skirting round the issue of time spent versus fabric saved

Apart from the fact that if you paid for the hours I spent “saving” left over fabric from oblivion any economist would be justly horrified the latest project has been a good investment of time.

Things learned: how to use grosgrain ribbon as a waist finishing. Worked well. Used corduroy for the first time too. Did my second ever standard zip (as opposed to my usual invisible) by accident. MUST learn to check before purchasing, as this is the second time that’s happened. Second ever project using colour blocking.

The side panels were the trickiest to insert, and a bit of seam ripping was required here. In fact, I managed to break my (sniff, original with my 1960’s Bernina machine) stitch ripper. Corduroy is hard work to seam rip! The top stitching did take a while to do, but does add a nice flat finish.

I had intended to add a lining. But then acetate is dry clean only, and would also equal double the time required to finish. The above mentioned economist would be having a heart attack by this stage if I continued.

All in all, love the curvy lines, and after taking in at the side seams by about half an inch from the hips down (originally chose a size 16 based on my measurements), a small half moon wedge out of side seams of the back yoke (to make the zip life flat) and adding 2cm to the length I think its a pretty good fit if I may say so!

front 0 the fabric is a moss coloured green, it hasn't come out massively well but that's the best lighting I can get!

front 0f the fabric is a moss coloured green, it hasn’t come out massively well but that’s the best lighting I can get!

back - dont know what happened to the lighting here, but the green in the other picture is a more accurate reflection of the colour

back – dont know what happened to the lighting here, but the green in the other picture is a more accurate reflection of the colour


and finally some photos of me wearing the skirt…

Photo on 2013-03-30 at 23.02 Photo on 2013-03-30 at 23.02 #2 Photo on 2013-03-30 at 23.02 #3


attempts at thrift(less)ness

It all started so well. I was cutting out the fabric for my friend’s dress (future project) and mini version for her baby daughter. All went well with sorting out the pattern pieces until I discovered a few problems. The lining didnt have enough fabric for the baby dress skirt and the main fashion fabric had way too much. Much to my annoyance, as I had feared this would be the case when buying it in the shop, but deferred to the sales assistant.

I hate wasting fabric. So I thought what could I do with the leftover fabric? I thought I could make a colour blocked skirt, by buying another piece of fabric for the perfect pattern V8750

Off I went to the fabric shop. Extra lining for baby dress, tick, pattern for skirt, tick, extra fabric for skirt, tick, lining for skirt, tick. Sales lady said she thought I would need 75cm for the skirt. Pretty much the same amount as making the entire skirt without my leftover fabric added! So I thought, lets combine the new fabric with some other fabric I’ve got to make a second colour blocked skirt (and the other pattern option as there are two).

Before you can blink, I’ve spent £25, and am cutting out fabric for four projects. I dont want to have any leftover fabric again soon. Its quite an expensive experience – mustn’t focus on how much extra work I’ve just signed myself up to either…..

BUT this is what’s left of the original leftover fabric, so mission accomplished there!

P1040115 P1040116

Tying it all together, a new theme is born

So last night I’m looking over other people’s portfolios to see how they are progressing, and seriously telling myself I have to get a move on getting mine more in order. It doesn’t help that I don’t have much artistic talent or an eye for these things (not feeling sorry for myself, just stating a fact!). But it was hard to refrain from feeling just a tiny bit jealous of how nice some of the work looked.

But lets be honest. My hand writing will never be anything other than a notation and prompting aid for my own use. A computer and printer is a must! I also wanted to have a theme to help tie in all of the stuff we have to do on the course in a fun way. I decided I should get myself more in character, and pretend to be a Dior inspired customer. Not one who could afford an original piece, but someone who could go and get a copy made. This would of course entail a journey of consideration to decide on the perfect design (which I also have to do, happy coincidence!) and also hopefully help inspire me to look at things with a fresh pair of eyes.

So here is the intro, without further ado:


My name is Lady Cynthia Amberley, and I live in London. I’ve just finished my final year at the Institute Villa Pierrefeu in Switzerland. It is a finishing school to help me learn the final social touches before making a good match. My parents expect me to find someone of a similar social standing (with regards to income and title) and of course I shall do my best to fulfil their wishes in this.

The last years have not been easy, what with all the rebuilding after the war. I know so many poor women had to work and contribute to the war efforts, but they don’t have to any more, and can enjoy the comforts of family and home once more.

I feel I can finally focus on enjoying myself a bit more. I have not had the opportunity to indulge my passion for fashion and new clothes, what with the rationing system so only recently being finally finished. But now that’s all by the by, my parents have said I can go shopping for a new dress!

I hardly know where to start, but must confess one designer in particular has inspired me. His name is Christian Dior, and he is all the rage in France right now. Alas, I cannot possibly persuede my father to agree to buy me an actual original Dior dress, but I can find something I really love and have a copy custom made for the perfect fit. I’ll have to choose fabric, design, decoration and colour…..

There’s so many social events in my diary, I better get started! I will need to draw on all my recent fashion know how to help me get the best possible outcome.

I recently went on a family holiday to Venice – I must consider the lace I saw there. Oh, and not forgetting the beautiful Murano beads either. Or maybe I should choose something with embroidery instead? Decisions, decisions….

One thing I know for certain, I’ll need to get some measurements taken so the seamstresses can draft my dress for me and ensure a good fit.

So, let me make a list to help me organise myself.

A look at different types of embroidery, lace and beading to see if any in particular catches my eye. I’ll need to see some samples of course.
Have my measurements taken and get some basic options made up for a skirt, easy and close fitting bodice (more likely to be close fitted, but capes are coming in to fashion) and of course ensure the sleeves fit me too.
I may well go for something with lots of draping. So worth investigating that possibility too….
Familiarise myself with all of the many style options. Due to fabric rationing I really haven’t been able to consider many different choices until now, so this is quite exciting!
But of course I must not forget the finer details which take the overall look from mundane to amazing. So a consideration of hems, buttons and decorative finishes (amongst many others) is a must.

I do appreciate not all of you dear readers may be as familiar with all of these discriptions as I am. Fear not! If you would like more information about a particular technique or process, I shall ensure further details are available each step of the way.

and finally some pictures of the portfolio in process. Note it needs a LOT more work before its done!


















how not to get your knickers in a twist

A while ago I had this great idea. Lets use up a small piece of left over fabric from another project for something quick and easy. Famous last words. I like to think myself usually quite a good judge of what I can get away with when substituting pattern envelope recommended fabric. Alas this time I almost bit off more than I could chew (or should I say stitch?).

I already had a pattern from making a slip which had a knicker option (Kwik sew 2467). In my initial assessment the pattern looked rather accommodating to say the least. I thought I could substitute the suggested stretch knit with a silk cotton blend. Please, do not try this at home….

I happily stitched up the pattern, adding the elastic at the waist. I then tried them on for size. One problem. Could not get them past my hips. Guess that’s what the “stretch” is needed for.

After consultation with a few fellow sewers, I decided to add stretch lace side panels. Call them a design feature. The project fell by the wayside as I had other more urgent projects pleading for my attention.

But, at last, a free Sunday. They are now finished, and I can just squeeze them over the hips. Even better. They fit!

The following photos are of me in tights for modesty reasons.





side view

side view

Can I cut it?…

Time to sharpen the scissors of motivation

Time to sharpen the scissors of motivation

I must confess yesterday after investing a good amount of time last week in putting together the beginnings of a portfolio of inspiration and samples for my course (see the course notes page for more photos), I had a moment of wondering if I was “cut out” for this course.

I’m keen to improve on what I achieved with my last dressmaking course, and have tried to up the ante, as they say, this time round. Part of my difficulty in assessing how I’m doing is that I haven’t actually seen what the work of a level 3 city and guilds student should look like. I am also more of a practical dressmaker, than a fashion student. This course contains a lot more fashion than I’ve ever done previously.

So, after getting some feedback from my tutor I was left wondering if I was up to scratch. It’s not that anything was specifically mentioned as being in need of serious attention. Its more I find it hard to tell if I am on track.

After some thoughts on what I want to get out of this all, I’ve decided I should judge whether or not I’ve kept learning and to apply it (or not, if I so prefer!) to future projects.

This opportunity may come along sooner than originally intended. After some discussion with my sister, I have decided to make Vogue 2902 as the dress to her wedding. I am going to (if all goes according to plan) add a lace over layer to the bodice and hem. Wish me luck. Fortunately, this is not required until later in the year when I will have finished the course, giving me a lot more time to perfect and finish it.

get the picture? all seams finished (at least for this sample)

My course requires a sample of seam finishes. I decided to go the whole hog, and did 12. So here is: overlocked, hand overcast, zig zag, self bound, bound (shop bought and hand made bias) turned over edge, pinked – can you spot the ones I haven’t mentioned?….

In keeping with the Dior theme, the idea is that the eye focuses and is “framed” by the work. Also, just having strips of seam finishes is a bit, well, dull.

not sure how many of these will feature regularly in my sewing life but at least I have a sample of them now!

not sure how many of these will feature regularly in my sewing life but at least I have a sample of them now!