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Friday 27 December 2013

Dartless woven tee

The dartless woven tee has come out well, though very snug in the shoulders. I think the block does not have enough ease for the non-stretch nature of the fabric personally so have added a strip in the centre front as it seems to be the width across the front above the bust which is a little too narrow.
I added a braclet length sleeve from another pattern, but used the sleeve cap from the book. I also added to the side seams which I shaped in slightly at the waist and a little to the length. And of course I did a forward head alteration to the front, and a round back alteration to the back, adding a centre back seam to the pattern.
I followed the bias neckline directions on the Grainline website which produced very good results, and although time consuming this is definitely a method I would use again as the results are very neat.

Since I have used a dark navy viscose (rayon) fabric from the stash it is a little hard to see the details.

I will try to get a shot of me wearing it. It fits very neatly in the shoulders, but I would like a little more ease here in future versions, so have added a little tissue to the centre front for the next version.

I really like this blouse and there are definitely going to be quite a few other versions in future. With the long sleeves this used about 1.2m of 150cm wide fabric. However a short sleeved version could definitely be got out of 1m, and even smaller pieces could be used by adding a contrast back or sleeves or even a yoke, so I think this will enable me to spin off into various blouse options.

I have some old viscose print skirts I cut apart and kept hoping to be able to make blouses instead, so I think this will work very well for those.

Thursday 26 December 2013

Great British Sewing Bee Book

A lovely friend bought me the Great British Sewing Bee book for Christmas.
 It has one pattern included in the back but most of the others are downloadable from the Publishers website - link here.
The pattern which meets something I have been looking for in my stash, and not quite finding, was for what I was calling a woven tee ie a simple dartless pull over top designed for lightweight woven fabrics. They have one they call 'Blouse with collar' which has a simple Peter Pan collar attached, not a shape which is good for me, but the rest of it is exactly what I have been looking for so I was quite pleased.

I have downloaded and printed out, but not yet tackled the whole taping together thing yet, and I shall definitely compare it to some favourite knit tee patterns before testing in some muslin fabric. This could be a great way to use some of my nice blouse fabrics for work without all the faff of collars, buttons and etc. I shall keep you posted.
Updated to show it is printed out, trimmed and glued together with PVA and currently drying.
I don't own the Grainline Scout Woven Tee, but wonder how similar it is?

Saturday 21 December 2013

Silk scarf updates

You may remember the Silk scarf dying I did a few days ago.

I left the first scarf alone because I loved the colours in it, but all the others went back and had some more added to them.

Long violently pink/blue/purple narrow scarf overdyed with a red orange dye bath.
- this is now mostly orange/red and black, so still strong just redder. This one is for me to wear. I don't like how the pink and purple are still peeking through in places so I think this will get some red applied by hand. This is to wear with a black suit.

Long pink scarf with burgundy bits, overdyed with the remnants of the red orange dye bath.
- this had a weaker version of the dye bath and was a closer colour before. This is now a warmer pink and I'm really pleased with it.This is also for me. I shall leave this one alone now, and hopefully it would be great with a dark plum dress and amber earrings.

Turquoise blue scarf had extra green and turquoise added.
- now has more colour variation, though perhaps has lost some of the delicate tracery. It seems to still have some of the soft underlying abstract flowers and definitely more life and energy. One end is greener and one end is bluer, not sure if this is fun or a problem. This is planned as a gift for a teal loving lady so I am slightly worried it is too green in parts now. I'm now wondering about added more blue to the too green parts! Maybe a bridge too far?

Pale blue had purple and pink added.

- this was really bland, but with watered down pink and purple added to a scrunched up scarf now has abstract flower shapes all over which I think is great. This one has definitely improved, but will need hand hemming (sigh). This is planned as a gift for an elderly lady, and once hemmed I hope she will like it.

Friday 20 December 2013

New Look 6013

I recently picked up New Look 6013 as it came with Sew magazine. I like the dress and the jacket, and the reviews seem to think they are easy to sew if rather generous amounts of ease. This is good as the envelope only goes up to a 16, and I measure more than that on my lower half.

A plain shift dress and a textured fabric for a jacket and these could be great for work.

New shoes and new specs

Continuing in my upgrading the work classics theme, I bought some black leather Penny Loafers to wear with trouser suits to the office.
They have leather uppers and leather soles, and are otherwise fairly forgettable, but imagine them with my super comfy support insoles inside so my knees don't hurt when walking a lot and worn with a nice sharp trouser suit. Definitely appropriate don't you think?
I won't be wearing them with skirts as they are too clunky for that, but I hope they will prove useful in the work wardrobe.

I also have ordered some new spectacles, which should come in about 3 weeks. I have a complex prescription (very short sighted and with astigmatism) so can be tricky getting specs which look OK and are comfy to wear. These seem to fit the bill.
More grown up than my current ones which are from the teenage range to reduce weight (as I had headaches with the glass lenses from the weight pressing on my sinuses), these are now proper adult women's ones and can still take the thin and light plastic lenses. The frames fit better and are more in proportion to my face which is really nice. The fitter was fantastic (an older man) and really wanted to help me find something flattering which would take my lenses and be a sensible price - fantastic customer service.

Thursday 19 December 2013

More silk dying

No pictures as yet, but I tried some overdying of all but the first scarf.

Long violently pink/blue/purple narrow scarf overdyed with a red orange dye bath.
- this is now mostly orange/red and black, so still strong just redder. Would be quite a statement with a black suit and amber earrings. This one is for me to wear.

Long pink scarf with burgundy bits, overdyed with the remnants of the red orange dye bath.
- this had a weaker version of the dye bath and was a closer colour before. This is now a warmer pink and I'm really pleased with it.This is also for me.

Turquoise blue scarf had extra green and turquoise added.
- now has more colour variation, though perhaps has lost some of the delicate tracery. It seems to still have some of the soft underlying abstract flowers and definitely more life and energy. One end is greener and one end is bluer, not sure if this is fun or a problem. This is planned as a gift for a teal loving lady so I am slightly worried it is too green in parts now. I'm now wondering about added more blue to the too green parts! Maybe a bridge too far?

Pale blue had purple and pink added.
- this was really bland, but with watered down pink and purple added to a scrunched up scarf now has adstract flower shapes all over which I think is great. This one has definitely improved, but will need hand hemming (sigh). This is planned as a gift for an elderly lady, and once hemmed I hope she will like it.

I will try to iron and photograph them tomorrow.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Silk dying experiments

I have been experimenting with dying silk scarf blanks in the microwave.
This large square scarf started the colour of the tee at the top of the picture, which was part of the bulk lot dyeds with Dylon machine dye. The pink wasn't a very flatteringshade for me, so I wanted to add some warmth. I added yellow, red-orange, red and a little bit of brown, and I do like the new overall sunset colour, though the smattering bits of brown have not worked as well as I had hoped.
This large rectangular scarf was also the same pink colour originally. Here I mixed up a burgundy shade and also added some yellow highlights which show up as orange. I am not sure this has changed colour quite enough for my liking, so this might get some more overdying to warm it up properly.
This scarf started out as a classic white blank long scarf, but not as large as the previous one. I scrunched this up on a plastic sheet on the draining board and dripped the dye on with a pipette. The dye then made sort of flower patterns as it went through the wet silk. I like the effect, but it is quite a strong colour combination, and I am not sure if this will appeal to the intended gift recipient. The colours are too cool for me.... so not sure what will happen with this one.
Another plain white silk blank, this time I tried to keep the silk a lot wetter. I've used three shade of turquoise, teal and blue and got them to blend together more than in the one before. This is very pretty up close, but the delicate effects don't show much a little further away!
This is a piece of silk, so will need hemming somehow (may need to buy some silk thread). I've used the same colours as in the scarf above, but diluted them first with water to give a paler shade. This is even softer, so not sure if the effect is too subtle and therefore boring.

I am definitely hooked now, and will be trying to take what I have learned and be able to make scarves that come out as I want them to in future!

Sunday 15 December 2013

Navy boiled wool jacket - finally in progress

Quite a while back (August apparently) I cut into one of my precious pieces of boiled wool, with this pattern I had muslined, with some help from J. I got quite a long way through the construction today, before heading of to a Carol service (where a friend was singing in the choir) and home to watch the recording of the GBSB Christmas Special.
Here's the fabric
and the pattern
I will share more when it is all completed, which will be a few days due to having to go to work!

However the sleeves are already constructed so just need inserting, decision on what hemming approach to use.
I may actually hand hem for once, since I like the look so far with no stitching showing, it's nice and clean.
And I will either go button and loop, or some sort of hidden fur hooks type closure, I don't want to try and make classic buttonholes in this fabric!

Then whilst I have navy blue on all the machines, I fancy an interesting skirt from a navy and white check. Something all on interesting angles (cut about) to wear with knee high boots. I found the fabric, but what happened to the pattern?

edited to add that I do already own 'Pants for Real People' and have started reading the section called 'Fly Front Zipper for Women' on pages 107-109, but it is not currently sinking in. I shall read it in bed a couple of times and then eventually try it out and I am sure it will be fine. I seem to do the thinking ahead of the doing these days but seem to get better results interestingly than the old approach of just ploughing ahead.

Burda Magazine September 2010 #135 Classic trousers

I have been looking back through some older burda magazines (I keep them all and have had donations also from other sewing friends) and liked the look of the plus trousers #135.
They are half lined with side pockets, a front zip and a 2 part waistband. Size 44 uses 1.7m of fabric. They look a lot like my favourite RTW half lined wool mix trousers so I can see them working in my wardrobe.
The only part that I am not particularly confident on is the front fly zip.

I have had good results with Burda trousers in the past. I seem to fit well into their size 44, with just a bit of alteration to take in the back waist. However I think usually I have been using the 44 at the top end of the standard sizing, not the bottom end of the plus sizing, so I will have to see how that works out. The Burda crotch curve generally works quite well for me, particuarly the way they put more to the back crotch and less to the front. If I alter a Simplity pattern to fit, it ends up looking a lot like a Burda, so I just trace the Burda ones!
The image for the trousers looks a bit skinny, and not much like the model.
Not sure what's going on there. I will probably do a muslin or mock up as PJs first before I cut into the wool.
If i could get these to work, they would be fabulous go-to supporting act pieces don't you think?

Saturday 14 December 2013

SWAP plans updated

I have been thinking about what would be useful extra pieces in my wardrobe, as well as continuing to incorporate those already cut out projects I plan to sew up as part of SWAP.
I am going to replace the knit pants with a black wool pencil skirt, as I know I would never wear knit pants for work.
And I am going to replace the sweater knit cardigan jacket with a lined black wool jacket.
This will give me another work suit, and being wool, the pieces will also work as separates with the dark green tweed pieces.

I am going to use the black ponte (which was for the knit pants) in a simple shift dress which could work with any of the jackets.
And I'm going to add some woven black pants into the mix as well, something from Burda with a waistband and lots of fullness in the hips/thighs made from a drapey washable fabric.

So the list now is:-
Green wool tweed used for jacket, skirt and waistcoat
Black wool used for jacket and skirt
Black ponte dress
Black woven trousers
Orange turtleneck top, cream mock wrap top and another top which needs to be a shirt/blouse.
Green cord skirt

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Dylon Flamingo Pink

I decided to try dying a few things with Dylon's Flamingo Pink machine dye.
This is after the run with the dye, they are now back in being washed with detergent.

from left to right
natural linen, was quite a dark tan (darker when wet) now more of a plum wine
yellow knit and yellow woven cotton, these have come out hot pink
plain white silk scarf blanks, these have come out flamingo pink as per the packet
peach broderie anglaise, this has picked up a little of the pink and therefore must be a polycotton with a lot of poly

isn't it interesting what happens when you dye things....

Sunday 8 December 2013

Loop scarf project

Loosely following the instructions for this Infinity Scarf, I made a scrap of fabric into a silky scarf.
It is a drapey jaquard polyester, in a lovely ivory pearl type colour, which I thought would be great for lightening a dark dress or blouse, and also allows somewhere for a brooch or scarf pin. It can also be loosely knotted, or worn draped freely. It won't ever come undone though which is great.

I also put up my artificial Christmas tree and dressed it with lights and decorations, which I think is lovely. I am really enjoying my Christmas music and festive decor. I donated two boxes this year but still have plenty which is great. I am much happier with a bit less.
Oops my star is a bit wonky!

New Look 6124 Dress

New Look 6124 Dress might be an option, it was included with this month's Sew Magazine.

I need to have a read up on the reviews of Pattern review.

And have a think what I might do about sleeves (perhaps insert one from another New Look pattern).

Thursday 5 December 2013

Great idea for a dress

I really liked this Tahari dress which was featured on Corporette
The back of the dress is made from 4 panels in the darker colour.
I love this colourway but wonder what it would look like in black and grey for instance.

Looks smart but also a little bit different doesn't it. I shall go and have a look through the sewing pattern boxes and see what might work.
My version would have the same slim skirt but finish below the knee. It would also have all the alterations needed to actually fit me.....

Wednesday 4 December 2013


I'm into the 6th week in the new job and the sewing and general creativity is completely stalled. I am hoping it is just a temporary pause and the inspiration and energy will return soon.

I am guessing that all of the extra mental energy is going into learning the new job and addressing my questions about what it is appropriate to wear for said new job.

If you are interested in this, there's a big topic about it over on Stitchers Guild
Ruthie's exploration thread

I am not sure if this will change the direction of my SWAP plan or not. If things carry on like this I probably won't actually manage to complete another SWAP, but it is not like I am short of clothes to wear.


Thinking about it, one thing I have noticed in the past when I hit the giant Pause button in an area of my life, is that then (sometimes several months later) when I come off pause, things go off in a slightly different direction. Almost always for the better (at least from my perspective).
Sometimes I need to take the data, the feedback and process it, observe, try things, process some more and out of that come new and interesting things. The more challenge there is to who I think I am and what I thought I knew, the longer/more difficult the process. But probably its richer and truer because of that.

So I suspect that the SWAP plan will get revised, or scrapped or something, especially if I decide to go for a totally work appropriate SWAP. But that's not a bad thing at all, it will just more accurately reflect the person I have grown up to be at that point.

I think the new direction will be more elegant, streamlined and allow space for details. It is going to be interesting isn't it? I'm quite excited.

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Tuesday's work look

I changed jobs and have been exploring dressing a bit more smartly in my new role.
Most of the pieces are RTW, so this is more about office dress code than sewing, hope that's not a problem.
 This is a fitted TMLewin women's shirt with a cutaway neckline in white with teal stripes, then an inexpensive pearl/silver necklace and a lovely hand painted silk scarf to pick up the teal in the shirt.
 This was worn with a classic black pin stripe trouser suit from Planet and an absolutely beautiful silver celtic knot brooch.
Interestingly after only 3 days of this (I have tomorrow's outfit ready to go), the one common theme running through all the outfits is the celtic knot influence - not done deliberately, but definitely something close to my heart.
So maybe this can quietly become my signature.

Monday 25 November 2013

Monday's Work Look

I have been thinking about dressing smartly for work, and have been trying to add a little extra polish in terms of suits, scarves, jewellery etc.

Sorry no photo of me actually wearing it, but here's today's outfit for work.
Dark grey trouser suit, off white linen blouse, celtic knot print silk scarf, gold brooch and earrings.
 Went in wearing boots and then changed to these, as being a bit smarter for the office.
 Have also stashed these in my drawer for days when I need to be a bit smarter.
I also had a black leather tote style bag, but will look ou for one a little smaller.

Thursday 14 November 2013

SWAP 2014 - the premade items

So you can have one previously made item - the green tweed jacket, and one sewn before the start date - the tweed skirt, and with those the collection is starting to look like this....
I will gradually replace the drawing with the garments as I sew them up from 26th December onwards!
A sort of visual milestone marker as it were :-)

SWAP 2014 - whole plan

I have had the SWAP plan written out in text for a while, but decided today to draw it up and use the coloured pencils to give myself an idea of what it might look like.
I wonder if this might be the year that I actually manage to sew up the whole SWAP as per the plan? I have all the fabric for this, and it seems pretty achievable.

Admittedly I have never used the Vogue pattern before and Vogue and I have not always got along too well in the past, so I need to do some serious testing first. I think these days I have a better grip of my various wedge shaped alterations which are not usually found in the simpler books on alterations, but have made a HUGE difference to how my home sewn clothing fits me.
So I shall approach the Vogue pattern with realistic measurements and parts of various TNT patterns. I will make up some test garments before attempting them for the SWAP.
Let's see how I get on.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Style 2514 Green Tweed Jacket

Here's the jacket I made from Style 2514. I had put silver buttons on it, but didn't like them, so have made some covered buttons from leftover fabric scraps.
I think with the covered buttons it is more versatile.
I ironed a circle of very light weight interfacing onto the fabric before making the buttons. This added a layer of opacity to the fabric so the white button blank did not show through as well as helping to stabilise the soft wool fabric and reduce fraying. I used 22 mm button blanks.

Saturday 9 November 2013

Style 2514 Jacket

Eventually I found the pattern I used for the green tweed jacket.
It was Style 2514 View A, although I played it safe and did it all one fabric. The pattern was dated 1994, but the shorter versions look classic enough that they could look OK now.

I'm going to switch out the silver buttons for some fabric covered ones as the various tests I did showed that looked better and made the jacket more flexible, then I'll share it with you.

Friday 8 November 2013

Tweed Skirt - finished

The skirt has been finished for a few days, but I'd not had chance to photograph it.
I had to sew it with 1/4" seams rather than 5/8" and that extra 1.5" makes all the difference!
 I used some of the lining left over form the matching jacket, and an invisible zipper from the stash.
This evening I had a good tidy up in the sewing room and I can now see the floor and get in and out of the door as well as being able to access the fabric stash. I've had a good sort through and picked some likely fabrics for the swap, plus a couple of spares in case of disasters striking!
I have put the swap fabrics in a box, as I have some other projects to do first.

For a long time the matching jacket had no buttons, then eventually I added some metal antique silver coloured ones. They are OK but don't work with the copper tones on the boots, so I will either swap them for copper coloured buttons or covers some button blanks in self fabric.

Thursday 7 November 2013

SWAP 2014 plans

My SWAP plan doesn't seem to have a title yet. Something that plays on the green and orange tones found in copper perhaps?

It is based on a green/black/cream tweed jacket I made in sewing class ages ago, but never quite got into wearing and some green suede boots with rust/copper coloured detailing which I recently had altered so they fit nicely. I really wanted to incorporate these items into my everyday wardrobe. So the colours come from those items - the dark bottle green, black, cream and rust/copper.

I also wanted to include some items I have cut out but never sewn up - a cream knit top and a dark green corduroy skirt. I also wanted to and use a Vogue pattern I have had for a long time but never made up - Vogue 2989

I will try and sketch something out, but for the moment it is looking something like this:-

First 3 pack
Top - Orange turtle neck
Bottom - Green/black/cream tweed skirt – sewn before start date
Layer - Green/black/cream tweed jacket – previously sewn

Wildcard - Green/black/cream tweed waistcoat (already cut out, though needs lining cutting out)

Second 3 pack
Top - Cream knit top (already cut out)
Bottom - Green jumbo cord skirt (already cut out)
Layer - Vogue 2989 Jacket – probably cream sweater knit (from stash)

Third 3 pack
Dress - Vogue 2989 Dress – black or charcoal knit (from stash)
Top - Vogue 2989 Top – cream or orange knit (from stash)
Bottom - Vogue 2989 Skirt – plain black or charcoal knit (from stash)

Wildcard - Vogue 2989 Trousers – plain black stretch fabric (may need to buy, depending on stash)

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Vogue 2989 is looking good to me

This is a great pattern and maybe it has some items I could use for SWAP.
It would be quite interesting to make all the items from a wardrobe pattern. Anyway we shall see.
Off to have a look at some reviews.
The reviews seem generally positive though only the skirt, dress and jacket have been made on PR.
I get the feeling they are all very close fitting though, so I need to be sensible about the sizing, and do some flat pattern measurements. It would be nice to actaully find the pattern as well, so I can read the guide sheet.

Monday 4 November 2013

Tweed skirt nearly there

The tweed skirt just needs hemming (wool + lining) and the back split sorting out and then I could wear it.
 It went together quite well, and having the extra Ikea lamp just makes sewing on dark winter evenings so much better!