Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Ma ma ma My Moneta!

For the first time ever I have made a garment using an Independent Pattern designer, and I love it!  One of the many sewing skills that I have never learnt or used is Grading Up a Pattern, so if a pattern doesn't accommodate my curves then I can't use it.  But this year Colette have created two new patterns that include XS up to 3XL, and I want to support their hard work and inclusiveness, so bought the Moneta dress pattern.

Introducing my own Moneta!

I lengthened the skirt so that I could use all of those lovely stripes in the fabric.  I bought this two way stretch from Minerva Crafts last year, but unfortunately they no longer stock it.
Here are a few close ups of the details on this dress.  I used my body measurements and the guidelines on the back of the pattern to cut a 2XL for the bodice and a 3XL for the skirt.
The stripes in the blacker end of the fabric get wider and wider so I used those stripes for the sleeves and the back, whilst trying to continue the stripes used in the skirt over my bust.
On the Colette website there are five additional collars that you can download for free.  I used one of these.

The collar is attached in a bit of an awkward way, but it is a very clever idea once I got the hang of it.  In the two photos above you can see that the stitching to attack the collar is now hidden by the collar on the outside of the dress, leaving the inside of the dress with a neat fold.

Here you can see the thickness of the stripes that were at the top of the fabric.  I didn't have quite enough fabric to have the back matching the front, but at least they tie in with the sleeves.
See my attempt at stripe matching in the seams, and I went with white pockets for a wee peak of contrast!
I always find seeing the backs of garments to be very informative, so here is a full length shot of the back, mind you it is also the more flattering of the four awful back photos that we took.

Two new skills learnt

  Not only did I learn how to attach a collar on my overlocker but I also learnt how to do a waistband using clear elastic.  This is my first ever garment using the overlocker!  The instructions in the pattern said to stretch out the elastic onto the skirt and baste it.  I first tried this on my sewing machine with the jersey needle and the correct width of zig zag, and this is what happened:
Urgh!  Nightmare!
Colette patterns have an excerpt from their new book about sewing with knits on their website that deals with this part of the dress.  After unpicking this mess I decided to do the gathering with two threads technique that I am used to, and then basted the clear elastic on as though it were not stretchy, and here is what happened:
Argh again!
But here is the good news.  By looking more carefully at the illustrations in the book excerpt, I could see that when using the elastic in this way - as a stabiliser - that I could use the overlocker!  And voila!
A stabilised and gathered skirt,
fully attached to the bodice! Yay!
And so of course this is what arrived in the post after we got back from taking these photos this morning!
The Colette Guide to Sewing with Knits
by Alyson Clair

In conclusion

I love this dress, and I loved learning new skills to make it.  Here are a couple more shots of the dress to finish with.
Firstly, a twirl of happiness to say "Thank You" to the lovely ladies of the Curvy Sewing Collective who have been doing the blog tour of Colette's two new patterns.  They have inspired me to embrace my current figure instead of ignoring it and motivated me to get back into sewing garments.
A white hem on a maxi dress!!! Crazy!
But if it gets really dirty in the future
I will be able to cut it to knee length!
And the final shot - my Mister's favourite so I had to include it.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Swoon Worthy Sewing

I have been enjoying some simple sewing lately, a great thing to do if you only have a small window of time in the evenings.  I do the cutting out in one evening and lay out all my squares and rectangles on my ironing table ready for the next evening, when I pull my sewing machine closer and get on with the sewing!  My workspace looks a bit like this at the moment, with lots of little clipped triangles that escaped the bin.
Here's Mr Bingley, jumping onto my chair
as soon as I'm up!

The patchwork block pattern that I've been tinkering away at is called Swoon, designed by Camille Roskelley at Thimbleblossoms.

Each of the star/flower blocks take two fat quarters of fabric as well as some background fabric.  Above is the first one that I made, I tried to cut out the little girls carefully so as not to decapitate any of them.  My second attempt went okay too, just a few houses and trees on their side, but at least the little ladies are safe and well.
The fabric is a Fat Quarter bundle I bought from Westwood Acres, a US online store.  The cute little prints are part of a collection called Country Girls designed by Tasha Noel who writes a blog called A Little Sweetness.
The third and fifth ones were a bit easier, inside the checkerboard print there were occasionally some words that I had to try my best to keep up the correct way, which I think I managed.
Each of these blocks are 24" square, and there will be nine of them altogether, so the final quilt will be quite large when it is finished.

So that is five made so far, including today's one - made with Mr Bingley's "help."


Friday, 18 April 2014

Gertie's Vintage Slip - Reveal

Ooo, La Laa!  I am about to show you my underwear!!  Prepare yourself!  But firstly I'd like to share some of the changes I made to the pattern, which is a vintage style slip/petticoat,  Gertie's Butterick 6031.
Due to some weight gain over the winter I decided not to take in the fitted waist so instead just cut straight upwards from the hip line to the top.  I also added 5" to the hem, as I held the pattern pieces up against me and thought it would be a bit too short for me as it was.
I used a two-way stretch fabric that I bought at the Creative Stitch Show in Glasgow in March.  You can tell this fabric is meant for slips and nightwear just by the slinky feel of it.  I think this would have been hard to buy online.  All the stretch lace, elastic and lingerie fastenings I had to buy online, as I couldn't find anything at the show for this garment.
At the moment Gertie is running a Sew-Along for this garment on her blog, but it hasn't been all that I thought it would be.  It's not a very interactive sew-along.  I asked a question on her first post almost three weeks ago now, and never got a reply.  I asked a question on her fourth post, yesterday, and as yet haven't heard anything, despite her end of post comment saying "Let me know if you have any questions."  ...of course everyone is busy with life I guess.
So I have decided to just wing it and go it alone.

I did follow her FBA diagrams today and found them helpful.  The pattern envelope has a little calculation to do: full-bust - high-bust  = X, and then this X number tells you which cup size pattern piece to use.  I had to make mine bigger than the largest pattern piece, but it wasn't clear how much bigger.  So I first made a 2" FBA pattern piece which was way too Madonna/Vogue/pointy, then I made another one with only a 1.5" FBA and this one seems to suit me better.

There is a lovely feature to this pattern, cut away lace sections.  You pin the stretch lace onto the fabric with the edge of the lace along the edge of the fabric, and then you sew along the other edge of the lace, the edge that is 1.5" away from the fabric edge.  Once it is sewn you cut away that strip of fabric that was under the lace, so that now you see some gorgeous flesh behind the lace!
The lace under my bust.  You can also see
the bust dart with top edge stitching.
Okay, so here we go, hope you're prepared... 
of course I have decided to go headless, as you just don't know what people may do with photos on the interwebs!  All those lovely ladies who have formed the Curvy Collective have suddenly made me feel a lot better about my curves, and (today) I am feeling brave and proud to share this make.

Here is a back view of my slip.  I know many ladies don't show the back view of their makes, for all sorts of reasons, but it really is helpful to see the back of handmade items, "Posterior for Posterity!"

I will be wearing this as a slip/petticoat and so I fitted it whilst wearing my bra, and I will always wear it with a bra.  I did use the recommended narrow width of lace for the straps, it's just hard to see here because my bra straps are wider than the black lace - sorry about that.  
So one last photo, standing normally.  The added 5" hem falls just at the top of my knees, but my Mister took this next photo looking downwards so the slip looks a bit longer than it is.
Hope this helps others to feel less self-conscious and more proud of the curves!

This is one of my completed goals for Katy's Q2 Finish-Along.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Look at me Free-Styling!

Sorry, not dancing.  This week I have had a go on a HUGE sewing machine, and I loved it!  It felt like drawing or doodling but instead of a pencil I was wielding a big, purple, sparkly, computerised machine.  Sometimes I went a bit too fast and it over-revs just like when you drive a friend's car for the first time.
This sewing studio belongs to Carole and Brian at Beechwood Quilting in Stirling, Scotland.  You can leave your patchwork and backing with them and they'll quilt it for you, or like me, you can have a lesson on how to use the machine on some calico before sewing directly onto your own work.  Here you can see my practice of large, small and medium swirls.  In the end I decided to stick with large swirls for my quilt.
Carole and Brian take it in turns to stay with you in case you need help or get stuck, which is very comforting and supportive.  They of course load up your backing fabric, wadding and patchwork top into the machine for you, but they also tell you how it's done and what to look out for whilst you're sewing, like bits of fluff that Carole is checking for here on my backing fabric.
At the beginning Carole showed me how to thread the bobbin and what to do to start and to finish.  She secured all three layers together by sewing a straight line along the top at the beginning, as you can see she is about to do here:
Brian even took a video of me in action on their machine!  eek - the concentration!  Not even a smile from me, I'm so focused.
I learnt a lot about quilting freehand and about using such a huge machine.  It is nowhere near as scary or as noisy as I thought it would be and is very light to the touch.  And the price was very reasonable, it is an hourly rate once the lesson has finished, and you can buy your wadding there too.  If you live in the area or visiting, I would highly recommend having a go at quilting something for yourself.

I have posted about the construction of this quilt top here, and now just have to bind it, label it, photograph it, then I'll share it with you just one more time before I give it to my friend Diane.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Glow in the Dark Star Wars Pyjamas

Today I got stuck in and completed a pair of pyjama pants in one day!
I didn't do the best job at pattern matching on the front seam, but I am happy with the overall balance of the print, the "Star Wars" text is running horizontally to the floor and is spread out fairly well across the width of the front.
And the best bit about this pattern is that there are pockets on both sides!  Very useful for hankies and mobile phones.  The pattern I used is Butterick 5572.

Every single seam has been neatly finished on my overlocker - first time I've really used it for anything important and I must say that it is a very satisfying feeling to see all those neat edges!

Sorry I haven't got any glow in the dark photos for you.  It was really tricky to take any photos in the dark without the flash going off.  The only parts on the fabric that glow in the dark are the crossed over light sabers.
My dear husband kindly modeled these for me but they are actually getting posted off to Australia as a gift.  I am positive they will be well loved, but fingers crossed that they fit!!

Linking up to Katy's Finish-Along.  This is one of my sewing goals for Spring (Q2) and it's completed!  Yay!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Spring Sewing Plans

This is a list of things that I'd like to finish by the end of Spring.  If you too want to make a list be sure to link it up with Katy's Finish-Along and for every item you complete from your list you have a chance at winning lots of lovely prizes!

1.  I finished the top of this quilt and had it already for being quilted during the first quarter of the year(Q1), but as I want to learn how to use a long-arm machine and quilt it for myself, I couldn't get a lesson booked in time for this to be considered a Q1 finish, but it will definitely be a Q2 Spring finish!  I'll take photos of my long-arm adventure and write about it here for you.
2. I began working on a quilt for my sister, and I'd like to have it finished before her Aussie Winter arrives.
3.  I bought Thimbleblossom's Swoon quilt pattern and have been happily cutting out Tasha Horsley's Country Girls fabric.  I am really enjoying this and have made five of these 24" blocks so far!
4.  I'm only including this next project just-in-case I get really sick and bed-ridden and all I can do is hand-sewing.  This is my longest running WIP and I have little hope that I will finish it this season either, but you never know!  In My Garden applique quilt, 5 blocks done and 4 to go... still.

4.  I am making a Nightie / Slip for myself.  Not sure I'll be brave enough to model it on my blog though - maybe a headless shot?
5.  I am also making some glow-in-the-dark Star Wars PJ pants for a friend... If they get the measurements to me before Q2 is over.

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