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. 

Handmade wedding dress shelley lace.JPG

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. 

Handmade wedding dress lace bodice.JPG

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.

Handmade wedding dress shelley lace bodice with applique lace neckline 3.JPG

Neckline whip stitched into place before adding the scalloped edge

Handmade wedding dress shelley lace bodice applique lace neck line 2.jpg

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. 

Handmade wedding dress shelley lace bodice with darts.JPG

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. 

Handmade wedding dress shelley lace bodice side seams and cap sleeves.jpg

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. 

Handmade wedding dress lace bodice applique shoulder seams.JPG

Shoulder seam before applique seam

Handmade wedding dress lace bodice applique shoulder seams 2.jpg

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. 

Handmade wedding dress shelley lace bodice with applique lace neckline.JPG

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! 

Handmade wedding dress shelley lace bodice 2.jpg
Handmade wedding dress shelley lace bodice.jpg

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.

Handmade wedding dress toile 2.jpg

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.

Handmade wedding dress toile.jpg

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.

Handmade wedding dress bodice pattern.JPG

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.

Handmade wedding dress cotton twill bodice with boning 4.jpg
Handmade wedding dress cotton twill bodice with boning 2.jpg

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.

Handmade wedding dress cotton twill bodice with boning 3.jpg

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.

Handmade wedding dress cotton twill bodice with boning.jpg

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.

Handmade wedding dress cotton twill bodice, boning and waist stay.JPG
Handamde wedding dress cotton twill bodice and waist stay.jpg

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. 

Handmade wedding dress cutting out.jpg
Handmade wedding dress bodice pattern 2.jpg

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. 

Handmade wedding dress silk bodice 5.jpg
Handmade wedding dress silk bodice 4.jpg
Handmade wedding dress silk bodice 3.jpg

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.

Handmade wedding dress piping silk bodice.jpg
Handmade wedding dress silk bodice 2.jpg

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. 

Handmade wedding dress silk bodice.jpg
Handmade wedding dress inside bodice.jpg

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.

Handmade wedding dress bodice wasit stay.JPG

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! 

Adele Front.png
Adele back.png

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.

carolynaugustajonesweddingdress.jpg

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. 

Handmade wedding dress inspiration sketch.jpg

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. 

image1.jpg

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.

IMG_0136.JPG

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.

File 17-09-2017, 22 05 34.jpeg

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.   

IMG_9375.jpg
IMG_9376.JPG

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. 

Closet Case Bombshell.jpg

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. 

Closet Case Bombshell 3.jpg

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.

Closet Case Bombshell 5.jpg

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. 

Closet Case Bombshell 4.JPG

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! 

Closet Case Bombshell 2.jpg

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:

Free Motion Embroidery Victorian woman.jpg
Free Motion Embroidery little girl.jpg

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

Free Motion Embroidery Cyclist black and white.jpg
Free Motion Embroidery Cyclist colour.JPG

Fashion:

Free Motion Embroidery Dress.JPG
Free Motion Embroidery Dress 2.JPG
Free Motion Embroidery dress 3.jpg
Free Motion Embroidery shoes.jpg

Time for fun:

Free Motion Embroidery Romantic couple.jpg
Free Motion Embroidery stacked tea cups.jpg
Free Motion Embroidery VW van.jpg

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! 

Sewaholic Stanley Christmas tree 4.JPG

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! 

Sewaholic Stanley Christmas tree 3.jpg

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. 

Sewaholic Stanley Christmas tree.jpg

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. 

Sewaholic Stanley Christmas tree 2.jpg

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. 

Sewaholic Stanley Christmas tree 5.JPG

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!

Sewaholic satin Granville shirt 3.jpg

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. 

Sewaholic satin Granville shirt.jpg

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. 

Sewaholic satin Granville shirt 2.jpg

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. 

Sewaholic satin Granville shirt 4.jpg

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. 

How to sew an invisible zip with a lining tutorial 9.jpg

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. 

How to sew an invisible zip with a lining tutorial.jpg

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. 

How to sew an invisible zip in a lining tutorial 2.jpg

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. 

How to sew an invisible zip with a lining tutorial 3.jpg

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. 

How to sew an invisible zip with a lining tutorial 4.jpg

Stitch in place. Repeat for the other side.

How to sew an invisible zip with a lining tutorial 5.jpg

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. 

How to sew an invisible zip with a lining tutorial 6.jpg

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

How to sew an invisible zip with a lining tutorial 7.JPG

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

How to sew an invisible zip with a lining tutorial 8.JPG

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. 

Sew Over It Tea leaves dress 3.jpg

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. 

Sew Over It Tea leaves Betty Dress.jpg

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. 

Sew Over It Tea leaves dress 2.jpg

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. 

Sew Over It Tea leaves Betty dress 4.jpg

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! 

Creating for the sake of creating

Sometimes my mind needs downtime. The kind where it can recharge without the pressure of deadlines, other people's priorities, and, well, just life in general. The last few weeks have been pretty intense for me - full of stress, frustration about a situation I find myself in and can't yet get out of, and some pretty good highs. In times like this, I crave a creative outlet and while I have been sewing, somehow it hasn't quite hit the spot. So yesterday, I decided to regain control and pushed aside anything I "should" have been doing in favour of creating. No instructions to follow, absolutely no need for perfection, and no need to share if it all went wrong. It was blissful! 

Free Motion Embroidery.JPG

I knew I wanted to experiment. To do something I wasn't that good at (to keep the pressure of getting it right at bay) and just to have fun. I choose free motion embroidery and a sewing theme because possible options sprang to mind more easily than others. I pulled some white twill from my stash, grabbed the interfacing, bondaweb and my scrap boxes, quickly printed out some sketches and got going. The pictures so the results - some more successful than others but hey, perfection and consistency were not the aims! 

Free Motion Embroidery 2.JPG
Free Motion Embroidery 3.JPG

I had a blast making these. The nature of the free guiding the fabric through the machine means you have to embrace imperfection and your mistakes. They become part of the piece. There is something freeing in that. My mind is full of new potential projects and this mess of ideas and inspiration has made a welcome return. I have a two items of clothing the need finishing. They are quick jobs but they can wait a little longer - I'm still not quite ready to go back to precision. 

Free Motion Embroidery 4.JPG

How have you been spending your weekend?

Growth Pond Wrap Dress

This item began with the fabric. Browsing Fabric HQ after the free motion embroidery class in January, I found myself at the counter buying two meters of Art Gallery Fabrics knit. I knew from the first touch that this was destined to become an Ultimate Wrap dress. 

Sew Over It Growth Pond Ultimate Wrap Dress 2.jpg

The fabric in question is Growth Pond from the Bound collection by April Rhodes - it is spring like and the print gives a sense of being in the peaceful outdoors overlooking a large pond full of grass. As we have come to expect with Art Gallery Fabrics, this knit is of high quality. It is wonderfully soft, lightweight, and lovely to work with. 

The only change I made to the pattern was to lengthen the sleeves as this is what I notice the most when wearing my original. The main difficulty I had centred on the facings. This fabric likes to roll and not necessarily in the same direction! I couldn't get the facings to lay flat towards the inside of the dress - stabilising the seam with clear elastic, under stitching, and hand tacking in key places didn't solve the problem. Eventually I ripped the facings out and replaced them with knit bias tape. The problem was solved instantly. The bias taped is stitched down with a purply grey thread and is barely noticeable from a distance.  

Sew Over It Growth Pond Ultimate Wrap Dress 3.jpg

I'm completely in love with this dress and it will definitely be one that is worn to death. The smooth fabric feels wonderful against the skin and it's lightweight nature makes it perfect for a spring day. Although it doesn't hold up well in the wind, as shown in the photos, it is fabulous to wear - like wearing an all day hug and I'm not sure there is much more I can ask from it. 

Self drafted work trousers

This post has been a long time coming. As long term readers will know, one of my main fitting issues with clothing are my narrow hips and trousers are the item that reveals this issue this more than any other. Finding a good pair of rtw without any stretch is almost impossible and results in huffing and puffing while browsing in the shops. I realised that the only way out of this pattern was for me to draft my own and, in January, the stars aligned when a work trip was cancelled and I got the final spot on a trouser drafting course run by Darn It and Stitch.

Self drafted trousers 2.jpg

Over four weeks we created our block, tested it, made any necessary changes, learnt how to insert a fly opening, and then drafted our first pattern. It took a few tweaks to perfect my block and I'm thrilled that it fits perfectly around my hips. For my pattern I wanted a fairly classic design that would fill a massive hole in my work wardrobe. This pair feature front darts, a fly opening, side pockets, a back yoke which includes in seam pockets and a narrow waistband closed by a popper. To keep the side pockets safely in place, I chose to use a pocket stay. Getting the stays and the fly to look very neat on the inside was a little bit of challenge to work out but it all worked out in the end. 

Self drafted trousers 4.jpg

Due to the classic design, I decided to keep the details to the minimum - just some top stitching on the back yoke. I wanted the gorgeous grey wool (bought from Goldhawk Road) to stand out. It is a lovely quality wool that is smooth and itch free, and easy to work with. It is fabulous to wear - comfortable yet stylish and perfect for work. 

Self drafted trousers.JPG

Now a sensible pair of trousers on the outside called for a party on the inside and I chose a cracker of a fabric for the pocket lining and stays. The pink and orange are as bright in real life and this cotton had been waiting patiently for its chance to shine. I love how the colours work with the grey and it makes me happy to know the colours are there. 

Self drafted trousers 3.jpg

I've worn these quite a lot over the past three weeks and I'm generally very happy with them. They are a little big around the waist and I think I can solve this by making the darts a little bigger. I'm looking forward to making more of these and to creating new designs - I just need to find the time to get back to pattern drafting. I have an experimental pair ready to toile to see if they are a good idea or not for me and I'm dreaming of shorts. How do you find making trousers? Have you drafted your own? 

Summer Rose Fifi Pyjamas

Hello, there. I trust you all had a good weekend and made the most of the sunshine. It was lovely in Oxford and getting the suncream out for the first time was wonderful. In anticipation of the warmer weather and thinking about a summer holiday, my thoughts have wondered to my summer wardrobe and specifically night wear. I knew a lovely set of summer pyjamas were needed and when Minerva kindly got in touch to offer some fabric, I found the perfect match of pattern and fabric to create the Summer Rose Fifi pyjamas. 

Tilly and the Buttons Fifi Pyjamas 4.JPG

The fabric is called Rose Floral and it is a cotton poplin. I was drawn to the pink roses which remind me of country garden and times gone by and this nostalgia only grow when I saw that the print had a vintage/tapestry look to it. The roses are set on a black background - not my first choice for summer but it does lift the pinks well. When I originally received the fabric I thought it would be too thick and not have enough drape to make Fifi but all my concerns were lost after prewashing and wearing these for a night. The poplin has all the properties of a good cotton - good weave, some drape, incredibly easy to cut, press and stitch. I loved working with it and love wearing it. I decided not to go with the self-binding that is included in the pattern and opted for a hot pink bias binding that was in my stash. I had originally opted for a pale pink to match the roses but my machine (for a reason I can't fathom) just ate it. The hot pink doesn't give the fully romantic feeling I was going for but brings a fun modern vibe to them. 

Tilly and the Buttons Fifi Pyjamas.JPG

I took my time choosing which size to cut. While I love a lot of ease in my pyjamas, I also find a lot of them have too much around the hips for my liking. Based on the finished measurements I went for a 5-6-4 combination and it is largely spot on. I think I need slightly more room in the hips for when I'm pottering about on a lazy morning but they were fine to sleep in. 

Tilly and the Buttons Fifi Pyjamas 2.jpg

For a such a small item, Fifi took longer to stitch than I anticipated. This is mainly because Tilly had the foresight to finish these with French seams (my favourite finish) and you need to handle the bodice more carefully than most of other makes due its bias cut. However, the extra effort for the seams and the binding is totally worth it - it gives you a make that is gorgeous on the outside as well as the inside. The suggested technique for adding the elastic to the shorts also ensures a good finish - you stitch the elastic to a raw edge, fold over twice and stitch in place encasing all the raw edges and stitches. Such a simple but effective way to achieve a smooth, polished look. 

Tilly and the Buttons Fifi Pyjamas 3.jpg

I'm delighted with how this set turned out and this summer will see them being in high demand due to their comfort and prettiness. I may just have to make another pair to ensure these last! What's on your sewing table right now?

Note: The fabric for this make was provided by Minerva Crafts. Pattern purchased separately. 

Lately and pledges

Wow, how did we reach May already? Time has got away from me recently and I've been struggling to do more than work, sleep, keep up with the house, celebrate getting to the end of another week and fitting in something creative - however small. Work has been relentless over the past month but I'm hopeful it will settle down again in the next few weeks (I'm ever the optimist!) and I can get back into the rhythm of actually blogging what I've made.

EPP hexagons

This past month has been wonderfully productive for my English Paper Piecing quilt. I started this back in January and had been slowly but steady piecing the hexagons into small groups. It has been rare to see me without a needle and two hexagons in my hands when I've finally sat down for the day to watch TV. It is blissful to keep the stitches going and follow my plan - no real thought is needed! This and picking up exercise again (I got a bike and now cycle to/from work) have definitely kept me going. All of the hexagons in the photo above (and more) are now stitched permanently to at least one of their neighbours. 

Garden

I've been venturing out into the gardens. It turns out we have some very healthy fruit plants out there! The rhubarb is thriving and makes a wonderful syrup that works very well with prosecco. I was surprised to learn we have one small strawberry plant, a thriving small community of raspberry plants, that our pear trees are in good health and we have a lot of herbs in pots. I've supplemented this by adding tomatoes, peppers and chilli peppers to grow bags in the green house. 
me-made-may'16
And finally, I've been keeping up with what some of you are doing via social media (I've been really poor at blog reading since we moved and am trying to get back into the habit). So much so, that I made a late pledge to join in Me Made May. I was in two minds whether to do this as I often wear my makes and wasn't sure what the challenge would be. I realised that I had a number of makes that I rarely worn - mainly old makes and I thought it would be a good idea to try and reintegrate them into my wardrobe. If I can't by the end of the month, a few tough decisions might have to be made. I'll be documenting the makes I'm wearing everyday on Instagram. 

“#VintagePledge

I'm also very late in declaring my Vintage Pledge. I'm thrilled to be part of the wonderful group that Marie and Kerry have put together for the activities in July. I've completed the item for this and you'll have to wait until 20th July for the details but it's deep red and rather different to the styles to which I'm normally drawn. I'm pledging to make two more vintage makes this year - this seems reasonable and I have one dress already traced waiting patiently to be toiled. 

What have you been up to recently? 

The Smoky and Red Arrows Anderson Blouses

Good evening, everyone. I've hoped you've all enjoyed a glorious long weekend. Ours has been lovely, we've spent time with family and friends and ventured outside to start clearing out the green house. It still needs more work to remove the grim and moss from the glass but I'm hopeful I can start using it next month. The long weekend also meant I could get some photos of two tops that have been part of my wardrobe for quite a while!

When the Anderson Blouse by Sew Over It was released, I was transported back to about five years ago. I owned a lovely deep blue blouse with a cross bodice made from jersey and billowing sleeves made of crinkled georgette. I wore it often and hated the moment I had to retire it due to overwear. Now was my chance to make a similar shape and different versions were created when I unpacked my stash. 

Sew Over It Anderson Blouse 2.jpg
Sew Over It Anderson Blouse 6.jpg

The Smoky (white) Blouse was made first. Given the loose nature of the blouse, I went straight ahead without making a toile. The worst that could happen would be a wearable toile and this blouse is more than that. I made a few changes directly to the pattern - 1 cm to the back side seams, brought the shoulder seam in slightly, lengthened the sleeves a few centimetres based on my experience with the Ultimate Wrap Dress, and graded down a few sizes from the shoulders to the waist. 

Sew Over It Anderson Blouse.jpg

The finished measurements suggested there would be too much ease for my comfort level and I don't like to feel like I'm drowning in fabric around my tummy (it makes me self conscious). The grading down works well for this version. For the second version, the Red Arrows Blouse, I lengthened the bodice substantially as I struggle to keep the Smoky Blouse tucked into my jeans without the fear of revealing too much! I much prefer the security of the Red Arrows Blouse. I chose not to add any hand stitches to either blouse as I like how they flow freely and decided to wear a cami underneath.   

Sew Over It Anderson Blouse 3.jpg
Sew Over It Anderson Blouse 4.jpg

I love seeing how two fabrics can make a difference to a pattern and bring their own personalities. Both of these fabrics came from the Birmingham Rag Market and were a few quid a metre. The Red Arrows has a lovely drape, is very light and cool to wear. It also creases as soon as you look at it. The Smoky is a heavier polyester with a good drape but has more structure and is slightly warmer to wear. You can see the difference between them in the gentle gathers at the shoulders. 

Sew Over It Anderson Blouse 5.jpg

The Red Arrows Blouse feels more casual too. It works very well with jeans, not so well with my formal work skirts - that's the strength of the Smoky Blouse especially when paired with a black skirt. This top is definitely a winner for me and there will be a third version in a gorgeous Art Gallery cotton as soon as I've prewashed it! What's currently on your sewing table? 

Attempting curtains

Hands up – who loves home decor sewing? I don’t mean cushions, think more curtains and bedding. I’m squinting, is there anyone raising their hand? I’m amazed at those of you do.

When we bought the house, I was sure that we would buy everything we needed. I knew that all bedding would be bought after making this set for my mum. While it is pretty and making your own gives you the freedom to have something different from you can buy, the process of making bedding is super tedious – easy with those straight lines but tedious. I figured curtains would be the same experience and vowed that I would only make them to save money. So guess what happened?

Handmade Dining Room Curtains 3.jpg

Our biggest issue this winter has been keeping the house warm. It has solid walls having been built in the 1930s and the back end of the house is open plan. While I adore the space, it can be like living in a draughty barn. Keeping the heating on seems too indulgent when adding a few furnishings would help.

Handmade Dining Room Curtains 2.JPG

When I posted a heat proof runner I had made for the kitchen island on Facebook, someone asked me if I was making curtains from the fabric and an idea was born. The fabric is Amy Leaf furnishing fabric from John Lewis and not only is the pattern gorgeous, but so is the quality. I knew they would make great curtains for the French doors. Turns out buying curtains that size is rather expensive. Having sewing skills, and the need to spend money elsewhere, I did a few calculations and realised I could save about £125 if I made them myself.

Handmade Dining Room Curtains 4.jpg

After getting 16m of fabric home, I got cutting. In order to make curtains the right width, I needed to add a panel to one full width of fabric. Thankfully the pattern repeat is every 25cm which made that task easier than it could have been. As ever, matching one was smooth, the other took about three attempts. I don’t like to think how much thread I lost basting and re basting that 2.5m edge. Overall, the matching is pretty good and you can’t tell where the seam is without inspecting very closely. I had intended for the curtains to match in the middle when they are drawn, that didn’t quite happen after adding the lining but they start from the same place at the top and that’s good enough for me! They are finished with matt nickel Jupiter rings which were very easy to apply directly to the fabric.

Handmade Dining Room Curtains.JPG

Overall, I’m delighted with them. I’m not going to say they were fun or easy to make. Lugging that amount of fabric around for a day almost broke my physically and made my legs thought they were turning into a pin cushion as they supported the endless lengths of fabric through the machine. Totally worth the effort though. We’re now on the hunt for a bright painting or print to go on the wall next to them. While we love the various shades of grey, it is starting to feel a bit much! Will there more curtain making in my future? Quite possibly. We need to add some to our bedroom to block out the light from some inconveniently placed street lamps but I’m keeping my fingers crossed we’ll be able to buy them.

The Ultimate Wrap Dress

For a few years I have been without a staple in my winter wardrobe - a wrap dress. When my last RTW fell apart, I had already begun to sew my own clothes and therefore didn't replace it. I figured I would make one but that involved picking up knit fabrics. Ah, knits. Apparently easy to work with but also fear evoking for some. I wouldn't say I have ever developed a fear of using knits, more I never found the time to read up on how best to approach them. Having a lot of spare time in between houses changed that and I finally dived into The Colette Guide to Knits. Suddenly my plans for a wrap dress jumped to the top of list for new year stitching.

Sew Over It Ultimate Wrap Dress.jpg

My pattern of choice is Sew Over It's Ultimate Wrap Dress due to its classic design. I always note the month and the year I trace a pattern on the pieces (a quick helpful indicator in case my measurements have changed since tracing) and laying out the pattern pieces revealed I had the same plans last January but for some reason didn't get round to making the dress. The benefit of waiting a year means you can learn from other people's experience and I made a few tweaks to the pattern before getting my fabric ready. I raised the neckline a fair bit to ensure decent coverage and remove the need for a cami and lengthened the dress. 

Sew Over It Ultimate Wrap Dress 2.jpg

With my new found enthusiasm and excitement to complete this dress, I chose to live dangerously and didn't make a toile. I thought about making one to help with my lack of experience in fitting knits. The thought stopped when I realised it's only fabric (and not made from unicorn eyelashes) and I could chalk up a failed dress to experience so I chose to hope that the slight stretch in the fabric would cover any areas that might have been too small. Turns out my risk paid off and this dress fits much better than I thought it would - in fact, just like the RTW ones I used to own and my initial alterations have worked perfectly. After wearing it for a full day, there are some additional tweaks I would like to make for my next version which is already planned. These include lengthening the sleeves which are a few centimetres too short for my liking, the shoulder seams need to come in, a smidge needs to be added to the back so the side seams sit where they should and I'll reduce the length of the ties - they are seriously long! 

Sew Over It Ultimate Wrap Dress 3.jpg

I figured that this dress would get a lot of wear and I wanted to it be comfortable, cozy but smart. The fabric came from my stash is a beautiful petrol coloured interlock bought from the Village Haberdashery (other colours available here). The colour is very difficult to capture in the photographs and it has a strong green hue in real life. The quality is fantastic and is soft to the touch, wonderful to wear, and it ticks all of the boxes. There is a very strong temptation to never take it off! It is very stable with some stretch and was a perfect introduction to using knits (I like to start simple and build from there). The only issue I had with it was getting the neckline to lie flat once the facings had been added - a row of under stitching and a long press solved the problem. A very satisfying part of the project was how quick it was to make - I cut it out during an evening and stitched up in an afternoon. Who doesn't love a quick project? 

Sew Over It Ultimate Wrap Dress 4.jpg

All of this gushing means I'm now off to prewash the fabric for my next version (which may or may not be some Art Gallery jersey I treated myself too). Have a great weekend everyone - is there something on your sewing table?