Posts tagged dressmaking

All signed-up for September!

I’ve finally got myself into gear and enrolled myself on my next dressmaking course.  This year I’m going to do OCN Level 2 (well I have done Level 1 for the last two years so it’s probably time I moved on!).  These classes have given me so much confidence in my sewing and I’ve met so many lovely people – I would recommend it to anyone.

Babs our tutor had hoped to run a City & Guilds course in Pattern Cutting this year.  Now that’s something I’d really like to get into!  I love the idea of being able to create something from scratch without using a commercial pattern – currently I wouldn’t know where to start.  Unfortunately though, the college wouldn’t give her the go-ahead to run the course which is a shame.

Well, on to non-sewing related things – it looks like Poppy the cat wants to be fed.  She’s just stomped all over the computer keyboard in a very indignant fashion!  I’m guessing I’ll have no peace until I put some biscuits in her dish ….


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Summer makes

Well I’ve been fairly productive over the last few weeks.  I’ve completed four (yes count them!) projects!  That’s got to be a record for me.

The first one is this rather snazzy (imho) waistcoat for Jamie’s prom.

The story goes like this….

Jamie really wanted a red waistcoat.  We hunted all the usual shops (River Island, M&S etc) but all we could find were black or grey.  Then we tried a wedding outfitters.  Lots of lovely red waistcoats there but they wanted – wait for it – £60!!  Neither of us could justify paying that sort of money for something he’s likely only to wear once.

So, to cut a short story short, Jamie suggested that the lovely red fabric I’d picked up on sale in Lee Mill a few weeks earlier would make a very nice waistcoat.  I used Simplicity 4762 – a lovely easy pattern which also included matching tie.  


Next up was this little shirred top for Chloe.


(unfortunately, I couldn’t zoom in any closer or you would have seen the lasagne stain on the front after a rather pleasant lunch in Narbeth)

I didn’t use a pattern for this.  I simply measured her chest and multiplied by 1.5.  Then, I stitched the side seam to form a tube and finished the top and bottom hems using the rolled-hem function on the overlocker.  Using a long stitch and firmly-wound shirring elastic in the bobbin, on the wrong side of the fabric, I stitched corkscrew style until I reached the desired depth of shirring.  For security I added a little halter tie, but it could quite easily be worn without (by the way, the fabric is the pink Laura Ashley I picked up for a snip in Butterfly Fabrics).

My last two projects don’t have pictures yet.  I’ll keep them for my next post.

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Previous project

This is the project that really kicked off my passion for sewing!  Previously, I’d made the odd dressing gown or pair of shorts (not particularly successfully) but had never felt really inspired.  Then, last year, I realised that Chloe was going to need a dress for her “End of Primary School Prom”.  I really didn’t want to pay silly money for a dress she’d only wear once but I did really want her to have something nice to wear.

So – I enrolled myself on an evening class and set to work!  It took me months to make and was literally putting the finishing touches to it the night before but I was quite happy with the result.

Chloe chose both the fabric and the pattern (with a little steering from mum – tried to keep her away from the really complicated patterns) and was really happy with the result too.

We used McCall’s M4765, which is actually a skirt and a choice of two tops – Chloe chose the version with cap sleeves.  She chose a lovely lilac coloured polyester satin, which went beautifully with her fair colouring.  To add a little detail to the top I layered some lilac coloured sequinned netting over the front and back centre panels.  I had a enough left over to make her a simple little stole too! (I didn’t use the pattern for that – I just squared off the edges of the fabric and finished them with the rolled-hem feature on the overlocker [serger]).

(Daddy took the photographs – a bit of a family event in the end!)

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I really love a good book ….

I bought a fab sewing book this week.  It’s called “The Sewing Book” by Alison Smith and I think it’s really going to get a lot of use!See full size image



It’s got lovely step-by-step instructions on how to do practically anything sewing-related.  Each step comes with its own colour photograph so you can see exactly what you should be doing.  It also explains the properties of different types of fabric which I find really useful (I don’t know about you but I still don’t know my chambray from my chenille!). 

It also has a “Project” section at the back ~ and one of the projects shows you how to draft a simple kimono pattern.  Looking at the instructions I think I may be able to adapt the pattern to create the jacket for the Welsh costume (see last post).  I’ve never tried drafting my own pattern before so that should be interesting!

I can say only one negative thing ~ and it has nothing to do with the book really ~ I bought my copy in Borders because Nat gave me a £10 voucher to say thank you for making the curtains.  The book was £25 so I put £15 of my own money to it (little maths lesson there).  I’ve just looked on the web for a picture of the book to post here and I’ve discovered that the Book People are selling it for £8.99!  What did my mum always say “Act in haste, repent at leisure”?  Oh well, I still really like my book …..

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I think I must be mad …

Honestly, why do I put myself up for these things??

For those of you who don’t live in Wales, we have just celebrated St David’s Day.  If, like me you work in a primary school, that means Welsh Dragon pictures everywhere, leeks, cawl (lamb & vegetable soup) for dinner, Eisteddfods (song, poetry & dance competitions) and, most importantly, little girls dressed in Welsh costumes.

Chloe in Welsh Costume around 2002

Chloe in Welsh Costume around 2002

A few of the teachers mentioned that they’d like to dress up on the day too but adult costumes can’t be bought “off the peg” and cost upwards of £150 to have made specially.  So of course I said “I’ll make some ready for next year for you”.  Nice idea but where on earth am I going to get a pattern???
After a lot of fruitless searching of pattern catalogues I decided to get some proper advice.  I emailed St Fagins, National Museum of Welsh Life who suggested I contact The National Wool Museum in Drefach-Felindre.  Apparently they make the traditional fabric there and also “made to order” costumes so they may be able to help with a pattern. 
I also emailed “Sewing World” magazine.  Julie Bonnar, the Assistant Editor, got straight back to me with suggestions of patterns I could adapt.  Many thanks Julie!  And of course Babs, my lovely tutor, had lots of good ideas too – she suggested using a simple kimono pattern and adapting that to suit. 
I’ve now got about 11 months to work on this project ~ I’ll keep you posted.

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Curtain pics

Well, those curtains are up and not lookin’ bad even if I do say so myself.  Nat was really pleased with them and so were the children.  As you can probably see from the photos it’s not a Post Office any more – I’m guessing it’s a vet’s surgery at the moment ……

Ooh, I almost forgot!  I finished my pinafore on Wednesday night.  I was really pleased with the finished result (that’s got to be a first!) and I wore it to work on Thursday.  I got some very positive comments and a couple of the girls even suggested I make some for them!  I’ll get Kev to take some pictures and get them posted.

Before I start on a new project I’m going try and finish off a couple of things I’ve already started.  My velvet skirt just needs hemming so that shouldn’t take long, but the velvet corset top – that’s a different matter altogether (do I have a velvet fixation?  I think I probably do..).  It’s been thrown in a bag, half finished, for the best part of a year now.  I’d really like to get it finished as it’s such a pretty design, but it’s just soooo difficult!  I’ll take some pics of that too so that I can show you.

Ah well, too tired to sew tonight.  Think I’ll go and settle with that coffee that Kev has just made me …… 🙂

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Even husbands have clever ideas sometimes …

I’ve lost my full-length mirror.

Well, not “lost” in the true sense of the word.  It didn’t fall out of my pocket whilst I was walking down the street (I think I would probably have noticed).  No,  I mean lost as in “don’t have it any more”.  It was bolted to our “middle room” door and, whilst the door was really ugly, the mirror was really handy to check the progress of my sewing projects.

A couple of weeks ago we changed all the doors in the house – the house is about 120 years old and has needed an awful lot of work (and still does).  Unfortunately the doors weren’t 120 years old, they were more cheap 1970’s ply painted a rather grim green.  So out they went along with my mirror.

Now, until I buy a new mirror, how do I check how my garment looks on?  This is where Kevin has a stroke of genius!  “Why don’t I photograph you wearing the dress and you can examine it on the pc?”.  Fab idea 🙂

He took full length shots from front, back and sides and then close-ups of any areas I had doubts about.  In many ways it was better than a mirror because how many of us can see how something sits on the back of our own neck?

I can see what needs tweaking and refer back to the pic whenever I need to. 

Actually, maybe I won’t buy a mirror after all ……..

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