Sunday 30 March 2014

Mad Men challenge 2014 - my entry

Hello all, I hope you’ve been enjoying the sunny weather this weekend! It’s been lovely here in the UK! And if it hasn’t been very sunny where you are, I hope spring will come soon for you, too (unless you are on the other side of the planet, in which case I hope you hold on to the summer a little longer!).

Speaking of the other side of the planet, the lovely JuliaBobbin from down under has once again organised the fabulous Mad MenChallenge, and here’s my little entry this year.

So I made Betty’s super girlie floral blouse, in a ditsy floral cotton in more of a pink/red tone compared to the green/blue/red fabric that made Betty’s blouse. This is more of an “inspired by” as opposed to “copycat” attempt.

I used the vintage Simplicity 3092 once again, and following my last attempt, I made quite a few changes to the pattern for a closer match to Betty’s blouse and a better fit:
  •  I lowered the neckline to accommodate a collar with an “integrated” collar stand;
  •  I made the plackets more narrow to match the smaller buttons;
  •  I increased the SBA for a better fit (and played around with the side seams and darts until I was happy with the ease); and
  • I made the shoulders more narrow.

Here’s what the whole blouse looks like, without the map in the way:

Betty teamed her blouse up with a cute coral cardigan, so I couldn’t resist the temptation:

I am in love with this little number. Naturally I have a soft spot for pretty florals, and this fabric simply bursts with prettiness and happiness – looking at the blouse puts a smile on my face every time. I know I’ll get lots of wear out of this cutie this spring/summer! I can see it teamed up with a smart work skirt, casual skirt, jeans, or even shorts, and with or without a plain cardie. What’s not to like?

In addition to this, I also entered my picnic dress which I made a good few months ago into the challenge, as who else, it was Betty that inspired me. Maybe the obsession will calm down soon and I’ll make a garment inspired by another character next year (perhaps Megan? As I do adore her modern style)…  

For now, I’m just so excited for the big reveal, and can’t wait to see what you’ve all made! 

Friday 28 March 2014

Feature in Love Crafting magazine

Happy Friday everyone!

I rarely ask for this, but could you indulge me a little just this once? My wedding dress and I (okay, and the hubby -- yes, Barry, I hear you) have been featured in Love Crafting, issue 3 of 2014! Here’s the little article:

I'm going to be famous!!! 

Joking aside, though, my chat with the journalist really brought back fond memories of the whole process. Whilst it's only been 20 months since the wedding, making the dress feels like a long time ago. 

This issue of the magazine is a sewing special, and if you are in the mood for making something for the home (not necessarily dressmaking), this is the one for you. Here's the cover in case you are interested:
I'm going to keep my copy FOREVER! 

Have a lovely weekend, everyone! I will be back on Sunday to reveal my Mad Men blouse ;) 

Saturday 15 March 2014

Sew Retro diy memo board

Something a little bit different today, but I couldn't resist sharing this project with you! It's a DIY memo board, made with only the best fabric!! Isn't it simply fabulous?

It's a Makower fabric called Sew Retro Montage, and as soon as I saw it I just had to have it! It's elegant, retro, and absolutely beautiful! I mean, I have seen other sewing-themed fabric before, but this is something special. What better fabric to use for a memo board for my new sewing space (more on that soon..)?

I won't bore you with how to make it yourself, as there are already hundreds of tutorials for it (but happy to answer questions as usual). What I will say, though, is that it's soooo simple to make! All you need in addition to your usual sewing supplies is a good staple gun (I've only had mine for a couple of weeks, but can't live without it now!). It's a good way to use up leftover fabric from a sewing project, too, and if you quilt (I don't, but I had wadding leftover from my Kindle case), then you might have some offcuts of wadding to hand, too, that you didn't know what to do about.

I also attempted to make self-covered buttons! It's about time, I know. I bought loose small metal ones from the Village Haberdashery, and they are really simple to work with. No tools required!       

Also, do you remember this lady here from Simplicity 3092?

She might have dyed her hair, and put on some red lipstick, but worry not -- I've tracked her down right here!

Not much else to say really other than how fabulous! I'm seriously in love with this little DIY project, and am sure it will take a prime place in my new sewing space. In fact, I may have to decorate the sewing room to match this memo board... but we shall see!

Friday 7 March 2014

Geometric vintage blouse

Happy Friday everyone! 
Gosh, I'm smashing this vintage sewing pattern pledge that I've made just under a month ago! Here's my second item made from vintage pattern already, though this is from an original rather than a reproduction like my Vogue 1137. This was kind of my trial run for this year's Mad Men challenge, and I'm reasonably happy with how it's turned out. 

So I used Simplicity 3092 from my stash, and apparently it's from 1949! I attempted to make view 2, but in this amazing geometric stretch cotton from MacCulloch & Wallis in a dark navy, mustard and white. Admittedly it's not my usual type of fabric, but I think sometimes it's good to be outside of my comfort zone. 

You may recall that this is the top that I'd like to make, in a floral cotton, eventually:
I made quite a few changes to the pattern, to fit me and to get to a design that's similar to Betty's top -- I made my usual SBA, eliminated the armhole bands (and used a bias binding facing instead), widened and sharpened the collar, moved the placket facing to the inside (the original is designed on the outside) so that when the top button is undone, the reverse side that you see is not the wrong side of the fabric, as the original pattern is deigned to be worn with the button done up. Am I making any sense?! I also changed the order in which the placket and collar were attached to the bodice.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that I'm wearing the top with my Navy Work skirt and Ultimate Work skirt, both creations from McCalls 3830 last year.
As I say, I'm reasonably happy with the blouse, and can see myself wearing it to work. There are a few niggles, though, but then that's exactly why I'm trying out the pattern before the real deal. So the things that I hope to improve in my next version are:

  • Adding a collar stand - currently there isn't one;
  • Reducing the armholes - they are a teeny bit too big;
  • Increase the SBA - there's a lot of ease and some excess fabric on both sides still, and at the back; and
  • Making the shoulders more narrow 
Next, a not so flattering photo (my arms look kind of chubby!), but it's a close-up, so I'm sharing it with you. Can you see all those darts cinching the blouse in at the waist? I think once improved, this could be a really shapely blouse, especially in a pretty floral fabric (back in my comfort zone, eh?) 

OK, finally a bit of a life update... Today's my last day in my current job and I'm moving house over the weekend! It'll be sad to leave Reading, but I'm moving to the leafy Surrey (anyone nearby?), and hopefully into a job that is less demanding (read: more time to sew!) Whoop! Then I've got a week off to do some works to the new house (including my new sewing room!), and lots of catching up with sewing! I think it'll be time for my Mad Men Betty blouse, or even blouses! And I may have ordered a certain fantastic pattern from By Hand London! Stay tuned ;)  

Monday 3 March 2014

Sew Grateful giveaway winner!

Thank you for those that have taken part in the Sew Grateful giveaway -- I knew it was a bit of a narrow one, given the size of the pattern, but it was great to see so many of you commenting! 

So the winner is... thanks to the random generator on good old Excel again... No.5, which was -- Rachel! I will be in touch to post the pattern shortly. 

And don't worry if you haven't won this time -- there will be more giveaways coming up soon, I promise, so watch this space!

I realise that I should have said what I was grateful for during Sew Grateful Week. But hey ho, here it goes -- I'm extremely grateful for the entire sewing community -- and yes, if you are reading this, you are part of what I'm grateful for! So thank you! I think it is safe to say that this is simply the most helpful, supportive, and encouraging group of people that I've every known! 

And on that note, have a great week everyone!   

Saturday 1 March 2014

Vintage Vogue 1137 - take one

Hello, my dear readers, I hope you are all having a lovely weekend, and it's not running away from you too quickly! I'm very excited to show you my first finished make for the vintage sewing pattern pledge

It's a reproduction vintage Vogue 1137, from the 1950s. I must admit that this was a pattern that has quietly sat in my pattern drawer for quite some time -- whilst I love how the drawing looks, and have seen various lovely finished versions on the blogsphere, the fact that it was reprinted in sizes 8-14 meant that it would've been a bit more work for me to grade it down to my size, so I had been putting it off and prioritising easier tasks instead... However, the pledge was just what I needed to get my arse in gear!     

My apologies if your eyes are struggling to focus. It's not you, it's me, and my fabric choice! 

This is take one, as I was going to use it as a test run for the graded size 6 pattern. What with it being a vintage production, and Vogue (don't get me wrong, I do love Vogue patterns, but you may have noticed that for some reason my go-to big 4 tends to be Simplicity, and I'm a lot less familiar with the Vogue sizing) and its V-neck, I wasn't exactly keen to cut into my beautiful Liberty wool just yet! So I found this medium weight (quilting?) cotton in the dizzying print, and had a go of it instead. 

Once I've traced a size 6, I did my usual SBA (due to the construction of the bodice, I used this method), and shortened the bodice, too. I also shortened the skirt significantly, as it was almost a mid-calf length, and I ended up cutting it above where the side vents would've been. It's a shame as I quite liked the look of the side vents, but midi skirts really aren't flattering on me, and I didn't want to compromise on the shape of the skirt to keep the vents. I didn't bother with the belt, as the shape of the dress was enough to cinch the waist in, and I was happy with the silhouette.   

One of my favourite design details on this pattern is the elegant v-neck back. The V is not as profound as at the front, but a lovely touch indeed. Speaking of the front V-neck, I love that, too! I'm not normally a keen wearer of V-neck garments, but I really liked this version as it's not too low, yet still maintaining the great pronounced V shape.   

The thing is, once I'd put it all together (it was a breeze, by the way) to test out the fit, I loved how it looked so much that I decided to finish it off as a dress. I didn't want to line it, though (or just line the bodice, as the pattern suggests), so I drafted front and back facing to finish the neckline, and did my usual single-fold bias tape facing trick for the armholes. By the way, I have now "consolidated" the tutorials (from other blogs) that I use often (in other words, can't sew without!) on the tutorials page, so that it'll be easier for me to refer to them every now and again, and also in case it would help anyone else. Trust me, they are tried and tested, and AMAZING tutorials.    

Armhole finished with navy bias binding as facing:
 The mock overlocked waist seam:

The front bodice and skirt darts at the waistline - all lined up (I think I've becoming more and more OCD these days) 
 Hand finished blind hem: 

So there you have it, my first version of Vogue 1137. And thank you, Marie, for encouraging me with your brilliant pledge idea! What do you think? I have a few other projects lined up at the minute, but I am now looking forward to making this in my Liberty wool, and even with the self-fabric belt! Watch this space! 
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