Generally this is how Christmas pans out for me. October: “too early for Christmas”. November: “ too early for Christmas”. December: PANIC! I have nothing bought. No cards, no presents, no paper, no advent calendar, no ribbons, no tree, no party outfit… For some reason this year I was quite organised on the paper, cards, advent calendar and even some of the presents. Not so on the party outfit. Particularly given my Xmas nights out this year are early – 5th and 7th! And this year was made doubly hard in that I can’t just rely on some old thing to wear, because it will not fit me! I’m now in that hinterland of looking like I’ve eaten a few too many pies. That stage where people are scared to ask, for fear of offending! Not big enough to justify maternity wear, just big enough to have outgrown “normal” clothes. My original plan of a chiffon zinnia went out the window a long time ago.
I have been mildly obsessed with sequin tees (and skirts and even trousers) since last Christmas, when I saw one (I think, in Topshop), didn’t buy it, then couldn’t find it when I decided it might be nice after all. I did a bit of searching around, at the time, but then decided on some other party outfit. But since then I’ve been collecting sequin images on Pinterest. I wasn't going to, and couldn't afford to spend around £70 to £100 plus on one, so making one seemed the obvious solution!
I couldn’t get the fabric I really wanted in a local shop and I didn’t have time to shop around, or to order online (although I did come across this website, which might prove useful in future). What I really wanted was what Danielle just used for her sequin skirt. A fabric well-covered in matt sequins in either a copper colour, or navy. Particular inspiration was these:
The Cloth Shop only had black, which I didn’t want. John Lewis only had the fabric that I bought. It was labelled as gold, but it looks more silver. The sequins themselves are small and quite sparse – they don’t overlap at all. I thought this might work in my favour in terms of ease of sewing, and I was probably right, however in the cold light of day and now made up, it does look quite cheap. Which is annoying considering it cost me £23 for 1.3 metres!
I didn’t have much to go on for working with this fabric. The lady in John Lewis told me that might break my machine and that I should hand sew it all. And obviously not to go near it with an iron. It wasn’t the normal JL lady that I know and trust, so I chose to ignore her advice and went with machine stitching, very slowly, with a longer stitch (3.5, the default is 2.5) and a very sharp needle. This worked a treat. I got a small amount of puckering on the side seams, but this pressed out OK. Yes, I pressed it! I used my iron’s lowest possible setting, and in lieu of a organza pressing cloth, used an old baby’s muslin. I also only pressed the wrong side, just in case. The sequins are sewn onto a poly chiffon, which gives the fabric a lovely drape, but the sequins themselves add body, making it relatively easy to handle and sew. What was particularly nice was that with right sides together, the sequins provided traction, meaning the 2 layers didn’t slip about at all. Particularly handy since pins refused to stay in place!
I went with the Grainline Studios’ Scout as I know it and like it and it has so few seams. I thought the fewer seams the better. I used a silvery-grey poly lining fabric scrap from my stash, in place of self-bias binding, and at the last minute decided to show the bias, rather than only using it as a facing. This works reasonably well, but if I’d thought about it in advance I would have bought something of better quality, and would have made the bias binding wider. Still, it gives a nice subtle contrast. I had wanted to raise the neckline on this version, but I forgot when cutting it out, so it remains loyal to the pattern. Although bizarrely it seems to sit lower and wider than my previous Scouts. I left the pattern as is - without removing any width - to accommodate the small bump. Again in hindsight, I should have added some length, but it works fine as is. And here it is:
I did read Heather Lou from Closet Case Files’ recent post on sewing with sequins. Her advice was to remove sleeve ease, because gathered sequins look like “disco barf”. Having no great desire to find out what “disco barf” looks like, I followed her advice, and the tutorial she used. This worked well. I am always scared of any pattern alterations as it involves maths and rulers and looks too complicated. But this took me 20 mins tops! Super easy. It was still a little big, but again, I followed her instructions to remove the remaining excess, which also worked fine.
The sleeve and bodice hem are sewn by hand, as was the bias binding. I didn't remove any sequins in the seam allowance, but the seams sit just fine, albeit they are a little bulky. A blessing again of the sparsity of the sequins. The insides were finished by overlocker. Wait? What? Oh, yes, I forgot to tell some of you that Santa has been early to my house, via Lidl, and I am now the proud possessor of a Singer 14SH754 overlocker! It’s good. I like it, but am still getting used to it. It took me an hour to change thread colour to make this blouse! But I will write another post on this at a later date.
Some more photos:
Excuse the background, which is dead herbs against our neighbour's extension wall. My usual garden backdrop wasn't an option because our fence blew down in the gales last week. I hope my poor climbing rose has survived!
The blouse wasn't finished on time for Thursday, but, after frantically handsewing the hem at 6pm on Saturday night, it was for my night out then: dinner at Harvey Nichols with my antenatal group. I wore it with maternity leggings (thick, ponte ones) and gold heels. My friend, Jo, something of a fashion expert and a very classy dresser, proclaimed that my top looked like it was "from French Connection and cost £100". That made me very happy! :) Clearly it does not actually look cheap!
In other news, it was my birthday on Monday. I turned 39! I have been reading with some interest, Roobedoo's "49 before 50" series of posts, as she has recently entered her 50th year. I vaguely toyed with the idea of something similar, before realising that pregnancy, recruiting my mat cover, giving birth, breast feeding, coping with no sleep, juggling a baby and a toddler and finally weaning, was probably enough to be getting on with for next year! Although to them, I might add: becoming
less scared of proficient on my overlocker, continuing to sew as often as possible, and attending my first blogger meet up (February, in Glasgow. Sooo excited!).
I received some lovely gifts including a gift voucher for one of my favourite independent Edinburgh shops, Curiouser & Curiouser from P, The Great British Sewing Bee book from my sister and Megan Nielsen's Ruched Maternity Tee pattern from my mum. The GBSB book has some lovely patterns, and I can see myself making a few of them further down the line. I don't see the point in going crazy for specific maternity patterns - the finished makes have too short a shelf life - but I thought this would be a good basic shape on which to base a few mods. It will also give me good practise on knits and the overlocker!
So that's me for now. Are any of you sewing Christmas party outfits? If so, what are you sewing?