year 6 child or a requirement for such in a flapper dress for that matter, so a tube of lycra it was, with a nifty box pleat at the front and back neckline. The rows of fringing were a little more challenging. Sewn on with a zig-zag stitch to retain the stretch but careful not to stretch the fabric too much as I went along.

Waitress in Bugsy Malone

I properly squealed when I found the lovely stretchy sequin trim. It finished the neckline beautifully and was perfect for the feather headband too. Long live Shepherds Bush Market!

Bugsy Malone show girls

The photos you see are of a now-not-so-little girl who not so long ago wouldn’t have been seen dead on stage. She hated any amount of attention and the idea of people watching her on stage made her feel positively sick. I’m so glad that she took those after school drama classes and I’m so proud of her for jumping high over those hurdles. It seriously bought a tear to my eye watching her confidence soar on stage in front of parent-packed audience.

Bangles in Bugsy Malone

It’s true to say I am so very proud of ALL of the children. All singing, dancing, performing, netballing, chess-playing, footballing, maths and English prize-winning activities aside, they are a truly amazing bunch of kind, caring and gorgeous children and there is no doubt in my mind that each and every one of them is destined for an amazing future.

Bugsy Malone show girls

Oh good Lord. I’m off again!!!

:-(

Bugsy Malone show girls

This may be good bye to primary school years but I’m sure it won’t be goodbye to costume making. Besides the Dorothy dress and the Wild Thing for World Book Day, I also made a Poison Ivy cape for my eldest daughter who left school a long time ago!

All credit for these beautiful photos goes to Michelle Moradi.

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A 60s worky shirt-dress

simplicity 6772 shirtdress frontGood afternoon lovely readers. I trust you are having a lovely weekend. I love the peace and quiet of a Sunday afternoon. It’s especially quiet today since Mr O and both children are all out. Best blogging time I thought, but eeek, no photographer! So please excuse the awkward poses to the remote snaps! It’s hard to summon up the enthusiasm when there’s no one bossing you around.

This is the first draft of Simplicity 6772. A lovely fitted sheath dress with front button closing and notched collar. Or a shirt-dress to the layperson!

simplicity 6772 packet

I made version 3, with short sleeves, which buttons all the way down. And I used a £2.50/metre suiting fabric from Dave/Danielle the Drapers in Shepherds Bush Market. I did stop to ponder who might make such a crazy suit in gingham but images of capri trousers and cropped jackets a la Doris Day quickly sprung to mind, very nearly usurping the plans for this dress.

I love Dave the Draper fabric for test garments. I don’t think you can actually buy cheaper and even though the content and quality is an unknown, its always good enough. And generally speaking I end up with something wearable, in this case…. for a fiver!

simplicity 6772 sideThat said, I will be making some adjustments to the next one, which incidentally is already cut out! Namely: taking some of the ease out of the sleeves. They are practically puffed sleeves and it certainly didn’t warn me of that on the packet front. They are also a weird length. I made twice the suggested hem allowance, and turned them up! I’ll also be shaving a centimetre off each shoulder before I sew them in.

I did some proper grading on this pattern using the cut and spread method. A little added to the bodice, moreso added to the waist and hip with the side seams blended together. I remembered to add the extra to the collar and the sleeves, though I probably should have left the sleeves alone to avoid the puff!

Given that it’s suiting fabric it didn’t need a lining. I just overlocked the seams. Suiting is a joy to hem, especially on this kind of check. It’s so easy to pick a couple of threads and the stitches just disappear. It’s presses so easily too. It’s a wool blend of sorts. And I have totally gotten over my snobbery of synthetic/blended fabric, since it doesn’t need much ironing and doesn’t tend to crease when you’ve been sat down at an office desk all day.

I love a shirt-dress but have only made two before. The 1940s Shoe Dress and The Shirt Dress Revisited. Both from the same pattern, both with full skirts. I like how this one is more understated though. Would be completely utilitarian in a khaki! It certainly feels more worky than the other two. To be honest, I’m lucky enough to work in a creative environment where almost anything goes (as is often apparent!).

I was a little disappointed that I didn’t have a suitable set of red buttons but it was quite refreshing to be persuaded with blue ones. I toyed with green and checked ones but the winners were some gorgeous vintage buttons kindly inherited from my friend Nigel’s, aunt.

vintage blue buttons

There are a whopping twelve darts going on in this dress! Four long diamond ones in the front, four of the same in the back; two shoulder darts and two bust darts. And its all these ‘lovely’ darts that create the great shape to this dress. The back especially. And I love that little kick pleat. So glad I didn’t exchange it for a slit.

simplicity 6772 shirtdress back view

It would be crazy at this point not to mention the shoes. A more than happy find on my way back from work in the sale at Office. They are of course my favourite Lola Ramona shoes. These ones having pale green polka dots, a cream bow and purple heels. The thing I love most about these shoes is that they don’t go with anything but yet they look good with everything!!

lola ramona spotty bow shoes

I’ll be off now. The plan is to return shortly with a revised version of this shirt-dress. But you know what happens when you make plans. Well, when I make them, anyway!

TTFN x

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BHL Zena dress tested

bhl zeena dress front

So here is my version of the newly released Zeena dress pattern by the By Hand London girls!

It’s had so many wears since I sewed it I’m sure most of you have seen it already but it wasn’t quite right to post deets until the official launch date, which is today, hooray!

This dress is a seriously easy sew. There are no sleeves to inset, It is not lined, having just a neck facing, and you could even skip the pockets if you wanted to make it faster. Though I kept them in as a useful device for holding the skirt down on a blustery day!

The fabric I’ve used is very lightweight and drapey. A lovely donation from Handmade Jane. Hot orange with metallic gold spots. And why not?!

I foresaw issues with the sleeves and the tucks on the bodice if I were to use anything firmer. The skirt would probably be great though. Perhaps another option is to have lightweight bodice and midweight skirt. Those pleats would certainly stand to attention then!

bhl zeena dress back viewBut the more casual nature of this dress is what sold it to me. Especially on balmy days like today. Whilst I do love the fitted princess-seamed bodice of the Elisalex dress, (For the Love of Lawn, The Dress that Nearly Wasn’t, Speed Sewing for Sumer ) It feels more relaxed and cooler when the fabric isn’t so close to ones bod.

There’s lots of fabric going on in that skirt but the classy box-pleats take away that awful poof at the belly as is sometimes caused by gathering. I didn’t take a closer side view shot but I can tell you that the in-seam pockets sit hidden, perfectly inside those pleats. I don’t usually get the whole love affair with pockets but it does seem right somehow for a Zeena. I’ve only ever sewn them in one other dress I think, my Burda Maxi. But that was all together for more practical reasons!

bhl zeena dress side front view

It’s a bit shorter than I’d usually go for but I quite like that. I’ll like it better still once my pins have got some colour on them. They don’t get out very often these days! But there is a longer skirt option included in the pattern if you are after something a little more demur, along with three-quarter sleeves as a choice too.

I can’t guarantee what changes were made to the pattern once I’d tested it but I can say that I had no major issues with this one as I tested it. When I make it again I’m going to go crazy with French seams. Which I should have actually have done this time to save on the finishing!

One tip for those pleats though. Make sure you baste them along the top and down the pleat a bit to properly hold them in position before you sew skirt to bodice. I was a bit lazy with the basting and the pleats separated a little bit. Other than that it was a breeze. And I totally recommend it.

Here’s a link to the By Hand London Page where you can buy the Zeena Dress pdf download if you fancy one yourself. Happy sewing!

Photography by Daniel James Photographic

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On being bothered!

vintage simplicity pattern 6772

It’s been an eventful few days. Asides from the usual back to back workload, there was Holly Johnson on Thursday, Fleetwood Mac on Friday and a whole sunny day with the children at Pools on the Park in Richmond on Saturday.

I was therefore a little jaded last night. Like a hologram, in fact. a pink frazzled sleepy hologram! I wanted to sew. But the pattern I wanted to sew, typically wasn’t in my size, let alone relative to my proportions. I knew it needed some grading and it pained me to think I had to put some effort in before I could just sit and sew. I made another cup of tea. Did the washing up. Put a laundry load on. Flicked through Facebook. Made another cup of tea. I certainly could have graded and cut out the damned thing instead of doing all that, and by that time it was 9.30pm.

So I got cross with myself and my refusal to do what I’d arranged with myself to do. And set about it. The punishment being that if I fannied around anymore and didn’t put my mind to what was needed to be done I’d just lose more sleep-time. And I was tired, I can tell you!

So with the infamous Nike strapline loud and clear in my head, two back-to-back episodes of Eastenders lined up on iplayer, I got tracing and marking and cutting like a good’un. The bodice needed one set of grading, the skirt section another. And the darts needed redrawing and repositioning. I don’t know that I’ve ever employed the cut-and-spread method of grading so properly before. I’ve thought about doing it but it always seems like so much work. It really isn’t! No more winging it with adding a bit here and a bit there on the side seams!

graded pattern pieces

It’s a shirt dress by the way. Simplicity 6772 from the 1960s. I’m making version 3, the blue one on the right. Not my usual style of shirt-waist dress like the ones I made previously: the 1940s shirt dress and the shirt dress revisited, but a more casual, straight like shirt dress that buttons all the way down. I will skip those bound buttonholes though. The fabric is a suiting fabric, a lightweight wool-blend, confirmed by a burn test that revealed a crumbly kind of ash, signifying more poly than wool! So it doesn’t deserve such couture details. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’ve done the hockey run, put another wash-load on, seen my daughter off to the Park Club and had lunch with my son. Mr O is on his way to a wedding gig and I kid you not, I just actually heard a pin drop!

So now the pieces are cut out, darts marked and pinned and I’m now about to embark on the part I love the most. And fingers crossed, will be so pleased that I bothered to grade those pattern pieces. If it does work out good I will no longer have to miss out on those fabulous vintage pattern bids for being the wrong size.

vintage simplicity 6772 cut out

I won’t tempt fate. In fact I won’t waffle on any more as I now have a couple of hours of very valuable sewing time on my hands. Just have to avoid the distraction of the sun. Repeat. Just have to avoid the distraction of the sun!!

 

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