Saturday, 26 September 2009


The lovely Trudy Callan from Sewing with Trudy has very kindly nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger Award, so I am now entitled to display this delightful logo on my blog.

The rules for accepting this award call for me to tell you seven things that you don’t know about me, after which I may nominate seven other blogs to receive this award.

So, seven things about me

1. I left school at sixteen but last year I completed a five year, part time degree course, studying Humanities at The Open University. I received my BA at a graduation ceremony last May.

2. Until I began studying for my degree I worked as a television production executive.

3. Both my husband and I are British but we got married in New York City because we love it there so much.

4. I like to cook and over the years I have amassed a large collection of cookery books – Mr Fabulous tells me that I have over 120 but he doesn’t complain too much because, fortunately, he likes to eat.

5. When I was a young girl my mother made me a salmon pink trouser suit – I still remember how much I loved that suit and I think that’s where my love of sewing all began.

6. I have, however, never made myself a salmon pink trouser suit and I think that it is pretty unlikely that I will do so!

7. One day I would like to be skilful enough to make a truly show-stopping dress, perfectly fitted and flawlessly constructed in a stunning design that looks like something from a high end designer boutique.

I love being part of the worldwide sewing community and I like to read as many as I can of the sewing blogs out there. Most of my favourites are well established and, deservedly, extremely popular and have already received this award and/or many others. I would therefore like to pass on this award to three blogger buddies who, like me, are relative beginners in the blogging world. My nominations go to

A Sewn Wardrobe
Kelly from Sew much to do, Sew little time
Sandra from The Surly Seamstress

All three are writing entertaining and interesting blogs and are sewing beautiful things.

Happy blogging to you all.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009


So, taking a break from making dresses for a moment or two, I'm turning my attention to getting some basic separates together. Here in the UK Simplicity patterns have all been in a half price sale recently so I grabbed these two new ones -

I loved this one as soon as I saw it. I particularly like the view with the waistband and peplum and I like that little tie neckband but I also like the plain bodice version and the neck ruffle so there's lots of mixing and matching possibilities with the one pattern. For anyone looking for "the new shoulder" that the fashion magazines are all raving about, there are two different versions of short, big puffy sleeves but I rather fancy a sleeveless or long sleeve version.

I've already made my muslin, which is shaping up really nicely and, guess what, this pattern is one of those that gives separate pieces for different cup sizes so NO FBA NEEDED! I'm in fitting heaven.

Pattern number two is this one -
I was looking for a basic skirt pattern and this seems to fit the bill nicely - a straight skirt with simple lines but with options for pockets, belt loops and yoke decoration. And, I've got to tell you, the words"Step by step to sewing success!" on the envelope were a big attraction: "sewing success" - don't you just love those words? Although I bought this one for the skirt pattern, when I got it home I took a closer look at the blouse and have decided that I want to make that too (I have a weakness for ruffles). I've never made a kimono sleeve blouse so I'm not quite sure how I will tackle the fba on that but I have no doubt that my fitting bible, Fit for Real People (Pati Palmer and Marto Alto), will have the solution for that.

I'm reckoning on getting quite a few outfits out of these two patterns - so, enough of the chat, now all I have to do is get on and make them ...................

Thursday, 17 September 2009


I think I’m having a dress thing at the moment because I've made myself another dress -

It’s made from Kwik Sew 3521 and it's what I call a real party dress - a classic shape with a fitted bodice, scoop neck and full skirt.

I made it up in a beautiful silk charmeuse bought from Gorgeous Fabrics. I love the big ‘flower garden’ print and because it has a black background I’m thinking that this could take me through the winter party season as well as summer: an all seasons dress. Now, silk charmeuse might seem like delicate stuff, and it's a bit slippy to sew, but it turns out that it’s quite resilient – this dress has already had a glass of wine spilt down the front (well, I did say it was a party dress) and it came out of the washing machine, on the silk programme, none the worse for wear.

I rather like Kwik Sew patterns – their instructions and illustrations are nice and clear and they sometimes do things a bit differently from the Big 4 which is interesting to try. With this pattern the bodice has what I think is called an edge to edge lining, which I rather like because it saves fiddling around with facings and has a nice clean look inside. If you are using a lightweight fabric, like this silk, they tell you to stabilize it by fusing some interfacing, cut 1” wide, around the wrong side of the neckline and armholes of the lining pieces.

I did, however, make some changes. I lined the skirt as well as the bodice to give it some fullness. I used an invisible zipper instead of a regular one and I sewed quarter inch twill tape to the seam allowances at the waist to stop it stretching out. I also used a technique for sewing sleeveless dresses that I’ve never actually seen in pattern instructions but I learnt from Connie Long’s great book Easy Guide to Sewing Linings. You trim an eighth of an inch from the lining fabric around the shoulder, blending to the original line near the underarm. When you sew the lining to the fashion fabric you keep the raw edges together and then the outer fabric rolls in slightly and stops the lining showing on the outside.

So, I’m all set to party and would be checking the post for invitations but our local post office workers keep going on strike – I had a big grumble at them on Tuesday because I was waiting for several things to arrive and they told me triumphantly that they had a backlog of millions of things to sort through – I'm hoping that at least one of them is a party invitation for me!

Thursday, 10 September 2009


My maxi is finished and I'm lovin' it!

This is the only full-length dress that I own and I'm really enjoying wearing something a bit different. The main fabric I used is a poly-lycra print called "Let's Play" and I used a plain black poly matte jersey for the neckband. Both of these were purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics. The bodice was lined with some black tricot. Here's the inside

I really liked this pattern, it went together well and I pretty much followed the instructions as written with only a couple of modifications. I ironed some Vilene bias tape (the stuff that Burda Magazine are always telling you to use) on to the front armholes to be certain that the fabric didn't stretch out and gape above the bust. Instead of machine stitching the neck band facing down I hand stitched it because I wanted a clean finish round the outside of the neckline. Lastly, I didn't add the pockets - I told myself that because the fabric is very stretchy and drapey I didn't want to risk them pulling the dress out of shape at the sides but if I'm really honest I think it was because I was so eager to get my maxi done I just didn't want to spend the extra time on them.

This is a pretty straight-forward dress to put together. I think that the only bit you need to be careful about is making sure that the neckband and bodice centre front seams are all lined up just right. Using a different fabric for the neck band meant I had to take particular care about this -

I sewed the bodice and lining with my regular machine, using a stretch stitch, but used my serger to sew the skirt and attach it to the midriff.

I kept seeing all these great maxi dresses made by other Pattern Reviewers and was always thinking I WANT ONE OF THOSE. I wish now I'd made it a bit earlier in the season but better late than never and I'm hoping the maxi thing will still be going on next summer. I'll be wearing mine if you'll wear yours ........

Monday, 7 September 2009


Well Labor Day weekend is nearly over and, here in the UK, the days are getting shorter and the wind is blowing a little colder (and, of course, it's raining) but I'm still working on my summer wardrobe! I just can't look at winter clothes-making until I've made myself a summer maxi dress. This is what I'm working on

It's Simplicity 3503. Lots of people on Pattern Review have made really great looking dresses from this one and I've had it on my list for a while so I'm not going to let the weather deter me. I'm making view E, which has the v-neck and cut-in back, in a multi-coloured poly-lycra knit from Gorgeous Fabrics. It's shaping up really nicely - I'm seeing it as a cross between hippie chic and Miami cool!!! I'm breaking all the rules for short girls - long dress in a large print - but I don't care - soon I shall be wafting around in my maxi dress - I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009


Well I've finished making Vogue 8571 and I'm happy with the result -

Here's the back view, which has a kind of blouson effect - nice design feature or hunchback effect - I'm not entirely sure?

In my earlier post I expressed some misgivings about the neck facing being folded over and hand sewn down (rather than serged on or machine-stitched) but I did do it as instructed and it turns out that I rather like the neat finishing that it gives to the neckline both inside and out - like this

But I didn't follow the pattern instructions for the armholes - they tell you to just fold in the seam allowance and sew it down. I tried this out on my muslin and didn't like it - it came out too wonky looking for my taste. So I cut separate strips of fabric as armbands - sewing them right sides together with the armholes of the dress then turning them inside, folding the edges in and sewing them down. I think the result is much neater -

Apart from that I pretty much followed the pattern instructions.

Now that I'm done I like the dress a lot better than I thought I would but I think that my initial concerns about whether this dress would look any good were based on my muslin. I cut the muslin as a size 8 through the neck and shoulders (I have a narrow back and shoulders) then graded out to a size 12. Size 12 is actually one size smaller than Vogue, according to their measurements, would have had me make, but it was still pretty BIG. I didn't want to mess around too much with this - after all it was supposed to be "Very Easy, Very Vogue" so I just pinned it in all down the sides until it felt like it fitted then cut down the sides of my traced off pattern tissue to match. Lastly I added about an inch in length to the bodice front (curving under the bust in a kind of unscientific freehand way) so that the seam that attached it to the skirt came just below my bust rather than half way up- a kind of half fba - adding length but not width. Interestingly when I compared my new pattern tissue to the original one it turned out that I should have just cut a size 8 all the way down which is pretty crazy because according to Vogue measurements that would make my bust 31.5 inches!!!!! You can take it from me that my bust doesn't measure 31.5 inches. Why oh why do they have to add so much ease to a knit dress?

Now that I've had that little grumble my general view on this pattern is that it does make a nice looking dress that works well for both daytime and evening, depending on the fabric you choose. Now that I've got the fitting sorted out it wouldn't take too long to make another - the instructions only take a page and a quarter with just 16 steps. I can also report that my DH really loves this dress - it seems to have some man-appeal - so I guess that makes it a bit of a winner and well worth making!
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