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Three children *** One big, grey dog *** Two parents *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That’s us!

We’ve been blogging since January 2010.

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Just a thought….

“A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe.”

 

Life

Thank you….

  • Kate Thanks for sharing your tips. Put cream on the strawbs and you will be fine 26 Jul
  • Musings of a tired mummy...zzz... I love experimenting with filters on Instagram and then just put it back to normal when I post! I do like black and white pics... 25 Jul
  • Helena Love the colour of the material and the fish. I also think it's great that you've taken something and put your own twist on it.... 25 Jul
  • Craft Mother That is inspirational. Gives me hope that I can do it. Interesting about flexibility. I hadn't thought of that. Possibly I need to look into... 25 Jul
  • Craft Mother Yes very relaxed. 25 Jul
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Time to smile

"God has an inordinate fondness for stars and beetles."

- J B S Haldane

Debs Random Writings

dressmaking for yourself

Butterick 4386 and the Hound

Before I start, this post is about a dress. A dress I made. Looking at the photos, you might be forgiven for thinking it is about Blue the Deerhound. It isn’t. It seems that she has recently discovered that she likes having her photo taken. Camera comes out and she is straight there. As splendid as she is, she had absolutely nothing to do with the manufacture of the dress.

I’m glad we’ve sorted that one out

Now on to the dress.

I picked up the fabric last year at a discounted price (£1.99 per metre – I’m sure it must have been a typo!), from Minerva Crafts. They no longer stock it. It’s an embroidered, stretch needlecord and a gorgeous colour. Orangey-brown with a black cord twisted and turned on the surface of the fabric.

The only problem I had with the fabric was that some of the black cord started to undo. A quick anchoring stitch or two sorted it out. I suspect it will happen again, but I absolutely love the pattern the embroidered cord makes, so I’m not put off.

In the same order, I selected Butterick 4386 pattern. I was after work outfits and this pattern offered six combinations, which would give me a good choice. Plus more, if the sleeves are swapped around. Also, any pattern that says “Fast & Easy” on the front and “very easy” on the back suggests that the first dress I make stands a good chance of not putting me off whisking up another.

I went for view C without the sash.

The pattern instructions are straightforward, with not too many steps. I like my sewing patterns the same as recipes. Short and sweet, so I can add my own variations in.

The only part I would change is the zip stage. It’s sewn in after the side seams are stitched up, which left me fitting the zip in a tube rather than on the flat.  It would have been easier to sew the zip in and then stitch the sides.  The zip is 22″ (55cm) long, which makes the dress wonderful to step into when I’m dressing, but made matters worse when it came to fitting it to the dress.

Next time, I’ll fit the zip and then stitch the side seams.

Only other change I made is that I used silk from a recycled silk shirt to face the neck line, instead of the needlecord fabric. (I’ve already mentioned this in an earlier post. Forgive me for repeating). It meant I avoided the black cord thread  rubbing against my neck, which would have irritated. I love the touch of green and it still does the designed job.

I am very happy with the finished dress. Super comfortable to wear and a great choice when I visit work clients. The dress is intended for the autumn. I can see myself wearing it with shoes or boots for a different look. Maybe a scarf to ring the changes. I suspect that come the cooler months, I’ll be taking the side seams in, as it is already feeling too loose and I’m determined to get fitter.

So on to the next project. I’m working on the next version of this pattern. A more summery version.

Thank you to the Teen who took the photos and her sister who tried to control Blue. It proved to be a difficult job when a young deerhound is determined to have her photo taken, but you both did well.

You can be honest. She stole the show, didn’t she?

Sharing. Good idea.

McCall 9251 – handmade summer dress for me

I may be speeding up with my sewing projects. It took me a week of squeezing an hour, here and there, in at the evenings and weekends. Going from the cutting out stage to wearing, in a trice. Of course, in that time, the weather has changed from glorious summer-dress-wearing to refreshingly showery, but I’m not blaming my dress. The sun will come out again. I will be ready.

I picked up the pattern from a charity shop. Peering in the envelope, I could see it was already cut out and fortunately, it seemed to be in my size.  I then had a quandry. Do I pull out all the piece and start arranging them on the shop floor, to check if they are there, or cross my fingers and hope all the pieces were included? Not surprisingly, I went for the latter. It was only 50p and for a good cause, so no great loss if I got it wrong.

The fabric is from a local shop. I bought it on a whim. I knew most of my dress patterns used about 3 metres. I’d figure out what to use it for later. Then I got home and pondered whether it would suit being a dress. It is a very busy print. The fabric sat in my cupboard for a few years. Beautiful and soft.

Last weekend, I tidied my sewing area. With the beautiful hot weather we were having, I needed a summer dress and I knew I’d stumble across a solution, while I sorted. And there was the fabric again. And the pattern too. Once decided, the dress was soon cut out. All the paper pieces were there and, somehow, being already cut out, it made it easier to get going on the project.

The bodice took longest and I was pleased at how well I put the collar together. It wasn’t until I tried it on, that I realised the collar looked awful on me. As a blouse it would have worked. As a dress, it made me feel like my grandmother. It wasn’t me So the collar went.

I suit a v neck. I already knew that.

Anyway. I’m pleased with my new dress. It is loose and perfect for hot, sticky summer days. The fabric is floaty and it’s easy to move in. I almost forget I’m wearing it. A nice change from my usual poplin cotton, which tends to be noisy and stiffer. I might drop the hem a little, after seeing these photos, but apart from that, I’m happy.

I used three buttons from my stash. Strangely, each of the children individually picked out the same buttons from my tin. I knew they were the right ones!

I sewed this dress using my old hand cranked Singer machine. It is a dream, especially with the top stitching. Although next time,  I might use my electric machine for the long seams. They seemed to take ages. Yawn. All french seams as the fabric is thin and prone to fraying. The other neatening and button holes I did by hand.

Almost forgot to say, thank you to middle daughter for taking the photos.

Right. On to the next sewing project. Might even go for another summer dress. Scissors at the ready!

Sharing. Good idea.

A new handmade dress for me

Back of floating flowers dress

I started making this dress a few years ago, to wear to a friend’s wedding. Not wishing to turn up in the same outfit as another guest, I always make a dress for special events. I once made two dresses in a week running up to a best friend’s wedding. Same pattern, two fabrics. I just couldn’t decide which fabric I liked the most. I was tempted to take both dresses and change half way through. But that’s me.

Going back to the current dress, I missed the deadline. For a good reason. I used the time left to make a dress for one of my daughters to wear, and only had enough time left to add embellishments to an old dress of mine. Once the day had passed, the original dressmaking project just ran out of puff. Fizzle, fizzle, pop.

front of floating flower dress

I love the fabric. It’s a Kaffe Fassett fabric, called floating flowers. Just gorgeous. I bought it in our local fabric shop. There wasn’t quite enough fabric left on the roll. I bought green fabric to make a jacket to go with it, so it made sense to use some of the green to make the dress neckline.

The dress pattern is New Look 6799. Due to the lack of fabric, the straight skirt version was the only option. It’s shorter than I usually wear dresses and, in the ideal world, I would have added some length to make it well below the knee. Except for the lack of extra fabric, she laments. No chance of matching the print at the seams either. Ah. You see what happens when you fall in love with fabric. You make compromises.

Floating flower dress New Look 6799

The shoulder construction is a little different to anything I’ve done before. I re-read the instructions several times to make sure I’d not missed the step to join the shoulder seams. If you are reading this after googling the pattern, dear reader, then, rest assured, there is no instruction to join the shoulder seams. I have checked. The neckline makes the shoulder seam. The four points of the top of the bodice, attach to the neckline separately. Never meeting, as they usually do. Hope that helps.

lilac and fizzy appleI must give credit to Eldest for taking the photos. She was also the creative director on the photo shoot and suggested some of the props. We pondered whether I’d wear the dress to an event serving champagne or tea. Canapes or petit fours? Most definitely a garden setting. To cover all options, I cracked open a bottle of champagne – ha! no! As if! Who am I trying to fool? It’s fizzy water with a touch of apple juice to give it colour in the glass, but I can dream.

The hens, Foxglove and Georgina, must also be credited, I’m told. They did a stirling job creating a country garden feel. Although Foxglove did try to sabotage one shot by making a grab for the lilac I was holding, but I will forgive her. She does lay exceedingly fine eggs.

Foxglove hen and lilac

Next step is to make the jacket, as I think it will give this dress a bit more wear. I’m not overly keen on the neckline and it might just save it. I do want to wear it as I love the print.

Oh and the setting we finally came down on? For me to wear this dress? After consulting the calendar and discovering I have no suitable functions to go to, it will most likely be a case of standing in the playground, waiting for the children to come out. Hmm. And still no champagne involved.

Notes for New Look 6799

New Look 6799 shoulder seam

+ The pattern was straight forward to follow, once I knew about the shoulder seam.
+ The skirt is made up of seven panels, but don’t let that put you off, as they go together easily and add shape.
+ I used flat felled seams at the side, for extra strength and the rest were simple turned and stitched.
+ I didn’t line the dress, but I may go back and add a lining to the bodice. Might help the structure.
+ Used hooks instead of the loops to fasten above the zip, but will change these to poppers.

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