Galloping Horses!

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Equipped with my new sewing machine know-how and a whole day to dedicate to it, I couldn’t wait to get started on Simplicity K1609, which came free with the July edition of Sew Magazine. I’d also spied Amanda’s (of Sew Deputy) beautiful eyelet version and knew I had to try it.

I know, I know! There aren’t any fancy buttonholes or use of anything even vaguely ‘knitted’ apparent in my Galloping Horses dress, but I definitely felt more in control of my machine 🙂 And here are a whole host of new, but admittedly very basic ‘skills’ I learnt, and yes, I did manage to harness my impatience and finally slow down too…

Here are my, admittedly, very basic questions I asked when I visited the machine shop and that I was able to apply to the making of this dress:-

1. How often do I need to change my needle?

The advice was every six weeks or so. Mmmmm, so given that I got this machine for my fortieth birthday and I’m fast approaching forty two (October, for the record) I probably should have asked about this earlier… Needle duly and easily changed!

2. Why had my automatic threader stopped working?

These are so basic sorry, feel free to skip to the actual sewing bit… She quickly pointed me to the ‘up/down needle position button’ (see, I even got the manual out to look up the technical term). Another exciting, little button she introduced me to was the ‘automatic reverse stitch’, although admittedly I’m still perfecting the use of this as I’m tending to press either too early, and it doesn’t quite complete to the end of the fabric, or too late and it’s reverse stitching thin air.

3. What stitch do I use to finish off seams, instead off constantly using my pinking shears?

She pointed to the overcasting stitch and informed me that I probably had an over edge foot in the accessories pack that came with my machine. And indeed, I did! This was my favourite new discovery and I’m sure it will give my makes a much neater finish. It worked best on finishing my facings, rather than attempting to hem them. They looked a whole lot neater!

As Amanda promised (thank you!), the pattern was really quite straightforward. I was tempted to use a cute, contrasting collar, but in the end I figured this might make it a little too dressy, so opted for a bow in the same material so that I could wear it as a day dress. I think this just about worked out as a day dress, what do you think?

The actual dress pieces were plain sailing, as was inserting the invisible zip. However when I tried it on it was a little ‘snug’ around the hips which resulted in the back being all bunched up. To solve this I simply unpicked the centre seam on the front to allow a little ‘wiggle’ room and to avoid the unsightly back ‘bunching’. This, thankfully, worked perfectly. Although the bow instructions looked pretty complicated it turned out to be mostly common sense.

Because of my chosen material, it was the cutting out that was the longest task in this project. I thought it would look plain odd if my horses weren’t running horizontally so I had to cut separate bits and then re fold my fabric. I wasn’t able to cut the pieces for the bow the right way up though, but as it’s pretty well camouflaged by the busy print, I don’t think this part of it really mattered.

All in all I actually enjoyed forcing myself to slow down with this dress and I’ve probably become a much better wannabe-seamstress in the process 🙂

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Tilly’s Miette Skirt

I saw loads of lovely versions of this skirt during MMMay. I was going to go for the obligatory denim version (which I no doubt will in time), when I spied this eye-catching ikat print in the John Lewis sale. It’s not my normal style but thought it would make for a pleasant change. This pattern is designed with beginners in mind, with no fastenings. The pattern lived up to its beginner label and was pretty  easy to assemble. My fabric did cause me some confusion however, as I couldn’t for the life of me figure out which side was the right side and which was the wrong side. Eventually, I kind of decided that if I couldn’t tell close up, then hopefully no one else would be able to from a distance…

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Seeing as the print of my fabric was so busy, I opted to omit the patch pockets, cute though they were. I cut a size 2 as I did for the Delphine Skirt, which was perfect. And as for pattern matching? I decided not to even think about it 😉 The only part of the pattern I had problems with was attaching the waistband. I can’t wait until I get to the point in my sewing when there isn’t always something! Anyone know when this happens exactly? Anyway, this was the something causing me problems today! I think I was too conscious of matching my side seams to my waistband, because that didn’t quite happen on my Delphine. But somehow that meant that my waistband pieces with interfacing didn’t quite end up in the right place, but slightly off centre.

This was really lovely fabric to work with. Paying a little extra does seem to make a difference, and this was in the sale…

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Overall, I’m pretty pleased with this skirt. I’m not sure the design is quite as flattering on me as the high-waisted A-line Delphine (or that I’m tying it right, will have to have a play around with it), but it’s good to ring the changes and this is lovely and comfy to wear. I should think it will work just as well with flats (well, as flat as I ever go) for weekends, as it will with heels and a black jacket for work. Another functional skirt, thank you Tilly 🙂

Celebratory shopping :-)

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I finally finished this Summer’s marking over the weekend, all 676 of them! Phew!   I work for one of the big exam boards, and even though it’s really useful for my day-to-day teaching, it’s a pretty hard slog. So, to celebrate I went fabric shopping 🙂

There was a sale on in John Lewis, so I stocked up. On the fabric front, I got a lovely ‘Holly Hobby’ type print for my daughter, a striking print called ‘galloping horses’ for a simple A-line dress I have in mind and a lovely ikat print I’m thinking of completing Tilly and the Buttons’ Miette skirt in.

And I couldn’t resist adding these lovely, 60s style Burda patterns to my basket. Most of which are way beyond my present abilities, but how beautiful are they? And totally wearable too. Definitely something to aim for. I’ll add them to my very long list…