Adelaide in pink “…’cause today it just goes with the fashion”.

Actually, I doubt the colour pink is in fashion this summer. But when given the chance to integrate a song lyric into a blog about sewing one must take it, right?

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A while ago when I saw the Adelaide dress in Seamwork magazine, I just knew it would be a perfect project for me. Only three hours, right? And a lovely summer dress to boot!

So I printed the pattern, taped it together while watching a show on Netflix (so there’s 45 minutes gone), chose size 20 based on the sizing chart, traced, cut, pinned, cut and then I had a stack of pieces of a dress that I didn’t touch for days.

Then, when I had pinned the back to the front, I figured it was going to be a tight fit. I decided to finish the button placket first, so I could get a better idea. I also used a small seam allowance on the sides. Yes, well as you can see, it’s a little snug. A little too snug.

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I admitted defeat and hung up my unfinished dress in my sewing room. Another two weeks passed by. Then this weekend, I tried it on again and figured I was going to finish it. I’d spent hours making bias tape and I knew that if I didn’t finish the dress now it would probably never get finished.

I made some changes. I had sewn the shoulders together, but there was a lot of gaping at the back. I realigned the shoulder seams, which reduced the gaping somewhat, but it didn’t solve the problem completely. It probably has to do with the fact the bodice is too tight as a whole. The bust darts are a bit high too.
I used a very-sewing-machine-friendly pink cotton chambray. The dress is originally designed with snaps instead of buttons, but I went to the market in between lessons and meetings, the haberdashery market stall didn’t have any suitable snaps, so I went with buttons instead (add another hour please).

Disaster struck when I cut open the 9th buttonhole. Even though I used a pin, my seam ripper shot through the end of the buttonhole and about 1.5 cms into the fabric above. I fixed the buttonhole, but decided not to do anything about the tear. I will find out how good an idea that was soon enough. But oh, the agony!

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Now, what about these back darts? I don’t like the dip in the fabric at the end of the darts. I have quite some room there, but if I make those darts bigger, it will take away ease  from my belly as well and I don’t want that. Maybe I should lengthen them a bit?

Because I’d sewn the button plackets first I had to fiddle with the ends a little to get a clean finish (it has some very decorative stitching now). I finished the armscyes and neckline with bias tape, but because it was quite bulky, I decided to fold it under. I really like how it turned out. Because I’d made enough tape to cover the Earth’s circumference I used it to finish the hem too, similarly.

I decided to make a smaller belt (turning it took another episode of Royal Pains, add that) and I left off the button loops because they weren’t really necessary and now I can also wear it as a shift dress (and quite frankly, I’d spent enough time on this bloody dress!)

Yes, I was quite disappointed with how time consuming this dress turned out to be, but I do like it. For the next one I’ll use snaps and store-bought bias tape though…

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Trial and error: the fitting project (and more)

Hello folks and welcome to a new working week. Unfortunately I didn’t have the best day at work, but hey, I have another four days to forget all about it. Last time I told you about my two weeks off and my intention to finish two garments during that time. I was playing around with the Knipmode pattern I used for the dress I blogged about in my last post. I thought I needed a narrow shoulder adjustment. People on the Curvy Sewing Collective forum suggested a smaller size for the bodice with an FBA. By that time, I had already traced the pattern and cut and taped an NSA, I decided to use some cheap fabric to whip up a blouse. I learnt a few things:

  1. Doing a narrow shoulder adjustment was the wrong choice.
  2. Cheap plastic fabric is annoying.
  3. When turning this blouse pattern into a blouse (because seriously, the original length is somewhere in between a blouse and a dress) I need to shorten the button placket.
  4. Sewing in sleeves and then taking them out because the fit is all wrong, not bothering to use a seam ripper, but instead cutting them off to use as the binding, does not a pretty armscye finish make.
  5. I can still wear the sleeveless blouse with a cardigan and get a compliment from a colleague about it. Hurrah!

Anyway, this blouse remains unphotographed but I’m having a me-made-May-day as we speak.

So, on to version 3 of the same pattern. I decided to not bother with the FBA, because the blue dress bodice is really quite roomy. I used a white and pink floral fabric that had been lying in my mother-in-law’s cabinet for at least fifteen years, so she decided to give it to me. I washed it and it didn’t fall apart completely, so I figured it was perfect for another trial version that was going to fail, obviously. I figured it was fabric that was nice enough for a wearable muslin, but that I wouldn’t be sad about if I ended up never wearing the blouse. I learnt a few things:

  1. The pattern came with very concise instructions. Therefore I hadn’t understood there was gathering involved in setting in the sleeves. Ahhh, so that’s why they were way too big for number two…
  2. There is something I really don’t understand about this pattern. You see. The front pattern piece comes with a gap, because it has a pleat below the henley placket. The thing is however, that the pleat is smaller than the gap for the placket. The pattern doesn’t have seam allowances included. For number two I added the 1.5 cms, which closed up the gap, but then my collar was too small. For number three I didn’t add the seam allowance, but instead just closed the gap by making a larger pleat and then my collar was too big. It really doesn’t make sense.
  3. Florals of 30 cms diameter in pink do not look good on me at all.
  4. I really should have done that FBA. I will listen to you next time DeniseM and michelleinsea. I promise!

Anyway, this blouse remains unphotographed and unworn, unless it miraculously fits my mum and I will have instantly unlocked the achievement “sewing for others” (blinking stars appear).

The other day I read Tasha’s post on By Gum By Golly on why she isn’t participating in me-made-May and I realised that the person she describes is me. I have sewn about a dozen garments now and there are only a couple I think are good enough to wear. I guess that comes with learning to sew though. Each item you sew will be better than the last (usually) so you end up being really critical of the items you made before that. I am like that anyway. (So in fact I was really proud today when that colleague complimented me on my blouse and I didn’t straightaway start mentioning all its flaws.) I really need to learn more about fit and how to alter patterns so I will end up with wearable clothes instead of “Oh, I guess this was just another project to practise my techniques.”

However, I am not giving up and in fact in the last few weeks I visited two fabric markets and bought some neat stuff! I pre-washed a selection and took some photos while it was drying outside (ohh the wrinkles!).

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Two of them, as you can see, are actually border panels, or gradients, or whatever that is called (I am expanding my vocabulary as it is, please give me a break). I love them so much I will probably not use them for a long time. I need to learn to sew first… I bought much more than this, a laundry basket full to be precise, but I am really happy with these finds in particular.

I will leave you with my first home deco project! Or garden deco really. Cushions for our picknick table. Fabric courtesy of IKEA. Pretty straightforward. Found a tutorial online, made cushions. The third one actually worked out better than the fourth so I just proved my own theory wrong. 

Till next time!

cushions collage

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Something new, something blue.

Two weeks off from work, so I decided I was going to sew at least two new items of clothing. It’s the first day of the second week, and I can show you my first item! This time it’s something I’m quite happy with, so that’s an improvement from the last post.

But before I tell you all about it, I’d like to point out I added this neat little button to the right side of this blog, so it’s now very easy to find and follow me on Bloglovin’! (So please do ūüôā )

So, a few weeks ago I was in H&M – where husband can buy lots of cool shirts and trousers in fancy colours like vintage green and light petrol and I never fit in anything, so end up only buying hair elastics –  when I spotted something in the LOGG section. It was terribly overpriced and I seriously doubted it was going to fit me, but I tried it on, and it has been my new favourite dress ever since. Of course, whenever I see clothes I like now, I automatically think “Can I make this?” and sometimes even “I can make this!”. This tunic from H&M doesn’t look very complicated at all. It doesn’t even have bust darts, but it has some gathering at the shoulders, and a pleat in the middle, so I wouldn’t know how to draw it out exactly, and this one landed somewhere between those two categories…

Instead, I started looking through all my sewing magazines and sewing patterns and found a pattern for a blouse that had quite some similarities, and thus my new sewing project had been found! It’s a pattern from a Dutch sewing patterns magazine I bought back in the summer of 2012. It’s called Knipmode (which literally translates to Cut fashion…) and usually only has a few plus-size patterns per edition. I read this is going to change in autumn though and they will make all their patterns up to size 54 (about 24UK/ 20US). Hurray! That said, the magazines often contain very weird and ugly patterns, but it’s good value for money even if there’s only one pattern you like.

The pattern I chose is this one: blouse 45 from Knipmode 6/2012.

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I decided on the size by comparing the pattern measurements with my H&M tunic and added some extra length, because I hadn’t quite decided yet whether to make a blouse or a dress.

The result: a dress in lightblue linen bought at a fabric market. Sewing with linen is a charm, because even though it creases like crazy, it’s also very ironable, which helps create nice seams and all.

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I finished this dress on Saturday and wore it yesterday for my father-in-law’s birthday. We went for a walk with the dog first, and ended up in the pouring rain, but William managed to take some pictures when it was still drizzle…

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(doggie has a loooong tongue!)

The technicalities:

  • French seamed the side and yoke seams.
  • First ever henley button placket (cue Boys of Summer here).
  • Size is okay, but I have the same issue I had with my black floral McCall’s 6696: when I want to wear something over it, it pulls in the armpit area. In this case it could be due to my forgetting to add seam allowance for the armscyes. (I did, but then was silly enough to think it shouldn’t be there… I was thinking sleeveless I suppose.) You can see what happens really well in this picture. I should really find out what to change so this sits better. It fits fine though, I can move my arms and all that!

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  • I used interfacing for the collar, but I think it was too thick, which causes the sagging you can see here.

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  • I followed the magazine’s description for adding the collar, but definitely should have used the method Andrea of Four Square Walls uses in her collar tutorial. I’ve used that for my shirtdresses, and I think is much easier than how I did it now.

Overall, I’m quite happy with this dress (even with some top stitching glitches) and it gave me a chance to use a collection of sewing feet such as the 1/4″ seam foot and the stitch-in-the-ditch foot for the collar facing.

The pattern calls for a hem with facing, but after reading through a few tutorials for curved hems, I decided to go with the method described on Coletterie. I should have used gathers or a tiny (rolled?) hem though, because this fabric was too thick and left some weird creases on the inside. Oh well.

Pfft. I think I’ve said more than enough now, and I haven’t even mentioned the weird middle pleat measurements (wider than the button placket) or how I harvested the buttons from a jacket I bought at a flea market..Or that my sister and mother-in-law don’t like this dress think this dress is a bit plain and suggested I make something “with flowers”. 

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What do you think?

Comfortable simplicity… got complicated.

So, it’s three-and-a-half months later and the only thing I can write about is something I’m not very happy with. This was a project full¬†of firsts, so I guess it is okay, but it would have been nice to be able to share a perfect garment with you. I am talking¬†about the Cynthia Rowley Simplicity 2406¬†dress.

The process: I worked out some sort of pattern matching, cut the pattern pieces and then realised I really didn’t want to sew this dress using only a regular sewing machine, since the fabric I chose has 4-way stretch. As this was my first project sewing knit fabric, I decided to take the pattern pieces with me on a visit to my parents’ so I could use my mum’s serger. (I realise I am mixing up American and British spelling really badly here, but I’d like to think of it as poetic freedom…) This meant that I did things in a different order than I was supposed to, but it worked out in the end.

The fit: Deciding what size to cut out is always very tricky due to my stupid waist-belly-hip ratio, which resulted in a dress that is too big at the top and only okayish in the middle. It’s a shame.

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This is one of the less awkward pictures…

The fabric: As I said, a knit with 4-way stretch. Quite heavy, but also very drapey and comfortable. As I was sewing, I tried it on a few times without the sash and it¬†kept feeling like I was wearing pajamas. Wearing it with the sash actually¬†turned it into a dress that looks quite sophisticated, and isn’t that the best? Nothing beats comfy pretty dresses.

The result: This dress is supposed to have an open back. I always have¬†a top underneath everything I wear, so I liked the idea. It’s different from any other dress I own. Except, because the neckline turned out to be way too wide, you don’t notice it at all. I made an overlap, so it wouldn’t keep falling off my shoulders, but it made the facing wobbly too and the effect is lost. ¬†I made pleats instead of gathering the fabric at the front and I really like that.

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The dress had pockets too, but they made my belly even more bulky, so I cut them off and sewed the skirt back together again.

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So, all in all, I do like the idea of the dress and I will probably make another one, but I will really have to make the top a size, or even two sizes, smaller and grade out towards the size I used now for the bottom half, and even then I think it’s just not going to be very flattering…

On to another new pattern first, me thinks! Something summery, because temperatures reaching 25 degrees Celcius mid April call for pretty summer dresses!

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All I need… is a little time

I know. I am very aware of the fact that my last post was written over three months ago and this means I have failed terribly at being an aspiring sewing blogger. I don’t see myself that way though. When I started this blog I named it make.think.go because I wanted to be able to write about other things as well. So, great! I kept my options open. I could write about all the exciting stuff that was happening in my life and it was all good.

However, I forgot about one little thing. I would need time to sew, time to go out into the world and experience amazing things, time to write insightful¬†articles about how social media has changed us all (since my degree in new media and digital culture supposedly makes me an expert on that…). Instead, my days are filled working, walking the dog and trying to keep this house tidy, which is failing miserably, because we got a dog that turns this place into a beach every day.

I need to organize my life somehow, but I went to IKEA and it didn’t help anything. I decided that one evening a week would be spent sewing, but that was before I decided I needed a change and we started moving furniture around and now sleep in the attic, which used to be our work space. Which in turn meant I needed to organize a new work space, which took time, and the wheels of the bus go round and round, round and round.

I did, however, finish organizing that work space and I started work on a dress, which could have been finished if I hadn’t left¬†it at my sister’s yesterday. She lives too far away to pick it up, so I’ll get it next week and hopefully will finish it soon after. I already know it’s not perfect, but I tried a new pattern and I got to borrow my mum’s serger which was heaven! I was really intimidated by the knit fabric I wanted to use for the dress, but the serger made it so easy! (So now I need one, too.)

In other news, my dear husband bought me a digital piano last year because I needed a hobby (this was before I started sewing dresses) and I finally signed up for some lessons! Better late than never I suppose. Now I need to find out soon whether I have any talent, because I was about ready to sell the thing. Learning to play the piano is something I have wanted for a long time, but when life is¬†not going according to plan as it is it’s really hard to start something that might turn into a disappointment. So let’s hope I pick it up soon before I turn into a sobbing mess every time I look at that piano.

I will end this rambling with some pictures of my new sewing space. I share the room with William, so the idea was that he could work and I could sew and we’d be social together, but in reality he’s just not home a lot and when I’m alone I’d rather keep our dog¬†company downstairs. We need an open-plan house!

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My half of the room

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I did find something at IKEA

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Thrift shop Husqvarna

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So many buttons!

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Matching turquois scissors (:

June: a Christmas dress in January

First of all: Happy 2015! The other day on Facebook I saw a post about another post (which 90% of Facebook really is) that said: “in a few days’ time: 2000 will be as far away as 2030”. It made me think of the Smith & Burrows line from When the Thames Froze: “The years go by so fast, let’s hope the next beats the last”. That might sound a little sad, but that’s because I was, yesterday. When you make plans and they just don’t seem to materialize, time goes by way too fast. I realized, however, that I need some time and that it is more important to live in the now than to pine over¬†a future that may not ever be what you want it to be.¬†You know what John Lennon said hey.

Meanwhile, I have been back at work since November and even though I’ve had that beauty of a sewing machine upstairs, I’ve hardly had any time to touch it. I started a Dahlia which was too small, then another one that needed a zipper which I had to buy first. Then it got closer and closer to Christmas and I wanted to make the Dahlia in a black fabric¬†that would be perfect for Christmas, but I needed to have a dress that fit me properly and I’m just not there yet with Dahlia.

So Dahlia became a UFO and somehow I missed the deadline for sewing a dress for Christmas altogether. Work is always crazy busy before the holidays and on December 6th we unexpectedly welcomed a new member into our household: Henk (i.e. the dog, not the bearded guy).

Introducing Henk

Isn’t he adorable? He’s such a funny dog, too. He’s a Bouvier des Flandres and he turns 2 at the end of the month. He’s won over our hearts completely and is already featured in the photos for the dress this post is actually about: the La Maison Victor June dress. La Maison Victor is a ¬†Belgian sewing magazine with an¬†issue every season. As the name implies the dress pattern was published in the summer issue, but as it is a very classic dress it is a perfect dress for special occasions.

The dress requires a more sturdy fabric and I made my wearable muslin in dark red¬†polka dots. It was too big, so I took it in at the sides, and I sewed this dress¬†two sizes smaller. Two, because it was really too big and the fabric I chose has a little stretch in it. Because I didn’t start work on my Christmas dress until after Christmas, I¬†actually wore those red polka dots for Boxing Day dinner at the in-laws. But, now on to this dress.

June dress

The end product isn’t perfect, but sewing up this dress was¬†a very rewarding process. It has¬†only 8 pattern pieces which don’t require a¬†lot of fabric. It has princess seams for¬†the front and the back bodice and the skirt part has just 6 pleats in it. I absolutely love the fabric I used. It’s a black stretchy something (bought at a fabric fair, forgot to ask again…) which is totally ironable (yay!) and has very subtle sparkles.

June dress

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I’m really proud of my invisible zipper. I just need to add a hook and eye to finish the top. (Sorry mum, the ones you gave me are too big.)

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The princess seams are puckering a bit on the front and the back and the neckline is a little high to my taste, but I am really happy with the way this dress turned out. I couldn’t have gotten a better fit if I bought it somewhere.

June dress

June dress

I absolutely love this dress and even though it missed both Christmas and New Year’s, it will definitely make an appearance at the work party I have next week. Now all I need is a proper pair of party heels to replace those wellies…

New beginnings

Summer definitely has made¬†way for autumn. It’s getting colder and most of my jersey Dorothy Perkins dresses (I own about six)¬†are getting too cold. The solution? Another McCall’s 6696, in plaid!

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This dress is the first project I made on my brand spankin’ new sewing machine, that was so very kindly given to me by my brother-in-law. It’s a Janome DKS100. I will spare you the pictures from my cluttered desk, as I am sure you’ve seen it around, on Tilly and the Buttons’ blog for instance.¬†That great turquoise colour and those giant buttons didn’t make me choose this machine though. Nor did the cute kitty stitch pattern. I¬†looked into a few machines and compared to machines just a bit cheaper, this one has so much more. I particularly wanted adjustable presser foot pressure, after all the problems with my old machine, and automatic buttonholes. Wow, my sewing life has become so much easier!

This sewing machine is actually¬†available in The Netherlands as the DC7100. It has black buttons but apart from that it’s exactly the same. Except it’s 230 euros more expensive! Why on earth is that! So, we decided to order the machine from the UK. Of course there’s the warranty issue, but there’s usually not much covered anyway and since the exact same machine is available here, my local shop will be able to do the maintenance.

Enough blabbing, on to my dress!

McCall's 6696
(Don’t mind the glasses and the dorky legs…)

Obviously, for this plaid fabric – I once again¬†have¬†no idea what it is exactly, except that¬†it contains some plastic… poor iron – I chose the pleated version of the dress, with the 3/4 sleeves. I¬†cut the back yoke, the button placket and the cuffs on the bias. I actually replaced the cuffs that come with the pattern for simple small cuffs (I think the pattern cuffs are absolutely hideous) and I made the pockets bigger, so I don’t have to worry about losing my phone. Other than that, it was the exact same dress as the black floral one.

Oh, I am so excited about the double overlock stitch on my machine! The loosely woven fabric frayed like crazy (I had to staystitch e-ve-ry-thing), especially on the bias and on curves. This stitch is absolutely beautiful!

McCall's 6696

With the change of the season has come a change in my routine. I am back at work, which means I have less time to spend with my sewing machine.¬†Last weekend however, I¬† started work on a Dahlia, but it’s appearing to be too small. Oh well, back to the dra.. cutting board! Plus. I’m supposed to lose weight anyway…

McCall's 6696