Completed: Lace Laurel

What do you do with a pattern that you really like but your first attempt failed dramatically? I kept it at the back of my mind for nearly a year and waited until an idea came to me. It finally arrived a couple of weekends ago when I went to Goldhawk Road with KellyJen and Daniela. I spotted a gorgeous piece of lace that screamed "buy me!" and wouldn't stop yelling until I had parted with my cash. I knew it was time to dig Laurel out again. 

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My first attempt with Laurel didn't go well, nor did my second which is why it hasn't made it to the blog. But this time would be different, I was sure of it. I have wanted a lace top for a long time but I'm super picky when choosing which piece to buy. It is either the wrong colour or I don't like the flowers. Thank goodness there was 1.5m of this cotton crochet lace left on the bolt. I might have cried if there was less. I chose a teal fabric to go underneath the bodice. I knew it had to be a bright colour and was constantly being drawn to the different shades of teal. I'm not fully certain what fabric it is. I suspect it is a poly mix but it has a good drape and is lovely to touch. 

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Key to making this top work was getting the fit right. The poor fit of my other Laurels is the primary reason why I don't wear them much, if at all. I needed to lose a lot of the ease so I used the finished measurements that best matched mine and then went up a size. The pattern in the lace isn't dart friendly so I chose to remove all of them. The teal doesn't feature them either as I underlined the bodice to keep the seam allowances out of sight. This was my first time eliminating all darts from a pattern. For the back ones, I measured the width of the dart and then removed it from the side seam, drawing a line from the armscye to the hem. For the front, I slashed the bust dart through the middle to the apex. I then cut a straight line from just below the apex to the hem before pivoting the left side of the pattern so the bottom line of the original dart matched the centre of it. I also removed the back seam and lowered the armscye a little. This is one of the biggest issues I have this pattern - the sleeves are just too high, feel restrictive and don't allow for a lot of movement. Lowering them slightly has made such a difference. I no longer feel like there is too much fabric fighting for space under my armpit. To account for the change, I added a little extra to the sleeve cap to ensure the sleeves still fitted perfectly.

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The teal frayed badly, so much so I'm still finding threads throughout our flat despite a thorough clean up. To prevent any of the frays escaping, I bound all of the seams and the hem using the same fabric. The binding is cut on grain rather than the bias (not enough left over fabric) but it seems to be flexible enough to cope with the curves of the neckline and the arms. This took a while as I slip stitched one side of each seam to give me extra control in making sure nothing could escape. 

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I've worn this top a couple of times. I'm very pleased with the overall fit, it doesn't feel too loose or too snug. I can pull it on and off without any problems. I love having the extra movement in the sleeves and that the scallops hit perfectly at my elbows. It is lightweight and perfect for the spring days that seem to be arriving with more frequency here. 

It seems Laurel has finally made up with me.

20:20 Challenge: How I'm getting on

You may have seen that earlier this year I set myself a challenge. Dubbed my 20:20 challenge the plan is to make twenty individual items from twenty different patterns. I'm now almost midway through and thought it was time to check progress. I haven't really been keeping a log of items made except that I know I need to make two items a month. 

I started off with twelve chosen patterns with eight spare "slots" as I knew I would find some along the way and would want to buy patterns as they were released. And I have! I now have just two more to choose. I added the Sorbetto, the Miette and the Victoria Blazer. I also have my self-drafted pattern. 

How many have I made then? Nine, just one short of my target for half way. I'm pleased that I have managed to stay on track so far. I couldn't resist sharing again the photos of the completed items! Unfortunately I don't have photos for my Miette or the Sorbettos (yes, plural) yet but they will come soon. 

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Anise

Some of you will remember I promised at least half of them will not be blue, black or pink. I'm still comfortably within this, with six being those colours. The fact that I have been selective with which Sorbetto to include helps with this a bit. Is that cheating? I don't think so as I set my own rules here! Which means you can probably guess what colour the Miette is. 

Three patterns are work in progress. The Peony, which I haven't looked at since I noticed the fitting issues, my self drafted dress and the Thurlow shorts for which I'm going to stay toile number 3 this weekend. I'm hopeful this will be the last one. 

I've noticed that, in typical fashion, I have completed the easier projects at the beginning. I'm convinced this will come back to bite me as I attempt to complete two more complicated patterns a month. Oh well, I learn the hard way! 

What about you? Did you set yourself a goal this year? If so, how are you getting on?

Me Made May 13 and Fancy Dress

This will be a short post today. I have finally come out the other side of craziness at work which was the lead up to two events in two days, both of which had an African them and both went really well. I did managed to keep up Me Made May but I didn't get a photos of each day.

May 15th

My first repeat item. I wore my Laurel top to work but didn't get a photo.

May 16th

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I went for my only red dress. It is Vogue 1089, made from a medium weight cotton with machine embroidered flowers in the same colour. I love the way wearing red makes me feel which is why I'm surprised I don't have anymore of it in my wardrobe.

May 17th

Again, I didn't get a photo but I wore my Reglisse. This was the day of the first event - you'll see what I got up to a little further down. 

May 18th

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Second event of the week! I volunteered for the registration desk and had to look after the VVIP (not a typo) lunch so I needed something smart. I went for my third Ginger skirt which is made from a heavy grey fabric. I'm not exactly sure what it is but it frays like nothing else I have ever bought! But the pattern on it is lovely! 

And the best part of these events? I got to dress up in Nigerian traditional dress! Before I saw the dress I was worried that they would push me fully out of my comfort zone with  hair wrapped in fabric and big bold colours that I couldn't pull off. Turns out I didn't need to worry! I have no idea whether this is actually traditional though but it was great to wear it for six hours! It also fitted reasonably well, except it was slightly small around my bust but I don't think anyone noticed. 

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Yes, it is African wax print and I have to say I am now tempted to get some! And I learnt that I can wear a collar and do frills but I'm not sure I would wear them together again...

Me Made May 13 - Week 2

Work has been a bit crazy this week and I found it rather draining but I did manage to keep up my pledge to MMM. I also had a great tonic in a weekend away and managed to pack appropriately for the challenge and reach five me made items this week. This is a slightly longer post that includes some items from last week. You'll notice that I have swapped some photos again as I don't like the ones I uploaded to Flickr! 

May 6th

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My Reglisse dress. I won't bore you with the details again but I still love it! 

May 7th

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My aubergine Ginger skirt. This one is slightly longer than the purply pink once. It is finished with two trims of pink bias. The zip went in well. It is made from medium-heavy cotton with flat felled seams. 

May 8th

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My flowery Alma. Details here

May 9th

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Green Taffy from the Colette book. I love this pattern and when I found some green silk in a shop on Goldhawk Road I knew it would be perfect! I'm reasonably happy with the fit although the neck is a little too wide. I finished it with a pink trim made from an old bed cover. I need to redo the trim as it is coming away in places. French seams throughout. 

May 10th

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McCall's 2401. Please excuse the cheesy grin - it was Friday and I was leaving work early which made me very happy! Huge thanks to everyone who made suggestions on what to do with this dress. I tried it with the belt and felt some shape come to it. I then took off 2.5 inches from the length so it hits above my knee. I feel sooooo much better in it. I need to find a better belt (this one is old and starting to fall apart) and perhaps play around with the sleeves a bit to see if I can make it even better. Either way I'm less likely to pass over it now - yay! 

May 11th

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I realised last week that I didn't have a good number of tops that match my separates. As I was browsing online fabric shops I found this Liberty Lawn from Fabrics Galore and had to buy it. Four days later I had this top. This is the Laurel with a bit of length added. I wasn't sure about the original sleeves, I thought the fabric needed something a little more delicate so I opted for the sleeves from the Alma. They turned out beautifully, if a little like wings. I completed this top on Thursday evening. Work had got to me that day and I had A LOT of almost angry energy that had to be channeled into something creative and productive. Not too bad a result I think! 

May 12th

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I travelled back to Oxford today and it was a little windy! My trusty Lady Grey kept me warm. 

Phew! That's quite a few items there. 

Completed: Laurel dress

When Colette Patterns released their latest pattern, the Laurel, I was seriously underwhelmed. I had been hoping for a shift dress as many had rumoured as I wanted one, or perhaps two, to add to my summer wardrobe. I worried that the pattern would be far too loose and big on me and that it would be very unflattering. But then Sarai began to show how the pattern could be changed and I began thinking. Perhaps there was potential in this for me, so I bought the pattern. Being slightly in doubt about it still I decided to make a muslin. You might think that is a little strange for a loose fitting garment but I am so glad I did. I honestly looked like I was wearing a sack! Adam actually laughed at how big it was around my hips! However I could see that this is something I could wear if I cut out a smaller size. I liked the shape of it but just not how big it was. So that is what I did. 

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I wanted a dress to add to my summer collection. It had to be simple but delicate. The fabric is cotton poplin and this is my first time using it. It is more delicate than I imagined with pin marks lasting a long time after they had been removed. It also crumples quickly as you can see from the photos. It began life in white as I couldn’t find the right colour. I decided to dye it using Dylon’s ‘Burlesque Red’ which is actually more along the purple line than red. I hand dyed it to give me a little more control over the colour. The finished article couldn’t be plain, I needed to have some form of embellishment and settled on a crochet cotton trim. 

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The construction is very simple as there are only three pieces or six in mine as I opted for version one which is fully underlined. The underlining is made from the same fabric in the same colour to be as true to it as possible. I hadn’t underlined before but it turns out it is very simple. The zip went in reasonably well. It isn’t perfect but I can live with it. Putting a zip in properly is definitely something I need to work on. 

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The trickiest thing for me was actually the placement of the front darts. I put it on to check the fit after inserting the zip when Adam pointed out that one my darts was off by about 5mm. Cue some unpicking! I’m still not sure they are fully level but I can cope with them now. I won’t spend every minute I wear this dress wondering if others can see my mistakes. One thing I loved about this pattern is that there are no facings! I generally don’t get on well with facings. Instead you use bias binding. I chose a narrow binding around the arms and neckline to fit in with the simple but delicate theme. 

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Do I love this dress? Sort of. It is different to what I usually wear and there were times when we taking the photos that it looked rather unflattering across key areas which makes me worry about what it looks like normally! But I love the colour. I’ll definitely make the pattern as a top as the fit there is much better. If I made the dress again I would need to play with the fit a bit more. However, I’m sure this will make it into my suitcase for a summer holiday…

Project planning

I had hoped to share with you my finished Laurel dress today but there is a serious lack of sewing going on at the moment. The reason is I have been spending a lot of time with my foot raised on the sofa. 

Last Saturday I managed to miss a step on our stairs and somehow twisted a number of my ligaments in my right ankle. It was a comical fall! While I’m pleased it isn’t broken the official verdict is it might take six weeks to heal and I have to spend a lot of time resting it. SIX weeks?! This was not the news I wanted to hear as I am incapable of sitting still for a couple of hours. I’m not the type of person who sits in front of the TV night after night without doing something else (although there is nothing wrong with this). I cut out two parts of my Laurel dress yesterday and then had to rest it. It will be slow and small steps to finish this as I use my right foot to use the pedal at my machine. I tired using my left but it sort of messes with my head! 

So, I’ve spent some time planning projects. First up is Simplicity 2451. I have some beautiful fabric in my stash which I’m planning to use for this. I have been waiting for a long time to use these. I just can't resist butterflies!

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A dress would be too much and I haven’t been able to find the right pattern for a top. I haven’t quite decided which colour and yes, I am aware that my choices are pink and blue! But that is ok because my Laurel is not.

I’m also going to try out these. 

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They are part of a surprise so I can’t say much more but if anyone has any tips on working with them please let me know. 

I’m working on some gifts and the red bias that I showed in the last post is part of this. I know need to make some piping with it. I’ll share how I have made that once I am to. 

The fourth project is one I’m quite excited about. I have crossed stitched for many years but I haven’t really done any over the last year. This project requires a lot of cross stitching. It will test me a bit as my stitches at the back will be on show and therefore need to be tidy. Normally I frame or sew on my finished items so it doesn’t matter what the back looks like. No so this time. I’m waiting for the postman to bring me a plentiful supply of 14 count Aida before I can start. At least this is a project I can do in front of the TV! 

A couple of the patterns in my 20:20 challenge will need grading up so I’ll spend some time looking up how to that. And I need to think about my fabric choice. 

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I’m starting a pattern drafting course next month to make a summer dress. This will be my first attempt at drafting and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been browsing the web for ideas and think I am almost there. 

And if I get through all of that I can think about the other patterns from 20:20 that I haven’t thought about yet! It feels quite good to have a plan, normally I hop from project to project. Do you plan your projects or hop around?