Nan’s New Look (6096)

Some time last summer my nan saw me in my New Look 6096 maxi dress and told me how much she liked it. I must have been in a good mood because something made me say, “would you like one for Christmas?” even though I’m very much a selfish sewer. I bought the fabric, took her measurements and then got so caught up in all the other things I was making over Christmas (I made foody hampers) and with moving house and trying to make it nice for Christmas that time got away from me and Christmas eve sneaked up and I still hadn’t made her dress.

Fortunately my nan didn’t mind me being such a rubbish granddaughter and said she didn’t mind waiting for it. Though I’m not sure she was expecting to wait quite so long. I finally got round to it the week before we went on holiday so that she’d get to wear it out while we were away.

We stayed in a lovely villa in the middle of a fruit farm in Coral Bay in Cyprus, which gave this lovely backdrop for a couple of quick snaps of my nan in her dress.

nanny6096

 

It’s a New Look 6096 with a few little alterations. The neckline on my version is quite wide and I knew my nan wouldn’t feel comfortable in that so I took about an inch off the centre front and back and added it back in again under the sleeves (and widened them to match). I also raised the front neckline by about an inch and lengthened the sleeves slightly. I cut the skirt at the length my nan said that she likes best when I measured her, so it’s a bit longer than the short skirt version.

nan-back-6096

My nan loves monochrome prints and I hunted for aaaages to find one I thought she’d like but all the ones I liked the look of seemed to be on knit fabric. I found this poly crepe de chine on eBay and thought it was pretty and that she might like it even though it’s beige and black and not black and white. It’s lovely and slinky. I also bought some of the black and white viscose Katie used on her Sew Bossy swap with Amy and let my nan choose which one she wanted. I was glad she chose this one as I had sneaky selfish plans for the black and white one if she didn’t choose it.

mum and nan
My mum and my nan

I think this is a good dress to have used for unselfish sewing as the fit is probably quite forgiving because of the elastic. I don’t think I really went into much detail about how the dress is constructed the last time I made it. It’s nice and simple, for the arms and the neckline you just press the edges under 1/4 inch, then 1/2 inch and then top stitch close the fold to make a channel for the elastic. For the channel under the bust you use the bodice seam and press it down towards the skirt and top stitch. I French seamed everywhere for a nice finish inside (and because I’m still scared of my overlocker, though I have nearly made a Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono tee – just hemming to go but my sewing machine is fighting me).

Looking at these photographs while sat in my room with many names (dancing room, breakfast room, brunchatorium) is making me miss the sunshine very much. I love Cyprus, I lived there for two years while I was growing up as my dad was in the army and I’ve been back there on holiday three times now. You can’t beat somewhere where a man will sell you avocados in a pub and the ice cream man gives you a free bag of quails eggs. He also offered us a kilo of halloumi, which we probably should have bought as we got through quite a lot of it.

How about you? Ever bought food from somewhere unusual?

 

Miette cardigan and other wooly achievements

Hello! Remember me? I used to sew things and then write about them here. Well I still don’t actually have a sewn garment to show you as I have spent precisely zero minutes at my sewing machine so far this year but I do have a handmade garment.

miette cardigan
Ta dah!

I knit a cardigan. I am ridiculously proud of managing to knit myself something wearable. I’m not particularly good at knitting. I’m slow and awkward. A work friend tried to teach me how to cast on once and I’m pretty sure she was getting so frustrated she wanted to hit me. (I still can’t – and won’t – do it the way with two needles)

I took the Knit Lab Craftsy course toward the end of last year and got a lot more capable and confident. You knit a lacy scarf along with the class to teach you different stitches and techniques. If you don’t knit and would like to, I really recommend it as Stefanie Japel is adorable and it gives a really thorough grounding in the basics. After finishing the scarf I moved on to these lovely fingerless mitten things to practice the techniques I knew I’d need for my end goal, which was always a Miette having seen loads of versions of it all over the Internet. (I originally asked my nan if she’d knit me one but she just laughed at me – apparently she’s not good enough, but she’s a nan, I don’t understand this. So I had no choice but to learn.)

Andi Satterlund fingerless mittens
Mitts are basically just tiny one armed jumpers for your hands, right?

After the mittens I knit a cabled scarf as a Christmas present for a friend – I do like to throw myself into things – but I don’t have any photos of that. I then bit the bullet and bought some cascade 220 and cast on my Miette.

I knit the 38″ size and I think I knit it faaaar too tight as I used a whole skein and a half less wool than the pattern says you need. Of course I didn’t do anything as sensible as knit a gauge swatch before starting. After blocking it fits everywhere but the cuffs, where I cast off too tight. It fits there but it’s not that comfortable. I have seen some mentions of “stretchy bind off” online that I should probably look into a bit further and learn how to do it.

Pratting about trying poses
Pratting about trying poses, I am so awkward in front of the camera

The knitting went okay, I messed up a few things and there were places where my stitch count had wandered but instead of going back and finding the mistake I tended to just do some sneaky increases or decreases under the arms.

Please excuse the terrible quality photos, apparently there is no good light in my garden. These were actually taken back in March before me and Manfriend went out to watch the rugby for one of his friend’s birthday so they were a bit rushed. I will try harder and maybe find somewhere more interesting for my next finished garment. Which I’m hoping will be soon as I’m going on holiday with my family two weeks and I’m going to try to get a couple of things made to take with me. I have a Sewaholic Gabriola skirt cut out and I have plans for some tops. I’ve also started work on a dress I promised my nan before Christmas so hopefully I’ll have a bronzed pensioner in a slinky dress to show you the next time I post. Helloooo, weird search term traffic!

Two Weddings and a Mad Rush

Way back in December two of my favourite people got married. Unfortunately*, it wasn’t to each other so I had two weddings to attend. 132 miles apart…

I went to the ceremony and reception of a good friend from work’s wedding in Ceredigion in the morning and then travelled to the evening reception of another friend in Bristol.

So the mad rush in the title refers to the day of the weddings but also to the making of my outfit. I set myself lots of unreasonable targets this past festive season and I should have just bought an outfit but I bought this fabric a while ago with the intention of making a self drafted pencil skirt and a slinky Grainline Scout tee so a pencil skirt and a scout I was making. I can be stubborn. I finished sewing at half 11 on the Friday before the weddings. I was cursing myself but I was pleased with the finished outfit.

shortwood-skirt1
Oh also, new hair. I suddenly hated the blonde and needed to change it.

I’ll talk about the skirt first. I used the skirt block I made during my craftsy course and rewatched the lesson on turning it into an empire line skirt. Then made a toile and I was happy with the fit and only widened the back darts very slightly. After sewing up the actual skirt though I think I might need to do a bit of a swayback adjustment.

shortwood-back
Terrible, terrible seam matching and I actually tried, sob.

I cut the bottom off the back pattern piece to draft the pleat panel. I just cut it into strips and added extra paper between each one, folded them closed then added seam allowance and cut the excess paper off while the pleats were still folded to allow the right seam allowances for them.

I had to take the side seams in a little pretty much all the way down from my high hip as this is a stretch woven fabric and the extra ease built in to the block just looked silly.

shortwood-skirt2

I’ve decided to give any patterns I draft myself names rather than just describing them every time I use them – empire line pencil skirt with pleated back doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. So I’m calling this the Shortwood skirt as the reception I went to in Bristol was held in Shortwood Lodge golf club. And Shortwood is more pronounceable than Sgubor Teile, which is where the first one was.

shortwood-shapes
Throwing some shapes.

IMG_4655The Scout was made with this silky satin from Abakhan. I’d ordered samples of the green and the red beforehand as I was thinking about making a slinky Anna dress for my work Christmas party but changed my mind in favour of the Christmas Hunks fabric. I think I must have been sent the wrong swatches as this fabric is completely different to the swatches. Here is a picture of the swatch, which is a lot slinkier and doesn’t have a shiny side. I didn’t open the parcel for ages due to moving so it would have been too late to send it back.

I used the wrong side of the fabric as it had a less shiny finish and was still able to get the look I’d been aiming for. I cut a size 10 and it had just the right sort of fit for tucking in to the skirt and I do like it with jeans too. But I think I’ll possibly try a size 8 for my next version or maybe grade between sizes, keeping the shoulders and arms the same and then bring it in slightly from the bust down. I dunno.

scout2

I don’t know what’s causing those lines from my bust down to my hips. Something being too tight or too loose maybe? I am terrible at diagnosing fitting issues.

scout1

I tried using my rolled hem foot for the hem and it went terribly. Seriously look at my awful, awful stitching:

Scout rolled hem
You can also see how shiny the right side of the fabric is.

I originally tried taking pictures in the garden but the light just wasn’t playing ball so I moved into my kitchen dancing area (after moving all the tins of paint and tools lying around) but I thought I’d leave you with a couple of the silly ones I took outside purely because I like them.

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Manfriend and his nephew had just finished turning my garage into a gym, hence the pose – expect more of this.

 

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Fuzzy faced Manfriend makes his first appearance.

*Unfortunate for me, not them. They’re very happy with the people they married.

Top 5 of 2014: Goals

Top 5 2014 #sewingtop5

Top 5 Goals: What do you hope to achieve in 2015?

1. Tackle fitting

I want to get better at fitting patterns and figure out what standard adjustments I need to be making. I have ordered myself Fit for Real People with my Christmas money from my lovely Nan. I’m looking forward to reading it and hopefully having many aha moments and finally understanding what the hell short waisted means.

2. Draft my bodice sloper

I want to finish doing the Craftsy bodice sloper course, both to help with goal one and so that I can make myself my ideal dress bodice.

3. Learn to sew with knits

I like wearing knits and I really want to have a go at sewing them. Tilly and the Buttons’ Coco dress is top of my list, followed by a Deer and Doe Plantain t’shirt. Both are already traced off and ready to go and I have fabric for them. I also got ahead of myself last night and bought Dixie DIY’s Ballet dress and some fabric to make one (or two) as well.

4. Make a coat

I’m going to buy myself the Deer and Doe Pavot Jacket pattern. It’s an unlined spring sort of coat so it’s not as scary as a heavy winter coat or anything but it’ll still stretch me a bit. I’ve already bought some royal blue gabardine and some pretty flowery bias tape for finishing the seams and I’m looking forward to it.

5. Sew things I wear

An obvious one I suppose but I think it’s something to always keep in mind.

Ooh and one supplementary goal that isn’t sewing but I thought I’d give knitting an honorary mention. I want to knit myself a cardigan. I’ve bought some lovely red wool and I’m going to cast on an Andi Satterlund miette cardgian as soon as I finish knitting the scarf I’m working on at the moment. It was supposed to be a Christmas present for a good friend but I’m rubbish.

Top 5 of 2014: Misses

Top 5 2014 #sewingtop5

Top 5 Misses: What went wrong or never got worn?

1. Love at First Stitch Megan dress

As I said in my top 5 hits post I loved this dress but unfortunately the first time it was washed the blue from the skirt ran onto the bodice and ruined the dress. So I’ve only worn it twice.

I washed it a few more times with colour catchers in a vain hope of fixing it but it just ran more. The top got less patchy and it now looks like this:

IMG_4461

 

I could possibly still wear it but I doubt I will. I’m probably going to use this one as a toile to iron out the fitting kinks I had. I think I need a sway back adjustment on it to sort out the lines I had at the small of my back.

2. Raccoon skirt (No post about this one)

Racoon skirt

 

Elasticated waists just aren’t me. I have thought about using it for the skirt of another colour blocked Megan dress so it gets some wear.

3. Strapless dress

This is an unblogged experiment that didn’t go too well. I do have some photos but I seem to have lost my memory card. I took it out of my laptop and then apparently ate it as it has completely vanished. It was a really simple self drafted thing using the left over fabric from my floral Anna dress. just a rectangle for the bodice and a vague skirt shape with elastic channels sewn along the top of the bodice and from the waist seam. It was then a bit floofy so I shirred the back of the bodice. It all worked out okay except for the bodice being a bit too short and it just generally being a bit meh. So I’ve never worn it and I don’t think I really will. I will update this post with a photo when I find my memory card.

4. Red By Hand London Anna dress

Red By Hand London Anna dress

The bodice had fit and dodgy sewing issues exacerbating the fit issues – that weird pull line across the bust in the photo is from the side seams not matching, I know because I had the same problem in my second version and had to keep unpicking one side and doing it again. The arm holes weren’t big enough so it wasn’t comfortable. I have since taken the bodice off and thrown it away and I plan to recut the bodice with my leftover fabric. Though to be honest I’m not sure if I’ll even wear it that often when it fits better. The fabric is just a bit stiff and easily creased and I’m not sure it suits the dress that well. We’ll see though.

5. Anemone

IMG_3651

I really like this skirt and I feel bad putting it in the misses but I have only worn it twice. I think mainly because I haven’t really got anything that goes with it. And it’s a little too big so it turns round while I’m wearing it. I may try taking it in but I doubt it as the main reason I don’t wear it is because the navy doesn’t go with black. I have bought some lovely purple fabric – that called itself gaberchino – with a view to making another anemone that I might get more wear out of but I may buy the chardon skirt pattern instead as I think the weight of the fabric would be perfect for the pleats.

Overall I’m not too unhappy with my misses really I am still learning and I don’t regret making any of the things I’ve made. I’ve learnt new skills with every make and I am figuring out more about what I’ll wear and what I won’t. Of course that didn’t stop me buying the By Hand London Holly jumpsuit pattern yesterday when I’ve never worn a jumpsuit in my life.

Top 5 of 2014: Hits

Top 5 2014 #sewingtop5

As I only started sewing in March and haven’t really made that many things (11 including a UFO and a non-blogged experiment) this might be a bit of a challenge for me but I love reading other people’s Top 5s and I am very much a list maker so I couldn’t not join in.

Top 5 Hits: What have you worn or loved the most?

1. By Hand London Anna Maxi dress

By hand london anna maxi

I wore the hell out of this dress over the summer. I love it. It’s floaty and swishy and it’s comfortable to wear in warm weather without the need to shave your legs, which is always a bonus in my books. I took care with the finishing of it as I knew I’d wear it lots and I’m glad I did as it’s surviving really well. I french seamed everything and bias bound the back seam and edge of the facing.

I do need to take it in slightly now but I’m not sure how to go about it. The dress sort of stands away from my back so I was thinking about just increasing the size of the back darts and taking a wedge out at each of the seams where the skirt panels meet. If that makes any sense.

2. New Look 6096 Maxi

IMG_3852

I basically live in maxi dresses over the summer so this was fated to be another winner for me. It’s comfortable and cool and there there isn’t a zip, which is a definite plus for me. The fabric was only cheap so it’s looking a bit tired already but I don’t really care, I will more than likely carry on wearing it until it falls apart.

3. Christmas dress – Simplicity 1418

IMG_4382

Well, how could a dress festooned with muscular, topless elves and santas not make it into my top 5?

It’s not exactly going to be my most worn item being so seasonal but I bloody love it.

4. Polka dot Simplicity 2444

IMG_3499

I don’t wear this that often but often enough to count it as a hit I think. It’s a nice one for work in the summer.

5. Love at First Stitch Megan dress

Love at First Stitch Megan dress

This is only part hit – I will explain more in my next post – but it’s definitely one of the things I was most proud of making. I love the sleeves (my first) and the shape of the dress and it has nice memories attached to it as made it to go out for amazing food.

But really as I only bought my sewing machine in March and had no sewing experience before that every single garment I’ve made is a hit just for existing.

A Hunky Festive Simplicity 1418

Christmas hunks dress
Christmas Hunks dress in action at my work Christmas party

This right here is the reason I started sewing. So I can own party dresses that have hunky topless festive dudes all over them. I am so obscenely pleased with it. Please excuse the quality of the photos, I don’t know why they’re so grainy and it’s too dark for me to bother retaking them now. I took one outside and it’s just as bad so it’s probably camera settings rather than lighting. I will fiddle before the next time.

The pattern is Simplicity 1418, one of the Project Runway line. I saw someone Instagram their version ages ago when stalking the #sewing hashtag (I can’t remember who sorry) and immediately knew I had to own the pattern. I haven’t seen that many versions of it online but the ones I have I really like and I love my own and can see myself making more, even if it’s not the most wearable of styles for daily life.

I made this for my work Christmas do on Friday and left it far too last minute due to completing on my own house in the beginning of November and spending every waking moment since being harried, painting things, moving things, assembling things and generally being stressed out and busy. I made my toile on Sunday, cut out my bits on Monday and then sewed the dress up Tuesday and Wednesday, and hemmed it (by machine rather than my hand as I’d hoped) on Thursday – nothing like cutting it fine.

For my toile I sewed up a size 14 and it fit nicely on the bust but was too tight at the waist, the sleeves were massive and the neckline gaped front and back. So I:

  • Pinched 1.5cm out of front centre bodice piece
  • Took 2cm out of the back and then pivoted it into the waist dart, trying to be all fancy
  • Added 0.5cm to the side seams
  • Took 3cm out of the centre of the sleeve pieces
  • Cut the elastic and the elastic casing 3cm smaller too
  • I also took an inch and a half off the length to make the dress work better with my petticoat

Fit wise I think it’s okay but before making it again I will probably take a smidge more out at the front, it’s just a tad gapey still and the arms still feel a bit big but I think if the chest fit better that would help the sleeves too, without the risk of me taking more out and ending up not being able to lift my arms properly.

christmas hunks no petticoat
Minus the petticoat

I lined the bodice instead of using the facings for a tidier finish inside and because I didn’t really like the idea of finishing princess seams. This was my first go at sewing them and it went okay but not brilliantly. I am not very good at easing things in, just don’t understand it and can’t do it properly. The instructions with this pattern were really helpful for me as they get you to stay stitch the curve and then snip into it to release the tension and then the bodice pieces go together a lot more easily. And I know it’s a lot easier because on my lining I staystitched the wrong bit, which was no help at all. (I’d staystitched the wrong bit on the shell too, but quickly stitched the centre too before pinning them after discovering what a pain the lining was without the staystitching.)

I took lots of care with pattern placement but you wouldn’t be able to tell at all from looking at the finished dress. I cut out my lining pieces first so I had full versions of the bits that needed to be cut on the fold and then I used them as my pattern pieces on my main fabric so I could cut it out on one layer. I really wanted this handsome dude with the reindeer front and foremost on the bodice.

Bodice in pieces
Cut out and ready to go

I then tried to pattern match the bodice seams but failed miserably as I completely forgot to account for the seam allowances. I was quite annoyed with myself for that when it dawned on me but now it’s sewn up I still love the dress so I’m less cross with myself. I’m more cross with myself for chopping flasher hunk’s head off. When I did the skirt pieces I was starting to panic that I didn’t have enough fabric left and just cut them out without thinking about placement at all, which is really irritating as he only needed to be about an inch or two lower. Oh well, I shan’t be losing sleep over it.

The dress has a side zip so I got to have a whole hunk on the back of the bodice without having to faff with (no doubt failed) attempts to pattern match. I particularly like his defined thighs, I like a muscular thigh. (This is why I don’t whinge when the manfriend watches the rugby.)

chrismas hunks back
Hunky elf

It was my first side zip and it went okay, I got awfully confused at a couple of points but it went in okay and matches at the waist. I put in one side, did the zip up and then cut a little snip into the zip tape at the waist seam on the other side – having seen the tip on the Sew Over It Instagram account –  and then used that snip to match it to the waist seam of the dress, which worked loads better for me than trying to use a pin to mark the waist seam as I’ve done previously. It’s not really very concealed though.

I got loads of compliments on the dress when I wore it and one woman even ran after me to ask me where I got it from and excitedly asked me if I was a dressmaker when I said I’d made it. She actually seemed really disappointed when I said no. I wore it with a petticoat, which always makes me feel extra glamorous and awesome. Manfriend picked me up from the train station and I was feeling silly so I ran to meet him and kicked a leg back when kissing him hello to pretend I was in an old movie.

Oh I just realised that I mentioned altering the elastic and casing but didn’t really mention them and they’re quite an interesting feature so I probably should talk about them. A piece of 3/4 inch wide elastic gets its own little casing and then gets basted to the underside of the sleeves, I think to keep the off the shoulder sleeves a bit more secure.

Christmas Hunks dress

I love this dress so much. I love that it was a bit more challenging and I love the outcome. I’m going to wear it for prancing round the house on Christmas Day and manfriend is possibly going to wear a bow tie so he matches my fanciness.

It’s all me Mimi

Well firstly, hello to everyone who found me through Tilly’s blog! I actually have another Tilly make for you today, I hope you like it. Meet Mimi.

mimi-blouse

I actually started making this (I really want to call it her) months ago and it seems to have taken me ages to actually get around to finishing it. The pieces sat cut out for weeks, then I had a little flurry of activity, nearly finished it and then kept putting off the handstitching and buttons – I hate sewing buttons on. Always have and even now I think I would rather sit and slipstitch a hem on a circle skirt than sew a couple of buttons on. Leigh logic.

mimi-buttons
And here are the buttons. I’m guessing from the shimmer that they’re shell or mother of pearl. The packet didn’t say and I know nothing of these things.

Mimi is the most complicated pattern I’ve sewn and I’m quite pleased with the new skills I’ve learnt and I wouldn’t say I found it too challenging a make, even though I did have several accidents. I interfaced the wrong bit of collar but looked up the sewalongs of other things with collars to see if it mattered that much and decided to still use the bit I wanted to as the top – it had the prettier flowers on and looked better. I also sewed the left bodice front to the right side of the yoke and vice versa and then had to unpick and redo them, which wasn’t fun considering I was using French seams. Oh and button holes were a blinkin’ nightmare. The buttonhole on my machine seems to be really picky and needs me to reset the buttonhole stitch if I touch anything. Just turning the handcrank slightly to make sure the thread uptake lever thingy (I know all the words) was up made it sew one side of the buttonhole and then just stop and sew the bartack over and over again. So now I reset then sew, no matter how many times I’ve already reset it because buttonholes are seriously not fun to unpick. I know this, I had to do it three times.

mimi-poser
I attempted the fashion blogger sideways gaze thing. It didn’t go well.
mimi-laughing
And then I burst out laughing.

I sewed Mimi in a straight size 3 because I made my Megan in a 4 and I had a gapey back so I thought that a 3 would fit better around the shoulders and neck and I hoped that the loose design would mean it still fit okay everywhere else, just a little closer than intended. This almost worked out but I was foiled by my arms. The sleeves are a little tight around the armscye and at the sleeve hem. Side note, am I the only one who changes armscye to arm scythe in their heads when they read or write it? I have absolutely  no idea how you actually say it – arm sigh? Arm sky? Arm shy?

But anyway, back on topic. When I move house, Manfriend’s Power Rack is going to live in my garage and I will start working out and running more than I have been over the last few months and will hopefully slim down a little bit and the sleeves will fit better. Or I the bicep gainz will make it fit even worse, we’ll see. For future makes I might see if I can trace a size bigger at the armhole anyway. I did wonder if sewing it again with a slightly bigger seam allowance would help make this version fit better. Any suggestions?

The fabric is cotton lawn from Abakhan and I really love it. I have a tea dress from Dorothy Perkins in a very similar print that I’ve always loved so I fell for this fabric straight away and bought 3 metres. I used about 1.5m for Mimi so I’ve been having a think about what to make with the rest. I think I’d probably be able to get New Look 6069 (view C) out what I have left but I have also been toying with making a circle skirt, maybe a button up version to have a sort of mix and match set with the Mimi blouse. Skirt, blouse and a sort of shirt dress looking thing when worn together.

mimi-french
French seams

I used french seams throughout the blouse, even on the armscye because I hate finishing seams with a zig zag stitch and Jen from Grainline says you can use French seams for armholes so I took her word for it and I love the neat finish it gives to the insides.

Mimi isn’t something I would normally buy to wear but I really loved the look of it and it was one of the things that made me buy Love at First Stitch. When I first wore it I wasn’t sure how me it was as the neck felt really low, which is something I tend to avoid but looking at these photos it’s not low at all so I don’t know what planet I was on that particularly day. I really love the way it looks in these photos. I adore the fabric and I really like that I can wear the blouse loose with skinny jeans or trousers or tucked into a skirt so I’m definitely considering this a win.

mimi-outside
It was far too windy outside for photos, hence us coming inside for the jeans versions.

Adventures in Pattern Cutting

Or maybe that should be misadventures in pattern cutting…

I went to my first pattern cutting class last Thursday but when I checked in at reception I found out that there was a chance the course wouldn’t go ahead if there weren’t enough of us. They needed 12-14 and only 7 of us turned up so the course has been cancelled.

They put the first session on as we were all there and there was still a chance the course could go ahead if they managed to get some students from some of the daytime art and design courses to come. I really didn’t enjoy the first class anyway and ended up sloping off early so I’m actually relieved that it’s been cancelled, as now I’ll get a refund.

I realised after about 10 minutes that the course just wasn’t going to suit me and the way I learn. There were several “characters” in the class and I could see myself getting frustrated. I also didn’t learn anything. We were shown tools and some standard size 12 bodice blocks(/slopers), then we had a break and when we came back the lecturer was going to get us to trace around them. Then if we got time she was going to talk about pockets.
The whole point of me going on the course was because I want to make my own block because I struggle to alter patterns to fit me. Tracing a pattern isn’t going to help me with that. And surely even if we weren’t going to make the blocks from scratch she should be talking about the basics like dart manipulation before going on to pockets. Maybe she just didn’t see the point of actually starting anything meaty if the course wasn’t going to run but I also didn’t see the point of staying if I wasn’t going to learn anything so I left during the break.

When I got home I bought Patternmaking basics: The Skirt Sloper and Patternmaking Basics: The Bodice Sloper from Craftsy instead. If you’ve never heard of Craftsy they are a company who offer online video courses. I have almost finished the skirt sloper course, I got manfriend to take my measurements on Saturday, drafting the sloper took next to no time and my toile fitted without any adjustments needed. The rest of the course is then talking about how to adapt your basic block into other types of skirts and other design ideas like raising or lowering the waist – There is very definitely an empire pencil skirt in my future.

The bodice course is a lot more involved, with most of the course taking you through making the sloper (there are a lot more steps) and then there are other course you can buy that deal more with the design elements. Craftsy were having a sale so I decided to splurge and buy a few of the other courses I know I’d probably end up wanting later on. I bought Creative Necklines and Creative Sleeves. I probably should have bought Creative Darts and Seam Lines but I couldn’t afford all three and sleeves won out, though when I just looked to get the links they’ve all gone down to £19 each now so if it they’re still that price on payday I might invest.

Anyway, this is all just waffle really. Basically, I love craftsy and am going to binge learn pattern cutting. I also picked up Pattern Cutting Made Easy by Gillian Holman, which is nice to have along side the Craftsy courses but I couldn’t have learnt from it on its own. It’s more useful for ideas of things to try. There’s a nice little pleat insert thing it shows you how to make that I’m planning to put on the back of my empire line pencil skirt. If only I had any money left to buy fabric!

Tribute August: Who inspires me

I recently discovered the Sewcialists, an online community of  people who like sewing and social media. It seems like a great way to discover other sewing blogs – both on the blog aggregate and the flickr group – and connect with like-minded people. Each month there is a themed sewalong, with past themes featuring colours and most recently Oonapalooza – sewing something inspired by Oonaballoona. This month’s theme is (was?) to sew something by a blogger, who inspires you.

I was mentally running through my feedreader when it suddenly occurred to me that it was Sarah from A Million Dresses who actually inspired me to finally bite the bullet and buy my sewing machine. And it was through her that I then discovered Dolly Clacket’s blog and then through her the whole online sewing community. So really I should make a Christine Haynes Emery dress in some sort of fabulous print.

Image taken from A Million Dresses

But then I wandered through town on my lunchbreak and saw a dress in a shop window that instantly made me think of Katie, from What Katie Sews. I really admire that she’s so aware of her own style and seems to only sew things that fit it and that she’ll wear. I have tried really hard to only sew things that I know I’ll wear and I have worn most of my handmade makes – my red Anna was only worn once but that’s down to fit and has now been dismantled awaiting a new bodice. And when I think about what RTW (ready to wear – it took me ages to figure that out, I kept thinking the R was retail) get the most wear it’s just not fit and flare dresses these days. I do wear them and I’ve got lots of wear out of my Simplicity 2444 but really knit things get the fastest rotation. I have a knit duck print dress that I wear a lot (I wore it on my first date with my manfriend so it will always have a special place in my heart) and a striped straight dress (shift? Sheath? I have no idea what dresses are what) that also gets worn a lot. So I’m going to have a go at sewing knits and I’m going to count it as being inspired by Katie.

I’ve ordered myself a walking foot and the Coco pattern, I’ll order some ponte di roma tonight and get cracking. If sewing knits isn’t horrific I can see Coco dresses with tights or leggings and boots becoming my autumn uniform.

Another blogger who I find really inspiring is Fiona of Diary of a Chain Stitcher. I really like how she challenges herself to try new fabrics and new techniques. Her technique checklist is a great idea that I’m possibly going to steal. Otherwise I’ll put off lapped zips and slippery fabrics forever.

I’ve also been feeling very inspired by Inge and again Katie with their recent pattern drafting. I have actually registered for a pattern cutting course at a local college – nothing like running before you can walk. It’s a whole year course, broken into three 10 week blocks and I’ve only registered for the first one so far, in case I hate it and don’t want to do any more. I’m really excited though. We start with shirts and blouses so I should probably have a go at sewing one before the course starts on the 18th – eeeek!

Pretty much every pattern I’ve bought has been inspired by seeing another blogger’s version but a couple that spring to mind are New Look 6069, which I bought after seeing this version of Lynne’s from Ozzy Blackbeard. Isn’t it lovely? I haven’t made it yet as I can’t decide on the fabric and I was scared of sleeves so wanted to make Megan before trying anything else sleeved.

Image pinched from Ozzy Blackbeard

And the Deer and Doe Anemone skirt after seeing Paunnet’s versions.

Image from Paunnet.com

I also LOVE this cocktail print FrankenAnna from Tabatha Tweedle of Thread Carefully

The Cocktail Anna Dress - side view
Image taken from Thread Carefully

And this Annalotte with added peplum from Jenny at Sewing Pies.

Tangerine Roses
Image taken from Sewing Pies

I’m sure there are dozens more that I’ll kick myself for forgetting as soon as I press publish on this post but that’s a few of the brilliant bloggers who have inspired me. So I’ve sort of joined in my first sewcialists theme, except not really as I haven’t actually made anything, ooh unless I can count my colour blocked Megan as being inspired by Tilly’s colour blocked version in the book.