Thursday 28 March 2013

1940s fitted blouse - Sew for Victory

Yep, I have decided to take part in the Sew for Victory challenge rather last minute... Truthfully, I have a bit of a love hate relationship with vintage sewing patterns - I adore the beautiful illustrations, the feel of the crisp tissue paper and the piece of history in my hands, but when it comes to fittings, it can be so difficult! 

Thankfully I came to my senses, and decided to give this wonderful challenge a go. Here's what I've made, and it has rapidly become my favourite home made garment! 

I have also decided to enter this into the PR fitted blouse competition, speaking of killing two birds with one stone - wish me luck! 

This is the stunning pattern that I used - Simplicity 2343, from 1948 -- see what I mean by the little piece of history? We are talking 65 years ago! Can you imagine the person (or even people) who owned this pattern and made this blouse before me? and how different their lives were, and, well, you have to wonder what their versions of the blouse looked like!

It was love at first sight - isn't it very Betty Draper? I felt so lucky that this wonderful number on ebay was close enough to my size. I felt in love with the fitted construction, and the buttons on the back closure. 
Photo from

I made style 3 without the pocket, in a lovely Liberty floral cotton lawn that was gifted to me by one of my dearest friends (see the stunning dress that she made here). It was great to work with, though quite hard for me to track down some contrasting cotton for the peter pan collar. 

The pattern is full of darts and tucks - 6 darts on the bodice back (4 for the waist, and 2 for the shoulders), 4 darts on the sleeves, and 4 tucks at the bodice front. They took a bit of attention, effort and time, but it was worth it! 

I made a toile first, and as it turned out, I was extremely thankful that I did! Oh where should I start - the bust area had so much excess fabric in the front and back, the shoulders were too wide, the armholes were too big, sleeves too wide, and the waist a bit roomy. I mean, look at it!

So I spent a good few hours last weekend altering the pattern, until I was completely happy. With the pattern being vintage, and in one size only (though bust 30 should not have been far from my measurements), I was dreading the fitting and alterations. But I think it's really paid off, as now I am so pleased to have something that I will definitely make over and over again. 

I faced another slight challenge - top stitching the peter pan collar. The perfectionist in me got the better of me, so I may have unpicked just about 10 times for each collar! I did try to go slowly every single time, and tried turning the relatively sharp angles bit by bit by lifting the presser foot with the needle down... Do you have any tips on how to achieve super neat top stitching which may involve less unpicking?

But in the end, I just love how the blouse has turned out. I think the fit turned out really well, and I am planning on wearing it dressed up and down! I am gladly taking it with me for the honeymoon, but will also be wearing it to the office when I'm back! 

 So here you are, my new favourite home made garment (obviously the wedding dress doesn't count!). 

I am heading off on my honeymoon tomorrow, and will be reporting back with some photos of a couple of my recent holiday creations (a playsuit/romper, anyone?!) in two weeks time. 

Have a wonderful Easter everyone! xx

Monday 25 March 2013

Bloglovin - claiming my blog

In anticipation of the very upsetting proposed withdrawal of Google Reader, I thought I'd better claim my blog on Bloglovin!

Apparently I need to do this, but there's also a huge button on the right hand side of my blog, in case you preferred to click on that instead!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Small bust adjustment - Part 2

Finally, part 2 of my SBA tutorial series is here! 

You can find introduction and illustration on my Lisette Traveller in part 1 of the tutorial here. Part 2 follows very much the same principle, but I wanted to show you what I did for Vogue 8278, as the pattern is a pullover one, which does not have any darts in the front piece or a waist seam. 

Just because it is a loose fit doesn't mean it should fit badly - so I made some alterations to make it fit my small frame better. The problem is that without the waist seam and the darts, it would be hard to follow the first tutorial... So I hope the second part of the SBA tutorial would be of use to you :)

Step 1 - As this pattern does not have a side seam, I chopped it up at the lengthen/shorten line. 

Step 2 - On the bodice part of your pattern piece, draw a line down from the bust point, which should be parallel to the centre front line:

Step 3draw the stitching line around the armhole, so we don't get confused by the seam allowance.

Step 4 -  measure the stitching line around the armhole, and pick a point that is approximately 1/3 way from the bottom (side seam rather than shoulder seam). This is marked as a little circle on the picture below. 
Step 5 - Link the point identified in Step 4 to the bust point, intersecting the first line. 

Step 6 - cut from the bottom of the first line to the bust point, then continue to cut to the little circle on the armhole, without cutting it through (i.e. leaving a hinge). 

Step 7 - Pivot the bottom left piece upwards and rightwards, overlapping on both of the lines you have cut in step 6. Here I would try and keep the vertical line, well, vertical, so that it is still roughly parallel to the centre front. By pivoting the pattern you are of course remove the excess ease that is built in to the pattern, which we do not need. 

Once you are happy with the adjustment, tape the lines in place. And your SBA is done! Wasn't that super easy? All you need to do now is taping the bottom half of the dress front pattern to the bodice, which you have just altered, assuming that a SBA is all you needed to do. You are likely to need to blend the side seam in a bit around the waistline, so that there is so sharp turns. 

However, I carried on here as I also wanted to make a small waist adjustment (as we are going with abbreviations here, we may as well call this "SWA"). I know that I don't suit clothes that are too loose, and as V8278 is a pullover dress, and it only goes down to size 6 (and I'm usually better off with a 4 when it comes to sewing patterns), I wanted to make sure that there is not a lot of ease around my waist. 

A SWA is also very straightforward, and I followed the method in the Colette Sewing Handbook (see recommendation here). If I continue with my numbering of the steps:

Step 8 - Find your waist line on the pattern, and draw it as a horizontal line. Mark the point where this line meets the side seam, excluding the seam allowance. Let's call this point 1. 

Step 9 - Do the same for your hip line. Let's call the point on the hip line side seam point 2. 

Step 10 - Draw a line (any line, pretty much!) across from point 2 to the waist line. 

Step 11 - Draw a line from point 1 to the new line that you have just drawn in step 10

Step 12 - Cut the two lines in Steps 10 and 11, and start pivoting again, inwards, which will result in one line overlapped (from point 2) and a small gap from point 1. This is because we are trying to keep the waist line pretty much horizontal. Here I took in at the waist enough to give a smooth transition when the skirt part of the pattern is taped back tot he bodice. 
That's it for the SWA! 

I then taped the two pieces together, and the adjusted dress front pattern piece now looks like this: 

Et voila! We are all done with V8278. I'm sure these two tutorials won't cover all the possible variations of all the bodice patterns out there, but I hope you have found them helpful :) This is of course to be continued, and I shall report back once I have done another SBA on a different bodice. 

But for now my dear readers, have a lovely week!  

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Vogue 8278 strikes again

Hello my dear readers, do you remember my little pullover dress - Vogue 8278? I am now onto my second version, but this time I made a summer top (albeit with an autumn-feel print):
It was a really quick project, especially as the pattern was already altered for a smaller bust and waist (I know I have said this before, but SBA tutorial on this to follow!). I had this polycotton remnant sitting in my stash for ages, so it felt great to finally put it to good use. 

Truthfully, I was pleasantly surprised by how different this looks to the pullover dress. I think the neckline really helped, and I like the sleeves. 

The only other real design change that I made was adding a button and loop to the neckline so I could wear it both ways:
I am very excited about this new addition to my Hawaii wardrobe - I have teamed it with a halter-neck bikini top on my dress form to make it look more beach-worthy ;) 

Sunday 3 March 2013

Simplicity 2146

It's a Sunday double-bill! 

This is my latest creation, and the beginning of my attempt to build my honeymoon wardrobe - did I tell you that we are going to NYC and Hawaii in less than FOUR WEEKS time? I can't wait to get away, not just from my busy and stressful work at the moment but also from the grey weather here - In fact, I had been waiting for a sunny day to photograph this dress, but that day just never came, as yet!

I used Simplicity 2146, yet another Project Runway pattern. I love it! Its simple princess lines are so elegant, and it was such a quick project to make. All in all it took me less than a day, which I am pretty happy about. 

 A few firsts for me: 

  1. Working with a linen blend - it's a linen and viscose blend (55%/45% I think) that I bought from the remnant bin from Decorative Cloth for about £5 during one of my trips to Leamington! Although I would too often skip the preshrinking step, I decided to wash and press this fabric first as linen is famous for its bad behaviour. It was a dream to work with - no complaints whatsoever! It is prone to creasing during wear, but I think this is somewhat mitigated by the viscose in the fabric. 
  2. Lapped zipper - This is my first lapped zipper! It was easy enough to make, thanks to the Dressmaker's Technique Bible. I can proudly say that I have now done 4 types of zippers - centred dress zipper, invisible, handpicked and lapped :D
  3. Vent - This was also straight forward, but I am pleased to have ticked another thing off my learning list. 
Overall I found the pattern very easy to make, and it has a great basic design, as well as a number of interesting optional details. I only made 3 minor changes:

  1. Petite adjustment on the bodice, and also shortening the skirt by a rather lot (as well as having a very wide hem)
  2. I finished the neckline and armholes with a thin, contrasting bias tape
  3. Instead of the hook and eye, I added a button and bias tape button loop at the top of the zipper. 

I am happy with the result! I'm planning on wearing this on its own:

... and teamed with this jacket, the colour of which complements the bias tape detail on the dress:

Normal-sized baby blanket!

You may remember my first attempt of making a baby blanket, and the fact that it turned out to be so large that little Teddy could take it to uni with him... 

So when I made my second version, I decided to make it look, well, more normal. I used what Jane recommended in her tutorial as a reference, and realised that I must've misread the measurements (80cm as 180cm?!) the first time round!
Anyway, this time I bought a metre of winceyette fabric in this super cute Winnie the Pooh print from Barry's fabric warehouse/superstore from the Birmingham meet-up, and a metre of plain winceyette in cream from my local Fabricland. I picked the fabric as my friend is not going to find out if it's a boy or a girl - everyone likes Winnie the Pooh, right? 

The blanket turned out to be so soft that I wanted to keep it myself! Thank you again, Jane, for such a lovely idea!

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