Company of Wolves

1 claylike replacementNl 6459: Rip her to shredsMy friend’s dog jumped up to greet me, his paws on my belly, his claws stuck into the eyelets of my favourite dress.  As I heard a tearing sound, I quickly took his paws thinking, ‘maybe I can fix this,‘ but he slipped, catching himself on a lower rung (so to speak).  Cue more ripping sounds.

I crumpled with laughter.  I love being part of comedy 🙂  My friend though was mortified!  She wanted to take me into the nearest shop and buy me something to wear so I wouldn’t have to go around looking like I’d been savaged by wolves.

Buy me something?!  What, and deprive me of an excuse to make a new dress!?!

1 new look 6459 back viewI love a halter neck dress; all that uninterrupted sunshine on one’s back!  This brown replacement was made in an emergency and it shows.  Maybe I was getting bored of the pattern – New Look 6459, my most  ever made, in all its variations – and sewed in auto-pilot as I realise looking at these pictures that I’ve made it too small.  It’s hard to get this one right: the bodice has to be tight otherwise the strapless back sags.   But I didn’t have to make it tight around the waist and bum!

The fabric is Indian block print cotton, light as lawn and from Simply Fabrics.  It was an impulse buy which I soon regretted.  The colours are earthy and dull.  I worry I look like a mound of clay so I’ve tried to lift it by adding a bit of sparkle in the form of bronze-coloured ricrac.  Shame it sinks into the underarm flesh so you can hardly tell.1 close up w strange beads

But at least I get to wear my strange beads with it.  These two necklaces mysteriously appeared in my house some years ago.  I’d assumed my mum had brought them for my daughter to play with.  I took a liking to them and kept finding outfits that match though the string is prone to breaking and each time I lose a bit of the length.  Once whilst I was wearing them, a woman gave them, and me, a long, curious look, like she wanted to talk to me which struck me as odd, but later a friend saw them and looked similarly surprised.  Guess what she said they’re made of?

Clue: you’d have to have been around in the 70s!

Junk Stitching

You might hear runners talk disparagingly, or concernedly, about “junk miles”.  These are runs during which one does absolutely nothing to try and improve.  No bursts of speed, no hills, no attempts at furthering the distance: just putting one foot in front of the other and staying safely within one’s comfort zone.

junk miles 🙂

I also sometimes like the sewing equivalent and this dress is it.  Junk stitching is the best sewing I can do while the kids are on holiday and pulling themselves up by my hair for amusement!  This is a TNT (tried ‘n’ tested) pattern from prehistoric times that’s given me one highly wearable dress after another.  I have waxed lyrical about the New Look 6459 before but it’s now only available from Ebay, through theft or borrowing!

View D, The Halter Neck

I’d decided that if this summer was truly going to last (what brilliant luck, eh, UK?), then I needed a halter dress, like, already.  Why everyone else isn’t wearing one, I don’t know.  Maybe because these require a special bra adjustment, but it’s worth the hassle as they’re so flattering and tend to accentuate the one area of a body –  the collarbones and shoulders – that looks pretty good on most of us.  Sewing halters from woven fabrics can be tricky  though.  As the back is held up by nothing other than the wearer’s ribcage, if the fit isn’t tight enough, the whole thing can sag towards the butt!

The Fabric

I had 1 metre of some rather unusual perforated and dyed cotton left over from the first Laurel which was lying around almost unused!  For the sake of decency, I underlined it with a lightweight and very bright green acetate.  The layered dark and light effect worked out brilliantly.  When the light hits it right, this dress reminds me of the intricate, exotic patterns on Moroccan lanterns.   

Do you have a favourite junk stitching pattern?

 Location: Crystal Palace Park

Me-Made-May’12

I, Marianna of Sew 2 Pro, will endeavour to wear at least one made-by-me garment each day for the duration of May 2012.’

When I signed up for this group project, initiated by the sustainable sewing blogger So Zo What Do You Know, I little anticipated what big parts in my wardrobe would be played by a coat, boots and a brolly.  Hang on, didn’t I actually see one parent in the playground wearing gloves?! 

Never again will I smirk when I hear the folk say: “Never cast a clout till May is out.”

Elizabethans

The day the Queen came to town, I wore the dress I named after mum to Queen Elizabeth I.  This picture was taken at a fashion booth, one of many, that was on display during the visit.  My coat, brolly and bag were temporarily put on the floor, causing a small security concern. 

Along with Trash! this dress featured heavily in the first half of the month and I don’t want to see it again till October, although I discovered it teams up nicely with a Pipetto Originals belt that I wear with jeans sometimes.

Pleated neckline top. Benetton Coat, Levi 921

Pleats

Saturdays saw me in my two pleated tops.  Here’s Number 1 worn whilst hassling the McCulloch & Wallis dummy (as is my custom).

And here’s Nicotine Surprise, worn with a nearly camouflaged doggy.

My fascination with pleats was indulged some more when the warm weather returned.  Here’s the Lime Burda 7378.

Schoolrun Skirt

Probably the Me-Made outfit I wear the most in the summer.  I made it some 3 years ago by adapting the Basic Skirt Block into an A-line.  The fabric is an old, discontinued print from Alexander Henry called Zen Charmer which seems equally popular with the kids and the mums. 

Every year I buy a simple top or two to wear with this skirt.  This year, in the spirit of Me-Made, I trimmed a H&M T-shirt with some black crochet-type lace that I didn’t know what to do with for years.  I’m not sure if this mini-project was executed entirely professionally (notice how the T-shirt stretches out where the lace has been sewn on), but seeing a bit of skin through the lace is a nice effect.

New Look 6459

Recently, I made a smart, new version of this pattern but here are a couple of the oldest dresses I’ve ever made.  In fact, I’m thinking of retiring them as the fabric is old and the zips not up to close scrutiny.  The problem is that I still love them so I wear them on hot days at home when I’m burning dinner and I’ll probably give them one last holiday in the scorching sun.  In other words, they’re beachwear!  And the halter necks helps with the tanning.

NL 6459 in faded Viva Frida fabric (by Alexander Henry again)

And in Tattoo by Alexander Henry.  This dress is now 5 years old.  How many RTW dresses would put up with so many summers of use?

Heartbreak

If it hadn’t been for Me-Made-May’12, I wouldn’t have had the camera out in the garden on that first warm Sunday of the month (13th), when we also happened to snap my daughter carrying her kitten Blackadder: the only picture of the two of them together.  Blackadder was killed days later and we miss him more than I can say.

Dear Blacky,

Thank you for being a part of our family and adding so much love and fun to our days.

I’d hoped we’d have years. What a fine lapcat you’d have become!

Enjoy your sleep.

M&C xx

Love Missile NL 6459 F

 

 

 

It’s great to come across a pattern that yields a flattering garment with the minimum of hassle; it’s greater still when that pattern comes with enough variations to create an entire season’s wardrobe. New Look 6459 is a sleeveless dress with darts to the bodice and some definition to the waist which gives it a feminine silhouette.  It lends itself to anything from a beach bum dress to quite respectable evening wear (more on that later).

Here are a couple of versions I made previously: some of the first garments I ever made, both now dying of old age. 

For the Summer 2012 version (which, given the weather, I shall mostly be wearing with boots, a cropped cardie and a brolly), I’ve made View F in a soft lawn by John Kaldor, bought for £8 a metre from Geoff Rosenberg.  

I bought the fabric while finishing my Mad Men Challenge dress when, still in a vintage mood, I was drawn to the Betty Draper-like print of the deep pink roses and leaves on a purple-grey background.  It’s quite a departure from my usual loon prints!

A beginner making this pattern (marked “Easy”) could follow the instructions, as I did the first time I made it, and end up with a very good dress.  But with a little modification, NL 6459 View F can be upgraded to a fantastic dress!  Here are a few notes which you may find helpful:

1 Beware of Cutting the Bodice from a Printed Fabric

Beware of the centre front seam on the bodice and cut carefully if using a print fabric.  The Front Bodice has a centre seam which is at a slight diagonal.  This is necessary in order for the straps to be straight on the grainline.  The first time I cut the bodice and sewed the centre seam, the break in the flowers ruined the look of the front:

This simply wouldn’t have done, being just below the cleavage and something of a focal point.  I decided to make this piece my bodice lining.  The second time I cut the bodice front, I made sure the stitching line fell on the “blank” parts.  The result is more professional and presentable:

2 Suggested Improvement to Bodice Lining

The instructions call for the bodice and the bodice lining to be sewn together to the skirt and the zip to be attached to both.  I did this when making this dress in 2008.  The inside looks like this:

Ok, but not ideal to have the ugliness of those edges staring up at you every time you disrobe!  An improvement would be achieved by the following:

a) After step 19 in the instructions, edge-finish the bottom of the lining.  I do this by pressing under 0.5cm and zigzaging.

b) Stitch bodice to skirt and attach zip at centre back.

c) With right sides together, stitch bodice to bodice lining.  Leave the short edges of the straps unstitched.  You will be turning the garment to the right side through these gaps!

d) Stitch the side of the lining to the zip.

e) Push the garment to the right side through the gaps and press.

The result it the more pro this:

Please note that you would not be able to do this with Views A-E as the bodice and the straps are not in one continuous piece.

3 Option for Strap Adjustment

When stitching the bodice to bodice lining, there’s an area of 3cm on the back which is to be left unstitched.  This is to allow for the insertion of the strap in one of the final stages of the making of the dress.  It means that the length of the strap can be adjusted to suit.  My tip is to leave a wider area unstitched (4cm-5cm) so that at the fitting stage you can:

  •  fit the straps to the left or right of the suggested positioning,.  This is useful if you want to hide your bra straps when wearing the dress.  Choose the bra you want to wear with the finished dress and wear it to the fitting as the position of bra straps can vary a lot.
  • angle the ends of the straps slightly towards the centre if your shoulders are like mine slightly sloping
Consider these variations:
  • Find a smart fabric, cut the skirt pieces some 10cm-15cm longer for the dress to cover the knees (find the most flattering cut-off point), put some interfacing in the bodice and you’ve got yourself a number elegant enough for theatre.
  • Make the dress from a stretch jersey.  Sure, it’ll cling mercilessly to your stomach, as jersey dresses tend to do.  Hell, you might even feel the need to sign up for Pilates classes.  But this is a small price to pay for the fact you won’t have to insert a zip!!

Right, I’m off to go make this again…

One Week, One Pattern

Inspired by the blog Tilly and the Buttons, from Saturday 24th to Friday 30th March, we pledge to wear garments made from one pattern.  My chosen favourite is the BSB which is the Skirt Master Pattern in the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing.

Saturday 24th: Macculloch’s

It’s 10:30a.m and I’m at Macculloch buying the zip and thread for my Mad Men Challenge Dress.  Being very new to this posing-whilst-looking-presentable business, I got side-tracked by an argument with my photographer  (“Don’t make me look short!”  “But you are!” etc.), and so failed to check if my skirt was on straight.  This Basic Skirt Block is made of claret corduroy and cut on the bias with the ridges meeting in a V in the middle.  To line it, I had valuable help from Slapdash’s tutorial.  The top is Nicotine Surprise.

Sunday 25th, Slummy Mummy

A hybrid of the BSB and Vogue 1247.  I haven’t bought the V1247 pattern, but added pockets to the basic skirt after getting the idea from Vacuuming the LawnHere’s her photo of what the innermost layer looks like.  My internet research suggests that the V1247 is shockingly short and as a rule, it’s best to add a centimetre length for each year over the age of sixteen.  These pockets are deep enough to stash roadkill.

This is the first garment I made where the seams across the zip lined up at first go, so to celebrate the momentous occasion, I enhanced the feature with some yellow top-stitching.  This adds to the jean skirt effect, but the fabric is actually an old,  mock-denim IKEA curtain….

The whole thing is hardly in the Vogue spirit!

Monday 26th, Pattern-Cutting Class

Today, my Pattern-Cutting Course here comes to an end, sadly. 

This skirt is made from a snipet of super-silky faux fur which I bought without checking the length: 43cm!  Finished skirt length: 41cm!!  The jackboots detract from the Cougar Lady effect.

Tuesday 27th, Space Grapes

Today, the claret Basic is teamed with a charity shop top and my old Dune sandals – their first outing of ’12.  The kids have named these sandals Space Grapes.  Apparently, if you eat the grapes, you become very heavy.  That’s probably because they contain heavy metals.

Incidentally, we call this plant Snake Grapes.

Wednesday 28th, Home Education and Brownies

BSB/V1247 Hybrid worn whilst at home with my near-teen and his friend – both turfed out of school due to the teachers’ strike.  In the evening, I help out at a Brownies Egg Decorating session.  Here’s a young artist and her impression of me in Egg:

 

 

 

 

Thursday 29th, Still Sunny

My plans to wear a woolly Basic for OWOP have had to be trashed in favour of this hybrid.  The top of the dress is New Look 6459 with added waist darts which have been merged into the Basic Skirt Block for the lower part.

This dress looks great with high heels, tanned legs and two months of a lower-stodge diet, but as it’s March I haven’t had two months to prepare!

Friday 30th, Birthday Boots

Out in claret corduroy and Nicotine  as I road-test the new boots I got for my birthday. 

So OWOP, I’ll associate you forever with sunny skies.  You’ve forced me to rethink my wardrobe, I discovered a top I’d forgotten I had and through reading others’ blogs, I’ve got more projects than even in my stash.  Ciao!