Monthly Archives: September 2013

Sewing for Autumn – a knit Dandelion.

P1220196So who is that mysterious raven haired beauty? And more importantly, that dress…?

The change of seasons has had me scrabbling around in my wardrobe for suitable things to wear. Added to that the new management at work have introduced a much more conservative dress code. So as much as I love pretty dresses and wild prints I probably should make some basics.  Even though I fully intend to make basics with a twist I am finding it hard to get excited, so to motivate myself I have decided to do the Fall Essentials Sewalong over at Rhinestones at Telephones.  I will post in more detail about my Fall/Autumn sewing plans in another post, but this dress is my first piece.

After my last attempt I am totally in love with the Disparate Disciplines Dandelion dress and I really wanted to make it up the same but in a solid so that the design lines would be more obvious. I am still sewing from my stash so I picked this knit (double knit? I am still a bit crap at fabric identification) that I got from Barry’s at the Birmingham Meet Up for about a fiver a metre.   I wasn’t sure about how this dress would work in a knit but it is pretty stable, not much stretch and I have loads of it so I thought I’d give it a go. It’s not actually as shiney as it looks here, and it’s a medium weight with a really nice drape.  I made a few changes to the pattern after last time.  I took a half inch sized sliver out of the side front neck to reduce the slight gaping at the neckline and also pinched an eye shaped chunk of fabric out of the back, as kindly suggested by Brooke, who made the amazing Star Trek Dandelion dress. The only allowance I made for the fact that it is a knit was to use a ballpoint needle in my machine. I think it has worked.  I didn’t bother finishing the seams because it doesn’t need it, and I haven’t actually hemmed it yet, because I am a lazy cow. Actually I might not bother.

I really like how this dress has turned out. It is ridiculously comfortable, has shape without being tight and is very wearable.  There is a little bit of stretching on the side panels, probably due to it being a knit and me not taking enough care but I can live with that. However after all those fun prints it feels like it’s not the most exciting garment to show in photographs, so I decided to call in my curly haired assistant to model it.

Okay, I borrowed my husband’s Frank’n’furter wig and a pair of sunnies. Needs must…..

P1220202 This Halloween I will be going as Victor Lewis Smith in drag. Or I could cultivate some facial hair and go as Russell Brand?

P1220205I could get used to black hair.

And in case that wasn’t exciting enough here are some action shots, without curls because they kept flying off and scaring the cat.

P1220173P1220220Ignore the pointy nipple action , it doesn’t look this bad in real life, I promise.

You can see the side panel here, going into the dart at the top.  I love the way it adds shape and shows my curves without being clingy or restrictive.

P1220217And the back…

P1220163Yes, there are still a few wrinkles, and I think it may have stretched a bit at the seams. Is this why people use a walking foot? I would love one but can’t bring myself to spend £95.00 at the moment so I’ll have to live with the stretchy bits.  I was also a bit hesitant about pressing as I think my iron got a bit hot and the fabric started to go a bit shiny.  I’ll go back and have another go at making these seams look better when I get a chance.

I will leave you with a couple more action shots. Feel free to sing along with Dave:



Disparate Disciplines Daisy Dandelion Dress – the start of a D based love affair?


You know when you find a fabric and you can immediately see the dress it is supposed to be? Maybe it’s just me, but I got that feeling as soon as I picked up this mystery cotton-ish, slightly  stretchy remnant in my local fabric shop. It was about £6.00 for a metre and a half length and probably about the same width. I knew it had to be kind of shift-ish dress, but with a twist. I had a picture in my head of what I wanted but never quite managed to find the right pattern. It almost became a Laurel but something stopped me at the last second so it has been sitting in my stash for about a year.  Then a couple of weeks ago Mari of Disparate Disciplines released the Dandelion dress pattern and it was like she’d read my mind. As soon as I saw the drawings I knew that it would be perfect and ordered it straight away.  Unfortunately I didn’t have time to make it straight away so had to be content with lusting over the gorgeous versions popping up on the interweb – check out Winnie’s lace sleeved dress , Lizzie and  Wanett’s tops, and Brooke’s Star Trek inspired version , for example.

As you can see it can be made up as a top or an A line dress, with either a round or sweetheart neckline, or sleeveless with a yoke. This gives you the possibility of endless variations – colour blocking, lace inserts, using different textures, piping, the only restraint is your imagination. And as an added bonus you also get a recipe for dandelion pesto – mmmm…

I kept it simple and made up the dress with the round neckline. No pattern matching because I didn’t think I’d have enough fabric, but it does use less than you’d think. This pattern  is recommended for intermediate sewers because of the curved lines and the unconventional construction. It is different to anything I’ve made before but the instructions were very clear and I actually found it one of the easiest things I’ve made. It is hard to see how it will turn out until it’s done though, because of the genius side panels that add gorgeous curves while keeping it loose enough to be comfortable even after a large lunch – and I did make sure I tested that factor several times. And the raglan sleeves meant no fannying around trying to avoid the puckers I always get when setting in normal sleeves.

I made it up with a size 2 at the shoulders, grading to a 4 at the bust and a 6 at the waist and hips and the only alteration I made was to take in about an inch at the centre back, as I do for virtually every pattern.  And I managed without a zip again. The only cock up was when I was finishing the seams with my overlocker and managed to take a chunk out of the side panel. Luckily not a big chunk, and thanks to the print you can hardly see it:


While I was taking these pictures my husband came in to tell me he had lost the top of his finger in the shed. He cut it while slicing a tomato the other day and rather than going to A & E decided to try and stick it back with strips of plasters. It didn’t work and now his fingertip is kicking around the floor of the shed somewhere.  This is my ‘trying to look concerned without laughing and shouting I told you so’ face:


There is still a little bit of extra fabric at the back, I’m wondering if I should try a sway back adjustment next time?

P1220080Of course movement is important, so I had to try some moves. This music seemed appropriate.



P1220119 And especially for Amy from Almond Rock, who commented on my last Anna dress post that she wished I really had been doing the Teen Wolf Dance:

PicMonkey CollageSo to conclude, I love it! I have already cut out another in a solid so the design lines are easier to see. This was my first Disparate Disciplines pattern and I am very impressed by the design, instructions, free recipe, well everything really. And if you head on over to their site they are also offering a free camisole pattern at the moment, made up beautifully here by Clare from Sew Dixie Lou. All they ask is for you to donate however much you want to a charity that tackles hunger. I’m off to order it now…

We shall fight them on the beaches….Vote Colette Patterns


I was a bit late to this, I’ve been having trouble keeping up with blog reading recently, but in case you haven’t heard Colette Patterns have been nominated for a Martha Stewart American Made award. The winner is the company that gets the most votes, you get six votes a day, every day, and anyone can vote as long as they register for the Martha Stewart Site. And if it’s not your cup of tea you can opt out of them bombarding you with emails.

So why should I vote?

If you’re reading this then I guess the answer is obvious. It’s sewing!  Okay there are some other great companies also up for this, but, well, it’s sewing.  It’s ours, it’s what we do, and Colette Patterns support us in this by providing lots of lovely stuff, not just patterns but tutorials, inspiration, competitions….I could go on…

If, like me, you have a memory like a sieve you can sign up for their street team and receive reminders. And there is a button you can add to your blog to encourage your readers to join in and support sewing. All you need to do get your six votes a day is to register using an email address, no big forms, just your email address and your chosen password. And if you have multiple email addresses…….just saying…..

So come on, we have nine days left to show how much we love sewing. You might not think your votes will make that much difference but if we all vote six times a day it will soon add up.  What are you waiting for? Click on the link and cast your votes!

Spotty Anna – when wasps and children attack…


It’s that time of year when everything accelerates. Summer turned into Autumn over night. I’ve just got out my thick black tights to wear tomorrow and I am starting to see Christmas cards in the shops.   Depressing anyone yet?  And I am back at work with new management and the effort of pretending that I am a mature, sensible professional is killing me.  I am hoping I can keep it up until they lose their enthusiasm and bugger off back to their offices instead of sniffing around trying to be supportive.  More importantly I have realised that it is over a week since I took these pictures and I’ve only just got round to sorting them out.

It’s another Anna of course, but my first with the slash neck and midi length skirt. I haven’t had much luck with slash necks in the past but I love the way they look so I decided I was going to do this properly.  I made a muslin!  I knew I would need to take some in from the neck at the front and back and do a narrow shoulder type adjustment.  I then traced the pattern out again with all my changes added in and made sure it all lined up properly, the grainlines were right, blah de blah de blah.   A pain in the arse when I just wanted to get on with sewing but totally worth it.  Actually I still have a little bit of gaping because when it came to transferring the changes to the pattern I was worried I was taking a bit too much out so I took less than I should have, but I can live with it.   If you want to see how I made the changes  Ginger Makes has a great tutorial here. I did what she suggests for the back and then pretty much the same thing for the front. I just wish I had seen it first instead of having to work it all out for myself on my muslin (lazy cow that I am). I also added side seam pockets. They do add a little bit of bulk at the hips but I wear my dresses with pockets a lot more than the ones without and this one is no exception.

Making the dress was as easy as before. Nothing to report really. I cut it out, sewed it up, job done. Taking photos proved more difficult.

IMG_2654No, I’m not doing the Teen Wolf dance. Wasps. Actually drunk wasps.  That is what you get for taking photos in a pub garden at the end of summer. We persevered but it wasn’t happening:


IMG_2657Okay, maybe I should just try and get some photos sitting down.

IMG_2660IMG_2664IMG_2667My feral child had other ideas.  Standing up?

IMG_2673IMG_2675A  last attempt in the car park before we left…

IMG_2688IMG_2691Look at this gorgeous old car parked by ours. It almost takes your eye away from the clingy grumpy three year old:

IMG_2693So there you have it, Anna number three. I love her just as much as my other two and have worn her to work a couple of times already. I also love my daughter, even when she’s being a little madam.  However if you want to take this post as a public service warning not to mess up your contraception then please do. And I do not like wasps.

Laurel – LBD UFO and the medium of dance

Huzzah! Another UFO completed!  This is my third Colette Laurel, made with the black eyelet-ey stuff that I got from Goldhawk Road at the London Meet Up.

It was supposed to be a quick and easy make. No hems because I used the scalloped edges of the fabric.  No need for fitting because I’ve made it before.  No lining because I have a slip that will go under it, and no zip because I am weird and twisty and can get into it without needing one. However I didn’t take into account the fact that I have never made this with sleeves.  Since I stopped full on training, and especially since having children my limbs have been a touch on the chubby side.  I’m cool with that.  I like to think of my lunch lady arms as un-toned muscle left over from my kick boxing days rather than flubber but if I’m honest a summer of chips and beers on the beach has not helped the old bingo wings.  The sleeves and armholes were way to tight. I had other things I wanted to make so I shoved it into my Un-Finished Objects box where it has festered for a month or so.

As I am on a mission to eliminate UFOs I decided it was worth another look and I’m really glad I did because it was a simple fix.  I’d sewn it all together in the wrong order, attaching the sleeves before sewing up the side seams in order to cheat on easing them in. Yes, I know that is probably why they didn’t fit in the first place, but I thought it would make it easier. However it did mean that I could just unpick the seams of the sleeves right down to an inch or so below the armhole then stitch it up with a tiny seam allowance. Job done and I love it.
I should write more but my brain has stopped working after just two days back at work and I need gin. I admit that I am a complete lightweight but after a summer off doing an honest day’s work has been a bit of a shock to the system.  So allow me to communicate the rest of this post through the medium of Dance.
And please feel free to join in …

P1220016PicMonkey CollageP1220018P1220062PicMonkey Collage2