Whatever Happened to Violet?

Isn’t it a great feeling when something turns out better than expected? You just want to wear it at every opportunity? Sadly, this dress isn’t one of them!! It’s the Violet by Bluegingerdoll, that I was playing with earlier in the year. I found the Bonnie with the Violet pencil skirt was a winning combination for me. The gathered sleeve head, the waistband, the slinky pencil skirt…. violetNonetheless, I was keen to finish the Violet as intended. I’d run out of this fantastic snakeskin ponte, so decided to try out a contrast skirt in navy ponte from Minerva Crafts. There’s not a whole lot to say about construction: the instructions were easy to follow. I wore this dress happily, but having seen the photos I guess the shape just doesn’t suit me. This isn’t a blog for moaning about body shape, etc. So that’s it. No more to say. Violet is now leaving the building!!

UPDATE: Violet has been rehomed to the Cancer Research shop in Streatham!

Bonnies by the Bunch!

Hey there! How have you been? Getting withdrawal symptoms after the end of series 3 GBSB?! Sewing has forced it’s way up to the top of my to-do list this week –  a cheeky day off work spent on Goldhawk Road, the cutting out of my long-awaited Grainline Archer, and part 1 of the Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers class. Part two is next week, and i literally cannot wait to finish my lurid red floral party pants. I’ve tried on one leg so far (admittedly not the best way to gauge fit) and I think there’s more work to be done to avoid the ‘jodhpur’ look.

lace bonnieBut, for your sewing pleasure today, I bring you a pair of Bonnies! I wrote plenty here of how much I loved this pattern by Bluegingerdoll. My beloved snakeskin version has become a wardrobe staple. I bought another metre of ponte roma from eBay, ensuring that the colour would work with my white-threaded overlocker (note to self: I really need to force myself to learn to re-thread this thing!).

This time around I added 1.5″ to the bodice length to cover a little more of my modesty. It retains the cropped look, but I still have to wear a vest under it. I loved it so much that I made another lengthened one from some gorgeous striped cotton knit from The Cloth House purchased with more birthday vouchers. Gosh, I was spoiled this year! Of all the things I have made this year, I am most pleased with my Bonnies.

Bluegingerdoll BonnieI am most definitely a repeat sewist – if I like it, I make it over and over again. Along with three Bonnies I’ve made four Monetas (spots, pink, snake, black) and three Mathildes (butterflies, chambray, Liberty lawn). Are you a thrifty sewist, making the most of your favourite patterns, or are you seduced by new patterns? What are your favourite go-to patterns to revamp?

kanervaI’ll leave you with one of my one-offs: the Named Patterns Kanerva top that nearly didn’t fit! Happy weekend!

Violet and Bonnie do Snakeskin Together

Crumbs! I’m in a deadly stranglehold grip of python print! I really can’t get enough of this fabric. As I mentioned before, it’s an eBay steal at £3.49 per metre for your finest synthetic ponte knit. It seems to be out of stock now, but there’s a gorgeous charcoal version here. I learned a valuable lesson with this stuff. I usually buy my fabrics by feel of hand, and rarely buy anything synthetic. This means that I tend to discount fabrics even if I really like the print. Of late, I have been increasingly envious of certain bloggers’ fabulous knit prints, and wondered why I have found it so hard to come up with something equally fabulous. So I decided to experiment by buying online so the catchy/scratchy hand-feel doesn’t put me off. Result!

Bluegingerdoll Bonnie & VioletAs you may recall, I had fallen hard and fast for my python print Bonnie. So much so that I rushed headlong into a Bluegingerdoll Violet dress version, making a beeline for the pencil skirt. So far, so good. Only thing was, I didn’t really like the bodice. Worn with the pencil skirt pinned in place, I didn’t find the fit very flattering.  Had I opted for the flared skirt I’m sure it would have been a different story.

Bluegingerdoll Bonnie & VioletSo enamoured of my Bonnie was I, that I fancied a mate for her. I was equally smitten with my new python pencil skirt, sans Violet bodice! I tried the pair on together and fell in love with this double act.  The looser fit of the Bonnie top with it’s gathered sleeveheads, plus the wide waistband was more flattering to my curves. I’m not the only one to have mixed and matched Bluegingerdoll patterns. Here’s a gorgeous version of a ‘FrankenBonnie’ by Idle Fancy. There’s something very liberating about taking the best parts of favourite patterns and remodelling them. This is a first for me. My growing sense of confidence with the overlocker is starting to pay off.

I had decided not to add a waistband to my new skirt, but added stretchy clear plastic tape to stabilise it while I made my mind up. I wore the skirt with a plain black jumper and loved it! How was I to get the best of both worlds for my snakeskin separates? I just couldn’t bear to attach them both permanently. So, the version you can see has the Violet skirt safety pinned to the underside of the Bonnie waistband. I can still detach the pair when double python just seems too much. But for now, they’re inseparable!

Bonnie does Snakeskin

I am trying to slow down, I really am! But when the perfect fabric meets the perfect pattern, sewing alchemy happens and you’re powerless. I bought this AMAZING blue python print ponte on eBay for a bargainous £3.45 per metre in preparation for my first foray into sewing knits with my overlocker. I had been cyber-stalking a number of gorgeous Bluegingerdoll Bonnies: my absolute faves were courtesy of Handmade Jane, Heather B, A Stitching Odyssey, and Make Sew Do.  Despite loving Bonnie, I fully intended to make a Bluegingerdoll Violet dress first, which I duly cut out, but last-minute overlocking nerves resulted in a light-bulb moment: I could make a Bonnie with the remnants before I tackle the dress. And my new favourite garment was born! It ticks all of my current sewing aspirations: it’s casual, modern everyday wear and quick to make. I love it! Bluegingerdoll BonnieI chose view B – the cropped sweater version, but with long sleeves and a boat neckline. I was particularly excited to be supporting a pattern company that bases its patterns on my bust size as the norm – a D cup. Choosing ponte as my first knit was a good call. It was stable and behaved well; no slipping around and stretching out of shape. I had a bit of a practice-run on some scraps. It all went swimmingly so I got stuck in on the waistband. Cue first incident of fabric being attacked by the blade. Thankfully, it wasn’t fatal, but a good reminder to keep control of both layers of fabric at all times. Note to self: I really should watch the instructional DVD. On the back shoulders I used stay tape to affix the clear plastic stretch tape, then used the overlocker to attach it. Bluegingerdoll BonnieI am always a big fan of a gathered sleeve-head, and this pattern didn’t disappoint. It’s one of those optical illusions that slims down the rest of your body, creating extra waistline. I sewed gather-stitches on the sleeve-head and then overlocked the two sections together. The gather stitches were conveniently trimmed off by the blade. The whole top was made with the overlocker, except from the neckline and sleeve hems, which I zig-zagged on the sewing machine. It was so quick to make: it probably took me around an hour (not including cutting) to make, with my two small people doing colouring-in either side of me. There was a reason why I sneakily suggested a Crafternoon! Bluegingerdoll BonnieI’ve got a couple more Bonnies lined up as soon as I’ve got a spare hour. I cut a straight size 12 for this version. The only modification I’d make for the next one is to lengthen the bodice by 1″ or so. I’m no Amazon, but the length of this top is verging on the indecent. In the real world I will be wearing this with a long-length vest underneath to avoid embarrassing and unsightly muffin-top revealage.  I literally cannot wait to get going on the Violet dress. I don’t think all-over python is too much, do you?! Bluegingerdoll Bonnie

Donna Karan makes it to the party

Seven weeks of procrastinating; seven hours of sewing!  I was thrilled to be picked by Beth of SunnyGal Studio Sewing and be the recipient of her pattern whispering. I wanted to do her, and myself, proud with a special make for my special night. So here she is…..

V1342

The pattern is marked as ‘difficult’. To be honest, I didn’t think it was too bad, or at least not as bad as I was expecting. What’s tricky is that the outer dress is made from one gigantic pattern piece, with a smaller piece attached. Cutting and marking took time as the all of the gathers, pleats and drapes needed to be marked. It was hard to fathom the construction at first, but once I got going it wasn’t too bad. I did struggle with my hungry sewing machine munching the fabric now and then. As it’s a one-off occasion dress I tried not to worry too much about construction. So you could say she’s a bit of an artist’s impression!

V1342

That said, I made an early mistake when attached the front right sleeve piece. But, as it’s only two pieces sewn together, that was quite a significant error. I tried to rectify it, with mixed results: the ruching no longer draped elegantly across the bust. As you can see, it’s leaving me a little lop-sided! Nevertheless, I persevered. I matched all the other marks and ended up with a working dress. The fabric (which I love) drapes beautifully, and has been quite kind to the numerous minor mistakes. Once I attached the power-mesh lining, the whole thing draped into place. It is, however, rather less elegant on the inside -no close-up shots today!

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This dress is the last sewing project of the year, marking a real milestone in sewing achievements. It’s time to let the Janome cool off over the festive season. And the party was a blast, thanks for asking. Life begins…. x

Meeting Sewists & Bloggers In Real Life, oh and another Moneta

Colette Patterns Moneta

Last weekend I did something a little out of character. I left my house with the sole purpose of meeting people I’d only ever read about on the internet. Don’t get me wrong; I’m no stalker. I’m just a girl who loves to sew clothes! It’s part of my life these days. But it’s a solitary hobby, and our human condition requires us to seek out like-minded folk with whom to share our interests. So I did!

The meet-up was in honour of Lauren LLadybird’s visit to London. As well as Lauren, there were a number of other bloggers present who have provided so much inspiration and, frankly, good sewing company since I discovered the sewing blogosphere. Slightly star-struck as a meet-up newbie, I felt like I was rubbing shoulders with internet royalty. To the rest of the world we were just a noisy gaggle of shoppers.  I wasn’t sure how communal fabric shopping would work in practice, but it turned out to be more expensive than the solitary version! And so much chatting… I can’t tell you how exhilarating it was to strike up conversations with total strangers (whether I’d stalked their blogs or not). Within minutes we were scrutinising each others’ outfits, fondling fabric, examining seams, trading tips.

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I had to leave early so missed out on the post-shopping refreshments and gossip session, but not before I’d made a few friends and purchases. I tend not to buy fabric without a project in mind. Of late, I have also been giving lots of thought as to what kinds of garments I want to make. I embarked on this sewing journey to fill the gaps in my wardrobe with clothes I love and would not find or afford in high street shops. To date I’ve veered towards outfits that I wear for work, for example my Emery Dress. These patterns tend to be more exciting and eye-catching, and frankly more interesting to make and write about than wardrobe staples. But I want to increase the handmade garments I can wear in my leisure time too. New Year’s Resolution alert!

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Inspired by fellow sewist Rachel’s navy blue corduroy Grainline Moss mini skirt, I had to get myself some dark blue cord in A-One Fabrics. My favourite Goldhawk Road shop, Classic Textiles, didn’t disappoint either. I left with a few metres of blue cotton chambray with a Grainline Archer shirt with gathered back detail in mind. I also scored some fabulous elephant print cotton lawn and floral poplin for my future foray into children’s sewing. The final purchases were totally gratuitous: African Wax Prints in cherries on navy, and crazy cerise. I didn’t need either but the group thing was working its magic and 5.5m of Wax Print for £12 seemed like an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Colette Patterns Moneta

On the sewing front, I have been making slow progress with the birthday frock. For some reason I’m making a real meal out of this one. Googling pattern reviews has been akin to looking up medical symptoms: you begin to fear the worst. The spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down was the arrival of my latest Moneta. I don’t know how it happened! One minute I was busily preparing pattern pieces for the Vogue 1342, and the next I had cut out a Moneta in black jersey that I’d bought earlier in the summer. I am thrilled with this make. It was straightforward and provided almost instant gratification. It fits beautifully, and as it’s a black longer-sleeved version it’s both seasonally appropriate and stylish. I love it! Happy sewing!!

Colette Patterns Moneta

Donna Karan Says It’s PARTY TIME!

Vogue 1342 dress

Regular readers may recall that I won the Pattern Whisperer lottery a few weeks ago! Beth of SunnyGal Studio Sewing kindly posted some suggestions for a perfect dress for my forthcoming birthday party.

I am excited to report that I have now purchased the Pattern Whisperer’s number one suggestion: the Donna Karan for Vogue (V1342). I’m busy selecting fabrics at the moment before I get my head down and start sewing.

Vogue 1342 drawing

I have to say I’m a little intimidated by this dress. It’s classified as an ‘Advanced’ pattern. I thought I was up to the challenge, but going by my recent balls-up on a beginners’ pattern (the gorgeous Colette Patterns’ Dahlia), I’m beginning to wonder if I might be over-stretching myself. I’ve had a browse of the blogosphere and the only reviews I’ve found suggest it’s not the most straightforward pattern to follow. Have a look at this gorgeous peach version by Bloom’s Endless Summer. Clio & Phineas also posted a review here. Hmmm. I’m trying not to be intimidated. But hey, Beth believes in me, and that’s half the battle. I guess the worst case scenario would see me being stapled into this dress pre-party. I just hope I look more ‘Hot Mama’ than ‘Hot Dog’!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some serious sewing to be getting on with. I won’t be posting the finished article until after it’s been covered in champagne bubbles!