So that Not-Entirely Skater Dress…

My first post for the Simple Sew Blog went live a couple of days ago, which was a real thrill! I’m still quite giddy!

This is my version of the Simple Sew Skater Dress 

See? I didn’t get it quite the same

The post was mostly concerned with pattern grading. I wasn’t wholly successful with that, mostly because I didn’t give myself enough time to fine-tune the amendments to get to the sort of finish that I wanted, and still work to the deadline I’d been given.  My bad. But I’ve learned from this first experience of blogging for someone else, and I know now what sort of timing I need to allocate to future projects. Also I need to recruit a tame photographer. Until such time as I can, though, I’ve invested in a selfie stick and one of those bendy grippy tripods for future photographic use.

So the dress… I don’t feel like it’s a proper skater dress, as it’s not as close-fitting in the torso as it was originally designed to be, and it’s longer than most of the RTW skater dresses I’ve seen. That longer silhouette takes it from being a flirty little number to being more dressy and retro. I feel like I should be wearing white kid gloves as an accessory! I have Plans to make a couple of other versions of this dress, which may be more skaterish. Or maybe they’ll take on their own identity like this one.

The pattern itself is ridiculously easy to put together.

  1. Sew the darts first
  2. Attach the bodice pieces at the shoulders
  3. Put the neckline facings (duly interfaced) together and attach to the bodice neckline
  4. Insert the sleeves in the flat
  5. Attach the skirt pieces to the bodice
  6. Sew lovely long side seams from the sleeve cuffs down to the skirt hems.
  7. Sew the back seam and insert an invisible zip (or a visible one, if you prefer, I guess, I’m not the zip police)
  8. Hem the sleeves and skirt
  9. Job’s a good ‘un.
  10. No really, that’s it.

So if you are a more standard size, than I am, and don’t need to faff around with pattern grading, this would be a super-quick make.

The fabric, I totally fell in love with. It’s a stretch sateen, in a fabulously vivid green floral (and I think we all know where I stand on big floral prints). The photographs really don’t do the gloriousness of it full justice. It’s from White Tree fabrics, and it was given to me specifically for the Simple Sew Blog, but I really want to make more frocks with the alternative colourways, it’s such a delightful fabric. It’s easy to sew with. It’s comfortable to wear, because of the stretch. It’s a cute print. What’s not to love?

I’ll confess, I was slightly disappointed with this dress initially, but that was because I had an idea in my head which it didn’t quite match up to. Ideas in the head are always a dangerous thing! As the original head idea gradually fades and I have the reality before me, I’m getting to love it a whole lot more. Some of the fixes I had to do quickly have turned into really nice design features – I’m thinking of the waist darts, which I had to extend into the skirt when the whole thing was too baggy. I think they look pretty good now.


Look at me, all matchy matchy!

So I’m going to remind myself, the next time I make something that I’m not immediately taken by, that sometimes I need some time to let go of the head idea and embrace the reality.

I still need to get used to the more open back!


A little bit draughty!

An Addition to the Undies Drawer 

My car passed its MoT earlier this month, so the money I’d set aside for essential car repairs became spendable on other, more fun things. I decided to treat myself to Sew It With Love’s Pretty Knickers intro to lingerie workshop. Because who wouldn’t love to make pretty knickers?

The teacher was Rehana, who was fun to work with. We needed to amend the basic pants pattern for my mahoosive butt, which took up a chunk of time. But it means I now have a pants pattern I’m happy to use.

We learned how to insert the gusset (tee-hee! the word “gusset” is never going to be not funny), use a zigzag stitch to neaten the side seams, and the most fun part, adding the picot elastic. We didn’t quite have enough time for me to finish my knickers. I’d still got one leg-hole to do. I drove home thinking I’d have to finish it at the weekend, when I’d have time to get the right coloured thread.

But once I was home, I realised I was too impatient and instead of trying to find some cream/ivory thread, I decided I was OK with using white, if it meant I could finish these knickers.

My newest pair of knickers!

I love them! I’m dying to make more!

Whenever I take a sewing workshop I find I learn extra bonus things, this time it was cutting techniques, especially using my Patternmaster to make sure my bias is true.
We talked about what sort of fabric to use for this pattern. It’s essentially for lightweight wovens. If I want to try with jersey/knits, I think I’d have to cut up a pair of my most comfortable pants to make a pattern for it. But I believe I have the skills to manage that now.

Thanks to Elena of Sew It With Love, and to Rehana, for enabling me to fulfil one of my sewing wishes!

Salvaging the jersey dress and a teaser

So you’ll recall I did a workshop a few weeks ago, and made a dress that really didn’t work. I thought I could at least make a skirt out of the bottom bit of it. But I left it a while, so I could be a bit less emotional when I next approached it.

Today, I decided to pile all the UFOs together, to make sure I knew where they all are, and to try and work on some of them. I decided the dress that didn’t work had spent enough time in the Naughty Corner and had probably thought long and hard about how much it had let itself down, and was ready to try and make amends. So I pulled it out of the pile, to unpick the waist seam and start making that skirt. I hadn’t realised quite how squashy this double jersey was. Man, those stitches had really sunk into the fabric!

Having separated the top and bottom of the dress, I was all set to put an elasticated waistband onto the skirt part, but then I looked at the bodice that I had thought would be going into the scraps bag. I wondered, could it work as a top by itself? During the making process the bodice had seemed to go well, it was only when I joined it to the skirt that it all went horribly wrong.

So what do you think?

Wrap fix up 1.jpg

Too short! I know!

It’s a bit too short to leave the lower edge as is and just hem it. I need to add some length. I’ve got two long wrap ties that I’d be happy to sacrifice, but not much other spare fabric in long pieces. Unless I also sacrifice the skirt, or make it maybe 10cm shorter, which I think I could do and still be within the bounds of decency. But I’m not sure of the best technique for adding that extra length: some kind of band I guess?

What do you think? All suggestions gratefully received!

And finally, here’s a teaser for my first ever Simple Sew Blog make. I’m not sure when my post will go live, and I don’t want to spoil it, so this is as much as I’ll show for now.

Sewing with Knits

Yesterday, while all my sewing friends were at the Sewing Weekender (at least, that’s how it seemed!), I was having my own sewing weekend.

I signed up on Thursday night for the Thrifty Stitcher’s workshop on Sewing with Knits this Saturday. It was an impulse purchase, based mainly on the fact that I had 3m of dark pink double jersey in my stash. The universe conspired to encourage me in this, and I generally tend to go along with what the universe tells me. And let me tell you, the universe wasn’t wrong on this one. I learned SO much.

The teacher was Layla Totah, and I would heartily recommend her classes. She knows so much and was a really giving and generous teacher.

We learned about how grainlines work with stretch fabrics, how massively varied stretch fabrics are, how temperamental they can be with different needles (just because it says it’s a jersey needle, doesn’t mean your jersey with accept it!).

I learned about some excellent gizmos: we were using chalk wheels for marking fabric so I’m definitely getting myself one of those babies. My neighbour on the sewing machines was having difficulty keeping her seam allowances even, and Layla offered her a magnetic seam allowance thingummajig, which also looks like a useful thing.

We learned how to add a neckline binding, and why it’s essential to get the amount of stretch right. We learned how to use a twin needle (and I LOVE it!).

I did a banging neckline binding, both on my practice piece and on my garment.

Here's my practice piece

Here’s my practice piece


And here’s my neckline binding in action on my working project

About that finished garment… We were working with a New Look pattern, 6301, which is a pretty cool pattern, a fake wrap dress- all the benefit of cleavage enhancement, with none of the risk of accidental leg or undies flashing.

NL 6301 wrap dress pattern - I like it a lot

NL 6301 wrap dress pattern – I like it a lot

Layla had graded it for me, beforehand (which meant she was working on it on the Friday night, bless her heart), but there wasn’t any time to do proper toiling and fitting, so it was a case of seeing how it went. And it was all going fine, apparently, until it came to adding the skirt to the bodice. I don’t know how, because it just doesn’t make any sense, I cut the patterns correctly, but somehow my skirt pieces seemed to be way bigger than the bodice pieces, I had to take them in by an inch or so on each side. And then as if that had triggered my project to start playing me up, when I tried it on, the wrap element which had behaved perfectly fine before I added the skirt was pulling the side seams forwards badly, it just wasn’t stretching enough. My personal theory is that it’s a bit like when you try to pull one elastic, it’s good & stretchy, but if you pull ten elastics together, it’s much more difficult. I think the combination of several layers of jersey which wasn’t massively stretchy in the first place, made it stretch even less. It seemed evident to me that my back pieces need to be narrower and my front pieces wider. The pulling was making holes in the fabric at the seams, and while everyone was saying it was ok and wearable, I knew fine well it wasn’t.

I was disappointed, I won’t deny it. The other ladies in the class all had lovely wearable dresses that they were going home with. I kept assuring Layla, who felt dreadful that I wasn’t happy, that it was ok, I’ve learned the skills, I can treat this as a toile, and make the dress again, with changes, so that it works. But it stung!

I think I can salvage a skirt out of it, and practise my new twin needle stitching skills when I hem it. It’s going onto the To Be Fixed pile for now, and we all know by now, that it’ll be a fair while before I get around to fixing it. But it *will* get fixed, I am determined.

A bit of news

The more observant, ummm, observer may have noticed there’s something new on this blogsite, a new widget or two over there to the right.

I’m only one of the new intake of Simple Sew Bloggers!!!
Simple Sew patterns

I’m beyond thrilled to have been invited, and I have to confess,  a bit nervous. There are some seriously awesome people in this network, whose work I admire enormously and I know I’m going to have to up my game to feel worthy!

I hope there won’t be any doubt as to the honesty of my opinions. For the record, I will be receiving patterns from Simple Sew and fabric from White Tree Fabrics in order to make garments for the blog. (I say “will be”, I already have). The main post on those makes will be on the Simple Sew Blog site, rather than here.  I’m due to add my first blog post in mid September, so I’ve got a little while before you’ll see me there. The hardest thing is going to be keeping my makes under wraps until they are up on the blog. Actually, scratch that – the hardest thing is going to be working to an actual deadline!

And finally… a bit of holiday knitting

Once I was finished with the Holiday Sewing, I had my final project to deal with. A couple of years ago, I started on a Hetty cardigan, which I got almost all the way through knitting (and I knit *really* slowly), before realising that it didn’t work for me and my figure, and I don’t have the knitting skills to grade on the fly. It just didn’t look right. So this summer, I bit the bullet and ripped the whole thing back. The. Whole. Thing. I was gutted.

But I had another pattern to work with, for a straightforward raglan cardigan, one which I have already used, so I knew it reasonably well, and would feel more confident adapting to my own particular shape. And I really love the colour of this yarn, so I’m glad it’s going to be becoming a better thing.

And I was doing some hard-core adapting! The pattern is drafted for a pair of needles, and I’d only brought a circular needle (because that’s what the Hetty had been knitted on), so I was pulling together all the body pieces, to knit them as one piece, from the bottom up, and then I had to work out how I was going to add the sleeves, which again, I was knitting in the round rather than flat. That took me a while to figure out, but I got there. I was also knitting a smaller size than I’d used before, because my last one of these cardigans was very slouchy and loose, and I wanted something a bit more close fitting. I had to do a lot of maths to get it to all work out.

A little over half way

A little over half way

I decided to take out the little bit of raglan lace patterning that is in the original pattern, because I didn’t see the point, I like a nice clear raglan decrease. But I added some patterning in the body and sleeves to make sure it wasn’t all plain.

I generally get very bored with knitting because it’s so slow, but I can quite a lot done on holiday. The challenge is to keep going once I’m back from my hols. I managed to get about 4/5 of the body & sleeves done while I was away, including while I was waiting at Calais to be let into the check-in queue at the Eurotunnel.

Car knitting

Car knitting

I’ve now finished the body, and I need to get the collar and buttonbands done. I’ve got some lovely buttons lined up for this, so I’m posting this very much as a driver towards me actually finishing this cardigan.

Wish me luck!