Tag Archives: dress

Toile-ing my Way Through a Hideous Heatwave

Now I’m not usually one to moan, but by heck have I been grouching and grumping around the place these past 2 weeks. Summer’s hit us here in Switzerland, and it’s hot. Really hot. Deeply, unpleasantly, airlessly hot. It’s been well into the 30s every day for 2 weeks now, with pretty much no breeze to speak of. It’s the kind of weather that is physically and mentally draining, where you only feel clean for about the 30 seconds after you get out of the shower, and it takes at least an hour to summon up the energy to make dinner, let alone eat it.

Yup – we’re in the middle of a heatwave. La canicule as they call it here. And – guess what – I really do not like the heat!

Last Monday, I finally persuaded RR to hook up our portable air conditioner for the summer, so I can now get some relief by sitting in a chair right in front of it, but as soon as I move the wall of heat hits me again. This means I’ve barely moved from the dining table for the past week…

But I’ve been keeping myself occupied, nonetheless. RR’s lovely cousin Miss L is getting married in September, so, of course, this means plenty of sewing to keep me busy over the summer. I’m not only making Miss L and Mr D a quilt as a wedding gift (of which more at a future date), I’m also planning to sew myself an outfit to wear on their big day.

And so, while the weather’s been all hot and bothersome outside, I’ve been narrowing down pattern and fabric options, and I’ve got it down to a shortlist of 2.

Option 1 is a classic and elegant Vogue pattern for a sleeveless sheath dress with a cute little peplum detail at the waist, and a separate belt to tie in the back (pattern number Vogue 1399)

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I was thinking to use this beautiful white and navy cotton print, which I bought from Harlequin Fabrics in Leamington Spa when I was back visiting Mum earlier in the year.

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It’s reasonably heavy weight, so I think it will give the dress a nice amount of structure, and it also has a little stretch to it, so it  should be comfortable to wear.

My second option is something altogether different – a Butterick Retro pattern for a 1950s style dress with a fitted bodice, flared, panelled skirt, and lovely detailing with turned back lapels, faux buttons on the bodice, and pointed turn-back cuffs on the sleeves  (pattern number Butterick 6018)

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For this option, I’ve kind of earmarked some beautiful Art Gallery fabric –Butterfly Bliss by Pat Bravo, and I think it would look super-cute if I made the collar and cuffs in a plain white lawn as a contrast to the main fabric.

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I’d originally bought this to make a dress for my niece, the lovely Miss B, but as she has yet to send me any of her measurements, I thought I’d appropriate it for me… Hee hee!

So – pattern and fabric choices narrowed down, I started work on a toile for each one. Sitting at the dining table. In front of the air conditioner!

Here they are on my sorry excuse for a dress form (it’s fine for holding my works in progress but no good at all for fitting; no matter how I adjust it, I just can’t get it right – it seems I have odd proportions! One day I’ll get a custom one made just for me, with all my lumps, bumps, and wobbly bits, but in the meantime, the one I have is better than nothing…)

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1st toile for V1399

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1st toile for B6018

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B6018 bodice

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B6018 collar

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B6018 cuffs

Now, both toiles need a little adjustment (the Vogue one more than the Butterick one) and that is (hopefully) going to happen tomorrow, when I trot off for my new sewing class. The weather’s also due to break tomorrow, so fingers crossed, I should soon be able to get sewing 🙂

Here’s hoping, anyway!

Finish Along Q3 Goals – or, Living in La-La Land?

So, it appears that today is the last day to link up for the Q3 Finish Along, over at The Littlest Thistle.

I never quite got round to setting myself any goals for Q2, which is probably just as well as I’ve been so busy lately that I’m not entirely sure I actually managed to finish anything this past few months. I started a few projects, sure, but, well, they seem to have just been added to my ever-growing stack of Works In Progress rather than Beautifully Completed Creations. Oh well…

To be honest, I’m probably not going to achieve all that much this time around either. After all, it is the summer, and we have plans! Oh yeah, baby! Visits from my lovely niece, Miss B, and our Stateside friends Mr and Mrs S and their kids. A long weekend in Berlin. A trip back to the UK to see Mum and take in all 4 days of the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham with my friend Ms C. Days out locally, boat trips on the lake, picnics and barbecues. Not to mention a photography course I enrolled on to try and learn something about how to use my new-to-me camera. Phew!

But with about a bazillion projects on the go as usual, and an ever-growing stack of quilt tops waiting patiently to be quilted, I thought I’d link on up for Q3. Hopefully this will encourage me to get off my backside and actually finish something up over the summer.

Well, a girl can dream, can’t she?!

Dressmaking

Finish my Marfy Jacket…

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… which has been sitting in my sewing room ever since I got back from my couture sewing class in June. I’ve been finding the lining really tricky to put together, in particular attaching the sleeves to the lining body, as the silk is very slippery and there’s no ease in it at all. But it’s so beautiful, and I so want to see it finished and to wear it, that this is absolutely my number 1 goal for Q3!

Sundress

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Ha ha ha!!! Yes! This was on my list for Q1, and I never got round to it. But I still want to make a pretty sundress. I have the pattern, I’ve chosen the fabric and I’m all ready to go. But I’d better be quick about it or the summer will be over and I won’t get a chance to wear it…

Quilting

A while back, my friend Ms C decided that she wasn’t going to start on any new project until all her existing quilt tops were quilted. Now I have quite a stack of un-quilted tops awaiting my attention, and, what’s more, I really want to get better at free motion quilting, so I thought I would steal borrow her idea and focus on finishing things up for a change.

Well, this is a Finish Along, after all 🙂

Bear Paw Quilt

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I made this quilt top about 5 years ago, when I was still living in the US. It was a mystery quilt project at my local quilt store, and was intriguingly billed as a Trip to Alaska. All became clear when the top came together – a variation on the Bear Paw block in icy blues. The poor thing has been sitting forlornly in my cupboard ever since, waiting for quilting inspiration to strike.

Time to put it out of its misery, methinks.

Butterfly Quilt

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Another mystery quilt, this one, but much more recent.

This was the quilt I made at the latest Patchwork in the Peaks Quilt Retreat back in April. In the end I chose a butterfly print as my focus fabric, and I love how it turned out. I even know how I want to quilt it – with stipples and butterflies. I just haven’t got round to doing anything about it yet…

Solids Chevron Quilt

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I’ve become a little obsessed with solids recently. I obviously still love prints, but I’m intrigued about how using solids really focuses attention to the design and pattern of a quilt. I’ve also been wanting to make a chevron quilt for quite some time. So I combined my solids-obsession and chevron-desire and made this Solid Chevrons Quilt. And it’s big. Big enough for our super-king size bed.

All I need to do now is remove Mr. Boy from his new favourite spot before I can baste and quilt it 🙂

Craftsy BOTM Quilt 2012

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I signed up in 2012 for the free Craftsy Block of the Month programme, and made all 20 blocks – woohoo!

Then I signed up for Leah Day’s companion class on Free Motion Quilting a Sampler. I’ve watched all the lessons (several times!), and love the quilting designs she’s come up with for each of the blocks, but that’s as far as I’ve got. I really need to stop watching and get started quilting!

And finally…

Start Mum’s (long overdue) bed quilt

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Pattern chosen and fabric picked. Mum’s birthday in October. Or (perhaps more realistically) Christmas a few months after! Let’s get cutting!

So there you have it, a snapshot of what I’m hoping might get done over the summer. Is it realistic? Or am I living in La-La Land? Only time will tell, but I’m certainly going to enjoy getting to work on some of these babies!

Linking on up to the Finish Along – why not pop over and see other people’s plans for the summer?

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

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?!