Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Jalie 2921 scarf collar top - finished!

So, here I am in my Jalie scarf collar top.

This is the first time I’ve made a Jalie pattern and I have to tell you that I am super-impressed. I thought I was probably on to a good thing because this pattern has 33 reviews on Pattern Review and patterns are usually popular there for a very good reason. Here’s what it looks like

I like the style because although it’s got the comfort of a knit top, it’s a little dressier than a basic t-shirt. The fabric I used is rayon with some silk in it – it’s very drapey and quite sheer but ok to work with.

When I first noticed (and I do mean noticed because it’s in very small print!) that the seam allowances were only ¼” I was rather alarmed. Being used to the usual 5/8” that the big pattern companies allow I was fearful that there just wouldn’t be enough to work with – but, I have to admit, I was completely WRONG. I loved how it all just slotted together and whizzed through my serger without any trouble at all. I think that from now on I’m going to trim all seam allowances for knits to ¼” – it makes attaching the sleeves so much easier!

Of course, I have to mention the neat burrito technique for attaching the collar! The instructions had me thoroughly intrigued – I just couldn’t fathom out how it was going to work. For those who haven’t got this pattern it’s a bit difficult to explain but basically you have to roll the front and back inside the collar and sew around the collar with the top inside it. But I had faith – after all, I told myself, 33 Pattern Reviewers can’t be wrong. I meticulously followed the instructions, being very careful to get the right side and the wrong side the right way round (if you know what I mean) and, yes, it worked. It was so exciting when I fished the top out of the 1” gap at the end of the collar and the seam allowances were all neatly enclosed inside.

I think I’m definitely nuts about knits at the moment because next on the cutting table is this one,

Vogue 1179, which I’m making in a black double knit (another thing I'm nuts about at the moment!). More soon ……….

Saturday, 25 September 2010

10 things about me .......

I am very honoured to have been nominated to receive the Beautiful Blogger award

by three very beautiful bloggers, who you must go and visit: Vanessa from Sew Filled to the Brim, Gail from My Fabrication and Trudy from Sewing with Trudy. My heartfelt thanks to all three of you. I should also offer my apologies for taking so long to respond, life has been rather hectic this week (perhaps I should have been nominated for a Bad Blogger award instead?)

I am now supposed to tell you ten things about me:

1. I love to cook. I have over a hundred cookery books but I think that my favourite one is Kitchen Sense by Mitchell Davis –

it’s not particularly glossy, it doesn’t have any pictures but his recipes have never failed me. (Trudy - you said you didn’t like to cook but this might be one to try?)

2. I don’t know a lot about opera but I do love to go. Some years ago my husband took me to the famous Salzburg Opera Festival (in Austria) – which was wonderful. (Vanessa – this one is for you because this is where your favourite movie, The Sound of Music, was filmed). Here is a picture of me with Salzburg and the Sound of Music hills in the background.

3. I also don’t know much about sport but in the year 2000 my husband and I were lucky enough to be invited to the Olympic Games in Sydney. It was AMAZING. (Gail – your home town is a wonderful city!)

4. I can’t sing. Simon Cowell would have me off any stage in double fast time!

5. I have a huge shoe collection built up over many years. I am trying to cut my shoe buying habit right down but that’s not been working out too well.

6. When I’m not reading sewing books or magazines I like to read novels. One of my favourites is Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens.

It has it all – high drama, love, pathos and comedy.

7. I don’t much like exercise but recently I have taken to going for a brisk walk every morning before breakfast and I actually quite enjoy it.

8. I have never made anything in plaid. Of all the things you have to do to make a garment, cutting out is my least favourite so I always shy away from anything that makes this task more complicated. That said, I do love plaid fabric so, one day, I really must take the plaid plunge.

9. Nor have I ever attempted welt pockets, despite me saying some months ago, on this very blog, that I wanted to try. Must try harder!

10. I love to sew. Oh, but maybe you knew that one already.

I am going to duck out of the passing this award on except to say that, if you are a blogger, YOU are beautiful and I would love to know 10 things about you.

On the sewing front, I have finished the Jalie scarf collar top (what a great pattern this is!) and will post about it as soon as I’ve got some pictures. Until then, have a great weekend everyone.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Another Simplicity 'Amazing Fit' dress finished!

I’ve plunged into my fall/autumn sewing by making myself an essential wardrobe staple – a little black dress.

I used what is rapidly becoming one of my favourite patterns – the ‘Amazing Fit’ dress, Simplicity 2648. My first version, blogged about here, was in a vivid orange. This time, hurrah, I remembered to attach the belt so I could make use of a nice looking black buckle that I have had in my stash for a while. Here’s a close up of the belt and buckle.

The fabric is a double knit, purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics. This is my first time working with double knit fabric and I have to tell you that I LOVE it. I really like how you can use it for a pattern that is designed for a woven but it has a nice bit of stretch and doesn’t wrinkle or crease. You can put it in the washing machine and it’s so practical and comfortable, great for travelling. You can use it to make a casual looking dress or even something quite dressy and smart. Also it’s easy to sew with. I’ve been asking myself, why have I never used it before?

I made the orange version of this dress unlined, as per the pattern instructions, which worked out fine but I did have to give the neck and armhole facings a really fierce steam pressing to keep them lying flat. For this version, as the fabric wouldn’t have taken well to a hot steaming, I decided that I would do away with the facings and line the bodice with a thin tricot. That way I got a clean finish with the edges but also kept the stretch factor of the double knit. Here’s a picture of the inside of the dress.

So, autumn garment number one has been completed and I think it’s going to be a very useful wardrobe basic!

Next up is the Jalie scarf collar top. I have seen lots of gorgeous versions of this top, and I am fascinated by the construction technique for the collar, so I am really keen to give it a try. I have cut it out in a lovely deep pink rayon and silk jersey. More soon …….

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The coat chronicles continued .....

A big thank you to everyone who commented on my dithering over the Lady Grey coat pattern in my last post. Your extremely astute opinions helped me clarify what I really felt about my dilemma. The overwhelming consensus was, at the very least, proceed with caution! Some said don’t do it at all. Whilst I am not saying that I’m never going to make it, I have decided that I am definitely not going to make it now. I shall, however, be following the Sew-Along with keen interest and envious admiration.

I do love the pattern but, as I am small, top heavy, short-waisted and not particularly thin, I really don’t think this is the style for me. I have to confess, however, that I don’t always follow the ‘rules’ when it comes to determining what I might look good in and what I want to make. For instance, it is often advised that small ladies should avoid full length dresses and large prints, yet one of my favourite dresses is my maxi dress, made from Simplicity 3503 (blogged about here and here). It’s long and the print is huge. I totally agree with the advice that The Slapdash Sewist offered me: “if you're comfortable in what you're wearing, you'll look good. So just *decide* it's going to flatter you and it will”. I think that is very true of my maxi dress – it doesn’t really matter whether it actually flatters me or not because every time I put it on it makes me feel cool and carefree and makes me smile!

So I don’t mind taking risks when deciding what to sew but I’m not in the mood to do it with a coat. A coat is a lot of work and takes up a lot of space in the wardrobe so I want a coat that I am going to be able to wear often and always feel good in. Lindsay T commented that she felt I would “look better in a more streamlined and classic style”. As soon as I read that I thought YES, that’s what I really want – streamlined and classic is what my wardrobe needs. So I have been looking through pattern catalogues and my collection of Burda magazines to find something that fits the bill and have found some promising contenders.

Still obsessed with the idea of my coat being camel, I set off for the Goldhawk Road to do some research on cost and availability of camel coloured coating. I went into most of the stores before finding exactly what I wanted. My credit card came out and what was supposed to be a research mission turned into a buying trip. Here it is, pictured with the reference books I have been studying in preparation for the task!

It’s 100% wool, beautifully soft and is a delicious melted toffee shade. It cost £12 per metre.

So, last week I had a coat pattern but no fabric. Now I have the fabric but no coat pattern!

I have to tell you that I am quite exhausted by this coat before I have even begun so, for now, I am going to turn my energy to making a few less demanding items of clothing to get my autumn wardrobe going. After all, I am going to be needing something to wear underneath this coat, when it finally gets made!

In the meantime, what about you - do you know what ‘the rules’ for your particular body shape are? Do you care?

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Is the Lady Grey for me?

For the last week or so I have been eagerly waiting for my Lady Grey coat pattern to arrive from Colette Patterns so that I can count myself in on Gertie’s coat sew-along. Finally, hurrah, it arrived today.

But, here’s the thing. Despite the delightful anticipation, despite my great interest in other people’s preparations for the task, I have been harbouring a few doubts. Is this Lady the one for me?

I would like to be part of a sew-in and I think that this one is going to be especially fun. The coat oozes style – that big collar, the flared skirt and wide sleeves are definitely eye-catching and I love them. However, those are the very things that are making me hesitate. I am short and easily swamped so, if I’m honest, I'm not sure if this would have been my first choice for a coat pattern to flatter my figure. I have looked at the pattern pieces and can see how I could reduce the lapels, the collar and the flare but I don't think I want to do that - wouldn’t I then actually be making a different coat? It is those style elements that make this coat distinctive. I like the look. Hmmm it’s a conundrum.

In the meantime I have been pondering on fabric. My first thought was to go for classic black – you can’t go wrong with a black coat. But then I was in the hairdressers (getting my highlights done – lot of time sitting about!) where I thoroughly perused the September issue of Vogue and I discovered that this season’s colour for coats is CAMEL. Those fashion-savvy people at Vogue say: “Invest in a classic camel coat and we guarantee you’ll wear it forever”. With that in mind I’m going to check out the discount fabric stores in the Goldhawk Road (London) to see exactly how much I’m going to have to invest to get 4 ¼ yards (oooh she’s a fabric hungry lady!) of camel wool for this coat.

I have to say that the thought of a coat in delicious caramel shade of camel – all expensive and elegant looking – is getting me quite inspired.

Also I must mention that along with the Lady Grey I ordered the Rooibos dress pattern and, I have to tell you that I’m definitely excited by it – I think this one (made a little longer than the model is wearing) is ‘me’. It’s gone straight into my autumn ‘to do’ pile.

In the meantime, what do you think of the prospect of me in a camel Lady Grey – at 5ft 2” am I too small to carry it off? Help, I'm in a frenzy of indecision ......

Friday, 3 September 2010

The thrill of a frill - Simplicity top finished!

Bearing in mind my weakness for frills and ruffles and my great liking for patterns that offer separate pieces for B, C or D cup sizes, I really don’t know why I didn’t get around to making up Simplicity 2599 earlier. This pattern has been sitting around in my stash since it was issued last year – as soon as I saw it I leapt on it. And I’ve had the coral coloured silk I planned to use for it since the spring of this year. All summer I kept meaning to make it but, somehow, it never reached the top of the pile - until now. But, as they say, better late than never and here it is

In case you’re wondering, I’m wearing it with the skirt I made from the April issue of Burda Magazine (blogged about in this post). So I’ve got ruffles at my neck, a flounce round my hem and a bow at the back! Is that too much?

The top is pretty easy to make but the ruffles do take a bit of fussing with to get just right, especially with a slippery silky fabric. As I mentioned in my last post, I tried out a new technique to make this easier and did the gathering of the ruffles with my new best friend, my serger. This way the ruffles get the edges finished at the same time as the gathering threads are put in – you then just pull up the needle threads to adjust the ruffles to the exact length you want them and sew them to the front. Here’s a close up of the ruffles

And here’s one with a ruffle lifted up so you can see how it is attached to the front.

At the back of the neck there is a button and loop closure. If you want to make this top quicker you could actually do without this (I can take the top on and off without undoing the button). However, I like the elegant look of the closure and I found some cute looking rose shaped buttons in my button box (I have no idea where they came from – do things mysteriously appear in your home?!), so I used one of them

I think that this pattern is definitely worthy of another outing at some time in the near future but, in the meantime, I’m starting to think that summer sewing has to stop now …… I need to do some serious planning for my autumn (fall)/winter wardrobe.
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