Monday 27 December 2010

Basting, Cutting and half a Corset

I decided to go ahead with my Crepe muslin number 2 as my final one, as Gertie mentioned in flickr that it looks good. I still had some doubts but I think when you're in a frame of mind to find faults you'll find them everywhere. So I've been slowly cutting my underlining pieces and basting to main fabric. I haven't finished yet, it takes ages. I should be done by the time Gertie comes back from holidays and presents us the next stage.

I have also been cutting my muslin for the Trousers Sewalong in preparation for its start in January. A mix of excitement and anxiety felt as I'm still a bit traumatised by my previous trousers drama.

As Christmas is a 4 day break this year I found myself with plenty of time to sew and a bit annoyed that all I had to do was trace and cut and baste. So I decided to put together an underbust corset. Purchased as a kit by Sew Curvy Corsetry this is my second attempt at a corset and so far is going very well. As you see from the photo below, I even made a muslin to check fit.

It was going so well I really believed I would finish it quickly but time to insert the eyelets at the back came and all went downhill. I started by inserting the first eyelet the wrong way round but then corrected it. After I corrected it I had a moment of dumbness and was using the eyelet tool wrong. After my bf came to the rescue I continued seemingly victorious to figure out at the end that all the eyelets were, like the first one, the wrong way round. Not a sewing moment I am proud off. I had to put it away and I ran out of usable eyelets. Below is what I achieved so far. Doesn't look very flattering on my dummy but I'm hoping for at least a 2 inch reduction in my waist.

Sunday 19 December 2010

Vintage Patterns

So far I have steered away from vintage patterns not because I don't like them but because I'm a bit scared to attempt making them. I still feel I need to build my dressmaking and fitting skills before I tackle an original vintage. However I have taken the first step towards sewing a vintage pattern and that is buying some. These were all found in a recent rummage through local antique and charity shops.
Without further ado here they are:

I googled Weldons sewing patterns as I wanted to find out more about these but found nothing. Are you familiar with Weldons? It looks like a 40s pattern but I can't be sure.
Style Patterns was another that I googled and found nothing. This also looks like 40s to me.

Next a mix of Vogue, Butterick and McCall for women and children. No idea what year again. Any ideas?

I also bought some 70s patterns. I like the dress in the middle below and the following pattern came as a bonus.

Finally a Simplicity skirt pattern from 60s, 70s?

Let me know what you think of my purchases and if you know anything about these or know where I could find more information about them please let me know.

Saturday 18 December 2010

Crepe Sew Along - Second bodice muslin

I slowly worked my way through the fitting of the bodice this past week. And comparing to my first muslin this one if much improved. Although I'm not yet sure it's good enough. Opinions welcome!

  • I took in 3/4" at the side seams
  • I tucked and removed 1/2" across the front and back of bodice (just above darts)
  • I moved bust dart down (but stupidly did this before I took side seams and ended up with shorter dart)
  • I added width to the upper part of the waist dart to address the extra fabric just under the bust.
  • I took 3/8" from shoulder seams

There still seams to be a bit of extra fabric under the bust and at the side and depending on how my arms are positioned it crinkles up in that area. That might be resolved with adding length to bust dart. For muslin 3 should I also add a bit more width to upper part of waist dart?

I think the bagginess you see here is just because I didn't tuck the inner part well. (at least I hope so). As I took in side seams should I move darts in ? Might be a "duh" question but not sure.

If you have any idea or suggestions I am, as always, happy to hear it!

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Trousers Sewalong by The Cupcake Goddess

A few weeks ago I discovered the excellent blog by The Cupcake Goddess and also found out it she was hosting a trousers sew along. I initially hesitated, as I'm still a bit traumatised by my last experience but then changed my mind. Maybe this is what I need. A sew along full of tips and advice to help me conquer trousers. And dear friends, I do want to conquer trousers. In risk of repeating myself here but I am a trousers girl really. Love dresses but rarely use them.
I'm not overly keen on the Burda pattern they're using so have picked up one from my existing stash. The Vogue 8604. The illustration is gorgeous but like many illustrations often very different from end result. However on my research I found Miss Dandy sew them and they look gorgeous. I thought of using the Burda 8488 I used in my previous trouser attempt. I really like those sailor slacks and love the way they look on great fellow bloggers like Bea from Butterflies and Hurricanes and Zoe from "So, Zo...". But I'm still a bit weary of them so will leave it for another time. Decided to go with a soft corduroy fabric which I purchased from the awesome The Fabric Loft. 

This sew along is due to start in January so it will overlap slightly with the Crepe one. And talking about it, I better get offline and work on my bodice alterations.

Sunday 12 December 2010

Baby Coat

Quick post today to show you the little coat I've put together yesterday for a soon to be here little baby! My work colleague is going on maternity leave tomorrow and quite happy I finished this in time to give her. It was a struggle to find suitable fabric for babies. I'm sure there's many places that cater for it out there but as I never had to look for it I found it really hard. I settled with a nice 100% cotton poplin for main fabric and batiste for lining. I love the print as well. We don't know if it'll be a boy or a girl but I think this little number fits both.

This week I also finished a tote shopping bag taken out of Sew Retro book. I really like it as it has a outside pocket for your wallet and keys. Gorgeous red fabric from Patchfabrics.

I also did some cushion covers this weekend in a black fabric with brocade contrasting panel, with some great guidance form The Thrifty Stitcher. The photos didn't came up nice though but the covers are gorgeous. Will try to take some quality photos another time.

I will now immerse myself in fitting my Crepe Dress bodice properly. Much happier sewing for clothes than home and decoration I have to confess.

Saturday 11 December 2010

Crepe Sew Along - First bodice muslin

Very excited to have started my Crepe Wrap Dress. I was unsure of what size to cut but after some valuable advice I decided by a US size 0. This is one of the parts of the sew along I'm most looking forward to as I have never learned how to fit a bodice properly. The dresses I've done so far are all wearable but they also are a bit spacious in the bust area. Especially vintage inspired patterns tend to to be drafted to those with generous busts. Mine is a long way from generous, it's simply small!
So am I happy with a straight from pattern fit? I'm not sure.

A view from front. With my arm open the fit seems fine.

However with my arms relaxed there seems to be surplus fabric in bust area and shoulders.

A side close up vie show the darts and the shoulder better. The bust dart ends a bit above my bust point (do they call it apex or am I making it up?). It also shows a bit of extra space leading from waist dart. Maybe it's the style but at this point I'm not sure.

A back view show on shoulder a bit sloppy but maybe it's because it's not tied around the waist the way the finished dress will. Again not sure.

My own conclusions are that the bodice is a bit spacious in bust and could be adjusted and the shoulders could use with a few adjustments as well. But I just don't know. I've never gave fitting much of a thought so find it difficult to know what's right and what's wrong (some things are obvious, I know).
I'm going to be uploading these images to the Crepe Sew Along Flickr Pool and hope someone can help me with fitting. I think Gertie will shows us her muslin this weekend so hopefully there's something there as well to help me. And your comments are more than welcome as well!

Talking about fitting made me look around for a good book and Fit For Real People has very good reviews. Any of you familiar with this book?

Saturday 4 December 2010

Corduroy Winter Dress finished

"The hills are alive with the sound of music..."

That's what I thought when I finished this dress and saw myself in the mirror. Actually it was more like "Hello Julie Andrews!" I was also called Dorothy at work! What can I say, I wore it with a blue turtleneck and some cute wedges and a ponytail so the entire outfit was a bit more The Sound of Music.

I do love this dress though and see myself wearing it quite a lot through winter. Being able to wear chunky knitwear underneath definitely helps. If it wasn't for that I doubt I would use it much in cold weather.

And that's exactly the reason I decided to do a sleeveless version. The pattern was taken out of Sew magazine issue 17.
I enjoyed working with corduroy and think I will very soon be adding another corduroy project to my immense To Sew list.
My only issue was lining the armholes. I ended up just pressing and sewing. Not gorgeous inside but it doesn't look bad either.In terms of fitting the only issue is the fact the bodice is a bit to loose, as you can notice on the photo on the right. I usually have that problem with bodices. Definitely need to learn how to fit a bodice but hey, that's one of the reasons I decided to join Gertie's Crepe sewalong!

Photos were done by my gorgeous bf who also did my hair! Am I not a lucky girl ;)

Tuesday 30 November 2010

Crepe Sew Along - fabric and measurements

So what do you think of my fabric choices for Gertie's Crepe Sew Along? I was split between two but the zebra pattern with red belt won the day. It will go super well with my gorgeous red shoes!

The sew along is due to kick-off next week and quite looking forward to it. I had so much fun sewing along with my Lady Grey, not to mention everything I learned. With the crepe sew along I'm particulary looking forward to learn how to fit a bodice properly (on dresses I've done so far they are always a bit too big) and on using organza to stay a neckline.

So this week I'll be tracing off the pattern. I got used to doing this and now cringe at the thought of cutting the pattern directly. To be honest it's annoying sometimes and I might need to learn how to "let go" of a uncut pattern.

Size chart and my own measurements don't match quite well:

Bust: 32 inc
Waist: 27 inc
Hip 34.5 inc
My waist is the culprit ;)

Because this is a dress I think size 0 will be the best option. What do you think?

Sunday 28 November 2010

Progress on Winter Dress

Working on my Winter Dress Project and now stuck and in need of help! Started last week by cutting all my fabric pieces but couldn't start sewing as I ran out of black thread. Placed an order online and I'm now stocked so started sewing yesterday. Was very anxious as it's my first time sewing with corduroy but have to say it hasn't been bad. I had to zig zag all the raw edges because corduroy ravels like crazy. It also sheds some "fluff" which is now everywhere. I decided on some design changes. My initial though was to insert sleeves, after all it's a winter dress. But when I gave it a bit more thought I realised it wouldn't make a difference as even with sleeves the dress wouldn't be warm enough for me to wear in winter. So I decided to do the sleeveless version and use it with a nice close fitting jumper underneath. Because I want to keep it simple I'm not doing the collar either. The princess seams were fairly easy to sew. They are a bit of a nightmare but with care and attention it works out fine. I also had to chop off 11 inches from bottom as it looked like I was out of the Little House on the Prairie 80s TV series.  This is what I have so far:

I've constructed most of the dress, attached the lining, finished neck seams and have the back seam and invisible zipper to do plus finish the lining in the armholes. And this is where I'm truly stuck and in dire need of help. I have found several tutorials on how to attach lining to sleeveless armholes but a) they are all in fabrics less bulky than corduroy and b) all have the side seams still open. I have thought of a way to do it but would love to finish it the right way, if that makes sense. Below are Sew Magazine instructions for the armholes and it's gibberish to me. I have read it countless times and have not yet made sense of it. I am sure it means something very simple and once I crack it I'll be like...duhhh!! But for now I'm truly stuck, so if someone knows about this or can make sense of the below please leave a comment or email me at : suzysewingblog[at]yahoo[dot]co[dot]uk. Thank you!

Friday 26 November 2010

Vogue patters on my way!

After reading this blog post by Julia from Sew Curvy Corsetry  and learning that Vogue was having a 50% off sale on all patterns I couldn't resist to take a peek at Jaycotts website and... the rest is history.

I got these two blouse/shirt patterns, Vogue 8476 and Vogue 8557. I was undecided so ended up getting both.

Nothing out of the ordinary but I quite like this Vogue 8295 skirt so ordered it too. I think what made it for me was the wide waistband and the fact the skirt seems to sit quite high at waist. I used to hate high waisted stuff when I was younger but love it nowadays and don't have that much of it.

Next is Vogue 1092. I looove the sleeves in this suit and liked the overall look with buttons et all.

I order two patterns from vintage section. The first is this beauty, Vogue 8615, which Gertie has sewn and looks amazing. Hope I could do a good job with it.

And I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am with this lovely Vogue 1044. This is the one I might tackle first (after my corduroy dress and the sew along). I have high, high plans for it and already have fabric chosen. Literally so excited with it I might start it before I finish the other ones.

Do you have experience sewing any of these and have any useful tips and advice? Would love to hear them :)

Monday 22 November 2010

My first Blog Award

I'm very chuffed at having received my first blog award. Whilst blogging in itself is not new to me, this blog is new and so are my adventures in sewing. Therefore I was extra happy and honoured to having received it.

The lovely Lady Cherry awarded me this award and I have to say, if you're not already following her two amazing blogs, make sure you start today. At Lady Cherry Loves you get a taste of vintage, from fashion, movies and style icons. Baking, Making and Creating is all about...baking, making and creating! Thank you very much Lady Cherry!

To accept I need to nominate 15 blogs and let them know. So here we go (in no particular order):

Butterflies and Hurricanes
So, Zo
Tea, Love & Anarchy
Temperamental Broad
Enamorada de la Moda Vintage
House of Marmalade
Sailorettes, Love and Rock n'Roll
The Sewing Directory
Welsh Pixie
The Fabric Loft
The Naked Seamstress
Wearing History

Sunday 21 November 2010

Fabric Scraps Sewing

I have always been a bit of a hoarder so naturally when I started sewing I also started accumulating lots and lots of fabric scraps which I just can't bear to throw away. A few weeks ago I decided I need to sew some little things and reduce this scrap stash. The photos below are what I managed to do. Most of it is black as that seems to be the one colour I mostly have scraps in.

A cushion cover with a tutorial given to me by The Thrifty Stitcher:

A coin purse. The result at the 3rd attempt. Free drawing a simple pattern should be easy but I kept getting it wrong.
 A random little heart:

A fabric hamper taken by the latest issue of SewHip Magazine

I have to confess that I get a little bored by sewing little things. My big sewing passion is definitely clothing :)

I'll leave you with a photo of my brand new fabric cabinet. Was empty at this stage but it's now full of gorgeous fabric in my sewing area. And guess what? It still has space for more fabric. I better hide the plastic ;)

Monday 15 November 2010

Trousers drama conclusion

You might be aware of my recent attempt to make a nice pair of sailor trousers with Burda 8488. That didn't go very well. One of the legs was twisting backwards and the inner seam laid almost on the front of the trousers. I decided to pop along The Thrifty Stitcher SOS sewing surgery  in London to try and figure out what was wrong with them and find out if I could save them. The afternoon was wonderful. CL was an absolute star in helping me, not only with trousers but with other things too. I highly recommend The Thrifty Stitcher for sewing classes and drop ins, it was my second visit and I know I'll be back. Back to the trousers then. Even before I went down to London the wonderful Bea from Butterflies and Hurricanes suggested that the fabric might have been off grain but I thought that would not be possible as I had cut both leg pieces together and only one leg was twisting. I was wrong and she was right. CL explained to me that probably because I've done all my cutting in the (carpet) floor, the lower layer probably shifted slightly as I've cut it. We set to work (CL teaching and me listening and trying to absorb) on altering the pattern to a slimmer fit (I originally wanted this as the legs are way too wide) and trying to ensure the pieces could be re-cut on a straighter grain.
Back home I left it for a while  as I was a bit anxious it wouldn't work but it did. I managed to re-cut on  a straighter grain and actually have wearable trousers...but... I don't like how they look on me. They're still too wide and worst of all too big on me. I decided to not use the original bib design and put some belt loops to help secure them to my hips with a bit more shape but that failed as well. I have photo evidence so you can see for yourself.

With my Lady Grey coat on they don't look so bad:

But without a coat on top it's a bit of a disaster:

Apologies for the quality of photos. Winter evenings are not great for natural lighting photography. Also excuse my bare face. I receive some news from home that my grandmother is unwell so decided to avoid makeup today.

Thursday 11 November 2010

A new Sew-Along

So Gertie announced a new Sew-Along, this time aimed at beginners using the Colette Crepe wrap dress pattern. When I initially read about it I decided not to take part for a number of different reasons:
a) The dress is very cute but I'm not mad about it.
b) I really do not wear dresses that often. 
c) For the times I want to wear a dress I usually end up being cold. Having grown up in a place where summer is equivalent to 30 Celsius plus, the average British summer of 20 to 25 Celsius doesn't feel hot  enough. (I know there where some very hot days this year). 
d) I also thought that having done the Lady Grey, which is more advanced, a beginner sew along would be silly. Very stupid thought, I know, but I did have it for a few minutes.

However, and coming to the point of this post, I have changed my mind and decided to join the sew along because I'm really a beginner and could use with constructing a more simple garment with the right techniques and support from start. I've done a couple of dresses already but even though they are totally wearable they're not exactly perfect.

So my next step was to fret about the fabric. I decided to use a existing stash fabric but changed my mind after as I  have it saved for a very specific project. I decided against cotton lawn as I want to be able to use the dress in spring with some tights, however I'm undecided on two fabrics. I actually spent most of last evening thinking this out and took ages to fall asleep.

I ordered the pattern from Sewbox who also has some gorgeous cotton lawn available, if you inclined that way. 

Tuesday 9 November 2010

A trip to London

I’m still over the moon at my new Lady Grey Coat. I wore it today for work and got some very nice compliments. I think my favourite was my manager who very politely apologized before saying the coat did not look “home made”. I thinks that’s a brilliant comment and nothing to apologize there. I also got some very nice comments from you all. Thank you so much!

Last Saturday I went up to London and had a few hours to kill before my SOS sewing dropin with The Trifty Stitcher (that lovely afternoon will be covered in a separate, future post). 
Despite the fact I lived in London for almost 6 years, I had no knowledge of fabric and haberdashery shops and the only vintage shops I knew were the one in places like Brick Lane. Because I only started sewing in June this year (already out of London) I never looked for it. I always had a keen interest in fashion and vintage but lived that via photography and shopping ready made clothing and magazines. I asked around in Twitter for recommendations and CL shared with me (thank you) two little haberdashery and fabric shops in Broadway Market, Hackney, so I set along to find these little gems. I do apologise for the lack of photos. I did take my camera but Broadway Market is quite busy and, to be very honest, I couldn't be bothered to take my camera out. 

Fabrications is a cute small haberdashery/thrift/vintage shop with so many little things to explore it’s easy to spend an hour rummaging through the bundle bags. There are boxes with little bags full of things like vintage buttons, fasteners, trims. Even vintage fabrics and Liberty swatches. Prices start at £1 per bag. Quite good, I think. They do very nice cushions too! I was a good girl and contained myself having only bought a £5 bag of beautiful burgundy trim. If you’re out and about in east London I recommend you visit this little gem.

Our Patterned Hand (couldn't find a official link to the store) is set in the same busy market road and sells some haberdashery, sewing patterns and fabrics. Upon entering I was “greeted” with the most amazing Harris Tweeds and lusted after them for quite some time. The other fabric choices are not to be ignored either. The layout of the store is fantastic and the selection doesn’t feel overwhelming. Needless to say, if you go to Fabrication you should pop to Our Patterned Hand too.

As I still had some time to kill, I decided to pop over to Dalston Mill fabrics, having read on their website that they have a vaster choice of fabrics in shop than online. And OH MY GOD, they are right! I simply cannot describe such shop. There’s piles and piles and piles of stacked fabrics in different rooms you keep discovering once inside the shop. In fact , there are so many it can be quite overwhelming if you’re just browsing and not sure what you want. The shop is also small and on a busy Saturday lunch time it was impossible to browse in peace or get anyone to help. Overwhelming but also paradise, because the choices are so vast.

I go to London about once a month at least so if you have any fabric/ haberdashery/ thrift/ vintage shop recommendations do let me know. I think I’m going to love rediscovering London from a seamstress eyes!

Sunday 7 November 2010

My Lady Grey

Last Friday I finished my Lady Grey Coat! I was so happy I did a little dance around the house. I'm quite chuffed at the fact I only started sewing this June and managed to make this coat. Extra special thanks to Gertie and to all my readers and friends who helped me along the way. So without further ado here it goes (apologies for the not great photos  - click on them for larger versions):

I need to buy some brooches to put on the lapel. The one I have here is way too small.

A shot from behind:

The lining. Again, the colour is not truly representative but close.

When I finished I noticed I had no way of hanging the coat on my coat hanger so decided to sew a little tag and sew my name on it. My fingers were in serious pain after but I love it.

Sunday 31 October 2010

Lady Grey Update

I had great sewing plans for the weekend and it all went exactly (ok, almost exactly) like planned. I worked  only on the Lady Grey Coat and I'm very happy with my progress.
I (finally!) finished slipstiching the hem, including the sleeves. As I'm sure I mentioned in some previous post, hand sewing is not a strong point so it was quite laborious and tiring. In the process I broke three needles, pricked my fingers many, many times and gained a back ache. It is finished nonetheless. Because of the fact my coat fabric does not shrink and the coat is flared I had to slash and overlap the hem, which is not the prettiest thing but does the trick. To disguise this ugliness I'm bringing my lining all the way down and will slipstitch it too (oh the joy!)

                                     Not the cutest hem around but it works!

I also assembled the lining this weekend. I had to order more after the Hem Problem and with some help from my boyfriend went for a burgundy habotai. The photo below is not really representing its true colour, as the light wasn't great when I took it and couldn't be bothered photoshopping it in great detail.
The construction was fairly easy, with more attention needed in curved areas. The tricky bit was sewing the back facing to the back lining. I did it and re-did it a few times and it was driving me a bit crazy. The seam is so curved that even with clipping it's quite difficult. But I did it and below you can see the lining loosely attached to my dummy. It looks better in real life, trust me!

I'm tempted to move on and sew the front facings to the lining, as it was also part of my plan, but might resist and rest for the evening. After all tomorrow is back to 9-5 :(


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