Saturday, 28 April 2012

Pyjama Party: The Big Reveal

So, over the last week or so, many of you will have noticed Karen over at Did You Make That has been hosting her pyjama party for everyone to get involved in and so far over 100 people have signed up!

Like many others, I love my pyjamas and spend most of my lounging around time in PJ bottoms or something similar, so having a nice pretty pair of PJs made by my own fair hands seemed like a brilliant idea. I've used the Simplicity 2721 pyjama pattern for my version of the pyjamas.

I wanted to use some of my stash up making these pyjamas rather than buying anything new and I decided to make them using this pretty pink vintage floral looking cotton lawn:

Karen's blog post tutorials were brilliant and, like her, I decided to give my PJs an elastic waist rather than a tie chord waist as it's much easier having an elasticated waist when your dying for the toilet in the middle of the night! I also lengthened the pattern by a couple of inches so there were no chilly ankles with the finished project.

I actually finished my PJ bottoms earlier in the week and they have already been tried and tested with some major lounging around! So far, so good!

And here they are (excuse the lighting, the camera's white ballence wouldn't sort itself out):

the standard lazing about get-up

Oh and my current reading list? Sad as it sounds I'm actually reading an academic book; Beginning Teaching Beginning Learning in Primary Education by Janet Moyles as I'm making a major career change come September to re-train as a primary school teacher so I've been getting some pre-reading in in advance (teacher's pet, me? Never!)

complete with fluffy slippers

So... anyone up for a pillow fight?

Friday, 20 April 2012

Colette Patterns Sewing Handbook: Meringue Skirts

Like a lot of other sewists, I was lucky enough to receive the Colette Sewing Handbook as a present at Christmas. So far, the Meringue is the only patterns I've made from the book as I had other patterns on the waiting list already, but so far, it's a great start to the book - I read it from cover to cover before actually starting to make the skirt.
So far with makes using Colette patterns, I haven't actually had to make any changes to the fitting so I decided to jump straight in and make a wearable muslin using some royal blue gabardine, rather than my usual muslins using old bed sheets that could never be worn out in public.

When I came to cut out the pieces for the wearable muslin, I realised I didn't have enough interfacing for the skirt hem so I thought I'd just leave it out and see what happened. In all honesty, I don't think it made any difference to the skirt hem at all (except for making it a bit more difficult to get good curves when I turned out the scallops, but I got there eventually). Because there was no interfacing in the hem, I decided to top stitch close to the edge of the scallops to stop them curling under which seemed to work fine.

I lined the skirt with some bright turquoise lining fabric since it wasn't the best quality gabardine and I thought it would be a bit prone to static when worn with tights. I also used some fabric from one of the other half's old shirts for the waist facing, bound the rough edge of the hem facing in bias binding and then catch-stitched the hem to the skirt. I catch-stitched a hem for the first time on my Ceylon dress but I think I did a better job on the skirt - practice makes perfect obviously! I love the fact that catch-stitching really doesn't show up at all on the front of the fabric - it looks so much neater.

The fit was fine so I decided to use the remainder of the red gabardine from my Ceylon dress to make another version. I didn't line this version though as it generally doesn't seem to go static with tights and I used some left over fabric from my first dress for the waist facing as I didn't quite have enough gabardine for this. Since the first version didn't seem to lack for anything by not having interfacing in the hem, I didn't bother for this version either. I actually really like the fact that there is no stiffness to the hem as a result. Again, I bound the rough edge of the hem facing with bias binding and then catch-stitched the hem to the skirt.

And the final version.... et voilĂ !

And this is what happens when you hand over control of a camera to my other half for too long...

Thursday, 12 April 2012

The Ceylon Dress

Despite having had to go to numerous weddings over the last 2 years, I'd never plucked up the courage to sew a dress to wear because I wasn't sure my skills were up to producing something good enough - until now that is.

I saw the Ceylon dress on the Colette Patterns website when I first started reading blogs and totally fell in love with the vintage vibe of the dress. I actually bought the pattern back in the summer of last year but only got round to making a version of my own at the start of the year for a family wedding.

Given that the wedding was in March I thought overly summery colours possibly weren't the best choice so decided to go for a claret coloured poly wool gabardine from Croft Mill. which was lovely and soft to the touch and had a great drape.
As usual I made a muslin of the dress, cutting a size 6 and didn't have to make any adjustments to the fit. As an added bonus, the instructions were so easy and straightforward to follow. This dress is probably the most complicated pattern I've actually done to date, what with all the pattern pieces to put together but with the instructions, everything went just fine. So this is the finished version:

Annoyingly, the only photo of me wearing it at the actual wedding is of me sitting down (my personal photographer was too busy taking photos of the happy couple), so you can only see the top half. Excuse the shiny forehead, it was hot in there!

I think a woollen version like Lauren's  would be perfect for a winter work dress.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Colette Patterns New Designs

Have you seen the new designs from Colette Patterns? If not, you should pop over there now and take a proper look – Sarai has outlined all three new patterns in more detail on the blog. Sarai is an utter genius when it comes to designing her patterns!

All three of the new designs are lovely and just perfect for the sunny weather we’ll (hopefully) get this summer but I’m especially pleased that Iris has been included in the new releases as I’ve been looking for a shorts pattern I actually like since the new year (nothing beats dreaming of the warmer weather in the depths of winter!).
Picture from Colette Patterns

The Hazel dress is lovely too. It’s just the kind of summer dress I love – comfortable but still cute and supremely flattering. 
Picture from Colette Patterns
These two patterns are definitely going on the short term make list that’s for sure!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Flowered Dress Remake

So... have you heard the one about the pretty sundress which has the unfortunate habit of making you look like you were pregnant?

I had this lovely flower print sun-dress, which I really loved the print on but unfortunately, the cut of the dress wasn't remotely flattering since it had an empire line and a full skirt... I had the misfortune whilst wearing it of actually being offered a seat on the bus by  young lad because, I assume, he thought I was pregnant... I had no idea what to say to that so I just took the seat...

Anyway, the result? Well I loved the pattern so figured with these new found sewing skills I must be able to do something with it. Enter So Zoe's blog post on 'The Final Skirt'.

I have no photo evidence of the original dress unfortunately but I thought the skirt pattern in Zoe's post (Simplicity 2451) would be perfect for a remake on this dress and I was right. Feast your eyes on the result!

No longer will some poor unsuspecting teenager wonder whether they should offer an un-pregnant woman a seat!

I can see why Zoe has made so many versions of this skirt. It's comfortable and flattering and perfect with tights in the winter or without in the summer. I cut a straight size 10 and made a muslin to check for fit but didn't have to make any alterations. That's what I call a nice simple project! I definitely think there will be a few other versions of this skirt on the horizon.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

A Hat-trick of Colette Patterns

I started reading sewing blogs before I actually started sewing. By the time I got myself a sewing machine I'd seen loads of gorgeous examples of colette patterns all over the blogosphere and I just knew I had to jump on the band-wagon and get a couple of patterns myself. First of all though, I downloaded the Sorbetto top to begin with, having seen fantastic versions by Karen back in July and Marie in June of last year. I had enough red and white linen left over from some napkins and tea-towels I made for a friend to make a Sorbetto in each colour
I stuck to the original design for the red version, although I left out the bias binding on the arm-holes because I ran out of white bias tape, oops! For the white one, I decided to invert the central pleat and only sew the seam at the top:
Having made them both, I think I prefer the original version, but you live and learn right? They've both been worn loads since they were made though as they're both perfect for work with some smarter trousers / skirts and with jeans.

As everyone else keep saying, the instructions that go along with Colette patterns are simple and easy the follow.

And for the hat-trick - well it's a Colette Ginger skirt (looking lovely with my red sorbetto)
The main body of the skirt is actually from v.2 of the pattern - I originally made the sweetheart waistband to go with it, but decided that it looked awful on my short waistline, so I used the narrow waistband from v.3 instead, which looks much better.

Again, the instructions were so easy to follow. I followed the guidance of Scruffy Badger and the Colette blog post about sewing facings with an invisible zipper to sew a full lining in the skirt - and it worked out perfectly - so, sewing invisible zippers... check!

The skirt is made in black needlecord, which makes it perfect for sashaying around the office as well as lazing around at the weekend. What more could you ask! It's become a definite wardrobe staple since I made it so there will no doubt be other versions soon - probably some summery versions as well as a denim version.

Friday, 6 April 2012

First Dress

So... this is the first dress I made, just over a year ago...
It's Simplicity 7120, a 1960s pattern. In all honesty, it probably wasn't the most sensible patter to start with since it was at least two sizes too big, but I found it for pennies in a charity shop so I figured why not give it a go! The instructions themselves weren't difficult to follow it was just the re-grading that was a bit daunting. Luckily for me though, my mum used to make her own clothes when she was younger, so she was able to help me re-size the pattern. I seem to remember making 3 different muslins in the end before actually making the real thing because I was too scared to take too much off in one go.

It doesn't really look much on the dummy, but it's actually a really comfortable dress and works just as well with tights in the winter and flipflops in the summer. Looking back now though, I should have lined it as the cotton is quite sheer and I have to wear an underskirt in the winter to stop it snagging on my tights. Plus, it's by no means perfect, even if it was my first dress - the neckline is a bit wonky for example:

and the zip at the back isn't brilliant, but i'll definitely make this again now I've got it to my size - there's just a lot of other stuff I want to make first!

Me Made May '12

I, Helen, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '12. I endeavour to wear one self-stitched and/or refashioned garment each day for the duration of May 2012

Yep that's right - I've decided to give MMM a go this year. I watched everyone elses efforts last year wishing I had enough items to take part, and now I do! So I figured, what better way to track my MMM month than to start a blog - start as you mean to go on, right?

If you want to take part too, pop over to
Zoe's site to get the details