Saturday, 25 April 2015

Vintage Pledge: Butterick 4795

It has been a while since I joined in with a sewalong but I couldn't resist joining in with the Vintage Pledge this year. My pledge is make three patterns over the course of year. I know two of the three I will make and want to share the first today. 

A couple of years ago, Hazel sent me Butterick 4795 as part of the Spring Swap. I loved the silhouette and the front panel. The pattern is cut but complete and comes with a previous owner's handwritten note on the front detailing how she planned to make version B. 

Butterick 4795

The reason this pattern sat so long in my increasing pattern collection is the fabric. I needed to wait for the perfect combination. I knew I wanted a contrast front panel but it had to compliment the rest of the dress. Eventually I found this combination in the M is for Make spring sale. The main fabric is Robert Kaufman's Brussels Washer in Mist, a 55% linen 45% rayon mix. It feels and behave like linen but the rayon gives it more drape. The panel is Feathers Mineral cotton voile by Charley Harper of Birch Fabrics. Both fabrics are of really good quality and were wonderful to work with. 

Butterick 4795

I originally graded up the pattern as my waist measurements were well off those of the pattern. This turned out to be a waste of time as it came out as an enormous sack! Adam and I started to pinch out the fabric to see what alterations were actually needed and it turned out none were. I threw out the toile and retraced the pattern while making a mental note to more carefully measure the pattern next time. I'm pretty happy with the fit from the packet although the neckline is high and it can have a chocking effect when I lean far forward. There is also a lot of excess fabric across my chest but overall it fits well. 

Butterick 4795

The dress is incredibly easy to make except for the sharp points at the top of the front panel. I carefully transferred the markings from the pattern and traced in the seam lines before stitching slowly. I'm really thrilled with how they turned out. I added a lapped zip as the only the zip I had to hand was a normal one but in the wrong shade of green. It would have looked ridiculous on show so I tried a new technique. I followed Sunni's free zip class on Craftsy and was delighted with the result.

Butterick 4795

The dress is designed not to be lined. I'm trying to get into the habit of lining all of my dresses and added one here. I skipped the front panel by mashing the front pieces together and adding bust darts. The lining is a peach poly lining that I bought at the Birmingham Rag Market for £1m. I was surprised by the quality for the price - it doesn't have many of those annoying features you normally expect with poly lining. 

Butterick 4795

I absolutely adore this dress and have worn it to the office every week since completing it. I can see it being worn all year round as it will be easy to layer with tights and a cardi in the winter. Have you joined the Vintage Pledge? If so, how are you getting on?


Saturday, 18 April 2015

Simplicity 2442: the determination dress

Hello, everyone! Today I have a dress to share with you. With the sun starting to shine a little more frequently I have fully turned my attention to spring sewing. Spring sewing means one thing to me - dresses! I adore summer dresses especially as they don't (always) need tights. 

This dress is Simplicity 2442 and I came very close to not sharing it as I made it in the depths of my mind fog of March when I was trying to get back some of my self confidence and needless to say it isn't one of my best but I figured the outside looks good enough to share! 

Simplicity 2442

I debated about this pattern for a while - I was sure that I could see some promise in the line drawings but couldn't quite get past the awful pale blue satin the model is wearing. The final push came when Simplicity got in touch about their blogging circle and offered me a pattern. Despite the satin, I chose to continue the pale blue theme and used the sky blue and white polka dot nylon that I picked up in Croatia a couple of years ago. I say it nylon tentatively as the burn test was inconclusive. The fabric is quite crisp, creases fairly easily and is a major static generator but it was easy to work with despite some fraying and permanent pin holes. I chose to fully line the dress (the pattern only calls for the bodice to be lined) with a white cotton silk from Goldhawk Road for the lining. 

Simplicity 2442

I didn't alter the pattern much except for grading out for the waist and taking off a whopping 7cm from the hem. My toile did reveal another alteration I should have made but I completely forgot about it when it came to make the real thing as I was absolutely set on making a finished item that I didn't really care how it turned out. I should have raised the neckline by a centimeter or two and stabilised it with twill tape. At the moment is too low and floppy and the first time I work I pinned it to my bra it ensure it didn't move! It looks ok in the photos but I'm very conscious of this area while I'm wearing the dress. 

Simplicity 2442

While there are a lot of pattern pieces and a bit of preparation, this dress comes together fairly easily and quickly. I threw this pattern together in a haphazard way (the inside backs up this statement) and I still found it ok. The hardest part is the gathering of the midriff. Getting a even gather across the three pieces is tricky. Each piece has three or four stitching lines to help bring the fabric together. The ones near the seam line are easy to work with while the ones in the middle are more difficult. I also had a little trouble with inserting the invisible zip with the bulk the gathering brings but I managed to get it to line up perfectly. 

Simplicity 2442

Despite its flaws, I quite like this dress. Overall, the fit is spot on and it definitely speaks to the arrival of spring. I'm very tempted to try this pattern again, complete with alterations and a pretty inside, in a more soft and floaty fabric. What do you think?

Disclaimer: the pattern was provided by Simplicity free of charge as part of their Sewing Blogger Circle but all opinions are my own. 

Friday, 3 April 2015

2015 goals: 3 month update

Wow, I can't believe three months have passed since I announced to the world my personal goals for this year. I promised an update - mainly to keep myself accountable and a few others expressed an interest in hearing how I was progressing. If you don't like these kind of posts, feel free to skip it!

Running

The stats:

Running update photo
Some observations:
  • I'm slightly behind on this target but as it's only 5km I'm not too worried!
  • The cliche "You won't feel worse for going" is true, except for when you haven't rehydrated properly from a night in the pub
  • Getting out three times a week has been challenging and this gets worse when I have not been feeling myself (which has been a lot this month)
  • I'm beginning to consistently win the argument that happens in my head on every run. More and more I am proving that I am in control of my thoughts and actions while running and I am able to dig deep and complete my goal whatever that little voice says
  • Physically I feel better than I probably ever have. I've lost a bit of weight and the size of my tummy has definitely decreased (yay!). I've noticed this mainly through the changing alterations I need to make to patterns
  • Investing in a couple of decent sports bras has been my best decision to date 

Eating well

While I haven't kept a detailed record of everything I've made, I can safely state that I have used three different cookbooks to make four meals a month as I buy the supplies specifically for the chosen recipes and they aren't used for other meals. 

This one has been surprisingly easy to incorporate into everyday life. At the beginning of each month, either Adam or I select the recipes. It doesn't matter how complicated or long it takes to cook - if it sound delicious we will give it go! Those that take longer to prepare tend to happen at the weekend for obvious reasons. I've included links to the books below in case you want to check them out (I don't receive anything for it). 

My favourite meals so far:

The Slow Cook Book: this book has two Jambalaya recipes which I mashed together as I didn't have all of the ingredients for one. Definitely something I will be making again! 
Rachel Allen's Home Cooking: chicken casserole with cheesy herb dumplings and tagliatelle with smoked salmon, watercress and peas - a light and refreshing dish that can be made all year round. 
The Hairy Dieters: every one I have tried! The skinny lasagne is wonderful - you swap the pasta for leeks, homemade muesli with puffed rice really does keep you going until lunchtime, and the cassoulet feels wonderfully indulgent but is more healthy than the original. 

Reading

Two books completed, two on the go. 

I'm a lover of fiction but interestingly I've been inclined to read non-fiction recently. This is mostly because I am trying to understand me and depression more. "Reasons to Stay Alive" by Mat Haig has had a profound effect on me. The book covers stats, research and one man's story. It gave me the courage to follow my own path of treatment as well as an understanding that the illness does not define me. It is there currently, and may be again in the future, but it is always smaller than me - it operates within me, not me within it. If you have experienced depression and anxiety, or know someone who has, I highly recommend this book. You will come away with a better understanding. 

"Creative Confidence" by Tom Kelley and David Kelley is the other I have read. This stems from my increasing desire to find out what the common terms I hear at work actually mean. For those of you who don't know, I work at a business school and am constantly surrounded by terms like "lean", "design thinking", "entrepreneurs" and "responsible leadership". The time feels right to go below the basic understanding of what these mean. This book, by the founders of design company IDEO, shows you that everyone can be creative and it doesn't have to be by picking up a paintbrush or a needle. Human centered design is discussed a lot and it is backed up by inspiring stories of individuals who have successfully implemented this - whether it is revolutionising the MRI experience for children or creating the first news app when the iPad launched. 

Books

"The Lean Startup" continues my business education while "Dragon Haven" fulfils my need for magical escapism. Robin Hobb is one of my favourite authors. I adore the Farseer trilogy but have struggled a little with the Rainwild Chronicles - the dragons irritate me a bit. I'll stick with it though - I need to know what happens to the main characters!

How about you? Are you on track for any goals you may have set? 

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