Whaddup! Ages ago there was a flurry of sewists all making the Deer and Doe Plantain, and it eventually came to my attention that this was a free pattern, and the style of tshirt that I like.
Now, anyone who knows me knows that I am a dresses gal. I am rarely seen wearing anything other than a dress (unless we count pyjamas!). So what business do I have making a tshirt, you might ask? Well, I thought it would be handy for making pyjama tops…but also for my new hobby…running!
I started running last July when a friend suggested it. I thought she was mad. My first reaction was ‘Oh my God you’ve gotta be kidding me I CAN NOT RUN!’. I actually couldn’t run any more than about twenty metres without feeling like dying! But I thought I’d give it a go, and with a sports bra and a pair of running shoes at the ready, we did our first ever run around the block. It was 1.5km or thereabouts, and we had to stop and walk twice to get our breath back!
We kept at it and since then we’ve come a long way…literally (groan!). We now run 5.4km three times per week, and we’ve started to extend our runs a bit more to build up to 10k.
Aaaanyway….running in winter meant I needed more long sleeve tops, so this is where the Plantain comes in! It was a breeze to sew, and I will definitely be making more of them. I think it fits me better than my Sewaholic Renfrew, too, so it’s going to be my go-to t-shirt pattern! Hurrah!
And now for some more running-related sewing: I’ve been making headbands with built-in ear warmers! That’s right, you heard it here first :-) My friend who I run with bought a £2 fleece headband with ear flaps, and I immediately wanted one for myself because headbands keep stray bits of hair out of my face whilst running and also: EAR FLAPS KEEP MY EARS WARM! But rather than go and spend £2 on this wondrous creation, why not make my own?
I drafted the pattern on a piece of kitchen roll (well, three pieces as I’ve got a freakishly big head) by using a really in-depth method I learnt on my pattern cutting course (NOT!) - wrapping the kitchen roll around my head and drawing the shape of a headband with ear flaps on it!
I then evened this out and used it to cut some grey fleece from my scraps into the right shape, keeping the straight edge on the fold and simply serging the curved edge for a quick and dirty finish! Simples! Now get ready for some totes amazing photography…
Then I made a pink leopard print one out of a hateful pair of Little Tweedie’s leggings which were destined for the charity shop. I serged both edges of this one, in black because I was feeling lazy!
And then….oh yes, then… I MADE A HEADBAND WITH EAR FLAPS TO MATCH MY NEW PLANTAIN TSHIRT!!!! Oh yes I did. I am *that* cool. Seriously.
For this one I stitched the right sides together and then turned it out so that the stitching doesn’t show on the outside, but I think I actually prefer the first two versions with their visible serging, to be honest.
So, there you have it: my new hobby and its co-ordinating wardrobe. To be continued…
PS. I’ve been threatening my friend that I will make us co-ordinating headbands to wear with our initials appliqued on. Preferably in a completely hideous print or colour.
PPS. I now need to make running bows for my trainers a la Scruffy Badger!
PPPS. The stripy jersey was from a swap last year – thank you, mysterious donor! It makes me think of Fruit Salad sweets (I’m sure that won’t mean much to our international readers!).
Going now bye.
****NB. THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED.****
This book was published in 2011 as a revised and updated edition of the 1988 book. A quick bit of research shows that Simplicity have published lots of different sewing books since the company was founded in 1927. There are numerous editions of the ‘Simplicity Sewing Book’, as well as books on felting, fabric guide books, how to use a sewing machine and home decorating. This book claims to be ‘the essential reference for all home sewers’, and I would have to agree with them: this book really is an excellent resource to have in one’s sewing space.
The book is spiral bound, which means it is easy to lay it open at your chosen page without having to faff around with weighing down the pages, and each chapter has a different coloured tab so it’s easy to find the section you need (or there’s an index at the back if you want to look up something specific, and a glossary of terms as well).
The book would be great for someone who is just learning to sew. I remember the first dress I ever made, with Julia, and I didn’t have a clue what a grainline was, what interfacing was for, how to lay the pattern pieces out and cut the fabric, or what ‘basting’, ‘stay stitching’ or any of that all meant! Luckily Julia was there to help me out with it all but if I hadn’t have had her help I would have really benefitted from having a book like this at the time. There’s a whole chapter devoted to understanding patterns, a buyer’s guide to point you in the right direction when it comes to selecting fabric, notions and equipment, plus another chapter on sewing techniques. There’s advice on hand sewing, machine sewing, overlocker sewing, and… ‘sewing with your iron’…which amused me as I kind of imagined it meant instead of a sewing machine, whereas in fact it’s about the importance of pressing!
However, this book is not only useful to beginners. My first ‘test’ of this book was to look at the chapter entitled ‘A Perfect Fit’, to see how useful it is to someone who frequently alters patterns. The basics are covered: lengthening and shortening, bust adjustments (although only of a regular bodice), shoulder adjustments, back width, rounded back, dowager’s hump, upper arm adjustment, crotch depth and length… so as you can see it’s fairly comprehensive!
There are some ‘patternless projects’ at the back of the book, too: I was particularly taken with the idea of sewing a kimono! The other projects are a jeans skirt, a tote bag and a toile pillow. I think this is just the right number of projects; too many sewing books include an overload of patterns f0r all sorts of useless things that no one will ever get round to sewing!
The only other thing I feel I must mention is the book’s aesthetics. Interestingly, there is no photography, but what the book lacks in photography it more than makes up for with clear diagrams throughout. This is not an eye-candy book; it’s a really useful and practical sewing reference book, and it’s very good at being just that!
Now, for the giveaway! This book weighs 1.2kg, so I must apologise to our international readers as this giveaway is open to UK residents only.
If you would like to win a copy of this sewing book, please leave me a comment below telling me which is your favourite Simplicity sewing pattern and why!
If you’re on Twitter you can get a bonus entry by tweeting a link to this post, but as I (probably) won’t be attentively reading every single person’s timeline you’d better leave me an additional comment on here to say you tweeted it!
I will leave the competition open for a week, from now until Tuesday 18th March at noon. Then hopefully I can announce the winner just before episode 5 of The Great British Sewing Bee!
A while back I unexpectedly sold one of my handmade dresses to a friend, and so I decided to treat myself with the proceeds and get some sewing supplies from Fancy Moon…
I tweeted the above picture and the lovely Vicki Kate suggested I make a Valentine’s dress with the Alexander Sweethearts fabric. And that’s exactly what I did, so thank you Vicki Kate for the suggestion! :-)
I decided I needed a curvy dress for Valentine’s Day, and had been meaning to make the Colette Macaron for quite some time. The Macaron dress is described as ‘a flattering and curvy dress’ so I figured it would be a good choice for Valentine’s. Also, because of the side zip fastening, it meant that the front and back would be cut on the fold, so I wouldn’t have to worry about pattern matching too much. With a large scale print such as this, any pattern that minimises pattern matching is a bonus!
I have been trying to be a better seamstress this year, and for a while I agonised over whether or not to make a toile of this dress. In the end, I didn’t. I justified it by acknowledging the fact that a) I was about to make a novelty dress which wouldn’t exactly make it into my regular wardrobe rotation and b) I’d probably only be wearing it for a few hours before taking it off (ahem!). So yeah. ;-) As long as I could wear it, minor fitting issues weren’t going to bother me. Onwards!
I used the leftover silk charmeuse from my self-drafted slip for the contrast yoke and sleeves. It feels dreamy and deliciously smooth on my skin!
I went with plain black cotton for the midriff band, and actually for the back bodice as well as I only had 1.5m of the Alexander Henry fabric – just enough for the skirt front, back, and front bodice.
I really enjoyed making this dress. Colette as usual have come up trumps and, having made the Victory Patterns Ava dress late last year, I can definitely say Colette wins. The way that Colette has you join the yoke to the bodice is so much easier than the Victory way and makes for much better results.
I also love the skirt! It’s almost tulip style and I wasn’t sure I’d like it, but I’m really glad I gave it a try. I love the fact that it even has pockets! I’d like to make another Macaron in a more wintery fabric, like for some reason I’m dreaming of a kind of brown tweed version?! I don’t know what contrast though. Maybe something in a dusky pink? That’s the thing with this dress, you have to get the combination of fabrics just right, otherwise it can just look a bit… well, odd.
I hardly wasted a scrap of fabric with this make. I even made some Valentine’s bunting with the pin-up ladies for the bedroom!
So anyway, despite not making a toile, and not making a single adjustment at all to the pattern, I am pleased to report that the dress was not a bad fit at all! Now, these photos are not the best quality, but here’s what I actually looked like when I was wearing it…
The Colette Macaron: make one! It’s an ace pattern!
Howdy! Today I want to show you a dress I made a few weeks ago now – Simplicity 1652 which is part of their ‘Amazing Fit’ range. I made it with a fabric called ‘Up and Down Elephants’ by Timeless Treasures – the fabric was a Christmas gift! Yay!
I bought this pattern last summer, but it was seeing Kat’s lovely version that reminded me to dig it out and make it, plus I wanted to try a new pattern before I bored you all to tears with yet another variation on the Anna dress!!!
I made view A of the pattern, with the front tabs and proper sleeves, but chose view B for the back because I am partial to a cut out back. It just adds a bit of unexpected interest. Ironically though, with it being winter and all, I’ve had to put up with feeling a bit of cold air on my back because of the cut out. I have worn a cardigan with the dress a few times to avoid the chill, but then I get annoyed with myself because by wearing a cardigan I’m covering up the very feature of the dress I like best of all! In short – this dress will definitely be better for me to wear when it has warmed up a little!
I love this dress for many, many reasons:
1) The fabric!! I love the elephants. I love the colours, and the fact that from a distance it almost looks like multi-coloured houndstooth!
2) The fit!! It really is an ‘Amazing Fit’. I chose the D cup option and it was great not to have to worry about doing an FBA. It fits beautifully.
3) The pattern instructions!! Because my body measurements aren’t wildly out of sync with those on the pattern envelope, I did not have to make a toile. Instead, I just fitted as I went along, using the helpful tips provided in the pattern instructions.
4) The design/pattern drafting!! I love the different options you can get with this pattern: sleeves, cap sleeves, sleeveless, cut out back, normal back, front tabs, no tabs… And all options have pockets. And pockets are a WINNER.
On your average Mum-about-town day, I would wear this dress with black tights, black boots and a black cardi, but it also looks great with pink and red. In fact, I really think that the pink is my favourite way to wear this dress:
Lucky for me, I have a pretty extensive range of red and pink shoes, so that’ll keep me going for a while whilst I work out my ultimate favourite way to wear this dress!!
Ok, so what would you call this?
An underskirt? A slip? A half slip? A waist slip? A petticoat? Something else?
Anyway, I wear these a lot. I sew lots of cotton dresses: often they aren’t lined and I usually wear tights underneath. These thingymajigs stop my dresses from sticking to my tights, and they stop them from riding up.
Now, sometime last year my good friend Amy passed onto me a bunch of fabric she had decided she had no use for (thank youuuuu!). Amongst it was two metres of real, proper silk charmeuse! Lucky me! I was very excited after having done the burn test to have some real silk on my hands. But what to do with it? Of course you already know the answer… I used it to make a thingymajig!
Having looked, albeit briefly, at the construction of my other thingymajigs, I saw it was extremely simple. Like – two rectangles with elastic at the top and lace at the bottom. I thought I couldn’t go wrong…
The first toile was too tight at the hips and the waist felt too loose. I cut into it to see how much to add in, which is why it’s cut open on the photo. The second toile was too tight all over because I shaped it in line with my measurements but there was no closure so it was difficult to get it on (d’oh!). I ripped that one off – hence the giant tear in the picture! The third toile - I overcompensated and it completely drowned me. After that, I stopped arsing around, got myself some dot and cross paper and actually drafted a proper paper pattern, and it worked! Huzzah!
And after making the fifth, and final incarnation of the thingymajig, I am now suitably experienced in the art of stretching elastic like crazy and attaching it to a waistband with a three-step zigzag stitch!
I’m glad I put the silk to good use – this is practical clothing and luxury combined. It will get worn much more than if it had become the lining of only one dress, and much more than if I had made a blouse with it.
And if I ever happen to come by any more silk, I have my pattern ready to go!
Folks: I hate alterations. Even really simple stuff. I mean, it’s so boring, right?! Seriously, I’m with Marie when she says ‘once a make is done, it’s done!’. Like Marie, I would rather make something again from scratch than faff around with unpicking it and trying to sort it out.
But here is one exception: my Sewaholic Pirate Cambie dress, made last year. Man, I love this dress. The fabric, the style…everything about it. Apart from the fact it’s too big! I just couldn’t bear to see it hanging in my wardrobe, unwearable, and I wasn’t about to try and fatten up in order to wear it!
I knew I had to do something with it, but I also knew it wouldn’t just be as simple as taking it in a bit at the side seams, so, one weekend when Julia was here, I got her to pin it where it needed taking in, and let’s see….well….it needed taking in at the shoulders, at the side, at the top, at the back, under the bust…erm just about everywhere!
I was faced with the nightmarish prospect of a) unpicking the whole dress b) having to alter not only the main fabric but the full lining as well. I wasn’t exactly thrilled. Julia offered to help me unpick the dress, which was very kind, especially seeing as most of the seams were overlocked as well as stitched. That is a LOT of unpicking! At the time, I only had one seam ripper, so we took it in turns to unpick as much as we could stand to in one go!
We didn’t get it all unpicked that weekend, but eventually over the next few weeks I forced myself to get the lining and main dress completely detached, the skirt/waistband and skirt/waistband lining removed from the bodice, the zip unpicked, and the bodice and its lining completely taken to pieces, even with the darts unpicked. It then stayed like that in a plastic bag for a few months whilst I built up the willpower to tackle it.
The alterations I needed to make were too numerous, so I decided to trace a size smaller from the original pattern and use the existing pre-cut pieces, and re-sew them up a size smaller.
To ensure I could do this accurately, I used a trick learned from my pattern cutting class: I traced the new size, removed the seam allowance, and then thread traced around the pattern piece onto the fabric. This way I could see exactly where I would need to match up the seams, and I wouldn’t have to worry about seam allowance. It was also a very convenient way of marking the darts (I did have to adapt the front pattern piece to a single layer however, rather than on-the-fold).
I really struggled to keep motivated with this alteration. I resented having to spend hours and hours working on a dress I already made last year. I spent longer on this alteration than I did making the damn thing in the first place! I kept having to force myself to work on it, and I procrastinated a lot by finding other things to do instead…but eventually, at long, long last, I finished it. My first words to the husband as I emerged from the sewing room were: “I’ve f*cking done it!”, followed shortly after by a tweet to Julia saying ‘Thank f*cking f*ck, I’ve finally finished my alterations!’ Can you tell I was relieved?!
But was it worth it? YES! TOTALLY YES! The fact that I did keep on with it is testament to how much I love this dress. The fit is better – not perfect, mind, because I used the straight-out-of-the-packet size – but most importantly, I can wear it again! I wore it the very next day in fact, and received many compliments on it!
How do you other sewists feel about alterations? Love them or hate them?