Christmas Felt

In between making Bombshell swimsuits, going away for a weekend break, making Happy Happy Joy Joy swishy circle skirts and the usual mayhem that accompanies the run up to Christmas around here, I’ve been playing with some felt to make some holiday decorations!  Just as well it’s felt too as Boy learnt yesterday when we were decorating the tree that glass doesn’t bounce very well, so some additional decorations were definitely needed and these ones are pretty indestructible.

2545_env_front_3

Simplicity kindly offered to send me a festive pattern to play with and blog about; I chose 2545.  I adored the gingerbread houses and the little felt ornaments, particularly the gingerbread men and women.  The pattern also includes the blueprints to make a tree topper gingerbread angel, star and heart decorations, stockings and a tree skirt.  There’s a lot of value in this pattern and I can see myself returning to it each year and increasing the decoration quota!

I’ve made some gingerbread people and some Christmas trees to decorate our tree.  Some are ‘heirloom’ and some are ‘quick and dirty’!  With the ones I took more time over, the embellishments are hand stitched on and use vintage buttons and lace from my stash.  The quick and dirty options use Gutermann HT2 glue to stick the felt together and the embellishments to the felt – much easier when a small person wants to help you!

Gingerbread

I machine stitched all three layers of felt together on my machine before trimming down the gingerbread layers and pinking the icing layer of felt as per Simplicty’s instructions.  My favourite is Miss Gingerbread with her vintage sparkling buttons, lace and ric-rac skirt and hand sewn face.  Mr Gingerbread with the green buttons was sewn and stuck (his eyes are tiny tiny buttons which Boy glued on), whilst Mr Gingerbread with pearl buttons was all hand sewn.  His and Miss G’s eyes are french knots and their smile a split stitch.

Christmas Trees

I loved making the trees!  Mine is the one on the right with a blanket stitched edge, ric-rac tinsel and vintage button baubles!  It was a lovely way to use those odd singular buttons that are lurking in my button tin.  They finally get to shine!  Boy’s glued version is on the right.  No sewing at all, just glue, tiny buttons and more ric-rac.

These were a perfect little hand sewing project to take away with me last weekend.  Small enough that they took up no space at all and also I could make a lot of progress very fast with them.  As you may have guessed, Boy loved helping make them and is very proud of them being on the tree (along with all the other bits and bobs he’s made over the last few years!).  If you’re looking for some stress free Christmas crafting, this is a great pattern to start with – so many options!

Simplicity 2217 or The Juicey Juice Dress

I was among the host of lucky bloggers Simplicity contacted wondering if I’d like to choose a pattern to review and also hold a give away with.  After talking it though with a rather lovely blogger who’s got more experience of these sorts of posts, I gratefully and somewhat gleefully accepted.  This was back in June.  I owe Hannah a massive apology for the length of time it has taken for me to get the dress sewn and also get the post up.  Hannah, I’m so so sorry.

One of the most enjoyable parts of this whole process was trying to come up with a short list from Simplicity‘s massive catalogue.  I was intrigued by the Amazing Fit concept having seen Karen’s version of 1882.  I was also intrigued as to whether the concept would work for me as I have a 6″ difference between my high bust and full bust measurements.  I chose S2217 to try out and I’m rather pleased with the results!

Simplicity

In a nut shell, Simplicity have taken a lot of the flat pattern fitting adjustments out of the equation for you.  THere are different sized bodice pieces to fit your bust and different sizes at the hip for those with more (or less) curves.

Here’s how I selected my pattern pieces:
My upper bust is 38″ so I started with a size 16.  For each cup size the pattern increases by 1/2″ and an A cup was 40″ (this includes wearing ease) up to a D cup at 41 1/2″.  I needed 42″ but for the sake of science decided to go with the pattern piece for a D cup with no further adjustments.

At the hip the options were for a slim fit at 43 1/2″ (again this includes wearing ease), 44″ for an average fit or 44 1/2″ for someone with a little more curve.  I chose the curvy fit.  And to make fitting even easier the side seams are sewn last and have 1″ seam allowances to make those final tweaks!

And you know what, to get this information I didn’t have to measure a single pattern piece.  It’s all printed on the back of the envelope.  This is a big deal for me as I can’t remember the last time I used any of the big four’s patterns and had this information so easily accessible.  I’ve always had to measure the tissue to work out the ease so not having to do that extra piece of work to ensure a good fit was lovely.

I was really trying to talk myself into using some fabric from the stash but I’d seen this stretch sateen on the Minerva Crafts website and it was just calling to me.  I prevaricated and sought the opinion of Twitter.  A certain Australian gave me the final push I needed; Lizzy you were right (as always!).  I love the combination of this fabric with this pattern!  Some of you may have also noticed that the rather wonderful Dibs used the same fabric for her Minerva Blogging Network dress.

Construction wise this was really straight forward.  It’s an unlined dress and with the stretch of the fabric I chose I was happy to forgo the lining.  If I want to wear tights (and as it’s decidedly autumn now I will be!) I’ll just wear a half slip with it.  If you did want to line it Sew It Anyway has a really thorough post on how she lined hers here.  She wore it to the Goldhawk Road meet up and it’s a divine dress!

Simplicity Detail

There were three variations I made to the construction of the dress;

The first was to put a box pleat in the skirt.  I just could not understand what the instructions were asking me to do and the pattern envelope illustrations and photo suggested a box pleat so that is what I went with.

The second was to use bias tape instead of facings.  I really hate facings and avoid them where ever I can and this was no exception.  It meant a ton of hand stitching to secure it on the inside but I think it was worth it.

The third was to cut the wrap portions of the bodice on the bias.  The pattern instructs you to cut on the straight grain but I wanted to play with the direction of the pattern on the fabric so bias it was. I’m really pleased with the effect.

Inside is finished with the aforementioned bias tape and serged seams allowances.  The waist panel is self lined and gives some gorgeous structure to that area; it was supposed to be interfaced but as the fabric has quite a bit of body I didn’t bother.

This isn’t an every day dress for me, it’s a bit too vavavoom for the office but for an evening out its perfect!  And the name?  I’m drinking a home made juice as I write and the colours of the fruit and veg that went into it remind me of this dress:

2 apples (red & green)
1/2 lemon (yellow)
2 carrots (orange)
1 beetroot (pink / purple)

Simplicity Giveaway

So, if you’re keen to give this dress a go I have a give away for you, thanks to the lovely people at Simplicity!  A copy of S2217 or if the dress isn’t your thing I also have a copy of S3688 a gorgeous vintage inspired top and trouser set that Debbie at My Happy Sewing Place has made.

I have each pattern in both size ranges so four prizes!  All you have to do is leave me a comment below letting me know which Simplicity pattern is your favourite and which of the patterns you would like to win and the size range you need by midnight on Sunday 22 September (that’s the midnight just before Monday, I always find that a little confusing!) BST (GMT+1) .  I’m happy to post internationally. 

**This give away is now closed **

Thank you again Simplicity for the wonderful opportunity to try the pattern and also for the chance to give away patterns to my readers!!

Simplicity 2588 MkII – The Office Version

So, here we are!  The second iterations of S2588 has been finished since, hmm, November-ish?  Why no photos until February, 3 months later?  That’d be my usual run and hide reaction to the camera.  I feel uncomfortable in front of one, even more so if Boy and Husband are around so I needed to have some time on my own.  Oh and some decent light; not too much to ask in the northern hemisphere at this time of year!

So I give you my most worn dress:

IMG_6371

I didn’t make any changes from my first version.  I used a prince of wales plaid wool that I bought on eBay last year.  It’s fully lined with a green that picks up the green in the plaid.  I call it kiwi, husband calls it sludge green!  I machine hemmed the circle skirt but did something weird when I attached the seam binding, so the binding acts like flat piping.  I like the effect though!

IMG_6365

There are some errors in the construction of this dress – all of them centred around the grain of the skirt around the zipper.  I don’t care though as this dress was therapy in October and early November; it was a way of shutting up my brain as only sewing can.  When I’m immersed in what I’m doing, concentrating entirely in the moment I’m not thinking about anything else.  This dress gave me some of that stillness I needed.

IMG_6366

I feel comfortable, smart and business like in this dress so it’s a definite win.  It makes getting dressed for work an absolute breeze and thankfully doesn’t have any associations when I look at it.  I wear it at least once a week – definite win!

Sewing Plans, Progress and Stuff

Not a poetic blog post title, but there we go!

I’ve started sewing – Simplicity 2588 in the Prince of Wales wool that I’d originally earmarked for New Look 6000.  Until of course that some lovely people pointed out that the plaid wouldn’t be square about the neckline due to the waist dart/pleat things!  On a plaid this size (2″ish) that would be really really noticeable and really really annoy me!

So, I opted to use it for a dress that I can make with no tracing, no fitting and just get on with!  Enter Simplicity 2588 that I made earlier this year.  I went for a circle skirt again as I had enough fabric left.  Although it’s not going to be a true circle as having sewn up one of the seams I was serging the seam allowances and cut a ruddy great hole in one of the panels.  So, it’ll be a nearly circle skirt and there will be no form of matching on the back seam at all.  But I wont have to look at that so I’m not going to stress it (although there was some choice language at the time…).

I need to insert the zip and then let it hang for a while whislt I construct the lining.  Much as I love wool, I don’t want it next to bare skin, so a full lining this will have.  Hopefully by the end of tomorrow, all I’ll need to do is hem…

So that’s the progress!

Now for the plans…  I managed to get a pre-loved copy of Simplicty 2444 from eBay and have also, thanks to Joanne, ordered some lovely fabric at the princely sum of £3.49 a metre.  What I can’t decide is which to use!  Do I go for the birds or the stars?

Fantasia Stars Navy from Fabricland
House Martins Black from Fabricland

Both fabrics are from Fabric Land in Brighton, who have a great selection at a great price.  The website isn’t my cup of tea and you need to ring to order.  I don’t mind the phone call (the person I spoke to was super helpful and really friendly) but I’m not a fan of the site design.  I’m more than willing to overlook it though for £3.49/m fabric – particularly when others are selling the exact same print at the best part of £12/m!

I’ll be going for the simple version of S2444 with short sleeves.  No collar or anything for my first go at the pattern.  If you want some inspiration there are some stunners out there in blog land!  Not only Joanne’s version, but Roisin at Dolly Clacket has made this pattern a number of times and Dibs, DapperDuds, Gemma and ElevenStitches have all made versions.  In fact, just google image search the pattern for a ton of inspiration instantly.

And now to the ‘stuff’!  Having sourced the perfect cotton sateen for my Peony in a gorgeous chocolate brown with a random cream polkadot pattern, I called the shop to order to only be told that someone had come in the day before and bought 9m of it and that there was only a meter left!  Aaarrgggghhhhh!

So I gave up on the interwebs and went to my local bricks and mortar store as I needed lining anyway.  For once my luck was in – they were having one of their completely unpredictable and unadvertised stock clearances where random (to me) bolts are reduced and sample lengths are sold.  I scored a beautiful milk chocolate wool with a duck egg blue stripe for £10/m rather than the £15/m it was before being put on sale.  I’ll admit that this is the top end of my price range, but it is gorgeous (and was the same price after discount as the sateen would have been)!

Nom Nom – Milk Chocolate Wool!

I also got other necessities such as 22″ invisible zips (how can they vary from £1.59 to £1.99 for a zip that is in effect identical apart from the colour?!), thread and lining for Simplicity 2588 that I’m currently making and more to match the duck egg blue stripes in the wool for the Peony.  I have enough lining fabric in my collection for the other wools I already posess (well apart from the grey wool for the Vogue 8280 – I want to line that in hot pink, but I’d spent enough for this month!).

I Love the Cadbury’s Purple and rich chocolate combination

I also got this gorgeous cotton print for £7/m.  I love the aubergine with the latte colour back ground.  It’s my idea of autumn!  I think I’ll use that on New Look 6070.  Which means the teal plaid will probably get used on New Look 6968New Look 6000 is going to be made from a beautiful navy wool that Annabelle swapped with me, if I can eak it out!

Making Plans

Thank you for your consideration regarding my last post.  Thank you too to those who took the time to email.  It means a lot.

Slowly, slowly I’m starting to try and resume some sort of normality.  I haven’t touched my sewing machine since finishing my V2903 and I know I still have yet to post any pictures of it!  I will though…

So, I’ve been distracting myself with a bit of autumn / winter planning of the sewing variety.  I have discovered that I feel a million more times attractive in a dress or skirt, so that’s the direction my sewing is going to go in.

My Beignet has been in heavy rotation and I have some dark blue moleskin type fabric that is destined to become mkII, although sized down a bit.

My Sencha gets worn a lot too, so there will probably be another couple of versions of that as well, again sized down a bit.

Then there comes the work wardrobe (thank you for the suggestions, twitterers!).  My office is weird in that it’s in an old 1960s building that is either boiling hot or freezing cold.  Comfortable happens for about an hour once a week if your lucky!  So I’m planning on dresses with 3/4 length or short sleeves as full length sleeves just annoy me.

So my pattern plans are:

New Look 6000 View C in a prince of wales plaid

Colette Peony with long sleeves in a navy wool I think (if I have enough!)

Simplicity 2724 (thank you Liz!) – the middle photo with the round neckline, 3/4 sleeves and slim skirt with a thick dark pinstripe cotton for the skirt and a japanese slubby cotton with a fireworks sort of pattern for the bodice.

Vogue 8280 with the sleeves and bodice of view B and the skirt of View C in a dark grey wool

New Look 6070 in a teal plaid

New Look 6968 View D, which is actually the photo as it has pockets and the tie collar  Fabric to be decided, but I like the idea of some sort of polkadot…

I’ve got nearly all the fabrics already in my ‘collection’.  I just need to get some sort of polkadot for NL6968.  And some colour catcher sheets for S2724!

Does anyone have any experience with any of these patterns (I’ll be referring to her Scruffyness’ posts for NL6000)?  Any suggestions or thoughts?  Have you planned your sewing, or are you winging it?  I know I often plan big and sew a much smaller number of garments, but hey dream sewing is fun too and if I actually manage even three of these I’ll be quite happy.

Nautical Shirt Dress – Progress

Hello!  Sorry for the radio silence, this week has again been kinda nuts.  Several long days at the County Show, book keeping for Mr, vehicle crisis’ (or whatever the plural of crisis is – flippin’ Land Rover!) and general life has kept me from this here blog.  Fortunately for my sanity it hasn’t kept me from my sewing machine!

I don’t know if you’re aware of Sunni’s two in one sew along she’s hosting over at A Fashionable Stitch?  I’m taking part but decided to mess with the pattern to make my ideal shirt dress.

Simplicity 1880
Simplicity 2246

I’ve taken the suggested pattern Simplicity 1880 and mashed it with Simplicity 2246 – the Lisette Traveller dress.

I knew I wanted a shirt dress as soon as I saw Scruffy Badger’s red elephants version, which is a slightly tweaked 2246.  It’s such a great shape and could be a great wardrobe staple.  But, the Lisette dress isn’t my perfect shirt dress.  I wanted a faux shirt waist – one where the buttons don’t go all the way to the hem.  A lot like the 1880.  But that wasn’t perfect either!

Here’s a sketch of what I wanted:

My ‘Perfect’ Shirt Dress

A fitted bodice with bust and waist darts. A notched collar, with a skirt that’s fitted at the waist line and not gathered.  Originally I was going to use the sleeves from Mary’s Dress but when I muslined the ones from 1880 I really liked them.

So, I’ve taken the bodice from 2246, added the collar extension from 1880 and also the sleeves.  I’ve also used the 1880 skirt as it’s not gathered and there’s no buttons.  I guess it’s about a 50/50 split of elements from the two patterns.

What with combining the patterns, the FBA and muslin to make sure it all fit and then re-angling and re-positioning the darts, I started construction last weekend.  It’s not going to be the fastest thing I’ve ever made as I haven’t sewn that much recently and I’m just taking it easy.  I am really pleased with how it’s going though.

Dusky navy broderie anglaise underlined with red acetate lining.  Yum!  Dibs is currently doing something similar (although she hasn’t told us what yet) with black broderie anglaise and yellow!

Skirt hanging to let the bias settle

So far the skirt is done, the bodice darts are all sewn and the front and back are attached at the shoulders.  I’ve also sewn the pleats in the sleeves.  I’m using french seams in the main, although the neckline and left seam will be finished with purple bias binding or tonal seam tape.

Tonal or Purple?

I’d originally intended it to be self made bias from the lining fabric but I only just had enough to get all the pieces out and had to piece the underlining of the collar pieces…  I’m erring towards the seam binding though at the moment!

I hope I’ll get this done by the weekend, but we’ll have to see how it goes I guess!  I’ll do the collar the tailoring way, buy sandwiching it between the bodice and facings (which I think is the same method Sunni has planned) and I’ll also go for a lapped zipper – probably following Casey’s tutorial from her Swing Dress Sew Along.

What are you all up to?