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Monday, 1 June 2015

Retro Butterick - B5748

I've had this pattern for a while and have plans to use some lovely Liberty fabric to make the dress.  However, after having a look at the measurements given for the pattern and the fact that I really didn't fit a particular one, I decided to make a practice one first.  I managed to find some lovely bargain fabric (£1.95 per meter!) in Wolverhampton market on a Tuesday morning, which is wouldn't matter if things didn't fit. . .

I cut out a size 12 - as this bust measurement was the closest to mine.  However, this must have been a straight reprint of the original pattern as I needed to add four inches to the waist so that it would fit.  To add these four inches I made a slit up the pattern piece nearest the centre line and then made sure that this 'triangle' measured once inch at the base.  By increasing the front and back pattern piece by one inch, would add up to the four inches I needed.

I then cut the full circle skirt out using the biggest size on my pattern - 14, but added a centimetre out to the waist and seam as I cut it, so that I would have a big enough waist to attach to the bodice.  I decided only to line the bodice, as this was a practice to see how it would work, as the pattern wanted the skirt to be lined as well!

After making this altered bodice, I thought that the length looked a bit short, so I altered my pattern again, lengthening it by one inch along the 'shorten or lengthen here' lines. However, once I attached the bodice to the skirt, it gave it an appearance of a dropped waist - so I have reduced this lengthening by half an inch for the next practice dress.  To hide the issue on this dress I have added a length of contrasting ribbon, that give the illusion of the waist being in the correct place.

Because I had added in extra material in the bodice pieces by slitting the pattern piece and creating a triangle, I didn't realise that my darts would be out of line.  If you look carefully on the bodice, the darts at the front lean outwards.  I have rectified this by drawing a parallel line to the centre seam from the dart point down to the waist and then re-drawn the dart, so hopefully next time they will be straight.

There are no pockets on this dress - which is something I may have to address in the next practice dress - I'm still not confident enough to cut into my Liberty fabric, so I will just have to go fabric shopping again soon . . .

Sunday, 22 March 2015

GBSB Walkaway Dress - Butterick B4790

So after watching episode three of the third series of the Great British Sewing Bee I decided that I had to hunt down the pattern for the 'Walkaway Dress'.  So named, because according to the original pattern's instructions you can make the dress in a morning, starting sewing in the morning and be 'walking away' in your dress by lunch time.  Safe to say that it too me a bit longer!

The first challenge was to decide which size to trace and cut - after measuring my bust, waist, and hips it still wasn't that much clearer.  My bust and hips were a size 12, yet the waist pointed to somewhere in between sizes 14 and 16.  The pattern I had was a 8-14, so I decided to cut a 12, but to be generous when cutting the bodice pieces.

As my material was wide enough I was able to cut the circle skirt in one piece rather than two - this did mean that I gained the seam allowance up the centre back seam.  I also cut the skirt an inch wider on the open edge.  When I cut the upper back bodice piece that wraps round from the back to the front, I left 3 inches of spare fabric to allow for the fastening at the front - expecting the size 12 to significantly too small.  On the shoulder seams I had to sew a 1.5 inch seam in order for the dress to sit correctly and for the bust darts to be in the correct place.

As my material was very thin, I decided to draft and add a bodice lining from the same material.  I cut the upper back bodice from the same pattern piece and then used the same depth to cut a front piece from pattern piece one.  As there was a very definite stripe to my fabric I decided to cut the front (pattern piece 1) with the stripes going top to bottom, upper back (pattern piece 2) with the stripes left to right, and the skirt (pattern piece 3) with the stripes across left to right.  (The bodice lining pieces were squeezed out the remaining fabric, so don't match up - but as you can't see them, I decided this didn't matter.)  As the material was quite thin this double layer added some structure to the bodice.

Bodice Lining - drafted pieces
Bodice Lining - sewn in place
The front apron piece that fastens at the back was indeed too small - so I attached two extra panels to allow the piece to wrap around my waist.  As I had fabric to spare on the upper back piece, I used three buttons to close the dress, rather than the recommended snaps, loops and buttons.

Back fastening
Front fastening
The bias binding was in the main okay, there are a couple of wobbly bits, it was really hard to keep everything moving straight! And I may have stretched the fabric slightly when putting in the neck bias binding.  I added a rolled hem to the circle skirt, so that I could keep the raw edges to a minimum.

Walkaway Dress - Butterick B4790

The only drawback is there are no pockets in the dress - but due to the full nature of the skirt I don't think that I will try and add any to future dresses, as I don't think everything would sit correctly if I did add pockets.  Despite the fitting problems, I was rather pleased with the resulting dress and will make it again - adjusting the front so that the skirt matches up with the bodice (corners are a pain to neatly bias bind!).  However as it is very fabric hungry (4 - 5 meters depending on fabric width) it will have to wait until I can get something from the fabric markets.  This fabric was a bargain of £2 a metre, plus the extra wide fabric meant I only needed 3 meters!

Walkaway Dress - Butterick B4790

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Simplicity 2549

After some rather fruitful visits to Wolverhampton's fabric market (Tuesday mornings) I had added some lovely lengths of fabric to my stash.  With numerous weddings this year I wanted a dress pattern that would be suitable.  The Simplicity 2549 view A fitted the bill.  As usual I started by comparing my bust, waist and hips measurements to the pattern. My bust was a size 12, with the waist and hips a size 14 - ignoring the fact that this felt far too big I graded my pattern between the two sizes by drawing in a gently curve between the two sizes from the bust to waist measurements.  I then traced my new adjusted pattern on to baking paper (so much cheaper than fancy dressmakers tracing paper - especially if you get it in the poundshop!)

Simplicity 2549 - inside encased waistband
The material was a pain to cut as it was silky, so lots of pins were needed!  There was also a contrast piece that I decided to cut the waistband from and I decided against the bow.  The pattern had a lovely encased waistband inside the dress, so it means that there are not many raw edges on show - took a bit of time, as needed neat hand stitching, but worth it.  I'm not entirely sure on the puffiness of the sleeves once set in, but perhaps this will calm down after a few washes.  I used the Sew Over It Tea Dress step to put in my invisible zip and didn't sew up the back seem until after I had fixed the zip into the dress.  This way I can adjust the fit of the dress and take in any extra fabric to allow for a snug fit - I get my handy husband to pin me into the dress, draw a chalk link, unpin me - then I pin in the zip to double check, before finally sewing in the invisible zip. I finished the skirt and sleeves hem by hand, as I didn't want a line of stitches to ruin the look of the lovely fabric.

This is a lovely pattern and I shall definitely make it again - just need to sort out my hat!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

August's Garment: Dress 'H' from the Stylish Dress Book

August's garment wasn't supposed to be a dress - I have a blouse that I started and have abandoned for the time being.  It seems that I have to take into consideration my size 12 hips even when making a top - I cut out a size 8, after taking bust measurements and comparing to the given dimensions - after getting to the point just before putting the zip in, I decided to try it on . . . shoulder seems hang off my shoulders, very roomy around my bust and then very tight across my hips.  This pattern is going to need some adjustment before I try again.  It's a good job I was only using a bargain piece of fabric that I found in a oddments bin at Abakhan in Chester (although I will have a little weep as I loved the fabric and don't have enough left to try again - perhaps I should start making toiles . . . )

I bought this month's fabric in preparation to make a second Chinello Maxi Dress - ah well, I will just have to go fabric shopping again when I get round to that!  A couple of months ago I bought Yoshiko Tsukiori's Stylish Dress Book as it looked like the type of book that would have everyday clothes patterns.  I wasn't disappointed - there are 26 different garments to sew.  After carefully looking through I decided to make dress 'H'.  The patterns are on full size sheets tucked in an envelope at the back of the book - it took a bit of looking to find all the pieces for my dress, but it was fairly easy to trace, despite the many different colour coded lines.  Just remember that you need to add a seem allowance to the traced pattern pieces, I only realised this after I had traced out my pieces -thankfully I just about managed to put a half inch seam on every piece.

I cut out a size 10 and added a half inch seam allowance - I probably could have cut out a size 8 - but not sure if this is because the sizes come up big or that I didn't make full use of my seam allowance.  The instructions look very minimal, especially when compared to multiple guideline sheets of traditional paper patterns.  However, they were logical and easy to follow - particularly helped by the accompanying line drawings.

I decided to add a complete lining to the skirt part of the dress as the fabric was lightweight.  To do this I stitched the two skirts together along the top raw edge before sewing it to the outside yoke piece.  Then the inside yoke piece was hand stitched to cover the raw edge.  The result being that if I really wanted to I could wear the dress inside out and nobody would know!

Garment number 9 out of 12 complete!

Monday, 1 September 2014

GBBO Week Four - Baked Alaska

Apologies for those eagled eyed readers who have spotted I have missed out Bread Week - I wasn't particularly inspired to make any of the bakes, especially after a previous year's 8 plaited loaf, ciabatta bread just didn't have the same draw . . .

However, this week was 'Dessert Week' and my husband convinced me to try a Baked Alaska - he even offered to buy me a blow torch! (I so should have taken him up on that offer)  Instead I decided to bake it in the oven, as I thought this was the whole appeal of making a baked Alaska - putting ice cream in the oven to bake.

I found my recipe inspiration from the very first Great British Bake Off Book - it is for individual ones, but we wanted a huge one.  This recipe suggested Swiss Roll for the sponge base, I'm afraid I cheated and bought Swiss Roll.  I bought an extra large one and cut it into pieces an inch in length and carefully squashed it into a cake tin.  This was then weighted down and left in the fridge overnight to make sure it was very cold.

On top of the sponge I put a layer of halved strawberries, with a generous layer of ice cream on top.  This was then piped with the meringue from the recipe: to partially cook the meringue it was whisked over a pan of simmering water for 10 minutes and then whisked off the heat to bring the mixture down to room temperature.  I painted a couple of lines of food colouring down the inside of my piping bag to add some colour to the swirls piped onto the ice cream.

Then it was popped in the very hot (230C) oven for 3 minutes - it probably could of done with slightly longer, and also more meringue, as I had a few tiny gaps which meant the ice cream leaked out in places.

The pudding was a success, and the middle of the ice cream was still fairly cold when we sliced it up!