Tuesday, 19 February 2013

A challenge, a sewalong and a swap!

Isn't it lovely that the mornings and evenings are getting lighter again? It was light this morning when we left the house, and light still when I picked Small Boy up from nursery. It makes such a difference to my mood! And the snowdrops and crocuses are starting to come out. Winter is nearly over!

The more eagle-eyed of you may have noticed a few new buttons on my sidebar!
Yep, I have signed up for Mad Men Challenge 2, the Elisalex sewalong AND House of Pinheiro's International Craft Swap. I may have over-committed myself, slightly! However, I have a cunning plan... I talked about my Mad Men inspiration and thoughts here. My dress will be based on the Elisalex (bodice and sleeves at the very least), so that, in my opinion, also qualifies it for the Elisalex sewalong! 2 down, 1 to go!
I have no idea what I'm going to do for the International Craft Swap. I don't really sew much apart from clothes, I don't do other types of crafting (can't knit or crochet). And I never sew for anyone other than myself! But I love the nautical theme, and am tempted by the thought of getting something shiny and new through the post (just hope my swap-ee isn't too disappointed by my effort!). I'm going to a quilting show this weekend, so hopefully that will provide some inspiration. Failing that, there's always Google and Pinterest! It's exciting though.
I haven't made a lot of progress with any of my projects this past week. I spent a couple of evenings trying my coat muslin on again, to check I really was happy with the fit (I am) and then cutting out my lining and interfacing. I was going to start cutting my fabric, but of course need to pattern match and need to be sure my fabric is absolutely straight, so spent about an hour, tacking/basting the folded fabric at about 40cm lengths to ensure the stripes stayed straight. I then played around with laying the pattern pieces, but gave up as it was late and I want to make sure I do everything as perfectly as possible on this project. I haven't yet gone back to it.
Poorly lit pic of my lining pieces cut.
Last night, however, I wanted to do something, but was tired (an 8 children/5 mum playdate/coffee session yesterday afternoon - including one runaway child (mine) - made sure of that!) and wanted to do something simple, so I traced my Elisalex bodice and sleeves pattern pieces and cut out my muslin. Annoyingly I don't have as much of the muslin fabric as I thought I did, so won't have enough to do the skirt. But I can crack on with the bodice in the meantime.

Previously I have not traced patterns and just cut them, but have since realised that tracing makes sense, not only to preserve the pattern (and potentially re-sell, pass on or giveaway) but to allow for changes in size, or more likely, allow for cutting the wrong size in the first place! Since then I've been trying out various different tracing papers. This time I used greaseproof paper, thinking it most like waxed paper that I've read about. This worked well, as it's very easy to see through, but it's quite narrow meaning for larger pieces, you have to tape it together. The other downside was that the usual tape I use to tape e.g. PDF patterns together, masking tape, doesn't  stick to greaseproof paper. I used sellotape instead, but of course you can't write on sellotape.
Re-drawing the neckline. You can just see the vintage pattern piece underneath.
I changed the neckline of the dress by tracing the Elisalex bodice, and then laying the tracing over my vintage pattern with the batteau neck, matching up the centre folds and the shoulder seams, and drawing the new neckline on. It seemed very simple, so hopefully this will work. I can't think of a reason why it won't, but you never know with these things (or at least I never know!).

I spoke previously about wanting to move the zip to the side. Not sure why I have this in my head, but I'd like to give it a try. Stupidly I forgot about this when cutting out my centre back piece, but later in the evening when I went back to look at the pieces, I noticed that the CB line is not on the grain! This isn't something I've come across before, and I thought it was going to scupper my planns to cut the CB piece on the fold as one piece. However, I dropped an email to Elisalex (the lady, not the dress) this morning, who explained:
"About the side zip/grainline at CB, I don't see the problem in cutting the CB in one on the fold - just remember to remove the seam allowance! The reason that the CB is slightly off grain is basically just to accomodate the cinched waist - extra full hips - tapered hem. But it's no biggie really."
I probably could do with all the help I can get on the hips, but I think I will sacrifice that for the seamless back. What do you think?



  1. I'm so interested to see how you come along with your dress - genius to combine the challenge and sewalong. I wish I had the expertise to advise you on the zip/hip (sorry couldn't resist) question so hopefully someone with more experience than me will chime in. I got the e-mail on the craft swap and I keep going back and forth as to whether I have the skills to actually make something for someone else. It sounds like fun though.

  2. Thanks Shar! Not sure it was genius to combine them, more just fortuitous! :)

    Go for the craft swap! HOP says you can state if you're not hugely confident in your crafting skills, so she can match you accordingly. I'm nervous about it too, but I think it will be really good fun!

    P.S. On the button tutorial front, I haven't done anything about this yet, but Tilly (do you follow her?)referred to a good tutorial here. I haven't read through it, but might be worth a peak? http://makezine.com/craft/101/sewing101_buttonholes/

    P.P.S No idea what's going on with my crazy font changes in this post. I've tried editing and reposting, but it's made no difference!

    1. Congrats on your giveaway win! I do follow Tilly and saw the button tutorial - thanks for the reminder. Maybe I should make the Mathilde blouse to get buttonhole and pintuck practice. I did join the craft swap too so we'll see!

  3. Such a great idea to combine the challenges - well done you! Thanks for posting about the craft swap too; I'm intrigued :) (if inspiration strikes in the next day or two I might put my hand up for that....so many projects, so little time!)

  4. I know. AND I've just put myself forward as a potential pattern tester for Megan Nielsen, which, if I was selected,would mean making something else in a month. I think I'm secretly hoping she won't pick me, but the opportunity was too good to pass up!

  5. Just found your blog from the sewintists map, you look like you are going to be busy! I volunteered to be a pattern tester too, I love Megan Nielsen patterns.

    Off to investigate the Elisalex dress and the swap!

    now following

  6. Thanks Alison, and I'm following you! :)

  7. Wow, you have got a lot of projects going on. Really good idea to do mix the sewalong with the Mad Men challenge! I'm tempted to do it too, but I too have loads of projects at the moment... oooh I wish I had more time. I hadn't heard of the craft swap, it's such a good idea! But I'm not sure I'm confident to do it, my makes are good enough for me, but I don't know if I feel they're good enough for anyone else... I'm excited to see what you come up with!

  8. Im sure you will able to sew everything.. I sent your swap partner.. Sew something you enjoy. You will find making crafts are such an easy gratification and very helpful when you get stuck in big projects. pincushions are always a great craft idea. There are so many free tutorials online. I got some too on my blog. have fun!

    1. ps, dont feel intimidate that your partner is a maker, she is so sweet and had participated on previous swaps. I paired you together so if you in doubt of a technique you can ask her. I hope helps you feel more confident


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