Chi Stitch #3

Despite torrential rain – and the fact that some people were enjoying a holiday somewhere warmer and drier – Karen and I were really pleased with another great turn out for the third meeting of the Chichester sewing group.

What I really enjoy, apart from the opportunity to chat to like-minded people, is seeing the range of activities that people bring along to work on.  This month I managed to get a shot of Cathy’s amazing denim circles quilt and she also made a fabric belt to match the vintage dress she’s making to wear to Revival at Goodwood.  We also had cushion making, shirt making, a baby quilt, jean alterations and someone mending the school production’s angel costumes!  Karen and I were working on current projects – mine yet another Esme dress (#1 in my Desert Island Patterns) which now just needs hemming. UPDATE : I started this post immediately after the meet-up but failed to finish it.  The dress is still waiting to be hemmed!

There was cake and thanks are due to What Corrine Did Next for her flapjack and Nutella Brownie recipes.  The flapjack recipe mentions butterscotch golden syrup which I wasn’t able to find but they were delicious nonetheless.  UPDATE : Corinne messaged me on IG to tell me she’d tracked it down on special offer in the Co-op!  I doubled the quantities to achieve the depth of mixture I needed for my tin.   There were also some salted caramel and chocolate cookies but I forgot to photograph them!  I’m very happy to be baking again.  I stopped after Mr Jane Makes’ heart attack but as he now runs about a million miles a week he’s allowed to have some treats!

I’m going to be helping Karen out on her stand for one day at The Great British Sewing Bee Live next month and I’m planning a dress in one of her fabrics so I can be the best possible ambassador for her wares.  I also want to look my best in case I meet Patrick Grant! She brought along a sample of the fabric and I’m really looking forward to using it.  UPDATE : I now have the fabric and am ready to start cutting out.

The next meeting of Chi Stitch will be on Wednesday 13 September at St George’s Church Hall, Cleveland Road, Chichester from 7.00 – 9.00 pm.  Hope you can join us.

 

 

Desert Island Patterns

I can’t remember how old I was when my parents decided that television viewing was not a suitable activity for young children and the TV disappeared from the house. I must have been at infants school but I had already had the exciting experience of seeing my letter to Junior Points of View displayed and read out on the programme! I had put in a special request to “Make Sooty Longer”. This was in the days before special effects so the BBC’s response was to stretch out a drawing of Sooty which clearly wasn’t what I was after.  I do remember being quite pleased at the time mind you!  How I wish I could find this clip in the BBC archive!

The upshot of the disappearance of the TV was that my sister and I just spent more time at our friends’ houses than at home so that we didn’t miss all the important stuff … Blue Peter, Bewitched, Top of The Pops, Alias Smith & Jones etc.  I got fed up of being asked at school “did you see?” and having to reply “we don’t have television”. Thankfully the grown ups finally relented when I was about 14 and a TV graced the corner of the living room once again.

You may wonder where this is going. Well, the lack of television meant that we listened to the radio and my childhood was filled with The Archers, Down Your Way, Gardeners’ Question Time, Letter from America and – most importantly for the purposes of this post – Desert Island Discs.  I’ve remained a fan of the radio and still listen to some of these programmes.

Desert Island Discs always sets me thinking what music I would choose but that usually ends up making me emotional because the choices often remind me of my dad.  Even the theme music to the programme can bring tears to my eyes!

So, I thought I’d change the theme and go for Desert Island Patterns!  If I was marooned on a desert island what patterns would I pick that I would be happy to stick with for what might be a very long time?  Obviously I would need to have been washed up with a sewing machine and fabric but I’m happy to go with some artistic licence here.

When I mentioned this idea to Mr Jane-Makes he thought eight patterns was probably too many for an on-going blog series so I’ll see how I go.  He likes to think of himself as my editor.

Let’s start with #1 today, although the choices will be in no particular order.

This has to be the Esme Dress pattern which is included in the excellent and inspiring book by Lotta Jansdotter.

I received this book as a gift from my sister and although the Esme is the only pattern I’ve used so far I do enjoy flicking through it and I’m sure I’ll try some of the other patterns eventually.  To be absolutely honest I did try the Pilvi Jacket but I somehow traced the pattern off incorrectly and the toile ended up in the bin!  I will have another go.

I’ve made several versions of the dress and I’ve had so many compliments on the bright green one. I could probably live in the denim version.  The Esme is so comfortable and dresses make getting ready in the morning so much easier.

There isn’t a sleeveless version of the dress in the book but I’ve made two striped versions sans sleeves which were perfect in the June heatwave.  I just edged the armhole with bias binding.  There’s no zip or other fastenings to worry about and it’s a great pattern to show off a dramatic print. There’s a bust dart and a neck facing and that’s it.  The pattern comes with patch pockets and I’ve also added in-seam pockets as an alternative.

It works particularly well with the curtain remnants I like to pick up and my good friend @vintage_charity is gifting me a piece of this charity shop find which will be perfect.

There’s also a top version of the pattern. I’ve made one so far and have more planned, including a sleeveless one.

Three of these dresses were made last year and are currently in the alterations pile because they are now too big.  They may end up being refashioned into something else – or the charity shop may benefit.  Either way, they will be replaced by more Esmes and this pattern will definitely be in the lifeboat!

Going back to televisions for a moment … my grandparents were also television-free but succumbed to the small screen in their later years and were completely converted.  I couldn’t believe that my discerning grandfather could be found watching soap operas!  My mother is also a big fan of the TV these days and is currently working her way through Netflix!

Don’t forget it’s the next meeting of the Chi Stitch – the Chichester sewing group run by The Draper’s Daughter and me – this Wednesday, 9 August.  We’ll be at St George’s Church in Cleveland Road from 7.00 – 9.00 pm.  I’ll be baking tomorrow night and there might be Nutella involved!  I haven’t decided what I’ll be sewing but I might be finishing off yet another (curtain fabric) Esme which I started last night.  If not, I have another non-garment related sewing project in my head which I might make a start on.

 

How many mistakes …..

….. can one person make sewing one simple garment?  Quite a few apparently!

I decided my next project on the sewing plan would be a Cleo dress.  I know everyone else has already made this pattern but I don’t like to rush into things!

I was given this pattern for my birthday by one of Mr J-M’s lovely daughters so that side-stepped my current new pattern embargo. I’m a big fan of aprons and a dungaree dress is therefore right up my street.

My original plan in the fabric/pattern stocktake was to pair it with the grey denim shown above from Ditto but I was slightly concerned the fabric was a bit too heavyweight.  I wanted to check how much sewing through several layers the pattern would be required so I picked a lighter weight, looser weave blue denim for my first attempt.    I bought this denim from The Fabric Godmother on her recent open day.

I was unsure about sizing for this dress as I didn’t want it to be too baggy.  I made a quick toile in Size 2 but realised it would be a bit of a wiggle to get this over my btm.  My very sensible friend @vintage_charity then pointed out that it would go over my head so I stuck with the Size 2.

This fabric frayed, A LOT!  I finished all the cut edges before I did anything else. I used a small piece of some fabric kindly gifted to me by Sheila from Sewchet  for the facing.  So far so good.

This really is a simple and straightforward pattern and the instructions are excellent.  I wasn’t sure about the top-stitching – I thought about red but in the end went for grey to be on the safe side.  I didn’t have any top-stitching thread and had read somewhere about using the triple stitch to achieve a similar effect.  I may never do this again because it is a nightmare to unpick (see below)!  I did vary slightly from the pattern with the top-stitching on the front and back centre seams because I preferred it to be symmetrical on each side of the seam.

I decided to go for the pocket on the bib and two hip pockets on the back.  I sewed the front pocket on perfectly.  For some reason I sewed the first of the back pockets the wrong distance from the edge.  Mistake One.   This is where I discovered that unpicking triple stitch is a pain and during the process I made a hole in the fabric.  Mistake Two.  Thankfully this is hidden by the pocket and I did a repair on the inside to stop it fraying.

I chickened out a bit when sewing the side seams together and went for a smaller seam allowance to allow for wriggle room and the dress does go on over my rear.

This is where things started to go REALLY badly.  I should NOT have decided to attach the straps and facing at 10.00 pm when I was way too tired to do anything sensible.  I pinned the straps on, pinned the facing on and sewed it.  I then trimmed the seam.  At this point I discovered that I’d put the facing on the wrong side of the dress. Mistake Four.  I unpicked it and sewed it back on the right way following the original stitch line.  Here comes Mistake Five ….. I’d put the b****y straps on the wrong side of the back piece!  How did I manage that??  At this point I went to bed.  NB : one thing that did go well was that the straps turned through beautifully without any difficulty!

6.00 am the next morning and I unpicked the back of the facing, re-attached the straps and finally all was well.  Apart from a bit more unpicking of some of the final top-stitching.  I’m not counting that as another mistake.  Five is more than enough.  The inside of the dress is a tiny bit of a mess in places but most of it is hidden under the facing.

I thought the metal fixings would be difficult to install but the buttons went in really easily just by pushing them together.  It is quite difficult to unclip the buckles once they are fastened but I think they will loosen up with use.

The only alteration I made (apart from the reduced seam allowances on the side seams) was to add an inch to the length of the mini version as it is quite short – and I’m only 5′!

I wasn’t planning to wear this dress for work but I changed my mind at the last minute.  It’s really comfortable and went very well with my steel toe cap boots on site!  I’m planning to get my sister to take some photos at the weekend.  Here’s the result of the 30 second photo shoot with Mr Jane Makes when I got home from work – rather gloomy (him and the lighting)!

I’ve got two more sets of the buckles on their way to me from Tilly.  I think the grey denim will be find as apart from top stitching the pockets there is no heavy duty sewing required.  I’m tempted by a striped version too.

 

New Look 6145

Back in 2015 I spotted this pattern as part of the Simplicity Star Sewist competition but failed to get my act together and send off for the free pattern to take part.

Moving on a couple of years and there was the pattern on the swap table at our sewing group.  I grabbed it straightaway.  I think pretty much everyone else has already made this pattern and I’ve seen some lovely versions on IG and blogs.

As part of my recent fabric/pattern stock take I’d decided to pair the pattern with a curtain fabric remnant from C & H Fabrics (now known as Closs & Hamblin which sounds much more upmarket!).  The dress and the fabric both have a 60s vibe which I hope work well together.

I’ve previously reported that in advance of our last sewing group meet up I’d made a bedsheet toile and cut out the main fabric.  I managed to sew the bust and back (double-ended) darts, shoulder seams and assemble the neck facing at the meeting which was a good start.

I finished the dress at the weekend and can now tick off the first garment from the list I’ve committed to making. This is a simple pattern with several variations which also lends itself to customising.  I didn’t have enough fabric for the collar but I may try this next time.  I’m not a fan of short sleeves, I normally prefer three-quarter length or sleeveless, but decided to give them a try.  I had just enough fabric to add some in-seam pockets.  I would have gone for patch pockets but I wasn’t able to pattern match – or even have two matching pockets – so abandoned that idea to avoid it looking a complete mess!

I had meant to use the pocket bag template from the Clemence Skirt in Tilly’s Love at First Stitch but used a different one (possibly from the SOI Tulip Skirt) which is much smaller.  I shall definitely make the pockets bigger next time.  I have very small hands but can only just get them in!

I’ve been struggling to find a good quality invisible zip since C & H changed the zips it stocks.  I’ve had several frustrating experiences but when I was on a sewing meet up in Brighton recently I bought one from the Brighton Sewing Centre.  It went in first time with absolutely no problems.  Sadly, due to fabric limitations, there’s absolutely no pattern matching across the zip!

There’s a hem vent at the back of the dress which also worked beautifully despite me having failed the read the instructions properly (or at all)!

I rarely have blog photos of me ‘in the wild’ as Mr Jane Makes is not the most willing of photographers.  However, I had my sister on hand on Sunday morning and she was more enthusiastic!  She was rather unsympathetic about my concerns at all the bees buzzing around me but she certainly made an effort.  The hydrangeas in my mother’s garden have now been re-named hyjanegas – I do seem to be emerging from the middle of them in one of the photos!

I’m so pleased with this dress.  It’s smart but comfortable and would look great in so many fabrics.  I already have ideas for other versions.  If you are one of the few people who hasn’t already used this pattern I can definitely recommend it.

I shall now move on to the next make on my ‘list’ – I’ve just not decided which one yet.  I was temporarily distracted by seeing @cathysewsstuff’s lovely Esme top when I met up with her on Saturday in The Eternal Maker.  I’ve made more than my fair share of Esme dresses but have never made a top.  I went straight home, cut one out and finished sewing it last night.  I’m wearing it today!  The fabric is from Ditto and I really like the abstract floral design.  I’ve tucked it into a denim skirt but it will also work well with jeans I think.

Sewing Group #2

Karen and I were both nervous about the second meeting of our new sewing group.  What if the first one had been a one hit wonder and nobody turned up?  We needn’t have worried.  We had another great turn out and the hall was a hive of activity!

We failed to take a single photograph but thankfully the lovely @cathysewsstuff assumed the role of official photographer.

We had crochet, sewing, embroidery, cutting out (first ever dress from a pattern) and a cosy patchwork quilt from felted sweaters.  I can’t wait to see this one finished.  Our official photographer was also making a quilt from denim and fabric scraps from some of her previous makes.  I wish I had a photograph to show you, it’s such an unusual design.

As mentioned in my last post, I cut out this pattern to take along.  I’d picked it up from the swap table at the first meeting so I was pleased to be making use of it.

I did make a quick toile from an old bed sheet to check the fit.  I went with the bust measurement because the rest of the dress skims the waist and hips.  I have to admit that if something doesn’t really work at the toile stage I usually decide it’s not for me unless all that’s required is a minor tweak here and there.  I’m in awe of people who can undertake complicated fitting manoeuvres!  I didn’t have enough fabric for the collar so will try that on another version and I decided to go for the short sleeves.

I cut out the fabric in advance and despite plenty of chatting I managed to sew all the darts (front and back), shoulder seams and make up the neck facing.  I did unpick one bust dart and re-sew it when I got home because I wasn’t 100% happy with it – but I was just being picky!  More on this pattern when I’ve finished the dress.

There was cake … these are salted caramel and chocolate cookies! There were also chocolate brownies made by Karen.

IMPORTANT NEWS :

We’ve now booked dates for the sewing group for the rest of the year :

  • 9th August
  • 13th September
  • 11th October
  • 8th November
  • 13th December

Hope you can join us for all or some of these dates at St George’s Church, Cleveland Road, Chichester from 7.00 – 9.00 pm. Watch this space for details of some upcoming special events!

Taking Stock #3

Here’s the ‘final’ post on how I’m approaching my current sewing plans.  I have done a little bit of shopping since I sorted everything out so there is more planning to be done!

This is a much more subdued selection of fabric, although it was coincidental that the piles ended up as they did!

  • Up first are two plain jerseys in cream and mid-blue which both came from The Eternal Maker.  They are lovely and soft and I’m going to make two Gable tops.  This is my current all-time favourite basic top pattern.
  • I’ve made McCall’s 3830 so many times over the years that the pattern has almost disintegrated.  I’ve now traced it off to preserve it for the future.  I’m going to make a plain denim skirt with a floral lining which will be smart enough for work.  The denim is from Ditto and a really great colour and quality.
  • The next fabric is a gorgeous colour and was original bought from The Eternal Maker to make this Simplicity top to go with my Christmas skirt.  I ran out of time but I’m still keen to make this.  It will be the third version of this pattern I’ve made and when I wore one of them the other day I realised the top would work better a little shorter so that’s an alteration I will make this time.
  • Next up is a real challenge for me!  I’ve had the Moss skirt pattern for ages and have always been put off by the thought of inserting a fly zip.  I’ve decided that now I have the sewing group to back me up I can finally tackle this.
  • The photograph of the final fabric looks very strange!  It’s a narrow striped stretch cotton from The Fabric Godmother but the stripes look more like wood grain here! I’m going to make another Top 64 by Merchant & Mills.  I’ve worn the first version a lot and the pockets are brilliant!

Since the last post I’ve cut out the New Look pattern and I took it with me to last night’s sewing group.  Despite a lot of chatting I made quite good progress.  Here I am at the sewing machine wearing the sleeveless Esme dress I made VERY quickly after buying the fabric last weekend at Ditto!  Thank you to @cathysewsstuff for the photograph as I failed to take a single picture!  There will be more about the sewing group in another post.

I’ve realised there was no mention of Mr Jane Makes in my last post. He’s now signed up for the Chichester half marathon in October having been donated an entry by a friend who is now doing a half marathon in London that day!  He has embarked on his training programme, part of which involved polishing off quite a few of the cookies I baked for the sewing group last night!

Salted caramel and chocolate cookies.  They were pretty good even if I say so myself!

Taking Stock #2

Following on from my last post, here’s the second pile of fabric from my sewing room and the plans I have for it.

  • I picked up the New Look pattern from the first meeting of the new Chichester sewing group so thank you to whoever donated it.  See below for a reminder about the next meeting.  I have two possible fabrics for this dress.  The one on the left is another Lucienne Day print from the Peter Jones sale.  This one is called Serenade.  I will probably underline or line this one as the fabric is quite lightweight.  The floral fabric is a curtain remnant from C & H fabrics and has a bit of a 60s vibe which I think will work really well.  Not sure if I’ll make a toile.  Probably, I usually do.
  • The second fabric is a barkcloth which came from the Olympia Knitting & Stitching Show a couple of years ago but I can’t remember who I bought it from.  I’ve made Simplicity 1109 several times and it works well with a fabric with some structure.  I believe this fabric frays like mad which has put me off using it so far.
  • The paintbrush fabric was a vintage charity shop find for £2.  It is slightly bonkers.  The pattern is the Sew Over It Tulip Skirt when it was originally published in Simply Sewing magazine.  I’ve made it twice before but both skirts are now too big.  They are in the alterations pile and I may tackle them eventually as they are both made with fabric that I particularly like.
  • I’m well behind everyone else on the Cleo dress bandwagon but I got this pattern for my birthday from Baby J’s mum and dad so that bypassed the pattern buying embargo.  The fabric is a grey denim from Ditto.  I also have to confess to buying a loose weave denim from The Fabric Godmother on Saturday which will also become a Cleo!
  • The next photo doesn’t look much different from one in Post #1 but this fabric is a very lovely mustard/gold denim from The Fabric Godmother.  My first Brumby skirt was made from this fabric and I miss it as it no longer fits.
  • Finally, I don’t think this fabric made it into one of the piles.  It is a pair of curtains from a vintage sale that really need another wash as they are still slightly musty!  I’m going to try the Deer & Doe Chardon skirt as I’ve seen quite a few of these on IG over the last year or two and I love the pleats.

Perhaps one of these will be the fabric I cut out to take along to the next meeting of the sewing group on Wednesday 12 July – TOMORROW!  If you’d like to join us come along to St George’s Church Hall in Cleveland Road, Chichester from 7.00 – 9.00 pm.  We’d love to see you.  Here’s the report on the first meeting.