Thursday, 2 June 2011

A Project For June

Well May was a miserable failure sewing-wise.

This is mostly justified. I had one weekend at home in the whole of the month and that was taken up with packing for my holiday/belated honeymoon.
This month I am off to Bad Breisig in Germany for the Men From UNKEL Mod Weekender and would like to make something to wear to that. The highpoint of the weekend is the boat trip down the Rhine. Four hours of drinking, music and vintage clothing. On a boat! On the Rhine! The weather is usually fine too, so it's generally a good 'un. Ever since I started going to this rally, about 8 years ago, I have attempted a nautical-themed outfit for the boat trip, so maybe this year I shall make my own.
In order to work out what makes the ultimate sailor dress I have started a nautical-themed board on Pintrest

So what are the crucial style features? Large collars? Bows? Stripes? Anchor motifs? I could be in danger of overkill if I try to incorporate them all!

The Return of the Lobsters

So I trundled off to Leeds Market to purchase more lobster fabric, this time it was £3 a metre, which is weird as I'm sure it was £4 last time. Is this a sign of how phenomenally popular it hasn't been with the citizens of Leeds? Am I the only person who thinks that this is a good fabric for something other than bathroom curtains?

Anyway, I made up bodice number two, this time cut to a size 10. It did fit better but still had that huge gaping problem at the back! I thought that I had quite a wide back, so I'm baffled by this - maybe I am just a peculiar shape. However with the help of "Monsieur Julian" (my long-suffering but very encouraging husband with some pins in his mouth) we managed to pin the bodice into a workable shape and then cut off the excess. This seemed to do the trick!

DSC 0463

So here is the finished product - modelled on my belated honeymoon! I am very pleased with myself for completing this and not letting the 'If at first you don't succeed - give up' mentality take a hold of me.

So the dress for April was actually finished in early May - does it still count?


DSC 0304

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Revenge of the Lobsters

My project for April is the 'Rock Lobster' Sundress.  Made from this fabulous fabric, a snip at only £4 a metre from Leeds Market.

IMG 0180

I could visualise exactly the pattern that I wanted to make up with this fabric, it would be a 1950s sundress with wide straps.  However I couldn't find the ideal pattern in my stash or on eBay, so have decided to compromise with this New Look pattern, which I'd sort of made up in version (a) but instead with the sweetheart neckline.

The "Rock Lobster" dress seems to be turning into the "Dress of Doom" (copyright Alice Fowkes 2007) Mk II.

The problem with this pattern is that the bodice is lined.  While I like the effect of this you are effectively making the dress twice, so not great if you are impatient for results.  I guess the upside is that having made the bodice twice you can decide which one turned out better and put that one on the outside.  Particularly with a pattern like this that has the possibility of weird joins.

IMG 0266

I seemed to struggle with the whole concept of the lined bodice, it's only the third or fourth time I've attempted to make a garment that has a lining and to me it always looks like it isn't going to work until you pull the back through the front (or whatever) and 'hey presto' - it's magically a professional-looking garment!  Unfortunately in this case it didn't work.  Trying to pull the back through the front I realised that something had gone wrong somewhere and that I had actually made some kind of Moebius Strip /Klein Bottle out of fabric. Cue much swearing and unpicking.

So I tried again.  Last time I made this pattern (admittedly a different version of the bodice) the whole thing fit just fine, so I had no reason not to think that it wouldn't be so this time, so I foolishly ploughed ahead without much in the way of fitting and sewed the bodice to the skirt, put the zip in and tried it on.  Imagine my surprise then when I discovered that I had about a metre of spare fabric at the back.

IMG 0272

Cue more swearing.  I decided that I would lose the will to live if I had to unpick all 12 sections of the bodice, not to mention the zip, so I stopped play until more lobster fabric can be purchased to make another bodice, this time in a size 10 rather than a 12

Saturday, 30 April 2011

New Old Patterns

I have bought my first reproduction patterns from Butterick. It's not a bad idea, especially as they come in multi-sizes. For the most part however, they cost much more than any real vintage patterns that I buy on eBay. Maybe this is because I mainly purchase '60s patterns, which seem to be reasonably cheap, rather than the more expensive '50s and '40s ones.
I don't know why it should be that '60s patterns are cheaper than '50s ones, whether it be relative age making them harder to find, or current fashions causing higher demand? Or are there just more '50s enthusiasts out there than moddy types?
Anyway, the patterns i bought were these:
IMG 0287
Butterick B5603, a pattern from 1956, which I just think will make FABULOUS Summer dresses. Look at the size of that waist though! I hope that it's that small merely for illustrative purposes, or I am going to struggle to get into it. The average woman's waist size has increased over the decades though, so hopefully the 'new' pattern reflects that!
IMG 0288
And Butterick B5271. I don't 'do' 1940s, but have been invited to a '40s-themed party in July for a friend's 40th birthday, so I need to find some appropriate fabric to make this up in.
It will be interesting making up these new/old patterns and seeing how they compare to my usual old/old patterns!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

A Dress for March

As March was heading into the 20s without my doing so much as a stitch I thought I'd better get moving.

The main reason for this is that I have been away for the last two weekends and my weeks have been pretty busy as my job has suddenly become productive, meaning that I'm coming home tired, instead of just vaguely irritated about how bored I've been all day.

This month I decided to do something easy. This was largely dictated by my fabric choice, some Any Butler quilting fabric that was reduced to £5 a metre in Hobbycraft. Anything too complicated in this stuff is just going to look ridiculous. I did plump for view 3 with the square neckline though as I did want to try something a little different. Otherwise though it is your bog-standard shift dress pattern. I made sure that I was going with a pattern than had the front piece cut on the fold as I imagined that matching up panels of this would be a nightmare, which narrowed my search down to about four patterns. I did go for sleeves though, I don't much care for my upper arms.


Even with this being such an easy pattern I was amazed that I managed to get this all done in one day, I think I was lucky though, it was the dress equivalent of all the lights being on green on your journey home. The pattern was simple. The fabric was easy to work with. I had a zip in a matching shade of pink in my stash. I cheated and hemmed the sleeves and the bottom of the dress on the machine (the 'proper sewing' police are probably knocking on my door as I type!). This time I remembered to taper out a little from the waist as I was cutting, which resulting in a much more forgiving hip measurement. Before sewing the sides together I pinned it on my tailor's dummy. The result was a pretty good fit! Hooray.
I was due a good run after my last couple of stressful encounters though.

On a side note I have noticed a real discrepancy in the kinds of fabrics I am drawn to and the types of pattern that I choose. I have loads of colour-block or multi-panelled dress patterns - the type that need good, plain fabric, yet my stash largely consists of crazy prints which would look bizarre made up in anything other than a simple shift. I need to work on this.


Monday, 28 February 2011

Inadvisable Fabric Purchases of the Week (Curse you eBay)

Sometimes, when the red mist of eBay descends on you, you can't be held responsible for your own actions.

The combination of the cold-from-hell and the husband kindly purchasing me an iPhone (early birthday present - I love that man) kept me nailed to the sofa for pretty much all my leisure hours this last week, perusing eBays iPhone app - everything looks so much cuter on a tiny screen!
So these were my impulse purchases:
IMG 0092
IMG 0094

1. A mountain of Lurex.
Yes - Lurex. I'm as retro as the next woman (unless she is one of those Civil War recreation people), but there are certain fabrics that history has taught us to avoid - and surely Lurex is one of those? I imagine that you can't do ANYTHING with unless it is lined and that it is probably one for the as-yet-unused Stretch Stitch setting on the machine? It was cheap though and came wrapped in a strangely spherical brown paper package that my husband suspected might be a human head.

IMG 0095
Stinky Curtain

2. A stinky curtain.
Don't be fooled by how cute it looks in the picture, described as being "Clean, but could benefit from a wash to freshen it up as it has been in storage." In storage where? In a packet of fags? In the tap-room of a pub from 'The Sweeney'? I had to wash the bugger TWICE to get that lovely fag-stinky smell out of it. And this is an ex-to-occasional smoker speaking. I haven't left any eBay feedback yet, I'm going with the old "If you can't say anything nice don't say anything" theory, but the seller must have either been completely smell-blind or one of the cast of Shameless to not notice that the damn thing REEKED.
I also purchased some vintage bias binding and some patterns, but they were relatively sane.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

February's Dress - Wedding Belle

So having made a reasonably successful toile I felt confident that I could make something fabulous, or at least wearable, for my friend's wedding.

Dupion silk is good stuff! It's nothing like it's slippery cousin and behaves perfectly nicely. Everything took shape quickly and easily. I did however run into a few problems, but these were all due to my own incompetence.

- My gung-ho "Just bung a zip in the back plan" wasn't entirely successful and I needed to tack down a bit of the neck by hand to make it look less weird.
- My lazy hemming - it looked fine from the outside, but I was worried that someone might examine it closely and realise that I just folded it and machine stitched it - badly.
- The bow was tacked on wonky, I did this when I was off sick from work, so it's no great surprise that I wasn't really feeling up to trying the whole thing on and making sure that it was right. That'll teach me, I ended up on my hands and knees with a pair of nail scissors and a hotel sewing kit, 15 minutes before the cab was due to arrive, mending the damn thing!

Here is the end result, I forgot to get any pictures until we got home, so it’s perhaps a little more creased than it was when we first set off!


I 'frankensteined' the pattern by adding this ribbon bow from Vogue 7171, rather than the side-fastening one made from fabric that came with the pattern. End result much the same I’d have thought.