Category Archives: Dressmaking

A Spring Wedding Outfit

I know, I know, it’s been *ahem* quite a while since I last posted on my blog, but that’s not to say that I haven’t been busy. Oh no indeedy! It’s just that what with one thing and another – Easter, lovely friends visiting, Patchwork in the Peaks quilt retreat, RR’s cousin’s wedding, and visit to Mum amongst them – blogging seems to have fallen off the radar recently. But having been so busy lately also means I have lots to write about – and I thought I’d start off with the dress I made to wear to Ms S and Mr E’s wedding.

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I saw the pattern for this dress in the catalogue in my local fabric store in Lausanne and loved it so much that I bought it straight away – I just couldn’t wait to get started, and the thought of waiting over a week to get the pattern shipped from England was just too much to bear! Sadly this meant that I got instructions in French, German and Dutch, rather than in English, but, hey, it was good for my French and I picked up the odd sewing-related term in German too 🙂

I already had the ideal fabric for this dress sitting in my cupboard, a lightweight grey wool I had picked up at Beckenstein Fabrics when I was in New York over Thanksgiving. It was an offcut, just 1 1/2 yards, but I knew immediately I saw it that it needed to be made into an elegant shift dress – and so, several months later, (French) pattern in hand, I got cutting and stitching.

The pattern came together really quickly, and over the course of a couple of weeks my wonderful sewing teacher Sabina helped me fit it and showed me how to create a proper facing and attach a lining. Shoes and bag had already been purchased, so everything was ready to go, and I was able to concentrate on the quilt I was making as a wedding gift for the lovely couple.

Then, one week out, disaster struck – I tried the dress on and it no longer fitted! With the benefit of hindsight, this was Not Entirely Unsurprising as I had been scoffing chocolate over Easter like a crazy woman, but it came as a bit of a shock when the dress barely zipped up (well, I got it zipped up, but breathing then became a problem – oops!) Cue an entire week of eating nothing but salad, combined with some judicious seam alterations and – Ta Da! Still a little tighter than I’d like, but all things considered, not bad at all…

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I absolutely love this dress (despite the not-doing-up trauma!). I’ve already made a second version in a gorgeous light blue linen I bought in Paris – and I have plans to make several more. It’s a simple make, nice and flattering and very elegant. Perfect, in fact, for a wonderful spring wedding.

Dress pattern – Burda Style 3477

Shoes – Russell & Bromley Smoothie 2 in Sky Blue

Bag – Le 48-50 de Lancel in Sky Blue

Last minute holiday sewing

As I write this post, I am on my way to Barbados. And boy do we need a holiday! New York over Thanksgiving was marvellous, and the UK a few weeks ago was wonderful too, but with so many friends and family we wanted to see and so much we wanted to fit in, neither could really be classed as relaxing. Lots of fun, certainly. But exhausting too. We’re bone-achingly tired. 10 days of proper rest and relaxation is most definitely called for.

I’d already made some clothes to take away with me, primarily a couple of pretty skirts, but the last few days have seen a veritable flurry of activity in my sewing room. My first little project was caused by the realisation that I needed a plain white top to wear with said new skirts. My goes-with-everything top from last year sadly no longer fits (it must have shrunk in storage…), and I couldn’t find anything suitable in the shops in Lausanne. So I decided to make one, using some white broderie anglaise fabric I had in my stash. The result was this precious little top, which I adorned with a little turquoise ribbon as a pretty trim.

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After that, all was ready to pack, and as I was merrily putting things into cases, I came across RR’s ratty old drawstring bag full of various cables, chargers and adapters. I have always hated this bag. It’s too big for what he uses it for, so everything ends up in it all higgledy piggledy. You can never find what you’re looking for in it, and everything gets all tangled up and messy. Now, I had some Spitfire fabric left over from a cushion I’d made him for Christmas, and I wondered if I could make a better bag to contain all those cables.

Of course I could! And here it is.

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I used u-Handbag.com’s Sugar Loaf Pouch pattern again, only this time I borrowed the template from my friend Ms C, so it actually turned out the right size. I still can’t work out what went wrong with the printing the first time around, but thankfully this time it worked like a dream.

Then I decided to make myself a couple. Just because I was already all packed and I had the time and I was jealous of RR’s bag. I used a couple of fat quarters I’d had prettying up my stash for a good three or four years. I made the larger size for all my cables, and the smaller one for a little holiday medical kit – tablets, plasters, etc.

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Sitting together, pretty as can be…

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Side view

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View from top

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Check out that top-stitching!

I’m pretty sure I’ll be making some more soon, given that they’re so pretty, and so easy to make (once you have the right size pattern template, that is!) Imagine what a lovely little gift that would make, stuffed full of yummy Swiss chocolates 🙂

But for the next few weeks, all I have to concentrate on is deep rest and extreme relaxation.

Bring it on 🙂

Dreaming in Turquoise

Over the winter months, I tend to do less dressmaking. In the summer I love wearing flirty skirts and pretty sundresses, both of which are fun to make, but during the winter I usually feel less inspired. I’ve been working on the same dress for a couple of months now. It’s a simple shift dress, made from an off-cut of beautiful grey wool which I picked up for a song in New York back around Thanksgiving, and I’m lining it with a gorgeous turquoise coloured satin. The dress is coming along well – all that’s really left to do is line and hem it – and if I like the end result, I’m planning to use the same pattern to make a dress to wear to Miss S and Mr E’s wedding in May, using some glorious pale blue French linen I bought in Paris a few weeks back.

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Shift dress                       Lining

But as February is coming to an end, my thoughts have once again been turning to the warmer months ahead, and, in particular, to our upcoming holiday. In two weeks’ time, RR and I are flying away for some summer sun in the Caribbean. We’ll be spending 3 days relaxing on Barbados, followed by a week-long cruise aboard a Clipper ship. Needless to say, we’re looking forward to it immensely! We’ve never been to the Caribbean, and we’ve never been away in the winter to some place sunny, and we love Clipper cruising, so we’re both very excited! But what to take to wear??? Back in January, I had a massive re-organisation of my sewing room, and since then all my dressmaking fabric has been moved from the top shelf of the spare room wardrobe. It’s now temptingly on display in my glass-doored fabric cupboard, bang in the middle of my sewing room. I see it every time I’m in there or walk past it (which is most of the time, to be honest!) And sitting on the top of the stack of dressmaking fabric are some beautiful prints, ideal for making pretty, summery skirts and dresses. DSC00644 So the combination of our upcoming holiday and having all my fabric on view has got me inspired with my dressmaking again. So far, I’ve made two summery skirts, and I’ve earmarked some fabric to make a sundress to take with me on holiday (which is also turquoise – my new favourite colour, it seems!)

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              A-line skirt with wide yoke and box pleats      Panelled straight skirt with flared hem

I’m back in the UK at the moment (hopefully the skirts will still fit by the time I get back home!), but now I’m absolutely raring to go with the sundress and my wedding outfit for May. And I’m pretty sure that when I do get started next week, I will have plenty of ‘help’ from my chief sewing assistant, Mr. Boy. Whilst Mimi Bubba likes to help me quilt, usually by plonking her not insubstantial bulk on top of whatever I happen to be piecing or quilting, Mr. Boy prefers to help out with dressmaking. And his favourite activities to help with are stealing tape measures and lying on top of crinkly-sounding  pattern paper. DSC00665 What a helpful boy! It’s a good thing I love him, isn’t it?!

Fabric Fast Projects – and Q1 2014 Finish-along

Well, my plan for tackling my mountain of projects is coming along nicely. Stage 1 is well underway – I’ve been sorting out my sewing room over the past week, and will finish up just as soon as RR builds the Ikea bookshelves we bought to house my overflow projects, which are currently sitting in piles all over the place. Then I’ll be able to see everything at a glance, and stop having to hide stuff away in drawers and cupboards. Result!

Phase II was to create a list of all my projects, and decide what to work on first. Well, that’s actually done. And it’s makes for scary reading.

…Takes deep, steadying breath…

As of yesterday, the situation was as follows:

  • Current projects in progress – 22
  • Projects all ready to go, but sadly not yet started – 46
  • Quilt tops waiting to be quilted -10

Oh my!!!! I never realised it was that bad. And that’s only quilting-related projects, not dressmaking ones, or bags, or knitting. I haven’t dared to add those in…

It’s all a bit daunting, really. I’d better started, then, hadn’t I?!

And so, without further ado, here are the projects I plan to be working on during my 6 month Fabric Fast, and also (because I can always roll them forward to future quarters) my goals for the Q1 2014 Finish-Along, hosted by the lovely Katy at The Littlest Thistle.

Projects I Started Ages Ago And Never Quite Got Round To Finishing

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Red, Black and White Friendship Quilt

When we left the US in 2010, a load of quilting friends made 12 1/2″ blocks for me in a red, black and white colour way. I finally got round to getting border and backing fabric, and I’d love to get this put together and quilted.

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Stitcher’s Garden Quilt

Started in 2009, it’s an appliqué quilt of different flowers, I’m so nearly there but then we moved to Switzerland, I put it in a box and promptly forgot about it…

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Bunny Hill Stripes Quilt

In baby pink and soft grey. So beautiful. Such an easy pattern. Don’t know why I’ve not finished it yet!

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Double Hourglass Quilt II

At the second Patchwork in the Peaks Quilt Retreat, we made double hourglass quilts using jelly rolls. This is my second version. It was going to be a birthday present, but I can’t remember who for.  All the blocks are sewn, it just needs putting together and finishing up

Projects that are ready to go

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Quilt for Baby Daniel

I bought the kit in the US in December, and just need to get cracking on making the quilt itself. I’m back in the UK in February, and would like to deliver or post it then, so I’d better get cracking 🙂

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Kitty Camouflage Leftovers Quilt

After making the Kitty Camouflage Quilt, I was left with a load of 9″ HSTs, plus 2 1/2″ strips of various lengths and some yardage. I want to make something useful with it – probably lap-sized, probably for Mum.

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Sundress for our holiday

We’re off on a Caribbean cruise in March, and I want to make another sundress to take along, like the one I made last summer.

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Outfit for Ms S and Mr E’s wedding in May

I bought some glorious fabric in New York back in December, and have a great looking pattern, I just need to lose those extra few pounds and get cracking!

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Whole Lotta Bag – QAL with Katy @ The Littlest Thistle

Love the look of this bag pattern, and doing it as a sew along will motivate me to get it all finished rather than putting it down when I get to the difficult bits and forget about it…

Quilts tops to quilt

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Kaleidoscope Quilt 

I made the top at a class I took with Marti Michell back in September, and have started quilting it, I just ran out of inspiration and motivation a few months ago.

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Kitty Camouflage Quilt

I finished the top last year, can’t decide how to quilt it, need to drag it out of the cupboard and take another look.

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Amy Butler Jacob’s Ladder Quilt

Made using Soul Blossoms charm squares and 2 1/2″ strips, with a bright orange background, I finished it a year or so ago. I love this quilt, it’s so bright and cheerful that I really want to get it all done and put to good use!

And, because I’m an ADD quilter, I need to have some projects I can pick at when I need something different – I doubt any of these will get finished this year, but, hey, you never know!

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Grandmother’s Flower Garden Hexies

I’ll be doing a fair bit of travelling this year and this is my ultimate take-along project. This one’s been going on for about 3 1/2 years now…

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Blue Squares quilt

I started this back in October, at a class given by my friend Judy, and I like to pick it up every few weeks and make another block or two. It’s going to be one of those long-term kind of projects. I’m hoping it will make a lap-sized quilt.

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Scrappy Strips Blocks

I don’t even remember how I got started on this one, it’s been around for 4 years or so and I’m still working on it on and off. It’s basically made up of 6 1/2 ” squares formed of scrap strips of varying width. I know it will be beautiful, and full of so many memories, and I’m on no hurry to finish it. It’ll eventually be king sized, to put on our bed.

Oh, and I’m also planning on getting and then staying up-to-date with my Blocks of the Month – from the Fat Quarter Shop and the Sugar Block Club over at Stitchery Dickory Dock.

So there you have it. Seems quite optimistic, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say.

I’ll be keeping you all up to date with my progress, so come back again soon and see how I’m getting on 🙂

Linking up with Fabriholics Anonymous Fabric Fast and the Q1 2014 Finish-Along – why not pop over and see what other quilters have planned this year?