Hello lovely ladies and gents
I’m writing this post on my journey home from Birmingham after an epic day in the company of 100 stylish sewists.
Last night involved lots of curry and champers as we celebrated our engagement with some close friends and like an idiot I stayed up later than expected. My bus was at 7am this morning so I armed myself with a flask of tea, hours of podcasts and huddled into my seat. I wore my red SOI Vintage Shirtdress for the day.
Just after getting off the megabus I managed to bump into Abi on the way to the Edwardian Tearooms and we arrived to a scene of a room stacked with sewists drinking tea and gossiping. I met some new faces which is half the reason for attending and then forcibly dragged a group around the market and Barry’s – including a selfie pitstop at my favourite sign.
There was lots of banter with Kate and Rachel, Charlotte, Nina and Gabby. I finally got to meet Fiona. And yes I cuddled a pug and larked around with Elle, Abi, Vicki and Rhiannon. There was a flying catch up with Lauren and baby Sophia wearing the Liberty cord dress Lauren blogged recently. Plus I manage to shout hello and wave at lots of lovely people like Claire, Rachel, Helen and many more. Not forgetting that I have about 20 new blogs to follow!
I was actually very reserved with what I brought home. If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen my major geek out at the release of Gertie’s new Butterick 6380 in America. Well it’s finally here in the UK and was part of the sale on at Fancy Silk Store (for all Butterick patterns – new and old). I also bought some graphic black and white viscose from a stall outside on the rag market for just £1 a metre!
Other things that made it into my handbag for the journey home were a copy of New Look 6434, a flyer for the Dressmaker’s Ball 2017, two hilarious vintage wedding dress patterns (thanks Kate!) which may actually have some potential, a flask filled with cider and a copy of the stylist fashion special magazine.
All in all a pretty cracking day! Will I see you there next year??
Hello everybody! Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post. I’m now on the hunt for amazing fabric suppliers in the UK and will write a little round up soon about my plans. I’ve just got back from a last minute holiday where I did a lot of plotting for how to share snippets of my diy wedding dress.
I thought it would be nice to share my thoughts on the recent Sewing Weekender hosted by Rachel and Kate of The Foldline and Charlotte of blog English Girl At Home and what I made. There were a limited number of spots so I count myself lucky to have nabbed one. I didn’t think my boss would mind too much if I bunked off for five mins to buy myself one as a birthday treat. To be fair he probably never realised.
When 57 attendees arrived in sunny oCambridge we were met by an amazing sight; goodie bags being handed out as you stepped in with treats from Village Haberdashery, Love Sewing, Remnant Kings and Abakhan, Janome machines set up on large tables with ribbon tied boxes of haberdashery from Adam Ross, swap items stacked high and enough tea and coffee to keep us charged all day.
I sat on a table of four with my friend Ruth who travelled down from Yorkshire to meet new sewing friends (I definitely recommend following her on twitter) and Sarah who I’ve enjoyed following online, who headed over from Suffolk with her mum! I feel like such an idiot but I can’t remember Sarah’s mum’s name. I hate it when that happens but it’s best to just hold your hands up and be honest about these things.
It was like the shirt table as there were two shirts and a shirtdress being sewn, but I bucked the trend by sitting and hand sewing while gossiping. I’d decided to finish my new circle skirt Cambie with matching bias tape which I pieced from 20 scrap bits of my fabric. Thankfully I got everything finished and Ruth kindly snapped some pics for me which I’ll share at the end of the post but here’s a cheeky pic of me and Louise in our Cambies together! (Don’t you love her use of border print cotton from Gertie’s fabric line?).
The Saturday was dedicated to sewing and everyone busied themselves with different projects whilst “Prefects” wandered around offering advice, fitting help and biscuit-based support, there was a fabric and pattern swap, lovely lunchtime walk into Cambridge and for the overnight crew a dinner in town. I stayed with my in-laws to be so we could celebrate the engagement with the whole Scarr family which meant sadly missed out on that last part. It’s so funny but after 6 and a half years dating a Cambridge man I have still never been punting and only a handful of times to the town centre!!
Sunday was structured around lectures that were funny, insightful, thought-provoking and educational. The clever and charming women who spoke were Rachel, Grace, Marilla, Elena, Tilly and Gabby, talking about wardrobe planning, pattern design, small design businesses and vlogging to touch on a few topics. There was no need for sewing as the lectures were thoroughly engaging. One thing that resonated with me was cataloguing my stash for better planning and so I’ve begun adding scraps on a keyring of index cards. I also thought a lot about my wedding dress plans and what I’d like to achieve and learn from the project because it really needs to be a learning experience for me as corny as that may sound.
So I won’t cover what others have said but I would like to heartedly recommend that you get a ticket for the next Sewing Weekender (we’ve totally badgered the girls into considering a repeat) and am honestly in awe of Charlotte, Kate and Rachel’s organisational skills.
Answer? I’m pretty damn happy with it. But I’m also very into circle skirts at the moment. It’s a little bulky around the pockets so maybe should have been omitted but hey, I like pockets. Again I omitted the waistband and used a straight neckline. A 22″ concealed purple zipper for a bit of fun too.
The dress is fully lined in anti-static peach lining which means it’s tights-friendly and the skirt lining adds extra volume. The hem as I mentioned is bias faced and invisibly hand stitched. I only wish I had horsehair braid in my stash to finish the hem with!
I cannot believe I found some Liberty Carline poplin in purple (variations seen here and here by me) at Birmingham Rag Market… I blumming love that place. Spotted during an awesome mini shop with Marie, Kat, Roisin and Helen (guest appearance from Sabs) a few months back. It was £8 per metre because it had a big flaw parallel to a good portion the selvedge about 10cm in but because it’s so wide I just bought some extra material and worked around it! Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Here’s some silly bonus pics of it in action on holiday! Until next time everyone, drop me comments with your best score on a fabric shopping trip!!
I can’t help myself with this pattern, plus I have so many more versions planned!
In case it wasn’t obvious, this is the Vintage Shirtdress from Sew Over It aka the Ultimate Shirtdress in my mind. I wanted to try the pattern in viscose this time and felt I knew enough about the pattern to make it work.
This poly viscose is from possibly the man outside Sainsburys… well it’s definitely from Walthamstow market following a very successful shopping trip with a Emmie, Roisin and Lauren. He just wasn’t quite behind sainsbury’s so who knows!? I thought this print was very Hobbs like or maybe Whistles? Nothing proven but it’s fun to dream and I know TMBS often gets end rolls from the high street.
To keep the viscose from slipping all around I spritzed the uncut fabric with spray starch which was a big help during sewing but hasn’t washed out fully so the fabric is still a little stiffer than I like. These shell buttons were from my stash and I have absolutely no clue when from!
On a plus I think I’m finally getting to grips with my camera settings! I took a few pictures of Chewie Cat and love how they turned out. These were shot on my X30 Fujifilm. It’s a bridge camera so I have the option to adjust my settings or let the camera decide. It’s great for when I’m in front of the camera as it does the hard work but then I get to play when the camera is back in my hands!
Sewing and wearing vintage-inspired clothing is something I love to do. I often find these patterns have more interesting construction details and work well in both vintage look and modern fabrics.
When I heard the line up for McCall’s Big Vintage Sew-along I was really excited. There are so many excellent patterns in there. If you haven’t checked out the full edit head to this foldline summary or see the site www.vintagesewing.co.uk. There are 20 patterns in total, from the 1930s through to the 1960s plus a couple of Gertie’s 50/60s inspired patterns (they’re understandably year-less but stylistically probably just dip into the 60s).
Over the coming months you’ll see versions of all the patterns cropping up online thanks to the BV Sew-along blogger tour, this will keep the inspiration bubbling and hopefully help you get started.
If you just can’t wait to clock eyes on some vintage dresses, I’m here to help. I realised I’d already sewn four of the patterns from the edit! So take a look at my round up and let me know if you’re tempted to make any of the patterns yourself. I’ve included notes on things to watch out for and as getting the size right with vintage patterns is so important, detailed what size this 5ft4 lady with a 36” bust and 41” hip chose. Right, now you know how bootylicious I am, let’s get started!
(Warning: The pictures in this post were assisted by a professional make up artist and photographer who I coerced into making everything look nice but have not been airbrushed as proof by my sock lines hahaha)
When I saw the line art for this dress I knew it had to be mine. I MEAN SWOOOOON! And I can honestly say this dress makes me very proud. I used a berry crepe fabric I bought in Walthamstow market last year and made self covered buttons. I used a coordinating zip and seam binding. I’m not going to fib, this isn’t an easy dress as there are a couple of areas where you really need to focus. The construction is 90% done by pressing under seam allowance and then topstitching the panels together. That much topstitching NEEDS a special foot or you’re going to go insane, unpicking and redoing. The other area to focus on is the pockets at the top of those swan head darts. This is where I had to read the instructions 4 or 5 times. After all my hard work I preferred them basted shut! Go figure.
1. I cut two sizes down from my measurements to make a close fitting shirtdress rather than coat dress. This is predominantly a size 6 graded to a 14 at the hip.
2. The skirt was shorted 12cm. I probably should have just shortened by 8cm but too late now.
3. It took three toiles to adjust for my small bust and narrow shoulders, a slight swayback, plus to practice the pockets!
4. My crepe was very light and the dress is unlined so I’d recommend more of a triple crepe or cotton instead.
5. GET A TOP-STITCHING FOOT (I used my stitch in the ditch foot with a right hand needle position).
A tea dress can be a wonderful addition to your wardrobe because it easily works for day time and occasions if done right. I liked the effect of B5209 when done in a print even though you lose the beautiful seam lines a little. This dress I’m definitely going to make another plain version. Here I used a Liberty tana lawn from Minerva Crafts (they have some left in multiple colours), white lining with a secret purple side seam zip. With so many intersecting seams, the instructions cleverly direct you to not sew to the end of each seam, but stop and backstitch where each intersection will sit. This allows you to fit each piece together accurately to get the beautiful star at the centre front.
1. The bodice is self lined but I added lining to the skirt to be tights-friendly.
2. There is a BEAUTIFUL underrepresented lip shape curve at the back neckline that is very eye catching when your hair is worn up.
3. A print will help disguise any slightly off alignment seams if you’re feeling the pressure to be accurate but an air erasable fine line marker is invaluable to this pattern.
4. I sewed a 6 around the shoulders and chest but blended out to around a 14 in the ribs and waist I also reduced the gathering on the bust by about 4cm by using the markings for size 6. Finally I lowered the bodice 1cm.
This pattern is so lovely because it’s modest but interesting and has a surprise dip in the back. After two years in my wardrobe is comes out for weddings, parties, dinners out, work meetings and events, and once, a trip to the ballet! In a complete disregard for the pattern directions I used a viscose from Minerva Crafts. This makes the gathers at the shoulders very pretty, and the skirt extra swishy, but makes the back facing roll out occasionally. This dress is constructed using a partial front and partial facing to create the wrap effect in the upper chest.
1. I had to do a major hollow chest adjustment and full tummy adjustment, plus make the pattern a little more petite.
2. The outer fabric and facing is joined together BEFORE the shoulder seams are sewn, it’s suspicious but trust me, it leads to a neat finish.
3. While viscose is lovely, I’d definitely suggest something less fluid.
4. If you check out my blog there’s a tutorial for making a coordinating belt which is great to finish the look.
OOH this one, I’m excited even introducing it. This pattern is great fun to wear as the bodice is flattering, the front cut out and scoop back are both eye catching, and the circle skirt is amazingly big! I used a 60”-wide Liberty carline poplin, which isn’t as nice quality as tana lawn but has a good weight and the print is so lovely, the fabric base doesn’t matter as much. I used a soft cotton lawn as the bodice lining, hemmed with bias binding and installed a lapped zipper.
1. This is an great pattern for a beginner as it’s easy to fit and construct, especially if made in a cotton poplin which handles well, is often the standard 60”-wide and comes in so many prints.
2. Bias tape is an excellent way to hem a circle skirt as it stretches to fit the curves. 99% of the time I machine hem circle skirts as life’s too short to sit and hand sew such a large area.
3. Wouldn’t this look good with a bow made from rouleaux loops!
So if you enjoyed all this vintage craziness from me, look out for my BVSA post on the the 15th!
I’m still getting used to what might be a ‘typical’ day! Since taking the job of editor of Love Sewing Magazine a few months ago, my life’s been pretty hectic. It generally starts off the same though – either my alarm buzzes at 06:30 or my cat slaps me in the face with her paw demanding breakfast. I have a massive cup of tea and pick out one of my handmade dresses to wear. Then I’m off on my way to the train station, it takes me two hours to get to Stockport in Manchester, where the Love Sewing offices are based. I get home around 7.30pm and once I’ve had dinner I have a brief window for sewing time. If I’m desperate to get my teeth into sewing something I have to save it for the weekend.
This fabric demanded to be a shirt dress. And I became pretty obsessed with having a yellow/mustard collar in the same shade as the bow on the cat’s tail. I searched all of Leeds and Birmingham for coordinating fabric but no dice. But that absolute sweetheart Marie said she thought she had a piece of double gauze in her stash that was a close match. I sent her off with a little snippet of a cat and she posted back the PERFECT colour gauze that was so soft and lovely I felt terrible cutting into it. I bought some French vintage buttons from Ribbon Circus in Hebden Bridge to pull everything together.
I used the Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress in a straight size 8 as before but I cut the collar, and two facings out of yellow. This is a really nice trick for a contrast collar. You just have to be quite precise with your understitching – I didn’t want navy showing around my collar seam, and I didn’t want yellow showing around my centre front!
I went sleeveless again as you can see. There’s also self made bias binding which you can’t see. Not cutting the facings or collar out of the cat print gave me enough scraps to cut bias strips. I got the dress out of 1.5m of fabric! I’m pretty chuffed with that I have to say. And I didn’t skimp on cutting out pieces on grain. And I added the extra inside button to stop the waistband gaping – thanks go to Emmie for that ingenious addition.
The kitty fabric is a polycotton from the Abakhan bargain bins at Manchester. I searched for ages to see if there was more but this was the only piece. Man that place is a treasure trove. I think it was £4 for the piece! The title of this post comes from me watching too much Portlandia recently. Sorry (not sorry).
So what more can I say! Sorry to post this so close to the other shirt dress, but I wanted to get it online before the end of the month. I’m going to enter it in the Sew Over It monthly show off competition. I don’t expect to win but it’s a clever comp for people to show how they’ve put their own spin on a pattern. I’ve seen some gorgeous floral shirt dresses and lovely Bettys and so on. I like noseying at what everyone is sewing who don’t have blogs heehee.
Until next time, happy sewing everyone!