Gather Kits: Mortmain

Hi y’all.  Sorry for the absence on Monday it has been a crazy couple of weeks and this weekend there was just no let up.  As a result I have been floored by a cold (yep, a simple cold) and sore throat.  My body is telling me I need to give myself a bit of time for some R&R!  Long story short, work is busy, my Husband’s self employed status is turning back to employee and director as of the 1 April as we’ve taken the decision to change his business into a Limited company.  His business is stupid busy, which means behind the scenes I’m busy!  We’ve recently put in for a number of jobs and been awarded the majority of them which makes me incredibly proud of him but also brings with it a fair degree of stress as these are all on a commercial level.  Pretty damn impressive for a one man band!  At the moment I’m working a minimum of 32hrs a week in my place of employment, working 10-20 hours on Husband’s business and being a Mum as well as trying to maintain a clean(ish) house with food in the cupboards!  How I’m not crazier than I am I have no idea…

Anyway, please forgive my less than glowing face and somewhat grumpy expression, I wasn’t feeling exactly glamorous when taking these, but you’re more interested in the dress than me, so what the heck!

Mortmain

Back in 2013 Gather Kits were looking for pattern testers for their first pattern ‘Mortmain’.  I stuck my hand in the air and was lucky enough to be picked!  This is actually my second version of the dress as the first one is now too big (wahoo!).  I made it using a teal plaid wool (I think, it was from the charity shop and presses like a wool!).  I did my usual FBA (please forgive the bust darts that look like they’re heinously placed – I’m wearing a different bra to the one I fitted this in) and sway back adjustment.  I also chose to fully line this rather than just use the facings and also swapped out the exposed zip for an invisible one (but I forgot to take back view photos – sorry!).

Because I chose to line the bodice with white cotton, I didn’t want to run the risk of this peeking out around the neck or armholes.  So I carefully pressed the edge of the facing under and edge stitched it to the lining.  I’m really pleased with how close I got the edge of the facing and how close to invisible it is!  To get a really good finish on the lining I followed this tutorial.  I then catch stitched the lining to the waist band of the skirt.  This enclosed where the skirt meets the waist band too.  I lined the skirt by duplicating the skirt pattern piece and creating the box pleats with both the outer and lining fabric.  I think I got the plaid lined up pretty well!  The lining was finished with my overlocker and I overlocked and pressed up the skirt hem before catch stitching it by hand.

Mortmain 2

I love working with plaid – it’s a challenge but when you get it right it’s really satisfying too.  You can also have fun with the direction so I cut the waist band on the bias and used some lightweight fusible interfacing to stop it stretching out.  It gives this work appropriate dress a little bit of a twist and some added interest.

This pattern is a great basic and the box pleated skirt manages to have a full hem that I love with out being too bulky around the waist.  The separate waist band nips you in and gives a lovely shape.  I used the instructions to insert the exposed zip on my first version and they work really really well giving a fabulous finish.  All in all I’d recommend this pattern and not just because I was lucky enough to test it!  It’s a great building block and with the sleeve options with their cute cuff detail it has so many possibilities!

Gratitude

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It’s ‘Sew Grateful‘ week again. A now annual event organised by Debbie over at My Happy Sewing Place. You’ve probably seen posts popping up in your reader all week with giveaways, tutorials and people using patterns they were gifted.

I’m not going to offer you a giveaway (having just held one) and I don’t have a tutorial to offer (I don’t feel qualified!). I haven’t got a pattern that someone gifted me sewn up and ready to share. What I do have is gratitude.

You know me, I’m honest to the point of TMI on this blog sometimes. You all know about the things that have gone right and wrong and some that have floored me and taken a while to pick myself up and dust myself down from. I’ve suffered from depression and the destruction, saddness, alienation and everything that goes with it. To quote the Blogess: “Depression Lies”. Remembering that is hard.

Thankfully I have things mostly on an even keel and have done for a little while now, but every so often I wobble. I’m human. To help combat the wobbles I’ve been keeping a record of things that I’m grateful for.
Now before you get completely weirded out by me (and I accept and love the fact that I’m a little bit weird!) can I ask that you keep reading for a little bit?

This week has been insane and intense for a number of reasons. Work, home, Husband’s business, slamming my hand in the door of the truck (who knew I could swear in multiple languages?!), thinking I was going to have to have my wedding ring cut off as a result of the swelling caused by that damn door… You get the picture. The thing that stopped me starting on a very slippery spiral was just reading back through those gratitudes I’d made a note of.

There were common themes to them which I hadn’t really picked up until I read them back. Family, Boy, Husband were all in there. The fact that I have a nice home and a reasonable income. The one that made me sit and think though was the kindness of people I have never met in real life.

Take Lizzy. I was in a funk on Monday morning but we had a chat on Twitter and she reassured me and virtually held my hand.

Then there’s Maddie. I got completely stuck with a pattern alteration regarding collar roll and reached out to her. In a short amount of time she gave me some starting points on Twitter and is going to provide me with further guidance and advice over the weekend.

Emmie came to my rescue when I was trying to source tailoring supplies and sent some of her own horse hair canvas for me to use. She wanted nothing in return.

Sonja made me laugh about slamming my hand in the truck door.

Some of these people are less than a hundred miles away, others are across the Atlantic or in the other hemisphere. I’ve only met one of them for a brief time in reality. But I’m proud to ‘know’ each and every one of them. I’m proud to ‘know’ each and every person I interact with through Twitter, Instagram and this blog (my social media outlets of choice).

Through sewing, a wonderful range of people and perspectives have entered my life and informed, educated, supported and shared with me not just sewing but their day to day lives. Sweary, I know you’re not into blogs, but you have opened my eyes to so many different things through Twitter.

I can’t think of any other more graphically diverse community that would hold a sewing competition in honour of the marriage of a member of that community. Sew Dolly Clackett is going to be immense? Unreal? I can’t find the right word. And the motivation is not blog views, sponsorship or any form of self gain or promotion. It’s purely because Sarah is across the Atlantic and wanted to do something for Roisin and Nic. Pure and simple.

The blogging, tweeting and instagraming that goes on in our community is so much more than ‘look what I made’. It’s a welcoming group of people with whom you can share life, love, laughter and tears with. That’s pretty damn special.

My gratitude to you guys is immense. I love helping you out when I can, lending an ear, pattern, opinion, support. Just being part of this community has enriched my life immeasurably. Thank you x

Imagination is the Beginning…

Seasonal sewing?  Pah, that’s for organised people.  Or those that sew with a plan.  Not me, then!

As February comes to a close and snowdrops, crocus, iris and even daffodils are starting to make an appearance in the garden, spring may, just may (don’t want to jinx it!) be on its way.  Which is, of course, the perfect time to start making a thick, lined wool cape.  Yup.

This has been simmering away in the back of my mind for a while.  The seed was sown by a rather beautiful and sophisticated colleague at work who has been wearing a cream with brown plaid cape with sleeves and a funnel neck all winter.  I love the funnel neck that has a big buckle to thread a belt like closure through on the collar.  This inspiration has been percolating for a while and I’m now well into the planning stages of my own cape (hastened I might add by the zip on my ski jacket giving up the ghost – another thing for the repair pile!).

Milano Cape 1

I’ve always wanted to make a cape ever since Tasia posted her version of Simplicity 5669.  It’s a pattern I even have in my collection, bought with the full intention of making that cape one day.  The image I have in my mind’s eye though is much more swirly, has more movement.  I then remembered Papercut Pattern’s Milano Cape, part of her first collection “Imagination is the Beginning of Creation”.  The collar is more suited to being accessorised with scarves and snoods, it had the movement I was dreaming of and the welt pockets and double breasted style lends its self to creative embellishment!  You guessed it, I bought the pattern.

There aren’t many versions of this cape blogged; in fact I can find only two!  Amanda of Bimble and Pimble’s version and a sample made up for a class.  My only doubt, if you will, about the pattern is the size of the neck.  It’s pretty darn wide and Amanda fitted her lovely self and her dog in that neck hole!  I want something more closely fitted there so I suspect I will be altering the pattern to suit.  Whether that means using a smaller neck line or grafting on the collar from another pattern I’m not quite sure yet.  S5669 that inspired me all that time ago may be the solution!  I could also try my hand at pad stitching to shape the collar…

I know I want this cape to be fully lined, like Amanda’s and Tasia’s.  I’ve been stash diving and come up with a reasonably heavy crepe backed satin in a lustrous plum/magenta colour.  It’s a pinky-purple I guess!  Drafting the lining should be pretty straight forward and I intend to use Amanda’s method of tracing the outer, laying the facing over the top and tracing them then adding a seam allowance before cutting the facing area away.

I’m also going to do something different with the button holes.  I want to use bound button holes as it’s a technique I’ve never tried.  I have one of those Dritz bound button hole jigs that I won on Casey’s blog a long long time ago, as well as Karen’s eBook on how to make a bound button hole.  It’s those little tailored touches that I want to have a go at (like the possible pad stitching on the collar).  I’m going to get some bespoke buttons made too as I can’t find any I like and if I’m going to the effort of bound buttonholes, the buttons needs to be a bit special too!  I briefly considered covering them myself but that’s fiddly and I’m rubbish at it.  The prices buttoncovering.co.uk are extremely reasonable and they know what the heck they’re doing so will produce something I want to use.

I’ve been happily researching all sorts of techniques and construction methods and Poppy Kettle’s single welt pocket tutorial is the one that makes the most sense to me!  It also shows how to add a pocket bag which I’m keen to do as the pattern its self requires the pocket to be topstitched to the cape, which I don’t want to do.  I also intend to add some piping to the single welt pockets using some of the lining fabric, a little like Steph did on this pocket a while ago.

Milano Cape 2

So I’m pretty much there and nearly have all the materials I need to make a start.  I’m just waiting on the fabric I eventually chose to arrive after getting a number of swatches sent through the post.  I wanted a wool melton in either a dark grey, black or navy as these are all ‘neutral’ colours for me.  I wanted it to be soft to the touch, reasonably thick and drape well.  Most of the samples had the drape and texture but were too thin.  Another was too thick and didn’t drape the way I wanted.  I’ve found my fabric though, courtesy of eBay and if you believe the description the fabric is of Italian decent.  Whatever it is, it’s what I was dreaming of in a deep inky navy that’s almost black.  There will be a lot of steam in my future when it comes to pre-shrinking all 4m of it!

I hope you don’t mind but as this is the first thing I’ve made with a lot of these techniques and even vaguely tailored, I’m going to be documenting the process and my research and sources for the techniques I use!  Oh, and there’ll be the usual sort of thing interspersed through it all – I suspect this will be a slow burner, done a little at a time…

Charming Cami Dress

Ugh, my blog post titles are far from poetic!  However, it is high time I shared with you my version of Pauline Alice’s Cami Dress.  It’s been in my wardrobe quite a while now (since September!) as I made it pretty much as soon as the pattern was released – I’ve only just photographed it though hence why you only get to see her several months down the line!

I made it in some Tula Pink fabric from her ‘Prince Charming’ range.  There are turtles, butterflies, girls in swings, waves and all sorts going on in the print.  I love the turtles the most though!

Cami Dress 1

Me being me, I had to mess with the pattern.  Sometimes I do this because I have a certain idea in mind, sometimes because I don’t like certain details.  In this case it was a mix of the two!

The two changes I made were to the finishing of the sleeves at the cuff and the shape of the skirt.  For the sleeves I used the cuff pattern piece from By Hand London’s Victoria blazer as I love the way it finishes the seam edge so neatly, but also provides some interest as well; particularly in the contrasting fabric.  The second change was to ditch the gathered skirt for a flared A-Line version.

I drafted the skirt myself using the technique in the Craftsy class ‘Design and Sew an A Line Skirt’ and then slashed and spread from the hem to the waist to get the biggest flare I could at the hem.

To match the contrast of the cuffs, I also used the navy contrast on the inside of the collar.  This is actually the second collar I made as I screwed the first one up completely.  Thankfully Four Square Walls published her collar tutorial just as I decided to rip off the first version and saved my sanity.

Cami Dress 2

Other, minor tweaks, I made were to put more buttons on the bodice as the FBA (Full Bust Adjustment) adds length and the number specified in the pattern didn’t look quite right.  I’ve got one of those amazing simplex guides that makes easy spacing of things like buttons an absolute walk in the park.  I also added a button at the cuff because I liked the way it looked!

Finally, I inserted the side seam invisible zipper in upside down.  This means the tab is at my hip rather than up under my armpit when I’m wearing the dress.  I find that the tag and inflexibility of the slider really irritates me if I insert it the ‘normal’ way up and inserting it so it closes by zipping downwards is an easy fix!

Next time (and there will be a next time) the only change I intend to make is to ditch the pockets.  Yep, ditch them.  Because of the side zipper it makes the placement of the pockets a little awkward as they’re an inch or so too low for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I generally love pockets, but because these aren’t quite in the right place for me I don’t use them.  I know there are other pocket treatments that could work, but frankly I pretty much always have some sort of bag with me so leaving them off isn’t a massive issue!

Phew, I had more to say about this dress than I thought!  I hope you’ve all had a good week.  I’ll be glad when this one is done.  Work has been busy and exhausting and I got my exam results today and now I know that all the work I put in paid off!

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I’m also pattern testing (So. Much. Fun!) at the moment and have a full on weekend planned which included catching up with friends and their little people, swimming, more friends and helping Husband put together three enormous (for us) tenders.  Safe to say life is exciting and challenging at the moment.  One thing it isn’t is boring!

Anna the 1st

Click image to go to source

Happy Valentines my lovelies!  If you’re into this particular day, I hope you’re having a wonderful one and if you’re not, I hope you can side step the mushy stuff and maintain your sanity!  Husband has a card and some After Eights, and I’ll cook something nice later but that’s the limit in this household!  As I’m writing this on Thursday evening I have no idea if he’s remembered or not (I suspect not… But that’s him and it doesn’t bother me).

As the sun was shining yesterday and I was working at home, I used my lunch break to finally, finally, photograph the first By Hand London Anna dress I made.  This is by no means a recent make of mine – more like last summer shortly after it was released!  It’s a really happy, summery dress – mainly because of the fabric (mermaids, fish, whales!).

Anna 1

I did my usual FBA and sway back adjustment on this as well as Sonja at Gingermakes back neckline gape fix.  I used french seams where I could and  I catch stitched the sleeves for a lovely, flexible finish.  I also used a few tricks I’ve picked up to finish the facings and the facing to zipper.  This dress taught me that I needed a little more length in the bodice as the waist was a smudge too high and the pleats were also well into the bewb area rather than under them.  Something I didn’t catch when I actually toiled the bodice of this!

To finish the facings I sewed the facing to the interfacing, right sides together, pinked the seams and then flipped the interfacing over so that the glue side was against the wrong side of the fabric.  I then pressed.  This makes a really beautiful finished edge on the facing and takes a very short period of time to do.

Anna 2

The other finishing technique I used was where the facing meets the invisible zip at the back.  I use the Fashion Incubator method, which always gives me a really nice finish – In fact I use her insertion method too where you sew up the seam below the zip BEFORE you insert it.  Generally a fantastic resource for all sorts of things – beware you will loose hours but gain tons of knowledge!

I like this dress – although it is a little sheer!  Care is needed with underwear colours and situations where you’ll be back lit.  And strong gusts of wind as this skirt will catch a breeze as easily as a circle skirt!

So, there we are.  My 1st Anna dress.  A short and sweet post as this dress is already so well documented on the inter webs!

PS If you fancy winning a rather lovely brolly or a pattern of your choice, let me know in the comments of this post.  I’ll pull a winner out of the hat on Monday!

Rain Rain Go Away… Or Maybe Not?

Happy Monday, all!  I’ve got a little give away for you today.  With the chaos of exams and life in general I utterly failed to do a birthday giveaway back in November.  I hope this will make up for it!

Love Umbrellas Give Away 3

Last year, in October, the rather glamourous and lovely Oobop wrote a post about her pencil skirt and her rather show stealing umbrella!  Ever since I’ve been coveting something to brighten a rainy day.  Janene’s red flower umbrella would not leave my head!

Love Umbrella is a small independent company that makes unique umbrellas.  Living in the UK, this is something that we need on a dismally regular basis, so why not make it fun?!  Love Umbrella made the wonderful parasol in Janene’s post and also a purple sparkly one that I have.  They also do bespoke designs, and I have one to give to one of you!

Love Umbrellas Give Away 2

I got in contact with Love Umbrella and requested a flower umbrella with a button centre.  I’ll be totally honest and say that this was a purely selfish move on my part.  I wanted it for me!  I then though, why not get two and give one of them away?  I missed my birthday give away, so why not do one now?

Love Umbrella's Give Away

There is a catch though, I can not for the life of my find a cost effective way to send an umbrella abroad.  This really irritates me – how can it cost north of £30 to send something that doesn’t weigh a lot offshore?!  So, the umbrella is only open to my UK readers.  But fret not my international friends!  I’m not going to leave you lovelies out in the rain (ba-dum-tish!).

My international winner will receive the pattern of their choice.  So if you’ve been coveting Emery, Mortmain, or any other pattern it will be my gift to you.

In the comments, let me know which umbrella you’d like (if you’re in the UK) – Red or Black.  If you’re outside of the UK, let me know where you are and what pattern you’d like!  Make sure that your profile links to an email address or include it in your comment so I can contact you if you’re a winner!

I’ll pick two winners this time next week – the 17th February.

This Giveaway is now Closed!