Sunday 17 March 2013

Things to Make & Do - Sew For Victory - Muslin

I thought I'd take a little tea break from my 'Sunday sewing session' (I do love alliteration!) to give you all a little update on my 'Sew For Victory' progress!

So the last time I posted about it, I mentioned my dilemma between my two chosen patterns: The Maudella short sleeved blouse and the Blackmore gathered bodice dress. I love them both but eventually chose...

Blackmore No. 5755
I actually attempted to make muslin's up for both patterns, but the real deciding factor was the sheer simplicity of the dress, over the lack of instructions available on the blouse. Phrases like 'make an attach cuffs' are not really that helpful, especially when you have no given pattern piece, even when you have a vague notion of what you are doing!

So I said yes to the dress, which if I am honest almost just as unhelpfully states the sizing as 'medium' with no additional measurements given. I can't say I've ever been classified as a 'medium' in my life, so I copied the complete pattern onto brown paper added on the required 1.5cm seam allowance. Knowing from experience that I have wider arms than your average 40s lass, I also added an extra 4cm to the cuff ends before set to making up my muslin, with the hopes that 'medium' would not be too cruel a size on my generally 'large' frame.

Work in progress
Need to sort out the way the gather strip finishes at the neckline as it looks untidy
I was pleasantly surprised. It was not ridiculously tight, and as I had decided to use the stretchy velvet fabric, which was intended for the final dress, it was much more forgiving than I could have hoped. I eventually decided against the stretch fabric, purely because it was so shiny and I wanted to make a more period-accurate dress. So instead I've opted for a darker, nonstretchy velvet, its still black but much richer in colour, a triple velvet from Minerva Crafts

One way Stretch Velvet on the Left & Triple Velvet (not the loo roll) on the right.
A first for me has been using a cutting mat and rotary cutter to cut out my patterns and fabric. Honestly its the best way, I am a total convert. No more kneeling on the floor hacking at my fabric, and the carpet, for me!

They were a Christmas gift from my prolific quilt maker Mum, who has been an advocate of the rotary cutter for as long as I can remember. I don't know why it has taken me so long to see the light (well I do* if you're squeamish don't follow that pesky asterisk) as its made cutting out the fidgety velvet a breeze and the edges are so neat and easy to line up. It makes you feel like a pro - At last!

This dress has a lot of gathering, up the centre of the bodice, on the shoulders and both of the sleeves all need to be gathered. I decided to try a technique (I read about it somewhere but I can't remember...whoops!) where you use a piece of string or yarn and zig zag over it and then pull the yarn to create the gathers, it works like a charm especially on the velvet as it can be prone to gripping the running stitch when it's done the traditional way!

So far I have finished the bodice, attached the sleeves and hemmed the neckline, all that's left to do is sew the skirt, attach it, pop in the zip, then hem the lot. I can't believe I might actually be on track to finishing this before the deadline! 

Have a wonderful Sunday, oh and a Happy St Patricks Day!

Wendy x

*Last warning this is not for the squeamish!*
I know exactly why I have avoided it. My Mum, as I said above, an avid crafter and with 20+ years experience using a rotary cutter, a few years back ended up in A&E after she'd managed to cut the top of her index finger off, whilst cutting out blocks for her next quilt...shudder. My brother found the shrivelled top bit later that evening on her cutting mat...murgugaah...gruesome!  So, yes I know exactly why I have given rotary cutters a wide birth until now, and as I am the clumsy one in the family this story has been looping through my mind whilst I am caaaaaarefully cutting away! I still think the benefits still outweigh the possible finger loss. Just!


  1. I can not wait to see the finished garment!

  2. Beautiful! I'm so excited to see the completed dress! I'm a huge fan of my rotary cutter and luckily haven't had any gruesome experiences with it thus far. Hopefully that holds true for a really long time haha!

    1. Thank you! I am sure your no where near as clumsy as me ...or my Mum, I am really hoping it was a one off:)

  3. Can't wait to see it finished, it looks absolutely lovely
    Julie xxxxxxxx

  4. Oh I wish I had the patience to sew properly, cannot wait to see this on you! xxx

  5. I can't wait to see how the dress turns out and you've given us a few helpful tips in your post, although being a clumsy person I might just step away from the rotary cutters!

    1. Thank you VK! Yeah its taken me a long while to get the courage to even own a rotary cutter, but its not scared my mum off using it, she was back cutting away as soon as she could, so I must be brave...and careful! xx

  6. I am really looking forward to seeing the photographs! I have bookmarked this page so I remember to look into buying some rotary cutters next time I attempt a sewing project x

    1. Thank you Dana! They definitely make cutting out much easier! xxx

  7. Such a nifty tip using the wool to make the gathers, I always end up snapping my running threads when pulling them to gather up fabric, I am definitely going to try this method! xx