February’s Challenge (maybe too much of a challenge for me?…)

February’s Sewing / Design and Inspiration Challenge over at ‘short stories of shapely seams’ was about exploring silhouettes and my take on it was to try a silhouette that I don’t normally wear

When it comes to dresses I normally go for waisted styles buy I had seen a really great denim shift dress which was quite boxy that I wanted to try.

I had been inspired by the Camber dress made by Laura at ‘behind the hedgerow’. Laura had taken this pattern and added a horizontal seam to include the front pockets and I really liked the use of the Liberty print facings and pocket bags.

The Merchant & Mills Camber dress pattern does have some waist shaping but it’s still a dress you can pull on without any fastening.

I drafted my own pattern and made up a basic toile with the intention of adding style lines once I was happy with the fit. But this is where I stopped. I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it and I found myself thinking – need to make it slimmer here and add shaping here – which would have necessitated fastenings to get into, so it was taking me away from the original plan.

An artist's impression of what I had in mind for the denim shift dress

An artist’s impression of what I had in mind for the denim shift dress

So I put it to one side for a few days which has now turned into the rest of February and distracted myself by casting on for a pair of socks and making a Renfrew top.

I don’t feel I’ve been very successful with this challenge but it did get me thinking and trying out a new shape for myself. I can picture the dress I want to make quite clearly so hopefully I’ll get the urge to  pick it up again.



A ‘Sew Over It’ Pussy Bow Blouse

The first sewing project for 2015 has been the Pussy Bow Blouse pattern from Sew Over It. This is the garment I’ve chosen to make for the 2015 Sewing  / Design and Inspiration Challenge being run by Zoe over at Short Stories of Shapely Seams.

Sew Over It Pussy Bow Blouse

Sew Over It Pussy Bow Blouse

January’s challenge was to create a mood board and make a garment inspired from the board. My inspiration came from Mrs Brown’s wardrobe from the Paddington movie. I came out of the cinema just loving her style!

Mrs Brown inspired mood board!

Mrs Brown inspired mood board!

At the same time over at ‘Did You Make That?‘ Karen had been making the pussy bow blouse and I suddenly realised that was the pattern I needed!

The pattern requires fabric with drape, I hadn’t had time to go out to any fabric shops so I tried my luck with e-Bay and found this navy fabric with white stars for £4.99 per metre. It is 100% viscose and when it arrived I was really pleased as it was perfect for this blouse.

From the body measurements on the pattern I cut the size 8 but I needed to shorten the sleeves by 4cm.

Sewing up was far from without problems! The main area I had difficulties with was the area where the bow ties meet at the centre front. I was sewing version 2 where the tie is stitched right to the bottom of the ‘V’. The instructions ask for you to sew up the tie, turning through the ends and leaving an open gap in the middle section to sew around the ‘V’. Unfortunately when I came to attach the tie, the length of  ‘V’ opening was much longer than the open section. I couldn’t unpick the tie because I had trimmed the seam allowance very close to the stitching.

I closed up a bit of the centre front seam but this wasn’t going to solve my problem and the inside was beginning to look a dogs dinner. To prevent the centre front point from turning into a frayed mess I cut a couple of bias strips and stitched on to each side to neaten the seam allowance.

The inside view of the bottom of cf 'V' - before and then after adding bias strips to prevent anymore fraying

The inside view of the bottom of cf ‘V’ – before and then after adding bias strips to prevent anymore fraying

I finally solved the problem by attaching the ties to the neck edge by butting the edges together and using a small zig zag stitch.

A small zig zag stitch was used to attach the tie to the front V point on each side.

A small zig zag stitch was used to attach the tie to the front V point on each side.

I’m not sure what went wrong, maybe I notched the seam allowance of the tie in the wrong position but one thing I did forget to do was to stay stitch the neck edge. It’s something that I usually do but just forgot it this time and it’s not mentioned in the pattern.

Anyway once the neck was sorted the sleeves and the hem were straightforward. The cuff buttons are fastened with a rouleaux loop. It was the first time I’d used my loop turner than I bought yonks ago.

I’m not sure if the sleeve head is supposed to be gathered, it doesn’t show it in the pictures on the pattern but instructions tell you to stitch two rows of gathering stitches. When I came to pin the sleeve head in there was hardly any gather and in the end I used the gathering stitches to easy the sleeve head in to the armhole with no noticeable gathers.

I was a bit underwhelmed when I’d finished but after a few tries on I like the way it fits. The front of the V would probably be an inch lower if I hadn’t tried to sew it up which I think would improve it. I did manage to get to a fabric shop after the star fabric arrived and I bought some more viscose, this time a bright floral print on a black background so I’m going to make up another one as I am determined to get the better of that tie insert! 🙂

I bought the paper pattern rather than the PDF version which was £13 plus £3 P&P. I bought during that slow time between Christmas and New Year and then I wondered if I really needed to spend £16 on a pattern so at that price I’ll definitely be making it more than once!

RTW Fast 2015 & the 2015 Sewing / Design and Inspiration Challenge!

Sarah who runs the blog ‘Goodbye Valentino’ is running the RTW Fast for another year and I’ve joined up again. I believe that this year there are double the amount of pledgers than 2014. Underwear and socks are allowed but the aim is to avoid buying any ready to wear clothing for the year.

2015 fasters badge

I enjoyed taking part last year and found it surprisingly easy – there was the pair of waterproof over trousers but I would say a necessary purchase. I found that being on the fast made me focus more on what I needed to make and by the end of the year I felt I had created a reasonably versatile wardrobe.

Anyone else taking part?
What do you think you’ll miss buying most?
I really need jeans so I’m hoping the Crafty Jeanius course is going to be a success.

I’m also going to take part in Zoe’s 2015 Sewing  / Design and Inspiration Challenge over at her blog ‘Short Stories of Shapely Seams’. Zoe has set up a monthly challenge, which sounds manageable. For January it’s create a mood board and then make a garment inspired by your board. I’ve been working on the mood board and know what I’d like to make, I just need to buy the fabric and I only have two weeks left of January…….

2015 sewing design inspiration challenge badge