Macaron dress

I’ve mentioned my Colette Macaron dress a few times in previous blog posts.  It’s been in the making since January – I had lots of fitting issues and accidental-holes-in-fabric traumas and the like.  I thought I’d finished it at the end of April, when disaster struck.  I was trying it on (luckily!) the night before I was meant to wear it to my friend’s wedding, only to realise I’d managed to insert a faulty zip.  Cue small panic attack and a last minute outfit change.

I should mention that the snags I had were nothing to do with the pattern, which was very easy to follow.  The problems were all my own doing.

Firstly, I decided to swap out the solid cotton yoke for a see through tulle, which meant adapting the pattern accordingly – no facing, figuring out a way to tidy up the seams and so on.  Secondly, I managed to cut my fabric pieces out too small.  I’m not sure how, and of course, I’d completely shunned the idea of making a toile – zzzzz.  Not having enough fabric left to re-cut a larger size, we (and by ‘we’, I mean Dan, my sewing instructor) sorted it out by creating side panels to match the contrasting waistband.  Thirdly, I twice (yes, twice) managed to put holes in my fabric and then had to figure out ways of covering up said holes – I had to move my waistband seam up and my neckline down by a few millimetres.  Then I had the zip fiasco.  It took me a long time to forgive the dress for the endless trauma it had already caused and pluck up the courage to swap the zip with a new one.  And once I’d finally fixed that I decided I didn’t like the sleeves.  I didn’t like where the shoulder seams were sitting, so I cut the sleeves off and used bias binding to finish the edge.

And ta-da!  Finally finished!  Ten months later.

What did I learn?

  1. I am far too heavy-handed with a seam ripper.
  2. This pattern hacking business is sometimes not as easy as you think it’ll be, especially when you throw in a delicate fabric.
  3. As much as I dislike the idea, I need to start making toiles of some of my garments (preferebly wearable), especially for anything with a fitted bodice.

So, there you have it – not the most pleasant of sewing experiences, but I learned a lot.  I’m finally able to wear my finished dress, ten months after I started it.  😀

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Eve’s skirt

I made a little skirt.  I’d been threatening to make something for my friend’s little girl (hi, Kate!) for ages and I finally got round to doing it last week 😀

It was sooooo easy – just rectangles sewn together in the right way and gathered back in with a bit of elastic.  🙂  I lined mine because the fabric I used is a tiny bit see through, but you’d only need one layer if you have a thick enough fabric.  It was basically two rectangles sewn down the side seams with the top folded over to make a channel for the elastic and the bottom hemmed.  Simple as that!  No pattern or anything – just a waist measurement, a length measurement and a bit of mathematics.  The skirt looks a little less flared than it actually is in these photos because I only have adult-sized coat hangers.  I had the stretch the elastic out to make the skirt fit on the hanger – it’s quite a bit more gathered at the waist in real life.  I used a decorative stitch on the bottom hem too, which I think looks quite cute.

It was a very quick project that has used up some fabric remnants I had left from other projects.  I got the Michael Miller Marionettes cotton (from Plush Addict) to make Colette’s Macaron dress – it’s 99% complete, but I realised I’d managed to insert a faulty zip, which now needs swapping when I pluck up the courage. The lining is a the cotton I used for my tutu.  I have some fabric left from my Quilting Bee dress, so I might make another little skirt.

Quilting Bee Dress and Me Made May envy

Wanna make the easiest dress in the world?  Silly question!

This dress is the easiest thing I’ve ever made, by a long way.  There aren’t a million pieces to fit together.  No darts, no shaping.  It has a front and a back, a bit of bias binding, and all the shaping comes from a drawstring.  I made this in an afternoon.  I’ve never made anything in an afternoon before!  So quick and easy – perfect!  😀

I used the Michael Miller Marbles Cotton from my Plush Addict haul a few months ago.  I’m finally getting through that large pile of fabric.

The most time-consuming part for me was making the drawstring, which, in a fit of complete madness, I decided to sew by hand.  It took hours!  Hand sewing is a lengthy business.  In fact, I lied a little bit when I said I made this dress in an afternoon – I had actually prepared the drawstring a few days before.  I’m still fairly certain you could make this in a day though, especially if you’re good at hand stitching.  Plus, you could always ditch making your drawstring by hand if you can persuade it to go through your machine.  Or you could buy a bit of ribbon or cord.  I used pre-cut bias binding for mine, which I pressed into place and then slip stitched the two sides together.  I don’t actually know whether I was slip stitching.  I just think that’s what it’s called.  You could even swap the drawstring for elastic or a bit of shirring easily enough, I assume, if you’d prefer.

What is the pattern? I hear you ask.  😉  It’s called the Quilting Bee Dress.  I got my pattern as a free download with a special issue of Mollie Makes last year.  It was called Mollie Makes Sewing.  I can’t remember exactly when I got it, but it may not available anymore (it says Spring 2014 on the front cover).  However, the pattern is also available in the book Just For You, by Caroline Fairbanks-Critchfield.  I don’t have the book, but it looks like it contains some nice patterns.

There’s just one little snag – no pockets!  What was I thinking?  I must have been concentrating so much that I completely forgot to add pockets.  Oh, well.  I’ll definitely use this pattern again so I can add pockets next time.  🙂

I can’t write this post without giving a little shout out to everyone who participated in Me Made May, created by Zoe from So, Zo… What do you know?  I don’t know about anyone else, but I have developed some major Me Made May envy over the past few weeks!  I’ve really enjoyed seeing everyone’s posts about it, and I was so jealous that I wasn’t able to participate myself.  I mean, I could have, but I would have had to get a lot of wear out of about five garments.  So, I’m pledging here and now that I will take part in Me Made May next year.  I will have enough handmades to join in by then, I will.

Before I sign off, let me show you this super-cute fairy tales fabric I’ve ordered from the Village Haberdashery!  How lovely  🙂  I love anything to do with fairy tales.

Oops!

Just when you think things are coming along nicely, this happens!

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This is the result of me getting too overexcited with a seam ripper  😦  Unfortunately it’s right on the centre front of my bodice.  You know that beautiful bodice pieces I made last week?  Yep?  The front is ruined!

Well, I’m being a bit dramatic – it is fixable, but I’m still really angry at myself.

Rather than starting the whole front bodice again (which, for a few horrifying moments, is exactly what I thought I’d have to do!) I’m just going to move it up a few millimetres to cover the hole.  This may not work with all patterns, but we had a go at pinning the waistband a bit higher to see how it looked, and we don’t think it will alter the look of the dress.  I’m just relieved that I managed to put a hole right on the seam line rather than in the middle of nowhere, otherwise I’d be doing lots of unpicking and more cutting out.  Thank goodness for a few millimetres of wiggle room.

It’s a love-hate relationship…

I’m having a bit of a love-hate relationship with sewing at the moment.

At home, I’ve been working on ‘easy’ projects that I’ve enjoyed putting together.  I have cut out all two (yes, only two!) pattern pieces to make the Simple t-shirt from The Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe.  [Just a quick side note: chiffon is flipping horrible to cut out!]  I’m looking forward to attempting to use bias binding for the very first time.  I’ve also made almost an entire Delphine skirt from Tilly Walnes’ Love at First Stitch, using an indigo cotton canvas.  All that’s left for that one is to add some buttons on the front to give it a nautical look, and to add some patch pockets on the back.  I’ve never done patch pockets before either so wish me luck.

I heart sewing! 😀

However, at my sewing classes, I’ve moved on to my first ever ‘intermediate’ pattern, which took weeks of brain power before I was able to make my first stitch.

I hate sewing! 😛

I’ve been working on Colette’s Macaron, using the lovely Michael Miller Marionette’s cotton.  First things first, I had to do was decide what size I would be.  Not surprisingly, I had to grade my pattern down from the bust to be smaller at the waist – I had expected this.  The mistakes came in later on.

First mistake.  I decided to make the contrast yoke out of a sheer fabric – instant changes to the instructions for construction.  Cue lots of brain power trying to figure out what I’d have to do differently.

Second mistake.  It then occurred to me that I didn’t particularly want to make the waistband out of the same contrast fabric I’d chosen for the yoke, because then I’d have a visible midriff.  ‘What should I do?  I know!  I’ll just lengthen the bodice piece.  That will be easy enough, right?’  Wrong!  So wrong.  I just could not get my head around lengthening that bodice.  After lots of maths, three different approaches and an entire sewing class, I gave up.  I think I sort of did have it figure out towards the very end, but it occurred to me that if I came across any problems later on they would be twice as hard to solve because my pattern pieces would be completely different.  I landed on making my waistband out of plain white cotton  in the hope that it won’t look that odd.

Then, last week was all about starting to cut out the fabric and making sure all the markings were there.  I discovered tailor’s tacks, which are quite magical.

Finally, this week – week five of a ten week course – I was able to make my first stitches.  And look what happened!  😀

I have bodice pieces!  Bodice pieces that look like they’re going to fit me.  They went together very quickly once I started sewing, and I’m starting to feel really good about Macaron.  I’m back to loving sewing!  I have sewn on the yoke differently to the way Colette have instructed in the pattern, mostly because I thought their way would take longer.  Only time will tell if I’ve made another fatal error there…

What have I learnt?

  1. It’s one thing to make small changes to a pattern, but I’m absolutely not ready for full on pattern hacking.
  2. As much as I want to get a good fit etc., I much prefer the construction process. The paperwork requires so many brainwaves.
  3. Even when I hate sewing, I love to hate it!

Plush Addict haul

Happy 2015, everyone!  I hope you all had an enjoyable festive season.

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me for #SewingFrancoise.  I was a runner up and won a £100 voucher for Plush Addict 😀  £100 of entirely guilt-free fabric shopping!  Thank you so much for voting – I only started sewing a few months ago really, so I’m blown away.  And thank you so much to Tilly for running the contest!

I’ve never bought anything from Plush Addict, and I was so excited when I realised how much I had to choose from.  The fabric is all great and it came really quickly.  I’ll definitely buy from them again.

Since my purchases will probably make up a large percentage of my 2015 projects, I thought I’d show you my haul and let you know what I’m planning to make.

I have Tilly to thank for my spoils, so I thought it only right that I make some Tilly clothes 🙂  Also, all her patterns are lush, so I don’t mind in the slightest.  I bought some indigo canvas to make the Delphine skirt from Love at First Stitch.  I got some striped jersey to try a Coco dress, which I’m very excited about because I’ve wanted to make Coco for ages.  Aaaannnnd… I got some red faux silk to attempt her Mathilde blouse.  That one is scaring me slightly because it looks a bit fiddly.

My non-Tilly projects will include Colette’s Macaron, for which I bought the lovely Michael Miller Marionettes cotton. I haven’t got the contrast fabric for this yet.  I got some polka dot chiffon to make the simple t-shirt in the second Great British Sewing Bee book.  And finally, I bought some Michael Miller Marbles cotton to make the Colour Burst dress from the latest Mollie Makes Sewing magazine.

Phew – quite a haul!  I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.

Buuut… before all of that, I’m going to make a pair of pyjama bottoms.  I’m going to use the Margot pattern from Love at First Stitch (of course).  I’m making them from this Dalmatian print cotton.  Woof!  Do you remember the cave girl costumes I made?  Well, after making those, I was invited to take part in Jungle January by Pretty Grievances.  So, I’ll be making my PJs before anything else so I don’t miss the January deadline.

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So there you have it.  My sewing plans for what must be most of 2015 (or possibly the rest of my life!) by the time I’ve finished.  All down to Tilly and Plush Addict. Thanks, guys!

What’s on your sewing tables at the moment?