Monday, 27 May 2013

Deer and Doe Patterns

I do love looking at patterns. I especially love the smaller designers. Deer and Doe are one such brand, they're a French company and I'm ashamed to admit that whilst I've been looking at the site for a while, I've only just found the button which translates everything to English. So I've been guessing at a lot of the text and re-reading it in English has been a bit of a revelation.
I'm adding their Datura blouse (below) pattern to my wish list and I'm hopeful because my birthday is coming up real soon. Aren't the cut outs round the neck lovely? The other view has a peter pan collar and is just as gorgeous.

I'm also really tempted by the wonderful Pavot jacket. It's feminine without being too girly. Sadly it's out of stock at the moment, but to be fair it's a bit out of my skill range at the moment. I think I'll get a few more makes under my belt first before I try a jacket eh?
P.S. More on Butterick 5317 when I get back from Italy!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Butterick 5317 - Delightful Darts

I thought inserting darts would be a nightmare - actually they were surprisingly and satisfyingly easy.

I refered to my sewing bible (Vogue sewing) as to the proper way to go about doing things and then improvised a bit. Transfering the exact size of the dart to the material to the pattern turned out to be the hardest part, I used a combination of chalk and pins to get it right and then used contrast stitching to mark it more clearly as the chalk has a habit of rubbing off - only when you're tired though.


Then looking at the wrong side of the fabric I pinched together the dart sewing the two sides together by hand.

The darts were then pressed and machined properly into place and the red basting stiches removed. Followed by more pressing. Does anyone else sometimes think that sewing seems to involve more ironing than needles? To keep the points of the darts nice and sharp you don't backstitch, instead you reduce the size of the stitches as you aproach the tip and then you sew off the edge of the fabric, tying the loose ends togther in a double knot to secure.

Voila. Beautiful darts and only slightly burnt fingers. 

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

My sewing machine

This is my sewing machine, isn't it beautiful? It used to belong to my Nan and when she couldn't use it any more she gave it to me. It's a Singer 221K1 and aside from needing a bit of oil, it's working just fine today 50 years since it was manufactured.

The metal work is gorgeous, but most importantly it still has all the instruction booklets! I think I'd still be working out how to thread it otherwise. The page below was printed in 1963 and is a little sexist but it totally still applies to me. I certainly spend all my own income. Nobody else will give me any of theirs. 

Taken from "A Manual of Family Sewing Machines" Published by Singer in 1963

The machine is perfect for a nervous new sewer, it goes nice and slowly and there aren't too many bells and whistles. It only sews in a straight line and most of the time that suits me just fine. Mind you I think I'm still trying to master the "straight" part. There is also a little light that heats up so alarmingly I figure it must have a second function as a finger warmer - energy efficient it aint.

In the tray that sits in the top of the carry case is a little trove of treasures. It's full of twisted bits of metal (binding feet aparently?) and boxes of grease and needles which look like they were purchased with the machine. I'm slowly working my way through all the feet trying to figure out what they all do. Sadly what I don't have is a foot capable of a zig zag stitch which is making finishing the edges of my rapidly unravelling fabric an absolute nightmare, but more on that later. 

Weird but true, it also smells amazing.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The stash.

I've read a quite a lot of blogs on sewing. Many of the writers, whilst lovely, seem to have serious fabric hoarding issues.
Their "stash" takes up shelf after shelf, I've even seen entire walls covered in neat little rolls of colour coded goodness. The children/pets/writers seem to be well fed and exceedingly well dressed, so I can only assume that instead of being a money draining 'habit' these bloggers are just sensibly 'investing' in fabric.

And I can take a hint. I'm in.

Now I'm one of those people who actively enjoy decluttering (especially other peoples stuff). So I was pretty sure that fabric hoarding tendancies would be difficult to cultivate. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Today I went to buy fabric for the dress at Leeds City Market and walked away with two beautiful possibilities. ONE OF WHICH WILL PROBABLY WAIT FOR ANOTHER AS YET UNDECIDED PROJECT. I have a stash! Ha! Financial responsibility here I come!

Sneak peak - spotty navy cotton and a super soft drapey denim

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Butterick B5317 - The muslin

I have been working on the bodice muslin of my very first dress. It is all very exciting, my room is covered in red and cream threads and the ironing board has officially been hogged.
For the first attempt I cut a size 14 - not what I'd pick up in a shop, but I was following the measurements. I cut the outer pieces and the lining both out of the muslin fabric and slowly assembled them into something resembling a sports bra. I was inordinately pleased with the finished piece until I put it on. Sadly it was too big, so big in fact that I had to pop a pin in the middle of the back piece for the photo below.


However, I liked the shape, so I ripped it all apart (spreading even more fluff and thread everywhere) and trimmed the pattern down to a size 12. When I re-made it I didn't bother with the lining in the interests of time and so the pictures of the size 12 look much worse. 

The good news is that generally it's a better fit. The bad news is that the back is a bit of a disaster, I think the scoop is a bit low and wide. It looked much better in the 14 when I took some width out between the straps on the back, so I'm toying with altering the pattern. Is it a bit ambitious to make pattern alterations on your first time? 

The bit I found really awkward has actually been the cutting. This fabric has such a loose weave that it pulls apart and stretches making cutting exact shapes difficult, so I'm pretty sure everything is a bit wonky. However, apart from the neck ache I got from hunching over sewing away, I've really enjoyed it so far. I've got some fairly difficult bits to come - I'm imagining inserting a zipper is no walk in the park, but I shall keep you updated. 

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Lacy Daisy Peplum Top of Dreams

I'm merrily sewing away on my butterick muslin - pictures to come soon. But in the meanwhile I thought I'd stick up a picture of a top I really really really want.

Photo courtesy of
It was from a feature on Glamour magazines website on what to wear to a spring wedding. (I don't have a spring wedding to go to, but it'd sure brighten up a trip to morrisons). Glamour claimed it was from Dorothy Perkins and so I haunted the DP website like a hopeful little ghost for ages hoping to find it. But alas it never appeared. 

So instead I decided I'll make it for myself! Probably not in beige either, because I don't actually want to be washed out like a little ghost. What I've got to work out now though is how to construct it and in what fabrics. Any thoughts?...