A Learning Experience

Before cutting into the Hunstanton cotton fabric I decided to run up a trial garment using some Pale Pink floral-1/8″ gingham that has been “lurking” in the loft for a few years! I first drafted the bodice with five 1/2″ tucks either side of a centre front faux button band and also re-shaped the neckline so that it had more of a scoop and would be suitable for a narrow bias binding finish. (I love narrow gingham bias binding!) Having laid out the pattern pieces I discovered that there was insufficient fabric for the different sleeves I had planned so it was back to the basic lined cap sleeve as previously used. I adjusted the sleeve pattern slightly to reduce the width at the hem whilst retaining the shaping for the sleeve head. As the fabric was 100% cotton it was easy to press in the tucks although I noticed later that the set on the right side are rather irregular whilst those on the left side are perfect! I lined the sleeves with a fine White cotton lawn which I also used for the pocket facings. The dress went together fairly easily, but at first fitting I started to have my doubts about the colour and print of the fabric. Having completed the dress I have the following conclusions: I really don’t need a zip at the centre back when the neckline is scooped, it can simply be put on “pullover” style. The light-coloured fabric and “dainty” print is not suitable for use as a day dress. I prefer a box-pleated skirt to gathers. I deep hem of at least 2″ helps to “weight” the skirt. I need to try a different sleeve for a change. Taking the above into consideration I am now ready to make the Hunstanton dress which I would like to have ready to wear to meet a friend for lunch next week.

learning experience front 2         learning experience back view

                  Full length Front view          Full length Back view

learning experience bodice

Bodice detail

Flamboyant Flamingos

The Birthday Dress – I may no longer be in the prime of youth and my figure may be more rubenesque than I would like but that does not mean that I can’t enjoy a frivolous print dress! Based on the bodice of the Prima shift, this is version 48 with a box pleated skirt and centre back zip that I know that I will enjoy wearing. Once again I have piped the neckline and self-lined cap sleeves with a light green cotton just to add a finishing touch. This time I managed to cut two side seam pockets by using an odd scrap of plain cotton for the pocket facings.

front view

Next on the sewing timetable is another version of this style dress using the charming Blue background floral print cotton that I bought in Hunstanton. I plan to make pin tucks in the front bodice, gather the skirt and make tulip sleeves. Wish me luck!

hunstanton floral

Hunstanton Floral Print Cotton

Disappearing Pinwheels Patchwork

Coming shortly at Sprat & Winkle Quilters will be an evening working on Disappearing Pinwheels as demonstrated by Missouri Star Quilting Company on You Tube. I spent some time yesterday “playing” with this method and pictured below are the results. For anyone attempting this method I would recommend that all fabrics are sprayed with starch at the outset as after stitching of the initial 10″ squares together, all further seams are on the bias. This can make things a little tricky. I enjoyed the results and plan to make lots more when I next have a space in my sewing timetable.

4 variations

4 variations

table runner

a partially completed table runner

“Coming Up Roses” Prima dress variation 47

You all know that the Prima shift dress pattern from way back is one of my favourites. I recently purchased Colette “Peony” dress pattern but on closer inspection decided that with some minor alterations I could use my Prima pattern by cutting the bodice at the waist  and adding a box pleated skirt (I am really “into” box pleats at present). I had this very busy Roses printed cotton in my stash so away I went. I decided to line the cap sleeves with a contrast which I then “edged” down to provide a narrow faux piping at the hem. I used the same contrasting Cerise Pink cotton to make some “real” piping at the neck edge. The box pleats were easy and I lined them up with the body darts on the bodice. Again I hand picked the centre back zip which came from the stash that my father accumulated whilst working for Opti-lon zips back in the 1960′s and 70′s. I was able to make the dress using just 2.3 metres of 114cm wide fabric but as I was running out of fabric fast there is only one side seam pocket which is on the right-hand side. I am so pleased with this dress that I shall certainly make it again – next time using a fabulous Flamingo print which will make a “stand out in the crowd” birthday dress.

front view    close up lined sleeve

coming shortly…..

flamingos turquoise

Daisy Fresh Simplicity 2886 version 2

In my previous post I mentioned that the Blue Tulip print dress made to Simplicity 2886 with my own personal variations was one of my favourites whilst on my cruise. So… I made another one. This time I used a fresh Green background “daisy” print from Fabricland teamed with co-ordinating Green and White Gingham fabric. The dress went together quickly as I had already made adjustments to the pattern. I hand picked the centre back zip and added a tie belt at the side seams to improve the fit. The contrast gingham at the neckline means that there are already two layers of fabric so I decided to bind the neckline and armholes with gingham bias binding. Made to a finished width of just 1/4″ it was subtle and effective. I wore the dress yesterday when visiting Fabricland in Salisbury and received many compliments. Just right to perk up my confidence!

front view   back view

Back Home & Sorting

Back home after a terrific cruise to the Canary Islands, Madeira and Vigo (Santiago de Compostela), Spain. All my new dressmaking has now been road(sea)-tested. Regretfully some items have been found wanting and are therefore listed for sale on eBay. Hopefully they will sell and provide funds for more dressmaking. My favourite items were the Prima dress 46, the second nautical themed blouse combined with the 4-gore circular skirt, the “Loralie” blouse in Truro fabric and the Variations on a theme Simplicity 2886 Blue Tulips dress. The Cherries print shoes have also been listed for sale as I only managed to walk in them for half-an-hour, those giddy heights of 4.5″ heels are not the most appropriate shoes to wear on the “high seas”!

“Loralie” Blouse in Truro Fabric

I don’t know quite how much of this fabric I bought but there has been yards of it, especially as it is 60″ wide. I have already made two dresses and now here is the final garment – yet another “Loralie” Blouse. I have a pair of Lilac cropped trousers and as I notice there is some Lilac colour in the bold print decided to make a co-ordinating blouse. The fabric is a real dream to cut and sew. In just over 3 hours I completed the blouse. I have top-stitched the curved, shaped shawl collar, sleeve hems and the shaped hem.The blouse is sewn entirely with White thread and all seams are overlocked with 3-thread overlocking stitch. The deep Lilac/Purple buttons came from my stash.

front viewback view

Variations on a Theme – Simplicity 2886

I have had this pattern in my stash for ages and in the hope that we will eventually get some Summer sunshine I decided that now was the time to make a Sundress. Having prepared the fabrics – both 100% cotton prints from Fabricland in Salisbury, I bottled out of making view C as I felt I would be just too exposed! I decided instead to make view A but with some variations inspired by View C. I particularly liked the contrast spot print around the bodice, midriff band and hem so wanted to include these features in my dress. I altered the bodice pattern for my unique (!) body measurements and drafted for contrast sections on the bodice. View A includes a side seam zip fastener which I dislike and I therefore allowed for insertion of the zip into the centre back seam – my preferred location. I finished the zip with a hand-picked seam but when trying on discovered that the dress goes on “pullover” style so the zip is not needed. The pattern also calls for the bodice to be lined. As this was to be a Summer dress and I wanted it to be as light as possible I drafted facings for the neckline instead and decided to bind the armholes with self bias binding. I had sufficient contrast fabric to cut the sash so included this in my cutting layout to be set aside and checked when I came to the fitting stage as to whether or not it was required. All went swimmingly well until I started to sew the tucks in the midriff band. On the illustrations you can see 5 pleats and they look to be quite deep. The pattern identifies the tucks, on close inspection they turned out to be pin tucks not pleats at all. I changed to just 4 deep pleats and the finished midriff band ended up the correct depth to line up with the back bodice. At fitting stage I noted some “gaposis” in the armholes and this has necessitated a tuck of approximately 1/2″.  The line of the armscye has changed but as it is bias bound is of no consequence. I have altered the bodice pattern and corrected the armhole line – just in case I decide to make this design again. I particularly like the sweetheart neckline and deep pockets which are stitched into the side seam and midriff band seam which means they don’t flap about inside the skirt. This time I made the skirt with the box pleats as per the pattern. I think another time I would make a gathered skirt and also replace the tucks in the bodice for gathers.

simplicity 2886simplicity 2886 line drawings

01 front view full length02 back view full length

3 hand picked zip04 side pocket

Prima Dress no. 46

Using the “end of roll” bold-floral-printed stretch cotton purchased from Sew Simple in Taverham, Norfolk, I have made up the Prima shift dress for the 46th (!) time. As I knew the fabric length was only just over 2 metres and allowing for print placement (those huge roses!) I would be short of fabric I did not think there would be enough for sleeves. Luck was on my side, there was sufficient  for some short (almost cap) sleeves which I prefer to sleeveless for this particular style of dress. The fabric was a dream to cut out and stitch. I am particularly pleased to see that I managed to centre up the design on the front of the dress (the back is not quite so good but at least the roses do not fall on my cheeks!) It was not until I checked in the full-length mirror that I also noticed the distinct diagonal pattern in purple that is created by the darker floral print. The only problem with this garment was my lack of experience with invisible zips. This one was set too high in the seam so that the turnings on the facings are lumpy and there is no space for a hook and eye fastening. Still the lumps and bumps will be hidden by my hair and this dress will serve as an excellent reminder for when I next stitch an invisible zip – note to self – set the zip about 1″ below the cut edge of the neckline to ensure sufficient space for seam allowances on the facing, turning and the fastening .

prima 46 front view     prima 46 back view