My new favourite dress: adding a Peter Pan collar to Simplicity 3833

May 6, 2012

Lately I’ve been revisiting my stash of vintage and reproduction vintage sewing patterns, and the associated stash of fabric to go with it. First up is Simplicity 3833.

This is a reproduction of an original 1960s Simplicity pattern and there’s an interesting comparison of the original pattern with the newer version here.

In the past month, I’ve made this pattern twice.  The first is the simple short sleeved dress in some owl print Japanese indigo fabric I had bought about 3 years ago for it.

simplicity 3833

The second version has been more of a challenge.  I’m a sucker for a Peter Pan collar. I have been known to wear multiple layers of peter pan collar in an outfit. I believe that there are very few dresses that I would wear that could not be improved with a peter pan collar.  So, I wanted to add a peter pan collar.

Now, the problem with adding a collar to a pattern is that necklines are unique to both the individual pattern and the size you make it in. Those universal peter pan collar tutorials will work as an accessory, but don’t really integrate into the dress as they’re not quite the same size.  So, I made my own pattern using the front and back interfacing pattern pieces as a template for the neckline.
Simplicity 3833 collar
I think the end result turned out quite well.

New dress: Simplicity 3833 with collar modification
A few extra details: The collar and patterned buttons are made from a fat quarter of fabric from Ray Stitch. I made all that bias binding myself to make sure I got an exact match to the red in the patterned fabric – the edging of the collar is 1/2 inch tape, made with a bias tape maker. The neckline (a late edition when I decided I needed a bit more of the plain red) is 1 inch, made without the bias tape maker. This tutorial on the Colette website for continuous bias tape is great.

This is now my new favourite dress
New dress: Simplicity 3833 with collar modification


Rekindling my Echino fabric love and another sewing pattern

March 13, 2012

At the start of last month, I took a work trip to Amsterdam and the Hague. During the cold snap that gripped much of Northern Europe over that first week of February.  The things I noted during that trip were

  • The Netherlands railways are so reliable that, when it gets so cold that the points freeze, everyone is so outraged that they can talk of little else.
  • The railway staff are, in fact, so horrified on behalf of their customers that they give you free coffee because your train is 10 minutes late.
  • If you select Filet Americain from the sandwich platter, you actually end up with raw mince in a roll. The very rare roast beef is a much better option.
  • Stamppot is exactly the meal you need when it’s about -10  outside
  • Being able to commute by ice skating down a canal looks pretty cool.
  • The great little fabric shop by Amsterdam Centraal shuts disappointingly early in the afternoon (dammit)
  • My beloved Kokka fabric kindle cover went missing somewhere before I got to the hotel on the first night. I think it may well have been at City Airport (damn you, City Airport)

The first kindle cover - it served me well

The loss of my kindle cover ended up being an excuse for indulging  one of my small fixations – the Echino fabrics by Etsuko Furuya for Kokka.  They are used by Clothkits for some of their skirt kits (so there’s a money saving tip straight away), they are lovely heavyweight cottons and cotton linen mixes and they are interesting without being overly twee.  And they are available from my local favourite Raystitch and  new mail order favourite Eternal Maker.  The camera print for the original cover was an Echino.  So, for this one, another small piece of Echino fabric, this time the car print, and this time with a contrast lining.

Kindle cover mark 2 Escort mark 1

Consulting on FB, Daz identified it as an Escort Mark 1, as modelled by Doyle in The Professionals (thus confirming how little the classic car ID service while watching it took effect). Rosie confirmed it as being the same as the first family car we had – Ertie – aka the white car.  It’s a white car, it looks a bit late 70s/early 80s. I like the print. I’ll probably forget that it’s an Escort in a while.

Anyway, this time, I kept the pattern template and wrote up some pattern instructions.  They are here.  It’s a quick project – one for an hour or so on a rainy afternoon. It’s a great excuse to buy a little piece of very nice fabric.  I may make another.

In which I write up a pattern after a very long time

March 13, 2012

So, it’s been a while since I updated which means it’s time for a brief flurry of activity.

First things first.  I finally got around to putting the animal face charts from the blanket squares into a single PDF.  They look like this.


There’s a Panda, a Bear, a jaunty Jack Russell puppy and a Monkey.  The pattern has been added to my Ravelry downloads here.

BTW – what the hell has happened to WordPress since I last used it?


November 1, 2011

So, I’ve joined a Movember team as a (grits teeth) mo-sista. It’s not a work team, but does involve some people I work with.  I’m on board to offer support to the others’ fundraising by the selling of handcrafted moustaches and being sponsored for wearing said moustaches in the workplace.  You can find us here

I posted about the crocheted moustaches before – mods to the pattern to follow – but this evening I did a special commission for someone – a moustache brooch, in grey felt with a simple red stitched trim.

I made you the moon on a stick

October 24, 2011

We’re in need of a bit of a laugh at work at  the moment. My boss keeps saying that people are asking for the moon on a stick. Now, in fine Lee and Herring style, we can give it to them.  But not for long as I’ll be taking it back off them.

It’s a quick project – just a couple of circles of felt, embroidered with the face of the man in the moon. It also works as a handy pencil topper.

I’ve also been working on the crochet moustache pattern again and made a couple of mods. This time it’s a magnificent military moustache and there may be a plan for it next month.


September 26, 2011

Yesterday, we took a trip to the seaside to visit Jenny and meet the baby. It’s been far too long since the six of us were all together in one place and it was a great day. There was an excess of cake, a brief spell of sunshine as we walked along the side of the beach, lots of laughs, some contemplation of whether the presentation of lots of knitted gifts in childhood would cause a later fear of knitted things and, of course, a very cute baby.

And there were presents.  We handed over the blanket we’d collaborated over and sewn together one afternoon in May on the South Bank (and lined by Amanda after we finished)

Louise gave her the fab little dog that she’d made.  And I finally got to hand over the bootees which I have been hiding for the last few months.

Two bootees, one face

I wanted to do something a little different to the traditional animal bootees you see. I got the idea for the bootees from a pair of Japanese socks I bought a while ago in Covent Garden. Those had a single panda face over the two socks and always make me smile when I know I’m wearing them.

The other big event was that we  planned a secret surprise for Amanda’s big birthday – a big basket of craft related presents. I made a case for a pair of good sewing scissors –

Grey felt, red embroidery. I’ve always loved the combination of red and grey. I’ve always thought of myself mostly as a knitter, but it seems these days that I sew more often than anything.

Bastard moths: part 2

September 11, 2011

I recently found that the lightweight cardigan I had been knitting had a couple of moth holes in it.  Well, I found out where the little buggers had been living.

This coat, I should explain, is an old favourite. I have owned it for over 10 years, having rescued it from a bag of old clothes that my mum and dad’s neighbour wanted to get rid of.  When the original buttons came off, I replaced them. When the lining shredded, I carefully removed it – discovering in the process that the coat was from the Canda Couture label* – and replaced it with a hot pink heavy satin lining.

I love this coat.

And the bastard moths decided to eat  it.  In a really visible place.

I was getting myself ready to part with it, but this afternoon someone suggested that I could possibly do something to repair it.  And I got thinking. The coat does have a separate bodice and skirt. And the damage is entirely on the bodice – everything else has been left untouched.  Could I do something with the bodice to disguise the damage, without it looking a bit poundshop Desigual or (worst fate of all) a bit Per Una? I think it’s time for it to go off to the dry cleaners to kill off any remnants of the little flying bastards while I ponder the repair job.

*that would be C&A’s classy label in the 60s

Perry Girl part 2: It turns out oranges weren’t big enough.

September 11, 2011

We had our monthly far north London knitting group this afternoon and I made good progress on finishing the short row shaping on the Fred Perry inspired top I have been knitting on and off since June.  Now, the reason why I have made slow progress is that, in order to get a good fit, there has been some serious maths involved in knitting the front of the top.  This being because a standard knit (and the majority of shop-bought knits) have identical measurements across the front and back. And I’m just not built like that.  The front needs to be wider and I need an extra four inches in length at the front if a fitted top isn’t going to ride up.

So, this is where darts come in. The vertical ones are easy – these are just sets of increases and decreases. But I also needed horizontal ones to prevent armhole gape and allow the vertical ease in the top. This is where short row shaping comes in.

Vertical darts

horizontal darts

While out this afternoon, I couldn’t resist shoving my fist into the top to show how the short row shaping had worked out. Lorena suggested that I could use oranges or grapefruits for photography purposes. Turns out my corner shop did not have large enough oranges.

Hello sailor

August 21, 2011

So, a while ago I blogged this about my experiments with pleating.  Here’s the end results.

It’s actually been sitting in a pile of almost completed projects, waiting for buttons, for about 3 months. I finally went to put on the buttons on today but had to do a repair job first (more of which later).

In basic construction, it is totally seamless. I made the body in one piece to the armhole split, shaped the shoulders with short rows and did a three needle bind-off on the shoulders. From there, I picked up around the armholes and knit a short-row set-in sleeve cap, then knit the sleeves down from there.  The decorative pleating on the front I’m fairly happy with – some more detail here

The red buttons, with the pleating on the front and the rich blue (Azul Profundo Malabrigo laceweight for those who want details) have a slight nautical feel.

Anyway, as I decided to take a quick five minutes to finally put the buttons on this morning, I noticed that, in the time it had been sat in the nearly done pile, bastard moths had been at it and chewed a nice hole next to the armhole. So, time for a little repair job. I used instructions on filling a hole in a vintage knitting book that I have.  The hole was here

The repair has worked pretty well. Not totally invisible, but enough to hide the damage. In a way, the more annoying qualities of the malabrigo (it felts like a bugger as soon as you touch it) helped and the fabric does kind of hold its integrity around the hole that the little flying twunts made.

Another time I think I’d look at a different yarn choice – the malabrigo I suspect will not stand up to a lot of wear before felting further. We shall see. I will also have a bit of a look at making the pleated neckline into a proper collar on the cardigan.

Rainy afternoon quickie

August 20, 2011

A few weeks ago, as I looked out of the 341 bus window on the way to work, I saw something interesting – a new haberdashery? opening soon? So, I took a trip down to Ray-Stitch this morning (it’s now possible to do a little crafty magpie crawl along from there to Loop, taking in Cass Art along the way) and came away with the intended indigo thread purchase, but also with a nice little fat quarter of a Japanese camera print fabric.

This weekend being one of those rare ones which is completely free of any commitments to anyone else, and the lovely rain this afternoon making me feel less inclined to head out and do stuff, I’ve stayed in and done stuff instead.  I made this cover for my Kindle.

From drawing out the pattern to finishing it was less than a couple of hours work, done to a soundtrack of Belle and Sebastian Write About Love (minus that bloody Norah Jones collaboration), Pet Sounds, and Village Green Preservation Society. And a very bad singalong.

Now, I may actually get around to sewing what I intended to start this morning, which is that sixties dress pattern I’ve had knocking about for around two years in the Japanese Indigo owl print fabric that I’ve had almost as long.

Or if I find any fabric with a picture of, maybe, a phone on it, I may make a cover for my camera, to carry on the theme.

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