Sunday, 30 March 2014

Sew Dramatic, Sew Gabriola

Being fairly new to sewing, I think its fair to say that my knowledge independent patterns was pretty limited. Visiting blogs and site has opened a whole new world of intrigue, so one Sunday morn I decided to bite the bullet, order one and try it out. My choice, the Gabriola skirt from Sewaholic.

Reading about the Sew Dramatic, Sew Gabriola  competition at Stitch 56, my initial thought was "nah", I'd not wear it, not  really my style. Then I saw a Styling Inspiration piece by Caroline Amanda  at Sewaholic. This did it, inspiration kindled, and a "what the heck, give it ago, its only a piece of fabric at the end of the day" approach.

Suggested fabric is a soft cotton lawn, but I found a lovely Polyester Lycra fabric, it seemed light enough and had a lovely drape.
I found the sizing on the pattern a bit urrhhhh, there's around a 20 inch difference between the waist and the hips? so I went with the waist size and thought I'd grade down the side seams if it was too huge.
At 5ft 10 tall I decided to lengthen the pattern too, as I wasn't too sure if it would sit on the waist or just below, cant stand it when trousers just come to the ankles then ride up when you move; me nan used to say "you'll need a bit O' jam on the bottom of those"! never understood it when I was little but totally get it now.
The front yolks and main seams of the skirt went together really easy. I realised early on that the extra length was not needed, as the stretch and weight of the material meant that it could probably fit one of the Harlem Globe Trotters! A friend came round when it was hanging for the bias to drop, she is slightly vertically challenged at 5ft 1, and laughed that if I put a draw string in the top it would fit her as a body bag!  
The Zip shall we say, was one of those times when it didn't go in first time! ( fifth! ggrrrrhhh) that was me though nothing to do with the pattern.  I bought some waist band interfacing just because I'd never used it before and fancied trying it.This made the band a little narrower by about 1/2 inch but works really well.  
Overall verdict - I TOTALLY LOVE this skirt and yes WILL be making again - already have a piece ready for the next one 
Next Gabriola 
       This skirt is stunning, the swoosh of it makes you feel really feminine and special.  

Worn this twice so far this week; the first time was to a network meeting. There was about 20 of us; 19 bods  in black& white combinations and one (me) in red & aqua green! And you know what...  I didn't care that I stood out, every one commented on how fab me & me skirt looked and how fun it was.
The second time was a trip to London- had to stand all the way- Don't get me started on trains and no seats OOOOOOOHH. with my head phone in I found myself swooshing & swaying to the music. My taxi driver commented on what a lift to spring I looked (Yep, that got him a tip!)  
Can see how the yolk would work in a contrast fabric 

 Went with a button fastener as there was one in the pot just the right colour, but bar an hook is also suggested.
Love the shape of this button (don't look to closely at the skew stitching on band!)
I so would highly recommend this pattern. It is such as essential item in your wardrobe and so easy to dress up or down. see the link on inspiration at the beginning.

Thanks for reading. Oh PS if you like it and thinks it worth a vote in the Stitch 56 challenge please feel free to vote for me here  :))) Voting closes 4th April 2014
Amanda XX

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Look out the Liebster Award's about

Awakening to a wet, dreary, dismal March morning, there's that shudder of realisation of another Birthday (boy do they come round quick- birthdays and mornings!) Afraid to say, the time of heightened excitement and thoughts of "oh, what a joyous occasion" have passed; (actually I can't ever remember feeling that way, or is it really is just too far back to remember?) Anyhow, sitting-up in bed, cuppa in one hand, fighting off demented dog with the other and fidgeting kids either side. There is though, a tiny tingle of raised hope...the thoughts of receiving, a much hinted about, well blatant product naming and even actual placement of said object into the shopping basket of  a well known internet haven-I'm talking, dreaming and desperate to own a pair of sprung loaded Gingher scissors... OHHH the anticipation .....OHHH ripping off paper on said parcel(s) ... Ohehhhrrr nope-"POP" burst bubble time- (I suppose there's always mothers-day!)
Trying not to show too much disappointment, I take residency at the computer to check diary, mail and social networks etc. Wahhhh the day has just been set right back on track. A blooming astonishing accolade nomination from a fellow stitcher and brilliantly whimsical blogger T from UandMii

Being new to this world of sewing and blogging, I'd not come across one of these before and set to task to find out a little more- although T had clearly stated what it was all about and what was required. Basically, this version of the Liebster Award requires the nominee to answer 5 Q. share 5 facts and nominate 5 other (new) blogs. This world of sewing never ceases to amaze me, such a supportive and encouraging community in every way. I thank-you.
So hear are my answers set by T.

1. What's your favourite fabric to sew?
mmmm.. I suppose for shear ease of handling, quickness and amazing print availability I would have to go with Cotton. I'm not too hot on naming textiles so this gap in my knowledge is top on my bucket list to educate ones-self in this area at some point.     
2. Do you have a stash and, if so, how big is it? (The fabric police are watching!)
OOO this ones so unfair; of course I have -I'm sure its resemblance is more of a pimple compared to others who's descriptions sound mountainous. Only last weekend I return from a mooch out, with dare I say, 15 pieces of cloth!!!...the lady at my regular haunt asked "do you actually make everything up that you buy?" ... What! well I sure as hell trying too and
this is all I'm admitting too in my stash!

 3. What advice would you give to new sewers?
Go for it, there is nothing to loose & everything to gain; even if its not wearable you will have learnt an experience!
4. What is the favourite tool or gadget in your sewing arsenal?
This ones easy peasy - has to be my new find Infilare - aka- an automatic needle threaded whoooooooo. After experiencing a Specsaver moment of spending 10 mins trying to thread a needle - only to find out it was a dress pin that the head fell off!!!!  no flies on me now, ay!!

5. If you could sew an outfit for anyone (alive or dead) who would it be and what would you make them?
My god this has taken some real head scratching, there are SOOO many - after much deliberation, I thought it would be more "fitting" to dress someone who has always been on the other end of dressing others.
The best mantra ever:
               "A dress should be tight enough to show you're a woman 
                    and loose enough to prove you're a lady" 
                   Don't you just love it; any ideas yet?

not sure if this counts, but I'm going with it  EDNA MODE - eccentric fashion designer for the incredible's. I would make her a super designer outfit, flame resistant, stretchable, yet breathable and no cape.

My 5 random facts 
  • I have a 32 1/2 inch inside leg! 
  • Gave birth to my 2nd child within 35 the bath, at home... hubby as midwife! 
  • I've ran 3 X 1/2 marathons (not all together) 
  • Once gave up the opportunity of working on a cruise liner... for a bloke! Durrrrh!
  • I've had meningitis twice - how short has my straw been!

I nominate
  1. Sharon Elle- The Sewing Diet   I can assimilate at the other end of the height gene pool 
  2. Annie Case Hanks  - The EntantiomerProject  she has created a number of items in my to do stash so can pick up lots of tips here
  3. Karen Rigg- Willowwears  not so much as a new blog but Karen has given me lots of support since my crusade began so has to be thanked
  4. Dawn-The Winter Queen I found this lady on  and she has really made some awesome stuff. 
  5. Kelly Moss - Love, Eliza Brown started her blog around the same time as me-and Kelly "I still haven't fathomed out all the techno stuff for blogin and linking to Google either" 

My questions are 
  1. What made you start to blog?
  2. What is your proudest sew & why?
  3. Have/would you, considered a career involving sewing, if so, in what capacity? 
  4. What would be the ultimate sewing challenge/make you dream of completing, Why? 
  5. What's the biggest faux par you've had with a sewing item? 

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Christmas Santa Dash

As if Christmas isn't busy enough without trying to sew yourself a wardrobe...especially the week before you fly out to Canada for 2 weeks as well! - Oh yes,  that's exactly what I did! The intention was to literally "pop" in to my regular fabric haunt Barry's, pick up some additional fabric for an Irish dance dress I was working on at the time here   

Well you know how it goes, once inside one of these places, its like a kid inside Willy Wonka's factory; very little restraint. 
I had been conjuring up the idea of a simple pinafore(y) type of dress and this fabulous denim seemed perfect for the occasion, a good amount of stretch with great stitch detailing. I picked out the wine colour stitching and went with this for the lining and top stitching.

Using Burda 3477 and view A                  
I managed to complete this project in two evenings working (one of the only positives)although one went well into the ungodly hour of what would be considered reasonable. 
How does the saying go - " Act in haste.... although overall it is wearable; my repent at leisure is that its rather short, even with 2inches of lengthening (could have been a next week washing job!!) - just about get away with it when wearing 80+ denier tights! Took in the seams in under the bust for a more fitted - well "fitted look" and the same through the back - cut the lining the same, not thinking about the fact that the denim had stretch and the lining- not! Consequently the seams of the lining are now straining somewhat. No surprise there then uh!
Reflecting on this sew-I would love to make again in the same fabric as I love the design, for obvious reasons I would go for the longer view (and still lengthen) and definitely not make it sooo fitted.  
Next up that week, was another rendition of the sew-serendipity skirt . This time I went for the bottom border version in some faux suede from the ever growing stash -"Oh yes", that would be the faux suede intended  for the corduroy square skirt - as least some of the stash has been used. When I tried to describe this material to friends "brown, with yellow pears, blue strawberries and grapes"  you can imagine the blank responses.
As I adore appliqué, it was the perfect opportunity to add some on the boarder depicting a you do!

For some mysterious reason the skirt fit beautifully at, oooh 2 am, when completing the fitting; by 8 am the following morning- well same morning but had had a couple of hours sleep, so technically next was quite baggy - answers on a post card please. The pictures aren't great and show up all the wrinkles from sitting in the office (may have been a sneaky-snooze at some point shhhh) 
I do giggle about this skirt; In my wisdom (errr not much of that this week) I thought of lining it with a cream brushed-cotton; "would be dead snuggley and warm for the Canadian winter" I said to myself. hmmmmm to a degree- the fact it sticks to your tights and makes you look as though you've been put through the wash with a box of tissues - not my finest hour!!   

Last up was this jacket/cardi effort- at this point, still a novice with stretch fabrics (not that I'm anywhere near an expert now) think I just wanted to test my self ( what-ever)  again with a knit. Using Burda pattern 7184 it was whizzed  up in an evening! whooo get me. Not much can be said about this as it pretty basic (which is good don't get me wrong)  but ...yeah just there.
Put this down to one of those trolley dash shopping moment-not too sure what I was thinking, not really my style and as a result hardly ever worn - sure we all have high Street purchases hanging in our wardrobes exactly the same. 
Not that I made these the week before Christmas - apart from finishing off at least one pair! - As it was 20 + yrs since me and my sister had been together at Christmas- there was great excitement around the whole event - one tradition we have as a family is Christmas Eve pyjamas, you just have to do it, it so adds to the excitement, waiting to see what you will be wearing when the big man visits!!. So this year was to be no different, we wanted some kind of theme, so rather than bulk buying M&S up I was tasked with making eight pair of PJ's - It had to be brushed cotton flannel and sourcing Christmas fabric in the Summer not that easy- the UK I have to say was rubbish nothing remotely silly, fun or inspiring.  The one place I kept going back to was the Fat Quarter Shop  what amazing fabric-pricing the amount of fabric meant  a little rethink was needed so stuck to doing PJ bottoms and teamed up with white cotton t-shirts, with a great excuse to put by embroidery beast to work. A slight word of advice/warning when ordering oversees, yes postage is pricey but £48 import tax was not something I bargained on !! When it arrived ( 4 days later!! whooo fast) it was worth every penny, never did I imagine such quality and package so beautifully.
How Cute are these. 

Converting yards to meters was roughly done and to my horror I was 4 inches, yes 4 inches short!!!!!AAAARRRR; don't panic Mr. Mannering moment.... Put a cuff on the bottom - with satin piping ooooooo nice; that was close. It actually worked out as a blessing in disguise- we are all pretty tall so getting bottoms that aren't ankle swingers is rare -especially my niece who has just topped 6ft - so these were bliss, PJ bottoms that drag on the floor Yeah!  

Everybody had an embroidered design on the front of their t-shirt to try a capture something about the individual- 



This was me turning my hand to knitting- the thought of not crafting for 2 weeks over the Christmas hols was unthinkable- the other reason was I needed to keep my hands busy and not have a glass or btl of wine in them permanently  ( we are renound for going through a couple of btls when we get together)  

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

A Cool Classy Cowl

A touch of back to the future with this one. The latest completed dress (started Nov 13 finished Monday this week - 10-03-14)  is the Vogue 8872. It mainly took so long for two reasons 1) the sleeves and not wanting to rush/mess up 2) it fitted beautifully prior to Christmas...however, excess indulgence at this time resulted in expansion of the butt! meaning that it pulled "slightly" and sitting could have prove damaging for the dress and equally my reputation!! Note - butt shrinkage didn't happen so resorted to letting out the frock out 1/4 inch!!!
The previous make had used in the full skirt version,  see Blue Spotty ... Think this is one of the first times I have used a pattern again, only because there are SOOO any fab patterns out there and have some sort of "Obsessive Compulsive Disorder" to try as many as humanly possible!
I totally loved the corset/midriff section on this and because I'd learnt from the pattern construction first time around, I was keen to put these points into fruition. The fabric was bought back in the summer last year when shopping for curtain fabric- the shop had a small dress-making section and well... it would of been rude not too + its where I found my first jersey fabric too. It was also a forgone conclusion @ £3.99 a mtr so X 3mtr/£9.00 later it was a great bargain - especially since I only needed just under 2mtr, leaving plenty for another make Yeah!
The cowl neck was self facing so the pattern piece looked pretty odd but once the instructions were read it draped so naturally. 
I was very particular too get all of the seam lines to meet and sit correctly -and trimmed each one to an 1/2 cm of it life ( might have been a bit too close, but time will tell!)  
although this was going to e a formal dress I still wanted to give it some distinctive details, hence the navy satin bias piping through the front of the mid-riff.

As this make was started back in Nov 13 the addition of sleeves seemed the 'natural' thing to do but in a contrast fabric. I envisaged chiffon type sleeves with elasticated cuffs. I have to admit that the final result were a second attempt, as the first were in a much finer chiffon but the finished result was eemm okay but a fraction too fitted; the intention was to have quite floaty, puffy sleeves. Not wanting to rush and spoil it, I placed.. yes placed to one side and waited until I could get more fabric to do them just how I had planned. 
One more metre of fabric purchased -- OH twaddle it was different to the original- hey ho not going  to get too hung up on this- I went with the sleeve pattern of V8857 - I made this up mid Jan 14 (an item yet to be shared..coming soon) 
To fit the sleeve opening and ensure a fuller effect the sleeve cap was split and spread. 
Split the sleeve cap for a fuller look 
Fate was kind to me- originally I though just a simple elasticated cuff, but with this pattern it had a self fabric cuff. think this gives a great finishing touch and adds a whole a bit more... elegance, finesse, yes?
Self edge cuff 
Couldn't find buttons to suit the cuff area so went with self covered - I find these really quite frustrating as they always seem to ping off or go skew just as your trying to secure the last bit of fabric inside the teeth- until a eureka moment... 505 temporary spray! how blummin simple, one shot and it holds the button steady while you secure the outer edge! "marvellous"
The hand sewn button loops were also an adapted version- I tend to use  a double piece of shearing elastic as the loop, giving a little stretch for when looping over the button ( can be fiddly fastening yyour own button on the wrist) I then chain stitch around the elastic using top stitch thread or embroidery yarn as it is a little thicker for coverage.        
Self Covered buttons - pretty cool ye!
Hand sewn button loop 

The inside was fully lined ( of course - my pet love) I do like a fully lined garment:)

Valerie with VPL! 

So now complete and worn for full verdict - really love the dress and pleased with outcome. It was so well worth not rushing the sleeves and adding the additional detailing- only disappointment was not getting the backside down to pre-Christmas size- working progress!