Tuesday 24 September 2019

September at Plush Addict

I've got some wonderful prints, a snuggly knit and some fantastic canvas at a bargain price in this month's post for sponsors Plush Addict.  I never struggle when I put together my monthly selection, Kellie Rose always has something new to capture my attention:

Clockwise from top left:

  1. Dashwood 'Elinor' 8 FQ Bundle, I love this collection from Ali Brooks, I think she's my favourite Dashwood designer.  So much to like with these print: sisters,  houses, strawberries- I know I can't resist the 'Wild Berries' print!  All prints are available as yardage.
  2. Art Gallery, 'Keeping Watch Dim Knit' jersey.  This print is from Bonnie Christine's 'Lambkin' collection from a few years back.  It was aimed at makes for children but many of the prints cross over- I have some of this waiting to become the cosiest jersey pyjamas like these.  I totally recommend using the Grainline Linden with cotton spandex jersey for a comfy PJ top, I have worn these so much and they always make me feel snuggly!  There's not much left of this one so if you fancy it, don't delay!
  3. Dashwood 'Laska'8 FQ Bundle.  Jilly P draws the best animal prints!  The Laska collection has so many popular motifs, bears , polar bears , whales , wolves 
  4. Cotton Fabric Linen Look Canvas- Kitchen Jars in Natural.  Love this, it looks like an expensive Scandi inspired Japanese fabric, and yet it's a cotton canvas bargain at £7.80/metre.  I would be making kitchen chair cushions and a cross-back apron with this fabric.  Check these Robins out for another outstanding print at a great price.  

Sunday 22 September 2019

Simple Folk Quilt: Rabbit & Horse

I've been trying to keep up with my Simple Folk quilt (Sarah Fielke's Block of the month 2018) whilst returning to my term-time work schedule, sorting out family stuff like the daughter returning to Uni and a new role doing some social media work for Clothspot, a gem of an online garment-making fabric shop.  Much of my sewing for this has been rather repetitive (the centre circles and leaves of the spacer blocks) as well as the eight leaf garland border blocks, but for a treat, I work on the animals as well!

Sarah's drafting of the animals really is excellent and I just love finding fabrics for them all. I'm digging deep into my lawn scraps and I was recently given a lovely lawn bundle of pieces by Valerie from my local Modern Quilt Guild which I'll be using wherever I can on the remaining animals.  Lawn really does make a huge difference in reducing fraying and bulk and making the little zigs and zags of the horse's mane and the rabbit's tail.   The end is some way off but definitely in view!

Wednesday 18 September 2019

Wiksten Shift Dress: Long Length in Double Gauze

I tried to resist the Wiksten Shift Dress pattern, it was all over social media a few months ago and I wait to see if it's just a passing fancy or a style I think will suit me as well as a style I would actually make, wear and enjoy.   I recently updated my desktop computer and as I saved files and swapped data over, I could see many PDF patterns that I've bought and never sewn.  In the end,  I'd seen so many people on Instagram looking great in the midi dress version that I bought it as a PDF.  It is pricey (another reason I was resisting) but now I've made two, I can see why.  It is deceptively simple, but carefully and thoughtfully designed.  

I made a size 0.  I ummed and ahhed between sizes 0 and 2 and as soon as I cut the PDF pattern out and did some measuring, I could see that the smallest size would be the best match.  I'm 5'5" and my measurements fell between sizes 0 and 2.   There are detailed size recommendations and examples here.  On the dress, the back section under the yoke is gathered to create the extra volume- that gives the dress it's movement and ease when walking so there's no sense of restriction.  The dress front is much narrower so creates more of a column effect when viewed from the front.  I made a couple of changes- I did the forward 1/2" shoulder adjustment from the Wiksten journal (on my second, I also made a small high round back adjustment of a scant 3/8" which stopped the neckline falling back at all).  My sleeves are about 1/2" too as I accidentally lopped 1/2" off the paper pattern when sorting the shoulder adjustment out!  I corrected this for the next dress!   I also added some interfacing to the waist tie, just a small section along the centre back- it adds a little more body to the area that lies against that part of your body (see pic below)...

Top sewing tip coming up:  I added a bar (from small hook and bar fastenings) on the inside of each split, right at the top (example below is on dress two).  This adds some strength to a vulnerable area and it has worked well as I've worn both dresses a lot with no wear on the splits.

Otherwise, everything else is as the pattern stated.  I used a double gauze that I bought from Stitch at a show.  This had a standard gauze front layer and a loose weave underlayer which meant it frayed like crazy!  But it is soft, opaque and quite drapey so it suits the style well.  

Seeing the dress without the belt shows a little more of the shape- the straight front and the fuller back. I sometimes wear it unbelted if I'm working from home or it's the latter part of the day and I want to relax. 

Like Jenny's other patterns, the design is timeless and there is a top option (the back narrower) which I can see myself making too.  I have worn this version and the second (in Nani Iro Bird's Eye double gauze) so many times that buying the pattern has definitely paid off.  I took both dresses to London for a weekend away last month and they were perfect for travel.  I could roll them up in a holdall on the train and then happily wear them for a day of sightseeing or with a close-fitting cardigan for meals out in the evening.  A classic summer into sunny autumn dress!

Wednesday 11 September 2019

Liesl+Co Gelato Dress in Tula Pink Sateen

I liked the look of the Liesl+Co Gelato dress since it first came out a couple of months ago.  There are a number of simple, shift style dress patterns that have been released recently: Gelato Blouse and Dress, Wiksten Shift Dress and Top,  and Closet Case Cielo top/dress.   I was very tempted by the Wiksten but I think it's too boxy for my frame and will look shapeless unless tightly sashed.  I liked the neckline on the Gelato and the welt pocket detail, as well as the long sleeve top option and Liesl always writes impeccable instructions, plus the closer fitting shoulders tend to look better on me.  

I found a paper pattern on eBay and made a toile- a top with a long sleeve, short sleeve and frill to test fit.  I made size 2 which matched my chest measurement.  The fit was a tiny bit tight across the chest and back just next to the armscye, a pulling and restrictive feeling.  So, I consulted Fit for Real People and also found a couple of Threads videos; How to Modify Sleeves for Better Arm Mobility and Correct a Pattern for Foward Shoulder.  I didn't remake my toile although I wished I had in hindsight, but I did make some changes.   I altered the sleeve cap pattern to make it a shallower curve (as in the first Threads video).  This added extra material on either side and raised the lower curve of armseye on the dress front and back by 3/8" at the  I also reshaped the cap for a forward shoulder following the second video and adjusted the shoulder seams adding 1/4" to the back and subtracting the same at the back.

The result is nearly but not quite right as you can see on some of the pictures- there's some lines and folds around the sleeve head/arm hole that indicate the fit is a little off.  But I have worn the dress a lot and some features like the pocket and the overall shape, I love.  I just need to really nail the sleeves!  The bust days and length are without alteration so do consider that the cup size is small on this dress (I'm an A/B cup at most).  The pocket construction needs to be slow and methodical as it needs to be symmetrical and balanced.

I used a Tula Pink cotton sateen that was originally designed as a quilt backing so was super wide at 108".  I only had a short length so the grain was rotated 90 degrees to fit the pattern pieces and I had to work the best I could to balance the birds across my body.  Sateen can be a little tricky to work with- all those floating threads which snag really easily- but it is soft and silky to wear.   I had similar fit niggles after I made my Liesl+Co Cinema dress which I only realised when I was wearing it, so I'm thinking that the block Liesl uses isn't quite right for my upper body. I've got a couple of other shift style dresses (Closet Case Ceilo and Maven patterns French Dart) so I'll be interested to see how those sleeves compare. 

Sunday 1 September 2019

Another Simple Folk Block and a Sunday Selection

September 1st, meteorological summer is over and the old workday routine is about to kick in but right now the sun is shining, I've caught up with family over the weekend and life is good so I'd thought I'd share my latest completed Simple Folk block of the month (2018) and a Sunday Selection of stitchy links.

I've also be working on the eight garland/leaf blocks and preparing more animal blocks.  The rooster is dressed in the finest Liberty lawn plus some Robert Kaufman Carolina lawn and a Suzuko Koseki buttons print.  The lawn is my go to for tiny pieces and pointy/skinny strips- it just makes life a lot easier!

There are a multitude of Sewing-themed September photohops on Instagram just kicking off  My heart lies of course with #GreatBritishQuilter although this year I'm no longer hosting with Sarah Ashford, the lovely Lucy Brennan is guest hosting with Sarah and I'm taking part along with all the other quilty participants.  You don't need to be British to take part- just a lover of British quilting- and the prompt sheet is available here.  If you want to double up or take part in a garment making photohop instead, Hannah and Rosie at The New Craft House are running #sewyourselfsustainable with a focus on sustainable sewing which you can post on daily or dip in and out of.  There's also #seweverydayseptember hosted by Sheona of sewisfaction.co.uk, a challenge designed to encourage, inspire and motivate you to sew everyday even if just for 10 minutes.

Digital Art
I've just got a new desktop- I don't like using a laptop and my old iMac was at breaking point so I bought a new one in a sale and I've been setting up new desktop images and sorting/clearing out all my old files from the last eight years.  It was a reminder of how much has changed in the online sewing world.  I went through all my old bookmarks and so many websites are no longer running, so many bloggers have finished blogging, websites no longer exist.  Such is life, constant change.  It did make me wonder what's coming next...meanwhile, I found a beautiful monthly Desktop calendar image by Rae Ritchie

I've made lots of dresses over the summer, all in the blogging queue and one of them involved lots of armscye sleeve/armhole fiddling around.  Gina of @ginareneedesigns shares the best mini videos and photo tips on Instagram including several recent posts about shoulder and armscye fitting, they are so helpful.  She also has a website with lots of very cute looking patterns too.