Tag Archives: dressmaking

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!

Marfy Couture Jacket Finally Finished!

After a bit of a sewing hiatus this summer, my Marfy couture jacket is finally finished!

Woo hoo!!!!!

I started the jacket back in June, when I was fortunate enough to travel to Baltimore to take a week-long couture sewing class with Susan Khalje. I had a fantastic time, learnt more than I thought possible, and left with an almost-completed jacket and a list of things I needed to do to finish it up.

Here’s how things looked back in June…

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The exterior was all done. The lining was almost put together, apart from the sleeves. All I had left to do was finish the inside of the jacket, finish the lining, and attach one to the other.

When I got home, I put the jacket on my dress form in my sewing room, and I’m sorry to say that there it stayed until the end of the summer. I did have a bit of a crazy summer, and, after all, it’s hard to find the motivation to finish making a jacket when it’s way too warm to wear it.

Come the beginning of September, I decided it was finally time. There was a bit of a nip in the air in the mornings and it was clear that autumn was on its way. Ideal jacket-and-jeans weather was on its way. I decided my jacket Needed Finishing, and the best way to do it was to tackle one job at a time,

First up, finishing off the lining by attaching the sleeves to the main body of the lining…

… and may I just say that this was probably the hardest part of the entire jacket – that silk charmeuse is one slippery fabric! There’s absolutely no give in it, and just when you think you’ve managed to ease the sleeve into the sleeve-hole (for want of a better word), you realise that you’ve managed to rotate the whole sleeve by about 45° and the blasted thing’s all wonky, so you have to take out the basting stitches and start again. It literally took a week to get it right, by which point I was seriously considering leaving the sleeves unlined!

Then, catch stitching the seams of the jacket exterior to the underlining…

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… hand-overcasting the arm-hole seams…

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… and giving it a good pressing.

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After the trauma of attaching the sleeves to the lining, attaching the lining to the exterior of the jacket went like a dream …

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… and then it was time to create and attach the patch pockets…

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Et, voilà! My jacket was finished! I think it’s gorgeous, but then again, I could be a wee bit biased!

I’ve decided that, for now, I’m not going to add any trim. I haven’t found anything I like enough, I’m not sure that it really needs it, and, to be honest, I’m not entirely convinced that adding a trim is really ‘me’ (I’m more of a jeans and sneakers kind of gal). There’s always the possibility of adding something at a later stage, if I choose, but for now I’m more than happy to wear my beautiful, perfectly-fitting, hand-crafted jacket with pride, all the while planning my next couture sewing project 🙂

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(Fabric from Mendel Goldberg, 72 Hester St, New York, NY100o2)

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?

Couture Sewing Class

For Christmas last year, the wonderful RR bought me a week-long couture sewing class in Baltimore with Susan Khalje.

Wow! A whole week of learning high-end couture sewing techniques with a group of like-minded ladies! Sounds too good to be true, right?

Well, after months of anticipation, trying to decide on what to make during the class, and (most recently) butterflies in my stomach thinking that everyone else is going to be a bazillion times better than me and will surely laugh at my pitiful attempts at sewing, it’s finally here. I’m in Baltimore (the vagaries of the US transportation system notwithstanding…) and the course starts this morning.

I am more than excited!

So – what did I finally decide to make?

I had initially thought I would make a beautiful cocktail dress. Then I realised that I never actually go anywhere that requires me to wear one. And seeing as there’s no real point in making something I won’t really get to wear, however beautiful it is, I eventually decided to make a jacket. I hadn’t made a jacket before (well, until I made my Chanel-style cardigan jacket, that is, with its attendant sleeve issues…), and given my lifestyle, I’m much more likely to wear a jacket than a cocktail dress 🙂

So, I was all set to make a jacket from Simplicity 4014. I love the figure-flattering shape of both the short jacket and the longer, knee-length coat (I love the dress too, as it happens!)

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I couldn’t decide which length I preferred, so I made my toile of the longer length – and here it is, looking like a glorified lab coat with writing on…

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But then, a couple of weeks ago, I came across this free Marfy pattern – 1756 – for a similar, but altogether more elegant jacket. That put me into a bit of a dilemma, as I loved this jacket too. So I decided to make a toile for the Marfy jacket as well, and then let the fabric decide once I had picked it.

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I arrived in the US just over a week ago, and have been staying with friends just north of New York. This, of course, presented me with the ideal opportunity to pop into the city for the day to do a touch of fabric shopping. At Susan’s recommendation, I schlepped down to the Lower East Side to the fantastic Mendel Goldberg on Hester Street. The wonderful Alice devoted a good couple of hours to helping me pick out a bouclé for my jacket and a matching silk charmeuse for the lining. It was divine! I was like a kid in a candy shop, and I seriously could have spent thousands of dollars in there, but in the end I was very restrained and confined myself to this.

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Isn’t it beautiful???!

After much deliberation, I think the fabric would suit the Marfy jacket better, so that’s what I’m going to make.

So my pattern is chosen, my toile is ready, and I am abuzz with Tiggerish excitement. I’ve been awake since the crack of dawn! So all I can say is roll on 9.30, when the course officially starts and I can finally get stitching!