Sewbrum 2016

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 RachelCharlotteNina 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 ClaireRachelHelen 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??

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The Sewing Weekender

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 HaberdasheryLove SewingRemnant 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 RachelGraceMarillaElenaTilly 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.

Ok, now here’s my dress. I know you’ve seen Cambie dresses frome me before (here and here) but I wanted to try adding a circle skirt to the pattern to see how it looked. 

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!! 

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Jean Genie

There’s nothing like sewing the last stitch on a big project. I finished my jeans and immediately laid them out on the floor to gawk over. (I’m a loser.)

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Where shall I start… this yummy denim is from Birmingham rag market (from that day I went insane and bought ALL THE fabric). It feels very good quality, has a slight sheen with gorgeous orange undertones. The fabric is almost completely orange on the reverse – the magic of a twill weave. The denim might be a touch thin for jeans but I think it works ok. The fit is good enough for me too.

For my topstitching I actually used two spools of regular thread fed into one needle as I had an orange I wanted to use rather than a thicker topstitch weight. I love my pocket arches!

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This is my (sort of) second pair of jeans. My first pair never made it onto the blog because the denim was awful quality and I never wore them. When I finished this new pair I threw the old pair out.

I used Kenneth D King’s Jean-ius course on Craftsy which is absolutely fantastic and educational. To put it simply, you make a pattern by copying your favourite jeans and get the chance to make fit adjustments and customisations! My original jeans are the Topshop straight leg “Martha” style which they dont make any more. Thanks to KDK I don’t have to stress about that anymore!

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In case you don’t know, Kenneth is very well mannered with a no nonsense attitude. He points out that sewing shouldn’t be a series of rigid rules you must follow; there are lots of ways to get things done.

So it wouldnt surprise him that I did my own thing a couple of times during the making of the jeans!

1. I changed the construction order so I could topstitch my inseam, NOT my outside leg seam. My RTW pair had this styling and I think it makes them look smarter.

2. I made a larger fly shield compared to the one KDK suggested and I honestly regret not making it even bigger! It’s about 1cm smaller than I would like.

In terms of the course modules, the drafting of the copy was pretty easy, if a little time consuming. I’ve done rub offs with tracing paper before (using Steffani Lincecum’s technique – she’s also a Craftsy instructor but I have her book) but organza is best if you can afford it every time!

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FACT: KDK’s fly front zipper tutorial is impeccable. Seriously good stuff.

But that said; I would have liked to learn a bit more about topstitching. Namely there’s no mention of topstitching the outer edge of the fly, just the curve and crotch seam (from below the zip). I couldn’t work out at which stage I should be topstitching that part – possibly just after installing the fly facing and stopping where the zip should stop? I think that element being missing sets of a little niggle in your brain that the jeans don’t look 100% right but you can’t put your finger on why. Or is that just me?

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And I know how to do flatfelled seams from my shirt making, but we didn’t learn them in the Craftsy course!? That’s jean-making 101 in my mind.

Also I’m mad at myself for choosing my zip poorly. The pull is too large so it peeks out a little and also makes the fly bulge. At least I’ll know for next time and it’s easily resolvable.

Oh yes there will be a next time. There is some lovely quality denim online at The Splendid Stitch, with a good dark navy colour and small degree of stretch. I have plans for pockets with flaps this time too. And a cute coin pocket which I do like seeing on jeans though I have NEVER used one haha. Have you ever used yours?

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I suppose I ought to add that I used two machines for this project. I had my Toyota jeans machine threaded up with black and my Janome SMD4000 threaded with orange. This made things much quicker as I could jump between the two machines without the delay of re-threading.

But I don’t expect everyone out there to have a second machine. I just hung onto my original machine when I upgraded, in the hope I’d one day have space for them both. I do recommend it if you have space. It’s very useful to have a machine threaded up with another colour for random emergency sewing or projects like this.

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So who else has tried the Jean-ius course? There’s a good review on Amy’s blog. I know a lot of people have made the Ginger jeans as my feed has been full of great versions and Katie wows me on a regular basis with her jean sewing!

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Palm Trees in 0 Degrees

Hello! It’s blog post time!almond rock bronte top dress palm trees jennifer lauren vintage

I picked up the Bronte Top as part of the Perfect Pattern Parcel #6. I hope they’re bringing back the parcels soon because it’s such a good idea!

That shoulder detail got me excited as soon as I saw it. It’s comfy and satisfying to wear like a baby’s onesie but full of possibility for playing with the design.

almond rock bronte top dress palm trees jennifer lauren vintage

I’d been wondering if I turned it into a dress whether I should use an A line or gathered skirt and seeing Sally’s gorgeous version clinched it!

This fun fabric is more of my cheap and dirty £1 cotton jersey from Birmingham rag market and the black contrast jersey is from Leeds market. I bought 1.5 metres of the palm trees and that was plenty. The trees sprawl in both directions. It’s like Miami Barbie meets Valley of The Dolls. And I love it.

almond rock bronte top dress palm trees jennifer lauren vintage

Do you remember when you first saw a palm tree up close? I can. It was the first time I visited California as a teenager and they lined the streets. It was wonderful! So now palm trees make me think of America, rather than tropical islands. But as I’ve never been to a tropical island I think I need to go study some to make a considered comparison heehee.

I sewed this up on a miserable Sunday night when it was bitter outside. I made a quick muslin and then cracked on. It only took a few hours!

almond rock bronte top dress palm trees jennifer lauren vintage

I mostly used my overlocker and then used a twin needle for topstitching. I only had one catastrophe where the overlocker ate my waist seam (there were tears) but I raised the waistline a little to cover this up.

As you can see I left off the buttons. I actually left of the topstitching around the bands too! I did a sample and it just looked rubbish, and the bands don’t flip out anyway.

almond rock bronte top dress palm trees jennifer lauren vintage

So I’m sat here watching it snow again and praying it isn’t going to settle. Me and snow are not BFFs. We’re not even friends. Sunshine stole my heart a long time ago.

Oh and if you can’t tell, I’ve dyed my hair two shades darker and I’m waiting for my mum to comment on this post about it. She won’t be happy!!

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Fabric Shopping Adventures!

Hello lovely Readers! I hope you’ve had a great week.

I’ve had two fantastic weekends in a row that I wanted to share. And both involved fabric shopping!

Last weekend I mentioned I was in London. The trip was centred around a lovely friend’s 30th birthday. I also got to see some of my family and go to the ballet. All excellent activities!

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On the Monday before I left for home I snuck in a little bit more fun in the shape of a Goldhawk Road trip with some famous sewing faces. I put a call out on twitter for London-based sewists who’d be free for shopping on a Monday and who replies? Only flipping Lizzie who was going to be visiting the UK and free to meet up!

Even better, Rachel, Fiona, Inna and Alana were also free for a shopping jaunt. It had been ages since we last caught up with each other.

We combed the shops for bargains and then had a lovely gossip over lunch in a funny little cafe (Rachel’s photo above). Monday was the day that Fiona’s first Mood post went live and also the day the Project Sewn results were announced! Talented ladies.

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Excellent London buys – Deer print Georgette, Geometric Cotton Sateen and Fabulous Swimming Ladies Polycotton.

This weekend was just as good. I got to catch up with Sabs, Kat, Marie, Helen, Roisin and Claire in Birmingham.

We enjoyed the Rag Market, the brilliant Barry’s and the Fancy Silk Store. Our lunch may have been more gossiping than eating but that’s just how I like it.

The fabric bargains, lovely company and good weather(!) all made it worth riding the megabus. I know I’m a broken record but it’s amazing considering we met randomly off the Internet, how I seriously value these ladies being in my life. They inspire me and they make me laugh so much.

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Brilliant Brum Purchases – Rose print Polyester, Hydrangea print Viscose. Not pictured are my bargain zip and bias binding purchases or my extremely dull lining choices.

I feel like I’ve been searching for the perfect floral since I started sewing. These two are pretty gorgeous but not perfect. They will do for now though!

Finally I still have one (ludicrously expensive) fabric purchase to show you but I’m saving that for another time…

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