Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Minerva Blogger Network - My Favourite Jacket!

This could be one of my most useful makes ever!

I have been holding out for the release of the Carmine Jacket from Cake Patterns since late last year when it was announced as part of the Red Velvet Collection.  It's no secret that I am a total Cake fangirl - I have made 2 Tiras, 2 Pavlova skirts, a long sleeved and short sleeved Pavlova wrap top, 3 Red Velvet dresses, 2 Cabarita tops, 2 Hummingbird skirts and 2 Hummingbird peplum tops.  Actually, am I out of fangirl and into stalker territory yet?

It seemed like a really useful little knit jacket (and is it any surprise I am planning another version already?)

The fabric is the Morgan crepe jersey that I have made 2 dresses from already (both Red Velvets which you can see here and here).  I really love this fabric and would recommend it for knit beginners - it's got a good amount of stretch but is stable and easy to work with, with no curling edges.  The crepe texture is really nice and there's a less textured side too (I always spend ages trying to choose which is the right side!).

The sizing follows Cake's usual method - choosing the bust size using high bust and working out the difference between high and full bust to work out the cup size (there are A-D lines on the pattern, but Steph has included directions for larger cup sizes).  It took me a while to get my head around the construction - there is a shrug piece which has underarm gussets, and a circular collar which makes the collar and the lower back of the jacket.  You cut the collar based on cup size too.

It went together really easily - I think this could be done (including the basted fitting of the shrug that Steph recommends) in about 2.5 hours.

I tried the stretch tricot stitch on my new machine for the first time.  I wasn't sure if this was the ubiquitous lightning bolt stitch that everyone recommends for sewing knits, but it worked really well.  Much more secure than my long narrow zig zag i have always used.  It's quite slow though - sewing round the outer edge of that huge collar piece took a while!  As the jersey was stable, I didn't use my walking foot.  And even my overlocker (or overlord as she is now known) played ball! You might want to add a tag at the back neckline - I had a small panic when trying on after I had added the button and buttonhole that I had totally messed with the fit, but then realised I had put it on upside down (doh!).

I added the button on quite low down to pull it in at the waist a bit, as I think this is more flattering on me, which gives a more dramatic collar.  Vicki from Minerva (the Buttonmaster General) helped me pick this fab burgundy "selfmade" button for it, but this is a great opportunity to showcase an excellent single button you might have in your button box.

This makes a great cardigan for this time of year, and it'll be a really useful jacket when the weather heats up a bit.

I have shown it here worn with a previous Minerva make - my Kelly skirt, but it goes just as well with jeans and dresses.

If you want to recreate this jacket, you can buy a kit here which includes 3m of the jersey (enough to cut the collar piece twice if you mess it up - ask me how I know!) and a "selfmade" button.

Monday, 7 April 2014

The Minerva Crafts Meet-Up!

Have you heard about the fantastic event happening at the Minerva Craft Centre on Saturday 14th July?

Vicki and the Minerva team were voted Best Sewing Blog in the Sew Magazine awards and to celebrate have organised a great day of events, tutorials and talks from some of our favourite bloggers and pattern designers. 

You can meet me and lots of the other members of the Minerva Blogger Network including Clare, Amy, Marie, Nicole, Emmie, Kathryn and Katie, and I know some other great bloggers are planning to go including Claire, Alison and Sally.  And the lovely Velosewer a.k.a. Maria is coming all the way from Aus!

Come along, it's going to be so much fun!

Highlights are:

Karen from Did You make That doing a speech and Q&A
Claire-Louise from Thrifty Stitcher and Sewing Bee doing a workshop
Mystery contestants from the Sewing Bee (they have naughtily included a picture of Patrick, but I don't think he's stopping by unfortunately!)
A Day in the Life of the By Hand London girls
Lots of craft demonstrations and workshops

And of course there is the lure of the fantastic centre itself, which looks to be an Aladdin's cave of fabric and other craft supplies (I fully intend to come home with a few more hobbies and my bodyweight in fabric!).

All the details are here.

Minerva have helpfully suggested things for non-crafty partners/ friends to do in the area while you craft and chat to your heart's content!  You can find it here.

I hope you can make it - let me know if you are planning to come along!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Wardrobe Architect Week 10 - The Capsule Palette

I have especially loved the colour challenges on Wardrobe Architect.  I find colour much easier to define than shape or silhouette.  The week's challenge was to narrow down our overall palettes into what we will focus on this season (Spring/ Summer for me).  You can read the post on the Colette blog here.

Based on my palettes, which I blogged about here and here, these are my chosen colours:


I have bought quite a few fabrics with navy backgrounds recently so this works really well!

Nearly Neutrals:

These are no brainers for me - I have lots of both in my wardrobe and the red fits in well with my recently completed Mad Men dress.  It made me feel so happy when I was making it too - proof that colour really does lift your mood!

Statement colours:

No surprises here for me - lots of blues and turquoises with purple thrown in to shake it up a bit!

So here's my Spring/ Summer Palette - I would say it's pretty true to my wardrobe and my usual palette for the summer.  I'm also glad to say that most of my stash fits in well with it!

Sorry about the terrible graphics!  I really need to improve in that area - can anyone recommend a course or some online tutorials for a non-arty person like me?  What software do you use?

Have you done a colour palette for the season? Link me up in the comments!

Monday, 31 March 2014

Mad men challenge - the Pensive Betty dress

After much debating over fabrics and discussion on Twitter, here's my entry to Julia Bobbin's Mad Men Challenge.

Pensive? Grumpy? Miserable? You decide.

I posted about my inspiration dress here. I used vintage Simplicity 4766 from 1954. I had originally planned to use the Anna bodice cut off at the bust pleats with a midriff panel added, but when I saw this pattern it looked perfect (and doubles up as a Vintage Pledge item!).

I loved working with this pattern. As it is a single size, there's so much information on the pattern sheets. I traced the bodice pieces to alter with my usual 1/2" FBA (and I did use a ruler this time!). I lengthened the bodice by 3" but I think that was slightly too much. 2.5" would probably have been fine. I made a muslin and other than needing a slight square shoulder adjustment it was perfect. I needed that after my Emery fitting fail!  Oh i also added 2" at the waist. Damn you slender 1950s ladies!

The fabric is a quilting cotton (I know, gasp in horror, but it's good quality and softened up really nicely after prewashing). It's Moda from the Vintage Modern collection. Although it's not a rose print, I think the red and pink flowers capture the feel of the original dress pretty well. It's surprisingly hard to find rose print fabric that's not just red.

It came together really easily. There was no mention of interfacing the facings but after consultation with Twitter I did (I guess convenient fusibles weren't around at the time). 

The pattern suggests using seam binding to stabilise the waist seam. After talking to the ladies on Twitter (again!) I decided to add a waist stay. It's just seam binding stitched to the waistline seam allowance and topstitched, fastened with a heavy duty corset hook and eye. I may add this into other dresses as it's really comfortable.

I used a side lapped zip as per the pattern and sewn by machine.

I made the skirt as per the pattern length but when it came to hemming I chopped a huge 5.5" off. Since I am tall I didn't think it would need shortening by that much! Worth checking if you are shorter and have limited fabric available as you could save a lot! I hemmed it to just below the knee as it was the most flattering on me.  The hem was hand catch-stitched - well you need something sto occupy your hands while you want Sewing Bee!

I love this dress and wore it to my sister in law's birthday party this weekend - I got lots of compliments!

Did you make a Mad Men dress?  Show me!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Wardrobe Architect Week 9 - Choosing Silhouettes

This week's Wardrobe Architect starts us thinking about our capsule wardrobes.  I've never been able to get interested in capsule wardrobes before as when I have read about it in magazines, it has been about 10 items in neutral colours, all wardrobe basics.  This is really not me.

Since Sarai mentioned that this was the method she was following, I have spent a bit of time reading the Into Mind blog.  (Warning, this is a total rabbit hole if you are interested in this kind of thing!) and I was so glad to find that this is not the method at all.

You decide on the number of days with no repeat outfits so you can have say 3 weeks of outfits planned, and this tells you the size of the wardrobe you should consider.  Sarai is suggesting 20-33 items - this is much more me!

First of all, we have to choose up to 6 of our silhouettes we created in Week 4 for our Spring Summer wardrobes.  Here are my chosen ones:

Full skirted shirt dress with cardigan and pumps

Sleeveless summer dress with cardigan and pumps

Boat neck print dress, long or short sleeved with pumps

Flared or gathered skirt with boat neck tee and boots
I am all about the skirts and dresses!  Since starting to think of my wardrobe and what I feel good in, I have gone from wearing jeans a lot to only wearing them a couple of days a week.  I feel much better about my wardrobe!  I may add a wide-leg trouser option in there too.

The sleeve lengths will vary, and the tights/ boots will be worn in spring but (hopefully) not in summer.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Catching up on Wardrobe Architect - weeks 7 and 8

I have been slacking on Wardrobe Architect for a couple of weeks - I was struggling to find time to blog about the tasks although I did think about them.  For the sake of completism (is that a real word?) here you go!

Week 7 - Exploring Solids and Prints

We had to think about what percentage of our wardrobe is solid vs prints and what prints are we drawn to.

I found this quite easy!  Like lots of people when they start sewing, I was totally drawn to all the fabulous prints and *whisper* quilting cottons.  They are so fun and eyecatching in the fabric shop, much more so than bolts of plain colours.  And then I realised I had made lovely items but they didn't go with each other or anything else in my wardrobe.  So in preparation for Me Made May last year, I made a conscious decision to sew plain colours.

Almost all of my bottom half garments are plains - I don't wear printed trousers ever.  I have a couple of printed circle skirts, but the rest are plain.  I have quite a few pairs of jeans, a lot of skirts and am sorely in need of trousers.

For tops, my woven tops are probably 50/50 printed and plain.  The plain ones are all in fairly bright colours.  For knit tops, most are plain (possibly to do with the difficulty I find in getting nice patterned knits).

Dresses are tougher to categorise.  I have quite a lot of knit dresses in plain colours (see above re patterned knits).  My woven dresses are 50/50 solids and prints.  The solids tend to have details - piping or collars or buttons.  The prints tend to be fairly simple shapes with flared/ circle skirts.

I see stripes, gingham and polkadots as plains.  I love them all!  I tend to prefer large scale prints , especially florals, watercoloury abstracts and of course novelty prints (which I tend to try and limit myself on as I know I wear them less - but, y'know #sewdollyclackett and all that!).  I do wear small scale floral prints (like my Alma blouse) but only as tops.  A whole dress in a tiny floral would be too cute for me - I'm too tall for it!

Week 8 - Hair, MakeUp and Beauty

As regular readers will know, I recently had my hair chopped into a jaw length bob and I am totally in love with it!  I have never really liked my hair - it's never gone into the styles I have wanted.  Basically it does its own thing, and my new hair cut works with that!  My new cut saves a lot of washing/ combing time and adds a little bit of drying/ styling time but it is ace.  I need to find the time to play about with it, but I am hoping it might be able to be styled into more vintage looks with some blow drying for special occasions.  I also think it will cut down to the army of hair products in my bathroom!

I totally love beauty products and always have a lot of lotions and potions.  I am a dedicated cleanse/tone/moisturise person and never ever go to bed with make up on, even when drunk!  Once every couple of weeks I try to find time for a mini facial where I cleanse with a hot cloth method, exfoliate, put on a face mask and facial oil.  I don't buy pricy products but I have quite a lot of them.

My make up routine is quick and easy (5 minutes tops) and totally based around my skin.  As a spotty teenager (with spots that unfortunately lasted into my twenties) I got obsessed with foundations etc.  I don't like to look as though I have a lot of base on but I have to have something.  I use a primer (currently in love with Garnier Perfect Blur - you have to try it!), then a lightweight liquid foundation in winter or a BB cream in summer.  Concealer stick on any spots and around my nose and under eye bag cream (I have terrible dark circles!).  I use a cream blusher as I don't normally use powder so don't like a powdery finish on cheeks only.  Everything else is based on things to stop me looking tired.  Benefit LemonAid cream on eyelids and EyeBright pencil under eyes before smudging on black kohl pencil.  I never go out without mascara and always black.  I rarely wear eyeshadow or lipstick.  If I wear lipstick it is usually a fairly neutral gloss.  It doesn't vary much if I am going out - probably just another coat of mascara.

I have an obsession with Jo Malone Vetyver perfume and it is the only thing I wear currently.  It's quite different - spicy and clean and not at all sweet.  I like the idea of having a signature scent and this is the closest I have come to the right one!  I try not to use other strong smelling products so that they don't clash.

I am feeling the need to change this routine up a bit.  Maybe I should get a bit more adventurous.  I may try a few new lipsticks this weekend! Must be the new hairdo...

Thursday, 20 March 2014

The not-quite- right Emery

I wasn't sure whether to write this post but after much prompting on Twitter, here it is!

I don't have a lot of sewing fails really. I'm quite methodical and usually make a muslin but the end result here isn't good and I'm not quite sure why!

The pattern is Christine Haynes Emery dress. I love it so much and every other blogger has raved about it and the perfect fit (Roisin amd Tasha's versions are gorgeous). I bought some lovely but relatively pricy John Kaldor fabric in the Sew Essential sale in January and Emery seemed like the perfect pattern for it. I love a boat neck, could easily change up the skirt and there are collar options.
Luckily I decided to make a muslin using some cheap poly crepe I picked up. I had an idea in my head for a lace overlay on the collar and I used a silvery grey lace for this. 

OK so ignore my weird face - this is the only side pic
As the bodice is lined I used a navy cotton - the cheap poly against the skin would not be pleasant! I love lined bodices as in addition to looking and feeling nice, you can use them as the muslin.  I tissue fitted to work out length issues - I added 1" above the bust dart and 2" below and did my usual 1/2" FBA. I think this is where I went wrong however. I think I made the FBA too big (more like 1" - I really shouldn't eyeball. My eyeballs don't have a clue - or a tape measure) which accounts for some of the problems.  I suspect adding length above the bust was less correct than moving the dart down?  In the muslin the main issue appeared to be bagginess under the bust. I get this quite a lot and got some good advice to curve the bust darts to remove some bagginess. I think I made it too curved - probably due to excess at bust so it didn't press well. I did a square shoulder adjustment and added a little to the sleeve to match (and as I felt the sleeve might be a bit narrow anyway). I didn't muslin the skirt but added 3" in length after measuring.

The collar didn't attach easily either. I was easing the bodice into it a lot which gave some weird wrinkles - I asked about this on Twitter and no one else seems to have had this problem. I wonder if the crepe was stretching but the interfaced collar wasn't - the crepe stretching could account for a lot of the other problems!

I also didn't attach the  collar correctly - the centre front seam isn't in the right place when I look at other collared versions - Lauren and Kathy's and it doesn't press or sit very flat. I think this caused problems when I hand sewed the lining at the waistband. Also the shell seemed to need to be eased to the lining which suggests the shell stretched.

There were a few good things about it - the fabric has great drape and eased nicely into the waistband with even gathers. The sleeves went in perfectly first time. The invisible zip is perfect. 

The end result? A wrinkly pile of meh.

Just to be clear these are not issues with the pattern. It seems well drafted and the instructions are clear. I'm totally not giving up on it as I reckon I can fix the issues.
But I don't think this version is fixable and I suspect this is partly my too big FBA, partly the fabric and partly carelessness in attaching the collar and bodice.

What do you think? Could I /should I try and salvage it? Or start again with the right FBA? I'm not super attached to the fabric. It was and feels cheap and is tough to sew with and pin into. But I love the idea of the lace collar!

Can you give some fitting tips? Maybe a broad shoulder adjustment needed given the pulling at the shoulder? One observation is that the people who have blogged about getting a great fit were narrow across the shoulders which i am definitely not!  Or is it just not a good style for me and I should give it up?