Thursday 31 October 2013

Autumn Make No3: McCalls Shirt Dress Version D

I thought, I better would hurry on to get this shirt dress done before the weather is getting any colder and I will not be able to wear it anymore. But, there was no need to worry, because the dress is super cosy and warm! The dress is make No3 from my autumn sewing list.

The pattern I used was McCalls M6167 and I made version D, which is actually more like a jumper. The shirt is only buttoned down to the waist and then you just attach a gathered peplum. The only area you really have to fit is the bust and I cut out a size 8 according to my high bust measurement. I then graded up the waist and hips to size 12. But actually there was no real need for this as there is plenty of fabric and I would have fit into a size 8 for waist and hips as well.

I then tissue fitted the upper bodice only. Surprisingly, my bust and the height of the bust darts were spot on - there is always a first time. So, I only had to move the back shoulder seam forward to accommodate my sloping shoulders. Then lengthened the waist by 1", dropped the neckline by 5/8" and shortened the top of the shoulders by just cutting off some tissue at my shoulder point.

Construction: As always, the collar gives me troubles when figuring out which piece has to do up - the interfaced or un-interfaced one? I know now, it has to be the interfaced one. Having settled this, I tried my luck with the cuffs. The cuffs were a first for me and I had some problems sewing the sleeve plackets. They are not as neat as they should be, but for my first attempt I am super happy about their look. The rest of the shirt dress came easily together.

Embellishments: I used red top stitching thread at the waist casing and hem to match my red buttons. These are finally my last heart buttons and because I didn't had enough I used flower buttons for rolling up the sleeve and a clear button at the collar - you will never see this one anyway :)
hand stitching
It took me about three days to make this dress. I started to cut out the fabric on a Friday night, which took my about 5 hours with having to do all the matching of the plaids. Luckily, just a day before, Lauren from Lladybird posted a tutorial about how to match plaids. Perfect timing! Then I spend half of Saturday and all Sunday on stitching the dress together. I have never done so much hand stitching before! The collar facing and the cuffs had to be slip stitched, which took me at least two hours. I am not the fastest one... But, I am so happy with the neat and professional finish that the hand stitching adds.

I have worn the dress already twice once for work and once to go fabric shopping at Goldhawk Road. I know I haven't completed my autumn sewing list yet, but I really needed some woolly fabric for my Colette Beignet Skirt. I bought the pattern already 3 month ago, but had not been able to find a nice fabric.

Although I didn't like the tedious hand stitching at all, I will make the shirt dress again! I bought the fabric already (I didn't know you have to hand stitch that much) as you might remember from my autumn sewing list and I am going to make the plaited version this time! So, keep tuned for another shirt dress coming soon :)

french seams

Saturday 26 October 2013

Autumn Make No2: Self-drafted Jersey Dress

Finally I have found time to write about my latest make from my autumn sewing list: my self-drafted Jersey Dress made following the day date dress tutorial from Elle at elleapparel.

The tutorial was super easy to follow and I had to improvise at a few steps only. Here you can see the T-shirt I used as a template for my dress - do you spot the differences? ;) As Elle, I wanted to add a Pater Pan collar to my dress, because this was what actually tempted me to make the dress. But the problem was, that I don't have a jersey shirt with Pater Pan collar that I could use. So, I just used the collar that I had drafted for my Colette Hawthorn instead. It took me a bit of fiddling and cutting of a bit of extra fabric, but it fit, yeah!

The template...
...the new dress.
I basted collar and sleeves to the dress before I used my overlocker to sew the dress together. Did I say that I love her? Sewing itself was a breeze, up to the point where I had to sew in an elastic at the waistband - my first time ever! The first time I didn't stretch it, because it didn't look as Elle had done it. But the result was that the waist seam was sitting below my hips now! The jersey stretched like crazy, buh. So, I took the elastic out again, did some research on the web and found this really helpful tutorial from Tasia over a Sewaholic about how to insert elastic into a slip. This time a cut the elastic according to my waist measurement - even a bit shorter - and stretched it when stitching it in. Et voila, much much better. The fabric still stretches, but I think I can live with that.

I especially like the look of the dress and collar when I wear a white woolly jumper on top. I wanted to take a pic with the jumper, but it was in the washing machine at the time. So you just have to believe me :) I have worn the dress when I went to Germany because I figured I wanted to wear something comfy and stretchy when traveling all day. So, if you want to try to sew your own dress without having a proper pattern, I can only highly recommend this tutorial by Elle.

My topstitching is slowly getting better.
 I still have a bit of fabric left, so I might just be able to squeeze a mini jersey skirt out of it. Because when sewing the dress, I thought how lovely the fabric would be for a skirt!
How about you? Now that days are getting longer and it is getting dark so early - tomorrow even one hour earlier, buh - do you feel the urge to sit inside with a hot cuppa and get some sewing done? I would love to hear about your finished or ongoing projects :) 

Have a lovely weekend... 


Monday 21 October 2013

Knitting in progress: Miette

In case you were wondering: Yes, I am still knitting!

Not all stitches are even :( tension problems!
I am knitting Andy Sutterlands Miette cardigan, which as most of you know is a free pattern! I couldn't ask for more! Actually, lovely Thea from theasadventuresinsewingland is knitting the Miette as well and we had already a get together to knit. Imagine this: Knitting, tea and cookies and exciting chatter - just perfect :) Also, it is good to have a more experienced knitter close by when knitting such a big project for the first time.

Lace pattern
For everybody who is interested I can only highly recommend to follow the Miette knit-along by Gail from todays agenda. Gail gives loads of tips especially for beginners and also has some videos to explain the more difficult parts like taking up stitches for the sleeves or knitting the button band. Really helpful!

The wool I am using is Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran in off-white. I was lucky enough to get the wool from ebay where one ball was only 3.50£ instead of 5.50£. Win. Is it normal that wool is so expensive? Or do I for some reason always buy the most expensive one? My local retailer mainly sells Debbie Bliss and he was the one who recommended the wool to me (and than I bought it cheaper somewhere else, oh, I felt so bad).

I am knitting with smaller needles as recommended because the smallest size for the pattern is 34" bust and I am 31.5". And as you might notice, I still have tension problems although it is much better now after Thea showed my how to hold my needles properly. I also noticed, that when I am knitting one direction only (like on the sleeves in rounds) my knitting is much tighter and more regular. Also my purls are more loose than the knits and that is what I think causes my irregularities. But with practice I will hopefully get better :)

But because I am knitting more regular now than at the start (and my tension swatch) I am a bit worried that my cardigan will turn out too small over the bust. Also my sleeves are tight as well and that although I picked up a couple more stitches than the pattern stated. Hopefully with blocking, I will solve this problem.

My new knitting bag.
Up to now, I was progressing really fast and I had ample opportunity to knit on my way to and in Germany. I only say delays. Sitting in Heathrow and having to wait for 1.5 hours, than finally on the plane and having to wait for another 30 min until take off. Then 1.5 hours plane ride, another 1.5 hours train journey. At this point it was already midnight and I was two hours past my usual sleeping time so I was knitting to keep me awake in the train and luckily enough I didn't make to many mistakes.

Is the doe not cute?
Just before going to Germany, I decided I need a proper knitting bag where I can store my knitting in and can get it safely over to Germany without fearing for me knitting to slip from my needles. (I actually was quite worried they wouldn't let me into the plane with my knitting needles. I especially bought wooden ones and everything was fine.) Back to my knitting bag. I found this lovely tutorial by Shannon from luvinthemommyhood for a reversible knitting bag and coincidentally enough I had the right fabric in my stash! I bought the doe fabric in January, actually my first quilting cotton, but never found the right project to use it for. But it is perfect for my knitting bag. Every time I look at it, I think "How beautiful" :)

Hopefully, my Miette will be soon out of this bag :)
What about you? I know that several readers started there own knitting projects a while ago. How is it going? Are you already done?

Monday 14 October 2013

Red October: Meet my Poodle Dress

Poodle Dress - how cute is that? ;)
I know the fabric and pattern was not in my sewing list, but when I saw the fabric I just couldn't resist! It actually screamed at me "buy me". So I did :) I knew immediately that I wanted to use it for a dress with the Poodles being the skirt and a black or white fabric the bodice.

The only problem was, I didn't know which pattern I could use. I don't really have a nicely fitted bodice - I thought - because then I remembered that I actually fitted the bodice of Vogue V8766 in the Craftsy class "Sew the perfect fit" with Lynda Maynard. I never came around to fit the skirt, but I did fit the bodice. Win.

Vogue V8766 - I made the bodice of the blue dress.
I wanted to have a floaty skirt, one that was not cut on the bias because then the Poodles wouldn't be straight. The problem was all my skirt patterns are on the bias. But then I remembered the Picnic Blanket Skirt from Tilly and the Buttons. This was one of the first skirts that I made and I thought it would be perfect to go with the bodice!

I love this lace!

Luckily I had some black poplin and lining in my stash and so I could sew a lined bodice. I made a proper lining - the one where you pull the bodice through the shoulder to turn it right side out. I then finished the side seams with french seams (first time that I used this method) to get a neat finish.

More lace, cute tights and boots :)
Then I gathered the skirt to fit my bodice, sewed it on and went to bed. But then made the mistake to watch the free Craftsy class about how to insert a normal zipper, got excited and got up again to sew in that zipper, hem the dress and attach the lace until 2:30 am! I went happily to bed until the next morning.

Ugly zipper and as you can see fluff loves to stick to the bodice.
When I tried on the dress I realised that it was 2" to big at the waist! My boyfriend was still in bed and when I said "Hm, at least it will still fit me when I am pregnant some day", he told me to go and make breakfast, hihi. Not only is the dress to big, but also there are lots of puckers next to the zipper. That is because there are two layers of lining under the zipper and they were slipping like crazy despite basting and pinning.

Too big :(

Having a little chat with Charlie from thisblogisnotforyou, she convinced me to take out the zipper again and make the dress smaller at the waist. That's what I did. And surprisingly my date with the seam ripper didn't take that long :) I made the dress 1.5" smaller at the waist and now it fits nicely. This time when sewing in the zipper I just attached it to the poplin and later hand stitched the lining on. In case you wonder that I am not showing you any photos of the improved dress - the zipper still looks ugly - I have the feeling even worse.

And because the dress has loads of red and because it is October I decided to participate in Red October organised by the Sewcialists. Check out their Flickr group to see all the other makes that will pop up in October :)

Linked at

Thursday 10 October 2013

Revealed: Butterfly Birthday Quilt

Meet my butterfly quilt! It is so big, I couldn't hold it myself :)
When this post goes online, I am on my way to Germany to finally visit my family that I haven't seen since Christmas. And with me in my luggage I have the Birthday present for my mum: The Butterfly Quilt.

Quilt back with black binding.

I have been working on this quilt since March when my mum asked me to make a quilt for her newly refurbished living room. The refurbishments are done and I have seen pics of the room and also my mum told me which colors will be dominant. So, fingers crossed that the quilt will look nice on the couch :)

Quilt idea: I got the idea to make this quilt (which is almost a rip off) when seeing this beautiful Japanese quilt from Kumiko Fujita on the blog of Mrs Schenkman:

Butterfly Quilt by Kumiko Fujita (source).
I fell in love with the design immediately and I wanted to make it. But I couldn't make it for me because I am already having two and two more are in the make. So, I decided to make it for my mum :)

I found two tutorials on the internet about how to make these butterfly blocks: Mrs Schenkman Quilts and Red Pepper quilts. I went with the method shown by Red Pepper Quilts and made 200 Butterfly blocks in total! I made more than I need for the quilt (I used 180 in the quilt) because my mum was also asking for matching cushions :) The quilt measures 84" x 76" and is the biggest quilt I made so far!

I also quilted some flowers.

To assemble 10 single butterflies is took me about an hour, so you can imagine how much time and love went into making it. I also made 200 little circles using £2 and £1 coins. These I fused with fusible web to the quilt top and then stitched them on with a normal straight stitch.

Then I assembled my quilt sandwich and basted it with basting spray! I am not patient enough to pin the whole quilt and always use the 505 basting spray which holds my layers well together. And then I go ahead and pin the edges of the quilt only. The quilt was so big, I could just about lay it out in our dining room :)

I quilted three different designs on the butterfly blocks: Saw Blades, Zigzag and Stippling. I learned these designs in a Craftsy Class by Leah Day. Leah Day is an amazing free motion quilter and has loads of free designs available on her blog.

Free motion quilting designs.
Last week then, I finished off the quilt with the binding and it was the first time that I used hair clips instead of pins. And I have to say hair clips make the binding so much easier!

Then I stuffed the quilt into the washing machine. And then the big disaster happened. Some red and black colors were bleeding on my white background!!! That has never happened to me before and I washed three quilts already that contain elements of white and red :( I was so annoyed and disappointed when I took the quilt out and saw it. Luckily enough it is not everywhere. But there are a few areas where it is quite badly. I know the quilt will be lying in the living room and it is always a bit dark in there, so maybe it will not be that obvious. But, it is just that I worked so hard on it for almost 8 month and I wanted it to be perfect and now that happened.

I told my mum already and even without having seen the quilt she said it doesn't matter and nobody will notice. So sweet isn't she? So fingers crossed that she will like it :)

Monday 7 October 2013

Autumn Make No1: Colette Hawthorn

You would assume that after having put this pattern together twice (here and here) already, I shouldn't have any problems sewing this dress. WRONG! If it is easy, why not make it more complicated by adding a lining?

10 minutes of sun - photo time :)
To be fair, I had to add a lining because otherwise the eyelet would reveal too much of what I am wearing beneath. We don't want this, do we?

Lining the bodice was not the problem as I had done this before and I just had to attach a underlining and voila could treat the shell and lining fabric as one piece. But how do you add a lining to a full circle skirt when (a) you don't want a full circle skirt lining and (b) your skirt has a button stand?

It took me a while to figure out how to do this and I came up with a okayish idea I think. I cut out a big square from the lining. One side of the square had the same length as the skirts waistline allowing me to baste skirt and lining together at the waist. I then sewed the skirt to the bodice and for some reason the skirt was almost 1" two short. To fix this, I just made the waist darts of the bodice a bit bigger. Big mistake. Although I had some ease on the waist, the dress is now quite tight, buh.

However, I am just able to wear it BEFORE breakfast, haha. If I want to wear it after breakfast, I have to move the two buttons and the snap fastener at the waist a bit.

See how the lining pulls at the waist?

More pulling when you open out the facing.
To avoid having the slippery lining fabric in between shell fabric and facing (I really didn't want to sew button holes on two layers of slippery lining fabric), I just stitched the lining to the facing as far as I could go towards the waist. That's the reason why there is a pull of fabric at the waist as well. Complicated? Sorry, I didn't take any pics but I don't think my "technique" was really worth it. Do you have any suggestions where I can find info about adding lining to garments in general? That usually gives me loads of troubles because I don't know how to do it.

Hemmed lining. I had to hand-stitch a small section.
Lining and shell hems are finished with an rolled hem from my overlocker :) Did I say, that I loooooovvvvveeee her?

To finish the arm holes I used some leftover bias tape. It is a bit annoying that it is red, but I really wanted to finish the dress and red tape was the only one left. As you will notice, I also had some problems putting it in. That might be because I modified the arm holes. On my other two Hawthorns the armholes are just too tight, so this time a cut them open a bit more. I kept cutting, trying on, cutting and when I was happy with the fit looked in the mirror and noticed that I had cut the armhole too big on the back. So that is why my armholes look differently from the back (I didn't repeat my mistake for the other armhole).

Do you spot the difference?
So, why did I make so many little mistakes? Because I was trying to sew as much as possible during my holidays. And I thought, others can finish one dress a day, I should be able to do so as well. I didn't - it took me two days and the dress is full of little mistakes. I know probably nobody will notice (if I get the tight waist fixed), but I know.

Having learnt from this (and from another fast make - soon to come), I vow to take my time with my next garment. To fit it well and sew slowly :) What about you? Do you feel sometimes the pressure to sew faster because other bloggers finish several garments a week?

Now, just quickly the usual questions and answers (are you still with me?):

Have I worn it yet? Yes, at a stroll in the park and when bending down to collect a chestnut (I think I collected at least 2kg. I just love them. I have them everywhere in the house) the snap fastener at my waist popped open. So no excuses here to wait longer to move it.

Do you like it? I love how it turned out. I used a quilting cotton for the collar and self-cover buttons and just love the look. It was the first time I made self-cover buttons and my fingers were hurting like crazy next day.

Do you see the lining peeking through the eyelet? Love it!

Are you going to make it again? I don't think so because I am having now three Hawthorns in my wardrobe and it is time to try another pattern!

Final pic promised: Front view. Yep, I'm missing one button.

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