Saturday, 25 September 2010


Going back to my Autumn wardrobe planning (blogged about here) I have nearly finished the first skirt (a classic pencil skirt) and blouse combo and a little jacket is 3/4 of the way done too. Pictures to follow soon, I hope.

For the next skirt I was debating whether to go for a slightly gathered pencil-ish skirt ) in keeping with the Mad Men theme or whether to go for something more A-line to have a bit of variety.

Then I saw this.


This is the skirt I want. Unfortunately, given it is a Celine design, I won't be getting this exact one but I am now on a mission to make something similar.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Birthday outfit for a Mademoiselle

Mademoiselle E is 5 today and I thought that deserved a special outfit.

She has been coveting a denim skirt that her sister has for a while so I decided to do something similar but with a coordinating blouse.

The blouse pattern is from Homemde Kids pattern book and has a gathered neckline with two buttons (or I used press studs). The arms have a gathered frill at the bottom, which suits Miss E perfectly. The fabric was bought early in the summer whilst visiting my sister and is a kaffe fasset cotton. I trimmed the neckline with red bias binding. The finishing touch is a fabric flower in denim and blouse fabric over the press stud.

The skirt is made in soft denim cotton and has two front pockets and two back patch pockets - all of which have detail that coordinates with the blouse. I also finished the hem with bias made from the blouse fabric. The waist is elasticated.

Happy Birthday Miss E!!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Forgotten Summer Dress

Ok, when I sat forgotten I don't mean I forgot about the dress - I just forgot to blog about it. I had constructed most of it before les grandes vacances but then little people and visits to the river and the pool intervened meaning that it sat half done for about 6 weeks until I found the time to go and get some buttons and finish the hem.

Then once it was done I wore it almost non stop as the fabric was perfect for our very hot August and it added a bit of chic-ness (or so I like to think) to a summer mostly spent in shorts.

The pattern is from one of my Japanese sewing books but I left off the sleeves. I also used liberty bias on the arm holes rather than self bias, out of laziness really.

I had originally planned to cover buttons in the same fabric but then I saw a picture of a dress with wood buttons and thought they would be perfect.

I made a tie belt out of the same fabric but actually mainly wore the dress with the leather and ribbon belt pictured below which, being a wide belt, did a better job of cinching in the waist.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Project Runway Re-make / re-fashion - Part 2

I have been through the pile of garments waiting patiently to be recreated into some new trendy stunning item and picked out those that I am going to use for the challenge (if you missed part 1 - see here). I haven't yet decided whether I will use all the items to make one new item or whether I will make several (or, more than one, anyway) new items.

First up a pair of jeans that I never wear as they are not at all comfortable. The denim is hard and if I am honest I bought a size too small. That coupled with no-give denim does not make for a comfortable fit.

Secondly an old white summer skirt.

And, lastly an old shirt.

A close up of the fabric of the shirt.

Why am I thinking that this sounds more like Ready Steady Cook than a show that will end in a catwalk presentation???

My dress for the wedding

Well I couldn't very well inflict home made-ness on my daughters for the wedding and then go and buy myself some lovely off the peg dress could I? (although it was tempting)

So burdastyle was perused, the Pencil Dress pattern downloaded and the fun began.

I didn't want the dress to be tight (in the mutton sense) so cut a size 38 and then proceeded to take it in everywhere. For the girls dresses I had made a muslin as I used the bodice section from one pattern and then adapted it to add a full skirt and the lesson of the Pencil Dress pattern is that muslins are good. Although at the time of making them I always think that it is wasting a lot of time I think in the long run you save much more time on the final project (and the stress of wondering whether you will ever get it to fit right - particularly on a dress as simple as the pencil dress where the fit is all important).

Second lesson of this making this dress is that I absolutely need a dress form. Trying on, pinning, attempting to get dress off whilst still pinned, basting, trying again etc etc is tiring and after a while, quite annoying. In addition it is almost impossible to properly look at your back view whilst wearing the dress.

Anyway, despite all this I was very (and still am) pleased with the outcome. The fabric matched the polka dot theme of the girl's dresses but the style is altogether more grown up (I had originally thought of making a 1950's - esque dress with a full skirt but am glad that I didn't - I think it would have been overkill with the girl's dresses).

The photo below doesn't show the dress very well but proves that I wore it!

Further views (without wearer)

Details that I am particularly pleased with:
  • the Hong Kong finished seams inside which although not seen from the outside do, I can assure you, make the wearer feel as though they are wearing a 'proper' creation;
  • the invisible zipper, which is truely invisible!;
  • I also Hong Kong finished the raw edge at the bottom and to hem the dress attached the bottom to the finished seam allowances on all of the seams leading up from the hem - given that there were two seams running down the font and one in the middle of the back in addition to the side seams this worked perfectly; and
  • finally, I moved the zipper to the side rather than it being in the centre back seam. This prevented any issue with the zipper finishing around bottom level and causing unsightly bumps.
I toyed with lining the dress but the fabric was quite thick and the weather was hot so I am glad I didn't (also if I had I wouldn't be able to show off the great seam finishing!).

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Project Runway Remake Challenge (open to everyone!)

You may have seen the competition launched yesterday on the Burdastyle website. If not you can click here to see details.

I saw the flyer on the opening page of the website and clicked excitedly through to the page to get more details only to find that the competition is only open to residents of the US (excluding Arizona). As many on the site have commented the initial excitement then turned to disappointment as not being a US resident I am not eligible to enter.

Then I got thinking and decided that it didn't stop me joining in the challenge anyway even if I couldn't enter the competition. With a whole pile of garments waiting to be either given to charity or re-fashioned my mind is now whirring with ideas....

Watch this space - anyone else up for a bit of re-fashioning?

First Autumn Project

One of the projects on my list to do this Autumn is a coat/jacket for myself. I haven't yet decided on fabric or shape yet but given that I haven't made a coat before I thought I should get a bit of practice.

Now there are many good things about having children but one thing is that when you want to practice sewing a particular garment but don't really want to practice on fabric meant for yourself you can practice on a garment for one of the children. And if you want to go one step further you can not tell them you are making the garment to practice and then they will think you have made it for them out of the kindness and goodness of your motherly heart. (Not that she would have cared anyway because it is pink and there is a flower on it).

Step up one fully lined pink swing coat. There is a yoke at the front and under the back yoke a box pleat - to give it the swing. The pink outer fabric is what was left after making my Colette Patterns skirt last winter - nice and soft and warm. The lining is pink cotton with orange spots from Clothkits. The pattern for the coat was from DMK easywear from etsy and went together beautifully.

I toyed with interlining the coat to make it really warm (our winters can be very cold) but then I remembered the need for Autumn garments and so the coat remained un-interlined and will be worn once the weather merits a little something but before big cosy snugness is needed.

The second little miss has now requested a similar coat and I am thinking that it could work well in corduroy (clothkits have a lovely pink one or a purple one) or even fleecy jersey for a more casual look.

I haven't yet chosen the buttons - there will be two large ones at the top on the yoke. If I don't find any ready made ones soon I will probably cover some large plastic ones with either the outer fabric or the lining fabric (or maybe one of each).

The lining:

Autumn MadMen-ness or just madness?

Having read the fashion pages in the weekend papers this weekend something slowly dawned on me - I am sadly lacking in an Autumn wardrobe. I don't just mean a wardrobe of this season's latest trends I mean any kind of apparel bought or made for Autumn. There is obviously a point when you stop wearing Summer clothes and thinking back I think I have then sort of fudged it until it was definitely cold enough to wear Winter clothes. But not anymore. This Autumn things are going to change.

So where better to start than a list of "Essentials"!

A perusal of various magazines and fashion sites gave me insight into fashion editor's ideas of "Essentials" which, to be honest, didn't seem entirely 'essential' to me so I have compiled my own list of things I hope to make over the next few weeks (obviously time being of the essence due to the fact that if I don't get a move on Autumn will be over).

Everywhere from the catwalk to the high street seems to be going Mad Man mad at the moment so first up will be a couple of Mad Men-esque outfits inspired in part by the offerings from Banana Republic (see below). I am thinking a couple of skirts with mix and match tops and hopefully (although this is unlikely to happen for this Autumn) a jacket.

Tops wise it seems that blouses are "de retour". A sheer (maybe spotty) one with a tie neck maybe and then probably a couple of more every day ones.

Also on my list of "must haves" was some kind of coat/jacket and I am still wondering whether to go "cape". They are very "in" at the moment and, obviously, being "in" is better than being "out".

Finally I would like to try to make some trousers. I have in mind a thin wool, dark navy or black peg trouser but have yet to find a pattern and will probably try and get the other projects out of the way first as having never made trousers before (drawstring ones don't count) I think I will probably need to devote some serious time to them.

All being well I will be fabric shopping tomorrow (albeit with a two year old in tow) so Autumn wardrobe here I come!

Monday, 13 September 2010

New best friend

I have lots of autumn projects in mind and a fair few underway (more details to come) but after the trials of fitting the dress I made to wear to the Ukrainian wedding I promised myself a present for la rentrée. A dressform. This little beauty should be winging its way to me as I type and will hopefully make for less pin marks in my tummy and more sewing projects with a perfect fit!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Dresses fit for a wedding

I had very demanding clients.
The dresses had to be
  • without sleeves
  • tight at the top
  • very "sticky outy" on the skirt part; and
  • (most importantly) they had to twirl (a lot) for dancing.
One dress had to be red, and the other pink.

Other than that it was up to me. Oh yes - they also had to be fit to wear to a wedding.

Even if I say so myself, I think I excelled. Miss E had originally wanted the pink dress to be completely strapless but luckily I made up the red dress first and when she saw it she wanted one "just like that".

And, just to ensure complete happiness for my clients, matching handbags.