Thursday, 8 March 2018

Blackwood cardigan from Helen's Closet - it's a winner!

Unusually, I’ve actually finished the garment before I start writing a blog post! Also, unusually, I have no problems to report!

I decided to make the Blackwood cardigan from Helen’s Closet based on all the excellent reviews and so bought the PDF. No problems with purchase or with download. No problems taping together – though this will never be something I enjoy! I read the excellent sew-a-long and tutorial and used the excellent information to make a ‘cheater’ FBA and to enlarge the biceps width. I’ve never actually done this type of FBA so the instructions were very helpful. I usually have to widen for my biceps so I had done that before – but I still need to refer to instructions. In case. I also gave a little extra in the hip area because I usually need that.

I had bought some interesting jersey fabric but found it was seriously off grain so I decided not to use it for this.

After finishing the Jasper sweatshirt and being stuck in the house because of the snow and bad driving conditions, I wanted to do more sewing. I chose a different fabric - Variegated Thread Stretch Jersey Knit Rib Dress Fabric in grey from Minerva Crafts, which I bought on their club 20% off day recently – it was also a sale fabric, so this was a very good buy. Originally, I hadn’t considered using it for the Blackwood because I thought it didn’t have enough vertical stretch, though I’m not clear why this cardigan needs any vertical stretch – but 20% stretch was asked for, and 40% across the width.

I hadn’t quite decided which version of the cardigan to do – there is a short version, no pockets (above right) and a longer, mid thigh or longer version with pockets (above, left). Both have a bottom band and sleeve bands. The sleeves are very long, to keep hands warm.  I didn’t want the pockets. I read that a lot of people were shortening the longer length and even though I’m 5’11”, I would also have shortened it. However, in the end I decided to go for the short version, lengthened. Maybe there’s not much difference as it’s the same pattern pieces. Please note that I did NOT lengthen the sleeves and they are still a bit on the long side for an old fogey like me!

I had to do a little bit of calculation to work out what length to cut the front band and what width to cut the bottom band. I’m glad to say my calculations worked out. I added 3” to the cardigan length, so added 3” to each side of the front band – not exactly rocket science!  I used the bottom band from the longer cardigan ready to trim if necessary. I was happy to have a little extra as I wanted to match the rib – that was the trickiest part. Only a small amount of trimming was required.

I had no problems laying out the pattern or cutting the fabric. I did that on Saturday and started sewing up the cardigan following the excellent instructions. No problems – so I have nothing to say here, really! I overlocked all the inside seams, so it looks nice inside as well as outside. The bit that took the longest was actually trying to match my ribs at shoulder and at bands on sleeves and bottom hem.

The only issue I had was mine and not the pattern’s. I sewed on my band with a smaller seam allowance than recommended – partly for pattern matching reasons and partly because I hoped for just a little more cover though of course I was aware that this cardigan isn’t designed to close. My band was just  a little wider than in the pattern – this because it was easier to cut out using the vertical ribs. Anyway, this was my last step in the construction. I overlocked the front band seam – but was then unable to top stitch as in the instructions. My machine said ‘no!’.  I think the overlocked area was the issue.  I tried a few times using different methods but then decided it wasn’t really necessary. I hand sewed junctions to keep them from flipping,though I don't think they would.

In conclusion, this was an easy to make cardigan and the instructions were good. I like it and think I’ll get a lot of use from it.

This is version B, slightly lengthened in body for height and personal preference. No change to sleeve length.

It’s a winner.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Jasper Sweatshirt with collar fastening with epaulet and button

I had admired the styling of  both versions of the Jasper sweatshirt/dress from Paprika Patterns for a long time and finally decided I’d make the sweatshirt length with the collar and epaulet with button - view B but at view A's length.

Should I go outside to take photo?
Probably not at the moment!

I like the hood too, but would have less use for that version. Originally I was thinking of Pattern Review’s wardrobe contest but I had already abandoned that idea by the time I started.  I’d had the pattern for a long time – in fact, I discovered I had 2 copies – one from a Perfect Patterns Parcel (remember the bundles of Indies?) and one I had bought from Pattern Review. There were loads of positive reviews. I didn't read every review but it seems I should have as even some of the highly positive reviews mention some of the problems I experienced. Too late for me, though.

I bought lovely grey ‘Boucle Sweatshirt Knit Dress Fabric’ from Minerva Fabrics. I love the fabric and it sews nicely but I was thinking that perhaps it was too bulky for this design, despite fitting the criteria given in the pattern instructions. I say that because my seams are very bulky. However, I have had communication from a number of people who gave up on this pattern because of that very issue – two of them broke overlocker needles.

The pattern, in PDF form, comes in two sizes 1- 7 with B cup fitting and 7 – 10 with C cup fitting. I made size 8 on top, grading out on the hips to 9. I also made a small FBA following Paprika’s excellent online instructions for both a small and a large FBA. The top is described as close fitting and I wanted to keep that.

The pattern pieces taped together well. I had no issues with this.

I then cut out the fabric with no problem. (It’s lovely fabric!). I found the fabric quite difficult to mark and I think I could have done better in that area. I accidentally missed/lost a couple of important points and had to redo at a later point.

I quickly machine basted the main pieces (front, sides, back, sleeves) together to test for fit. At this stage, I inserted the sleeves in the round. It was fine, though too short in the body, but there is a band which could be increased if necessary.

The very first task given in the pattern instructions - well second, the first is to stay stitch neckline – is to create the welt pockets – the welt lies  between the front and the side in a princess seam and connecting tube pocket. I had rather hoped to build up to that! I’ll cut the story short and say I messed the welts up as I cut in the wrong direction and couldn’t rescue the hole or raw exposed fabric. Inexperience.
The pencil is pointing to the raw hole

My welts are also rather bowed

I was in class but tried to do this myself as the tutor was busy. Later, she tried to help me rescue it. At home, I decided I had to redo. This time I followed Paprika’s online tutorial on the welt pocket and managed okay.

Much better!

I don’t have experience of these but apparently the method is rather unusual, according to some experienced reviewers. I guess my tutor thought that, too, as she said she’d like to have another go at it. No class this week because of snow but I’ll take along the finished version for her to see – and the abandoned sweatshirt front.

The pockets work and are at nice length for me
The sweatshirt is lovely and cosy

My tutor and I both thought that there was a mistake in the pattern as the pocket pieces were much larger horizontally than the piece they were attaching to – at that stage I hadn't seen anyone mention this. However, I cut a bit off the pocket lining and this worked – but I retained the full size of the pocket self fabric. At the end the seams need graded. There are quite a few layers!

Since than,  I read a 5 star review by a reviewer who contacted Paprika about this and learned it was a mistake in the pattern in the larger sizes.  It's possible that this may have been corrected in the latest version of the pattern which came out last week.  That same person made the same observations about the pocket bottom as I did. I learned that it's not always my mistake!

I think that was the only really tricky part, really. Next was attaching sides to front – no problem – the fabric eased in beautifully. Then shoulders, then I attached sleeves flat. I had made a small increase to the biceps earlier, by the way. It was fairly straightforward after this – sides seams and sleeves joined; collar inserted (double thickness) in the round; bands (double thickness) added to sleeves and hemline in the round. Then epaulet and button. The button took me the longest as I mislaid it and took a long time to find it - right next to where it should have been all along. I had looked there several times so it must have been caught up in something. 

What did cause me problems/what don't I like?

Firstly – the seams are very bulky. Very very bulky in parts. Grading only helps a bit. In one part, I’m convinced I was told to grade in the wrong way as the fabric wants to lie with the graded layers exposed. Unfortunately, I carried out the instructions as advised.  I have seen now online a number of people complaining about this and some who have abandoned the project after breaking overlocker needles.

On a side note – this is why I talk about my failures and like to read reviews both positive and negative – if I had read that, I might not have made this sweatshirt. It’s only as I’ve mentioned on IG or FB or via DM that others have said – oh that happened to me too etc. Apparently, there are many better patterns around – I saw Jalie mentioned a lot.

There is some mention in the pattern instructions of topstitching the seams flat but a warning that this might make the fabric too stiff. I didn’t but may have to. I’ll see what happens in the wearing.

The other bit that caused me a problem was that the pocket lining and pocket, which extends across the front as a tube from princess seam to princess seam, is longer than the sweatshirt body.
This is the tube pocket from the inside
Tube pocket from inside - bottom covers the start of the band

There is no mention at all in the instructions as to what you should do with this. I chose to ignore it and carry on attaching the band. Others cut to the same length (shortening pocket – I need the length) – but I’m not sure whether they then sewed in or left loose. If loose, it might as well have been the same length as mine. If sewn in – oh the bulk!!!! What I’ve ended up with is a loose tube across the inside of the sweatshirt. I reckon it will be unnoticeable in wear though I might find it a bit tricky to put on. Only time will tell! I don’t think I’ll really use the pocket, in any case

Looking inside a pocket


Okay – I love the appearance of the finished garment. I rather like the slimmer fit and don’t think it’s too short. The pattern is for 5’7” and I’m 5’11” but no lengthening of sleeves or body was required. I’m sure it will be worn, and I think it is a little more stylish than some of the other sweatshirts I have. I’m concerned as to how well it will last. My clothes generally last a long time. This though?

I don’t love the inside finish. That might not be too important to some but it is to me – especially when I show to my sewing tutor! I’m concerned, though, that the sweatshirt might wear less well. The biggest issue is really with the bands - I feel they might have been attached differently to avoid this issue. There are 3 layers of fabric here and it becomes quite thick. This is where I thought I had chosen my fabric unwisely (even though it seemed to match criteria perfectly) – however, two others who made this, and who had used thinner fabric than advised, still had problems and broken overlocker needles.

I don’t think I’ll sew this again. I’d have to find a better way of making the pockets and attaching the bands. Maybe the bands need to be in a different, finer fabric - or I could just have hems.

I'm hoping to get this photographed tomorrow. It's bright enough in all the snow. The sweatshirt is warm and cosy

Sorry, I copped out of an outdoor shot today. It's still snowing on and off .
I took the bulk of the photos on the other side of this glass, inside the conservatory

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

February Fails!

Camellia flowering in snowy branches (it was thawing earlier)
I'm not now entering the PR wardrobe contest. No real surprise there! I thought that to make 1 topper, 2 bottoms and 3 tops that coordinate was both achievable and desirable, that is it fitted in well with my plans. I had time to test fit before the start of the real sewing, TNT patterns were of course allowed, and there was/is six weeks after the start of the actual sewing (the end date is 15 March). So not too difficult! Yeah, right.

I thought I'd start with the bottoms. As mentioned elsewhere, I'm doing a PR Sarah Veblen pant class, have her book and read her article in Threads last month. In the PR class, Sarah does post some replies to your queries but is clear that she will not give individualised or personalised answers. She does provide this via her personal platform but of course you have to pay extra for that.  I haven't achieved a suitable fit yet. David is helping me, which isn’t ideal as he really doesn’t understand/agree with the process. I'm sure I'll get there. I hope. I'm not going to rush for an artificial deadline.

I did not want to substitute skirts.

I also made a top from what I thought was a TNT pattern but it didn't work. I think I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, probably with a photo on IG as it didn’t merit a blog post - briefly, it was too tight as the fabric I was using had much less give and drape and I have put on weight. I modified the pattern and tops are on my (near?) horizon.
I'm in the middle of a Paprika Patterns Jasper sweatshirt. I messed up the welt pockets and was forced to redo.

I cut into the welt in the totally wrong direction and couldn't salvage it, though I tried.
The pencil is pointing to a raw end and hole through to the inside of the sweatshirt

Overall view didn't look awful but wasn't right - I would have left but for the hole, above
They look great now but I'm not going to finish in my timescale as there are too many other things going on.

Poor photo on my phone tonight - take my word for it the welts are much better!

I was due back at class tomorrow after midterm holiday, but I can't go as I'm in Scotland with my mother. (I was as I wrote that, last week) Anyway, the sweatshirt would be better with jeans. I have RTW jeans that it will work with - but of course that's no good for the PR contest! Until I get my pant block right, jeans are not on my horizon.

I bought some nice but rather heavy double cloth wool in navy/grey for the topper part, which I've shown before, again on IG, though I also have a Blackwood cardigan ready to cut out. I thought in the end that the cardigan would be better for the wardrobe contest (read speedier!) but the wool would be great in a reversible version of Butterick 6244 to showcase the double cloth nature of it - when I noticed that there was a PR reversible garment contest coming up on 15 March, I thought okay I'd enter. I thought I'd make a toile, though, to get a bit ahead (this is permissible) partly to get the right size and eventually to practice on the fabric to work on the reversible seams before working on the real thing. I thought that getting it truly reversible could be tricky. 

Butterick 6244. A nice pattern, great reviews but just not my style and the fabric was just too heavy, too

Anyway, I modified the pattern for larger hips and larger biceps, cut out from calico and sewed up the toile - and hated the result! I'm not showing you a photo! I did learn a few things from sewing it up - don't forget any of the notches for one thing!! Another thing I learned was to trust my first judgement. I hadn't been at all sure about the pattern for me, or for the fabric, but couldn't find anything more suitable. When I said this to Rory and showed her me wearing the toile, she said she had hoped to find some redeeming feature to mention but couldn’t! She said there was nothing flattering about it for me. She sees me as someone who suits more tailored garments (that’s true) and that normally we’re pulled towards things we suit, particularly as we get older and we know what suits us. Things outside our usual, with a few exceptions (she’s not advocating in the rut thinking) are generally not for us. I also thought this was going to be an easy pattern, but I didn't find it so. I have abandoned this idea. There is nothing whatsoever wrong with the pattern, which came together nicely once I had marked the notches correctly.

At least I still have all the lovely fabric left, unharmed! As I started preparing this post in Scotland, the sun had quite a lot of warmth in it, so I reckoned I'm really thinking about next winter before I use the fabric. Today we have thick snow with more forecast all this week because of the ‘Beast from the East’. It’s chilly outside too so more sewing forecast!

I did get to Sew Club last night (Monday), before the snow proper hit.

I bought some jersey fabric and decided to make a Blackwood cardigan from Helen's Closet, among other things (my originally planned fabric probably wasn't going to work as it had less stretch than the pattern suggested). I planned a matching tank and cardigan. I know matchy matchy isn't ideal these days, but I thought the style wouldn't look like the old style twin set so would work okay.

The fabric was pre-washed and dried. Did I do this incorrectly I wonder?

I sorted out the Blackwood cardigan pattern. I did a small FBA following the excellent instructions given on the sew-a-long. Although I'm tall, I didn't think I needed to lengthen arms or body as it seemed long enough as it is designed super long. I cut out the pattern paper ready to apply to fabric and cut out proper.

I took the fabric to Sew Club as there is a bigger cutting table there.

I found the printed pattern on the fabric is WAY off. As the pattern will be lying horizontally on my body, this is important. 

Yes, it's that far off!

Trying to fold the fabric using patterns as guide - well, you can see the twisted folded edge.
To fold with a nice fold created very off ends

Rory showed me how to try to try to get the fabric on grain (block square and steam). This improved the small piece we were able to do (space, time) and Rory felt it was workable with. She advised cutting out pieces larger than each pattern piece and blocking the pieces individually.

I think I can do that at home as I think I have a cardboard cutting board somewhere. I normally use a cutting mat and rotary cutter but Rory advised against this in this instance. I found that the piece from class had sprung back to the wrong shape.

I wish I had just returned the fabric. This is a lot of effort. I have emailed the company I bought it from to complain, but as the fabric is washed and dried and now has a chunk cut off, I won’t get anywhere. Still, I didn’t want to just let it go. It’s a lot of money even if bought in a sale.

I can't say anything about the Blackwood cardigan as this fabric is a long way from being ready for it! Lots of good reviews so I'm hopeful. Good instructions. I might see if another fabric I have would work - the first I looked at had insufficient stretch. I’ve gone off this fabric big style!!

Current plans

  • Complete pant fitting process - then there's no limit! I wanted to make some winter weight pants but by the time this is finished, I'll need to use lighter weight fabrics so those fabrics will get stored away too. I had planned to use navy and burgundy wools. (On that note, Fabworks online has some fabulous wools in a snap sale lasting until next week I think. I don't need any so have resisted the temptation. There are some great buys though)
  • Complete Jasper sweatshirt - I’ll post separately about that.
  • Make a Blackwood cardigan (plus or minus tank, depending on fabric chosen)
  • I do have need, not urgent, for a workout top to go with my workout trousers. The top I tried to wear last time is no use.
Then, who knows? I'd still like to complete the wardrobe contest garments but in my own time.

I've had a few things I've abandoned this year so far for one reason or another (they don't fit the FLF description - Fit; Like; Flatter) but I don't feel bad about them (though I do feel bad about that off-grain fabric - and I have a coordinating piece from the same range which I finally dared to check and it’s off too!).

I'll have to re-look at what I want to do.

Friday, 26 January 2018

My Chanel-type jacket - part 3. It's finished.

My last post about this jacket was over 4 months ago as I was busy with family things and making the outfits for the murder mystery weekend (with of course the exception of David’s Franciscan monk’s outfit that he made entirely by himself), posted earlier. However, I hadn’t completely forgotten about the jacket.

This post has been part written on each of several days. Today I just wanted to get it posted (I'm still feeling rather unwell). The quality of the photos could be better (understatement!)

After my last post, I removed the sleeves, reduced the size of the seam allowance in order to give a bit more space for my biceps and re-attached to the armscye. Previously, my pattern matching was absolutely perfect but for some reason I couldn’t get it perfect this time - strange as the sleeve attachment previously was very wonky as I discovered when I was removing - the seam width changed a few times and in places I had double or even triple stitched as I was having issues inserting the sleeves originally. I had to consider how many times it was appropriate to redo and took advice from Rory and Dan (Gillian's classes were finished) - their advice was that the sleeves hung beautifully and the pattern matching was fine so to leave. I took their advice. I also had to take into account that while this jacket will work for me, the sleeves are too short and although the fringe will hopefully disguise that, I’m not really a fringe person!! So this could be a really fancy wearable toile! No, not a toile as I will consider it a finished jacket but it will highlight any future changes required.

The next step was to create the fringe. As suggested by both Mary (Cloning Couture) in comment on my last blog post and Kate at my weekend sewing trip, I did try cutting the fabric strips on the bias and compared this to straight stitching. However, I preferred the appearance of the straight fabric strips. In addition, I had originally auditioned two fabric strips on top of the lining but found I preferred only one as it was less full - as I said above, I’m not really a fringe/frilly person and I found the two layers to be a bit ‘too much’. Anyway, I told myself, Chanel actually used the selvedge from the fabric (I considered that too) and one layer appeared closer to that. I used the lining fabric cut on the bias to allow it to go around corners more readily. Some people have asked me about this and how I did it. I'll have a look to see if I have any photos - I think I do but my computer is in intensive care and I've bought a new one which I haven't got set up as yet. I might have some on my phone. I'll post if I can - or perhaps post at a later date. I can't check at the moment.

I created the fringe strips in my sewing bee with Rory. Sorry Rory for the incredible mess this made (glad I wasn’t doing it at home!!). I couldn’t believe how many threads and the amount of lint from my fabric strips! I did have to trim the strips afterwards as they were a little too wide. Even more mess. I attached the strips to the bias cut lining and was ready to go.

I had already marked my jacket just inside the seam allowance with machine stitching, which would also act as stay stitching. Gillian had said to put tape around the neckline but as I was adding two layers of lining underneath into the neckline turnover, I decided, rightly or wrongly, that I didn’t need to do this.

I attached the lining part of the strips to the jacket fronts and neckline, just like you do with piping, carefully ensuring that the junction between the lining and the fabric lay along the stitching line. This was more difficult than it sounds as I could scarcely see my staystitching. Maybe I should have used a contrast colour of thread. I pinned and then tacked. I quite enjoy the process of tacking (basting) by hand and feel that it made it more likely for the horizontal patterns on the fringe and the jacket to match. I then machine stitched the fringe to the right side of the fabric. I did this at my last class of the year with Lyn, who helped me with the corners. I found it very difficult to sew with the bulk of the fabric on my right as was required for one of the corners. I didn't add fringing to the bottom hem. Despite my care, the pattern between jacket fronts and fringe doesn't exactly match but I’ve decided to leave it as I don’t want to carry the jacket unfinished over to 2018!

Ha! It's now 2018. Don't say you're surprised that I didn't get the jacket finished! In December, I started and completed the long-promised red silk dress for Helen, made a few Christmas presents and finished my knitted waistcoat. I did a little on the jacket but I'm unfortunately not someone who can watch TV while working and I usually watch with David in the latter part of the evening. If I'm really pushed, I'll sew right up to bedtime but I prefer not to do that.

Next step was to turn up the jacket hem and stitch it in place. I placed curtain chain weight in the hem fold and secured that at seam lines and the ends. This was the process if there is no fringing - I'm not completely sure how I would have done this with fringing. Just a minor modification to the process, I feel.

I said I didn't like the double fringing but the single seems a bit scrappy. I think maybe I'm just not a fringing person. I decided I'd continue, though. Next time I'd go for braiding - I would've done with this one if the sleeves had been long enough. I bought a choice of braid and of buttons but haven't used either.

Next, the lining seams. Sleeves first. The under layer of lining is smoothed across the seam and pinned in place down the seam line. It's then cut level with the fabric edge (forgot to say seam allowances were trimmed). Then the other side is smoothed across and folded under level with the seam line and the first pin taken out and transferred to keep the two lining areas in place. In some cases, I had stitched my quilting lines too close to the seam lines - I needed more side than I had anticipated. So I had to unpick a fair bit of my quilting and re-tie my threads. This is an ongoing task. Next time, I would be aware of just how far away from the edges I need to stay and this would save quite a bit of time.

It isn't too difficult - but, boy, is it tedious! I do hope it will be strong enough! I'd hate my lining to start falling apart.

I continued in this vein, a little bit each day. Things did move on and the hand sewing was often a relief from the day. Today (Thursday 25 January), I had just the sleeve lining/jacket lining armscye junction to do. I took it to class with Lyn - I haven't been well, not yet recovered and wanted a simple almost mindless task. Lyn advised folding the jacket seam allowances towards the sleeve rather than opening them out as elsewhere. She felt this would give a nice shape. I did this, then smoothed the under layer of lining over, pinned then tacked them in place, identifying the stitching line. Here Lyn offered an important piece of advice - the need to ensure the lining is not pulled too tight. I had been pulling too tight so adjusted that. After I pinned the over lining over, I tacked and removed the pins so I could try the jacket on. I think it looks pretty good. When I tried on, the tacking stitch was under pressure in one area so I added a little extra there.

I finished stitching one sleeve in place and managed to get the other stitched in place tonight.

I'm not putting pockets - or mock pockets, as you no doubt guessed.

So that's it finished!
I'm quite excited now that I see it finished!

It's rather crushed so I'll hang on Madame and steam tomorrow. David liked it when I tried it on and said he'll take some photos tomorrow.

I didn't steam before I took the photos as I was worried about losing what little light there was available. I also realised just now as I was finishing this post, that I didn't put the chain on around the lining/hem junction - after all that searching for suitable chain!! I'll probably leave it off.

Summary of resources used:
Chanel jacket class by Gillian Hargreaves - 2 days. I attended with Margaret (The Crafty Creek), who has blogged about the course. I'm not sure if she has finished the jacket as there has been no further blog post.
The Iconic Tweed Jacket by Lorna Knight (Craftsy class) I bought this a while ago and hadn't watched. I found it a great class and enjoyed the instructor but her methods were slightly different from those I was following from Gillian.
Books by Claire Schaefer
Assistance in class from Rory (Centre Front Studios) and from Lyn (WEA) as mentioned in body of text.

Then on to other projects!

Saturday, 20 January 2018

PR Winter Street Dress - version 3 for me. My first wadder of 2018


A while back, nearer the start of my sewing adventure, I made some Winter Street Dresses (pattern from Pattern - for me and for my daughter. I made all of the dresses in a short time scale as Pattern Review was running a competition to make this dress to celebrate the launch of their in-house pattern range. Looking back at my PR reviews, this was in May 2014. Here is the link to the review of the blue dress - and from that, links to the others.

Description of pattern:
"Just like it's cousin - Summer Street Dress, Winter Street Dress is an easy to sew knit dress with a waist seam and a narrow pleated skirt. The narrow skirt with inverted box pleats has just the right amount of ease where you need it, resulting in a very comfortable and cute tulip shape. The bodice is drafted for a "C" cup. There is a choice of elbow length flounce sleeves or a full length sleeve. You can even make it without sleeves. The skirt is designed to fall above the knee for a more trendy look but it is super easy to lengthen or shorten it. 

From Winter to Spring to Summer, this is a perfect transition dress! 

Fabric suggestions - A variety of knit fabrics will work here but we recommend medium weight knits for a more structured look. The pattern will work for lighter weight knits like rayon jersey as well. We do recommend lining the skirt if you are using lightweight knits." (From PR website)

I made a dress from very stretchy fabric - review here and photo below this - it stretched lengthwise a lot and the dress got longer and longer and the waist lower and lower! I tried to fix it by taking up a large chunk at the waist from both bodice and skirt but I accidentally created a hole in the fabric when I was unpicking. The fabric was so difficult to use. That was the least of its problems. It got jettisoned. 

Without belt

With belt

Because of the stretchiness of the fabric, it appeared to fit better around my bust than my remaining blue version, which is the only one of mine which remains (Joanne still has hers, I think - that's in a wine colour which is rather nice - review here). 

My burgundy one was my first and never fitted well so was given away. (I still have some of the fabric so might make a top to go under the kimono; I think it's in the correct colour palette)

I only wore the remaining one a couple of times, really, as I didn't feel quite right in it partly because it felt a bit tight. Also, I felt the folds at the back of the skirt just didn't lie nicely, which I put down to it being a bit tight. I liked the fabric and the colour (blue) though so it was kept in case I got slim enough to wear it. 

Even in this one, at the making stage, you can see that the inverted pleats don't lie nicely.
I didn't realise it was this bad even then!

I had some fabric from the same range in my stash. This wasn't in a colour or shade I liked so much but it's a colour that has been suggested that I should wear (petrol blue, I think, though I saw it as green and I see it as a bit dull and sludgy - you can tell I don't like it!).  I decided I'd make another Winter Street Dress, since I originally made a lot of changes to the pattern and I still had the printed pattern (it was a PDF pattern), though now I'd have to go up a size.

Wednesday - 10 January, First sewing bee of the year

I took the blue dress to sewing class and tried it on. Rory agreed that I needed a bigger size for my hips. However, she felt the dress was going up a lot at the back - by that I mean the back of the skirt was substantially shorter -  and directed me to add quite substantially to the back waist at the centre (8.5 cms!), tapering out towards the sides. I also had to add to the sides back and front, but not to the centre front. The pattern is designed to be cut with back and front identical and on the fold. After the alterations to the pattern, I now had separate back and front pieces. I made the tucks as suggested. Only then did I realise that of course I had cut out the bodice, which at the time I thought fitted me, to the original size - it would have been better to go up a size, I now feel. This meant that I had about 2 cms extra fabric at each side of the skirt.

Showing extension to back height

Close up view of front at the front and back under that.

At Home

I didn't follow the directions given on the pattern as I was now going to have to modify the skirt portion. The directions put the sleeves in flat and the finishing touch is to sew up each side and sleeves. However, I made up the bodice, using stabiliser in the shoulder area - this was the first time I have manged to insert tape properly using my overlocker. I set the sleeves - no problems. I finished all raw edges by overlocking. Actually, for the first time ever, I used the 4 stitch overlock stitch and made up the bodice on the overlocker, though I machine tacked first. I think this has worked well and the inside looks neater, more finished than my last version, which has some unfinished seam edges. I added the neckband also in the round - doubling neckband, in the round, quartering, attaching to right side of fabric, testing fit, then folding to the back and planned to do decorative zigzag stitching or cover stitching to hold the seam allowances down. I didn't follow this method previously. I think I followed the PR instructions, which were good and Deepika had an online tutorial covering neckband insertion.

My previous neckline seam attachment is concealed and I finished the neckline by stitching in the ditch.  Last time around, the neckband was attached unfolded, to the right side of the fabric, folded over to the wrong side, the seam edge turned under and secured by stitching in the ditch from the right side. They look completely different, much to my surprise. However, this method looks fine. I don't have a cover stitch machine so planned to use a zigzag stitch to hold down the seam allowances inside the neckline but Rory didn't feel I needed anything other than tacking the overlocking to the seam allowance at the shoulder - we'll see if that works. I didn't  have enough of a suitable shade of thread to do the neckline, the sleeve hems or the skirt hem, in any case.

After my bodice was finished, I machine basted the skirt front and back together at the sides. As the skirt waistband is wider than the bodice waistband, I used an extra tuck in the skirt and basted the skirt to the bodice, ready to see what see what Rory would suggest.

Wednesday - 17 January. Second sewing bee.

I tried on the dress for Rory to look at the waistline area. There were a few changes made - by pinning in place after releasing the stitching - taking a bit off the centre back skirt and a small bit off the centre front bodice. Rory suggested I should have taken a wider tuck rather than the extra small pleat but I did what I did because I had already done it if you see what I mean! I knew the stitching would be coming out.

I tacked together to test out the new settings - I thread traced where the pins had been to give me an idea for matching the bodice and the skirt as of course, the seam allowances were no longer the same size.

Rory thought the waistline looked much better. She felt I needed even more width at the back but too late for that. Then she thought it was simply the fabric being caught up on my trousers, which I was still wearing. She said the side seams were running straight.

As I was measuring up the alterations for the two sides (Rory marked only one side, front and back), I realised that my skirt was decidedly lopsided! This must be the result of my poor cutting out as it had not yet been physically altered. I showed my finding to Rory who said we would need to even up the hem from the floor.

At home - Thursday 18 January

I stayed at home rather than going to my sewing with Lyn. There were two reasons for this. First, the roads were snowy and icy - and if you don't need to go out, why do it? Second, I do find it awkward to be doing the same garment in two different places with, potentially, three different tutors. So I didn't want to take this dress, and didn't have another project ready. Well, I do have my Chanel jacket but I'll finish that at home. I don't want to start yet another until these are out of the way - I have enough UFOs as it is.

I overlocked both side seams of the skirt. As Rory felt that the skirt could still do with a little room, I simply ran the knife down the edge, so making the seam allowance as small as possible. While pressing it, I found the unevenness of hem again - see photo - this is clearly bad cutting out, sadly.

This doesn't look too bad - but in reality it was much worse

this is the kind of difference in length I was faced with 

I then attached the skirt to the bodice by pinning along the marked seam lines. I put the folds back in but found it incredibly difficult to get them even - I guess this is because my cutting was a bit off. I did my best and tried the skirt on - and got David to mark the shortest point of the skirt. I wore small heels, as I would with this dress and he measured from the floor.

I was going to go on and finally overlock the waistline seam, in which clear elastic is used for stabilisation - but I really don't like how the pleats are lying. I'm heavier than I've been for a while (David also thought the top was a little tight; I agree) so I thought that perhaps when I'd lost a stone or so, the dress would lie better.

At that stage I planned to take the dress to class (Third Wednesday - 25th January) and see if Rory might suggest a better position for the pleats. I hadn't done any top stitching with twin needle as yet as I still didn't have the correct thread colour. I decided to put it aside.

Friday 19th January

I bought the thread. It's a reasonable match. Later in the day, I became quite unwell with a sudden acute UTI, so I didn't do any sewing.

Saturday 20 January

I'm feeling unwell but not the kind of that needs bed rest so decided to take it easy and just think about and look at some of my projects and write this blog post. No actual sewing or having photos taken. 

I reassessed the dress. No, it's not going to work. I don't have photos of the dress to show you and feel too unwell even to think of having some taken. Look at the blue one - this one is tighter and the back inverted pleats much worse. When I looked at the earlier photos, the dress didn't appear to rise at the back - same dress as Rory said to add 8.5 cms to - so this must be due to weight gain. You can guess where the bulk of my weight gain goes!

This is going to be my first wadder of 2018, I fear.

The waistline inverted pleats don't work for me. I am too hippy - as a pear shaped person, my hips are relatively bigger than my waist. I have quite a high hip. The dress fits at the waist, but the pleats on the skirt are pulled apart too quickly and as a result are distorted. They serve to emphasise my large hips rather than just provide the needed space for them. David put it well when he said they point like arrows towards the biggest part of my hips. This was said in a constructive way. And NO!  - I'm not showing a photo of the offending area!

I wondered how I could change this.
  • Perhaps just gathering instead of pleats? I'm not a fan of gathering.
  • Altering my shape ie losing weight, which I want to do, anyway. However, I am sewing clothes for how I am now so that's not an option for this dress and the blue dress had problems with the pleats even when I was lighter.
  • Not continuing with it. This style is not flattering and the colour is not my best. David found it unflattering - style, type of fabric and colour

I certainly wouldn't buy it. So I'm not prepared to put a lot of effort into making something I wouldn't buy and won't wear. You might think there isn't a great deal left to do in this dress so I should finish it but I can use that time for something ultimately more useful.

David has suggested the FLF system for assessing my sewing:
  • F - Fit. It must fit well
  • L - Like. I should like everything I try to make for myself.
  • F - Flattering - even when it's ‘only’ a functional garment.

I like that.

This dress fails all 3 of these criteria.
  • F - it doesn't fit. The bodice and sleeves feel tight. The least said about the skirt, the better!
  • L - I don't like it. This is a combination of fit, fabric, style and colour
  • F - it isn't flattering. This includes the style of the dress - even if it fitted, it wouldn't flatter as the style is just not for me

So - it's official - it's a wadder. I feel quite happy with that decision as I knew I'd never wear it. I wore its predecessor a few times but never felt comfortable in it - and I liked its colour much more. I realise now that it wasn't just being tight through weight gain that was the issue. I just don't like the style. I recall that at the time, I was less than positive about the pattern, at least for my first version - but I tempered my prose as it was a contest. This was my first review:

"This style is not for me. I needed to make too many alterations to the bodice to try to make it fit at my waistline and I therefore presumably lost the originally intended design, though even more changes are required. I have gone ahead and made further alterations to the pattern, with a view to trying again - in the process correcting my faulty drafting of the side seams on the bodice, and turning the wedge at the back into a straight increase to avoid the dress being too high in the centre, which meant that the skirt didn't lie properly. I have also made the sleeves bigger for next time as these were very tight on me at the biceps; I also plan to drop the armscye slightly. My problems were worsened as I washed the dress again after construction to see if that would relax it, as I thought some of my manipulations might have stretched it out of shape (I got it stuck in my sewing machine! More than once.) but I feel there was further shrinkage as the sleeves at the biceps became much tighter than they had been prior to that. 
I do plan to make it for my middle daughter, who fits more clearly into the target demographic group, I feel or perhaps the one I made can be modified to fit her! She is happy with raised waists, short skirts and pull on knit dresses. Mine would be too big, though, I reckon I would need to sew a medium for her but perhaps mine has shrunk to a medium and I would just need to shorten skirt and sleeves. Nice thought!
I can recommend it to others as it is easy to sew, looks easy to wear and looks good on the pattern testers." Overall - 'Pattern okay but did not work for me'

Blackwood cardigan from Helen's Closet - it's a winner!

Unusually, I’ve actually finished the garment before I start writing a blog post! Also, unusually, I have no problems to report! I...