The Twitter Dress – finally!

Well, wasn’t this just a project that went on and on and on and on?

Pattern: Colette Patterns‘ Pastille (adapted)
Time taken: TOO BLOODY LONG
Fabric: Turquoise cotton fabric plus quilting cotton for bodice
Details: Wonky embroidered bird, lapped zipper, princess seams.

As I mentioned in my last post, setting myself a deadline really helped me get this project done eventually. It was a dress which started out with the best of intentions, inspired by a pair of earrings resembling the Twitter logo. The original dress used a vintage pattern I gave away earlier this year and I thought it would all be so easy because there were so few pattern pieces.

Except that didn’t quite work out and I was left wondering what on earth I should do with a dress which wouldn’t look out of place on the operating table. Enter Pastille, a pattern I’d originally pictured in this colour.

Because of the way the original bodice was cut, I had to make some adjustments to the front bodice, namely changing darts on the front to princess seams so I’d have separate pieces to work with. I also did a swayback adjustment because I knew my muslin of this pattern gaped a lot at the zipper.

Then it was a seemingly endless process of basting and unpicking as I tried to get the fit just right on the bodice. At first, the front stuck out at the armpits because I hadn’t taken enough out to accommodate the extra seams. I remedied this by taking half an inch off the shoulders and a little extra off the princess seams. It’s by no means perfect, but it’s the best fit I’ve managed in a garment yet.

Well, you all know how I feel about the embroidery, but I don’t think it was too shabby for a first attempt.

Unfortunately I didn’t have enough fabric to create the cool pleated effect on the skirt. I initially thought of adding a black band, but I thought it would a bit naff.

To finish, I added a lapped centre zipper because, while they’re certainly extra effort, I’m a big fan of how it keeps everything nicely hidden. Especially useful when you don’t actually have the right colour zipper to hand…

All that was left to add was a snippet of a ribbon I got free with Mollie Makes magazine a couple of months ago. I think it adds a nice touch, no?

This pattern, by the way, save for the back piece, is absolutely fantastic. I’ve honestly never made anything where all the darts lined up so perfectly and everything (save for the bits I had to change because of fabric limitations) went very smoothly. It’s a testament to how well-designed the Colette Patterns’ range is.

But, more than anything… I’M SO GLAD IT’S OVER. Finally, I can move on to something else! I’m planning to do a bit of experimentation with dye this weekend, but my next proper project will be part of the Peony sewalong.

In fact, I have another deadline for this one. Oh, and it’s a biggie.

In November, I’ll actually be in the Guardian’s offices for the Guardian Student Media Awards, because I only went and got nominated!!! (I’ve been keeping this under my hat for what feels like an eternity…) I can’t think of anything better than to show up in something I’ve made myself as part of a digital sewalong.

Who else is taking part? I’m properly excited!

Stitching to deadline – let’s get this dress done!

I like to think I can “do” deadlines. There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline of a big deadline inching closer and closer by every second.

At least if you make a mistake in an article, you can get it corrected in a matter of seconds once you’ve spotted it. But say you end up sewing something topsy turvy, you’re guaranteed to have a solid half hour of unpicking on your hands – and that’s only if you were lucky enough to make a mistake on the bodice.

This is partly why the Twitter dress has taken me so long to get done. But with the Wales Blog Awards presentation coming up this week, I really wanted to get the dress done so I’d have a me-made dress for the evening – it would be a bit embarrassing if I wore anything else, wouldn’t it?

Making progress!

I don’t know what it is about an imposing deadline, but I managed to get most of the dress done last night! A lot of what I have left now is hand-sewing, which I can do on the train back to Cardiff tomorrow evening.

How satisfying! Do you perform well under deadlines?

And now for something different… my first time with embroidery

If there’s one thing I’m terrible at when it comes to sewing, it’s taking risks.

But, as you all know, when it comes to the Twitter dress, one hell of a risk was needed to try and salvage this project. Not to mention, quite honestly, I am really really BORED of this garment now.

Enter embroidery, a craft I’ve never really had a go at and probably should have practiced a bit more before getting my brand-new embroidery needles stuck in – but this is risk-taking sewing here. EXTREME stuff, I’m telling you.

Embroidery requires a hoop to keep the fabric taut while you’re stitching along, desperately praying everything won’t come out all wonky. I was half tempted to go without, but, according to Sublime Stitching, the hoop is an integral part of the ULTIMATE EMBROIDERY KIT and being as this was EXTREME RISK-TAKING TIME, it just wouldn’t be the same without the hoop now would it?

I had planned to buy my ULTIMATE EMBROIDERY KIT from the lovely Sublime Stitching, but, er, I got impatient and toddled along to a lovely craft shop in Guildford called Pandora instead, where I acquired some stitchery goodness.

Keeping my Twittery theme in mind, I asked a good friend of mine to doodle me a  swallow. I get enough stick for having earrings with a passing resemblance to the Twitter logo (especially considering how much I’m on there), I couldn’t quite face actually embroidering it onto a dress. Isn’t it a nice design though?

Now, you’d think the sensible thing to do would be to practice, practice, practice first on the oodles of scrap fabric I have. Psht. Whatever. EXTREME RISK-TAKING has no time for piddly practice. This project needs moving along, pronto!

I sheepishly admit I wish I’d done a bit of practice now. It’s not that it looks too bad, it’s just a bit… wonky. Poor wonky bird. It had such high hopes, coming from a lovely design, but my inexperienced embroidery hands just got a bit over-excited and everything went all over the place. I could take it out, I suppose, but you’re assuming I can be bothered.

Getting stuck in couldn’t have been easier, thanks again to Sublime Stitching. Have you seen the tutorials available on the site? They’re fantastic, really clear and excellent for beginners. If I get more into embroidery, perhaps a cheeky book order is on the cards.

This isn’t even the half of why the Twitter dress is taking me so bloody long. I wish I could promise you an adventure-filled sewing tale full of pattern-slashing and skilful adjustments but it’s more a case of me sitting in a half-sewn muslin cheering on whoever was doing some sporting stuff on the telly.

It’s grit my teeth time to get it done now. The embroidery, while wonky, was actually pretty fun because it was something different. Now it’s back to the sewing grindstone. Sigh.

Do you ever get bored of your projects because they’re taking so long? Sometimes I wish the sewing fairy would come to visit and I’ll come home to find everything done, seam finishes and all…

2011’s Inspirational Makes – as chosen by you!

I received some lovely submissions for 2011’s inspirational makes! You’ve been really busy this year haven’t you?

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Without further ado, here are Seamless readers’ inspirational makes from 2011 (in no particular order):

Check out Adri H’s Bombshell Dress! Isn’t it amazing? Gertie’s online class is clearly worth taking if these are the results. What I really loved was how Adri blogged the construction of the dress, so you can see just how much detail has gone into it. It’s clearly paid off – it fits her like a glove and the diamond brooch is an elegant touch. Adri said: “It’s an evening dress with a structured bodice, lots of couture techniques and an overall sewing adventure.” The Bombshell Dress is most definitely on my sewing list after seeing this incarnation of it!

image from The Wardrobe Reimagined

Ali was nominated by Minnado: “I was inspired by Ali’s use of existing jeans and a jacket to create her own pattern pieces and wardrobe staples.” Ali completed quite the feat this year by accurately making copies of not only a J Crew jacket but also a pair of jeans from Gap! Not to mention she did it from working out her own pattern for both garments. It just goes to show, who needs the labels when you have your sewing machine?

Minnado has been pretty busy too, sewing and refashioning a whole maternity capsule wardrobe for herself. In total, it cost her a mere £32 for her entire maternity wardrobe. She said: “It has meant I have busted out a lot of stash fabric and I have learnt that it is a myth that you have to buy maternity clothes, and need to spend lots of money.” Cost-effective, practical and stylish.

Molly made this fantastic coat for her sister, nicknamed the Sith coat. Possibly the coolest name ever? Perhaps only after her sister’s, who chose Pedro as her online moniker. She clearly enjoys wearing this coat and who can blame her? I can’t decide what I like best – the epic hood or the hipster-style lining. Bravo!

Charlotte whipped up this beauty from a V and A pattern found here! It’s retro-tastic and a great example of how reproductions of vintage patterns should be done. Isn’t the floral fabric just beautiful? Charlotte also wore it to the Sew Weekly UK meetup earlier this year and she looked fantastic!

Charlotte also nominated Sew Weekly contributor Debi for her response to the community’s Sewing Through the Decades challenge. Debi’s blog is well-worth a look, as she consistently comes up trumps with her creations. Charlotte said: “This 1933 outfit made me gasp out loud the first time I saw it. To be honest she has made lots more as well that I just love, but this is my favourite.” I agree with Charlotte, Debi’s creations are consistently inspirational – in fact, she’s just posted her own year in review, featuring a whopping 58 outfits!

Sometimes, the simplest silhouettes are the most effective, as Barbara shows with her 1950’s dress. Can you believe this is made from a vintage sheet? I think the little touches like the piping detail really makes this dress special. Barbara said: “I really got into the sew-mo during the second half of 2011. I think one of my best pieces was made out of a thrifted sheet that I repurposed into an adorable 50′s dress. Having one of my talented daughters take the pictures, made for a very pleasing set of pics.”

Last, but most certainly not least, is this very unique way of RSVPing a wedding invitation from Kirsty of The Leopard Anchor. The embroidery on this cushion is astoundingly intricate, particularly the post-card style writing on the back and the little owl stamp. It’s also scented! This wasn’t the end of the story for this special little cushion however. Kirsty said: “I was pretty proud of it as I hadn’t done much embroidery and it turned out quite well. But I was bursting with pride when I discovered the lovely couple were using it as their ring cushion on their wedding day.” How lovely is that?

There we have it ladies and gents! Some cracking makes, I’m sure you’ll all agree. I’m really looking forward to what you all come up with in 2012! I’m thinking of featuring inspirational makes on a more regular basis in 2012, perhaps monthly? What do you think?

If you want to see some of the blogs I read for inspiration, then check out my bundle of RSS feeds here, including Zoe (also recommended by Minnado), Thread Carefully and Gertie, amongst others! I’m always adding more, so subscribe if you want to share my sewing blog reading list.

Oh, also…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Apologies this post is so late in the day! WordPress and I were having a bit of a technological fist fight, as you do. I had a good old rant on Twitter and then got back to it. Consider yourself defeated WordPress, ha!