April was a little crappy to say the least. My Dad passed away of 18 months of fighting terminal brain cancer (glioblastoma), and as usual, when things go tits up for me I find solace in picking up a new project.
I’ve had the needles, yarn and pattern for this kitted top in my to do pile for around 2 years, with the hope of a new year, new start that then went into home schooling again when we entered lockdown part II.
Armed with the pattern, and youtube I set to work and the distraction was welcome. I learnt so much, and having knitted only a one pair of legwarmers (badly) previously I was so pleased and felt so accomplished when I finally finished this gorgeous top.
I learnt so much doing this (blocking? Who knew?) and it’s given me a lovely new hobby to spend more time on, and something I can take with me when I’m away. I already have plans to take the next project with me when we’re up in Scotland on holiday over summer. I don’t know about anyone else, but finding/buying vintage style knits, or repro knits is something I struggle with so this has solved that problem and then some.
More than anything, typing this now, I am thinking about Dad and how much he enjoyed reading my blogs. He subscribed so he’d get an alter whenever I put a new post up, and he was always so proud of everything I made.
A family moto Me, Tim and A adopted many years ago (before A was even a glint in our eyes) was up from the ashes grow the roses of success. I think it somewhat applies here, without trivialising things too much.
I went a little tank top crazy last week and bought four, and along with a brown dagger collared shirt, they cost me the grand total of £11. Bargain, thought I.
Then I considered the fact that:
I’m Going to Vegas soon and this is not suitable attire
It’s very nearly summer in the UK
And wondered what I was going to do with the, Ah-ha! I declared (inwardly, as I was in the middle of Manchester when I had this eureka moment), I am obviously just being super prepared for the coming winter of course.
With that thought it in mind I had rummage through my patterns and found a great 60s skirt pattern and a fantastic pattern for some flared trousers with turn ups.
So all that’s left is colours and materials to choose, any ideas anyone? I am getting stuck at brown, black and mustard and can’t seem to get my thoughts any further.
If you liked this blog please vote for me in the NVAs as I’ve been nominated under the Best Vintage Fashion/Lifestyle Blog category. Voting is open throughout May and it’s a simple click to select Stacey Stitch and then enter your email address to confirm the vote (you wont be spammed). Clicking on the photo or links above should take you straight to the website. It’ll only take a few minutes of your time if you have it spare! Thank you!
You may remember my post from January where I said I’d be getting on with the start of this Joanie inspired outfit by starting with the green pussybow blouse. It appears to have taken me an inordinate amount of time to complete. I have (in my defence) been quite busy with other things though; the prep for two interviews in two weeks for jobs I didn’t get (unfortunately), babysitting for our lovely friends’ adorable six month old and visits from old friends; it’s all meant that I haven’t been able to crack on as I would have liked to.
BUT here we are and finished in all it’s splendour is my blummin gorgeous 60s blouse a la Joan Harris (nee Holloway).
So where did I start? Having never made a blouse before I wasn’t entirely sure what material to go for. I decided on a trusty poly-cotton which meant the drape would be a bit stiffer than the one shown in the picture but I did want the collar to be a little stiffer, and as I wasn’t sure how this would all play out I thought not splashing the cash on fancy fabric would be the best option.
I went about cutting the pattern, fabric and interfacing out and I was quite happily thinking “less pieces, less work than a dress”. Ah, the young sewing fool inside me.
At the end of the first day I’d made the bodice and the collar. It dawned on my when I finished that I’d absolutely breezed the collar this time, I think I’ve been so caught up in worrying about the set in sleeves that I appear to have somehow mastered collars without thinking about it. Pretty good eh?!
Then it was sleeve making time. I should state, at this point, I have never made a full length sleeve, the previous ones I’ve made have been short/cap sleeves.
So this was a bit of a learning curve.
A sleeve with a cuff turns out to be very confusing when you get down to the cuff part. In the picture above are the markings to make the shirt fit to the barrel cuff. The part that I’m about to start stitching is the reinforced part which is then turned inside out and makes the opening that you then attach the cuff to.
All looks great on paper, all does not make sense once I’ve sewn it and pinned it.
It took me half an hour to figure out what it was meant to look like from the illustration on the instructions and the consequent consultation with my husband, to figure out if I was having a particularly bad case of dyslexic brain. Turns out his dyslexic brain was not computing either.
But with fiddling, and pressing, and a few minutes break away from it I had that all too common eureka sewing moment where it clicked. I finally pressed it, attached the cuff and hoped for best. It turned out pretty well and meant the second sleeve was a breeze.
Then it was on to the dreaded time.
The set in sleeve time.
The time of doom.
Now, I made a little list of goals at the beginning of the year (some have totally fallen by the wayside already) and one of these was to master set in sleeves by the end of 2014. So when I went into this part of making the blouse I did so with a new determination that I would not simply settle for “that’ll do” and I would set these sleeves in over and over until I got them perfect.
Plenty of people gave me advice (thank you everyone for all of your helpful tips and guidance) but I really owe massive thanks to Clare at www.sewdixielou.com for spurring me on when I was halfway through ripping the sleeves out for the second time (and on the verge of having a little cry) who simply said “I never use gathered way hate it. I do it by hand gently easing larger fabric pinning every 1/2″. Then when happy pin in between pins then baste by hand. Remove pins check how it looks then machine”.
Now, this may strike you as odd (but probably goes a long way to explaining more than bit about me) but I never considered for a moment that I should use any other method than gathering.
It’s what everyone had shown me; books, sewing tutorials online, pattern instructions. All gathering. It’s a rule right?
Wrong. I am learning more and more that sewing is about finding what works for you and just because people say you should do it this way, it doesn’t mean you have to do it this way.
In the end I went for a bit of both, I gathered a little and then pinned and pinned. I sewed from the inside of the sleeve ; calmly, slowly, gently and smoothed as I went. Et Voilà! A perfectly set in sleeve!
So overjoyed was I that I ran about the house and told Tim he should come and look, at which point he did and we embraced and then I did my little happy dance (literally). Then I proceeded to set the other in, with no problem at all and then made Tim come back every five minutes to look at my beautiful set in sleeves on my fantastic blouse.
Needless to say, it wore a bit thin (for him- certainly not for me) after the 50th time, saying that though he was very chuffed for me.
Next up were buttonholes and buttons, which I forgot to buy. I finally located some small-ish ones and add them to the cuffs and the front of the blouse with a pop stud opening at the top (which is covered when the collar is done up) and here we are, the finished article.
I really feel like I’ve made sewing skills progress with this blouse.
I have learnt sleeves with openings and cuffs; I have finally managed to successfully set in sleeves and I’ve made a new type of collar. Wholly happy.
As I have said blouse so much in this post I’ll leave you with this little clip from Bottom. I can’t think about the word blouse without thinking about Ritchie giving his famous chat up likes a whirl “my what a lovely blouse you have on”!
I definitely fall into the category of someone who acquires things I don’t use, buys fabric because it’s on clearance and regrets it, and goes for something because it’s close enough!
I’m really looking forward to the follow up posts, hopefully this will help me with a little management and structure when I’m compiling my list of what to sew and what not to sew this year.
And on that note (and before I get too sensible about things) I’ve decided that the next thing I am going to sew will be this fabulous Butterick pattern for a blouse. Mostly I have decided to do it in green because I have the wonderful outfit my beloved Joanie (have I said how much I love Mad Men?!) wore a couple of series back which I really want to emulate.
I’ve bought some plain green cotton, which might be a little too heavy but we’ll see, either way it’ll work out as a good practice or something I can go swishing about the office in.
I have been sewing, honest! I know I’ve been quiet but with the heatwave we’re having at the moment and Wimbledon proving to be quite a distraction it’s taken me quite a lot longer than I thought it would to complete the skirt and top combo I started a couple of weeks ago.
I started with the McCalls 7292 view B top and went for quite a thick red cotton that I had in my stash. The top was quite simple to make but did come out a little bit bigger than I would have liked. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve lost weight recently or if I should have allowed some ease on the pattern. I have used this pattern before (view C) and it has fit me like a glove so I’m not entirely sure why it was different this time around.
I decided once it was finished to embroider a flower on one of the shoulders to make it a bit more interesting and it came out quite nicely. The patterns are ones that were handed to me from my Nana, now her eyesight isn’t too good she can’t do much needlework.
I started on the skirt from Simplicity 2654 view 3, a full circle skirt. I used quite a thin black cotton and it was simple from start to finish (apart from taking ages to cut out as I was watching the men’s final and getting very excited about Murray!)
I did embroider the bottom with the larger flower pattern, hoping that it would lift the skirt a bit as it looks very black. The red against the black didn’t make it pop as much as I thought it would. I know that might sound a bit silly but I did think after maybe I should have put some red ric rac on the bottom of it, then again it might have made it look a little cartoon-y and this is, really, a top and skirt for work so it doesn’t have to be too colourful.
The finished top and skirt:
What do you think? Should I have have stitched some ric rac on the bottom rather than the embroidery? Any advice would be appreciated.
I’m not sure if it’s just because the last thing I made was so colourful compared to this it seems a little boring!