When I visited New York a few years back I knew I wanted to go to the garment district and was lucky enough to go with some fantastic sewists. I met up with Karen, Sonja, Charlotte and Emma Jayne! Plus Peter joined us for a little bit too which was fantastic.
We headed to Mood Fabrics first. A project runway fave. It’s pretty overwhelming as there’s several floors and bolts are stacked so high you have to either know what you’re after or rummage. Swatch is uber adorable though! You can read more about my NY trip here.
In a bid to avoid panicking I decided to look for a pretty cotton eyelet as it’s so rare in the UK. The coral that I found was both gorgeous and reasonably priced so I got 2m. Now as is always the case… I should have got more for pattern matching but I made it work. It took 6 months to find the perfect lining then a full year where I painstakingly planned and cut out the dress. Then I put on too much weight to fit into the size I’d cut.
If I didn’t make enough of a song and dance about it at the time, 2019 was the year I finally visited Paris. And I wanted to finish this dress and take it with me. I had lost a little weight and I let out the seams and just got it to fit. We had quite a nightmare second day where after no sleep the night before we had to move out of our Airbnb so it was so fun wearing this dress to make me feel better on day 3. The weather was fantastic!!
I picked the By Hand London Anna dress because of the bust pleats that come up from the waist. This eyelet was too bulky for darts and the pleats don’t interrupt the pattern too much. I hand gathered the skirt as it was too bulky to baste stitch and I’m pretty pleased with the results. To do this you pin the seams and CF/CB points, then pin the halfway points between those pins and so on until you’re only hand gathering very small sections of around 2″ and you can keep things even.View this post on Instagram
I’m VERY pleased with the pattern matching at the invisible zip. I love pattern matching and try to indulge every so often in a tricky match. Isn’t this video hypnotising!?
Here’s a brief guide for this symmetrical fabric which needs to match vertically and horizontally across an invisible zipper:First I pin the left hand side back bodice first with the CB seam allowance on the pattern piece folded under. The folded edge sits straight down the centre of the motifs.
Then I unfold the seam allowance and cut out the whole piece. See how the motif looks at the centre back below?
I then repeat for the right by laying the left cut piece on top of my fabric to find an exact matching location then line up my right hand side back bodice and move the cut left bodice out of the way.
I ensure that my folded pattern edge is again straight down the centre before unfolding the seam allowance and cutting out the right hand side bodice.
When installing the invisible zip in the centre back it can help to mark the seam allowance in water soluble pencil and baste the zip in place to achieve the perfect match. This method works for centre sewn regular zippers but you need a different method for a lapped zipper. This approach also works for printed fabrics like florals or scene prints.
I hope you liked the dress and tutorial. I’m hoping to get some wear out of it this spring and summer somehow!
Hello everyone. I’m writing this from a corner of my sewing room, slightly frazzled from car issues and too tired to sew. I’m really keen to start wedding related sewing but have had a few silly setbacks.
One of my bridal fabrics has arrived cut into two lengths instead of being kept whole and I’ve lost the pattern number I noted down for my bridesmaids’ dresses. All fixable of course but frustratingly will slow me down. Chewie isn’t impressed.
So to perk myself up I’m sharing a recently finished make. It’s not my first and not my last Anna dress but possibly my most noticeable. When I wear this dress people love to find out if it’s really Rifle Paper Co, ask to stroke the rayon to feel the quality and tell me the colours are wonderful. I happily answer all the comments because I think the quality is fantastic; the shades of blue and coral, the weight and sheen of the weave, and the scale of the design make this a perfect fabric. Go buy some while you can.
If you’ve made something from Rifle Paper Co fabric please link me in the comments!!
In case you’ve been off the grid, the last couple of years have yielded some fabulous fabrics from the collaboration of Rifle Paper Co and Cotton + Steel.
Anna Bond is the creative force behind Rifle Paper Co, a stationery business famed (primarily) for its painterly florals designed by Anna herself.
Cotton + Steel is comprised of the design power houses Melody Miller, Rashida Coleman-Hale, Alexia Abegg, Kim Kight and Sarah Watts who collaborate on fun and unique prints that still coordinate across each range. The bulk of the offering is quilting cotton but lawn, rayon and canvas substrates are also available for certain designs.
The Birch Floral I used is from the Les Fleurs collection which I picked up from Miss Matatabi. Also in my stash is the Painterly Roses rayon from the Wonderland collection. I have 1m to play with which I picked up from Village Haberdashery using my birthday stash points!
Ok so dress nitty gritty time. This is the Anna v-neck bodice and the Emery gathered skirt with 3cm added to the length. I used a 70 needle to avoid snags and the fabric was robust enough not to shift as I worked or get sucked into the feed dogs.
My armholes are finished with blue bias and I used the facings provided. My invisible zip is pretty invisible considering its navy and I took the dress in a little from previous versions as I’ve lost some weight. I try and save this dress for nice occasions as it does noticeably wrinkle after a few hours of wear.
The big thing this dress taught me is that I love wearing primary colours. My red Sumo dress, started that off. So I’ve bought some emerald green tana lawn which I’m excited to sew up. But that better wait until after I get my bridal sewing back on track…
Hey hey everyone. I’m writing this post on the way home from London. It was a gorgeous sunny weekend with good food and lovely people.
Here’s a silly pic taken by Karen where I’m trying to keep my bun out of Roisin’s face UNSUCCESSFULLY!
Tasha was visiting London so I headed down to hang out with her and Marie, Jane, Charlotte, Emmie, Karen and Roisin for a day of fabric shopping and gossiping. Mel joined us for a bit as well, very sweetly carrying Tasha’s bags of treats. Both Tasha and Mel have lovely accents so I really enjoyed listening to them talk and they did a great job of defeating their jetlag. Amazingly I briefly met Gretchen Gertie Hirsch while she was teaching at Raystitch!! She’s utterly gorgeous in real life as if that’s a surprise.
I spent some time mulling over fabric choices for my wedding dress. This Elie Saab style embroidered mesh stole my heart. Ultimately I came home empty handed and still pretty confused about what style I want. But something that I did decide after seeing Emmie, Gretchen and Tasha’s stunning vintage curls is that I reallllly want to get my hair sorted so am looking for a free weekend to book myself in for a new do.
So what about the pjs? I wanted to finally share a picture of the finished set being worn not just laid out flat.
The pattern is McCall’s 6659 (now renamed M5086) which I made once before here. Again this is views C and G. The fabric was a gift from Katy Jones during my first week at Practical. She sits two desks down as editor of Quilt Now but excitingly this is a print from her fabric line with Art Gallery Fabrics!! It’s Sunday clippings on a voile base.
I like how the bird peeks out of the pocket heehee. And the vintage turquoise buttons make me smile. The sleeves would look better a bit shorter or longer I think. I didn’t made any adjustments to the top but I altered the trousers to have a deeper curve in the seat.
Better confess that I topstitched the front closed and now I throw the top on over my head. Never going to wake up with the buttons undone and everything hanging out that way! Everything is overlocked inside and the crotch seam is double stitched for security. Everything staying where it should.
Definitely need to make another set or two! They’re great to sleep in and I feel put together when I wake up. I can retire my slobby worn out tshirts now!
Have you made pjs recently? Share your links!!
Hello hello! I’ve got a few things to share today so I’ll try not to ramble.
First up, my Anna obsession continues with a new version of the By Hand London pattern. This is my third attempt with a gathered skirt and numerous fitting tweaks. I’ve reduced the gaping at the front and back and added a little more room under the arms.
The fabric is a luscious viscose challis from Elliott Berman Textiles in NYC that I bought on my trip earlier this year. When I saw the vivid florals I ran straight over to the bolt and it’s the best quality viscose I’ve felt. Apparently it’s Italian which is a shame I went to America for European fabric but I’d never have found it over here.
Sizing-wise it’s a crazy hybrid of three sizes. I used 2m of fabric, kept the neckline facing and used black bias binding for the armholes. Gosh I luuuurve it. I wore it out for an early birthday dinner on Friday with my family and it was very forgiving when I ate ALL THE FOOD. Plus the fizz we drank. Oops, thank goodness for gathered waist dresses. I wore it again on Saturday night to a friend’s 40th party – who else does this when they’re obsessed over a new make??
On Sunday I was surprised by an early birthday present as my lovely partner Jimi proposed… while I was wearing my star print Anna dress! (Still to blog annoyingly so here’s a terribly cropped pic of it.) We then ran off for a stay at Oulton Hall spa to get pampered and eat a load more delicious food. Seriously though it’s been overwhelming how many lovely comments we’ve received about the news. Did you know Jimi and I have been together as long as I’ve been sewing? We’d been together only a short while before I started evening classes and he’s always been my personal cheerleader, enabler and photographer. And although we are already fiercely committed to each other and marriage won’t change that, planning a wedding and our life together once we’re hitched is too wonderful to put into words right now.
As if the weekend wasnt going fantastically enough, I was also lucky enough to receive a vintage treadle sewing machine and a complete copy of Ann Ladbury’s Liberty dressmaking book with patterns for 12 garments inside. Check out the video of my machine on Instagram! Plus I was gifted some delicious gin (Adnams of Southwold and cucumber gin – perfect for a machine-side drink), sewing vouchers, new converse and perfume. Phew!
So I still have several garments to blog so this my site won’t end up completely wedding-centric. Chatting to a few people this weekend at the epic Sewing Weekender hosted by the Foldline and English Girl At Home there was some interest in me sharing my handmade wedding dress plans. Because yes I’m definitely going to attempt making the dress. Though deciding what to make is seeming impossible right now. Stay tuned for more about the Sewing Weekender first though hehehe.
Also if you have any books or sites you’d like to recommend for working with bridal fabrics or diy weddings please leave them in the comments. I do know quite a few bloggers have made their dresses so will be going back to those posts. So for now here’s me and my future hubby looking mature and responsible as 32 year olds.
Happy Sunday everyone. Hope you had a lovely weekend. Mine involved a day at the races, drinking cold wine in the sunshine with friends and dancing to silly music. And a bit of sewing which resulted in a finished dress yippee.
So this is my third Anna dress from By Hand London but the first to make it to the blog. My first was to check the fit and made me realise I needed to make some adjustments to the bodice. I tried to fix the gaping back neckline (same as everyone has had to do it seems) which worked and I tried to fix the front neckline from gaping which didn’t really work.
The pleats are so pretty around the bust and I love the grown on sleeves.I actually swapped out the traditional skirt for the Emery skirt. I really love how swishy it is. Everything is just overlocked and sewn on the inside rather than French seamed and I used a concealed zipper. The sleeves are hemmed with bias tape.
My fabric is an ex-Whistles lyocel viscose which you might recognise from Katie’s blog here and here! We both grabbed it from Fabric Mart in Walthamstow when we had a lovely little fabric crawl last year.
And I gotta tell you, it feels so fricking amazing to wear. Why oh why didn’t I buy myself double the amount. The lyocel makes it feel like silk and have the slight sheen similar to the real thing too. What’s more it cost £3 a metre and then I heard through the grapevine that Whistles used this exact fabric for a £110 dress.
Phew. So there’s my dress. I need to get pictures of my first Anna (the star print one you may have seen on instagram) and I need to decide what to do with my recent teal floral one which had a circle skirt (AMAZING) but was a horror to hem and I ended up trimming it indecently short (TERRIBLE). I wonder, do you know anyone with my exact measurements except 5 inches shorter!?