Having made the Elisalex twice, and being of the opinion that it's a great little pattern, I was quite keen to make up the latest offering from By Hand London: the Victoria Blazer. So, I did, as soon as it arrived.
I made it up on Saturday, from a very soft and oddly silky denim from Our Patterned Hand, and lined it with a cotton poplin I bought ages ago, and which was languishing in my stash, way down the pile.
This pattern makes up very quickly, and I really did enjoy it. Every single piece fitted together so perfectly. I kept thinking, this is the bit where it will all go wrong. I bet this won't fit like it should (just the pessimistic side of me!) but everything was perfect: the front/collar dart (with some rather aggressive snipping!), the collar and lapel pieces, the lining and shell, the sleeves, the cuffs - everything. And that reminds me: the sleeve head has the perfect amount of ease in it. Seriously, I have never before managed to ease a sleeve in without getting some pesky gathers in there somewhere. But these...not a gather in sight.
Unless the collar and lapels are left standing up, and not folded back, the lining is always going to be readily visible, so that should be taken into consideration when choosing something suitable.
I would make this jacket again, maybe in a fabric with a bit more body.
Edited, to add: In fact, with the collar and lapels folded back, the lining only shows glimpses of itself. In the photos I have purposely folded mine right back to show the lining but I had forgotten. Still, better to choose a lining you are fond of, as it will show itself sooner or later!
So, this is my second Elisalex and if I look smug, it's because I love it. I have to tell you though, using the Michael Miller Eiffel Towers fabric wasn't my idea. I just happened to have it in my stash when I saw the wonderful Roisin's dress and obviously, shameful though it is to copy someone outright, it seems I couldn't stop myself and had to make my own, albeit in a different colourway (actually I prefer Roisin's). Thanks to Roisin for being so gracious about it, and not minding me copying her and then posting the dress on my blog.
Right. I had mentioned that in this version I might take a little off the shoulders, and it ended up being about 5mm on each seam (equalling 10mm per shoulder). As there was enough gapping in the armscye - above the bust - to show my bra straps, I took a little out of the princess seams above the bust. There is still a little gapping but I didn't want to end up taking so much out that it would restrict movement. It's that old fitting chestnut again: striking the correct balance between it looking like it fits and being comfortable to move around in. I think I have got it right in this dress, with very little effort.
Now that I have the fit right, I could make up this dress very quickly indeed. And that's even allowing for matching the pleats up with all the seams perfectly. Mine do match utterly perfectly, all round. So does the waist seam at the back. When I make anything with any kind of pleat, or indeed anything that has to match up - seam-wise - I always pin the pleat in place and then pin the skirt to the bodice to see how everything lines up, and then make any adjustments necessary. I also do that before inserting a zip. I pin the waist seam together at the back, to make sure the neckline edges don't need adjusting. I take every precaution I can think of, in order to avoid seamlines that don't match up. I didn't used to...it's just something that has evolved over time, due to shoddy things happening in the past.
This dress is lined with black medium weight lawn, which I enjoyed hand-sewing at the waist and zip edges whilst sitting in from of the TV with the rest of the family. I do like a bit hand sewing. I find it very satisfying.
The hem is finished with black satin bias binding, and my seams have been turned back on themselves and sewn but I don't know what that's called! Oh, and I top-stitched around the neckline and the arms.
I will wear this dress a lot. Usually I fall into the trap of making my dresses uncomfortably "fitted" (!) at the waist, in an effort to make them look more flattering (delusional). Yes, well. It doesn't work, and the dresses are a bit uncomfortable to wear (STUPID!) The Elisalex is so flattering, due to its emphasized hip area, that I actually made the waist a comfy size and it still looks brilliant. Yay! for Elisalex. This is a brilliant pattern, it really is.
Now I just need to make the tartan silk dupion version and not mess it up. I already have a little sailor-themed burlesque pillbox hat to go with the dress, so there is no going back.
Have you seen the By Hand London Victoria pattern? I might like the photos of it but I would be more likely to buy it if it had a line drawing to go with it. I like my line drawings...
As usual, I have been sewing but not blogging about it.
Most recently I made a Colette Laurel dress, which I will blog soon(ish)and the above bright (understatement!) orange drill muslin of an Elisalex dress. I had wanted to make this pattern for a while as it's a bit like one of my faves, Vogue 8511, only with the defining features a bit more pronounced, by which I mean the skirt is more bubbly and the princess seams on the bodice are a nicer shape. Oh, and the back is a bit more special, being cut in a lowish "v".
I wanted to shorten the skirt by quite a bit, as this does come up really really long, but I didn't want to lose the narrowness at the bottom, so I took a big chunk out of the "thigh" area. Once I'd smoothed off the sides, it did look a bit of a rounded shape for a skirt but I thought I'd see it through and I think it came out okay. I like the excess fabric and the way it drapes at the sides (actually, now I come to think of it, I did remove a bit more of the curve when it came to sewing).
I had to make a little extra bust room by increasing the curve of the princess seams by about a little under a centimetre. And when I make the real version of the dress (in tartan silk dupion for my brother's wedding) I think I'll take over a centimetre from each shoulder seam as it feels a little big there, and also across the top of the back.
I know the fabric is ridiculously bright and it makes me look like a cadaver in some lights (not a flattering look) but I like it! The shape of the dress is just lovely and very easy to wear as the skirt is so loose below the waist at least.
I am about to make another one in a quilting cotton to double-check the fit before cutting my silk, so will post that as soon as it's finished.
Now I just have to post everything else I have made. Gosh I am a lazy blogger.
Thank you for your comments on my carnival skulls skirt, and thank you as well for your best wishes. All is well here: my mother-in-law is getting better all the time and we are all happy.
I have made some trousers! Burda 7250. How happy I am, reason being I have never made a pair of trousers I could ever be seen wearing (not even by myself, in the mirror!) I don't just have a problem making trousers that look okay on me; I have a pretty tough time finding any in the shops that I am happy with. I think I am an odd, square sort of shape. Also, as you know, I am short. I look all right in tight jeans but anything else...yuk. I like trousers though, so I was really determined to make some I could wear and be happy with. Perfect Nose suggested Burda and, what can I say? She knows what she's talking about! Thanks, Perfect, if you read this, or even if you don't.
So, these trousers are made of what was described in the ebay listing as "watermarked" cotton, but the fabric doesn't feel like cotton. It feels more synthetic. Whatever. I like it, anyway. I did make up a shorts-length muslin for these trousers, which was essential, as I found I had to make a size and a half larger on the waist, than for the rest. Also I shortened the trousers (in the thigh area) by about 6cm. Next time I think I will shorten the top part (waist to crotch) by around 1-2 cm and widen the waistband further, to allow the trousers to sit lower without making the crotch baggy. The other mod I made was to place the pocket openings lower down, as they were causing the sides of the trousers to stick out just below the waistband. The pattern would have the pocket openings start immediately below where the waistband is attached. But the fantastic thing for me is that, apart from making the waist a little wider and the leg a little shorter, I didn't have to mess about with any other part of the fit...yay!
(Yes, well, this is what I look like when caught unawares, trying to do something about my hair and not holding in my stomach!)
This pattern was so simple to put together. I do really like putting in a mock-fly zip, so that added to the enjoyment!
I will definitely make these again, perhaps in some really nice soft denim I have.
Before I go, I must just say that, yes, my hair is a right mess (exactly as it was when I woke up this morning, hehe!) and I have done no "styling" at all for these photos! I just threw my jeans off, put these trousers on and got to work! Just so you know...I was in such a hurry to take some photos so that they didn't join the queue of other sewing waiting to be blogged.
Thank you everyone, for your comments on my black dress.
Although I have been gone for ages, I have done quite lot of sewing.
A lot has happened around here since I last posted: my mother-in-law had open heart surgery, which didn't initially go according to plan (but she's now recovering well), Nick's closest friend (of more than forty years) unfortunately died (we were expecting it, but it was still a very sad occasion), and I had to have an op on my eye, as I got something stuck in it. This all happened in the first week of March. Instead of making me feel depressed (depression being a totally different thing to feeling sadnes, of course), times like that seem to really bring home the fact that anything can happen at any time, and we'd better blooming enjoy ourselves while we can!
Here is my McCalls M6706 skirt, made in Calaveras quilting cotton by Alexander Henry. It only took about 1.3 m. Here is the line drawing:
I think I have never enjoyed making a skirt more! The skirt came together so quickly. First you sew the rectangle of the front and back together, then insert the zip. Next you baste the pleats in place - this probably took longer than anything else, as I basted them to about four inches down, on both sides of each pleat - and then you attach the waistband (I love slipstitching things like waistbands and plackets, especially now I have an "old person's" spotlight aimed over my shoulder, behind the sofa, so I can sew in front of Masterchef or whatever). I really did like the look of the skirt with the top of the pleats stitched in place, so I may make another, but in a silk taffeta or something, with a matching top (weddings to attend!) but leave the pleats partially stitched.
Underneath, I am wearing my petticoat, which was made from a piece of silky black lining fabric, and some very stiff net. The stiff net is perfectly fine, but I have just bought some soft, bridal quality net for next time. Oh yes, there will be a next time! I already have the fabric. I so enjoy wearing this skirt, with the petticoat just giving it a bit more oomph. Next time I might go for lots more oomph, if I can be bothered with gathering up all that net, which I found a little tiresome. Net is a weird thing to hand sew. It totally has a mind of its own...keeps slipping and wriggling all over the place. Having said that, the petticoat didn't take more than about an hour and a half from start to finish.
I have also made a cowl-neck maxi dress from knit fabric, denim halter dress, and a strapless dress, amongst other things. Will blog about them asap.
With my right hand I am typing and drinking a green smoothie. But my left is busy playing with Pickle, and her ball. Good grief, the noise of this squeaky ball is intense. Maybe it's worse for me as I have hearing aids, or maybe it's that bad for everyone. Pickle doesn't mind; she's having fun.
Here is another black dress that is difficult to photograph with any clarity of detail (and another in the pipeline). Part of the pleasure of making my own clothes is derived from working with fabrics that are visually interesting or beautiful, which usually means colourful. So, if I make a garment in black it means I want it to be useful, and plain often means more versatile.
This sleeveless dress is made in a soft, fluid, draping black linen (at present I'm wearing a sheer top under it). It creases like crazy, which is why it looks a bit crumpled in the photos. I would show you a line drawing of the pattern but can't find one. The pattern comes in three lengths: tunic, above-knee dress (my version), and below-knee dress. There are bust darts, and no waistband. The bodice finishes just under the bust. The zip is centre-back and there are neck and armhole facings. The skirt is an A-line shape. It is unlined.
This dress was very quick and easy to make indeed. And it took only one metre of fabric. I don't usually like facings but now I pin them in place first, so I can stitch them to exactly the right length (for some reason if I sew the ends together first, the facing is never the right length!), I get along with them much better. I thought I would get away with no alterations to the fit whatsoever but, once I tried the dress on with the skirt part attached (I had made a muslin of just the bodice, which took about ten minutes), I could see that, on my shape in particular, I needed the bodice to be much closer fitting under the bust, otherwise it looked like a maternity dress. Obviously, that effect is alleviated if you choose to make the crossover tie belt, as suggested, but I didn't quite have enough fabric for that. So, I pinched about 3/4 of an inch pleats both sides, under the dart points, and it worked perfectly.
In the summer this dress will be so perfect for a hot summer's day. I think I will make another, more brightly coloured one.
Thank you very much to Fiona at Chainstitcher for nominating me for the Liebster Blog Award.
A few months ago, Evie very generously gave me this beautiful stretch crepe, having posted it on her blog as being available to anyone that wanted to give it a home! Having been immediately smitten as soon as I laid eyes on it, I was very lucky to get it before anyone else did.
I eyed it on and off ever since it arrived in the post (a few months ago, I think, although I can't be sure, as time seems to fly every time I so much as blink). Honestly, I liked it so much...the retro geometric look of it, the feel (my fave type of stretch fabric), the drape...I didn't want to ruin it by using it for something that either went totally wrong, or went right but didn't suit me. I was planning to play it safe and make yet another Vogue 2091 DKNY dress (you know how I love that pattern). Thing is, I knew I would be much happier if I made a bit more effort and really did it justice.
So, here is Vogue 1258! Gosh, I love it. The whole time I was making it up, right from the cutting and marking of the fabric, I was expecting it to go all wrong. But I decided that I would take it second by second, and step by step, and not worry about it along the way. So, by the time I had reached the end, and was hemming the skirt, I was kind surprised to find nothing had gone wrong, though some of it felt a bit risky at the time. I'm talking about all those pleats, which converge at the centre front, and the sleeves, which did go wrong, but which I somehow still got to look good.
But weirdly, the whole thing was a very quick make indeed, the fabric behaved itself, the pleats were easy and all the pieces fitted together perfectly. I mentioned the sleeves; I had to leave the actual sleeve/cuff off altogether, and just hem the edge of where it should have been attached (I couldn't get it to sit right where I had clipped diagonally on a corner). Here is the line drawing so you can see what you are looking at!
The upper front and upper back are sewn together and between them make a long tie. There are quite a few pleats which drape from the centre front, as I mentioned earlier, and they are hidden under the tie. The skirt is narrow at the lower edge, with no vent. And yippee, the whole thing just pulls on over one's head!
The only thing I altered, apart from the sleeves, was the neckline, which I raised by a couple of inches or so, otherwise it would have been unwearable for me.
Would I make this again? Yes! Undoubtedly. I want to make millions of them in every colour. It's the new Vogue 2091!
Thank you, Evie, for your generosity. I am so glad I didn't play it safe!
Thank you for your comments on my jumper, skirt and shirt.
Oh dear, it looks like me with my really huge, giant twin in the photos above. Let's just say photos aren't my strong point!
Here are two more things I have made recently, the first being the Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt, above. I made it in black needlecord so it's not showing up very clearly in the photos (what's new!) In the photo below, it looks grey, but it's definitely very black. I got the fabric from DC Fabric Traders on ebay and it's fantastic! I washed it and popped it in the tumble-dryer before cutting, and it's still gorgeous. It irons really well, too.
I am a totally different shape to the Sewaholic and Colette patterns and for that reason I wouldn't bother with anything too fitted (Thurlows, forget it, I'm afraid) but for this skirt (the longest option on the pattern) I didn't have to make any alterations at all, apart from cutting a size 6 on the waist and a 4 on the hip.
I really really like this skirt a lot; it's so easy to wear: it's comfy and goes with everything (looks especially fab with my Chuck sweaters). The skirt was ridiculously fast to make up, and very simple. I made the option with buttoned tabs, but no belt loops. The zip is in the centre back.
There is no doubt I would like to make this skirt again, maybe in a shorter length.
The other thing I'm posting today is a jumper I knitted for Charlie. Charlie chose the colour himself, which his Dad and Grandpa dislike intensely (which makes it all the better, hehe!) After altering the white balance on the camera, this is a pretty accurate representation of the particular shade of purple. It's not at all a blue purple. I believe if I'm going to make something for Charlie he may as well like it, otherwise he will never wear it. But this jumper, he loves it, and calls it his "designer" jumper, for some reason. In his opinion, it's all the more special because I made it for him and he chose the pattern and the colour, too, so I couldn't be happier, and neither could he.
I think this jumper took me about five or six weeks to knit. Apart from the sewing/seaming bit, I loved every minute (cables are my fave thing) and am in fact knitting him another in his second, more practical, colour choice of grey. It's taking ages as I'm also knitting a black HUGE version for Nick (my Other Half) and a cardi for myself.
The pattern for Charlie's jumper is Sirdar 8486 (this pattern goes from a 24" to a 46" chest) and the yarn is a much more "budget" yarn than I have ever used before but I like it a lot and, in fact, ordered some in a mixed brown for myself. It's Sirdar Hayfield Bonus Aran. It's lovely to knit with and it feels light and warm and woolly but it's 80% acrylic (or somesuch nonsense) but it's surprisingly good to look at, too. I haven't washed it yet, so time will tell!
Edited, to add: Charlie has just asked me why I have included our dog's bottom in the first photo. I hadn't realised...sorry!
Despite having not been around on the blog for a while (though still lurking on others), I have been making stuff. Quite a few things, actually. Problem is, because I didn't document any of it at the time, I can't remember many details. I suppose that's not much different to the usual state of affairs around here, since I tend to post a pic and a (relatively) short description most of the time.
So, here I am, posting three of my recent-ish makes.
The first is another Chuck Sweater, but this time in red Cascade 220. I won't go into details, except to say I made the Small size but it could do with being smaller still (despite having a 35.5" bust measurement. That's me, not the sweater). And again, sorry it's a dark photo. Still having trouble on the old photo front.
Next up are tie-front shirt, Vogue 8772, and a green cotton drill Beignet skirt. I won't go into details on the Beignet skirt. I think it's my fourth one (I have a denim one I haven't blogged and, in fact, had forgotten about until now. I made it last July and still have never worn it - it's a bit tight). This skirt: it is what it is! I like it. It's useful. And, yes, I have a bow overload going on here.
The shirt. Hmm. Yes, the shirt. It's one I wanted to make for ages, having made a couple of the McCalls M6436 shirts, which are loose-fitting, where V8772 has a closer fit. It certainly does have a closer fit, and I wish I had kept that in mind when I made my muslin. Yes, I made a muslin but only checked the bust and the general width of the garment. I didn't make a complete muslin; I made a sleeveless shell, and didn't realise the shirt was actually a bit too long from shoulder down to bust. What I needed to do was take it up quite a bit at the shoulder seams, as I now have quite a bit of excess above the bust, which I am always pulling down and adjusting. I think that is the alteration I should have made, but I'm not sure. Because the photo was so hurried I'm afraid it doesn't show up. Other than that, the shape of the shirt itself is great. Quite form fitting but not too much so.
The instructions have you cut out the huge tie ends on the bias, which means the whole thing is very tricky to iron smoothly, without getting those horrid bias-y unruly things happening (if you get me). I'm wondering why one would need to cut the tie on the bias in the first place. Is there a reason for this?
I have quite a few more things to show you and will try to do that soon. Although I'm afraid the photos don't get any better!
Please forgive the dark photo of me looking somewhat stressed. Must make more effort!
Despite not posting recently, I have been making stuff. In fact I have made another Liberty lawn shirt for Charlie (got to make the most of him not yet - at eight-years old - being "too cool" to wear home-made garments!), a shirt with a tie collar for myself,I have half made a green skirt (in progress) and half knitted another Chuck.
I hadn't knitted for ages, unless you count socks (I always have at least one pair of lacy socks on the go) but then I saw Lladybird's truly magnificent sweater. I mean, TRULY. I ordered the pattern straight away, and the yarn, and got to it. Eight days of frantic knitting later, it was finished.
This is a relatively easy pattern to knit, even for someone that has only ever knitted two cardigans (with bobbles!) and a bunch of shawls. Even the laciest shawls are more straightforward (in my experience) than garments that have to wearable. Partly due to fitting issues, and partly due to the fact that the order of knitting the different bits of a garment can be so varied. Knitters will know what I mean. This one is seamless, and knitted from the top down. I had a wobbly moment where I didn't trust one of the instructions in the pattern and I was in such a hurry, and there was no one that could help with my particular query, even on Ravelry, though they tried very hard to assist, and so I mailed Lauren at Lladybird and, guess what, she mailed me back practically by return, for which I was so grateful. Turned out I was wrong and the pattern was right, anyway! For the record, I also mailed the designer and she got back to me as soon as she could and was very helpful, but Lauren was the knitting saviour that day! It never ceases to amaze me how many crafters are so helpful to dorks such as myself!
Back to the jumper. Okay, it's a bit short on me, but despite that I like it a lot. It's better with high-waisted skirts and trousers. It's knitted in Cascade 220, as recommended in the pattern, and on the same size needles as recommended, too. It's a little too large across the back because my tension was looser when I started, but it's something I can live with. As I said, I'm knitting another one in red, and if I have enough yarn it will be longer but only by an inch or so.
I have a shirt I'd like to blog but have to get around to taking photos, which I am very lazy about.