Sunday, 1 July 2012

Battle of the Prom Dresses: Simplicity vs New Look

Summertime is weddings, parties, BBQ's and lunches = I need a prom dress.
In the battle of the prom dress patterns, several members have constructed real beauties. Vicky made New Look 6723 and Marilyn made Simplicity 2588 and both were lovely dresses.  I decided to try my hand at two simultaneously; New Look 6723 and Simplicity 1873.

Simplicity 1873 is very similar to the famous Barbara Tfank dress Michelle Obama wore when she visited Buckingham Palace in 2011. My mother gave me some of her vintage mint green brocade to make my own, less regal, version.

Simplicity 1873 made by RK in green brocade 'Michelle Obama' style

Simplicity 1873 very similar to designer Barbara Tfank's 2011 brocade prom dress, 
as worn by Michelle Obama on her visit to Buckingham Palace

This pattern has a 1.5cm seam allowance (apparently). The bodice is lined and designed to be loose fitting. However, I had to bin the first bodice because it would not fit once the zip was attached. Number 2 had an extra 1.5 inches added to the ribcage and was a perfect fit. My advice? Make a muslin if, like me, you are not a Simplicity model.
The neckline on the Simplicity is rather 'loose' and baggy in the 1960's style so I'd advise you to interface it to keep it stiff and to get the 'puff' on the skirt a net is needed. My next project! smile

If you want the Michelle Obama pink bolero jacket with three-quarter length sleeves then New Look 6935 is probably as close as you'll get.  I will make it and post the results even if the group is no longer in session!

New Look 6935 for the Michelle Obama bolero jacket?

Next up, New Look 6723 in bright orange batik African print. I chose the view with the 'sweetheart neckline' and no sleeves. I also used (i.e. 'wasted) a lot of fabric getting the print symmetrical on the skirt and the shoulders but on the plus side, it was ridiculously fast to make, like 5 hours, even with the lining and it's got a very feminine silhouette. On the downside, there is too much ease in this pattern so make a size smaller in the bodice and save your fabric. Not sure a seam is needed on the sweetheart neckline, you could probably cut it on the fold so as not to break the pattern but then you'll need to reinforce with interfacing but that's OK. smile

New Look 6723 in orange African print

In my opinion, Simplicity 1873 just pips New Look 6723 to the post in it's superior construction of darts over princess seams and skirt pleats over gathering. However, I don't think the neckline on the SImplicity is 'special' enough and you might consider using the sweetheart neckline of New Look 6723 instead for something truly spectacular. Mix n' match!

Simplicity 1873 is a more formal prom dress design, better suited to weddings and the like. So if you want a casual prom dress for an evening out or dinner, then make New Look 6723, perhaps with it's matching handbag.


We had a full house this Saturday. A lot of regulars turned out for our penultimate session and we had a very good giggle at the main table. It was all going on; embroidery, crochet, sewing, even smocking - yes! Rosemary had us all amazed with her lovely gingham smocking and RK was so taken aback she forgot to take a picture - duh!

Full house at the main table

Joan attaches patterned border to her 3D patchwork

Jean embroiders in straight and cross-stitch in red, green, yellow and orange 

Val knits baby cardigans for Natalie's twins in pink and blue with flower buttons

Val extra busy! She knitted two matching cardigans for Natalie's twins. Awww....x

Teddy bibs made by Val 

The Blackheath Textile Hanging is going great guns by all accounts. Several of our members are involved and Jean's 'Rockin' Robin' embroidered freehand (no pattern/visual) is a work of art. 
In the time this group is down and awaiting new funding, the hanging should be completed - yayy!
We'll try and bring you updates to it's construction.

Tweet Tweet! Embroidered robin for the Blackheath Library Textile

Jan embroiders her beautiful cushion stretched on a frame. 

Next week, our last, Rosemary's smocking will be the first up - I promise! Quite different from shirring I assure you and much more lovely. smile
I hope you've enjoyed this week's offerings. Even though we only have one week to go, you are WELCOME to join us. This group is free of charge and sponsored by Lewisham Council.

3 weeks and counting..

Believe it or not, our little group has only THREE WEEKS left before we officially close. Lewisham Council has been absolutely fabulous in giving us funding and we can only hope we are gifted another award so we can keep up our work in the community.

In the meantime, here is a rundown of what some of the member have been busy creating this week.

New Look skirt made by Marilyn in 1950's style print with net underskirt

Vicky cuts out Sewholic pattern 1202

Marilyn wrestles with a new pattern

As some of you may remember, when the group first began, we were kindly donated several boxes of materials from the owner of
Natalie had a boisterous 2-year old son and twins (one boy, one girl) on the way and so decided to clear her sewing room and the off-cuts she had stockpiled over the years. Her kind donation to the group saw every member make a garment or patchwork of one kind or another. Marilyn especially completed wonderful several items from off-cuts and skirts, dresses, scarves and shirts were all made by various members.

Natalie asked if the group could, in return, make her twins a few things and we were only too happy to oblige! After all the materials she had given us, it was the least we could do.

Jean makes a darling baby bonnet and cardigan for Natalie's baby daughter Grace
complete with teddy bear buttons

Jean standing next to her latest creation, a baby blanket in 

Val, Delphina and Marilyn all promised to make garments for Natalie's twins; Val agreed to booties, cardigans and bibs, Delphina two baby sacks in blue and pink and Marilyn said she will knit. Stay tuned for the results!

Regular member Marianna shows us how to 
self-draft a pattern using paper, pencil and fashion ruler

Marianna draws her own version of Magenta's dress from 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show'
How did she get on?

Voila! She did it! 
See how Marianna constructed this at her

This group has brought together some of the most inventive and creative patchwork groups in Lewisham. Until now RK had not ever given much appreciation to patchwork or card-making but that view has definitely changed! Our amiable member Cleo (the singing Cleopatra) has dazzled us with her  lovely voice and craft-based creations.

Cleo holds up her symbolic patchwork wall hanging 

Cleo's completed handmade cards and (below) one is construction

We all agreed it will be sad to see the group end but for now, at least, we'll keep on sewing, knitting, eating biscuits and listening to 'Magic'.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

No more free patterns on Burda (sob!)

Hello my kitties! (cackle) RK was surprised to discover that Burdastyle has completely REMOVED their section of free patterns. This is a terrible pity for sewists everywhere, especially beginners who use simple patterns to get going. Also, a lot of the patterns were drafted by fellow sewists (Elaine May's Coffee Date dress for instance) and so it brought the sewing community together.

Here's hoping Burdastyle change its policy and bring it back....

Sunday, 3 June 2012


The group celebrated the Jubilee in fine style! A hearty spread was put out and Marilyn finished her beautiful Amy Butler dress. As we'd all predicted, it is a beauty - well constructed and looks absolutely fabulous on her. The perfect summer frock for any occasion and it was a perfect fit on Marilyn and did not need a single adjustment. RK has to throw out an apology here, this lovely creation is based on Simplicity 2588 and not Simplicity 2444 as I'd written in previous posts. I was having a senior moment (ahem). All corrected now!

Marilyn is her finished Simplicity 2588 in Amy Butler fabric
(quite lovely, I'm sure you'll agree)

And so, back to our Jubilee celebrations. RK and Marilyn decided to lay on a festive spread, courtesy of Lewisham Council. As the group will soon be disbanding (queue violins) it seemed the right moment to push the boat out and have a little party. smile
Sandwiches, crisps, grapes, cakes, biscuits, homemade scones, teacakes, sausage rolls and lashings of Schloer were munched and crunched over the session.

Del, Cleo, Jean, Val, Marilyn, Joan & Liz toast the Queen's Diamond Jubilee

In other news, Val finished Simplicity 2322 by hand in a lovely blue butterfly fabric she bought in Lewisham for only £2. The lady on the market stall outside Rolls & Rems clearly has some hidden treasure buried on her stall so be sure you check it out!

Simplicity 2322 handsewn by Valerie

Del finished New Look 6968 in African fabric and it fit her like a glove! An easy pattern to make she said she is definitely making another. Val copied the pattern and will be making her dress soon and Liz will be cutting it out next week (shh, don't tell the New Look company), so you'll be seeing this dress a good few times before we close. 

Del in New Look 6968 sewn in African fabric

Liz cuts out the lining for a linen maxi dress

It was a busy day at the group but lovely as always. Liz came in for a few hours to cut the lining on a maxi dress, Del cut out a New Look prom dress in African material, whilst patchwork and crochet were being done in between much eating and laughter! Although we will be ending in a few weeks time, we were happy to come together, it was a wonderful day to toast the Queen. Gaw'd Bless you Ma'am.


Tuesday, 29 May 2012

A welcome return

The group returned on a gloriously hot and sunny day to the sounds of Magic on our faithful radio.
Jean brought in another round of delicious fairy cakes, Val donated a box of York fruits, biscuits were in abundance and so away we went!

Homemade cakes and treats brought in by members

The Patchwork Corner!

Here are more examples of the work completed this week by our cross-stitch and patchwork members.

Patchwork by Rosemary

Patchwork by Valerie

'Pour A Cup of Kindness' by Valerie

Patchwork by Jean

Jean decided to turn her nimble hands to crochet in a lovely blue yarn, while Val pattern cut a summer blouse. Rosemary made a start sewing a shirt-dress and Vicky tackled a Simplicity vintage dress in replica 1940's jersey print (more on that next week). Parsis joined us later for a spot of pattern-cutting, while yours truly ran up a New Look shift dress. Pictures of finished garments to come next week!

Jean crocheting a baby blanket

You may remember, Marilyn began cutting the pattern for Simplicity 2588 in Amy Butler fabric.
Well, she returned this week, relaxed and smiling after her Jamaican holiday with her work so far.
After constructing the bodice, she completed the skirt with pleats and attached both together. Not yet finished but, once the zip has gone in and it's had a few 'nips and tucks' its clear this dress is going to be something very special.

Simplicity 2588 in construction by Marilyn

'Dolly Mix' Liz once again astounded the group in completing a skirt, in what has to be the fastest recorded time ever at CSKG - one hour! Remember the 3-hour top she made a few weeks ago?
Well, she decided to make a skirt to go with it. After discovering she did not have enough fabric to make the Simplicity 4095 skirt, she instead did a 'free cut' and fashioned her own skirt - and it's fabulous!

Liz in her 'one hour' skirt!

Catford South Sewing & Knitting Group is completely FREE of charge, thanks to Lewisham Council. Use it or lose it.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Alert! Blackheath Library Textile Project

On behalf of Pennie, the organiser of the Blackheath Library Textile project, if you are interested in working on this large hanging for the new library in Blackheath, a meeting will be held with the designer, Amanda, on Thursday 31st May, 2 pm in the Old Bakehouse, SE3.
Discussion will include the design, how to create it and timeframes. So if you are good at embroidery, applique, cross-stich or any other techniques this will certainly be the project for you. Enjoy!

More details here.

The Old Bakehouse, Located at the rear Of Age Exchange Reminiscense Centre, Blackheath Grove, Blackheath, London, SE3 0AU. The meeting to discuss the Blackheath Library Textile hanging will be held here at 2pm on Thursday 31st May 2012.