Bad back, a new(ish) hobby and Me Made May ’14 week one.

Sewing is pretty impossible at the moment, I have done something painful to my back and all attempts to work at my machine have left me in agony so I have had to admit defeat until it sorts itself out. This is very annoying as I have a queue of projects including my nearly Dolly Clackett dress, another Emery and my Simplicity wrap dress.   However my sanity has been saved by the arrival of this gorgeous package:

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I am such a sucker for fancy packaging. We Are Knitters make knitting kits – you choose the pattern and the colours you want and they send you everything you need including needles and a cool label.  I found them when I clicked on an ad. on Facebook, which shows how strong these painkillers are because I absolutely hate ads on Facebook.  I know they are supposed to be targeted to your interests but you are not going to win me over by constantly flashing up ads for weight loss and wrinkle remedies, thank you very much. Show me gin, fabric and serial killer books and I might despise you a little less.

Anyway I found the website, quickly got sucked in and found myself ordering.  I needed cheering up and it made sense at the time- I can’t sew but I can knit.  Okay, I have knitted maybe four things in my life, hats, scarves and a very mis-shapen cardigan for my daughter. And the sensible people out there will ask why I didn’t just buy some cheap(er) yarn, needles and a free pattern from the internet.  However – knitting kit!  All in one bag! Cool packaging!

Now this is the point where I try to justify the cost, to myself as much as anything. I got the Vivian knit tee kit, which is forty eight euros. More than I should be spending, especially as I am a bit crap at knitting but it was ten euros less without needles.  And I can use the pattern again.  The yarn is the softest cotton and is really easy to use and the colours are amazing, I chose orange, natural and deep blue, which is a kind of deep teal-y turquoise:

photo 2This picture doesn’t do it justice, the colours are really vibrant.  The instructions are clear and there are video tutorials on the website if you don’t really know what you are doing, like me. It also comes together really quickly.  This is important. I usually prefer sewing over knitting because I am impatient. With sewing you can see a garment taking shape much more quickly than you do with knitting. I got the kit last week and I have half a top already:

photo 3Look, even a knitting novice like me can knock up half a top in a week! And you can knit anywhere. Okay, not quite anywhere but I can take it to work and knit in my lunch break, and in the park while I am ignoring my kids, and if I got the train I could do it on the train.  I may actually get to wear it for Me Made May.

On the subject of Me Made May I have been a bit crap at getting photos but I have managed to stick to my pledge. So far I have worn at least one handmade item a day every day except one , as follows:

Thursday 1st:  Day of the Dead print Simplicity 2444
Friday 2nd:  Black and leopard Deer and Doe plantain, still to be blogged, with shop bought jeans.Saturday 3rd: Floral Tilly Buttons Mathilde, with shop bought jeans.
Sunday 4th: Stripey Colette Laurel top (still unblogged although I made it last May) and shop bought jeans.
Monday 5th: All shop bought, but the jeans did come from the charity shop.
Tuesday 6th: Black eyelet Colette Laurel dress.
Wednesday 7th: Eiffel Tower print Simplicity 1610? Dolly Clackett dress.
Thursday 8th: Leopard pencil skirt, black top, shop bought but I have had it for over ten years. Must make another one actually.
Friday 9th: Leopard Laurel dress and shop bought leggings.

Thoughts so far (bear in mind I am on strong painkillers) – While I usually chuck on a me-made dress for work I do wear jeans a lot at the weekend.  And I have no interest in making jeans. I prefer making and wearing dresses but it all comes down to footwear.  Dresses can be practical but you do need the right shoes. Most of my ‘dress suitable’ shoes have heels. I live by the beach and spend a lot of time outside when the weather allows, and heels are not practical.  I do have a pair of espadrille type wedges that I can wear with dresses on the beach and I wish I had bought ten pairs but I can’t find any more at an acceptable (very cheap) price.  Maybe I need to learn how to make shoes?

Late as usual …my Me Made May Pledge

 ‘I, Jo of ‘The Amazing Adventures of Taracat’ blog, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear an item of me made clothing at least six days a week for the duration of May 2014′

And to prove it, Day 1:

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My Day of the Dead Simplicity 2444, this is about as good as it gets for photography at 6 o’clock in the morning before I leave for work.  I wasn’t really blogging when I made this dress but I wear it a lot and it always gets compliments.

One day done…

 

 

 

Just in time for number 3? BHL Flora Dolly Clackett style

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It’s been a good week.  I was off work so managed to get some sewing done, and I won Katy Sleek Silhouette’s skirt pattern and fabric giveaway! Go and check out what she made – we are going to be skirt twins!

This is what I managed to finish.  I’m not sure if I made it in time for the deadline but here is Sew Dolly Clackett dress number 3,  (here are numbers one and two) and my first attempt at the By Hand London Flora dress. I wish I was clever at naming my dresses but I’m not, so I will go for the obvious and call it my Seaside Flora. ‘Cos look:

P1220570This picture shows the print off best, it came from the market in Birmingham when I went on the meet up last year.  Unfortunately we had to abandon our outdoors photo shoot due to next door’s son gurning at me in a particularly disturbing way as I was posing. Very off putting. What this dress really needs is a proper English seaside back drop, with ice cream and sand castles, but I only had about five minutes to grab the photos so no time to head to the beach.

This is my first attempt at Flora.  Even with the addition of some fake piping on the bodice (I realised after the shops closed that I had run out of cord, so I just folded over my bias binding tape and used it the same way I would proper piping) it was a quick and easy make.  However it definitely needs tweaking. I cut a UK size 14 all over, which is larger than I would normally make but I have put on a few pounds and it seemed to be the right size for my measurements according to the packet.  Unfortunately the bodice came up way too big and the darts were off. I also had to add a couple of upper back darts to sort out gaping and take a chunk out of the centre back.  I know I should have muslined it first but I was desperate to make it and the fabric was only cheap.  I would have been better off sticking with a 12 for the bodice, and have done for Flora number two, I have already started as I am dying to try this pattern again.   I also found that the front skirt came up really short.  I am only 5 foot two with stubby legs so be aware of this if you are making the high low hemline version. There is quite a dramatic difference between the length of the front and back, which is the whole point of a high low hem, I guess:

P1220641Excuse the bruised legs – a hazard of chasing small children over pebble beaches.

Oh, and I almost forgot to show you my amazing rayon seam binding bound seams:

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Not quite perfect but I’m pretty bloody proud of them.

Anyway I used bias binding tape instead of a hem to avoid losing any more length, and I took the side seams in and while it is by no means perfect it is definitely wearable.  And wearing this print makes me really happy, like summer is on it’s way.  That and the amazing twirl factor of this skirt and it’s got to be worth a dance:

P1220627P1220612Don’t you just love that when you move in one direction and your boobs move the opposite way?

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After the initial disappointment with the fit this dress is definitely growing on me, I may even love it a little bit and it will get worn this summer.  Maybe not as much as the last two dresses I made, because of the short front, but it will be perfect for summer evening beach barbecues.  And I have already cut out my second Flora. I am a bit gutted not to have finished it yet, because the fabric is totally Dolly Clackett and I think it will be perfect, but I really wanted to sort out the fitting issues before using such amazing fabric. So watch this space, I may even get it finished this weekend.

 

Sew Dolly Clackett No. 2 – Eiffel Tower Simplicity 1610

P1220540A very quick post because, well, I have sewing to do.  This is Sew Dolly Clackett dress number two, and I have at least two more lined up while I still officially have permission to rip off Roisin’s style.  I am totally turning into scarey stalker woman here.  I am also ignoring a large bag of work that I brought home to do over Easter, but it will have to be tackled eventually. After the sewing though.

This is Simplicity 1610, first attempted here, then here, and it is easily becoming one of my favourite patterns.  Check out the V back:

P1220544and pockets:

P1220534The pockets are really clever, you use a yoke piece that sews in then folds back on itself, if that makes sense. It is really easy and looks pretty professional. The sleeves are really cool too, with little pleats at the top.  I didn’t get any close up photos of them this time but there are some on the pictures of the last time I made it. P1220568I used the same measurements as last time but couldn’t be bothered to line it, instead I used bias binding tape folded under. That might be why the bodice came up a little bit bigger this time, but not so much that I won’t wear it.  I would rather this than too tight, as you know I need room to move:

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P1220562I’m sure you recognise the fabric - Micheal Miller’s Eiffel tower print, much used by Dolly Clackett herself – for example here, here and here.  I got mine from Fabric Inspirations.  It was a bit more expensive than I am used to but it is really good quality.

So there you have it. Another Sew Dolly Clackett dress. The fit isn’t quite as good as my last one but I have already worn it loads and I absolutely love it.  Right, back to the sewing room….

 

 

Is my Nautical Emery Dolly Clackett enough?

photo 4 (2)Bloody Hell, why didn’t I just listen to all of you and make up my Christine Haynes Emery pattern as soon as I got it?  I am now cursing myself for all the time I wasted when I could have been making Emerys.

It took the Sew Dolly Clackett! challenge to finally persuade me to make it.   I’ve been short of time and sanity recently but this was one challenge I was not going to miss. I mean, sod the prizes.  You are offering me the chance to gratuitously copy any of Roisin’s dresses without looking like a stalker – of course I’m bloody doing it!

This is my first attempt, a tribute to her many nautical dresses.  For example this, this and of course this one from the same print as I am using, but in red.  It  had to be an Emery.  Roisin has made loads and I can totally see why.  This was supposed to be a wearable muslin so I didn’t actually expect to get a good fit but it is pretty bloody close straight out of the packet!  For me this is the holy grail of dress patterns – something that I can just cut out and sew, no faffing about, safe in the knowledge that it the fit will be good, if not perfect.  Okay, not quite, I had to take it in about an inch at the top centre back before I put the zipper in. A minor tweak though.  Apart from that this dress felt effortless to make and fits better than any other dress I have made.

photo 3 (2)I was a bit concerned about the fabric, even for a wearable muslin. It came from the stash and I’m not sure where I bought it but it feels kind of crispy.  I was worried that it wouldn’t hang right but actually it has just the right amount of body. I even managed to set the sleeves in with no puckers first time round.photo 5 (2)Lapped zipper, it could do with a press, and absolutely no attempt at pattern matching because I couldn’t be arsed.

photo 1 (2)Silly face.

photo 1Whitstable Brewery Bar, we did the photos outside.  If you ever get a chance try their Oyster Stout, do. They do it on draft but you can also buy it in bottles. I am bloody addicted to the stuff, it’s like a pint of cold dark chocolate in alcoholic form.  Okay, that probably doesn’t make it sound that nice but it really is delicious. Highly recommended if you get a chance to try it

photo 4One tanned leg.

My photographer gets bored easily:

photo 3

Anyway, back to the sewing.  Emery is everything that I hoped that Simplicity 2444 and Colette’s Peony would be.  I love both those patterns on other people but there were just too many fitting problems for me. Emery, however, captures the style I was after and is pretty much hassle free.  Because there are no fitting issues I can knock one together in a few hours, it doesn’t take stupid amounts of fabric, it is modest enough for work and I have loads more planned.  I bloody love it.

(and no apologies for the excessive use of ‘bloody’ in this post. Needs must…)