You've had a nice break from my face and you've not seen a new make in 44 whole days! I sure hope you've missed me, because I'm back with a kitcsher than kitsch Sew for Victory dress for you to feast your eyes upon. Despite being over the top – which my boyfriend largely attributes to the contrast pockets – I'm just relieved to have met Rochelle's deadline! A very busy month, coupled with sewing machine woes, meant that a finished project in March was not always a feasible idea.

I'm not actually sure when I'll wear this dress though. It's not that I don't like it, but I guess it feels a bit over the top. Do you agree, or am I being overly critical? Nonetheless, I've always had a hankering to sew up vintage patterns according to their envelope artwork and I took this chance when I fished out some cherry polka dot polyester I bought from the Birmingham Rag Market. For the life of me I couldn't find a lightweight fabric in the reverse colour way, so I was forced to use quilting cotton, which isn't ideal really.

The pattern

McCall 4193 is such a gorgeous pattern from 1941 and I'm pleased I finally got around to sewing it up, if only for all the interesting details it has to offer - thanks to Rochelle for coming up with a wonderful challenge that pushed this pattern to the top of my list! Maybe a solid colour version would be more wearable, but in theory the polka dots were too delicious not to attempt.

Tilly's Mathilde blouse gave me the practice I needed for the front tucks, which to be honest were a little tougher to make with polyester! Luckily, my fabric showed up my white chalk lines well and I literally made one tuck at a time, using A LOT of pins as I went along.

The pockets are such a sweet detail that it felt wrong to leave them out...even if they are the reason I think this dress might be a bit much!

I like the back vent on the back bodice yoke - to me, there's something really feminine about this feature.

And finally, the pleats at the lower back bodice. I love the thought of these and they look great on taller, leaner bodies, but they don't do much for my figure. I can live with them on this dress though and they were another fun detail to play with. 

The construction

Needless to say, the pattern instructions are very basic and assume you have a lot of sewing knowledge already. As a beginner, I'm not sure I would have been able to follow them, so I'm glad I've tackled this pattern with a bit more experience under my belt. I also had to grade this pattern up a bit, using Casey's excellent tutorials. I've kind of lost count of what I did though, because there were so many changes and because I ended up reversing some of them! But I think I added a couple of inches to the width of the bodice and skirt pieces, shortened the bodice by a couple of inches, moved the back bodice pleats in by an inch, lowered the neckline by a couple of inches, shortened the shoulders by a smidge, shortened the skirt length by a get the idea! All this considered, I'm pretty pleased with the fit I managed to achieve!

I omitted the sleeve and neck facings and finished them with bias binding instead. I even lined the skirt in a cotton lawn...and I think I've even done it properly...I think! Lining stuff still baffles me to be honest! Can anyone recommend any good online tutorials or books for lining techniques?
Although my waistline is slightly off at the zip side, I'm really happy with how invisible my invisible zip came out.

The back and side views are probably not the most flattering, but then again, when are they ever!?! I've decided to apply Sunni's brilliantly liberating piece on the myth of perfect fit to style as well. I know certain styles flatter our bodies more, but it would be a sad existence if we never tried out something different and new to us.

Anyway, I've really managed to ramble on in this post...sorry. But before going, I can't not show you my new shoes! They're from Office and I bought them because I felt they have a bit of a 40s I right, or have I got it completely wrong?

In closing, is this dress too kitsch even for Minnie Mouse...or do you think I can get away with wearing it on a 'normal' day out?
I'm sure that by now you've already heard the news that Google Reader is closing on 1 July. While this may be a pain in the arse for some of us, the good news is that your blog won't disappear and neither will your followers. However, the list of blogs you follow (and if it's like mine, it's probably hundreds) may well disappear. BUT, there's still plenty of time to switch to a new reader...yay!

If, like me, you use Blogger Dashboard the effects should be minimal. I've done some digging and it seems like you'll continue to received the feeds of all Blogger blogs you follow. However, if you follow Wordpress and other websites, their feeds may disappear from your Dashboard come 1 July.

To stay on the safe side, now is the time to maybe look into alternative ways of reading your favourite blogs. Here are just some of the options available:

As for my little ole blog, you still follow with Blogger Dashboard, find me on Bloglovin and Twitter, or you can 'Follow by email' using the box near the top right hand side of my sidebar.


In other news, I got my sewing machine back! Although I've yet to revisit the jersey dress that 'broke' it, it seems to be working very smoothly indeed. I've got to say that the customer service from the folks at Bamber Sewing Machine Centre is pretty top notch. When I unpacked my machine, this was included as proof that everything is working nicely. It's a clever idea and also really's totally neat enough to frame!

The reason I've yet to revisit my jersey dress, is because I've been busy working on my Sew for Victory dress. Let's just say that I'm having some issues though...despite making a muslin to check my grading skills. But now my fashion fabric isn't behaving (serves me right for stash-busting polyester) and I'm feeling like the project could be doomed. I sincerely hope not, because if I can pull it off, it will be such a stunning dress to add to my wardrobe. 

Have you had better luck than me with your sewing projects recently? What's on your sewing table at the moment?
Apparently, vigorous testing revealed that there was absolutely nothing wrong with my sewing machine that's in for repair. This suggests that my problems were user my error, making me rather nervous to be honest. I have no idea what I may have been doing wrong (it's not like I've not used a sewing machine before) and I'm worried it will happen again.

Only time will tell though and for now, I'm really happy that my machine's on it's way back to me. It should arrive tomorrow after 8 long days and I'm still hopeful that I'll make the Sew for Victory deadline. I've been waiting somewhat impatiently, but luckily I spent a long weekend with friends and when I got back to work today, a beautifully wrapped gift was waiting for me!

My lovely colleague Juliana, who follows this here little blog, saw this fridge magnet in a vintage shop and thought of me. Isn't it a gorgeous little piece of history? It's straight out of The Ladies' Home Journal from May 1925...

Don't you just love how random kind gestures can lead to such euphoria? What's the nicest / most thoughtful stitching-related gift you've ever received?
Thank you all so much for your empathetic comments on my last post - you didn't judge me and you totally cheered me up with your own stories and tips on staying positive! I love how some of you have multiple, back-up sewing machines...what an awesome idea! You'll be pleased to hear that I should be getting my machine back on Tuesday, so not too long to go now.

Anywho, in my last post, I also alluded to an exciting challenge I've been invited to take part in...

Yep, the very talented Portia (of Miss P) is hosting The Refashioners 2013 - a brilliant idea she originally came up with in 2011. Portia is currently scouring her local charity shops for interesting items for her participants to re-fashion. I'm not going to lie, as well as being delighted to be in the gang, I'm also petrified. Compared to the insanely clever ladies whose company I'm in, I'm really no refashioner. In fact, I've literally only ever refashioned one thing and that was cheating as I just cut up a dress to use as fabric for a Pendrell. So, to put it mildly, I'm in deep and I just hope I don't embarrass myself. If you think I'm exaggerating, just check out this year's formidable participant list:

Dixie - Dixie DIY
Lauren - Lladybird
Portia - Miss P

And just in case The Refashioners passed you by the first time around (?!?), get a load of the very high standard that's been set:

So, if you fancy seeing how questionable charity shop finds can be turned into desirable makes, please do tune in to Portia's blog from 3 June!

Are you a fan of refashioning...and are you any good at it?

I've been down in the dumps my friends. I was banking on sharing the above as my finished object this week, but my sewing machine had other ideas on Sunday. Consequently, I have no finished object and my machine's packed up and awaiting repair. Of course the whole incident sparked a completely illogical, end-of-the-world kind of reaction from me...please tell me I'm not the only one to overreact over something like this!?! I suspect though, that my overreaction was very much a product of the looming deadlines I'm working to...which is a little stressful to say the least. And the fact that I was told the problem is probably down to user error...without knowing what I've done wrong, how do I avoid doing it again?

In the end I had to give myself a very hard, mental slap and acknowledge that this is very much a First World Problem. I have absolutely nothing to complain about! So what if I'm sewing-machineless for a week or so? If that's my biggest worry right now, I'm a lucky son of a gun! The kind folk at Bamber Sewing Machines have even arranged for the machine's collection, repair and return.

So, feeling chirpier, I've made a list of all the things I can be working on to keep myself busy in the meantime. And it turns out there are plenty!

  • I'm pretty happy with my Sew for Victory dress muslin, so I can get on with cutting out my fashion fabric.
  • I can get on with drafting a dress for my last drafting class - I want to give it a 60s flavour so I can kill two birds with one stone and enter it as my make for Mad Men Dress Challenge 2.
  • I've assembled my Archer pattern so I can cut out a muslin.
  • I'm giving patchwork a go for a couple of selfless projects, so I have LOADS I can cut out for that.
  • I can cut out my second version of my 30th Birthday dress, the fabric's a lot of fun.
  • I can get excited about and start planning for an exciting challenge I've been invited to take part on - more on that later this week.

So actually, I'll be lucky to get through a third of all that before my machine's returned to me!

How do you fare in the face of minor 'adversity'? Are you calm and collected or illogical like me? Got any good tips for de-stressing and cheering yourself up?
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, sewing is progressing steadily, yet slowly, around these parts. So, lacking any finished projects, today I'm going to delight you with some exquisite 1920s lace collars gifted to me recently by two of my mum's lovely cousins. They used to belong to their grandmother (the equivalent of my great grandmother) who used to be a very well-to-do and stylish lady judging by these beauties. I believe the collars were intended to be sewn into dresses or blouses as a decorative yoke and indeed a couple of the ones below look like they were unpicked and salvaged from dresses. 

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves (although they don't do the collars full justice), but just look at the level of detail that went into these collars - they're so intricate and delicate, I bet any woman would feel super feminine and special wearing one of these!

I was also generously gifted some gorgeous lace trims from the same decade and some fabric that I think is most probably from the 1930s.

I was left feeling overwhelmed and very emotional when I was handed down these family think they've been carefully preserved for over 90 years! I will give them a good home of course, but I also hope I can do some of them justice. I'd love to have a go at drafting a suitable blouse or dress for a collar or two and I'd love to display the rest around the house maybe. But how would you do this without damaging them, even if they are in excellent condition for their age? If anyone has any advice about caring for such old items, I'd love to hear it!

Friends, despite multiple sewing projects on the go, I have nothing finished to show you and probably won't for a while I'm afraid. But, I have been itching to revisit the beautiful, new pattern that has taken blogsville by storm - the Mathilde Blouse, the first ever commercial pattern from Tilly and the ButtonsIf you've visited Tilly's Maker Gallery, you'll already know what a versatile pattern it is and that it lends itself well to all kinds of exciting variations.

But, I also wanted to show you how versatile, and indeed wearable, the very same version of a Mathilde Blouse can be. Here are just three ways that I've worn my Mathilde to date - there are lots more combinations I'll be experimenting seeing how the yummy sleeves look under a pinafore-style dress!

Casual - imagine how cool this will actually look without tights and paired with some 
pretty sandals in warmer weather.

Smart casual - this is still my favourite look to date!

Smart - I wasn't sure how this boxy shape would lend itself to being tucked in, 
but I was pleasantly surprised!

Have you experimented with styling your Mathilde Blouse? What's your favourite way to wear it?

If you're still on the fence about Tilly's pattern, you can read my thoughts on the construction process here. And for an even more comprehensive review, because she's just way more eloquent, pop over to Karen's post!
Waaaaay back at the start of February you all blew me away with your kind comments about my self-drafted skirt. It's also waaaaay back then that I promised you a bit of a 'how to' regarding drafting a skirt like this. I'm sorry it's taken so long, but I hope you'll agree that it's better late than never...

In my pattern drafting class, we're using Winifred Aldrich's Metric pattern cutting for women's wear, which includes a basic pencil skirt pattern. The pattern pieces should end up looking like my yellow ones below. Of course there are many other pattern drafting books you can use instead and loads of online tutorials - a really quick Google search revealed similar-looking methods from BurdaStyle and the lovely Ooobop.
If you follow a similar method to mine, your finished skirt or muslin should end up looking like the one below. If you get the fit right this classic pencil skirt shape can become a wardrobe staple in itself, but it also lends itself beautifully to variation.

For my personal drafting experience I wanted to challenge myself in terms of the skills I'd need and in terms of a style that would take me out of my comfort zone. And I knew exactly what I wanted to create, as soon as I saw the skirt below on Pinterest.

To get an idea of how this would possibly work and what pattern pieces I would need, I traced some quarter scale models of my basic skirt block and marked out the new design lines.

I then cut the quarter scale pattern pieces out, to make sure I didn't miss anything or make any glaringly obvious mistakes. This is quite a handy step, as it should highlight any possible problems at an early stage.

With my chosen skirt design, proportions are everything. So I decided to draw out my design on my original muslin. This was such a useful exercise as I kept trying it on as I went along, allowing me to make adjustments and get the proportions of each pattern piece just right.

Once I was happy with the proportion of my pattern pieces, I re-traced my original pencil skirt block and then copied the markings from my muslin onto it. And voila, behold the actual pattern pieces below in all their glory!!! Although, you may have noticed the absence of a pocket pattern piece...that's because I cheated...shhhh! Basically, after all that exhausting drafting I thought I'd let myself off by using and adapting the Lonsdale pocket pattern piece!

You've also probably noticed some folds on my skirt yoke pattern pieces. In order to have a nicely shaped yoke without darts, you just pinch the darts out of your pattern pieces. So you would trace the yoke pieces using your skirt block - darts and all - and then just pinch/fold them out like magic. Sexy shape sans darts...easy, no?
And that my friends, is how you can get a skirt like this! I hope you find this 'how to' useful - I'm not claiming to be a drafting expert or that I'm doing things 100% correctly, but this has been an honest account of how I drafted my pretty little skirt. 

If you have any further questions or anything is unclear, let me know and I'll do my best to clarify.