review · sewing

{ M7542 } in butterflies…

When this McCalls 7542 landed in my postbox early January, it was instant jubilation. Those sleeves just scream { SEW ME }. I went about cutting & sewing her up within a day or two but my excitement ended abruptly when I tried her on & realised she didn’t fit so well.

I was initially quite excited about this pattern as it boasts various cup sizes A-D. I had not fitted a pattern with optional cup sizes so I figured cutting my cup size would give me a good fit. Was I wrong. The bust darts sat horribly high & the whole bodice just felt too boxy & tight.

I finished her anyway & even wore her a few times but my heart just didnt connect.

Last week I took her out while I was sorting out my wardrobe & I figured since I dont wear her, I should just donate it but even though my heart didn’t connect to the fit, it beat to the fabric { SO LOUD } so donating just wasn’t an option. The fabric, btw, I purchased last year from Empire Textiles and its a Mitex Holland Wax Print.M7542_1

I set about unpicking the areas that gave me issues. I started with the side seams to release those bust darts & I moved the darts down (at least an inch & a half) to give my bewbs more room & to co-incide with my real bust apex. Sorted! Next up I released the sleeve seams a little as I found the original seam made the sleeve just a bit too snug. I also stole a little space from the back seam & sewing up the final side seams I managed to steal some space here too.M7542_sleeve

M7542_2All of those changes resulted in a much better fitting top, one that I now just want to wear every single day. Its still boxy & short but summer is coming so woo-ha!

So I learnt two good things while sewing this top :

  1. Make more muslins!!!
  2. My body really has changed so much since having a baby. I lost so much weight post-partum & gained so much again since I stopped nursing that I really do need to admit that my bewbs just aren’t up north & perky no more! 🙂

So, Is there another M7542 in my future ? Why yes, certainly. Its a basic boxy bodice with some lovely sleeve options so why not.

Till soon,

Ange x

review · sewing

{ SIMPLICITY } Star Sewist Blogger Challenge

On a total whim, I decided to take part in the Simplicity Star Sewist Challenge because lets face it, who wouldn’t like to win a years supply of patterns amiright ?!? So I chose to go with the dressmaking pattern, New Look 6145, because I like dresses & I knew dressing my baby bump would be easier adjusting this pattern to maternity rather than the other two patterns on offer. NL615_side3 Out came a beautiful piece of navy linen which I accented with some navy & white Shweshwe fabric I purchased while on holiday at home in January. The two pair really well I think. I sized up in general to allow for my pregnancy measurements as well as a little extra for ease. At first I was just going to use the shweshwe for the sleeves & inner facing but then decided rather than make my side seam godet inserts in linen, to make these in shweshwe too. I wasnt entirely sold on the contrast so I cut one of each, basted them both in & decided almost instantly on going with the shweshwe contrast as soon as I saw the dress semi-fitted. In all honesty, the inserts dont work 100% because I didnt trim off the angle required on the side seams. I left them as they should be because I really want to remove the shweshwe panels once Im able to wear the dress post-pregnancy. The inserts really just give me the added space for the baby bump & ass. NL6145_side Overall, it was an easy sew & I { ADORE } the pleated sleeves…but then again, Im gaga over pleated anything! NL6145_front Thank you to Simplicity for offering the challenge & for the free pattern. I’ll certainly be making more of these shift dresses in the future. Also, good luck to all the sewcialists that have entered the competition. Cant wait to see who wins.

This will probably be my last sew for myself until after baby arrives. Im finding the bump so hard to gauge on size since Im in the final weeks & this Noodle is growing like crazy. Ive also hit the exhausted & rather uncomfortable stage so sitting for hours in front of my sewing machine is proving a little challenging. Ive gained 10kgs until now & Im feeling every.single.gram I tell ya. Ive had a relatively uneventful pregnancy to be honest with very few issues but these final few weeks things have definitely amped up. Dont get me wrong, Im loving being preggy & I couldn’t be more grateful for what is about to change our lives forever but this third trimester is tough on your body & your mind. Anyway, hope you’ve enjoyed my little me-made. Till soon. Ange x

review · sewing

{ DATURA } The 2nd…

So Ive probably gone & confused y’all with my Datura’s.

But its not so confusing. Stick with me.

Splat! came first, then this one & then the 3rd for my SIL. You see…not so confusing after all. I just posted them in the wrong order. Deer&Doe_Datura_closeup

Anyway, since Splat! was a little snug I had promised to make another allowing a little extra room for comfort. I { REALLY } wanted a white one for summer { WHAT SUMMER ??? } so after scratching through my stash, I settled on this white cotton with light grey paisley print thats been lurking for years. Since this version was quite a spontaneous make, I had to improvise with the contrast yoke fabric….& by improvise I really mean I cut into one of the hubsters shirts & lined it with white. The shirt was too big anyway but the grey was a perfect match. Deer&Doe_Datura_back

She went together as easy as pie until I got to the snaps at the back. I dont know, I just prefer to use snaps on my Datura tops as opposed to regular buttons. I hammered & hammered until I couldnt hammer any more. Eventually got it right. I think the snaps I was using were just rubbish so when Juli of Sweet Little Chickadee posted some lovely colourful snaps on her  Instagram one day, I jumped at the opportunity to ask her where she had found them. Dear me that girl is the best. She hooked me up to Cowgirl Snaps on etsy & I didnt waste time in ordering a whole bunch of stunning colours. They took about a week to arrive with me in Europe & I was in popper heaven!  I might still remove the silver snaps off this Datura & replace them with some pearly white ones….we’ll see!Deer_Doe_Datura_poppers

Cowgirl_snaps Deer&Doe_Datura

Anyway friends, thats 2 posts in 2 days. I deserve a medal especially with how slack Ive been with blogging recently! Ive been sewing, just not photographing. A combination of no time & no lack of decent weather outdoors to photograph. I had such high hopes for summer this year { SIGH }.

To all of you, have a great weekend.

We have a friends wedding tomorrow. I had high hopes of making a great dress for the wedding too { ANOTHER SIGH }…alas, Im RTW all the way 🙂

xx Till soon

pattern review · review · sewing

{ NEW LOOK 6150 } Protea lovin’…

Ive sewn New Look 6150 before, rememberNewLook_6150_front

The reason I sewed it again is because I have a little crush…it fits so well { PLUS } I had this white knit lurkin’ in my stash for about 3 years so I figured Id better dig in while its still white. True, Ive had fabrics lurk in my stash much longer than 3 years but this white was looking particularly needy & with autumn knockin’ who doesnt need a plain white tee-type with some extra spunk?!

It was View E, again…you know, the one with the puffy sleeves & plain crew neck. Remembering the little bagginess I had with the first attempt at this tee, I cut the entire pattern one size smaller than last time. I also cut the back piece on the fold. Not only does it all fit better but I love that the back has no seam down the middle – so unnecessary IMO. NewLook_6150_white1

I tackled the sleeve elastic without measuring anything prior this time. In other words, I took the long piece of elastic & just sewed it in, pulling the elastic as I went along…It gave me more control of the elastic & it meant I could use as much or as little as needed until I got the poofiness I was looking for. I simply snipped off when I was done. Far easier than using the elastic guide length included in the pattern & then not having enough to grip as you near the end.

And my twin needle came in excellent use again!

I had some left over fabric at the end so I thought maybe  a flower or something  could be pinned to the tee to give it some detail…as if the poofy sleeves aren’t enough. I played a little & came up with the protea so I drew it out, cut & started to sew randomly. I stitched it straight onto the tee, without any backing or interfacing….straight on. I wanted it to stay soft & take the shape of the tee rather than feel stiff & badge-like. I was quite impressed with the end result. What do you think of my fabric protea ? NewLook_6150_protea

I doubt I will ever grow bored of this pattern. Its one of those that hit the favourite list at first sew. Its easy & it doesnt munch up stacks of fabric so I may just head to the fabric store next week & grab a navy & black or a red to make another one or two or three. I have to go into the fabric store anyway because remember the Vogue 8827  I mentioned was on the cutting table? …yeah well, I dont have enough fabric…but I am determined to make it in the berry colour jersey.

 Well my friends, Monday my german course kicks off…can you hear the enthusiasm?! Im expecting next week to be one big headache, literally. I know Im not going to drink or eat enough while Im in class & just the sheer shock of having to do german all day, every day is going to be  headache inducing. Perhaps my sewing will come to the rescue on the afternoons I have off – lets see.

Whatever your’e up to this weekend, stay safe xx

knit · review

{ KNITTED } Bolero with sparkle…

I mentioned a few weeks back that I was almost finished on the silver grey bolero I was knitting up so as promised, here it is. vienna_bolero_front1

{ THE PATTERN } comes courtesy of the Drops Design website using the Cloud pattern. Its terribly easy to follow but saying that, Im not sure I followed it to the letter. Almost as soon as I had begun, I had made a few changes to the amount of stitches required & how many to increase & decrease to allow for the “sleeve”. Since it is so simple, the changes were minor & purely added because I wanted a bit more slouchiness than usual/advised. You could crank these out in no time if you focussed purely on knitting but you know me, Ive got my fingers in too many darn pies!!

Even though its quite simple, its still rather versatile too. I like that I can hike it up more around the neck for extra warmth or leave it single layer & therefore have it fall lower on my back…pretty neat, but maybe that happened because I allowed for some extra length & width giving me more bolero…dunno!

I also like that since this is really just a long rectangular thing, it could double up as a scarf without anyone knowing the difference! Wrap, tuck…off you go.vienna_bolero_front2

{ THE YARN } I used Rico Design Fashion Romeo  which sounds like a mouth full but its a lovely silvery grey 100% cotton with sparkly silver sequins incorporated. This is my first time knitting with sequins so at first I found it a little strange but you get used to it pretty fast & the sequins will just knit through as normal. You do need to take care if the sequins falls right inside a stitch but since this was quite a loose knit using UK size 10 needles, it wasn’t too much of a hassle.

The yarn is super soft, feels like cashmere to be honest. Unfortunately, it comes in limited colours (black, royal blue, green, fushia, turquoise, white, silver) & Im all over it like a rash.  I even purchased the sister yarn, Julia, which comes in the same colours however instead of the sequins, it has lurex thread…. { PRETTY HUH }. Not sure yet what Im going to make with Ms Julia, but rest assured, I’ll find something. Oh, & I purchased my yarn during the last sale at Deramores – where I purchase all my knitting goodies.

Would I recommend this ? { OF COURSE I WOULD }. Its a lovely little knitting project to keep your fingers occupied while you catch up on telly or travel & the sparkly sparklies are super cute & make an otherwise boring bolero into something glamourous & girlie.vienna_bolero

vienna_bolero_back

Thats all for today folks…see ya soon x

pattern review · review · sewing

{ VOGUE 8550 } Red Pea Coat, this girl is on fire…

For those of you that have been following my blogging journey for a bit, you’ve probably seen me talk about the red Vogue 8550 pea coat that has been haunting me since I started way back when in late 2010. Im not proud to say I started so long ago, the truth hurts. I had terrible trouble with the sizing (of which Vogue referred to as ‘ease’) &  lost interest which so happened to (thankfully) co-incide with our relocation out of Holland so the sad pieces were boxed up. This box did not make the “cut” to our move to the UKso it stayed at home & waited patiently while we completed our work on the island. I should have known the pattern would give me nothing but trouble, the moment it arrived I noticed page 3 of the instructions  missing. It took a few weeks for it to be sent on. Was it a sign of things to come ??….

Anyway, fast forward 2 & some years  –  January I mentioned the red coat had been retrieved from its box & lovingly pressed, ready to tackle once & for all. I trimmed, re-measured & marked but then all the other sewing got in the way & I quickly realised this coat was going to have to be nursed, slowly & calmly…inch by inch…

Im proud to say, its { DONE } & Im so proud of myself for buckling up & getting it finished. (Ok ok, its missing its buttons…but more on that later).Vogue8550_front

Buckle up – a kinda long review but here are the details & more info on the process :

{ DESCRIPTION } Vogue Divine Details – fitted, lined coat with front & back tucks, standing collar, princess seams, full length sleeves and shoulder pads. Above mid-knee length, button closure and belt.

Vogue8550_back

{ FABRIC USED } A medium weight red wool found at Schröder Stoffen in Rotterdam, Holland. It was quite expensive but I loved this particular shade of red. I had been looking for a red wool to make another coat (using the V8438 pattern I had sewn before) but after seeing the V8550 in red, I was sold.

At first I was quite tempted to use a “WOW” lining, something wild & unexpected, but once I finished constructing the outer, I realised the red is { WOW } enough & my SIL had gifted me with this black fabric & I thought would be perfect for the lining so I went ahead & used it. I did however use the red thread to stitch the lining up which adds a very subtle accent to the black & ties the two together.Vogue8550_lining_front

{ SIZING } This was my biggest headache & I have left my original Pattern Review WIP as it was so it can still be read. I very rarely do muslins because I find they sap me of the excitement of making the real thing. Ive been sewing for long enough to know which measurements are important for me & I thought I had gotten quite comfortable with the Big 4 sizing that cutting my usual size would be ok. I was kinda wrong. This was grossly { HUGE }. I immediately thought I had farked up with my cutting so I double checked all the pieces had been cut the right size before contacting some other sewers/bloggers who I thought may have sewn this coat to enquire if they had similar problems. Unfortunately, no-one had sewn this so I had no sewcialist assistance . I then contacted Vogue directly. They came back saying the pattern had a “fair amount of ease on a FITTED coat but that they did not think there was anything wrong with the sizing”. So I got on with chopping, trimming & wasting expensive fabric to fit. Its not the ease that annoys me, its the fact that the pattern does not mention the ease at all. Anyway, moving swiftly on…

{ INSTRUCTIONS } Overall the instructions are not bad however some steps were not as clear as I thought they could be. Nearing the end, I battled to make sense of how the lining fits to the wool at the front seams. I gave up & constructed the way that I thought made sense.

{ CHANGES } The only little change I made was to the pockets. Instead of having them lined & sitting on the inside of the coat, I sewed them into the wool layer but did not bring them through the lining….in other words, they sit between the lining & the outer. I did this because I dont like pockets flapping on the inside of my coats. The pattern called for the lining to be made with the same pieces as the outer however instead of tucked like the outer, rather just pleated in. At first I thought all this extra fabric on the inside would be quite bulky however once pressed & stitched down, it gave a good weight to the inner & supports the wool well.

The coat has no loops/guides for the belt/waist tie! WTF am I meant to do with the tie when I take the coat off? I eeeked out every last bit of red wool to make the tie so I really hope I dont lose it in an absent minded outing…I might still go back & make chain loop guides…

{ LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY } ***Although it took me so long, it was not because of the level of difficulty per se. The tucks have a fair degree of complexity, even with the markings, however apart from the tucks, this is a standard princess cut coat. It was not an easy sew, but I dont think it was an advanced sew either.

{ TIME } HAHAHAHAHAHAA really!?  I normally keep a time card for kicks …I kicked this time card into the bin!!

{ LESSONS LEARNT } Take your time. I was eventually having nightmares about the coat but I knew if I rushed it would end up being a rubbish looking garment.

{ SUM IT UP } This is a lovely coat, the tuck detail is gorgeous & Im so pleased I finished it….all 2,5kgs of it!! Initially I had my doubts about whether it would keep me warm enough in the winter but once I joined the lining & felt the weight, I knew this would be a great winter coat… & I do love the RED. I had purchased big red buttons in Holland before I started but once it came time to use them, they just looked too big & the coat felt kinda clown-ish. Im hesitating with sewing them on until Ive managed to make a trip to Komolka to see if they have something slightly smaller & more suitable. Once the holes are cut, they cut so I need to be 100% sure.

I have hemmed the coat but I have not attached the lining to the wool as yet – the reason you ask? Well, Im not 100% happy with the darn shoulder pads. I feel like they are limp & lacking in the stiff department. I think Im going to change the shoulder pads. Im sure on my next trip to Komolka, I will have luck with finding alternative buttons & shoulder pads.

I might also go ahead & move the pockets from the side seams to the princess seams. I know this sounds crazy but the side seams seem too far back for me to get to the pockets. I may also just remove them completely!!

In hindsight, the problems with the sizing was almost two-fold. I still think the pattern has way too much ease however I also think my choice of wool did not help, especially with the extended periods where the WIP sat on Poppy pleading for attention. Even though this was post-tuck production, I think the wool may have stretched slightly adding to the list of problems.

I would recommend V8550 especially if you love the tuck details however, I would urge you to make a muslin first just to make sure of the sizing. I know I know, me advising making a muslin – I must be drunk! I think this coat would look amazing done in cream, but I dont think Im gonna be the one to make it!

This image clearly explains what got me through some painful & frustrating moments { Nespresso Vanilla Infused coffee }coffee_break

& elation at finally finishing! I had made a deal with myself that I would finish this before starting on something new….Im so excited to start fresh 🙂Vogue8550_elation

{ related posts }

review · sewing

{DVD review – Basics with Claire Shaeffer}

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VoguePatterns.com ran a Christmas competition back in 2010 & I was the {oh so lucky} winner of their first day prize which was this double DVD called Basics with Claire Shaeffer. Claire’s best-selling book, Couture Sewing Techniques has sold 75,000+ copies and this DVD Im sure will grow to sell just as many, if not more.

At first I was a little intimidated by the DVD because Claire Schaeffer really is a Couture Sewing expert & since at the time I had little to no experience with couture sewing techniques, I wondered if this DVD would just be way ahead of my skill level.

I did not watch this immediately – in fact, it took me some months before I finally watched Disc 1 but I was quickly irritated at myself for waiting so long because throughout the whole DVD are these  fantastic techniques that are the basics of all sewing – not just couture. Since I have no formal sewing training, a lot of what Claire discusses in the DVD, is important to know/learn/remember irrelevant of your skill level.

{Disc1} starts with the basics  – an introduction and essential tools, followed by some basic hand sewing techniques ie. beginnings & endings, basting stitches, permanent stitches, slipstitches, hemming stitches and machine stitches as well as focusing on darts {balancing darts to be specific} which i found terribly useful especially when sewing with wools & wool based fabrics.

{Disc2} goes into slightly more detail on how to make those bars & chains, marking techniques, shrinking and stretching techniques and pressing techniques (which I thought should have been on Disc1 but I understand why it is on Disc2 instead). Also covered on Disc2 is a section focussing on {BIAS}, how to & whys and then also a small discussion on {STAYS} for stabalising zipper areas, elastic casings etc. Terribly handy to know all round.

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Overall, I found this DVD extremely useful and informative not just by listening but also by watching how Claire not only makes some of these hand stitiches but more so by the things she does so instinctively ie. how she handles fabrics, how she sits, how she works off the table & not on her lap or in her other hand – all adding to the overall learning experience.

A few pennies dropped with regards to why couture is so expensive – the amount of hand sewing and hours that go into some of these exquisite gowns and garments is {MIND BLOWING} but so necessary. I love my Sapphy and I would run into a burning house to retrieve my sewing machine {REALLY, I WOULD}, but after watching this DVD I appreciate more the skill that goes into a couture garment, rather than just judging it by its price tag.

Ok, so things I didnt like about this DVD :

It is not MAC friendly {SNIFF SNIFF} and I therefore had to watch this on my smaller laptop as opposed to the vivid colour display of my MAC. Not a huge problem, just something I thought I would point out especially if there are folk out there wanting to purchase this & dont own a windows based PC. I would not like you to be disappointed on receiving this & it doesnt work.

So, would I recommend this – yes, I would absolutely recommend this DVD to any sewer, irrelevant of whether you are a beginner or not. If you are a beginner, I think you could benefit from learning skills the correct way from scratch and if you already sew, I think you could learn some more advanced techniques too.  The DVD runs for 180minutes in english & currently retails on AmazonUK for GBP30,22 and on AmazonUS for USD40,93. You may also purchase her Vogue Custom Couture Collection V8333 here or V8621 here {& both on sale} to put all your skills into practice 🙂

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me through the comments section. Thank you for stopping by x