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.

 

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!

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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!

image

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!

book

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.

image

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.

image

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!

image

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.

image

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.