Dusting off my sewing machine

My awesome 70s Singer sewing book. I would have used a nice portrait photo but WordPress didn’t like it for some reason

After a rather long hiatus I have once again started work on the Colette Peony dress I have been making for what seems like one hundred years. I am rather monogamous with my knitting and my sewing so once I’ve started I tend to carry on until the end rather than having lots and lots of things on the go. So, my main motivation in starting this up again was to get it finished, so that I can start something else. Something much easier which will task my brain in no way! My other motivation was the sight of my lovely sewing machine starting to look a little dusty and unloved and the table it sits on fast getting so cluttered with other random items that it might disappear!

So, I dusted off the machine, cleaned up the table, ironed the pattern pieces (which were looking rather creased after some weeks in the sewing box) and made a start. I’d come to a stop because I was having problems with setting in the sleeves. I just couldn’t get them to look right. I’d sewn the gathering stitches and tacked up 2 or 3 times and it still looked rubbish.

This time around I decided to take the same approach to sewing as I usually do with knitting; just have a go in a slightly slap-dash manner and hope for the best (substituting the mantra ‘it’ll block out’ with ‘it’ll press out’). I think I’ve been too precious with my sewing in the past; really wanting it to be perfect and so giving up every time I hit something hard because I don’t want to mess it up. This time I am just going to get on with it and have faith that it will turn out okay.

I hand sewed the gathers to make sure that they were good and close to the edge and then tacked the sleeves. I took advice from my awesome 70s Singer sewing book and ironed the sleeves after tacking and before machine stitching. This seemed to help and I took the plunge and machine stitched. They are not the best looking sleeves that the world has ever seen, and I still prefer setting in knitted sleeves because you can easily bodge it and make it work by pulling it a bit, but they look okay and I am rather proud!

Buoyed by my success I made a start on the skirt. That was much easier and involved no worrying at all. I’ve gone for nice purple pockets to contrast with the light purple of the dress and I’m planning on a purple zip to match (well as much as it is possible to match things when ordering on the internet). I had to go for the pocket option as I love pockets and it’s one of the things I look for in a skirt or dress.

The wrong side of the skirt and purple pockets

The next step is going to be the fear inducing task of attaching the bodice to the skirt, I have never done that before. However I am going to take the precaution of tacking it up first and then sew it right up! Wish me luck!



Peony dress – progress so far

I’ve made a start on my Peony dress. I am trying not to get too excited about it as my sewing ambitions don’t quite match my skill (yet-although I’m working on it!).

I suspect that this dress may take me a while (while I go wrong and then have to redo things) so I have chosen a very pretty fabric that I won’t mind looking at for a while. I like the fact that it works both ways up so I didn’t have to fiddle about too much when cutting out the pattern pieces.

I really like the butterflys and the little plants

I managed to make a mistake before I’d even started and cut the pattern pieces out on the right side rather than the wrong side. However I’m hoping it won’t make too much difference so I’m ignoring it and carrying on.

The last time I had a go at a Colette pattern the waist was far too big but the hips were a good fit. To try to get around this I’ve cut a smaller size for the top which should fit (if the measurements on the packet are to be believed). I have my fingers crossed that it won’t ruin the line of the dress…….

Now that I’ve started sewing it the waist is looking very small. Maybe I was having a very thin day when I was measuring…. It does fit but I’m a bit worried that it might make my bottom half look huge because it goes in so much. I suspect I might have to take the waist darts out a little on the front. I’m thinking that I’ll need to tack the skirt to the bodice and try it on to know properly.

I’ve tacked the sleeves in but I haven’t got them quite right yet. I think I need to take them out again and then redo the gathers closer in and then have another go. I haven’t helped myself with my mistake in the cutting out as the notches are in the wrong place. I’m determined to make it work though….

Should you give up on a sewing project?

urgh this is not my finest work (or my finest photo)!

Several months ago I started to make the Colette Ginger Skirt. I like the style of the skirt and it looked to me like it would be flattering for a pear shaped girl like myself and also go with most things. I was also keen to try another Colette pattern as I really enjoyed making the Sorbetto.

I was very excited when I started. I got myself some lovely grey fabric and made a start at cutting it out. All was going well while I was sewing the seams and the waist band. Then came the zip….. I was very frightened of the invisible zip so I put the skirt back in the sewing pile until I worked up the courage.

This weekend I finally got started again. I put in a passable zip (thanks to this Colette tutorial). Technically the zip isn’t quite as ‘invisible’ as I might have liked but it’s in the skirt and looks alright so I gave myself a pat on the back and carried on.

When I tried the skirt on problems became apparent. There are several:

a) The fabric isn’t the best choice. It drapes nicely but it’s a little too clingy on the hips. My hips are not my best area so this is a very bad thing.

b) The waist band isn’t level all the way around. I’m not entirely sure how I’ve done that…

c) The waist band is too big. I have smaller waist than my hips so I should have anticipated that this would be a problem.

d) My under stitching is too far away from the seam making the top of the skirt bulky and emphasising the fact that it is too big.

one side of the waist band is bigger than the other.....

I am feeling very grumpy about the whole thing as I suspect that most of the above problems aren’t fixable at this late stage (and with my limited sewing skills). I can’t help but think that there’s no point in finishing a skirt that I can never wear so I may have to abandon the whole thing. I hate giving up on project as it feels like a waste of time and money but I can’t imagine that I will drum up the enthusiasm and time to work on something I won’t wear.

I am doing my best to cheer myself up about the whole thing by focusing on the new skills I have learnt. I’ve  (almost) figured invisible zips, attached a waist band and worked out how to make interfacing work.

That’s not really helping to cheer me up about it so here is a cute picture of Coco instead:

Coco is queen of the castle