Thursday, 15 March 2018

Jersey Joy

I've become pretty addicted to sewing with jersey. Anything with a stretch really so that includes knits, sweatshirt, ponte de roma and jerseys. I've made dresses, tops, cardigans, hoodies, sweatshirts, and sweatpants so far. I know a lot of people are put off from sewing with them believing them to be scary, but once you've mastered the right stitch to work with the stretch of the cloth then they're an absolute joy. You can have a simple top sewn in a couple of hours tops and off you go. Sewing with stretch fabrics is becoming more popular. There are some wonderful patterns out there from indie pattern designers and Tilly Walnes has just brought out her latest book Stretch which talks you through sewing with these fabrics step by step along with some wonderful designs for you to make. The other thing I've got addicted to is searching online for the amazing selection of prints you can buy to sew with. I've so many stored away in my I will buy one day folder.

Sewing with stretch fabrics is a lot quicker than with regular cloth too. As there are no darts or zips to worry over, fitting issues are reduced measurably. The most important thing to remember with the sizing of stretch fabrics is how much stretch you have in your cloth and the amount of ease added into the pattern. So first off check your measurments and the finished garment measurements. From that you might want to go up or down a size depending on whether your're using a less stretchy heavier weight ponte de roma or a super stretchy jersey. 

I sew my jerseys on my regular sewing machine, but if you have an overlocker these are perfect for sewing stretch fabrics on. I always use a stretch needle which is designed to sew through the cloth without piercing the weave and as my machine doesn't have a lightning stitch (how I wish it did) I set my machine to a longish stitch which will move with the cloth and not snap when I wear the finished garment. I overlock my seams as I go and my favourite bit is adding the top stitching on patterns that need it. I absolutely love the professional finish that topstitching gives. 

Before you get to cutting your cloth though it's really really important that you wash it first. Otherwise you'll find your lovingly made top is a bit smaller once you wash it to wear the second time. 

I've made a few Gable Tops designed by Jennifer Lauren a New Zealand designer. Find her at Jennifer Lauren Handmade where you can buy Pdf patterns if you want to get on with your sewing pronto like I do.

I absolutely love the boatneck design of this pattern which stays in place as it's neatly sewn down. I managed to squeeze a short sleeved version out of a piece of leftover clouds jersey I found in my stash. The other plus for me is that the patterns are exactly the length I want without having to alter them. I guess if you're shorter than my 6ft then you might need to shorten them though. 

To make sure I don't wear it the wrong way round I stitched a red dot at the back. Sometimes I sew a small piece of ribbon in.

The first Gable top I made was with a 3/4 sleeve in a striped Ponte. A really good basic that gets a lot of wear.

I also added a plain white short sleeved version to my wardrobe. Can you tell I love this pattern?

In fact, I've made a fourth one too which is my favourite of all in a navy stripe cotton jersey. This was such a gorgeous cloth to work with.

After seeing a character on Silent Witness wearing a striped jumper with slightly wider 3/4 sleeves, I thought that's what I'm doing with this top.

The very same day I was on a total sewing roll, having the house to myself for a Saturday, so I used a remnant of jersey to make a Sweetheart Neck Tee from Gertie Does Vintage Casual. 

I'm getting a good supply of jerseys ready for those warmer months when they arrive.

Last week Jennifer Lauren released a new pattern called the Ostara Top and I loved it so it was printed off and made straight away. That jersey she has used is just the business too. It has a beautiful square shaped scoop neck plus a gathered v-neck option very similar to the one I made from Gertie Does Vintage Casual.

I used a lightweight jersey that I already had and as the pattern said it had negative ease I opted to go up a size just in case. I'm considering this top as a toile unless I get round to altering it as it's been useful to show me that I actually need to work to my actual measurements with this pattern. I like my clothes fitted not loose and the neckline doesn't lay flat as it should. I'll be making this again until I get it right.

 The last thing I've made for myself recently from jersey is this Muse Patterns Jenna Cardigan. I made a few in the summer which I entered into an instagram competition, the #cosiecardichallenge hosted by the Stitch Sisters and I won some lovely cloth too.  I was totally taken by this silver sparkly jersey at my local fabric store and thought aha a christmas cardi.

I think I look ready to launch into outer space in this one. 
For the Jenna cardigan there is the option to make it waist or hip length, a round neck or V-neck and to add a gathered yoke which is my favourite style. A totally versatile pattern that you can have lots of fun with I think.

Well that's me caught up with stretch fabric makes for myself. I've made all sort of other things for my family which I'll show you in another post.

Right I'm off to dream about what I'll be sewing up next. There's already a growing pile of ideas. 
See you soon.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Sewing Makes You Love Yourself

As I've got older I know exactly the shapes and look I want to create that make me feel confident and happy. Whenever I wear something uncomfortable or that doesn't suit my mood I have an overwhelming urge to hide. That's not to say I scream look at me, but at 6ft you just tend to get noticed quite a bit, so feeling confident in myself helps a lot. I can honestly say since I lost a bit of weight caused by stress at the end of my second marriage I have not had a day when I've not been happy in my clothes. I've found what I like to wear and I'm lucky enough to be able to make it for myself so that it actually fits.

In this post I want to share with you an amazing pattern that I've utterly fallen in love with for many reasons and to take part in #smyly2018 which means "sewing makes you love yourself". The challenge is focused on the benefits of body positivity and mental health through sewing and is hosted by instagrammers @hattie_van_der_krohn, @lisakisch and @athinakakou. 

I've always been drawn to designs and shapes from the 1930's to the 1950's, but the fifties are my favourite for shapes and fabric designs truth be told. I've never wanted to dress totally period, I prefer to mix it up in a way that suits all of my tastes. It's the fun and flirty shapes of the 1950's that are my favourite.  As a teenager I'd wear full skirts with fitted jackets picked up from secondhand shops (life pre the days of it being called vintage). From fitted wiggle dresses and skirts to colourful little cardigans thrown over the top is my favourite look as I've got older, but I do wear a fuller frock for those days I feel a bit girly. 

A few years back when my girls were younger I slowly put on weight. Not a lot, but enough to make me not want to draw attention to my waist and tummy as I felt self-conscious about it. I still wore things I made and liked, but not 100% liked or felt totally relaxed and confident in.  I never changed my love of wearing vintage and colourful printed clothes even when I stood in the playground. I guess what I'm saying is that I didn't try to fit in by not standing out. In my early thirties I'd realised finally that the horrible feeling of sadness I'd always had of not fitting in was not such an issue. I was always going to be on the outside because I'm not afraid to voice my opinions and just be me rather than try to fit in with the crowd. Therefore, it was much better to just carry on as I was and be happy with it. Funny how that change of mindset can liberate so much. Like a lot of other people I have had periods of complete lows, but truthfully these were caused more by my sense of inner self than any concern about my outer self, so I suppose I am fairly body positive. However, it took me a long time to feel secure in any sense that I was worth liking as a person. That's all I'll say on that subject though. 

So then we jump forward to 2015 and I had a body shape I didn't feel self-conscious about and I felt good in myself. That's when my wardrobe truly took off and I started filling it with clothes that I really wanted to wear.

Now the fabulous pattern that is starting to fill up my closet as I make more versions of it is the Rita Blouse from Charm Patterns created by the hugely talented Gretchen Hirst. I do use a lot of her patterns as they absolutely nail the shapes I'm most drawn to.

Funnily, I had been searching for this exact shape in a pattern but had drawn a blank and then Gertie announced she was launching the pattern for Rita. I was thrilled as I always start off with a shape I want rather than seeing a pattern first and being inspired.  

When the pattern was launched I downloaded the Pdf version rather than wait for it to be posted from the States. Sewing needed to start quickly. I chose to make it in the pink gingham in my first picture and now here's the best part, the pattern had a range of cup sizes up to a DD. Now I'm a 34 FF so narrow underbust but a few dress sizes up in the boobage. As it's gathered around the bust and then fitted in the panels underneath I was able to easily choose the size pattern that would fit me best with no alterations here. The only alteration I had to make was in the length of the bottom part, which I didn't do in my first top. 

It's an absolute dream of a pattern to make up, uses very little cloth which means some of the smaller bits of vintage cloth I have work very well with it and it feels wonderful to wear.

After making six of these tops I thought hmm, this would make a beautiful frock. I could see it with a full skirt as well as a fitted skirt. In my stash I had this gorgeous stretch cotton sateen which was perfect for a fitted frock so the fabric led the way.

The only changes to the pattern I had to make were on the blouse panels. I marked where my waistline is (which is slightly lower than on the pattern markings) and then I added 1.5cm for seams to attach the top to the skirt. I traced off a new pattern for the dress and searched for a pencil skirt pattern I already had.

My next thought was how am I actually going to get into the frock as I didn't want to have a zip all the way to the top which would alter the lovely line of gathering at the back neckline. 

I decided to put the zip a few inches down from the back neckline and drafted a placket to make it neat inside. To get into it with the zip open I simply step in through the stretchy neck and then zip up. It worked perfectly so I was thrilled.

I don't have any other photos of me wearing the finished dress as it was a bit tricky trying to balance a selfie stick so I could get a full shot when I was alone in the house. No able photographers were on hand that day. 

I wore the dress on Sunday evening and I'll be able to wear it for our Lindy Hop dance lessons too as there's enough room for movement in that skirt. 
It's so comfortable, which is a huge plus for me. I hate feeling like I'm wearing my clothes, you know too tight and you end up thinking I can't wait to get this darned thing off.

I'm beyond pleased with my finished frock and for me this one sums up what the #smyly2018 challenge is all about that sewing makes you love yourself. Well more precisely it made me feel good about myself, wearing something I made in a shape I wanted to wear. 

There will definitely be more of these frocks. I'm already thinking of a summery floral cotton with a full skirt as my next one. 

Monday, 18 September 2017

New convert to the Overall

Before I continue with my sewing catchup I thought I'd share with you my latest and most exciting make, one that I've worn every day since I finished the stitchery.  I'd seen various instagrammer and blog sewers sporting their versions of The Wearing History Overalls and loved them instantly. I queried am I too old, will I look an idiot, will I feel like an idiot wearing them? That's the problem with the memory I have of my cousin and her boyfriend in matching 1970's brown cord dungarees, they totally put me off one piece trouser anything, but I'm being won over. I thought these fit my love of the 1940's as Lauren has taken them from an original pattern of the period and updated it. I also fell for the fact that they show off your figure and have that gorgeous heart shaped front bodice. 

So I knew I had to have a pair and pressed buy on the digital download button. That way I had the pattern instantly to use, well after cutting and taping of course. As soon as I'd bought them, we all got struck down with the Novovirus so we had to write off the last week of the summer holidays totally. The first week back to school for Millie and for Rosey starting Sixth form was super busy and then finally I had my moment. I made my pattern up and then my lovely man gave me the money to buy the denim.

I was even most well behaved and washed the cloth first. I know you should do this each and every time, but I'm sometimes impatient and just get on with the whole making process.

Then I did something I never ever do. I actually made a Toile. Most definitely not a wearable toile because there's no way I'm going out in public in thin see through floral bedsheet overalls. 
Making the Toile helped me check lots of fitting issues I thought I might have being as I'm 6ft with a longish torso and my bust is a few dress sizes up on my body. I knew I'd have to lengthen the legs but actually this was only by a smidgen, the rise definitely needed lengthening as they were a bit high in the crotch and the straps needed lengthening slightly. Everything else fitted well so all good there I thought.

Once I'd made the Overalls up in the stretch denim I'd chosen I did have to do a few more alterations as this cloth handles very differently to thin cotton. As I wanted a fitted shape at the bust and waist I took in the underbust darts another inch on both. That meant I had to unpick the waistband I'd so neatly topstitched in place so I could move that along too. I'm so glad I did because I got the look I was after once all that was done.

To neatly edge top of the front and back bodice I made up some bias binding from the denim and that rolled along nicely by mitrering into each of the V points

I'm amazed by how straightforward these were to make as they look quite complicated, but don't let that put you off. I cut the pattern out the night before, had a bit of late night sewing and then finished them the next day. Luckily my mum was coming over for lunch so I asked her to buy me the buttons I'd totally forgotten to get. 

That was on Friday and first thing on Saturday I popped them on. From the moment I wore them I felt utterly comfortable and good in how they looked.  

I love the big button design over a placket to do them up, but when I needed a wee they certainly weren't quick to get out of, so best to get there before I'm desperately hopping from foot to foot, A friend put a zip in hers for this reason and I think if I make another pair then thats what I'll do too. 

The other super cute part of this pattern are the wide straps that cross over at the back. 

I wore them first over a 1950's blouse I'd made, then a t-shirt, but both with different cardi's for warmth and then in the evening opted for wearing them on their own which gives a nice bit of cleavage to make them a tiny bit more dressy. They look great with converse, brogues and boots too so they're really easy to mix and match.

Have you guessed that I'm really in love with this make. 

Overalls - Wearing History Pack B size 20 
2.5m stretch denim and Six buttons.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Sew Hello

Right O', I'm jumping back on this here blog again. 

I've missed writing in my little space to talk. Ever since all of the changes of the past few years I just lost my blogging mojo and with this life changing so has the focus of what I want to chat about and show you.  I'm still as creative as ever, probably far more so, but the focus has switched very much to my dressmaking adventures and that's what I'll be focusing on here from now on, along with all the usual chat about stuff in general.

Over the past two, nearly three years since being made redundant from education I've had the luxury of more time to sew and I've been using that time most productively. You could almost say bordering on obsessive. What I would give to have an endless supply of all the fabrics and patterns I'd like to work with. But hey ho, patience Lisa, you'll get to them one day. So I've been busily stitching away for myself, for my loved ones and for my lovely customers. 

I've decided the best start would be to show you many of the clothes I've completed since I last posted and then I will start writing in more detail about just one thing. That's my plan. I've five posts all ready and waiting to go. Steadily, one at a time.

      The Celine Bodice and Sophia Skirt from Boundless Style by Kristiann Boos at Victory  

My first frock is a late winter make from earlier this year in a soft tartan.
The patterns in this book are downloaded from a CD ready to print so there is the cutting and sticking element involved. I've bought quite a few digital patterns now from New Zealand and American designers rather then wait an age for the postage and after the first few it doesn't feel like too much of a chore putting all those pieces of paper together. If you're impatient like me to get your hands on a pattern then I think it's a blooming marvellous invention. 

The book is split into sections for a choice of bodices, sleeves and skirts so you have the freedom to choose how you'll put your frock shapes together. To be honest I mix and match patterns hacking them together all the time these days. Often I don't like the skirt in the pattern, just the featured bodice so it means I can get exactly the shape I want.

The darts on the Celine bodice and the Sophia skirt are one of my favourite features in this frock. The bust darts radiate out from the keyhole and the skirt darts follow this same angle. This bust dart feature means I don't have to do a Full Bust Adjustment which is normally essential having a upper bust which is two sizes down from my actual boobage. I've still not worn this frock, although I love it. It got put away on the WIP pile as I need to bring the zip in as it's a bit too big then hopefully it will get plenty of outings this season.

My next make was a request from Millie for trousers for her GCSE Textiles trip to the Cambridge Botanical Gardens.

She described the shape she was after, then we went fabric shopping and she chose a lightweight jersey which has a lovely drape to it. 

We drafted up a pattern taking into account the fact that as we're all tall it's not just about lengthening the legs, but the front and back rise too.

This was all a bit last minute so I ended up sewing it up on Mother's Day for her to wear the next day.  Luckily they worked out exactly as she had planned in her mind and she was thrilled with them.

Unbeknown to Millie I was working on a couple of makes for her upcoming 15th birthday at the same time. She'd said she loved the Mary Dress when she saw it in a magazine and as she likes completely different fabric patterns to me I knew I would be safe with the choice of a black and white frock for her.

I opted for solid fabric sleeves for her version and lengthened the arms while I was at it. 
This was a beautiful dress to make in a lightweight wool, the only difficult part was the curved yoke on the bodice which meant lots of pinning and slow and steady stitching to get it laying perfectly.

She's worn this a few times already as she loved it.

I also made her a blouse in a flamingo print rayon. I'd made this pattern up for myself and as she had loved the shape I knew it would be another suprise winner.

I made mine up in a vintage fabric using a 1970's pattern I found in the charity shop. I altered the sleeves from floaty balloons to cap sleeves which suit me far more. I think it has more of a 1930's shape now which I far prefer.

Shirt making for my love still continues. This is the last shirt he requested in a plain black and now he would like a black waistcoat to go with it. I've made him a waistcoat already which I'll show you in my upcoming posts.

My final two makes for today are a blouse and a frock from the same pattern in Gertie Sews Vintage Casual. I absolutely love Gretschen Hirst's designs. She totally nails it with vintage style and fun in my opinion.

I'd been searching high and low for a pattern for a blouse with a rever collar. I tried a few, but they didn't work out how I hoped, then I saw this one in my much thumbed book. Not sure why I'd missed it before, but luckily I spotted it in the end.

I love clothes that are figure hugging and fit with my love of vintage styles from the 30's to the 60's. For this blouse I used a contemporary anchor print fabric that I'd bought to make a man's shirt. Instead it became a lady blouse. 

Sailor Blouse - Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

This pattern is created from a dress bodice with the additions of a peplum and a lot of button loops to the front. I wish I'd mentioned it to my costumier pal beforehand as she gave me a great tip afterwards for making sure they don't slip and slide when sewing them all in place. Hey ho, I know for next time, if there is one.

As I loved the shape of the bodice so much I decided to make the full blown frock up too. 
I didn't buy any fabric specifically for this, I just used some charity shop cloth that had been hiding in my cupboard a while.

This dress has some really interesting features, piping on the sleeves, a waist stay which I'd not sewn before and the fabulous front zip which makes me feel all retro naughty nurse.

Zip Front Dress - Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

This is a great shape and fabulous to wear, but the fabric puts me off slightly so I guess I'll be making this one up again in something cheerier. That's after the long list of other makes I already have in my head.

I've so many other projects to share with you before I'm all caught up and then I plan to start talking in more detail about each of the projects I'm working on if you'd be interested.

Until then. Tatty bye.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Vintage Cloth Lover .... that's Me

Has it really been that long since I last visited blogland? 
It's now silly o'clock past midnight and I just got the overwhelming urge to write a post, as you do when you're a night owl like me.

My first news is very sad. Last week our dear Alfie Blue died. Back in the days when I blogged regularly, and we lived another life in the countryside,  he featured a lot in my posts with his funny loving ways. You may remember that he came and lived with the girls and I when we moved briefly to my mum's,  after selling our family home. Eventually we had to hand him back to his master and only saw him a couple of times after that. We had to accept that we had lost a lot and so we had to move on,  but hidden away in our hearts where it didn't hurt so much we missed him terribly. I was told he had died by my ex in a very short text so I don't know all the facts, but I do know he was loved incredibly by him and that's as it should be for a sweet kind soul such as our Alfie was.

Now to try and lift the mood I thought you might like to see what I've been stitching of late and to hear about some of my adventures. 

Well most recently, last weekend in fact, whilst my love was having a wonderful history trip time in Ypres with his dad and brothers there was a vintage fabric fair in Felistowe. The Festival of Fabric (run by Amanda Bowden of the Felixstowe School of Sewing) was something I'd been looking forward to for a while. When the time came I was utterly skint. My lovely man made sure I didn't miss the fabric fix I needed though by giving me enough pennies to do a bit of damage so like Cinderella we got dressed in our finest and off we went.

We walked into a hall of delights. Two of my favourite dealers were there, one who's a friend, so we had a good catch up too. Another lady I'd never met before, Vee for Vintage was selling the most ooh and aah cloth. I could have bankrupted us with her fabric, but restrained myself by buying these four.
I also treated myself to a beautiful wool felt brooch made by Lucy of 1940's Style for You who knits the most amazing vintage pieces, makes frocks and sells CC41 shoes, hats and dresses too.

Then we came upon The Vintage Pattern Shop. Good lordy too much delectable choice here. All the patterns have been reproduced onto strong paper with instructions which makes using these a lot less mind boggling than those with no instructions or even a clue which piece is which. 

We had a really interesting chat with Sonny, whose business it is,  about studying fashion, design and well you know all the stuff that dressmaking cloth addicts like.

Now that was on Sunday and that evening my love came home. We spent the next day together and as I do prefer him to fabric and sewing, I waited until the next day to get stitching the idea I already had in my head. 

Using the free pattern from Sew magazine (New Look K6447) and one of the pair of Fotheringay curtains I'd bought on Sunday, I got a cutting and a stitching. 

I can't believe I finished this frock in one day. Head down, no distractions and I was off.

To line the bodice I used a jewel bright purple cotton I found in my cloth cupboard. I love the surprise of seeing it there.

The frock had it's first outing the next evening when we went to see The Viceroy's House as a free preview, followed by dinner. It also scrubbed up well to take me for drinks with a friend at The Gin Palace on the Friday too. All in a frock that cost me £15 to make and is already earning its keep. 

Two days later, while Doris beat the hell out of the outdoors world and after I'd finished a few orders, I squeezed a bit more me sewing time in. This time I had a whirl with the Anna Dress from By Hand London. This comes as a Pdf so it's fun and games jigsawing the pattern together before you get to work on the exciting bit. Thankfully it's a really simple and quick make once that's done.

I chose the subtle barkcloth for this frock that I'd also bought on the Sunday. Even though there's a lot of this cloth, I didn't want to waste it pattern matching as I plan to make some bags from it too. 

I'm not sure if this was the right choice, although my Millie assures me it was.

 No photo wearing it as yet as it still needs the zip stitching in.

Finishing off a truly cloth and frock related week, a pal and I, who I've know since art college days, went to the Costume & Textile Association's free talk on the New Look. Boy that was interesting and has made me want to join their group too so I can go and look at the archives of amazing fashions they hold.

When I got home I started on one of the vintage patterns I'd bought on Sunday. I need to mention at this point that I'm not always industrious like this. In fact I haven't sewn this much in ages, just some weeks I guess you get the fire in your belly and I had the time. 

I chose to make the version with the tie and it needs a lot of cloth. Often with patterns I find myself choosing what I have in my stash that fits the amount needed. This cloth was gifted to me by a dressmaker friend after it was given it to her by a lady in her WI group. She also gave me another stunning 1950's piece that I haven't dared cut into yet.

As I didn't have enough to make the bias binding for the neckline and sleeves I bought some ready made black binding. I was also debating whether to make the ties in black. That's why this chunk of blackncloth (which is destined to become a man's shirt) is wound around the waist, I'm planning on it looking far more flattering than this and have decided I need to use the same fabric.

Now I think I'll end this post here for two reasons. One, I think any more and you'd be nodding off and two,'s 2am so I really should be nodding off. 

I hope and aim to be back shortly as I've lots to share if you don't mind.

Ta ta for now.