Monthly Archives: May 2014

Frozen Faux-La-Loopsies

Back before Christmas I made a pair of Lalaloopsy dolls for my girls as Christmas presents using this pattern by Quirky Artist Loft (which is not based on any commercially available dolls, any similarities are completely coincidental).  I would recommend the pattern without reservation as it is easy to follow, has some nice hair variation suggestions and gives you a beautiful, very sweet doll.  She also offers clothing patterns for the dolls which I’ve downloaded but haven’t made anything from yet.

Frozen Lalaloopsy

The Faux-La-Loopsies in their Anna and Elsa costumes.
Oh my goodness – the hair. Let me tell you how long it took to sew on all that hair! 14 hours! Each! And people ask me whether I would make them to sell – who’d pay for that?!

Since then the world has gone Frozen crazy.  Including me.  I love it.  It’s quite possibly the best film ever, and I will cheerfully admit to listening to the CD while in the car alone and watching the DVD repeatedly, by choice and child free.  So when I decided to make Frozen outfits for the dolls it was as much for my own gratification as for the girls’ benefit.  They’re actually miniature versions of the dressing up outfits I plan to make for the girls.  I’ve already bought the fabric but I have some more pressing sewing projects to get on with in the meantime so sadly they will have to wait just a bit longer.

Among my more pressing sewing projects is the pair of trousers I’m making in my evening classes.  They’re going well, although I’ve reached another pause until next class as I want to check my fly is right before moving on.  The fly is IMPORTANT, people!

So far I’m pleased with it – the muslin fit very well, but I have no photo as it was a tiny bit see-through (black knickers, you know) and the fly was appalling.  there’s no way anybody is getting a look at that fly.  I did consider putting them on Mari to show you the lovely back view, but they didn’t sit well on her because she only has half a bum.

I do have a photo of the fabric I’m using though, if only so I can share a lesson I have learned in fabric preparation.

I bought a top dyed cotton garbadine from Ebay which was described as developing a vintage wash look after the first cool wash.  Perfect.  So I put it in the machine at 30 degrees and waited.  And this is what came out….

vintaged garbadine

Not quite the ‘vintage look’ I’d hoped for when pre-washing my Ebay fabric. It might all turn out ok though. Let’s stay positive.


It’s a bit (very) creased, isn’t it.  I can’t decide whether it’s ruined or not but am using it anyway – I had to cut around the worst of the creases and I’ll make a judgement on how successful it is when the garment’s complete. At worst it will be a good practice for my next trousers, and I should have some very comfy trousers for lounging around and doing the gardening in.

Back in class I asked Angela what went wrong and she suggested the spin cycle in my machine may have been too strong, and that pressing the fabric straight from the machine might have helped revive it. I have squirrelled these tips away for next time I’m pre-washing.

Dressmaking plans are afoot

I’ve been busy planning great things for Mari.  I enrolled on a 10 week Dressmaking course at the Venn School of Sewing ages ago, and, finally, it starts next week.  I have attended a couple of Angela’s courses previously, a 10 week Skills and Techniques course which I absolutely loved, I learnt loads of new skills and techniques (as the course name suggests) but also saw what I had been doing wrong which was wonderful, and a 1 day course on adjusting commercial patterns to fit which, to be honest, made my brain melt a bit.  I think I have the information and tools to have a go now, but I won’t really know until I get down to it and make something using my new pattern-adjusting skills.

I love to sew, so I sew as time allows, mainly clothes for the girls, soft toys or household-y sewing stuff that fit isn’t too crucial for.  The times I’ve tried to sew for myself have, with the exception of an elasticated waisted skirt (which I only wore once before discovering it went see-through in the sun) resulted in appalling fit – too tight around the belly, bust, shoulders, back … just too small, but also too long, because I am a shortie.  But stout.  Robustly built.

I now know that the dress sizes given by pattern manufacturers do not match with off-the-peg dress sizes.  Sewing pattern sizes are tiny.  And they have very set proportions, so if you’re an apple shape, like I am, you’re doomed.  Or if you have a generous bust.  Or curvy hips.  Basically, any humanly proportioned person is unlikely to fit an unaltered dress pattern.

I know this now. And I’ve been shown how to make it right, at least in theory.  Now I’m going to put that theory into practice by making a pair of trousers that fit and a top that is flattering.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

Sewing patterns May 2014

These are the patterns I intend to use for my top and trousers, Simplicity Pattern 1696 for the trousers and this pattern for a doesn’t cling-to-anything top from Burdastyle magazine (issue 4/2014).

Meet Mari, my wonderful new dressmaking form

I have made a dress form.  She is lovely and is called Mari.  We are going to have many dressmaking adventures, she and I, I can already tell.

Meet Mari.

I have fancied a dressmakers dummy for ages but haven’t been able to justify the price tag.  There are many tutorials for making your own dress form online, I won’t repeat them here, but a quick Google will show you how to make your own.

In this case I used the duct tape method which seemed the easiest and cheapest.  I actually made the form ages ago (in October 2012) but I wasn’t sure how to finish her after stuffing, so I put her to one side while I thought about it, and then of course other projects came along and she was left to get dusty in the garage loft.

Months later, inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee (what a wonderful programme!), I have pulled her out of the garage, dusted her off and reassessed her.  She wasn’t quite right, the tape had pulled me in too much in some of my squashier areas (she had a wonky boob, which I insist is due to uneven taping pressure), so if my dummy was going to be an useful tool I was going to need to bulk her out a bit.

Again, there are some useful guides and tutorials on the internet to help with this, too.  Armed with a set of accurate measurements, I wrapped her in a layer of lightweight batting so she would feel softer (that probably wasn’t necessary, but I felt she needed to be a bit less rigid) and then padded her out where necessary until her measurements matched mine.  I put on one of my (well fitting) bras and stuffed it until it measured as it should.  Finally I pulled on a bleach-ruined T-shirt and pinned on some narrow black ribbon  to mark the centre seams, natural waist etc, and job done.

Except I didn’t have a stand. The Internet had told me how many sewers had inserted adjustable music stands or built their own stands using wood, hammer and nails, but I’d already stuffed and sealed her and anyway I wasn’t confident that I could put in a stand without it ending up on a wonk.  Besides, I’d already put a coat hanger in her and I liked the idea of having her hang so I could use her to fit trousers as well.

the very next morning an ‘I-can’t-sleep-why-won’t-my-brain-switch-off’ Ebaying session presented me with the perfect solution – an adjustable birdcage stand.  Now she’s hanging straight, is my height and easily moved around as needed.  It came with castors but I haven’t needed to put those in yet, I’ll see how it goes.

I haven’t seen the suggestion of using a birdcage stand anywhere else – so I’m claiming this as my own Genius Idea!  (Even if somebody else has had the same idea, it’s still a genius idea that I had all on my own so that will never, to my mind, make my idea any less wonderful.)

I can’t wait to start sewing and dress her, but I’m going to have to as there are a few other bits on my Must-Do list before I can get back to my Want-To-Do list.


The hanging stand isn’t quite perfect – the coat hanger has a tendency to twist round in the hook which is already annoying me a bit.  I’m going to try and limit the twist by wrapping elastic bands to the hook either side of the coat hanger.  Hopefully that will keep her more still.