Vintage Simplicity 7527 and a fond farewell

simplicity 7527 1968 dress Bowie

That news announcement on Monday 11th January 2016 marked the beginning of another very sad week and another goodbye I totally wasn’t prepared for. My first true love, my ‘confidant’, my constant, my hero… my David Bowie.

I’ve always felt alone with my passion for this man but these last few days have seen everyone on my feed, saddened and some devastated as me. Just one of my friends dared to mock the fan hysteria with sarcasm but I’ve resisted the urge to argue and instead, silently felt sorry for him- (who-shall-not-be-named) in that he clearly didn’t experience the love as much as we all did.

David Bowie memorial Brixton

Since 13 years old, when I was accused of being a ‘weirdo’, not fitting into any of the usual cliques, I’ve hung onto his every word – after all, precious few wrote a song called Janine (He wasn’t very good at spelling ;-)) – I loved the fashions, going to most of his gigs: on shoulders of strangers, right at the front on the Serious Moonlight Tour 1983; watching him descend from the underbelly of a Glass Spider in 1987; and we even touched, albeit fingertips, at the Hanover Grand, 1997 when I won a pair of tickets from Capital Radio! I even went to the loo in his dressing room at the Royal Festival Hall 2002. Long story! There were others. And his inspiration is untold. But we never actually met. Something I was holding out for. But actually I’m not sure I could have kept my cool so it’s probably for the best that we didn’t.

simplicity 7527 1968 brixton

So when Mr O suggested Brixton, his birthplace, as a venue for my latest dress shoot it wasn’t questioned. Seemed wrong to pose in front of the memorial so we wandered off to the Village Market. Colder than a polar bear’s toes, it was. So we warmed up on some buckwheat galettes at Senzala Creperie. They were amazing – staff and food!

simplicity 7527 1968 dress

The dress is a vintage Simplicity pattern, no. 7527 from 1968. Another happy Ebay win about a year ago, if I remember rightly. It has been designed for wovens but I figured it would work just as well in a stretch jersey.

simplicity 7527 sewing pattern

Incidentally, this stretch jersey is black with red flecks and allegedly ex-Hobbs. I got it from Dalston Mill Fabrics in the Ridley Road Market, not really knowing then what it was going to be. But it was always going to be something!

simplicity 7527 1968 dress

I’m not sure of the content. But it is very, very stretchy and quite weighty. A burn test revealed a minute quantity of something natural, so I’m guessing a viscose blend as it does have a lovely smooth feel about it.

vintage simplicity 7527 1968 dress

I expected it to come up big, not only because the pattern size was bigger than my usual but because stretch fabric, well… it stretches! There was rather a lot to come off. Five inches to be precise, so I took it, rather dodgily from the sides and a little bit from the centre front and back seams. This is usually totally inadvisable but I was in a hurry and hey, it kinda worked! Wrists dutifully slapped, I’ve since noted how to grade it down properly  and will make another with proper adjustments next time.

vintage simplicity 7527 1968 dress

The best thing about making it in a stretch jersey is that it doesn’t need a closure. I made sure that the turtleneck did fit over my head before I sewed it for real. I tacked the whole thing with a long straight stitch before sewing with a shallow zigzag stitch on my ordinary machine, much the same as I did on my Agnes top. And then I finished the seams on my 3-thread overlocker.

vintage simplicity 7527 dress

I’m not kidding when I say this was a quick project. I cut it out on the Wednesday evening, sewed it on the Thursday evening after work, and wore it on the Friday to a funeral. Needs must when you find that you don’t own (or fit into) a single black dress! Doesn’t look really funeral appropriate in these photos but suffice to say, my goosebump-riddled arms were covered with a respectable jacket on the day.

 

Photography: Daniel Selway

Hat: Shepherds Bush Market
Shoes: Aldo 
Seamed tights: M&S

 

Agnes Rocks!

“Hey Agnes! Where’ve you been all my life?”

Tilly Buttons Agnes by ooobop

Following on from my far-from-successful Burda top, I needed a bit of a sewing massage. A project that would give me a couple of hours of soothing sewing action with the gratification of a good result guaranteed. Plus I am in desperate need of some new tops and fast! – Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top to the rescue!

Tilly Buttons Agnes by ooobop

Ordinarily I’m not sold on making plain T’s. Life is way too short. But this fancy T was just the ticket. I adore those drapey puffy sleeves and the bust-enhancing ruching to the centre front. So ‘casually chic’ if that’s even a thing!

Tilly Buttons Agnes by ooobop

I haven’t sewn this top before but I have sewn Tilly’s Mimi blouse and the Coco top, both of which sewed up and fitted without hitches so I’d have bet big bucks on this being the same. Couldn’t have been more right if I tried!

I obeyed every instruction which if I’m really honest generally makes for a smoother exercise and in any case they are so clear and easy to follow it’s effortless really. I sewed the whole thing with a zigzag stitch on an ordinary sewing machine, as suggested. But I finished the seams on my overlocker. I only have a vintage, 3-thread kind which doesn’t stitch, just finishes, but it does the job beautifully.

Tilly Buttons Agnes by ooobop

The only bit I foresaw repeating a couple of times, was the neckband. But to my surprise it went on like a dream. Tilly has completely allowed for the right amount of stretch so that it doesn’t go all baggy. Though in fairness that could have been down to the quality of the fabric I used – a great quality cotton stretch from one of the shops down the Goldhawk Road. And it’s black and ivory too, (instead of navy and white) which I’m delighted with.

Tilly Buttons Agnes by ooobop

But I am a bit agged by the unavoidable issue of the stitching that shows down the centre of the ruching though, owing to the stripes – sleeves and centre front. I will make a solid black one at some point which will alleviate the problem. But I am left wondering whether I should have stiched with white/ivory thread instead of black. Or would it have created the same problem in reverse?

We had such fun shooting these photos. Mr O had found this area in Waterloo, London, and thought it would create a great backdrop to an otherwise monochrome outfit. He wasn’t wrong. He seldom is. But best not to let him know that!

Tilly Buttons Agnes by ooobop

I don’t often get Mr O all to myself so after a stroll around all the little vintage shops of Lower Marsh Street, we stopped off for a delicious lunch at Bar Cubana.  I could get quite used to these kind of Wednesdays!

Photography: Daniel Selway

Top: Handmade by me – Agnes by Tilly and the Buttons
Skirt: Handmade by me – self drafted half circle
Hat: Second hand – Oxfam
Belt: H&M
Boots: Irregular Choice
Bag: Gift from my daughter – Floozie
Gloves: Gift from Mr O – Alice Hannah

 

Joan dress: not so little, not so jumpy

Joan dress front view

When I first heard of the Joan Dress, by Sew Over It, the first thing that entered my head was a nursery rhyme I remembered as a child, from the Ladybird book of Nursery Rhymes. It went like this:

Here am I
Little jumping Joan
When nobody’s with me
I’m all alone

Not particular ground-breaking stuff but that poem coupled with this awesomely terrifying illustration has stayed with me ever since!

Little Jumping Joan

Clearly I wasn’t purely channelling Joan from Madmen !

I’ve been after a classic dress for some time and I do believe that this one totally fits the bill whilst still fuelling my lust for vintage.  I used a green wool crepe, underlined with a silk organza and fully lined with a gold lining, all from stash. I don’t usually happen to keep a supply of such luxurious fabrics, moreover it was reserved for another dress which I am still a bit too scared to attempt! But it has been hanging along for too long now and in any case saved me a trip to the shops!

The leaf-buckle belt I made is just the icing on the cake (whilst disguising the fractional misalignment of darts… shhh!):

close up of leaf buckle belt

Now I will let you into a little not-so-secret, secret. Fully underlining a dress (excepting the sleeves), especially if you’ve limited the ease, means you can’t jump, you can barely sit, nor eat, forget picking up anything you’ve just dropped or even attempting to zip up the last couple of inches… oh and sneezing is a no no for sure! Needless to say this is the first time and most probably the last time I will do this, unless of course I have no reason to attempt the latter.

Joan’s first outing was to the Foldline‘s launch party at Sew Over It, Islington where I met the lovely Lisa in person. Such a gorgeous shop and such a talented lady. I explained the issues I had created for myself and Lisa politely explained that silk organza is used in corsetry for just those holdy-in kind of reasons! So I had kind of corsetted my whole body! There were so many yummy snacks on the table and I just daren’t!

Joan Dress profile

There was, however, a method in my madness. I had made a dress in wool crepe once before – Vogue V8280 in fact – and I had only lined the skirt in a thin silk lining. Although the wool crepe fabric was good quality it creased like Billy-o every time I sat down. I also found it a bit too drapey on it’s own to hold any structure for a pencil skirt. And then I had a silk organza lightbulb moment.

I still stand by my reasonings for underlining the skirt. It worked and looks far better than the other one did but I would definitely need more ease in the top half if I were ever to underline a bodice again!

The whole process of underlining wasn’t as daunting as I’d previously thought. In fact I quite enjoyed it. I traced the pattern onto the silk organza pieces using an air erasable pen. The funny thing is, I did the tracing on one evening, forgetting the magic qualities of said pen and put the pieces to one side to be continued the following evening. Well you can guess the rest… doh!

air erasable pen

So after I’d retraced the pieces, I pinned and then basted the pieces to the wool crepe. Strangely satisfying! I also basted the darts which made for easy sewing of–!

underlining with silk organza

Basting done, I cut out the main fabric and sewed all the pieces as per instructions, which incidentally were very clear and concise.

I do so love the little neck-tie detail, making it all things Joanie. The little collar effect at the back of the neck too. I especially like how the wool crepe behaved for this. It was definitely the right fabric for the job. I am also in love with my zipper insertion! Nowadays I don’t even attempt an invisible zipper without my invisible zipper foot. Can you see my zipper? Can you? No? Oh jolly good! Boy does that please my tiny mind!!

Joan Dress back view

You may also notice that I made a pleat at the back rather than a slit. I’m not very ladylike when it comes to an open vent and nine times out of ten I will rip it. Nothing to do with me not being arsed to fathom the instructions at all… honest, guv!! 😉

Well, I’m guessing there may be a couple of comments regarding the shoes. Bought by Mr O of course. Another of his amazing, jealousy-fuelling qualities is that he adores shoe-shopping… for me! And he gets it right all the time. They are from Iron Fist and are the Sugar Hiccup, teal and black with glitter skull. I can’t actually walk in them very far, it may not surprise you to know. But they look darned good and they are a very lucky match for Joan!

Iron Fist shoes

And no, of course I didn’t manage to reach that leaf!

Leaf buckle fabric belt and how I made it

leaf buckle belt

One of the many selling points of a vintage-style dress is the addition of a matching or co-ordinated fabric belt with a cute buckle. But as much as I love the look, I’ve always gone for the belt-free view just to avoid the extra work. What a shirker!

Until now that is. Until I made the Sew Over It Joan Dress. Apologies up front for the lack of said Joan shots but Mr O has done a bunk again and left me void of quality photography services. She’s all class is Joan, and no selfie is going to cut it, I’m afraid. Hoping to nab some shots in the next few days, though.

I found this cute little buckle, at my first visit to the Hammersmith Vintage Fair a few years ago. I’m not entirely sure how old it is or what it’s made of but it’s a weighty metal, inlayed with tiny turquoise and teal mosaic pieces. Shamefully I don’t even know what kind of leaf it is. Sycamore, grape vine? Any Girl Guides out there? It’s not cannabis thank goodness. That would be far too tacky!

The eureka moment to use it came in tandem with another when I remembered the lovely jade green wool crepe I’d squirrelled away for a vintage Hardy Amies number that I (ahem) put into Karen’s (DidYouMakeThat) Sewlution Jar just as many moons ago. So what a result. A pattern gifted by the lovely Alex at Sew Over It, perfect fabric in stash plus the prize jewel of a perfectly coordinated buckle!

So here’s how I made it. . .

Materials:

Fabric (waist measurement plus 4 inches x width to fit in buckle, plus seam allowance)

A length of Petersham waistband stiffener, 1 inch shy of fabric length and width to match

Velcro

matching thread.

 

Instructions:

With right sides together, pin fabric along the length, marking a gap either side of the centre point for turning. Sew along length with a regular stitch and then change to a longer length stitch or basting stitch for the gap:

pin fabric along length

Trim seam but leave the full allowance along the basted section:

trim seam allowance

Roll the seam from the edge to the centre of the tube and press the seams open:

press seam open

Unpick the central basting stitches to open the gap:

unpick stitching at gap

Turn the tube right side out, pulling each end through the central gap. You can do this by attaching a safety pin at one end and pulling through or if you don’t have one already, I wholly advise you to get one of these loop-turners! You just clip one open end and push the fabric over itself, like so:

loop turner

Give a good press, making sure that seam stays open and pressing the gap closed too.

 

give a good press

Insert the Petersham belt stiffener by attaching a large safety pin to one end and feeding through the central opening to one end. Repeat for the other end.

insert petersham belt stiffener

Ladder stitch the central and end openings closed and give another press:

ladder stitch

Top stitch on the right side. I find the stitch-in-the-ditch foot works a treat for this:

stitch in the ditch foot

Take a moment to admire said top-stitching. It’s the little things, you know! 😉

topstitching

Fold over and hand sew one end to the buckle. All buckles differ but same in principle:

attach one end to buckle

The next step is totally unsympathetic to any vintage techniques but I make no apologies because it works for me. I hand-sewed velcro to the other end to make it adjustable:

attach velcro

It’s foresight you see. There’ll be a few Christmas dinners before the year is out and I’m erring on the side of caution. Should have been a Girl Guide!

Hope you found this tutorial of some use I’ll be back soon to show how it in situ, on Joan!

TTFN x

 

Vintage western shirt #3… of the linen kind

 

70s shirt Butterick 5007

It’s been a while since I made Mr Ooobop something. Quite shameful really for all the lovely photos he takes for me. So I’m delighted to have finally finished his latest shirt. And he loves it, thankfully!

The hardest bit for me was being back behind the camera again. Well out of practice I was. But luckily Dan has more patience than me and was very obliging as I got him to mill around on Barnes common!

This is the third version I’ve made from the same pattern – Butterick 5007 – A 70s men’s western shirt.  The kind of shirt you have to imagine beyond the pattern pic:

butterick 5007 pattern cover

Mr O is quite good at that. Non-conformist to a T for Taurus he is, and believes very firmly that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. So all that needed to be altered this time was the choice of fabric. The flowery fabric used in the last shirt I made him was gorgeous but faded so quickly in the wash. Such a shame. So he chose this gorgeous black linen with embroidered details.

butterick 5007 shirt

When we came to buy the fabric. I didn’t think I would have a problem with pattern matching because the little embroidered motifs were quite sparse but that’s where I massively slipped up. Didn’t really consider placement, did I…doh!

Placement isn’t really that difficult if you take time and consider each piece and where it’s going to sit with the adjoining pieces, of course, but when you’ve purchased only just enough fabric for the job and it was end of roll, it creates a problem or ten.

You can move the pieces around to work as much as you like but sometimes that ain’t very economical and you end up short of material for all the pieces. Luckily enough I had some spare plain black linen floating around because what was left didn’t leave suitable areas for the cuffs, collar stands and one of the pockets. I also used some of the plain stuff for the underside of the pocket flaps.

butterick 5007 mens shirt

It’s a close-fitting shirt, which required a bit of fitting but that was done on the first version, which incidentally has disappeared from my blog but here’s a pic of it. I just love the vintage Laura Ashley curtain fabric I rescued here. The beard, not so much!

B5007 with double bass

In all cases, the pointed collar is large. He likes it that way. But I did include a stiffer facing this time so it is even more exaggerated!

The back and front yokes are cut on the bias. Fine for the back but I did some serious head-scratching on the placement decisions for the front yokes. In my head I wanted the design flipped and symmetrical. Why my brain couldn’t let it lie I have no idea!

70s shirt back yoke

70s shirt front yokes

I love how the above picture shows the texture of the linen. It is one of my favourite fabrics to work with. And I’m told it feels great and is dead comfy to wear too! Also shows up some of the painstaking topstitching. I had clearly forgotten just how long this takes. It can’t be rushed. And I couldn’t do it at night-time. Sewing black on black with stupid crap low energy ethical lightbulbs is not good for anyone’s health. So I’m glad I waited for weekend daylight hours to get a neat job.

You can’t see from these photos, and you probably wouldn’t have noticed in real-life and close up either, but I interfaced the cuffs and button band in a white fusible woven interfacing. French stuff. Great quality in fact. But when I cut the button holes it was a little irritating to see the white edges. So I got my Sharpie out and coloured them in… shhhh!

The buttons aren’t an exact match for the blue in the embroidery which bugs a bit but I’m keeping eyes peeled for a closer colour. They can always be replaced at a later date. But I so wish I’d put the buttons on the other side of the cuff. Mr O doesn’t often do his cuffs up so you don’t get to see them side on!

70s shirt shaped hemline

He also doesn’t like to tuck a shirt in much. And so it’s great that the shaped hemline gets a showcase. I used a bias tape to finish the edge because I forgot to lengthen it again I much prefer how it looks.

B5007 in black linen

It was really lovely to catch an hour or so of the sunshine in Barnes, today and especially lovely to spend a little time with this fella. We’ve been like passing ships lately. And he’s off again now to do a gig in Kent! So what’s a girl to do? Crack open a bottle and crank up the sewing machine I guess! Tough life on a Sunday afternoon, hey!

70s western shirt for men

Happy sewing, everyone!

 

Vintage Butterick clutch cape

butterick 2556 clutch cape

Until I found the pattern for this I didn’t even realise there was such a thing let alone that I wanted one so much! On Googling ‘clutch cape’ one is presented with all manner of cape styles accessorised with a clutch bag but only one or two images of a vintage pattern oh and one fox fur version for a snip at $1,285.00! I can only assume it came into being and then disappeared from the world of fashion in a puff of smoke through lack of demand.

Well of course, that makes me love it even more!

butterick 2556 clutch cape pattern

The idea is that you can rest your hands in the naturally forming pockets where the shawl collar meets the hem. It is also the only way of holding it on in gusty weather as there is no other system of closure. But even without such gusts it does sit in place quite nicely due to the shaping of the shoulders.

There’s not much choice to be had in the Goldhawk Road faux fur range at the moment. I am assured that it arrives in October. But I don’t have patience of saints and I settled on this textured black fur fabric at £14.99/m. It only takes 1.25 yds but I bought 1.25m to be on the safe side and it was plenty enough. I like the pattern of the texture and it is actually quite silky for being faux.

butterick 2556 clutch cape

There’s some dart shaping on the fronts and back piece which you wont be able to see of course. And there is interfacing sewn into the collar to give a little structure. And so that if I want to look like a wicked stepmother it will stand up and stay up!

Youngest daughter tried to halt plans by saying it was plain weird and even Mr O made noises about me looking like Basil Brush. But they know full well that those kind of comments just roll off my feathered back!

butterick 2556 clutch cape back view

There is very little to construct and therefore it was very simple to make up, however I had to re-read the instructions to make sure I hadn’t missed anything re the lining insertion. The lining consists of the front and back pieces sewn in the same way; sewn together at the hemline, with right sides facing and then, having pressed the seam allowance all round, hand-stitched to the cape. Of course the problem that caused was that the lining was visible at the hemline. It needs to be shorter.

So, given my ever growing annoyance for things I’ve not done properly, I dutifully unpicked it (which is no mean feat if you’ve ever stitched lining to fur with small stitches!) and chopped off the seam allowance from the hemline and reattached. I could have gone half an inch more to be on the safe side but that seems to have done the trick.

It’s perfect for days like today, deceivingly sunny with a sneaky chill in the air. I haven’t begun any autumnal sewing yet and my polka dot Flora dress most certainly would not have got an outing today with bare shoulders. And it wouldn’t look out of place with an evening gown or ‘casualled’ down with a pair of jeans if that’s what takes your fancy.

butterick 2556 clutch cape front

In an effort to find a location with no gawping passers-by, these photos were taken down the side of Shepherds Bush Empire. I knew this building was quite old, built in 1903 in fact, but didn’t know that of all the acts performed there, Charlie Chaplin was one of them!

I was just saying to Mr O how sewing and blogging and photography has changed how we have taken notice of our surroundings. There is so much history to be had, right on our very doorstep!

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

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

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!!

 

Retro Butterick ’57 halter-dress

butterick b4512 halter dress
I made this dress to wear at my sister’s wedding last month but ridiculously didn’t manage to get any full-length, blog-worthy pics. So yesterday, we took a lovely evening stroll down to Fulham Reach for these shots.

butterick b4512 halter dress

It took a bit of effort to ditch bags, change outfit, reapply slap and head straight back out after a long hot day at the office but I’m glad we did. The light was lovely – no jacket required, and it took no time at all to chill out on the banks of the Old Father Thames!

butterick b4512 halter dress

A swift G&T softened the self-concsious blow of twirling around like a loon in full view of passers-by. And it wasn’t till after we’d finished that I clocked a security guard behind a smoked glass door applauding from his ringside seat!

butterick b4512 halter dress

The pattern is Butterick B4512, a retro 1957 reprint. It’s a halter-neck bodice with optional collar/pussy bow. I cut my own circle skirt though I believe simplicity’s one is a circle too. I just didn’t want to split the front skirt section. It would have messed with my dots!

Butterick B4512 sewing pattern

butterick b4512 halter dress

I knew I might have issues with the fitting of the bodice but I was time short as always and used a lovely cherry print fabric for my first attempt. Alas it was too long overbust if that’s a thing. So I had to take an inch out horizontally. I could have gotten away with it, pesky kids or not, but my inner perfectionist nagged to get it right. So I adjusted the pattern pieces and re-cut in some stash polka dot. This fabric has subtle stretch which I knew would work with me!

butterick b4512 halter dress

Once I’d sorted the issues it really took no time at all. Only the bodice is lined. I think the most surprising thing was not even having to level the hem after letting it hang overnight. It didn’t distort at all!

butterick b4512 halter dress

We treated ourselves to a long overdue child-free dinner date at the Blue Boat afterwards. The same place where we shot my not so boring pencil skirt! I got lots of compliments at the bar. I didn’t feel like I had to justify why I was wearing it. After all, why save a party dress for best? On whose say so? Not mine!

butterick b4512 halter dress

I’d love to try this pattern in other fabrics, even a plain one. It’s kinda formal fancy Hepburn from the front but the backless feature and the swishy skirt make for party factor. The petticoat was a happy find in an Oxfam charity shop on the way home from work one day. I’ve been meaning to make myself one for ages, determined to make everything I wear, but couldn’t ignore this beauty for a fiver!

butterick b4512 halter dress

It’s very strange with youngest daughter being away this week (She’ll be tucked up in her sheep shorts now, no doubt) but at the same time so lovely to be spending some fun times with the Mister and his clever camera skills. Long may this sunshine and warm weather hang around. These evening strolls totally make me feel like I’m on holiday!