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)

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Vogue 8710 by Katherine Tilton

I have been looking at this pattern for a while,
I really like it but was a bit nervous of stripes, they can be a complete disaster on a plus size figure (my opinion only) and the neckline is quite high for me but when 'Sew Today' club had a crazy sale I purchased the pattern and thought I would give it go.

I purchased some cotton jersey online but when it arrived it was very lightweight and I was a little worried that it wouldn't be heavy enough.  I went ahead anyway because although I like to complete wearable garments the whole adjusting, cutting and sewing process is fun for me and I learn something every time I make a fashion flop.  

I made a sway back alteration and just cut straight into the fabric, no muslin, no practice, I just went for it...

I followed the instructions more than I usually do with commercial patterns and I am glad I did because the way the sleeves are put in are like nothing I had done before.  The side panels are sewn in first, they you have to reinforce the front shoulders with fusible interfacing before sewing only one shoulder seam, the neckline is bound with a self cut strip (this didn't work out for me next time I will use bias tape) before the second shoulder seam is stitched (are you still with me here???) I was very grateful for the illustrations.  Then the sleeve caps are sewn to the bodice (on the flat) before the bodice side seams and sleeve lengths are sewn in one continuous seam.  I had never inserted sleeves like this and I have never ever seen it done even though I have watched my mum sew for over 30 years (closer to 40 years but I don't like to think about that too much).  It was super easy and the sleeves went in like a dream.  I only managed to get a 'selfie' of the finished garment so the perspective is not great but you can get the general idea of what it looks like. 

My husbands opinion "Yeah it's nice, you look like an NFL referee you should sew some numbers on it"  I guess that's another wardrobe filler then.  It might make it into the work wardrobe if it is lucky.

I will sew this top again but next time I will probably use a plain knit and have patterned inserts, I was thinking I might make a black version with lace print side panels, next time I will change the shape of the neckline too and use bias binding in place f the self cut strip of fabric.

Have been sewing but not blogging... tut tut tut...

I have a busy few weeks of sewing and have completed three projects that I haven't blogged about, I don't have construction photos for you to look at but here are the garments I have completed over the past few weeks.

I had seen and tried on a dress in the high street that I really liked but there were several fitting issues and an even bigger price tag issue.  I loved the shape or the dress and I wanted to make a dress of a similar style.

Here is the dress I tried on....   It has princess and waist seams, capped sleeves.  It was fully lined with a small amount of net tulle around the bottom of the lining which was unattached from the main skirt.

When I arrived home I had an email from my 'Sew Today' club saying they had a super sale and all patterns (Vogue, Butterick, McCalls and Kwik Sew) were on buy one get two free, what better time to stock up and stash?  

I found this, Buttrick 4443 which appeared to be a similar style and shape to the dress I had just tried on, I placed an order for six new patterns that day and the total came to less than £20 (WOOHOO!!!!)

I decide to buy some inexpensive fabric for my first dress and went to ebay to find what I was looking for...  I wanted something in navy blue so I could wear the finished garment with my beautiful suede peep toe wedges.

I purchased  brushed cotton sateen with a slight stretch and only £3.99pm ($6.70usd) and got to work the following weekend.

I spent some time adjusting the pattern (shortened bodice and sway back) and decided that I wanted to move the zip, I really struggle with back zips and prefer side zip closures so I just moved it and it worked out fine.  I lied the bodice as instructed but not the skirt and although I cant add that cute tulle like the original dress I tried on its fine and I love it.  I was determined to make the inside as neat as possible and have for the first time in my sewing journey achieved something I feel proud of.  Here is the finished dress modelled by Madge (my mannequin) with a self made tie belt, double stitched hem with self made bias tape (thanks to my wonderful bias tape machine).  What do you think??? I plan to wear it when the weather eventually changed to something more spring like with my navy peep toe wedge shoes and cropped denim jacket.