simplicity 2444 Sew Dolly Clackett

Happy Ever After dress: Sew Dolly Clackett

This is the story behind my “Sew Dolly Clackett dress”.  The mind bending journey.  Join me if you dare ….

simplicity 2444

I love me a pretty frock. I love being delighted with Roisin’s latest inspiration as she sews herself a beautiful frock mountain. It has been said more than once before that people who sew are lured by the attraction of a pretty frock, which often as not (except if you are Roisin) gets brought out for a few occasions in the summer if you are lucky, & if you are like me, you might create occasions just so that you can wear your dresses!? . When fabric shopping there are a few practical sewsters who check out the solid coloured fabrics, but it’s the prints that get us going, right? And the truth is that most of us sewsters love what you can do with a perfectly patterned fabric – and it usually means it’s got to be a dress.

simplicity 2444
Only once we have accumulated a number of pretty dresses do we recognise the other truth – the icing versus cake debate- & decide that if we do want to develop a hand-made wardrobe, and unless we can build frock wearing more into daily life, then the time comes when separates & knits become the epiphany of your sewing experience – and then comes the “capsule wardrobe” quest! I recognise my journey here & I suspect that it might ring true for some others out there.
So I have been sewing a handmade wardrobe – I only tend to wear RTW sportswear – & even that is being overtaken with my Fehr Trade makes. I have a practical balance of tops, knits, blouses, trousers, skirts & some knit dresses that are easy to care for, require minimum ironing (because I only seem to use my iron for construction!). They  just about all fall within my chosen colour palette: reds, turquoise, purples, greys & a bit of black. OK, I have tried to give most of them a *badger twist* with some interesting detailing that makes them unique – ric rac my first port of call, of course. But, still, how very organised & *practical*.
I’ve just about got there now though. And my inner diva has come back from her sojourn in the tropics. It’s time for pattern! Its time for frivolity! It’s time for some awesome frocks that beg random passers by to pour compliments at one’s feet – or at least look on enviously.
People – The frock – is- back.

simplicity 2444
I have all sorts of excuses for breathing life back into my frock-wearing existence- as well as the Vintage Pattern Challenge we have until tomorrow (!)  to contribute to the global sewing phenomenon that is Sew Dolly Clackett, organised by Sarah at Rhinestones & Telephones so that Roisin’s sewing friends pay tribute to her forthcoming marriage to her mister. This has to be the most perfect collaboration ever. Such an immense idea.

simplicity 2444
There are already a fair few “SewDollyClackett” dresses in evidence, check out Flickr here.
Now Roisin has a signature style – very much in the vintage camp – often full skirted dresses with sleeveless or short sleeved bodices, sometimes a wiggle dress & even an occasional Anna dress at maxi length. She has a fondness for retro inspired prints, gingham, & bold unpredictable prints also. I must say that I had a few choices of suitable fabric in my stash & was leaning towards either a knee length Anna dress or Simplicity 2444. But which fabric? I gave myself a few walks to work in the morning just trying to work it through.

tulip fabric(The colours in this photo are pretty true to life btw- unusually!)
In the end the lightbulb illuminated my vision – I had bought some tulip fabric last year as a result of a link Roisin used for an online shop I hadn’t seen before – Fabric Inspirations. And how. (What a great shop – reasonable postage & a great selection of fabric).  I was modest & made it out with just this tulip fabric, although could so easily have bought more.  But do you know what?  I never fully appreciated how absolutely fabulous this fabric was – clearly I thought it was pretty awesome to be lured into buying it – & out of all of the fabrics on sale, this was the one that I chose.  BUT it wasn’t until I had made it up & was wearing it that I was totally smitten.  This fabric is just beautiful – it’s soft to sew with (not a starchy craft type cotton) but that pattern is queen of red florals.  Official.
But, let’s get back to the shaggy dog story about this frock!  Folks, you wouldn’t believe what a relief it was to have finally made my decision & how difficult it had been! How ridiculous is that?! So the cutting out & sewing was straight forward by comparison.
I had already made Simplicity 2444  (here & here )& so had just about got the fit right on the bodice/ neckline – both front & back. If anything this time I was a bit over exuberant in taking out my customary centre wedges & could almost feel as if my boobs have been bound into *boy shape* torso, but mind over matter & it’s just *snug* (& maybe suitable for running?!?!).

simplicity 2444
The invisible zip was a veritable pain in the bum too. It seems as if invisible zips either work first time or it takes at least three unpickings later to get the alignment at waist seam correct. And I basted & it still slips. Mega frustrating that the zip can often take longer than constructing the bodice and setting in both sleeves. It’s still a very obvious to me 2mm out!
I have to say that for the skirt I just used rectangles & pleated them, not having enough fabric to use the shaped skirt pieces of Simplicity 2444. That meant I had to set my own pleats & by making the skirt out of a rectangle there is more volume at the waist than the pattern pieces. (OK, I did have enough fabric to use the pattern pieces then, didn’t I? ). I sat pleating my dress whilst watching the London marathon on the TV. It was brilliant coverage anyway & I was there thinking how cool it would be do be there & in it, knowing of a few people who were doing just that. Even that was pretty emotional, but then all the stories of participants who were sharing the personal reasons they were running got to me & there were a couple of instances where I had to stop pinning & measuring because the eyes were just a tad waterlogged. Oh my. What amazing things people do.

simplicity 2444

 

Look at the infant wisteria!  It’s in its first year & is producing blooms – my parents are so  enjoying it!
Other influences for this dress clearly come through MadMen which I am watching from the start. I don’t get the fancy channels so have never been able to watch more than the first two series, so treated myself to the box set of the first six and have been known to be all aswoon in the evenings – whether it is the dresses – or that oh-so-handsome Mr Draper. And random smile – I am loving the food styling – all the meals that are brought look exactly like the photos in style (& colour) as my first hand-me down cookery book from the 60s – Marguerite Patten’s.  Also, how weird that when I was sewing it there were times I felt I should have a fag in my hand (& I’ve never been a smoker!).

Now, I like to try to add a little bit of a scruffy badger touch when I’m taking part in something like this.  I looked for a cute redhead bobbed wig, but couldn’t find anything that was  in the right kind of styling.  I got my very willing Dad to take my photos with his super camera (thanks BG!).  And they are deliberately shot outside the front door.  (Not quite Georgian steps & railings).  So all I could think to do was this ….

sew dolly clackettI think Roisin will get it….

Which leads me onto the name of this dress. Because in reverence to Dolly Clackett, it has to have a name. I thought I had got it then, & was about to call it my “All aswoon” dress but that’s lame. This dress is covered in scarlet tulips.  Apparently, red tulips symbolise belief and  declaration of love.  How appropriate to make such a dress to celebrate the wedding of two Morse-loving peas in a pod – therefore comes the name, “The Happy Ever After Dress”.   Roisin & Nic, Wishing you all the very best for your exciting & fun life together :-) xx  This dress is for you.  BUT the good news is that I am so enamored with it there is a good chance that it will be my goto dress this summer & may even be my “Mother of a new graduate” dress.  It will certainly have lots of happy associations for me as well.

Lotta Lady bag

Potty for spots – Lotta Lady Bag by Maria Denmark

Have you seen Maria Denmark’s new website?  Very smart.  She’s also been releasing some gorgeous patterns – & spreading tips for customising them to make them look unique.  I’ve bought the Olivia tee and love it – will be posting more on that shortly.  However today is all about accessories.  At Christmas/ New Year I think, Maria released this cute pattern to make a perfectly wonderful every day handbag.  The Lotta Lady bag.

Lotta Lady bag

It is “just the right size” to load up with ipad, book, water bottle, other ladylike essentials plus that imaginary wad of cash that is too big to fit in your back pocket.  It is lined, has an all round gusset which houses  a long zip (longer than a dress zip people, be equipped), and I have to say looks adorable with its graceful curves & shoulder straps (x2) – there is something that feels just a little bit vintage about its style & proportions.

Lotta lady bag

This is the Lotta Lady bag.  You can add your own inside pockets to help organise your effects (& make it easier to lay your hands on that imaginary wad of cash), but pocket pieces are not specifically part of the pattern – you make them to suit yourself (or not).

Lotta lady

So I bought some “oilcloth” not long after downloading this pattern & had it waiting patiently for the bag-making urge to hit me.   It arrived with the onset of spring & the prospect of being out & about more & wanting to look more “like a lady” rather than rely on coat pockets.  Plus, what better reason to adopt a new bag than a trip to London?

Lotta lady bag

Cutting out was simple, lining & outer fabric done quickly.  I used a tip from Dave (Sewing Bee) to use the odd bit of scotch tape to secure pattern pieces to the waterproof oilcloth instead of pins.  Nice one.

Lotta lady bag (6)

I contrived pockets based on phone & wallet & was ready to sew.  It felt like it should be a quick Sunday afternoon’s project.  Maria’s instructions are laden with photos & explain the construction very well.  But guys.  Manipulating *oilcloth* around those curved edges was a beast.  Not only did it pucker but there was absolutely no ease in this awful “fabric” & that meant unpicking & that meant unwanted permanent puncture marks.  So I did the best I could & didn’t swear too much.  On the plus side, I absolutely love the zip insertion steps of the bag-making process- especially when there is a lining.  So neat.  So sharp.  Love it.

Lotta lady bag (5)

Anyway.  Apart from a few dodgy corners, my bag came together fine.  The acid green polka dot lining provided some tang to the sky blue polka dot exterior.  Spring colours.  I was looking forward to using it.

So come the morning of my trip to London I loaded it with my bits & pieces & a whole lot more.  You can fit a lot in- for information!  I’d just put it onto my shoulder when I heard an unmistakable tearing sound

Lotta Lady bag

& saw that the bag’s seam where the straps are inserted & stitched (although reinforced) had shredded – the “fabric” literally split.

Lotta Lady bag

It has taken me a while to realise what went wrong.  You see the fabric that I used is not real oilcloth, but more like tablecloth PVC.  It has no strength, no fibres.  It is plastic.  Oilcloth contains a woven element & would be strong enough to cope with weight.  This “fabric” was not suitable – my poor choice.

Badgers bag

I had to make a quick swap on that morning for my trusty shopper (made using a “White Stuff” carrier bag as a template many moons ago.)

Badgers bag

I am not giving up on the Lotta Lady bag though, the design is lovely & in email chat with Maria, (to try to understand where I went wrong) she’s said how much she uses hers & it has withstood all sorts of wear & tear.    So the good news is that this bag does not use a lot of fabric and I have a couple of long zips, bought especially , waiting for inspiration to strike, plus allsorts of fabric in my “too big to throw away” scrap pile.

If I didn’t have other plans, this would be a perfect make in a few spare hours in the Easter break …..

duathlon (10)

Summer runners: Duathlon shorts

It’s about time I posted my latest runners – the Duathlon shorts by Fehr Trade.  Yes, Melissa is nothing but full of unique designs for crafting your own running/ workout kit- the ideas keep coming!  Hot on the heels of the PB Jam leggings and XYT top here are some more togs for sweating in.  I was lucky enough to be a tester and these shorts/ leggings were once again right up my street.

duathlon capri

Have you seen them yet?  I’m sure you have.  Leggings/ shorts for your running or cycling legs.  Or the gym.  They come in three lengths & I went for the extremes: the capri length (in time for spring) & the woo hoo!  booty shorts for an experiment!  There is also an above the knee length.  Their clever piecing together creates two phone (or gel & key ) sized pockets in the contrast side panels.

duathlon capri pocket

The simplest of designs, which allows some fab use of left over fabric to pack a punch plus a brilliant pocket construction that’s easy to sew.

duathlon (8)As a bonus- if you cycle & want to avoid saddle sores, Melissa has designed in a padded piece specially shaped for a comfortable yet ultimate workout.  Now, I don’t do the cycling thang, so I avoided the padded crotch, but what a brilliant option to be able to sew your own padded cycle shorts – technical genius.  Of course there is lots of advice for fabric choice & construction included in the pattern.

duathlon So I’ve raved about the sewing & design. These leggings are a very simple make & incredibly wearable.  I used my overlocker for practically all of the construction, except the hems which my coverstitch machine is now much better at (thanks a lot again to Melissa who gave me a couple of steers for the basics that make all the difference!)   I made the capri length first in some left over random non-sports bottle green lycra, sneaking in yet more of my leopard lycra to add a dash of the wild side.

duathlon

I wish it was “Meow” I’m saying here, but I took authentic post run photos & was still recovering!  I have worn these leggings many times now.  The length is spot on, the fit – well there’s probably room in their for me to take some more in, if I wanted to look as if I had been poured into them, but in my mind they are ideal.  I’ve used the pockets for keys & my phone once (plenty big enough & it doesn’t feel in danger of popping out unexpectedly).  They are a total hit & I would not hesitate in making more.

duathlon booty

So much so that I gave the booty shorts a trial.  I am rubbish at seeing a pattern for shorts (any shorts -not just lycra shorts!) & picturing where the legs finish on me – always in fear of “too short shorts” I usually end up erring on the side of caution & needing to take a massive hem to the “bermudas” I’ve almost created.  It seems I can get it wrong both ways – I was never going to be any good at merely eyeballing the cutting line for these booties – I had to make them.  I thought that in the summer it is great to have a shorter pair of shorts – do they call them boy short length?  Now boy short length is probably a bit longer than booty (why didn’t I just stop & consider the name!) shorts.  They hug your buns babies!

duathlon booty shorts

I love them, really, but at the moment I am not sure how brave I would be to go out in public with them this short…but in the hot summer ( am I wishing for the impossible?) …maybe I would change my mind.

I made them using some wicking lycra with a strip of burgundy – which I’ve also used to make a top – I will show you soon, once pics are taken.

duathlon booty shorts(Worn with my XYT top -  I wear this soooo much it’s untrue and my running bows)

Tell you something though – I would make them just a couple of inches longer & then they would become what I have in mind as “boy shorts”.  Now making them that length & wearing in public is a distinct certainty.  But even if you are as unbrave as me, the booty shorts can be worn under skirts for your cycle commute – they are an ideal modesty saver.

All in all a great pattern.  You can get the download  here - & once again I should say that  Melissa’s instructions lead you through the construction excellently.  If anything, these leggings are easier to make than the PB Jams, just because the piecing is all in straight lines.  What do you think?  Are you convinced yet?

And while we are on it, have you been inspired by marathon season?  I’d like to congratulate Melissa here too – she got such an amazing time for her London marathon – decode this!

(Or visit Melissa’s site for the answers & post race photo)  The very next day I entered the Bath Half 2015- that means I’ve got the Manchester 10k in May (when I shall be running in me made running kit for Me Made May as well as it being the race that I join in with the  Spring Race Challenge

I’m in taking part in…

Spring Race ChallengeAfter May’s 10k I have the summer to train for the Great North Run, and the winter to train for the Bath Half.  Sorted?  For me, it’s good to have races to be aiming for & to keep running as I still find it the easiest thing in the world to never leave my home/ garden, so happy am I and so busy can I be within badger burrows (set really) .  Running is a good way to get upright, active & out in the fresh air.  Plus I love how it makes me feel when I am exercising & covering distances.

And what other incentive to run & to just get out there, than making new running kit?  Love it.

Everybody loves a do, especially if you sew

Anyone who follows me on Pinterest could be confused by my rather eclectic pinning of late, but it may have given you insight into a couple of occasions I’ve got coming up.  And with occasions comes the eternal (but exciting!) question, “what shall I make to wear?”

(Source)

 One of the exciting dates in my diary is a posh works do.  Well, I am calling it my red carpet do, but it’s not really.  There’s never any work dos in my general existence, but for once this one is a goer.  Funnily enough we haven’t even decided who will be invited yet, but my thoughts immediately turned to a new sewing project with exceptional novelty potential & I will make something even if I don’t get invited!

I could always wear my 80s “ballgown”, but why would I want to do that when I could be making something else totally unlike my usual sewn fare?  If I am honest I am not a floor length gown kinda gal.  I mean, what if I turned up (once I’ve been invited of course) in a floor length gold lame vision, only to find everyone else in cocktail dresses & knees showing?  If I was it would be this one though.

 

(Source)

The kind of outfit I would feel most comfortable wearing is not even a cocktail dress, but something that can be understated enough to fit in with men in sharp suits as well as holding its own with ladies in cocktail dresses or even a summer floaty maxi dress (because there might be some of those around too).   I mean, I’ve no real idea what other women will be wearing.  Some might totally ham it up, others might think, “it’s just a works do” & pull out a Top Shop frock from 2011 (not that there’s anything wrong with either option! – I’m just unsure of the habitat I could find myself in – should I get invited of course).

I’d started looking at vintage style evening dress patterns, some sheath style, others more of a full on early Betty Draper.  I’ve saved some to this board here on Pinterest (It’s a general dumping ground for inspirational clothing that I can’t see myself making for a while, but dig deep enough & you’ll find them).  Some of the 60s sheath dresses had tie back details, which makes me swoon.  But after using my drive to Cornwall last month to think options (yes – I can report that for the full 3.5 hours I went on a mental journey through outfit variations & sewing preferences as well as as travelling 170 miles south.  It was much like the state that you get in when doing a very long run- your mind literally travels …)  So by the end of the journey I had it all figured out.

I am going separates.  Are you surprised?  Now the keystone will be shoes.  I have one pair of smart shoes in black suede (a special pair from Hobbs that are not only the most expensive pair of shoes I’ve ever bought, but are gratifyingly the most comfortable kitten heel sling backs I have ever worn).  My next step was revisiting this scarf  top on the Burdastyle website that got me.  I had spied it well before this “do” came up, but with no reason to add it to my sewing priorities, it would have stayed in my dreams.

It’s subtle, yes.  Stylish & slinky.  The “scarf” neckline gives a drapey –almost-cowl at the front & an alluring dangle of sash from the back neck.  Gor-jee-ous.

To complete the outfit I thought it needed a slim skirt & my thinking developed along the lines of velvet & thigh split.  Hmm.  Clearly skirt length has to be considered with care to avoid the 70s lady of the night look.  Something a bit like this silhouette but without the knotting (this skirt is actually jersey) & with a more modest split.  (Source)

I shall draft it myself.  I have it worked out in my head & don’t think it’ll be rocket science.

Armed with a plan, come Goldhawk Road* last week, I knew what I was looking for- some silk for the top & some luscious velvet.

And this is what I bought –

Rainforest fabric

This is not silk but I immediately felt deep love for this fabric!  It was everything I could have dreamed of & in colours that are vivid yet lush.  A veritable tropical paradise with rainforest overtones to drape for.   I don’t think the photo does it justice.

rainforest and velvet

And to complement it I found the most awesome silk velvet that I could drown in.  It’s a cross between teal & bottle green.  There is no way you can even begin to see its beauty & intensity through this photo – it wasn’t happening.  But I had to show you something.  Even if your imagination is closer to the mark than what I have put before you!Take my word for it.  It is the dogs (& I don’t use that phrase often do I?)

I am overjoyed with my fabric – all in all this has cost £20 so far.  I have some lining I can use for the skirt, so for  my “red carpet” my bank account is feeling chilled.

I’m planning to make it next month.   Seriously how crazed must I have got to ?  I spent the weekend project planning the things I feel I have more of a commitment to make & have now allocated weekends & sewing projects.  Will I respond well to that kind of discipline?  Or will it take the pleasure away?  We shall have to see.

Want to know about another of my four “dos” this summer?  One of my best friends is throwing a party for a “special”  birthday on 4th July – so her theme is – America.  Nice & broad so that guests can justify any kind of outfit- even if it is red, white & blue!

Pinterest will have given you a clue as to my chosen outfit.  Oh this will be funny & so not becoming of a woman in her mid 40s.  But I shall laugh.  “For the 4th of July, Matthew, I am going to be a cheerleader”. Here’s my pinboard Cheerleader Chic….

As well as an outfit – I am tending towards a version of the Lady Skater Dress – at this stage- although I do like the idea of a skirt & tank top too (don’t worry – I promise you no midriff!)    I clearly have to make pom poms, find an awesome wig & make up a routine!  Any places you know I could look for help, please let me know!  I’m new to this. But would like to provide a more authentic kind of routine than this …

YouTube Preview Image

My research will of course include watching “Bring it On”, “Bring it on again” & “Bring it on some more”- & I know my son will have no complaints about that when he comes home!

 

* Please don’t ask me which shops they came from!  The rainforest fabric came from “the shop that also sells Liberty”.  And the velvet was from a shop along the same side of the road, with a downstairs full of velvet, fleece and other concoctions.

Loco for Coco

Let’s start on a high – me & Mama Coco herself – the inspirational Tilly.

Coco and tilly(I have not cropped this picture – I mean the turquoise wall has its own fame, right?!)   So -  Stripes & spots looking good together- (no not “goof” as my typing is trying malevolently to force me to write)   I am hoping that this marks the Coco highpoint because you see I need to come down from the Coco high or is it more an affliction I’ve got?  Is it contagious?

Tell me people- when you are fabric shopping do you assess fabric against the “could this be a Coco top” criteria?  Do you also have a developing “Coco stash”.

(Introducing evidence reference A1)

coco stashIt is not without cause that Coco has become the panacea to losing one’s sewing mojo.  Not that that has been a problem for me.  However, Coco tempts me with its style & simplicity of construction for “those times when I want a relaxing stylish sew”.  I tell you it is a most reassuring thought to know that I have *a number* of suitable lengths of fabric should I feel the urge and the odd free hour to make it.  My first Coco top has been a stalwart outfit addition for my weekends,and  Merino rocks the Coco.  But where could I go next but with a ponte?

So enter Coco #2.  I made this using some ponte from Plushaddict.  Sucker that I am I saw it on Twitter when my Coco mania was reaching peak purchase potential.  I also bought the black/ cream double knit  (for a nautical dress oh yes.  It is destined for a seaside photo shoot when it is made & the time comes).  But I digress, blame it on fou-de-Coco.  Onto the Coco in hand … still in absolute first throes of love with the funnel neck I just had to make another version.

Coco

I made up as designed, but felt something was missing – in an artistic kind of artist/  gardeners’ smockette- a pocket kanga would want to jump into.  So I cut one freehand & sewed it on, with my trying- ever-so-hard-to-please-me coverstitch machine (our relationship is improving thanks to an intervention from Melissa when she came to stay.  But coverstitch & me – we have a way to go before we are best buds)

kangaroo pockt coco

The kangaroo pocket settled almost nicely (coverstitching needed a bit of rescuing & a fair amount of bar tacking by my regular trusty dependable-knight-in-shining-armour machine at key stress points).  However, I may have located the pocket a bit high & darned if I was going to take it all off.  A bit of playing around in the mirror later & the design decision was taken to shorten Coco to become hip length.  It works.  But now you know the truth.  Some of my design decisions are reactive due to not thinking things through….and there you were thinking that everything was part of the plan …

inside coco

So it’s been a wonderful weekend & evening staple- lounging in style.  So come the Coco party *for real* when I was in such fantastic company for the final of the Great British Sewing Bee, it was the obvious choice.

How many Cocos in this sewing selfie?

It was such a lovely evening watching the final with Coco-wearing sewing blogging pals ( me, Katie, Rachel, Janene, Tilly, Jane, Alana) .  Katie has written up the evening (plus two amazing Cocos), capturing the atmosphere if you are interested in even more.   I was thrilled to get a picture for this blog post with Tilly  – against *the” turquoise wall.

coco tilly and me

So, while we were there we were lucky enough to have a preview of Tilly’s book: Love at First Stitch & if you pop along to Tilly’s blog you will see that she has shared one of the projects from her blog- the sweet Brigitte scarf- for a book launch blogosphere -party on Thursday 8th May.  I’m in, are you?

Vote for Marilla! You should see her frock!

Hi Peeps!

We are in the final stages of the Big Spring Contest & voting is open!  Remember Marilla’s design to download a 50s pattern from the V&A to create a beautiful vintage frock cleverly using some soft striped chambray?Well it is fabulous & wondrous – inside & out!

Please visit Offset Warehouse’s Facebook page to vote (Vote B!)   !!!!Go Marilla   !!!

Want to see some gorgeous pics?

All those panels!  With stripes running true to grain & being used as design features. I also love the design of the dress with its big pockets & the yoke which looks fabulous in stripes, let’s face it.

 

 Now for some awesome insides.

 

Check out Marilla’s making journey here, including the pattern she used.

 I seriously cannot believe what she has achieved in such a short space of time (& with two small children – this lady is a sewing superhero!).  And even though Marilla says,

“but I honestly feel like I’ve already won by being sent the fabric to make this dress in the first place”

Let’s show her what we think of her design & sewing feat!  Please visit Offset Warehouse’s Facebook page to vote (Vote B!) – although all entries are fantastic to be honest- but Vote B for Marilla!  For Spring & frocks made using millions of pattern pieces that look as good inside as they do outside…& that have already earnt heirloom status in Marilla’s wardrobe…

Minerva Make: April Rhodes Date Night Dress & Simple Slip

When I saw this dress released, courtesy of MisForMake I was captivated.  I can’t put my finger on the precise reason why, but I kept returning to it, just mulling it over in my mind.  I am not a habitual wearer of loosely shaped dresses – I need to emphasize my curves & find the “tunic look” does nothing for me.  But there was something that kept pulling me back to the Date Night Dress.  Was it the fluttery sleeves?  The graceful sweep of fabric around a cinched in belt?  Was it the added extra of a simple slip?  Who knows.  What I do know is that when MisForMake offered a special offer on it I was in like a very hungry badger to a slug.    Because you see these patterns are not cheap.  Any small discount shaved off helps.  You can also download the pdf directly from April Rhodes here which is likely to be a bit cheaper than the physical pattern.

I made the slip up pretty straight away, and felt pleased already with my purchase.   It felt that a potential Minerva April make (April Rhodes – geddit?) would be fitting so my fabric quest began.

Date Night dress

Now this dress is designed to be made with fine drape inducing fabrics, voiles, chiffon, silk too I expect.  I had other ideas.  I fancied making my version out of jersey.  I’d been *almost choosing* this jersey on the Minerva website for a while now & its print reminded me of one of the examples used in the Date Night Dress pattern itself (scale, use of colour).  Lack of imagination on my behalf there – but balanced by the added danger factor of going *off piste* & using a stretch fabric for a pattern that was designed for floaty wovens.    Listening to my inner May Martin, I was thoughtful about pattern placement when cutting out- wanting balance & nothing falling in unfortunate LOLworthy places…

date night dressI’ve been wearing it with a long sleeve top underneath & leggings for the winter.

The Date Night Dress is a simple design: no fastenings – a neckline scooped enough that whatever the fabric you use will allow access over your head.

date night inside

Its front & back are single pieces though- so you can imagine that this is a quick make.  It has a box pleat at the centre back, just to add to some volume.  And the sleeves?  They are sort of crescent shaped bits of wisp.  I wondered if I was being too risky here as well – would butterfly sleeves be too frilly even for me?  But hello!  I Love them!

Date Night (2)

The pattern directions assume that you will use French seams in your woven version & the instructions are pretty comprehensive if you haven’t used this approach before .  I should say that the instructions are all accompanied by fantastic colour photos & this could be a good make for a beginner.

date night dress (4)

Making it up, as hinted above was so quick I think I did it in just over an hour.  Using my overlocker of course.  Shoulder seams first  (as an extra & in recognition that I was using jersey I used some clear elastic to add support to the shoulder seams), then the flutter sleeves, then side seams.  The neck band was like a tee-shirt neck band – I cut a non-bias strip 1.5” wide that was  85%  the measurement of the neck edge  (for jersey it doesn’t have to be cut on the bias as there is plenty of stretch already).

date night dress

Then you’ve got just the hem to do.  Bam.  Quick or quick?  I cut my hem straight rather than the high-low hem that it is drafted with.  It suits me better.  But it wasn’t until I tried the Date Night Dress on, with belt that I got hit sideways & was struck dumb with absolute undying love.  Oh. My. Word.  How can a *jersey dress* feel elegant, flattering, comfy, feet-tucked-up -on-the-sofa-goddess awesome all at the same time?  I think that deep down my inner goddess-pattern-spotter recognised there was something special about the Date Night Dress.  Beauty in simplicity.  And I am telling you, the pattern envelope needs to add “jersey” to its list of fabrics to use as it maketh the dress even more elevated in my humble opinion.

date night dress (2)

So let’s get onto the slip too.  Having a simple slip pattern is a beautiful bonus.  This slip is not cut on the bias, so it doesn’t take up too much fabric.  It uses bias binding for its straps & has the most useful photo-story to guide you through the process of getting nice bias points at the pointy bodice ends.  It is genius made simple.

date night slip

The choice of fabric for the slip is a lovely slinky lycra that feels lovely to wear but also slips against the jersey dress – performing the vital function that of a slip slipping!  And the bias is super cute floral bias.  Love it!

Date night arm

Now why the slip + dress in one pattern?  Well the inner minx suggests some kind of link with “Date Night” – ensuring that your undies are as pretty as your outfit? ;-) I mean this is what April Rhodes uses to describe the pattern:

The flutter sleeves flatter arms and the open armhole can be slightly sultry, offering a teasing peek at the Simple Slip or perhaps a lacy bra underneath.

But it is a practical reason for me – the dress’s underarms are quite low.  You could drive a bus through the gap.

date night arm 2Flashing your simple slip

I have so far wore my dress with a long sleeved top & leggings as it was still that kind of weather, but come warmer times you might not want to flash your lacy underneathies & the slip would be a great modesty saver.  I am also thinking that my next version will try a chiffon for the dress & there the slip will most certainly be needed for even more of a modesty cause.  Now, all I need is a date ….

Oh and just an after thought for Kate… It seems as if there is shirring mentioned on this pattern after all, as a design option for the waist. You aren’t going crazy. And nor am I. It’s mentioned in the description, not the instructions….

So, yes, the April Rhodes pattern is an independent pattern & might seem quite expensive…but…I am already delighting in the quality drafting which far surpassed my expectations – both slip & dress.  However, the Minerva kit will give you enough of this fabric to make a similar dress plus a slip.  The slip fabric could be used to make any kind of slip – I even found this free pattern here that would work.

Now unfortunately for me (well, actually the reverse ) I misread the yardages or else the yardages given are very generous & I’ve got some of this lovely jersey left & have already made it into something else lovely ….coming soon!

Minerva Meet up and Me Made May

Well hello one & all!  Another info post before I dash off to make busy this weekend.  First a big thank you to everyone who left a comment on my Tweedy post.  I can report back that my Dad even read the comments & so a big thank you for sending him some of your warm fuzzies too!  And you know I do have a small amount of Tweed left, so have all summer to decide how to use it….I’m thinking a bag or a hat …or for some gratuitous LOLs I just have to show this image again in case you missed it the first time…

(Visit on Pinterest)

So, I’m hoping to contribute to a buzz that’s going around about an exciting event – the Minerva Meet up, June 14th 2014.   Vicki at Minerva has been busy planning this for a while now & it’s just gone official!  And I’m going!  I’m so excited as the day itself looks full of incredibly awesome workshops & guest speakers…plus I will get to meet lots of other sewing/ crafting enthusiasts & some of my fellow Minerva Sewing Bloggers – how cool ?  ICE.  Read more about the full itinerary here.  Now the thing I have to decide is how long to visit for.  I might take extra time off & have an extended tour of *The North*.  There is also a page set up with things to do around Darwen (useful if anyone is bringing a +1 who might not be up for a whole day with sewing/crafting chatter).  It is of course close enough to Manchester where my sons live, so that is another option.

So my question is – will I get the chance to meet any of you?  Might you come along?  Please let me know!!

Second up, Me Made May 2014.  I have been a past Me Made Monther & love it, however, these days, if I wear anything that isn’t made by me, that’s the rarity.  So I need to up my game a bit.  This year I will be adding sportswear into the mix, & my coats.  I shall not resort to knitwear made by others even if it was second-hand.  And I shall be recording a daily instagram (@scruffybadgerti) with a few summary posts on my blog- round ups if you like, but not to bore anyone not interested!  So to get with the thing of it, my pledge,

I, scruffybadger, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear only me made outfits, sportswear & coats each day for the duration of May 2014.

And last but not least, we all love the talented By Hand girls now don’t we?  I mean, designing sewing patterns for cats?!  Crazy!  (My cat would be embarrassed by his girth I fear, so no loss of dignity there, Merlin, it’s a promise).  But there are just a few days left for their Kickstarter campaign to set up a design-&-print fabric service- they are already so close, but if you were intending to be a backer & haven’t quite got round to it, or like me were waiting for payday (;-) ) here’s the link.  Deadline Saturday April 12th 2014!!!

Have a good weekend everyone

Tweedy

Oh tweedy!  I hope I have done you justice.

tweedy (3)

I asked my friends, from all corners of the globe how I could revere you in the manner you deserve.  I listened to all my counsel & recognised that less is more: let the Tweed do the talking.  Create a lifetime garment not subject to the whims of fashion, but to the tenants of classic style.

Tweedy

I resisted my more outrageous design temptations and instead reflected personality through accents of carefully chosen lining & notions, not flaunting other options tweed brings such as in your face ruffles, pleats or clever use of bias.

tweedy

It’s all about simplicity (yes really – Simplicity 2154 hahaha) of design and the very best I can possible sew – using my  TNT pencil skirt pattern.

tweedy

Investing time, understanding the cloth (did you know that for Harris Tweed the right side shows when you hold it up to the light & the twill should run from left to right? – thank you to Natalie,  who left me a comment).

tweedy

Expending effort  in ensuring fabulous check matching & placement.  Cutting everything in single thickness & with attention to the sewing lines & how they would be fall in the tweed checked pattern.

Attention to detail:

tweedy

Finding the colours in the tweed & matching the less obvious ones: orange lining & a purple zip.

tweedy

Crochet lace on the lining hem.

tweedy

Inserting the waistband three times to make sure front pattern matched & was the right way up (not that the right way up actually mattered at the end of the day since waistbands fold over, don’t they?!  The fold over would have hidden evidence that it was the wrong way up- der!!)

tweedy

5 star finishes:

  • Bias finished seams.

tweedy

  • Waistband Vilene for a really crisp & non slouchy finish.
  • Lapped zipper with checks in alignment

tweedy (Waistband and every bit of the zip & top CB does match before you sympathise – I just hadn’t fastened it)

  • The official Harris Tweed label.

tweedy

tweedy

This very special fabric was a gift from my dad.  It is only right and fitting that he takes the blog photos.  (Oh it’s so nice having a photographer !)

tweedy A humungous “Thank you ” BG!

(My Tweed skirt is being worn with my Merino Coco – what a perfect match!)

Big Spring Contest: difficult decisions

Good morning!  After a technology scant weekend (due to mega lovely weather & the lure of taming the garden & a couple of runs) here is a small post about to showcase a couple of the entries in the Big Spring Contest that I put through as “Highly Commended”.   Now you know I would have rated all of the entries this way if I could, don’t you?  And judging was one of those things that I had no idea would be so difficult ….

PROMO 728x90SpringContest1WEB

Well, time for the Highly Commendeds, now that  Offset Warehouse’s Facebook page is now showcasing them across all four categories.  Check them all out here.

As for First Frock of Spring, my category, these two creations pipped the others to the post.

Lauren’s Spring Frock:
Lauren’s spring frock has beed designed around this cornflower voile fabric http://www.offsetwarehouse.com/cornflower-organic-voile.html:

 

Lauren’s design notes say:

The embroidery on the midriff of the dress will be based on an embroidery transfer I found in my Mums old collection, but it was too small to put on the design so I put some other little flowery things on there instead (including a little bumble bee) so you get the idea. I have included the motif on my inspiration board so you can see what it looks like

Now I had this dress in my mind’s eye, & thought the simple choice of the cornflower voile with its embroidery perfectly springy, but also the ideal canvas for such pretty construction details.

Zoe’s  Butterfly Dress:
Zoe’s designed a long summer dress with crochet back and straps.  It would be made using jersey fabric: Red Butterfly Interlock Jersey http://www.offsetwarehouse.com/red-butterfly-interlock-jersey.html.  This will be for the main body of the dress, as well as the crochet details.

I thought this was so clever, a butterfly themed dress designed around the butterfly fabric.  It’s another dress that I could imagine, although not how to crochet those straps – I would have loved to see that come to life.

Maybe Zoe and Lauren will make their dresses anyway?  Let me know if you do?

And Marilla, our finalist for the First Frock of Spring, as an update, has written about her entry here- see how she is getting on, leave her some support?     I think we’ve just over a week until voting opens?  I hope Marilla is getting on well.  Go Marilla!!

Remember you can check out all of the “Highly Commended” entries for all of the  categories here.