sew where next? hopefully common sense and logic…

The realisation that I may have bitten off rather more then is comfortable to chew dawned on me today. Much as I have enjoyed making the quilt (binding, batting and backing now added) its taken a LOT of my time. I have finally started on the vogue dress I planned to make, but hadn’t got to as I was so busy with the quilt project.

We will see if I manage to get both finished in time for the wedding on Saturday. Fingers crossed! in the mean time, here are some photos of what has been taking up my bank holiday weekend…

Toile/lining of dress bodice. This has been rather hastily pinned together as its late and I wanted to see what it looked like. I also need to find the instructions – so have just sewn the darts and pinned on the straps. I think the neck line is looking good and the bust darts don’t look too bad either. Of course, once the circle skirt is added it will pull the whole thing downwards, which is not happening at the moment, especially at the back.

Photo on 25-05-2015 at 23.25 Photo on 25-05-2015 at 23.26

Then there is the quilt. At least it won’t be quite so messy to work with now the backing is on. I used a stitch in the ditch method to attach the binding to the back. Much easier then hand stitching nearly 10  meters worth of fabric.

P1050705 P1050706

Still got to sew those corners by hand, but otherwise looking fairly neat.

after adding up, its time to count down

After too many pieces to count, my larger then life (well, at least bigger than I ever originally envisaged) quilt is reaching fruition. It still need its binding, but that will only add a little bit to the edges. So the following photo is nearly its full size. It’s so big I’ve had to balance it on the coffee table. There is no way I have any floor space big enough to display this on.

Tomorrow will involve adding the binding, and getting a friend to help with the lovely task of sandwiching the batting and backing. There is no way I am doing this bit by myself! I’m also borrowing the same friend’s long arm machine for the quilting as my poor little Bernina (3/4 size) will most likely have heart failure if I tried to get it to cope with that much fabric.

The good news is that normal dress making will resume after this has been finished – I still need to make the dress I plan to wear to the wedding. The carpet everywhere round the house will breathe a sigh of relief at being spared the daily shower of fluff which has spread like confetti everywhere.


the numbers are adding up

I did a quick mental calculation today, after totting up the pieces in my quilt. There are over 300! I am feeling pretty pleased with how they are all finally coming together. There are still quite a few strips to sew in-between the block chains I have been making but you can see the final design. Unfortunately its so big it doesn’t all fit on the carpet!

Other numbers are coming together for me as well. After more than 6 months of spending 5 days a week exercising the tummy is finally beginning to knuckle under and it feels like all those hours are paying off. Credit to anyone trying to get fitter. Its really hard work! it has taken me away from my beloved sewing machine though, which can be a bit frustrating at times.

Anyway, here is a photo of what the quilt looks now (its missing another two strips at the side as I can’t fit them in) and I hope to get the final missing blocks added soon.


will I measure up?

So, having previously launched myself in to the latest new project of a king size quilt I am now busily counting up the cost of doing so. Thankfully the main fabric came gratis courtesy of a friend’s donation. but as it shrank after pre washing and I wanted a contrast fabric some further shopping was required.

It has snowballed from there. Due to the size of the (already pre cut when donated) fabric I’m having to piece together smaller bits to create enough 20cm blocks. But that has meant extra cutting out. Having nearly finished measuring up all the fabric I have bought (just got some last pieces to pre wash) it is apparent I am a little short of the plain cream calico I am using for the latticework. So, another trip back to the shop (the third!) is in order.

My nice and simple project (who am I deluding here?) has morphed in to over 230 pieces. I really need to stop thinking I can make a plain quilt. It just doesn’t appear to be in my nature…hopefully I have worked out the measurements ok and cut everything out accurately.

Anyway, here is a sneak peak at the design. It is going to have some blue squares for contrast added later but I still to cut that out. Suffice to say tomorrow will include a fair bit of sewing. I hope to also finish the shift dress as I have finally got the darts sorted.


it was bound to happen….

So I was on the home stretch for finishing the latest (little) dress. The large version still awaits the attentions of my housemate (need to pin her down….pun intended!). Somewhere in this house there is a bag, one of many, with the scraps left from cutting everything out. Where its got to I have no idea. So I had to go and buy some commercial bias binding to finish off the armholes instead of making my own as originally intended. But it still looks cute right? Its nearly even the exact shade….

P1050697 P1050698 P1050699

but this leaves a dangerous vacuum – because of course this is the sew where next blog right? and the next thing on the list is making a dress to attend a friend’s wedding. But that’s not ambitious enough in terms of keeping me busy. I am (am I a bit mad?) considering making a king size quilt as a wedding present. Nothing complicated, just squares. It’s going to be a whole lot of yardage. Note to sewing machine, holiday time is over.

darting to the finish line

Having had some able assistant from my pin wielding housemate I was able to confirm that adding some waist darts to my shift dress was going to help overcome the excess fabric ripples at the side and add some definition to the waist. Its one thing not to emphasise one’s tummy. Its another to add a significant expansion to it through lack of fit alone. What’s the point of working so hard to make customised clothing otherwise?

Given I had no photographer today (aforementioned housemate is not yet back) and wanting to make use of some natural daylight, here of some quick photos of the darts. I still need to adjust them a bit (with me wearing the dress (just wait tiil that housemate comes back!) but you can see a big improvement. It still retains the triangle pear shape I am looking for but with more shaping.

P1050691 P1050694

and yes, they still need pressing. Am off to one of my unfortunately regular exercise classes tonight so haven’t got much time.

saving the pennies, but not the hours

So, having discovered my current dress in progress requires some fitting work, I of course head straight towards another project I had already cut out (from leftovers from the same fabric) as after several long days at work (and no fitting buddy to hand) I just wanted something simple to work on.

Long term readers of this blog may recognise the pattern, New look 6879. Upon seeing how much of the border printer was left over (my dress required only one side to be used and not the full width) I could not resist finding another project. After some careful piecing together, not quite as the pattern pieces instruct for the skirt, it’s shaping up nicely. This is very much a work in progress photo, but it will give you an idea. Hemming the scalloped edge was a pain but it looks very pretty now.


piling on the pounds

So, in my last post I mentioned fabric shopping. The following occurred right at the end of my trip, which I knew was a risk having spent three weeks travelling round China. It’s not like I could go back anywhere and have another look! But, according to my trusty guide book, Shanghai was the place to shop, and their fabric market did no disappoint. Imagine three whole floors of fabric stalls. Bliss.

But also strangely hell. Because I only had a few hours in one afternoon and there was just SO MUCH. Think kid in a sweet shop with a blank cheque. So I was very focused and worked on getting different fabric types and being practical about what to do with it. Nothing quite like finding something beautiful, then without a pattern to hand, deciding how many meters you need. I managed to increase my backpack by 50% on the return journey home compared to the weight on the outbound flight!

Due to a flight cancellation I ended up with an extra shopping day (might as well make the most of it) and picked up some extra silk at the Beijing pearl market. They only had a few fabric stalls there but it was still nice stuff. But, what you no doubt wish to see by now is some actual pictures. So let me share the delights I found…

P1050681 P1050682

These are two cottons


Lightweight silk

P1050684                                                               Double sided cashmere and a very thick silk

The cottons will most likely be used for dresses, likewise the silks. I plan to use the cashmere in a reversible jacket.

Lastly, some fabric/costume related photos of my trip to give you a little feel of China.

this is what the local people wore in the mountains

this is what the local people wore in the mountains

I found this really funny, a lady in a beautiful wedding dress getting out of a transit van

I found this really funny, a lady in a beautiful wedding dress getting out of a transit van

embroidered silk

embroidered silk

embroidered silk

embroidered silk

embroidered silk (took 10 years to make)

embroidered silk (took 10 years to make)

silk worms

silk worms

traditional dress

traditional dress

shifting fabric

You may have noticed the lack of recent posts. I have been elsewhere, rather literally half way round the world. I spent three weeks in China and apart from packing some gorgeous fabrics in to my back pack on the return trip (photos to follow) I also have a head stuffed full of memories.

I can’t say its an easy country to visit (they have a very different diet, safety approach and culture) but I’m very glad I went and I learned a lot. Having returned to the world of brown bread, muesli and soft beds (all three were sadly missing during my adventures) I have been getting over the jet lag and reunited with my sewing machine.

Before I left I had started a sixties retro shift dress, which is from a lovely embroidery anglaise fabric. It took some time to figure out the best layout. I am still fretting about the fit as its not a style I am used to (when making my  previous shift dresses they were more fitted around the bust). So, here are some pictures…. P1050677 P1050678 P1050679 It will be lined later so its looking a little unfinished at the moment. It does have some rather odd pattern markings for the side seam, as illustrated here:


there’s no sugar coating this one

First of all, apologies for there being such a long gap between this post and the last one. It’s not that I have been lazing around, in fact the opposite is more the answer. My efforts to get my waist line back to my original starting point (when I first started dressmaking) have been taking up a rather depressing amount of time. It’s slowly paying off, but in the mean time it is hogging a lot of potential sewing time in terms of energy and opportunity.

I have also been rather foolish in my recent choice of projects. From one coat hang up (literally its on hold so I can be confident I won’t have any fitting problems later because of exercise impact related changes) I landed myself in yet another sticky situation. Literally. I’m sure by now you are thinking I am coating this a bit thick (pun intended). But I decided to make a nice “easy” (hahahaha how self deluded was I?) project and took out of my stash some laminated cotton and a raincoat pattern.

For this uninitiated to the joys of laminated fabric, please approach with a healthy sense of caution and self preservation. I have broken pins on it, struggled with top stitching as the sewing feet get stuck on the laminated side, struggled to ease in the sleeves (it has no stretch) and generally slowly grown to dislike the stuff. Oh, its also really hard to mark as you don’t want to leave holes, so there go the tailor tacks.

Glutton for punishment that I am, I decided to add my own lining to the body of the coat, which was interesting as it had a fold over facing (I just doubled everything up, sewed the two together then treated it as one layer) and had fun trying to hand sew when hemming the sleeves and making the patch pockets.

The result on the coat is a cute on, the impact on my temper less so! Here’s on I won’t be making again any time soon….this is Burda 9458. As usual for Burda the instructions are less then helpful but I do like their designs.

P1050437 P1050438

Now that the coat is finished I am working on my next project. I’m intending to make a corded skirt to act as scaffolding for a dress I intend to make later this year for when I go to a friend’s wedding. At the moment its not very exciting to look at and I am having fun (not) trying to design the thing, but hope to have some photos soon. Watch this space.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.