Maximum ruffles: a pink pairing

I was donated a big box of vintage patterns last year - mainly magazine pull outs from the 80's and 90s - and I've yet to make full use of them. So recently, I challenged myself to look beyond the sometime questionable prints/styling/use of shoulder pads and unearthed a blouse pattern that had the true potential to turn out either 100% ridiculous or totally on trend (it is the year of the sleeve after all). A last minute plus one invite to a wedding was all the encouragement I needed to give it a go, and along with some carefully-colour-considered culottes, I'm pleased to report that I think I just about pulled it off!

1992 Prima Magazine blouse and B6178 culottes
The pattern I chose to work from was from a 1992 edition of Prima Magazine. It's a bit new romantic, a bit Shakespeare in Love, and definitely more feminine than I'd usually go, but there's something about the oversized shaping that seemed to offset the girlishness of the ruffles. The fabric requirements were pretty large, particularly as a lot of the ruffles and ties have to be cut on the bias - 4m in total! - so I went for a bargain mauve poly crepe from Minerva. It was lovely to work with - light and drapey without being slippy - and only cost £16 for the lot!

October 1992 Prima pattern
I really enjoyed the process of making and gathering all the ruffles for the shirt. The neckline is probably too ruffled if anything - particularly for my bust - so I might tone it down a bit if I ever made the shirt again.

Distributing my ruffles!
The gathers at the neckline are encased with a neck binding, which was particularly tricky to topstitch neatly! Considering the bulk there - two layers of ruffles, one layer of shirt and the neck binding - it's not turned out too badly.

Topstitched neck binding
The sleeves were similarly tricky to topstitch, but it was turning the ties that caused me the biggest headache! I'd always been adamant that I didn't need a loop turner as I'd never make a garment with spaghetti straps, but I've never considered ties as embellishments/fastenings until now. I turned the first one with a pencil and a lot of patience, but I couldn't keep it up for the other 5 (2 for the neck and 2 for each sleeve). Luckily my friend Erin loaned me her loop turner, which worked like magic!

1 tie turned, 5 to go.
I was just starting to feel pretty optimistic about the blouse, and then I attached the sleeves... I knew the blouse was intended to be oversized, but the overhang on the shoulder was way too much and the heavy gathers at the sleeve head just drew attention to the poor fit. It looked totally clown-like and completely unwearable, so there was no other option but to attack it. Nothing fills me with more fear than armscye adjustments, particularly mid-make, but hacking a few inches off of the shoulder and re-distributing the previously heavy gathers on the sleeve to fit the new arm hole definitely saved the day in this case!

After! :)
I love the blouse loose and it would look great with a pair of skinny jeans - if I owned a pair, must work towards making some! - but as a wedding look, it really needed to be cinched in at the waist, so I made these culottes using one of my favourite patterns, the Butterick B6178 (view D). The pattern is free with this month's Love Sewing mag too, so definitely worth picking up a copy!

A carefully considered combo!
I already have a couple of pairs of these culottes (blogged here) and I love it that each looks a bit different depending on the fabric choice. This fabric is a slightly heavier weight brushed cotton from the Hebden bridge WI Rag Market, which hangs really nicely and looks much smarter than my previous pairs. After my latest trouser making experiments, I also decided to use petersham at the waistband, which gives them a slightly more tailored finish. I've never been a particularly 'pink' person, but I keep finding myself drawn to these shades. I'm not normally one to consider how garments will pair together either, but I really did this time and I think (hope!) that it shows!

Styled with a RTW leather jacket, M&S heels and a vintage bag
I had a last minute crisis of confidence and almost didn't wear any of it. But then my alternatives weren't perfect either - older makes that I loved at the time, but now I can spot the flaws in their fit and construction. On the morning of the wedding, I decided to go with it, paired with a leather jacket and heels, and I'm really glad I did!

With my boyfriend Chris :)
I have one more wedding on the cards for later in the summer, so I'm hoping to plan my makes a bit further ahead for this one - maybe the Trend Patterns Asymmetric Dress? What makes will you be wearing to weddings this year?

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MMMay17 mid way round up!

Happy mid way through May, or to be more specific, Me Made May! I set the bar quite high with this year's pledge, challenging myself to wear 'majority handmade' each day. I must say, I did find it quite a struggle to get into the swing of things, but then what's the point if it isn't a bit of a challenge?! Here's my first couple of weeks:

Week 1
Week 1! Top row: days 1, 2 & 3; Bottom row: days 4, 5, 6 & 7
Day 1 - Fall Turtleneck and vintage-pattern hacked trousers; Day 2 - Named Clothing Kielo Wrap Dress over a sleeveless Rise Turtleneck; Day 3 - GBSB pencil skirt hack and Simple Sew Lottie Blouse; Day 4 - Named Clothing Inari Tee Dress layered over a Fall Turtleneck; Day 5 - Vintage-pattern trousers, Rise Turtleneck and Grainline Studio Driftless Cardigan; Day 6 - Sew DIY Nita Wrap Skirt, Rise Turtleneck, Papercut Patterns Waver Jacket, Radiant Home Studio Retro Rucksack; Day 7 - Sew DIY Nita Wrap Skirt and Fall Turtleneck.

I very quickly realised my obsession and reliance on my (luckily) fairly large collection of Papercut Patterns Rise/Fall Turtlenecks. I wore one in some form or another for 6 out of 7 days in week 1 and 4 days in week 2 and it's opened my eyes to a near-imminent need to make some other style of top/t-shirt - something lighter weight and more suitable for warmer weather. Recommendations of simple-yet-quirky basics would be very much welcomed if you have any!

It felt almost boring and uniform-like to keep reaching for this same style of top in the first week, but I think that's more of an effect of being hyper-aware/photo taking each day. It's clearly a pattern I love and a style I'm comfortable with wearing in lots of different ways and situations, so I'm not going to fix what's not broken, just maybe add a couple of non-turtleneck casual shirts into the mix to compliment!

Week 2
Week 2! Top row: days 8, 9 & 10; Bottom row: days 11, 12, 13 & 14
Day 8 - Pinstripe B6178 culottes and Fall Turtleneck; Day 9 - V9186 dress; Day 10 - Vintage pattern-hacked trousers, sleeveless Rise Turtleneck and Grainline Studio Driftless Cardigan; Day 11- Ready to Sew Jane Shirt and B6178 culottes; Day 12 - Rise Turtleneck and Pauline Alice Turia Dugaree Dress; Day 13 - Rise Turtleneck and Named Clothing Kielo Wrap Dress; Day 14 - No Patterns Needed Deep V Tunic and B6178 culottes.

Week 2 has clearly been themed around blue and khaki, and the amount of colour I've been wearing has actually come as a bit of a surprise to me - I really thought I wore more black! Picking my clothes each morning has really highlighted my tendency to reach for the newest things I've made, so I've consciously tried to dig a little deeper into my wardrobe and mix things up a bit. I'm quite pleased with how I'm doing so far, but there's still quite a lot of my wardrobe that's gone untouched. The real challenge for the next couple of weeks will be seeing whether I can get some older makes into rotation or working out if it's time to part ways with them.

RIP Kielo: day 13 of MMMay17 and the first wear!
Finally, a special mention needs to go out to my long time favourite dress, which is very sadly on it's way out after many wears and multiple repairs. This Kielo Wrap Dress was my first Named Clothing pattern and probably one of the first things I made that I truly felt was 'me' in style. I'll be sad to see it retired/repurposed/recycled, but on the plus side, at least I have the right hobby for making a replacement!

Hope everyone else is doing well with their pledges! :)

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Perfecting the waistband

Sooo since making my first pair, I've been completely hooked on the fly-waisted trouser. This is the 4th pair I've made so far from this vintage magazine pattern, but only the third for myself, so we'll call it third time lucky, because I think I've finally managed to perfect a non-creasing, insanely crisp waistband!

Vintage pattern trousers with Papercut Patterns Fall Turtleneck
In desperation to make it work, I put out a number of cries for help on social media and received a bunch of amazing suggestions - many of which I put into practice with this pair. It was also sort of comforting to find that many other sewers have had similar struggles with their waistbands. For this reason, I thought it would be nice to collate all the recommendations I received in the hope that they might help someone else on the quest for a crumple-free waistband!

Tips for a sturdy waistband

- You can buy fusible interfacing with fold lines, made specifically for waistbands. Thanks nelnanandnora for drawing my attention to this!

- Try making waistbands in two parts rather than folding them, and apply interfacing to just the outer band (suggested by both karenjkayes and janediana1010)

- Cut the waistband along the fabric grain (where the fabric is stronger) rather than across it (suggested by jennyprice1245).

- Using petersham ribbon - traditionally used on mens tailored trousers - to stiffen waistbands was one of the most popular recommendations, suggested by paper_theory,, Lynsey Jane and Elaine and Di from the Dressmaking Bloggers Network.

- More flexible lighter-weight interfacings (e.g. tricot/knit interfacing, even for wovens) can allow the fabric to bounce back from creasing better (a favourite solution of Katie of What Katie Sews).

 - Katie also always makes a curved waistband instead of straight so it better conforms to the body - something which makes a hell of a lot of sense when you think about it!

- To help with structure, under-stitching your facing and top-stitching all the way round are pretty vital (and something I'm usually guilty of skipping). Thanks Purfylle for that one!

Also wearing new glasses!
Side view - love the pockets!
So what did I do with my waistband?
After reading through the recommendations, I bought some petersham from my local haberdashery, Samuel Taylors. You can buy it in lots of different widths, so I could pick one that would perfectly slot inside my folded waistband (remember to take seam allowances into account too when picking your width). They also stocked fusible interfacing for folding waistbands so I bought some of that too.

Fusible folding waistband interfacing and petersham
I'd originally only intended to use the petersham, but as my fabric (a mid-weight crepe) had a bit more movement than what I'd used in the past, went for it and used the waistband interfacing too. Might have overdone it slightly there, but when the main aim of the game was to get a crisp waistband, I wasn't taking any chances.

Waistband with interfacing applied
Inserting the petersham before slipstitching the waistband closed
I usually avoid topstitching waistbands, because I hate going over the bulk, but it made for a really great finish, as well as keeping all the guts secure in place. I also used 2 hook and bar fastenings, which pull ever so slightly, but I really didn't want a button closure so it's something I can live with.

Topstitched and finished!
The verdict?
This waistband is solid. At the point of writing this, the trousers have seen a fair bit of wear, and the waistband has withstood plenty of sitting down and at least a couple of big meals. I'm amazed to see how crisp and tailored they still look.

In future, I'll probably just stick with the petersham and a topstitched finish for trousers and heavy-duty garments, but I was really impressed with the folding interfacing. I'd be likely to try that out again with lighter weight garments and skirt waistbands that don't require quite as much support.

Petersham where have you been all my (sewing) life?! I'm currently considering unpicking all other waistbands and giving them the petersham-treatment, but I might save that for another day. You can purchase the stuff online from Minerva and Sew Essential.

From the back
Thanks Chris for taking pictures :)
In all, I'm really pleased with the finished trousers. I really tapered both the outside and inside legs this time and they've turned out spot on. I still had trousers on the brain when I went to the most recent Hebden Bridge WI Rag Market and my fabric haul was full of trouser-appropriate fabrics (weirdly for me) in mostly spring like shades of pink, so I'm sure this pattern's not seen it's last use yet.

Hebden Bridge Rag market haul
If you have any other waistband tips, please let me know in the comments and I'll update this post to include them :) Hope they're of help to someone else!

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