Saturday, 27 February 2016

One UFO down

It's UFO (unfinished object) month over on the monthly stitch where I am an irregular contributor,and it was a good excuse to challenge myself to return to some of the UFOs that I had knocking around my sewing room.  

The items that mainly end up as my UFOs tend to be things that I think for one reason or another are not going to work out.  The first one of these that I decided to tackle was a Sew Over It, Ultimate shift dress that I had cut out in October/November last year (at the same time as my top version) and had just never sewn together.  This was partly because, while I love the print, the top has some fit issues which means that it's not that comfortable to wear and I had a sneaking suspicion was sure that a shift dress with no waist shaping would not work for my shape. However in my gung-ho way I had cut it out of a fabulous silk crepe that I was determined I should not waste, so it was time to get to work.

Ta da! From UFO to FO!

I figured that some of the restriction I experience in the arms/upper back with my Ultimate top might be helped if I used a 1cm seam allowance instead of 1.5cm.  This worked well but I was still left with a sack effect round the middle.  Gillian's made a few lovely shift dresses where she's used her Alma pattern to create some darts for the back. I didn't have the alma pattern so I returned to my sixties shift dress (which I must return to, the darts may be more work but realistically create a better shift shape for someone with my proportions) and pinched the back darts from it.  I considered adding some darts to the front but decided that since I'm unlikely to wear the dress without a belt and adding them had the potential to go wrong and spoil the line of my dress, I wouldn't bother.

I got the silk crepe from fabricsforsale. I'd ordered 2m for some other purpose but they didn't have enough to complete my order, so I took the 1.3m they had left as it sounded lovely and put it aside for 'some other purpose'. Turns out this was it.  The ultimate dress is really thrifty on the fabric front, I got a dress with 3/4  length sleeves out of 1.3m. I did cut the facings out of a different fabric but I'm not sure now if I did that because I ran out of fabric or if I just fancied the idea of Liberty insides! I finished the back with a ribbon loop and a lovely ceramic button that I found in the Ulster Museum shop, last time I was back in Belfast.

Im now pleased with this finished dress and it will be perfect to wear to several of the 30th birthday/weddings/hen dos (yes I've hit that life stage) I have to attend in the next few months and the silk crepe feels wonderful to wear.  However, I think the top of the dress is still on the blousier side than I would like.  Clearly some more fit work has to happen before I make another version of this dress.

While the idea of a simple to sew, simple to throw on dress appeals to my lazy side I think I may have to accept that in order to pull off the shift dress, I need darts and shaping and to sew a little bit more than the few seams in this dress.  How about you, how do you make shift dresses work for your shape?

Friday, 19 February 2016

Opal cardigan review

I was really excited when I got selected as a reviewer for Paprika Paterrns latest pattern; the Opal cardigan.  Having recently made the Jade skirt I was impressed with their PDFs and instructions and excited to try the latest offering.  I made a couple of design alterations to my cardigan. These were partly due to the fabric I chose to use and partly because I wanted a bit of waist definition.

Actually despite having just mentioned making a change to create waist definition I like this photo without the belt-as the pattern intended-maybe that will teach me to meddle!

The fabric I used was this one from girlcharleeuk. I had originally ordered it for a different project but when it arrived I felt it was a bit fine and drapey for that purpose but as it was lovely and soft I did want to wrap myself up in it so it became my Opal cardigan. However as it is so fine, it was a nightmare to sew! I constructed most of the cardigan using my overlocker which slightly felt like I was using a sledge hammer to crack a nut, this fabric feels like it should be sewn up by fairies with tiny delicate stitches. The overlocker did the job though. My sewing machine could not cope with this fabric at all. It just looked like a mess when I tried to do almost anything, although the hem was done on the sewing machine and I managed not to mangle the fabric. One of the pitfalls of having such a basic machine is that it really struggles to cope with any complicated fabrics or stitches. For this reason I decided to ditch the pockets too. Actually with hindsight this was probably a good thing as the fabric is so drapey that I don't think they would have stood up as pockets very well.

So now let's chat about the pattern.  Having now made two of the Paprika patterns I am happy to sign up as a fan.  They're just so well drafted and I find the instructions great and full of specific and helpful details.  With the Jade skirt I appreciated the interfacing pieces and with this one it was a few lines on sewing up areas that will get strain such as the top of the pockets and shoulders.  Lisa suggests using clear elastic or a piece of jersey cut on the grain.  I had never seen this second method recommended before and decided to give it a go and it was great.  I think it particularly helped with my super fine fabric.

I decided that since my fabric was going to be draping over every lump and bump anyway, I would add some belt loops and a belt to allow me to close the cardigan (I prefer to do this when I'm cold) and also to create some waist definition.  I was super easy to do this.  I just created 2 little tubes for the loops and a bigger, longer tube for the belt.  Before I sewed the side seams I just draped the cardigan over my mannequin and marked the waist point and pinned the loops to it and then just sewed up the side seams as instructed.  One thing I would say about this pattern is that the arm come up very long.  This is fine if like me you have super long monkey arms and like having your sleeves come down over your hands but something to bear in mind if you're not.  The dopey photo below was the only one where you could see the length of the sleeves with my fingers peeping out.

While the fabric I picked really wasn't that appropriate, I still see myself getting some wear out of this version.  I'm also seriously drooling over a couple of the versions I've seen so far, like Lisa's long version and Charlotte's woven version.  A coatigan like one of these may pop up in my future.  How about you, are you tempted by this pattern?

For any of my US readers, as part of the Opal launch, Gorgeous Fabrics are offering 20% off all their full price sweater knits with the code PAPRIKA20 until the 15th March. 

I am on serious count down to my Friday night glass of wine.  Happy weekend all!  Hope you all have fun wine or non-wine related weekends planned.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Let's talk vintage

I was really excited when Marie and Kerry announced the third Vintage Pattern Pledge.  I loved the 
idea behind this challenge, which Marie set up to challenge herself to use some of the vintage patterns that she was accumulating faster than she could sew.  As I am in a similar position, I also feel it's a good idea to challenge myself.  I've taken part in the vintage pattern pledge for the last two years although the first year I spectacularly failed to meet my pledge.  Last year I did manage it.  I have been thinking hard about what I should pledge.  We all put pressures on ourselves and so in my deliberations my internal monologue was telling me that I should 'pledge more, pledge bigger' however, I also know that the next year is going to be busy and stressful and I don't need to put extra stress on myself.  So for that reason I'm going to make the exact same pledge that I made last year, which is: to make five vintage patterns from my stash in the next year.  This is the the initial pile I have plans for but I guess we'll see how many come to fruition.

Now on a vintage note (which I know doesn't count as part of the pledge) I have a Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress to show you.  It's also a refashion which makes me a little bit happy.  

I was lucky enough to receive the Shirt Dress pattern from my aunt for Christmas and when I spotted this sheet and pillowcase set in a charity shop, I knew it was the perfect match.  I found it in the British Heart Foundation shop in Gillingham and at £1.95 for 2 sheets and 2 pillowcases it was a serious bargain lot of fabric.  Also I really loved the lily print.

This became:

I made up the dress in size 12 grading 14 at the hips. Usually with Sew Over It patterns I have to do a broad back adjustment but I'd read a few reviews of this pattern which mentioned that it comes up pretty loose so I risked it and didn't make any adjustments. I found that it really was too loose round the waist so I took it in by a couple of cm and I could probably do with making a size smaller on top as I do feel it's a little large, especially when I have my hands on my hips like this:

I slightly goofed one of the buttonholes-the one at the waist-it's a bit too small which is a pain a as its a struggle to open and fasten this crucial button and due to its placement I can't avoid undoing it when putting dress on. Oops!  It's not a massive problem but it is a touch frustrating.  The buttons are some silvery vintage ones I had in my stash.

Overall I have a lovely new dress I'm excited to wear. It had its first outing to a Vintage fair at Alexandra Palace but it was so cold and seriously windy so taking outdoor photos was a challenge. Luckily Ally Pally has a great entrance with a domed glass ceiling which meant that we could take photos in the warm. However, my photographer was much more interested in going to look at antiques than she was in taking photos of me/the dress.  Although she did get this one with good skirt action.

How about you?  Have you decided on your vintage pledge yet?  Made the Vintage shirt dress pattern?