4 November 2010

Craft Christmas Club

If you love homemade gifts and you plan to craft something "with love" for your family and friends for Christmas (or any other time of the year) then this is a blog you should be reading.  Whether you know what you're making and you want to share your ideas and tutorials or you are looking for inspiration, join some of the craftiest members of the blogosphere at this great blog started by Tilly of Tilly and the Buttons.

For my own yuletide offerings I'm going to be making christmas cookies and gingerbread houses.  I've stocked up on christmas shaped cookie cutters which are on sale at very cheap prices at TK Maxx (who also have cutters for the gingerbread houses) and a set of star cookie cutters for just £1 from Tiger.  Of course, I'm going to have to do some test batches first to get the right recipe and practice icing, oh its tough but I'm sure Mango and I will cope ;-)

2 November 2010

Pretty in Peach Petticoat

So a long time back I promised some pictures and have not yet posted them, my bad. Here are some pics of the petticoat I finished a few weeks ago. It is to go under my Butterick dress (still at a standstill) and is made from Simplicity 5006.

The peachy side...

The tiers are tulle in champagne and peach colours (a very subtle difference in shades, somehow adds luminence) and the yoke is made from the same fabrics as the dress, a peach crepe and apricot crepe-back satin, and is reversible in wearing (an adjustment to the pattern). I can't recall why I decided to use the crepe face of the satin, in hindsight I should have used the satin side for a lower friction surface.   It's not yet hemmed because I want to cut it to the right length for the dress.

In reverse ... apricot
 As you can see, I serged the seams of the tulle, I really wanted a quick and easy method, and I don't mind the lines, it is an undergarment after all!  It is supposed to be 4 panels per tier but I doubled up the fabric to cut it as 2 per tier, again to save effort.  Which I'm glad I did as the gathering was a mega pain. At around 8 yards of fabric gathering threads were just going to snap and cause tears, it couldn't be ruffled on the machine, more misery, and so I took my trusty cutting board, a box of 200 large-head pins and sat dividing the tulle lengths, folding and pinning which resulted in hundreds of neat, uniform, miniscule pleats which were very satisfying to the eye!

I finished off the seam between the peach tulle and crepe with some lovely handstitched trim I had in stash, haven't decided what to use on the other side, maybe some pale lace?

The waist band is elasticated with 28mm wide elastic and I stitched in the ditch at the side seams to help prevent it flipping and twisting in the channel.  TBH, I really dislike the elasticated waistband and if I use this pattern again I will switch it for a flat waistband which will look much smoother under a dress.  I may yet just undo the top of this one, dart and reband it, lets see how much it annoys me! 

Another thing I noticed when I tried on the finished garment was that the seam between yoke and tulle sits right across my "seat", a tad uncomfortable, especially when sitting!  Answer for this skirt is a cami-slip, which I intended to wear under the dress anyway. In future - extend yoke and add lining layer to petticoat. That said, I now have quite a choice of vintage petticoats patterns to try out, I have lemon tulle at the ready!

13 October 2010

Favourite blogs: New Dress a Day

or 365 days - 365 dresses - $365 to spend....

If you havent already clocked onto this great blog it is absolutely worth a visit, the woman behind the blog (I want to call her a girl, she is so young looking) is a true inspiration and here's why...

Marissa was made redundant and ,concerned about depleting funds, she decided no more clothes buying for a year... but what woman can do that?  So she gave herself a budget of $365 and did some serious thrift store and estate sale scrounging.  The result for a dollar a dress starts off truly-horrendous-but-with-redeeming-quality frocks in most cases and Marissa does some sorcery with her magical seam-picker, magical scissors and magical sewing-machine and turns them into something beautiful and up-to-date fashionable...



Who'd have thought they had so much potential?  She's inspired me to look at Ugly Duckling dresses in a completely new light...

P.S. Sorry about the dodginess of the photos, blogger is giving me a headache posting these tonight!
Another fab centenarian giveaway at Debi's blog, My Happy Sewing Place.  Again she's offering patterns from ever decade between 30s and 50s, theyre gorgeous.

In the UK you have 3 hours left to ge an entry in, cousins in the states you have a few more hours, lucky you!

11 October 2010

I'm a Mad Men Dress Up Doll!

So a current rage all my female friends (and a few males) are gossiping about is Mad Men. Now retrophile I may be but I have not succumbed to watching this program (it's probably very sensible that I don't, I'm way too impressionable) however I could not resist playing a little bit of animated dress up over at www.madmenyourself.com.

Like any avatar software, there are models for ladies and men in all shapes, sizes and skin tones, an awesome wardrobe to play with with many colour choices and a whole host of accessories plus the a host of backgrounds for your fantasy...

Here I am in a yellow, full skirted frock, so me. Dig those pearls, pretty brooch and ditzy glove!

And here am I, full screen, dining by moonlight with my own Mr Big. I've decided he's Tony Curtis, seems appropriate this week (not in his deceased state I might add, this is fantasy remember!).

I urge you all to go play and post about it up on your blog if you have one, would love to see your Mad Men alter ego!

3 October 2010

Quick update

Petticoat is finished (bar needingg a bit of pretty ribbon to finish off the yoke). Will take pictures when I have daylight! I am quite pleased with it but I won't feel entirely happy until I've put it under its destined dress and seen that it does its job!

I have to sew the destined dress still, but my mojo is back and running so hope to bring more exciting updates and pics soon! :-)

29 September 2010

What I found...

A thumbscrew YAY

A video tape of my dad taxiing a Lancashire bomber YAY

A little bit of my sewing mojo... I've had a depressing drought of not being able to face a pattern piece, fabric scissors or sewing machine, I've been busy with family stuff and I've been doing a costume design for Christmas panto which seems to have sated all my creative needs, but is it common to lose one's sewing mojo? 

Hopefully I will start to enjoy sewing again, and with that will come updates on the petticoat (Simplicity 5006), the Butterick 9265  dress and a Vogue inspired vintage repro. YAY!

19 August 2010

For want of a nail... the rider was lost...

So I have two sewing deadlines this weekend, I have been suffering major lack of sewing mojo as well as distractions elsewhere and I have finally prepped everything for whizzing through the machine and finish off to discover my presser foot is unattached.  Why?  Because I'd been messing with the ruffler foot and had taken it off to show my visiting ma, and for some reason I didn't reattach it and left the thumb screw on the side (yeah sometimes I am a real idiot).  Of course the screw is not there now and a hunt online through UK sewing machine shops has been fruitless for finding a replacement for the missing part (as has scouring the sewing room but at least I did a much needed clean up!).  Guess who has the enviable job of sifting through the vaccum cleaner contents tomorrow with a magnet? (I'm not holding much hope but I gotta try!)

Oh, where art thou?
Its not been a good week for finding things.  One of our freeview boxes has almost given up the ghost so I dug out a spare one I got given a few years ago but the remote was missing.  "Ah!" I thought, I saw that and saved it a couple of weeks ago when I was clear a clear out.  Can I find it now? My dad gave me a hi-8 tape to try and download for him, he now needs it back.  I put it in a safe place where I knew where to find it.  When I looked in the safe place it wasn't there. Nor is it anywhere else I've looked, this worries me even more, I'm praying for my dad's tape to turn up!

If only I could remember where I left my memory...

27 July 2010

Update on the Butterick 9265 Dress

 Ok, so two days before the wedding deadline, I brought out from my wardrobe a lovely homemade vintage 70s empire line dress in a cream and decided it needed an airing and the wedding would be perfect.  Last time I had worn was a year and a week before for a garden party.  I was around 35 weeks pregnant and had to deeply breath in to get the back zip done up but I was determined to wear it! It flowed over the bump beautifully anyway.

The following weekend, at another wedding I wore a modern 40s/50s look dress in a black lined cotton with purple, blue and white flowers.  I wouldn't normally wear black to a wedding but this dress just seemed to be right so I teamed it with purple tights and black shoes. When I got to the wedding I discovered it was themed with the same shade of purple! I shall add photos this week.

Any way, what has this got to do with the Butterick dress?  Well I supposed to be wearing it to the first wedding and, since I changed my mind, I didn't get on with finishing it.  To be honest I've made so many changes I've lost my impetus somewhat but I must must finish it.  My new deadline is 22nd August for Mango's first birthday!

The most adjusted bit is the bodice, here is the pattern view bodice:

Could I get it to look pretty like that?! The neckline came up too high and there just felt like there was too much fabric across my bust.

So I ended up reducing it pretty much to a deep V surplice although with enough fabric to preserve modesty! The tuck darts look pretty cute in the muslin too.

But I was still contemplating converting them to gathers to make like easier, I'd seen it on a few other patterns of the time and more modern.  These were my alternative inspiration pics for the surplice:


Then when I was fitting my lining before I cut out the outer dress layers I stumbled across a new alternative.  I tried on the lining inside to get a matt finish to  mimic the dress crepe and the neck flopped back into a satiny rever collar, "oooh pretty" I thought!  So here it is in its new design in lining and then with the actual crepe outer dress layer in place.  You can see I was toying with doing the midriff in the satin side too but decided it was overload.  The revers are interfaced now to give them structure and support as is the midriff because I wanted a super smooth stomach line to mimic the corsetted look.


It all needs sewing together now, its so close, just got to find my sewing mojo and get on with it.  The matching petticoat is also in mid-production, I wanted to try gathering the layers with my ruffling foot but that's proving to require so much thought and input it would probably be quicker to hand gather!  Since I intend to make more petticoats, I think its worth taking the time now to learn how to do the machine way and make the process quicker in future. That's the logic anyway haha.

Outside In

Before the dry, hot weather hit the garden was alive with multicolour borders stuffed with flowers.  Not getting outside as much as I would like, I decided to bring some of the garden inside to adorn our basement stairs. I could look at garden flowers all day (even through the hayfever sneezes!).

25 July 2010

Feeling ruffled...

A little while ago I treated myself to a ruffler foot, a foot that while not necessary promises of neat pleats and instants gathers...  It reminds me of The Cleaners, that weird contraption in Labyrinth that pursues Sarah and Hoggle throught he Oubliette.  Terrifying  at first look but actually fairly simple and not so menacing mechanics when you get to examine it.  And armed with internet video tutorials and raving reviews about how you'll be merrily ruffling away in no time I finally took my ruffler out of its box and attached it to my machine, full of hopes and expectations... Cue an hour of blue air, effing, blinding, pinging, low-flying needles, yards of tangled thread and some pretty horrific sounding clunking, grinding and growling from my poor machine!

The instructions that came with my foot appear to have been written for someone else's! It has a fairly detailed description of all the parts and a diagram but sadly the two are not linked so its guesswork as to which part of the foot each description relates.  I am still looking for the part that has numbers 0 to 8 inscribed on it... Information on the net is pretty scarce but the videos helped.

They are a little fiddly to get on and at first I wasn't sure it was correctly connected on the needle clamp bar but it couldn't possibly fit any other way (mine is a universal foot sold by a Brother dealer so theoretically it should fit).  I duly noted CarlaC's tip in the video linked above to have the needle threaded before attaching the foot because it gets fiddly. This proved to be futile when the first thing that happened on starting to sew was the thread breaking and coming out of the needle eye!  This happened several times but it wasn't any hassle to rethread.  I had no problems feeding the fabric between the plates and through the guide either.

I also adhered to the screwdriver tip and was awed by the way the foot throws itself around and several times had to be retightened because it had become wobbly.  I think that accounted for some of the horrendous noise it made and I should have realised indicated to a major mistake I had made... oh hindsight!

Following that I smashed two needles - I still haven't found one which went flying off into air - I quickly donned safety specs!  This was not caused by the needle hitting the foot in the operational position, which apparently could be a problem.  Maybe what smashed the needles was the foot wobbling out of position? The needle would go down into the fabric then get stuck, impossible to wind on by hand but could be budged by using the foot pedal. Then the needle would fall out of its clamp.  Whatever was going on I wasn't getting anywhere never mind gorgeous ruffles spilling out of the back if my machine.

I was quickly frustrated to find my test fabric was not only not gathering but the bobbin thread was bunching up underneath horrendously.  Despite messing with all the settings on the foot and the tension, stitch selection and so forth I could not get it to gather more than a couple of stitches before it became thread carnage.

I had lost all patience with it.  Exasperated I changed back to my zigzag foot and suddenly it became clear what a plonker I had been... I had forgotten to lower the pressure foot!!  To be honest, it is difficult to visually spot if you have or haven't done this from looking at it, the difference is about a nanometre of space between food and plate. But it certainly explained the foot dancing off the clamp, the noise, probably the broken needles and the thread issues too.  So I got the foot back out of the box, reapplied it and started again.

This time I lowered the foot that nanometre, it felt fine and there were more broken needles, no more foot jumping off the clamp, even the noise wasn't quite so bad (but they're still loud!).  Sadly the thread still remained an issue.  After a lot more tweaking and playing with the speed control I was getting ruffles but not even ones (a machine with speed control would be an asset here) and a little bit of bunching.  The last few inches of my fabric finally had it right, neat ruffles, neat thread, shame about the whole issue getting to that point!  Next challenge is to get it working on tulle, I've read conflicting opinions on whether this will work or not, any experiences or tips to share?

18 July 2010

The Streamer Frock Grosgrain Giveaway

Can you be in love with a dress? I am in love with this one. The Streamer Frock Grosgrain Giveaway
I have long been an admirer of Grosgrain's work. I am utterly envious of her talents and creativity, she doen't just sew, she creates eye-popping masterpieces! Her Alice in Wonderland costumes still have me drooling and I've showed them to everyone who has dared to sit close enough to a computer screen! Afraid you'll be seeing a lot more blogs about this gal's amazing makes as I'm going to start blogging for prizes!

Fanfare: Etsy Shop now open for business!

I'm very pleased to report I have set up and started listing in my Etsy shop.  It's very exciting and I'm hoping for great things from this venture (mostly enough income to fund my vintage pattern addiction and Mango's taste for rusks and cheese).

Although the shop idea originally was to sell modern and vintage styled clothes for children and some vintage / vintage style for grown-ups, it seemed a natural progression to add vintage patterns to the wares (and its good for me to have a clear out of them so I can buy some more!) so that is just what is stocked right now.  The clothing line will come into the shop around October time. I'm going to be be adding more each week so keep checking out what I have for offer.


16 July 2010

Well I am just so chuffed and excited after a variable time the last couple of weeks with no blogging to come back and found I had won a very exciting little pattern in a giveaway! The lovely Debi at My Happy Sewing Place bravely gave away several of her patterns and my treat is from 1938. Just as lovely are the handmade cards to accompany our spoils! Thank you Debi!
If you've only visited in the past and are not following her blog, go check out the latest lovely items on there, I adore her snood and have added it to my shopping list!

14 July 2010

Absence Note

Dear Miss,

I am very sorry for my prolonged absence but life has been altogether a bit busy.

The good:

  • Mango took her first steps last weekend, I'm so proud!
  • I'm costuming Aladdin for a Young Theatre in December so I've had some meetings and a dig around the costume store, lots of fun :-)
  • Sunshine = lots of days out in the garden and London parks with Mango
  • Pattern drafting, I have basic patterns for quite a few items of children's clothes now.
  • The opening of my Etsy shop is nearly here.  All the small print is in place, just got to add the listings.
  • New logo.  I've designed my own Owl as these were on borrowed lease from Shabby Blogs. He'll be making his appearance just as soon as I have time to play with the graphics. Twit twoo!
The Ugly:
  • I've still not finished my dress for the wedding which is in 2 days time eeep.  I've changed the bodice about 5 times now, but all the parts are finally cut, will I get it done in time...?
The bad:
  • Life can't always be peachy, some horrid, horrid persons broke into my car and stole Mangos pushchair.  I'm more upset about the loss of that than being broken into but something positive came of it, so desperately in need of distraction, I drafted two styles of overalls to keep my mind off it.  I've called them my "Depressed Dungarees" (not that I will be selling them under that name!).

5 July 2010

NVL wants You!

In blogs across the world the following image is popping up in side bars and on posts. It is a call to arms, to take up needle and thread and meet the challenge set by New Vintage Lady.

Inspired by war-time sewing literature which encouraged people to save fabric for the war effort and to make over existing items, use the fabric they already own or repair the things they have. In todays throw-away culture its a refreshing challenge, especially since it addresses that formidable patchwork mountain aka "The Mending Pile".  Here is what I plan to do to earn my Make & Mend Medal (there isn't a medal, I'm just continuing the war time allusion):

1) Use fabric I already have.  Fairly straight forward, most of what I am sewing for the time being is fabric I already have.

2) Alter a current pattern for a new garment.  I have a few potential qualifiers for this it will probably be altering a trouser pattern for my daughter.

3) The dreaded mend pile!  Well, yesterday I have repaired one item (for my sister) so that leaves just two to go.

4) Repurpose a piece of fabric.  I decided last week that a jersey skirt I own is rather unflattering but a gorgeous fabric so I am going to use the fabric to make a tunic dress for my daughter.  Will try to squeeze that  into July too.

5) Make something for some-one else?  Well most of my sewing this month is for dear daughter so another tick there.

I thought this was going to be a daunting project but actually, looking at my list, it looks quite acheivable... watch this space haha!

3 July 2010

My Happy Sewing Place set to make sewers even happier...

with a very generous celebratory pattern giveaway to mark 100 followers of Debi's blog, My Happy Sewing Place.

I linked to this great blog a few weeks ago, good to see so many others agree.  Get over there to check out Debi's vintage creations and find out more about this great giveaway.

30 June 2010

This just has to be the darnest cute shop on etsy!


Shown above are Alphonso the Artist, Frida Kahlo, Ewok, Hedgehog, Groucho Marx, Owl.

Click here to visit House of Mouse!  And while you're there, visit here too :-)

29 June 2010

Favourite Blogs: Sew Retro

Sew Retro gets my FB vote this week. I've been following it for a while, as mentioned previously its a daily visit for me. As I've just become a member of the blog, I thought it really deserved a post here. So what I like about Sew Retro

1. It makes me feel normal to own 300 vintage patterns, most of which are not in my size. In fact it makes me feel like I do not own enough.

2. It makes me drool into my cornflakes with envy over the patterns other people own and the fabric they use and the time they have to do all of these wonderful creations.

3. It is just so lovely to be in a place with like-minded sewers and vintage enthusiasts. There are so many tips, ideas, support, camaraderie and much inspiration to be found here. The only thing is, I found myself thinking, I want to be able to put out a plea for help on projects but that's really a forum think, et voila, a lovely Sew Retro member creates a sewing circle for Sew Retro. Star!

So visit, flow, join, share, post to Sew Retro and prepare to lose far more of your day as you follow people off to their various blog homes...

28 June 2010

Awesomeness! The Simplicity Sewing Book

I love my vintage patterns, I do.  Among the gems on my vintage book shelf are The Singer Sewing Book and this one, the Simplicity Sewing Book.  It's a great reference for all things vintage pattern related including (very usefully) sizing, fitting and period clothing features such as collars and sleeves, as well as reference for hair and make-up and just for its vintageness - a reflection on history.

Even the front cover is thrilling, the beautiful housewife in her stripy apron bestowing her sewing know-how on to the next generation (who looks far too old to be her daughter!).

Then an encouraging foreword on making us "look our prettiest"

Look at the stapling in the side.  Now the real coup for vintage pattern junkies, a measuring and fitting guide from the same era.  For more excellent advice on choosing vintage pattern sizes go to Gertie's blog here.

Now, I hope you find that useful!  Here's some more tips for you...

I notice two things, firstly the ridiculously tiny waists and secondly that last dress is the same as the too-old-to-be-her-daughter girl is wearing on the front cover.  Now for more tips, don't forget your colour, presenting the grandmas of Colour Me Beautiful...


Aren't they a freaky looking bunch?! Here's another useful page for you.  I thought novelty fabric was something that snowmen or easter bunnies printed on it.  Apparently in 1953, this was novelty fabric:

I'm creating a page on my blog especially for this book and will be adding some more sections (collars, sleeves, etc) that you might find of interest.  Isn't it lovely :-)  I'll leave you with this:

27 June 2010

Project: 2am Pants

Last night I made and sewed a proper muslin for what is turning into the longest active project ever for me, my Butterick 9265 dress.  Having finished that (which actually was fairly quick), I didn't feel like doing more to that but I did want to sew/overlock something else.  I decided to make a pair of pants for Mango.  In the hot weather we're getting I've been dressing her in long tunic tops, but they're not quite long enough and I've been thinking crisp, white cotton trousers.... So I set to work, glancing at the clock as I did and seeing it was 2:18am.  Ah, it'll only take an hour and I'm in the mood thinks I!

I drafted the shape off a pair of pajama bottoms of hers and to speed things up, I placed the lower hem against the selvedge edge so they were ready hemmed!  I cut them on a fold so I only had to pieces of fabric to stitch together.  I also wanted to do something decorative to the bottom and being keen to practice pin tucks on the overlocker, I went with 5 rows of tucks on the bottom of each hem.  It wasn't easy, it should have been, but a combination of inexperience and weariness made a bit of a botch job but it looks passable if you practice the 3 foot rule and I've decided it looks better than no detailing!  The weariness factor also caused me to somehow (and I really don't know how) stitch the crotch on the right side of the fabric - twice!!  I also had a nasty incident with the overlock knife shearing off into the leg which was only fixable by taking a good half inch off the fabric (luckily Mango is a skinny'un).  Apart from that, it was a fun little project, mostly because it is so satisfying making stuff for her and I'm pleased with how they look (I can live with the pintucks).  Mango wore them today and did a good job polishing the kitchen floor with them so they've had the wash test on my stitching tonight already!


For some reason my child just will not look at the camera anymore!

One of her favourite hobbies is emptying boxes, evidently we don't pack them correctly.  First the pasta packets on the floor, then the contents of the washing basket.  Cherub.