Sunday, 26 March 2017

The Fireworks Dress

Sooo, hello.  I have been absent for a while (again!) while I've been trying to catch up on my studying and working on some projects.  

I keep dipping in and out of trying to make bras, but I haven't quite mastered it yet.  I am nearly there and will share with you once I've had a success.  In the meantime, you can follow my progress on that one on my instagram.   I've also started making a few bits and pieces to go in the Etsy shop, and I've made a dress for my sister for her birthday, which I will share soon.
doris the dress form modelling my dress beautifully

I have also finally got around to altering a dress I made back in November and it is that that I will share with you today.

the back
My lovely friends, Catt and Rik, got married back in November, and as soon as their invite came through the letterbox saying that they were getting married on Bonfire Night, I knew that I had to have a suitably coloured dress.  I spent months looking for the right fabric.  I knew that I wanted something bonfire coloured and in my head had designed something with golds and bronzes.  I also knew that I wanted a quite stiff fabric - a duchess satin or similar was in my head.  The only problem was that I just couldn't find the right fabric.  By the time October came around I was getting a bit desperate and decided that I would have to modify my requirements.

I eventually found some brocade on the Minerva Crafts website, although it doesn't seem to be on there anymore.  It had the golds and bronzes that I wanted but also had turqouises and purples, which I wasn't sure about, but decided to go with it anyway.  Then I had to decide on a pattern.  I knew that I wanted princess seams and eventually settled on New Look 6723.  I ummed and ahhed between View C and D, as I loved the neckline, but I couldn't decide on the sleeves.  I really do enjoy the idea of sleeves, but I know I am never good with the practicalities of sleeves.  In the end, I went with the sleeves (view C).

What?  Where are the sleeves I hear you say?  Well, here they are (kind of):

with my lovely, glamorous friend, Dr Sarah,
before she got verrrrrry drunk :-)

On wearing the dress for the day at the wedding, I decided that I didn't really like the sleeves, and as I realised I also had to lose an inch at the shoulder seams (I have the oddest bodice shape - short shoulders, large bazoomas, long waisted - it is a fitting nightmare), I decided to take the sleeves off for the final dress, so it is now view D.  I haven't ruled out View D altogether, as it could just be the stiffness of the fabric that was the issue.  I will probably try it again with a lighter weight, perhaps, cotton fabric.  The fabric, as pretty as it is, was a bit of a problem.  It does not press AT ALL and drove me nuts, but never mind.
I love the neckline

I did my usual FBA and I decided that the gathered skirt in the pattern would be too much in such a sturdy fabric, so I substituted the skirt pieces for a pleated skirt from a pattern in my stash - I just can't remember which now.  I suspect it was the same as I used to make my Minnie dress.  I lined the bodice with some black satin from my stash and I used some black satin bias to hem the dress.  I really need to stop leaving things until the last minute - I will still sewing this dress the morning of the wedding!
the inside is as pretty as
the outside and I'm not so
sure I don't prefer the wrong
side of the fabric!

Anyway, I don't have much more to say about the dress.  Will I make it again?  Yes.  I did wear it again last night to go out with some friends to Pierre Bistro in Ilkey (food was lovely, speed of service not so much, but it didn't matter).

I'll be back at some point to share some more.  I still have pre-Christmas makes to share with you, but have kind of lost my writing mojo of late.  I'm sure it will return - probably after exams. 

In the meantime . . .

Happy Sewing!


Sunday, 5 March 2017


Soooo, Addingham panto is over for another year.

This year's production was Aladdin.

I didn't manage to get photos of all the costumes, or even all the costumes I made, but here are some:

These are the policemen's uniforms I made for Ping and Pong (and an extra character we added - Balls).  These are made from blue satin with chef white checks.  The top is a kimono pattern and the bottoms and just 3/4 length pyjama bottoms.  I am have been told that these were the comfiest costumes Maz and Emma (Ping and Pong) have ever had! And here they are with added 'tache:

I also made their finale costumes from purple satin and gold sequin fabric: 

Next up is the beautiful So-Shi, seen here with her father, The Emperor:

I will admit, I bought her chinese-style dress.  Simply because it worked out much cheaper and by Christmas, despite supposedly having help this year, I knew that I was pretty much on my own (again) and there is no way I can make at least three costumes for 25 kids plus over 10 principals, so costumes had to be bought in, or hired.

Anyway, I did make her a costume for Act 2 and her finale:

This is a McCalls gypsy top make from sparkly sequin fabric, which was paired with some harem pants made from red satin, which I forgot to get a photo of. 

So-Shi also had some 'assistants', i.e. the older chorus girls, who also had tops like these, but made from plain satin, rather than sparkles.  

And for So-Shi's finale was this fabulous kimono, made from a Simplicity pattern:

From the very off, I knew that something similar to this would be So-Shi's final costume.  This is made from some upholstery fabric I actually bought for last year's panto and never used, lined with lilcac satin and an obi of lilac sequins.  You will have to take my word for it that it looks fabulous on - the sleeves are amazing, but I never did get a photo of Michelle in it.

Going back to the emperor above.  I did buy his costume off ebay, because I saw it and thought it was fab.u.lous.  I had to make some small changes to make it fit properly and then I used that costume as a template to make his finale, which was made from some brocade and gold satin, all purchased from ebay:

And last, but not least is Wishee Washee.  This was a very quick last minute make (we were let down at the last minute by the person who was supposed to be doing this costume).

This was made with some fabulous panda poly-cotton sourced by the lovely Sarah Griffin (who I can never thank enough for her support) and sewn in an afternoon while I sat at rehearsals with my sewing machine set up in the foyer of the mem hall.  Same idea as Ping and Pong and I hope it was as comfy.

Here she is with Widow Twanky (whose costumes we hired in the end):

Sorry for the picture heavy post.

Until next year . . .  where I will not be doing all the costumes, as I am taking a break to concentrate on my Legal Exec exams . . . .

Happy Costuming!


Sunday, 19 February 2017

Tartan Toddlers

Soooo, today I would like  to share with you a customer request I got before Christmas, which I enjoyed making, and it seems my customer really liked:

The order was for 2 red tartan Pippa dresses and a matching waistcoat.

They are made from red polyviscose tartan and some gold buttons from Duttons for Buttons in Ilkley (which has quite possibly the most miserable sales assistants I have ever seen in a haberdashery, but I keep going back for the large (expensive) button selection), with some red satin lining and some gold ribbon to finish.

I paid some attention to pattern matching on the waistcoat, but other than that there really isn't much to say about construction of these that I haven't said in previous posts here and here, but I just really liked the finished result and the feedback I got from my customer was lovely:

"Absolutely beautiful dresses and waistcoat. The attention to detail was amazing: lined, gorgeous gold trim and beautiful buttons. I ordered these for a special Christmas train day and we received many compliments all day about how lovely the girls looked. Thank you so much!"

It really made my day to read that feedback. 

I think the only thing I did that was new/different was the slider for the waistcoat.  I couldn't find gold ones, which had been my preferred, so had to get silver ones, which did not go with the rest of the waistcoat AT ALL.  The solution - paint it red with nail varnish!  I think it worked a treat.  I did a couple of coats to make sure it looked its best, but definitely a tip for future coordination.

Sorry for the short post - we are now in the middle of Panto and my time is no longer my own - studying hasn't been done for weeks, sewing for myself is something I can't remember and I'm pretty sure I'm about to have  another nervous breakdown as a result of exhaustion, but it will all be over soon, and I can't wait!

I'll be back with some more makes then.

Happy Crafting!


Saturday, 11 February 2017

Halloween Hack

Soooo, as easy as the eldest niece's Halloween costume was, as I could basically do as I wished, the youngest niece's request was a lot more exact . . . 

When she said she wanted to be a ghost, I thought aha!  I can do this!  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.  I'll just cut two eye holes in a sheet and voila, we will have a ghost.

Oh, how naive I was . . .

One must remember that one's youngest niece, although generally quiet, is very exacting when she wants something.  In this case, it was a white lace one shoulder ghost dress.

clever auntie remembered to
attach some ribbon for hanging up

OooooooooooKay I said, as I couldn't really convince her on the sheet idea, and set about looking for a kids one shoulder dress pattern that would fit her.  She generally wears an age 12-13 and it is really very extremely difficult to find dresses in this age range, or a one-shoulder one anyway.  

I hunted for weeks.  In the end, I decided to go with an adult pattern and do an SBA.  I still struggled to find a pattern!!!  In the end, I decided to hack New Look 6262 which I had in my stash.  It already had a v-neck, so I figured it wouldn't be too difficult to just cut one shoulder off and have a one shoulder dress.  To do this, I traced the pattern piece in  the correct size and then flipped it over and traced again so that I had one complete bodice piece that would not need cutting on the fold as the original pattern had.  I then drew a line from the neck side of the shoulder seam to the top of the armscye on the other side of the bodice.  I did this for the front and back bodice pieces.

I used some pleated white lace I got on sale from White Tree Fabrics, and I underlined this with white polycotton from my stash.  I then treated as one layer.

Rather than add any shaping in the form of darts to the dress, I made an elastic channel at the waist seam by turning the seam up and stitching and inserted some elastic.  This gave the shape I was looking for.  I also inserted an invisible zip in one side seam, just in case the elastic didn't provide enough give to get it on and off.

As I had underlined the fabric, I didn't want to add a further lining or draft a facing, so instead I used some white satin bias  binding along the next line and armholes to hide the raw edges.

And that was my white lace one shouldered ghost dress finished.

The only alteration I had to make after trying on was to take it up a bit at the shoulder, which I did by hand while Evie had it on.  I figures that way it would be easy to take back down should she wish to wear it in future years.

She seemed to like it at least.

I'm now dreading next Halloween's order...

Happy Crafting!


the weido decided to
add horns for some reason . . . .
She also had a broken foot at this
 point, the boot is evident here

Saturday, 4 February 2017

The Socks of Doom

Soooo, by the time I finished these socks, I thought I had been knitting these forever.  In fact, I had been knitting them since I finished up my flamingo cushion way back in May.   I finally got them finished about 10 days before Christmas.

With one knitting project under my belt, I was feeling brave and foolhardy so decided that I would start knitting socks for one of my family members for xmas.  I wandered along to Eme in Ilkley one Saturday and purchased myself some double-pointed needles and some yarn.  I chose some Kintpro Symphonie needles, mostly because they were pretty, and some West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4-ply in Peacock.  The lovely lady at Eme gave me a couple of Kind Cole basic socks patterns for free and I set off all ready to start becoming sock-maker extraordinaire . . . .

About twenty attempts at starting socks later, I have five finished socks . . .  

My first 12 or so attempts were to make ones using the needles and yarn purchased from Eme.  I had decided that I was making socks for my gran, as she ALWAYS buys socks for me and the rest of the grandchildren for Christmas, so it was about time someone returned the favour.  So, using one the patterns I had been given, I cast on a sock for a medium lady.  I wasn't doing too bad really with this one.  I made a couple of mistakes, but soldiered on, as after I had made about five mistakes, I decided that this was going to be my test sock.  

I got really confused at the heel part and the turning of the heel and the gusset and then at the end of the toe, especially where it said to turn the sock inside out.  Surely that would then mean that I would then have the wrong side of the stocking stitch showing?!?!  Was it a mistake with the pattern I wondered?  Turned out that no, it is not a mistake with the pattern, I simple knit inside out when it comes to socks.  As I was teaching myself this particular technique, no one told me that you are supposed to knit on the outside of your needles - I knit on the inside of my needles, thereby knitting my sock inside out.  Now that I know this, I'm not changing my technique - it works for me and I just have to remember this little fact when I am knitting socks and it tells me to turn it inside out.

Anyway, I finished the sock, with about a gazillion holes in it (only my third project remember!).  I decided then that I didn't like the colour - it would be perfect for a boy sock, but not for my grandma.  So, I unravelled everything that I had done and started again.  This time, I decided that this particular colourway of sock would be for Pappa John, my step-dad,  to keep him warm when he is fishing.  I therefore cast on the largest version and carefully followed the pattern.  

Let me tell you - knitting men's socks takes FOREVER.  But I carefully noted down how many rows I had done for each section as I went along so I could make sure that the second sock was identical.  I think  this sock might have taken me about a month, if not longer to knit before I was ready to cast on the second sock.  I believe I started it three times, as I would go wrong a few rows in and not know how to correct it, but not far enough down the sock to be gung ho and ignore the mistake.

In the meantime, I had ordered some new, brighter, wool for grandma's socks (Rum Paradise Cocktails West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4-ply I believe). and some smaller double pointed needles, as the pattern called for 3mm needles and I had 3.5mm.  This wasn't bothering me for Pappa John's socks.  I just thought that they would knit up bigger, which was fine by me - the bigger the better.  All the better to keep him warm with.

The second sock I think took me about two weeks to knit up - I only had to restart a couple of  times and I was on a roll.  I was so proud when I had finished, until I looked at my first sock and realised that the colours at the toe were off.  I had been so careful to start my sock at exactly the same place in the wool colour pattern as the first one so that they would be identical.  I was soooo confused.  I checked that the heel was the same, that the rib section was the same, then I held it up against the first sock - this second one was shorter!!!!!!  Oh my days!  I had read the wrong line about the foot length - I had read the number I had written down for the heel!!!!!  Bah!  Cursing myself and paddying, I then calmed down and tried the sock on - it was perfect Holly size.  So I now had one Pappa John size sock and one Holly-size knee-length sock.

I must have subconsciously known that I was going to do this . . . I would normally have had to despair that I would never have enough wool left to make another Pappa John sock.  However, I had already ordered an extra ball of Peacock wool just in case I didn't have quite enough wool to finish the second sock.  I always over order because it is better to have too much than not enough.  So, this meant that I could cast on another sock, this time being VERY careful about following the correct number of rows for the correct sections.  I was so happy when I finished this one and everything matched up . . . but I forgot to take photos, so I only have photo of the one sock I put on instagram.

So now I had three socks, but none for my grandma, and time was running out.  So, I decided to go for a shorter sock from a different pattern.  Not much to say about these really, but I did enjoy knitting them more and they did come  together quicker, probably because these were small ladies' socks with a very short leg, unlike Pappa John's socks, plus they are bright and cheery.

I was happy with these when I had finished and remembered to take a photo or two:

And Grandma was wearing them when I saw her on boxing day, so they can't be all that bad.

I think that is about it.  I still haven't done my second Holly sock, but I do think I am slightly addicted to sock knitting, so I will get to it eventually.  Not bad for someone who hardly ever wears socks.  I shall just have to keep knitting them for everyone else. . . . La Famila . . . you have been warned!

Happy Crafting!


Saturday, 28 January 2017

Vampire Skirt

Soooo, I am slowing getting there with the makes of 2016.  Only a few left to go.  I might have to start posting two a week, rather than the one.  

Let's proceed with the sharing with this fab skirt I made for the eldest niece for halloween.  

I love this skirt and wish I had made it for myself (obvs about ten sizes bigger as she is a skinny wretch).  I love the bow at the front and the pleat detailing at the back is lovely.

As a bit of a goth, I knew that she would want black no matter what she asked for, but when we were discussing her costume (vampire) she did say that she would venture to a dark shade of another colour.  I saw this Cynthia Rowley pattern on instagram I think and sent it to the niece to see if she approved for her vampire skirt.  She did, so I set about making it for her.

beautiful bow - I wasn't supposed to
sew the top of the bow into the
waistband, but I think it looks
better on this particular version of
the skirt as the fabric is quite
Other than buying the new pattern, everything else in this skirt is from my stash, and I'm sure I will get use out of the pattern, so that should be money well spent I think.  I think Cynthia Rowley patterns are the perfect style for the eldest niece.  I have another trouser pattern for her that I plan to make up at some point.  Maybe when she's 18 the rate I get on with my plans (she's currently 11)

pretty pleats to the back and you can
see my brilliant zip insertion :-)
The wine-coloured under layer is a bit of taffeta I had left over from panto last year, and the lace, which is spider-web patterned, is some I bought to make capes for the nieces a couple of halloweens ago,  but which was never needed.

I quite enjoyed making this skirt, even if the cutting out stage did result in me knocking my phone off the table and smashing the screen to smithereens, resulting in an emergency trip for a new mobile.
how fab is this spider web lace??

I think I enjoyed it most because no seams needed finishing due to the non-fraying nature of the taffeta - I don't think I even hemmed it.  I do love a non-fraying fabric :-)

I effectively made two skirts - a tafetta one and a lace one.  For the bow and waistband, I basted the two layers together before sewing.  How the bow was formed did confuse me a little, but following the instructions carefully made it all clear and I had no trouble. 

It took me about one and a half hours to cut everything out and an afternoon to sew it up, so not too bad all in all.  The niece seemed to love it.  I think I will make her another, everyday one, in simple black, now, I just need to choose which shade of black she would prefer . . . .

Happy Crafting!


Saturday, 21 January 2017

Shifting Flowers

Sooo, the sharing of 2016 makes continues (totally out of order).

This is the first thing I made myself after my weight loss slowed down (I think).

This is New Look 6261 View D.  It came free with one of the many sewing magazines I buy.

I was desperate for some work clothes that didn't just hang off me (I still need more) but I think I had been putting off sewing because I wasn't feeling the having to redo all the adjustments on my tried and true patterns.  So, a new pattern it was.  My work uniform generally consists of simple shift dresses, but I am not one for boring black so a cool print was needed.

This fabric is cotton from Leeds Market.  I had originally gone promising myself that I wouldn't buy any blue, as my wardrobe is full of blue.  So, what did I do - buy blue of course.  I did also buy some red of this pattern, but that is still languishing in my stash waiting for me to be brave and make something not blue.  It may be waiting some time.

beee-autiful invisible
zip insertion if I do say
so myself
I lined the dress in white cotton.  I did originally line it in satin from my stash, but the satin did not like the double ended darts and frayed terribly on the first way, so I ripped that out and started the lining again.

That was the only real issue with this dress.  Other than the standard FBA for me (many inches), the only other change I made was to add a kick pleat to the back as it was a simple vent in the pattern and I prefer kick pleats - no reason, I just do.  Other than that, I sewed up a straight size 16.

And that is all I have to say on it.  Simple dress, suits my shape, lovely comments from colleagues.  I plan to make more.  I may use the red fabric in my stash to make view B, although I do love a v-neck.

More 2016 makes coming up soon.

Happy Crafting!

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