Sew Over It Nancy dress

Hello friends!  Another massive gap in blogging – filled with lots of work but also a madcap ski holiday in possibly the best conditions I have ever been blessed to ski in – everyday was sunny, everyday brought new adventures and everyday I was in the most awesome scenery ever.  Panda eyes, moi?  Actually just a bit 😉  I’ve also run a half marathon with friends which was also pretty brilliant fun, even if I have been trying to recoup ever since.  And very soon I am off for a sewing holiday!  A 4 day sewing course doing something amazing, somewhere pretty stunning.  I shall try to tell you about it without too much of a hiatus!

In more news the winner of the pattern for the Cocktail Hour is Bertesews.  I have emailed you to get relevant details to enable your gold lame dream to come true.  Thank you everyone for leaving comments – I am still thinking about the length of my gold lame tunic and will keep you posted if I decide to change it- thank you to everyone who left honest feedback – I will be taking it on board.

So today’s 30 minute blogging challenge is to show you the dress I wear a lot.  It is a departure for me as it is not my usual form fitting style- quite the opposite.  This is the Nancy dress by Sew Over It.  It was the first dress released as part of the Pdf Club – where you pay a small subscription that brings you a free pattern plus early notice of the next pdf pattern to be released.

Nancy is a 1960s inspired swing dress.  It has really interesting pattern piecing which you can’t see in my version due to the pattern of the fabric – but it has interesting panels and a high empire waistline (but the front does not have a horizontal waistline as the centre front piece is a panel from neck to hem.  Have a look at the technical drawings on the website to see.

When I saw Lisa’s modelling of the Nancy dress, and how stylish it looked, I took a risk and bought it quickly, and made it up equally as quickly.  There was always a risk that it would be too billowing for me & make me look like I was preggers.  I think fabric choice is very important here.  I chose a viscose with an almost oriental floral chrysanthemum pattern from Fabric Godmother during one of her always brilliant sales.  This means it is no longer available – sorry!

It’s a great dress to sew.  If I remember correctly quite a quick sew as there is no zip- there is a centre back opening.  I added a loop and button rather than a hook and eye at the centre back neckline.   This dress though, as well as being a beautiful sew is also wonderful to wear.  It has swoosh and sway with its swing shape.  And it is just so comfy to wear – good for those blobby days to make you feel feminine but also on days when you feel sky high already because it does feel like a pretty dress.  Remember though- fabric is key.  You want to make it out of something that has drape and is not stiff – a viscose or rayon is ideal.  Have a look on Sew Over It’s site for some specially picked fabrics that would work.

Not that many pics I am afraid, but the ones that I do have are gems taken during the Knitting and Stitching Show at the Sew Over It stall.  I spent the day there with my wonderful sewing muse & buddy, Jane.  We had an awesome time chatting about sewing, running & the many things that seem to amuse us whilst taking in the many stalls selling fabric, patterns & the odd unique knitted British Garden bird (oops, I failed to take photos!) .  I must confess I spent a HUGE amount on fabric and a couple of patterns.  That much I was actually scared to tot it all up.  I am going for quality these days, but do need to exercise a bit more self discipline when faced with such temptation.

I took a course at the show – sewing pleather to make this amazing clutch bag.  It’s big enough to fit my ipad in too and amazingly enough took just an hour to sew.

Thanks to Judith our brilliant teacher.  Jane took a different course, ‘Altering patterns for a fuller bust’, and writes about her trip to the show here – read carefully and you may get a hint about what my latest make is made out of 😉

Cheerio for now.  Happy sewing x

The Eve Appeal Cocktail Hour – V1415

Ahem . Hello, it’s me again. Like the veritable bus – nothing for absolutely ages then three come at once.  So how did I manage to be the first blogger in the fantastic themed appeal this year for the Eve Appeal charity? I think I felt I should not allow myself a long deadline, plus I wanted to make myself something wintry & that would not be helpful writing about it in the summer.

Last year the blogger tour raised lots of money for The Eve Appeal through pattern sales and awareness of women’s cancers in the sewing community. 

 Last year’s appeal was all around vintage sewing patterns , this year it is ‘The Cocktail Hour’ running from approx. March-November. McCalls have chosen a selection of their favourite Vogue Patterns suited to sipping cocktails. The idea, like last year, is that they are asking sewists all over the country to make one of the patterns, which will raise money (through the sale of each pattern) and awareness for the Eve Appeal charity

There is a festival of patterns – check them out here.

Now arguably I have gone off piste. When you look at the adorable patterns that I could have chosen you may have picked out a classic dress for me, indeed that would have been me in my comfort zone. And there are a few dresses I considered. However, this time I was driven by something different – what about some dressy trousers? Well, the pattern that enabled me to make some dress trews was Vogue V1415 – two cuts of trousers and two tops. It was the cowl necked top that drew my attention – and folks, it can be made out of a knit.

There is just something of the sci-fi about it though … don’t you think?

So my vision was to make a pair of black dressy trousers with the cowl neck top. Maybe play around with it to suit my form if need be.

The online store I immediately thought of for unusual evening fabrics was Croft Mill and it didn’t disappoint. I hunted down some tame gold lame – what does that term conjure up for you? I remember using the term ‘gold lame’ to encompass everything I wouldn’t be seen dead in as I would never have dressed up to go out, let alone in something shiny! But hey ho, times change! I occasionally have the option to dress up & wowser, I have my own gold lame!  I catch myself brewing a bit of Shirley Bassey (on a good day), or failing that, Spandau Ballet ….(please tell me you know what I’m talking about…)

I love the dress trousers – they are also made from Croft Mill fabric –black chino fabric with 3% lycra– I wanted black with a tad stretch (to enable them to fit when my body moves between sizes). The slight sheen on the chino fabric is nice, but to elevate it to posh, I sewed some velvet ribbon along the side seams, like men’s formal trousers (or guardsmen’s trousers if you like).

 

This involved moving the zip to the back and making sure to sew the side seams first & attaching the ribbon before sewing up the rest of the trousers.  I needed to sew two lengths of ribbon either side of the side seam so that I could include a little side split at the ankle.  Incidentally, I did baste the trousers to make sure the fit was OK before sewing on the ribbon (unpicking the basting to leave just the side seams sewn to make a flat stretch of trouser to attach the ribbon.)

Now, V1415 has cigarette trousers as one of its variants, but since I know the Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers always fit me, I compared the two patterns and based my trousers on the tried & tested Ultimates.

Now the gold lame…..what do you think? I was all prepared to customise it as I wasn’t sure if the asymmetric hem or tunic style would suit me so I played around with it once the sleeves and the cowl were installed. I took some pics to show what I was thinking. I also cut the length longer than the pattern so that should I cut it across horizontally, it already hit hip length.

 

Take One- the slightly longer than the pattern version:

Take Two: With a gathered side

Take Three: As if it was cut horizontally at the hip

In the end I think I made it up much as the pattern designed, but what do you think?  I have not ruled out later changes….

Top tip – with this gold lame you really don’t want to be pinning it in places where the pin holes will show, so to play around with hem lines I used sellotape inside to fix the hem temporarily so that I could get an idea of what I wanted.

This ensemble is a quick make- & bear in mind that the world of cocktail dress sewing is usually a long path, sewing V1415 is a swifter option!   I overlocked much of the top (the lame is a jersey don’t you know). And as it is a loose fit, the hems (sleeves, hem & cowl hem) are sewed with a regular straight stitch on the sewing machine.

Flat felled seam

The pattern has the odd flat felled seam which is a nice touch (eg at the back of the cowl). Altogether a designer feel (& it is a designer pattern from Tom & Linda Platt).

Oops. it seems to have got caught on my a*$3 again

Hey guess what? Vogue McCalls will provide a copy of this pattern as a giveaway for one lucky reader – just register your interest in a comment before midnight GMT Saturday 18th March 2017 & I will pick a random winner.

And as it is cocktail hour there is a special cocktail (which I failed dismally to make- mine is a poor fake hiding behind Star Wars straws.   I may have reached the early sewing deadline, but getting the provisions for the cocktail in time did not get fulfilled in the badger burrow, but the recipe is:

  • 2x sugar cubes
  • 6 x fresh raspberries
  • 2 x lime wedges
  • 2 shots of vodka
  • crushed ice
  • Ginger beer
  • ‘Slim Jim’ glass

Method:

Place the sugar at the bottom of the glass then add the raspberries and the squeezed lime wedges.

Mash the ingredients together, crushing them to puree the raspberries, before adding the vodka.  Add the ice to 3/4 full, stir to distribute the fruit & top up with ginger beer.

Garnish with a lime wedge to the side of the glass & a freesh raspberry.  Add two [Star Wars] straws and enjoy!  Chin chin!

So there is a big campaign around this and you can join in- why not host your own cocktail party?

The hashtag is #sipandsew The general hashtag for the McCalls social media accounts is #McCallUKMakers. Their social media accounts are: TwitterInstagram

The Eve Appeal lives on social media hereTwitterFacebook and Instagram – so if you get making one of these patterns be sure to let everyone know !

Want to know who else is taking part in this ace campaign?  I have no idea who is making what….keep tuned for some amazing creations from some of our favourite sewing bloggers:

2. Kate Underdown

The Fold Line

10th March

http://thefoldline.com

 

3. Portia Lawrie

Makery

17th March

http://www.makery.uk

 

4. Rachel Walker

The Fold Line9

24th March

http://thefoldline.com

 

5. Wendy Gardiner

Butterick

31st March

http://mccallpatternuk.sewdirect.com/

 

6. Abigail Dyson

The Crafty Pin Up

14th April

http://www.thecraftypinup.co.uk

 

7. Lucy Regan

Sew Essential

28th April

http://www.sewessential.co.uk/blog/

 

8. Fiona Parker

Diary of a Chainstitcher

12th May

http://chainstitcher.blogspot.co.uk

 

9. Nina Chang

Thumblenina

26th May

http://thumblenina.wordpress.com

 

10. Jen Sanders

Gingerella

9th June

http://gingerella.wordpress.com

 

11. Charlotte Powell

English Girl at Home

23rd June

http://englishgirlathome.com

 

12. Elisalex de Castro Peake

By Hand London

7th July

http://byhandlondon.com/blogs/by-hand-london

 

13. Kerry Patterson

Kestrel Makes

21st July

http://www.kestrelmakes.com

 

14. Gabby Young

Gabberdashery

4th August

http://www.gabberdashery.com

 

15. Abigail Norton

Sew Abigail

18th August

http://sewabigail.co.uk

 

16. Karen Ball

Did You Make That?

1st September

http://didyoumakethat.com

 

17. Rachel Wain

Rach Against The Sewing Machine

15th September

http://rachagainstthesewingmachine.co.uk

 

18. Elle Harris

Sew Positivity

29th September

http://www.sewpositivity.com

 

19. Rachel Pinheiro

House of Pinheiro

6th October

http://houseofpinheiro.com

 

20. Amy Thomas

Almond Rock

13th October

http://almondrock.co.uk

 

21. Jane Marland

Handmade Jane

20th October

http://www.handmadejane.co.uk

 

22. Jennifer Walker

Ginger Thread Girl

27th October

http://gingerthreadgirl.co.uk

 

23. Marie Koupparis

A Stitching Odyssey

3rd November

http://www.astitchingodyssey.com

 

24. Elena Rosa Brown

Randomly Happy

10th November

http://www.randomlyhappyblog.com

 

25. Laura Clarke

Sew for Victory

17th November

http://sewforvictory.co.uk

 

26. Janene Spencer

Ooobop

24th November

http://ooobop.com

Sew La Di Da Vintage – my Christmas Party outfit

I met Caroline, the talented designer behind Sew La Di Da Vintage at the West Country Patchwork & Textile show in November and whilst there is a whole other post (probably residing in my head) about the inspiration I felt at seeing quilts so up close in all their glory, I have to say I was delighted that Caroline was there showcasing her patterns and fabrics.

Her stall was gloriously vintage with an old large & most likely very heavy shelf unit stocked with her sewing patterns. Oh my I was in heaven!

Check out her store to ogle and dream…

Dress forms were showcasing some really authentic vintage inspired outfits – sailor suits for kids, nautical chic to the max with navy linen, touched with white & just the right amount of gold braid to touch up the Margo playsuit, one of Sew La Di Da’s patterns.

This is the 1950s Rose dress and I was taken by the secret flowers!

There were some beautiful frocks on display also, and I loved the attention to detail, some really clever embellishment that I have to confess I will steal. I was also hugely excited to learn of the sewing courses offered by Caroline – she is based in Lyme Regis, (it’s by the sea J ) not so far from where I live, so I might have booked myself on one as a bit of a sewing holiday too ….

 

After much admiration & deliberation I walked away with the Humbug cape kit and a rather gorgeous dress pattern, the 1950s Rose dress. Now I promise I do not have anything quite like this in my rather extensive pattern collection – sounds unlikely but it’s true. (Princess seamed bodice with sweetheart neckline and box pleats ….swoon).

Let’s start with the Fur Cape baby!

I think you can get the kits at exhibitions and shows.  The kit is beautifully presented with enough fabric, outer & lining to make your cape, plus paper pattern (reusable hehehe can I have more than one cape in my wardrobe do you think? ) and black & white instructions with photos. There is also a fur hook (I can’t say I have any of those in my fastenings stash and when I read that one would be needed I panicked thinking I’d have to delay my finishing until one such was acquired. ) The panic was unnecessary though – this really is a kit with everything you need except thread. There were different options and I chose black fur (which has a gorgeous ‘wave’ effect in its lustre), and silver polka dot lining.

Caroline suggested this would be a quick make – no kidding. The cape has three pieces – two fronts and one back – cut out of lining & fur. You then sew the side seams of lining and fur. The next step is attaching the fur to the lining around the outside & ‘bagging the lining’. Pulling it right way out through a gap you have cunningly left in a lining seam.

I knew that whatever my time shortages were going to be before Christmas that I would be able to knock up one of these beauties. I have left it on my dress form since I made it, giving it the odd stroke in appreciation. Me, a fur cape?! How exciting. Caroline dropped another idea into the mix – wearing this on top of a tweed jacket. Now that sounds rather chic. I had better make my tweed jacket, hadn’t I?

The cape is shaped in a curve over your shoulders. I have embellished it with a brooch but my fur hook stitching was done super carefully so it doesn’t show.

This complemented the Rose dress for the work Christmas party. It was so lovely to dress up. I made it in satin backed crepe (or crepe backed satin) from Fabric Godmother in the wine colour. Top tip – getting swatches is essential as you have to see colours in real life.

This dress is a dream to sew and to wear. Its princess seams make it really lovely to fit (I needed to take my usual narrow chest/ back adjustments at centre front & back. It is also pretty forgiving if you have a bit of a tummy with the line that the box pleats take from the bodice.

The seams finish above the waist but don’t appear as an empire line.   I extended the sewing line further down into the skirt – to emphasise my waist a bit more because that’s my figure.

Another clever thing about this pattern? The placement of the box pleats – at the back they are positioned so that even with sitting, they don’t get disturbed too much, helping them to keep their place.

Here they are being sewn & pressed

Believe it or not, this time I am wearing the dress after it’s been worn at the party. I always expect box pleats to get disrupted by wear, but I am delighted they have kept their place.

I am definitely making another version of the 1950s Rose dress, in a summer floral. But isn’t it just beautiful as a party dress?

The Humbug cape kit was given to me as a gift by Caroline so that I could review it, but all views are my own.

And, in keeping with bite size blogging, I put this post together over a few sessions.  Makes it more manageable!

So lovely readers, can I also say a massive thank you for your fabulous warm welcomes back at my previous blog post.  I have not been sat still enough to get to answering them all in any kind of decent time but I read them coming in through the day & the cockles of my heart were all aglow.  Thank you friends xx

Bitesize return

Hello lovely people! I am not even going to do the calculations for how long a break I have taken.  But it’s been a while hasn’t it? So much has happened in between, Christmas, New Year and all sorts of others.

How have you been?  Sewing strong I hope?  I have been doing plenty of sewing (although less this last month due to a rather hectic and lovely social schedule), but it is the blogging that bears the brunt of my new life balance.  You see I spend anything upwards of 9 hours a day ( four days a week) on a computer at work so the last thing I fancy is more of the same in the evening.  Not surprisingly I want to run and leap like the imaginary gazelle I am in my head.  But not every evening as sewing does still play its part.  And then there are family and friends to spend time with.  So poor ol’ blog gets a bit sidelined.

I made a deal with myself this evening – if I could use just 30 minutes of my evening to inject some life into my blog I would.  And then get a little time for sewing as well. So the format is going to be different – few words, a collection of pictures that show just a few of the things I have made since last I blogged.

I find even the picture taking happens less at the moment too, hence what looks like an odd collection of things I have made (when I know just how many things get plenty of wear but are yet to be photographed).  Here goes with the start of the catch up though…

mia-jeansHere are my most worn item of clothing ever – the Sew Over It Mia jeans from the My Capsule Wardrobe Weekend City break e-book.  Seriously great pattern – I have made another pair also.  Word of warning watch the length – this is as the pattern comes & I am not particularly lanky legged.  Top tip – buy fabric from Sew Over It as the lycra content is just right and the denims I have bought are fabulous quality and super comfy.  Sew Over It show fabric by garment type too in their online fabric shop, so click on the Mia jeans for the perfect fabric!

cuba-libreSo spot the Mia jeans with the Cuba Libre shirt dress from Capital Chic patterns.  I was lucky enough to be a pattern tester (did you check out the whole Winter 2016 range that Sally released last year – as always classy )  This is the Cuba Libre which has a shirt length as well.  Gorgeous to wear, roomy enough to be casual in a very soft denim (as I have made) but imagine it in a silk.  I felt very edgy wearing this it has to be said.   And I loved it so much I made another in a floral poplin, which I believe was a By Hand London print.

cuba-libre-floralI wear it belted because it does look like a sack (on me I stress- it would look awesome on someone taller !) & try as I might I cannot carry off that look.  This has been a bit of my posh- casual look and has been out for a couple of meals with me.  Note Mia jeans also worn with this version.

zadieOh recognise this?  It’s the Zadie dress by Tilly and the Buttons.  I was also a tester for this and whilst I have only made this one version, it is also much worn.  The jersey is from Sew Over It also and it super cute, a slightly more robust jersey, but not as thick as a ponte de roma.  The pattern is fab with a long sleeve t-shirt underneath and I am wearing dotty leggings as well.  An all round great every day dress when worn like this and really nice to sew.  I very much enjoyed the piecing – really clever shapes and opportunities for colour blocking,  plus the added bonus of pockets that work perfectly in a knit.  I found it was a style that had such a minimum amount of overlocking that I made it all on my regular sewing machine using a narrow zig zag.  The various seams need the precision of a regular needle and no blade (well, put it this way I am not that skilled in precision overlocking!)

liberty-mila-shirtNow this is a firm fave too (OMG it’s my grey Mia jeans again!!)  It’s the Mila shirt by Itch to Stitch made out of beautiful Liberty lawn.  I love it and am really treasuring having an ‘everyday’ shirt made out of such special fabric.  I used different buttons in a quirky way – different sizes and shapes but generally the same red tone.  The shirt itself is a pop over with a button placket and was released a few months before such popovers started to appear a bit more readily- the Archer shirt for example came out with a pop over expansion pack.  The toile version is below and I didn’t have enough fabric for long sleeves so made it short sleeved and without a collar, just the button stand.

mila-shirtThis is a viscose from Sew Over It, left over from my Doris dress.  Beautiful drape for this shirt.

butterickOh Lordy do those jeans ever get washed?  This is a vintage Butterick top- 4056 from the early 90s, and I have also made another top from it as a going out top in some groovy poly satin.  Photos to be taken.  Anyway, this is another fabric joy top – I got this fabric (a printed poplin with bunches of grapes all over it) from Goldhawk road and I love wearing this top with jeans and a cardigan.  More everyday fabric goodness 🙂

cowl-neck-topAnd finally for today this has no pattern to reference I am afraid – it’s a self drafted top.  It’s an over top thing, a layering piece you might say.  Designed for wearing long sleeve tshirts underneath, and made out of a ponte or maybe there is some wool in it – I can’t remember sadly.  But I do remember than it came from Goldhawk road also and for some reason I only bought a metre (maybe it has wool in it and I was being stingy).  Clearly not enough for the Coco dress I probably thought I would be making.  But guess what?  This also looks great with my grey Mia jeans!

And the photo of me being my usual goony self at the beginning of this?  Well check out the me made Liberty silk scarf that dazzles on top of my Colette Patterns Anise jacket.  A bit of a do and I felt a new scarf would be the icing on the cake.  Made out of half a metre of Carline Liberty silk.  Adorable and luxurious.

So who knows what will happen next?  What or when it will come, but I can promise that there is one post that I have committed to for Friday 3rd March and it’ll be a cracker !  Hope you tune in for that one.  But this has been 40 minutes.  I sort of kept my deal.  But is it enough?  What purpose has it served?  Maybe it’s served to wake me up from hibernation and prepare you for some good things to come …

Take it easy friends and sew long sew happy ….

Seamwork Wembley Cardigan- Remnant perfect!

If only I could do stream of consciousness blogging- a direct link from the ideas I have in my head into WordPress (especially when driving). You may not believe it based on the evidence published recently on my blog (like, no evidence…) but I do still have ideas and energy around blogging, it’s just at the moment they are getting no further than that. Time is always of the essence and I’ve not much of it at the moment. And sewing is still winning a lot more than blogging about what I have sewn.

wembley cardigan

One of the ideas I had was to try to catch up on all of the things I have made this year so that I can do my end of year stats if I feel like it. That may happen yet. I shall make no promises!

 

So let’s get onto a simple-to-blog about make. Photos are taken, minimal writing needed. This could well be the start of a bit more blog-activity.

wembley

This is the Seamwork Wembley cardigan. For some reason I want to call it Warwick, so anywhere I have referred to it that way, please bear with me. It’s a great pattern, one of my most worn cardigans in black wool jersey. It’s of a size that is quite efficient for fabric, not being a baggy style & length hitting at high hip. Perfect for remnants!

wembley cardigan

I bought a variety of remnants in one of the Fabric Godmother’s remnant sales- these are so worth looking out for- great reductions and quality fabrics. My rule of thumb for buying remnants is to see if the length is sufficient for a torso or a yoke – if making a top with contrasts. For skirts you can often get a straight-ish skirt if there is enough length as long as you check out the width of the fabric- quite a few denims/ linens are 150cm wide.

wembley cardigan

OK, so make a note to yourselves to sign up for the Fabric Godmother’s newsletters if you want to get the early sales notifications. This is what I did with mine. I bought the remnant of this sweet cream/ grey knit lace. It is quite fine (would have made lovely undies!) so I ‘underlined’ it with the grey fabric- which is also a knit, a kind of posh fleece that I used to make my Mum’s Style Arc jacket. Underlining the bodice pieces gave it more weight & enabled it to become a winter weight cardigan.

wembley cardigan

Oops out of focus but showing the inside to help explain the underlining

I underlined it the same way as I would underline a woven for a dress – I cut the bodice pieces out of the lace and out of the grey and wrong sides together basted these pieces to each other around the very edges (ie the two left fronts to each other) before constructing the cardigan. By doing this the two left fronts become one thicker left front.

wembley cardigan

 

So it’s cute & wintry & I rather like it. Has it given you some ideas for using up your remnants?

Outfit notes: wearing with a timeless Renfrew tshirt and my Lindy petal skirt and spotty leggings that I don’t think I have ever blogged..

 

Colette Patterns Wren dress

Well hello everyone!  Here is a dress I made yonks ago but have only just got round to taking some pics.  It’s the Wren dress by Colette Patterns.

wren dressMost definitely designed for knits, this cute pattern has been on my making list for a while as you know I could live in knits quite easily and just love to sew with jersey.  This pattern has a wrap bodice and a more scooped back neckline than is usual with your average knit dress bodice.   There are two skirt options – a gored skirt & a gathered skirt.   I was lucky enough to be sent a promotional copy of this pattern when it was released last year so never had the special long sleeve bonus pattern, although I can see it is available as a download here, But I didn’t check back, I therefore chose to make it with the short sleeves thinking that it would make a good style for autumn, especially in this beautifully black floral jersey from Girl Charlee UK (which incidentally was also given to me to review I am a lucky bunny, thank you!)  It is still available – hoorah!

wren dress

I have been wearing this dress a lot as it is easy to wear – of course!  Pop it on with a pair of black tights & a cardi & it’s perfect for this time of year, especially working in quite a toasty office.

wren dressIt has really pretty gathers at the shoulders.

So what sewing observations have I about the Wren dress and the fabric? Well, it is worth knowing that the bodice is actually a very short bodice and actually is more empire line than you might think.  All very good to hide the fairy cakes and fish and chips, but bear in mind that it doesn’t hit your natural waist as it is.

wren dress

All of Colette Patterns are known for their clarity of instructions so they are easy to follow.  This is a nice pattern and relatively easy to sew.  I added a step to the making however.  At the neckline (both the front straight edges and the back neck edge) I used clear elastic to strengthen and support the edges as I wasn’t sure whether the edges actually needed a slight bit of tension to prevent them stretching out of shape.  I did this by attaching clear elastic to the wrong side right up to the edge of the fabric, then turning that edge to the wrong side as the hem, with the elastic now sandwiched in between.   This is explained here in video on Maria Denmark’s blog.

wren dress

Everything else was pretty unremarkable (as I said I made this a while ago and nothing else has stuck in my memory!)

wren dressI haven’t straightened the skirt out here – it has twisted a bit through being worn all day.

Now the fabric is delightful – it is a cotton blend jersey and is pretty light weight but nice & drapey with it.  And who doesn’t love a traditional rose print?  As with all other fabric I have bought from Girl Charlee UK, the quality is superb.  Buying knits online can always be a bit of a gamble, especially if there is little information about percentage stretch and the term ‘mid weight’ or ‘lightweight’ can encompass so many different jersey experiences.  I know I have made miscalculations in the past.  Always worth getting a sample I think.  Which I did.  But quality is always high I have found with Girl Charlee UK and I am not just saying that because this was a freebie – if I didn’t think it was true I would not write it.

Mark from Girl Charlee UK

Mark from Girl Charlee UK

Wearing it above with my Wembley cardigan, one of my busiest wardrobe staples.

But if you ever contact Girl Charlee in the UK you could well be replied to by the lovely Mark.  Now I have been corresponding with him for well over a year now & he is such a warm friendly enthusiastic person to do business with & how amazing was it to meet him in real life last weekend at the West Country Patchwork and Textile Show (more on that another time).  It felt like I had always known him when we had a good ol’ chin wag about the usual sewing things that us sewists and bloggers talk about.  And of course I bought some more fabric to take home with me – it’s irresistible – a shop that sells just beautiful knits?  Oh I am so there!!!  I have cut out a couple of things already 🙂

wrenJust a note on the photos- I took them in the evening so the light was not as good, but it felt like I had to strike whilst wearing it otherwise how long would it be until I could blog about it?

So there we are.  My blogging pile up has just reduced by one.  I have also passed another landmark and switched my blog host which appeared as such a massive headache to me and caused me all sorts of delays getting round to it, but I have to say that it was actually a lot easier than I conceived it to be.  I feel so relieved to have moved over to a UK based wordpress managed host which is going to save me a lot of ££s now.  And it has reinvigorated my feeling towards the blog – it’s like a blogging weight off my shoulders.  So apologies if there was a slight hiccup over the weekend with the last post appearing twice.  And I have not replied to all the comments yet as I wasn’t sure how that would get affected.   Not bad in the grand scheme of things.   I’ll catch up, promise. Hoorah for the second time.

Style Arc Violet jacket- gifting for my Arty mother

Hi all!  This is a bit of a light post as there are no pics of anyone wearing this particular make – you are spared me gooning around today at least 🙂 This is something I made my Mum as a birthday gift & apparently she loves it.  It is the Violet jacket by Style Arc.

violet-jacketNow I was attracted to this jacket as a gift for my Mum because:

  • It’s designed for knits
  • It’s a very forgiving pattern to fit for someone else’s body!
  • It has short sleeves and my Mum loves cardigans/ jackets with 3/4 or 1/2 length sleeves for layering- she has an arty vibe & totally carries off layering 🙂
  • It looked interesting – a cocoon shape with interesting piecing & pockets.

violet jacket pocketSee- pockets!

I have made a couple of other Style Arc patterns – the Daisy Tunic and the Ethel designer pants and this was the third pattern in a special offer I took advantage of.  Style Arc, I have said before, bring a real designer feel to their styles (that’s how it feels to me anyhow).  However, they have less detailed instruction than some other pattern companies, so are less suitable for the beginner unless you go for a simple style.

The Violet jacket was pretty simple to put together but you need to keep your wits about you as there are lots of pieces to connect the right way to the right pieces!  The details that attracted me to it do require attention to the instructions.  Look at the armhole binding- it reminds me of the short sleeved version of the Kimono sweat tshirt from Fehr Trade – it comes together on an angle.  Conventional-looking pattern pieces were rare in this pattern!  It was a voyage of discovery.

violet-jacket

I used some really gorgeous grey fleece which was all cosy & fluffy on the right side from Rose Crafts in Midsomer Norton.  I did not originally buy the fabric with this jacket in mind, so did not have quite enough.  I had hoped to get away with a single layered collar, & even roll hemmed the edge but it looked pants.  I had to make a dash back to Rose crafts to get the last piece….I truly cut it fine!  I could have been badly caught out, but the sewing gods were looking down on me with this make.  There was enough left to get a deal for the end of the roll piece that had a bit of a flaw…but with cutting the collar facing out for this jacket still left me with a large enough piece to make something else …. more to come on that!

violet-jacket-2But this meant I had to add the collar facing to the jacket once it was all finished – which was almost OK – I had to unpick some of the key seams around that area to accommodate it.   And almost OK because only I know where to look inside for the truth, but there is a slight area that is not as pristine as if I had sewn it properly.  Most of the sewing was done using my overlocker, although I did use my regular machine on some of the more tricky parts where you need accuracy- in some cases using it to ‘baste’ before following on with my overlocker & in other cases getting into the corners where a precise finish is essential eg the edges of the pocket opening.

So, it was a success by all accounts.  It is a really snugly jacket – reaching down to upper/ mid thigh & its really cosy collar can be pulled in to keep out the draughts when needed.  And then at other times it’s a swish arty layer!

Don’t forget that one more day on the Azaire pattern giveaway if you want to enter!  I am sorry for not replying to individual comments – it makes it easier for me to keep track of numbers for when I do the random draw.  However there was one comment about the top looking different in the two outfits ….purely laziness on my part as in the more recent photos I was wearing a black (outrage!) vest top underneath.  I should know better than that, especially when the top is half lined.  Sorry folks (insert sheepish emoji here)

My ball accessories – clasp bag and matching rose earrings

 

Just a little glimpse into other things I have done in my crafty life.  I used to make jewellery- was pretty obsessed by it for a couple of years actually & went on loads of courses.  These days I wear less jewellery & am clearly fixated irreparably on sewing, my first crafty love.  However I still have my jewellery making supplies and my tools. Therefore I have the super power, should I wish to use it, to whip up a new pair of earrings or something new to accessorise on a night out.

evening-bag

The charity ball that I went to last month was one such occasion.  I made my super special ball dress out of jersey – using the Named Delphi maxi dress pattern.   But had no bag nor jewellery to match, & with days left before the ball I needed to get my skates on!

I needed a bag to carry money, lippie & eyeliner plus phone.  I am very lucky to  work with someone who has the cruising bug & consequently makes herself & her daughter lots of beautiful evening & formal wear.   Therefore I knew that I was likely to be in with a chance when I asked whether she had a ‘stash of velvet remnants’ that I might prevail upon her good nature with.  She obliged but didn’t bring in  just any black velvet – no,  this was festooned with tiny sequins!  Glam it to the max baby!

I already had a clasp (bought at the Makery in Bath – here is my review if you are around – you must visit!)  & searched online for instructions.  Just how was one to make an operational clasp bag?  I found some illuminating guidance, but not for the first time, found Kate’s video tutorial on YouTube, from The Makery’s own step by step series of crafty guides, explained everything I needed to know.  Catch it here ….

YouTube Preview Image

I bought UHU glue from the supermarket, checked that I had lining & piping cord & with the velvet was all set to go.

I drew the pattern freehand on some paper having also watched The Makery’s explanation for how to do this also.  Ooh look, here it is also!

YouTube Preview Image

 

I had to make sure it was big enough to carry phone without any likelihood of mid-Ball-clasp-splitting -drama, and wanted it to look like an inflated coin purse type shape.  I was taken through each subsequent step with ipad and YouTube, trying not to engage too much with the cute music during the transitions when I had pieces to hold in place …
Now let’s be honest here, I used too much UHU & it is still scarring my sewing table.  Plus a few marks on the bright pink lining of my bag if you look closely, however balls are generally dark enough to hide the odd solvent faux pas.  Considering it was my first attempt, I am super pleased with it & it didn’t fall to pieces despite a crisis in confidence (hence the use of too much glue.

clasp bag
The clasp had rings to attach a handle of some sort which led me to my jewellery making box to find a chain.  I found rather a special one with lots of unusual links & strung a few faux pearls and Fimo roses onto it with wire for good measure in greys and violet.  I was pretty happy with it but saw that there were a few FIMO roses left which could easily be made into earrings.

Fimo rose earrings
And that’s how it happened!  Anyone would think I had planned it with a finetooth comb.  (I think I mixed that expression up.)

 

 

Gather Azaire top and dress – with a giveaway

Hello everyone!  Jeepers I have such a backlog of projects to share with you and this is no exception.  This is the latest pattern from Gather – the Azaire top and dress.  I was a pattern tester for the Azaire quite a while back now- which I thought I would highlight with some ‘then & now’ photos and see if you notice the difference 🙂

azaire top

So as I was a tester I don’t want to dwell too much on the details as this is not the finished pattern version – however- when I put it on again yesterday for some cheeky photos I was entranced again!

azaire top

It’s a really unusual pattern – it has a panelled bodice with a rather luxurious peplum.  Peplum, on me?  I would not usually go peplum as you probably notice in the clothes I make, BUT, this is rather pretty.  It does not skimp on fabric , having a veritable plumage of gathers.  it is higher at the front than at the back & might I suggest that it is a good trunk/ booty cover?  If you are that way inclined?

azaire-line

I made the top with 3/4 length sleeves, but this comes as a dress with a frill on the bottom & the two sleeve variations – cap sleeve (with petal effect) & 3/4 length.  The 3/4 length is not lacking in petal details as the cuff also has sweet wrapovers too.

It also has a yoke so there are many colour blocking options – I loved seeing this version with stretch lace by The Wardrobe Project – really feel inspired & want to make one myself now (in black for sure) And in a knit with no zip- I need one in my life!!

I made a white one in pin dot cotton.

So the top/ dress also has a boat neck & as mentioned a centre back zip closure.  It is a fitted top through the bodice and I would also like to see how the dress works – but maybe for the summer in a linen….(I am still obsessing over a black knit top which would be so wearable now!!)  But look at  the Gather website for examples of the dress made up – it looks gorgeous!

Gather patterns are quality drafted & quality packaged – stiff white paper & a robust light card envelope with those lovely disc/ string fastenings.  And guess what?  I have a pattern to giveaway thanks to the lovely Gather ladies!  To win a hard copy Azaire pattern of your own leave me a comment before midnight GMT on Friday 11th November.

azaire topAnd those jeans?  Well hello latest make!  They are from the Sew Over It e-book City Break Capsule wardrobe – The Mia Jeans.  You will have to wait for my Mia jeans story.

Puzzle time – spot the difference?

 

And hot off the press – the British Craft Awards is now open for your votes and for the first time ever I was shocked to hear I have been nominated in the sewing section.  Wow!

bca-large

Thank you whoever made that happen!  But amongst such strong and awesome company I know I will not win, however should you wish to vote for me up the rear courageously as they say, please follow the link – I shall shamelessly plug myself here 🙂 Have a look & see who you’d vote for? (Everyone who votes is eligible to be entered into a prize draw to win one of 5 x £100 Amazon vouchers. But you are still in with a chance to win even if you vote for someone else & not me – boom boom!!)

Cheerio for now and remember to leave your name in a comment if you would like your very own Azaire pattern.

My Named Delphi Maxi dress …. as rather a special balldress

Oh yes Cinderella, you shall go to the ball even though you haven’t made your dress and you’ve got to get to Devon in a week’s time…. It wasn’t that I made a last minute decision to choose dress & even buy fabric – supplies were procured in reasonably good time (4-6 weeks ahead).  I just did not have the sewing time in September and October until – er- the weekend before!  But I had long envisioned the graceful style, comfort & ease of making me my first floor length ball dress in a jersey using the Named Delphi dress.  This is how it turned out.

delphi dress

First of all please allow me a smidge of smug because it turned out absolutely brilliantly.  Not only was I pleased with how it looked (unique & a bit classy), fitted (spot on & very comfy) & performed on the night,  it is the ultimate to pack & wash- unlike most balldresses.  I could have screwed it up & chucked it into my weekend bag (I loosely folded it, didn’t screw it into a ball, but it would have survived) & not a suitbag & dry cleaner in sight.

delphi dress

So let’s rewind.  It started with the pattern.  I’d been returning to the Delphi off & on, not being a maxi dress wearer, but being strangely drawn to the floaty bodice & Grecian lines.  I also wanted to make my balldress for my October charity ball as the group of girls that I went with all decided that we would wear long dresses & I didn’t have one.  I was prepared to make something with glitter & sequins but even though I was shopping for fabric a good month or so beforehand, I didn’t really leave myself a huge amount of time to do my research.  So I ended up visiting my local fabric shop in Midsomer Norton, Rose Crafts for any of you interested (a fab shop with a really surprising selection of good value fabrics).  I was almost pulling out a roll of electric blue lycra when I spotted the purple/grey crinkle jersey (a Makower fabric and not cheap cheap, about £11 per metre).  ‘Now that’s Grecian’ I thought and just as I pulled the slim roll out of the shelf, I spied the matching (Makower) jersey lace in a purple/grey and fate stepped in.  This was it.  I had my dress.  I also bought some stretch jersey lining as I planned to make an internal bra to avoid buying a strapless one and to line the skirt as the fabric could be a little sheer .  I should note that I bought far too much of the plain crinkle grey as I needed to cut the skirt across the width (so that the crinkles fall vertically) but bought the yardage advised on the pattern which aims to cut skirts down the length.  I could have saved myself some dosh there, but it seems I have enough left over to make a day to day skirt ….soon.

Gosh! A ball dress with an elastic Waist!

Gosh! A ball dress with an elastic Waist!

Onto making notes.  I made a toile using some ordinary jersey to judge waist position & length of skirt.  (My toile is now a nightdress!) I thought the length may have been designed for Amazonians & I didn’t want to waste posh fabric as I planned to make an overlocked  rolled hem)  however I didn’t really need to shorten the skirt – I cut off the equivalent of the hem on my ball dress & on my toile just made a normal kind of hem.  My toile did throw up bodice adjustments needed- There was far too much width at upper front & upper back which resulted in gaping – I therefore had to adjust the pattern by taking out a good wedge from the CF bodice front & back.  In my toile, it hangs a bit like a cowl.  Another good reason for making the toile was to test run the construction and work out how it all pieced together, enabling me to make some design decisions for the actual posh dress.  I had thought I would use fold over elastic (FOE) for the straps, but having used FOE for my toile I decided that the weight of the posh dress with lining might place too much weight on the narrow FOE straps – so I made straps using strips of posh fabric instead (not on the bias though due to the direction of the fabric crinkles, but down the length).  I also needed to work out how I was going to make an integrated bra!  How the layers would sit & sewing order.  I also needed to understand what the finished length of the bodice top layer needed to be so that I could cut my scalloped lace edge at the right edge.  As it turns out, this layer is curved and cannot use the scalloped selvedge edge at the hem- I will show you what I did later.

delphi-dress

I was really pleased with my toile despite it being too big at my upper bodice.  The style is very flattering – & made in a jersey that hangs deliciously I was really excited to make it up in posh fabric- for real.  The waist is elastic and allows some growth & shrinkage over time (ball dresses are investment pieces afterall).  The elastic waist is also simply made with the seam joining the bodice and skirt being used as the tunnel for the elastic.  It was a very straightforward and quick make – I used my overlocker for most of it.

delphi dress

I bet you want a bit of info on making the integral bra?  This would be useful for whatever reason you were making a Delphi dress – as a summer dress or ball dress.  I looked in my patterns to find a sports bra that I have already made to get an idea for how narrow it needs to be to squash my ‘girls’ adequately to avoid bounce, & how long (from top to bottom) the bra needs to be.  (The photos show the lining/ bra in navy fabric for info).

delphi

I made a pattern using the existing Delphi bodice upper edge to get the shape of the upper bodice, used the length of the sports bra (with extras for seam allowances), and started off by drawing a line joining the width at the bottom edge of the sports bra with the width at the upper edge of the Delphi bodice.  I made the sports bra in a double piece of jersey lining & basically kept trying it on until I was happy with the fit.  It’s really important though to make sure it doesn’t vary too much away from the bodice edge that it will be joined to otherwise there is a greater risk of pulling as the size differences wrestle with each other (I have found this in the past, anyway).

I did not have black elastic for the bra!

I did not have black elastic for the bra!  This is the bra being pulled out of the top of the bodice

 

Once I was happy with the fit, I sewed some 1cm elastic to the bottom edge of the bra so that it was hidden & to the inside of the bra & to fit my underbust.  I then basted the bra to the upper edge of the bodice – right side of bra to wrong side of lining.  The dress is then constructed by placing the bodice top layer right side together with the wrong side of the bra (I think!  Play around with it to see how it would look once sewn if you are unsure!).

delphi dress

I also mentioned the scalloped edge of the bodice layer- in my case I used lace.  The bodice layer has a curved edge so it cannot benefit from the readily available scallops at the side on the selvedge edge.   But it didn’t stop me trying!  I cut a new pattern piece for the front & back layer as one unfolded piece so I could be careful about positioning.

One piece bodice patterns

One piece bodice patterns

I therefore cut the layer without cutting on the fold & then manually added some scallops, cut from the fabric’s selvedge, to the hem of the bodice, with a small zigzag, like sewing scalloped lace to undies.

I also said that I lined the skirt – I just cut two versions of the skirt – one in jersey lining- & basted them together at the top of the skirt, wrong sides together, before attaching skirt to bodice.  I roll hemmed both lining (A little shorter than the posh skirt) and roll hemmed the posh skirt with my overlocker.

delphi dress

And a great time was had by all.

ball laughter

I did not feel trussed up like a chicken in boning &/or magic pants.  I had plenty of room for a three course dinner & sashayed on the dance floor until it was time for carriages.  Once home I chucked it into my washing machine (cool wash) & before I knew it, it was packed away, hibernating until the next posh floor length do.

evening-bag

Oh yes, more another time, but I made myself some accessories to suit- this clasp bag

earrings

& some earrings out of Fimo roses.  I shall report back a bit more on that some time soon.

Ahh, happy memories.  Hope you are all having a great week.  Cheerio for now….