Another Walthamstow haul

On Saturday morning I had a bit of time spare before my in-laws came for a flying visit, so what better way to while away a couple of hours than nip over to Walthamstow market for a quick fabric hoover?

I had a £50 budget and came away with over 23 metres of new prints and a tenner change thankyouverymuch. I was after some jersey and some interesting/quirky prints for pretty dresses. Was Walthamstow up to the challenge? You betcha. Here’s the haul:

Three metres each of this adorable swiss dot in hot pink and lavender. I’m going to draft a simple nightie using the neck yoke and gathered neckline of New Look 6864.

Bargain: £1.50/metre

Three metres of this pretty red star-spangled jersey knit, to be used for New Look 6802.

Bargain: £2/metre

Two metres of this black star-spangled jersey, to be used either for Renfrew or Rie. Can’t decide. May have to buy more jersey!

Bargain: £2/metre

The love affair with petrol blue and polkadots continues with this pretty cotton – three metres were purchased. For any possible number of future projects.

Bargain: £2/metre

Gasp! In tribute to Team GB’s amazing success at the old rowing and boating malarkey I’ve snapped up this cute sailing boat fabric – no idea what it is though. I’m positive it’s man-made but it has a lovely drape and a soft almost velvety feel to it. A pretty shift possibly?

Bargain: £1.50/metre

Forgive the dull pic – this is much prettier in real life. Birdy fabric – three metres of. Definitely man made and possibly quite flammable, but pretty nonetheless.

Bargain: A shocking £1/metre

And finally a fun three and a half metres of this purple/orange polkadot craziness. Disappointingly the selvedge is ripped in several places and some of the purple has washed out a bit after pre-washing… but perhaps it can be used for wearable muslins.

Bargain: £2/metre but worked out slightly less as we realised the selvedge issue in the shop so I was given a free half metre!

Not bad eh? Have you had any sewing bargains recently?

Completed project: A vintage-style Colette Violet

I’ve wanted to do the Colette Violet for a while. I’ve been thinking it’s more practical for me to have more separates in my wardrobe since (as lovely as dresses are) I’m more likely to reach for them on a bleary-eyed Monday morning in the dark. Plus I wanted a nice blouse or two to take with me on my holibobs that would be light and fresh in the heat but would cover and protect my pale Irish upper arms.

Colette Violet

I was inspired by the vintage feel of Lauren’s and Nette’s versions so I chose a very lightweight floral cotton and adapted the pattern so it was a much tighter fit (more details below). The buttons are vintage – doncha love the pink pop of colour?

Colette Violet

Lordy that’s a bit of a Prozac gaze isn’t it?!

Colette Violet

A closer look at the peter pan collar.

Colette Violet

Noof noof fluffy Gracie.

Pattern review: Colette Violet (short-sleeved version)

Difficulty rating for StitchandWitter: 2/5

Fabric used: Just under 2m of a lovely vintage-style floral cotton from Walthamstow market

Total cost of dress (not including pattern): Approx £8.50 (think fabric was about £2 a metre, buttons were £4.50 for six)

Fitting issues: Now I knew the Colette Violet is supposed to be a loose-fitting blouse, so I decided to cut out a size 8 from the pattern. But once put together I realised I still wanted a more slender fit. So I hacked off a good bit on either side (see pics below). I also knew that Colette patterns often need a width reduction across the shoulders on me, so I did it right this time and took about an inch off either side at the top of the armhole.

Altering pattern

Making issues: I’d previously made a blouse with a peter pan collar and got incredibly confused with the placket and the facing so it ended up being hideous inside (although it was one of my first sewing projects last year). This time, it went like a dream, with Colette patterns’ lovely relaxing yet instructive voice guiding me though each step. I now feel like I can go back to that vintage pattern and try it again! My buttonholes still aren’t perfect. I get this issue on my machine where I can see occasionally it’s not leaving the stitch in the fabric. Not quite sure what’s going on there – may have to consult the manual.

Skills learned: Adding a placket.

Anything to add? I tried to finish the edges of the facing with self bias binding like Lauren’s fabulous version. I followed Portia’s excellent tutorial for making bias binding – what a breeze! But then tragedy struck – my masking tape is evidently the stickiest EVER and my fabric is soft and thin – the two became inextricably linked and wouldn’t be separated. They are now locked together in their hellish fabric/paper union in the sewing room bin. Ah well. I just turned the edges under a quarter inch instead.

Will I make again? Yes – without a doubt, especially now I have my alterations in place on my tracing. I plan to do multiple versions  in all these fabrics, maybe adding piping to the collar and front edges too:

Fabrics for Colette Violet

Have you made anything multiple times? How do you keep the process fresh so you don’t get bored?

Completed project: New Look 6000 – The Holloway

It defied a lapped zipper, it balked at a lining, it tried to do a vanishing act before my very eyes! But I defeated it! Ladies and gents… introducing… The Holloway, brought to you in association with New Look 6000 frock fest.

Inspired by Scruffy’s fabulous Pan Am photoshoot I’ve tried and failed to recreate a sixties office in North London, so instead here is Joanie (aka Joann-ie) at home, dusting and whatnot, as ladies in the sixties were wont to do. Thankfully we now live in more enlightened times and take husbands to do much of that for us.

Out with the old and in with the new as Joannie takes down the Christmas tree…

Holloway at the Christmas tree

Who wants a Dark and Stormy? (some odd creasing going on there around the bust – think I just need to pull the dress down a bit there. Plus I see my eager ironing of the bias bound hem has resulted in a visible border around the hem! Ack!)

Who wants a dark and stormy?

I subscribe to the Dean Martin school of drinking: “I’d hate to be a teetotaler. Imagine getting up in the morning and knowing that’s as good as you’re going to feel all day.”

Drink for one

Tidying up the armoire…

Dusting the armoire New Look 6000

And now for the infamous Joanie shot. Will it hold? Will it???!!!!

The Holloway shot

Jeez Louise… just about… hooray!

This year I will be trying to add more thoughts about the patterns I attempt, not just to give more info to anyone who might be thinking of trying it out but also for my own (entirely selfish reasons) use when I revisit.

Pattern review: New Look 6000 (View C with gathered waist)

Difficulty rating for StitchandWitter: 2.5/5

Fabric used: 2m of golden brown tweedy woven wool(?) that frayed VERY easily once cut (yikes) and some spare teal corduroy-covered buttons from making the Betty Blue Beignet, plus a 22 inch all purpose zipper and interfacing. Fabric was a couple of quid a metre from Walthamstow market.

Total cost of dress (not including pattern): Approx £6 (pattern was £12.72 including shipping from US)

Fitting issues: Well I was a little optimistic with my sizing, after all those Christmas feasts. I looked at the finished garment measurements and cut out an 8, which was a smidgeon too small in the waist and butt in my muslin (thank god I did a muslin). I had already cut out the pattern (instead of tracing it as I normally do on to swiss tracing paper – the impatient me was dying to get on with it) so I just sellotaped on a bit more paper around that problem area on the back piece and added about a centimetre to the outer edge. I also scooped out some width across the back with a crazy dart in the pattern piece, removing about 4 centimetres in total which on reflection might have been too much (not to mention probably the wrong way to remove width in that area) but hey ho.

Making issues: The pleated waist and the cutting of the front on the bias was a new thing for me and a little daunting, but it all made sense when you gathered up one side. My lapped zipper totally and utterly failed and just looks like a normal zipper. Must go back to lapped zipper school…

Skills learned: Adding a vent, adding a cuff with a kick, pleating, cutting on the bias. NOT a lapped zipper. Adding bias binding to finish the hem.

Anything to add? I really really wanted to add a lining to this dress but when it came to the crunch I was just a little too scared by the prospect, having not lined a dress before. I’ll revisit once I have more skills under my belt. I also wanted to finish the inside seams better than they currently are, but at the rate the fabric was fraying it was all I could do to add a zigzag stitch before they disappeared! As a result I’m not sure how long this dress will last or whether it will hold up to serious wear or whether I will be able to stand the scratchiness of the inside (so that’s what hair shirts feel like – I see!). But for now, it’s all mine…

Will I make again? Hell yeah – love this style. It’s so flattering and grown up. Better get me some kind of serious job just so I can wear it to work now…


My first handmade Christmas presents

It’s been a busy week or so round our way: my husband’s mum and stepdad came to visit us before flitting off to beautiful Thailand for four months of beach-lounging, Thai cookery and general lazing about (very much deserved of course but we can all allow a little envy!).  Then it was the work Christmas party on Thursday to which I wore my very own handmade dress for the second time in a month – yay!

Having the in-laws over meant that I could give them their handmade Christmas presents, which I’ve been itching to share but haven’t been able to for obvious reasons. I really wanted to make them something but had to think carefully about what I could make that they could take away with them. And then I thought – dressing gowns! Of course! Nothing better than relaxing on your own sun-drenched terrace, sipping iced lemon tea and flicking lazily through a paperback… in a custom-made dressing gown.

I hotfooted it to Walthamstow market for the fabric as I knew I could get some good deals, have lots of choice and still not break the budget. My pattern (Butterick B5537) called for SIX METRES of fabric which seemed ridiculous. In the event I got four metres for each gown as I wanted to reduce the length to something more summery anyway. It took just less than three metres of fabric for each in the end.

Dressing gown B5537

For Ann’s I chose a beautiful satin that just drapes gorgeously. It was a slippery little bugger to sew though. I gave up on adding a pocket in the end because it slid about like a drunk little stitchandwitter weaving her way home from a xmas works do. My pinking shears did not like this fabric one little bit. They chewed at it, rather than slicing through it, which means although the dressing gown is lovely and neat on the outside, it’s a different story with the seam finishes on the inside. But another lesson learnt nonetheless.

Dale is not a slinky slippery silky fabric sort, thank goodness. For him I chose a brushed plaid cotton, which may just be a touch too warm for where he’s going but he said he going to wear it anyway, bless him. Much easier to sew and since it was the second version, much quicker too. I didn’t get a pic of Dale’s on the dummy but here it is neatly folded and ready to wrap!

Dressing gown B5537

This is a pretty easy project if you want to try it, although if (like me) you’re used to the excellent instructions that come with Colette patterns then trying to work your way through the illustrations and slightly cryptic details may be frustrating at first. I still have so much to learn when it comes to understanding regular patterns.

But never mind all that – here’s a picture of Ann and Dale in all their handmade finery!

Ann and Dale in their dressing gowns!

Bon voyage Ann and Dale! We miss you! We love you! xxx