Taking stock of 2013 - and there can never be too much piping

Monday, 30 December 2013

It is the year's midnight, or Hogmanay, as we Scots call it, and a time for taking stock, and reviewing the old year.

So I've been looking back at As it Seams, and how my little blog has grown and changed. Of course it's not actually a year. I only launched As it Seams in May, when blown away by the world of creativity I discovered online, I could not resist setting up my own little corner of the web.

Since then I've been sucked in to a world of inspiration, and made new sewing addict friends across the globe. Thank you ladies....

And I've learnt a few things in 2013;

1. Piping is always a good idea
2. Always have sweets in a pocket for 'photoshoots' for those moments when persuasion fails
3. Never cut anything after 11pm
4. If you experiment, be prepared to put that seamripper to good use.
5. Add pockets

My 2013 'bests'

1. Best dress 
This was really hard. I tend to love my most recent creations (currently the Christmas dress and the Louisa dress which has proved to be an everyday wearable fave). 
But one thing I have discovered in 2013, is I really LOVE it when Missy's dress makes random strangers smile. And it was the sight of her spinning in the flipped Tinny with a flash of Echino which did this more than any other. (Second only to  bubbles and birds dress, which also makes people smile).

2. Best Fabric
Has to be the Cloud 9 1000 Cranes seen here in bubbles and birds dress. I really, really hope this still fits Missy next year!

3. Most 'Indulgent' Dress.
Has to be this Maxi Tinny Dress. I admit I only made this dress because I HAD to sew Jeni Baker's Nordika fabric. But it hasn't been worn once. I made it  at the wrong time of year, and maxi is a limited option for a lively three-year-old. But I did make it nice and wide, so maybe next summer, when it's a midi dress?

4. Best Pattern
No Question. The Tinny by Straight Grain. I have used this pattern not once, not twice but  four times. Here in original form for I'm a Princess dress, flipped in the Echino spin dress, the maxi Tinny, and for the Christmas dress. There is nothing I cannot do without a classic bodice and skirt dress pattern. Thanks Straight Grain!

And some New Years Resolutions;

1. Be Practical.... (mostly) . Missy doesn't always need another dress 
2. Tidy my fabric drawer
3. Be precise and (a bit ) less experimental...

But please don't hold me to my resolutions...I make no promises.

Happy New Year - See you on the other side!

Now if you forgive the self-indulgence, here's my 2013 As it Seams photo round-up


Take One Dress...for a little lady in red

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

There's something about a red dress that I can't resist. I've got a few, and now I've transferred my red dress obsession to Missy.

This is Missy's Christmas dress, sewn late at night in December evenings, rushed, unpicked, restitched and fiddled with.  

It's also the very first Take one Dress creation, sowing/sewing the seed for my exciting 2014 guest series. See here for details.

I've been on a little sewing journey - from this 1960s wool vintage dress bought in New York, to Missy's Christmas dress, via the Take One Dress experience. My plan was to sew something inspired by my vintage dress, but not a copy.

 The Take One Dress Route...

I spent several nights thinking about my vintage dress. There were two things which struck me particularly; the near-circular skirt, and  that triangular insert. How could I make that  triangle work in a little girl's dress? Then I remembered this blouse, my shark teeth blouse.

When I made these shark teeth pintucks the first time, it struck me that if I inserted a contrast colour, I could create different triangles. At the time, though, I stuck with minimalist white.
But the Christmas dress! Aha! Now's my chance to experiment!

 Now, believe me... this was Truly Experimental!
The dress is made of brushed cotton red flannel. Wintery, and with a bit of texture, like the open weave wool of the original 1960s dress. But it was also bulky, and it definitely didn't make neat pintucks like that crisp white cotton lawn. And then of course, I had to insert the  contrast strips. Red and white felt like a harsh combination, I've used stone-coloured linen. And it works perfectly. I stitched the 'teeth' down to hold the linen in place.
And, while my geometry might not be perfect, (believe me this involved rulers, measuring and brain power) the effect is pretty good.

My plan was to insert this as a placket into a dress made from Straight Grain's Tinny pattern, flipped about a little. I also wanted to keep that absolutely horizontal neckline...

Sounds simple, no?
Um... No....
Unpicked...stitched...unpicked.... aggghhhh.....

Think I finally nailed it.

 My placket insert was a little short! Oh no.... ! Quickly remedied by lengthening the bodice with a waistband...which also linked to a bow (what could be more Christmassy), lined with the same stone linen.

I lengthened the Tinny sleeves, and made the skirt a 3/4 circle, partly because I felt a full circle might be bulky in the flannel, and to reference the original dress, which isn't a full circle. 

Now this is Missy's Christmas dress,  and I'm going to link it up with Sew Pony and Craftstorming inspiring 12 Days of Christmas series.
For the past few years we've travelled to Scotland to spend Christmas with my family, but this year, work commitments mean we'll be staying at home. I'm so looking forward to spending time playing with the children and relaxing. And stomping through the beautiful countryside around our home.
So I wanted to make a dress that didn't scream 'Party.'
I was thinking more Nordic folk hero, a little girl from a Tolstoy novel, something striking, simple, cosy, practical (ish) and a touch romantic....
And, while there are lots of things about this dress that technically aren't great (please don't look too closely at the hem! Done very late at night after long working days...), I do love how it looks on Missy! I have, I think another Lady in Red...

And now, I've left Natalie at Nat and the Gang with a challenge? Where will the Take one Dress journey take her? She's the first in an exciting line-up of bloggers, and will be creating a vision, also inspired by my vintage dress. Intrigued? I am! I can't wait to see her creation. To be unveiled here on January 6!

Take One Dress... Announcing my very First Guest Series!

Monday, 16 December 2013

I'm so (sew) excited about 2014!

I started blogging less than a year ago and I've been stumbling around the online sewing community exploring this network of creativity. 

It's all about sharing ideas and inspiration, and I'm enjoying it more and more...

Which is why, when I had a moment of inspiration, I decided to share it. And by sharing my idea, I've managed to persuade some of the creative bloggers that I love most to join a line-up for a guest series in 2014.  I am so happy!

Do Guincho, Sew Pony, Nat and the Gang, While She Was Sleeping and Compagnie M have all said "yes" to my idea! 

It all started when I bought a dress, not because I wanted to wear it (I probably won't) but because it made me want to sew!  

It was a new step further in to my sewing addiction. I loved its shape, its actual seams. I've posted in detail about it here.

And this dress also was the source for of inspiration for my series Take One Dress, which will run on the first Monday of the month from January to June.

It's going to work like this...

Tomorrow, I'll unveil the dress I've created for Missy, inspired by this vintage dress. Here's a sneaky preview...

Then on January 6, Natalie, at Nat and the Gang, will show a where this dress has taken her by unveiling her creation it's inspired.

AND Natalie will also unveil a garment that she thinks is inspiring for a sewist. 
Then February's Take One Dress blogger, Marta at Do Guincho, will take up the challenge of sewing something inspired by Natalie's garment to be revealed a month later.

Look at this amazing schedule!
  • January 6 - Nat and the gang
  • February 3 - Do Guincho
  • March 3 - While She Was Sleeping
  • April 7 - Sewpony
  • May 5 - Compagnie M
  • June  2 - Mystery guest!
  • July 7 - As it Seams

I'm so excited about starting a chain of creativity - and I hope it inspires others to sew along. I'm going to sew along as much as possible, and will be creating a Take One Dress Flickr group to showcase your creations...

OK,  now come back tomorrow for the first Take One Dress creation....

Take one dress....

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Normally my blog posts 'unveil' the latest creation. But this time I'm going to do things the 'wrong way round'.

I'm going to share a little of my 'sewing thinking' first... And hopefully start something big....
If you saw my recent post (New York Pumpkin Spice Latte Quest) you'll know that I returned across the Atlantic with this dress.
It's not something I'm going to wear everyday, but it was something I just couldn't resist in a Brooklyn Flea Market.

Something about the shapes inspired me. It's a genuine 1960s dress, in the strangest material. It feels like an open weave wool, but the reverse has a strange kind of nylon coating. Weird!

But the shape is lovely.
It has a 3/4 circle skirt, a beautifully shaped bodice with darts that make it fit and flare. 
And that white triangular insert is set behind the red, so that there are little folds of red down either side. And I like the way the white is cut straight across, rather than a curved neckline. And the little covered buttons arranged in pairs, and the concealed zip....

Yep...it's got my sewing brain ticking away.

So I'm going to sew something for Missy for Christmas, inspired by this dress. Not a literal copy, I don't think - although that would be quite cute - but I'm going to use it as inspiration.
Here's the lowdown:
  • Dress: 1960s, vintage
  • Designer: A label that reads ILGWU, International Ladies Garment Workers Union
  • Fabric: Open weave wool, nylon backing
  • Key features: 3/4 circle skirt, triangular white bodice insert, horizontal neckline, paired covered buttons,
Because this dress is just so Christmassy, I'm going to unveil my creation in time for Christmas, along with a special announcement which I'm ever-so-excited about. (Now I've given myself a deadline, I've got to do it!)

And it seemed that because it's Christmas I should 'share the inspiration.' Does it inspire you too? I would love it if you sewed along with me. Perhaps you're also inspired by that triangular insert, or red-and-white combination, or something totally random that I haven't noticed!
Do get in touch!

Pattern Testing the Louisa Dress - plus a giveaway.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

I like deadlines. 
In my other life, I'm a journalist and deadlines are everything. And I always, always take things to the wire.

So when Marte at Compagnie M asked me to test her Louisa Dress pattern, with a six-day deadline, I thought; "Yes, a deadline -  my kind of sewing project!"

Then Missy got sick, nothing serious, but I had to take time off work and spend my evening catching up, and then Mr As-it-Seams got sick, then Torin got sick and Victoria As-it-seams got tired and grumpy...."This is the week I need to finish my dress!" 

But actually making the Louisa dress provided me with the respite that sewing always does.

In the late nights I set about it quietly and methodically and it preserved my sanity in a chaotic week. I must admit though, I was hemming at midnight, the night before these photos.

I had, still have, loads of ideas for this dress. I want to make a split back version next. But for this test version, the deadline meant my options were limited. I don't have a big fabric stash (contrary to what Mr As-it-Seams thinks) and there are only two very small fabric shops in my town, (and I  know exactly everything that they both have in stock!)  So I had to make do with the fabric that I did have.

Which was this needlecord in a rather lovely soft green colour. I love corduroy for children's clothes. Cord-du-roi, the cloth of kings, is soft, cosy and practical.

But it was a bit plain, I needed to perk it up a bit. It seemed to go perfectly with the last scraps of Jeni Baker's Nordika Whimsicol left over from this dress. So that's the inserts worked out then!

But to my eye, the inserts needed some kind of 'reference' on the front. And I love the Nordika fabric so much that it seemed a shame to put it all on the back of the dress. 

So I fiddled about with Marte's pattern and added a placket insert to the front in the Nordika, complete with a couple of pintucks and pink piping. I think green and pink must be my colour combination for the moment. See my Secret Squirrel outfit here. Oh, and this dress ! Without thinking I've created a winter version of it. Oh good, a touch of Nordika all year!

This was also my first proper blind zipper, I stuffed it up to begin with (because I didn't have the right kind of zip) but on second attempt it looks pretty good! Thanks Marte for your great instructions.

I made size 5 for Missy. She's 3 and a half, but tall,  and while this dress is a little boxy on the shoulders, it's got just the right amount of room for her to grow. I made the sleeves a couple of centimetres than Marte's pattern as I wanted full length sleeves. The dress is fully lined in green polka dots, which are very pretty.

This dress has really won me over. (Could it be that it's because it's got lots of piping? So love piping!) 
It was a straightforward sew, and now it's a surprisingly practical addition to Missy's wardrobe. She loves the big pockets. And it's cosy for winter. A summer version would be fun to make too. Although Marte's called this a vintage dress, I think it also looks quite modern and funky.

Marte's Louisa dress pattern is available in size 1 to 10, and she's selling it with a 10% discount this week over here. I've also got one copy of the pattern to raffle. Just click on the raffle thingy below!
Phew deadline met...now 'hold the front page'...I've got a little announcement to make this week. Please pop back!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway
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