Me & my skirt

Up until now, you would be forgiven for thinking that I only sew for one person, but in reality, I’m quite a selfish seamstress. I really want to be sewing things for myself. The first project I have sewn for myself in a long time is the Great British Sewing Bee A-Line Tweed Skirt. Given my desire to make sure that every project challenged me, what was the novelty about this one? Well, there were a few things that I thought were novel (and I was right) I have never made a lined skirt before, so that’s a definite novelty, and I’ve also never sewn woollen fabric before, so that’s also a novelty. Continue reading

Cushion cover in crushed purple velvet

Oh wow, this is where I achieved one of my goals without even realising it! Ever since my children were born, I wanted to make something for them that they would want to keep (hopefully forever and ever and ever). A few months ago I was planning on throwing out a purple crushed velvet shirt that was 20 years old. Up until recently, anything that’s worn out either gets turned into dusters, or dust sheets for occasions when we’re painting / plastering etc. The thought of turning things into something else never quite crossed my mind. This is, however, probably because we’ve been living in a building site for years, so smart clothes become DIY clothes, and by the time they’re not good enough for DIY, they’re no good for anything else other than dusters either.Continue reading

Owl Pyjama Top

Having successfully completed the pyjama bottoms, I set my sights on the New Look Pyjama 6090 top. Fearing that all over owls would be a bit much, I used some plain cream cotton of similar weight to the owl material for the body pieces, and used the owl material for the facings and arms. Again, I opted for French seams, for the straight seams (side seams for the bodice, and seams down the arms.)Continue reading

Owl Pyjama Bottoms

This pattern and the material and notions were bought for me for my birthday last year. The pattern is New Look 6090.

New Look Kids Pyjamas

New Look Kids Pyjamas – 6090

For this pattern, I decided that for the first time ever, I would follow the construction instructions at all times. Continue reading

Pink Floral Shirred Dress

My daughter is now aware that I can sew things, and she loves to watch it happen. For the first time the other day I took her to a fabric shop to choose some material for a new dress. She chose, unsurprisingly, this pink flowery cotton by Rose & Hubble.

pink floral cotton

Pink, flowery and perfect for a 5-year old girl

I had decided that I was going to make the Girls Shirred Dress from the Great British Sewing Bee Fashion with Fabric book.

GBSB Fashion with Fabric book

Great British Sewing Bee Fashion with Fabric Book

I have never done shirring before, and I’ve never made something without a pattern before, so this met my novelty challenge in two ways.

So, how did it go? Well, cutting out the rectangles for the dress wasn’t difficult; I simply carried out the calculation, based on her chest size, and went from there. I did, however, manage to mess up the length a bit. Maybe I changed my mind about how long I like my daughters dresses to be, as I found the final dress length to be shorter than I anticipated. That was easily solved, however, by using a length of bright pink satin bias binding, so instead of turning up the raw edge, I encased it using the bias binding. I didn’t try any stitching in the ditch, or anything, I literally topstitched around the edge of the binding.

bias-bound hem with topstitching

Bias-bound hem with classy topstitching

I did find the straps rather more difficult. I have used the safety pin idea before, and although it’s not complex, it’s definitely fiddly, so instead, I decided to use a technique I saw a while back in which you sew a length of string into the straps (sewing the rectangle right side together, catching the “head” of the string, leaving the tail of the string in between the folded edge, and the sewed seam poking out of the end of the rectangle). This did work well, apart from one thing – I’m not sure how to extract the string and make a tidy job of the sewed end.

Scruffy straps

Somewhat scruffy straps

This is the best I could do, so any suggestions appreciated! To be honest, although it’s not complex, I would probably use lengths of ribbon rather than the fabric tubes instead next time.

As for the shirring itself, I’m not sure whether it’s my machine, or the material, or my technique, or something else, but I did find that to use the shirring elastic in the bobbin I needed to ensure it was pretty much at full tension, which is contrary to the instructions. Any other way of doing it lead to very messy, not very tight shirring. Once I had discovered this though, I was well away. The material didn’t have a horizontal stripe, so I ensured that the previous run of shirring elastic stayed in the same position relative to the presser foot on my machine. This worked really well, and at the end, the shirring lined up on both side seams of the dress. Woohoo!

Nicely aligned shirring

Nicely aligned shirring

My daughter loves this dress, but she doesn’t really like the feel of the shirring on her skin, or the frilly top hem on her underarms. She now wears it over a tee-shirt, but I don’t mind; she’s wearing it, and given that it will grow with her to be a top or skirt I love it (even if it is bright pink!)