Sunday, 2 April 2017

DKNY Wrap Skirt

I'm not sure what came over me but I went ahead straight away and made the skirt from the recently purchased DKNY Vogue pattern.  This is unusual behaviour for me but I happened to have some fabric already (I don't have a massive fabric stash - patterns are my weakness).
The fabric is a black wool suiting remnant that was amazing until I washed it. It went slightly spongey and a little bobbly so has been sitting in a drawer for a while.  To be fair I would never get round to dry cleaning my clothes so its better this way and time has made the memory of the original quality fade.

This was quite an easy sew but involved sewing interfacing to the skirt rather than interfacing the waistband facing which I've never done before.  It wasn't tricky to do but I'm not sure of the advantages of doing it that way round.

Anyway I'm quite pleased with the end result and may get round to making the trousers if I find some suitable fabric.  I made a size 14 graded out to a 16 hip in the skirt but I don't think I needed the extra space so I might be ok to just cut a 14 for the trousers.

I other news...
  • my school is having a party in May to celebrate the result of the OFSTED inspection
    • dress code 'smart casual' - what even is that (apart from an oxymoron)? What should I make?
  • Despite appearances in the above photos, the spare room plaster has been given a coat of emulsion and the ceiling is painted.
  • the below fabric was purchased.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Should I bring the 90s back?

You may be wondering how the smeed diet went.
Well everything was going smoothly, I'd made it 4 days with out checking anything then my school got the call from OFSTED.  Now I know that I'm good at my job, I get observed all the time, my school is amazing but somehow OFSTED just makes me panic a little - so I gave up. And I'm ok with that, I just needed distracting or I wouldn't have been able to sleep.
As a prize for surviving the experience (OFSTED that is, not the social media diet) and doing rather well I've treated myself to a new sewing pattern (and Mr B bought me some new shoes).
Vogue 2938 a 1992 DKNY jacket, skirt and trousers.

Image result for vogue 2938 dkny

I was originally attracted by the (probably deeply unflattering) trousers but now I'm quite in to the skirt.  Should I be revisiting 90s fashion?  Teen aged Beulah was not very stylish* so perhaps this is my chance to shine 90s style?
Anyway, in other news, whilst work was going crazy we were also in the middle of getting our spare room plastered so the house was  is in turmoil.  But now we've reached the tester pot stage which is much more like it...

* whether adult Beulah is stylish is also questionable but she cares rather less.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Creatively Tired

I haven't written anything in a while nearly a year and I've kind of missed it.
Not actually writing posts but being able to look back over them.
So I'm going to start up again with low quality photos (I'm rubbish at editing) and fewer links (just can't be bothered).  I don't suppose anyone will mind.
I have made lots since last April but life took over and I got out the habit of recording things. However the point of this blog in the first place was that I plan more than I make, I wanted to make myself complete more and I'm falling back into bad habits.
Why?  Because of social media of course.
'Smeeds' says Mr B.  He has a Year 10 form class and is the authority (in our house) on youth speak.
Anyway, as I was saying, I seem to spend hours browsing, admiring other people's makes and not getting on with anything myself.
So I'm going to stop looking.  For a week (I like to set achievable targets).
You might be wondering what I'm up to right now...
Ages ago (maybe in September) Craftsy classes were on sale so I bought 'The Couture Dress' with Susan Khalje.  I'm really enjoying watching the videos, its lovely watching someone who knows what they are doing sew.  I've made the muslin and it fits as well as its going to - it turns out that Mr B finds it impossible to pin fabric.
I cut a size 12, grading out at the hips.  This isn't what I usually do but after hours of internet research I decided it was the way forward.

I've had to do a full tummy adjustment (too many biscuits?)

And a massive small bust adjustment.
I might set this aside for a week or two as I'm getting a bit fed up with not having a dress yet.  Maybe if I make something quick and easy I'll feel more inspired?

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Simplicity 1504 - Pachyderm Pyjamas 1

"Are the elephants afraid of the mice?" asked Mr B whilst taking the photos.

My most recent project has been some pyjama bottoms made from Simplicity 1504 and elephant print cotton lawn (which I saw in John Lewis last weekend at £10 per metre - I paid £4.99 per metre off eBay!).

(I had to borrow Mr B's crumpled pyjama top when I realised I didn't own a white top)

They are experimental, I ultimately want to make a pair of Liberty tana lawn, to test out fit and a couple of techniques.  I've had this project in mind for quite a while, inspired by Puck from the TV programme Crimes of Passion (I can't find any image online to illustrate), and bought the pattern last summer.  I had a number of reservations about the pattern, they will become clear, but it was the closest to what I wanted that I could find at the time.

I cut an adult size medium based on my hip size shortening the leg by an inch.  I made a skirt from Simplicity 2258 last year and really liked the pocket so I used that instead of the pocket included.  I also used bias strips, made from the leftover fabric from a previous make, to highlight the pockets and ankle cuffs.

The major issue is the front crotch length! There is a lot of excess here - I guess this is because it is a unisex pattern.

I made Mr B try them on to confirm this - he needs the length because of the jumble he keeps down there, I do not.

Other more minor issues are my inability to get the bias strips to show evenly, the width at the ankle (I was hoping for something slightly narrower) and the finish of the waist band.

So I've got some thinking to do - please feel free to offer advice.

  • What's the simplest way to get rid of the excess in the front crotch?  Can I cut a wedge out of the pattern? (will that mess up the waist band?) Should I just shorten them front and back by about an inch above the crotch?  Should I use the crotch line for a smaller size?
  • Can I slim the leg down?
  • Should I just use a different pattern (Simplicity 2258 includes trousers) and use the ankle cuff idea from these?
  • I want to make a matching top.  The adult size XS would give me an ease of about 7 inches at the bust so would it be better to use the child size L which has a more sensible 5 1/2 inch ease?  My bust measurement is 33" and I think I'm probably smaller than I was when I was 16!  I want short sleeves so arm length isn't an issue, I'd just need to check body length maybe?

So many questions! Help!

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Circa 1930 - McCall's 7154

My copy of Sew Today magazine arrived yesterday.
There's actually two new Vogue patterns I like!
And a double page spread showing McCall's 7154.

It is a beautiful 1930's evening dress with great details.  Unfortunately I don't have anywhere to wear exquisite gowns to and I'm not sure how flattering the skirt would be on me.  I didn't want this to stop me so before Christmas I set about making the bodice into a top to wear with jeans.
Here's how it turned out...

I think this is a way of making the design much more wearable but as usual I didn't really leave myself enough time.  I'll get it over with and show the unfinished insides of shame now.

I used a wine coloured silk crepe de chine which was lovely to sew with.  I don't think I've made anything with real silk before and was surprised at how tough it was to cut and iron - I couldn't get some of the creases out no matter how hard I tried.  The back seam wouldn't press flat at all.

I cut the over-bodice wider and longer and the under-bodice slightly wider at the back.  I couldn't figure out quite how to eliminate the zip in the original, I think if I was going to try this again I might cut the over-bodice back on the fold.

I really love the pleats at the shoulder and the cut outs look really beautiful but you have to sew very accurately and clip to the corners fearlessly.

I didn't quite manage to get the bands attached smoothly at the front which I am blaming McCall's for as nowhere in the pattern does it tell you how to do this!  Honestly.  Step 22 tells you to leave the ends free.  Step 54 sort of tells you what to do with the back band edges but its really unclear and I wasn't putting in the zip anyway. No step tells you how to attach the front bands.  Do they proof read their pattern instructions at all?


So as long as you don't look to closely this is a really lovely top and I'm now on the look out for other great 1930s gown patterns to convert.
What period details do you love?  How do you incorporate them into your wardrobe?

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Sister of the Bride - Simplicity 2253

I briefly mentioned in my last post the dress I made to wear to my sister's wedding so I thought I'd write about that in more detail today.


My original plan was to make Vogue 2509, a vintage Sybil Conolly design, but I was struggling with the fit and then couldn't see past the hideous duvet cover I was making the toile out of (note to self: use plain fabric for toiles in future).  I really struggle to find good quality fabrics nearby and didn't have the time for a weekend away fabric shopping.  So I decided on buying a dress and spent a day in York trying on what seemed like a thousand dresses that didn't fit.  By this point there was only a month to go and I was getting a bit worried as I still hadn't been able to finish the bridesmaid dress either.
So I decided to by some navy cotton sateen and make a dress that I had made before.  I wasn't going to be the dress of my dreams but it would do.  So I tried on a couple of old dresses and decided on Simplicity 2253.

Image result for SImplicity 2253

My previous version, pre-blog, was made of a teal polyester dupion fabric.  I remembered that it went together surprisingly easily and it still fit so I could just go straight ahead and cut it out.

The only thing I didn't like was the skirt, it's cut straight but almost looks A-line so I pegged the hem and added a back vent.  I also finished the hem with Liberty tana lawn bias binding to make it a bit more special. And accidentally put the zip in the wrong side of the dress which is the kind of thing only my mother notices.

And I was really pleased with the result, it fit really well and I was able to wear it to two weddings in quick succession.

I colleague of Mr B's said, when looking at photos, that she would have thought it came from Coast.  She buys a lot of dresses from Coast.  I'm taking it as a great compliment.

Obviously since the weddings I've seen lots of beautiful fabrics and patterns, its always the way.
What do you do if you are planning an outfit for an event?  Do you buy the pattern or the fabric first?

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Learning to sew the perfect pencil skirt - Style 2888

I think I've made the perfect pencil skirt!

I've had the pattern (Style 2888) since 1998 and it was one of the first I made (not the first, that was a disaster and a story for another time).

My Mother made it for me first and between us I've had at least a dozen skirts made and I think my sister has had at least one.  There's nothing special about this pattern but it did teach me to sew darts (there are 6 if you don't line the skirt, if you do there's 12) and put zips in successfully - two things that I've never thought of as being challenging probably because of all the practice with this pattern.

I don't think I've made Style 2888 up for over 12 years but I came back to it as I bought a metre of fabric for £1 (a John Lewis sale bargain) and wanted to make something simple.  I was pleased to find that one version had been cut to a 14 so it was still big enough for me.  I had adapted it in the past to have a centre back seam but this time also used the bottom of the pegged and vented skirt from the dress I made for my sister's wedding (I'll write about that soon).

I lined the skirt and sewed the zip in by hand.

I wore it to a formal dinner at my old university college, over 18 years after arriving there with the original (lilac tweed) version in my suitcase.  The dress code said 'Lounge Suit' which I think is tricky for ladies but this seemed to fit the bill judging by what I could see of the other guests and students there - outfits were hidden beneath academic gowns for most of the evening.

So in conclusion:
  • This was a very cheap make - in fact the thread cost more than the fabric! Well under £10.
  • I'm ridiculously pleased with the finish on this skirt and will be making more.
  • If you are learning to sew my advice would be to buy a cheap pattern off ebay, not necessarily something super easy but not too complicated either, and repeat it over and over!  Practice makes perfect.