Thursday, 27 November 2014

Pattern Testing: Violet Dress - Bluegingerdoll Patterns

"Is that a nightie?"

A rather soul-destroying question for any stitcher who's just finished a dress, don't you think? Yet that's exactly what my beloved boyfriend asked me when I unveiled my Bluegingerdoll Patterns' Violet Dress. He says it was due to the original length of the skirt on me (well below knee level), my fabric combination and the fact that my purple jersey has a raised pattern on it. Oh well, since shortening the skirt (a little too much to be honest) I like it just fine and the pattern is so cute that I'll be whipping more Violets up without doubt!

I was a Violet pattern tester and the best part of the process this time was that a feature was added to the pattern as a direct result of a change I incorporated in my make. It's always good to know you're adding value to the pattern testing process and it's super cool to know that indie designers actually listen and readily adapt to relevant suggestions.

The pattern features some seriously cute front and back yoke detailing, as well as bust gathering. I was dubious about how the latter would look on a fuller bust, but I quite like the result. There's also a choice between a pencil or flared skirt and cap or three-quarter length sleeves, meaning Violet's a pretty versatile gal! 

I don't have an awful lot to say about the construction, because even though the pattern and instructions have been improved since the pattern testing period, Violet was a really quick and easy make. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who wants to have fun with sewing jersey and who likes comfort without sacrificing style. 

The only change I'll make next time is to take in the sleeves just a smidgeon. They're not too bad, but can be a little more fitted now that I look back at these photos. 

What do you think to the Violet Dress? Will you be buying it, or adding it to your Christmas wishlist perhaps?

Meanwhile, I'm still in America...Connecticut to be precise! This trip just keeps on giving, but we're flying back this Saturday evening and will probably land back in reality with a thud!

Friday, 21 November 2014

#vintagepledge - The Prizes!

Hi friends, I'm particularly giddy today for a couple of reasons! I'm less than halfway through a two-week break in America (apologies if I'm slow to respond to comments/emails/tweets) and I also get to reveal the brilliant prizes I promised during my last #vintagepledge roundup! I really can't thank my generous sponsors enough!

You'll be eligible to win one of the four prizes below, as long as you share your makes with me by 31 December 2014 on Twitter (#vintagepledge), through a comment on my blog, or by emailing me.

$50 to spend at The Blue Gardenia

$35 to spend at Eva Dress Patterns

£25 to spend at the Selvedge Shop

Your choice of 3 digital patterns or e-books from Mrs Depew Vintage

Find out more about the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge and check out everyone's inspiring makes on Pinterest.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Pattern Testing: Francoise Dress - Tilly and the Buttons

I'm sure you're well aware of the buzz surrounding Tilly and the Buttons' latest offering - the  rather awesome Francoise Dress! If you're wondering exactly why my face looks so smug below, there are three reasons: 
  1. I got to test Francoise.
  2. Along the way, I discovered I can pull off a shift dress.
  3. My fabric choice makes me stupidly happy.

Unlike many shift dresses, Francoise is shaped at the waist by bold, French darts, which eliminate the 'sack-factor' for busty gals like me! To get the perfect fit for my shape, I graded between 3 sizes. I cut a size 3 for the neckline, collar and armholes, a size 4 from the armhole to the waist, and a size 5 from the hips to the hem. This was a winning combination for me, giving me a snug fit where I need it, but allowing enough room for my hips (read muffin tops) and booty!

We've all come to expect the highest of standards from Tilly and the Buttons instructions, and Francoise doesn't disappoint. With Tilly holding your hand you feel invincible, even during the slightly trickier steps. In fact, one of the things I love about this pattern is that it has slightly trickier steps. You can make Francoise as simple or as challenging as you wish.

What makes me super-duper happy about my Francoise Dress is the linen fabric I found in my stash. Isn't the print all kinds of amazing? I love how autumnal it is, yet I'm still excited about wearing it in warmer weather.

There is one thing that bugs me about this make though, and I'm so angry at myself, because it's pretty perfect otherwise. I was so hung up on matching the pattern at the back and side seams (in which I was victorious!) that I stupidly didn't even think of the centre front. As a consequence, my pattern placement (or lack of) makes my collar look off-centre, but I promise you it's not! It's such an annoying oversight on my part, but hey ho!

I'm genuinely taken with Francoise and can't wait to rustle up a three-quarter length sleeve version or two. If you like what you see, make sure you get creative with your Francoise and enter the contest of a lifetime for the chance to win a £500 sewing machine or a £100 fabric voucher!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Kim Dress - By Hand London

Folks, it's getting truly cold here in the I made a dress fit for Spring! I'm not even going to try and understand why - though I've convinced myself a navy cardi and matching tights will make it Winter appropriate -  so just humour me please. 

Initially, I was lined up to test the Kim Dress - The latest offering from By Hand London - but my granddad got sick and all sewing plans went out the window. The girls were kind enough to let me try Kim out in my own time though and I was more than happy to oblige. 


Kim is an interesting combination teetering between sexy and sweet, with really low front and back necklines and a choice of two skirts. Predictably I went for the fuller skirt, but decided against the sweetheart neckline to avoid a complete sugar rush. I also omitted the pintuck hem as I think it's a lovely detail that would have been lost on my busy print.

Having seen Elisalex's stunningly vampy version, I'm now desperate for a bolder Kim in my life and I'm even tempted to break the habit of a lifetime and try the pencil/petal skirt next.

As always with By Hand London patterns, Kim's instructions are spot on and her construction is surprisingly easy. True to form, Kim ends up looking beautiful both inside and out - the bodice is fully lined and I added a skirt lining to mine because my fabric is quite sheer.

Speaking of fabric...don't you love mine? It's Queue for the Zoo, a Liberty Tana Lawn, kindly gifted to me by Susan at Sewbox, as part of the By Hand London pattern testing process. I must take a minute to wax lyrical about Susan, who is so helpful and accommodating! I was first partnered up with Susan back in March during the Flora Dress testing and even though I didn't end up using the beautiful fabric I picked from her selection, she graciously let me keep it. Although I fully intend on putting it to good use, I still haven't had the chance, but Susan didn't hold this against me when our Kim partnership came around. Thank you Susan for being so understanding and so generous!

One personal 'issue' I have with Kim, is the low front neckline. Although I love the way it looks, I'm not sure how comfortable I'll feel in public with so much skin on display. It's not because I'm some frigid weirdo, I promise. It's just that being both buxom and short means that most people look down to speak to me and low necklines expose a lot of cleavage from that angle, often eliciting unwanted attention. So it's just easier to cover up the ladies than deal with stupid idiots thinking I'm 'up for it'!

To make my Kim a little more wearable for me, I actually reduced the seam allowance all along the neckline to just 0.5cm. I think it's made a decent difference and it's also resulted in slightly wider straps, which are better at covering my scaffolding!

Righto, I'm going to leave you with this amusing out-take. It's the moment I went to tinker with my camera's timer and realised our neighbour was waving to me from her ladder. She must think I'm such a dick!

Anyway...what's your take on the Kim Dress? Don't worry if you missed the presale, Kim will be available again by Friday 28 November!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

#vintagepledge - Roundup and Impending Prizes

I'm back in the country and firstly wanted to thank you all so much for your well-wishes regarding my granddad. His bypass operation was successful and aside from some later complications, he's making a slow recovery.

Now, I know I say this every time, but your vintage pledge makes keep leaving me speechless - I honestly never expected so many of you to join me! With just two months left until the end of this year's pledge, I'm working on getting some prizes sorted to thank you, so watch this space! There may also be some exciting plans brewing for next year, but right now I'll leave you with the latest roundup of your stunning contributions...

Find out more about the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge.

Check out everyone's makes on Pinterest.

Share your contributions with me on Twitter (#vintagepledge), through a comment on my blog, or by emailing me.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Unplanned Break and Vintage Fabric Finds

This afternoon I'm flying to Cyprus because my beloved granddad was taken ill suddenly and is having a very risky operation on Monday. Despite his ongoing and complicated heart problems, we're staying positive as a family and are relieved to know that he's being looked after by some of Europe's best.

You can never plan for 'breaks' like these and it has completely thrown my sewing/blogging schedule. It may seem weird to even mention that, but I'll be gone a week and I know I'll get withdrawal symptoms from our lovely sewing community and this wee blog. I'm sure everything will go well though and that I'll be back here again soon! To cheer myself up and leave this space feeling positive, I'm leaving you with my most recent (and totally gorgeous) vintage fabric finds...

1940s rayon stitched together in panels to form the prettiest tablecloth. 
I'm sure I can squeeze a dress out of it!

1960s (I think) curtains which feel like a luxurious sateen.
The warm colours would make a gorgeous A/W dress!

A kooky novelty print poplin with random bunches of radishes. 
I love the stripy and heart-print radishes the best!

I lied a bit...this isn't a vintage find at all! 
A recent buy from Fenwick's which needs to be a jacket with a leather trim.
Wonderful and amazing texture!

I hope to be back and blogging regularly soon, but I'll catch you on Twitter in the meantime no doubt and won't be able to stop myself from reading what you're all up to! Take care for now!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Inside...Vintage Simplicity 5489

Remember my second #vintagepledge make, Simplicity 5489? Pretty cute, no? But it wasn't without its fitting woes, which I've finally got around to sharing, along with a tour of the pattern instructions.

Typically for me, the fitting issues I encountered were with the bodice and didn't affect the waist or skirt. After making a bodice muslin, I noticed the following problems: side boob gaping, back keyhole gaping and extra width across the back and shoulders. I pinned out the excess on the front pieces quite easily. For the back pieces I eyeballed the excess, took the muslin off, pinned out what I thought necessary, put the muslin back on and repeated until I got the fit I was after. 

At this point I need to apologise to my ever-suffering boyfriend. I stormed downstairs, demanded he pin out the excess at the back for me without any guidance whatsoever (he should just know what I mean instinctively dammit!!!), then proceeded to get really mad at him when he struggled. I recall stamping my foot and storming back upstairs while he looked on hurt and bemused by my reaction. I'm so sorry boyfriend!

Anyway, I marked the excess on my bodice pieces and even remembered to transfer them to the relevant facings too...yay me! After that though I fudged the rest in a totally non-technical way and it's probably down to sheer luck that this worked out for me. You can see the changes I made in the picture above...I basically treated the excess as darts which I violently flattened down (creases and all), taping them as I went along. This is *not* the proper way of doing things, which involves slashing and overlapping probably. So please don't do as I say, but I do think it's interesting to note that not everything has to be done by the book always...though it's probably best practice if you want to be on the safe side!

Right, onto the pattern itself! If you're into bygone styles, but are reluctant to use vintage patterns, I seriously suggest dipping your toes in the water with a 1960s pattern. The pattern pieces are usually marked really clearly and the instructions are a lot more detailed than older patterns.

Simplicity 5489 dedicates a whole sheet to using and altering your pattern, as well as nifty tips on cutting and preparing your fabric, transferring pattern markings and finishing your seams.

Amusingly, a disproportionate portion of that sheet is all about cutting layouts! So much detail! Could it be because resources were scarcer back then, so people had to be really frugal?

Reassuringly, the pattern's construction instructions are also pretty good, with clear illustrations to accompany each step.

I sure hope you found this little glimpse inside Simplicity 5489 interesting. How are you getting on with your Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge? If you've not told me about your finished makes, please do so I can add them to my badass Pinterest board and spread the inspiration!