Lady grey retro top

burda top 131 back

I saw the pattern for this top in the May issue of Burda Style (2012) and it made the project list, even usurping the more ‘urgent’ projects! The back as you can see is fabulously buttoned all the way down which I love but have you ever tried buttoning yourself up back to front? I have got better with practice though, and I reckon I could give Houdini a run for his money now!

burda top 131 front

The fabric suggestion was for embroidered batiste. I didn’t have any of that to hand but knew the fabric had to be a little bit interesting to make the front not look so boring! I have a heap load of this white eyelet stuff in my stash. I thought it was cotton but when I did the burn test it proved not! I still thought it would be better dyed. I always feel a bit prim and proper in white! This is the result of using black dye on a not so totally natural white fabric…

eyelet fabric detail

I quite like how it turned out. The dye coverage is uneven, probably only colouring the small amount natural fibre content to get this linen look. And the embroidered detail, which I knew was synthetic, unsurprisingly remained white.

retro top front

I went up a size from my usual, (given the few extra pounds that have decended upon me recently) but to be honest I probably needn’t have done. The style is very boxy even though it has front and bust darts. But it is very cool to wear, perfect for what appears to be our summer (not holding my breath) and perfect for teaming with pencil skirts for work.

retro top front view by wall

So apart from taking it a size smaller the only other alteration I would make is to the neckline. The instructions were to sew the bias binding 1cm past the seamline. This struck me as a bit weird as it would have been easier not to have added a seam allowance in the first place, surely? Anyhows I sewed the bias binding ON the seamline…. afterall isn’t that what a seamline is for? It turned out ok, much like a vintage jewel neckline but I am going to try omitting the seam allowance next time, just to give a little more room to breathe!

easy peasy spotty top

new look 6753 top

Despite sewing at every available opportunity, my wardrobe is still lacking in basics. Tops mostly. And particularly ones that go with everything. I spotted this pin dot jersey in a remnant box for 99p and imagined it as a top right there and then. I’m still quite scared of sewing with stretchy fabric but only because I don’t do it enough, and that is probably why I have a serious shortage of go-to tops. But I have to say, this pattern: New Look 6753 really was as ‘easy’ as it said on the packet.

new look 6753 sewing pattern

I remembered to use a ball point needle and set the stretch stitch and a couple of hours later it was ready to go. No notions, no sleeves, no lining… just the ticket for a brain addled by a weekend of pure self-indulgence!

The binding on the armholes and neckline looked to be a bit tricky from the instructions, mostly because I hadn’t done this before but it was painless, I can assure you. The binding strips are cut on the cross grain and not on the bias because, hey!… it’s stretchy already! The strips are seamed with right sides together on the short ends to make a loop and then pressed, long edges and wrong sides together. The binding is sewn, raw edges and right sides together and then the seam is pressed down towards the garment and a row of stitching made close to the seam from the right side, to stop the binding from rolling out.

new look 6753 armhole binding

To retain the ‘v’ shape neckline, before the binding is attached a small snip is made at the point of the raw edge of the ‘v’ and opened up to sew the binding on. When seamed and top stitched, a little dart is sewn on the wrong side of the binding to pinch the shape back into the neckline. All clever stuff!

new look 6753 neckline

As you can see from the picture above there is a top and a bottom bodice section. The top is subtly gathered to give some shape and create a bit of detail. This particular jersey fabric is very fine. Not sure of its content but I’m sure the shaping would have worked better on a sturdier stretch fabric. Not complaining at all for 99p though. This was a fabulous outcome for what really was a test drive.

I’m also sure that it is possible to go down 2 sizes in this style. I went down one size and it is still very roomy, though to be fair I haven’t washed it yet and if there is any amount of cotton present it is bound to shrink a bit, I hope!

I wore it today with my shorts which incidentally didn’t coordinate at all! Ironically, it appears I don’t have anything at all to go with this top so I now have some plain skirts to add to the project list. I did however have a snazzy M&S jacket to pick out the red of the shorts. Should have worn the blue shoes too I guess… doh!

new look 6753 top with jacket

Jubilations and hangovers!

I know it’s not sewing related but it would be a shame not to post a few pics about the lovely weekend we just had, celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. This is the second of our neighbourhood’s street parties, since I have lived here and despite the typical weather, we all partied hard. Supporters of the Crown or not, you would really have to find a better excuse not to be sucked into and revel in the true spirit of our community. I feel so proud and honoured to live among such lovely people.

True to form, the ‘Villagers’ came out in force to present our now traditional parade in order of ‘The Little Lad of Brackenbury’. A lovely ‘legend’ (written and) performed by a local resident with supporting roles from friends and neighbours.

Incidentally, our ‘village’ is in West London and not in the countryside. Technically a village must have a post office to be called as such and Estate agents would lay claim to the fact that they invented the term (to sell houses at a greater price) but the truth is, the residents themselves have created it. Its all about the people and not about the buildings or the greenery (though we do have a lovely park too!).

So much thanks goes out to everyone who helped to make this such a wonderful event. The party might be over but the bunting is still up and the memories will last a lifetime!

Basket of Flowers quilt block

basket of flowers quilt block

Introducing the Basket of Flowers block, from issue 14 ‘Art of Quilting’. And what a little trickster this was! Just when you get the hang of ‘chaining’ and running seams from top to bottom, this little bunch of pieces involved set-in seams, meaning the seams meet at the same point rather than the lines of stitching crossing over.

Though my quarter inch foot is still my best friend when it comes to quilting, in this instance it is also advisable to draw on the seam lines so you can accurately pin point where the seams will meet.

The red flower diamond shape and the orange daisy diamond shape are seamed together, starting and ending at the seam points. This is repeated for the second set.

The small white triangles are then positioned between the diamond pairs, and each side sewn from edge to seam point.

These two sets are then joined along the long edges of the diamonds from seam point to edge.

The white square then is inserted between the two sets, being careful to meet at the seam points.

Then it starts to get a little easier as the big green paisley triangle is sewn along the long edge. No seam points to meet just edge to edge seam.

The little green paisley triangles are then seamed to the white rectangles and seamed to each side.

One last big white triangle to sew across the bottom… a good old press … et voilà!

This one did take a little more time than the others but it was still a pleasure to make and its a lovely one to add to the set.

Block Facts:

Name: ‘Basket of Flowers’ or ‘Lily Basket’ or ‘Flower Basket’
History: This design was ideally suited to the dress and feedsack prints of 1930s America, where it was a particular favourite
Level: Set in seams require experience.
No. of pieces:13

Progress report:

Block 1: The Double Four Patch
Block 2: The Whirlwind
Block 3: The Sailboat
Block 4: The Shoo-fly
Block 5: The Trafalgar
Block 6: The Windmill
Block 7: The Chequer Square
Block 8: The Diamond Square
Block 9: The Cactus Pot
Block 10: The Sawtooth Star
Block 11: To come!
Block 12: The Windmill Sails block
Block 13: The Basket of Flowers block

Blue suede shoes… and no silly walks!

blue suede shoes

Well you could’ve knocked me down when I saw these in Clarks! And in the sale… and they’re wide fitting (for my stupidly square feet) and so blue and soooo incredibly comfy and now they are mine!

They go by the name of Camelia Kate and a bargain, methinks, at £34.99. Here’s a link if they make you go ‘ooo’ and you fancy a pair too!

More often than not I will go for quirk over comfort when it comes to shoes, and that usually rules out Clarks, but these little beauties ticked all boxes and were defo one for the money! They have little spongy bits to soothe the ball of your foot which means I don’t look like a member of the ‘Ministry of Silly Walks’ when I come home from work! (usually like the lady with the tea tray)

And before you ask, no of course I don’t have anything for them to go with, that would be plain silly!

The 1940s Shoe Dress

1940s shoe dress

I do believe I have just made my most fitting and appropriate dress for this lovely hot summer we have just entered into. And it’s covered in shoes! And it fits in with this weeks Sew Weekly challenge, ‘Inspired by the 1940s’. And I just realised it matches my Ooobop header too! I am just a little bit happy!

1940s shoe dress

Last July, I posted about the ‘shoe fabric’, quite sure it was destined to be a 1950s shirt buttoned dress. The pattern had to be just right. I wasn’t going to waste that fabric, even if it did only cost a fiver! That was until I found this amazing pattern for a 1940s shirt buttoned dress which was spot on.

butterick 2638

I was sold on the midriff! I knew it would be flattering, it was just a question of how the shirt top would fit. Well it all went together like a dream. I took 5 inches off the length, worried as usual about the granny factor but actually I might be inclined to leave it a bit longer next time. And yes, there will so totally be a next time! The other alterations I made included adding 2 inches to the waist, being careful to add it to the shirt top and the midriff and the top of the skirt.

1940s shoe dress pleats

I was a bit worried about the gathering ‘poofing’ out the skirt section so I replaced the gathers with soft pleats. I know it kind of takes away a bit of the authenticity but I think its a lot more flattering. I also included a little turn up on the sleeves, as I did with my wing collar shirt. Just a little detail but I think it finishes a short sleeve much better and gives a little more interest.

1940s shoe dress front

I so enjoy a good old rummage in the button tin. I quite often had my whole head in my mum’s button tin when I was little and so the whole searching for the right button thing generates such a nostalgic feeling which escalates to pure joy when you find the perfect ones! These two little red beauties were 2 of a little set so kindly gifted to me by Rachel at House of Pinheiro as a thank you for doing a little guest spot over at her place! Gotta love this whole blogging thing!

1940s shirt dress buttons

The back of the dress is finished off nicely with side-ties that tie in a little bow at the back which also serve as a great device to hide the near invisible side zip.

1940s shirt dress back

Of course, there are no prizes for guessing who took the lovely photos! Mr Ooobop! is so clever and so willing and so lovely. My blog would be truly rubbish without his wonderful photos.

1940s dress yellow backgroundWe had such fun taking these today, en route to lunch in a local pub garden…. and then onto dinner at our local Italian restaurant, Casa Mia. Totally indulgent day today but it wasn’t our fault. It was all sunny and everything and we were seriously confused into thinking we were on holiday!

1940s dress sunshine

Sewing, Sunshine, park life, Prosecco and pizza….and more sunshine! I am so easily pleased!

Happy birthday Mr Ooobop!

dans pyjamas

Rocking up, fashionably late for Karen’s pyjama party but with good reason. This pair of pjs was one of Mr Ooobop’s birthday pressies and couldn’t be properly revealed until yesterday.

I sewed them in secret and so I was over the moon when they were so gratefully received! This was my first sewalong and my first pair of pjs… and my first time using a side-cutter!

ooobop pjs

Karen did a great job of providing a stress-free and leisurely sewalong. Just the ticket for someone who, like me, has taken on far too much recently… but who can’t resist an extra sewing project! And hey… it helped to solve what to buy the most-difficult-to-buy-for boyf, for his birthday.

I started the project armed with lots of tracing paper and an old pair of pjs from ‘Marks Expensives’, intending to draw round them and create my own pattern but this proved to be trickier than I thought so I headed to Jaycotts sewing patterns for an easier option. I don’t know if you’ve ever checked out the envelopes in the general nightwear section but there are some hilarious options even ones that include doggie loungewear!

Anyhows I narrowed the selection down to these two:

Simplicity S2317
simplicity s9871
Simplicity S9871

I set out to use Simplicity S9871 but when I realised how big that one pattern piece was, I changed my mind! My kitchen table just wasn’t big enough! So I decided on Simplicity S2317 instead, only real difference being, it had front and back leg, with side seams. But what I did like about S9871 was the drawstring feature. It just involved adding a couple of vertical buttonholes at the front, before making the casing. The drawstring was threaded through after the elastic. Turning a 1cm wide tube of 66 inch fabric inside out, I’m sure took longer than making the pjs themselves!

ooobop pjs

I used a lovely brushed cotton shirting fabric, cream with red and navy checks. It feels so lovely and reminds me of my bedsheets when I was little! It sewed up beautifully. I enjoyed using my side cutter foot for this project. It acts like a serger and cuts 1cm of fabric as it ‘overlocks’…genius! The only not-genius thing about it was unpicking an overlocked seam when I realised I’d sewed wrong sides together, doh! Wont be making that mistake again!

The Windmill Sails block

Windmill sails quilt block

Quilt block number 12, the Windmill Sails block, from issue 13 ‘Art of Quilting’. I appear to have mislaid issue 12 but there’s no real urgency… I’ve still got 69 others to do!

I totally recognised the order of piecing this time, purposefully not looking at the instructions to test how much I have learned so far. I think in fairness, even though there are a fair few pieces, it was a pretty easy one to work out:

The 2 smaller triangles were sewn to the diagonals of the larger red triangles to make 4 rectangles. The blue gingham then sewn to the side of the red fabric point to make a small block. Then the four blocks sewn together. I thought I was going to have to seek reference on which way to press the seams but even that seemed pretty natural, until I got to the last centre seam where I had to check to find out that it must be pressed open to get it to lay flat.

windmill sails block reverse

I had a bit of a mare with the blue gingham though. The grain of the fabric wasn’t in tune with the checks and I had to decide whether to go for straight grain or straight pattern. I opted for the first even though it is hugely annoying that the pattern isn’t totally straight and I think I did the right thing because when I pressed it at the end it made for a perfect square. Might have been a different story if I’d have gone against the grain. Oh my! I really didn’t think these little things would have me thinking so much!

Block Facts:

Name: ‘Windmill sails’ or ‘Louisiana’
History: Each of the fifty states that make up the USA has its own embematic quilt block. This represents the southern state of Louisiana
Level: Some experience needed to make the centre seams converge neatly.
No. of pieces:16

Progress report:

Block 1: The Double Four Patch
Block 2: The Whirlwind
Block 3: The Sailboat
Block 4: The Shoo-fly
Block 5: The Trafalgar
Block 6: The Windmill
Block 7: The Chequer Square
Block 8: The Diamond Square
Block 9: The Cactus Pot
Block 10: The Sawtooth Star
Block 11: To come!
Block 12: The Windmill Sails block

The 4-birds-with-one-stone plaid shorts!

plaid shorts simplicity 2659A little bit of sunshine was all it took to inspire these shorts. Don’t panic! I’m not about to get those pasty pins out just yet! I much prefer to wear shorts as spring attire with a pair of 60 dernier tights and the trusty Docs! That photo will have to wait until I can grab Mr Ooobop! to work his photographic magic. In the meantime, I’m afraid we’ll have to make do with my boring pics.

The 4-birds-ness came about as follows:

  1. After my recent pleasure working with and deciding to invest in better fabric (re the audition dress) I also made a conscious decision to wade into ‘stash mountain’ for practice projects and toiles rather than buy any more substandard material. This plaid/tartan fabric was quite a large piece left over from my vintage plaid dress. Its totally synthetic, I’m sure, but it was a good weight for these shorts and so minor stash bust #1 achieved!
  2. I’ve been hearing the words ‘lapped zipper’ on other peoples blogs and in sewing mags quite a lot recently. And I figured it should be something I should know how to do by now. Since getting the hang of the ‘invisible one’ (after some practice, mind) I have kind of forgotten that there is any other way of inserting a zip. Of course I headed straight to YouTube as my first love of demos. I am far more receptive to watching someone demonstrate it for real! Turns out that this was the perfect kind of zipper for these shorts. I think I did it properly. Well, the zip goes up and down and the lapped bit covers the teeth so that’ll do me and will also tick the box of having mastered a new (for me) zip technique.
    plaid shorts side zip
  3. Plaid matching has always been a bit flooky for me, I have to say, and using this fabric on a small, uncomplicated project gave me the chance to practice matching up those seams. Both left and right side seams are as near as dammit and at least across the front and the butt the horizontal stripes line up. Shame I couldn’t do the maths on the side seam of the cuff. I have to say though, having the checks line up across the zipper had me doing a little dance round the ironing board!
    plaid shorts side
  4. And finally the fourth birdie was the mere fact that I have never made a pair of shorts before. This pattern is Simplicity 2659 and I’m pretty sure it came free with an issue of Sew magazine. I’m not sure I would ever make the dress. I can make my belly stick out without any extra help thank you very much, but the top could be cute and I’m sure the bolero would work with a classic dress! Anyhows, one baby step closer to making a pair of trousers but its defo a baby step I am very likely to repeat with some different fabric.
    simplicity 2659 pattern

The cuffs of these shorts are my favourite addition. I love that they are separate and cut on the bias. I wasn’t expecting that as the turn ups on the sleeves I did for my wing collar blouse were technically a very deep hem, turned back on itself. The bias of any sort of checked/plaid/tartan fabric is fabulous against a straight grain of its own kind and I think it really looks neat. Finishes off the hem inside perfectly too.

plaid shorts cuff

I would say that I lost big points on the waist finishing. I have never finished a waist without facing or waistband before and this pattern called for the use of twill tape at the inner waist edge. Very simple to understand and to achieve but I really must remember to stitch from the top when I’m doing things like this. That way I will get a much neater and straighter line. It won’t get noticed, I know, as my children will be horrified if I start tucking my tops into shorts but I know I could have done better. I just find it very amusing, and everso slightly annoying, that a little bit of topstitching is my main cause for concern on this tiny project!

plaid shorts waist

I highly recommend this shorts pattern for anyone wanting a little project to run up in an evening. I’m sure they would look great (on someone else) in a more summery linen or gingham… ooo gingham… imagine the cuffs!

Sashing time!

first 10 quilt blocks

Issue 11 of the Art of quilting is all about the sashing… and a tutorial for a cute little drawstring bag, oh and an interview with Jennifer Hollingdale. I’ve been putting this off this next stage mainly because I have been distracted by more glamourous dressmaking projects… among other things! But also because I thought it would take ages and wouldn’t be much to write home about. After all I still haven’t even scratched the surface with this quilt!

But ‘you know what thought, thought’ as my mum would say! It was a really relaxing thing to do this evening and has made my first 10 blocks visually larger so they look slightly more impressive spread out altogether!

It came together a lot quicker than I had anticipated too. Rectangles of white sashing fabric were pinned along the left edges of the blocks and and then ‘chained’ together. I love doing this as it really speeds things up. Following a good pressing, with the seam towards the sashing, I ‘chained’ the corner sashing squares onto the remaining rectangles, snipped and pressed and then sewed these onto the bottom of each of the blocks.

I have a neat little pile of mags up to issue no. 17, complete with a the necessary fabric pieces, just begging to be pieced together so they can hang out with their chums! But you know what I’m like… I will just have to find something else to do in the meantime!

Progress report:

Block 1: The Double Four Patch
Block 2: The Whirlwind
Block 3: The Sailboat
Block 4: The Shoo-fly
Block 5: The Trafalgar
Block 6: The Windmill
Block 7: The Chequer Square
Block 8: The Diamond Square
Block 9: The Cactus Pot
Block 10: The Sawtooth Star
Issue 11: Sashing of the first 10 blocks