its pants – they dont fit

I won’t spend too long explaining my rational. I thought I could use a silk cotton mix fabric for some knickers which called for tricot. I thought the pattern pieces were huge and I could get away with it.

Unfortunately it is a battle to get them past my hips. Once there it becomes apparent why the pattern requires tricot. Don’t worry, you wont be seeing a picture of me wearing this debacle. Instead, here they are – the non functional knickers in question:

From now on jersey rules in knicker world.


I just could not walk away (from Butterick 4790)

My local dressmaking shop was having a vogue pattern sale. My eye alighted once more on this pattern which I had seen made a number of times before on pattern review. I snapped it up. I later learn it has been nicknamed the walkaway dress because of how quick it is to make.

Fast forward a few weeks to the current day. My housemate, initially enthusiastic about making this for herself for a fifties day is getting cold feet. Convinced it will take too much work to get done in time. I thought as she has a few weeks I might encourage her to reconsider if I made it myself.

Much to my annoyance I made a mistake when cutting out the first pattern piece. The MASSIVE skirt. I normally ignore the suggested layout and figure out the most economical way of doing it myself. I usually pin everything out, but the skirt was so big I didnt bother this time to add the other pieces. I quickly realised I should have. Long story short, the back is not cut on the fold. It’s been joined together with a neat seam.

I took some advice from another sewer online who said you should reduce the curve for the back where it fastens together at the front, so its sits more snugly under your bust. Several people said in their reviews this should fit closely in order to get the dress to hang properly, otherwise it has a tendency to slide backwards. So I made the back a flat 14 instead of my usual 16, and the front a 14 and a quarter. Seeing as the 14 should still have given me an inch of ease I thought this should be fine.

The results. An inch ease? hah! it is very close fitting indeed. I shall be making loops for the front button holes and shudder at the thought of using the suggested snaps. I would have a wardrobe malfunction the moment I sit down.

The shoulders seem a bit roomy. I might go down a size here. Here’s a photo of me holding it all together. The all important question though is, have I convinced my housemate to make it??

its show (the skirt) time

ok, my housemate is back and I have some photos of the dress on me. Please indulge the following twirls of happiness. I feel otherwise this dress does not get the coverage it deserves!

the whole nine yards (yes, the hem is done)

ok, Vogue 8743 is officially finished. Alas, my usual photographer is away for the next day so you dont get to see me in it just yet. My dress is on my dress form instead.

The whole nine yard comment is not just a comment on finishing. It did actually take that much hemming. Each hem is nearly 5 meters long (it took that much bias tape so I know its this length) and was a pain to get level. It is now level, thanks to to the aid of my phone on a pile of placemats on a chair to check the length. Plus the bias tape added to give additional flair help even out the wobbly bits. Not my neatest finish from the inside but it works.

Do NOT attempt this pattern if you have just started sewing. You will find it a frustrating experience. However, it is a very pretty overall effect. Quite fifties and very girly. So in that respect rather overlooked in my opinion.

As always, the photos tell the full story.

sitting pretty – a small preview

I now have the oh so lovely joyful remaining task of hemming of vogue 8743. There is no way on earth I am doing this by hand. I’m off to purchase some bias tape tomorrow to aid me in creating an even fluffier skirt. The lining has helped create a fuller look, hopefully the bias tape will give an extra edge (pun intended).

In the mean time it fits (yay) it looks quite fifties (hooray) and apart from discovering linen rips easily when unpicking causing holes (boo) it has been a pretty good experience overall.

So, here’s a picture to give you an idea of the nearly finished project. Yes, I am officially a bit mad for making a linen dress in the dying rays of summer. But it will be ready for next year!

plain sailing after initially drowning (in fabric)

Dear Vogue. Please remember although the 8743 pattern may be rated very easy to sew, your average beginner sewer may not relish the experience of first placing the pieces for this dress on to over 3 meters worth of fabric, and then cutting it out.

Suffice to say despite extending my drop leaf table out to full capacity it was still a major undertaking. I have never worked with so much fabric and such big pattern pieces. I guess attaching the bodice pieces to the godet skirt sections reduces the total number you need to cut out in total, but it makes placing a total pain. Specially when your linen fabric, and cotton line shrinks (as it normally does) from the 1 meter 50 you bought it in to something just too narrow to follow the pattern layout.

I am NOT (throws hissy fit) going to follow the single layer layout suggested for the 1 meter 15 width. Anyway, that experience is now behind me, the dress is magnificently easy to sew. Long nice seams, princess shaped bust and back. One simple box pleat, and the most twirliest skirt (ok, I made up that word) I have sewn ever.

In order to maintain a surprise for the full effect, you are only going to get a glimpse of the just cut out lining pieces. More photos to come once further progress has been made!

the 4 HUGE pattern pieces.

gathering my courage to visit jersey once more

I’ve made 3 things so far in jersey. Knickers, a dressing gown and t-shirt. The knickers were a nice easy project, the dressing gown was a “challenge” when adding a zip closure and the t-shirt was one of my few failures in terms of getting the fit right.

The following dress has helped restore some of interest in jersey fabric, and it is a lovely design too. Welcome to Vogue 8728, a vintage style dress but in jersey you can skip the zip if you have enough stretch. It required a fair bit of gathering, but was well worth it.

So, without further ado, here it is. Alas the weather is turning quite autumnal so this may be waiting in the closet until next year before it gets much wear.

Note to self. Do not just check front image in mirror before taking photos. Also check back as well. Ah well…

taking things to another level – the course starts once more!

the start of a very long path! I wonder how many steps there will be…

For those who have been reading my earlier posts, you will know I have signed up to the level 3 city and guilds course. Today was my first class. Consider it a combination of anticipation and “what an earth am a letting myself in for???”

It is going to be hard work. Ten additional full day Saturdays on top of the existing Monday evening schedule until July next year. Lots more new samples to create. A theme to pick for the rest of the course. An entire dress to design – that means first creating a block pattern.

Lets just say I am a little bit nervous right now. I am sure once I get in the swing of things I will feel a bit more confident. The good news is that whilst I dont know my exact grade yet the tutor said I have done more that just pass the level 2 city and guilds course I finished a month ago.

Wish me luck!

the transformation is complete – the table cloth has been officially shifted

I’ve now hemmed my shift dress and it is now complete. Unfortunately tomorrow looks like it will be too cool temperature wise to take it out in to the big wide world. It will have to wait until Saturday to greet the anticipated sunshine.

In the mean time I shall console myself with the happy contemplation of a successful project. There are a couple of seams which still need zig zag work, but they can wait a few days. I need a break! But before then, one last twirl.

sixties shift dress: the tablecloth project

Have you ever seen a random piece of fabric, and instantly thought – I know what I’m doing with that? Last year I was at a vintage fair. Apart from picking up some bargain vintage patterns (less than £1 each!) I also spotted a sixties table cloth. Oddly enough I had just recently picked up the simplicity 3833 shift dress pattern. Instantly I was convinced this was the fabric to go with it.

The lady who sold it to me for a bargain £10 told me she thought it was doable, having made the pattern herself a number of times. Alas, other projects took priority and off went my table cloth in to a drawer to slumber of future glories.

Fast forward to the dying days of August. Having just completed the rather intense and time consuming jacket I was in the mood for something quicker and easier. Out came the table cloth. Now, let me say I have never used a border print fabric. I also didnt have much spare fabric to play with. To give you an idea of HOW little spare fabric please admire my very carefully placed pattern pieces below.

It took several hours to figure out how to best display the lovely border to best advantage. At the risk of sounding horribly smug, I am very pleased indeed with the result. It has worked out perfectly. I cant believe quite how little spare I had left over after the cutting out, and have had just enough hem allowance at the bottom.

Speaking of hems, this dress still needs hemming, but everything else is done. I have had to zig zag the seams everywhere as this fabric ravels horribly. I have also added a full lining, which has been well worth it. So, on with the photos. When finished I’ll get some better ones in daylight.