Monday, 21 June 2010

Return of my sewing mojo (sew-jo??) - Vogue 8555

The pink Burda dress horror was doing my head in - I decided to put it to one side and get on with something else. I was inspired by a recent trip to Joel's Fabrics up by Edgeware Road (more on that in another post - I am still recovering from the BEATING my AmEx took that day) and I bought a load of patterns (with the awesome Sew Today 50% discount - huzzah!) which got me all enthusiastic again.
One of my amazing purchases from Joel's was some gorgeous purple floral cotton. This stuff is cotton the likes of which I have never seen, it feels so smooth and almost silky - and as it was a bolt end (at two metres!) it was in the 50% off section (which was frankly just as well as I think at full price it was about £25 a metre - that place is NOT cheap)... then when some of the patterns I had ordered came at the weekend, I spotted Vogue 8555 which I thought would be fab for my lovely purple cotton. I am making view B (the yellow dress in the link). The dress is lined and I had some beige silky lining which is perfect. On Saturday I did a quick muslin of the bodice in size 10 which seemed generally ok though might need taking in at the centre back when I put the zipper in.

I have so far finished the bodice which looks good so far - I really like the pleats on the neckline and the sweetheart shape at the front is pretty cool. I am really keen to finish this dress as professionally as possible - and I wanted to understitch the lining to the seam allowances as per the instructions (which say to understitch 'as far as possible'). The annoying thing is that the instructions said to do that after I'd sewn the lining and the fabric together at the neckline and armholes - and the curves just wouldn't let me get the sewing machine all the way around. I couldn't just go part of the way and stop - it would look odd on the inside surely??

What is the best way to do this properly?? Advice please!

On the length, I was going to have it above the knee (the is the most flattering length on me) but now I'm thinking if I taper the skirt in towards the hem a bit more to make it a bit more pencil-y, it might be ok just over the knee... hmmmm. To be continued.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Funky pink noticeboard

So I made my noticeboard! It was acutally super easy and only took a couple of hours. I think
if I was doing it again (I might make another for my sister), I would be a little more accurate with the measuring and marking for the ribbons, and would als
o finish the back with some nice fabric and trim (I won't show you the back of this
one, but it's pretty agricultural!).

What I used:
  • piece of MDF: the stuff I used is 5mm thick which is not too heavy to hang but sturdy enough to withstand the stapling and other stuff without warping
  • cork tiles: these were surprisingly hard to find..! I found some self adhesive ones which were actually quite spenny (£11 for 4, each tile 12" square). They can be easily cut to size with a penknife. You need enough to cover your MDF.
  • batting: I got the cheap polyester fluffy stuff you buy from big rolls in John Lewis. Again, enough to cover your MDF.
  • fabric to cover: I chose a shocking pink cotton velvet. Lush!
  • Ribbon: to make the webby bit at the side to slip envelopes etc into. I think grossgrain is probably better as it won't stretch but will see how this stuff lasts - I used some satin ribbon I had in my stash.
  • Tools: a staple gun (awesome) - it was about £15 from Peter Jones, hammer, ruler, flathead screwdriver (for getting out staples if you make a mistake), and some upholstery pins (the kind you see nailed into the trim around chairs and stuff)

Step 1

I found it easiest to work on the floor for most of the tim
e. You need to start with your piece of MDF flat on the floor so it is easy to affix the cork.

Step 2

Glue on your cork tiles. The tiles I used were self adhesive but if you can't find those, you could just glue them I guess - someone in a DIY store would be able to recommend the right kind of adhesive for glueing cork to wood. Out of luck rather than by design, my bit of MDF was almost exactly two feet wide, so I didn't need to do too much
hacking of the cork... I don't think it really matters if you don't get the cork right up to the edge of the MDF as the whole lot gets covered by batting and fabric anyway.

Step 3

Cut your batting to size. I wanted to use batting so the noticeboard had a nice soft squishy quality - fabric straight on top of the cork would have been quite flat and also the batting fills out the fabric a bit I think. I was pretty haphazard about cutting the batting too - I don't think it needs to be super exact. I just put the batting on top of the cork (the two surfaces sort of stick together because the cork has sticky-out bits which snag on the fluffiness of the batting) and cut around it. I stapled the four corners to keep the batting in place while I was putting the fabric on.

Step 4

Stapling the fabric. Again I was pretty rough and ready here... though you probably want to keep the fabric and the MDF on the straight grain I guess. Make sure the fabric is as bit as the MDF with at least two or three inches to spare on each edge. I found it easiest to do one narrow end first - lay the fabric on top of the batting and then turn the whole thing over, and fold the narrow edge over onto the back of the MDF and staple. I stapled about every three inches.

Then do the other short end - pull the fabric so it is nice and taut but not overstretched. Then do the long sides in the same way.I folded the corners in the same way I would wrap a present, and put a staple over the corner folds. I was almost tempted to just leave it how it was without ribbon - looks pretty cool I think!

Step 5

I wanted one side of the notice board to have ribbon webbing on it for putting letters in and stuff. Draw a vertical line with chalk where you want the division to be (I actually just pinned a ribbon on for this as per the pic, but marking this line would have been better). To mark the lines for the ribbon, I drew lines about 2.5" apart at 45 degrees with chalk.

I then stapled the ribbons over the lines where they crossed the vertical line (mine were a bit long, but I trimmed them afterwards), and then on to the back of the MDF (being careful to let the ribbon follow the shape of the edge of the board). Once I had done all of the ribbons going one way, I did those going the other way using the same method. I then stapled a wider piece of ribbon over the vertical line (I only stapled this on the back, where the ribbon wrapped over the edge and on to the back of the MDF) and tapped in the upholstery pins where the ribbons crossed. You don't need to do this every place the ribbons cross especially if you want to leave bigger spaces for letters, but it is good to make sure the vertical piece of ribbon is secure. Et voila! I hung it using some little screw in hooks (I used two on the back of the noticeboard) with picture wire between them, then a good old fashioned nail in the wall. You could actually just leave it propped up on a desk though.

I think it's ok for a first attempt - but most of all, it will be useful!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Yet ANOTHER changearound in the sewing room...

This time, with the help of Ikea and my lovely husband, I have a lovely nice long sewing table, more drawer space and some cool shelves to put stuff on. It's so nice being able to really stretch out and have a clear space for sewing, and also to look out of the window onto the gardens!

I think I am going to make a
noticeboard to hang to the right of my new table, so I can pin up ideas and pictures and pattern instructions and stuff. I have got a piece of MDF all ready to go, and some self adhesive cork tiles, some batting and some jazzy pink cotton velvet to cover it. Not exactly sure how it will turn out, so watch this space!

Sunday, 6 June 2010


I have been sewing - but not much posting! I made a start on Burda 113 from the 8/2009 edition in some lovely silk. I have so far almost finished the top half - I used some of the gorgeous cerise silk I got on Goldhawk Road a few weeks ago. Frustratingly though, I must have added on too much seam allowance at the bottom of the back, because after sewing the side seams I realised that there is too much fabric i the back armhole - you might just be able to see from the pic how there is too much floatiness going on in the back of the sleeves? Also, again, REALLY frustratingly, I must have done something wrong on the ruched front self facing because it wasn't long enough to actually make a self facing for the inside front, so the seam is on the neckline. For some stupid reason, I sewed this with a zig zag stitch, which you can see peeking through the fabric.

So annoyed. Basically something must have went awry when I was copying the pattern.

Not sure the best way to fix this stuff - for the front perhaps I unpick the zig zag seam, and maybe sew another bit of the cerise silk long enough to fold to the inside and make the self facing? Notice how from the front the bottom edge is curved - I think it is supposed to be straight so maybe I have more fabric I can pull up and wrap over to form the self facing...? Another issue I think is that the silk is heavy so it pulls the inside lining up where the self facing is supposed to be (does that make sense?) - maybe once the lining is sewed at the waist it will be a bit better.
For the sleeve, think I am going to have to unpick the side seams and sew them again. Annoying. Any other ideas?? Have to say, totally NOT loving the brevity of the Burda instructions... next project is going to be from a PROPER PATTERN with, like, PAGES of instructions....

BTW, apart from these miscellaneous disasters, this silk is a JOY to sew with. So heavy and feels so lovely!
Now to find my seam ripper.....