Sunday, 4 October 2015

Workin 9 To 5

 . . . What a way to make a livin'

Barely gettin' by

It's all takin' and no givin'

They just use your mind
And they never give you credit
It's enough to drive you crazy
If you let it

And let me tell you, some days it does drive me crazy . . . and in actual fact has succeeded entirely recently, as the docs recently diagnosed me with depression and anxiety, most likely due to exhaustion, hence the little break I have taken from blogging the last couple of weeks.  You may also have noticed my absence from social media thingies.  But, part of it is my own fault, I was told I was suffering exhaustion a few weeks ago and that I needed to rest and probably take time off, but as I am a glutton for punishment, I refused to get signed off sick for a couple of weeks. . . I did cut down on what I do outside of work in an attempt to fight a bit of the exhaustion, but it was just getting worse and the anxiety and panic attacks were getting more frequent (4 in one week was the final straw, especially when one comes on just because you are putting your tights on, one at the theatre which I ordinarily love, and one when out on my bicycle, which is supposed to be helping me reduce them!).  

I eventually decided enough was enough and after a particularly horrific counselling session where all I did was cry, I took myself back to the docs and got myself a sick note, and then my biggest fear happened - because I stopped, I couldn't start again!  For the first few days all I did was sleep, I barely ate and I had no enthusiasm to do anything.  I made myself shower and dress each day (although most days this was in the afternoon) as I knew in the back of my mind if I stopped doing that then that might be the end of me, but I didn't leave the house for days and I had no interest whatsoever in doing anything but sleep - no sewing, no reading, no cycling - all the things that make me 'me'!

Work's reaction didn't help - Do they think I wanted to feel like this?!  That I haven't tried to stop feeling like this?  That I didn't want to feel normal and able  to go at my 100-mile an hour pace again (lesson learned to slow that bit down again though).  I was perfectly honest with them throughout what was going on and I just got it all thrown back in my face . . . lovely!  I think it set me back a fair bit to be spoken to like I was about something I was already feeling totally out of control of (cue another panic attack! Thanks).  So, if anyone is looking for a usually very efficient legal secretary/PA in the Yorkshire area, occasional panic attacks may occur but these seem to be more or less under control now . . . .

I did eventually start to feel more human - after about a week's worth of sleep in four days - but it still took me a while longer to have any interest in doing anything other than lying on the sofa watching telly.  I would like to say thank god for skyplus and ondemand as if I had been forced to watch daytime TV that might just have been the end of me :-)

Anyway, back to work I have now gone.  The first couple of days were pretty horrendous, but icy attitudes seemed to thaw towards the end of the week and I really feel for my lovely line manager who has been caught in the middle of the fall out.  but, enough about my woes though - I would like to share something positive, which is something I made before I actually ended up having my lovely nervous breakdown, but hadn't had chance to wear and photograph as I have been in my casuals since finishing it.

First thing is first: I really really need some new work clothes, but why would I want to sew work clothes when there are so many non-work pretty dresses out there to sew (and my list of those to sew just keeps growing).  Pretty dresses make me happy; the thought of work sends my anxiety levels through the roof, but I was down to quite literally 2 dresses (which can be found here and here) and 2 skirts (one of which can be found here and the other is unblogged) at one point - my outfits couldn't even get me through a full week, so I decided I had to take a short break from the pretty dresses and sew some work clothes, and after Christmas and Panto I shall crack on with some more work clothing (holiday clothes, Christmas makes and Panto will be taking up my time for a while yet though)

I had already bought some (what I thought was) lovely fabric for a top, and decided I just needed some plain skirts.  However, I am not one for totally plain, so I looked for a pattern with a bit of detailing.  I knew roughly what I wanted as I was basing it on an old skirt that got eaten by the washer a couple of years ago (I could've cried,  in fact if it had happened now I probably would have cried), and it had something akin to princess seams, so that was the look I was going for.  It took me a while, but I eventually found New Look 6312, which, while not perfect, would do and once I've mastered the fitting I can play with the design a little.  I knew that due to my chunky waist measurement (seriously - some of that fat needs to travel south to my backside so I can be a more sewing-pattern-friendly shape) I would have to make a couple of adjustments to the pattern with the old slash-and-spread (ooo-errrr).  So, I added about at inch altogether to make the skirt fit, or so I thought.

Please excuse the mess in my living room
but be in awe at my awesome, massive
fireplace (that doesn't actually have  afire in it)

Now, I had read blogs bemoaning the amount of ease in patterns of the big four, so I had even checked my measurements against the 'finished garment measurements' and these indicated that the extra inch was needed.  However, after cutting out and sewing up my lovely black gabardine and somehow managing to sew my waistband upside down (can you tell my brain was giving up?!), the skirt was mahoosive.  So, I took the waistband off (which I was going to have to do anyway, but I thought I might as well get the fit of the skirt before I sewed it on again) and took out all that extra inch and then some to make it fit.  I could probably go down to the size 18 on the skirt (maybe more now as depression = no interest in food/food tasting funny = weight loss!) and I need to figure out how to take some out of the hips, but it doesn't look too bad.  I then sewed the waistband back on, correct way up this time, and check out my zip - I thought I had got it nearly bang on when I had sewn the zip the first time (before my waistband discovery), but maybe it is a good thing I had to take it off an try again.  Maybe totally emotional breakdown is what is needed for me to finally get a good zip insertion.  I've not tried one since I have been feeling a bit better so it will be interesting to see the results . . . maybe some scientist peeps should do a study on this . . .

Anyway, onto the top.  As said earlier, I had bought some of what I thought would be lovely fabric to make a top from Boyes a while back.  I couldn't tell you what fabric it actually is supposed to be, just that it is polyester.  It had always been intended to be a GBSB shell top or variety of the same, previous versions of which can be found here and here.  After toying with the idea of doing the standard top with a big satin bow rather than the button and loop closure, I finally decided to do the button back hack as shown in the Fashion with Fabric book.  After my previous two creations, I decided that I needed to add another inch in length, but decided against an extra FBA, as it really depends which bra I wear underneath my others as to whether it looks as though it needs an FBA or whether it looks as though it could do with the existing FBA reducing slightly.
The back 

Cutting out was a smooth and easy process.  Sewing the damn thing however . . .

The fabric is lightweight and has a lovely drape so I decided to use a new size 8o needle, which might be wear I went wrong - I don't know.  This fabric is awful to sew.  Despite the floaty floaty-ness of the fabric, it felt like I was sewing paper!  Trying to get a needle through the fabric was a challenge, especially when it came to the handsewing, and trying to press the fabric just wasn't happening.

The construction process is pretty simple.  The button plackets at the back are formed by simply added some interfacing and folding the edge over, and the neck and arm edges are bound with bias.  With hindsight, I'm guessing that pre-bought simple black bias would have done the trick and look perfectly OK.  However, I had decided before I started sewing that I was going to make some self-bias.   This is where I discovered the stubbornness of this fabric when it came to pressing, but I persevered and managed to make enough after a few hours of pressing.
I tried to get a good pic of the buttons, because they are
pretty awesome, but it was really difficult because they
are so small but if you look really really closely you can see
that they have a little pattern on them, which I thought tied
in nicely with the print of the fabric

Even with the difficulties pressing, the sewing on the machine part only took me an afternoon.  What took me a further two weeks was the handsewing.  I wanted to hand stitch the bias binding at the back, blind stitch the hem (which is something I so usually do) and because the fabric was so very horrible I hadn't been able to do the buttonholes on the machine, so I had to do them by hand too.  It was so difficult to push the needle through that my poor fingers couldn't stand it for more than a few minutes at a time, so this could actually be the longest outstanding project yet (although I do now have one that has been left on Doris the Dressform for two weeks waiting for some more fabric to arrive), so maybe the longest outstanding continually worked on project.

Anyway, I wore the outfit to work one day this week and was complimented on it a few times, so that makes me happy.  I've been working on little projects since I went back to work to get me into sewing again, as I didn't go into the sewing room while I was off work because I didn't have the energy, and the couple of times I tried I just sat there in tears.  Anyway,  I will share those projects with you shortly and I have plans for bigger projects - the one currently on Doris, which is a dress for my holiday, which is now fast approaching, a new rain mac, halloween costumes for the nieces and an elephant costume for the youngest niece's birthday (I think I'm  now looking forward to the days when all they want for birthdays is money).  Also, I have been doing some panto designing, so I will be starting work on those soon - sparkly pink hotpants for the Dame anyone?!

I'll let you know how it all goes . . .

Happy Crafting!


and another one of my fireplace . . .

Sunday, 20 September 2015

In the Navy Part II

Sooooo, following on from my Sailor Shirtdress, I was still feeling in a nautical mood and was thinking of making a matching little girls dress similar to the Pippa dress, but then I made a ton-load of chutney, and in my search to find some cool gingham cotton to decorate the gazillion jars, I rediscovered some lovely red and ivory gingham with little blue hearts that I had previously used to make a top and a little light bulb went off in my head - if there was enough left after cutting out the chutney tops (because this fabric was perfect for them too), this would make an awesome nautically-themed dress.  The problems:
a lot of chutney was made
  1. I didn't have enough fabric to do the facings;
  2. There was a mark on the fabric that no amount of washing was removing.
Number 1 wasn't too much of an issue, I could use some satin or lining and do a fully lined dress, which may in fact work better as this was a lightweight cotton.

Number 2, however . . . hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm . . . 

Eventually, after mulling it over for a few hours I had another light bulb moment - a pocket!!  That is what I needed - a pocket.  A pocket would nicely cover the mark if I could cut the fabric out right so the mark would be where a pocket could reasonably be placed, which hooray! hurrah! I managed to do . . . yay!

So, the pocket . . . this was made from a scrap of the navy polycotton used to make my shirtdress and a heart cut from a scrap of the gingham, which I bondawebbed and then topstitched onto the pocket.  I then topstitched the pocket to the dress front.  I tried actual top-stitching thread, but my machine didn't like it.  It is still a bit not right from when I had to take it apart a few weeks ago, but we seem to be slowly getting back to how it should be - lesson learned re the topstitching thread for the time being though, and my normal thread looks fine I think.

Anyway, construction from thereonin was pretty straightforward - no giant mishaps and for once no unpicking, although I feel this may have jinxed my next project.  

Although this was easy and straightforward the dress did take me over a week to complete.  I've not been feeling too great recently - my stress levels have been through the roof and I am currently seeing a counsellor.  You know I'm not right when I can't be bothered to sew and instead just sit at my desk crying.  Anyway, the counsellor has diagnosed depression and anxiety as a result of exhaustion and advised rest and relaxation.  I do not help myself, because at that point I should have taken some time off work, but no!  Why would I do that?!  I carried on for nearly another two weeks - it took me a week to tell my boss what was going on, and even then I kept working.  Luckily, my boss, Sarah, is quite understanding, and she cleared my workload for me so I wasn't getting myself in a tiz.  BUT, it still took a panic attack at the theatre last week (Shrek at Bradford Alhambra - thank you Lauren for being so amazing and getting me back home) to make me realise that I really could do with some time off, so at the time of writing I am now off work to  relax.  I'm trying, but for a busy person to just stop and rest is very hard.  I must be feeling a bit better though because I have got myself back into my sewing room and I finished this dress and I have other projects planned, which no longer fill me with dread at the thought of starting, which is what I was feeling a few days ago.  A few more days of proper sleep and resting and I may be back to my normal self, but I have learned to stop saying yes to everything when someone asks me and to stop putting so much pressure on myself to do everything.  My future extra-curricular activities are now just Panto and Uni, which starts again in a couple of weeks.  I will only plan one other thing per week, instead of having something on every night/weekend.
the gorgeous fabric
and you can just see a peak of my
new labels, which I will gush about
in a later post maybes

Anyway, as I was saying - straightforward.  This could be something to do with the fact that I have now made this dress five(?), make that six times, previous incarnations are here, here, here and here (and yes, I have more planned).

I have also discovered that in order to get my buttonholes to go right first time without tantrum, I need to do these at after 10pm of an evening.  I had ummed and aahhed about doing these to finish the dress, and in fact thought about leaving them until the morning, but decided to go ahead, and they went perfect first time.  I am so proud of myself!!!

Finally, to finish the dress, I added some blue ribbon as a border to hide the hem top-stitching.  I think it just finishes it off perfectly, and I used some of the silver anchor buttons that I originally bought for my sailor dress but then decided against.  I think they are perfect on this dress.

Anyway, the dress is in the Folksy shop, and is, as usual,  one of a kind - I have now run out of that fabric.  I'm slowly filling up up the shop and am considering a Craft Fair in Ilkely in November.  I would like to do it, but I don't think I need to put that pressure on myself to make sure I have enough stock to take.  I'm thinking . . .

Anyway, in the meantime . . .

Happy Crafting!


P.s. I would just like  to do a shout-out to the comical Caroline, who has just started blogging and is in fact a comedy genius.  Check out her tres-hilare blog here ***disclaimer - it has nothing to do with sewing - I doubt she even knows what needle and thread are***

Sunday, 13 September 2015

In The Navy

Sooo, peeps, I have finally got around to making the shirt dress I have been promising for the past few weeks (read: months).  I decided a couple of weeks ago that I had a free weekend stretching ahead of me (this was the weekend before bank holiday), so I would dedicate that weekend to tackling the shirt dress.

***warning . . . this is a long post . . . I talk about many things other than sewing and my dress, including but not limited to Bake Off, my new found sewing engineer skills, general exhaustion***

I chopped my head off this pic as my face just looked awful

I was inspired to make this by the lovely Mary of Idle Fancy, who it seems is queen of shirt dresses.  I love to read her blog, so I see a fair few shirtdresses.  I love how they look.  I have also noticed that a few of the other sewing blogs I follow love this dress muchly.  I have always veered away from anything with buttons down the front due to the inevitable gapage, but that is the joy of sewing your own.  McCalls 6696 comes highly recommended AND it even has different cup size options for the larger buxomed amongst us (I still went for the largest of the cup size options - a D).

I bought the pattern (and the fabric for that matter) aaaages ago and cut out the pattern.  Then I left it for a few weeks, not daring to start it.  I always have a fear of the unknown so I usually try to put them off as long as possible (I would like to point out that this was totally acceptable with my disaster of a first pair of trousers).  But anyway, I had a day on my own coming up at work (the rest of my fellow LAs were on holiday) so I knew I wouldn't get to leave my desk at lunch, so I needed something I could do sat at my desk but didn't involve looking at the computer, so I decided that I would start to cut out my dress.

I had bought some cheapish navy polycotton, thinking along the lines of wearable muslin, and had done a little doodle in my sketch pad of what I wanted he finished dress to look like.  The step-mother (non-wicked) liked the drawing, so after being told that I knew that I needed to make the dress awesome, which probably upped the nervous levels of making the first cut.

Anyway, as usual I am transgressing (just for a change).

My desk wasn't quite big enough to deal with the 4 metres of fabric and the pattern pieces for the skirt were slightly wider than my desk, but I managed (just).  It took me about half an hour to cut out the skirt pieces, the band and some of the collar.  The rest would either have to wait until I got home or for another day.  Due to the fact that I immediately fell asleep on the sofa when I got home, it waited until the following lunchtime, and took me about half of that to finish off my cutting.  This was just the fabric though . . . the interfacing had to wait until I could go get some more.  And I have to say, out of 4 metres of fabric, there wasn't much left.  I might, just might, get a child's dress out of it with some creative cutting.

Cutting out the interfacing had to wait another couple of days - in fact Friday night when I got home, and I had intended in starting the sewing that evening, but hubby came home unusually early, so we had tea and then went for a walk by the river and then just watched some telly, but it is nice to spend some time with him, as we so rarely see each other these days - we are both such busy people.

So, anyway, actual sewing commenced on the Saturday afternoon after I had run my errands and had some lunch.

Sorry, this is turning out to be a long post. 

Normally, when making a dress, I am inclined to do the skirt bit first, as I always think this is easier than the bodice, but as I was so anxious about this one, I decided to follow the instructions in the correct order for once, and that had me assemble the bodice first.  This was actually quite straight forward - a bust dart and side dart at each side, some gathering to the top and bottom of the back piece, and sew on the back yoke.  Simples.  At this point I decided to go for a little jaunt out to Guiseley to see my big sister and the nieces (the eldest of which wasn't even dressed and it was about 3.30 - I am dreading her teenage years, can't imagine what my sister feels).

When I got back home I had some tea and watched a spot of telly (caught up on The Scandalous Lady W, which had been on a few days before, but I had only half-watched).  After that, I decided to crack on with the dress.

I wasn't too sure about adding the yoke facing, but unusually for me, the instructions seemed to make perfect sense, so that bit really was a breeze and I am pleased to announce that I now think that I am adequate at yokes.  The shoulder seams of the yoke facing needed hand-stitching, so I did that whilst watching The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice.  Who else is watching GBBO?  Who is your fave?  I have to admit that I had a soft spot for Sandy and I was sad to see her go - I don't know if it is because she is quite local to me, or because she is pretty nuts, but I like her.  Cake week upset me because I really wanted one of the black forest gateaux (by 'one', please read 'all') but as I can't eat chocolate I was getting a bit depressed about it.  By the end I was just thinking 'I'll take the migraine, give me a cake!!!!!'  Nobody brought be a cake :-(  At the moment, I couldn't say who I think would win - Ian is doing well, but it is never a good  thing to peak early in GBBO and I can't help thinking the other contestants are going to get annoyed with him and he will have a kitchen-related "accident" . . . I mean, there are a lot of sharp knives in that tent . . . .

Anyway, the dress, yes the dress.  I'm normally not a huge fan of hand stitching.  I don't mind it if I have some telly to watch, but otherwise I just can't be bothered, but at this point I was enjoying making this dress, so I wasn't minding too much.  I would, however, next time just top-stitch these seams and call it a design element.  I didn't do it this time as I was trying to be good and follow the instructions to this letter.  I can assure you this didn't last.  In fact, it didn't last long at all . . . 

Next up was the binding on the armhole edges.  Now, I had bought what I thought was coordinating navy binding, as I couldn't be bothered to make binding.  However, when I came to start the binding, I realised it didn't match perfectly.  I knew this would bother me.  Other people might not notice it, but I would know it was there and it would be glaringly obvious to me every time I caught a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye.

So, I decided to go for a total contrast binding and raided my stash, where I found a few options.  I decided to go for the red stripe, as I had already bought my buttons (or rather button options x 3) and these were red.  I had also been considering some red top-stitching and I knew that I would wear this dress with possibly a red skinny belt (if I ever find one) and some shoes which are navy and red.  I decided against the top stitching in the end, and I have to admit that I wasn't too sure about the binding, but I showed my little sis and my friend, Sally, and they both approved it.

The only 'amendment' I made was to hand stitch the binding at the back, as although the instructions say to topstitch, I couldn't decide what colour to use.  Of course,  this meant that I could watch some more telly, in this case Nashville, which I desperately needed to catch up on.  I think at the moment I am three weeks behind. 

I also turned some of the binding inside out so that I could get the stripes as mirror images of each other on each armhole, and that was me done for that day.  It did take me a while to figure out that I needed to turn the binding inside out - who knew that just turning it upside down wouldn't work!!!!  I do worry about my mind some days . . .  I didn't actually finish sewing the binding then, so I left it to the next day.

I left all the pins in etc. and started on the band and the skirt.  All pretty straight forward until my damn sewing machine broke.  Just stopped.  Couldn't turn the handwheel at all.   When I had about 3cm left to go on a seam - my last seam for the day!!!! SOOOOO annoyed, as it is only about 6 weeks since it went in for it's service, and I have already had it in pieces once as it hadn't been put back together properly.  

So, me and hubby wasted about an hour of our Sunday afternoon taking the machine apart, which was a trial in itself and trying to figure out what had caused the problem.  We still don't know, but the handwheel now turns again.  Random!  Anyway, I don't know what we did taking it apart/putting it back together, but then the tension was way off.  So, I ended up sewing that same bit of 3cm seam a gazillion times until I got it right,  I kept trying it out on scraps of fabric, and it would be fine, but when it came to the actual dress, it would all be off again.  I wonder if it has something to do with the three layers of fabric and one of interfacing?  Maybe that's what broke it in the first place?!  Hubby seems to think he may have put the tension dial back on wrong, but he has yet to remedy this.  The machine works, it just doesn't seem right, if that makes any sense?

Anyway, I got there in the end then decided I would do the handstitching sat in my sister's garden.  I had the band  to sew down and the armholes to finish still.  Again, I didn't quite get this finished - it rained, so we went inside and then I decided to have a colouring and designing sesh with the little sister and the eldest niece.  So, the band and armholes actually took me about 3 days to sew on rare lunchbreaks and when I had an even rarer few minutes free at home.  I got there in the end though.  Then it was time to do the button bands . . .

I have  to admit, I had to read the instructions about 5 times for this bit - it wasn't that they were difficult, I just couldn't visualise it in my head.  I was just about to go online for some help, when the light bulb finally turned itself on and I finally understood.  I am going to blame the fact that I had just had my B12 injection and was waiting for it to actually take effect for my brain to work properly again - it is well known that when my B12 is low I become more of an idiot that usual.  This was actually obvious from my uni grades last year - I did much better on the assignments that were written and handed in when my B12 was high/normal than those that were done when my injection was due.

I am also suffering with more tiredness than usual, so the B12 injection alone isn't solving the issue.  I've been seeing a counsellor recently as I have just felt rubbish, and she thinks that I am suffering from exhaustion, which would account for the extra tiredness.  She might not be far off the mark to be honest - I am one of those people who never stops . . . ever!  I fear that if I stop I will never start again, so I am always doing.  I am aware that I need to scale back my life a bit and learn to say no to doing things, but I always feel bad if someone wants to do something and I say no.  For example, last week, I had one evening to myself, and that was then spent doing the housework - see no rest.  So, I am trying to make a promise to myself to calm my life down.  I'm not sure if this would mean more time  to sew or if I should also take a rest from that?  I've got quite a busy September, but I'm hoping that October and November will stay pretty clear, and then I am on holiday in December, so that will be a bit of an enforced rest, as I can't very well say yes to everything if I'm in the Caribbean with my phone turned off can I?

Anyway, enough with my problems and moans, I would like to say all was going well with the button bands.  I had even inserted some piping.  Admittedly this was tres wonky, but it is the first time I have ever put piping on a garment, so I am impressed with myself.  It is made from the binding I used on the armholes.  So, as I was saying, all was going well, until I realised the damn button bands are too short.  I can't remember if from the reviews I have read whether this is an actual problem, or my cutting was just dodgy.  I wouldn't have  minded too much if I hadn't already chopped two inches off the hem because it was way too long for my short-ass self.

I hoped I could wing it and the collar would hide this fact.  In a way it did, but my collar is a bit of a bodge if I am honest.  It is the first time I have done a proper collar and I am still impressed with myself.  If it wasn't for the short button bands, it would have been perfect.  So, how did I resolve the short button bands issue - I added a 'design element' of course.  Basically, the top of the button band now turns back on itself for a lovely small lapel effect.  It works, and that is all I care about.

So that was that done, and I just needed to do the buttonholes and sew the buttons on.  Seriously people, do not let me sew when I am tired.  I started the buttonholes on the wrong side, but didn't realise until I had already done 4, so my dress now opens the wrong way, but never mind, I will manage I'm sure.
I do not know how I managed to achieve
THIS level of wonkiness with the

Then THEN . . . having done my buttonholes and sewed my buttons on - how cute are these little red hearts by the way? - I discovered that something had gone seriously wrong with my waistband.  The dress all measures up - the bottom hem is in line, as is the collar/top bit of the dress, but the waistband just doesn't match - it's about 1.5 inches out.   It was on when I was sewing the waistband that my machine broke, so I don't know if this has anything to do with it (doubt it), but I have absolutely no idea how I have managed this, and it wasn't even like I sewed the waistband on an evening when I was a bit tired - I did it Sunday lunchtime.  I suppose I could blame hunger. . . . Anyway, I'm hoping no-one will notice, because there is no way I am unpicking all the way back to that. 

However, when I came to try on the dress, it fit almost perfectly, and I did enjoy making it.  There is a bit of gaping at the armholes, but nothing a small FBA won't fix.  I had read on other blogs that there seemed to be too much blousing at the back.  I was concerned about this, and it did seem that this could be the case when I was trying the dress on as I was making it, but the final product has a manageable amount of blousing - might have something to do with my wonky waistband?  AND I think the shape and fit is quite flattering on me.  You may think otherwise . . .

Despite all the things that need improving, I am quite happy with this - it was only supposed to be a test muslin anyway, but I do have some awesome shoes that will go with it, and I'm hoping that unless it is pointed out to peeps, they will never notice the wonkiest waistband on earth.  I'm thinking not wearing a belt will be the best option - no need to bring attention to it now is there.  Or, I could make up a red obi belt and that would hide it completely, now there's a plan.
I could bind these inside edges

So, what would I do differently next time (there WILL be a next time, I promise)?

1.  Maybe forget about the piping - I need more practice before I let that loose ion garments again.
2.  There is a bit of gaping at the armholes, so maybe a small FBA is required, even though I did use the D cup
3.  Figure out what the hell I did with that waistband!  And not do it again.
4. Top stitch instead of all the hand stitching - we shall call it a 'design feature'.  It might mean I actually get it done in my intended weekend.  Hand stitching on this included:  the yoke facing shoulder seams; the waist facing; the binding; the button bands (x2) and the collar facing.
5.  Either make sure I cut the button band correctly, or add some length to it.  This might help me with the collar.
6.  As there are hardly any exposed seams, I could hong-kong finish those that are there.  I might also doing the facings in contrast fabric to add a bit of interest . . . maybe

As already said, there will be a next time, maybe with the narrower skirt, although do like the fuler skirt.  I have my eye on this seeksucker from White Tree Fabrics (hint hint hubby - don't think he actually reads this blog though - and I have just found out as I have an NUS card I get student discount - Awesome!) but maybe I should focus on autumn/winter fabrics and colours rather than more summer?  I do have a holiday in December though that I will need clothes for . . .

Anyway, that is this particular epic post done. I am on with a holiday dress next, providing all goes well with it.  I have also just downloaded the Deer & Doe Plantain Tee, so that will be a new challenge for me - any advice peeps?  

As always, I'll let you know how they go.

Happy Crafting!


the dress has a bit of twirlability

Sunday, 6 September 2015

A Lesson

Soooo, a few weeks ago, I taught my first sewing class.  I say class, it was in actual fact my friend and her sister, but they are the first grown ups I have taught.

It all came about from my Flamingoes skirt and my friend's sister, Lucy, asking if I would make her one.  I calmly explained how much I hate sewing for other people, but tagged onto the end of my rant about how annoying I find other people 'but I'll teach you to make your own if you want'.  She took me up on this offer, but didn't want to do it all on her lonesome so talked my friend, Katy into doing the class with her.

We decided that the class should be held at Katy's as she has the most room and a mahoosive dining table, which is perfect for two people to sew on at the same time.  I also borrowed my mother-in-law's sewing machine - never again.  I forget to pick up the instructions after they fell out of the box (and I didn't notice) and weeks later, I still haven't heard the end of it!  It's not worth the hassle - I'll save up and buy another sewing machine next time.

Anyway, I instructed the girlies to buy their own fabric and pointed Lucy in the direction of eBay for the flamingoes fabric, as that is where I got mine from.  I still think I need some more of that fabric (I'm thinking holiday shorts).  I think Katy got her fabric from The Shuttle in Shipley - great bargains to be had, but it does feel a lot like a jumble sale in there sometimes, but as long as you are willing to search through everything you can find some gorgeous fabrics.

So, other than  totally underestimating the amount of time we would need to make the skirt, everything went pretty smoothly.  Both Katy and Lucy got the hang of the sewing machine easily.  I was really really impressed with Lucy, who I don't think had ever sewn anything  or used a sewing machine before - she took to it like a duck to water and was quite the perfectionist - much more than I am anyway.  I don't think we had any major mishaps at all.  Lucy even did her own buttonholes, which Katy chickened out of doing and I did them for her, but I don't mind - they can be daunting.

I don't care that it took longer than I thought it would, it just meant that I got to spend more time with my friend, who I don't see enough at all!

Anyway, here are the finished products:

Katy's skirt (which I stole from her Instagram account - follow her, she has loads of vegan food "delights")

And Lucy's skirt:

Not bad for a total beginner eh?

Katy had some fabric left over so I offered to take it and make up another Pippa dress for her daughter:

I got the cutest video thank you from Pippa - you'd never believe she is the terror her mother makes her out to be ;-p


After I had done that, there was a bit of fabric left over, which I used to make another Bertie hat for her son, Jake, who kindly modelled for me:

Anyway, I believe we have another lesson coming up when Lucy returns from her internship in Geneva (lucky cow) and I think it might be the Ruby dress.

In the meantime, I am working on some projects of my own and am about to get very very busy as I have just agreed to help out with the costumes for Addingham Panto.  I  thought I was volunteering to help out with some sewing - turns out I'm pretty much in charge of the costumes, so now I am terrified as hell that a) I might have bitten off more than I can shew and b) I am going to totally mess us.  A) is possibly solveable - I will just have to scale back all the rest of the crap that I do, although I do have an assignment due in half way through the actual panto run (as well, as one due while I am n holiday) so I'm going to have to work superhard to be ahead I think on college work.  This might just mean that I have to go into hibernation and not see anyone for a few weeks.  In fact, I might block out my diary now to stop myself putting stuff in there.  I might also be taking my uni books and some sewing on holiday, but never mind eh?  On the positive, I might have some awesomely gaudy costume projects to share with you . . .

So anyway, as usual I am going off topic and I really need to get on with some sewing . . .

Happy Crafting!


Sunday, 30 August 2015

Flower Power

Soooo, a couple of weekends ago, I got very productive and made not just one project, but 5 - the spotty dresses I made can be found here, and I also made another car play mat.  Once I had done all of that, I had a rifle through my fabric stash to see what I could make next, and somewhere near the top, I came across this floral polycotton, which I bought a few weeks ago to teach a friend how to make a gathered skirt like my Flamingoes one.  However, when I got to her house, she had already purchased herself some different fabric (more about that later), so the polycotton went in my stash, and to be honest, I had forgotten about it.

Anyway, once I found it again, I decided that as I wanted a fairly easy make, I would make it up as originally intended and make a gathered skirt.  I also figured that as it was quite a dark material, it would make a good autumn skirt, as I think I could get away with it with tights and boots, and I desperately need more autumn and winter clothes, so I'd best get started on them, right after I make a few more summer projects (after all, it is still only August and I have holiday clothes to make).  I also had the most gorgeous mother of pearl buttons that would go perfect with the fabric.  I did um and ah about using the buttons, because is it really jusitified to spend more on the buttons than the fabric?  I went with yes on that one.

So, this was a pretty easy make, other than me interfacing the wrong edge of one of the pieces of fabric, but it is on the inside, so doesn't matter I don't think and I did then interface the correct side.

pretty buttons . . .
It took me a morning to make up and I tried a new gathering technique - using shirring elastic and zig-zag stitching over the top of it.  Once I had mastered how to anchor the elastic at the beginnig (I tied it round a safety pin in the end), this was easy peasy lemon squeezy and I shall be using this technique every time to gather from now on.

the non-interfaced seam
As I have made it before, I only consulted the instructions every now and again, and just to make sure I was doing it correctly.

I managed to do the button holes the correct way round this time (horizontal, not vertical).  However, I did accidentally manage, when cutting a buttonhole (the one just below the waistband), to cut all the way to the edge of the fabric - I am such an idiot sometimes.  I have decided to blame this on my seam ripper, which I use to do my buttonholes - it shouldn't be so effective!

Anyway, I rectified this quite easily - I simply hand sewed the offending bit of fabric back together.  As the print is so busy, you would only notice this if you looked really closely, an nobody should be looking that closely at that part of my body as far as I'm concerned.

So, after I had finished the skirt, I had enough fabric left over to make another Pippa dress., which had been my intention.  This one is made up as an Age 1.  I found two matching pink floral plastic buttons, which go perfectly, and I had already bought some pink ricrac as decoration.

I didn't line this one, but as I wanted it to be a cool summer dress, I just faced it, as per the pattern.  Instead of simply zig zag stitching the bottom of the facing, I used some pink spotty bias binding to make it look a bit prettier, and tie in all the pink elements.

I was tempted to do the buttonholes in pink, but at the last minute decided against it, and did them in navy so they were as invisible as possible - I thought more pink might be a bit too much.

I hemmed the dress by turning up the hem twice and sewing, then I sewed some pink ricrac over the stitching line, not so much to hide it, but because I wanted to use the ricrac.  Et voila!  This is also in my little Folksy shop :-)  There will be more going in this over the coming weeks/months - I have plans and ideas!

Anyway, that is it for today . . . on with a few bigger projects now - a shirt dress (finally!) and a dress for my holidays, which if all goes well will be awesome.  Obvs I will share with you when they are finished.

Happy Crafting!


Sunday, 23 August 2015

It Was An Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

Sooo, actually it's not yellow or a bikini, but it is itsy bitsy and it is dotty . . . 

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I was gifted a load of upholstery weight fabric by a girl I know through Etsy.  I was very excited when she said she had a stash of fabric going free, and I immediately jumped at the chance (making a donation to her charity of choice in the process) to take it off her hands.

Once I got it home though, I realised that, although the fabrics were beautiful, they would just not work for what I wanted to do - most of the pieces were too small to make anything meaningful, so I gave most of it to the step-mother (non-wicked) who will use it to make beautiful cushions (some of which had better make it into my house - just saying!).

I did, however, keep one piece, which was not only large enough for me to make something, but I also knew exactly what I was going to make the minute I laid eyes on it - Butterick 3772, a previous incarnation of which can be found here.  For some reason, even though I am not the biggest fan of children, as is well known, I do like sewing their clothes - I think it is more of an instant satisfaction thing, as they take a fraction of the time to make that my clothes do and I don't have to faff with fitting - most of the time they fit straight out of the pack without any issue.

So, anyway. In my pre-B12 injection tiredness, I decided to do my cutting out.  There are reasons every sewist will tell you not to cut out when tired - you  make mistakes!  Exhibit A over here managed to cut out two fronts instead of a back and a front.  Luckily for me, I had just enough fabric to cut out two dresses (as had been my intention anyway), but this error meant that I now had two of the same size, instead of different sizes, but never mind eh?!  I was actually too tired to care.  It also meant that I didn't have enough fabric to face the dresses, but as this is quite a thick and heavy fabric, I had already really decided against that anyway, and had decided to line the dress.  After sending a quick pic of the fabric to my market research consultants (my sisters and nieces), it was decided that the dresses should be lined in orange.  I had envisaged orange satin, but the shop didn't have any and I was too impatient to wait to order some off the interweb, so I got bright orange anti-static lining, which is a polyester, but then again the satin would have been too.  To match the orange theme we had going on, I found some orange plastic buttons - 2 squares and 2 hexagons.  At least the dresses wouldn't be exactly the same.

To line the dress, I simply cut out another front and back from the orange lining fabric and reinforced where the buttons and buttonholes would be with some interfacing.

I then sewed the sides of the lining and the main dress and then sewed the two together at the neckline.  Some notching, cutting in and turning out later, a good press, and voila!  A dress.

I hemmed the lining by topstitching with coordinating thread and I hemmed the main dress with the bias binding technique.  I thought that turning up the dress twice and topstitching would make the hem very bulky, so I sewed on some blue spotty bias binding to the right side of the hem, then turned it up and invisible hand stitched on the inside.  I think this is a really good finish for this dress, if I do say so myself.  I made up the other dress in exactly the same way.

Then came the buttonholing.  I was going to do the buttonholes in orange, but at the last minute decided this would look wrong and went for blue instead.  I think this looks better.  There's not much to say about the buttonholing - the dresses are buttonholed and then I just had to attach the buttons and give the dress a final press.

I don't actually have anyone is mind to give these dresses to, I just wanted to make them, so I have listed them on Folksy.  They are both age 2.

I had a tiny little bit of spotty fabric left over.  I wanted to make another Fedora hat, but even with all the creative cutting in the world I just couldn't get all the pattern pieces out of what I had left, so I decided to make a Gather Kits Tallis Collar instead.  I have made one of these before for my Minnie outfit and remembered it being pretty easy.

I did my best with the pattern matching, but the pattern direction meant that I would never get it as perfect as I would like, but I don't think I did too bad a job.

For the undercollar, I used a scrap of the orange lining and then I finished with some coordinating orange satin ribbon.

I'm not really a collar person, so I don't know if I should keep this in the hope that I will one day wear it, or if I should list it for sale.  It would really jazz up an otherwise plain top.

I have been very busy indeed lately so I have more projects to share with you.

In the meantime . . . .

Happy Crafting!


Sunday, 16 August 2015

Pink Cadillac

Sooo, today I am sharing my second attempt at the Sewing Bee Fashion With Fabric shell top.  The first attempt can be found here.

After making my first attempt (which I still love and wear), I decided some alterations were required - a small FBA and about 2 inches adding to the length, so before I cut out my new shell top, I made this adjustments to the paper pattern.  I have done a few FBAs now, but I still feel that I need to follow instructions to make sure that I have it right, so this tutorial from the Curvy Sewing Collective is the one I use.  I love these guys - they have loads of tutorials for the larger ladies amongst us and you know that what these girlies say is true, because they are also larger ladies and have often encountered the same fitting issues.

Anyway, once I had made these adjustments, I simply needed to cut out my fabric and sew. I say simply . . . .

the wind was whipping my hair (back and forth . . . back and forth)

My fabric feels gorgeous.  It is a poly that cost me the grand sum of £2 a metre from Boyes, but it feels like silk :-)  It also asks like silk!  I don't think I have ever tried to cut or sew anything so slippy slidey :-(  I got there in the end with the cutting, after using a LOT if pins.  It also marks like billio - I was so careful to make sure all pins went in the seam allowance, but when not concentrating properly I am sure a couple may have escaped out and I am panicking that you can see holes in my top now.  No one seems to have notice though, or haven't said anyway - I think I might have hidden/pressed most of them out (I hope).

Anyway, although the fabric is not sheer, it was so drapey I was worried that I need to treat it as such.  I contemplated using sheer interfacing, but in my tiredness (nearly B12 injection time - Sleeping Beauty impression imminent) I cut out ordinary lightweight interfacing.  I seriously should not cut when tired - I managed to cut two fronts for a kid's dress last night.  Luckily I had enough fabric (just) to also cut two backs, but that is sheer dumb luck.  Isn't one of the most important rules of sewing not to cut when tired?!  Why do I not listen to these rules.  Although, in my defence, I am now permanently tired until I get my injection, so if I don't cut when tired, I don't cut at all, which means I don't sew, which I also probably shouldn't do, but that is another issue entirely . . . .

worn yesterday with my Mingoes skirt

So anyway, I cut out the normal interfacing and ironed this to the fabric pieces.  As I was slightly scared of my fabric, I used a very low heat iron - like below silk setting low - and pressed for longer than I usually would to make the glue melt.  I did consider no interfacing whatsoever, but decided that this was probably not wise. 

I then set about sewing - not consulting the instructions of course as who does that when they are on their second make of a simple top - not me that's who.  Who should consult the instructions?  Me!  Especially when sewing relatively late in the evening.  I thought I would start on something easy - sewing in the darts and then the facing pieces together.  The darts were fine - they facing pieces - rookie error!  What in fresh hell made me sew the side seams rather than the shoulder seams.  I know that this hardly ever the way to some something as you are never going to be able to pull the top through to the right side if we all started doing it that way - idiot!  I realised this just as I was finishing the second seam, but I suppose it isn't a Holly project unless at least one seam has been unpicked and re-done.

and from the back . . .
Anyway, I gave up for the evening at that point and picked it up again the next day.  Thankfully, as I had a nice quiet house and started as soon as I got in from work things went pretty smoothly.  I sewed the SHOULDER seams on the main fabric, then attached the facing, the turned it through and sewed the side seams.  I'm not entirely sure what happened in the cutting out stage, but my facing pieces turned out to be too short for the main top pieces.  I still don't know if I cut the main pieces too big or the facing pieces too small, but either way I am blaming the slipperyness of the fabric.  Because I can, so there!

This was but a minor convenience, as upon trying on the top, it turned out that I could simply cut the extra fabric from the main top - unconventional I know, but I don't care, because I am just that side out at the moment.

Anyway, I left it at that at that moment and went to get something to eat and watch Nashville.  Upon return-evousing to the sewing studio (yes, my sister has finally moved out and I have moved my stuff into the spare room instead of the cubbyhole I had previously, so it is now a studio dontchaknow) I only had the facings to sew down at the back, the back seam and the hemming to tackle.  Simples, thought I.  Not so simples said everything else.  I still don't quite know what I did to the back seam, but I somehow seemed to manage to sew half of it inside out.  I only sewed one seam, so God knows is my conclusion on  this one.  It was at this point that hubby returned from cycle club and started talking at me, so I am blaming him, and he got snapped at for it, because he was talking at me while I was trying to figure something out, which I still haven't done, but I did unpick the seam and try again and it turned out fine the second time.

Instead of doing a thread loop for the fastening at the back, I simply folded a piece of pink ribbon and sewed this into the facing.  I then spent hours choosing the correct shade of pink button from my stash to complete the fastening at the back.  This turned out to be pointless, as you will see from the photos.  Upon washing the top, all the colour drained from the ribbon, leaving me with a a white loop, but never mine.  Lesson learned, do a fabric loop.

Hemming was straightforward - I double turned a 1/2 inch hem and then topstitched in place,  it was a bit slippy in places and apparently hubby says there was much cursing, but I do not recall this so it must not be true.

So, on wearing my lovely new pink top (the day after the night before finishing it) with my fave flamingo skirt I had many compliments.  My colleagues (it was dress down day) liked the outfit as a whole (and I was skeptical it was too much pink!), and my friend, Lauren, liked the fabric (not bad for a bargain), so I think it was a win.  Me being me though of course there are some things I could improve on/change.  I still need a further inch or two adding to the length, but that is my personal preference on length - it covers everything, I just like long tops.  I also need to alter the bust dart slightly.  The apex needs to shift down about an inch.  I know this can be a problem when doing FBAs, so I know to alter my paper pattern now, but when I was making this up, I figured the fabric was so cheap it didn't matter if it went a bit higgledy piggledy. On wearing, I have also noticed that the fabric pools a little on the top of my ample buxom, so I might make the fba just that little bit larger.  It is still a perfectly wearable top, it is just things to make it a bit more perfect.

concentrating on keeping my hat on in the wind
I have been and bought some of the fabric in black to make another, and I think I will try the button back hack this time, and I also have some odd feeling, slightly houndstooth fabric to make one aussi.  This could be my next years's One Week One Pattern sorted, although there is fast becoming a couple of contenders for that.  This is definitely my go to pattern for tops, and I have some of my own hacks and added details that I plan to try out on future projects, but you'll just have to wait and see for them.

In the meantime . . .

Happy Crafting!

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