New blog makeover

This morning I want to introduce my blog makeover!

For a fair few months (read at least a year), I have longed for a much fresher and more modern looking blog but have struggled to make blogger work in the way I wanted. Then the site started to mess around with my photos for reasons I couldn't work out and I decided the time was right to make a move. So here we are! A new look which is optimised for all devices. 

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While a lot has changed, you'll find everything here that was available in the previous format and I've kept the same fonts and some colours. Many pages have been tidied up and refreshed to have more relevant content. The navigation bar is now at the very top. You'll find the search and archive options in the side bar as well as a sneak peak at my Instagram feed. 

It was a little hard to say goodbye to the turtle that my brother designed a few years ago but I think this new design represents where I've got to now.

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I hope you enjoy having a mooch around and do let me know what you think. This is my first time designing a site from scratch (luckily without needing to know any code!) and reformatting everything so I would also like to know if you encounter any broken links or photos that don't load. I think I have caught them all but you never know when dealing with over 200 posts! 

Itch to Stitch Anza dress

This dress began with a conversation in the kitchen at work over a cup of peppermint tea. My colleague was having a clear out and had rediscovered a suitcase of fabric from Egypt, Pakistan, and Africa that she had bought a number of years before but life had got in the way of her plans. She asked if I wanted the fabric on the condition that I gave away anything I didn't want. Great deal, right? A lot of fabric entered my house and I kept a few items - some Egyptian cotton and a few metres of black Africa cotton.

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While ironing the African cotton after washing, I started to get excited and I knew what this piece was destined to become - the Anza dress by Itch to Stitch. I had been looking for an excuse to purchase this pattern and one had conveniently fallen into my lap. It's a lovely moment when a pattern and fabric find each other with ease. 

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For those unfamiliar with Anza, it is a relaxed, unlined jumpsuit or dress with a cinched waistline featuring both elastic and a drawstring. It has a front buttoned V-neck bodice with pleated breast pockets with buttoned flaps and fairly deep side pockets. It comes in a wide range of sizes including cup sizes. Depending on your fabric choice, it could be made for numerous occasions. 

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The cotton is a rather wonderful. It has a subtle diamond pattern woven throughout which you don't notice until you're up close. It was easy to work with making stitching the dress a mostly smooth experience. It does have a down side though - it attracts everything! Pet hair, threads, general dust etc that I can look completely dishevelled by the end of the day! I chose to underline it with a plain black cotton because it felt a little too transparent. The pattern doesn't call for this and it has made the dress crisper and a little warmer than I had intended. The bodice is finished with plain black buttons which aren't my first choice but they were all I could find in Oxford that were big enough. This pattern does require you to pay more attention than usual to the size of the buttons due to the front facing being topstitched into place giving the illusion of a wide placket. The buttons need to be able to stand up to that and anything smaller than the suggested size might look odd. 

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Based on the finished measurements, and a quick paper fitting, I cut a size 8 at the bust grading to a 10 at the waist and hips. I made no other changes although with hindsight I should have lowered the waistline by a centimetre to achieve a more comfortable fit. The other change I would make is taking up the hem a little - it falls just below my knee which isn't my thing but I can definitely live with it in this version. This was my first time using a pattern that offered cup sizes and I liked that I wouldn't have to think about an FBA. Given the relaxed feel for the dress, the sizing seems to be about right.

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While there are many steps to complete this dress, it is a straightforward make. I did find some areas tricky but this down to my fabric choice and just not really paying attention! The breast pockets took way longer than they should have but I was determined to get them as close to perfect as I could and spent longer pressing these than any other part of the dress. The waistband caused the most frustration though and this is purely down to the thickness of the cotton and its fraying superpower. This part is cleverly designed as the band allows both the elastic and the draw string to be added in the same area with (what should be) minimal fuss. The elastic is added before you fully close up the band and the drawstring is added through two small button holes in the same band. A quick note on hemming - the pattern asks you to hem the skirt pieces separately before you stitch the side seams and I would recommend this. I skipped it and found it difficult to get a smooth neat curve with the fabric bulk and therefore my topstitching is off at either side - not that you can notice in black! 

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There's a lot to like about this pattern. I'm rather fond of it's casual feel, the clean lines on the bodice and the comfort of cinched waistline. Perhaps the best part is the side pockets. They are deep enough to be actually useful. I judge a pocket on whether it can fit my whole hand with my phone. I still have room to spare in these! As ever, I have thoughts of more versions in some brighter colours but as these would be more lightweight versions they may have to wait until next Spring...

Recently

After a time of extreme highs, you can't always anticipate how you will be feeling afterwards. I had an inkling that my sewjo would be depleted after finishing my wedding dress in March and, if it happened, I hoped it wouldn't be for too long. Instead of bouncing back, my motivation for making *anything* decided to take a long holiday and vanished completely. I believe this was because I needed a rest both physically and mentally, and because I was having a huge internal battle over my identity (this post sums it up better than I ever could). It is only now that the battle is over (I stuck with my original) and that life is settling down into a more normal routine that I am feeling my sewjo come back. It hasn't yet fully unpacked its bag though and disappears for day trips when I try to force it. 

This complete disappearance was bad news for me. Like many others, I rely fairly heavily on sewing as a form of mindfulness to help me keep my thoughts in check. It rivals exercise for being my most effective tool. Discovering that one of my fool proof techniques for nudging or maintaining my mood could no longer be fully relied upon was slightly alarming and made me realise that I needed to expand my creative arsenal. 

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Doing nothing isn't in my nature which led me to I experiment. Over the past six weeks, I have worked on my English paper piece quilt so it now covers half of our bed. The repetitive nature of hand stitching seemed less intimidating - I could stitch a few hexies and leave it. Before I knew it, the quilt had doubled in size. I love how it is turning out.

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I dabbled with some new free motion embroidery designs. I didn't have any expectation for them - good job as only one turned out ok! However, the mere process of doing this has given me some more ideas for when I can get back to it. 

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I've never considered myself as someone who is able to draw but I have always wanted to. Without any expectation, and partially through desperation, I signed up for an online course to learn the basics of drawing. I'm only experimenting with line drawings at the moment but it's nice to see I might have potential if I keep practising. I'm currently obsessed with vintage pattern envelopes and will be using them as inspiration going forward. 

While none of these have the same effect as sewing, it is great to be learning some more creative skills. They do help in their own way and I am looking forward to continuing with them. Another positive is they have been enough of a distraction to stop me constantly thinking about when I will sew again. I already am and have an almost finished Itch to Stitch Anza dress which I'll be sure to share with you soon. 

GBSB Live Winners plus a Discount Code

This post was updated on 23rd July - see below.

Thanks to everyone who entered this giveaway over the past week. Jumping straight into it with an imaginary drum roll...

The winners of the five pairs of tickets to the Great British Sewing Bee Live, randomly pulled from the box, are:

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Congratulations to Rachel, Sabs, Alice's Sewing Adventures, Penguin and Pear, and Batwidow! Please contact me at iwanttobeaturtle[at]gmail with your name which I will pass onto the organisers with your email address. 

UPDATE: I've heard that Batwidow has been super lucky and won two different draws for tickets. Being a lovely soul, she asked me to redraw so the next lucky winner is:

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Congratulations, Jodie - contact me as above to claim your tickets. 

For those you of you were unlucky, or missed entering, I can offer you a discount of £1.50 on regular tickets. You can purchase tickets here - just enter the code BAT into the promo code box. 

I'm counting down the days to this event and I hope to see many of you there. 

Giveaway: Great British Sewing Bee Live

Few words cause more excitement in the sewing community than "Great British Sewing Bee" and there is certainly a buzz building again this year. I'm sure you've all heard that the show is taking on a new format and is going live, yes live, at the ExCel in London on 21st-24th September. 

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The event looks pretty amazing with so much to try and fit in a single visit. A must see is the Super Theatre where Patrick Grant and Esme Young will talk tips for tailoring and dressmaking before a live sewing bee challenge takes place. Fancy trying a new skill and meeting some of the former contestants? Take a workshop! It'll take you time to narrow them down and I suggest reviewing them with a cup of tea. 

Want to add to your stash? You won't be short on choice as there will be over 200 of your favourite suppliers there including Girl Charlee, Guthrie & Ghani, Melissa Fehr, The Foldline and Tilly. A lover of Liberty prints? There's the chance to see some archive pieces from the 1930s through the 1970s. As if that wasn't enough they've also includeddressmaking drop in clinics to help you solve that issue preventing you finishing a piece and a made at home fashion catwalk! Check out the website for further details on all the offerings. 

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So hands up - who wants to go?

I thought so. I'm pleased to be able to offer five pairs of tickets valid for a visit on the Thursday or Friday (pick the Friday and we can say hello!) To be in the running, leave a comment below telling me which part of the event you are most keen to attend. This giveaway is open until Thursday 20th July 2017 with the winners announced on Saturday 22nd. 

Handmade wedding stationery

Hi everyone, thanks so much for all the wedding dress love! It was great to share all the details with you and to relive the process. I have one more wedding related post.

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I wanted to share our wedding stationery which were also handmade and a joint effort between us. It was very important to me that the day reflected us as a couple and I had a strong desire to have as large a handmade element to it as possible. I stopped at the dress and the stationery as anything else would have been too much. We knew early on that we wanted the designs of our stationery to compliment each other and ideally to involve fabric - cotton as its easy to work with and also leant itself nicely to the venue. 

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The hardest part was choosing the designs. I was doing a lot of free motion embroidery at the time and realised this technique could give an interesting look. Adam was still intrigued by the Girih tiles we had seen in Lisbon during the summer and shared a few designs. A couple of trial runs later and we chose two designs - one for the Save the Dates and one for the Invitations. We had a very loose teal and purple theme to the wedding and chose a teal and purple polycotton from our local fabric store. These would be paired with metallic silver thread (more on that later). The motifs and words would be framed in a silver card and then mounted onto a A6 white card. 

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You'll see in the photos that a third motif was added at a later stage. We were struggling to come up with a nice name card design. I originally wanted to stitch the names directly onto card but the machine foot left very visible dents. When our caterers provided us with a very detailed menu for all dietary needs, Adam suggested personalised menus for everyone in exactly the same style as the others. I continued to stitch the motifs but added the third partly for speed but also to prevent boredom! While it increased the workload, I really loved being able to add this personal touch and thought they looked great on the tables. I cannot take any credit for the design of any of the insets - Adam took care of those. He managed to match the colours almost perfectly to the fabric. 

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The process of making all the motifs and words was one I both loved and loathed. Tracing the designs took rather a long time - I used carbon paper to ensure I could see the lines in the dark colours while stitching in the winter months. Drawing and cutting the silver squares and rectangles seemed to take too long too. But that was nothing compared to the fights I had with Hemline's silver metallic thread. More often than not, it was a nightmare to work with. It got stuck around the bobbin case or snapped at the needle more times than I care to remember. There were magical times when it worked in harmony with my machine and I stitched and stitched in the deluded hope it would never end. It will be a very long time, if ever, before I chose a thread like that again! 

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I love how all of the cards are the same style and how those of the same design are all unique. This is the part of handmade that pleases me the most - each item has its own personality and quirks. I was delighted to hear that they were well received and one couple pointed out that we had included something for both the seamstress and the engineer. I guess we fulfilled reflecting both us as we had hoped.

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In addition, Adam designed and made our seating plan. We decided to name our tables after some of our favourite places in Europe. Choosing a vintage inspired look, he created polaroids of the places and postcards with the names of the guests before linking them with twine to a map. We used teal pins to help tie it all together. The whole thing was secured to the wonderful architects board that comes with the venue. 

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Thanks for your patience while I shared all of these details. We will be back to more normal sewing activities from next week - tune in for an exciting giveaway! 

Wedding dress - the reveal

Thank you all for sticking with me while I shared the details of how I made my wedding dress. I'm sure this is the post you've been waiting for - how the the dress looked on the day and some wedding photos. Ok, I got carried away and there are lots of photos focussing on the dress. If you want to see more of our day and the venue, visit this post by Gareth, our fabulous photographer who supplied all of the shots below. 

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The first sighting of the dress on that glorious day in early May was when Gareth took it for its own short private photo shoot. I had asked him at the beginning to get some photos of it as I knew I wouldn't have the opportunity and thankfully he was game! He took the dress to the Cotton Quarter where our ceremony took place. 

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This was the first time that the dress had been hung and, without the security of being on me, I was a little worried that the weight of the skirts would cause it to drop. I temporarily added a couple of ribbons to the bodice, secured with safety pins, to give some extra stability while the dress was on the hanger. 

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I couldn't have put the dress on without help and my bridesmaids, Emily and Rachel, came to the rescue. 

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After the waist stay and the top button were closed, we all pulled the bodice tightly towards the back to ease the pressure on the invisible zip at the waistline. Rachel closed the buttons on the back while Emily took charge of ensuring the skirt layers laid flat.

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It was pretty amazing to be finally wearing it! I was completely amazed by how closely and perfectly Kerry, our florist, had been able to match the roses to my dress. I also want to thank Ellie for the make up and performing a small miracle with my hair which didn't want to stay put. 

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Amazingly the dress came through the day unscathed - no tears in the lace and no alcohol stains. Just a few small grass stains from the short walk below. 

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This is an even more impressive achievement when you consider the amount of crazy dancing that happened during the party. 

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We hired an amazing band, Hipster, who kept our guests entertained with a couple of hours of fabulous live music. I ditched my shoes and bounced around for the whole evening! 

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I honestly couldn't be prouder of this make.

Wedding Dress - Skirt and finishing touches

This is the last construction post of my wedding dress! I'll cover creating the skirt, adding the bodice and the finishing touches.

You may remember in the photos of the dress toile the skirt was narrow and the train rather short. I was keen to fix this in the actual dress as it felt limiting (both in style and movement) and I wanted to show off the beautiful fabrics as far as possible. With a limited amount of fabric, the width of the skirt and therefore the length of the train was determined by the width of the silk satin. 

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At 132cm wide, the early indications were that this would be close to what I had originally wanted. At the cutting out session, we took the skirt pattern and sliced it up the middle, laid it on the silk satin and spread it as far as we could. By this time I had my shoes and they demanded an extra 8cm of length to be added at the bottom. We smoothed out the curved hem before cutting out allowing extra wide seam allowances. These would give us greater flexibility in ensuring the silk satin and lace skirts lined up neatly when they were fixed together. 

Cutting out the lace skirt was a little emotional. I wanted the beautiful scalloped edges to skim the floor at the front and be complete all the way round the skirt and ideally for the train to finish in a smooth curve. The lace had other ideas - to achieve the smooth curve I would need to clip the lace and add a large part by hand. This was based on the assumption that we would cut the lace length ways and piece the skirt together using applique seams. Seeing it all laid out and imagining how it would look made me realise that it didn't feel right. 

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While I was cutting out the silk, Chris was laying out the pattern pieces on the lace and experimenting. By placing the pattern on the cross grain it was possible to cut the entire skirt in one very large piece. No side seams, no applique needed! We wrapped the lace around me to check the drape would work and I got very, very excited. Cutting this way would allow the lace to shine as it was intended. There was a compromise though - to keep the full scalloped edge it would have to end in a gentle point rather than a smooth curve. After seeing the drape of the lace, I decided that maintaining that was more important and chose to adapt the train. As an added bonus, it halved my workload!

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As with the bodice, the silk satin was mounted onto silk organza. When testing the fit, we took out quite a bit of excess at my hips (a standard issue for me) to ensure that we got the gradual A line. I finished the seams in both the silk satin and the lining with French seams. Alterations were needed to the lace skirt as well - we had to raise it at the waist by about 8cm and ease it into the waistline while ensuring that the lace matched up along the centre back. The back of the lace skirt was left open. Now came the most complicated part - adding the skirts to the silk satin bodice. 

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I completed the lining first, attaching the skirt at the waistline to the lining of the bodice. I then inserted the invisible zip to the lining and the foundation carefully keeping the silk satin out of the way. Thankfully the zip went in perfectly first time. Following this, the silk satin and lace skirts were basted to the silk satin of the bodice and stitched into place. The centre back seam allowance of the silk bodice and skirt were pressed under and slip stitched along the zip. Keeping the silk from bubbling at the bottom of the zip was the trickiest part and the thread was ripped out a number of times. 

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The lace overlay was added next - hand stitched into place at the side seams and anchored loosely at key points along the waist line. All of a sudden, the dress had come together with only the centre back closing to add. It felt like I was on the home straight although there was still a lot of work to complete and time was slipping away. 

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Completing the centre back required long strips of silk satin cut on the bias - somewhere between 7-8m. To minimise the number of joins, I cut the stripes as long as possible - about 70cm - before they became too distorted. I needed two strips at 3m for each of the centre back seams and enough to create about 130 rouleau loops. Despite sounding a lot, the loops were relatively quick to make as the silk turned out on itself easily and were cut to the exact length needed. 

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To ensure everything lined up, I basted the bias strips onto each of the lace centre back seams. A quick fit revealed that I needed to let out the middle of the lace bodice as it was pulling too tight across my shoulder blades. I finished the left seam first as it was the simplest - the bias strip was stitched into place with the machine and the pressed towards the centre of the dress. The raw edge was folded under before being slip stitched into place. To keep the top and bottom openings clean, the extra silk was folded up/down and before being anchored by the slip stitching. 

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The right side was more intensive as the loops needed to be included. The bias strip was machine stitched into place and pressed towards the centre of the dress. On the wrong side I matched up the loops to the edge of the seam allowance. The loops were added with the following pattern: 1cm between the ends of a single loop, a 0.5cm gap and repeat for the whole length of the dress - 126 loops in total. 

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Each loop was pinned and then basted tightly into place. The raw edge of the binding was folded over and covered the raw edges of the loops and hand stitched into place. To secure the loops, they were hand pressed towards the opening and secured into place with a few tiny hand stitches per loop. Even though I broke up the hand stitching into small chunks and took frequent breaks I developed severe cramps in both my hands. Once recovered slightly, I began the process of stitching the buttons on to the left hand binding. The buttons are covered in the same silk satin and were created by Harlequin based in Essex. They were super quick, returning the buttons a few days after I sent off for them. 

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Adding the binding, loops and buttons took three days in total - the only part of the dress I can actually put a time frame on! While the dress features 126 fully functioning buttons, only the top 50 were used to put the dress on. 

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To fully finish the bodice, I added a rouleau loop and button to the top to help with the strain on the invisible zip. Finally, I was at the hemming stage and went to see Chris for the final time. She kindly measured the hem while I stood in my shoes. The silk satin skirt is hand stitched to the organza using the slip stitch. 

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It is 1cm in depth, double folded and I rolled it back to ensure the hand stitching is completely invisible. The hem was very lightly pressed to remove any remaining pin and basting marks while maintaining the smooth curve of the fold. I did this over a couple of evenings as my hands still hadn't fully recovered from the loops and buttons. The lining was finished in the same way but went through the sewing machine and was fully pressed. A quick review of the dress to ensure all the basting thread had been removed and it was finally finished - five weeks ahead of the wedding. 

Stay tuned for Saturday's post for photos from the big day! 

Wedding dress - Lace bodice

The lace overlay bodice was the part of my wedding dress that worried me the most as it was the part that could so easily go wrong! In addition, we didn't have a plan for it until we got the lace. The reason for this is because we wanted to check the character of the fabric and also work out how to show it off to its full potential. 

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The Shelley lace is a wonderful ivory lace comprised of a tulle base, which has been embroidered with a rich, lustrous thread to form the floral design and is finished with a light dusting of sequins. The edges of the flowers and leaves are subtly edged with a silver thread and the lace has matching scalloped edges on both sides. The tulle base makes it delicate to work with and very easy to distort the shape. 

To answer some of our questions about how to cut the lace, I spent an hour in front of the mirror in my partially completed dress with Chris draping a sample lace piece. The first option was to use the scalloped edge as the neckline, positioning the large design just above the scallops down my centre front and using the curved edge of the lace as the cap sleeves. It looked lovely but the neckline was very high and moving the scalloped edge down looked odd. In addition, the pattern would be upside down to the skirt which I wasn't too keen on. 

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After a quick cup of tea to refill our ideas box, we turned the lace and added the scalloped edge to the waistline. In a magical moment we had found how to position the lace to allow the full design to shine. It did actually twinkle as the sequins caught the sunlight of the fading afternoon light. The tulle base had just enough stretch to allow us to maintain the fitted look across the bust although darts would need to be added at the back as I am too hollow for the stretch to cover it smoothly. In order to have the delightful scalloped edges on the neckline and cap sleeves, I would have to stitch them on later. 

Creating this bodice took longer than any other part of the dress. It required a lot of concentration, careful handling of the lace so not to stretch it and so much hand stitching. Once cut, all seam lines (excluding the scallops) were stabilised with a narrow piece of silk organza selvedge and all stitching lines marked. I found that I had to complete this step in short bursts to ensure that I didn't get frustrated at the slow progress and accidentally distort the shape.

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Neckline whip stitched into place before adding the scalloped edge

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Again, I basted the bodice together including the darts before heading back to Chris' for another fitting. At the fitting, we added darts to the front to pull the lace in tightly to keep the fitted look. My fears of distorting the shape had come true and we had to ease the neckline slightly to a strip of organza 2cm shorter than originally cut. We let out the left side seam to ensure it matched up perfectly with the silk bodice side seam. The final alteration was to take in the back of arms by 1cm to give a more balanced look. 

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I used a narrow zigzag for the side seams and darts. To finish the seams and neckline, I graded the organza and folded over the lace before whip stitching it into place. 

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So far, the bodice and skirt (details coming in the next post) had been kind and didn't require applique seams. That changed with the shoulder seams. Wanting to make the most of the lace design as well as needing to avoid bulk, I carefully trimmed around one flower on each side before laying them over the seam. The seams were machine stitched either side and the flowers carefully secured into place with tiny hand stitches. I relied heavily on Bridal Couture to ensure I was doing this correctly. 

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Shoulder seam before applique seam

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Shoulder seam after adding applique seam and finishing seam

Stitching the shoulder flowers was a good introduction to the hard work ahead to finish the sleeves and the neckline. Each one needed a scalloped edge added and the width of them was rather narrow. This was mainly for comfort as too much depth would have restricted movement and felt constricting. The other considerations were not covering too much of the design in the bodice and having the flexibility in the edges to allow for a smooth line. To add the scalloped edges, I placed the dress on my dress form and carefully positioned where the larger flowers should go, ensuring no more bulk was added at the shoulders and basted it firmly into place. 

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Lots of snips into the tulle later and more grading towards to the embroidered thread to ensure it laid flat and looked like a natural part of the dress, I began the slow and somewhat tedious work of hand stitching. Again, distorting the shape of the neckline was my main concern and I chose to stitch the lace while the dress was on the dummy. This helped keep the fabric in place but it took a lot of odd positions for my arms to keep the smooth line! 

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At this stage, the bodice was still completely unattached to the dress. In order to secure it, the side seams were tacked onto the side seams of the silk satin bodice and anchored at the waistline in key places underneath the larger flowers. The back was left free to allow for the details to be added and prevent any ruffling. 

If you're still with me, thank you so much for sticking around! We have one final construction post focusing on the skirt and my favourite part of the dress - the centre back details before the full reveal. 

Wedding dress - The Pattern and Silk Satin Bodice

With the design of my wedding dress finalised, Chris and I set about making the pattern. We knocked out the first draft in two and half hours by taking one of Chris' standard size blocks which fitted well. From this standard block we made some minor tweaks - pinching out some excess across the upper chest and diagonally from the bust up to the sleeve, enlarged the waist dart slightly, and flared out the hip line to allow the bodice to fully close.

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I made a toile of the strapless bodice in calico (the overlay would wait until we had the lace) and it fitted almost perfectly just requiring a few millimetres to be removed from the front princess seams to achieve a closer fit. We added the skirt to get a sense of the full dress. The skirt toile was rather narrow with a small train which was fixed in the real dress. It did feel pretty amazing to try on the toile as it was the first real idea I got on how the dress would actually look.

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The rest of this post is dedicated to completing the sweetheart bodice. The bodice took a lot of patience to complete - despite being simple in design, achieving the flawless look required a slow and steady approach. 

Following the success toile, I began working on the foundation of the dress. It was essential to get this part right as this would take the strain of the weight of the dress. With the bodice being so fitted as well as needing to take the weight of the lace skirt and prevent any stress on the lace overlay, I needed a very sturdy fabric.

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I chose a closely weaved white cotton twill with very little give to provide the stability needed. In a process that would feature throughout making the entire dress, I marked all the seam lines and basted the pieces together to check the fit before committing to actual stitching.

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Because of the close fit and the fact I wasn't adding cups, the bodice required a lot of support. 

To start I stitched 8mm Rigilene boning directly onto the twill at all seam lines and the back darts. The seam allowances were pressed to one side with the boning added on top - this added another level of protection to the silk satin from the edges of the plastic. After wearing the bodice for a short time and jumping up and down a lot to imitate dancing, I realised that additional support was needed especially at the front.

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I added 5mm Rigilene to the front of the bodice between the princess seams up to the point where the fullness of the bust starts, two short strips placed diagonally on the sweetheart neckline and a full strip on each of the sides. 

Each piece of boning was covered with self made bias tape from the twill and covered all the raw edges of the seams. As it was tricky to manoeuvre the boned bodice through the machine, I hand stitched a few of these covers in place. Despite the weight of the twill, the covers didn't provide too much bulk. To give even greater security, ensure a closer fit at the top of the bodice and stabilise the sweetheart I added twill tape - I didn't want to take any chances with the lace overlay.

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The next step was to add the waist stay. I chose a baby blue grosgrain ribbon to act as my something blue in case I decided to take part in that old tradition. The stay is anchored to the bodice either side of each boning channel and is finished with two hook and eyes. I can recommend the clear instructions from Claire Schauffer's book if you're unsure how to finish a waist stay. The final action on the twill was to finish the raw hem. I added a light weight ivory bias tape from my stash to ensure everything looked neat and tidy.

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For the outer shell of the bodice, I used the beautiful rosewater medium weight crepe back silk satin. Before cutting into it, I made a change to the back of the pattern by converting the darts into seams to give a much cleaner finish. 

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All of the silk satin pieces were mounted onto ivory silk organza to provide some stability. 

Again, I basted all the pieces together and mounted it to the twill foundation to check the fit. It needed tweaking ever so slightly on the front princess seams. Thank goodness for silk thread - with the amount of basting needed there was a chance the silk satin would snag slightly but this threat was minimised with a new needle and silk thread. 

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All the silk satin seams in the dress are French seams with the exception of the princess seams. The curve around the bust was too severe for a neat finish so they were trimmed and locked into position on the silk organza with a hand overcast stitch. The lining, made from pale pink Bemberg, was completed in the same way and construction was uneventful. 

As a cute detail to the bodice, Chris suggested adding a narrow cord to the top of the bodice. I spent quite a long time covering a very narrow cord in the silk satin. It took so long as the silk satin kept shifting and required basting into place before going through the machine a couple of times to keep the width consistent. Adding the cord to the bodice also took longer than I anticipated as it needed carefully placing and handling. Once in place, I laid the satin shell onto the twill and stitched it into place.

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The seam was hand overcast into place, clipped where necessary to maintain the shape. To add the lining, I pressed under the seam allowance, basted into place, and hand stitched carefully using the slip stitch. This allowed for a very neat finish and ensured none of the lining peaked over the cord. 

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As you can see in the photo above, I needed to add an opening to the lining to allow the waist stay to come through. Keeping with the quality of this make, I opted for a technique similar to a bound buttonhole facing. Sally did something similar and I really liked the look. I would say the holes are a little too big but their size allowed the waist stay and the dress to move naturally with me.

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The final step to completing the bodice at this stage was to baste all three layers together along the lower edges and the centre back seams to keep them nice until needed. 

Wedding dress: Inspiration, design, and fabric

Today I'm beginning to share the details of the dress in full. It'll take a few posts to get to the reveal as I wanted to share the process of constructing it. Thankfully, I had a fairly strong idea of the style of dress I wanted from the beginning. I wanted it to be full length, all the lace, fitted to the hips followed by a gradual A line skirt to allow for a elegant, flowing look. I also knew that I wanted something different from the traditional full white or ivory wedding dress - I wanted a little pop of colour but I wasn't sure what that looked like. 

From the extensive internet searching, I fell in love with the Adele dress by Amelia Sposa with its beautiful illusion cap sleeves, vintage lace and buttons all the way down the centre back. I also loved the illusion back although I knew this wouldn't be something I could replicate as I wouldn't be comfortable with that much of my skin on show! 

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Source for both photos here

Before committing to replicating the style, I decided to visit a bridal shop to try on some actual wedding dresses. I wanted to be certain that I had the right design from the beginning as I didn't have time to start again if I got it wrong. In addition I wanted the experience of trying on dresses of all styles and many with a price tag I would never be able to afford! In 90 minutes I tried on about six different styles. The experience confirmed that I wanted a full lace dress. It also told me that I needed a fair amount of structure and support in the bodice, that I wanted a longer train that I originally anticipated and that the dress needed to be fairly lightweight - I really struggled to carry the heavy dresses in heels. 

I did find a dress that I would have bought if I hadn't already decided to make my own. That dress is Carolyn by Augusta Jones. I loved the boat neck with the scallops and the gathered lace to one side was lovely and extremely flattering. The picture below is in ivory but I tried on a blush version. Perhaps the most important part of trying on this dress was that it reassured me that my instinct to include some colour was absolutely right. I took my mum, Adam's mum, and my bridesmaids with me to the shop and it was interesting to hear their differing opinions on the styles and colours - there was a strong preference for the traditional white or ivory. Ultimately I wanted the dress to reflect me - and I needed to go for something a little different to the classic traditional colours.

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Source here

A day or so later, I still couldn't get some of the features of the Carolyn dress out of my mind so I drew up the design which incorporated elements of both Adele and Carolyn. As you can see from the sketch below, it includes illusion lace at front and back, cap sleeves, a sweetheart neckline, and buttons the full length of the dress. The bodice is very fitted and the skirt flows gently to the floor ending with a train at the back which is perfectly curved. I wanted to achieve a simple, elegant, almost flawless look with some key details. I was sure that I would be able to make this in the allocated time and quickly started ordering samples. 

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The trickiest part would be finding the lace as I'm sure picky with the designs. At the recommendation of Twitter, I ordered several samples from Platinum Bridal Fabrics. They have some exquisite designs throughout their site and it would be so easy to convince yourself you need the more expensive laces! At the same time, I ordered multiple samples of the medium weight silk crepe backed satin from Beckford Silk. I've ordered from Beckford before and was impressed with their fabrics. All of the samples from them were subtle colours. I then lost hours to comparing the different colours with the different laces, seeking different opinions. Eventually I paired the rosewater silk satin with the Shelley lace and knew I had my combination. 

I purchased the following fabrics to complete the dress:

1m Cotton Twill (Whalley)

4m Silk Organza (Whalley)

4m Crepe back silk satin in Rosewater (Beckford Silk)

3m Pink Bremsilk (McCulloch & Wallis)

4m Shelley lace (Platinum Bridal)

Stay tuned for the next post which provides detail of the pattern and constructing the bodice. 

You’re making your wedding dress, right?

You may have noticed that things have been a little quiet in this corner for a few months. There is a very good reason for this - Adam and I got married in early May!

The day was just wonderful - the best day I have ever had. Our family and friends were good enough to join us in Derby so Adam's grandpa could be there. We booked the fabulous West Mill as our venue and it couldn't have been more perfect or more fitting as it is a converted cotton spinning mill! Some of the floors are appropriately named - you get married in the Cotton Quarter and party the night away in the Spinning Room. It truly is a magical place. 

I hope you don't mind me indulging in a few posts about this day and its handmade elements. I'll start with my wedding dress as the professional photos are almost ready so it shouldn't be too long before the big reveal! Today I want to discuss the one question which follow the congratulations for any sewer - "will you make your wedding dress?"

 I thought it might be interesting, and hopefully helpful to those considering this question, to share some of the factors in my decision to make mine and some useful resources and tips I picked up along the way. We'll get to the actual details of the dress in the next post. 

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The entrance to The West Mill

Pause at the beginning

It is a tough decision to make at a time when you are making hundreds. Organising a wedding of any size is a big undertaking and when you add in the dress making process, it has the potential to become completely overwhelming. I can get so excited that I can make creative decisions without really thinking about them in detail. So while I knew, very deep down, that I would ultimately be making the dress, I forced myself to pause for a couple of weeks. I used the time to carefully think it through, to research and to read about other people’s experiences and ensure this was the correct decision for me.

Time

Without doubt, this was the biggest factor for me to consider. We’ve all been there when a project that is taking longer than anticipated. A wedding dress is one of those projects. You need to give yourself as much time as you possibly can especially as you’ll need to build in time for research, receiving samples, fitting, and practising techniques with your selected fabrics. I’d really recommend giving yourself that extra month or two – essential if you have the Christmas break in the middle or you’re considering extensive amounts of hand stitching.

I had eight months from booking the venue to saying “I do” and I was seriously concerned that this would be too short a time. I didn’t want to be putting the finishing touches to the dress the week before the wedding. So I set a deadline and worked backwards. I started the dress at the beginning of November and finished towards the end of March. If I had my time over, I’d have started at the beginning of October as I felt the pressure a little towards the end.

This next tip may sound obvious but it is something that I forgot at times during the winter months. Set your sewing time to allow you to enjoy this process. Build in enough time for short breaks to allow working in chunks and step away when it is becoming a little much. I found my full day sessions were much more productive and enjoyable when I paused fairly frequently. I also avoided late night sessions and doing too much when I was tired as this is not when I do my best work.

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Potential stress

This is also worth taking the time to think about and it was one area that Adam asked me to consider. He was worried about the additional complexity and to do lists and therefore potential stress that this undertaking might bring on top of organising a major event and balancing a prolonged busy period at work. What would happen if it all got too much and mistakes were being made? How would I deal with that? I had locked him out of the process as I didn’t want him to know anything until the day. My answer - a sewing support network.

Support network

Adam had raised a very fair point. If it all got too much, he would be on the front line but without the details and the ability to help. I filled this gap with a few close sewing friends who were only too happy to answer questions, act as a sounding board, or calm me down over whatsapp. I’d recommend having at least one other person who understands the craft that you can turn to for help and support.

While Hannah, Leire and Kelly did a magnificent job, I decided to take this one step further and ask a professional to act as a partner/consultant. I’m extremely fortunate to know Chris Eady, a local freelance designer and pattern cutter. I met her a few years ago when I took one of her pattern cutting courses and stayed in touch. Chris is a wonderful, patient, extremely generous and talented woman and I knew she would be able to guide me through the process when I got stuck, point out techniques I hadn’t considered, and hold me to a high standard! It’s not an understatement to say that she is one of the biggest influences on my stitching – my makes dramatically improved after meeting her and it only seemed natural to bring her on board. Going down this route won’t be an option for everyone, nor is it something what you might want to do, but it worked so well for me and it’s only right to give Chris the recognition she deserves in this story.

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Space

This was an interesting issue and one I didn’t think about until I had started. I don’t have a dedicated sewing room and as I had decided that I didn’t want Adam to see the dress before the day I needed to be creative. I ended up working mostly in our study and banning Adam from going in there. While I managed fairly well, it wasn’t ideal as the room is small and quite cramped. If you can, use an area that is spacious and is somewhere you can leave set up to continue working. Cutting out at home was impossible so I hired a room in a community centre for a couple of hours.   

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My rather cramped sewing conditions for the dress. Although it is amazing what you can make in such a small space!

Also make sure that the space is easy to keep clean and tidy – you don’t want to find your snips or your cup of coffee perilously close to your fabric (slightly ashamed to say this happened with alarming frequency).

Resources

There are many sewers out there who have been down this path with amazing results and have generously shared their experiences. Here are a few that I found particularly helpful:

Sally at Charity Shop Chic

Melanie at Poppykettle

Melissa at Fehr Trade

Ree at Ree Sewn

Books:

Bridal Couture by Susan Khalje. This really is the couture wedding dress bible of its reputation. I found it particularly helpful to understand fabrics (especially lace) and handle them and how to construct the dress. As you'll see from future posts, I didn't add a corselette but the content of this book was super helpful as well as incredibly interesting. 

Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire Shaeffer. The perfect companion to achieving a high quality finish. I used this book in a hand holding exercise, even on techniques I knew well! 

Closet Case Files Bombshell - a sewing rite of passage

Last year, I received an invite to a hen party - a spa weekend. How delightful! I signed up immediately. Three weeks before the event, I realised I needed a swimming costume but I had missed the nice summer ones in the shops due to the change of season and those that were available seemed ridiculously expensive. What to do? The only thing I could - fall back on my sewing skills, download the Bombshell pattern from Closet Case Files, take a deep breath and attempt to make it myself. 

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Like many, I had lusted after the Bombshell since its release but I needed an occasion to justify making it. Our summer breaks tend to be city based without the need for swimwear. I watched in envy as many versions popped up over the internet including Sophie'sAmanda's, and Kelly's. Seriously, who can resist all that flattering yet softly sexy ruching which makes this a pattern suitable for all women. I've honestly not seen an unflattering version. It's like a cheerleader on the side praising and embracing all shapes and sizes. 

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I couldn't wait to get started. I feel making a swimsuit is one of those sewing rites of passage which include conquering trousers, jeans, active wear and lingerie. You know, those projects that seem to be rather intimidating until you get going. Time to tick another one off the list. I'll admit to wanting a decent level of hand holding while making this and followed Heather Lou's excellent sewalong. Each session takes you through enough steps so that you gain confidence while not overdoing it.

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I struggled a little to find some decent fabric but eventually came across this navy spandex knit from Girl Charlee. A mid weight four way stretch knit, it has a floral design in taupe with dots scattered between the flowers. It's still currently available. I don't normally like brown and navy together, especially with big prints (the flowers are about 4cm each) but this is rather lovely. I chose to self-line the swimsuit as I couldn't be bothered to find a neutral coloured liner. It seems to have worked out ok. I picked up the elastic on eBay. 

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While I had faith that the style would suit me, I knew I wanted to provide as much cover as I could. It had been a long time since I had worn something so close fitting and I was going to be with a bunch of strangers so feeling good when wearing the Bombshell was essential. This led to a bit of head scratching about which size to go for and whether to make any alterations. I went down the internet rabbit hole which confused me a little more. In the end, I cut the size as directed by the pattern without any alterations. I believe the pattern is made for the average height of 5' 6" (I'm a tad shorter) and some measurements of me and the pattern led me to believe that I didn't need to add any length. This turned out to be the right decision as the suit fits perfectly! 

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The final verdict? Does this live up to expectation? Without doubt. I couldn't believe how good I felt in it when I pulled in on at the spa and slipped into the pool. I completely forgot about any body hangups that had been playing on my mind in the days leading up to the party. There is something a little magical about wearing this one piece with a cheeky, playful side. If you've thought about making this pattern but haven't found the time or confidence to do so yet, go for it. I promise you won't regret it. 

A free motion embroidery picture a day

Back in October, I found myself wanting to make all the free motion embroidery pictures. For a short period of time I made one a day - snatching time in the early morning or as soon as I got home. I had great fun exploring different shapes and fabrics followed by practicing colouring in using only thread and eventually illustration in all in black. I find the act of making a free motion picture to be incredibly satisfying - once you've eventually settled on your design and colours, the simpler ones come to life very quickly. It doesn't take long to get into the swing of moving the fabric under the needle to get a nice line and you can correct yourself on the second round if you go rather off the line. Here are some of the pictures made during that time. While you may have seen them on Instagram, I thought they were worth sharing here.

Vintage inspired:

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Free Motion Embroidery little girl.jpg

The same image in two different styles. I love how different they look.

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Fashion:

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Time for fun:

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A little Christmas sewing: Sewaholic's Stanley Christmas trees

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful break over the holiday season. I'm just finishing up a 12 day holiday and it has proved to be a lovely time with family and friends - exactly the tonic that I needed. Like many at this time of year, I can't help but become a little more reflective as well to think about plans for the forthcoming year. I'm approaching 2017 in a slightly different way. I'm not making resolutions or making any grand public goals. Instead, I plan to focus on wellbeing. The end of 2016 was tough for me with my mental health and I practically lost the ability to do anything other than work and collapse on the sofa in the evenings and at weekends - a lot of things went on hold. Concentrating on wellbeing in general seems to be a sensible way forward, a way for me to enjoy the year and I've noticed that some things are already starting to get to normal. I start a Cognitive Behaviour Therapy course tomorrow for a month and I'm looking forward to seeing how it might be able to help. I'm also looking forward to the return of my creative side - it's increasing and the itch to hold fabric is there more often! 

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It began to return on and off in December and I managed a few projects - two Buchanan dressing gowns for gifts which I didn't get photos of, a Grasshopper dress for me (post coming soon!), began making good progress on my wedding dress and made six, yes, six Sewaholic Stanley Christmas trees! 

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If you haven't made them yet, I would recommend them as a fairly quick project. I had a lot of fun making them. They are straightforward to make but if you're making many at once, you may want to break up the process a little. Clipping all of the curves for six trees at once was a little tiresome as was the hand stitching to close them after stuffing. 

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The fabric comes from Darn It and Stitch and they aren't traditional Christmas prints. I particularly love the gold which is seasonal only with the doves amongst the flowers but it makes a fabulous tree! As none of the fabrics had a directional print, I managed to get two trees from a metre. They are all finished with either cream or red satin bows from Hobby Craft. 

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After browsing the web for some inspiration from other fellow stitchers who had made these, I decided I wanted a fairly plump look to the trees and was surprised at how hungry they are - you will use a lot of filling for six trees! I found it easier to add a little filling to the tips of each side of the trees before filling the rest. A slim pencil was perfect to help push the filling as close to the tip as possible for a nice, even look. 

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I gave three away as gifts and the others are currently in our lounge. I will definitely be making more of these for future Christmases - there are a number of family and friends who didn't receive one this year. Oops, I may just have given away some of next year's presents! 

A piped satin Granville

I'm back from another unanticipated blogging break. The past few months have flashed by in a bit in of whirl - there are several reasons for it but the most exciting one is we have started planning our wedding for next May. I've been researching venues, florists and bands. Not to mention reviewing multiple silk, satin and lace samples and working how to construct my dress. I start  the pattern this Tuesday. I will share the full process but unfortunately you're going to have to wait until Spring to see the details.

Despite the frenzy of researching and organisation, I did manage to sew quite a lot in the summer. The next few posts will be unseasonal but with the change in weather it will be nice to have some sunnier photos to look at!

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I took part in Hannah's OWOP activities but shamefully didn't manage to capture it. I did, however, create a new Granville shirt in honour of the week. My stash had been home to 2m of white satin since our trip to Barcelona where I got it for 8 Euros. It was always destined to be a shirt but I got cold feet about creating it. OWOP proved to be the spur I needed. 

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This make was all about the design and no changes were made to the pattern. To break up the white, I opted for self made black piping. The black satin was a nightmare to work with but some strategic basting and a slow pace on the machine eventually stopped it twisting. It was fun to work with the piping and to be honest, I made up the placement as I went along. I knew I wanted simple lines and the button placket, cuffs and yoke were easy. I paused on the collar - the cord in the piping proved to be too thick to sit neatly at the points so only the top line is piped. 

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The satin wasn't the best to work with. It frayed more than I thought it would and it's bouncy nature meant I had to work at a slower pace to get the desired result. I used a mix of seam finishes - French seams where they are visible, overlocking for all others and the cuff, inside yoke and inside collar stand were closed by hand to ensure a good finish. The shirt is finished with small Liberty covered buttons with grey and black leaves. They blend in with the white nicely while providing a little more interest. 

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I'm hoping this shirt will get more wear in the coming months. Sadly it is currently an wardrobe orphan as I'm in need of a new pair of black trousers for work and it feels too dressy for my other options! 

What have you all been up to? Any news to share? I'd love to know while I gradually catch up. 

How to sew an invisible zip with lining and no hand stitching

When you line a dress and put in an invisible zip, do you find yourself hand stitching the lining into place? I did for quite a while and while it produces a good result, I found myself getting frustrated at how long this took. Now I insert them fully by machine using the following technique which produces the same result but it is quicker and, in my opinion, produces a stronger seam than my hand sewing. Here is the finished result for my Tea Leaves dress. 

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The first thing to remember when using this technique is that it may differ from the instructions of your pattern. Plan ahead of time so you're not caught out during the construction. You'll need to complete your shell and lining but don't stitch them together - keep the neck seam and the back seam open. You could finish these seams ahead of time. 

Insert the invisible zip to the shell as you normally would and stitch the centre back seam from the bottom of the zip. 

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Open the zip and lay out the shell right side up revealing the seam allowance the zip is stitched to. Take your lining piece and lay it over the shell, right sides together, matching the raw edges. Pin in place to the point your zip ends. 

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Stitch the lining to the shell using a normal zip foot. You will be able to feel the teeth of the zip as a guide (shown between my thumb and the stitching). I tend to stitch about 3-4mm away from the teeth to keep the lining secure and ensure that it doesn't get caught when the zip is used. Repeat for the other side. 

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Time to clean up the neck line. Take one side and open up the shell and lining so the zip is central. Move the lining to ensure the right side of the lining and the right side of the shell are facing. To get a lovely finish in the corners, fold the seam allowance towards the lining. Pin in place then continue to line up the rest of the neck line. 

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Stitch in place. Repeat for the other side.

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Trim seam allowances and turn fabric to right sides out ensuring a neat corner.

Move back to the inside of your item. Pinch the lining where you want the seam to start. Hold the fabric as you turn the lining wrong side out. 

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Pin the centre back seam to this point and stitch in place. Press seam open. 

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Ta-dah! A lovely clean finish on the inside and no need to pick up a hand sewing needle! 

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Tea Leaves Betty Dress

If you were lucky enough to receive Liberty coins to spend, what would you buy? I found myself in this fortunate position after helping out with some tartan for the wedding of some friends last year. Adam bravely came with me and after what felt like 30 minutes of dithering, I walked out clutching a couple of metres of the beautiful Tea Leaves B cotton lawn. They were destined for one pattern only - Sew Over It's Betty Dress. It seemed to be a pattern and fabric match made in heaven. 

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The modern tea leaves prints are described as "a contemporary interpretation of classic blue ceramic designs using an intuitive, illustrative hand. Inky tones bring a subtle batik feel and echo the Japanese origins of the subject matter creating a story characterised by Far-Eastern influence." I was drawn to the batik look - I love how the green merges into the deep purple background like it has been painted with water colours. 

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After making a number of changes to my first version, I didn't make any further ones to the pattern with the exception of the skirt. The lawn was wide enough to allow me to cut the full width of the skirt which, with the drape of fabric, makes for a lovely swishy skirt. The fit is pretty good still although the back gaps a little more than I would like - a fact I found out only after I had completed the dress. I chose to fully line this version. This is partly because I didn't want to use the fiddly facings but mainly because of the lightweight nature of the fabric. The lining is a white bemberg and while it is lovely to wear, it is awkward to use. Any slightly breeze moved it when cutting out and don't get me started on how much it shifted during the hemming stage. Still, the effort was worth it. 

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This dress took weeks to make as I've found my sewing time rather limited over the past few months and you can tell this in the guts of the dress. The major benefit of this is the dress spent a great deal of time pinned to my dress form meaning the skirt dropped as much as it ever would. As my time got pressed, I opted for quicker techniques which of course meant bringing out the overlocker. Originally all of the seams were due to French seams and I had planned a narrow double turned hem for the skirt. Instead I have an overlocked centre back seam in the skirt and the hems are overlocked, turned up and stitched in place. I suspect I will change the hem at some point and lose a centimetre in length. It seems that this dress deserves better. 

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One area I am pleased with is the zip. I used a pale pink concealed zip and you can only tell because of the zip pull. In addition, I managed a clean finish on the inside with the lining which I'll share next time with a demo of how I achieved it. 

I'm sure I've said this before but this may just be my favourite handmade dress... 

Retro Swirl Fifis

Hello there. It's been a while again since my last post - I continue to be distracted by work and Adam and I took a little break to go to London. It was a lovely couple of days where we had lunch at the Shard with fabulous views and watched Wimbledon next to the river near Tower Bridge.

Tilly and the Buttons retro swirl Fifi Pyjamas.JPG

I took with me my latest pair of Fifi pjs. I have been wearing the Summer Rose pair almost constantly and that's usually a sign that a second make is needed. The fabric is a cotton poplin called Retro Swirl in Cerise Pink and comes from Minerva. I purchased it after needing a cheap midweek pick me up and the print is rather fun. I had thought that some of the swirls were blue and bought pale blue satin bias binding to match. When the fabric arrived I discovered that the swirls are actually purple but the colours still work together.

This pair demonstrates how much a fabric can change an item. This cotton is quite stiff and doesn't have a lot of drape, even on the bias. As a result the pjs don't move so well with with the body making them less comfortable. The shorts are worse than the top and added to the fabric, I think I stretched the elastic a bit too much. I'm hoping that a couple of washes will soften the fabric. 

Tilly and the Buttons retro swirl Fifi Pyjamas 2.JPG

I stitched this pair in quite an unfocussed way for the design. While finishing the shorts, I added bias binding the hem and liked the effect. This led to unpicking the top of the cups on the top to add binding there instead of just turning the fabric over and stitching into place. If you decide to add binding to this area I would recommend you do this before you've put the top together to make life easier for yourself. While the outside looks nice and neat, the inside is a little messy for my liking. Overall I think I prefer the full bias binding finish - it looks very clean.

Tilly and the Buttons retro swirl Fifi Pyjamas 3.JPG

I'm playing around with the idea of a more luxurious pair but that will have to wait - I have other greater needs for a summer wardrobe but I'll definitely be revisiting this pattern again.  

Free Motion Embroidery Part Two

After my posting my last post, I continued experimenting with free motion embroidery. It seemed I just couldn't get enough of it that weekend! I wanted to try something different to objectives and chose people, well specifically women and a vintage theme. I pulled out a few of my fashion reference books and some crafts books for inspiration. A few sketches later and I had three patterns to try. 

Free Motion Embroidery 1940s woman.jpg

This time, I wanted to see what it would look like with treading tracing part of the picture. I chose the to focus this on the exposed body - face, hands, and legs mainly. I really like how it has come out - it allows the clothing to stand out more. I drew the lines directly on the fabric with a fine pencil. I also experimented with the fabrics used. Stable cotton fabrics work really well for this craft as they are easy to use, keep their shape and aren't too thick. Most of the fabrics are these stable cottons. However the purple boots are thick twill and the plain green is a linen-rayon mix which frays pretty badly. The linen required careful handling but I really like the result. The different texture adds a little more interest to the design. Oh, and the eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed that the 60s dress is a copy of this make but with sleeves! 

Free Motion Embroidery 1960s fashion.jpg

I'm very pleased with how these came out. I felt much more confident guiding the fabric through the machine and I think it shows. There are some pulls lines through the fabric and I must remember to get my extension table out for the next time. I'm planning to turn a couple of them into bookmarks so they can be used rather than just sitting in a folder somewhere. I've yet to decide what to do with the 40s housewife. 

Free Motion Embroidery 1960s woman.jpg

I can't wait to get back to experimenting more. I've mostly been focussing on making clothing at the moment but I'll find a date soon I'm sure!