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Bridesmaid Dresses Update

Hi everyone,
The adult bridesmaid dresses are virtually finished now, as are the cummerbunds. The 'problem' area for me is the over skirts that Vicki really wants. We have chosen a beautiful fabric. The background is a black tulle and then all over are gorgeous ivory motifs. This fabric is lovely to look at but on placing it over black it becomes something I can only describe as stunning!
There is also a border along both edges in ivory. As you can see it is not a straight edge, but forms points. It has worked out that I am using 10 of these 'points' for Jessica's overskirt and an extra point for each size up to the largest where I am sewing 13. I have measured from the waist line on the dresses to the edge of the hem and cut off accordingly. To save a lot of time I have hand sewn the back seam as I did with Lexi's dress. 
Next I have measured around everyone's waist with 2 inch wide elastic (our lovely quality Hemline woven elastic range) and left enough for a overlap, then sewn this so it forms a circle. There is far too much fabric at the top edge to gather it into the elastic so I have sewn two seams up the sides starting at the points. Again this as hand sewn.
On the hem of the dress and lining I have sewn horse hair braid which is a flexible mesh, mostly using for bridal and in sewing skirts and dresses for around the hem.
On the inside edge of the lining I have then gone on to sew some 1 inch bias polycotton bias binding. This will form a tube for me to insert steel boning. Very similar to what I did on Lexi's underskirt. 
The idea with this is to hold the train of the dress in a perfectly formed circle, as how it is at the moment it is tending to flatten in and it isn't showing off the train or the over skirt to its full potential. We'l see how it turns out...!
Bye for now!
Annette xx

One Step Forward, Three Steps Back

I didn't have the best of sewing days yesterday. First we decided that the zip on Vicki's dress would be better down the side because of a last minute change of plan with some of the fancy detailing. I had already inserted the zip at the back so I wasn't too happy! (Originally the top part was being covered but now it is going to show and a zip being there would spoil the look). So there I was unpicking!
My next step was to sew in some boning into the bodice. I've chosen our Hemline covered boning. It is really easy to sew in, you just sew on the machine down each side. I attached this to the lining. I think I must have been quite tired yesterday because I only went on to sew the boning in the wrong way round. The curve of the boning should follow the curve of your body. Because I as sewing it in the lining I have obviously envisaged it the wrong way around, so yes you've guessed...I was unpicking again!
And now to today. Vicki tried on her dress and so far so good, until we looked at where the 'top' (more about that later) would hang. You are not going to see the zip at all after all. I was gutted, more than anything because I wasn't too keen on how the side zip was lying. And yes here I've been nearly all day taking the zip out, unpicking the back seam, re-inserting the zip (thank goodness it's gone in ok). However as you can see below, the re-sewn side seam looked awful so I've replaced the side front and the side back. 
If its not right now I'm going to scream!!
Here's to a better day tomorrow...!
Bye for now,
Annette xx

Finishing my Wedding Outfit

I've spent today working on my outfit for the wedding. I've hand sewn the lining in the sleeve of the coat. Then I had a fitting issue! The coat hangs beautiful at the front but tends to stick out at the back seam hem. So I have sewn a new back seam tapering it into the existing seam about halfway up the ivory section, approx hip level. It now hangs perfect. 
I have hand sewn the hem using a blind stitch. This stitch is worked from right to left, between two fabric layers. When the stitch goes through the garment layer, it catches only a thread or two. The stitch that goes through the hem layer can be longer. This gives it added strength. It is advisable to take a small back stitch or two in the hem allowance every few stitches. This ensures that the entire hem will not undone if you catch the thread while wearing it. After pressing you cannot see the stitches from the right side. It gives a lovely professional finish. 
I've pinned the lining in place creating a pleat. This looks like there is far too much lining fabric to main fabric but after it is stitched the lining is then pressed down into a pleat.
I then moved back onto Lexi's dress. For the net layer I spoke about in my last post I have cut four pieces of ivory dress net fabric
Each piece is the width of the next by 21 inches. I've sewn it on approximately 4 inches down from the waist, Again I have pleated it as I've sewn along. The net has been sewn on upside down (I'm not sure if the picture gets this across). This helps it stick out even more, especially if you pleat it rather than gather it. I have sewn a sample to photograph so you can see it better;
Here I've pinned all the pleats in place to show you, although I have to say on Lexi's dress I pleated as I went along.
Here I'm sewing the pleats in place.
Here I've turned down the netting 'back on itself'. You can see how it stands up. 
Back to my dress!
One of the lst things to sew on mine is the fastening on the jacket. I have chosen Hemline plastic snap fasteners. These are a large sew on fastener which have a matte finish. When laced against the back brocade fabric it hardly shows at all. These fasteners are very slim in comparison to the normal metal snap fasteners which are shiny and thicker. 
Always sew the socket side (the female half) of the snap to the underside of the garment and the ball (the male half) to the upper side. 
The easiest way to ensure you get the two halves in the correct position on your garment is to sew all the male parts first. In this case I am sewing the top and bottom snaps first and then positioning the third middle one half way between. Always try to sew on an odd number if possible, it makes positioning easier. The best stitch to use is a button hole stitch which gives a nice edging but make sure the stitches don't go through to the right side!
I am using our Gutermann top stitch thread in black. This used to be called 'buttonhole twist' because that was its original use in the days when everybody had to hand sew buttonholes. These days our machines do the job and because we use the thread for top stitching, Gutermann changed the name of the thread.
A good idea is to use beeswax. If you run your thread through this it helps enormously with keeping your thread from tangling up and I find it helps make your stitches stay put. 
Now, how do you line up the female half? I find the easiest way is to mark each 'ball' with tailors chalk and then place right over left and press. This will leave a mark where the 'hole' has to be placed. 
Last but not least I have made bar tacks on the hem of the dress, at the side seams and at the back split. Even though the lining is anti-static and should not ride up, the bar tacks will prevent it moving in any direction. 
And now for a final try on! All seems well, in fact I'm so pleased, or should I say 'sew' pleased. I think it looks amazing and am really proud of it. Hopefully you will agree when you see the pictures we will share after the big day on the 4th of July!
Bye for now and thanks for reading,
Annette xx

Bridal Outfit Progress

Hi everyone!
Today I'm hoping to do quite a bit of hand sewing on my outfit and Lexi's dress. First to be done are finishing off the straps for Lexi's dress. I've used this trimming;
And then backed it with a satin ribbon. I've worked from the right side and literally just done a running stitch up both sides of the ribbon. My sewing doesn't look spectacular from the ribbon side, this is because I've been 'weaving' in and out of the beads. The main thing is it looks pretty good from the front.
Now I'm concentrating on the hand sewing on my dress. I've sewn round the lining of the little 'keyhole' at the front neck.
The arm hole facings have been sewn down at the shoulder and under the arms. This may need a few more anchor points so that the facings don't slip out and show.
I've also been doing a final fit on Janine's dress and there's a couple of fit issues. The first is the back neck because it is gaping a little. When i pinch it together about half an inch the whole dress fits much better. So I've unpicked the invisible zip down to the waist and re-sewn it tapering inwards towards the neck. I was dreading this but it was quite straightforward, much much easier than altering a conventional zip. 
Fast forward a few hours and I've done another fitting of Andrea's dress. Would you believe there is the same problem with the zip. When I pinch in about 1 inch the whole fit is much better. It will be interesting to see how Alison's dress goes when I fit that on her. 
Back to Lexi's dress. As mentioned before I am lining the bodice with polycotton. It does seem a waste of silk when polycotton will do the job just as good. You wont even see it because there is a lining. 
I have just sewn the gathered skirt of the lining onto the bodice lining and I have to say what a mess I've made! There were so many gathers to 'fit in' that I've ended up catching too much of the bodice lining in the seam in numerous places. What a fiddly seam! So here I am unpicking again!
Finally I got it something a bit like it should be! I hope the main skirt goes in better than that! I am actually sewing the seams in the skirt by hand by doing a back stitch. 
I've tried on a scrap of the fabric to press the 5/8" seam allowance open an because its set on a net tulle background all the beads in the 5/8" seam allowance just 'sink in'. The other option was to take off all the beads in the seam allowance and then sew the seam with a zipper foot. But seams look fine so because time is going so fast before the big day I feel the hand sewing will actually be quicker and I'l be happier with it.
I've decided not to attempt a zip in this dress so instead we are using an elastic bridal looping trim. 
Each tiny loop is elasticated which will help when fastening the buttons. I am using covered buttons (the same we will use on Vicki's cummerbund).
I attempted to hand gather the skirt but there is so much fabric in the skirt that it isn't going to pull in enough to fit on to the bodice.. Oh dear this is my fault...I wanted a much fabric in the skirt as possible to make it really poofy!
If you remember I've made a metal hooped underskirt and I don't want it pulling tight on this. So I've decided to pleat the skirt on to the bodice and hand sew it with a back stitch and double thread! Boy this is taking some time, I daren't think how many layers of the net fabric I am stitching through, plus my thread keeps catching on the beads. Still, I got there in the end.
I've hand sewn along the edges of the bodice of Lexi's dress about a quarter of an inch in. I've worked from the outside, dodging the flowers! So from the inside it looks like I'm not a particularly good sewer, quite uneven in fact! But hey its the outside that matters. 
When we put the dress over the hooped underskirt the top hoop appears to show from the outside so Vicki has suggested a layer of dress net attached to the top side of the lining, so it will be directly under the top fabric. Yes I think that will work!
Well that's it for now, I will be back to update you soon.
Thanks for reading, 
Annette xx 

New Eliza M Sample Garments

Hi De Hi! 
June is Indie Pattern Month over at The Monthly Stitch (check it out, it's good!) so what a fantastic time to showcase our lovely friends who produce the Eliza M Patterns! They've brought out a few new patterns recently and used our fabrics to show case them!
First off the bat (and my personal favourite I think) is the Audrey Dress. Featuring a wide Boat Neckline, a low V back and a wooshy skirt (yes that is the technical term) this is a true vintage gem!
For this image they have featured our Sea Blue Floral Stripe Print Rayon Satin and they couldn't have chosen a more perfect fabric. The way the print flows down the dress is perfect and the weight of the fabric is just right for sitting over the netted petticoat.
It's very easy to imagine a dress like this in a polka dot cotton, so to see this made in a satin is truly inspiring.
Next in line is the Betty Dress! An obvious favourite of mine, the Betty features a halter neck with nautical-esq collar detailing. Another full circle skirt so you can swoosh the night away!
Think gingham is just for young girls? Think polycotton is just for tablecloths? No and no! Our everyday 1 Inch Gingham Polycotton at a pocket friendly £3.99 p/m in Royal Blue is this feature fabric. Honest! Lightweight and crisp, this fabric is perfect for this kind of dress. Just screams Daytime cocktails, doesn't it? Plus, it won't crease that badly so you can carry it on through to the night. 
It's also available in a ba-jillion colours! (well...15)
Last, but of course not least, is the Hop and Swing Pants featured in our Ex-Barbour Camel Check 100% Wool Suiting. High Waisted with a super wig leg, these will add a figure to anyone. Perfect if you're not quite a skirt person because you can still sashay and sway.
I love this fabric choice, too. Perfect for a chilly British autumn
A certain A/W 2015 staple in the Katie Betty Wardrobe.
It's always fun to see pattern such as these sewn up in different fabrics, I find it helps inspire you and aids you in thinking out of the box so you can make something truly yours and not just as it is on the pattern packet! Have you had any pattern revelations recently?
Katie B

The Brides Dress

Hello everyone,
And so to Vicki's dress!
I've had the dress and lining cut out for a few days now. We are using pure silk dupion fabric (yes I won haha!) for the base dress and a lovely weight lining. I could have chosen one of our lighter weight linings but I felt that the heavier one will add more body to the dress, baring in mind that we are not going to have a net underskirt.
I am using Simplicity pattern 1606 for the top of the dress (a bit of a change since last time we spoke). 
This is one of the Amazing Fit patterns by Simplicity. You get 4 different cup sizes ranging from A through to D. Whereas I am lucky in the fact that being small busted all sewing patterns fit me in that department, Vicki needs a bigger cup and this pattern has certainly done the job. I've got a really good fit on her using this pattern and she feels comfortable in it.
As you have probably guessed I am using view A, but with ordinary shoulder straps, not the halterneck. 
The skirt part I have adapted from the older Simplicity pattern as mentioned before (1909). Unfortunately this pattern is now out of print but Butterick 5710 is really similar.
The shape of the skirt on this pattern is exactly as Vicki wants, but I've had to cut it off at the waist point and although there is both a short and long train, Vicki wanted it in the her to be awkward haha! Nothing is straight forward with Vicki :)
I am using Vilene Easy Fuse on the bodice lining piece but on the actual silk bodice I am using a medium weight sew in interfacing
My new sewing machine (Pfaff Performance 5 - I know, how lucky am I?) has a 'tacking' stitch but at the moment it seems to pucker up a bit. When I get a minute I'll read the instructions properly! So instead I am resorting to the best method I know which is a form of tacking that tailors use. It attaches the whole piece, not just the edges. This tacking stays in until the very end, so it doesn't move. When you eventually take it out, this forms a superb interlining. The tacking thread I am using is Gutermann Basting Thread. It comes in three colours and I am using the yellow one which shows up enough on the ivory fabric to see where the stitches are, but is discreet enough to not stand out and take your eyes off the more important details as the dress is being made. A tip is not to sew these tacks near the edges. The reason is because they just don't need too, because the middle stitches hold it all in place and when sewing the actual seams, your stitches now wont get sewn in. What a job that would be picking them out!
The Vilene Easy Fuse is a superb iron on interfacing especially for ease of use. It irons on perfectly, you can virtually iron over it once and its attached! Not the usual 20 seconds on each little bit as with cheaper interfacings. Well worth the money in my opinion.
These two interfacing's I feel are providing enough support for Vicki because we are having straps. It should prove to be quite comfortable on the day. If we had been making it without straps (which was the original plan), more like a basque, then it would have had to have had much more body and quite a lot of boning. As it is I'm thinking of just boning the side seams, we'll see!
And so now after having sewn the seams in the back and front pieces I am now ready to start the skirt.
Because I am happy with the fit of the dress toille I can carry on with the side front and side back seams.
I am not using picking shears on the wedding dress because I know Vicki will want to keep the dress and also just because it is the wedding dress! I am just using a small zigzag stitch to neaten the edges.
Well folks, that's as far as I've got. I'll be back soon to update you on my progress :)
Bye for now,

Pattern of the Week! Butterick 6094 Vintage Style Dresses with Back Detail

Hey Guys!
Seriously, how exciting is this new feature? You've no idea how giddy we are about Pattern of the Week here at Minerva HQ. I of course get the best job of being able to write about them and I am SO excited for my first write up to be about this pattern. 
Designed by Gertie of "Gertie's Blog for Better Sewing" fame, the dress features a classic high boat neckline, close fitting lined bodice and flared skirt creating a classic vintage silhouette. But wait, there's more. Back detail.
Oh yes. BACK DETAIL! It's almost cheeky. A little bit like when you flash a bit of petticoat! I adore this feature, particularly as it's a bit of a surprise. The front gives nothing away! I also love the use of Self Covered Buttons (love a button me).
Another thing to love about this pattern is it's very multi-functional. You can create a formal version with a Satin or Taffeta, or create an equally lovely version in a poplin. The world is your oyster with fabric choices for this pattern. Any light-medium woven fabric will suit it. The envelope information even recommends a tweed. A TWEED! How can you not be excited by that prospect?! 
"A tweed? With a flared skirt like that? Surely Not!" I hear you cry. Well! This pattern has another trick up its sleeve (so to speak) with the inclusion of a second skirt version. A gorgeous straight skirt, creating an equally striking and classic silhouette.
On my travels around the blogosphere I stumbled across Nicole from "Sartorial Sewing?" and she made up this version here, and it is lovely!
Business in the front...
Party in the back!
Nicole actually mentions in her write up that it looks like a simple shift in the front, admittedly with some interesting seam work, then Boom! It just wows you. 
Another great version of this pattern that I saw is actually a hack. Vicki and I have been chatting about pattern hacking a lot recently so it's really interesting that we stumbled across this one. Demi from Carbon Chic has done this really interesting mash up of this pattern with Vogue 8789, making use of the button detailing on the shoulders (more buttons!)
I also love how she's used a plain fabric for the back feature and a patterned fabric for the main piece. A cheeky twist on an already twisty pattern!
Also, who doesn't love a bow?
As if all this wasn't reason enough to pick up this gem of a pattern, it's now available for only £4.00! FOUR BRITISH POUNDS! I bet you can see why we're all giddy about it now! I have a big birthday bash coming up and I thought I'd chosen the pattern I wanted...may have to go back to the pinterest drawing board!
See ya soon Sewers!
Katie B x

Making my Wedding Outfit - The Coat and an Update on the Dress

Hello again,
As far as the coat is concerned with my outfit for mother of the bride, would you believe I have looked at 3 more jackets since we last spoke about this - and even made toilles for them all!
However after getting all this out of my system I am sticking to my original choice which was Burda 7077.
It could be said I've wasted time making these other toilles, and it did feel like that at first, but I am left feeling completely satisfied that I've made the right choice so I'm happy!
I have cut out the pattern in the 'real' fabric now (the lovely stretch brocade) and sewn it as far as my toille was sewn. The interfacing I used was my trusty Vilene Easy Fuse and I've used black interfacing on the black fabric and white interfacing on the ivory.
After applying the interfacing to the facing, sewn it on the coat and trimmed and clipped the curves, I am now tacking (with basting thread) the facing in place and slightly rolling it with my fingers so the seam 'sits' on the inside.
The sleeves have proved quite easy to insert and I've made them a little longer than the pattern suggests, literally by just sewing a 1inch hem instead of a 1/2inch hem.
Although there are no allowances for shoulder pads on the pattern I feel I need some because I am suite narrow on the shoulders.
The ones I have chosen to use are our Hemline shoulder pads H902.SB. These are small (just 13mm thick) and they sit nicely on my shoulders. They are actually making the coat hang better. Bonus!
That's as far as I've got with the jacket. The next job I tackled was to sew the lining for the dress.
The dress is fitting nicely and my usual thing of cutting a size 12 going into a 14 at the waist and hips has worked yet again. Virtually no fitting required. I am now left with quite a bit of hand sewing, which, if I get pushed for time, I can do at nights.
Likewise with my coat there is now just hand sewing left to do.
Well that rounds up where I am up to so far. The next step is to really tackle the brides dress.
I'll be back soon to update you on my progress!
Bye for now,
Annette x

Making my Wedding Outfit - The Dress

Hello again,
Well here I am making my actual dress to wear as mother of the bride for Vicki's wedding on the 4th of July!
It's even more scary than cutting out the toille. Which pieces to do in ivory and which to do in black? It was decision time!
One things for sure - I'm taking my time. You can see from the pictures it's coming along nicely. Two years ago when I decided on making a dress and coat I was convinced I would make it up in our pure silk dupion fabric. When my eldest daughter got married years ago the outfit I made then was in this fabric. 
However since then, Vicki mentioned to me we had a beautiful brocade fabric come into stock. And what two colours was it is - only black and ivory, what luck! It was a fabric we had sourced from a fashion house which means it was in limited supply, so I cut off a length of each colour and kept it to one side just in case I decided on using it. It turns out it was a good job I did as we sold out of both fabrics ages ago! 
I have spent months debating on which fabric to use. In the end it was Vicki who convinced me to go for the brocade. Her reasoning was because the coat is such a simple style, the very subtle patterning in the brocade (as opposed to the almost completely plain (apart from the slub texture) of the pure silk dupion), will make it look more 'designer'. 
It is actually much easier to sew in my chosen fabric than the polycotton was, or the dupion would have been. This is because the brocade has a little bit of stretch to it across the width. This stretchy-ness allowed me to manipulate the curves easier than the polycotton. 
When you are fitting the 'curves' together, after you've aligned the notches etc, it is then best to clip the curves. It's surprising how it elongates the seam.
Well I must say I am really pleased with the top front.
I've taken my time and all has gone to plan. So far so good. 
It's years since I've used sew on interfacing. I think most of us find that iron on is much easier. However on my dress it is suggesting sew on. This is tacked in on the main pieces. I suppose I could have ironed some on to the lining but I felt it wouldn't be quite right.
And now on to the zip. Many of you will know I do have a 'mental block' when it comes to concealed zips! But I must use them in all of these wedding outfits. A friend of mine who is quite new to dressmaking  had a go at inserting one with no help, just a brief look on Youtube and dived in so to speak. It was perfect and she has now inserted quite a few! So here goes...
First side pinned in.
First side being sewn. 
Second side pinned.
Second side sewn. I can't actually believe this - it looks perfect! I can breathe a sigh of relief now. One zip down!
And so I'll leave my dress for a while now, only because I am hoping to loose just a couple of pounds more in the next couple of weeks and it wont make any major difference to the fit, only the side seams. 
Until next time,

My Mother of The Bride Sewing Project - The Toille

Hi Everyone,
For the last few days I've concentrated on sewing my own outfit for my daughters wedding and put the bridesmaid dresses to one side.
I decided two years ago I would wear a dress and coat for Vicki and Richard's wedding and when I saw Burda pattern 7077 I fell in love with it. 
It's quite an elegant but simple style coat. However I wasn't too keen on the dress, it seemed too plain.
The first choice for my dress was Butterick 5998.
I then found Vogue 8948.
Both of which as you can see adapt beautifully to the ivory/black theme inu using both colours of the same fabric in the same dress.
And then just recently I spotted Vogue 1432 from the latest issue.
Look closely at this picture and you can see all the panels around the bust area (this images doesn't to the pattern justice in my opinion!) 
I visualized it in ivory and black making full use of the front cut of the dress and it blew me away!
What hasn't 'blown me away' is the amount of fiddly pieces which obviously I've had the addition of sorting out into black and ivory pieces. As I did for the bride and bridesmaid dresses, I toilled this dress first in ivory and black polycotton fabric.
As the pattern suggests I worked from piece 1, joined piece 2, joined piece 3 etc,. So piece 1 I cut in ivory, piece 2 in black, joined these together than cut piece 3 in ivory and joined these together etc, etc,.
I couldn't decide which colour to do the side pieces in which are small triangles. So I did one in black and one in ivory on the toille. In the end the ivory was definitely the right choice. It defines the black stripes as in there are two on each side, overlapping in the middle. 
I have never put as much work in a toille before so I'm hoping it's worth it.
Another option would have been to have a black dress with ivory panels, rather than an ivory dress with a small amount of black (which is what I decided on in the end). I do think I suit black so I was tempted to make the dress predominately black, but it will dull the ivory of the coat. Plus I think the ivory option is more wedding-y! But the main thing at the moment is to get the fit right - colour choices can come later! By making a toille I can see how the colours look too.
Another possibility is to make the coat edge to edge and instead of the round neck on the pattern, shape it down from the shoulder seam to where the black finishes. 
As usual when sewing for myself I cut the top part of the pattern in a size 12 and shaped it down the sides into a 14. This works well for me every time, I hope I haven't spoken too soon!
One change I am making to the coat pattern is not to have pockets. If you look at the pattern they are within the hip line seam. Now because I am not doing the pockets and also because there is no shaping on this seam I am joining the pattern pieces together. 
I am just using pins because then I can always make the coat again at a later date with pockets. 
So far so good I am very pleased with how the coat toille has sewn up. There isn't much I can share with you about making up the coat toille apart from it was very straight forward. I've 2 pictures to show you. The first once here shows how it would look as the pattern is.
And this one with the neckline folded in to form a V neck.
This would show a little bit of the dress underneath. I can't decide whether this would look good or not. I think I need to try it on with my hat, bag and shoes. My hat is ivory and black and I have a black bag and black patent shoes.
Well that's it now for the toilles. I'll be back soon to share progress on the 'real' dress!
Until next time,
Annette x

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