Friday, 31 May 2013

Sorting the fabric stash

Just recently we had a massive clean up of the garage and other storage areas to make room for my middle son's possessions, who is back from Uni for the summer vacation.

My two boys and I were clearing spaces that were storing items that haven't been used, or seen the light of day, for many months  years (embarrassed blush), to make way for their accumulated stuff, sigh.........  Anyhow, I'll continue.  My eldest son purchased some heavy duty shelving for his work tools (which he too is storing in my garage - even bigger sigh) and I thought now they look handy.

Following the lead of some of my fellow bloggers who have talked about storage for their fabric stash, I too purchased some large, clear, plastic containers to store my fabric in, however what I didn't realise at the time was while their storage capacity is brilliant, retrieving that piece of fabric right at the bottom of the container is an absolute nightmare and requires you to empty all the fabric sitting on the top to get to it, and trust me that can be time consuming and frustrating because you have to fold it all up again.

With this in mind, I have been thinking about transferring my fabrics onto shelving for some time, so today I purchased a set of  heavy-duty plastic shelves to prop up against the chimney wall in my sewing room, and  I have already started transferring some of my stash on to them.  Of course I have more stash than available shelf space, but its a start.

What I do like about the shelving option is the ability to scan your fabrics easily.  One of the bonus points of this exercise today was discovering fabrics that I had completely forgotten about and it did trigger a small, albeit a very very small thought in my head which said, "you really shouldn't buy any more fabric and just sew from your stash"............I'll keep that thought in my head until I see some fabric that I just can't say no to.  I think it best that I just stay away from the markets then ha ha.

Now to focus my thoughts on what am I going to make this weekend.  Having made my first shirt at the flat in London this week, I think I'll definitely cut out another shirt for Mike to work on next week.

Enjoy your evening.  Catch you later.....................

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

New shirt finished

Well I managed to finish Mike's shirt tonight and he'll be wearing it for work tomorrow.

Quick recap on stats:-

Kwik Sew 3883
changes made:

  • added a collar stay
  • replaced normal cuff with French cuff by copying a RTW shirt that he likes
  • embroidered monogram on cuff
This is a TNT pattern for Mike's shirt.  He doesn't like front pockets so I leave them off (one less job to do).

This is the first shirt that I have made my husband ha ha, made quite a few for my partner last year.

I have ordered a flat fell foot for my Viking machine, however I did manage ok just doing it manually.  I sewed the seams wrong-sides together.  Cut the back seam allowance down by half, then wrapped the uncut seam allowance over the cut one, stitching close to the folded edge.

This method takes a little more time, but does the job.

I brought my new PJ set to the Flat in London, so I may run up another 3pc set to wear at the cottage before I think about another project that may use a few more of my grey cells.

Thanks for stopping by - catch you later.................

Déjà vu - shirts for Mike

Do you recall last year I sewed my D Mike a number of shirts?  Mike does, it cost him the promise and purchase of a beautiful handbag for me ha ha.  Well he has worn them for work (a testament that he likes them) and nearly a year later, I decided that he really did need some new shirts.

When we split our living arrangements, half in London/half in our little cottage, I already decided that I wanted to have a small sewing area so I could sew simple projects during the week.  I purchased one of the small Horn sewing cabinets from ebay which fits in between a radiator and a large storage unit, that when pulled out just fits behind our sofa giving me enough room to set up a chair and the ironing board.  There is a total sewing space of approximately 2.5' x 8', the light is terrible, but it is still a sewing space.

Oh how we take for granted our normal sewing spaces, which for me in my cottage, is a large room upstairs formerly occupied by my son who is at University.

Mike likes a monogram on his shirts, so this requires me to cut the shirt out at the cottage (saving me the mess of cutting out in the flat), sew the cuff pieces together and then embroider the monogram on the cuffs.  I also took advantage of making the collar up and add a collar stay which I have blogged about previously here, and then packed all the components into a zip-lock bag and brought it up to London.

I have my original Viking Emerald sewing machine here, it doesn't have the flair of my lovely Bernina 440 but it does all the basic stuff, which on the whole should be enough.  I have a few pins, a couple of reels of thread, scissors, unpicking tool, tape measure etc, but of course the things we take for granted, that I just reach out for, are not here.  My pressing ham and sleeve roll would have been really handy last night and when I went to sew the flat felled seams for the shirt, I realised I didn't have a special foot, so just folded the fabric under on the final seam by hand.  Now this begs the question do I buy these particular things just for use here??????

Still, I have made good progress with Mike's shirt which is very satisfying leaving me with the hems, sleeve and side seams to be sewn and the buttonholes to be made.  Hopefully I will be able to do these tonight and then Mike might have a new shirt to wear to work tomorrow.

All being well, I'll update you later with a finished shirt (fingers crossed).  Catch you later............

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Bedtime blues trio

Now I guess that having only been married for a week that I should be making some nice sexy nightwear  but I have taken a middle of the road approach and made a nice blue ensemble that I think looks nice on and is really comfortable (sorry Mike its an age thing lol).

I purchased this fabric the Thursday before my wedding.  My work colleague/friend who also sews, who was over from Houston, and my older sister from Devon wanted to visit my beloved Walthamstow Market so I drove them there  and I purchased 4 metres of this lovely blue cotton knit fabric which as you can see had a cute border on it.

I have thought for some time that I need to make myself some smart looking PJ's that don't look quite like pyjamas (if you know what I mean)  and of course this has nothing to do with the fact that on some days, I can think of nothing better than lazing around in PJ's for the best part of the day, oops my secret is out (blush).

I decided to use my OOP Kwiksew 2948 twinset pattern which is a real TNT for me now - I love this pattern, and made the cardigan without any buttons and the little vest.  Both these pieces were entirely made using my serger, which was a delightful process given my last 9 projects.

I placed the hemline for the sleeves, front back, vest and pants on the boarder and even cut the front band from the border print too which I think gives a really a nice contrast.

I love these, they feel stylish and comfortable and if it gets too warm I can take the jacket off.  Not bad for £4.00.

Hmmmmmm what next?????????  Catch you later........

Little, tiny and teeny tiny bridesmaid dresses.

This is the last post (I promise) on my wedding sewing and today I want to talk about the little bridesmaid dresses.

I am going to start with Butterick 3405 which I made for both Sofia aged 11 weeks  and Lilly aged 11 days and you can see them both sporting their mini bridesmaid dresses.  These were really quick little dresses to make up - a dream after the other dresses, and both girls did their part to make this a truly memorable wedding.

There were no real changes to the pattern other than the fact I fully lined the dress - I just used the original dress pattern, folded the pleats to remove them from the lining and then stitched the lining right-sides together in the normal way.  The back fastenings wer just Prym poppers (easy).

the pattern didn't go down small enough for Lilly so I just put a pleat down the centre of the front and redistributed the pleat markings and took the sides in and reduced the length........ it was like making a doll's dress ha ha.

Next up are Alana and Ella's dresses using Butterick 5705 which I did blog about previously.

This is a lovely little pattern but the skirts do take up a lot of fabric, and the hem goes on for ever and ever, but its really worth it for a special day.

Changes to the pattern - there were only a few:-

  • Interlined all pieces with crisp organza (including the bow to make them stand out)
  • inserted an invisible zipper rather than the suggested lapped zip
Alana who will be 3 in July said this was her princess dress and just loved it.  Ella who will be 2 in July is not so used to wearing dresses, but coped really well (yes she is the same size as Alana - I can't work out if Alana is small for her age or Ella is big for her age!!!!  A combination of the two I think).

I loved the way the girls looked

And just because its such a lovely picture, here is Grandad Mike with a handful of grandaughters.

I have started on some nice new PJ's that can be sewn almost entirely on the serger - I need something quick to make after all the other work.

We are enjoying a lovely sunny Sunday and just had lunch on the decking with all the children and grandchildren - this is what sunny days are made for.

Hope you are all enjoying your weekend - catch you later.................

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Butterick 5710 Sharlene and Natalie

Today I am posting Sharlene and Natalie's dresses.  For these ladies I used Butterick 5710 and boy did I have two different body types to deal with.

Firstly Natalie is about 5' 3" and despite having a baby 11 weeks ago, she is barely a size 8 (UK), and Sharlene is around 5' 10" and had a "F" cup size to deal with.  Now I am used to doing an FBA for me, but this was different and I had to make sure I added enough fabric.  Now because the cowl neck is attached to the front bodice, I had to remember to add the FBA to the cowl as well.

I found the easiest way to do this was to cut the bodice front and back as a toile and then put the scissors to the side bust and under bust to make sure there was enough fabric to cover that "F" cup.  This worked, albeit that it wasn't a conventional FBA, but this was an unusual top to do that on.

One of the other issues I had with Sharlene was her height - I added almost 6" to the length of the skirt and found the whole process difficult because my cutting table wasn't long enough to lay anything out in full. 

One area that I didn't pay particular attention to was the sleeve caps.  Like an idiot I attached the bodice lining and turned them right sides out and didn't realise that the lining was a little shorter than the fashion fabric sleeve cap, creating a hem.  A nifty bit of finger pressing, tacking and then pressing with my silk organza cloth and iron managed to sort this out.

Natalies dress was not too problematic, however I did have to create a modesty frill because the V neck in this pattern is quite low and just exposed her bra (this was a feeding bra) - if you were able to wear a low cut bra it would be fine, but be warned that you may want to make the V a little shorter if that is your preference.

Once again, I ironed on a light woven interfacing to hem these dresses to disguise any stitches on the right side.

This is a lovely pattern but it is cut on the bias and takes up quite a bit of fabric.  Some pieces allowed me to use those areas that were left over from cutting the bigger pieces, but on the whole it was difficult to squeeze the larger pattern pieces in these areas which meant moving down the fabric.  Thankfully I had purchase spare fabric.

I do like this pattern and may even make myself a shorter version once I have lost a few more pounds.  While posting about all the different dresses, I am contemplating what I want to sew next - I am thinking something simple that can be done on the serger/overlocker.

The fabric is the same as my underdress, a crepe backed soft satin.
I made no significant changes to the actual pattern other than to accomodate height or bust size issues.
Would I sew it again - yes probably a short version for me.
Would I recommend it - oh yes - this is a copy of the Pippa dress at the recent Royal wedding and Butterick have done an excellent job in recreating this for the home sewer.
I cut a size 8 for Natalie and a size 14 for Sharlene.

I'll post about the babies dresses tomorrow.

Catch you later...........................

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Bridesmaid Dress for Esme - BurdaStyle 02/2012

Today's post is on Esme's bridesmaid dress using BurdaStyle 02/2012 -142.  I wanted something that was just that little bit older looking than the Butterick 5705 that I used for the little ones and this fitted the bill perfectly.

There was actually less work in this dress compared to the little dresses because it didn't have all the ruffles that they had.  While this dress was marketed as a bridesmaid dress, you could easily convert this for a basic day dress by shortening it.  I would highly recommend this pattern if you want a simple bridesmaid/party dress for a little girl  Esme is going to be 11 in August, and she loved it.

Pattern Description: 
Children’s dress sewing pattern available for download, available in various sizes.

This is a long dress pattern for girls. The full skirt silhouette is created by the skirt pleats and under petticoat. Any girl will feel like a princess wearing this fancy dress.

Pattern Sizing:
128, 134, 140, 146, 152 

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
yes almost exactly except for the bow

Were the instructions easy to follow?
didn't really use them, but followed the same method I used for the bodice on Butterick 5705 which worked really well - you sew the fashion fabric pieces front and back at shoulder edges and repeat for the lining.  Right side's together sew the bodice and lining pieces together around neck edge and armscyes.  Turn inside out through shoulders.  Sew all side seams Lining and fashion fabric in one continuous line.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? nothing to dislike.

Fabric Used:  cotton blend

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: The only change I made was to add organza interlining to stabilise the fabric.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes its such a pretty dress pattern and could be adapted for a less formal occasion

Turned out perfectly - I measured Esme, took the corresponding size on the pattern, traced out the pattern, cut and sewed it - no alterations required yippeeeeee this was a huge relief especially because at the point I had finished this dress, I still had mine and the big girl's dresses to compete.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

My Art-Deco wedding dress construction details

Thank you all for your lovely comments on the few wedding pictures I posted.  Both Mike and I really enjoyed the day, and of course I was relieved that the dresses and colour scheme turned out as I wanted them to.

This is a bit of a long post, but details my bridal dressmaking journey.

I sewed 15 garments for the wedding in order to get the final 9 pieces for the wedding group:-

  1. Toile Butterick 5705 - Alana (now used as a play dress)
  2. Final Butterick 5705 - Alana
  3. Final Butterick 5705 - Ella
  4. BurdaStyle 02/2012 - 142 - Esme
  5. Butterick 3405 - Sofia
  6. Butterick 3405 - Lilly
  7. Butterick 5710 - Sharlene
  8. Butterick 5710 - Natalie
  9. Hybrid Butterick 5325 with tapered skirt - toile underdress - Pauline
  10. Hybrid Butterick 5325 with tapered skirt - Lauren (discarded)
  11. Hybrid Butterick 5325/5419 - Lauren
  12. Toile overdress using BurdaStyle  - Pauline (discarded)
  13. Sweetheart bodice Butterick 5419 attached to skirt pieces of Butterick 5325 - Pauline final underdress
  14. Toile overdress using Butterick View D, extended to a dress length and with added sleeves.
  15. Final lace overdress - as above.
For this post I am just going to focus on what patterns I used to create my dress and the various changes I made.

The dress composed two separate pieces; an under-dress and a lace overdress and was finished with the self drafted cummerbund.

For the underdress I used the boned sweetheart bodice of Butterick 5419 and attached the skirt pieces of Butterick 5325.  Because I wanted to achieve an empire line for this dress, I attached the skirt pieces just under the bust line of the bodice and once I was happy with the fit, I cut off the excess fabric.  Initially I was going to leave the length because the bodice was boned to the high hip and this created a sort of corset for me, but sadly it showed through giving a line which I didn't like or want so removed the excess fabric.

I lined the sweetheart bodice top with a nice crisp cotton (I read somewhere that in cases of high temperatures on the day, this creates a nice cool garment with the ability to mop up any excess perspiration).  This of course is the UK and we had neither heat or perspiration issues to contend with but it felt nice to wear.  To give some more stability to the bodice I also use a crisp organza as an underlining.

For the skirt I just lined it, but I wanted to add some extra fullness to the bottom.  To create this, I added triangular 12" godets to the two front seams, and then to the lining added 12 layers of gathered ruffles which started from the top of the godet point to the bottom of the skirt. I started with the first piece which was 6" deep and then added an additional 5/8" to each subsequent layer to avoid it becoming too bulky as I moved up the skirt lining.  The final ruffle covered all the others completely.

One consideration I had was how to hem the skirt without the stitching showing through the crepe back satin.  To do this, I cut 1/2" strips of a light-weight woven iron-on interfacing which I ironed on to the wrong side just beneath the hem line.  This enabled me to pick up one of the woven threads on the wrong side of the skirt thus preventing any of the hemming stitches to show through on the right side (I'll use this again).

I finished the underdress without too many issues but my lace was another story.

I found that the scooped neck top of Butterick 5419's princess seams followed the lines of the sweetheart bodice and the skirt panels perfectly.  I used some spare tulle to make my toile because it was a similar weight. I added the sleeves from one of the other views to the scooped neck top, and then took the skirt panels from my underdress and attached them to the bodice top at the designated waist marks.  For the toile these were cut separately and then sewn together, but for the lace overdress I removed all seam allowances and then thread-traced around each pattern piece onto the lace but as a single piece.

I took the lace and found the centre and placed the centre front pattern piece along the centre line, with the finished hem sitting on the larger scalloped lace edge.  I  lined up the motifs and then thread-traced around the pattern piece.  Now working from the centre out I thread-traced each side front piece either side of the centre front piece, lining up the hems.  Now I didn't want to cut the scalloped edge so I butted the bottom corners of each pattern piece together, and laying it far enough apart so that I could stitch the rest of the seams.  This enabled me to have a continuous scalloped hem, with the only seam line through this part of the lace was on the back seam.

For the sleeves and the neck edge, I used some spare lace border and cut it as close to the border as I dared, and then used this to applique to the bottom of the sleeve.   I more or less cut a cuff with the deepest part of the border to sit at the front of my hand, and then sewed the back seam before appliquéing it to the bottom of the sleeve. For the neck and back edge, I had already removed the seam allowances on the neck edge and back edges, and then simply appliquéd the narrow border around the front neck edge and down the back.  I used a hook and eye to close the back seam just at the top of the neck edge, using a self covered button on each side.  The rest was just left to hang loose to the waist, I then  sewed a seam from the bottom to the waist line.  I used the covered buttons and sewed them to the back seam to a place that I felt was right.

There were one or two seams that cut through a motif.  To create a more balanced look, I found the corresponding motif on some of the spare lace offcuts and appliquéd them to the over-dress.

For all seams on the over-dress I used a French seam which enclosed all the raw edges.

My cummerbund was just a simple piece of fabric cut on the straight of grain and pleated.  I used poppers to secure it at the back and sewed buttons on the centre back to follow the line of the buttons on the back of the overdress.

Last but not least many thanks to Viv and Sigrid who took my calls when I needed to chat about my plans, or attend Skype calls to see what I was thinking/doing, and for Viv who spent the weekend here to help me with my fitting issues and covered the first 30 buttons and made the first bodice, which unfortunately I decided not to use, preferring the sweetheart neckline rather than the straight edge.  Sadly I had to buy another 20 buttons to achieve the look I wanted and that meant I had to cover them all by myself boo hooo.

Making this wedding dress was a first for me on many counts. 

  1. I have never purchased such expensive fabric, so was petrified of cutting into this and making a mistake especially as it was the end of the roll.
  2. I haven't sewn such a delicate large lace garment other than the bras that I have made.  
  3. This is the first piece of boning work that I have done for about 20 years,
  4. This was the first time I had done lace applique work, and
  5. This was the first time I have sewn lace with beading on (and managed to break a large number of needles).

I made the mistake of not lining the princess seam of the one of the back-side pieces correctly, which meant I had to unpick a very narrow French seam and re-sew it.  Thank goodness I didn't rip into the lace with my seam-ripper, thanks to my illuminated magnifying glass.

I did read up on some of the articles in Threads magazine, Susan khalje's bridal couture book and checked out some other blogs such as the I made this blog where Kathryn made a beautiful bridal dress for her daughter and kindly directed us to the aforementioned Threads magazine articles, but at the end of the day, this is your own personal creation, and I guess, I am just a fly by the seat of my pants type of girl,  which is exactly what I did, and I am pleased to say that it all came good on the day.

If you are thinking about making your own wedding dress, or one for your daughter etc., have a go.  I can't tell you how satisfying it is to see the fruits of your labour.  Yes there were one or two stressful moments, but I am proud of this achievement, and I know my mother would also be proud of what I created.

Next up the bridesmaid dresses.  Catch you all later.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Its official I am now Mrs M.

Well readers, its official, I am now Mrs M as of 14:45 on the 18th May 2013.

I confess that I was still sewing on Friday morning, albeit poppers for Lauren's cummerbund and attaching the straps of her dress, followed by a final press.

The weather gods were kind to us, we were not blessed with blue skys and blazing sunshine, but it wasn't too cold or too windy and it didn't rain.

This is just a snapshot of photos that were taken by friends and relatives yesterday for you to see some of the dresses, and I'll try and do a more detailed post later.

Now need to catch up on some much needed sleep and rest.

Catch you later.

Friday, 17 May 2013

The day before the big event

Hi all

Well, this week has been busy to say the least - a Hen night Wednesday and a complete set of patio furniture that arrived the same day which had to be put together aghrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

I have had my nails painted, and the car is packed and we are heading off to the hotel.

My daughter has lost a lot of post baby weight, so just to add to the pressure of the week, I had to cut out a completely new bridesmaid dress for her and make it Wednesday and Thursday.......

My sisters who live at different ends of the UK have descended upon me and to be honest that has all been more stressful than making the dresses ----- families what can I say.

So this is my last post before the wedding tomorrow and I'll share the pictures as soon as I can

bye for now.............

Monday, 13 May 2013

Wedding sewing update - 6 days to go.

Hi guys, this is just a brief wedding sewing update.

Days to the wedding - 6
Items completed:-
1. Sharlene's dress,
2. Natalie's dress,
3. Alana's dress,
4. Ella's dress,
5. Esme's dress
6. Sofia's dress
7. Lilly Grace's dress
8. My wedding dress yipppeeeee

Items to complete:-

Lauren's bridesmaid dress.

Well I didn't quite make my deadline, but I am very close.  The last dress I need to complete for the bridal party is my D Daughter's dress.  I have cut the bodice and skirt out and basted it together, I now need to do the final stitching and then make the lining.  I am hoping to get this finished by tomorrow, but my friend/work colleague is flying in from the USA tomorrow morning, and ideally I want to get this last dress finished so I can have some relaxation time.  This dress is a simple sweetheart neckline strapless dress, so I should be able finish this quickly enough (she said crossing her fingers and toes).

The last item is a party dress for me to change into for the evening reception.

I have a lovely Vogue pattern I purchased a little while back and bought some silver fabric when I was shopping with my friend Viv in Walthamstow market.  The fabric is almost identical to the pattern cover.  I will see how I get on, but I would like to finish this by Tuesday night and this will give me Wed-Friday to relax, if I can still remember how to relax.

My non sewing schedule is as follow:-

  1. Collect my Friend Ann from the airport in the morning.
  2. Monday evening take her up to London for a meal and sleep over at our flat.
  3. Tuesday back to the cottage in the morning and then sewing, with a break in the afternoon to meet with a friend for afternoon tea in the local cake shop.
  4. Wednesday prepare for my Hen night (small gathering with my sisters, daughter and a couple of close friends for a take-away at my home).
  5. Thursday - R&R then dinner at my friend's house.
  6. Friday - Nail salon for pampering and then back home to pack the car and drive to the hotel.
  7. Saturday - D-Day ............................
Hope you are all sewing up a storm.

Catch you later.........................

Friday, 10 May 2013

Happy families

My beautiful daughter Lauren, Granddaughter Lilly Grace and Bentley who now thinks its his job to guard Lilly Grace 4 days old today.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Tiny dress and teeny tiny dress

Hi everyone

Well life is still a roller coaster with our new baby, so to add to the tasks I am already doing for the wedding, I am also doing lots of errands for my D Daughter.  Just for the Ahhhh factor, here is another picture of Lilly Grace my latest grandaughter (in case you have only just tuned in) - she seems so tiny and Lauren told me today that compared to her cousin Sofia who is 9 weeks old and weighing in at a hefty 9lbs, Lilly looked tiny ha ha - Sofia looked tiny on Monday!!!!!

Anyhow, I have been sewing and have about 2-3 hours work to complete my dress, but I need more buttons which I will have to cover myself - Viv where are you when I need you, I knew we needed more lol.

I have however made a little dress for 9wk old Sofia using Butterick 3405.  I have chosen the same fabric that I used for the other little bridesmaids, and used some of my lovely lace to embellish the front of the dress.  For the hairband I have made a little bow using the same fabric as the larger bridesmaid dress fabric and the little one's bows, and again added a some of the lace, and incorporated a few of the loose beads that are flying around my sewing room to create a little dangle effect.

I made a few changes to this pattern by cutting a lining for the dress and constructing this the same way as I did for the bodice of the little bridesmaid dresses which means I didn't need the neck and sleeve facings, I also think that this will make it more comfortable for Sofia to wear .

I used 3 of my Prym poppers for the fastening at the back of this dress.

To complete the outfit I need to make a pair of panties in the same fabric and this is another one in the bag.  Lauren has asked that I now make a little one for Lilly Grace - I just need to size it down from little baby to teeny tiny baby.

More to do tomorrow.  Catch you later..........

Monday, 6 May 2013

We had a BBQ and a baby today.

Phew what an eventful weekend - I feel exhausted.  It was a bank holiday weekend here in the UK and we certainly filled every waking moment.

My son was working on our new decking which meant Mike, Lauren and I were painting on Sunday.  Well I sort of twisted their arm into helping me.

Today we scheduled a BBQ for Mike's son, partner and grandson, and my son, daughter-in-law and two granddaughters Alana and Sofia and my daughter Lauren and Bentley the great-dane.

I rec'd a text this morning at 03:30hrs to inform me that Lauren's waters had broken and at 8am she was in the hospital waiting for baby Lili to arrive, and she did at 16:30 hours weighing in at 6lbs 6oz.  This is 2 weeks early, and a sort of relief because we were expecting this very event to happen during the wedding.

My life is a whirlwind of events at the moment, I feel like I am on huge merry-go-round and still more to come.  Meet Lilli Grace with a very hot, tired Nanny P who has clearly caught the sun this weekend with all my painting - hope the red nose goes before the wedding ha ha.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

French Seams - the unpicking.

Do you know how difficult it is to unpick a very narrow french seam on chantilly lace?  I do and let me tell you its not a nice job.............

Yesterday I stitched all the panels together for my overdress, and today I wanted to stitch the shoulder seams and insert the sleeves.  I decided that I would take extra care with the sleeves because they can't have any tucks in them.  I pinned the shoulder seams sat the dress on my mannequin and then started work on my sleeves.  My lace has two borders and I wanted to add the deeper border on to the bottom of the sleeve.  Sadly I didn't have enough fabric to cut the sleeves with the deep border directly, so my only option was to attach the border separately and applique it to the end of the sleeve.

This worked fine, and looked lovely, so the next stage was to check that the sleeves fitted into the armscye ok.  It was at this point that I noticed that one armscye was larger than the other, however it must have taken me 10 minutes to realise what I had done!!!!

The dress has princess seams, and I had attached the top of the side back piece about 4 inchs too high.  Sadly it wasn't just a case of unpicking a very narrow French seam by 4",  I had to more or less unpick the whole seam so that I could make sure that everything sat right.  Armed with my illuminated magnifying glass I spent approximately 1 hour unpicking the seam, ensuring that I didn't rip into the very fine tulle, and thankfully the sewing gods were being kind to me tonight, and I was able to unpick and resew the seam with no damage.

I inserted the sleeve, matching the thread tracing on the sleeves and the dress pieces and I am delighted that it went in like a dream.  After the first row of stitching, I trimmed the seam allowance back to a hair's breath of the stitching line before turning it right sides together to sew the 2nd row of stitching.  I now have a very narrow seam, which I am delighted with.

In case you want any instructions on how to sew a French Seam, Susan Khalje has written a short article in the threads magazine here so there is no point in my doing a tutorial when others have done a much better job than I could do.

I decided to quit while I was ahead and tomorrow I will sew up the 2nd sleeve, applique the deep border to the end of 2nd sleeve and then insert the sleeve into the armscye.

This will leave me the back seam, to sew, and then some more applique work to finish the overdress, leaving many small covered buttons to sew on, and a cummerbund to complete the look.

Its a Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK and the weather gods have also been kind to us by brining us some beautiful weather.  My D Son has been building me a new decking that extends my lounge once the French Doors are open (a bit of a French theme going on in this post isn't there ha ha) and this morning I was painting posts, and garden furniture in a nice black ash.  Yep thats me multi-tasking as normal.  Oh and did I mention we were babysitting our granddaughter Alana last night, so I also had one eye on her running around the garden...........its all go here you know.

Hope you are all having a great weekend.  Catch you later.....................

Friday, 3 May 2013

I did it

Ok, the time had come to deal with the expensive lace.  I had thread traced the pattern  pieces onto the lace and now I had to take a pair of scissors and cut into the fabric and let me tell you that I felt quite nervous doing this, predominately because I bought the last of the lace so if anything went wrong, I couldn't buy any more.

I took advantage of Skyping my dear friend Sigrid so I could show her the lace and what I had done so far, and to share my thoughts with her, just in case I was way off mark. She agreed to my tactics, however the internet kept fading in and out, so both of us kept freezing on the screen or we only got part of our sentences, so perhaps she didn't agree with me and I only thought she did lol.

Sunday it was Vivien's turn I called her to get some reassurance that my thoughts and ideas were not too off base.  To this end thank you both ladies - you have been a godsend.  Just being able to talk things through with you has helped me so much.

One of my conundrums was do I cut through the motifs or around them???  In general I cut around the individual motifs, on the basis that I could cut them off afterwards.  There were some that it only caught part of the motif so I just cut through those.

I decided to use a french seam on this fine lace, so my first stitching line was wrong sides together on a very narrow seam, and then I trimmed it as close to the stitching as I would dare.  Once all the seams were completed, I then sewed again but this time right sides together.

I haven't pressed any of the stitching - there are beads and sequins on this lace, so the best I can do is to just hover lightly above the lace, but I won't even do that until I test it on a spare scrap of fabric, and I definitely use my silk organza pressing cloth.

I managed to break 5 needles sewing this lace even though I tried carefully to slow down, and move the needle by hand over the larger beaded areas..... so glad I bought a pack of 100 needles, knew they would come in handy.

I am hoping that I have given you enough information to tune back in post wedding on the 18th of May when I will show you the completed wedding sewing with us all wearing them.  My dress is morphing into my original idea and turning out as I imagined it would, which is good news for me.

Its late, I am tired and now need some sleep.

Tomorrow I am off to see the cake lady and then on to the florist to choose my flowers.

Catch you later..................

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Success with Sourdough recipe

Hi I just wanted to share my sourdough success with you all.

We often buy sourdough in London and it is yummy - we both love it.  In the UK Paul Hollywood has been making a big impact on home bakers and recently aired a great tv show.

I tried to make sourdough before, but managed to kill my starter, and my enthusiasm sort of went into hibernation, but a few weeks back I started another culture

1 cup of strong flour to 1 cup of water.

I did the same feed for around 5 days and then used my lovely bubbly mass to make my first loaf of bread.

500g strong white flour
300g of sourdough starter (when you take 300g from the jar - add another cup of flour & water as before and then feed each day)
200ml (approx) of water
large pinch of sea salt.

I blend my ingredients in a food processer with a dough hook for a good 10 minutes to make sure all the gluten in the flour becomes a nice stretchy dough.

I remove from the mixer, pour a little vegetable oil on my work surface and then give it a knead for around 2 minutes and to shape it into a ball.

I oil the mixer bowl to stop the dough sticking and return the dough to the bowl and cover the dough with a shower cap (they are perfect for this).

Now this is where my experimenting has come into its own.  I mix my dough around 7pm at night, cover it and leave it on the table in the kitchen to prove overnight - this is a good 12 hours but its so easy you don't have do anything more.

In the morning you will (all being well) get a dough that has risen and filled 3/4 of the bowl - its amazing.

I remove from the mixer, pour a little vegetable oil on my work surface and then give it a knead for around 2 minutes and to shape it into a ball and then use a mixture of semolina and flour and shake it into a round banneton bread proofing rattan basket with the smooth side down.

Sprinkle a litte of your semolina flour mix on the top and cover with your shower cap again.  Leave to rise for approx 3 hours.

Preheat your oven to around 250c and put a large flat baking tray in at the same time (you want this to be nice and hot).  Also put a 2nd tray at the bottom of the oven that you can pour cold water on.

Once your oven is nice and hot, take a sheet of parchment paper and put on your  hot baking tray - sprinkle with flour/semolina mix and tip the bread onto the tray - quickly score bread with sharp blade and pop into the oven at 210c for 15-20 minutes & pour a little cold water onto the 2nd baking tray to create a steam bath (this is what gives the nice crust).

I check my bread after 15-20 mins, if all is ok the splits in the bread have opened up and the crust is hard, I find I need to turn my bread over and cook the bottom for about 10-15 minutes on 200c.

Check your bread has a hollow sound, remove and place on rack and try not to cut into it for at least and hour.

You should get something like this.......once you have made sourdough, there is no going back - its the best bread ever I am addicted.  When I retire I'll make it every day - however I am sure going to have a large waistline if I don't exercise - Mike and I can't resist going back for more when we cut into the loaf.....

Catch you all later...........................

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

All pattern pieces thread traced

Phew - I have managed to thread trace all my pattern pieces for the overdress onto the lace.

First I had to carefully remove the threads on the first 3 pieces that I traced over the weekend, making sure that I didn't pull the fragile threads in the lace, and then I reposition the pattern pieces from the centre of the fabric moving outwards.

That's my work quota for the evening - I can't afford to be tired working with this beautiful fabric - Tomorrow I'll take another careful look at each of the pieces before braving the scissors to the cloth aghrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Catch you later.........................