Monday, 29 April 2013

Denim Dress! Ta Da!!

I finished my dress and I am quite proud of it. I hacked up the front and completely re-designed it on Sunday. I love the new neckline and fit!

Obviously as this dress is so far from the original pattern, it is safe to say I will never make that high neck design again.

It can be worn in its own, with a cardi or over a t-shirt. It is so comfy too!

I'm most proud of my zip and the fit of the bust (not perfect, but getting closer)

Apologies about the pics... They aren't the most flattering and don't do the dress justice IMHO!

Now looking to see what to start next!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Denim dress... Complete re-design!

I have been working at this silly high scoop bib yoke for EVER!! I have moved it, trimmed it, darted it more, pinned it, pressed it and all other things you can think of. It was eventually "ok" but I didn't think it was flattering at all.

Therefore, I finished the finale of project runway with a cuppa tea... And thought " if they can hack up 'ok' clothes to make them completely different, then so can I!" ... And that is what I did.

It is now a far more flattering v neckline (with a slight curve) and almost looks like a wrap top.

The new adaptations are all pinned but not sewn yet... Oh, and also the side seams are getting trimmed down another inch at either side too.

Last adaptation... I don't think the sleeves will look cool. Am "editing them out"... Hopefully I can use the fabric for something else.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Denim dress update

I have made more progress than I would have expected! Yoke attached to front, Back left and right panels joined together (without zip at moment) and I have pinned and repinned LOADS... To check and recheck the fit.

Alterations so far...

Had to put in another dart at each side of the yoke. Also had to pull back seam allowance more than I may have been given because I am fitting the zip inside rather than the silly outside position in the pattern.

I have still got some fit issues... I think I need to place 1 more dart on each side of the outside front bust part of the dress. Next time: note to self. When pattern says do darts first... Do not! I'm pretty sure I just needed to reposition my darts and then I'd have less.

* if you look at the close up, you can see my darts including the extra ones and the outer ones that I have pinned but not seen yet.

**one image shows the pattern neckline and the other is my rough attempt at seeing if I can/ should lower and widen it.

Also... These extra darts may affect the sleeve holes. I haven't checked yet.

Lastly, the neck line is still WAAAY too matronly. I really want to make the scoop lower and wider. I also want to lower the neckline at the back a bit too... Otherwise it will be too tight a fit.

Anyone got some tips or pearls of wisdom for me in my hour of need, I'd be very grateful!

I am off to bed now as I can't concentrate any more. Will look with fresh eyes tomorrow.

Denim dress: Darts accomplished!

I really took my time on this because I wanted to get them right. I was also dubious that I could do it and make it fit my dress form.

Turns out, I did a pretty good job for my first try. The only things are:
1. I wish I had increased the large yoke in size rather than just the sides (I am going to make this dress again though, so will do it then)
2. I may have made the sides a bit too wide
3. The neckline on the yoke was too high up and matronly for someone like myself. It made me look like I could have set a 3 course meal and cutlery on my "shelf". I trimmed it to be lower... I may trim it further towards the end if it needs it
4. I think it would look cool with a piping/ contrasting fabric border around the yoke (it would go under and around outside of bust) joining on to the side bust and main dress part. Fuchsia or lime?

I have youtubed how to make bias piping. I just need to decide if it would be good to do it or not. Alternatively, giving myself extra bust room with contrasting strip instead of piping... But I have no clue how to start that and don't know if it will look awful.

Any thoughts?

P.s. the dress form looks bulky and messy because I need to fit it better at sides... It's too baggy. Also, I wanted to see if the darts looked ok from the right side, so I pinned it right side just to check. Hopefully the next pics will show a slimlined and neater dress.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Denim dress

So, firstly I had to try and convert the bust. I had 4 inches to add on. 4! I think.

I tried following the "pivot method" but have a feeling it will now be too big elsewhere.

The fabric is now cut and marked. I think I cut it out neatly. Fingers crossed it works.

I am impressed I managed to cut the bias out correctly. This is for the yoke and the sleeves.

Next step... The hard part of assembly!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Ooooh! New fabric!

So, payday arrived. I wheelied out of the carpark after work to the nearest (not very near) fabric shop!

After a lot of pawing and ogling, I settled upon a lovely floral Amy Butler fabric - it was on sale and the kind shop assistant gave me extra because it was the end of the roll (or whatever the 'roll' is called). Along with the pink ribbon trim and the lace/ pink gingham trim, it will be used (hopefully) to make the free 50's swing dress pattern on Burda, "Katjusha"!

I don't know if I mentioned this before, but I am actually a modern jive dancer and boy do I get my use out of 50's style dresses... Anyone knows of any other free patterns, I would be very grateful! :-).

Below are some of my current dresses in action... Well, before I got too sweaty anyway! (unfortunately I didn't make them)... I hope to also make my own petticoats as the ones I own were bought and I wish they were a tad shorter and in brighter colours (I own black or white).

I also got a green spotted Amy Butler fabric too... Again on sale but less than 2 metres left. I have no firm plans for this one yet... Skirt or shift dress perhaps.

Last but not least, I got 2m of lightweight denim and am going to re-attempt the "plaid dress" from sew hip issue 2... This time I will take more care and follow all of the steps to the letter!

Later everyone!
Claire@ squintyseam

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

My striped skirt

My skirt had its first outing to work today. Everyone seemed to be complimentary. It is always a bit of a scary moment to wear your own creation for the first time, just in case everyone reacts badly! I am sure I am not the only one who feels this!

I also traced and cut out 2 patterns from my sew hip mags (the plaid dress from issue 2 and the full bloom top from a layer issue) I hope to buy suitable fabric for them once I get my paycheque at the end of the month. Until then, I may as well cut out all of the patterns I like, in preparation. I have not yet accumulated a 'stash'... I just have an assortment of small scraps at the moment.

I am going to give 're-fashioning' a go until I get my new fabrics. I have a couple of dresses that looked nice on the hanger, but when I got them home, they really looked icky. I was going to get rid of them but have decided to have a go at 'fixing them'... Fingers crossed!

I will post a before and after pic - if I manage to fix it.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Sewing Magazines

I looooove sewing mags. Over 80% of the projects will either be too difficult or not for me, but I still love all of the possibilities!

I used to subscribe to sew hip before it changed names and the owner was known to be fraudulent (according to the blogs and sites i've read) and occasionally manage to get my hands on threads or sew magazine.

I have been searching for a good new replacement and stumbled on a super duper bi annual magazine with waaay more patterns than other mags. It is Finnish but they do an English version too! It is called "Ottobre". It is a bit pricey compared to a regular mag, but the clothes would keep you sewing all season. I can't wait to get my magazines delivered!

Does anyone have any other favourite magazines or subscriptions?

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Striped Mini Skirt completed!

It took me 1/2 a day but my skirt is cute! The weird thing was that the zip as waistband should have been hard and the seams should have been easy... But it was the other way around!

I have a weird body shape... My hips and bottom are non existent (unlike the rest of me) and so it looked as if I was wearing ballooned pantaloons... I had to trim the slope of the skirt right down at least 4 ties and I swear I was measuring!

The saddest part was I had to cut off my lovely Zip! :-( because it was not flattering the line of the skirt. It is ok though because I don't need a fastening in it because I can just pull it on with relative ease(... Due to weird body shape)

I am most proud of the fact that my size seams match perfectly and the stripes create a perfect v at the sides :-)

I wonder what I will do next...?

New project update

So I have decided to tackle a skirt. Used a "no pattern" A line skirt from an old Sew Hip magazine... Only to discover there was an error in their printed calculations.

Luckily I didn't cut! I found an easy alternative at:

And actually decided to tackle waistband with interfacing too. I made it all up but it seems to be going well. The zip is more hidden than my previous attempt too... It had to be though, as I only had a blue zip!

I have just got to hem it, but when I tried it on I discovered it is an inch too big! I also think I need to taper in the flared part a wee bit more.

Will post another update when I have made more progress.


A new project

So I have a 1.5 m of striped plum and grey wool/poly fabric. I have had it for yonks. I have never worked with stripes and I really want to make a garment out of it. I need some ideas. Nothing too hard though!

I thought a skirt might be my best option, but I am still looking for the perfect, flattering and simple pattern... That I have enough fabric for!

My New Workspace

I have cleared a LOT of stuff out of my spare room and now have a lovely work area. It is a bit plain and scruffy looking at the moment... But hopefully as I develop my sewing skills I can make it lovely.

My old sofa is in need of covering and cushioning up. I am also wanting a new coffee table to put my machine on... The big desk hurts my back after a while and the current table doesn't belong in this room.

I also want nice bright curtains and a wall hanging. But I still love the room. I especially love my wall paper... It is very "me" and cheers me up when I look at it.

I heart my wee sewing machine. My dressmakers dummy is currently in my living room with a dress that initially started out as an alteration I was doing for myself and has become a part of my actual decor! :-) It will soon return to its rightful home to be used as it was intended.

My first finished project

Well, the first one I am actually proud of!

I started it a looooong time ago by cutting the pieces. Then I forgot all about it and the parts were all hidden inside a bag in my cupboard.

I decided to have a go sewing the dress properly, now that I have been swatting up on the techniques, tips, types of seams and pressing importance.

It is not perfect (obviously) but I am still extremely excited about making it. I keep staring at it and thinking "ooh, I made that all by myself!" Sad, I know! ;-)

I am particularly proud of fitting the zip (although there is a small gap at top) and also accommodating my bust by altering the seam allowance and shape.

It was a cloth kits pattern, so it was printed onto the fabric rather than tissue pieces.

I can't wait to wear it out and about. It looks much better on than hanging on a peg... Well, I think so! :-P

Measurement Confusion

I really wish I had a better understanding of imperial measurements! I was solely taught metric at school and now find yards, inches, feet etc impossible to visualise! I can convert it to metric but it is a pain. I believe it was an E.U. Rule that enforced the decision to stop teaching imperial in Britain. Daft move, as people older than me (such as my mother) talk in inches, as do a lot of my American friends (and their patterns!).

1 yard = 36 inches = 91.44cm
It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue! Oh well, moan over.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Sewing fabric - tips on working with different fabrics

I thought I would try and find some more information on how to work with specific fabrics.  As I am a beginner, I certainly won't be using slippy fabric or anything really stretchy or "with nap".

However, I would like to be able to use fabrics with some stretch to them so that they are sturdy enough to stay in tact after I have butchered it.
This is an excellent clip that has taught me lots:
1. Change to a ballpoint or stretch needle when using knit/ stretch fabrics (I didn't even think about this!)
2. Do not use a straight stitch on a stretchy fabric or the stitches will simply snap when the fabric is pulled- use zig zag stitch instead. (so that's why my first skirt failed horribly!)

I love this girl... "The Crafty Gemini" - she explains things really clearly.  This is part 1 of her "sewing with stretch fabric" videos.
The second part of her video - I have never heard of a "walking foot" for a sewing machine until now!

Hope this helps my fellow beginners!

Fabric Choice

Something a new sewing enthusiast (i.e. me) finds difficult is understanding what fabric to use for different creations and for ease of use.  It is also quite scary to know that some fabrics must be handled differently.

I have been rummaging around You Tube again and have found some good clips that explain fabrics in a bit more detail.

I have also just found out that denim is similar to a "chambray" fabric and is apparently quite easy to sew. I guess it depends on whether there is lycra in the denim fabric or not though.  The message seems to be "always wash the fabric before using it".

I am a bit torn now though, as I thought stretchy fabrics would suit me best because of my curves.  Obviously the message is clear - I HAVE to get to work in perfecting the pattern alterations so that having a stretch is not so much of an issue!

I thought this one was quite cheesy and I had a chuckle, but It does give some information too. 

The difference between Polyester and Cotton.

Lots to think about!
Hope other people find these clips as helpful as I do.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Adjusting patterns to fit a curvy bust

I have mentioned it before, but I have a really disproportionately large chest.  I am looking for the best videos and tips that help me edit patterns with as minimum fuss as possible.

Commercial patterns are made for B cups!Whaaaat? B cups??  I think I wore one as training bra.

A clear demonstration using the pivot method.

Getting to grips with the sewing machine

I love finding videos that really explain techniques, tips and steps to help me improve my sewing skills.
A really helpful and simple video that explains the basic functions of a sewing machine.  
How to adjust thread tension and what the stitches should and shouldn't look like.

How to select the correct needle for the fabric that you are using.

Squinty Beginnings

I've always wanted to learn how to sew my own clothes.  I just never had anyone to show me!  A few years ago, I asked Santa (also known as my lovely mum) to buy me a sewing machine for Christmas.  I was so excited to get started.  I was also pleasantly surprised by my lovely fiance as he bought me a beautiful dressmaker's dummy that expands to fit (most) different shapes as a present - and a very thoughtful gift of left-handed pinking shears of which I have (unfortunately) not mastered yet - I have a lot of years of making do and using right-handed scissors upside down (It worked for me as I'm a leftie!)

I bought loads of 'beginner' sewing books, subscribed to some sewing magazines and hoped I would pick it up.  I really wanted to find a sewing group in my area too, to improve my skills.  My efforts of making a couple of bags, a tee-shirt, a skirt, dress and some soft toys were "OK" for a first attempt but certainly not presentable in public!

I got a wee bit disheartened because I really would have loved to attend some workshops but never had the money to splash to make it happen.  I also found trying to copy magazine or book instructions quite complicated and sometimes impossible to follow.  The main reasons I want to make my own clothes are:
1.  I have a quirky colour and pattern palette - I LOVE colour (except orange and brown) and I totally love patterns (stripes are my obsession).  I definitely get a kick out of clashing my colours (my friends sometimes despair).

The main reason, though, is that I have an extremely huge bust (like, waaaay out of proportion compared to the rest of me).  It is pretty much impossible to get clothes from the high street to remotely fit and I rely on stretchy fabrics in my wardrobe.  I thought that sewing would solve this problem to me.  But I have now found that the pattern makers don't really help in this situation either.  All the patterns are designed for teeny busts.  So not only do I have to master cutting and sewing techniques... I have to learn how to edit and adapt patterns too!  This is something I really want to be able to do, but it has proved tricky so far.  It did put me off for a short while, but I am determined to master it.

So... now I am super excited!  My initial excitement has been rekindled through the discovery of the online craft community!  I am loving youtube as there are just so MANY wonderful 'how to' videos on every aspect of sewing.  I also love looking at the many billion sewing forums, websites and blogs that are really reassuring and helpful.  I plan to use my blog to link every page/ site/ video etc that I find helpful.  Than will mean that all of my learning tools are in the one handy place!

I've de-cluttered (sort of) my spare room and now have a lovely work space.  I am hooked to any TV programmes that are about sewing - Project Runway, Sewing Bee, Project Catwalk to name a few.   I just wish there were more!

I have also just learned to knit (Hey! I'm left handed, so it was quite tricky to pick it up as a child, ok!). Knitting isn't proving as much as a challenge because I know quite a few people who are excellent knitters (especially mum) and they keep me on track and help me along the way.  I wish I had this type of support with sewing too!

I love scouring the net to find more pdf patterns, free tips, blogs and videos. I still have not found the perfect site that supplies reasonably cheap and pretty fabrics... any ideas?

Until next time,


I thought my blog name was very apt and cute.  I hope I can make my seam less squinty as I progress!

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