Sunday, 16 July 2017

Flutter Sleeve Blouse from a Vintage Pattern

At the end of May I cut out three new projects ready to sew, which is unusual for me because I normally limit myself to one thing at a time. I completed the first one here but life gets busy. OFSTED turned up at work, and some of you will have an understanding of what this means for any free time that you might have planned. 

Anyway, I have been looking at blouses with gathered cuffs for some time and wanted to make one for myself. I had a vintage pattern with just the sleeve I was looking for and the fabric to make it in my stash. I just needed to bring them both together. I loved this fabric as soon as I saw it. It is covered in passion flowers and lilies. I bought 2 one-yard pieces from the remnant stall on Leicester market.


I haven't been disappointed. The blouse is so pretty and makes me feel very feminine. The sleeves are comfortable to wear. They are short enough for the ruffles not to get in the way when you have a busy lifestyle.

I used a vintage pattern that I have made before here and this time I chose view D.


I didn't have enough fabric for the ruffles round the neck and down the front but I also thought these would be impractical for everyday. 

The fabric was very challenging. It is slippery,  springy and frays like mad. I sewed everything together as far as making the ruffles quite quickly. I used french seams throughout which has made the inside very neat and dealt with the fraying issues. I found that everything needed to be tacked first. Pins just didn't keep the layers together in the right place. 

A french seam and the last few tacking stitches still in place
The sleeve ruffles are circular and lined. I took a long time over these because I needed to stop and think at every stage. All of the seams wanted to spring flat and didn't hold a crease well.

Edge stitching around the ruffle edge

After sewing the top layer to the lining I added an extra row of stitching near to the edge to keep the facing in place just like I had around the neck, and this really helped. I then pinned and tacked the two layers together about half way up and close to the sleeve seam before slashing the seam allowance and stitching the facing in place by hand. All this extra care has paid off because the ruffles do hang really nicely.

The underside of the ruffle showing facing
I have made this pattern before so I didn't think I needed a toille. I was wrong. If you look closely at the photos you will see that the bust darts are about 2 inches too high. I don't remember altering the darts on the blouse last time and they are a much better fit. I'm not sure that I can do anything about this now, but because I put so much work into the ruffles and I like the fabric so much that I am going to wear my blouse. My none sewing friends don't seem to notice. 

You can see how the blouse pulls across the front on this photo. 


Most of the time it looks fine...



The back fastening lies flat when I put my arm back down again.


We have passion flowers growing just outside our bedroom window at the moment spilling over the fence from next door. They really are amazing



Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Another Milestone, Another Giveaway


I have now been writing my blog since January and I am still going. I know that lots of you have been blogging for years but I really wasn't sure that I could keep it up. My life as a working Mum gets very busy and I had two worries. The first was that I was taking on a challenge that would take up too much time to be practical and the second was my lack of confidence. I worried that no-one would look at what I was writing and the whole point was to try to make contact with other people like me who love to sew.

This week I am very surprised to say that I have topped 3,000 hits! So a really big thank you to everyone who has had a look at this blog and reassured me that other people are as interested in reading about sewing as I am.

To celebrate this milestone I have two patterns to give away. They are both brand new and haven't been cut.

First is a copy of the Cynthia Rowley pattern that I have used to make my latest dress, Simplicity 1873.

Don't be put off by the pattern photograph like I was initially. This is a good standard dress pattern that I think is very versatile. There are loads of versions of this dress on other blogs and you can see mine here. The pattern is in sizes 6-14. It is designed for woven fabrics but I adapted mine for a fine jersey with 4 way stretch and it worked out well.

Second I have a spare copy of Butterick B5785, size 8-16
I haven't made this yet. It doesn't seem so popular with other bloggers but I do like the simple elegant lines and I will definitely try it at some point. The collar is really interesting. I imagine it made up in a linen fabric or something else quite crisp. If you are the successful winner perhaps you will make your version before I do and could pass on some advice or handy tips.

If you would like to be in with a chance to win these patterns just leave a comment at the bottom letting me know which of my posts is your favourite one so far. You can see a round up of all of the outfits I have made here.

I will be drawing the winner at midnight on Friday 14th July. I am happy to post worldwide to the lucky winner.

Monday, 3 July 2017

A Real Dress at last! Simplicity 1873

When I took part in Me Made May a month or so ago it gave me the opportunity to review my wardrobe and also to look at what other people were making. One thing I realised was that I had a nice collection of dresses but nothing with a waist and a full skirt. One reason for this, I think, is that I often make my clothes from remnants, so I can't always choose how much fabric I buy. I find myself drawn in by a nice pattern not worrying about how much there is to work with.  I have become an expert at squeezing a dress out of not-quite-enough material. I vowed this time to make myself a "proper dress" and looked out for a larger piece of fabric and the right pattern. I made a list of my requirements

1. I wanted a full skirt, perhaps even pleats
2. I planned to make the dress out of jersey so that it had a bit of stretch and would be nice and comfortable to wear.
3. I did not want any pleats or gathers around the neck. 

I was very tempted by the Moneta Dress in all of its versions made for the recent Moneta party. I even went to my local dressmaking shop to treat myself, but they had sold out!

I had this pattern in my stash already, but I had never liked it. I was affected by the photograph on the pattern envelope of a young girl in an ill-fitting party dress which was much too short for me.


But I was looking for a dress pattern so I had a second look and, learning from my experience with the wiggle skirt, I also searched the blogosphere to see whether any one else had made this dress before. 

Although the pattern photograph was discouraging the line drawings seemed to be just want I was looking for. 


A quick search of other people's blogs brought up more versions than any other pattern I have made before, which was very encouraging because there were lots of lovely dresses out there and several people used this pattern more than once, which is always a good recommendation. 


I found a 4 metre length of daisy print jersey with 4 way stretch that I liked. As usual it cost me £1 a metre. It is so soft on the inside and so summery with a really good drape. I also bought a small piece of navy blue jersey lining. This pattern isn't designed for a jersey fabric but I like to experiment and I thought that this fabric would look and feel great made up into a dress.  I decided to make view C but with the longer skirt length. 

Since the pattern wasn't designed for jersey I had to use my initiative and techniques that I had learnt for other jersey projects. I used stay tape to stabilise the armholes and  neck to prevent them from stretching out and this seemed to work well. I decided against overlocked the bodice seams because it is quite closely fitted so flat seams pressed open and were less bulky. I sewed the bodice pieces together with a narrow zigzag stitch then used an over-lock stitch for the skirt seams. The fabric doesn't fray so I didn't need to neaten the seams. 

The lining was stitched to the bodice around the neck and armholes and then pulled right side out through the shoulder seams. This is my preferred was of attaching lining because it gives such a neat finish and avoids fiddly bits of hand sewing. Jersey is always more bulky and doesn't press so sharply. With my choice of fabric I ended up with bulky seams that I trimmed with my pinking shears. I had never tried this before and found that it was a very good technique for trimming and snipping curved seams. What I also discovered was that my family had used my pinking shears for craft work and they were completely blunt. I will need to get a new pair!

In order to get a good finish around the neck and armholes I top-stitched near to the edge. 


The feature of this pattern that I really like is the pleated full skirt. By using pleats instead of gathers the fullness of the skirt lies nice and smooth around the waist. I didn't have any trouble lining up the pleats using the markings and instructions on the tissue paper pattern. 


I inserted an invisible zip down the centre back seam. The instructions tell you to trim the zipper tape level with the neck seam. I am a bit worried about this. I would usually fold the excess zipper tape in to the seam but in this dress there isn't room and it wouldn't lie flat, so I took  deep breath and cut it off. I will have to see whether the zip lasts or whether it unravels, it looks OK so far.  I like the way that the lining is machine stitched right sides together down the centre back along the zip stitching and then turned out. It gives such a neat finish. 


The inside of this dress looks as neat as the right side. The really soft jersey feels lovely against your skin and this dress is very comfortable because of the stretch. 



If I was asked to review this pattern I would say:

Pattern Description
Summer dress in two lengths with or without sleeves. I made view C in the longer length.

Pattern sizing
6-14
I made size 14

Does it look like the photographs on the pattern envelope?
No. Absolutely not, but that is a good thing as far as I am concerned. 

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes. And there were some really good techniques to learn.
- the pleated skirt
- a lined bodice with invisible zip

Did you like or dislike this pattern
I like this pattern in the view that I made. I am not sure whether I would make View A with the higher neckline.
I love the smooth lines of the pleated skirt. 
I like the high waist but have read other reviewers who say they lengthened the bodice. I think it feels very comfortable and gives more swing to the skirt, but it is down to personal preference. 

I don't like the instruction to cut off the top of the zipper tape and will think about how to fit the zip differently if I make this again.

Pattern alterations
I made my dress in a jersey fabric which is not one of the recommended fabrics. I needed experience using jersey to adapt some of the instructions but I figured that this pattern was not so different from lots of patterns made for stretch fabrics and it I should be OK. I was prepared to put in a waist stay but in the end I don't seem to need it. 

So now for a photograph of me posing in my new dress. 


If you have made this pattern let me know how you found it and if you have any tips to share. 

Happy sewing...