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!


Saturday, 14 January 2017


Sooo, hello there.  

I continue on my mission to blog the things I made in 2016 but never blogged due to life/work/studying just getting in the way.  I feel that my ability to write was all used up writing assignments to finally get myself qualified as a legal executive.  That continues, but I seem to have found some inspiration to write blog posts, and I've set some of these up to post while I am on with panto costumes, which I'm not allowed to blog about/share on facebook/instagram until after panto finishes at the end of February #spoilsports. Hopefully I won't be so sick of them by then that I will still want to write some blog posts for y'all in March.  Maybes. . . . maybes not.

Anyway, this is the present I made my mother (actual) for Christmas.  I'm totally blogging out of order for which I apologise, but I write as I am inspired at the moment.

the view from the back
My mum likes the cape silhouette when it comes to her coats.  I think it is because you can retreat inside them snail/crab-like when it is too cold, so when I saw The Camden on the Colette Seamwork mag thingy well over a year ago, I knew that I was going to make it for my mum eventually.  This is the pattern which made me sign up to Seamwork, and while I don't like all the patterns, I have downloaded a few and I love that I can now use my credits for non-Seamwork Colette patterns, which I would like to take full advantage of this year (Moneta - I am coming for you!).

So, I downloaded this pattern and even got it printed by the local printshop before Christmas 2015, but then just ran out of time/lost my sewjo.

arm slits with a
peek of lining
Anyway, I resolved to make it for my mother for Christmas 2016 and started looking for some appropriate (affordable) fabrics in probably about March.  I found loads of lovely designer wools but they were all a bit out of my price range at the time.  Eventually I found some wool blend on the Minerva Crafts website.  I thought it was a turquoise-teal colour (as my mum's colour, like mine, is blue), but when it arrived it was more green (screen resolution is to blame I think!).  Anyway, I decided that I could still work with it and decided that a brown lining would look fabulous.   When I took the wool out of its plastic packaging to cut it, I discovered that I had been looking a the wrong side and the right side had a lovely tweedy/corduroy texture, which made the finished product look so much better. 

I finally got around to start making it at the beginning of December - I still needed lining and buttons though.  I went in search of both.  I couldn't quite find the shade of brown lining that I wanted - I was being super fussy - but as I was giving up hope, I found some fab animal print in Boyes of all places.  I suspected that mother would hate it but I loved it so decided to take the risk.

I love this lining, and in the end I
think it actually went quite well
I honestly never found any buttons I truly loved to go with it.  I considered toggles for a while, but again couldn't find the right shade, so I went with some wooden buttons, figuring I could change them if I ever found some I liked.  It was better to have it done that waiting forever for some buttons was my reasoning.

I remember that this was supposed to be a three-hour pattern when it was first released.  Colette have now revised this claim to be a make in a day.  It definitely took me longer than a day but I did it in stages.

There were more pieces than I thought, but all pieces seemed to be well thought out and the general construction was fairly simple.  The instructions were clear and well thought out and as my first attempt at making a coat of any form, I don't think I did too bad.  I did have to google how to sew bar tacks, but that is because I was seriously doubting myself about all the simple things that day - confidence and mental health wasn't too brilliant before xmas if I'm honest with you - too much stress I think.

There is a lot of pressing to so, and I tried to make sure that I did this well.  I used a LOT of steam and protected by main fabric by using a scrap of the wool fabric as a pressing cloth.  I wanted this to be as perfect as possible so that I received as little constructive criticism as possible.

the buttons I used in the
end.  I'm still not sure
that I like them and I
still make change them.
You can see the lovely
texture of the wool in
this photo
Here are my timings:

Tracing pattern - 45 mins
Cutting Fabric - 45 mins
Sewing Lining - 1 hour 35 mins
Sewing Main - 2 hour 15 mins
Handsewing - 1 hour 40 mins
Buttonholes - 1 hour 5 mins
TOTAL - 8 hours 5 mins

So maybe this was a day project, but I can't sew for eight hours straight and it is definitely not a three hour project.  I still enjoyed making it though and have considered a further version for another family member.

A point to note - I did wreck my scissors cutting the wool.  They are now as blunt as a blunt thing and no good for cutting anything.  Luckily I have spares and my lovely husband bought me some Ernest Wright scissors for Christmas, which I am too scared to use in case I wreck them.

Anyway, other than saying the buttons were tight through the holes, the constructive criticism has been minimal on this one.  

I might even make her something else for next Christmas - I have an idea, but I probably need to start it now.

Happy Crafting!


Saturday, 7 January 2017

My Little Quality Street

Soooo, back in November it was my youngest niece's 9th birthday.  This is my little mini me (looks like me, lives in own world like me) and I can't believe that she is nine already!  I feel so old.

You can just about see the matching
sparkly shoes I bought her to match
and the hair comb 

Anyway, when I asked her what she wanted for her birthday, I don't think there was any doubt that it would be something I made (as is tradition) and she asked for a pink dress.  She loves pink and she loves dresses, so I probably could have guessed this, but as last year's request was an elephant costume, you never really can tell with that girl!

Anyway, I had plan, and that plan involved pink taffeta, so off to eBay I went to order some.  I do get a lot of fabric from eBay when my usual online shops have not come up trumps for me, which they hadn't in this instance.

Although Evie is only nine, she is nearly as tall as me so I know that I can make her adult-sized clothes.  In fact, I had done this for her halloween costume, which I will share eventually.  So I was not going to go with her request for a dress, but instead I wanted to make her the Simple Sew Sophia skirt and Top set, which I had attempted for myself a while ago, but it didn't quite work out due to it just not being my style (bewbs being the issue) but I thought it would be perfect for Evie.  The plan was a pink skirt and a gold (possibly sequin) top.

Anyway, when my fabric arrived, it wasn't pink but purple!  Ahhhhhhhh.  Not a problem though, I could find a use for the purple and order some more pink from somewhere.  I told Evie that her fabric had arrived the wrong colour but would order some more, but she said that she was happy with purple because I had already made her a pink dress in the summer.

This suited me, and then I thought purple and gold would be too Christmassy, so decided to use some silver sequin fabric I had in my stash for the top part.  It wasn't until I had sewed everything together that I realised I had turned my niece into a Quality Street . . . but the best quality street an auntie could ask for (puke here!)
I remembered to add a little bias
binding tab in to show which was
the front and back of the top

Anyway, construction should have been fairly straight forward, but of course I like to make things difficult for myself don't I.  I decided to line the skirt so it didn't snag on Evie's tights (a pet hate of mine) and then I thought, as I was lining it, why didn't I add some some dress net too to make the skirt stand out.  Anyway, it wasn't too bad, just a lot of layers to deal with on my small sewing desk.  I also remembered to add pockets this time!  Can't beat pockets.
lined and netted.  I used by rolled hem
foot to do the hem on the lining
So proud that I finally mastered this -
it has taken a few years!

The top was also fairly straight forward.  Much easier than my last attempt, as I made no attempt whatsoever to line it at all.  I figured Evie could wear a vest top underneath if  the sequins bothered her.  Instead, I bound the edges with some satin bias binding.  I didn't have any silver in my stash and as I am impatient, I couldn't be bothered to wait for the shops to open to go buy some, so I looked to see what else I had, and would you know it, I had some purple satin binding in my stash.  The only decision I had to make was whether to have the binding on show or fold it in and just have it on the inside.  A few consultations with the hubby and sisters later we decided to have the binding on show.

And the outfit was done!

I think she liked it.  I gave her it a day early so she could wear it for her birthday party.

Anyway,  have already decided what I am making her for next year (or this year now), so she doesn't get a choice this year . . . mwahahahahahahaha (evil auntie!), although it does have some pink on it.

Happy Crafting!


Monday, 2 January 2017

2017 Plans

Sooo, 2016 was not the best year for getting on with my sewing goals.  

Life in general was just meh last year when it came to getting stuff done that I wanted to do.  I never seemed to stop for more than 2 seconds at a time.   

I started the year with Panto costumes, which was quite possibly the most stressful thing I have ever undertaken.  Costumes for all the principles plus 24 members of the chorus quite nearly finished me off (and blew up my machine, which meant I HAD to buy a new one).  I swore I wouldn't do it again, and then lo and behold, guess what I am doing now.  In my defence I did agree to help out thinking that I wouldn't have any studying to do and work was in a quite period.  Since then, however, I have started studying for my CILEX qualifications, which is something I have wanted to do pretty much since I left school.  I half did it in my early twenties, but then as it is something that needs to be sponsored by your employer, I have not been able to restart after getting made redundant in 2008.  Work agreed this year to sponsor me and I was in no position (and didn't want) to say no to that.  It is a lot of work, and a ton of reading, but so far I am getting perfectly acceptable marks and I am happy with that.  I also, weirdly as it sounds, actually quite enjoy the studying.

After that, it seemed to be a year of selfless sewing, reminding me that I generally hate sewing for other people.  I started losing weight, and saw no point in making myself anything until this stopped, as I would only have to alter it again, and I do hate altering, so I sewed mostly for others.  

On the plus side, I do seem to have pretty much beaten my panic attacks, which is a good thing.  Still have terrible anxiety at moments, but it doesn't, thank god, often develop in to the full blown panic attacks I was having.

I had had grand plans for 2016 sewing, as you can see from my post at the beginning of the year - jeans, a coat, a burda dress, something for Phil and getting used to my overlocker.  I have managed 3 of these, so 60% isn't as bad as I thought it would be.

I have used my overlocker a few times.  I haven't yet changed the thread in it (haven't needed to) but I have bought some more thread for when the time comes and I plan to make liberal use of the overlocker for panto costumes.

AND I sewed something for Phil.  I made him a waistcoat (at his request) and a summer dressing gown for Christmas.   I will be sharing these on the blog soon.  I have plans for a shirt for him, but I need him present for many measurings and fittings for that I think, so making for Christmas wasn't an option.  I do have the pattern and fabric though.

I have also made a coat.  Admittedly, this was not for me, but for the mother's xmas present, which will be on the blog soon.  So, I still haven't done anything with that pattern I graded up.  I kind of fell out of love with it, so I bought a Simple Sew Trench pattern, and then saw a coat I liked in Ness for £30 and thought I would spare myself some stress and just buy it.  I will eventually make myself something coat-like.  I'm currently thinking velvet blazer for smarts.  We shall see.  I am putting no pressure on myself to do this as I have all coat things I need for the time being.
THAT burda dress . . .
one day maybe

I gave up on that Burda dress, as I couldn't and still can't figure out how I would do a FBA on it.  One day I will figure it out and then maybe re-address this pattern.

More on the jeans plans below.

Anyway, without trying to put too much pressure on myself for 2017, I do have some plans once panto is out of the way:

1. Lingerie and Swimsuit Making - with a view to making the Closet Case Files Sophie for my holidays. I am also desperate for new bras  I am going to start small on this one and make sure I learn the techniques I need.  I have downloaded the Seamwork Florence and Geneva patterns and I have a lingerie techniques book, so I am starting small on things I'm not too bothered about.  Hopefully by summer I will be happy to tackle some underwired bras and then be confident enough  to make myself a swimsuit for my holidays in December.  

2. Activewear - I need new dancewear - my leggings fall down on me and I don't like any of my tops.  This is probably bottom of my list though, if I am honest.

3. A shirt for Phil - I have the fabric (from Guthrie Ghani).  I have the pattern (Thread Theory Fairfield).  He has asked for one.  Now that he doesn't work weekends, he might be at home a bit more to be available for measurings and fittings.

4. Tackle Knits -  I said I would make a Colette Myrtle over a year ago and I shall, especially now I have got used to using my overlocker.  I have also discovered that I can use my Seamwork credits to by non-Seamwork Colette patterns, so effectively this pattern will be free.  I think I might start with the Moneta though, as the cowl on the Myrtle still concerns me a little.

5. Trousers and jeans - I have none in my wardrobe.  I know I said I would tackle jeans last year, but I decided to start with trousers to get a basic knowledge, but my attempt at trousers was not too successful.  However, the little sister has bought me the Sew Over It Ultimate Guide to Making Trousers online class so I will start there, get the fitting sorted, have some summery trousers in my wardrobe and then think about tackling jeans (probably around 2019).  I still want to make the Gingers though.

Anyway, that's it for my plans.  I'm sure there will be dresses and skirts in there, along with some things for the nieces and for my sisters, but no further pressure is to be put on myself I have decided.  I have enough pressure from work and studying without adding to it with sewing.

I am also continuing my knitting learning.  I am getting there . . . my plan this year is to tackle a cardigan for myself as I have only made small things so far.

I still have some makes from 2016 to share so they will be up on the blog soon.

In the meantime . . . Happy Crafting!

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