Monday, 31 December 2012

Fait Accompli

Isn't it a treat to have a few days of nothing to do but sew? The Christmas rush is over and the New Year has not yet begun, still off work and there is a bit of respite in the middle. I'm reading that many of you use this time to sew fanatically - and I haven't been the exception. Nice to see I'm in good company.

I had a few things to finish up (actually start and finish) but more on that for another day - before settling down and returning to the infinite project of the Chanel jacket and its teeny-tiny hand sewing construction. I have a plan that I want to wear this very soon and with a deadline looming - NYE - I had to finish it.

The body of the jacket was completed just needed sleeves - two the same. All the usual stuff here, so I won't bore you with intricate details - two working button holes at the edge, three piece sleeves, quilted onto the lining and then put the machine away and bring out the needle and thread. Same ribbon and trim attached by hand around the cuff and the lining slip stitched in place.

Tell me, when you are making sleeves do you finish one and then start the other? Or do you do the same bits on each simultaneously?
In this case I worked on one sleeve at a time, completing one before doing it all over again on the other.

Long story short - sleeves done. Machined into the arm scythe after basting and trying on a million times and then the lining hand stitched on the inside to hide all the raw edges.

Because so much work has already gone into the body of the jacket - there are only some little finishing touches to be done at this stage.
Label sewn in, chain for weight and tradition attached at the hemline, buttons sewn on the front. Following Ann Rowley's advice on SG the button stitches do not come through the lining - it remains free.

I opted for silver chain and buttons instead of gold as it really does go better with the navy/black.

I choose a silver lion's head - Coco herself used the lion's head as a symbol of the Chanel brand. I don't have the $188 per button to spend on the originals, so I was very happy to find mine in the local fabric shop considerably cheaper than that.

 This jacket is also item number 1 from my SWAP 2013 - one down only 10 matching/coordinating items to go. At least it's a start - and a finish!

There were times when I though it would never be finished; I sometimes dreaded the apparently endless handsewing; I was often overwhelmed with the amount of work involved - now that it is done - I want another one! I love this style - the bracelet length sleeves, the boxy yet fitted shape, the easy throw on and comfortable to wear, the goes-with-anything style.

You want to see this on, don't you?

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Thanks to SG (And RuthieK)

Holiday Clothes Part 1

I've read, followed and took gratuitous advice over the years from Stitchers' Guild but only recently have I started to join in, share and reply. There is an absolutely overwhelming amount of information on this sewing forum but the links, personal communication and support have been invaluable recently - mostly from Ann Rowley's Chanel jacket make. However, RuthieK started a new thread the other day about boiled wool and it reminded me about a dress I made for Christmas two years ago - before I started blogging. I can't, therefore, display "work in progress" pics but I can show you the final item and a few details. I didn't wear this dress at all last year, so bringing it out again this year almost made it feel like new.
Fabric is not quite white but a pale ivory and I was concerned that it was too thick for a dress preferring to be made into a coat or jacket. But for a winter dress it turned out fine.  The boiled wool was purchased at my local fabric shop - Craftswoman Fabrics - and cost an arm and an leg per metre! There's 2m used here. 

The pattern, I think, is McCall's 2401 - an easy, very basic dress with neck and sleeve variations. I wanted the v.expensive fabric to do the talking here, not the design. I like this simple dress as it has no cut-in-half waistline and can be as fitted or relaxed as you want. I made the V neck style but lengthened sleeves to 3/4 length.

Have I told you how much I love 3/4 sleeves? Shows off bangles and bling; don't have to push up when washing dishes and covers the upper arm - perfect in my book.

When making this dress, I seem to remember that it kept growing as I was sewing. I darted the fronts and back and then made bigger darts. With a bulky fabric, such big darts were not not going to be as svelte as I had envisaged. To over come the bulk, I sliced the darts open to within a hair's breadth of the ends and then topstitched the excess flat. This sort of created a design feature, while doing what I really wanted - smooth lines.

Boiled wool doesn't fray or unravel - a blessing but it does seem to stretch while working it. The neckline gapped and sagged when I kept trying the dress on, so there was nothing left to do but make more darts. I added four along the back edge, two long and two short and seemed to do the trick. If I remember correctly, there wasn't that much to take in, just enough to make the fit better.
The dress is fully lined in a slightly stretchy lining. For such a bulky fabric, it was see-through when worn and I still wear a slip underneath too.

Mince pie, anyone? (My Mum made these ones!)
The dress is still growing BTW. I love my food as evidenced by my womanly figure, and the frock fully accommodated my increasing midriff as the day progressed.

On the actual day - Christmas Day this year that is, I seem to remember more of this....

 .... and in reality, I think this is how I looked most of the day - no-one saw the dress until 7.00pm! And by then they were all dozing and sated and didn't really care.

 Come to that, neither did I.

Friday, 28 December 2012

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and the Unfinished

This is a lovely idea that I picked up from Prttynpnk who picked it up from Crafting a Rainbow: it consists of your top 5 things from this year.
  • Top 5 Favourite Creations (most worn, or most loved!)
  • Top 5 Sewing Fails (UFOs, worn once, or complete disasters!) 
  • Top 5 Lessons Learned (either practical tricks and techniques, or life lessons) 
  • Top 5 Blogs and Bloggers that Inspire
  • Top 5 Goals for the New Year 

Let's start with the good news first and the top 5 of 2012. A mix between most proud, most admired and most worn.

The Watermelon Suit - inspired by Jackie O and Chanel

                                                                           Vogue Vintage suit
Hacking Jacket

OK, so there were 6.

Now for the bad! Mostly really bad sewing....

Test run of the Three Bears T-shirt - this is the Daddy
 Traced Burda cardigan pattern and the fronts cut off grain

 Rachel Comey fav top of all time made in stiff cotton and reminds me more of a set of scrubs than a floaty casual top. Never blogged about - wait, not even talked about!

Donna Karan jersey top. I'm almost sure I missed some tailor's tacks in this but the sleeves would just not sit like the picture on the envelope.

First pair of knickers and bra - absolutely no close up pics as the stitching is SO bad.

And now for the ugly. Things that just didn't suit me and should never have been sewn.

Yeti coat - now in a friend's dressing-up box

 Stepford Wives top - really! So not me at all - in style and attitude

Burda shift dress that was more like a prisoner smock

The Pattern Company Jigsaw dress. A lovely dress but this fabric was too stiff - might try again next summer.

 And the unfinished... yes the leather pants are still sitting around somewhere waiting to be completed (if ever).

All in all, I think there are many more good than bad and many lessons learned along the way. Not a bad year in retrospect.

Thanks again for your support and encouragement, your ideas and inspiration: keep them coming in 2013 seeing as the world didn't end and we have another 12 months of sewing until this time next year!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Advancement a la Chanel

Progress has been made! Hurray!

Pockets are on, so now I turn my attention to the trim and braid for the main body of the jacket - the fronts and around the neck.

I'm using a black polyester ribbon that has to be steamed into a curve for the neckline. Gathered on the inside edge with hand stitches to pull it into a curve and pinned out onto the ironing board using the template that comes with the pattern - no amount of stream, pressing, effort or swearing is going to make this ribbon shrink.

So I've ended up with bubbles and wrinkles but I'm hoping when the trim is sewn on it will hide them all.
This unshaped ribbon is then hand sewn 5/8" all the way around the neckline and fronts of the jacket.
There - trim added and hides the wonky grosgrain ribbon. Result!

More hand sewing still to be done and that's for the shaping of the jacket. It is a very boxy shape but there's a neat little trick with tiny hand sewn darts in the lining and then shrinking the shell fabric to fit. this technique makes the lining smaller than the jacket so the tweed is then shrunk to match.

Look at the difference it makes to the waistline.
 Six teeny-weaney darts, four at the back and two at the front, really no more than 3mm each, hours spent steaming and pressing and now there is a waist. Impressive.

Next, on to the sleeves.....but that may have to wait until after Christmas.

Preparations for Christmas are almost complete; there are a lot of services to go to in the next few days and I'm sure there will be choir robes to be hemmed and buttons to be replaced.

My newest scar is located between my shoulder blades and is healing nicely; the Superwoman scar on my leg still hurts but is also healed and quite spectacular to behold. Back to derm on 11th Jan for another review and then perhaps we can get on with life as we know it. Once again, thank you all for your good wishes for a speedy recovery - I really appreciate your kind thoughts.


Monday, 17 December 2012

Thank You Ladies

I've been very lax recently in my blog reading and commenting and replying - please forgive me - but you all know this time of year can be hectic.

So this post is a cover-all-catch-up to try and make up for my tardiness of late.


Let's start off with a big thank you for all your thoughts for the next round of surgery. Really, it brings tears to my eyes and a lovely warm glow in my heart to read your good wishes to me.


Another big thank you goes to two special ladies - Sarah and Pauline. Both of these inspiring sewists nominated me for One Lovely Blog / The Very Inspiring Blog Award. Wow - two in one week!

The rules of this award are as follows:

Thank the person who nominated you 
Add The One Lovely Blog Award The Very Inspiring Blogger Award to your post.

Share 7 things about yourself. 
Pass the award on to 10 nominees.
Include this set of rules. 
Inform your nominees by posting a comment on their blogs.

Numbers 1 & 2 completed. Now on to number 3...7 things about myself - are you really that interested?
1. I live in the the same house we bought when we got married - we have done three building extensions in 18 years.
2. I met my husband at a wedding: my sister had snuck into the dining room and moved all the name places around on out table so she could sit beside someone she knew and DH and I ended up sitting opposite each other.
3. I thought he was funny; he thought I was sexy (of course!)
4. I get up early, even on days off but I love to doze in the afternoons when I can.
5. I still think I'm 19 but the image in the mirror isn't reflecting this these days =/
6. I punctuate fully and correctly spell all my text messages.
7. I'd love to be able to knit properly but my head can't keep count of the rows and stitches.
Now for the next recipients. This is difficult, as there are so many good sewists and bloggers around. I'm making a smaller than 10 selection but they are good ones.

Sally from While I do the selfish sewing only for myself thing, Sally sews for everyone except herself!

Mrs Mole at When I was lying in my sick bed a few weeks ago, this lady kept me in stitches (ha ha) at the antics in her alteration and sewing boudoir.

Elizabeth, AKA the Fabulous Dr E's Fabulous Blog, Even though she has just had new baby and is moving to another country and already has a 5 year old she still sews and has a wicked sense of humour! Incredible.

Debra from Sew What One sexy lady who is fearless when it comes to drafting patterns and making clothes. 

Sandra, who thinks we help her but really she is the inspiration She knits, sews, crochets, crafts and probably does a million other things too. Sandra is relatively new to the blog world but it's obvious she is not new to sewing.

Jo Lynn who also claims to be newish to sewing but this girl has dived in head first And she rides motorbikes - what's not to like?

OK - take a look through these inspiring blogs for more inspiration, sheer awesomeness and a few laughs too. 
Another THANK YOU 3 to the above sewers - for making my life richer.
I'm off to tell all the above that they now have this award and they can pass it on to their own inspirational sewists.
Happy Sewing ......

Saturday, 15 December 2012


While slogging through the Chanel jacket, my sewing machine was whinging that she wasn't being used.

What's the point in buying me if you are intending to hand sew everything?
Don't leave me lying on the floor getting covered in bits of thread and frayed boucle tweed! 
That iron is more important to you than I am!
Please use me. I need to feel needed and loved.
If you don't start using me for sewing instead of a foot rest I'm going to blow my bulb!

You know the sort of thing: first they start with the guilt thing, progressing swiftly on to the helpless/ pity scenario and when all else fails, the threats!

I'm a sucker for psychological torment and gave in.

Tweenies - BBC
Inbetweeners - C4
Leaving school
I'm gearing up for SWAP 13 to start just after Christmas; the fabrics are mostly in and the patterns mostly chosen and at least the Chanel is started but weeks away from completion. I've yet more surgery scheduled for the 18th Dec and the doctor told me to have EVERYTHING done for Christmas before this date. I need to sort out a menu, cooking schedule, think about and then buy presents, write cards etc etc etc. and I've left myself one week in which to complete it all! So what does a sewist under pressure do? Why, she goes sewing! And she sews something quick, easy and classifies it as an "Inbetween Project" - not really planned sewing, not intentional - sort of just happens sewing, and it's not a major catastrophe if it doesn't work out.

Bring out the favourite pattern of the year (quite possibly, of any year), Vogue 1247 dig out those little 0.8 and 0.9m of leftovers and put them to good use.

Machine is happy 'cause she's being used and loved and needed and wanted etc. Stash box is happy 'cause those bits that have been hanging around for 2 years or more are finally being sewn. I'm happy 'cause I can do a quick sew and get a new skirt to wear!

This is a real departure from the norm for me - above the knee skirts! 

I was inspired by Art Attack and bought some fancy coloured tights. Burnt orange with navy is slightly strange, but add a colour coordinated scarf, a bangle and all of a sudden it works.

Skirt - navy cotton twill, lengthened 3"
Raw edges inside just zigzagged, not bias bound as per instructions and fits like a glove.

And it doesn't stop there -  While sorting through the stash box I came across some other little bits that I'm now glad I kept because I got two more skirts. 

This fabric was left over from a wrap skirt and top I made about 2 years ago. That skirt never got a lot of wear but I reckon this one will - and I've the added bonus of having a top to match already made.

It is a fairly substanial cotton check in a soft grey paired with teal tights this time. The problem with wearing tights and unlined skirts is the bunching up when you walk. So also uncovered from the stash box were even tinier scraps of lining - kept ostensibly for making pockets. Cut one piece for the lower front and two for the lower back and sew these as you would an underlining - as one. The pockets hang over the top as you can see but it certainly stops the skirt from clinging to your legs and adds an extra layer for cold winter days.

And just to be finished this weekend is an olive green wool with fine orange stripe lined in bright red. this is fabric left over from a pair of Clovers made about this time last year.

I just love sewing stuff.