An Easter Mortmain for Dolly Clackett

Mortmain Dolly Clackett

I’ve never met Roisin from the Dolly Clackett blog, but I love reading her posts and seeing what incredible new creations she’s come up with. Her crazy-patterned-fabric dresses are always so cheerful and really celebrate the fun, joyful side of making your own clothing.

When I read of Sarah’s (from Rhinestones and Telephones) wedding present to Roisin of a dress-making competition inspired by her unique style, it struck me as such an incredible gesture of friendship and support that I really wanted to take part.

So, here’s to you, Roisin and Nic – huge congratulations and hope you both have an absolute blast together at your wedding and for many years to come! :)

SDC Dress

The box pleats are uniform (honestly) though the breeziness while we took these photos suggests otherwise…

If you’ve seen any of my previous blog entries, you might have noticed that I don’t really use heavily patterned fabric in my clothing. But I’m branching out for this dress, because it really couldn’t be a Dolly Clackett-inspired make otherwise! I bought this fabric (100% cotton) in Joann’s in the US at Christmas, at the same time I bought the rayon I used in my vintage pattern pledge shirt dress.When I heard of Sew Dolly Clackett, I knew it would be just right for the competition.

I’ve used a pattern I first came across through Roisin’s blog – the Mortmain dress by Gather. I had a few struggles in making this dress and they were all down to either (a) frustration at the insane noise and fumes generated during the renovations of the house next door and (b) the enormous affliction that is my invisible zipper foot (which has now been cast out of the sewing box, the aul divil).

SDC Back

The zip, as you can see in this photo, is a not-quite-invisible-zip. I bought the exposed zip recommended in the pattern but baulked just before putting it in as, although I like zips as a design feature, I wasn’t sure it would work right here.

My invisible zipper foot is basically a piece of plastic you jam on to your machine and it really, really doesn’t work for me. I’ve since jettisoned it in favour of the regular zipper foot – I’ve actually put in a few nice invisible zips since making this dress by using the normal foot and rolling the zip teeth carefully as I go. Lesson learned!

Huge thanks to the Gather girls for being so quick to respond to my tweet about the box pleats – I wasn’t sure how many I should be putting in and was somehow completely misreading my pattern markings. A quick tweet from them and I was back on track.

If you want to scope out all of the #SewDollyClackett entries, have a look through the competition’s Flickr group page.

Skills learned: Making box pleats

Recommend pattern?: Yes! I think it’s appropriately marked by Gather as being suitable for ‘ambitious beginners’ as it’s probably a bit too advanced for being a first dress project. I’m looking forward to making a few summer holiday dresses from this pattern, maybe with the box pleats sewn from the right side for a different effect – and maybe with some cute Dolly Clackett-esque pin-up fabric :)

 

Coco #5: Rough around the edges

Coco 5

I’ve had the idea for this colourblock Coco in my head for a while, but didn’t have enough knit fabric left after my last versions to cobble it together. Luckily, while searching for twin needles in Dublin last week, I came across this lovely burgundy ponte on sale in Hickey’s (I’m linking to them in case anyone wants their contact details - their website is devoid of stock info).

The grey fabric is the same used in one, two, three of my earlier Cocos and I had actually cut out these pockets for the first Coco dress I made, but was a bit worried that they made it too busy so put them aside for later.

Coco 5 back

I wanted to keep this dress a little bit raw-looking and not too polished, so instead of turning in the sides of the pockets for a smooth finish when sewing them on to the dress, I left the edges unfinished and just sewed them straight on (though they look quite camouflaged in these photos!). Having worked with this grey knit before (and having worn those versions a lot since making them!), I know it’s not prone to unraveling or curling. I left the armhole edges unfinished for the same reason.

Coco 5 pocket

Coco 5 shoulder

I love each one of the five Cocos I’ve made so far, both dresses and tops, but I think it’s time to step away from this pattern for a while and move on to new knit challenges! I’m really looking forward to trying out the new Colette Patterns releases next.

I already have a red rib knit on hand to trial-run the Moneta dress and I have enough of this burgundy ponte left to make a Mabel skirt – I just need to source those twin needles!

What new sewing challenges or patterns are you looking forward to trying?

My Me-Made-May 2014 Focus: Looking back – and ahead

Option A 2

This time last year, I was an avid sewing blog reader but had yet to really get stuck into making my own clothes. I loved seeing what people wore for Me-Made-May 2013 and I’m delighted to be participating in it this year.

I plan to wear at least one item that I made myself every day in May, but I don’t intend to post daily photo updates (so if you’ve subscribed to this blog, don’t worry about being suddenly inundated with Lady Stitcher selfies!). Instead, I’ll do just one or two round-up posts to document my participation.

One of my main incentives for taking part in MMM’14 is the opportunity to actively review my technical progress in sewing.

I’m also aiming to use Me-Made-May to work out more outfit combinations than I currently have in rotation and find more interesting ways to wear the things that see less light of day. I’ve only made about a dozen garments so I’ll have to get pretty creative in how I put things together if I’m going to get through the whole month without lots of duplication!

The MMM project should also help me identify gaps among those garments. I already know that I want to try my hand at making trousers, but I suspect that I should also focus my sewing more on making tops, shirts, blouses etc. By the end of May, I hope to have devised a shortlist and some kind of (feasible!) plan for sewing specific pieces to fill those gaps.

It also feels like good timing for some sewing reflection: lately I’ve been trying to assess why I wear certain things I’ve made much more than others and why there are some garments (i.e. trousers) that I have yet to even attempt making.

If you want the full low-down on Me-Made-May ’14, you can find all the details over on So, Zo’s blog.

Have you participated in Me Made May before? Did it help you to set new sewing challenges or to reconsider unworn me-made garments?

Cats and Cocos: Stress-free sewing

Mousey

I had some dental surgery last week which has laid me low for a while. I  haven’t been up to tackling any big or tricky projects post-surgery, but last weekend I wanted to sew something – something simple. So, I turned to two of my favourite things: cats and Cocos.

The first project I worked on was a sweet stuffed toy for the cat. Working from Creative Pixie’s handy mouse-making tutorial, I used some fabric left over from my Murphy dress for the body and cut the mouse ears from the same grey knit as my first Coco. I also inserted a bell from a Lindt chocolate Santa and some dried catnip along with the mouse stuffing to spice it up a bit for her, then secured a string tail. The stuffing also came from leftovers – I had used it for the needle case I made at Christmas.

Our cat is pretty tough on toys so I’m not sure how long this little creature will last! It was really quick to make though, so won’t be too hard to whip up a few more when the time comes. Plus, it’s a handy use of fabric scraps – and she’s certainly been enjoying it.

Cue a cat-smushing-toy-in-face photo:

Cat Face

Cat Heart Mouse

And then for a bit of selfish sewing… I’ve had a lovely soft, very lightweight, polka dot jersey on standby for a while. I found a yard of it in a remnant bin for a few euros and thought that one day, I’d get around to making some kind of pyjama top out of it. Well I forgot all about that until I saw Stitch and Witter’s cosy bedtime Coco and remembered that I had squirreled this fabric away.

The polka dot knit (it’s an off-white base with grey dots) is very lightweight so I made the yoke and short sleeves out of some of the leftover red fabric from my sporty Coco to preserve some modesty.

Night Coco Front

This is one soft pyjama t-shirt! I’ve been holding off on wearing it since making it on Sunday so I could photograph it and now I can’t wait to snuggle into it! I like the way the unfinished sleeve and bodice ends suit the softness and casual feel of the top, so I’ve left them unfinished.

What do you turn to when you want to do something craft-related, but don’t want to commit to a big project?

Vintage pattern pledge: My grandmother’s Style 3685 shirt dress pattern

Style 3685

Firstly, a big thank you to everyone who commented in response to my recent vintage pledge plea! After receiving lots of brilliant and very helpful advice, I agree that the best way forward with this dress is to take a bit of a break from it before trying again from a different angle.

In the meantime, I thought it would be good to work on a totally different vintage pledge project – one that I had been looking forward to for a while. This 1972 shirt dress pattern, Style 3685, is one of several beauties I found in my grandmother’s collection. She passed away while I was a child and although I can vividly remember her having a big, heavy sewing machine, I don’t remember her sewing. It was a lovely surprise when my father found a box filled with her old sewing patterns from the 50s through to 80s last summer. I put a few aside to make when I had built up better sewing skills.

Shirtdress Style

I picked up this lovely floral rayon at a Jo-Ann’s branch while visiting family in America over Christmas. (I really wish there was somewhere like it in Ireland – they had just about any sewing or knitting implement you could think of!) I don’t have many florals in my wardrobe and as this was at the ridiculously low price of less than $5 a yard, I thought I’d try something new.

It’s a very light fabric for spring, but I think it will be fine with tights layered under and a thick cardigan on top. (I’m also optimistically hoping that I will get a lot of wear out of it over the summer, sans woolens…)

I’ve left off the topmost button – the one that should close the collar. The space on the collar opening for putting in a button and buttonhole is pretty tight so I could really only put in a small, shirt button. However, I’m holding off to see how I like wearing it without a collar button before risking inserting a buttonhole there – I had some problems machine-stitching the buttonholes in along the dress front and finished half of them by hand.

Shirtdress sag

As you can see, the dress is a bit too big (I’d say almost a full size too big), but I wanted the option of a loose-fitting dress for hot weather AND something that I could layer vests and tights under in the colder months, so I’m pleased with the finished piece.

Skills learned: Generally making a shirt dress! I don’t know if it’s typical of shirt dresses or not, but the way the front facings were incorporated into the front panels and folded back in around the collar base makes the front section really smooth and helps it all sit tidily.

Recommend pattern?: Yes! Although some parts were a bit tricky, the instructions were very straightforward and I don’t think this is a difficult make. I’ve been shoring up shirt dress patterns for over a year now but had yet to take the plunge and found this a great introduction to them. I’d like to give it another go, in a heavier fabric, but I’d probably take in the side seams and shoulders for a tighter fit if there was less drape than with this rayon.

Are you taking part in A Stitching Odyssey’s vintage pattern pledge? Or have you worked with family-owned patterns?

Pattern Pledge Style

Sewing advice plea: Should I call time on this vintage pledge project?

Butterick 5747

The interesting waistband first drew me to this pattern – but there began my woes with Butterick 5747…

I’ve been working on one of my projects for A Stitching Odyssey’s Vintage Pattern Pledge recently (a 1960s pattern, Butterick 5747), but have hit a serious snag. I’ve made the bodice, skirt and waistband but the problem is joining them all together.

The first hitch was figuring out how to make the little tab things on each side. The instructions were quite confusing and called for the back parts of the waistband to be sewn to the front, then pushing the tab through the join from the wrong side to the right. This worked fine in the end (albeit a bit puckered, as you can see in the photos below), but meant that the seam allowance at the tabs for joining the waistband to bodice and skirt was used up and tucked inside the tabs.

Here, the tab is facing forward towards the dress centre, as per pattern cover – but see the puckering at the tab base? ARGH!

Terrible Tabs

So joining the skirt to the waistband was really fiddly at the tab joins: it took several attempts to make sure that there wasn’t a gap in the waistband-skirt connection. Joining the bodice, though, has been really frustrating. The front sides need to be gathered and squeezed in along the bodice’s V shape to fit into the acutely pointy part of the waistband – and it’s just not happening!

Here’s a couple of shots of the bodice and skirt parts:

Skirt front Bodice front

So, I’m loathe to abandon the bodice, but right now I mostly just want to stick a short zip into the back of the skirt section, hem it, and say it’s done. Dilemma! Do you think I should just cut my losses and finish this up as a skirt? Can I do something with the bodice? OR should I take a bit more of a break from it and re-approach the waistband and bodice with fresh eyes? Has this worked for you on troublesome sews?

Any and all advice is very welcome!!

Coco the third: Finally adding pockets

Coco Yella n Grey(Note: Additional photo added on 21 April 2014)

After hitting some serious snags in a project I’m working on for A Sewing Odyssey’s vintage pattern pledge, I took a bit of a break from it this week to clear my head and do some stress-free sewing.

I’ll keep this post brief because I’ve already written twice recently about using this lovely pattern from Tilly and the Buttons: first, I made a grey long-sleeve roll-neck dress, then I had a go at hacking the pattern to make a sporty, casual, colour-blocked top.

Even after both of those projects, I still had some of the grey fabric, which I bought specifically for Coco, left over. A couple of weeks ago, I spotted this lovely gold ponte on Guthrie and Ghani’s website and thought it would make a nice contrast against the grey. I also wanted to finally have a go at making a Coco which incorporated pockets!

I’m not a particularly quick sewer, but this pattern is so speedy to make up that I was able to put this dress together completely before lunch on Wednesday (unusually speedy for me!). The pattern is also simple enough to allow multiple adaptations (check out Tilly’s Pinterest board of Cocos for some brilliantly creative examples, like House of Pinheiro’s second Coco).

So, are you all set for Friday’s Coco party?! :) (My party track pick is ‘Shout’ by the Shangri-Las.)

Coco 3 Front View

Coco 3 Back View

Coco Selfie