Sew Colette: A finished Peony

Peony looks like such an easy dress to sew, doesn’t it?

Pattern: Colette Patterns‘ Peony
Time taken: About a month, give or take
Fabric: Dyed cotton fabric plus some scraps for the facings
Details: Velvet ricrac

As other sewists taking part in this round of Sew Colette have found, Peony is not as easy as it seems. Despite making a muslin and sewing with extra-large seam allowances, I’ve ended up with a bodice which isn’t as comfortable as I’d like it yet has some unfortunate sagging around the neckline. So, while I can barely lift my arms (see below), the top part still looks as though it’s just a bit too big.

Hence I found myself nervously tugging at the bodice as I sweated profusely in the Scott Room at the Guardian’s offices – and it wasn’t just because I was up for an award. (I’d also been stuck on the Tube for half an hour AND had to run from work to catch my train… sweaty is probably an understatement)

But it’s funny how you can forget absolutely all of this when Charlie Stayt off of BBC Breakfast announces you as the Guardian’s Digital Student Journalist of the Year. It’s been a bit more than a week now, but I still can’t quite believe it happened!

I swear, the almighty roar my buddy Tom (pictured above) gave when the winner was announced is STILL ringing in my ear. Other souvniers include a lovely sign Tom acquired, which he managed to lug into the bar for the after party before he handed it to me to make its way back to Guildford. I got some funny looks on the last train home from those not snoozin’ from Thursday night debauchery.

All said, it’s hard to write off a dress with such obvious problems when it has that kind of memory AS WELL AS velvet ric rac attached to it. Sweatiness be damned!

On the sewing front, I really would like to get these terrible fitting issues sorted. Inspired by Sarah’s Peony, I was rather hoping to make a green lace version in time for Christmas. Does anyone have any suggestions what I could do to improve the fit?

Those of you who have entered the giveaway… the winners will be announced later this week! I still need to get one part of the package, so keep your eyes peeled for that…

Oh, and on a final note. THANK YOU for being lovely readers. I wouldn’t have won this award without you!

Sew Colette : Speed Sewing

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True to form, I may have left my Peony right until the very end…

To be fair, I don’t have a long way to go, it’s just unfortunate it’s all hand sewing from here, eek! Despite the muslin, it’s by no means perfect, but I’m still fairly happy with it.

I lost a weekend of sewing because I popped back home for a bit, so while I’m behind on the Peony parade, technically I would have finished in time if not for the unplanned visit!

I’m excited to be heading to the Guardian offices tomorrow for the Student Media Awards and, with any luck, in a dress made with my own two hands.

Now, to get home from the office… It’s been a long day!

Here’s another sneak peek I took this morning:

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Instagramming my way through Sew Colette

A month into my job meant two things. One: my first payslip. Two: the end of my 24-month contract on my despised Blackberry.

Obviously, the first thing I did was jump headfirst into another 2-year contract… except this time with a half-decent iPhone. So far, I’m very happy, because at least now my phone has an alright camera – being cameraless doesn’t make blogging about sewing any easier.

Naturally, I’ve jumped on the Instagram bandwagon and while I’ve managed to restrain myself from snapping vintage-themed shots of my food to show off to the world, I’ve started documenting my Peony step-by-step. As per, I’m taking my sweet time. I’m just about finishing up the muslin, only to notice I may have forgotten to buy a zipper. Oops!

This week is all about Fabulous Fit – which is the very bit I haven’t really got to, not having a zipper and all. But I have a hunch this won’t be too difficult a project to nail the fit, unlike last time around when I was slashing and adjusting like there was no tomorrow. Gathers on the skirt are just a bit more forgiving when it comes to my signature slapdash sewing.

I’m using some fabric from my stash, but being as fabric week isn’t until next week, I’ll keep that under wraps. What I will say is I’m thinking of experimenting a little with either dyeing or embellishments once more with this project. Check out Sarah’s post this week with her very royal Peony inspiration – wish I’d thought to nab some lace for this one!

If you want to follow my progress (or lack of if last week was anything to go by!) then check me out on Instagram under the oh-so original handle elenacresci. For non-Instagrammers, would you be interested in some sort of weekly sewing roundup either on the blog or via Flickr?

ALSO: keep your eyes peeled for something exciting this month because both the blog and the Seamless Pledge are turning the grand old age of ONE. I won’t lie, I haven’t quite decided what this exciting something will be, but I’m sure it’ll be grand. (suggestions on a postcard please…)

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!

Let’s meet up! How about a crafting meetup?

WOAH – apologies for the ridiculous amount of double posts on this one! I was using WordPress’s new post thing and for some reason it decided I wanted to post this like 10 TIMES. Sorry if it clogged your emails!

Have you ever been to a blogger meetup?

I love a good meetup. Last week, I popped along to a Cardiff Blogs meetup, which brought bloggers from all over Cardiff to chat about, well, blogging!

For a while now, I’ve been wondering if we could sort something similar here in Cardiff, but for crafters. Lucky for me, fellow blogger Amy Davies was up for it too and now we’re getting cracking on sorting it out! Basically, we’d like to get crafters together somewhere in Cardiff to chat over a cuppa tea on around a monthly basis.

We know of some crafting evenings already in the city, so there’s some potential interest here, but I thought I’d extend the invitation to Seamless readers – I know you guys come from all over the place, but if you were able to come along, would you?

Amy has a poll up on her blog here to get the ball rolling. The basics we want to know are:

  • how often you’d like a meetup
  • where in Cardiff could we go
  • what day of the week would be best

Apologies for such a Cardiff-centric shout out this time around! I’m thinking if the Cardiff crafting meetup kicks off, we could organise some sort of Seamless pledgers meetup in the future?

Thanks for all your lovely comments on the Meringue skirt, I’m glad the disaster turned out well in the end! How’s Sew Colette going for the rest of you?

Sew Colette : When life gets in the way

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The Meringue skirts for the Sew Colette sewalong look absolutely amazing! Hats off to those of you who got them finished because the ones I’ve seen on the Flickr group are amazing. One of my favourites so far is Lucille’s two-tone beauty, which you can read about here.

Sadly, this is what mine looks like at the moment. (excuse the crappy phone-camera shot, my camera is broken) Hopefully I’ll get it done this week so I can get involved with the Pastille dress, but for now, I’m a little behind.

Life gets in the way of sewing sometimes. It’s a topic I’ve touched on before – the course I’m doing is pretty demanding and while 2012 has been much better in terms of sewing than the beginning of 2011 was, sometimes I get home and don’t much feel like sewing at all.

The logo for our in-house paper. 

Let’s take yesterday for example. Far from being entirely unproductive, yesterday our team put together our very first newspaper in the first of our 18 production days.

These are part of our assessment – basically, we all take different roles within the newsroom and work together to create the paper by our deadline of 4.30. So yesterday, instead of being a student, seamstress or a blogger I had to put on a Chief-Sub hat and hope for the best.

Basically, I was the one in charge of the layout of the paper, what went where and assigning stories to people who checked them over and made sure they fit into boxes on the page.

…it’s alright, we got the paper out, we survived!

I have a tendency to match up new experiences to various hobbies I have. My first production day as a whole was a lot like the very first time I had a full-contact fight in Karate – I certainly felt like I’d had the wind knocked out of me after both days and I’ll let you guess which one had me sat with a bag of frozen peas on my head for the evening…

In some ways, when we saw the entire paper up on the board completely finished, it reminded me a bit of the first time I ever sewed a piece of clothing.

By my sewing standards now, it was utter crap – the seams weren’t finished, pretty sure the waistband didn’t match up and the invisible zipper was definitely on show. It’s also made from a quilting cotton which creases really easily (huh, sounds familiar…) and I’m pretty sure it’s falling to pieces.

We’ll probably look back on what we’ve done in our first paper and cringe at  the mistakes we made – but there’s still this sense of accomplishment (and relief!) at creating the product itself.

My first ever skirt is hidden somewhere at the bottom of my drawer… what about you? Any first sewing memories? I’ll try and dig out some pictures so I can show you, but I’d love to have a look at any of yours – the good, the bad and the ugly!

Sew Colette: Muslin or no muslin?

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In the Sew Colette sewalong organised by Sarah and Erin, this week was designated Meringue muslin week.

As you know, my week has most certainly not been a sewing week! With an exam on public administration on Monday and an essay on phone hacking due on Thursday, it was all journo hands on deck, which, as I’ve mentioned before, doesn’t tend to leave a lot of time for sewing!

The Flickr group is already filling up with bloggers’ renditions of the a-line skirt, but I’ve decided to skip the muslin part of the project. Not exactly in-keeping with my less quantity more quality sewing ideal for 2012!

After all, winging it and skipping the muslin stage is probably one of my worst sewing habits! There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • Laziness: One of those fast fashion habits I’m afraid! When I have made muslins, I’ve rushed through the process without really taking the time to check fit and wearability.
  • Cost: While muslins tend to be made from easily-afforded cheap fabrics, my fabric budget isn’t exactly significant while I’m still training as a journalist.
  • Waste: If I buy fabric, I want to use it and wear it. Where’s the sense in my taking a pledge against buying unnecessary garments from the high-street when I’m sewing garments which gather dust after I’m done adjusting the fit?

A popular tactic in the sewing blogosphere is to make a wearable muslin. The fabric may be cheaper than what you’ve bought for the garment proper, but it’s still a garment you would wear. Take Melizza for example, who has made a wearable muslin to see how the scallops would look in a lightweight cotton.

Photo by Martha Moreno

Before Christmas, I drafted up my own pencil skirt pattern. In this case, a muslin was a must because it’s such a closely fitted garment which had been drafted up based on my measurements in the summer – even a minute change in measurements is going to affect the fit on a garment as form fitting as this one.

The result is a pencil skirt I’m still going to wear (because I’m stubborn!) but with clear indications of fit issues. Take the wrinkles across the front and on the zipper – this means I need to add a bit more width to this garment.

Photo by Martha Moreno

I made this in a cheap-as-chips polycotton I had lying around in my stash – imagine if I’d made it with something a bit more expensive? Mind you, the fabric wrinkles very, very easily – does anyone know if the wrinkling would be less obvious in another fabric?

I’ve popped more photos of the skirt up on my Flickr page if you want to take a further look! 

The Meringue skirt is less formfitting than my pencil skirt, so I should be OK if I make sure to use a generous seam allowance in case any adjustment is required! I was gong to draft a waistband according to the Coletterie’s helpful tutorial, but I’m not sure if this would be sensible when I’m not making a muslin.

Any readers taking part in the sewalong? I can’t wait to see everyone’s finished garments! I have no internet at my new house which has made catching up with blog reading a bit more difficult!