Keeping Cool

Much as I love the sunshine, I work in a 1960s building which is made primarily of glass (with no air con) and on a sunny day my office is like the hothouse at Kew Gardens!  We’re also right in the middle of a one-way system so if the windows are open we have to contend with traffic noise and fumes.  There are compensations.  I have a lovely view of Chichester Cathedral and, provided you can cross the road without incident, we are minutes from the centre of the city.

My current wardrobe worked well through Me-Made-May but I’m seriously lacking in suitable clothes for higher temperatures.  My two favourite sleeveless dresses are now too big and possibly too much of a fiddle to alter as they are both lined (and I’m a bit lazy).  I’ve not decided what their final fate will be.

I needed to sew something new, and quickly.   I had originally bought some striped cotton fabric from Ditto Fabrics to make a skirt inspired by this one from Anthropologie.

Having realised what I actually need is more tops and dresses I decided to make a dress.  I have more than enough stripy tops.  At that point I was planning another Esme dress (from this book) but having laid out the fabric I quickly spotted there wasn’t enough for sleeves!  So the sleeveless Esme was born.

I had cut already cut this out to take along to the first meeting of the new Chichester sewing group in case Karen and I actually had time to sew.  We didn’t!  There were too many people to talk to.

However, when I came to start sewing on Friday evening the fact that it was already cut out, my sewing machine had been cleaned and a new needle fitted (so I didn’t show myself up in front of other sewists) meant this was a very speedy make.  The machine was even threaded up with the right thread and a full bobbin.  The only issue was the mess up I made binding the armholes with bias binding.  I’ve disguised the untidy join with another piece of binding and I’m sure no-one will be inspecting my underarms that closely.  I will get it right next time.

The fabric had a tendency to fray so I decided to do French seams which I love because they are so neat and tidy.  I also stays stitched the neckline as soon as I released the fabric from the pattern pieces as it felt like it could easily stretch out of shape.

I did reference the original inspiration by cutting the pockets so the stripes run horizontally and this also made life a lot easier because I didn’t have to match the stripes.

This is probably the most comfortable garment I own and I think I’ll be cutting out another one very soon before this beautiful weather disappears.  I know the reason I’ve rejected the dresses from last year is because they are too loose – and so is this dress!  I’m OK with that because (a) it fits at the neckline and shoulders and (b) it’s supposed to be like that!   I’m also happy that this fabric doesn’t crease as much as I thought it would.  I sat and melted in it all day and it still looked pretty fresh.

 

Autumn Plans

I’ve been rather absent from the world of blogging recently!  Regular readers will know that my summer was rather taken up with supervising Mr Jane Makes’ post heart attack diet and this will be the final update.

  • Total weight loss : 23 kgs (3 stone 6lbs)
  • Total inches off waist : 17.78 cms (7 inches)

I’m pretty stunned (and pleased) that he’s achieved this with only one transgression when he was left unsupervised at a party for a short while and was faced with what I can only describe as a wall of tiny, delicious cakes!  I took one as I ran out of the door to fulfill my daughterly duties and to be honest if I’d stayed longer I’m quite sure I would have stuffed my face!

When I posted this before and after image on IG as part of this year’s #sewphotohop (entitled Wow!) I think I got more likes than I’ve ever had before!

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The before is him looking pretty fed up in hospital faced with a very uninspiring salad.  The after is him in his Lycra about to take his new bike over the Trundle at Goodwood.  He’s still not looking very cheerful but I can assure you that he does smile!  He’s lost even more weight since the after photo was taken.  We’re now working on an entirely new wardrobe and a huge pile of clothes went off to the charity shop the other day.

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Talking of entirely new wardrobes …. I’m working on mine too.  A by-product of the diet has been some unintended weight loss for me which I’m actually really pleased about, except that pretty much everything I’ve ever made for myself no longer fits!  I’ve done one or two alterations but am taking the opportunity to start again.

I have a number of favourite patterns which I know work for me and I enjoy wearing so my starting point is to re-trace and re-make them using fabric already in my stash.  My inital plan was not to buy any more fabric until I’d made heavy inroads into what I already have but I met up with vintagerockchick yesterday and we visited Chichester’s finest fabric emporiums!  More on that in another post.

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First out of the packet was the Esme Dress from Lotte Jansdotter’s book, Everyday Style.  I’ve previously made two versions which I’ve worn regularly but are now too big.  I’ve altered the blue and white one since this photo was taken but I’m not 100% happy with it.

I traced off a smaller size and made a quick toile from an old bedsheet (my new source of toile fabric having had a clear out of the airing cupboard) to make sure I could get in and out of it (it has no fastenings) and made it up from some cheap and cheerful denim-type fabric from Fabworks.  I washed the fabric before I started but it still turned my fingers blue while I was sewing and the first wash of the finished dress has resulted in some fading.  I’m not too fussed about this – better that than me turning everything I sit on blue – but there was a bit of shrinkage too, although it seemed to stretch out after wearing it for a while!  I love this dress.  It’s so quick to make and this time I added the patch pockets which I really like.  I incorporated in-seam pockets on the original pink version which isn’t part of the pattern but also worked well.

Here’s the finished dress, photography credit to Mr Jane Makes.  Very comfortable to wear, especially when sitting all day at work.

I’m wearing it with a striped top underneath because and my frog brooch which I bought years ago from Accessorize and only recently rediscovered in a drawer!  Also appearing is Erika, the 1960 East German typewriter we found in Oxfam recently.  She’s in great condition and has a new ribbon from Ebay.  She is currently being used to leave each other messages – much more fun than texting.  Just have to remember that she has a German keyboard so the Y and the Z are the opposite way round!

Next up were a new Annie A-Line Skirt, a great little free pattern from Sew this Pattern, and View D of McCall’s 3830 which I’ve made numerous times before.

McCalls 3830

I used another denim for the A-line skirt, this time from Clothkits.  It’s a reversible Railroad Denim which has some stretch in it.  I’m not sure what came over me as it was quite expensive but I got the skirt out of a metre so I can live with it, especially as the fabric is so lovely.  The pattern is straightforward and I really like the bias binding finish on the facing.

I used a heavyweight wool, I guess it’s a boiled wool, from Ditto for the McCall’s pattern.  It’s been on the shelf since last winter.  The jury is still out because I used the same fabric for the waist facing and the result is possibly too chunky.  I’m going to try wearing it and see, I can’t really face unpicking it all now!  It has a lovely shiny red lining and will be very cosy with thick tights when the weather gets cold.  There are one or two previous versions of this skirt that I’m going to refashion to fit me, including this one because I only got around to wearing it a couple of times and this was a special piece of vintage fabric that I’m particularly fond of.

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The best bit about making the wool skirt was discovering a new (to me) way to finish the back seam after inserting an invisible zip.  I’ve always sewn from the bottom of the zip down to the hem but often end up with a bit of a bump at the base of the zip which drives me bonkers, often leading to an unpicking and re-sewing session which usually makes things worse.  I remembered reading somewhere about sewing from the hem up and, hey presto, it worked brilliantly.  I will always do this from now on.

Given the weight of this fabric I think the zip went in pretty well, although I’ve just realised I took this photo of it before I pressed the skirt.

Now lined up for re-tracing and re-making are the following.  The Simplicity skirt will be without the frill on the pockets of course as I’m definitely not a frilly person and I make the top from the Cynthia Rowley pattern rather than the slightly odd shorts!  I’m always put off by the strange illustrations on Hot Patterns but the three-quarter length sleeve top is a good shape.

These will be followed by a first attempt at the new Kitty Dress by Maven Patterns.  There will definitely be a bedsheet toile of this one!

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Very glad to be blogging again!

Esme Dress

Inspired by Su from Butterflies and Lemon Drops I put Lotte Jansdotter’s book, Everyday Style, on my Christmas list.  Su has made two versions of the Esme dress, it is simple and stylish and perfect for everyday!

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There are three options, a top, a tunic and a caftan version (shown on the book cover).  I went for the tunic length.

This is a very a simple pattern but I decided to make a toile because simple needs to be perfect (well, somewhere in that direction anyway).  Despite the fact that it looks a bit shroud-like in this neutral cotton I decided I liked the shape, especially the neckline, but the sleeves were way too long.  I ended up removing five inches from the original pattern because I prefer a three-quarter length sleeve and my arms are particularly short.  I considered taking the excess from part way up the sleeve but ended up just chopping it off the bottom as my forearms tend towards the rounded (or chubby) and this option allowed for more space in that area.

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I used one of the fabrics from my visit to the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show, this one came from Sew Over It.  I’m not entirely sure what it is (and I can’t find it on the website) but it is quite textured and not especially drapey.  It is also a bit more synthetic feeling than I’d realised at the time of purchase.  I just liked the design and it sewed up very nicely.

The instructions in the book are fairly basic and the illustrations not particularly informative but this is such a simple make that it wasn’t an issue.  I think the jacket I’m planning to make from the same book might require a bit more effort!

The neckline has a facing which is top stitched and I was really pleased with the way this came out.

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The sleeves are eased in flat and I decided to extend the gathering by an inch or so as there was a bit too much puffiness at the top on the toile sleeve which I wasn’t keen on.  The final version was fine, although only after I was forced cut out a third sleeve.  I realised as I was basting them in that in my efforts to ensure the pattern would match up perfectly at the top of each sleeve I had forgotten to flip the pattern piece over.  I therefore ended up with two right sleeves.  Thankfully I had enough fabric left to cut another one, although I had to forgo the patch pockets.  Better to have two sleeves and no pockets than pockets and one sleeve I reckon!

The whole dress came together very quickly as there are no fastenings and I think this could be run up in an evening if one ever had a whole evening spare to sew in.

I started the dress pre-overlocker course but did manage to use it to finish the edges of the hem and sleeves before turning them up.  It worked!  I was ridiculously pleased with myself given what a straightforward process this is!

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Sorry for the very poor photograph of me wearing it.  I took this when I tried it on originally and then life went a bit pear-shaped when my father was taken ill and I had to move in to help my mother look after him at night.  He’s now in hospital and I’m still there keeping my mother company.

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In the current circumstances this is a brilliant dress.  The fabric doesn’t crease and you can wash the dress, hang it up overnight and it is ready to wear again without ironing.  The Esme is so comfortable to wear.  I was a bit worried that the non-drapey fabric made it stick out a bit at the bottom but I think it’s fine.

When life eventually settles down again I’m ready to sew a second version, which I might make slightly smaller as there is more than enough room in this one.  I’ll also add the patch pockets – or even some pockets in the side seam.  I may also extend the length slightly so that it is suitable for summer wear at work sans tights.