inching forwards – altering the fit

Today has been an interesting reminder in the importance of a well drafted pattern and the difference some time spent on fitting adjustments can make. But maybe some illustrations of the above will help explain what I am going on about….

I haven’t adjusted the neckline yet, as I wanted to check the effect of a minor alteration to the arm scythe would have. The bodice bottom has been shortened and shaped. The bottom side seams have been taken in slightly at the front bodice. The “tallest” dart has been reduced by 1cm, I think it still needs another cm.


still some wrinkling at the back



this bodice got altered the most, 3cm higher! its also more shaped too

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the back is looking pretty good

Neck(line) and neck(line)

It’s rained for a good part of the weekend. Amongst the necessary evils that must interrupt the pleasures of a long awaited weekend (its been a very busy week) some dressmaking was on the cards. Given both of the simplicity patterns (1803 & 2444) came with more ease than usual, and my experience with making my last dress, I decided to invest some more time, rather than my usual sew and fit approach.

The 1803 dress had the most ease and lots of people said it was too big when they made it in their usual size. So I went down a size at the waist. The other dress was made in my usual sizing. Here’s what they both look like so far! I’ve not made two dresses at the same time before so this is a new experience.

Some immediate thoughts. First, thank goodness I’m planning to line both of the dresses. Its not in the instructions but I think the fabric will hang much more smoothly for it. The amount of ease seams ok, I don’t think I would want to size down much more. I think the dart ending for 2444 needs to be lowed slightly.

Anyway, here’s what they look like so far…..1803

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and 2444

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with excess ease did I shift (this dress)

Ah yes, you may remember a while ago I was wrestling within the confines of a rather spacious dress. Billed as a shift dress by Simplicity, my first version resembled a wine bottle in terms of shaping and fit. Not a good look! the quilt project took over my entire sewing life, and pretty much swept everything else (literally dragged the thing across the floor everywhere) in to the corner.

Having finished the quilt it was time to lavish some TLC (and some major narrowing) on the waistline in order to actually indicate I have one. I have not spent 8 months exercising to make it look in one fell swoop like I have done absolutely nothing at all. Two waist darts later, and some careful pinching out at the side seams, we still have the shift dress shape, but one which is, dare I say, much more becoming.

The finish line was further delayed by having to undertake a fair amount of hand sewing (how an earth did I end up doing more of that voluntarily?) in order to hem the scalloped edge and finish off the armholes with bias binding. A must given my lack of facing as I had opted for a full lining. Given how the dress feels, with plenty of structure and a nice drape, its been worth the effort.

You are lucky to be seeing photos today, courtesy of my next door neighbour, as the resident photographer (literally so, as she is my housemate) is currently away.

Fear not, my sewing machine will not remain idle for long. The chair from which I write is currently surrounded by the tissue paper pieces of not one, but two, new dress projects. The fabric from China won the battle for domination amongst the stash and I intend to make Simplicity 1803 and 2444. I’ll be using the paisley type fabric. More to follow soon!

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back to square one


I’ve had a break from it all. Work, phone calls, the quilt. All swapped for a lovely week in France spent eating amazing food and walking in beautiful countryside. The idea was, after some very hectic months of late, to renew my energy levels and regain some zest. As the edges of me, if you will pardon the pun, were looking a little ragged at the seams.

Suffice to say it must have helped as on my first day back after returning I found myself up nice and early cleaning the bathroom, the kitchen and even did some hoovering. On a day off for me to actively choose this ahead of anything else is rather unusual to say the least! I have also found the motivation to give one last push at the quilt. You’ll be both pleased and relieved to hear IT IS DONE. Yes, there will be no more posts about quilts for a good while. I have well and truly got it out of my system for the moment.

Looking at the end result, it’s not perfect. There are areas where the tension during the quilting process didn’t quite work. I have no walking foot and for my poor Bernina it would be a rather costly process to get one. Who knows, something I may purchase in future but not right now. I now know why even experienced quilters don’t normally make quilts of this size. It is physically demanding to handle that much fabric. I also know why they don’t use home decoration fabric. It makes it even heavier!

On the plus side, I defy anyone to feel cold underneath this thing, or for it to fall off your bed. I doubt you would feel a draft either. In that respect I think I have made something more suited to chilly victorian bedrooms then the modern day equivalents. There is one final finishing touch to admire (or should I say shake your head over). Not content with the machine quilting, I decided it would be nice (feel free to substitute this word with other less favourable descriptives regarding my thinking) to hand quilt all the blue contrasting squares. Because I didn’t want white to go over them, the thought of moving all that fabric through the machine after changing to blue thread did not appeal, and it would make the squares stand out more.

Twenty squares later I have discovered I am not good at working out a straight line by eye and my hand quilting skills aren’t all that great. But hey, I did some hand quilting! the lady who avoids hand sewing when ever I can. What ever has got in to me?

I now need to finish off my terracotta orange shift dress which has been sadly languishing on a chair making distressed neglected noises at me whenever I have walked past. Then to decide what to sew next. Any thoughts? should I break in to the China fabric stash maybe?


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distress call from a drowning sewing machine

Mayday, mayday, can anyone hear me? I am a three quarter size minimatic sewing machine and am in severe distress. I am currently labouring under over 5 square meters of fabric, destination unknown. Conditions are fierce, I was never built for these kind of yardages and am battling to move forwards.

My mistress at the helm has taken the bizarre notion to quilt a king size monster and the weight is killing me! I am steadily ploughing in a straight line but every time the end appears in sight there is another line to follow. According to the latest calculations there are over 50 of these wretched paths to complete before the all clear can be given.

As soon as i can get a signal to the society for the prevention of sewing machine cruelty I will be filing a report with immediate effect. I need to return to my designated role of clothing specialist instead of this quilting nonsense. Leave that to the long arms, that’s what they are designed for, not poor mini me.

I’ve not even been given a walking foot to help tackle the different streams of fabric, which toss and turn my stitches and needle. I guess I’m out of date, those new fangled feet weren’t meant for the likes of my good self and won’t meld as one.

I have been a devoted servant to the dreams and ambitions of she who commands me, but this is truly undeserved. I will battle on to the bitter end but enough is enough. Never again shall I be made to work on a King. A regular double is good enough and more suited to my talents.I shall rest my weary cogs tonight, and gather my electric spark for the coming days ahead. Keep me in your thoughts and wish me good luck. I shall need it……….

Signing off, model 707 (returning to radio silence)

maxing out the sewing machine whilst having a mini panic

You may have noticed a ringing silence echoing within the confines of this blog. My last news was about rushing through my ridiculously self imposed list of projects in time for my friend’s wedding. Having literally just made it with 5 minutes to spare to get dressed for the actual event (my eyes swept over the necklace selection without any time to even choose anything) I can safely say I couldn’t have cut it any closer.

My dress (vogue 2902) was just about done, but was worn with tailor tacks still inside the bodice lining and my attention throughout the day was snagged on bits of thread I hadn’t spotted earlier which needed trimming. In the end I made it in 4 and a bit days. Not bad! I have since subsequently tidied things up a bit by lowering the bodice darts by 1.5cm and I still need to add the waist stay and a hook and eye at the underarm by the zip. But I am very happy with my border print creation.

The fabric was so cute I have even made a mini version with the scraps to create a halter neck dress for my friend’s little girl (Newlook 6387) which was a nice therapeutic experience after wrestling with 2 circle skirts and the quilt.

Ah yes, that quilt…it remains un quilted as there was no way on earth that I was going to finish both the dress and the quilting at the same time. My friend did get to see it and I plan to start quilting it shortly. Given that she’s about to embark on her honey moon I have some time fortunately.

Its safe to say I have now got the vogue dress pattern out of my system and would recommend finding another way to make the bodice contrast band as the stitching by hand recommended dosnt sound very strong. I machine stitched the facing on the inside of then bodice and did my best to slip stitch the outside as neatly as possible. I was up until 2am on the day of the wedding to make sure this got finished.

So, here are the pictures of the dress, and the mini version to go with it.

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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.

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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.

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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.



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