Monday, 30 September 2013

Completed: Fall For Cotton Vintage Blouse

I am just scraping in at the finishing line here, but I have managed to complete my Fall for Cotton challenge, just in the nick of time. I actually finished the blouse on Saturday morning, but this is the first chance I've had to blog about it. And what good is it if I've finished it on time, but then don't post on time?

So, quick reminder: Fall for Cotton is a challenge hosted by Rochelle, of Lucky Lucille, and Tash of By Gum By Golly. The rules are simple: sew a Fall (Autumn) appropriate garment from a vintage or reproduction pattern during the month of September, to be made in 100% cotton fabric.

Both hosts favour 1940's as their vintage era of choice. I went for something a little later - mid 1960's - with Simplicity 6304.

I opted to make the blouse in view 2, with no collar and short sleeves, and I made it from Liberty Tana Lawn.

This was my first ever vintage pattern, and I found it, on the whole, very easy and straightforward. I was on holiday on Friday, so started this at about 1pm that day, thinking there was little chance I'd get it finished on time, but it sewed up really quickly, and I finished it on Saturday morning. It probably helped that I didn't muslin it. Bad, I know, but I just couldn't be bothered. I did a tissue fit of sorts. Well, I held the bodice pattern piece up to my torso in front of the mirror, established that the bust darts looked OK but that the waist darts looked a bit long, and then just winged it from there.

Apologies for the creasing - this was after a day's wear, and a big lunch!
As you can see the fit isn't perfect. I shortened the waist darts, but they seem to have somehow turned into release pleats, which is fine, but I'm not sure that it looks the most flattering here - my bust looks a little odd!. It's a little short for my liking, especially to wear with jeans, but it will probably work OK teamed with a more high-waisted bottom half, as it's designed to be worn.

I used covered buttons at the back. The first time I've ever used them and I like the effect. They are not the neatest, and I'm unsure how many turns in the washing machine they will withstand, but they look nice for now. Also, because they are shank buttons, I have to be careful where I sit, otherwise they dig in a bit!

It's a little roomy at the waist, and could probably do with being taken in a little here. This is not the most flattering view.

The fabric feels a little stiff and as you can see is a nightmare for creasing. Strange, because this is not my experience with Liberty tana lawn previously. I stupidly forgot to pre-wash the fabric, so hopefully it will soften up over time. And not shrink!

As I said the construction was fairly straightforward. The only things I didn't like were the sleeve facings. I wasn't sure they were necessary and because this is a raglan sleeve design, there are already 3 seams meeting at the underarm, which causes quite a bit of bulk. Adding a facing here, creates even more bulk, introducing a fourth seam in the same place. It's really messy here as a result. If I were to make this again, I would omit the facing and either use bias binding, or would just add a little length and turn it up. I'm not sure a facing here adds anything, other than time and frustration!

You can't see it in my photos, but the fabric is not a solid colour. Rather it's a repeat pattern of 2 heads kissing:

I like the fact that the fabric is not just plain, but because it's not a very obvious print, it will go with a number of things. Hopefully!

I have no pics of the guts, but insides are either overlock stitched or pinked.

So in summary, this is not my favourite blouse ever, but I do like it and I will get some wear out of it. And I am glad I managed to finish it on time. And it's proven to me that vintage patterns are not scary - not sure why I thought they were, but I did! Just as well I've got over that fear, because I am planning a coat this winter from another 1960's pattern. Watch this space!

A final photo just to show you it is autumn appropriate, with a cardigan!
These photos were taken at my Mum and Dad's this weekend. My brother was up from London, so we were all over for a family lunch. And yes, we were sitting outside, in Scotland, at the end of September. It was glorious, and doesn't my Mum's garden look amazing?


Friday, 27 September 2013

The Kindness of Strangers

Yesterday a parcel arrived, addressed to me. I was really excited to see that the sender was Danielle from One Small Stitch. The parcel wasn’t completely unexpected: she had contacted me to ask for my address as she had something she thought I might like. I am very nosey and love surprises, so was completely unconcerned about giving out my home address to a (let’s be honest) complete stranger that I met on the internet. Kids, do as I say, don’t do as I do! As it turns out, Danielle, who lives on THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD, has been to my particular tiny corner of Edinburgh! How about that?!
Back to the parcel. I had been intrigued because I had no idea what Danielle might want to send me. It was beautifully wrapped in brown paper, twine and some gorgeous vintage style cotton fabric, that I will definitely find a use for.

Inside was…

 Nearly 3 metres (3 yds) of large check black and white gingham! What a girl! I spent a good amount of time this summer looking for this exact thing and was so frustrated about not being able to find that, and some other specific fabrics I had in mind, that I wrote this post about it. And Danielle saw the fabric, remembered me, bought it and mailed it to the other side of the world! There are so many posts written across so many blogs about how supportive, generous and kind the online sewing community are, so this post is hardly original, but I had to share my gratitude.
My original plan was to make an Archer . a la Andrea, with the gingham, and I think I will stick to that. I am also inspired by Katy's recent Recre-Kate inspiration skirt, but I think I will get more wear from the shirt at this time of year. Now of course, there is additional pressure to make something worthy and to do Danielle proud! I don’t want to mess it up and waste the fabric. This must be how the Sew Bossy participants feel! :) So, an Archer! But since my pattern matching skills and my shirt making skills are negligible, I might need to go a couple of practice runs first.
Danielle also penned a very thoughtfully written, complimentary note, which I felt unworthy of, remarking on my ability to stay positive through my current work situation (and I thought I was just sewing, blogging, reading posts and commenting as a form of job-search procrastination). Which brings me to some good news. I have managed to secure another job! Hurrah! I will be staying within the same company and actually within the same office and I start on Monday! Sadly, it’s a full time role – I currently work 4 days a week – and there will be weekend working, but it’s a good opportunity to get some additional experience, to try some new challenges and, at the end of the day, it will pay the mortgage! I haven’t had much time to think about the role itself, but I am excited to get going next week.
So, thank you Danielle. So, so kind, thoughtful and generous. Thank you! And for anyone else reading, I am now looking for a good few metres of top quality silk crepe de chine... :)

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Pattern love!

I have to admit that I haven’t been completely in love with the last few of Colette Patterns’ releases. I bought the Laurel, but think I was more lured by the competition than a desire to actually wear the dress. Somewhat ironic, considering I didn’t actually enter the competition. I do like my Laurel blouse, but I’ve not rushed  to make a second. The Hawthorn has definitely been a grower on me. I wasn’t particularly fussed by it when it was first launched. I thought it was pretty but there was something about the collar I didn’t love. Having seen multiple lovely versions out there in the blogosphere, I am coming  round to the idea of it, but am yet to buy it. 

And now they have released Zinnia. In general none of Colette's skirts thus far have wowed me, but I LOVE this one. The button through, gathered version is pretty, but didn't initially set my world alight. It looks like a good basic skirt, but I prefer my beloved Kelly, and could probably draft my own version using the Kelly as the base. I do like the added interest of the box pleated patch pockets, however with the flaps, I'm not sure how useful they'd be.

But the pleated versions are what have got me excited. I do love a pleated skirt and when I saw the first pleated version in what looks like linen, it really piqued my interest. It's a really pretty shape that is right up my street. The belt loops add some interest, and in seam pockets make it practical. This could work in a huge number of fabrics and could look very different accordingly. 

And then I got to the chiffon version, and I fell in love. I just adore this. I have never sewn with chiffon and am utterly convinced it would be 100 times more horrible than silk, but it would be worth it for this. I haven't really given much thought so far to my autumn/winter wardrobe, but I have been pondering a "going out" outfit for Christmas parties and the like, and a chiffon Zinnia would be perfect teamed with a little simple blouse in a gorgeous fabric and a "statement necklace", or even a little mohair sweater (although maybe not ideal for dancing). I do like the styling of this photo. The colours are not me at all, but I like the juxtaposition of the "luxe" chiffon with a heavier weight knit, and like the idea of chiffon as daywear, completely ignoring the impracticalities of my actual life (Small Boy + velcro fastening shoes = end of chiffon skirt). 

What do you think of the Zinnia? Have you bought it yet? And if so, what version do you plan on making?

All photos courtesy of

Friday, 6 September 2013

Completed: Silk Scout!

I finished it. And I LOVE it! Why did it take me so long to buy this pattern?

I bought the pattern and ordered fabric online, intending to make a different version, but then remembered about this fabric in my stash. 

Strange light in the garden that evening - last days of summer!
I originally bought 1.5m of this silk, from John Lewis, intending to make a Colette Violet blouse, however after I brought it home, I realised it had a sort of scallop pattern in amongst the ditsy floral print. I love the scallop, and I decided I didn't want to break it up with a button placket - or have to pattern match it, as I didn't have enough fabric for that, so it joined my stash. For a while it was going to be a short sleeved Mathilde, til I realised I probably didn't really have enough and that the pintucks would still break it up. Then, I bought the Scout pattern, and had the brainwave! 

This pattern is perfect for the fabric. No darts, no seams other than side seams. There is nothing to break up the fabric. It would be great for a large scale print. Plus it's a simple straightforward pattern for a troublesome fabric.

On the whole the fabric wasn't actually too bad, and it certainly wouldn't put me off silk in future, but it was more tricky than I have experienced previously. The fabric did seem to become harder to handle after I pre-washed it, which makes it lovely and drapey to wear but tricky to sew. The main issues were that it moved when I cut it, pins fell out all the time and it was really hard to press.

You can best see the print here
The fact that it moved during cutting out was probably the most frustrating piece about the whole thing and almost certainly the cause of most of my issues. The hemming issue I had originally is better now, but not perfect, and the neckline doesn't sit quite straight. I think both these issues are caused by the fabric slipping while cutting and therefore one side is not cut perfectly on grain. It's not massively off, but it probably shows why these things are important.

I french seamed the side seams and used my overlock stitch on the armholes, which is fairly standard for me these days. The bias binding is machined down as are the sleeve and bottom hem. Although this is fancy silk, it's a casual shape and I felt that machine stitching added to that casual feel. That's my excuse.

This was after a day's wear, hence the creases.
I cut the size 4, which matched my bust and hip measurements perfectly When I made the muslin, I had some excess fabric at the shoulder/upper bust area, just next to the sleeve. I also felt it was a bit loose below the bust, so I took out about 0.5cm all the way down from the shoulder to the hem. This felt fine on the muslin, but on the finished garment it feels a little tight now across the upper back and at the bottom front of the armhole. I'm not sure if the armhole issue is related to the adjustment or whether this is a separate issue. At first it annoyed  me, but having worn the blouse for a whole day, I found it actually didn't bother me that much. For my next version, I may try just taking the excess from the shoulder and leaving the rest. Anyone have any other suggestions?

I love this blouse already. It does feel a little summery, but it will work well under a cardigan, so I will probably get quite a bit of wear out of this.

I have grand plans for this little pattern. I already have 2 pattern hack ideas, one based on the original RTW inspiration:

Chinti & Parker Voile tee - no longer for sale

and the other based on another pattern. That might be a bit awful considering it's another Indie pattern company, but I'm not sure I can justify the purchase of both, if I can do it myself. IF I can do it myself, that is.
Sinbad & Sailor Dove Tee
I do realise both of these are quite summery, considering we're into autumn, it was 10°C today and I have 2 other things to make before I even get started on these. They might end up not happening til next summer now, but that's OK.

So, there we go. Next up, my niece's dress and Fall for Cotton!

Monday, 2 September 2013

A catch up

Hi! How are you all? Gosh, it's been over 2 weeks since I last posted, which is most unusual for me. I haven't been on holiday or anything exciting like that, life has kind of just taken over for a bit. Here's what I've been up to since I completed, and wore, my Peony.

1. Work
Work has been, to put it bluntly, horrific recently. It's been unbelievably stressful. We've now lost over a quarter of the team, but up until last week were still doing the same amount of work (which, quite frankly, was already stretching us with a full team), were having to deal with several ongoing projects that are going horrifically, horrifically wrong, were having to field requests for new stuff (Finance: "we need you to change the files to support us better". Us: "with what spare 5 mins? Bugger off"), and were trying to transition our roles to a team who were willing, but had absolutely zero system access. It culminated with me in tears and as a result, a divide and conquer strategy. You'll be unsurprised to learn that this left me worn out, exhausted every evening and actually I just needed to take some time to do nothing for a change. "Nothing" included no blogging.

On a more positive note, I have been recognised with a company award for the work I have completed on the transition, and so am £250 richer as a result! And the new team finally received system access on Friday, so it feels like we are starting to move forward again.

2. New job
Nothing to report on this front, but I am still looking! D day is mid October, so I still have time.

3. Silk
The one at the top
Gah! Silk. So beautiful, so drapey, so irresistible, so... silky, so difficult to sew. So, "nothing" doesn't actually mean absolutely nothing - you didn't think I hadn't even picked up a needle in the past fortnight, did you? I haven't done a lot, but I have been attending my sewing class every week. It's a good stress reducer, it's fun and it forces encourages me to sew for at least 2 hours every week. I have been working on a Grainline Scout in a green/turquoise ditsy floral silk. The fabric is stunning, but sooo slippery. I had hoped to have a finished garment to show you last week. In fact I did finish it on Thursday night ( I squeezed a couple of more hours in last week), tried it on and thought "oh, the hemline looks a bit wonky. But it's probably not that noticeable to non-sewers". However, when I did my "tah-dah" twirl for P he said "the bottom looks a bit weird". "Yes", I said, "it's a high low hem. See?" (Standing sideways and pointing.) "Long at the back, short at the front". "No", he said "the front bit is a bit... squint?" If a non-fashion-interested, non-sewist man can spot it straight away, it needs to be re-done. I have unpicked it. It seems when I cut it, I haven't cut it one layer straight, so it will need some neatening up, before I re-hem it.

4. Small boy
We have been toilet training since July with mixed results. This is not helping the stress levels. He absolutely has the ability to do it, but he can be wilful and has quickly established that if he's not receiving the attention he seeks, weeing himself will go some way to improving that situation. I won't bore you (or put you off your tea) with the details, but it is ongoing. In addition, he has really been working on his tantrum skills, which are coming on a treat! This is just a phase, right?

We have also been sorting out his bedroom, getting rid of some of his outgrown toys and successfully selling his changing table on Gumtree. Yay to some positive stuff!

5. Jam

Last week we went fruit picking. It wasn't the sun filled, beautifully photographed trip featured recently on Coletterie, rather a mud-filled, cloudy but humid day spent in poly tunnels. But we had fun anyway! We picked raspberries, blackcurrants and some weird purple and green runner bean type beans, which disappointingly turned back to green when cooked. We had a few days of raspberries and ice cream for pudding, and then I made jam with the rest.

6 Making sewing plans

I don't really need a sewalong in my life at the moment, as you can tell already, there is quite a lot going on, but I have been lurking the Fall for Cotton Flickr group and despite my best intensions, I have chosen a pattern and bought some fabric. I can't really ignore a sewalong that is tagged as "a vintage sewalong for cotton lovers". It's perfect for me. And after the silk, I need a nice well-behaved cotton to work with. However, I am being realistic. I have another sewing deadline this month which takes precedence (details below). I am not going to allow myself to become stressed by the sewalong. If the blouse becomes too difficult or challenging, or it's not working in anyway, I will leave it. Similarly, I'm not going to be bothered if I don't finish for the end of Sept. I will eventually have a blouse, and I will eventually have sewn a vintage pattern and they are challenges enough for me.

I bought the pattern from Miss Betty's Attic on Etsy a while ago. I won't be making the two piece, just the blouse, due to lack of time and lack of fabric - there simply wasn't enough remaining on the bolt, which was just as well because I couldn't really afford it if there had been: I am making it in Liberty Tana Lawn.

This one to be precise. Isn't it amazing? Having Googled it tonight, I have discovered this is from Liberty's A/W11 collection inspired by musicians and artists and called Liberty Rocks:

"A Boy Dreams Liberty Print was created from original drawings by Blur guitarist and solo musician Graham Coxon. The final design is reminiscent of rock poster artwork of the 1960s, with wood cut line work and the vibe of Esher and Mucha. Coxon is a multi instrumentalist credited with being one of the most gifted guitarists of his generation. He has also created artwork for Blur’s album covers as well as his own."
I love the 60's vibe which will work well with the pattern, which itself is from 1965. I will make view 2, the short sleeve and I think I'll use self covered buttons for the back.

And so to the other sewing deadline of September. I am making a dress for my niece's 2nd birthday at the end of this month. I have chosen a pattern but have yet to find fabric. I won't share this project on the blog until after her birthday as I want it to be a surprise for my sister. I don't think she really reads my blog, but just in case! The birthday dress is clearly higher priority than the Fall for Cotton sewalong but I am hoping I can manage both. I do hope this is not a recipe for disaster.

What about you? What are you sewing and are you joining in with Fall for Cotton? Or even the By Hand London Anna Sewalong?
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