Tag Archives: simplicity 2444

My ‘Pull Yourself Together’ dress …

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It’s amazing what you can create with an old pair of curtains! I like to imagine these once hung in the window of a 1950s library or perhaps the private rooms of an Oxford don, cheered by the huge sunflowers as she worked through her latest paper (though let’s face it, they are probably 1970s school curtains). Romanticism aside, this is my By Hand London Elisalex crossed with a Simplicity 2444 skirt (thanks to Roisin and her many Elisalex posts for the inspiration!).

IMG_3947It felt quite special putting this frock together. I did feel that the bodice might be a bit short as I sewed it up, so I added a waistband to give me a bit more length (it also gave me an excuse to add a bow!). I used the same dark green lining for the skirt and bodice that I used in my Late Christmas Dress, which makes it feel quite luxurious to wear.

IMG_3931I’m really happy with this dress and enjoyed taking my time to put it together, for once it’s very tidy on the inside too. The By Hand London girls are very clever, I found the online support really useful and the princess seams are a satisfying change from darts for me. I love the way you are encouraged to try your own thing, using the pattern as a starting point but given the creative freedom to make it your own style. I did try to put in a lapped zip rather than the suggested exposed one but in the end, the lure of an invisible one was too tempting!

IMG_3935I’m not completely convinced by my choice of sleeve length, in fact I might just, almost certainly, possibly, be taking them up to short sleeves. The neck is also pretty wide for me (bra strap alert), I’ll alter that next time too. I’m not sure I want to show you a back view … not pleasant at this time of year, which sadly makes me think I’ll be wearing a cardi with this dress. Way too much white, winter skin on show, I’m sure you don’t mind!

IMG_3939This curtain fabric was an absolute dream to sew and behaves very well as a full-ish skirt. I do love to swish about in it. I only used one of the pair, so could in theory make this dress again but with all the little perfecting tweaks (am I taking this all a bit too seriously?).

IMG_3948Oh and look how nicely it goes with my new Toast necklace (£12 in the sale)! Now I just need a party to go to and it can have its first outing. I could get ridiculously tipsy, do some ‘mum’ dancing, wobble in my heels and tell everyone I love them just so Jimmy can take me in my curtain dress to one side and tell me to pull myself together!

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My slightly late Christmas frock …

I have made a dress for christmas … ok, I missed the deadline but it’s all finished now!

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For ages I’ve had a yearning to make a dress from Blackwatch tartan and Christmas was the perfect excuse to indulge in my little fantasy. For the pattern, I couldn’t decide between the Simplicity 2444 or By Hand London’s Elisalex. Seriously, it took me ages to choose but in the end and at the risk of looking like Barbara Woodhouse, I went all traditional, saving the Elisalex for my crazy curtain fabric. I know I’ve made too many of these already but I did line this one …

IMG_3865In fact this is my 6th 2444, but I couldn’t resist one more in tartan. This Blackwatch is from ebay and is a viscose and polyester mix. At £4 per metre, I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was great, lovely to sew and paired with the green anti static lining (also ebay), it worked a treat. I’ve never lined a dress before, so this was a bit of a learning curve, but it was worth the effort and it feels quite lovely when it’s on.

This was a ‘sew as and when’ kind of dress as the lead up to Christmas was hectic. I felt frustrated at times that I couldn’t get lost in it but then realised that it didn’t matter if it wasn’t finished and just saw it as the relaxing distraction it should’ve been all along.

IMG_3851This morning, with my lovely family off and away and some time on my own, I finished the hand-stitching (quite a lot in a lined bodice I discovered!) and hemmed it. Christmas may be over but I reckon I’ll wear this a lot throughout the winter.

Right, off to watch the final episode of Death Comes To Pemberley in front of the log fire with my boys and girl, a truck load of chocolate and a G&T. Happy Christmas to you all (as late as the dress) and a Happy New Year!

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Time for a change …

If I’m honest, I’ve been feeling a little disappointed with my recent makes (and a little bored). It’s ok, don’t worry, I still love to sew, but I  think I need to escape from my comfort zone. Let’s face it, I have quite a few Simplicity 2444‘s, I could dress an entire office with my collection of Sorbettos and if there weren’t enough of those to go round, well I could throw in a few Laurels too. Yep, it’s time to take the leap and make something different, different for me anyway …

I have a feeling that the Simplicity 2451 will change my life (I know, I know, I’m the last to try this), dull looking maybe but there are some corkers out there and it looks so very useful (see here and here for a start)! For the fabric I have a charity shop find in mind …

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Goodness, that’s bright! It’s not really that bright, honest. I found this wool for £5 along with the matching lining, in a plastic bag in a charity shop in Summertown. All washed and ready to go, it is sitting on my desk just waiting for me to have a day off.

Then like someone who’s overslept and missed the train to the pattern party, I’m the last to try Elisalex from By Hand London. I loved making my Anna and have had this on my to do list for ages. The fabric? Another charity shop find …

IMG_3440It’s in the bag and it’s a pair of crazy curtains. I’m actually at the train station here and so excited at my 1970s school curtains find (and bored while I waited for my delayed train) that I took a photo. It’s just a sneaky peak, more soon.

What else, ooh yes I have a yearning to make a blackwatch tartan dress, though I haven’t decided which pattern to use yet. Like the 2444 addict that I am, it’s calling me and I’m finding it hard to resist. But, what I’m thinking is, I could line it! That would be good, yes? A challenge, a stretch. Yes, that’s what I’ll do! Or should I do something new? Yes? No? Yes? No? Oh blooming Nora, let’s just put it back in the drawer and think about that another day!

These aren’t terribly taxing patterns I know, but they are new to me and learning to sew is a life time experience, not one to rush. I do know that I’d like to improve on my  skills and if I’m not careful, I’ll be wearing 2444s when I’m collecting my pension. Actually that would be nice! No, I need to keep pushing myself and hopefully, in time I’ll gain the confidence to push myself all the way and make something like a coat!

I’m now ready to swim without armbands, cycle without stabilisers, fly without wings! Watch this space …

Don’t tell anyone but I might just make one more Laurel first … in denim.

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Retro mash-up dress …

Remember the fabric I dyed? Well, I really fancied making a fitted dress with it. I turned to my old favourite, Simplicity 2444 (I’m very predictable), but this time, I thought a change in shape might be nice so I made a dirndl skirt. Unfortunately it looked freaking awful, an 80s bridesmaid dress for a middle aged woman and my bottom looked like a massive flump, so that was hastily unpicked!

IMG_3428A quick root around my box of vintage sewing patterns and I decided this skirt from Style 2449 might look a bit better  …

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Just a little tweaking was required. I didn’t line up the darts as well as maybe they could have been but as I intended to add some sort of belt, it didn’t matter too much (that’s what I keep telling myself anyway!).

IMG_3429The dress sort of evolved as I went along. Looking for some black bias tape in my cupboard I found the petersham ribbon that I’d removed from this skirt and it was perfect for my waistband. I used the tape instead of a facing on the neckline and then added it to the sleeves to to tie the whole look together.

IMG_3488I know I look creased creased up in these pictures, but it was after my day of sewing in the office!

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So here it is, a simple little number but one that will get a lot of use I’m sure! There are a couple of things that I didn’t get quite right, the sleeves didn’t set in that well, I have some gathers where there shouldn’t be gathers and everything feels a bit tight at the shoulders. I would also have like to put in a lapped zip but there’s always next time.

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Actually, if I’m being honest I think I’ve cut Simplicity 2444 a size too small for me. I am a little bigger than I used to be and I should probably go up a size for more ease, there’s a reason to trace patterns, damn it!

But all is not lost, at least the dress looks nice with my new shoes …

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What to wear …

Well, this could be a very boring post about Me Made May as I haven’t taken any photos of my outfits! I know, it’s very naughty but to be honest, I’ve just been having a nice old time and not worrying about capturing the fashion of the day and I’m afraid you’ll have to take my word for it that I have fulfilled my pledge for week one. So, here’s a run down of days 1–7 …

May 1st: Panic! Is it May 1st already?! I didn’t plan the night before plus I am late for work, so out with the Violet blouse teamed with shop bought (sorry) trousers.
May 2nd: My bright little Laurel and jeans (yes I know, jeans. Damn).
May 3rd and 4th: Erm, I spent these two days clearing out the loft and wore my ancient Levis with my daughter’s t-shirt. It’s Ok though, in my pledge I said I would wear me made clothes for three days a week (phew!)
May 5th: Are you still with me? My purple Sorbetto, spotty, dotty number (the one with sleeves) … and jeans of course.
May 6th: OOh, exciting it’s hot enough for a dress for a friends BBQ! My newly altered London dress today!
May 7th: And its hot again so on with my Swishy Swashy dress. Two Simplicity 2444s one day after the other!

So, what has the challenge done for me this week? Well, I swear my London Dress would still be sadly hanging in the wardrobe with its saggy neckline had it not been for MMM’13. So, I’m very happy that I had the kick up the backside on that one! I’m also looking forward to ‘re-stitching’ some of my early makes and that may expand my choice a little.

And then there’s the question of making some trousers (I haven’t forgotten the pledge), I just need some courage and I’ll get going on that. In the meantime, I can’t stop looking at this … exciting!

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Dress to impress, or maybe not …

The sewing bloggers meet up of a few weeks ago still brings a smile to my face , it was a great day, sunny and exciting, warm and inviting. I made a dress especially for the event, a bit last minute and a probably a bit rushed but I was determined to make something new. I bought the fabric in a charity shop on the Monday, washed on Tuesday, pressed on Wednesday, cut out Thursday then day off work and stitched on Friday. Finished by, oooh, about 11pm that night!

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Look at that! It still had the receipt attached from 1966 and was originally purchased from the Landport Drapery Bazaar in Portsmouth. I did my usual ‘should I cut into this wonderful vintage find’ thing that I do, then I thought ‘how daft’ and snipped away.

I used my favourite pattern, Simplicity 2444 and so it wasn’t a completely silly challenge, even so, it had its moments!

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To cut a long story short, the stripes were an absolute pain to line up and this was as good as I could get. The dark, diagonal line running through the pattern is navy so at first I used a navy zip (as you do), but it just looked completely wrong and when my trusty husband agreed that it would annoy me, I unpicked it and inserted a black one … nightmare! The stripes didn’t match, then the piping on the waist didn’t match but finally with lots of swearing deep breaths, I got there. I hand stitched the hem while watching Graham Norton with a glass of wine and it wasn’t until I wore it on Saturday that I started to notice its problems (that’s wine last minute sewing for you!). 

Photo by Digpal Singh

Photo by Digpal Singh

Here I am with the lovely Tamsin from Pimp my curtains and super Catherine from Catherine Daze at the V&A. Yes, that is a name label on my left breast, not an ill advised bit of applique (see more photos of the day here).

My dress as it turns out is a right creaser, the diagonals on the sleeves go in the same direction rather than mirroring each other as they should (I remember cutting them out as well!) and most annoyingly as the day wore on the neck stretched until it resembled a pelican bib – The more I fiddled with it, like an annoying pimple, it just got bigger!

Lizzie: "Look at that shocking neckline!" photo by Digpal Singh

photo by Digpal Singh

You can see it a bit in the above photo but neckline aside, whilst eating the delicious meal later that day, I realised that there wasn’t much room for food and began to wonder if the stitches would hold (they did, it’s fine!).

When I got home, my dress looked as exhausted as I felt …

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but at least those stripes match!

As with many of my makes, this dress was in danger of joining the other fails in the box under the bed but, in my Me Made May pledge, I said that: I will revisit past makes and snip and stitch so that I’ll want to wear them. I do like this dress – I can live with the sleeves, I will eat less chocolate to be able to breath in it but that neckline really bothered me and would definitely stop me from wearing it. Today I unpicked it, pressed, stay stitched and re attached the facing with the piping but it still didn’t sit properly. I’m pretty sure my lack of experience is to blame here and I am doing something silly but in the end I gave up and took away the piping and …

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now it looks much better. I’m a bit sorry that the piping couldn’t stay but at least now I will wear it … just not on long train journeys or when I’m eating a lot!

MMM is going just fine thank you very much. I am taking twice as long to get ready in the morning but I am sticking to my pledge!

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Autumn leaves and three quarter sleeves …

My little sewing project has had so many interruptions this week that I was beginning to think I might never get it done. It’s not been straightforward, the fabric turned out to be a nightmare for starters and the French seams that I was so proud of were slightly misjudged and as a consequence the dress is a tiny bit on the tight side. I can wear it, I just can’t eat anything (she says stuffing a chocolate bourbon in her mouth) when it’s on.

The fabric is from my Walthamstow hoard and please don’t ask me what it is, I’ve no idea. It was bought for three reasons, I liked the pattern, I loved the drape and it was dirt cheap. Two metres purchased in the heat of the moment, everything I bought that day came back with me in two metre lengths, what the hell was I thinking?! This was £1.50 a metre, I am officially dim. I have used my pattern of the moment, the Simplicity 2444 and it specifically says on the back of the packaging that if you only purchased 2 metres of fabric for this perfect dress, you are a plonker. That aside, the fabric has a will of its own. You can pin it, iron it, press it, stick a tonne of hot weights on it over night and yet it will never crease. That’s good if you fall asleep in it in the stationery cupboard at work and want to emerge looking fresh as a daisy, but not if you want to press a bloody hem.

OK, despite all that, I’m quite pleased with the end product …

I did things slightly differently to the last version. I cut my front skirt out of one piece this time (good job, what with the seams refusing to press flat) and the skirt isn’t quite as full because the fabric wasn’t wide enough (and because there were only two metres, grrr!). I kept the pockets (I love pockets) and managed to squeeze out three quater length sleeves too …

which I hemmed using the brown silky bias binding also bought at Walthamstow (25p per metre!).

The invisible zip behaved itself … Ooh, I’m beginning to like this dress.

Sorry about the pigeon feet, I know I am an adult but something in me goes all silly when I’m having my photo taken, it’s an insecurity thing I’m sure.

I hemmed this dress three times to try and get it to hang nicely. I’d intended to hem it with the same brown binding that I did the sleeves with but figured it would hang like a hooped skirt if I wasn’t careful, so it was machined … unpicked and hand sewn, unpicked and machined again. Third time lucky and I think it looks just fine.

In fact it looks quite Autumnal. If you stood me in a park amongst the fallen leaves I could easily get lost … tempting!

xx

 

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