Saturday, 3 October 2015

Green Moss Mini

So after saying there will be delays, I'm back almost on time with a new post! Thanks for all your good wishes for the potential house. All is still going smoothly and I've now turned my attention to slowly packing up the flat in an attempt to avoid that pre-move crush. Well, that's that theory anyway! I've cleared out some of my patterns and fabric and this weekend will be tackling the monstrous mound of scraps that I seemed to have accumulated. I can't quite believe how much of a hoarder I have been with the scraps! If anyone has any sensible ideas of how I can clear them out, please let me know in the comments. Textile recycling seems to a winner at the moment.  

Moss Skirt green

Anyway, enough packing talk - I have my favourite self-sewn skirt to tell you about. This skirt started with the fabric. I popped into Darn It and Stitch hoping to bag a payday treat a few months ago and they didn't disappoint. I walked out with this gorgeous green cotton twill and plans to match it with the Moss Skirt by Grainline Studio, a pattern I had been meaning to buy for ages especially after seeing those made by Carolyn

Moss Skirt green

I wanted the twill to be centre stage with this make and kept it simple. I was very tempted to continue my obsession with edge and top stitching but it seemed too much. Instead, I kept it to the back yoke, pockets, waist band and at the hem. The twill washed well and construction was plain sailing as it behaved itself perfectly. It also a delightful fabric to wear although it crumples extremely quickly as you can see from the photos. As this was intended to be a summer skirt, I didn't line it. I'm starting to regret that decision a little as I would like to keep wearing it throughout the autumn but it sticks to my tights forcing me to constantly pull it away from my thighs - not a good look! Like many of us, I wanted some interesting pockets and chose this feather cotton fat quarter from my stash which also came from Darn It and Stitch. It's a shame you can't see them but it makes me happy to know they are there. 

Moss Skirt pockets

What surprised me most about the Moss skirt is the fact that I didn't need to make any changes to the pattern. It fitted right out of the packet without any excess around my hips - a standard problem for me. The length is that of the pattern and at the beginning I thought it was a little too short but I got used to it very quickly. The second surprise was putting in the zip. I have limited experience inserting a fly but this method was so easy and clear to understand. I'll definitely come back to it for future projects. I'm very tempted to make a winter version, lengthening it slightly and definitely lined. Another project to add to the list... 

What are your seasonal sewing plans? 

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

We interrupt this service

Hi everyone! How is life treating you? Well, I hope. I'm writing today with advanced notice that it is likely that this little corner of the internet will become quieter over the next few months as I just don't have the time to keep up at the moment. The reasons are a mix of normality and potentially exciting opportunities. 


Starting with normality, we've entered the busiest three months at work and I've got some stretching targets for this year. I'm not complaining - I've been pushing for a couple of projects and I've finally been given them. Hooray! The potentially exciting part is that Adam and I are trying to buy a house! We came home from holiday to the news that our flat was to be sold and it seemed only logical for us to attempt to get onto the property ladder. We're moving along rather quickly, according to my colleagues who have been through the process, and many of my evenings and weekends are currently taken up with paperwork and clearing out the flat. We're aiming to complete sometime between mid-November and mid-December but we'll have to see how that goes.  I know there are no guarantees until completion but the fact there's no chain is a huge advantage. I'm trying not to get too carried away in case something goes wrong but it's a pretty exciting time! Especially when I think of the dedicated sewing storage space I might get...

I really hope that it won't be too quiet here until we complete - I'm still snatching short periods of time to sew and have some makes waiting patiently to be shared. They will be up as soon as I find the space to get photos and write the posts. In the meantime, I'll have to get my sewing fix through you guys and ask that you keep everything crossed for a smooth ride as we purchase the house. 

Saturday, 12 September 2015

A Simple Nicola

Hi everyone, thanks for the great response to my Mary Poppins outfit. Fancy dress won't feature again for a long time, I suspect. Today, I have a very simple make to share with you. As I was slowly packing for our holiday, I realised that I didn't have enough dresses for the evening to take with me. I'm happy to spend most of the daytime in shorts or mini skirts with a tank top but I like to feel a little more put together for the evening. I don't have to look too smart, just a little more "normal".

Simple Nicola

I had a spare afternoon and decided to whip up a simple dress. I had been meaning to make another Nicola dress by Victory Patterns. I absolutely love the wrap and the shape of the skirt and I'm reminded just how much when I wear my original. However, the sleeves, despite being a lovely feature, can be a little cumbersome, especially if you want to wear a cardigan or jacket over the top. This time, I skipped the sleeves and I'm so pleased I did. This version works perfectly underneath a cardigan. I finished the arms with narrow white bias binding, a technique which has now cemented itself as my favourite way to finish arm holes. You can see how this dress came together in pictures here

Simple Nicola

In addition to being short on time, I was also feeling a little burnt out from my sewcation. This really affected the way I approached this dress. I decided not to line the dress, mainly because of the high summer temperatures. The hem is a narrow hem - simply overlocked, turned under once and hand stitched in place. This still gives me the opportunity of lining the skirt should I want to in the future without it being a lot of work. The fabric is a French crepe by Robert Kaufmann purchased from Barry's during last year's Sew Brum meet up. It is a fabulous fabric and I will definitely consider buying more in a different print for future projects. 

Simple Nicola

The bit that bothers me the most about this dress is the fit of the bodice. After taking forever to fit the first version, this one feels too big around the bust. It is one more indication that my needed pattern adjustments are changing and I have to accept the fact exercise has changed my body and I need to stop being lazy with the fit. If I want to repeat patterns I made over six months ago I will need to check the fit and be prepared to start over if necessary. I think I can get away with it with this dress as it is though. What do you think?

Simple Nicola

Despite my reservations over the fit, I love this dress. It has quickly asserted itself a "must wear each week dress". The crepe is delightful to wear, needs very little pressing after washing and dries incredibly quickly. The colours work across seasons and I can see me wearing this in the autumn with a slip underneath. Yay for versatile makes! Are you sewing this weekend? If so, what's on your sewing table?

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Becoming Mary Poppins

Last weekend, I went to the Hen Party of a good friend who is getting married at the end of this month. We went camping at a beer festival in Frocester, Gloucestershire. We've been a number of times before and it is always a great weekend but this was the first time we had gone without the boys. It was also the first time that fancy dress was needed. The theme was any Disney character, except the princesses. So many options! I eventually settled on Mary Poppins. Given that I had less than two weeks between my holiday and the hen party, I originally thought about buying my costume but they were so expensive! £60 for a full Mary Poppins costume that weren't a good likeness. 

Mary Poppins

I was certain that I could make one for less. A quick mental search of my sewing patterns, a scan of the Minerva website, and within an hour I had a plan for a costume at half the price. I would pair the Bellatrix Blazer from Papercut with a the skirt of the Betty dress by Sew Over It. Minerva got this blue polyester bi stretch suiting to me in record time. I chose to pre wash it as I didn't want any potential shrinking in the rain at the festival, and also because there was a chance I would use the jacket in the future. As time was short, I left out any additional details and every seam is finished on the overlocker. Handstitching was kept to a minimum. 

Mary Poppins skirt

The skirt was incredibly simple and quick to make. I also took a number of shortcuts as I knew I wouldn't be wearing this as a normal skirt. I lengthened the Betty skirt by 15cm so it finished mid calf. Now the slightly embarrassing bit: I didn't add a waistband, opting for a bias binding finish and quickly put the zip in off centre as it turns out. Given that I would be wearing the blazer on top and no one would see it, I left it. Thankfully it all stayed in place and survived the evening. 

Mary Poppins skirt inside

I spent a lot more time on the blazer. No changes were made to the size of my first version. I forgot how much interfacing was needed for this pattern. I used a fairly tightly woven fusible one as I'm beginning to run low on interfacing. It isn't my favourite interfacing to use as it makes everything stiff and rustles as you move. However, it worked very well with the poly and was easy to work with. It gives the blazer a structured look and it feels that way when wearing it. I used some white poly from my stash to line the blazer. It was smooth to work with and gives the inside a nice finish. I added three buttons to each sleeve as Mary Poppins has but will remove them for future wears. 

Mary Poppins jacket

Finding a hat was the most stressful part as I had left it too late to get a straw hat to spray paint black and decorate. eBay came to the rescue when I found this shop which seems to specialise in Mary Poppins related items. I'm very thankful to Charlie060249 who fast tracked this made to measure felt hat so I would have it in time. It was the perfect addition for the outfit. 

Mary Poppins hat

The red bow made from some red cotton in my stash. It is two rectangles turned right sides out and fused together and held in place with a safety pin. I borrowed an umbrella and a bag the shape of a carpet bag from a friend and wore my red shoes to finish the outfit. When I tried on the outfit at home I felt so self-conscious as this outfit is so completely out of my comfort zone. I anticipated that this would fade at the beer festival as I would be part of a group that included the Queen of Hearts, Tinkerbell, Olaf and others. I was right - it was great fun to dress up for the evening. 

Have you stitched a fancy dress costume before? If so, what did you make? 

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Back to Pink: A Belcarra

Well, hello there. It feels a little bit like it has been long time, no speak as I took as I took a little blogging break to coincide with returning from my holiday. I’m back now and will be sharing with you the rest of the makes from my sewcation over the next few weeks with a fancy dress costume thrown in for good fun.

Long-term readers will know that I have an odd relationship with tops. For some reason, I can never find ones that I like. There is always something that puts me off buying or designing them – perhaps I’m just too picky? Anyway, an additional top, at the very minimum, was needed for my capsule holiday wardrobe and I chose to repeat Sewaholic’s Belcarra.

Pink Belcarra

The eagle eyed among you might notice that the fabric is different to the one I had planned. The main reason for this is the Liberty lawn didn’t match the rest of my makes as well as this pink. The fabric is an unknown cotton mix with embroidered flowers over two different tones of pink. I found it in one of my local charity shops for £6 when I was stocking up on old sheets to make toiles with. It had been overlocked into a tube with a rectangle of black cotton added to the top. The black cotton had faded badly and wasn’t worth saving but there was enough of the pink to make a top.

Pink Belcarra

While I was right about the amount of fabric, I had to spend quite a bit of time working out how to cut the pattern and make the most of the flowers. Because the two pinks are separated by a definite line, I needed to make sure it, and the flowers, lined up. This left small pieces for the sleeves and I just managed to squeeze them out in the lighter pink. I even managed to get a flower on each of the sleeve cuffs.

Pink Belcarra

I made a number of alterations on this version. On the paper pattern, I raised the neckline a couple of centimeters. The one thing that really annoys me about my first version is how the top falls off one of my shoulders. (Being hand wash only is also super annoying). Trying this one on after completion showed that I probably need to take the neckline up another 1.5cm in future. It also revealed that the pattern was one- two sizes too big around my waist. I hadn’t noticed this with the silk version due to the silk’s drape but it was glaringly obvious in this cotton mix. To make it fit, I kept taking in the side seams until I was happy with the fit.

Pink Belcarra

As you can see in the photos, the fabric crumples badly. The photos were taken after wearing the top for half a day, most of which was spent walking around Lucca. We visited the garden of Palazzo Pfanner which was beautiful and quiet enough to get a few snaps for this post without the risk of another tourist photo bombing. Lucca is a worth a visit if you’re in the area and I preferred it to Pisa.

Anyway, back to the top. The sheen of the fabric and the flowers means I can wear this top in a number of ways. It feels as at home with jeans and other casual trousers as it does with a smart black skirt. I still like the shape of the top, and with some customisation, I can see a few more of these coming out of my machine in the future but how quickly depends on when I can summon the energy to retrace the pattern…

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Step by step

Many of us watch the progress of an item on Instagram and it is fun to see how it takes shape. As I was making a last minute holiday make last weekend, I wondered how it would look if I documented each step. So here's a different post for you today, with a fancy collage! It isn't as detailed as it could be but I think you can see how the dress progresses. It was fun to pause and take a quick pic before moving onto the next step.

Nicola in progress

I used Victory Pattern's Nicola dress and dropped the sleeves. I'm saving the rest of the details for a future post with much better photos of the finished dress! I hope you're all having a good weekend. Are you sewing? 

Saturday, 1 August 2015

A Polka Dot Vintage Shirt Dress

Hi there. Have you had a good week? Mine has been rather tiring and trying as I strived to complete a massive pre-holiday to list at work. But that none of that matters anymore as the out of office is on and I can finally unwind and get excited about being on holiday. I'm also excited to share this make with you.

Polka dot Vintage Shirt Dress

Hot off the heels of my first Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress, is another version. I hadn't planned to make another so quickly and this was the surprise make of my sewcation. I totally blame the fabric. I had popped into Masons to get buttons for my sleeveless Granville and spotted the polka dots hiding underneath the counter. After thinking that  polka dots should never be stored out of the way, I spotted this dusty pink and white beauty. I knew immediately what it would become. I honestly don't think I have ever put fabric into pre wash as quickly as I did with this, that is how excited I was to use it! 

Thankfully through the excitement came a little voice reminding me to lower the arm holes a little. They fit much better in this version although I should have taken them a tad lower to be fully comfortable. 

Polka dot Vintage Shirt Dress

Due to the easy nature of cotton, this dress took no time to complete. The most time consuming part were the buttonholes. When buying the fabric, I decided to get the buttons too. I chose small white ones and knew that I would need more than the eight suggested by the pattern. I settled on twelve. Making the button holes reminded me of a lesson I knew but had forgotten. Sewing machines are, rightly, fussy eaters. I had the prefect matching pink thread that made the white buttons stand out from the fabric. Sadly I couldn't complete my plan as the thread is of poor quality and my machine just churned it up or snapped it with amazing ease. After the second failed attempt I switched to white thread. Lesson firmly re-learnt! 

Polka dot Vintage Shirt Dress

I lowered the hem by 1.5cm on this version and used my blind hem foot. I did manage to use the pink thread for this and it worked well although it did snap a couple of times. This should have been fair warning for the button holes as I hemmed the dress before adding them. The hem is pretty neat on the outside so no one will know that the inside isn't quite up to scratch. 

Polka dot Vintage Shirt Dress

Needless to say, I absolutely adore this dress. I seem to have settled on styling it with a white belt and pink sandals or white flats. It feels very 1950s, or Sandy before she met Danny as one of my colleagues told me. Do you agree?


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