A Pair of Frankies

As soon as I got Tilly and the Buttons’ new book, Stretch, I wanted to make most of the patterns in it. I thought Freya would be my first make, but it turns out Frankie was the first one I tried out…..and I made 2!

When Tilly had her fabric shop to celebrate the release of the book, she was selling nice white jersey – I bought 2m as I knew it would be good quality and I would be able to use some small pieces of jerseys I had in my stash to colour block 2 new tees.

The mustard jersey was a remnant from Guthrie and Ghani – I think when I went there, either with the Bristol sewing ladies or at Sew Brum. It’s such a nice jersey but there was less than I realised when I bought it – I thought I might be able to squeeze out a whole tee from it, but I only just fitted the sleeve pattern piece on it and I had to cut out the neckband in 2 pieces, with 2 joins!

The pink jersey was a remnant I bought from Sarah from Like Sew Amazing when she was selling off some of her own stash. Again, I naively thought I would get a whole tee from it, but thankfully the Frankie pattern came along and saved both jerseys from languishing in my stash.

As you can probably tell from the photos, the pink jersey is thinner and drapier than either the white (though it’s pretty close) or the mustard jersey. I did have some problems sewing on the neckbands neatly, and particularly on the pink tee, it looks a bit puckered and gathered, but it looks worse in the photos than in real life and it doesn’t bother me too much.

What’s weird is I always used to have a complex that I had really broad shoulders compared to the rest of me and I thought raglan sleeves would make me look even broader. But after making a couple of Linden sweatshirts, I decided that was bollocks and I could wear raglan sleeves! Hurray! (Also I no longer think my shoulders are out of proportion – or if they are, I don’t care!).

I made both tees in the size 3 – which is my standard Tilly size. I can definitely recommend this pattern and the instructions are also good – I always fear instructions in books won’t be as comprehensive as if I bought a pattern separately.  There are also some useful tips about sewing with jerseys and how to troubleshoot common overlocker problems, so I would definitely recommend buying this book, particularly if you’re new to sewing with knits. And if you’re an old hand with knits, the patterns are great.

Have you got Stretch? What is your favourite pattern? Or are you like me and this is possibly the first time you’ve actually used a pattern from one of the many sewing books you own?

2 More Cleos

After the success of my first 2 Cleos, I couldn’t resist making a couple more!

I made them both in size 3, as before, and made no changes – it’s not like the Cleo needs much fitting!

The black version is made from some really soft needlecord from my local sewing shop. It isn’t the best for dressmaking fabrics (they have a lot of quilting stuff and novelty cottons) but they do often have needlecord in stock in the Winter/Autumn.

I bought just a metre of the black needlecord and managed to get the Cleo out of it, which makes this a very economical make for me.

As with the other 2 versions I made, I added just the front pocket and not the 2 smaller pockets.

I also made them to the shorter length, but looking at these photos I think I could do with taking up the hem a little more – I prefer things I hit me above the knee rather than on or just below the knee.

 

The mustard version is my second mustard version. You may be thinking ‘wow, she must really like mustard if she needs 2 mustard Cleos in her wardrobe!’. But the truth is I got a black mark on the front of the mustard denim one I made before and this one is to replace it.

The fabric is the left over cord from Fabricland which I bought to make my suit for the Sewcialite Soiree. I bought loads of the cord as I wasn’t totally sure how much I would need – I think I ordered 6 metres, which was obviously way too much! I’ve also managed to get some dungarees out of the rest of the leftovers (coming soon!).

Again, I think I want to shorten the hem a bit as it looks a little too long here.

The buckles are from my local sewing shop – they are good for notions and I buy a lot of thread from them! They are slightly too wide for the width of the straps, but the advantage of being able to buy them locally outweighs the slightly too wide fit.

One of my favourite things about the Cleo is the shape of the back and how the straps fit!

 

I feel like there isn’t very much left to say about the Cleo dungaree dress as I’m sure almost everyone has made one (or more) and it’s a pretty simple make. I like the top-stitching details and how quickly you can have a new item for your wardrobe – and if you’re anything like me, you’ll wonder what you wore before you made one!

How many Cleos do you have? Or are you the last bastion of not-making-one?

My Dressmakers’ Ball Dress

I’ve made a YouTube channel! My first video is talking through some of the details of the dress I made for The Dressmakers’ Ball. I won’t always also do a blog post about things I’m going to make videos about, but in this case I took loads of photos so I wanted to share some of them here!

I made a copy of a dress worn by Ginnifer Goodwin to the Met Gala a few years ago. I’d always loved the dress and thought this was the perfect excuse to make it!

You can see the red stitching I used to attached the beautiful sequinned fabric I bought from RayStitch (after realising there was no way I was going to have time to sew all the sequins on by hand) to the silk organza I bought from Stoff and  Stil.

The black stitching you can see is the stitching lines I did to mark the edges of where to sew on the sequins – when I was going to do it by hand. If anyone has any ideas what I can do with the sequins, by the way, please let me know! I guess some embroidery or something!

The gold stitching is the new stitching for construction – in this case darts. I cut open the darts on the front bodice and pressed them open to reduce bulk.

I had the leather (or more accurately faux leather) already in my stash as I bought it a while ago from Girl Charlee to make a leather jacket.

To sew the leather into the seams, I tried a couple of methods but what I ended up going with was cutting the strips 1 1/4″ (the finished width) plus 2 x 5/8″ seam allowances, which is 2.5″. I then stitched one side of the leather to one side of the seam, 5/8″ away from the edge, along the 5/8″ seam allowance of the leather – along the chalk line below.

I then did the same on the other side – but the 2 pattern pieces are not yet sewn together, they are only attached with the strip of leather.

Then I sewed the actual seam of the 2 pattern pieces, which brought the 2 edges of the leather together, but not overlapping, reducing the potential bulk at the seam. The photo, below, is how it looked before it had been pressed. Once pressed the leather sat pretty flush with the sequins, which is what I wanted!

It was starting to come together here – it just needed the leather on the shoulders and the sleeves adding. Oh, and a zip!

I reinforced the shoulders to make sure they didn’t stretch out.

And then added the sleeves and the leather around the neckline and shoulders.

My carpet looks like I murdered a sequinned Muppet! And I’m still finding sequins now, a month later!

I added a waist stay to the dress – my first time doing this. It holds the weight of the skirt, which is pretty heavy, and takes some of the strain off the zip as it’s such a fitted dress. I learned how to do it from one of my books, Couture Sewing Techniques. I would highly recommend this book – especially if you’re making something more involved.

The ball was such good fun! They had the Leicester University big band playing the music, and they were great. They played a mixture of traditional big band stuff and some newer things. I find it the best kind of music to dance to!

I managed to take basically no photos all night – which I think is the sign that you’re having a good time! I did take this loo selfie, though! I had on ALL THE EYESHADOW – I had to watch a YouTube video for how to apply it!

And lovely Helen from Stitch My Style took this photo of me – during the 5 minutes I remembered I should take at least one proper photo of my dress at the actual ball!

Did I mention I love my dress?!

It is fully lined in this rayon challis from Minerva crafts. I hemmed the lining and sequins together at the hem and on the sleeves as the sequins were quite scratchy and the rayon was a lot more drapey and I feared tripping over the lining inside my dress, so I hemmed them together.

One of my favourite things about my outfit was one of the things I didn’t make – I wore trainers! I can’t be arsed with heels any more. I have never found them comfortable and I thought (excuse my French) ‘fuck it’ I want to be comfortable and be able to dance without having to take my shoes off, or feeling like my feel were going to fall off after 10 minutes!

It has an almost invisible side zip and some poppers on the underarm seam of the corresponding sleeve to allow me to get in and out of it.

I drafted the pattern myself, using a Burda Academy course I mentioned I had signed up for here. I think I possibly over-fitted the dress a little as it ended up with basically no ease around the waist, but I do think it’s one of the best fitting things I’ve made (which I guess it should be as it’s made from my measurements). Especially across the back – I’m very narrow across the back so I usually have lots of extra fabric and pooling because I’m too lazy to do any adjustments!

I sewed some of the sequinned fabric I had left onto this little clutch bag to make a matching purse to take to the ball. It just about fits my phone, some cash and my hotel room card!

 

As well as the matching trainers and purse, I wore my gold party socks – I almost thought it was too matchy-matchy but then I realised I don’t care!

I really hope they run the ball again next year, or in 2 years as it was such good fun. And who doesn’t love an excuse to go all out with an outfit!? Do you think you’ll go next time?

Adventures in Pattern Drafting

The last couple of weeks I’ve been a bit quiet on here because I’ve been working on my own personal blocks/slopers. I bought this Burda Academy course probably years ago and finally decided to have a go at it this year. And it doesn’t take as long as you would think to draft a sloper – the measuring takes a while, though!

This was my sexy measuring outfit – a tight top and leggings with tape marking my waist and hip line, so you can measure to and from the same points.

And this is the side view. Because of my terrible posture and some bloating, I look a bit pregnant here but I can assure you I’m not.

The course comes with some great handouts and videos talking you through everything. I ended up doing my bodice front and back twice because we’d messed up some of the measurements and once I’d watched the video once, I found the handout was enough to do the slopers again, which is cool.

Here is a peek at my skirt sloper/block.


Last night I cut out and sewed together my collection of slopers into a dress (minus the sleeve) and it looked pretty good. It needs some tweaks, but before too long I should have my blocks sorted, so I can use them to compare to commercial patterns to know what adjustments to make, and to draft things for myself. The first thing I’m going to draft is the pattern for my Dressmakers’ Ball dress, which I’m basing on this one Ginnifer Goodwin wore to the Met Gala a few years ago.

Posts on here might be a bit few and far between for the next few weeks while I’m working on my dress. I’ll hopefully share some updates here and on Instagram, though. I just hope I get it finished – the ball is only 6 weeks away!

Make It: Pin Pennant

After I was lucky enough to win a voucher for The Pink Coat club in the raffle at the Sewcialite Soiree, I realised I had quite a few pins in my collection. But I often forget to wear one as I had been keeping them in a little box next to my make-up bag. Since I know how to sew (duh!) I thought I could easily make something that would look nice, display all my lovely pins and remind me to wear them!

I started off with some of my beloved mustard denim (originally from Sew Me Sunshine and featured in such projects as my Cleo Pinafore and my mute bags) and drew a line 20cm long, plus 1cm each side for seam allowance. I then measured the centre of this line and measured 20cm away from this line and joined this point to the 2 sides of the line to make a triangle. I totally made up these measurements and I think if you have more pins than me you will almost certainly want to increase these measurements.

I cut out 2 triangles with the above measurements and stitched them right sides together along the 2 long lines, leaving the top edge unstitched to be able to turn it the right way around. I trimmed the seam allowances, especially at the points, turned it the right way around and top stitched the sewn seams, though I would wait to top-stitch until you’re sewing the top edge shut.

I then made 2 straps, measuring 12cm x 5.5cm. I stitched each one folded in half length ways, then turned them the right way around – this took ages as they ended up so thin!

I then arranged the straps with the seams down the middle of the ‘back’ and top-stitched them. Lastly I placed the straps into the opening at the top, turning in the seam allowance of the top edge of the triangle, and top-stitched the straps in place, stitching the open edge closed at the same time. I would also carry on with the top-stitching around the other 2 sides at this point.

This was such an easy project – it took about an hour from beginning to end. I found an old knitting needle in a local charity shop and tied some wool on to hang up the pennant and VOILA! I’ve got a lovely way of displaying my gorgeous pins!

Do you collect sewing pins? I’ve got more pins than I realised – I thought I would have space to expand into but the pennant is already full!