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Friday 28 June 2013

Red Dress

Well the red dress is finished and it is now dark, so the photo is a pretty bad flash hanger shot.

Usual pattern, only with the sleeves to just below the elbow. This is so the dress can be worn with a particular RTW jacket (white/red/black linen with 3/4 sleeves) and I want the sleeves not to show beyond the jacket.
Flared A line skirt cut to just below mid calf, so definitely work appropriate in the summer.

A note on skirt lengths.
I have quite chunky calves and have concluded that in the winter my best look is a hem stopping just below the knee worn with dark opaque hose and often knee high boots.
In the summer it is better to have the skirts much longer - below mid calf, and wear with sandals and no leg covering.
So accordingly my knit dresses for winter have a cowl neck, long sleeves and a knee length hem, but for summer 3/4 or short sleeves, and scoop neckline and a much longer skirt.
I'm planning on shortening sleeves or hems and/or adding collars etc to match these paramenters now I have worked out this is my best look as not all the dresses I have made in the past get worn.

Thursday 27 June 2013

Style vs fashion

I love this little video from
and agree the ladies are spot on.

I am unable to buy trousers in fashion shops at the moment (I can still buy walking gear from Craghoppers if I stick with certain cuts) but can wear my old ones or sew from some of my older sewing patterns.

However after a recent fruitless shopping trip with my mother, I did explain to the store manager that the reason we were not buying much was because none of the trousers fitted us. (I bought a zip up hoody from the men's department but for me).
I love making knit tops and knit dresses which fit me - forward head, rounded upper back, sway back and hips a size larger than upper body - I'm glad I can sew!

Red knit dress in progress, and may appear tomorrow.

Saturday 22 June 2013

Red PJ pants

I think I must have been having a bad day at work and 'needed' to buy fabric when I bought this several years ago. It is a very thin cotton knit with not much stretch in a scarily 1980s print from a discount rack on a stall at Leeds market. It was cheap and obviously gave me the comfort I needed at the time, but then it came home and went into the fabric stash. Its only reasonable use was for PJ pants, though what the heck kind of top it needs I have no idea.
Anyway they are constructed and the fit isn't too bad. They are oneseam pants from a Burda magazine patterm with elastic waist in a narrow casing and machine sewn hems.
I have fished out a skirt which needs shortening, 3 semi-wadders and some other red fabric,so should be able to sew a few things whilst the machines are threaded up in red.
The pattern I used was the non one-seam PJ pants #127 from Burda December 2007. I made them into one seams by overlapping the sideseams so they fit on my fabric and cutting out as a single piece. I appeared to have about a metre which wasn't long enough so I have teeny hems and a narrow elastic casing.

Matching thread

As you know I like sewing knits, and it is a joke with my sewing friends that I like the thread to match and I sew multiple garments with the same matching thread to avoid rethreading my machines.

Last night I was chatting about sewing and life with YorkshireLass and saying I really wanted to make a red tee shirt dress next but sadly the machines were all threaded with white thread. I forget the exact words, but she pointed out that this was probably a poor excuse and I should just get on with rethreading, and the whole exercise should take me 10 minutes tops.

So I looked in the relevant thread drawer and found I had something like 13 spools of red thread - I like to have 8 of my popular colours so I can have the sewing machine x 1 + bobbin, the overlocker (serger) x 4 and the coverhem x 3 all matching. So no excuses there, and I wedged the phone in the crook of my neck and threaded whilst chatting.

So expect a whole load of red stuff coming up!!!

BTW I do understand that because overlocking is on the inside of a garment you could use almost any colour, but I like it to match even if only I see it.

Friday 21 June 2013

One colour scraps tee

This tee is again made from scraps, but as there were enough of the same fabric for the whole tee, its perhaps not too obvious.
Careful cutting was required with both back pieces and each sleeve all cut out separately. Carefully check you have a left and right of each!
This was leftover fabric from making this top
which was part of my SWAP in 2009. The boat neck style coupled with a lack of forward head alteration meant I always felt like I was choking in this top and it was donated long ago.
The sponge print fabric reminds me of a blue sky filled with fluffy clouds and should be fun to wear with casual outfits.

Thursday 20 June 2013

Teal Floral Mix-It Tee

Styalised teal floral print, with plain teal side panel inserts.
Here the lower front side and lower back side and cut in one, the upper side front and back also in one with a seam at the waist as this fitted better onto my fabric. This one was actually a lot fiddlier to construct then the others because it has no side seams, so I'm not sure I'll use the new pattern pieces much going forwards.
The teal fabric was left over from the turtleneck top I made for this year's SWAP but the floral print scrap has been in the stash for ages, and the original knot front tee was worn and worn until it wore out, so it is nice to have the print back again!
This was the original top (now sadly worn out and gone) and this is the plain teal turtleneck I just made for the SWAP.
It's great that the leftovers from both can become a new item!

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Mix-It 'designer' Tee two

Well actually this was the first one, but the fabric weights didn't work so I removed the sleeves and made some new ones.
Here's the finished tee.
There was slightly more of this print fabric so I was able to get the whole body and neckband from the print, but had to go with contrast sleeves (or could've had one sleeve!). Does it need some of the plain pink elsewhere as a trim or is it OK?

The first attempt used a slightly larger piece of fabric, but the pink was too coral, and the sweatshirt type fabric was too heavy with the very thin cotton of the print.
Hopefully you can see the heavy sleeves are pulling at the body and the colours are not a great match. Anyway this one is just some spare sleeves now!

Another tee using my own scraps is cut out ready for being sewn up.

Monday 17 June 2013

Mix-It 'designer' Tee

Despite having several shelves of my large shelving unit full of fabric, I am still somehow attracted to the challenge of making something useful out of the scraps of fabric left over from other things.
Woven scraps become cushions, pencil cases, hair scrunchies, shopping bags, aprons, pocket lining and waist band facings, but I wanted to find something to do with the knit scraps, and decided to do myself some 'designer' tees, known to me as a 'Mix it' garment, ie anything which mixes two different fabrics together.

These scraps came from a fellow sewer but I loved the almost animal print look of the patterned fabric, and teamed it up with a plain turquoise. Neither fabric was really enough to make anything alone, so I think it worked out well - two others are in progress and I will share later in the week.

If you like this idea, you need to take your favourite TNT tee shirt pattern, mark some side panels on the pattern, then retrace the pattern pieces addding the seam allowance back on, so that you have a centre front, and a side front, centre back and side back pattern piece. Then try and place the panels, sleeve and neckband pieces on your remnants of co-ordinating knit fabrics, choose a reasonably well matching thread, sew up and wear.

I machine stitched my panels together and then cover hemmed to keep the seams as flat as possible, though serged the side seams as normal.

Thursday 6 June 2013

More finished projects

I have been working through the boxes of items which need fixing, altering or finishing off, and wanted to share the latest ones.

First up this skirt made several years ago. Its only problem was the elastic had lost its stretch and needed replacing.
Its from this pattern from Prima magazine. The fabric is red in one direction and black in the other and great for Christmas dressy type occasions.
And I made this pattern last year as well when I sewed during the Olympics.

The other finished piece is from a mystery elastic waist pant pattern. For some unknown reason this was mostly constructed, needing only elastic in the waist, and the leg hems sewing.
Isn't the print fabric glorious? I think these will only be PJ or lounging at home type pants, but I do love them. The border fabric is, I think, acetate or similar and i suspect there is uncut yardage still in the stash wanting to be a maxidress.

More projects to come as they get finished off, fixed or otherwise sorted out!

Butterick 3972

I did wear the skirt to work!
So the skirt was actually from Butterick 3972.

I made the full length version, but shortened it by about 3" by taking some off the top and some off the bottom so as not to affect the interesting lines too much. I remember this being very popular in my sewing class at the time, and a few people made it. It has an elastic waist, but still quite nice shaping due to being cut on the bias in sections.
The asymmetric version with contrast panels looks interesting and would be cool with boots in the winter time.
In 2007 I made this for my SWAP in a dirty denim, and made it reversible!

Wednesday 5 June 2013


One of the boxes I unpacked the other week contained a Ruthie sewn matching jacket, skirt and trousers in a great greeny grey linen look fabric. I tried the pieces on and realised the fit was not bad except just a little loose around the waist. I had a think about it and this is what I have done.

Problem: Slightly too large around the body, closed with loops and buttons, had a little section of stitching undone in one sleeve.
Fix: Unpick one sleeve hem, part of the armhole seam, resew the sleeve seam which had come undone, resew the armhole seam. Next unpick the section with the button loops, resew. Turn everything back out and restitch the sleeve lining by hand. Mark and sew buttons holes in front, fray check, allow to dry, cut open with buttonhole chisel.
The jacket is from New Look 6114

Problem: Slightly too large at the waist, elastic waist not very smart for a work skirt.
Fix: Unpick a little of the waist casing, unpick the elastic, shorten by two inches, rewes elastic, resew casing. Take the loops removed from the jacket, and sew them at the side seams of the skirt waist casing as belt loops. Wear skirt with smart dark green leather belt hiding elastic waist.
I can't currently find this pattern, but it came in knee and very long length, as well as an asymmetric version longer one side than the other, and I think it was McCall's. The panels are cut on the bias and one version was made up of several contrasting fabrics including a plaid. Will share when found.

Problem: slightly too large at waist.
Fix: Wear trousers with smart dark green leather belt slightly pulling in loose waist.
I think these were the trousers from New Look 6114.

The trousers in particular still need defuzzing, and my little device for this has flat batteries and I can't find the battery charger.
However I can wear the skirt and jacket as a soft summer suit to work now.