Monthly Archives: August 2021

Yet another recycle?

Oh yes! I have made at least 5 versions of the Vogue 8577 and unfortunately some of them no longer fit across the bust. This particular version is the very first one that I made according to the pattern in so far as there is a midriff yoke and the giant pockets in the skirt.

Another two hours of unpicking during Friday morning sewing get together resulted in a separate bodice and skirt. I no longer have any remnants of the fabric that I used for this dress so having had a cogitate decided to attach a contrast bodice – made using some pretty Broderie Anglaise from deep within my stash. I would later add a belt so that the finished result would look like a blouse with contrasting skirt.

Having previously completed this type of ‘hack’ I was fairly confident about attaching a new bodice to the skirt. Again I used my ‘Harley’ bodice pattern but this time with the re-drafted sleeve. I just love how the gathers at the sleeve head sit and the length is just right. As there are many holes quite close together in this Broderie Anglaise design, I used some plain White cotton for the facings and all seams were flat felled into place.

The bodice went together well and I soon had the ‘recycle’ completed. I top- stitched the facings in place with a narrow seam allowance tucked under so now there are no excess seam allowances inside the bodice.

The final decision to make was regarding buttons. Should I use plain White buttons on the bodice, or the same Pale Turquoise that came off the original bodice? The decision was easy as I found that I did not have any suitable White buttons in my stash. I think the Pale Blue ones look very nice.

I am now waiting for an elasticated belt to arrive to complete the look and in the meantime I have some pretty alternatives from my wardrobe to compliment this new faux ‘blouse and skirt’ ensemble.

Project #54 completed 24th August 2021

Tidying Up Texas Pants

Back in May I declared that I would concentrate on refining a new pattern for trousers, culottes and also a jumpsuit. Well that did not happen! I was seduced by the Texas pattern by Style Arc and made it up no less than 4 times.

Unfortunately not a single pair is spot- on in terms of fit. One pair were made using NEW fabric – a stretch denim from Minerva.

The reason that pair were not perfect is due mostly to my choice of fabric. The denim was too stiff but I hope it will soften up with wear and wash. In the meantime, some alterations were necessary.

First I cut away the pockets. Two reasons: a) the pocket bags were too long b) three layers of this stiff fabric was interfering with the drape of the trousers. I left the top-stitching in place so now I have ‘faux side pockets’.

Next, I decided to completely re-stitch the outside leg seams. This meant that I had to do a great deal of unpicking! I unpicked part of the waistband at each side, part of the hems on each leg plus the entire side seams that had been stitched with 4-thread overlocking PLUS twin needle top-stitching!

Next, I pinned down the side seams where I thought would be more appropriate before machine-tacking ready for a fitting. From the fitting I concluded that to take in by no less than 1 inch from each leg piece i.e. a total of 2 inches from each side seam was the way forward. I completed the alteration by machine stitching and overlocking the side seams, re-stitching the waistband and hems plus twin needle top stitching around the hems. I was unable to repeat the twin needle top stitching at the side seams as I could not manipulate through the inside of the legs. I good thorough press completed the project.

The Texas pants are not perfect but in this substrate are now a much better fit. I plan to re-draw the pattern taking into account all the various alterations and ….. hopefully will end up with a ‘perfect’ trouser pattern.

Project #53 completed 22nd August 2021

Hannah #3

I have had the reverse of a new Superking-sized duvet cover ‘lurking’ in my stash for a couple of years now. I previously made the front which had some charming embroidery into a version of Vogue 8577 that I recently upcycled. Now to use up the remainder of the cover I was inspired by pictures on Instagram to make a ‘Hannah’ dress.

I have previously made two versions of Hannah and was therefore quietly confident regarding fit and construction.

I decided to use the latest re-drafted sleeve that has a full gathered sleeve head and cut it on the bias. I would add a bias cut frill around the neckline as I particularly liked that on my previous Hannah make. The only other change was to lengthen the bodice pieces by 1 inch.

The bodice and sleeves were lined with plain White polyester cotton and the construction of the sleeves was plain sailing.

When it came to the bias frill I mis-calculated the length required. I had measured the front edges of the wrap bodice and the back neckline before multiplying by 1½ times which I thought would be sufficient for the gathers. In a moment of ‘laziness’ I decided to use the ‘ruffler’ foot on my machine instead of traditional gathering. I set the foot to pleat every 6 stitches and stitch length 4.5mm. I then attached the frill to the bodice before stitching the bodice lining right sides together. I tried a fitting. There was insufficient frill to match up once the bodice fronts where they overlapped. I tried to ‘fudge’ it by unpicking then re-setting the pleats on the underwrap but this was still insufficient for a neat overlap. So…. I cut more bias fabric and attached to the end of the frill that was partially sewn. Re-pleated the additional length and then, once again tacked to the neckline and re-attached the bodice lining. Phew.. now it was OK. A reminder for the future though is to ensure that the pleats on the front wrap would be facing down rather than up as they are on this version!

Next I worked on the skirt panels. I attached pocket bags and completed the side seams using French seams. Once the dress was complete there would be no raw edges as the bodice is lined and the hems on the wrap edges and skirt hem were double folded and machine-stitched in place.

To complete the dress I hand stitched the bodice lining to the waistline seam and worked a machine buttonhole at the right hand side seam to facilitate the tie wrapping around to the back.

I am very pleased with the dress and look forward to wearing it both now with White sneakers or Tan wedge espadrilles, then later in the Autumn with a Tan cardigan, tights and loafers.

Project #52 completed 21st August 2021

Recycling a Favourite

I love the ‘idea’ of the Vogue 8577 dress although it is particularly fabric hungry with its very full skirt.

I made this version using the front part of an embroidered Super king-size duvet cover bought in the sale at Dunelm a couple of years ago.

I loved the dress but sadly the bodice is now too small. I did not want to ‘waste’ all the lovely fabric in the skirt so decided to recycle it onto a new bodice with set in sleeves. Those that know me also know that I have an intense dislike of alterations, even calling this project a ‘recycle’ does not really help.

First I had to get unpicking. This was when I discovered how well I had made and finished the original dress. All the skirt and pocket seams were French and inside the lined bodice – pinked or overlocked! It took a good couple of hours with the stitch ripper to separate the bodice from the skirt.

Now to review a bodice pattern that would fit neatly onto the skirt. It would have to be a front button shirt dress or blouse and I definitely wanted sleeves. Because of the fact that I had only pillowcase fronts with the beautiful embroidery the pattern would need to be one with few seams and interruptions. I chose the Harley design that I first made in January this year.

I measured the panels of the skirt, excluding the gathered sections and adjusted the waist seam of the Harley to match. I recently drafted a new style of sleeve with generous gathers at the sleeve head for the ‘Linda’ dress. As I liked them so much, drafted a similar style sleeve for the ‘Harley’.

I cut the front bodice pieces from the pillow case fronts taking as much care as possible with the placement of the embroideries. Then I used the backs of the pillowcases (with no embroidery) for the sleeves and a remnant from the original duvet cover for the back bodice, again no embroidery motifs.

I cut lining from Polyester cotton for the bodice and sleeves. Lining the sleeves helps to give them some structure and support for all those gathers at the sleeve head. It also provides for a neat clean seam finish on the hems.

Construction was fairly straightforward and after the first fitting there was just one small adjustment to make – letting out the side seams of the bodice at the waistline by ¼ inch and grading back to 5/8ths at the underarm.

It took a couple of hours to attach the completed the bodice to the skirt plus a deal of ‘finessing’ in respect of marrying up the front edges and facings.

Lastly the finishing tasks were to slip stitch the bodice lining to the waist seam, make buttonholes in the bodice and attach the buttons that had been removed from the original bodice.

All that work has resulted in a lovely new dress with a bodice that fits beautifully. No-one would ever know that this is a recycled project!

I have a couple more dresses made to the Vogue 8577 hack and they are also too small over the bust. I can see more ‘recycling’ in the future!

Project #51 completed 8th August 2021

‘Linda’ a new design in Stripes

I previously used the front of a superking duvet cover to make a dress detailed as Dunelm Yellow Shirt Dress project #44, now it was the turn of the reverse of that cover to trial make a new design.

I made a quick sketch and using the bodice block from my ‘Harley’ dress proceeded to draft the new style. First I drafted a square neckline and then repositioned the darts into a Princess seamed bodice, incorporating the new neckline into those seams.

I wanted a completely different short sleeve – using the cut and spread method I increased the sleeve head so that it would have plenty of fullness gathered at the shoulder. Inspired by a costume in a Jane Austen dramatization I also added a frill to sit between the sleeve head and the armscye.

The skirt would be a simple gathered rectangle with a wide band of the contrast fabric set approximately 5 inches above the hemline and I would possibly add patch pockets, also with the contrast fabric tops. Well, that was the plan!

I cut and stitched a toile using plain White polycotton fabric that would then be used to underline the bodice (the fabric is not as opaque as I would like). I was very pleased with the fit and so proceeded with cutting out the striped fabric. The stripes were mounted on the underlining and the bodice stitched together.

First hurdle was to work out how I would finish the square neckline: a facing, binding, what? I continued with making up the sleeves which were lined with the White polycotton (makes the curved hem much easier to finish) and inserting them with the little shoulder frills – a delightful design feature.

Still not knowing how I would finish the neckline, I continued making up the skirt and attaching to the bodice. By now I was pretty disenchanted with the dress so there was no point in spending more time inserting the contrast band near the hem. The skirt has a 2inch double turned hem stitched in place by machine blind-hemming. I forgot to add concealed in-seam pockets so would have to add patch pockets which also means some pattern matching will be involved.

Finally I had to resolve the issue of the neckline. I made a shaped back neck facing to which I added my ‘Carousel’ label plus strips cut on the straight grain to neaten the side edges of the neckline that are slightly ‘off grain’. These were stitched in place, turned to the inside, under-stitched by machine and hand stitched to the underlining. The top straight edge of the neckline was simply turned to the inside and slip stitched to the underlining. If I repeat this bodice/neckline design I will make that centre panel longer so that there is more fabric to turn to the inside.

I made some long self-fabric ties and top stitched them in place next to the Princess seams on the front bodice. Tied in a bow at the back they give a little more shaping to the dress.

A good press and I modelled the dress. I was underwhelmed and was thinking of calling it a ‘dis-as-ter’. However, my husband thought it looked nice but no need for patch pockets. Just as well as I am currently still not in love with the finished dress but maybe when a few days have passed it will improve.

Project #50 completed 31st July 2021

Recycling Bathroom Mules

Hot on the tails of using up remnants of fabric from my stash, I used some leftovers from other projects to recycle/refresh/renew two pairs of bathroom mules.

The originals were purchased from The White Company several years ago. I notice that the current mules offered on the site have changed and they now have a hard sole as opposed to the thin ’embossed plastic’ that is on my current ones.

Both pairs are made from the Duck Egg Blue background remnants of a Superking-sized duvet cover originally purchased from Dunelm and made up into nightdresses, dressing gown, toilet and cosmetic pouches. I am an avid coordinator!

For the first pair, which have previously been ‘refreshed’ several times, I quilted in a diagonal grid. The bonus for this particular pair is that they are ‘unifoot’ in that they can be worn on either foot.

The second pair are newer and have been re-designed by The White Company. Now there is a definite left and right mule and the instep pattern piece has been extended so that there is less chance of the mule slipping off your foot. The second pair has the quilting in a square grid.

I love these mules as they are so comfortable and just right for use in the bathrooms when walking on the cold floors.

Projects #48 & #49 completed 28th July 2021