A sneaky peak of my Dressmakers’ Ball dress

I thought I would share a few snaps of my Dressmakers’ Ball dress – because I want to keep the grand unveiling until the night. And also because I haven’t finished it yet!

I haven’t hemmed it yet:

I’m using the leftover fabric from when I made my By Hand London Alix Dress, because I ended up with quite a lot left after ordering almost twice as much as I needed so I’d have enough to underline the whole dress. I still love the colour, but I don’t like how it frays and creases like a bitch – I did iron it before taking these photos, but you wouldn’t know!

Because of the fraying – and to give it a ball gown-y feel – I’ve used french seams. You may be able to make out 2 lines of stitching, though. I trimmed the seam allowances down to what I thought was teeny tiny, but then I sewed the second part of the french seam and the fabric edge was sticking out on the right side. I trimmed it down as much as possible, but you could still see the edge on the right side, so I sewed another line of stitching with a slightly bigger seam allowance. This slightly ruins the couture effect I was going for, but I didn’t really want to unpick the original line of stitching because this fabric does not like being unpicked!

My dress has sleeves! (And darts, which you can just about make out)

And although the bodice is lined, I decided to do french seams through both the shell and lining layers because of the fraying problem, and I feared any hand stitching would show on the right side of the fabric – it’s pretty thin and bruises easily, so even picking up one thread might have left a mark.

Also pockets because pockets. And pockets with french seams (except for the first seam where you attach the pocket to the skirt pieces, because I forgot/wasn’t sure that was possible.

Part of the skirt is pleated….

And there will be a split on the front, if I can ever bring myself to cut the fabric! I found a Burda tutorial that said you can make a split by sewing fabric on the top in 2 lines really close together, then you cut between the 2 lines of stitching and turn the fabric to the inside, which neatens what would have been an exposed edge. It said to interface the piece you sew on the top, but I haven’t because I didn’t want to mess with the drape and didn’t have any interfacing light enough. This weekend I’ll have to suck it up and cut the split. Or unpick it completely, but that might leave a mark!

Are you going to the Dressmakers’ Ball? If so, do you have as much to finish on your dress as me!? What colour are you wearing? Are you making something new or wearing something you’ve already made? I was tempted to wear my navy lace dress I made to go to a wedding in last year – if only it was like the Oscars and there was an after party, then I could wear both!

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A Review of 2016

As it’s New Year’s Eve, I thought I’d have a look back at the sewing I’ve managed to complete this year. Some of it hasn’t made it to the blog yet, but this year I have made:

(non-clothes)
2 Quiet Books
1 Appliqued Cushion
1 Internet Meme Cushion (which was my favourite non-garment I’ve made this year)

Internet Meme cushion

(clothes)
3 Shirts (2 Archers [1,2] and a Melilot)
6 Tops (3 Cocos [1,2,3], a Plantain, an Astoria and a Hemlock)
2 Jackets (both made with dresses, for a Christening and a Wedding)
1 Skirt
2 Pairs of Pyjamas
6 Dresses (1 from a Vintage Pattern, a Rushcutter, a Drapey Knit Dress, a Lace Emery/Elisalex mash-up, an Alix Dress and a not-yet-blogged Jersey Dress)
I’ve also made 3 skirts for my sister and am making a 4th and possibly 5th in the next week or so, so I make that 23 garments in total! That’s definitely the most things I’ve made in any year since I started sewing clothes in 2013! To compare I made 14 things in 2013, 13 in 2014 and 11 in 2015. It definitely helped to take a couple of months off work this year!

I’m going to round-up my favourite and most-worn makes of the year in a bit more detail.

My Rushcutter by In The Folds was one of my most worn garments this year – and definitely my most-worn dress. I love the loose fit, but it feels flattering at the same time. And I’ve discovered it’s perfect for layering with a long-sleeved top underneath when it’s cold. I think I need to make this pattern again in the new year!

Navy Spotty Rushcutter DressMy other most-worn dress was my #SewDots Drapey Knit Dress (from the 3rd GBSB book). This could have beaten out my Rushcutter if I’d made it earlier in the year! Again, I think I need one or two more of these in my wardrobe – but probably made from a more stretchy jersey as the sleeves on this one are a bit snug. It’s another good one for layering, too.

#SewDots GBSB Drapey Knit DressMy 2 Cocos (1,2) with funnel necks were pretty successful makes from this year, though I haven’t worn them since the weather has really got cold. They are probably the things I get the most compliments on too, which is nice!

Turquoise Coco Top with Funnel neckI’ve definitely got quite a lot of wear out of the 3 shirts I’ve made this year. For some reason I feel like my blue spotty Archer isn’t smart enough for work, so I tend to wear that more at weekends, but the other Archer and my Melilot are perfect for work, so I think it would be good to make some more shirts in 2017.

Blue Spotty Archer Button UpMy 2 probably favourite makes are the 2 party dresses I made, though of course, I haven’t worn them very much – but we all need a couple of occasion dresses, don’t we? The lace frankenpattern dress I made for a wedding in May was my most liked make on Instagram and I do love it so! I need more parties to go to so I can wear this again……

Wedding-Outfit-11And my most recently blogged make, my By Hand London Alix Dress, is my other favourite. It’s a bit of a different style for me – more 70s than 60s as I’m normally drawn to – but I do love it! Again, it’s not really the kind of thing I can wear down to Tescos…….

Bright Pink Viscose Alix Maxi Dress - By Hand LondonAnd now onto my couple of unsuccessful makes…..(quite proud there are only a couple!)

By the time I’d finished my 2 sets of Lakeside pyjamas, and we’d moved into a very cold flat, the weather was definitely NOT warm enough to wear these. Boo! Hopefully we’ll have a warm Summer in 2017 so I can break these babies out!

Teal Lakeside PajamasMustard Lakeside Pajamas

The other thing(s) I made which have only got one wear is my Vintage Pledge outfit I made for a Christening in April. I didn’t really feel comfortable in it on the day beacuse the fit of the dress is pretty off. I made it with no fitting changes, knowing the pattern was probably a size too big for me. Also I made it in a probably too stiff fabric, so it looks even worse fitting – if it had been a more drapey fabric, perhaps it would have been more forgiving?

Vintage Pledge Christening Outfit - 1960s Vintage Dress and Coat

I thought I might have got some wear out of the coat in the spring, but it didn’t happen. Maybe Spring 2017? Now I work in a fairly smart office, maybe I wouldn’t look so overdressed in a long jacket?

Vintage Pledge Christening Outfit - 1960s Vintage Dress and CoatOn a side-note, I failed in my Vintage Pledge to make 3 garments/outfits from my vintage patterns. I made these 2 and then I think I lost heart because they didn’t fit well. Next year I will have another go, but I’ll treat them like any other pattern, I’ll trace it and make a toile and make sure I end up with something wearable.

On a personal note 2016 has been ………interesting.

It was definitely a year of change:

  • The Boyfriend and I quit our jobs in London in January and packed up our flat to move across the country to Cirencester to live with his parents – thank god they let us stay with them! I have no idea how people move to different areas of the country if they don’t have someone they can stay with.
  • I spent a couple of months (from March to June) not working, which was nice in one way – I got lots of sewing done – but the stress of not being able to find work slightly ruined this period. Also I pretty much spent all the money I’d saved to move with.
  • I got a permanent job and started on August 1st – I’d forgotten what it’s like to be the new person at work and it took a couple of months to settle in. It’s also weird when you don’t have other friends as work friends seem more important and then when you don’t know them yet it feels a bit crap!
  • The Boyfriend and I got our own little flat (though it’s bigger than our one in London was!) and we moved in a week after I started my job! It’s definitely feeling like home, though I have a couple of things I’d like to sort out. I might post some photos on here one day, once I like everything……so probably never!

This year is the first year I’ve made some IRL sewing friends! Yay! I went to the #SewBrizzle meet up back in the Summer and there were a couple of us from more my neck of the woods, so we have met up for dinner twice so far. It’s sooooo nice to talk to people about sewing who know what you’re talking about! It’s lovely to get compliments on things I’ve made from non-sewers, but there aren’t many people with whom I can have an in-depth conversation, or even say the name of the pattern and have them know what I’m talking about!

I feel like the elephant in the room of my run-down of my 2016 is what has happened to my sister. For those of you that didn’t read my post about it, in August my sister got a DVT in her leg, which was very very swolen and purple. She went to the local hospital, who sent her away with blood thinners. 3 days later when she went back for her check up, they rushed her by ambulance to Addenbrookes hospital because it was clear the circulation had been cut off in her leg. The doctors spent 2 days trying to get the circulation going again – it turns out they were really trying to save her knee as when circulation has been cut off for more than about 4 hours, they’re fighting a losing battle. So on 25th August she had her left leg amputated above her knee. They spent the next couple of weeks while she was in hospital trying to work out why she had all these clots and it turned out it was lung cancer, which is the most common kind of cancer. It had spread to 3 of her lymph nodes which means it can’t be removed surgically, but she is having chemotherapy – via tablets! Who knew what was a thing!? She had a scan check-up thingy in November and the tumour had shrunk, which is brilliant news obviously.

She now has a prosthetic leg, which is the swishiest one you get if you’re not a paralympian (that’s the only kind better than the one she has) and she’s already (after only just over a month) walking with only one crutch. And she was practicing walking with no crutches over Christmas so she should be able to walk and get about so no-one can tell that she has only one leg. This is her the day she got it:

phoebes-leg
And this is her favourite Christmas jumper:

phoebes-jumper

A morbid sense of humour is definitely a must when faced with this kind of crap!

And to add crapness to crapness, my sister is not the only member of my family currently with lung cancer 😦 A couple of years ago my Dad had one of his kidneys removed (4 days before Christmas!) because he had a tumour in it. For 2 years he went for his scans and got the all clear. But he had another scan – and got his results on the same day as my sister got her good news – and it turns out the cancer he had in his kidney has reappeared, but this time in his lung. He has been living with a rare degenerative brain disease called Corticobasal Degeneration (or CBD) for a number of years (I’ve lost track of exactly when he was diagnosed as he had clearly been suffering with it for a long time before they worked out what it was) and is now in a home as my mum is no longer able to look after him at home as his mobility is so reduced now. (If you want to read about CBD and the related condition Progressive Supranuclear Palsy or PSP, you can visit the PSP Association.) It might sound harsh, but I think it’s almost kinder that he might die quicker of cancer instead of the slow death from his brain disease, which will cause him to eventually be unable to swallow or communicate. He probably only had 2-5 years left anyway, so the cancer diagnosis may not make too much of a difference. He’s not strong enough for agressive treatment, so it remains to be seen what treatment he does have.

So, yeah, that’s my 2016. The first half of the year was okay, then everything seemed to go a little wrong, starting with Brexit. I won’t go into politics on here, but it feels like the world is shifting and we need to pay attention to the people who feel left behind or forgotten or ignored. My answer is to do what I enjoy doing and be nice to people. I think that’s all we can do in our little lives, really. Try to spread love and joy and happiness and hope that if enough of us do this, 2017 will be a better year.

Thank you to everyone who reads my blog and comments on it, I hope you get a bit of joy from my makes and posts. I hope to get more into a regular schedule of posting next year as I really like connecting with like-minded people online, and IRL.

 

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Bright Pink Alix Dress

I made a pink  maxi Alix Dress and I love it!

pink-maxi-alix-dress-1I actually made this back in November – it was one of the things I planned to make that month – for a party in the middle of the month. I also wore it to my work Christmas dinner last week. People can dress up as much as they want for the Christmas dinner and most people did not dress up as much as I did, but I didn’t care because I love this dress. Also there was a guy in almost a tux (it was a normal suit with a posh shirt and bow tie!).

pink-maxi-alix-dress-2
I made the size 10 as it perfectly matched my waist and hip measurement, thought it was 2 inches too big for my bust. I made a toile of the bodice (the cups, yoke and waistband) to see how much fullness I had to take out – I thought it might have been more or less than 2 inches. I took 1/2 inch out of each cup in the end, having measured my full bust measurement and my high bust measurement, as demonstrated by By Hand London in their sewalong to the Georgia Dress. To do the actual small bust adjustment I hunted around for a pattern with a sewalong with similar cups with gathering at the bottom as I wasn’t sure how best to remove the fullness. Then I had a brainwave – Tilly and the Buttons’s Fifi pyjamas. I followed exactly the instructions in the bust adjustment post and it worked perfectly. I probably could have taken a little more fullness out of the armpit area, but I think the fit is pretty good, if I say so myself!

pink-maxi-alix-dress-6The fabric is this cerise plain viscose from Abakhan. I ordered a sample first to check on the shade of pink and realised the fabric was maybe a little thin – I didn’t want a Princess Diana moment of the skirt becoming see-through, so I decided to underline the dress. This gave it a nice weight so means it moves well when I walk. I don’t know if this is something everyone know – this was my first time working with viscose – but my god does it crease! You can see above the creases around the arms and across the waist because I wore it to the work party but didn’t iron it before taking this photos! Even lightly folding up the pieces once I’d cut them out, I had to really iron them as they looked like they’d been screwed up in a bag for a month!

pink-maxi-alix-dress-4I doubled the cups, the front skirt and the back of the dress – the yoke and waist panel are self-lined anyway. I ordered 7m of fabric. The pattern calls for 4m for the maxi dress but I was pretty sure I wouldn’t need fully twice the amount – I find By Hand London sometimes overestimate the fabric required.

I really love the huge pleat in the back, and the waist tie means I can cheat that it fits better across the back than it probably really does! Fun fact, then back piece of the dress is one piece – that was fun to cut out!

pink-maxi-alix-dress-3 I like the pleats on the top of the skirt front and the ones on the shoulders, which I forgot to take a detail shot of! This is a good dress for eating a big meal in, by the way! The tightest part is above the stomach so you can look chic but there’s room for a full belly, especially because of the pleats!

pink-maxi-alix-dress-7Apart from the sba, the only other change I made was to cut 8cm off the length, leaving 4cm for the hem. I measured the finished length of the dress before I made it and should really have shortened the pattern piece, but I wanted to make it the full length in case I decided to wear it with heels, then it would still reach the floor. I decided to wear flats, though, in the end, so 8cm came off the hem. I found with the Elisalex dress that I was shorter than the person the pattern was drafted for, so I think it’s a standard change for me to shorten BHL patterns.

pink-maxi-alix-dress-8I hope you’re impressed, btw, that I ventured outside to take some photos! Finally! I’ve felt too silly to do this in the past as our flat in London didn’t have a garden (obvs) so since moving into our flat in Cirencester, I’ve been meaning to go into our shared courtyard-y garden-y type thing and it was fine. Most of the other tennants don’t use the garden much, expecially in this weather, so it’s relatively private 🙂 It gives a truer sense of the colour of the fabric too, which is a bonus!

pink-maxi-alix-dress-9This is definitely a good dress to flounce about in because of the fullness of the skirt – it’s just pleasing how it moves when you move. It’s not so great for climbing stairs but that’s a small price to pay for such a cool dress!

pink-maxi-alix-dress-10 pink-maxi-alix-dress-11

I really enjoyed making this pattern even though it’s not usually the kind of style I’m drawn to. I love, love, looooove that it has no fastenings! Makes it seem quicker to make somehow. I think I’ll have a go a the tunic version, probably to wear at work, and maybe the mini dress, though I think this is my least favourite length. I’m sure sewing this pattern was influences by my watching Good Girls Revolt around the same time. This was a really good series, I thought, made by Amazon, but they’ve said they’re not going to make any more, which is a shame. Did you watch it? What did you think? There were lots of comparisons to Mad Men because of the era, but I thought it was less polished, in a good way.

And now I will leave you with an outtake from my photoshoot – with thanks to The Boyfriend for taking loads of photos to make sure there were at least a few I was happy with! Not sure what’s going on here…….

pink-maxi-alix-dress-5And zoomed in for extra lolz…….

pink-maxi-alix-dress-5-cropped

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November Make(s) and December Plans

Since I’ve been doing these planning posts, the months seem to be disappearing very quickly! I think this means I have to be more modest in my plans…….as demonstrated by the fact that I made only one thing in the whole of November. Oh. Dear.

It was a pretty good thing though – I made my By Hand London Alix Dress for a party I went to 2 weekends ago for my sister. It’s made from some viscose from Abakhan – the photo below doesn’t do the colour justice.

By Hand London Alix Dress

I will take some proper photos of me wearing and do a full blog post on it – I really loved making it and wearing it. I don’t think there’ll be too many occasions in my life where I can wear a maxi dress but I really like the top version of the pattern, so I think I’ll be using this pattern again.

So now after one dress……onto my December plans!

I will try to make the free Jersey Dress pattern from Peppermint magazine, designed by In The Folds. After I finished my dress, I was away for the weekend and then last weekend The Boyfriend’s brother and sister-in-law came to visit so I didn’t end up with much sewing time for the rest of the months – that’s my excuse anyway 😉

peppermint-jersey-dress

I still haven’t even finished assembling the pattern for this, let alone cut it out. I think it will be quite quick to come together once it’s all prepared – I find jersey is quite quick to sew because you don’t have to neaten the seams 😀

Realistically there are only about 3 weekends left until Christmas (eek! How did that happen!?) the main things I want to get done this month are 4 skirts for my sister. She has now got her prosthetic leg and is learning to walk with it, though it is hard work. They say it takes something like 80% more energy to walk with a prosthetic leg than if you have 2 legs! She has asked me to make her some skirts to wear as most of her clothes were skinny trousers and her thigh is still quite swollen and it will take a long time for it to completely settle down into its permanent shape.

She has asked for 2 Tilly and the Buttons Delphine skirts (hopefully they will be better fitting than mine!), one in navy blue drill……

navy-drill-delphine…and one in red corduroy

red-corduroy-delphineShe bought some really lovely grey quilty jersey fabric to become a Colette Mabel – I may have to get some for myself and make a matching skirt. Or maybe a Talvikki Sweater like Heather Lou’s?

grey-quilty-mabelThe 4th skirt will be a Grainline Moss, which I bought the PDF of during their Thanksgiving sale – I’m going to try to print it off and assemble it this weekend. Then I can make myself some versions too!

denim-moss-skirtThe denim has a little stretch in it but it also a bit thick-feeling so I may have to line this one so it’s comfortable to wear.

 

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October Makes and November Plans

I can’t believe how quickly October has disappeared! Now we’re into November I thought I’d review how I did with my October makes and let you know by plans for the coming month.

I did pretty well with my October makes – I made 3 of the 4 things I planned. I’ll write full posts on each make soonish (hopefully).

My Deer and Doe Melilot shirt is pretty much finished, it just needs buttons and button holes – my machine hates doing button holes so I have to psych myself up for them.

This…….

october-planning-melilot….has become this:

melilot-shirt(it looks a bit wibbley because the fabric just does not iron!)

I also made my Tilly and the Buttons Delphine skirt:

october-planning-delphine-skirtI really like this and definitely think I’ll make more! It sits in a nice place on my waist. Also the fabric is slightly sparkley, which is always a good thing!

delphine-skirtI mentioned in my October post that I was planning to join in with the #SewDots challenge set by Rosie Martin using one of 2 fabrics in my stash:

october-planning-sew-dotsI actually used both of them! The pink one became a secret dotty lining in my Delphine skirt:

delphine-skirt-lining(I should really have ironed the skirt before I took this photo!)

I also made a dress from my grey spotty fabric – I did choose the Drapey Knit Dress from the 3rd Great British Sewing Bee book. I’ve worn it all day today and it’s really comfy – shame the pleats were sitting funny in this picture!

sewdots-dressSo these were my successful makes – you may have noticed there was one I didn’t get around to. The trousers. These will become one of my plans for November instead.

october-planning-simplicity-trousersMy next make will be the free Jersey Dress pattern from Peppermint magazine, designed by In The Folds. The fabric is the rest of a large length of jersey which I used some of for one of my Coco tops. It looks like it will be a secret blanket for the cold weather 🙂

peppermint-jersey-dressMy big make for the month – aside from my first pair of trousers – will be a By Hand London Alix Dress. There’s something about this pattern which I unexpectedly love! I’m going to a birthday party on the 19th November and I can wear it to my work Christmas party.

alix-dress-patternI don’t have any fabric for this yet. They recommend cotton lawn, voile, chambray, annel, double gauze, cotton silk, sandwashed silk, silk noil, wool crêpe, viscose crêpe, rayon and cupro. I’m thinking a lovely jewel-tone pink. If anyone knows where I can buy such a fabric, please let me know.

If I have time at the end of all this, I want to start making toiles for jeans. I haven’t decided which to do first – the Gingers or Morgans.

october-planning-jeansI have a couple of house-y projects to make too, so I doubt I’ll complete all of this including the jeans! I’m going to try to make some curtains for our bedroom – if I can figure out how!

 

 

 

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