28 April 2010

A Lovely Suprise

We are having some unusually warm and sunny weather so I figured it would do me good to get some vitamin D (because it is so rare in North Yorkshire!)..trying to figure out what to do I popped into the garage to change the laundry and there it was..the antique Singer Shawn bought me at an auction last year! I had forgotten all about it and it broke my heart seeing it dirty and sitting next to the lawnmower (I know, I know! Cue head shaking and tsk -tsking). Horrified, I immediately made an attempt to relieve my conscious by taking it outside to clean up. After a major wipe down and 2 coats of Pledge on the cover and base it looks absolutely stunning!!

The detailing is so beautiful..not bad for £30 (about $47)! Everything seems to be in working order but I am having the repair man come pick it up tomorrow to be serviced. I can't wait to get it back and hopefully use it!

25 April 2010

London buying trip

The day after my pattern drafting class ended, I returned to London with Shawn for a mini “holiday.” He was there on business, I was there on pleasure! My instructor gave us the Saint Martins student supplier list (with all of the best shops to go for fabric and trimmings – I think it may be worth more than gold) so I spent the week scouting them out and building up my stash. Let me just say, I have never seen more beautiful and strange fabrics in my life! I picked up some cheap chiffons, habotoi, and a waterproof fabric with an interesting texture, but I’m only going to feature the crème de la crème of my buying trip; I promise it will not disappoint!

First up, this interesting 97% cotton/3% elastane print I found:

It is heavier and stiffer than I would have liked (I originally wanted it for a dress), but I couldn’t resist the print so I went ahead and bought it and think I will use it for a lightweight summery rain-type jacket.

After 2 trips to Liberty and about 2 hours debating, I finally settled on this Classic Carline cotton lawn:

All of their fabric is high quality and they have some of the best prints, but it is very dear (£19.95/m (~ $30/m) for cotton lawn, £35.95/m (~$56/m) for silk satin). I’ve got a vintage dress pattern in mind for this and I know it will look great with my red heels!

And finally, my favorites! All of these are haute couture fabrics from Italy, and they were worth every penny because they are absolutely stunning. Upon seeing each of these, it was one of those “I have to have it” moments..luckily the husband approved..

100% cotton lawn flower/zebra print:

100% silk chiffon in same print:

100% silk satin fur print (I love how it looks so real!!):

I have no idea what I am going to do with the flower prints (any suggestions?), but the fur print is going to become my Navy Ball gown. I don’t know the design yet, but I’ve got plenty of time to mull it over.

Although I didn’t buy this silk, I feel I should include it because it is just so beautiful..(you can tell it’s a Valentino!)

I ended up coming back with a lot of fabric to keep me busy, but I am already dreaming (and saving up) for my next buying trip!

24 April 2010


Earlier this week I went to a local fent shop to get more fabric for my stash. The main reason I went is because they sell fents of Liberty fabric, but I also wanted to dig around for anything else interesting. I ended up with all of this for £55!

The black is a poly/viscose blend for my self drafted skirt , and the others in the top row are some heavier cottons I plan to make some cropped jackets with. On the bottom..8 metres of Liberty Tana lawn (3 of them are discontinued prints!) for £48..now that's a bargain! I have some cute shirt patterns in mind for these, and I think I am going to make a dress with the print on the far right, but I will have to go back and get another fent.

23 April 2010

New patterns

The new McCall's summer patterns have arrived! I'm not a huge fan of McCall's patterns, but I'm digging M6112 (very Top Shop - lower photo):


and M6119 - this top is similar to a style of dresses made by All Saints (my favorite UK high street chain - lower photo):

I think these would look great with or without leggings, gladiator sandals for day or high heels for evening, and a lightweight leather jacket in a neutral shade for summer (this is England people..you've always got to have a jacket with you!)

And even better, Hancock Fabrics is having a McCall's 99¢ pattern sale from 22 - 25 April, so stock up while you can!

18 April 2010

CSM class

Last week I was down in London taking a pattern drafting class at Central Saint Martins (a mecca for fashion design!). I had previously taken a pattern cutting course there around Christmas, and I thought this would be a good follow up. If you think you may be interested in taking a similar course, there are some differences. The main difference between the two is that pattern drafting is exactly what it sounds like – drafting patterns from specific measurements using mathematical formulas, and pattern cutting is working from a standard block and then manipulating features, such as darts or necklines. I think pattern cutting is a great class to take for home sewers because it shows how easily you can adjust and change commercial patterns. Pattern drafting is also good knowledge to have, but I must admit it is very involved and time consuming (although you get faster with practice), and tends to be a labour of love.

The pattern drafting class I took was a week long and made a skirt from our own measurements. We practiced drafting and sewing up a basic skirt and then we were able to make our own design. After a couple rejected drafts I finally came up with my design – a pencil skirt with side zip, facing, and a ruffled back panel underneath the bum and extending to the hem (below).
The skirt was fairly easy, but it was my first time making ruffles from scratch to fit a shaped panel so it was a bit laborious. It took me a few hours to construct the panel, and this is me after drafting, cutting, and sewing most of the skirt in one afternoon (I was REALLY frazzled to say the least – thanks for the picture Nia!)

I didn’t end up fully sewing the skirt in class because I wanted to spend my precious class time learning new skills rather than finishing a toile. I have since bought some fabric to make it up in, and when I do I will show how I did the ruffles for the toile and how I am going to do them differently for the actual skirt (the way I did it for the toile was more time consuming).

17 April 2010

Good to be home

As much as I love London, it is good to be home after 2 weeks away! I am exhausted but felt the need to be productive, so I whipped up Butterick 4807 on my overlocker in a lightweight cotton jersey. Not exactly a crowning achievement, but glad to be back in the sewing groove. While away I realized how few knit garments (other than sweaters) I have in my wardrobe, and how much simpler (and lighter) traveling would be if I had a few key pieces to pack! So now I am trying to find some nice silk and wool knits to work with. I'm not going to put a review of this pattern here because it is very simple, but I do have a few comments:

When attaching the waistband it is significantly smaller than the waist opening, so don't stress about making it fit and pinning! Just line up the back seams and secure, then place the waistband down on your machine (sewing or overlocker). Start sewing as usual, except gently pull the waistband toward you so that it stretches as you are sewing (the seam may get a little wavy, but don't worry because that will dissappear with pressing and washing). The result is a perfectly fitted waistband!

If you are using cotton jersey like I did, consider not making a hem on the pants..I left mine as they were and they are begining to roll like an old t-shirt, it actually gives a nice finish!

These pants don't have to be casual! You can make some very nice dress pants in a couple hours using a rayon, silk, or wool knit.

I think with a little modification these could be great maternity pants. Use fabric with a little Lycra/spandex (either just the waistband or the whole garment) and make the waistband wider to cover the baby bump. I don't have any children at the moment so I don't have any experience with maternity clothing, but I will definetly try this out when the time comes!

After I get my affairs in order I promise to post about my adventures in London! Stay tuned!

06 April 2010

Pattern Review Vogue 1129

Pattern DescriptionUnlined, fitted jacket with pockets, drape, two piece sleeves and topstitch trim, above mid-knee length.

Fabric UsedShell: 100% wool tweed from Gorgeous Fabrics
Lining: Bremsilk cupro

Pattern SizingI made size 12 because it was described as being fitted, and I knew I might want to wear it over sweaters.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?Yes it looks exactly like the photo, but mine is very drapey because the wool I used was very lightweight.

Were the instructions easy to follow?I thought this jacket was very easy to make, although the collar took some time to work through. It isn’t complicated, but the drape is what makes up the back collar and the way the instructions describe to lay it out and sew were confusing at first, so I had to stop and think about it over a cup of tea. I'm kicking myself because I accidentally deleted the pictures I took of it! But once I understood it continued to be smooth sailing.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
The only thing I don’t like about this pattern is that it isn’t lined.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:The pattern calls for topstitching detail and edgestitching in some areas, but I edgestitched everywhere in addition to the topstitching because I think it gave a very neat finish. The jacket is not lined but I decided to line the sleeves because I think it makes a coat/jacket easier to take on or off.
Here is a good tip for finishing cuffs on a garment like this:
Note: this must be done before setting the sleeves
1. Cut the lining about 1 -1.5" shorter than the cuff edge.
2. Line up edges and sew as instructed.
3. Firmly press.
4. Sew about 1" down from the seamline to secure the lining to the shell seam allowance.
5. Trim if necessary.
6. Turn out and admire your work!

I also had to move the placement of the snaps to better suit my bust, and I also did not add the hook and eye (used to hold the drape in place on the shoulder) because I thought it was a bit fussy, and I liked the idea of being able to adjust the drape to change the look.

Conclusion/RecommendationsI really like this design because it is easy to make yet looks very professional and expensive – on the outside – I do think that it should be fully lined on the inside, and the drape should either be self-faced or lined as well. I would like to make it again and experiment with the lining, but it will take some thought because the corners on the edges of the drape are mitered in order to get that sharp point. Also make sure you have enough room to fully lay out the fabric when cutting – the drape is cut on the bias so it takes up a lot of fabric and space (I cut mine out on the floor).

05 April 2010

Pattern Review Butterick 4919

Pattern Description:
Flared dress, fitted at bust, floor length has back zipper and tie ends extending from bodice back.
Pattern Sizing:
After taking my measurements I decided on the 12 as it is a close fitting bodice and had an inner belt.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
The final result does not resemble the illustration on the envelope because it is depicted as having a much fuller skirt - I think a petticoat would be needed to achieve that look. However, there is an actual photo of the dress in the catalogue and on the website, and mine looked the same.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, but I made a bodice toile first to make sure I understood how it was constructed and to see if my alterations worked.

Fabric Used: 100% silk shot dupion

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I immediately knew that I wanted to alter the neck line to a deeper plunge because I thought the original made it look very "home made." I extended it to where the sash crosses in front and was very pleased with the result. Instead of using 2 hook and eyes to fasten the bodice back, I used hook and eye tape for a more secure hold. (I also sewed 2 hanger loops made of seam tape into the waist seam because the dress is so heavy).
I also pleated some tulle and sewed it into the shoulder seams to give the gathers some oomph and prevent them from looking flat.

This is a really nice dress and I got lots of compliments on it but it requires a LOT of fabric and can get very expensive depending on what you use. If I had the need I would probably make it again with some adjustments..I would definetly use the altered neckline, and I would try self facing the sashes because I think it would give a more professional appearance. If that didn't work I would double fold the edges, miter the corners, and maybe edge and/or top stitch versus overlocking and pressing over the edges. I would also like to see how it looks with a petticoat underneath to make it look more like the picture.

02 April 2010


What can I say? I love fashion and I love to sew! I'm not sure what direction I want to take this blog, but I hope to make it somewhat unique from other sewing blogs and to provide useful information. I always enjoy suggestions, so feel free to drop me a line.