Thursday, 26 November 2015

Zeena....take one......

After promising not to buy any new patterns this year, I caved, in November! I mean come on I only had to wait a few more weeks and this would have been totally guilt free but a discount voucher got the better of me so I stormed ahead and picked up the PDF for the By Hand London Zeena Dress

I haven't seen too many of these about but I was drawn to the casualness of it, a cute little day time dress that's a little bit loose and those cute kimono sleeves. 
Rather than a toile I thought I'd just make up a version in a fabric I wasn't crazy about. I think this is called 'Streamers' by Michael Miller and I picked it up in the Weaver Dee sale a while back. Unfortunately this choice of fabric pattern did not help with my over all feelings about this make, which are generally along the lines of......

The scoop neckline was way to gapey (sorry about the terrible lighting, what with it being dark ALL THE TIME now this is what you get). It meant the shoulders didn't sit right so the back was too loose too. 
To be fair I cut one straight size all over and the waist and skirt length are ok as are the sleeves but when I finished and put this on hoping to admire this breeze of a make in the mirror I didn't burst into a massive smile. This don't think this is a reflection of the dress pattern at all, I mostly think the fabric print is not suitable at all and it just made the whole thing look off. It's way too busy and almost hides those lovely deep pleats in the skirt. As soon as I started to cut into it I knew that it reminded me of something too, I just couldn't put my finger on what that was....
Anyway, fabric aside for the moment, back to that neck gape. I was not going to be picking this make apart and making it perfect so I put it on inside out and grabbed a bunch of pins..

I pinched out about 3 inches each side and tapered this off to the under arm. I transferred this all onto the paper pattern and neatened it up at the neckline and facing pieces for future use but for this dress I just sewed that fabric I gathered up as darts. They are by no means perfect, I mean look at that wonky bit where they meet at the neck, but it's made this version slightly more wearable and at this time of year I would probably have a scarf on anyway.

Yeah, I that neckline is bad, and actually looking at these pics I think the waist could probably come in a bit and the skirt could be a smidge longer.

I'm not defeated by this, I really think that in a plain colour or a print that's a bit less bold this would look so much better. This was definitely a lesson in pattern and fabric pairing. 
Oh and anyone who follows me on twitter might have seen that I figured out what this fabric reminds me of, yep my bathroom floor of course! It just gets better all the time doesn't it?!

So a bit of a fail but I have still managed to wear this a couple of times, it's a good Sunday dress, you know those Sunday's when you're not going to be seeing anyone :)

Thursday, 12 November 2015


I have a new favourite thing and it comes in the form of FOE....

Who knew a bit of fold over elastic could be so exciting?! 
I've been reading quite a bit about this wondrous stuff recently. The lovely Zoe wrote a great post about it here. She actually also has two patterns of her own (which you can download for free here, but buy her a coffee to say thanks!) to put the stuff to great use too, and that's exactly what I did....

I bought my FOE from a shop on ebay, I think it was about £2 for 3 meters, something like that which is pretty reasonable. What's exciting about this stuff is that it comes in so many colours, I went with lime green, raspberry pink and navy blue. I was trying to match my stash of stretch fabric at home without actually checking what I had but I did ok in the end. 
Zoe's patterns are for pants and a vest top. There's only a few pages to print for each so it's not a scary pdf at all. The instructions are very clear and straightforward. I don't have a serger so did it all on my machine using zigzag stitching. talking of those zig zags, I didn't even know I had a 3 step one on there....something new EVERY DAY I tell you.
So first up, PANTS...

These came together so quickly and I was so surprised by how much like real life shop pants they actually are, I mean I'm not sure what I was expecting but I'm mighty impressed!

This is the 3 step zig zag...

I suppose it means you can stretch it either way? I found this stuff so easy to sew with, you just sandwich the fabric in between the elastic and give it a slight pull as you go, so simple. 

It really doesn't have that home made finish either, I see these sort of stitches on undies all the time...

The only change I made was to add a bra shelf (shelf bra? bra shelf? is that even the right wording??) to the inside of the vest top. I tend to wear things like this when I'm not leaving the house or to bed so it's definitely a no bra situation (tmi) but I prefer to have a another layer of fabric. I used the front bodice pattern piece and marked roughly 5 inches down from the under arm, cut along this line and then added some FOE to the bottom edge. I pulled this  a bit tighter so it sits closer to the body. I then just backed it to the original pattern piece and sewed everything as normal...

Ta daa, pretty nik naks and vest set!

Seeing as this was super quick and satisfying I went in for another pair with the lime green FOE...

I think these would make pretty sweet Christmas pressies so I might try and make a few sets up for friends, if those friends are reading this....act surprised!

Thank you Zoe for the inspiration!

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Dungaree Dress.....

How beautiful was the weather last weekend?! 
Oh hello 1st November, I'll just leave my coat at home and stroll along the beach getting all hot shall I...ok! 
We went for a nice long walk along the seafront down to the marina, the water looked so inviting, although I wasn't stupid enough to actually give it a go, looks nice, feels like about -4 I'm sure.

Anyways, my new make! This wasn't planned at all. I picked up some "black" 3% stretch denim on Goldhawk road, intending to make up a new pair or Ultimate Trousers. Turns out this denim ain't no black, it's dark but definitely inky blue (damn you shop lights). I don't really need another pair of blue denim trousers so got my thinking cap on for this piece of fabric. 
Pinafore's seem quite the thing at the mo. I haven't owned anything of the dungaree variety for quite some time but am not adverse to a cute pinafore dress. My Hazel was of that ilk and I wear that loads in the winter months. I've been seeing a lot of Marilla Walkers Roberts Collection dungarees out there and as much as I liked the look I did say that I wouldn't be buying any new patterns this year so I got to thinking that the bodice of the Colette Hazel would probably do the job. I wanted more of a full bodice than a skirt with a front flap piece attached. 

I had a little trouble getting the length of the shoulder straps just right last time, not to be repeated this time as I only needed to sew them onto the back of the bodice. I found these dungaree fasteners in my button box...handy! The black buttons aren't ideal, I would prefer to add something bronze or even proper hammer on jean buttons so these might get replaced at some point.  I cut out the full length of the strap pieces and zig zagged the ending to stop them fraying.

I love the shape of the Hazel bodice, the V front gives almost princess seams which always fit so nicely. The skirt is my beloved Belladone with the pleats taken out. I just folded these out of the pattern piece before cutting the denim. I used the waist band as I do feel that the Hazel can come up a bit short in the bodice. Adding this makes it feel pretty spot on. 
I really like the skirt without the front pleats. It's a cute A line and works well in this denim as it's nice and structured. Of course I kept the pockets. 


I wanted to use an exposed zip, I think they sew well with denim, the denim would have been a bit too bulky for an invisible zip. The only one in my stash was pretty long but I went with that anyway because once you get going you don't really want to wait around for a zip delivery when you have one that sort of does the job do you?! It's about 30 inches long so goes a long way down but I think it looks ok. I learnt from previous exposed zips and added a fabric flap behind it (does this have a name? Zip guard?) so it doesn't eat up any tshirt fabric as I zip it up.

After taking these photos one thing I did notice was how completely off my strap placement was on the back bodice. Look at those! they are way to close to the centre. (About as wonky as my plait parting too...)

I sorted that out when I got home, a little time with the seam ripper and I think this is much better, it actually feels better too....


For the inners I just pinked the bodice seams, I find that denim always holds up well in the wash and doesn't really fray. I used some cotton from my stash to line the waist band and for the pockets 

For a piece of clothing I didn't plan on I've been wearing this quite a lot already, it's a pretty good basic piece and nice to be able to mix up the look with tshirts underneath.

I feel like my sewing has been very sensible lately, all staple pieces and neutrals. Where have all of the fun dresses gone?! I think I might need to break this mould soon...