Tuesday 26 March 2013

Thurlow pattern giveaway

You'll be delighted to hear that giant leaps forward have been made on the Sewlution trousers front. Well, I've decided on the pattern (Colette Juniper) and bought the fabric (red gabardine), so by the end of the week I should be well on my way. I'm currently in deep discussion with myself over whether to make a muslin or not. Don't worry, I'm sure the 'why change the habits of a lifetime?' argument will wear me down before long.

Anyway, having decided on the Juniper pattern, I realised that the other trouser contender - the Sewaholic Thurlow - really isn't for me. I bought it in a frenzy after seeing Lauren's gorgeous denim pair, but I know I'll never use it. So you all know what this means don't you? GIVEAWAY!!!!!

If you fancy holding this wonderful pattern in your hot little paw, then all you have to do is leave a comment on this post.  The giveaway is open worldwide and closes at midnight GMT on Sunday 31st March 2013. Please make sure you leave your email address if it's not linked to your blogger profile so I can contact you if you're a winner. Good luck everybody. x

Saturday 23 March 2013

Desert Island Sewing

I say, what inclement weather we're having in the UK at the moment. Snowy, freezing and just plain horrible. So it's a gigantic stroke of luck that today of all days, Scruffy Badger has unleashed her fifth sewing castaway onto her Desert Island - ME!!!! If you fancy escaping the UK snow for a bit of tropical sunshine - and discovering what my favourite sewing patterns are whilst you're at it - then hop on over to her blog and read all about it here.  Thank you Winnie, it was an absolute pleasure to be involved in such a great series.

And whilst I have your attention, if you need a new blog reader once Google Reader is no more, you can follow my blog on Bloglovin' here. I confess to being a complete Luddite when it comes to all things technical, but Bloglovin' tells me I also have to 'claim my blog' via a blog post like this:

<a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/2050751/?claim=tweknbgxww3">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

I haven't a clue what this means, but I'm claiming it anyway!  

Have a wonderful weekend everybody. x  

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Finished: Sew for Victory dress

Ta-da. Here's my Sew for Victory dress (Du Barry 5384), all finished and looking rather spiffing. 

Apologies for the foliage, by the time I realised it was in all the photos the sunlight had disappeared...

The process of sewing this dress was pretty uneventful (in a good way) and it all came together easily enough. My only whinge was with the silk cotton I used to underline it. One of the reasons I always veer towards silk cotton for lining or underlining is because it's so easy to work with - I knew this fabric was an impostor straight away as it didn't behave itself at all when I was cutting it out. In its favour though, it's silky to the touch and slinky against the skin and it looks fine on the finished dress. The underlining, plus the addition of a ginormous central back zip means the dress slips on and off wonderfully easily.  

Talking of zips, I tried my very first hand-picked zip on this dress and am delighted with the result. I really didn't trust the badly behaved silk cotton to play fair with a zipper foot - I just knew there would be bunching and unpicking and swearing and screaming to contend with further down the line. So I hand-picked the zip, using Tasia's excellent tutorial and it worked like a dream. It did take a good hour to sew it in by hand, but it was 22 inches long, so that's not surprising. The accuracy and neatness on the other hand, are way better than my usual efforts so it's definitely an hour well spent.

For fabric, I used a charcoal grey lawn-like cotton from Walthamstow market, which, considering the quality, was an absolute bargain at £2 a metre. Yes, I know I wear a lot of grey but I do love it as a colour and I have grey eyes so I'm allowed to! I had to include a pop of colour somewhere though, so I finished the sleeve hem and neck with red polka dot bias binding. I'd have liked to have added it to the hem as well but ended up simply machining a narrow, overlooked hem instead. The pattern allows for a two inch hem, but with the gored skirt, this just looked ridiculously bunched up.  

The fit is lovely, comfortable yet flattering - I think it's all in the panels which cleverly define the waist. I'm in love with this dress, I think it gives me a sexy shape, yet is elegant at the same time, which is what drew me to 1940's styles in the first place. My husband even made a rare, unsolicited comment, saying it was his favourite of all the dresses I'd made. It may not sound like much, but believe me, coming from him, that's praise of the highest calibre.

Thank you Rochelle of Lucky Lucille, for organising such a fun and interesting sew along. Rochelle's knowledge of the 1940's is astounding - I learnt so much during this challenge and loved every minute of it. It hasn't finished yet though, don't forget to check out Lucky Lucille on March 31st for a victory parade of awesome 1940's lovelies. I, for one, cannot WAIT!

It's a shame really, I'm all dolled up with nowhere to go. I'd give anything to roll up to a swing dance right this minute. I'd be wearing the perfect dress anyway. x

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Sew for Victory progress

There's a rare sighting on my blog today - an actual muslin. I can only bear to make them about once a year, so consider yourself lucky Sew for Victory dress

Even though some of the sewing is a bit slapdash, the muslin is very close to being the fit I was after. It's a tiny bit tight on me, but a perfect fit on Angie (my dummy) and she's about a 90% accurate clone of my body. My bust isn't quite the same as the dummy's, and my back, although as narrow as Angie's, is a bit more flabby fleshy. I decided I just needed an inch adding across the bodice section. 

Once this is divided across all the seam allowances, we're actually talking teeny, tiny amounts, so I'm just going to decrease the bodice seam allowances by an eighth of an inch each. This is what I ended up doing with my Oolong dress after I cut the pattern a size too small by mistake (doh!) and it worked fine. I've also taken two inches off the length.

The only other change I'm making to the dress is to put a long 22" zip down the centre back piece instead of having a side zip. This is partly because of my loathing of side zips, but also for a more practical reason. It's actually a lot easier getting the bloody thing on and off with a long centre zip. In my experience I've found that with a fitted side-zipped dress or top, if you have any kind of bust then it's really difficult to get the dress over your boobs without fear of ripping it. As the fabric I'm using is pretty thin, I didn't want to take any chances, so a seam allowance was added to the back piece to allow for a zip.

As of today, my fashion fabric pieces are all cut out and underlined with silk cotton, just waiting to be sewn together.  You never know, this time next week, I could be in possession of a darling Du Barry dress!  Wish me luck. x

Friday 8 March 2013

Butterick 9206 bow blouse

I've wanted to sew a bow-necked blouse for a while, but I knew I'd need to find exactly the right pattern. In my opinion, you need to tread carefully, otherwise you'll be sliding head first into Austin Powers territory... 

Yeah baby!

Of all the many bow blouse patterns out there, the one that took my fancy was vintage Butterick 9206 from the late 1950's, with its lovely kimono sleeves. After I admired Kerry's 'Nice Surprise' blouse made from the same pattern (even though she'd put it on her fail list), she very generously offered to let me borrow and trace it. Thanks so much Kerry - sewing blogger to the rescue yet again. 

The only slight obstacle in my master plan was that her pattern was for a 38 inch bust and my usual vintage size is a 36 or 34. For the first time ever, I decided to grade it down - properly. You know, with a pencil and ruler and tracing paper and everything. If you ever need to grade a pattern up or down in size, then Casey's series of tutorials are wonderful. And - I have actual personal experience here - totally idiot proof. Rather cautiously, I graded down to a 36 inch bust as I figured it would be easy to take in the side seams. My reasoning was that if I graded it down too far to a 34 and it was too small, I'd be in trouble. It probably took me about an hour to grade the pattern pieces down and re-cut them out and the maths bit was easy, it didn't hurt one bit! The fit across the shoulders was fine, but I did need to take the side seams in a lot. With hindsight, I should have graded down to a 34 inch bust. Ho hum. The only other change I made was to extend the back darts up another 1.5 inches to allow for my narrow back.

Tiny, drapey gingham, almost impossible to photograph without it looking all swirly

I went for view D, which is more of a tie-neck than a bow-neck, and used my Margaret Howell posh drapey gingham. As the gingham print really is tiny, I didn't even attempt to match up the checks. 

Verdict? Well, I don't love it outright, but I do like it. The fabric is soft and comfortable to wear and drapes beautifully, but I think it's almost too drapey - the blouse is just very floppy. That's not necessarily a bad thing though, it looks nice tucked in and I can see it pairing well with wide legged trousers or even shorts in the summer for a bit of a nautical look. I've now decided that the next time I make a bow-necked blouse I'd like to make one that screams PUSSY BOW and really makes a statement. This blouse is neat and chic but is definitely something Miss Brahms would wear. Next time I want to channel my inner Mrs Slocombe. x


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