Sunday, 11 May 2014

Fabric finding and another Vogue 8710

Originally I had intended this post to be a quick 5 minute chat to myself about the Vogue 8710 top.  I had made this before and had in mind to make another version, I never got around to it, mainly because I forgot due to not finding the lace type fabric I wanted to use.  Then whilst shopping at the local market for something inexpensive to use for a muslin of another project muslin (Bluegingerdoll's Winifred) I found just what I had in mind.  It was perfect, a two way stretch bonded lace, I was expecting it to be expensive but when the stall holder told me it was £4.50 per meter I nearly fell over.

Of course as usual I came away with more fabric than I intended to buy but I was quite reserved this visit.
I purchased,

1m of bonded lace
3m of black cotton/lycra jersey
3m navy/white polycotton, all this only came to £18 ($30) I love this fabric stall.

This made me realised that I have some amazing fabric finding places in and around my city and some even within walking distance of my home.   I thought I might like to make everyone super jealous of the fantabulous fabric shops and stall I have at my disposal.

Here is the local market stall where I made the purchases above, he has hundreds and hundreds of rolls of fabric, its all inexpensive and I never found anything more than £5($8.50) per meter.
Fabric stall (John Street Market)

This photo was taken on a day where the stall owner had obviously tidied up because you really have to route through the stock to find what you are looking for.

This is a great place to buy cheap fabric but I guess you get what you pay for and it is certainly not my favourite place.

The place I buy fabric from most frequently is a place called Bombay Stores and apparently it is world famous.  It is an Asian department store in Bradford (where I live) and I can literally walk there from home in around 10 minutes.  You are not allowed to take photographs inside the store, mostly because they sell wedding dresses and jewellery with a value equal to a small pacific island, the wedding dresses are amazing, all hand beaded silks with drapery to die for, but the price tags are phenomenal.

I found this video on youtube,  please don't watch all of it but fast forward to around  the time of 5:14 watch until 7:40  minutes and I guarantee for 2 whole minutes you will drool and wish you could be let loose in the place with a gold card to hand, and yes they really do have that many rolls of fabric at £1.10 ($1.85) per meter or £1 ($1.68) per yard.  I tried to count rolls of fabric in there one time but stopped once I attempted one section and lost count (mostly because I was distracted by some beautiful shot silk organza that changed colour from purple to pink in the light), but I estimate there are over 3000.  As you can see they sell notions and decorative bits and pieces too (11:53 - 12:34 minutes), more than you can ever imagine.

There are few more places I purchase fabric too, I love The Shuttle in Shipley which is about 8 miles from my home, this place has been mentioned before in several blogs (Tree Fall,  and Did you make that?) and for good reason.  They stock some of the best dress making fabric around and are reasonably priced, they have great sales a couple of times a year too.  The shop is fairly small and the first time I went there I thought to myself "is that it?  "what's all the fuss about?" (I did come away with Liberty Lawn at £8pm)  then I was shown into the back room..... OMG!!!  it is stocked from floor to ceiling with fabric but you really do have to search, climb and route through it, it takes time but they have everything any dressmaker could need.
The Shuttles, back room

Then we have the Pièce de résistance seriously you would love this place, everyone I know that sews loves this place. It is called B&M fabrics and is based in Leeds market.  it maybe small but it really packs some punch, if they don't stock it you really don't need it and their prices are AMAZING! 
Adrienne from All style and No Substance did a brilliant blog post about this place a while ago I do have to take a bus or train to get here but it only takes 30 minutes and it is well worth it.

So thats about it.........

Oh yeah I was meant to be showing you my Vogue 8710 but I got distracted, here it is on a hanger (sorry for the photo quality it was a last minute phone job) because I just haven't got around to wearing it yet.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Liberty Washi Tunic

shirring at the back
I finished my Washi tunic, I like it, just like...  I wish I had done a bust alteration as it pulls and feels a little tight. I cut it out on the pattern guide but I wish I had made it a little longer, never mind, there is always next time and this will get worn.  
Beautiful French seams

Lining machine stitched to upper bodice
The inside of the tunic is almost as pretty as the outside, after finally conquering shirring I had a go at French seams and machine stitching the lining in place (rather than doing it by hand).

I even managed to sew a beautiful evenly spaced double row stitiched hem.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

I blooming well did it!!!!

Well I have been sewing for just over a year now and I have learned a lot, I guess I would say I am an advanced beginner.  I can do straight stitching, have almost mastered bindings and interfacing but could I get shirring?   NO NO NO...  I tried and I tried and I tried but I just couldn't do it.

First Washi Tunic (front view only because the back is ugly)
My first attempt was when I was sewing my first Washi tunic/top but I gave up and did a random sewing in of 1.5inch wide elastic, it is wearable but not the prettiest sewing ever.  That front looks beautiful but the back????  Well it has the 'I guess I will keep my cardigan on' look.

Shirring (not amazingly straight but pretty damn good)

Well today I started to work on another Washi, made from beautiful Liberty lawn fabric.  I was going to sew a casing but I thought I would give shirring one more try and guess what??? 

It worked, I did it.  I will hopefully show you the finished Washi in the next day or so but for now you can look at my beautifully shirred back and tell me what  good job I did.  hehehehehehehheh!!!

Monday, 21 April 2014

Buttons Buttons Everywhere!

This weekend I managed to finish (well almost finish) a couple of garments I have had in my unfinished items pile for a while.  The first one was my favourite and most sewn pattern (Butterick 4443) to date in a quirky button print cotton lawn fabric which I purchased in the sale at £4 per meter ($6.72) it is black with brightly coloured buttons printed all over it.

I had sewn the dress up a while ago but got disheartened when the lining became twisted and pulled the bodice out of shape.  Well I decided to try and sort it out.  It worked out wearable although the shoulders are a little on the large side and gape a little.  I made a simple belt to go around the waist and decorated it with a random buttons from my stash, I loved sewing them on with contrasting thread, they look so cute.
The dress in now finished and although it not the best fitting I ever made it is wearable.  Please excuse the photographs today it was the best I could capture whist balancing my camera on top of my sewing machine, an without spending hours washing, drying and styling my hair.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Gertie for Butterick 6031 - Sew, sew then sew some more...

I just love time off from work to do what I want.  I am very blessed to work term time only (I wasn't calling it blessed last week when I worked approximately 60 hours) so for the next two weeks I have time off from the day job to sew, sew and sew some more.   I mentioned a few post back that I intended to sew along with Gertie during the next few weeks to create a full slip for wearing as an under garment. 
Fabric and Notions

 Well I sourced by materials and pattern and have been waiting for what seems like ever..... I am very inpatient when it comes to waiting and very excited when it comes to sewing so I just couldn't wait any longer so decided to go it alone.

I got out of bed this morning and decided that today was the day so after a cup of tea and a couple of slices of toast I set to work.  The pattern was simple enough only 4 pieces in total, I cut out the pieces grading out where needed (around by huge bottom) which was easy and quick to complete.  

I chose to use a micro stretch jersey which has a beautiful drape and brushed surface, this was suggested by Gertie herself and I managed to source some at a really good price in the UK at an online shop called Tia Knight Fabrics finding the right width and colour stretch lace was a little more of a challenge but thank to ebay I managed to find a 5m length at a good price.  I cut out the fabric which is done on the cross grain, this was the trickiest part of the whole process.

zig zag overstitched narrow seam - this is the bust dart seam
Now it was machine time, with a ball point needle inserted and coordinating thread in place I started to follow the instructions to sew.   I am not yet the owner of a serger/overlocker (I am waiting for my birthday which is in November so I have to wait a while yet) so all the sewing was completed on my trusty brother sewing machine.   I trimmed the seams in the bra sections and zig zagged along the edge to stop rolling or fraying of the fabric (it is a knit fabric so I guess that should be to stop the unknitting of the fabric).  It worked out fine and should stand up to quite a bit of wear.

I completed the slip within a few hours and it really is pretty, comfortable and functional, the only issue i had is that in haste to get it complete I cut the v shaped split at the bottom the wrong side, it doesn't effect the wear-ability but it does feel a little akward. 
Fabric cut away under lace

Here are a couple more photos of the beautiful lace and the cut away sections (trimmed to make flesh visible) 
Beautiful lace - this is the hemline of the slip

I used Madge (my dress form) today to model my garment because well.....  I am just to prudish to be seen in my underwear on the internet, although it looks better on me than it does on her, ( you will have to take my word for it but I think her red cover is not such a good look for modelling underwear).

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Another Butterick 4443

After seeing and admiring Fiona's from Diary of a Chainstitcher's beautiful version of By Hand London's, Flora dress I fell in love with the John Kaldor viscose fabric, this is very unusual because I am not really into floral prints but for some reason I just needed a dress made in this fabric.  After I sourced the fabric I decided to make a Butterick 4443

I really like the shape of this dress on me and have almost got the fit perfect (I have sewn 4 of these dresses now). 

The fabric has a beautiful soft drape and is super comfortable against the skin, however it frays real bad and stretches out of shape if over handled.

I finished the dress today and it fits well but needs to be laundered before I know whether or not it will be wearable because the fabric is a little stretched over the bodice and has some baggy bits, I think they will wash back into shape (hopefully).  I only managed to et a quick shot with my phone camera but here she is, not quite as beautiful as Fiona's Flora but I still love it.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Pattern Testing the Winter Street Dress

I was very excited to be contacted by Deepika Prakash from to test drive their new 'Winter Street Dress'.  
It was described as  an easy to sew knit dress with a waist seam and a narrow pleated skirt.  I was up for the knit fabric and the waist seam part but as a plus sized lady I usually avoid pleats like the plague.  However once I had seen the pattern and Deepika's version I realised that the pleated skirt is nothing like I initially imagined.

Once I had downloaded the pattern (you can get it here) I thought carefully about how and when I was likely to wear it and what fabric to use, I decided on a black ponte roma with animal print, I haven't sewn with ponte before so I hope to learn something new along the way.

Here is my review of the pattern, and my version of the dress, I have used prompts from Deepika to outline what you may need to know, if I don't have it covered please feel free to ask any questions.

1. Was it easy to assemble?

Yes, it took a while to print and piece everything together but it was super easy to get it
 in the right order due to the alphanumeric pages and colour coded sizing on the pattern pieces.
2. Did the pattern pieces match 
up? Yes (see above)
Any drafting errors? Not that I see, however if you are in the UK you need to adjust the printer settings to 8.5"x11", the pattern then prints perfectly on A4 paper.
3. Which size did you use? 
Right well here goes.... You see I don't have one of those bodies that like to adhere to one size.  I can thank my paternal grandmother for blessing me with a ridiculously over sized rear and hips.  I usually have to make some      serious grading alterations when sewing one piece outfits like dresses.  For this project I cut an XL in the bodice and graded out from the waist seam to a 2XL.
What is your full bust size?  My full bust measures 43.5", whilst I am sharing my body measurements and shape I might as well tell you everything you never know there might be someone else out there that is the same shape as me.  High bust 41" and under bust 39"

4. Which fabric did you use?
I used a Ponte Roma knit fabric with one sided border print, the main fabric is black with a lilac and cream animal print border.  I have never sewn with Ponte before but I certainly will be again and very soon, its a dream fabric, is has stretch, doesn't fray or roll and wears well.  It took a little bit of creativity in the cutting out of the pattern because where I wanted the print to be once the dress was finished.
I used a ball point 80 needle and my usual Gutterman sew all polyester thread.
5. Did you need to do any pattern alterations for fit? I graded out from and XL to a 2XL from the waist seam because of my huge bottom and hips, I also shortened the skirt and sleeve length to my preferred length.
6. Did the waist seam hit you at your natural waist? How tall are you? I am 5ft 4inch but I have a very high waist, I usually shorten a bodice but for the purpose of testing this pattern for Deepika I kept to the pattern, it falls just about right on me.
7. Did the garment have the right amount of ease? Just about right. I think it would benefit from some vertical darts in the bodice to give a better shape under the bust.

The dress is super easy to sew and only took about 3 hours to complete from print to finish, it is also very comfortable to wear but I feel a little self conscious in it (see the behind photo).  Please excuse the state of my hair today it is very windy and cold here in Yorkshire UK.

I am number 10 on the blog tour, but there are still a few stops to go. If you missed the rest of the blog tour, or want to hop on board for the final few days here are the dates and links so you can see lots of other versions of this super simple sew. 4/2/2014  4/3/2014  4/4/2014  4/5/2014  4/6/2014   4/7/2014   4/8/2014 4/9/2014   4/10/2014  4/11/2014   4/12/2014  4/13/2014  4/14/2014   4/15/2014

Monday, 7 April 2014

Up and coming projects

I have a few projects in mind to complete over the next month or so.  I a looking forward to a mega sewing marathon over the next few weeks, I just need to get to Friday then I have 16 days off work in which I plan to fill with lovely fabrics and patterns.

My plan includes completing another Butterick 4443 in a beautiful John Kaldor viscose fabric which I first saw in Fiona's blog when testing out the new By Hand London's Flora Dress.

I am more than half way through completing this and it is looking great.

I am taking part in Gertie's slip sew along too (Butterick 6031) and a ready to get going with fabric purchased and pretreated.   I am going for an all over navy blue slip with navy stretch lace and straps.  I have a lot of blue dresses and think this will get a lot of wear.

Still more plans...

At least one maxi dress for the summer, you know for those two days of sunshine we get here in Yorkshire (UK).  I have had the pattern and fabric for a while but have been waiting for the weather to change from constant rain and wind to almost like spring before I start it.  

Water Colour Jersey
It is McCalls 6073 although I am seriously going to have to shorten it.  I have some beautiful light to medium weight jersey which is called 'watercolour', it should be perfect for it.  

I am just realising the amount of projects I have planned with at least three more to tell you about.  WHOOPS! seriously addicted.

I am planning the Vogue DKNY 1160 in black chiffon fabric that is highly patterned with skulls, I have not really worked with chiffon before and I know this is going to be a real challenge so I plan to leave this project for a while so I can give it the full attention it deserves.  I would love it finished before Halloween though.

I still have plans to sew a couple more Washi tunic tops and have some beautiful Liberty Tana Lawn pieces in my stash ready and waiting to be stitched up into pretty garments for the spring/summer wardrobe.

Finally (for now) I plan of buying the Colette Crepe dress pattern.  I just love it but it seems to take a lot of fabric, that will need to wait until next payday.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Stressing about Patterns

Over the past year since starting my sewing quest, I have acquired quite a few patterns, mostly paper patterns with a few PDF downloads from indie pattern makers.  It was getting to a point where I really didn't know what I have.  TIME FOR A SORT OUT!

Over the weekend I decided to get my act together and sort them out.

Armed with several large letter envelopes, transparent folders, sticky tape and scissors I set out on a mission to organise my stash.

The first thing I did was sort through them and organise them by type, 

Skirts and Trousers
Underwear and Sleepwear
Bags and Accessories

For each pattern, I then placed the paper pattern pieces into an envelope, cut the original pattern envelope open and taped it inside a clear folder to the front of the envelope.  I decided to do it this way as it is just easier to put the paper pieces into a large envelope rather than a small one, the idea came from PBunnieP on Youtube  and I just thought this idea would work well for me.  At the moment I am storing them in magazine racks on the bookcases used in my sewing space.

So that was my patterns organised, but I still struggle to remember what I have, this was when I decided to make up my very own pattern catalogue.

I used images of the pattern I had along with the technical line drawings and put them into a regular self adhesive photo album.

 This was very inexpensive and although it took a little time to complete now, adding to it will only take a few minutes each time I purchase a new pattern.  The pages are numbered with a hand written itinerary at the front, these means I can quickly find the pattern on my shelf because I have stored them in numerical order. I chose to have my pattern list hand written so I didn't need to print a new version each time I add a pattern to my collection, I can just add to what I already have.  I listed them with Pattern Number, Type, Descripton, Fabric Type.

I have a new pattern to add right now actually, it the new pattern from Deepika Prakash at  It is the Winter Street Dress which I have been testing out for her.  It is available now.  I will be posting a full blog review on the 11th April when the blog tour heads my way but one thing I will say right now is that it is one of the easiest sews I have ever completed.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

My first Washi Dress

Yes Yes I know the Washi dress/tunic pattern by Made-by-Rae is old news in the indie pattern circles but it is new to me.  I spent ages looking at other peoples versions and how it fit differently shaped women before I decided I really wanted it.  I took the plunge and downloaded it.  I was worried that by the time I had printed it out and fixed it together I would have lost my motivation and given up, however it wasn't that bad and I had a fully functioning cut out pattern in just under 30 minutes.

At first I decided I wanted to make the dress version with short sleeves and had some pretty cotton fabric in my stash that would be perfect, it is a quilting cotton but it is very very soft and drapes well, not like some of the crunchy cottons I have had in the past, unfortunately it still creases real easy.  It is a soft lilac with almost white flowers and leaves, I believe it is called buttercup designed by Kitty Yoshida for Bernatex fabric
I cut out my fabric and started to sew, the instructions were easy to follow but then I got to the shirring part for the back of the dress,  OMG!!!   what was I doing wrong, I tried and tried and tried, watched some youtube tutorials, searched the web, tried some more, tried again..... ARGH!!!   I gave up, that is one technique I really need to work on.  Eventually I decided to sew a band on 2inch stretched elastic across the back where the shirring should have gone, and actually it worked out fine, next time I will sew a casing which Rae has a tutorial for on the Washi web pages. 
This was also my first attempt at pleating and I think you will agree I smashed it, my pleats are perfectly balanced and look professional.  Apart from not matching up the pattern of course but hey, you can forgive me that right?I carried on following the instructions until I needed to sew the bodice lining to the bodice enclosing the sleeve.   All I can say it WOW!!!!    Rae's video and seemingly magic trick to sew the lining in was amazing, I completed this after watching her video tutorial a few times and am super impressed, I am going to try it on another one of my favourite dress patterns too it saves a hell of a lot of hand sewing and gives a tidy enclosed sleeve.  Once all steps except hemming were complete I tried it on, I love how the bodice fits but the dress length is not for me.  I have a huge derrière (backside) and the dress just looked sack like, there is no way I would ever wear it in public, it just didn't hang well, I decided to cut it down to tunic length and now I love it.
 I have plans for at least two more Washi tunics, I really want to make one for work with 'The Hungry Caterpillar' fabric and one with my mannequin fabric (I already purchased this)