A detour to Cambie and Echo

Oops, did I say that I wasn’t very good at updating?  I’m not very good at updating.  Consequently, you will occasionally end up with a post like this one, where I post a couple of oh-look-I’ve-finished’s all in one go.

First of all, Wren.  Wren is still in progress.  I just can’t quite get the adjustments right.  It is getting closer with every iteration, but I have now run out of cheap-and-cheerful jersey to practice on, so Wren has stalled until I can make it to the market, where jersey doesn’t cost £12 a meter.  As I work full time, this will have to wait until I take holiday so it may be a little while.  Fingers crossed that the Sheffield markets yields something useful in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I still needed a fancy dress for a recent event, so I returned to the much-loved Sewaholic Cambie.  I first made this dress approximately 3 years ago from Birch Organic cotton in Elk Grove.  Sadly, I lack images of this (my former laptop gave up the ghost last year) but you can kind of get an idea from the fabric image below.


My original iteration was a bit of a mixture of sizes.  Most of the body and the armholes were a size 14.  The bodice front only was a size 12, but with a FBA.  It was the only way to get it to fit closely.  I then still had to take a 1″ wedge out of the top of the bodice to get it to fit across the top of my bust.  My new version was a straight size 10, so I think a couple of years of diet and exercise have finally balanced my proportions out.

Please bear in mind, looking at these photos, that I lack a dress form and it is very difficult to get decent photos of myself wearing dresses in this flat.  Particularly when the dress is as dark as this one.  Regardless, this gives you some idea of the finished garment.


The fabric is a mystery from Leeds market.  I think it’s probably a polyester but it has lovely drape.  The only issue in sewing it was slipperiness.  This stuff slid about all over the place so it was quite difficult to control.  You can see this on the slightly wonky neckline (three attempts and this was as good as it got).  I lined just the bodice in the same fabric, mostly to prevent any issues with the lining showing at the sleeves or neckline.  Because the pattern was so busy, I didn’t bother gathering the sleeves – I just cut 2 versions of the lining.

My second finished item of the month is the Echo Flower shawl, which has been in progress since May.  I actually finished this right at the beginning of September, but it’s taken me a little while to get around to photographing.  The pattern is actually very straightforward, and I made really good progress until the end of May, when the number of nupps involved in completing the edging caused me to put it away in frustration for around 3 months.  This might just be me, though – I’ve never been fond of nupps.


The yarn is 2 skeins of Manos Silk Blend in Europa, which I picked up at woolfest nearly 2 years ago.  It has made a reasonably large shawl.  Not big enough to use as a full wrap as I’d hoped, but big enough to keep the chill of the air conditioning off at work.

And that’s all for now.  I am in the midst of planning yet another Fumeterre, view A in denim this time, and a Granville shirt to go with it, so there should be more posts forthcoming.  Eventually.  I’ll get around to it, I promise.


Wren Muslin

Absolutely ages ago, I ordered the Colette Wren pattern.  I then promptly stuck it in the pattern box and never got around to it.  I’ve had appropriate fabric for ages, a lovely black bamboo silk which will make a lovely dress, but I’ve had no motivation to actually get started.

Well, we are heading into Autumn, which means Christmas will be here before we know it (I know, I know, shut up!).  So I’m looking to make a fancy dress and Wren fits the bill, largely because it’s not so formal that I’ll only wear it once.

I did a bit of research and discovered that a lot of people have had fitting issues, either with it being slightly small or with bodice length.  I therefore thought it best to muslin it first, especially since I normally need a FBA but that’s not always the case with a wrap dress.  The muslin was very informative.

The fabric I used to muslin this was some jersey I picked up cheap in the local market.  It has very similar stretch and drape to my intended fabric.  Based on comments from others who have already made this up, I cut a size L and went down to an M at the waist.  I lengthened the bodice by 2″ and, because I wasn’t terribly fond of the sleeves, I drafted a tulip sleeve based on the provided pattern piece following the very helpful instructions from Sew Chic.  This was the outcome.  I’ve turned the background white for clarity, since my walls are a similar colour to the fabric – please forgive my dodgy photoshopping.



The front looks ok.  The neckline doesn’t pull so I think I’m ok without the FBA and it isn’t too low.  It is obvious though that this is too short.  It needs lengthening by at least another 2″, possibly a little bit more.


The side is a little bit more problematic.  The side seam is very nearly vertical but not quite.  It is pulling forward a little beneath the armhole, although this could just be down to having my arms raised.  The sleeve looks absolutely fine and I’m really happy with it, but the fabric looks to be pulling across the back.  I’m getting a nice close fit across the bust, but that causes me to ask about closures – this pattern isn’t meant to have any, but it was a bit of a struggle getting it on.  Perhaps the fit is meant to have a bit more ease, but I like the close fit, so I may need to consider a zipper or something – what are we meant to use for knit garments?


Finally the back.  Again, you can see the places where the fabric pulls a little from the side seams up towards the shoulders.  There’s also the beginnings of a bit of pooling going on right at the bottom, but I’m not certain if that needs a swayback adjustment or if it is just the fabric curling under at the bottom, or even if it needs more width to the fabric at the bottom.  The weight of the skirt might sort it out.  I will probably need a second, longer muslin to be sure what’s going on there.

Not being particularly experienced with fitting adjustments, I am currently working from the Colette Sewing Handbook.  The fit section says that tight diagonal wrinkles like I have here indicate that there is not quite enough fabric to go around my back.  I think this needs adding to the back, which I’ll attempt on this first muslin before trying it on the pattern pieces.

There are a couple of other things I learned from this too.  First of all, I can’t sew hems on knits neatly to save my life.  I am thinking a clean finish binding might be best for the neckline and probably the sleeves as well.  If I can figure out the twin needle, I’ll use that to edgestitch it down.  I’ll need to adjust the seam allowances to do this though, so I’ll need to keep track of what I’m doing where.

Gosh, who knew it would be this complicated?

Writer’s Fumeterre

2 months since I said I would try harder with the blog.  You can see how much of a success this is going to be.  Committed, I am not.

So 2 months ago I made Fumeterre by Deer & Doe.  This is my second Fumeterre, my first being a version in dark green wool crepe that I have worn to death.  The original was view B more or less as-written, except for a few length adjustments and changing to a basic turned hem rather than the wide hem facing in the pattern.

This version is view A, but with the addition of the pockets from view B (because every outfit needs pockets).  I must confess I probably like this version better.  Partly due to the buttons, the optical illusion of which somehow make me look taller than my profoundly average 5’3″ but also due to the fabric.  My wool crepe version developed a hole which I have never determined the cause of after a few wears (which hasn’t stopped me wearing it, but I really do need to cut it off above the damage and re-hem to knee length).  This version has been getting extremely regular wear for 2 months now and looks pretty much as new.


The entire enterprise, from cutting to final press, took me a few evenings.  The actual sewing, even for fiddly areas such as the belt loops, was very quick and straightforward and took no time at all.  The parts which took the most time were the buttons.  I am really considering looking for a Simflex to make matching up the buttonholes a bit more straightforward.  10 buttons took me an entire evening all on their own.

I cut a straight size 42 for this pattern.  With the skirt being quite wide, I didn’t have any problems fitting it to my hips so I only needed to worry about the waist measurement (what a lovely change).  The elasticated panel at the back helps take care of any residual fitting issues too.  I did however have to take 4″ off the bottom – this pattern seems to have been drafted for a giraffe.  The fabric was 4 meters of Rowan French, a 100% cotton that I bought back in April 2015 (£30 on sale).  It was originally destined to be a Cambie but I like it much better as a skirt.  It’s less overwhelming.

Maxi skirts are becoming more and more a staple in my wardrobe.  In an office which operates an entirely different climate than outside, it is brilliant to be able to keep my legs covered when it gets chilly.  I think I’ll be making a few more of these by the end of the year.

You should start a blog…

Last weekend, I made a skirt.  I was inordinately proud of this skirt, and consequently spammed everyone I know with pictures of it via Facebook, Ravelry and text message.  My friend Ashwin came back with compliments on the skirt (well done, that was the right move!) and the question as to whether or not I had a blog.  Well, his exact words were ‘you should catalogue this in a blog’.  A man after my own heart; I love records.

This is far from the first blog I have ever started.  As a teenager, I was as enamored of livejournal.com as everyone else I knew, and I’ve dropped in and out of tumblr, twitter and instagram as the mood grabbed me.  I’ve not really stuck with any of them.  The eagle-eyed amongst you might also notice that this blog was in fact created in March 2014, over 2 years ago.  My posting was sporadic and low-quality, and I have decided to wipe the slate clean.  Apart from anything else, I’ve managed to work my way through a lot of my early dressmaking questions now, and I suspect the jump to ta-daa might be a bit jarring.

So why have I started again?  Ashwin’s question reminded me of a few things.  First of all, despite my lack of consistency and the fact that I’ve just deleted a whole 7 posts, I really do love a reminder of how I’ve developed.  Secondly, I would like to become more a part of the community that blogging offers; Ravelry is extremely effective for knitters but nothing has quite taken off in the same way for sewing the way that blogs have.  Finally, Ashwin’s question reminded me of another blog post I read, back when I was first learning to knit (10 years ago now – I was still at school!).  The Yarn Harlot, one of the most successful and well-known bloggers out there, opened her blog with a similar story.  Her friend Ken helped her set up her own blog, and look how far she’s come now.

So, new page, new start, new things to blog about.  Starting with that skirt.