Magpie Feather Dress (Flora / Emery hybrid)

Hello lovely people! I hope you're all well. I've been sewing this week, and it feels great to be making stuff again. One of my 2016 goals is to "perfect the fit on my TNT dress patterns and make lots of versions of them". I decided to start with the Flora, mainly cause I really wanted to make it up in this fabric! 

This one is the Flora high tank bodice with a pleated Emery skirt. I adore the massive pleats of the Flora skirt but I didn't have quite enough fabric for that, plus I figured a less volumous skirt will be more everyday-wearable (I'm looking at you, gusts of wind). 

Magpie Feather Dress (BHL Flora bodice with a pleated Christine Hayne's Emery skirt)
I actually really love the Flora bodice with the Emery skirt. I used my Marion dress as a guide for my pleats, keeping them to the sides again, and the result is a lovely bell shaped skirt which I think looks lush with the tank bodice.

Pleased as punch
The fabric is by Hillberg fabrics, and I got it at a bargain price on Goldhawk Road. I was actually shopping for fabrics for my niece's Christmas skirts at the time, but on impulse bought extra of this one as it was an end of bolt, and I'm really glad I did. I know it's pretty twee, but hey, so am I. I love that because it's navy, it feels winter appropriate (with a cardigan obviously), but it also has lovely sunny colours in the print that will make it perfect for summer. A dress for all seasons. I LOVE THAT. 

So, I toiled the bodice a few times and made a few alterations until I was happy with the fit:
- began with a size down from my last version (UK14)
- a 2 1/4" FBA
- moved the front waist darts over towards centre 1" (to be pointing properly at apex of bust)
- lengthened the bodice by 1/4"

I did also lower the front waist darts slightly, but ended up raising them again! You know when you go one alteration too far, and actually it was better before?! 

What is it about a self-lined bodice? This brings me joy.

So it didn't take too much effort to get the fit working for me. It almost makes me a little bit cross at myself that I didn't do a toile the first time round! But I shall console myself with the fact that I've done the fit work now, and I can go forth and make loads of Floras. I'm trying to think of ways to change it up a bit, and obviously there are lots of skirts I could pair with the bodice, but I'm also thinking that maybe a Flora playsuit would be nice?

Anyway, I'm pleased with my new frock, and mainly just glad I've got my sew-jo back! 

Til next time x

I'm in love with my new dress!

The Flibbertygibbet Lady Skater (a wearable toile)

The Flibbertygibbet Dress (Kitchsy Coo Lady Skater)
I've been starting the year off by trying to tick off some of the practical items from my mental "to sew" list. There was the quilt, of course, and now my first go at Kitchsy Coo's Lady Skater pattern. Having read Amber's wardrobe building post where she advocates shopping for your real life, not your imaginary life, I decided I needed to make more work appropriate clothes. I do wear my lovely structured fifties dresses for some of my jobs, and days off, and that's when I feel the most like myself. However I do spend 1.5 days a week crawling around on the floor teaching baby and toddler music classes, for which my uniform is usually a stretchy dress and leggings or jeans and a jumper; and 1 day a week where Lycra is the only appropriate clothing choice as I'm teaching kids dance. So I decided it was time to make some knit basics which I still feel like me in. Rest assured I will not stop sewing full skirted woven dresses, I would never want to do that! I am just going to aim to make some stretchy basics as well. 

I had the pattern in my stash, as well as the fabric. See, I am trying to stick to my stash busting goals!!

I cut out this Lady Skater right at the beginning of January while watching The Sound of Music Live. Then it sat in a pile for a month - a MONTH! - while I got round to sewing it. Of course,  once I found time it was super easy to sew up. This is only my second time sewing with knits,  and it was way easier to put this dress together than I expected! 

I'm really pleased with the finish. My overlocker made things super easy and even my topstitching is neat! Hooray!!!

I played thread chicken though when hemming the thing. I used a triple stretch stitch and it really uses a lot of thread! My spool ran out not even half way round, but I still had some on the bobbin so I switched the navy bobbin to be top thread and used black as the bobbin thread. Shhhh, no one will ever know. Anyway there wasn't that much on the bobbin either, and this is how close I was to not being able to finish my hem:

Thank you, sewing gods!

So, the only thing I'd like to refine for next time is the fit. Obviously this ponte is quite forgiving in terms of fit but there are a few things I'd like change. To be honest I think the fit looks worse in these pictures than in real life, but it definitely needs work, and was intended to be a wearable toile anyway. On this version I took the side seams and the sleeves in by about half an inch all the way down on each side, and I feel I could still even go a bit smaller. So next time I will cut two sizes smaller. Hopefully this will also sort out the shoulder problem - as you can see the shoulder seam is hanging off the end of my shoulder. Perhaps I shall raise the shoulder seam, too.

With this one I had to lop off the curve at the bottom of the bodice pieces. That curve was crazy big. My body may be round but it ain't that round. I also raised the waist seam a bit but it's still too low! I need to shorten the bodice more for next time.

Without the belt, you can see just how low the waist seam is. That's not where my natural waist is.
You can see some of the fit issues a bit more clearly from the side:

Look how gigantic that sleeve looks! Bloomin' heck. I've got some work to do! 

And, yep, fabric pooling ahoy.
Don't get me wrong, this dress is super wearable and very comfy. I've wore it to teach in a few times already and really loved wearing it. In fact I'm wearing it right now! I can vouch for its warmth, comfiness and practicality. The stretch recovery got well and truly tested too as on Thursday a little (adorable) toddler kept grabbing fistfuls of dress to pull herself up to standing. 

This dress was really quick to sew. I am usually really slow so this is such a novelty to me to be able to sew up a dress in a few hours! Once I've sorted out the fit I need to make a good batch of Lady Skaters so I never have the "I've nothing to WEAR!" feeling when I'm off out to teach the little 'uns. 

If you're nervous of sewing knits but would like to try it, I urge you to have a go at this pattern. Even with no overlocker it would be super easy and fast. The instructions are really good, too. 

I'm so happy tonight to have a few hours to myself to sew. I'm going to do some fit work on the Flora bodice and catch up on some TV. Ahh a lovely evening ahead! 


The Scrappy Quilt of Joy

Yes, that is it's official name. Here it is!

The Scrappy Quilt of Joy!
After banging on about using up scraps for ages, and showing a few progress shots during my Sewvember post, I finally finished the Scrappy Quilt of Joy within the first few days of January, which actually turned out to be pretty great timing, because oh my word it suddenly got COLD after that!

One of the reasons this quilt brings me so much joy is that it was all either from the stash, and completely free. Well, apart from my sewing machine electricity, I guess, but I can live with that. Oh, and thread. I bought thread. I can no longer claim this quilt was ENTIRELY free, but, hey, it was pretty close to it.

Even the wadding (batting to some)? YES. Because it is actually a very old polar fleece blanket. Just one of those cheapie Ikea ones that has graced the back of our couch for about 5 years, and was all grey, a bit stained and generally sad-looking. But it was still warm. I have a really hard time throwing away something that is still useful, which is why I decided to make this quilt, and it worked so well. In fact, if you're quilting on a budget I would really recommend using a polar fleece blanket as wadding!

So, the quilt top is in lovely window-type patches of four with white sashing around the edge. You can see I even did some patchwork within the patchwork if you know what I mean. DEDICATED to using up those scraps! Even some of the white sashing is pieced.

And the back? Well, it is, er, perfectly imperfect. I went patchwork again (because scraps), and used an old bed sheet for the white strips, having run out of the white cotton I used on the front (and I was determined to not buy any fabric for this). The only reason I'm not completely thrilled with the back is because it's a bit (a lot) wonky, and the quilting makes it quite obvious. If you don't look too closely though, I actually really like the stripey back.

The lovely wonky striped back of the quilt
And how did I choose my fabrics? The test was: any colours which appear in the cow painting were allowed. The cow painting was my wedding present to Liam, and I really love the colours in it. You can see it in some of the "quilt with feet" pictures. I would hold up a piece of fabric, and if it seemed to "go" with the painting, it was allowed in my quilt!

I made scrappy binding as I went along, and I'm so glad I did. I love how it looks. I will definitely do this again with future quilts. I SAY future quilts, but I don't have any immediate quilting plans. It takes a while to forget just how annoying it is to wrestle all that quilt through my little machine. I'm sure I will make another at some point, but now I really want to get back to dress making.

This project was the first time I used my new walking foot (which I bought ages ago). Yep, I love it!! Such a great purchase! Beginner quilters: if you don't have a walking foot though, don't worry! I made my first quilt without one and it turned out pretty great.

The Scrappy Quilt of Joy does bring me a lot of joy, whether it's folded up on the back of the sofa or (preferably) when I'm wrapped up in it with a nice warm cuppa. Especially whilst I rid myself of the cold I seem to have picked up! Time to grab the quilt and hibernate for a bit!