Well, hello there, dear readers! Long time, no see.
I think I can safely say this is the longest it’s taken me to finish a sewing project – ever.
In the midst of my big “I’m moving out” clearout, I came across a project I started way back in 2010 – while I was still living in Germany. I discovered it scrunched into a plastic envelope tucked amongst my sewing patterns.
You may have noticed a certain floral addition to my sewing arsenal…
Meet Dorothy, my lovely sewing assistant – or mannequin, if we’re going to be formal about it. I’m only getting around to blogging about her now because, when she first arrived, I was in the middle of a horrendous bout of tonsilitis and didn’t really care to open up the huge box she came in, let alone write about it.
I’d been mulling over buying a dummy for a while. I think every sewist can make do without one, but you can’t really deny the benefits. For example, it was so much easier to visualise the ‘80s blouse refashion after I popped her on Dorothy and had a look at how I could change up the neckline and work darts into the front. It’s just so much easier to fit a dummy with your measurements rather than become a human pincushion as you try to awkwardly make alterations while still wearing your muslin.
The body itself is split into eight parts, which can be adjusted using one of 12 wheels - three on the front and back and three on either side. If you’re thinking of buying a dummy, do check the measurements – the minimum measurements shouldn’t be bigger than yours, otherwise the mannequin is no good to you.
Dorothy’s slightly padded, meaning I can stitch pins in on an angle. There’s also a great hem marker on the bottom – hems are my least favourite part of the dressmaking process, so hopefully it’ll come in handy.
So far, I’m a happy customer! And I just love the design on the fabric. If you want one like this, you can buy it here.
Ooh la la – isn’t Tilly’s Mathilde blouse just a delight to sew?
Decent, long-sleeved blouses are sorely lacking in my wardrobe. The Mathilde blouse was pretty much exactly what I needed to fill that gap – in a neutral colour, it would work well for both work and home. It’s also an absolute breeze to put together. Note: I couldn’t quite resist the siren call of the yellow buttons…
Ever made your own bias tape (or binding)? Nope, me neither. Until yesterday, that is.
I gave it a go with the help of the super-useful tutorial from Colette Patterns’ Colleterie for a rendition of Tilly’s Mathilde blouse. The white cotton I’m using for the blouse is a little more see-through than I’d like it to be and I’m not a huge fan of the facings showing through. Bias binding it is!
What once was a monstrosity of an ’80s blouse, complete with shoulder pads which made me look eligible for the Lions, is now a cute peplum blouse with a touch of the ’50s about it. Much better.
To begin with, the blouse was fairly shapeless. Rather than darts, it had some tucks gathering it at the waist, where it was attached to the peplum. On Instagram, Clare suggested sleeves off and sides taken in to take the blouse back 30 years to the ’50s.
In the end, I decided to rip the whole thing apart, taking off the peplum and ironing out the tucks. Using a bodice block pattern, I turned the top back to front, adding waist and bust darts, as well as a pair of darts at the back. I kept the buttons at the back as well as part of the collar, enclosing the raw edges around the sleeves and the neckline with black bias binding.
I ended up sewing most of the seams with my overlocker, as the fabric was pretty bad for fraying. It’s not a tool I use as often as I’d like – I forgot how satisfying it can be to have a seam stitched, trimmed and finished in one fell swoop!
One reattached peplum later, et voila! A blouse I will actually wear. Please excuse the unflattering jeans/jeggings I’m sporting in the pics – they’re the only “jeans” I actually own, but fit horribly because they’ve got an elasticated waist. Fit.
On the plus side, things are on the up – not least due to a fancy pants new camera! I had lots of fun having a play with it this weekend.
That’s one item off the refashion checklist. Huzzah!