Dress, Eliza Dress, Leopard Print, Sewing, Vintage, Women's Style

Weekend Sewing: Finished Vintage-Stylie Dress

You might remember that some time ago I blogged about a dress that I had almost finished ‘A Vintage Affaire‘.  The hem just needed to be completed.  I then hit a snag and asked for help ‘Trouble shooting‘.  Since then, the dress has hung in my wardrobe and I hadn’t got round to finishing it for fear of ruining it!

While I was getting my dresses out ready for my holiday I saw it hanging there and I got the desire to wear it on holiday.  I put it on and bravely, or stupidly gave my teenager a pair of scissors to cut it off for me.  I figured that nobody would have a tape-meeasure when they see me wearing it and I wasn’t sure how easy it would be anyway with such an un-even hemline.  So, I trusted her to do her best with the scissors!

It ended up a little short once I had turned the hem up and sewed it, but it was fine for holidays.  Here is me twirling on my balcony in Turkey wearing the finished dress!!  Plus a stationary one so you can see the style better and one with my family where you can see the colour better.  I’m pretty pleased with it.

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Cherry Dress, Experimenting, Self-drafting, Sewing, Weekend Sewing

Weekend Sewing: Cherry Surprise!

I absolutely love this dress.  I bought it on a lovely holiday to St Ives many years ago and it was cheap as chips!  I love it because the colour and pattern is great for me.  I like to wear strapless dresses when I’m out in the sun so I don’t end up with a multitude of strap lines.  It’s cotton lawn, so beautifully light and great to wear on a hot day.  Sadly it’s almost worn out.  It has sun lotion stains around the top and the elastic has gone unde39792_10150223918170494_13209_nr the bust.  Here’s me wearing it in 2010 in  Portugal!

It’s a simple design, so I thought it would be relatively easy to copy. I went off in search of fabric to my favourite shop – Harlequin Fabrics in Leamington Spa. My idea was for something fun that I’d like to wear on holiday.

I found a great piece of soft cotton with big cherries on it. Perfect!   I started by creating a paper pattern copied from my original dress and adding a bit extra for seam allowances.

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I created a lining with cotton lawn and sewed the dress up in about an hour and a half, lining and all.  Perhaps the rose wine helped!

I tried the dress on……it was too tight across the bust…..nooooooo! I asked my daughter to try it on…..it fitted perfectly. So now she is the proud owner of a new cherry dress!! And me….I just used some vanish on my old dress, sewed in some new elastic and it will have to do for another holiday!!!  Back to the drawing board!  I am sure with a few modifications I can alter the pattern to fit me.

Here we are in our dresses!

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Colour, New Look 6699, Sewing, Wedding, Women's Style

Sewing: Lesley’s Dress – Part 2

Here’s the second dress I made for Lesley – the proper dress, rather than the toile I blogged about last time.

A deep breath before cutting into the 30-year-old fabric!!IMG_2015

After making the ‘test dress’ to check the fit, making up the silk dress for Lesley was a breeze.  As there was enough fabric, I decided to line the bodice in silk too.  There is nothing worse than wearing a beautiful dress and the lining keeps peeping out on display.  I wanted to ensure that didn’t happen with this dress which Lesley planned to wear for her best friend’s wedding.

IMG_2047 Here’s the completed bodice before the bust gathers went in.  oops, you can see my pile of patterns behind the ironing board!  These are new purchases ready to be made.

Lesley has a dramaIMG_2050tic personality so I bought some bright pink lining fabric for the skirt.

The only alterations I made to this dress was to trim down the waist by a couple of centimetres and after a fitting session with Lesley I made an alterIMG_2048ation to the pinch some fabric from under the side seam to prevent gaping.  The shoulder straps were fitted to Lesley too so the fit was as good as possible.   I used tailors tacks rather than making marks on the fabric – I didn’t want to risk doing anything to damage the delicate fabric.

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Here’s the completed dress and Lesley trying it on.  The colour – a bright coral – suits her perfectly.  The full length sheath dress helps to give Lesley height and it shows off her curves beautifully.

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And here she is on the day of  the wedding with matching fascinator and shoes.  Looking gorgeous Lesley!  Here’s the message she sent me “I loved my dress ….. I felt very glamorous and very special xxxxxxxxxxxx”

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Colour, New Look 6699, Sewing, Sheath Dress, Women's Style

Sewing: Lesley’s Dress – Part 1

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front just recently.  That’s because everything has been so busy; work, social life, family and sewing.  Here’s an update on what I have been sewing lately.

My friend Lesley had been watching and commenting on my blog posts as I started to sew again after a 20+ year hiatus.  She got in touch and asked if I would make her a dress.  I am very comfortable experimenting for me or my family, but how would I get on making something for someone else?  Lesley then told me that she had a piece of fabric in her wardrobe that she would like me to use.  She was given it 30 years ago and it is a piece of raw silk from India.  Oh, and she wanted to wear the dress for her best friend’s wedding!  No pressure then!!

IMG_2192Lesley came over one evening to show me the fabric.  She had just over two metres and she wanted a simple style long dress.  We sat browsing suitable patterns on line and this is what we selected.  New Look 6699.  It’s a mix and match pattern, where you are able to select different bodice and skirt combinations for your desired look.  We selected G, J and L.  Similar to the white dress at the top – just without the sash and corsage.  I needed to elongate the pattern as Lesley wanted full length.

I’m not one to shy away from a challenge, but with the 30 year-old silk in mind, with no way of replacing it if I made a mistake, I decided to make a practice dress, or a toile to give it it’s technical name!  Often a toile is made from a piece of cheap calico just to get the fit right and to allow any alterations to be made to the pattern before making the actual dress.  In this case, I felt that if I was going to the trouble of making a toile, it may as well be one Lesley could wear too.  She was really happy for me to go ahead with the toile and gave me carte blanche to select the fabric for her.

I had already analysed Lesley and her colouring is bright and light and she has signs of both cool and warmth in her colouring.  She has a dramatic personality and a semi-straight body shape – which means that she has waist shapingIMG_1921 and nice slim legs.  Medium to large patterns suit Lesley, but with her dramatic personality I chose this fabulous piece of cotton with some spandex for stretch.  The colour of the tulips are perfect for Lesley as they have the cool pink and the warm yellowy-orange too.  This is a similar weight fabric to the silk and should give me a good idea of how it will perform when made up too.  I went along to Harlequin Fabrics in Leamington Spa to select this.  They are always so helpful in there.  They have a wide range of fabric to choose from and it is displayed really well so that it is easy to see what they have.  I also bought the lining fabric and zips for both dresses.

I thought the pattern might be tricky to work with as there are so many bodice/skirt combinations, but it was actually very well laid out and easy to follow.  I went through it initially with my highlighter pen, marking the sections that were relevant to the options we had chosen.  I was keen to make up the bodice and get Lesley over to try it on.  I’m sure she won’t mind me telling you that she has a rather full bust, so I wondered whether the size I selected was going to fit correctly.  So I made up and lined the bodice for her to try on first of all.  It fitted perfectly and the only thing I had to alter were the straps – I had left these open so I could check them on Lesley and then make them the correct length.  She is perfectly in proportion, with her torso and legs being the same length – she was thrilled when she found this out and it is actually quite rare!  It’s the reason ready to wear does not often fit well as they are generally made for standard proportions and of course most of us are not!

FullSizeRenderThe dress is a fairly simple construction, with just three main pieces – a bodice, a midriff section and the skirt.  I quickly made up the rest of the dress, lining it and adding the zip in the centre back.  Lesley then came back to try it on.  We made a couple of alterations to slim the waist (on the midriff section) as Lesley had been loosing weight ready for the wedding!  Here she is modelling the dress with the fascinator she planned to wear for the wedding.  She loved this dress so much, she considered wearing this one instead!!  Good job I didn’t make it in calico after all!!

As you can see, it’s a perfect fit and Lesley was delighted with the dress I’m pleased to say!  The sheath dress is a great stye for her.  It fits her body shape really well and being a long dress it is both elongating and slimming.  The broader straps are a good choice too – keep everything in the correct scale to suit Lesley.

Here are a few more views of the dress – it looks so much better on Lesley though!  So the first of my ‘Lyndy-Lou’ designs is complete!  I thoroughly enjoyed making this dress for Lesley and it was great to see her as she popped over to try it on during the process!  I’ll blog about the silk dress next weekend.

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Curvy Pencil Skirt, Fabric, Sewing, Vogue Sewing Patterns, Wrap Dress

Sewing: Experimenting with different fabrics

IMG_1607I was driving through Kenilworth to a business meeting when I spotted a fabric shop that I had not been in – ooooh the excitement!  I’d make time to pop in on may way back of course.  They have some lovely fabrics, very nicely displayed – it drives me mad if shops have them all piled up and you can’t see what they have, not so at Karen Delahunty – all very nicely displayed and grouped together in fabric types.  My eyes whizzed round looking for bright colours and I found this fabulous piece of cotton spandex.   It has two of my favourite colours within in it – a cool pink and red – it’s slightly orange, but as it is not the main colour it still works for me.  I love the pattern – quite dramatic and abstract – I’m not so keen on definite florals, but I like this one.  Now what to make with it?  I had gone in with the idea of finding something to make a short-sleeved wrap dress, so I was really looking for jersey.  None of their jerseys worked for me, so I wondered whether this fabric might work as a wrap dress.  It has some stretch and it drapes well.  I checked with Karen and she thought it would work too, so I went for it.

As this fabric isn’t as drapey as jersey, I decided to take about an inch out of each side seam as the skirt of the Vogue V8379 has a pretty full skirt.  This cotton spandex fabric is much stiffer so I thought this would work better.

IMG_1630We were off for a weekend away last weekend, so I cut out the fabric and added all of marks for pleats and tailors marks – I used a washable felt-tip for speed, rather than tailors tacks.  I then made up the bodice in a couple of hours one evening and then finished off the skirt, attaching it to the bodice the next evening.  The finishing off isn’t great as I rushed to get it ready to take away with me – I didn’t actually end up wearing it, but I did put it on to show Nige and Gracie and they love it!

Its first outing was to the Cancer Research UK Charity Fashion Show arranged by my friend Ann Ballinger at the gorgeous Mallory Court.  Fashions were provided by Revolve – there were some gorgeous clothes and the models did a great job.  The only thing is, now I am making my own wardrobe, I only covet the complex designs that I don’t yet have the skills to make!  I loved many of the Joseph Ribkoff designs and there were some gorgeous sequinned evening dresses too.

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Here I am with my lovely friend Caroline at the fashion show.

My second rush-job was another curvy pencil skirt.  I really wanted to wear my pussy-bow blouse to the First Impressions consultant’s spring forum.  The first curvy pencil skirt I made is now too warm to wear – it is in a wool mix and quite a heavy fabric.  I decided to make a navy skirt to go with a pair of wedge sandals now that the sun is shining and the temperature has heated up.

I bought some fabric in a tight weave, medium weight navy blue.  I whipped this up in two evenings too.  I cut it out and sewed the darts one evening and finished it off the next.  I didn’t line this one as it doesn’t really need it and of course, in the interest of speed, I didn’t really have time!

My jobs this weekend will be to go back and neaten up some of the seams, otherwise they might fray in the wash!  Sewing Bee speed it wasn’t, but quite quick for me as a novice!

I love the fact that I have pretty much made an entire new wardrobe and I wore something I made every day this week!  My next little challenge to myself is to make enough clothes that I have a total self-made mix and match wardrobe.  The thing that I could really do with adding right now is a light-weight coat – something to add as an extra layer when there is still a chill in the air, but it is not warm enough for a heavy coat.  My gorgeous Desigual mac has seen better days unfortunately, so that is going in the ‘up-cycle’ pile – I am sure I can make something new out of it as I absolutely love the fabric.  If you know of any patterns that would work, please let me know!  I am looking for a simple style that is fitted in at the waist and I will make it in an interesting fabric.

Happy weekend

Lyn

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Curvy Pencil Skirt, Fabrickated, Sewing

Sewing: Curvy Pencil Skirt

This week’s sewing challenge was set by Kate of Fabrickated.  She sent me a pattern for a curvy pencil skirt.  Regular pencil skirts work for women with a fairly straight body shape – minimal difference between waist and hip measurements.  The curvy pencil skirt was designed for women with a 12″ difference between waist and hips.  Apparently Marilyn Monroe had a 13″ difference, so we are in good company!

Kate sent me a self-drafted pattern that I printed out onto A4 paper.  I then had to cut it out and stick it all together before I could start.  I chose a wool mix fabric.  Here it is all ready to cut out.

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The skirt was pretty easy to make.  I decided to line it – which I may have done last around 20 years ago!  The lining took me a little longer  than making the skirt itself as it is a bit fiddly – especially around the invisible zip.

IMG_1597I am really pleased with the final result and here I am wearing it with my last project – the pussy-bow blouse.  I am building up a nice new wardrobe of self-made clothes.  Since my first attempt in January, I have made 2 wrap dresses, a vintage-style circle dress, a circle skirt, two pairs of PJ bottoms, a denim skirt, a pussy-bow blouse and now this curvy pencil skirt.  My next project is a short-sleeved wrap dress.  It’s all cut out and ready to sew.  Then I am on to boring blinds for our conservatory next.  I am sure I will squeeze in a few clothes, otherwise I may loose heart and not complete the blinds!

IMG_1606Here is a close up view – the fit is pretty good.  After lining it is a little tight on the waist, so next time I will bear that in mind.  I won’t be able to wear it if I am going out for lunch!

Great pattern Kate, I shall be making this up again.

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Pussy-Bow Blouse, Sewing, Vogue Sewing Patterns, Vogue V8772

Sewing: Pussy-Bow Blouse

This blouse took a lot longer than my previous projects,  partly due to spending all last weekend at our daughter’s dance show and partly because this was more complex than anything I have already made, so I took my time to make sure I got it right. IMG_1335 I used Vogue V8772.  I really wanted to get a good fit with this blouse, so I carefully compared my measurements to those on the pattern.  I made a bust adjustment to move the bust dart up one inch and I shortened the length of the bodice so I can wear it  untucked or tucked in, depending upon what I am wearing it with. Other than that, it was as per the pattern. The construction of the bodice and the tie were both pretty simple and I made this up fairly quickly. IMG_1334 IMG_1360 IMG_1339 I knew that the sleeves would be a bit more challenging.  The first tricky bit was understanding what a ‘continuous lap’ is.  I checked out a couple of really helpful videos that showed exactly how to attach it.  It’s effectively a binding that goes around the slit at the cuff.  Here’s a picture of the completed continuous lap. IMG_1359 It’s difficult to see as it is in the same fabric.  I managed to catch some fabric in the piece at the top of the slit, so had to unpick it and re-do that part just once, so not too bad for a first attempt and it looks fairly neat. The next tricky part was the cuff.  It was easy enough to construct, but I must have measured incorrectly, so one of them did not have enough circumference to fasten!  A quick unpick and re-cut and it was soon matching the other cuff. I got to the point where the entire blouse was constructed and I just had the button holes and buttons to finish.  That was a bit scary as I could have ruined the whole project at this point!  I have not attempted button holes for at least 20 years, so the discarded cuff came in as a great piece to practice them on.  After around 10 practice attempts, ensuring that I had the length of the button hole just right to fit the button, I took a deep breath and went for it.  Eleven button holes later, the blouse was almost complete.  I finished sewing on the buttons and was able to wear it with my jeans to my Dad’s 70th birthday dinner. I’m really pleased with the finished project.  As I took my time, it is nice and neat – even on the inside!  It’s such a great feeling wearing something that you have made yourself.  It’s so nice to have such a good fit and I’m really pleased with the fabric colour too – one of my favourite shades.

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Here is the last button just being stitched on and the completed blouse.  I’m off to make a skirt pattern now.  It has been drafted by Kate of FabricKated, so I’ll report back on how that goes.  You can see a glimpse of it here with my blouse – it’s not finished yet – I’ve got to add the lining, but couldn’t wait to try it on!

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