Thursday, 26 September 2013

Cold weather wardrobe planning and the Fall Essentials Sew Along


I'm a planner by nature and so I started a list of things to sew for winter about a month ago (Evernote, natch!).  It's quite a long list so hopefully it will help me work out the best order to tackle them in.

I'm not much of a fabric hoarder - I tend to buy specifically for patterns, but I do tend to give myself too many items to tackle, so I have a lot of the fabric for the patterns already bought and waiting to get sewn up.  I'm also being relatively sensible in that a few of these are patterns I have sewn up before, so the worst of tracing, muslining and adjustments have already been done, so some should be speedy makes!

And then Sarah from Rhinestones & Telephones announced the return of the Fall Essentials Sew Along (FESA for short).  I don't remember seeing this before but could well have been before I started sewing.  It's a simple format.  7 categories covering all garments, a Flickr group and no tight deadlines.  Just the sort of sewalong I like! And the beauty of it is, you can fit other new patterns and sewalongs into the mix.  Perfect!

Sarah asked if we were sewing to a colour palette.  I never really aim to do this, but I do tend to find I gravitate to similar colours in summer and winter.  Here's my usual winter palette:

I wear a lot of navy and charcoal grey as neutrals but I also have plans for a couple of black items too.  Colours to go with are teal, aubergine/ burgundy and airforce blue.

Looking at my plans, I think I'll be sticking to it again this year too!

Here's my plans organised under the FESA headings.

Fashionable Foundations for Frosty Weather (all bottom half garments)

Kelly Skirt in teal corduroy - I snapped up the fabric for this the other day.  Not sure on whether to cut the front on the fold and leave out the buttons but as usual I was struggling to choose buttons so I still need to find these.  I may also do a burgundy one.  I have sewn this before so should be a quick make.

Source: Steph C's lovely version on Sewing Cake
Hummingbird variation with the flounce.  I have made a couple of Hummingbirds but not made the flounce version yet.  I am using a remnant of blue boucle-ish fabric.

Juniper trousers.  I meant to make these last year and failed miserably at muslin stage.  But since seeing Maria Denmark's fab trouser fitting instructions I'm keen to give them another try!  Her tinfoil tip is amazing!  I muslined in an 8 which was nowhere near fitting so I think I'll need to retrace in a 10.  I have a lovely soft grey suiting for these.

I have had a Gertie pencil skirt in mind since I bought the book and a nice burgundy crepe ready to make it.  I even bought silk organza to underline it.  I love the idea of perfecting some slow sewing but I think it might mean I get through a few other items first!  I thrifted some lovely charcoal grey wool which I want to use for the a-line variation with the pintucks.  But that will depend on the fitting issues I find with the pattern.  If I struggle it might end up being another Hummingbird!

Chic Chemises for Cool Climates

I bought the Renfrew pattern after Me Made May but not made anything from it yet.  I have a black viscose knit and a blue marl, both earmarked for long sleeved Renfrews.

I'll get a knitting project on the go for those nights when it is too cold to sit in the dining room and sew. 

Fabulous Frocks

I am currently working on the first 2 of these!

A navy wool blend By Hand London Anna dress.  Everyone has made this one up and I have yet to see anyone who didn't look great in it!  Hopefully I will be no exception.  I'm working on the slash neck midi version at the moment for their sewalong.

Unusually for me, I have 2 sewing projects on the go at the moment.  I have traced Simplicity 1882 and am making the collared version in teal cotton sateen with black accents and piping.

I had a great charity shop score recently - 5 yards of (narrow) black wool delaine for £15.  Hopefully this will work well for long sleeved Hawthorn.  Might need some funky buttons to stop it looking too drab however.  Or a nice red belt/ shoe combo.

Source: Stolen from Three Dresses Project with Leila's permission!

I've been waiting for the new Cake Patterns Red Velvet dress and it's finally on sale!  Steph has been teasing us with pics of hers on Twitter and it looks amazing!  I was going to do this in teal ponte, but I'm realising writing this list I have a lot of blue things planned, so I may make this up in burgundy or charcoal grey instead.  Isn't Leila's version gorgeous?  (and such a gorgeous girl! - click here to see more pics and read her blog post.)

Underneath it all

I'm never made any underwear but I have stashed some t-shirts which are now too big and I'm planning to make some SoZo vests and knickers out of them.

I've also got plans to make a couple of underskirts for those cotton dresses which stick to my winter tights a bit too much!  Gertie and Tasia have great tutorials here and here.

Baby it's Cold Outside

Not only am I anxiously awaiting the Red Velvet dress, but Steph has designed a whole collection around it.  When I saw the Carmine jacket I was totally hooked!  I am planning this in either a striped navy and white knit or a plain navy or burgundy.  But we have to wait til October for the pattern - boo! (apologies for the quality of the image - I couldn't find a better one since the pattern's not out yet!)

Cosy Nights

I didn't have much of a plan to make nightwear but I am tempted to make some cosy PJs or lounge trousers.  Much as I love the Tofino pattern, I don't want to pay full indie pattern prices for PJs!  I may make Maria Denmark's Lara Lounge Pants or else the Simplicity free pyjama pattern.  This might well get left til later while I see how I am getting on with the rest of the queue!

Tender Tootsies

I'm not about to start knitting socks and I don't wear slippers, so I'll probably skip this category!

Wow, that's loads when I see it written down like that!   4 (possibly 5 skirts), 1 pair of trousers, 2 tops (plus a knitting project), 4 dresses, a jacket and a "maybe" plan of PJs and undies.  Pretty sure I will make the underskirts but the PJs, pants and vests may wait til later in the season!  2 months isn't realistic is it?  I guess that is my whole season sewing list and I'll see what I can get done within the 2 months of the sewalong!

Now can I stick to this or will my plans get derailed by some new sewalong or  pattern release?

Are you doing FESA?  Do you have a sewing plan each season or are you more a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of sewist? Are you excited about the new Cake patterns too?

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The last dress of summer

I love this fabric! I fell in love with it in Goldhawk Road at the Epic Blogger Meet up in April. Of course I have no idea of the name of the shop but it sells a lot of Liberty fabric, as well as precut packages of lawn in 3 metre cuts. The quality is lovely - the selvage confirms it is Freedom Fabrics.  I think it was £20 for 3 metres.

I was concerned I might need to line this as the fabric is so lightweight but it's really opaque. Perfect summer dress material! It's very smooth and silky - lovely to wear.

I finally used my Simplicity 2444 pattern which I got free in Sew magazine earlier this year. It took this long to get to the front of the sewing queue! And haven't other bloggers made some gorgeous versions of this pattern? Roisin has to be the 2444 queen - 7 versions (love her latest Passage over Piedmont version)! Rehanon used the bodice to great effect on her Simplex. Char from TRexes and Tiaras has made about 8! It's a popular pattern!

I love the double diagonal waist darts on this pattern. Would be great to make it in a less busy fabric so you can see them better. I was worried about doing an FBA with no bust dart but I rotated one dart up to the bust, made the adjustment and rotated it back again. Worked like  charm - thanks Twitter (as usual).

I did my usual length adjustments - 2.5" on the bodice and 2" on the skirt.  All the seams were finished on my overlocker, making it pretty speedy to put together. I was tempted to skip the facings in favour of bias tape, but Roisin advised against it. As she is the queen I went with her advice! The armhole facings are just strips of fabric anyway so probably easier to use those than to make bias!

Not sure why (and it's not hugely obvious in the pics) but I have a bit of gaping at the front neckline. Any ideas what might be causing it?  Looking at the pics I could probably stand to have a bit taken out at the waist too.

Pictures were taken in Henley - on - Thames after a full day of wear (hence the creases). But the backdrop is too pretty to pass up for want of an iron! And as it feels like summer is over now, this is definitely the last summer dress I'll be blogging for a while! 

I'm planning autumn sewing now and will be posting my plans shortly. Have you seen the Fall Essentials Sew Along that Sarah at Rhinestones and Telephones is hosting? It's a great idea so I am going to be working along with that. First stop -  wintery Anna dress! And the By Hand London ladies are hosting a sewalong too. I do love a good sewalong!

Monday, 9 September 2013

The kite - flying Hawthorn

A new Colette pattern is always a big event - those ladies are so good at marketing! From the sneaky peaks they gave us, the #sewcialists on Twitter suspected a shirt dress and I was thrilled as I've wanted to tackle one for a while. Great Colette instructions and a fab shirt dress pattern is a match made in heaven for a nervous sewist!

When I saw Hawthorn I certainly wasn't disappointed. I love the neckline and collar shape and the full skirt is so pretty. Of course Sarai and the team's lovely styling and gorgeous models always help sell a pattern to me! (Have you voted for Colette in the Martha Stewart awards by the way? Link here).
I nabbed the pattern as soon as Backstitch had it in stock and luckily the perfect fabric fell into my lap on a quick dive into Remnant Kings in Glasgow on my way home from my mum's. I spotted this lovely pale blue cotton with a textured weave and was amazed on checking the price to see that it was £5 a metre! Sold to the crazed sewist who already has far too much stuff to lug on the train back down south!

I then stupidly sat on it for a while and concentrated on other projects, I think for fear it would be too difficult. And then I realised August was marching on and I wasn't likely to have much call to wear a pale blue dress in winter so I'd better get on with it!  But I needn't have worried - Colette held my hand throughout! 

As usual I made a muslin. I cut a size 8 bodice grading to a 10 at the waist and a 10 skirt to fit the waist. I cut the skirt to the longest length.  Based on tissue fit I lengthened by 3". As the pattern said it had quite a loose fit I thought I might get away without an FBA but no such luck. The pattern only has waist darts but I decided to keep the small bust dart created rather than rotate it back and mess with side seam length! I think a broad shoulder adjustment might work well for me on the next version (oh yes, version 2 planned already!)

Spot the small-person-flashing-her-knickers photobomb?
 The only construction issue I found (in common with a few others in the Flickr group is that the collar as drafted didn't reach the circles on the neckline. Apparently if you use 1/4" seams it works fine but I had cut, sewn (with the usual 5/8" seams) and pressed collar by the time I realised! Still looking at the model and a few other finished dresses I don't think it makes much difference.
As usual I was paralysed by button choice - why is this so hard? I think it's the fear of spoiling something you've put so much work into by choosing the wrong ones. I wanted coloured ones as I feel there could be something of a nurse's uniform about the dress, but nothing was speaking to me. I tried to find vintage ones but as I needed 14 (an extra one due to extra bodice length added) I couldn't find any that seemed right. Wooden buttons might have been cute but they tend to be bigger than I would choose for a shirt dress.  I finally chose these clear flower shaped ones which I think work well.
So after the ordeal of 14 buttonholes, 3 broken needles and running out of thread half way down so that the skirt buttonholes are ever so slightly darker than the bodice ones, I read to the end of the instructions and discovered I needed to hand stitch the hem! I used a catch stitch rather than slip stitch as it's so pretty but that is one long hem! I think it took 3 evenings to do. I recently bought some beeswax which I used for the first time to coat the thread and i am sold! Amazing stuff - try it if you often get into a tangle when hand sewing! As a result I think this is some of the neatest catch stitching I have ever done!
Also as you can barely see the collar for my hair, here's a pic of it on Marjorie:
I wore the dress to a kite festival on the August Bank holiday weekend. There wasn't nearly enough wind for the kite displays although we did get a bit of flying done as well as some paddling! I got a few compliments on my Hawthorn from people in the vintage and craft tent (isn't it great to be able to say "thanks I made it"?) And had a great chat with a guy who is launching a vintage clothes range after learning to sew to make costumes for his alter-ego drag act! I love the way sewing gets you involved in such random conversations!

I picked up some fab goodies for a giveaway too which I'll be doing in a couple of weeks to celebrate passing 100 Blog Lovin followers so look out for that!