Well hello. It’s been a while since I posted! For those of you who follow me on Instagram you’ll have had an insight into why life is a little crazy right now.
After nearly 5 wonderful years, I will be stepping down as Love Sewing magazine Editor in January. I’ve collaborated and worked with many incredible people, I’ve learnt so much and achieved things I’ll cherish even when I’m a little old lady.
With 13 years in the publishing industry it’s always hard giving up a title you love, but it is time for a fresh start and new challenges… but I’m still going to be here sewing furiously you won’t have to miss me!
Ok!! So it’s December and I’m so happy to be sharing a Christmas make. I love the festive season. There are parties and great food and a sense of excitement in the air. I make so many social plans and then binge watch seasonal movies… soon I’ve run out of any sewing time. I know there are worst problems to have!
It’s funny because we plan and photograph our festive issues of Love Sewing during the summer so I sort of have two Christmases! We’re wrestling trees and baubles around in the hot weather and planning party dresses months before party season. It can drive people a little crazy. But back to my latest dress… you might have seen it already on the Minerva Blogger Network but I thought it deserved a closer look here.
This dress is going to be a great staple this year as it’s that magical combination of toasty and fancy. AND SPARKLY!
It’s the fabric that makes it so wonderful with subtle silver metallic threads and white sequins woven into the jersey. There is a great texture to the fabric too that makes it feel like a sweater knit you’d find in ready to wear clothes. I wish I had more of it for a jumper.
I used a mixture of the Dixie DIY ballet dress bodice with Vogue 9000’s skirt which I cut on the fold and adjusted at the side seams to fit the bodice. The sleeves fit so well, I love the scoop neckline and you can’t beat a swishy skirt. I made a slim waist belt in the same fabric but also like it with my black patent belt. I should have made thread belt loops to help stop the belt sliding down! Still time to add those now it’s done.
The fabric cuts and sews very easy as the sequins aren’t too densely spread over the fabric. I used a rotary cutter and mat then finished everything on an overlocker. The hems are just turned under and zigzag topstitched. I used a universal needle and narrow zigzag for all the construction. Easy peasy!
When using a woven pattern with a knit fabric you might want to size down to compensate for the stretch but I don’t mind the skirt a little loose as it leaves room for dinner.
My finished dress is a little sheer but as you can see with a slip underneath I have perfect coverage. The glittery fabric gave me a good excuse to break out my wedding jewellery again. I feel so sparkly and merry!!
Merry Christmas, happy festive season and a wonderful winter to everyone!
Another week flies by and the clocks are about to go back!! I’m trying my best to get ready for winter but feeling rather unprepared. I need more jumpers, thicker tights, snow proof shoes. But first lets tackle Autumn…
I made this Tilly and The Buttons Indigo dress as the perfect thing to wear with tights and oxford shoes. It’s a gorgeously simple pattern with modern seam lines and just the right amount of ease to be boxy but not overwhelming. I chose to omit the sleeve and waist ruffles and added 5cm to the length. I’m 5ft5 and modest so wanted good coverage.
A reminder, I’m 36A bust and 31″ waist at the minute. I made a size 4 but had to move the bust dart up by 3cm and adjust for my narrow shoulders. I shortened the shoulder seam on the front and back, moving the neckline position and extending it to meet at the fold lines.
The last thing I did was actually a small mistake. I removed some width by cutting off 1 cm from the centre front and back fold lines in the final minutes as I was worried the dress would hang off my shoulders. This made it a smidge tight in the end, but not unwearable thankfully. Something to remember for next time!
I’m utterly in love with this fabric. It’s from my recent Paris trip and was a cheeky bargain for Sacres Coupons in Monmarte. It was a cut piece measuring 1.8m and features pretty paisley shapes in pink, orange and purple. Almost like hearts!
I was so happy when I found it. My trusty fabric assistant (husband) kept hold of it for me until I was done rummaging. It’s a washed silk type polyester. As thin as crepe de chine but opaque, soft and silky, perfect for this pattern.
The dress slips on over your head, is roomy enough for a decent dinner (aka bring on the buffet) and sews up super quick. I overlocked everything with orange thread and added one of my last few labels. Little touches to make a simple make extra special.
Here’s a back view so you get to see it all around. Not much to report about the back I must confess! But I know you like looking at my butt.
Happily I’ve had quite a few compliments on how on trend I am with this silhouette and no one thinks it looks like a psychedelic ’70s sack on me so perhaps it’s a winner! Definitely making another one of these, almost exactly the same but with that extra width. And maybe a hem ruffle just like Kathy! Maybe in another of my Dashwood rayons??
Hello my loveliest ones!! I am hating humanity after a hellish time on public transport and the motorway but you’re all exempt. You wouldn’t leave giant cases in the aisles and blare music without speakers would you?? I hope not. And you wouldn’t try and drive me off the road in your a supermarket delivery van right???
I’ve been doing a little less sewing than normal lately but wanted to experiment with the latest pattern from Love Sewing magazine. This pattern is included with issue 73 on sale October 3rd. That’s tomorrow! As you know I don’t often have time to make the magazine patterns but I just loved this neckline!
Isn’t Lis’s version below so gorgeous? I knew I couldnt pull off the shift style so I wanted to see if I could hack the dress to a more retro silhouette. To do this I used the waistline mark on the front and back bodice pieces. I marked lines across the pattern pieces 1.5cm below the waistline point. This was the cutting line.
I then worked out the finished waist measurement and measurements for the front and back and adjusted slightly so my skirt pattern would match at the side seams. The skirt here is actually my wedding dress skirt pattern! It makes it very swishy.
I made view D of the pattern with its lovely sweetheart neckline and no sleeves. This stretch spot cotton sateen is amazing quality and gives the dress a lot of structure. It took 3m to get all the pieces of this dress on the fabric even at 60″ wide. It’s a pretty huge skirt!!
I finished the hem with red bias tape; my preferred method for a circle skirt. There’s an invisible zipper in the back. And of course I added pockets. SO MUCH FUN!!
Please don’t think of me as terrible birthday brat but I wanted to share details of day 3 from my long weekend of celebrations. I still have one more day to go before I head back to reality and another press day on Tuesday.
My family weren’t free to catch up until the Saturday after my birthday so we made plans to have afternoon tea at Weetwood Hall near Adel. This 17th century manor house is popular for weddings and parties and there was a wedding going on as we arrived! We sat in the indoor terrace. All the beauty of a garden area but safe from the elements!
We dined on gorgeous sandwiches (I had the veggie selection of aubergine and hummus, avocado and salsa, and cream cheese and cucumber plus a huge onion bhaji). Then there was a dessert tray of scones, treacle tart, brownies, lemon posset, candyfloss and choc ganache lollipops!! Fizz, wine and Earl Grey tea finished the table off nicely and we chatted away the afternoon.
Sometimes you need a baggy dress. When you have this much food to eat its practically mandatory!! I haven’t been fitting into my clothes very well lately so a baggy dress fits well into my life right now. I’ve been inspired by DIY Daisy’s floaty dresses which are quite straight up and down while still feeling figure flattering.
I drafted a basic bodice with grown on sleeves and removed the darts from the front and back. Then I adjusted the front to a wrap extending into the waistline (rather than the side seam) using a v neckline as a guide. It sits high on the shoulder then drops in a steep v, crossing just under the bust. The skirt is just a gathered rectangle.
The excess fabric was used to make bias tape to finish the armholes and neckline. It was an awkward assembly in that I had to bind the front up to the shoulder and leave the ends unsewn first. That meant I could construct the bodice and join to the waist then install the zip. Then finally I could bind the top of the zipper and remaining bit of neckline. Of course I used my blind hem foot to edgestitch the binding. I got impatient before adding a hook and eye at the top… a job for later.
I decided to topstitch the wrap in place as I can’t be arsed worrying about flashing people. I don’t have a lot of boob to flash but no need to take the risk. The waistline is slightly raised to help the body feel and the rayon means the dress is delightful floaty!! My favourite part of the dress is this stunning print.
Susan Driscoll designs the most gorgeous prints and I was overjoyed when she released her rayon collection ‘Soiree‘ with Dashwood Studio. I actually bought three of the designs! This print is called Fragment and it reminds me of geology and gemstones. It’s all my favourite colours in one design. It looks a little navy in my pics but is on a black base. I got this dress out of 1.5m of 45″-wide fabric by the skin of my teeth!
Do you think you can identify rayon? It’s known in the UK as viscose and is a natural fabric made of plant pulp. BUT sometimes shops just call drapey polyester ‘viscose’ which blurs the lines and sometimes it’s mixed with polyester… the same way any other fabric base can be mixed with polyester of course.
You can get rayon challis, rayon linen, and rayon jersey plus much more. 100% rayon challis is prone to shrinking, goes hard and rumpled when washed then goes back to being silky and smooth when dry. It doesn’t melt under heat or make static when you wear it. Its breathable and luxurious to wear and it’s my favourite fabric type! You need a sharp needle and sharp pins as its prone to snagging and you need a large space to work on so the fabric doesn’t slide as you work or cut out.
I hope you enjoyed this post and the details of my self drafted dress. I’m building up courage to cut into the Secret Garden print above and figure out what style to sew. If you are keen to try pattern drafting I recommend the Aldrich book series. I also attended a great evening course at Leeds Art School which taught me other methods of drafting if you don’t get on with Winnie Aldrich.
Finally thanks do much to everyone who commented on my tile dress on the blog and on Instagram. I definitely appreciate it!! Cheers to you all!
Hello happy people! I’m in a great mood because this post is going out on my birthday!! I never work on my birthday and always try to do something fun. As it’s a Thursday this year I also took the Friday off so it’s double the fun! Today I had a trip to the spa with a back and head massage and a foot massage. Then I ate my favourite skillet pancakes for lunch in the sun of Mill Kitchen’s outdoor seating. I’ve come back super chilled! And there’s time for a bit of sewing before we head out to dinner!
In other news I finished my dress for the New Craft House Riviera party and had a wonderful time on the night. There were so many familiar faces to catch up with plus some ladies I follow on Instagram but had never spoken to. There was Aperol spritzes and the biscuit fairy Claire was making sure we had regular snacks. I managed to get in a couple of photos with my darling Marie but in my usual style failed at getting a proper outfit shot. I AM THE WORST when I get chatting and forget all about photos.
So this week I managed to get a few photos at the studio with the lovely Renata this week so I’m not leaving it for ages to share my finished dress. I love the overall look and paired my lemon earrings and blue belt with the dress to pick up the colours in the fabric.
This embroidered mesh was pretty damn difficult to work with. The ‘squares’ are actually slight rectangles and they’re a huge 6″ tall which I didn’t think was actually that flattering when cut on the grain as it chops your body up in weird directions. It has no stretch and of course needed lining. Here’s the fabric if you’re tempted.
With all this in mind I decided to cut everything out on the bias! This left me with much less fabric to work with. I used Vogue 9000‘s hacked skirt from this dress and shortened it another 2″. I then cut both the front and back on the fold.
For the bodice I could only manage to cut the front on the fold and used my old Vogue 1102 (made so many times with too many tweaks to count) as I could hide the waist darts inside a tile without it looking too obvious. The back bodice had to be cut with a centre back seam but think it looks okay.
This all meant I needed a side zipper and to figure out the opacity. The bodice is underlined and then the two layers treated as one for construction and the raw edges finished with nude bias tape. The skirts were assembled separately and joined along the waist seam and zipper position. Below the zipper the skirts hang free and both layers were finished with an overlocked rolled hem. To finish I hand picked a side lapped zipper to make sure nothing would catch in the teeth and the stitching would be as invisible as possible.
If you didnt know this fabric was used in Dolce and Gabbana’s Majolica collection. This dress above sold for £4,800…. yep that’s insane. Anywhoo my dress is surprisingly swishy and I feel great in it. It took a lot of brainstorming to figure out the perfect silhouette, pattern placement and order of construction. It was quite nice having a meaty project to work on as I’ve been sewing a lot of quicker things lately but on the flip side there was also a lot on my plate so life suddenly felt very busy. It’s such a happy dress so I’m really pleased I powered through and think it will be nice for future events and holidays.
I know I’m a little bit of a diva when it comes to birthdays but I really just take the chance to see as many people as possible, eat and drink well, find joy in everything and feel grateful for another year! My husband and his family know me so well, I got flowers, gin, my favourite most relaxing White Company candle and a voucher for fabric! And on Saturday my family are taking me for fizz and afternoon tea! Life is grand!!
Oh and surprisingly I won one of the party raffle prizes for a Selkie Patterns pdf of my choice. I’m going to wait to see their exciting new launch and then decide which to get as an extra birthday present!! Thanks for reading. Maybe I’m writing to myself but I still love blogging, sharing my makes and documenting the process.