Blogger meetup and cutting on the living room floor

The stash has grown again, although I really ought to be reducing it. It’s all Elizabeth‘s fault really. She was in London this week and so a few of us met up to go round Liberty of London and have a drink. It was a really great afternoon! We oohed and aahed over the gorgeous but very expensive fabrics in Liberty (have a look at their website – the prints are amazing) then checked out the Berwick Street fabric shops. While talking nineteen to the dozen about sewing, fabrics, and patterns of course. It’s so nice to talk to other people who sew.

So many thanks to Elizabeth, Helen, Eugenia, Claire, Karen and Melissa, stashing enablers and really fun people to be around 🙂

So on to trying to reduce the stash. I have a long list of projects lined up which will take care of a lot of it, but it requires a bit of effort to get started because cutting out fabric is one of my least favourite parts of sewing. Especially when you need to cut a wide fabric in a single layer and end up trying to cut it on the living room floor. The scissors catch on the carpet, the fabric clings to it, little bits of fabric and thread end up all over the room, and you get sore knees too.

Well I think I have found the solution to everything except the sore knees and the threads. (Maybe some sort of kneepads?) A while ago I acquired an enormous roll of tracing paper from Morplan for tracing patterns.

I have barely made a dent in the roll, so I decided to use some of it to cover the carpet before laying out my fabric and pattern. It makes a surprising difference. Things don’t stick to the paper so the fabric lays flat much more easily than if you put it directly on the carpet, and you can cut it without worrying about catching anything but the paper.

The paper didn’t survive the experience unscathed, but it will last a few more goes. And it’s not as if I’m short of the stuff. Or fabric. Or patterns. I’d better get back to the sewing room…

Shoe selection

Here’s my finished version of Vogue 1240. This was a pattern with all sorts of fit problems, but thanks to some good advice from Pattern Review (not sure if that link will work for non-members but it’s free to sign up) I managed to produce something wearable. The trouble is I can’t find shoes to wear with it.
I made the dress to wear to a wedding. I’m therefore going to have to have shoes I can walk around in all day – which pretty much rules out the ones in the picture above.

I didn’t think I owned all that many shoes. And then when trying to find something to go with the dress I discovered I have five pairs of black heels. (This doesn’t include the ones I took to the charity shop after trying them on with this dress and realising I can’t even stand in them. Those are now out of the house so Do Not Count.)

All of the above look much too heavy with this dress apart from the very strappy pair – which as I said I have trouble walking in. I can do wedges or very chunky heels but not stilettos. What to do? Are kitten heels more wearable than they look? Can I learn to walk in the stilettos in the next month? What about dancing? Right now I’m wavering towards the Dolcis pair with the flared heels (middle top) on the grounds that being able to dance is what counts!

Rolled hems

What is the trick to making tidy rolled hems? I’ve just made Vogue 1240, a confection of flappy chiffon layers, and consequently have spent quite a bit of time struggling with this lately.

Vogue 1240 pattern photo

Vogue 1240 envelope

The pattern instructions assume that you don’t have a rolled hem foot for your machine and have you stitch close to the edge, turn at the stitching line, press, and then turn, press, and stitch again. This would probably work fine on any fabric that will take a crease, but my fabric’s an unpressable mystery synthetic. I tried but the folds sprung open every time I let go of them. I did make one hem on the actual dress with this method but it wasn’t a pretty one.

After that I resorted to the rolled hem foot and read about twenty internet tutorials on how to make a perfect rolled hem. About the best piece of advice I found (and now I’ve lost the link) was to hold the fabric edge vertically in front of the foot and let the hem do the rolling as much as possible, but even that didn’t always work for me. I found that on straight lines, if I trimmed the hem beforehand so that the edge of the fabric was perfectly straight with no fraying at all, I could get quite a good result. I know this one doesn’t look straight in the photo but it is in real life.

But any curves in the hem or wonkiness in the cutting rapidly caused problems. I’ve sewed over this bit twice in the hope it will stay put.

I think the difficulty I have is in feeding the right width of fabric into the rolled hem foot in the first place. If the width is too narrow the hem doesn’t roll and if it’s too wide you get a fraying edge sticking out from underneath it. I am starting to wonder if the answer isn’t to mark the correct width on the fabric so that I have something to aim for when sewing. Thoughts? I am determined to crack this!

Alien flowers fabric

It’s not as if I don’t already have several projects lined up. But I saw this in John Lewis and fell in love with it. The label describes it simply as ‘floral’ but this does not do justice to it. Floral to me means sweet and girly. I think there’s something slightly alien and spooky about these flowers. They look like the sort of thing that might move when there isn’t any breeze.

It’s going to be a 1970s halter neck maxi dress. I already have the pattern, a vintage Simplicity that I’ve made up before.


The new Vogue patterns are out. Normally a cause for rejoicing, especially the autumn collection. But this time I’m completely underwhelmed. Other people love it. I have tried, I really have, but I can’t find anything I like.

At first I thought it might just be the colours used for the photos – there’s a lot of purple – but I tried to concentrate on the technical drawings. And in most cases I’ve decided it’s the ruching I don’t like. Every other garment is ruched, either as a detail or all over. The designer patterns are particularly bad for this. 1253, 1252, and 1259, I’m looking at you.

Vogue 1252

Vogue 1253

Vogue 1259

Now that’s just a matter of personal taste. Many people like ruching, I just happen not to be one of them. And Vogue have included one dress which ought to be totally to my taste. 8744 is fitted with lots of seam details and long sleeves. But it has something very funny going on with the sleeves. Look at those creases in the photo! I think it could be rescued by turning the sleeves into cap sleeves, but I’m not sure it’s worth it. Some of those seamlines look like they have the potential to turn into built in VPL if you aren’t very careful.

Not that this means I’m stuck for something to sew. Because the week before the new patterns came out, the old ones went on sale. And there’s plenty of good stuff in the Vogue back catalogue to choose from. I only bought two, but by the time I’ve got through them and the rest of my project backlog the winter Vogues will probably be out.

Ninja Scientist photos

I love Vogue 1239, despite the ninja scientist vibe. Or possibly because of it.

The strange-looking sleeves are actually very comfortable to wear, although they were tricky to sew.

And it goes with my new shoes. I think it will be OK with flats too.

I think this has taken a whole month to sew. I’d like to make it again, but I need a break first!

Ninja scientist

Vogue 1239 is finished. On Wednesday I thought I was practically at the end and one more sewing session would do it. Wild optimism. That one session turned into three. Endless topstitching, head-scratching, hand sewing, seam ripping and one wrecked manicure later, it’s done. It was totally worth it. I am hoping to take some better pictures tomorrow!

And if anyone’s wondering about the title, that’s what my husband said when he saw it on me. I think he has a point but it was still worth it.