Monday, 25 May 2015

Simplicity Blogger Challenge - Part 1 and a Tailors Tack Top Tip

Hello! Well this week I have made a start on my entry for the Simplicity Blogger Challenge, the challenge being having it finished for the 31st!

I am making the 60's retro vintage pattern, Simplicity 1364, View A but with a couple of wee changes.

I have had to make some serious adjustments to this pattern. 

This is the front showing where my bust apex is (the pink squiggly dot) compared to the pattern.  The pencilled in triangle above it is the French dart that is supposed to start under my bust .All I can say is "oh dear". You can also see that I also drew in the smallest size neckline (the lower line) and this is the one that I cut out.

My adjustments were as follows:
  • 1-inch broad back adjustment from mid-shoulder and a corresponding dart to close it back off again.
  • Lower the French dart 2-inches and redraw it so that it was about 2 inches lower than my bust apex.
  • 2-inch FBA and added in an additional dart to give me some extra bust shaping.
  • Added a bit of extra length.
I bought some great fabric from Fenwick's in Newcastle, a thin black cotton and a couple of half-metre pieces of "Blueberry Skies" from Clothworks. Both are the same pattern but slightly different colourways. 

I am making the top in the solid black with bias binding trim made from both patterned fabrics. I think it's pretty obvious now that I have a bit of a thing for bias binding. I do think that it is a good choice for my inspiration but you will need to wait for the next post and the photos for that.

I have a lot of vintage dress zips from the 60's/70's and I had quite a few colours to choose from. I have chosen the purple as it is such a pretty colour. This top will have a sort-of exposed zipper.

I do have a top tip to share. I was really good and marked all the pattern marking and darts with tailors tacks but I have a terrible habit of making them too tight and end up nicking my fabric when they are cut apart. To stop me doing this I now make the loops round a pen, or something of the same sort of size, and this leaves me loads of room to snip between the two fabric pieces and makes lovely fluffy loops.

The trim will be round the sleeves, the neckline and possibly the bottom. I am not decided yet. You can get a surprising amount of binding from half a metre. Dug out my blind hem foot to stitch the edges of the binding down. It works very well giving a nice even stitch from the edge (after I got the hang of it but we won't talk about that). Really needs a press here but looks way better in real life.

Anyway, I am keeping the rest of this top under wraps until next week. Having a bit of a shoot with it on Saturday, nothing like the last minute, but I am so looking forward to sharing it and my inspiration.

Hope that you are all having a nice week and enjoying the weather where you are.

Till Sunday. (Dun, dun...Daaaaaa)!


Sunday, 17 May 2015

Sewing Dares, Wardrobe Architect, New Patterns, a Lurgy and a Challenge

Well if you knew me in real life, or have probably guessed from here, I am not really one to shirk away when someone flings down the gauntlet. Oh no, I love a challenge. But what's better than a challenge?  That's right, a dare and a sewing one at that. Talking of challenges, I am doing one of those too but first, the dare!

Gillian, of  "Crafting a Rainbow" blog has repeated her #Sewingdares challenge from last year and to stave off my procrastination I have to undertake the following dare by around the end of May. That's only a couple of weeks. My dare is to:

 "Sew something inspired by your Wardrobe Architect project, or a second project from either the Gertie book or the GBSB book!".

So in the spirit of adventure I have been scouring eBay for vintage patterns so that I could get my Bianca on, Jagger that is, although I didn't find the suit pattern I was after so that might take a little more time. Plus I thought, I can kill three birds with one stone here - my Sewing Dare, another Vintage Pattern Pledge and something for my Wardrobe Architect project. Multi-tasking win or what?

In the WA series it asks the questions, "Who are your style icons?" and "What about them appeals to you?". I have way more choices than this and ran out of room to put everybody in but here are a few. These ladies appeal to me as apart from being beautiful and having their own sense of style they are mostly fearless women that walk(ed) their own path in life, though not always with a happy ending.

Looking at my WA Pinterest Board I can also see that I definitely have a few favourites clothes items too, with unknown till now some definite colour themes coming through.

Strangely enough. Those colours really do reflect about 80% of my current wardrobe and are the ones that I feel happiest in. The only colours that are missing are the sort of coral-orange ones that I like, and yes, for me leopard is a legitimate colour as is glitter.

Here are my new patterns, all from the 1970s, except for some badly needed jammie bottoms for me and a slightly dodgy but potentially nice jacket pattern. Can you believe that I only have two pairs of PJs left? Sprogzilla has nicked off with the rest. I am very badly in need.

Maybe I bought this for the pattern image colours? I do like the frock but maybe not the frills. Just to make life easier I am trying to only buy patterns in my size now. This is quite limiting when it comes to vintage patterns but at the rate I sew this will definitely be enough.

Not very stylish, no slinky lounging pyjamas these ones but they look comfy and practical.

I am going to use this one for a base pattern as I like the shape of the bottom of the pink jacket but the styles as a whole are maybe a wee bit too "Mother of the Bride" to stay are they are.

This one will be my Sewing Dare pattern. I am going to make a lovely long, swishy skirt, perfect for the sunny weather we might get.

I got this pattern sent to me from Simplicity as I am going to take part in their Blogger Challenge. Don't know if they had a delay getting the pattern out but I have only just got mine and it has to be sewn up for the end of May. There will be an awful lot of sewing going on next weekend. Not this one though as I am confined to the sofa with my blankie and a whole load of tissues nursing this bloody cold that is going round. I will be taking part in the "Vintage" entries section where we have to make something from this pattern but as there are no rules on what we can do then it is thinking cap on. I am making something inspired by one of my Style Icons who I have left off mentioning until you see the finished garment


Apologies for waffling. Not much joined up thinking going on here tonight. In fact I am off to lie in bed and read my sewing patterns again. Hope you are all having a great germ-free week.


Thursday, 7 May 2015

TGBSB3 - A Silk Tee in Cotton

So to back up my review of TGBSB - Fashion with Fabric I decided to make up one of the patterns included with the book. This was sort of a muslin so it is shown here unfinished at the bottom. This is also because I forgot to buy a longer zip than recommended (needed due to my changes) and so I am holding it closed on the zip side in these photos.

I have had this fabric in my stash since last year when I bought it from Fenwick's in Newcastle. It is a light cotton with batik-style flowers in a slightly raised pattern. They are a bit odd as the fabric looks almost stamped, there are indentations around each flower. Anyway, it is light and cool and will be ideal for the Summer it keeps promising to have. If I decide to finish this top that is, Jury's still out for me plus the fabric gets easily crumpled.

Anyway, I neatened all the insides with my overlocker. Don't judge me 'cos my thread doesn't match, lazy I know, but it isn't anywhere near the seams as these were done with my sewing machine and besides I like the colour contrast. I am still a bit phased by changing the threads in this machine and am just grateful it is working to be honest. I spotted that the stitch is not perfect but am not really sure how to fix it and it is still quite secure ad does the job of tidying up quite well.

As I mentioned in my last post, I chose the Silk Tee pattern as I have been looking for something simple that I could hack with various sleeve styles and neckline variations. Based on my measurements I traced a size 20. I did my usual broad back adjustment, adding in 1-inch which I closed off at the shoulder with a small, very slightly curvy dart which I angled towards the back neckline as my shoulders are quite round, lowered the bust dart 5.5cm and did a 2-inch FBA.

Looking at these photos I really need to make that FBA a bit bigger, or go for breast reduction surgery - my preferred option but unfortunately not a viable one at the moment. Honestly, I look like someone has stuffed two balloons up my top.

Just to liven things up a bit I decided to lengthen the sleeves, adding 10cm to the bottom edge as drafted. Plus, I added 3 inches to the bottom of the bodice hem as I was worried that it would run short as I have a long torso and always have to lengthen my patterns here. Sorry if it is a bit confusing mixing metric and imperial but I always use which ever measurement is easiest for me to remember.

In addition to lengthening the body/sleeves I also scooped out the neckline. Being blessed with more than my fair share of chins, jewel necks are not my friend. I completely ignored the facings and just used bias tape as this was going to be a warm weather top.  In case you are wondering, the bias is the same stuff as I used for my polka dot skirt. I bought loads of it and I had enough spare that needed using up.

So here is the full length (unhemmed) version.

In review this came together easily. From adjusting the pattern to needing to hem and add in the zip took me about 5 hours. A world record in speed sewing for me. Pity I forgot to buy a long enough zip though.

In other news we had a road trip to Alnwick Castle on Saturday. Alnwick is a lovely little market town in Northumberland in the North East of England. The small town centre is filled with cute boutiques and lots of cafes. Sadly, quite a few empty shops as well. Even the affluent rural areas are feeling the push these days.

We visited the castle which is situated in the town centre. It is still home to the Percy family and is quite OTT in an Italiante style inside. I quite surprised myself by feeling a bit off travelling through the state rooms inside. Why do some people live in (rather tasteless) opulence whilst others struggle to scrape enough to eat? After all we are only assigned our place in life by an accident of birth, and of course their ancestors having a bigger gang than yours. It must have been a hard existence being a tenant farmer in the wilds of Northumberland.

There are a lot of charity shops in Alnwick and I scored some vintage metal zips and a length of fabric. I love the bright colours of this (guessing here) cotton/rayon mix lawn. All the zips and fabric cost less than £10, considerably less than a castle ticket but much more useful to me and more fun.


On the way out of Alnwick we stopped at the amazing Barter Books. If Angela Carter designed bookshops then she would have come up with this one. Truly worth a visit if you love reading. Plus you can blame them for all that "Keep Calm and Carry On" nonsense as the original poster that started the craze was discovered here.

Anyway, I really enjoyed getting out of the house for the day and am delighted with my fabric.

So how did you spent your long weekend? Did you spend it sewing or doing other things? Have you bought any new patterns or fabric?

Take care and have a great week!


P.S. I have found an online photo editor, Pixlr. It is great. I can do those funky collages that I love.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Book Review: The Great British Sewing Bee Fashion with Fabric

Okay so as usual I am last to the party but since I have only seen another couple of reviews of this book in the Blogosphere then I thought it was about time that I chucked my 2p in about the latest offering from the "The Great British Sewing Bee - Fashion with Fabric", written by Claire Louise Hardie and with a foreword from both May Martin and Patrick Grant.

Right from the start I liked this  book way better than TGBSB Book 2 (I don't own Book 1). It is a nice hardback tome with, like the second book, a separate boxed section for the patterns which are supplied on sheets.

The book is well printed on good quality paper.and amply illustrated with a mixture of illustrations and colour photos. 

It is split into a beginning part with basic sewing and fit information and several sections each dealing with a featured fabric  (Cottons, Wool and Other Animal Fibres, Stretch Fabrics and Luxury Fabrics) with patterns designed to be sewn from each. As you can see, the patterns are actually a good mixture of fairly easy to quite advanced. 

The focus of the patterns are mostly womenswear with a couple of patterns suitable for children and men including a kilt, although the sample illustrated could do with a bit of a tweak in my humble Scottish opinion. All the designs are quite fashion-forward, actually pretty wearable and the shots of each design are nicely styled. For each featured pattern they also provide a hack idea to make another garment modified from the same pattern.

The patterns themselves are printed onto good quality thick paper and are nested onto sheets which need to be traced like Burda but are less crowded. They all come with seam allowances and are quite clearly marked and easy to find.

I have not finished it yet but I have traced out the "Silk Tee", done with my usual two tons of alterations and sewn it up bar the zip and hems. I have been looking for a top like this that I can use as a basis for hacking into other styles once I have finessed the fit.

The huge plus for me is just that - the sizing goes up to a size 20. The finished garment measurements are supplied so it makes it easy to see if a pattern will be suitable and how much grading you would need to do to get things to fit (Answer: for me none. Just some FBA's and on some patterns nothing at all. I will have to size down). I am delighted that the author/publishers took on board all the comments on the last two books and made the sizing more inclusive. While I know that a 20 is not venturing far into the world of bigger sizes it is a start. Patterns like the "Drapey Knit Dress" and the "Vintage Inspired Blouse" have a lot of ease so you could definitely fit into them if you were a size or two bigger.

So if you are thinking of adding another sewing book to your groaning shelves then this would be ideal.Especially if you are looking to take your skills a little further and try some designs that are a bit more advanced, whilst still having a good reference to hold your hand when you are doing it. The styles are modern, there are a lot of options and the tracing is not too bad as the pattern sheets are nice and clear. In my opinion, better than taping up lots of paper sheets from print at home patterns.

So did you buy this book? If so, what did you think? Have you tried any of the patterns yet? Did they turn out okay?

Hope that you are having a nice week.

K xx

Just in the spirit of disclosure I must add that I purchased this book myself with my hard-earned loot and all opinions expressed in this post are very much my own.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Me-Made Corset as shot by Christeeny

I am the luckiest woman alive to have so many uber-talented friends. One of them is the lovely Chris Patterson, who is a fabulous photographer and all round artistic genius based in the North East of England and fellow studio resident.  Last week she was shooting with the very beautiful Lucy Bennison from Tyne Tees Models and I loaned her a few me-made bits and bobs for the shoot. Just look at the result! Isn't this image just amazing? 


Model : Lucy Bennison Tyne Tees Models
Corset & Head Piece : Bad Kitty Corsets

Photo Credit:

I know that Chris was trying to go for a painterly feel and the use of light in this shot, to me, is very much like Vermeer or Rembrandt. I was so pleased that one of my me-made (and designed) corsets could be of use along with this 1920's/ early 30's wax flower bridal crown and veil from my rainy day collection of "stuff that might come in handy for a photoshoot". The tulle is so delicate, almost disintegrating to the touch but very beautiful.

Anyway, I was bursting to share this image with you but had to wait until Chris very graciously said it was okay. If you would like to see more of her work then please click on the link above to her website or find her on Facebook.

Not forgetting of course the amazing team of MUA and hairdressing whose links can be found above too.

Apparently there are more images to come (using other me-made corsets) and I hope to be able to share those with you too sometime. If you are interested the corset design is derived from an original line drawing in "Corsets & Crinolines" by Norah Waugh. I have used this pattern a few times now, most notably for my dip-dyed silk corset that I must get some pics of too.

Hope that you are all having a great week!


Monday, 20 April 2015

Vintage Pattern Pledge 1 - Simplicity 1692: A 1940's Top

Hi All, I hope that you have all been making the best of the good weather and the Easter break. In the UK, this Easter has been really lovely so far and we have had some very balmy spring days. I had the long weekend off over Easter which was great as I have been feeling a little burnt-out lately and took this time to make a start on my Vintage Pattern Pledge offerings for this year, making a top. But because I have actually been sewing I have not had any time to blog about it until now. Typical! I have even finished off a UFO skirt  and done a little Kantha quilting for a cushion front but more on that later.

Simplicity 1692  is a vintage repro-pattern from the 1940's that was purchased many moons ago and was originally traced out in a size 22 (I made View B). Convinced that it wasn't going to fit I scrapped the pattern I had traced and graded up to a size 24 everywhere except the shoulders.   I could probably not have bothered. After reading some of the reviews on PatternReview that mentioned that the neck on this view was very high and not so flattering, I decided to scoop out the front neckline a lot lower, tracing over the lines for the size 14 as printed on the pattern sheet,  lowering it by about 2 inches. 

The fabric is this gloriously colourful cotton lawn remnant that I picked up in Fenwick's in Newcastle. I love these colours and thought that they look terrifically summery. However, I am not convinced that it was the right fabric for this pattern. I lengthened the body by 3 inches at the bottom and did a 2" FBA. I would have lengthened it more but I didn't have enough fabric. I used a black invisible zipper from the stash for the side-zip. I made no attempt at pattern matching as I was short of fabric but I did cut my front out after choosing the "splodges" to be in a balanced place and not in *ahem* anywhere awkward. As I didn't want to lose any length I used bias on the bottom and just stitched and turned it to the inside. I like this finish and use it a lot. The eagle-eyed among you will spot that these pics show the top with the hem still raw and none of the tucks in. These were taken before it was finished but I don't have any more and have not had a chance to take some decent (and made up) shots of me since then. Tuck-less is really not a flattering look for this top.

I have no idea why I am pulling a funny face but if you think this shot is bad you should see the rest of them.

Sewing-wise it came together very well. It is a nicely drafted pattern. I took my time with it, hand-basting everything and finishing off as as much of the inside as I could with French seams. I skipped the pattern pieces for the neck binding, cutting 4cm bias strips and using this to make bias binding in my Prym bias tool. These were stitched down then folded over and hand stitched on the inside. No wonder it takes me so long to make stuff, all the hand stitching that went into this. I was even quite pleased with my invisible zip.

Look at that sleeve puffiness. I definitely don't need volume added on the top half of me. 

So do I love it? I don't know. I think that I should probably have used a softer draping fabric as the sleeves are WAY to puffy for my rugby player shoulders. I didn't use the recommended shoulder pads and the little fabric support as when I sewed them in I had that whole linebacker look going on. The sleeve puffiness was something that has been mentioned in a few other reviews. I might have a go reducing the sleeve head and make it again in something a bit drapier. The top look better with the tucks in the front and I'll try to get some decent pics next weekend.

I was quite a busy bee, I also finished and inserted the lining in McCall's 3830, a pencil skirt that I have had hanging round since August (!!) last year. There is no lining pieces supplied with this pattern just a facing so I just made my own.

The lining was cut the same size as the skirt pieces and stitched to the facing along the edge of the binding.

The hem was stitched to the lining. All the enclosed seams are bound in the gingham bias tape.

 I will review this pattern ASAP in a separate post. I also did some hand stitching on an odd bit if fabric that I had lying around to make a cushion front.

When I saw this bit of Designers Guild interiors fabric remnant I thought that it would look lovely quilted in a Kantha style with maybe some beads and sequins.  I love their style and have DG for nearly all of the decor in my house, although this fabric doesn't match any off it. I haven't quite finished it yet but here is a sneak preview. I plan to get some purple velvet for the back and some big hassle/pom pom trim but am waiting until I happen upon the right colours.

So to round up, the top is not my best work but not a total fail either.  There was some good sewing in this top, plus that's one down on my Vintage Pattern Pledge. Two more garments to go and I have already got the patterns. It does look a lot better with the tucks in the front, honest.


So what have you been up to over Easter? Have you been sewing or just relaxing?

Have a great week!!


Sunday, 22 March 2015

No Animals Were Harmed in the Making of this Blog Post

Hello! Today I am going to share with you a collar that I made inspired by the lovely Rhonda Buss, of Rhonda's Creative Life fame. I made this using a tutorial that Rhonda shared on her blog as part of her Free Pattern Friday series. I was really inspired as this collar was just so cute and looked amazing on, yet was a very simple sew (find Rhonda's collar here and here).

My poor, long-suffering dummy. Apologies for all the fluff.

This was a quick make.  I didn't have to buy anything as everything was already in my stash.  I bought this really crazy tie dye fur fabric when it was on sale in Mandors in Glasgow. It is a bit of a wild mixture of white, pink, lilac and black. You get a better idea of the colours from the back.

I have a sort of love/hate relationship with this fabric, it is so awful it is great, but have never been able to part with it even though I didn't have a clue what to use it for.  I must have had it for about 10 years! Talk about being delighted when I read Rhonda's post.

The sewing part was fast. The pattern is just a 4" by the fabric width rectangle and the pom-poms two little 4" squares that you round off into circles that I cut off the end. The squares were trimmed into circles, drawn up into little balls using a running stitch and stuffed to keep there shape using a little kapok. The ribbon was hand stitched into place.
I took the advice and cut the fur using a blade so that I didn't damage the fluffy part and then zig-zagged the edge with all the hair tucked in. I didn't cut the other side off where they had chopped it off the roll in the shop and boy, does it make a difference.  Thanks, Rhonda for the great tip. Photos of the two methods below:

This was the razor cut. You can't really see the join.

Seamed using the cut edge. This took some work with a pin to get it looking furry I can tell you!

So I love the final outcome. This little collar makes me insanely happy and the colours really cheer up the miserable transition into Spring that we have been having. I am now on the look out for more fur in funky colours. This would make a fabulous gift to make someone, except this one. Me, me, me. Mine, mine, mine!

Me after a long day and covered in pen from marking the back of the fur. What a clart!

Apologies for all the big pics but I have borrowed a Mac to write this and I am missing all my photo editing software.

So have you worked with fake fur? What did you make?

Have a great week!