Mathilde Roadblock and a pressie

Alternate title: Damn you, .pdf. patterns!

When I printed my Mathilde pattern, the test square measured only 95% of what it should have.  I did some crazy maths on the measurements, which led me to believe I should cut a size larger than normal, and it would probably be alright.  This, because a 5% size difference is not much of a size difference at all.

In the stolen moments between work and my busy life, I’ve managed to get most of the construction finished.  Before finishing the neckline or the hem, I tried the top on to check the fit.  And wouldn’t you know it… that missing 5% is big enough to matter.

The armholes are too tight, and there’s pulling across the shoulder and the bust.  The bust dart is way too high (although I think that’s more than 5% too high, so I’ll watch out for it if I make this pattern again).  Now I need to unpick, and unpick some more.  I think my best option is to cut a new, slightly larger and definitely longer yoke, to let out the tucks just a little bit, and to do a minor alteration on the armscye.  I am not a fan of this option, because I have never messed with an armscye, and because I currently have enough left over fabric for another little sleeveless top.  If I cut the new yoke, I risk using too much of my remaining fabric.  Another possibility is to narrow the seam allowances, but I think that’s going to be a lot of work for a very dismal result.  I’ve done french seams and all of the associated trimming, so I will get no more than an additional one or two eighths of an inch out of this method, and I’ll need to zigzag everything.  I hate a zigzagged seam finish.  Plus, it won’t do anything for that annoyingly high bust dart.

In other news, and to give you something pleasant to look at, look at this!Image

This is a magazine that my colleague surprised me with.  One afternoon, he plopped two 1941 issues of Stitch Craft onto my desk, and I let out a yelp of excitement, even though I work in a library.  Yelps of excitement are not welcome in libraries, but I just couldn’t help myself.  He’d bought two – one for himself, to check out the wartime-era advertisements, and one for me, just because.

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There’s a lot more than wartime-era ads in this mag!

The most exciting thing about this magazine is that it contains iron-on transfers which, from the looks of it, have never been used.  What gorgeous kitchen accessories I could make!

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On my sewing table

Thank-you, everyone, for helping out with my reader survey.  Thanks to you, I ended up buying the gorgeous green airplane print from Stone Fabrics.  It felt like a bit of a risk, leaving the decision up to others.  Lucky for me, you were being asked to choose between three fabrics I knew I liked already, and your impeccable taste nearly unanimously chose my clear favourite.  Sneakily, I also bought some of the taupe floral, with another project in mind.  I’d have loved to get some of the white floral, but when I looked again, it’s a Liberty print, and costs over £20 per metre.  Either I’m tight as heck, or that’s just too steep.  But I will continue to day dream about making it into a top to pair with navy blue trousers.

ImageRight now, though, I have some sweet white airplanes on a green background to think about.  Although this fabric is just described by Stone Fabrics as a cotton lawn, it’s actually a viscose blend, and is pretty slippery and drapey.  I think it’s a good fabric choice for the Mathilde blouse, but it does present a neck facings challenge.  I don’t want the facings to be visible from the outside, but the fabric is so fine that they probably will be.  I’m thinking about bias tape for the neckline, but this presents its own kind of challenge.  Namely, I don’t like the stiffness of bought cotton bias tape, but I’m intimidated to try making my own.  I’ll probably worry about this for about a week before just sucking it up and going for it.  Deep breaths, self-bias binding.  More deep breaths.

With my fabric pre-washed and ironed, I began to tape the .pdf together.  There is a part of me (always wrong, every time) that believes .pdf patterns to be instant gratification.  You download, and BAM there’s your pattern.  Nevermind you have to spend hours lining everything up and taping everything together.  At least the Mathilde is ready to go straight out of the download, with no need to add seam allowances or draft any rectangular bits.  Way to go, Tilly!

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I started laying the pattern out on my fabric tonight, but then I have the facings problem to solve, and (here’s me being tight again) I can’t let myself cut into the fabric without first working out the absolute most economical way to lay the pattern out.  Must! Not! Waste! Anyway, I’m still too exhausted from my weekend to try and problem solve, so cutting and stitching will have to wait for another day.

Keep looking though, because when I get this baby finished, there will be another Mathilde giveaway!  With buttons!

Great Gatsby Fail

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Earlier this month, I signed up for the Great Gatsby Sewing Challenge over at Miss Crayola Creepy.  It was perfect timing because at the time, I was planning to attend a 1930s themed birthday party, and I promised myself I would wear something I’ve made.  I am a bit of a fancy-dress fiend, as you might have noticed.  I’ve only posted a couple of finished garments on here so far, and they’ve all been costumes!  I swear, I also make normal stuff.

My original plan was to make a navy blue version of these Burdastyle wide legged linen trousers to wear with an art-deco blouse and fabulous dripping jewelry.  I kept putting the project off, however, until the very last minute.  Two days before the party, tragically, this happened.

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I can’t very well make a pair of trousers out of that.  I didn’t have anywhere near enough fabric, so…  panic-time!  Frantically, I tore through my belongings, and managed to find a dress I’d made for a Prohibition event last year, using a Burdastyle pattern for a beautiful velvet dress.

I had intended to make my version from a luxurious navy blue velvet.  However, I didn’t want to take the chance of buying velvet online, because it’s so hard to tell what it’s like from a photo.  There was also the problem of matching the fabric to a chiffon, which I can’t do confidently from a computer screen.  I went to my local fabric shop and could not find a non-stretch velvet anywhere.  I finally settled on a navy blue poly satin, with a seriously beautiful white chiffon with a shimmery but very subtle flower pattern.  When I finished the dress, I declared it an ill-fitting abomination of low-quality materials, and I hated it so much, I didn’t even take a proper photo.  I did wear it to the party, and I have never been so grateful in my life for dim lighting!  At the end of the night, I dumped the dress in my Wupsie Pile (where all disasters go to die), and never thought about it again until last week, in my last-minute panic.

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Although the shape of this dress suits the Gatsby era just fine, it didn’t suit MY shape at all.  It bagged out in the mid-section, the straps were too far apart and tended to fall off, and the dress was far too tight at the hips.  I took a massive three inch swipe out of the back of the bodice, moved the straps closer together, and added gores from the waist on either side of the skirt.  I added some metallic embroidery thread to the front bodice, but I have so little patience for embellishments, that I stopped after I’d made two sparkly diamonds.  I tried the dress on and, although it was improved, I still didn’t like it much.

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I don’t even like this dress well enough to take a decent photo.

The day of the party, I put my dress on, took one look in the mirror, and just felt… awful.  I do not like this dress, no matter what I do to it.  The photos I’m showing you do not do it justice at all – I don’t hate these photos at all.  It’s the awful poly satin, it just doesn’t look good at all.  I felt like a complete hobo in this dress, so at the last minute, I changed tack and dressed as a fancy depression-era hobo.  Problem solved!

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Hobo-me with my friend. She came up with the name for this blog and is generally a pretty funny lady.

I made this dress, too, and the kerchief on a stick, so at least I kept my promise to wear something I’d made.

Better luck next time, eh?

I won, I won, I won!

Earlier this week, I won a giveaway at Made on the Couch.  I was so excited to see my crazy mug at the top of her blog that I did a massive, jumping, happy dance!

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 I won the Mathilde blouse pattern! What a stroke of luck – I was already planning to buy the pattern, and then, as if by magic, it arrived in an email from a celebrity sewist!  It’s a gorgeous top, and the pattern has become really popular.  You can see lots of different versions in the maker’s gallery, and I hope to add one of my own soon!

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There is the small matter of choosing a fabric… but here are a three that I quite like.  I would love to have a bit of reader input!  If you’re one of the (very few) followers of my new little blog, please leave a comment and help me choose from these lightweight cottons.

Woodstock dress

Here’s a dress I made ages ago, in the summer of 2011, I think.  What a long time ago!  I had originally bought this fabric for a jacket lining, but around May that year, my priorities shifted.  I had been invited to a Woodstock festival themed summer party, and I didn’t have anything to wear.  This print seemed to fit the bill, even if the fabric was a bit too stiff for the style of the dress.  Actually, I love the print on the fabric with all my heart.  Unfortunately, though, the weight of it is more suited to upholstery than to dressmaking.

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Do you like my hula skills?

I drafted this pattern myself, and it was pretty easy to make up.  I took my inspiration from this dress, which I had seen on Burda about a million years ago.  I couldn’t find a pattern, although I didn’t look very hard.  There was a bit of discussion on the Burda forums about the dress, and no one there had found a pattern either.  I think it might be the first pattern I ever drafted from scratch, and I managed to get it right with only one trial-make of the straps.  Then I whipped out my fashion fabric and started cutting!

The construction is pretty simple, and I didn’t do any fitting at all.  This dress is literally just a tent gathered onto a couple of straps.  The straps were the biggest construction challenge, because of the cross over in the front.  I really would like to see how a bought pattern would construct the crossover, because my way felt extremely clumsy.  The dress pulls on and off over my head, so I didn’t add a closure, although maybe it would have benefited from a little zip under the arm.

I didn’t finish any of the seams because, as I recall, this was a very last-minute project.  I only intended to wear it once for this party, and because the fabric I chose was not appropriate for the shape of the dress, I will never wear it again.

Recently, I was looking on the Map the Sewists map, created by Another Sewing Scientist, and came across a couple of other sewing bloggers in my area.  To my surprise, I came across a project by Elena at Tea for Two which used the same fabric.  I think she put the fabric to much better use than I did.  However, I kept my dress, thinking I might harvest the fabric for another project.  There’s always that jacket lining from my original plan…

Gatsby sewing

Later this month, I’m going to go to a 1930s theme party, and I plan to make something to wear.  The Gatsby sewing challenge couldn’t have come along at a more perfect time.  Now, I’m aware that The Great Gatsby is set in 1922, which is different from the 1930s.  However,  the fashion in the early 1930s isn’t remarkably different from that of the 1920s, so I think I can get away with this.  It’s all in the styling, anyway, isn’t it?

International Craft Swap – conclusion

Whoa, I am a little late in posting this one!  The International Craft Swap at House of Pinheiro swapped at the beginning of April, and after I sent my parcel away, I sat on tenterhooks to wait for what would arrive.  A couple of weeks ago, I was put out of my misery.

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I had told my swap partner, Taz from Butter and Buntings that I find the make-do and mend attitude of the 1940s really appealing, and that the hobby which consumes most of my time is cycling.  Was I ever excited to see these earrings she bought!

bike earrings

Aren’t they the effing best?

The items she made me are in the nautical theme that House of Pinheiro suggested.  First, there’s these adorable embroidery hoop wall hangings.  I think the granny square is a Taz handmade original, and the bunting and lace one is just so sweet!

Embroidery Hoops

And then there’s a crocheted bow, which I can’t seem to photograph very well.  However, it’s nautical blue, and looks like these ones, which she posted about a few weeks ago.  I’m so pleased with what I received!

It was a huge challenge to try and make something for someone I’ve never met.  I only had a few clues about what she’s interested in – you can only learn so much about a person from a handful of emails.  I took my cues from the name and style of her blog, and sent her a 1950s recipe book which I found in a charity shop.  I made her some bunting out of plain stashed fabric, which I coloured using crayons and an iron.  The results look really sun-faded, and although it’s not quite what I was expecting, I’m still happy with it.

bunting

Then, because shrink plastic is one of my favourite materials, I made some buttons out of it.  I had one heck of a time getting a decent photo of them.  Here’s my favourite one:

boat button... boatton?

I also tucked in a 1950s recipe book which I found in a charity shop.  You can read what Taz thought of it here.