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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

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  • 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
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Time to smile

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

- J B S Haldane

Debs Random Writings

dressmaking pattern review

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!

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A shirt with dogs. Plus flying bikes

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt back

Seeing as it’s the summer, I offered to make the Boy a shirt. It’s the one time of the year that I can sew something for him, that isn’t going to spend most of its time hidden under layers of warm clothes. I love sewing for him. He always choses such fun prints for his fabric and has just as much fun wearing them.

I’m a big believer that boy’s clothes don’t have to the boring. When his older sisters were little, I used to feel sorry for the boys’ clothes sections in shops. They always seemed to be full of muddy, green coloured clothes, as if they already anticipated the colour the garments would turn after a day outside on the back of an adventurous boy. What did they think washing machines were for? Also, why the girls weren’t supposed to join in, I really don’t know. Judging by the colours in their clothes sections, their world was brighter and cleaner.

Then the Boy arrived in our lives and I found myself searching out brighter colours. He wore a lot of red and brighter blues. He has his share of darker clothes, but he has a sense of fun, so why shouldn’t his clothes reflect it? Least when I sew, I can add that in.

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt with skeletonBack to this summer’s shirt.

He suggested a long sleeve shirt this time round.

Gulp. That means a pattern with both a collar and two cuffs. At the same time. OK. Time to get the big scissors out.

He chose a dog print. We have big dogs so of course he adores small dogs. His ultimate favourite are dachshunds. It’s the paws and the way they walk. Everything, really.

We couldn’t find a dacksy print in cotton, but we did find one with Boston Terriers, Beagles, Basset Hounds and Pugs on it. Close enough.

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt

I love that blue.

Turns out the cuffs weren’t as hard as I thought. The instructions walked me through it without a problem. Only two niggly points. I thought the cuff would be bigger. More like a grown-up shirt covering more of the wrist. Next time, I’ll cut them out twice as big. The other problem is that somehow the sleeves are a bit too short. I thought I’d measured. I think this is my error and not to do with the pattern.

He loves the sleeve length. I can see how it stops them draping in paint and food, which is a good thing, but I am really tempted to cut out bigger cuffs and swap them for the smaller attached version. It wouldn’t take too long and it would mean he could wear this shirt next year.

We’ll see.

I added buttons to the cuffs that look like cufflinks and he is as pleased as punch that they look like his father’s, without being as fiddly.

dog fabric and shirt instructionsThe collar wasn’t too different from the usual shirt pattern I make for him. I still paused. Misunderstood. Understood. Added notes to the pattern for next time and moved on. Am I the only one that adds notes? I do it in recipe books too. Amazing how I manage to forget in between and then am glad of my scribblings.

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt matching frontAs always I like a matching front. It would have looked weird to have dogs cut in half in the centre of the shirt. I really think it is worth taking time at the cutting out stage to get this right. I took the advice of the fabric shop on how much extra to order, to allow for the repeat of the pattern, so it would match. I wasn’t keen to repeat the same mistake as last time.

I did manage to sew all the buttons on in the wrong place, as I did it late at night. Out came the unpicker and they were sewn on again. When will I learn!

The buttons are simple, half inch shirt buttons. I have my Grandmother’s collection of buttons. Bringing up four sons, she was a resourceful lady. I have a tube of these buttons which show signs of being cut off other garments. Presumably once the shirts were worn out, they were turned into dusters or rags, while the buttons were saved for another shirt. Nothing was wasted.

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt Pultney Bridge weirSo the shirt is made and being worn. The Boy could not be happier. I took the children into Bath for a bit of back to school shopping and a hair cut for the Boy. It’s the height of tourist season, although that is pretty much all year round for Bath.

I don’t usually take my camera on shopping trips, but this time it was too good an opportunity to take some photos of the Boy in his new shirt. Bath is a fabulous setting.

I thought I’d fit right in with my camera, while we did our shopping. Its true. You cannot walk anywhere without dodging a good number of people holding a phone or camera. One person even walked straight into me as she filmed her whole trip around Bath. She will have captured the moment when she startled an English woman. Weighed down with shopping bags and a camera.

flying bikes in BathMy daughter was less than pleased when I stood in the middle of the shopping area and snapped the flying bikes. Why not? There was a bunch of tourists doing it. Why not a local too? I could hardly resist flying bikes now could I?

Anyway, the sewing details….

Details

Pattern: Simplicity 4760
Fabric: Dog Print cotton Poplin in Teal

Notes and alterations to the pattern

I made view A in size M. I added a bit of length to the shirt as the Boy is tall, but slender. He is age 9.

I liked the folded pleats where the sleeve meets the cuff. It adds interest and also a bit of room in the sleeve. There is also a little loop and button at the top of the front, which closes the top of the shirt. Presumably useful when wearing a tie, although I don’t think the Boy will use it.

I would add length to the sleeves next time.

The repeat is big. To match the pattern, I was adviced to add an extra 30cm. This turned out to be plenty.

I used french seams, instead of the suggested ones, as I think they give a better finish.

Would I make it again? Yes.


Disclosure: Minerva Crafts supplied me with the fabric and pattern, in return for a review. All opinions and words are my own, and honest.

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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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Photos

There have been cases when people lifted my photos and words, and used them without credit to me or asking permission first. Using them for their own commercial gain. I have now added a level of security to deter people from doing this. Apologies to people who do play nicely. If you would like to use any of my photos, please contact me.

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