Wednesday, 5 September 2012

New Gadget! Rolled Hem Foot

I really like this new little foot that I bought from eBay this month! 

I have used it whilst making my latest project for a client (work colleague). It is the first time that I have used jersey and I used the rolled hem foot on the neckline and the hem. Worked well and gave a clean finish to the slip, so I was very happy. I can see this foot being especially useful for silks and shiny fabrics.

To use the presser foot I went to YouTube for instructions and it did not let me down. Simply search for "Rolled Hem Foot" and there is a wealth of helpful videos to show you how easy the use of this foot is.

  • Easy to use
  • Even result
  • No ironing minuscule hems


  • Only seems to work well on straight edges

 I must admit that the sewing has taken a break lately, but the nights are drawing in and although it is nice and sunny in these parts of Ireland, its cold.

If I'm honest, I have hated making this slip. It's been an utter pain in the posterior. I have tweaked and changed and bought two seam-rippers. I think that the main problem was that I self-drafted the slip and then made some discoveries along the way. Mostly including removing stitched and stages that in my head worked, but in reality was an absolute disaster!

I aim to finish the slip tonight and take pictures of it tomorrow and then do not attempt self-drafting ANYTHING again until I have at least one book or reference to help me along the way. 

The home-brew Blackberry wine is in the fermenter and the sewing machine has been dusted and we are ready to rock and roll for an autumn wardrobe.

More to come later this week.

I'm back, I promise!



Saturday, 4 August 2012

Finished Project: Lisette 2059- The RWB Cake Dress

Red, White and Blue... I'm so proud to be British right now, with the Olympic Games! Also, it's the colours of the Dutch flag, too (my fiancee is Dutch, Q). In accordance with my promise that there will and indeed needs to be more cake in my dressmaking and less icing- I give to you a first in my new wardrobe!

I had a clothes cull (blog entry in relation to this to follow) and decided that although I love a girlie dress and a pair of heels, in reality and everyday life; I love leggings, some flats and a dress that will go over the posterior (I do not like to see a lass with leggings on show and a VERY VPL, nah). It's my day-to-day style. So after a hunt around- I found that in the May edition of Sew! Magazine (which I buy every time I am back in the UK), I had this pattern for FREE: 

I did make some changes to the original pattern. I am 5'3'' and the average pattern is aimed at the 5'6'' gal. So I shortened the entire pattern by 5cm 

This extensive length change left the cutting-line a bit skew-wiff. I merged the two lines at the waist. No major panic, just a pencil, french curve and a recognition of symmetry of the front and the back, ensuring that I merged them both at the same point and gradient.

By using a 160cm width fabric, I was able to fold the selvage edges into the centre, like a take-away menu, this evidently saved A LOT of fabric in the process. With the 5cm length change and this method, I was able to use only 1.6 meters of fabric and barely any waste.

For the arm and neck bias facings, I used a navy and blue stripe cotton, which I originally used for my second ever make: The Angela Kane Pinafore Dress (The Tattoo Dress) and because of the on-grain stripes, finding the bias was an absolute walk in the park. I just extended the bias grain line with a marker pen and lined up the pattern piece accordingly.

The construction of the dress was so easy and really well explained by Simplicity, it went together like a dream and in relatively no time at all. For some reason (my bet is on the fact that I reduced both pieces by 5cm at the waist) I lost 1cm from the back of the dress, obviously this caused a slight discrepancy with the hemming of the dress- as they were uneven. I used a 1.5cm hem for the back and a 2.5cm hem for the front. Using a hand-hemmed approach to dresses is far more time-consuming, but in all honesty, looks the business both inside and out...

Note: for the visible stitch of the Herringbone stitch, I caught the fabric on the dark and the lighter blue stripe, it is invisible from the outside! 

I love this dress, but being a reflective seamstress, here are some negatives about the dress:

  • It's very baggy, the ease of the dress is 7"- which I now know to be massive. Next time I will shave off at least 3" from the whole dress and still be happy that it will go over my head without the need for any closures like a zip or button. I wear this dress with a waist belt and it looks fine for casual wear.
  • I used the last of my 'new-to-sewing-liked-the-print-didn't-look-at-the-fabric' quilting cotton in this project, and it works... OK. It's very rigid, smells of a quilt shop (despite two washes) and creases like a microwaved crisp packet. 
So here you go, some pictures of my first ever 'less icing, more cake' dress:


Gathered neckline, a subtle but very pretty addition

Some windy shots, Ireland weather...  


With belt, for sure

In other news:

  • I am well on my way to learning Dutch, my Parents-In-Law-To-Be bought me a Dutch copy of Burda Style Magazine when they went to Belgium for a visit and it's a genius way of getting me translating to Dutch! I am hooked and learning fast! I started translating every word for the first few pages, but now I am picking up words and able to workout a few words, too! 
Two *temporary* best-friends

  • I have 4 days off over this Bank Holiday Weekend and I'm not afraid to use them!



Thursday, 26 July 2012

Gingham Disaster

You win some, you lose some. I lost this time....

I used the Simplicity Pattern Runway 2176

See through!

The pattern is fine- it would be great in a Silk Habotai or Shantung, but that is not my day-to-day type of fabric and I mistakenly took a nice cotton and used that. Mistake. It was too thin and it just doesn't work and looks quite dated on me, like I have attempted to make a 1950s day dress, badly.
All is well, I shall dismantle and reuse. In reflection, I have used a shirting cotton for a dress that needs a heavier drape.
However, on the bright side, I am happy with my:




If there ever is to be a next time, I must:

Shorten the skirt of the dress so that the skirt band sits above the knee or just on it.

Lengthen the bodice by 3cm to allow it to sit on my waist and not, as now, unpleasantly below my ribs giving my figure a most unbecoming silhouette.

This dress will be dismantled and reused, fear not!

In other news:

I am working on my 4th project for friends and friends of friends, word is getting around! So far I have: taken up hems on trousers, taken down hems on trousers, adapted a bargain maxi dress to fit a 5'2'' lady, totally revamped a bridesmaid dress and now I am making a black slip for a lace dress.

It's nerve-racking working for someone else and then giving it back and CHARGING them- but so far, so good.

Now to work on a less 'icing' dress and more of a 'cake' dress.



Saturday, 21 July 2012


Hello one and all!

I am back sewing and blogging!

Weddings and work have made me somewhat aloof in blogville but I have been sewing and I am now back with a bang!

I have been working on a few bits and bobs for girls and work, which is a really nice thing to do.. especially when my friends LOVE what I have done for them.

Currently I am working my way through making a cerise pink bridesmaid dress look a *little* bit better for a girl at work. I will reveal all....

Really happy to say that I have used techniques used for Gertie's Bombshell Dress, like the twill tape trick which has helping bring the bodice of this pink, erm, dress in nicely. Just changing a hem (herringbone style) and making the waist less sack-like and more feminine!

Nice to be back!



Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The 'happy medium' of tracing vs. cutting?

Do you cut into your patterns?

Do you make a meticulous tracing of each pattern piece in your size?

I do neither. I don't like to deny any future creations (for different people of different sizes) and I don't have the time to be reproducing full patterns in my size for preservation.
I'm making a little retro number for my first of five dresses for Abakhan Fabrics, I have a master plan for quick tracing but no cutting sizes out of patterns rendering them one-size only pattern pieces.

I cut around the WHOLE of the pattern piece and tape the size lines to improve their integrity. I used a paper tape here.

Taped piece (from the front)

By doing this, I am not cutting into a specific size, thus rendering any bigger and some smaller, useless.

The type of tape that I am referring to.
 Used at the back of the pattern piece.

Using carbon paper (the super large 100 x 150 cm Prym carbon paper) and tracing wheel, I create a sandwich of pattern, fabric and carbon paper. Tracing over the reinforced pattern piece like this means that it will stay intact and the tracing marks will be on the back of the fabric.

I then take off the pattern pieces, pinning the fabric in the exact same position. Flip. Use my tracing wheel and paper (underneath the fabric) and go over the traced shapes that I made from my first trace.

When you open the traced piece out, you have a perfect copy of the pattern piece and the ENTIRE paper pattern piece is intact with ALL of it's sizes.

This is essentially the Sew Retro Bomshell method, but with tape. If you have taken the course, then you know what I mean... but I thought that it would be good to just show this technique as I love it, you keep the integrity of all the sizes from a pattern, but saves a little time too.

Enjoy! My computer here is refusing to let me upload the whole tutorial pics, so I will upload what I have for now and keep adding to this.



Sunday, 24 June 2012

Slippin' 'Eck!- First project for someone else...

You can get away with imperfections and omissions when you are creating and making a garment for yourself. How about when a friend asks you to make something for them? This is my dilemma right now. I'm sweating!

This dress is a lace long sleeved dress, which looks fabulous on my friend. However, the 'slip' is a nude/beige slip which looks lovely underneath but has been worn to death by my friend (the same dress is appearing on Facebook 'tags' too many times, we all know what that's like!) and now she wants a black slip and also, maybe, a turquoise slip. Would you make one for me Caff? Yeah, why not.

Here is the dress in its entirety:

Here is the slip on the outside:

Here is the dress on the inside:

Interfacing in elastic bound to sit at the bottom of the bust, snuggly. Obviously overlocked using an industrial machinery.
This slip fabric components:

45% Rayon
25% Cotton
15% Nylon
15% Spandex

This pattern appears to be ticking the right boxes:

McCall's M4979 Camisole 

Ditto Fabric's Black Stretch Satin is a Polyester/ Lycra Mix. The Lycra content is only 3% however, compared to the 15% of the original fabric.

Let me know what you think and if you have any further suggestions.



Thursday, 14 June 2012

The Bombshell Sessions... The Final Chapter!

Thank goodness too, just in time for the wedding. I stayed up until 1am the night before I flew out to the UK finishing and hemming. All worth it, my friend looked beautiful and it was a really special day. One of those days that make you happy, tearful and grateful- all at the same time. We all met as 18 year old student nurses and now we are all nurses, adults and getting married.  

I lined the dress and boned the dress. I even added the waist-belt. I added the bows as a little bit of fun and they also hide the somewhat ghastly stitch-lines of the rigilene boning in which just stop and start in the middle of the lining at times.  

I did have some in progress pictures of the boning process but I didn't realise that my SD card was still in the computer, so all I was taking was 'demo' pics which delete themselves. C'est la vie.

The old-school seam-binding tape was a nice addition. Using catch-stitch, there is not even a hint of stitching lines to be seen from the outside.

I am really happy with this dress. I love the fit and the feel and now can see where all the hours of labour have gone into. Realistically, if I procrastinated less and worked more... this dress would have been done by the end of May. I was worried I couldn't do it, so took my time. Hindsight leads me to think that I could have 'upped the ante' a little.

In reflection:

  • I needed to attach a hook and eye to the top of the zip, thankfully my reliable friends had a few safety pins on them and this stopped me worrying all the time about doing my zip up. It kept on working its way down to an inch loose. I have attached the moment I have got home!
  • I needed to account for lining and the rigilene more. It looks great, but its very cosy.

Here are some pics from the day....

Gold tribal jewellery and a bottle green vintage jacket

Zebra Print shoes and bag.. shown off whilst I performed the 'Running Man'..... tee hee.

Time Taken: 60 hours
Fabric: Bought from The Fabric Godmother at £8/metre = £16. Lining from Lincoln Market at £3/metre = £4.50. Thread 20p (from bumper bargain on eBay), Zip £1.50 from Hickeys (Ireland habdab and fabric shop), Boning £4, Other bits and bobs £5

Total Spend £30ish
Make Again? Yes, next month! Yikes

It was great! Next month, the next 'Wedding Guest Dress'



Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Bombshell Sessions #6 - By Jove.... The Lapped Zipper

By Jove! She only went and put a zipper in!
Yes, the zipper is in place and it is looking and feeling good. I have not taken a pic of me in the dress, so I won't lead you on thinking that there will be a "wearing-it"reveal. Oh no, that is next week- when I am at the wedding, Saturday in fact. But let's be straight, this is one of my bestest friends weddings, if you think that there is a notion that I will be uploading pics on Saturday of me at the wedding- you got another thing coming. I will show y'all on Sunday, when I am appropriately hungover, in my pyjamas, eating big macs (and instantly regretting doing so). 
OK... the weather is like this in Ireland right now....

Nice. Sewing friendly weather. Walk Clive v v v early, so he doesn't jump up like this...

...when I'm sewing zippers in.

I changed my mind about the zipper colour, I have opted for a more co-ordinated green, rather than the purple that I thought would contrast nicely. Lapped zippers do not need to be a wow... CONTRAST. I thought it was better to have a subtle and barely there zipper that matched the leaves of the jungle.

This was the original picture of my materials that you may remember as I was assembling all the required bits and bobs for the dress. I am still going to line the dress with the burgundy but now I won't co-ordinate the zipper with the lining. Ahem, I know... what was I thinking?!

Doing a lapped zipper, is quite frankly a joy to do. I loved the pinning and the planning. Basically, you are forming a over-LAPPED seam and then whacking in the zip. Easy. Follow what Gertie says and you will not go wrong. It is video excerpts like putting in this lapped zipper that I will watch again and again and again... and I can, because its mine forever! Bargain.

So here is my zip. The main frame of the dress is complete! All that needs to be done is a lining, boning and a fancy-up. Simples.

It needs an iron, I know. Tonight I will catch-stitch the whole thing across the top of the bust, all the way across to the zip. I will unpick the blue thread tracing that you can just about see by the zebras eye and I will watch the rest of the videos. Up tomorrow at 7am. Walk the hound and then a full 10 hours at it. Well, it does need to be done by Thursday (hopefully the last bits are hand-sewing bits, so I can take it to the UK and finish it Thursday and Friday)

Until tomorrow....




After reviewing my zip, I realised that it was well below par and not looking anywhere near as good as what it should do...

The green line is my old stitching, I was awe-struck that I was DOING IT and having sat down to unpick the blue thread stitching... I realised how unhappy I was with the finished product. So I went at it again, this time with dark green silk thread and now it is as straight as a die, yipee!

Now, I'll sign off happy :D