Friday, October 24, 2008

Sewing, sewing, sewing...

I got the stitches out of my leg this morning and the results of the test on the mole - thank goodness the mole is a non-cancerous one but it is one that could have turned nasty quite easily so it was a good thing to have it taken out.  And I'm really surprised that stitches don't actually hurt when being taken out!!  Who knew?  Now I just have these little white strips that hold the wound together and I have to leave them on for no less than 10 days!!

The dress I'm wearing I've actually had for a while now but never got round to wearing (basically because I had to sew all the buttons back into place again because they were so loose 2 fell off when I was trying it on!!).  Its actually a Principals dress and when it was in the stores cost around $100 each, I had initially tried it on and decided against getting it because of the price.  But it was meant to be mine because I found my exact size for all of $25!!  And its such a beautiful fit, very comfy and I love the colours :)

Right, on to the 'How To' s that I promised.  Now, I did get carried away and tended not to photograph the end of the making so I'm sorry - but the basic premise for each piece (the pencil skirt and the halter top) is there in pictures!!  Also, please note that these are patterns I have designed and made up myself - and while they are not overly complicated, if you do decide to use them please let me know :)  Just good manners!!

I don't profess to be the sewing queen (far from it in fact!!) but there are always a few things one should invest in before deciding to start sewing:

1) A decent pair of fabric scissors.  These MUST NOT be used to cut anything but fabric - no paper, plastic or pruning with these babies because they will blunt and ruin the scissors.  If you live with some one else don't leave them lying around because they are bound to be used (scissors are always one of those things that go walkies!!) and if you do leave them, anyone caught using them for anything other than fabric are punishable by death (make sure they know this before hand though!).

2) A quick unpick.  This is something you'll get angry about if you don't have it when you need it, a must for unpicking those pesky mistakes.

3) An iron.   I know, I don't iron ANYTHING unless it absolutely needs it, but when it comes to sewing I tend to iron at every step especially when I'm making something without a pattern.  Ironing in hems, darts and zips makes the sewing process so much easier (and you'll see from the pics that I don't own a ironing board, but a towel on top of a flat surface does just fine!!)

The 1940's Halter Neck:
1 - I basically cut a decent sized square out of fabric for the back and ironed it.  I then proceeded to put the zip in.  

2 - Cut fabric in half, iron over about 2cm fabric

3 - Place your zip and mark where it ends.  Pin the bottom of the fabric together and sew up until you hit where the end of your zip will go.

4 - Its up to you how you place your zip, you may want it completely in the middle or to the side.  I prefer mine slightly to the side (Sorry, this pic annoyingly wouldn't load.  I'll put it in when I can).

5 - Sew in the zip using your zipper foot.  If your machine didn't come with a zipper foot (it should have, its a basic foot) then you will need to buy one or you will struggle to get a nice straight line close to the zip and you'll probably end up not even sewing the zip in because you'll be too far away from it.

5 - After that I cut a similar sized piece of fabric, pinned them to Madeline and started shaping the back and the front.

Here I stopped taking photos sorry, but I sewed in all the darts and the back and front together.  I also sewed in the hems along the top and the bottom, I measured how long I wanted the neck strap to be, cut it, sewed it along the edge and folded it out the right way.  I ironed it then pinned the ends in and sewed them.  Hey Presto - halter top made!!

Basic Pencil Skirt:
1 - I always make the waist band first - I don't really know why, I just do :)  So measure your waist and cut a strip of fabric with at least 1cm extra on each side.  Also make sure the width is big enough to fold in half and be the size waist band you want (you can have any size you like!!).  Sew up each side, cut the excess fabric from the corners so that it folds over nicely and gives you a good point.

2 - Cut two big strips of fabric - make them long enough and big enough to fit around you and so that you get the length you want.  You may want to get a skirt you know already fits you and cut around that (much bigger though because you need to sew the pieces together and shape the skirt which actually takes more fabric than you may think!!).  And having more fabric to play with is much better than having less :)

3 - Take the back piece and place the zip like the halter neck.  Sew in etc... 

4 - this is where a dress makers form comes in handy (yay for Madeline!!).  Place the two pieces of fabric on to the form and start shaping.  Adding two darts into the front and two into the back.

At this point I got carried away and stopped taking pictures but I sewed in the darts and the sides, pinned in the waist band and sewed that in and the hemmed it (it originally was going to be shorter but I liked the longer length, I have enough fabric to make a shorter version though!).  I then hand sewed hooks into the waist band at the back to fasten that together, you can use whatever fastener you like though :)

Phew, that was long!!  If I've confused you in any way I'm deeply sorry.  This is one of the longest posts I've done and need a break from staring at the computer.  If you do have any questions please comment or flick me an email, I'll gladly answer all queries :)  Once again, apologies for any bad explaining - it so much easier to explain it in person but at least you have photos - goodness knows you would not have been able to follow them without the pictures!!

Have a great day,


  1. Hey, I know that dress! Haha. Yes, the workmanship on the buttons was pretty shoddy - I re-sewed all the buttons on both of mine shortly after I bought them, as they were clinging on for dear life. I'm surprised they're still in stores, actually, because I bought mine over two years ago, and it was on sale then! They must have an amazing shelf life.

    Thanks for the how-to - when I finally get around to learning how to use my sewing machine (I know, I know, I'm lame), I will definitely try one of those pencil skirts. It's a great shape. I've got four pencil skirts now, but am sadly lacking in blouses ... I'm on the lookout for a bow-necked one like yours. :)

    Bye bye, dress buddy.

    A xx

  2. cute! I need a perfect pencil skirt! all the ones I have I hate..

  3. I love that dress! Nice how-to.

  4. ONLY $25?! Thats fabulous and i agree the colour is just gorge! lol

    You're very detailed with oyour descriptions and i cannot believe you actually wrote the happs alongside those pictures! You are wonderful like that :D

  5. I'm so glad that your mole was non-cancerous! Also thank you for posting about the experience in general since its important to get those questionable moles looked at.

    And thanks for the sewing tutorials! I think I'll attempt the pencil skirt once I get my machine set up.

  6. This post is so informative! Thank you for doing the how-to's, I'll definitely tackle one of these projects during summer :D

    And it's good to hear the mole was a dud!

  7. What a fantastic photo tutorial. This obviously took a lot of work to put together so well done and thank you! I think a dress form is in order for something so well-shaped, but sewing zips always looked so scary so this is very encouraging to look at!

  8. What a great tutorial!!!

    Thanks for all the work you puted in doing that.

    The dress is fab, love it.

    Have a nice weekend dear.

  9. Great tutorials! I think I may have to try that halter once the weather warms up again. ;)

    I really love your idea of making the waistband first... I tend to put it off until the very last (don't know why), but getting it over with before I begin major construction is a good idea!

    I'll be linking to this in my post later today! ;)

  10. Super dress you look fab and I am so pleased everything went well with your operation. You are very brave because I hate hospitals! have a great weekend x

  11. So happy the mole is not cancerous!!!

    I was very pleased to see I own all the things that you said are a must when sewing. Phew :)

    I'm definitely not a great sewer at this point in time but this how-to is lovely! I hope you will post more in the future. I've never done darts before though, but I'm willing to give it a shot. Now I just have to go convert the metric since we're the only country that uses feet and inches!

  12. Yay for the good news about the mole! I want to try the pencil skirt when I get some free time, but I think i will be pretty hopeless without a pattern, I'm pretty hopeless with a pattern! alwasy need lots of help from my mum

  13. i'm glad everything is okay!

    and great tutorial!

    La C

  14. I'm so sorry to hear you had to go through the stress of having a mole removed but so glad for you that it's ok. Yay!

    Gorgeous pic and gorgeous dress. You look really sweet :)

  15. very cute - you make it look so easy!

  16. oh i'm glad that everything is okay health-wise! as always you look amazing. and the $25 from $100 at Principals?! yusss!

  17. Cute dress, $25 is a steal for it!

    #1 made me laugh. As a kid I was pretty much constantly facing the wrath of my mom since I always nicked her fabric scissors. After learning how to sew myself I learned how much easier life is with a pristine pair of scissors!

    and I have a silly question. Is a "quick unpick" the same thing as a seam ripper? I pretty much assume it is but it would never hurt to know for sure. The name sounds much more dainty than the aggressive "SEAM RIPPER".

  18. Cat - I actually got this one from save mart!! I don't they still have them in the stores, but you never know. The buttons were sewn on terribly!!

    Casey - Thanks :) Its very flattering to know my little tutorial is going to be linked on your blog!!

    Rox - My mum used to tell me off all the time as well, ah, youth. At least i understand now :) Sounds like a quick unpick and a seam ripper are the same (they sound like they do the same thing). Although it is quite funny to think who would win in a fight between the Mighty Seam Ripper and the Dainty quick unpick :)

    Everyone else, thanks for the lovely comments, hopefully you can all get underway making your own skirts. Make sure you let me know if you've made one, I'd love to see the result from my instructions :)

  19. oooh fantastic tutorial!! i haven't tried to work with zippers yet.. but i've really been wanting to! yay for sewing!


  20. Seeing your tute made me really covet a dressform! But first I have to get my sewing machine working again... 'tis in the process of a spectacular death :(

  21. Wow, awesome tutorial!! I need to get a sewing machine! & I love your poses <3

  22. Oh hello, I've just stumbled on your blog! I am absolutely so jealous of people who are adept sewers. I'm a terrible fumbling amatuer who will never be anything more due to laziness.
    You have great style, I've added you to my favourites!!

  23. I'm so glad that your mole is fine! Thanks for this tutorial, too. It's really well done and makes me wish I had time to take out my sewing machine and give sewing a try!

  24. Good news about the mole (not surprised, but pleased), yay!

  25. Thanks everyone - you are so sweet :) Alicia - I've tried opening your blog but can't seem too for some reason :(


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