The Jardin Fleuri dress

If you’ve been keeping track, you’ll remember that I returned from my holiday with three new pieces of fabric, and I was determined to get them sewn up as soon as possible, as they are too pretty to not be wearing. This lovely jersey was top of the list.

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Ain’t she purty?

It was a panel, 1m long, and 150cm wide, and in my head it was always going to be a sleeveless sundress. It’s therefore a bit unfortunate that we’ve scarcely seen any sun since I got back from France!

I had had plenty of time to mull over my design ideas, and I’d decided to try a Shannon dress/shell top mash-up. I like the simplicity of the Shannon shape, and it fits well into a short length of jersey like this one. But my attempt to make it sleeveless, with the Hillbilly dress, was not a complete success. I thought the Shell top pattern could sort out the armhole/shoulder shaping more effectively.

I could have done it all by tracing the patterns together, but I was impatient and lazy, and marked the shell pattern straight onto the fabric. In fact I made the neckline a little lower, because this is supposed to be a sundress, right? I needed to blend the underarm a bit, but overall I think it’s turned out ok.

I used a Frixion iron-off pen

I knew I would need to have some binding for the neckline and armholes, but I wanted it to be hidden binding, rather than the on-view binding of a t-shirt, like the Shannons I’ve done so far. I carefully cut the selvedges of the jersey, where there was no printing, to create 2 metres of cream binding. It was about 1½cm wide, which was pretty much what I needed.

It was enough, but only just!

Because I wasn’t using a t-shirt band finish for the neck and armholes, I didn’t need to use the altered construction sequence, the way I had done with my other Shannons, so from here it was a simple case of sewing the shoulder and side seams, then attaching the bindings. I hand stitched them down.

Adding the binding

I did the tiniest hem I possibly could, and then waited for some sunshine for photography purposes.

Which came along this weekend – hooray! I went for a picnic with the ex gentleman friend, and got a bit of crocheting done (I’m up to 28 squares now). And I made him take some photos for me.

Picnic at Thundry Meadows

We also met these lovely creatures.

They were very friendly and gentle and quite fluffy

Getting up close & personal

What do I love about this dress? It’s so pretty!!!! And it’s making my tan look even stronger. Also, it’s been really low waste. I’ve got one long scrap that’s about 15cm wide, and I’m keeping this to use as a t-shirt neck band for a future refashioning project.

Would I do anything differently next time? Get a time machine, make this dress before my holidays and seriously mess with the space-time continuum.

Holiday projects round-up

I’m back from my holidays, and I thought I’d lump together all my remaining holiday projects in one post – both the finishing-off jobs and the long-running ones.

The watercolour floral top – finished

I went to the summer Sewmance festival in June and one of my purchases there was this gorgeous floral lawn from the Fabric Godmother.

I knew I wanted to make it into a shell top using my now tried and tested pattern from the Thrifty Stitcher, and that’s what I did. This cotton was a dream to sew.  I completed the top quickly (I really know what I’m doing with this pattern now!) apart from the hemming which I left as a holiday job. It took next to no time.

I really love this outfit!

And it works tucked in too

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The Banksy Hoody – finished

I had a black t-shirt with Banksy’s  Fallen Angel printed on it.  This t-shirt has been adapted to death, and I don’t wear it anymore, but i really didn’t want to lose the stencil.

So I put it on a hoody.

I cut out the printed bit and attached it with a load of cross stitches, because the diagonal stitching keeps a certain amount of stretch in the fabric, so it wouldn’t pull the sweatshirt fabric out of whack. You can’t really see the cross stitching here because it’s all in black, you’ll have to trust me!

I put it low down on the back, to be sure the hood wouldn’t obscure it.

My sister said I look like a Pink Lady! 

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Granny Squares Crocheted Blanket – started, very much not finished

I took a load of yarn with me, thinking I might  try knitting a jumper but i really don’t enjoy knitting –  it’s too slow for me! I felt the urge to start crocheting again though. Being in Bretignolles reminded me of my mum and my mamie (my French grandmother), and my aunts and great-aunts, because this is where we have all been holidaying since I was a baby, well since mum was a baby, and earlier! I’ve got family all around me here. Sitting in front of the house with my sister, crocheting, I realised I was doing exactly what my mum did 50 years ago, sitting with her sister, crocheting (and probably Mamie and her sisters 80 years ago). Mum made a massive red white and navy granny squares bedspread for here, and although I’m trying to avoid creating long-term projects that take up storage space in my little flat, I wanted to try and make one for myself.

I’ve done the maths and I need 285 squares. I’ve got 20 so far! I said this was a long-term project, didn’t I?! I’m also making sure I sew in all the ends as I’m going along, because I don’t want to get to the “end” of the crocheting, only to have to sew a million ends in. I want to be able to finish the last treble stitch and think “Done!”

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Beading a t-shirt – started 

Actually I started this project a few weeks ago, as a bit of train sewing, on the trip to Walthamstow, it must have been. I started with some biggish beads ganked from a Primark bracelet. I couldn’t find the rest of the bracelet beads to bring with me so I brought my pot of black seed beads.

As soon as I got started I knew it was going to take forever! I’m treating this as a long-term project too. I can do an inch or two here and there and it might be done by Christmas!

caviar beading

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And finally…

Fabric Shopping

I found Tissus du Renard in le Chateau d’Olonne, which is a big out of town store.

On the route de Talmont, just past Lidl, if I remember correctly

I was a bit amazed at the size of it – I’m used to tiny little fabric shops where everything is piled up to the rafters! This was spacious, airy, well-lit and well laid out. It also has a big furnishing fabric section and wools, embroidery and general craft supplies. Once I’d found my way around and sussed out how they’d organised it, I was able to have a good hunt for my sort of fabrics. I hit peak floral!

On the left, it’s a beautiful lightweight cotton lawn, destined to be another shell top. In the middle it’s a jersey floral panel (I think it’s my favourite out of these three, and I’m going to make it into a dress as soon as I get home). On the right, a soft viscose poppy print.

I admit this is a total fail on my No Buying More Fabric goal, but I’m trying to think of these as souvenirs rather than Stash. I’m pretty much determined to get two of them sewn up this week, at least.

 

A very long-standing toile sees the light of day

As I have previously mentioned, my ongoing attempts to declutter my flat have resulted in things reappearing that I’d totally forgotten about, or thought I had thrown away.

This toile was made back in 2013 for the Jif Lemon Dress. It’s a Simplicity Retro Jiffy Dress pattern, 1609.

It was always intended to be a wearable toile because I loved the teal sateen I was using. But I was in a rush to get started on the lemon dress and I put it to one side and got on with the “real” make, and then lost track of the toile.

Having re-discovered it and tried it on, I realised there was very little work required to finish it off. I’d already pinned the alterations that were needed, so all I had to do was sew them up and I would have a nice summer dress ready for my holiday.

So that’s what I did. I completed the seams that I’d marked up, and overlocked everything for neatness. I hadn’t done any facings, so I sewed on some contrast bias binding around the neckline and armholes, also at the hem, but I left the hand stitching of these as another holiday project. I knew it wouldn’t take me long.

Sewing in the sunshine!

And Bob was very much my uncle!

Selfie!

It’s always fun to recreate pattern envelope poses

Back when I first started this dress, I’d had ideas about embellishing it with appliqué flowers, and having now finished it, I debated with myself as to whether to titivate it in some way, maybe with some embroidery. But actually I like it how it is, and I don’t think it needs anything more right now.  It’s got secret purple inside, and that’s enough. Maybe one day I’ll revisit this decision, but I’m calling this UFO officially finished.

My Holiday Shannon Collection

I went a bit bonkers on the Simple Sew Shannon collection for my summer holiday wardrobe. It was just perfect for what I wanted, namely some quick and easy lightweight throw-on tops and dresses. It really was a no-brainer.

I was shopping my stash and since I seem to have developed a craving for more blue in my wardrobe this year, I wanted to use the remainder of the royal blue jersey I’d got from FC Fabric Studio (and used for this skirt). However before proceeding with the dress, I wanted to try it out with the t-shirt version first and hopefully have a wearable toile for the hols. The blue grey jersey I had bought at the same time as the royal blue had the same amount of stretch and it tied in perfectly with my holiday wardrobe plans so I went ahead with the that first.

I made the t-shirt using the largest size and trusted that the elastane in the Jersey would be sufficiently forgiving. And yippee – it was! I also lengthened it by about 5 inches or so.

I did change the order of construction so that I could insert the bands at the neckline and sleeves in the flat. My post on the Simple Sew Blog sets this out more fully. I really wanted to make sure the bands were sufficiently stretched so that they wouldn’t gape, and I feel I have more control over this when I’m inserting them flat. I left the hemming to be done on holiday and moved swiftly on to the dress.

Here’s the t-shirt in its holiday environment, once I’d herringboned the hem to keep it good and stretchy.

shannon tee 1

Goes brilliantly with the Paisley Leftovers skirt

And also the Grey Birds skirt

Having worked on the T-shirt as a toile, I knew exactly what I was doing and I was able to make the dress up quickly. I lowered the front neckline so that it would be more sun-dress-y, and used the same construction as I’d done for the top.

The main feature was the Lace border at the bottom. I’d had this lace in my stash for a while, having bought it at Tiger (because it was so cheap it was rude not to). I hadn’t had any ideas about how to use it until now. Once I put these two stash items together it really was a match made in Heaven. The colours popped like popcorn! I really love it! I’ll be wearing this dress for the rest of the summer (whether or not there’s any more actual summer in England!).

Here’s the dress, though you’ve seen it before…

This is my sister’s house

shannon lace 1

Whoops! This is the messy view!

 

I’m a firm believer in making the patterns that work for you, *really* work for you, so I made one more Shannon dress using this denim/lace patchwork print jersey from my costume-making stash. I originally bought this at Fabricland, a few years ago and I wasn’t sure about the elastane content but it seemed close enough to what I’d been working with, though its a bit thinner.

I altered the armscye to make it sleeveless and the neckline to be slightly more boaty, sewed it up and again left the hemming as a holiday sewing project.

Here’s the denim and lace Shannon dress, or as I’m now thinking of it, the Hillbilly Dress in its first incarnation.

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Not quite right

 

 

However, I wasn’t 100% happy with how I’d shaped the shoulder and the armscye, there was too much fabric in front of my armpit. I thought it needed re-cutting and re-banding, to bring the curve in more. I figured I’d do something about it when I got back home. But I wanted to be able to wear it in France – after all that was the whole point of this dress, its raison d’etre, if you will. So I needed a quick hand-sewable fix. I gathered the shoulder seams to narrow them, making sure I didn’t catch the neck or sleeve bands, and hey presto! Fixed!

hb2

 

I’ll be honest, I should perhaps have considered pattern placement more thoroughly. While it was laid out flat it seemed OK, but this jersey is very stretchy, so this dress is not quite as flattering as I could wish for, but I’m happy enough to to wear it for holidays. I won’t be wearing this one to work like the lace dress, though. 

I’ve got one more Shannon dress planned for when I get home*. Although technically not a holiday dress, it will be from fabric bought on holiday so it will still be part of the collection!

* Because I’m posting this on rather dodgy data roaming direct from my holidays. The time it’s taken to upload these photos, you wouldn’t believe!

Stashwatch – Summer Check-in

My stashwatching this year has been very feast-and-famine! Months of self-restraint followed by indulgence days. Let’s look at the goals:

1.  To catalogue my costume fabric stash and transfer suitable fabrics to my real life fabric stash.

Hasn’t happened yet. I’ve started, but there’s still a binbag-ful to go through!

2.  To use up 12 items from stash and to review this aim in the summer.

I’ve used up 12 items so far, and I’ve got another 3 works in progress, to be finished on my holidays, which should take it up to 15. So I feel I’m doing quite well this year. I’m updating this goal to: using up 21 items from stash by the end of this year.

3. To refashion 6 garments. 

Nothing so far. Must do better.

I started beading a t-shirt, and I’m hoping to get it finished on holiday. That’s a start.

4. To not buy any new fabric until I’ve used up at least 6 stash items.

I failed on this, but I did make sure that I caught up with myself within a couple of days, by way of compensation. So although it was a technical fail, it was a moral win.

Having caught up, and sewn three more stash pieces up, I felt I could happily go on a fabric buying trip to Walthamstow Market, at the end of May, which added 7 more bits of fabric to the pile. A declutter also added to the stash, because I came across bits and bobs of fabric that I’d forgotten all about. And when I get around to cataloguing the costume stash, that may also add to the pile. At the moment the stash is standing at around 26 items; I’d like to see it coming down to 20 or so.

So I’m updating this goal to: not buying any new fabric until the end of the year. I’ve got plenty of ideas for the material that I’ve got. I will allow myself fabric swaps (but trying to keep it stash-neutral), and I’ll accept gifts of fabric if offered (because it’s churlish to refuse), but I won’t buy any more, nor enter competitions, prize draws or giveaways, just in case I win them.:

5. To keep WIPs to no more than 3 throughout the year. If I feel like starting a fourth, I need to consider whether I should finish of any of the other three first, or let one of them go.

So far, so good. I sewed up two of my start of year WIPs, and was ahead of myself for a while, but in readiness for holiday sewing, I’m building up a set of things that just need a bit of hand-sewing to finish, so I’m currently at 4 WIPs, and hoping to make it a couple more by Thursday morning! But by the end of the hols, I should be back to only one WIP.

It’s been interesting to reflect on my year’s progress so far, and although it doesn’t feel like I’m bringing my stash levels down, I realise I’ve been quite productive and done quite a lot towards using the fabrics I’ve got in the way I originally intended, or sometimes, changing my ideas around and making something different that I hadn’t expected.

Creating a holiday wardrobe

I’m off to France for 2½ weeks next Thursday – I can’t wait! I’m trying to plan for two things, firstly I want to take a capsule-ish wardrobe, and secondly I want to take some sewing/knitting to be done there.

The holiday wardrobe doesn’t need to cover formal events, it’s going to be seaside and family visits. I’ll have access to a washing machine, so I can happily repeat wears. I’m a shocker for over-packing, so I’m trying to limit myself to 4 skirts, 5 tops and 3 dresses. I’m going for a blue based colour scheme, because this year I seem to be drawn to blues. However, in order to take the garments that I want to take, I do need to get down and make some of them. That’s ok, I’ve got a week, right? And any hand finishing can be a holiday craft project.

What I want to take

Skirts: grey birds, royal blue jersey, paisley leftovers, black denim
Tops: white dot shell top, watercolour floral shell top, mournful leopard, blue-grey t-shirt, black lace top
Dresses: Teal dress, royal blue & mint lace t-shirt dress, denim/lace jersey dress

Making stuff to take

I started last night with a royal blue jersey pull on skirt. I was using the lovely soft viscose jersey I got from FC Fabric Studio back in April.  This is another of my self-drafted numbers, mostly done on the overlocker, nothing special about it. I took trouble to make the elastic waistband nice and I used the mock-bank hem finish with my overlocker. And it’s got a lovely little “Handmade” charm inside the waistband to show me which is front & which is back.

A straightforward tube skirt

I’ll be honest, this project took considerably longer than it needed to, because the overlocker took a bit of umbrage about something, I don’t know what, and decided to break threads for no readily discernible reason. This meant proper re-threading from scratch. Which is fine, I totally know how to do that now, but it was a bit of a faff. And then it decided to break a needle. This was rather more of a learning experience. I had a spare, so no problems there, but this was a new thing to learn how to do, and for a while I got all fingers-and-thumbsy and couldn’t hold the needle *and* tighten the little screw both at the same time. But again it’s all fine, it got done, it was just time consuming. Incidentally, the broken needle pinged off quite a distance! I’m glad I wear glasses – if I didn’t I might be looking to invest in safety goggles!
I’ve got enough of this jersey left over, to make the dress I’ve got on the list.

While I was in the groove, I even got around to sewing a buttonhole and a button on the Grey Birds skirt waistband, last night, to replace the hook & bar that I first put in. This is something I’d been meaning to do for ages. So that’s another easy win. 

This means the skirts are all done! Hooray!

For the tops, I’ve got a lot to do if I’m going to take all the tops I want to take.

The Watercolour Floral top is under way. It’s nearly finished except for the hemming, which I will do by hand as a holiday project.

I’ve got a t-shirt to make, and I’m going to be using the Simple Sew Shannon Collection pattern for that. I’ve also got all the doings for a lace back top. I don’t have a pattern for this, although I think I’m going to use my shell top pattern as a starting point. I can’t use that exact technique, though, because of the lace element. It’s going to require a bit of thought and research. I’m quite excited to see how far I can take it!

And finally, the dresses… I need to make all of them! They will all be partially made, to be finished by hand while I’m away. The teal one is all ready with only sewing bias facings to be done on my hols. The other two will probably end up being self-drafted, on the fly!

I’ve also got to spend a bit of time this weekend on my next Simple Sew Blog Make, because I want it to be done before I go away. But I think I’ve got time for everything I’ve got planned, particularly as I’m leaving all the hand finishing as Holiday Sewing Projects. Which leads me to…

Holiday Sewing Projects

I know I’m lining up a fair bit of hand finishing for myself, but it will get done pretty quickly, I reckon, so I need more projects to work on. I’m going to take some knitting, but I suspect that will be the last thing I pick up, because sewing is much more my default crafting activity! Knitting is too slow.

I will take a couple of my plain t-shirts to embellish, for example there’s one that I started a while ago, that would handily fit well into my holiday capsule wardrobe, so it would make sense to take that one and get it finished.

I’ve also been researching a few haberdasheries, to do a bit of sewing sightseeing, especially for those days that aren’t so hot and sunshiny.

So that’s my plans for the next few weeks. Happy holidays!