New Vogues and an ambitious resolution

So the summer 2011 Vogues are out, and every other sewing blogger has been picking their favourites. I’m always fascinated to see the collection through other people’s eyes so I hope you’ll put up with me posting mine.

I have a very bad habit of going on a mini spending spree when the new patterns come out and then not actually making up all of the ones I buy, so this time I have tried really hard to pick things I think I really will get round to sewing and wearing. In three months time you may point and laugh!

I think this one, Vogue 1239, is my favourite pattern of the new ones, and funnily enough probably the one I’m most likely to buy and then never sew. It looks fantastic but I’m not sure how wearable it is. The model looks like she works in a sterile room. I work with computers, which suck up dust like little vacuum cleaners and shed it when you open the case.

Vogue 1239 pattern photo

Then there is Vogue 1250. Can you ever have enough cowl-necked knit dresses?
Vogue 1250 pattern photo

I am tempted to make 1240 for a wedding I’m going to this summer. I’m not sure if it’s the pattern or the fabric that appeals to me though. I do like a black and white print.
Vogue 1240 pattern photo

Finally I think 8727 might be a good starting point for my skull print fabric. I like the full-skirted views. I haven’t got nearly enough fabric for them, so the skirt would to have to be adjusted to fit onto my yardage.
Vogue 8727 pattern photo

So there they are. I’m pleased I got it down to four. What are your favourites?

Morplan’s catalogue of dreams

I pinched this post title from a friend of mine who once described the Argos catalogue as ‘the catalogue of dreams’. For those not in the UK, I should explain that Argos is a UK retailer that sells just about anything you can think of. You pick your goods from a huge catalogue rather than browsing in a shop. We always used to have a copy of the catalogue at home and as a child I found it fascinating. They have a website these days as well as the catalogue, but browsing on the web is not the same.

I’ve recently discovered a similar thing for sewists. Last year I ordered a huge roll of tracing paper from a company called Morplan. They mostly seem to supply fittings and equipment to the retail clothing industry, but they’ve got a good range of things that home sewists might be interested in. This tracing paper will keep me going for years.

And last week they sent me their full catalogue in the post. Who knew there were so many different kinds of carrier bag? Or coat hangers? And that’s before you get to the sewing stuff. More things for marking fabric than you can shake a stick at. Curious gadgets for making pattern pieces.

Forget sewing, I’m going back to put large red circles round my favourites.

Falling off the wagon

I was going to sew from my stash for a bit. I wasn’t doing too badly: I made the neoprene skirt, and I have cut out and started sewing a knit dress (of which more later) from a piece of blue doubleknit I have had for a long time. But the opportunity to go to London arose this weekend and I couldn’t pass it up. I need fabrics for making warm tops to go with all the skirts I’ve made recently. Well that’s my excuse anyway.

I didn’t have a lot of time in London so I stuck with the West End so I knew I’d be able to get the things I was looking for there. I set out to get black wool jersey for a top, grey wool jersey for a dress, and black neoprene, also for a dress.

I started out at Cloth House on Berwick St. The service was great; really helpful and not at all pushy. A really nice man pulled out all the wool jerseys for me and then had a look at my pattern, Vogue 1087. After we’d decided all the grey ones they had were the wrong weight for the pattern, he suggested a beautiful blue one that was just right. I wouldn’t normally go for blue (something to do with having had a blue school uniform I think) but this one is lovely.

I also got a wonderfully soft and stretchy black wool jersey. This is to make a basic long-sleeved t-shirt with. It didn’t photograph at all well so you can’t get much of an idea from the picture but here it is anyway.

I also got the black neoprene I wanted. I haven’t even tried to photograph that. I’m going to have a go at the Burda dress that’s based on the pattern I made the neoprene skirt from.

Despite having found everything on my list at Cloth House I had to have a look in Macculloch and Wallis. I came away with two pieces. The first is a very drapey, transparent grey sweater knit which I’m going to use to make another basic top, probably with a bit of a cowl neck. The second is a stretchy lightweight doubleknit that’s black on one side and dark green on the other. They’ve had it in for months and I have been coveting it ever since I first saw it in August. It is very soft and snuggly.

So much for not buying any more fabric. At least I have definite plans for all of these pieces except the doubleknit, so hopefully they won’t sit in my stash too long.

Emergency sewing supplies

Being on holiday from work but at home means I have some extra sewing time. However I have no projects lined up after the current skirt (about a third of the way though and progressing rather slowly) as I was intending to go fabric shopping in London after Christmas and see what inspired me, and at the moment the weather in the UK is sufficiently bad that I can’t rely on being able to do that.

This means if any sewing is going to happen over the break it will have to be from my fabric stash, or whatever John Lewis in town can supply. John Lewis’ fabrics are lovely high quality things, but the range is extremely limited and the prices are much too high to take a chance on fabric that’s not quite right, so realistically I’m going to be going through the stash. This is a combination of random bits of impractical fabric I bought on impulse, and the leftovers from the many, many projects where I overestimated the required yardage.

I don’t have a notions stash other than a collection of chunky dress-length zips, so I ventured into town today to buy some emergency notions. Not knowing what I’m going to be sewing makes this a bit tricky, but I came back with two skirt-length black zips, one invisible, one not, and the reel of red thread I need in order to complete the current skirt. I must be able to find enough usable fabric for a couple of skirts in the stash. If I do manage to reduce the stash I’ll report back at the end of the holidays!

Jumpsuit fabric

Vogue 8667 is slowly progressing. But I thought I’d get a proper tailor’s ham for pressing the princess seams, as my usual method of rolling up a towel and using that isn’t very satisfactory. So I’ve been shopping and visited all the usual suspects. Rather to my surprise I haven’t yet found anywhere that stocks them. I’ve tried two different branches of John Lewis, Maculloch and Wallis, and even Liberty. Liberty suggested Morplan (not open weekends) and Maculloch and Wallis showed me an ad for one in Sew Direct magazine, but don’t stock them themselves.

I should probably just make one but I’m not totally sure what to stuff it with!

So after all that failure I went and had a look at some of the fabric shops, and found some very heavy knit fabric in black and a slightly off-white that will work for my 1970s jumpsuit pattern (alas it wasn’t available in chocolate, although I could have gone with orange!)

So that’s me committed to the jumpsuit now. Wish me luck.

Westwood skirt knockoff finished

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I finished it at last! If you’ve not been reading along, this is my attempt to make a version of Vivienne Westwood Anglomania’s Philosophy skirt.

I’m really pleased with it. The camera has done something a bit strange to the stripy fabric in the long shots so there’s a sort of moirĂ© effect going on in some of the pictures. It’s better in the closeups. The fabric came from the remnant bin at Remnant Kings in Glasgow. I’m pretty sure it’s wool. It’s certainly warm to wear.

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Here’s the back view:

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The fit isn’t perfect because the waistband came out a bit tight. This is because I drafted the skirt to end at my natural waist, and checked the fit at the waist, and then added a waistband of the same width on top of that. Oops. Next time I’ll know better. I used hooks and eyes for the closure of the waistband so I just sewed them on a bit further out to give me some breathing room.

I tried adding an inseam pocket to the design but it really didn’t work. It had to go on the side with the pleats because the other side has the zip. The side seam went all wonky with the pocket in place so I ripped it out. It’s quite hard to unpick seams in this fabric because stitches just vanish into it, but once you’ve managed to remove them it doesn’t leave a mark.

I like it with the plain black T-shirt (Marks and Spencer‘s finest). I’m not sure about shoes. The blue ones are nice but I couldn’t resist trying it out with my Vivienne Westwood platforms.

Unfortunately they aren’t very practical. In fact I can only just walk in them, but they’re good for posing!

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I made a lining by cutting it out from my original tailored skirt draft. This is a regular skirt block with darts for shaping. I made the draped pattern by cutting up a copy of the block, so in theory the lining ought to be the same shape as the skirt once I’d sewn the pleats and darts. I could have used the same pattern pieces for the lining as the fashion fabric but I had visions of catching a toe in the pleats while putting it on. Amazingly this did work.

I wasn’t sure what the correct way to finish the lining hem would be. I definitely didn’t want it hanging free at the hem as it would be bound to show at some point given that the skirt hem isn’t straight. I originally considered using my lining fabric as underlining, but couldn’t bear the thought of itchy woolly seam allowances so the skirt had to have a proper lining.

In the end I attached the lining in the usual way and stitched in the ditch at the side seams to fix the lining to the fashion fabric near the hem. That allowed me to treat it like an underlining when hemming and sew the fashion fabric to it.

This project has been a really educational experience. I’d like to try drafting some more things now, although I’ve got a couple of projects from patterns ready to go now. Next up is a BurdaStyle skirt, if my fabric survives the bin-liner-and-wet-sheet preshrinking method. I’ll let you know on Sunday!

Another shopping list

I know I haven’t sewed up all the fabric I bought in London yet. Much less have I managed to get started on Vogue 8644. But I’m going to Glasgow soon and it would be a waste not to at least go and look at the local fabric shops while I’m there, right?

From googling it looks as though the big two are Mandors and Remnant Kings although there are plenty of others. Suggestions welcome!

I need to come up with a list of things I’m looking for, or madness will ensue. Here is plan A:

  • Something tweedy for Vogue 8667
  • Something silky for the amazing top from Vogue 1195
  • And possibly some tartan because then I might actually get round to trying that Yohji Yamamoto knockoff I’ve been thinking about for years

The problem at the moment is that I keep changing my mind about what pattern I want to sew next. Assuming I ever get Vogue 8644 done. I haven’t had any time this week to get started on the cutting at all. Mind you making lists is half the fun…so I wouldn’t be too surprised if Plan B pops into my head in a day or two, fully formed and bearing no resemblance to the above whatsoever.