Sunday, 17 March 2013

Butterick 5506 - A present for a dear friend

I am very lucky to have some truly amazing friends (in real life), one of whom has recently had a birthday. This friend is the only person I know who shares my love of making things other than internet friends (she is primarily a very talented artist and jewellery maker, but also dabbles in some stitching:) ). Thank you for being such a fabulous friend, you know who you are!! I love that she was born in spring just as nature is awakening too, so I made her this apron with multiple pockets for brushes, tools or just for wearing when cooking, in happy spring colours:


The pattern I used is Butterick 5506, view C (below), which is still available to purchase at the time of writing. On reflection I should have photographed it on my tailor's dummy with paintbrushes in the pockets, but as I am new to this game it didn't occur to me!


The pattern was easy to cut out with a logical layout diagram, and would make an ideal project for a beginner who wanted to practice sewing in straight lines and (lots) of topstitching, and have something a little different from the typical beginner's apron at the end. (Confession: this apron was in my 'pile of shame' for some months. I knew I hadn't enough fabric to cut the ties as per instructions and would have to do some piecing at the end. This made me reluctant to complete it, and it was only as I realised my friend's birthday was approaching that I regained motivation! The piecing took 10 minutes in the end and was not traumatic at all! From henceforth I shall endeavour to finish what I start ;))

If you do make this pattern, the ties are over two metres long as they thread through the sides in one continuous piece, and the pattern suggests stitching and turning them through a small gap (!). I could see this would give nice square corners and started to sew according to the instructions. While I was sewing I realised this was not going to work (as least for me). My fabric was sturdy, so I  folded, ironed and topstitched the tie instead. Since the apron has so much topstitching already I thought it would look intentional. If this is my ignorance and turning a two metre+ tie is actually extremely simple bearing in mind my thick cotton fabric, please let me know!

To thread the ties I used one of these:


- a pinch type bodkin that came in a pack with a thread type bodkin from Hemline. It is like a hairgrip with a slide that you push up to make the ends grip the fabric. Maybe every person who sews had one, but I have been using a safety pin or thread type bodkin. This is so. much. easier. They are cheap (under £2!) - if you haven't got one, get one!

I have a definite leaning towards make do and mend but following  this revelation am now on the lookout for sewing gadgets I have missed! If you have any ah ha! gadgets you wish you had bought years ago, please share!

I would make one of these aprons again, maybe in a tough denim. It's many pockets make it suitable for anyone male or female who works with tools and it covers a lot of clothing when on. It would also make a good template for a plain apron if the pockets were left off, and if you didn't want to sew the ties a sturdy length of twill tape would make a good (and quicker!) alternative.

Happy sewing, 'til next time!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Ottobre design magazine - first impressions and other new patterns!

My Ottobre design magazines arrived yesterday! They came with a note thanking me for my order and hoping that I enjoy my sewing! Thank you Dots N Stripes I will be visiting you again!

This is the issue I am going to make my coat/hoodie from:


There are 19-20 patterns in each issue and there are two women's issues and four children's issues per year. You can subscribe to either or a combination, or buy one off issues which is what I did. These are the designs featured in this issue:


Less drunken images available on Dots N Stripes website! As you can see there are at least four hoodie/warm coat type designs that are all the length I have in mind, and I am now spoiled for choice. I have ordered some fleece samples. This is going to happen!

First impressions Ottobre design has a glossy feel and the photos show the clothes clearly (mostly from the front). I would describe the overall style of the designs as modern/practical. This is not a criticism, quite the reverse. Using different fabrics you could easily build up a wardrobe that would work for many occasions just from this one magazine, which if you did would be great value.The clothes aren't accessorized with random ready-to-wear pieces  either (whenever this happens, I always want to make the ready-to-wear piece!), excepting tights/leggings. But the absolute BEST top mark thing is that the women wearing the clothes look real. All attractive and beautiful but a mixture of heights and sizes just like me and my friends. I think I will be more realistic about how these garments will look as a result.

I have also been given three new patterns by my lovely children for Mother's Day:



My cheeky son has challenged me to make the peplum jacket in the first pattern but I doubt that will happen before May as I need to focus on basics. However I think it is adorable, and I would like to make it later in the year. The middle pattern has real summery vibes, and I love all the classy pieces in the final pattern (going left to right). I am looking forward to a busy year of garment making! What patterns are you looking forward to sewing up?

Happy sewing, 'til next time!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Simplicity 9546 - Final version - Concert skirt

Hello again!

I was delighted to have finished this version of Simplicity 9546 just in time to wear to my eldest daughter's concert this Saturday:) The concert itself was maybe the best she has ever played in, and I really enjoyed wearing something I had made. I am sorry the photo is not better. I was hoping to post a picture wearing the skirt but I ran out of time for photographs before I left, and there has been no time to take a photo since! I am not going to wait any longer for the right moment as I want to move on to other stuff.


I used a heavy jersey of unknown composition and origin extracted from my stash shelf. The satin waistband  is cut from a skirt I bought at one of our local charity shops, as is the zip. I really like giving new life to discarded/donated clothing and it helps keep costs down (unfortunately like most people I do not have an unlimited clothing/sewing budget!).

The main differences between this and my first attempt are that I added 4 inches to the length (note to self - I then cut 1.5" off prior to hemming), and hand picked the zipper using this Threads tutorial.  I was so worried about inserting a zip in this jersey by machine. For some reason I was convinced it would bunch up. Anyway handpicking a zipper is really easy and on this fabric pretty much invisible (see photographic proof below!).


The waistband has no wiggle I promise. This stunning photo was taken on my bedroom carpet and the skirt seemed to take on a life of it's own once laid on the floor!

Somehow I managed to resist Threads idea of highlighting my zipper by sewing little pearl beads all the way down it ;) My only concern is strength - if I have a wardrobe malfunction I will be sure to report back, but since the style is flared I am hoping there will be little stress on the zip area (which I fused a medium weight interfacing just in case). I used a flat black hook and eye for fastening as I was going for a smooth look. My trial version will not be worn unfortunately, but as this one is my only winter skirt (I do not have a winter dress either!) this definitely will be. Yes, I have got through months by rotating two pairs of skinny jeans and occasionally digging out my cords (v. cold weather) or black trousers (smarter occasions). I will explain in a later post why my wardrobe is so thin. Sewing people always seem to put at the end of a pattern review (which this loosely is) whether they would make the garment again. Well it's an easy pattern and the shape is classic and flattering. I actually felt like quite a lady in this skirt. So yes, I would make it again, in a pale colour (linen?) for a classic summer skirt or maybe in soft denim for a casual look.

Other Sewing News I have continued with my pledge to complete sewing for friends and family from the 'pile of guilt' that sits in my sewing corner. Here is what I did before making my skirt: shortened my youngest daughter's black circle skirt, mended my eldest daughter's ripped lace shorts (just want to say here, the lace does have a lining!), repaired the zip/fly of my husbands suit trousers. The pile is shrinking and when I look at it now I feel much better. I am rather ashamed that I had to make a public promise in order to get these small jobs done. Maybe I will change. Or maybe I will always love garment sewing and not be so hot on mending ;)

Other Sewing News 2 I was getting really into Spring clothing planning last week (that sounds a bit grand - there was no actual plan but I was doing a lot of nice fantasizing about fabric/pattern combinations), and then it snowed on Saturday and has continued to in little flurries ever since. To some readers this may not seem all that shocking depending on where you live, but  for us in the UK at this time of year this counts as a weather event. People were getting stuck for hours in their cars and all sorts. If you are really interested these graphs show our usual seasonal average. It has completely destroyed my desire for little cotton and linen things, and made me long for FLEECE. Not a sentence you will see often. What I need is a virtually full length zip-up hoodie (clearly this falls within the dog walking category of my wardrobe), but crucially it must look cool(ish). None of the usual pattern companies seem to print such a thing, then I found Ottobre design magazine, published in Finland where they surely know a thing or two about keeping warm. I have ordered the 5/2012 edition and the 2/2013 edition (in case there is a heatwave by the time they arrive) from here. I haven't seen much on blogs about these magazines apart from at 21 Wale where Joy has had quite a lot of success from them. I am hoping for Burda but with less lines. I will let you know! In the meantime, if you have used these magazines, I would love to know!

Happy sewing, 'til next time!

Friday, 1 March 2013

First Giveaway Is Live!

Hello again,

As the title suggests, I am happy to announce my first giveaway!




This pair of vintage dress patterns are being offered with spring in mind. Maudella 5642 has long sleeved, short sleeved or sleeveless options, while Style 1621 can be worn over a blouse or as a smart sleeveless dress. The Maudella pattern is factory folded while the Style has been cut (but is one size only). Both have instructions and give a bust size of 38" (back envelope of Maudella also states waist 30", hip 40") but have easily amended style lines.

The giveaway will be drawn on  Sunday, 31st March 2013 at 6pm. I am happy to ship anywhere in the world. So if you would like to get yourselves a bit of vintage spring style, please leave a comment, and check back at the end of March to see if you are the winner. By the way, please feel free to spread the news of this giveaway to your pattern loving friends (real or virtual)!

A note on vintage style
Just so you know, my blog will not be devoted solely to vintage patterns and style. It's main focus is for me to document the creation, successful or otherwise, of clothes that are practical for me to wear in my daily life. I love vintage styles but quite often they don't love me back, so my wardrobe will be drawn from wherever I find inspiration and the giveaways will be equally diverse, although I will try make them as seasonally appropriate as possible.

Happy sewing, 'til next time!