I did it

I did it, I cut into my precious holiday buy fabric and made a dress.

Peekaboo

Peekaboo

I was so happy wearing my turquoise dress (and so disappointed it had to go in the wash) that I decided it would be a “good enough” pattern for my nighttime city scape fabric. After all, if I waited for the perfect pattern I could have the fabric in a box forever and never wear it at all. So, I overcame my fears of messing it up and the fabric stretching out over time (as I had to cut it at right angles to the way I should) and went for it.

My 8 year old has upped his game

My 8 year old has upped his game

I dithered a little about pattern placement. The fabric has a symetric design, brown with thin rectangles in the middles, going through pink, yellow and orange to brown with the rectangle size increasing as it approaches the border, which had a horrid print I was determined not to use. I’m not sure I got it quite right, I thought the dark on my full bust would help reduce it’s size and the pink would be nicer near my face than the yellow, but now I have a yellow band round my widest part. Oh well, I don’t care.

back shot as directed

back shot as directed

I didn’t have enough fabric to get the sleeves to match up with the main dress, but I think they look fine. I made the cowl with orange nearer my face and a flash of yellow on the undercollar to lift it.

Other than that I made it exactly the same as before, but used a strip of interfacing (normal stuff, I can’t get jersey interfacing locally) to stabilise the shoulder seams.

look, a fushia, in flower in November

look, a fushia, in flower in November

The fit is a little tighter as the fabric has less drape, but I’m fine with that.

I LOVE THIS DRESS. I’m so proud of it. I’m in my second day of wearing it and wondering if I can squeeze day 3 out of it before washing it. I have told anyone who glanced at it that I made it, I’ve probably been unbearable.

he wanted to show you a close up the lovely fabric

he wanted to show you a close up the lovely fabric

And it sort of only cost me £8 (I say sort of, as I used the Birgitte pattern, but I’ve also used that for t shirts, so how to cost that, plus I made the Lola dress as I was experimenting with what to do with this fabric and that cost a bit in paying for the pattern and printing it). But it would cost me at least £30 to buy, and I couldn’t buy this dress and did I tell you I MADE IT!

I’m so proud.

reverting to type

reverting to type

The one I gave away

I gave away a top I made today. I took a quick photo before giving it away. Try and ignore the silly expression (I was in my friends house, with my husband taking a quick photo, being photobombed by three small twirly children whilst my friend and her sister looked on – not the ideal photo shoot). The thing is the fit.

Akward photo

Akward photo

The top is the day to night drape top by Maria Denmark (yes, I seem to have a bit of a thing about her patterns and tutorials at the mo). With Birgitte sleeves, as suggested by Maria, because I don’t wear sleeveless tops. I made it in some petrel couloured jersey from a local shop that I now realise is very similar colour to one of the photographed example top’s on her website – this was not intentional! I’m not sure of the fabric content, but it’s very slinky and drapey and feels cold to the touch. It is, as I thought, quite a good choice for a drape neck, but it’s also a little clingy on me.

But then that could be down to the size I cut. I steeled myself to do a full bust adjustment on a drape top. I was a little intimidated. But the pattern suggests using the same method I used before and I figured I just had to ignore the odd looking neckline and concentrate on the FBA. So, I measured my upper bust – 99cm, which corresponds to a large size (with bust measurement 102cm – the medium is 96cm), like I cut for my Birgitte’s. Then I measured my full bust – 103cm. Which is only 1cm above the large bust pattern size. Surely not. I measured again, and again, same answer each time. Surely a 1/2 cm FBA on my pattern piece is not worth it, especially when the pattern says a FBA is not needed for a C cup as there’s plenty of room in the bust.

There are so many things I don't like about this photo, except the two blondes

There are so many things I don’t like about this photo, except the two blondes

So I blended a large top half of the pattern out to a 2XL waist/hip (which I needed) and cut and sewed that. The result is too annoyingly too tight around my girth despite my novice attempt at blending pattern sizes. Also, I see drag lines going horizontally across my cleavage (this is practically all I can focus on when I put the top on). Surely that means I should have done a FBA? What was I thinking of? Why not add 3cm like I did on both the Birgitte’s and the Kimono t shirt – after all, they’re the same pattern designer.

So, I’ve given it away. Despite two friends telling me it looked nice. You know, I think I could live with it if I’d bought it, but it will just bug me no end every time I wore it if I kept it, knowing that I’d spent ages learning to fit t shirts for my bust and then not doing so on this one and then it not fitting properly. I’ve no idea what was going on when I measured myself. In the future, I will just do a 3cm FBA on all Maria Denmark t shirt patterns until my shape changes. End of.

Another awkward photo

Another awkward photo

Oh, and sewing the pattern. Well, that was quite straightforward. The pdf came together easily (not sure if that’s Maria’s skill, a fluke or the fact that the paper size didn’t have to be translated to A4 from letter). It’s just two pieces, but I used the Birgitte sleeve too. What I didn’t do was use fold over or invisible elastic as instructed. I didn’t have any, I wasn’t confident of getting some locally, I didn’t need it on the armholes as I was using sleeves, I couldn’t see what good it was doing inside the drape and I thought I could live without it on the back of the neck. Oh and just possibly I was feeling a little impatient to get it done and didn’t want to wait till the shops were open and possibly wait longer still as if I had to resort to ordering online.

That decision made starting difficult. I had though to make the top up and then decide if I could be bothered with finding elastic to finish it, but the instructions started with adding the elastic finish to the neck before doing anything else. A quick search later and I found this tutorial from Fehr Trade on cowl tops. Here the edges aren’t finished with elastic, horray, but the shoulder seam is stabilised with tape, which I don’t have. I used some hemming tape before on my Coco tops but I’m not sure it was quite the right product to use and I’ve since lost it.

So, in true prolificprojectstarter slapdash style I decided that my folded over seam allowance for the back neckline was my facing and I followed the Fehr Trade buritto method for the shoulder seams. It was a little confusing when pinning as they kept rearranging themselves so I wasn’t sure which was the right side, but it worked fine. Then I just folded over and sewed down my back neckline, after all that worked on my drape drape asymmetric top and no one has ever noticed. And inside the cowl? – I left a raw edge. So, sue me, it won’t show and I’m pretty sure it won’t fray either.

The sleeve attachment took a little jiggling. I cut the large Birgitte sleeves and they didn’t seem quite the right size for the armscye, but a little stretching (the joy of sewing with jersey) and it all worked out. It was also a bit wierd working out how to attatch around the cowl facing, maybe it would’ve worked better if I’d followed Maria’s instrustions, but I got round it. Then it was just hemming the bottom and sleeves, which I did with my double needle (still need to get some jersey interfacing to improve the look of that, ho hum, another thing I can’t get locally).

In conclusion, construction was fine and dandy (if a little quick and dirty) but the fit was off – due to anomolies of measuring and deciding I didn’t need a FBA and exacerbated by clingy fabric. Anyway, my friend is very pleased to have a new top, she hadn’t tried it on when I left it with her, but she has an old shop bought top of mine that I gave away as it was a little too tight in the bust and so kept riding up (some kind of princess seam going on there) and that fits her fine (she wear’s it often, which is good to see as it’s a nice top), so I think it will be fine. And as she’s slightly taller than me I know she will appreciate the long post baby tummy covering length of this top (one day shops will catch on and make them for people to buy!).

I have had enough of t shirts for a while (except possibly for a long sleeved one) and intend to focus on my new knit dress obsession (whilst still ignoring the pile of half finished stuff), but I will try this one again at some point, with a FBA, possibly emailing and asking for advice on sleeve sizing first, and quite probably not in blue (I never intended a new wardrobe full of blue t shirts, I like blue, and I was lacking blue t shirts, but I’m thinking I probably have enough now).

Done to a T

Last night I finally started, and finished a late Christmas present that I’d been cogitating on for a while. It’s a bag, for a child, whose name begins with T.

T'bag

T’bag

It’s made from scraps, recognise that pink fabric for the T? The purple is some home dyed calico from an abandoned project that’s in my stash. And the pocket on the bag is a scrap of fabric from a t shirt that has already been cut up and refashioned but yet to be blogged about. The lining is left over from the Christmas Shirt.

Now with added frogs

Now with added frogs

The idea for the bag came after our children were given Christmas presents by a folky family we know. I wanted to make a present in return and use some of left over fabric that I was making presents for my kids for. Except I wasn’t sure how suitable either material was for bag exterior, so I threw some of the purple fabric I was using to make a waistcoat muslin for my husbands Christmas present (still unfinished, the muslin that is, let alone the real thing) into the mix. Plus for some reason I decided that I wanted to make a bag where the sides were zips, so that it could be used to take some toys out and then zipped flat to be a playing mat. So I bought 2 zips that fully open, the colour choices were rather random, I opted for turquoise. And my daughter chose a button.

That was as far as I got. But I kept thinking about it. And about how to have zip sides without leaving a big hole for stuff to fall out of. Making two Presido Purse’s helped too.

Anyway, the thinking must have helped, because it all came together pretty easily. First, I drafted a pattern, based on the zip length.

Self drafted pattern

Self drafted pattern

Basically there’s a long rectangle that’s the bag front, then a very short one the depth of the zips to be the bag base but wider to create tabs that fold inside and prevent things falling out underneath the zips, then another long rectangle to be the bag back, with an extra bit to go accross the top before the trapezium flap. Then whack your favourite seam allowance around the outside.

Adding the zips

Adding the zips

I cut this template out from both my main and my lining fabric. I added the T to the front of my main fabric and found the scrap of purple jersey with a frog on lying about and whipped up a patch pocket and added it to the back. Then I basted the zips in place, face down (right side to right side with the fabric) and facing inwards, unsurprisingly like Erin’s tutorial.

Close up of the tabs

Close up of the tabs

At this point, I realised (luckily before I sewed the lining on) that I hadn’t thought about where to attatch the strap. Normally this is easy, sew it to the top of the sides, but, err, the sides are zips. After a bit of headscratching I worked out that I could probably attatch handles to the fold over bit of the back (between the back and the flap) but that it might work better with D rings. I went and raided my stores and found two plastic D rings and a clasp that had been cut off a long defunct rucksack and some navy blue soft woven tape (hey, the more colours the merrier) and added the D rings above the zips (zig zagged to add strength and prevent fraying).

Emergency D rings

Emergency D rings

Then to add a quick pocket to the lining (I’m a big fan of pockets). I didn’t match the pattern this time, but I did do a quick extra line of stitching to make a pen holder up the side.

Spot the pocket

Spot the pocket

Next I was ready to sew the lining to the main bag, all along the outside leaving just what would be the top of the front open.

lining sewn to main bag (right sides together) around the outside, leaving the front top edge unsewn (shown on right)

lining sewn to main bag (right sides together) around the outside, leaving the front top edge unsewn (shown on right)

Then I turned the bag the right way round, folded my raw edge inside at the top front forgot to press it flat as I had a phonecall and topstitched all around the outside (I went straight down the whole side along line of the zips rather than around the outside of the flaps, so that the line of stitching would create a natural place for the flaps to bend inwards) before adding the adjustable strap to the D rings and putting a couple of hand stitches to hold the bottom of the tabs in place on the inside.

Strappage

Strappage

A few hand stitches hold the bottom of the tab sides in place

A few hand stitches hold the bottom of the tab sides in place

Then I just had to put a button hole in the tab and sew on the button my daughter had chosen especially, which had purple, turquoise and pinky red flowers on it that picked up the colours of the bag.
And voila, a bag with adjustable strap an external and internal patch pocket, that you normally open by unbuttoning the tab but if desired you can unzip the sides too to make a playmat.

Opened out as a playing mat

Opened out as a playing mat