Hope your week has been fab. I’ve had a fairly busy one with extra photoshoots at work being scheduled in for the summer, the cat deciding to bring me a live mouse home that managed to escape and live inside a random shoe for a night, and a dramatic near-win at the Odd Bar pub quiz (half a point off winning!) so I’m looking forward to a date with my sewing machine this weekend.
In sewing news I ordered the first bit of fabric for my wedding dress, plus samples for the coordinating fabrics and in a couple of weeks I head off on Alison Smith’s bridal couture 3-day workshop. It’s super exciting!!
Today I’m sharing a juicy dress today made with Liberty tana lawn.
This is Simplicity 1419 by Lisette before they joined up with Butterick. And I know I got this pattern from someone as a gift but it was soooo long ago I really can’t remember exactly who! Was it you Roisin? Or perhaps a swap table? Damn my memory. If you gave me this pattern please know I’m so so happy with this dress (can you tell from my face here).
This Liberty lawn print is Wiltshire but you can’t find this colourway anywhere so it may be either a ‘seconds’ print, copy or super rare. Emma is the only other person I know who’s also used it. I bought mine from Ribbon Circus in Hebden Bridge as a leaving present to myself when I moved jobs to Love Sewing.
I hacked the heck out of the neckline if you couldn’t tell. I made the collar as instructed then ripped it off, lowered the neckline, made red bias binding and a little bow and put everything back together. It did look lovely before I changed it but the collar was a touch too high to swallow comfortably and ended up a little too stiff for my liking. The bow is much sweeter although it has a tendancy to get skewed in the wash – and in these photos it seems too hahah.
The sleeves fit beautifully and I think the skirt is the perfect length (I tried the pleats but they made me a bit hippy so switched to gathers all around. You surely won’t ask me why I added pockets because that’s just silly. My invisible zip is invible too hurrah!
With such a good fit I think I’ll try making this dress again without the keyhole as it’s so hard to find well fitting sleeves! That way I can line the whole thing too and make it more tights friendly (very important to me for an all year round dress).
Also I should let you know that this is my last post with big curls for a while. After a bit of heartache I realised my hair is not compatible with a perm. I need to be able to dye my roots every 4-6 weeks and it seems the hair dye freaked my perm out into a frizzy unhappy mess. Even after some hairdresser recommended moisturising treatments the curls aren’t coming back like they were. Given that it was a free perm in exchange for being a hair model I’m not out of pocket, just disappointed. I can still curl my hair and get an excellent hold but I can’t just wash it and let it dry curly any longer. It was a fabulous few weeks though and I am still a firm lover of curly hairdos.
Hi everyone! I’m back with a new dress and some more pics that I had snapped at the work studio.
I have been eager to make this dress for a while, even before we knew it would be a free gift for the magazine.
The epic thing that has me dancing around the office is that we’ve arranged an exclusive set up with McCall’s that the mag pattern gifts have both size ranges stuffed into one envelope. THAT’S UNHEARD OF. For one thing you can’t go out and buy a McCall’s pattern for £5.99 so it was already a sweet bargain and now you get two sets of tissue for that price. SQUEEEEAL. So yep, you should start looking out for upcoming issues with this same size range and no longer will I be writing to disappointed subscribers who don’t like the split sizing. Winner winner, chicken dinner.
So back to the dress… This is McCall’s 7381 and features mix and match options like different sleeves and hem lengths. You can achieve an easy fit with the elasticated back and you can throw the dress on straight over your head pretty much and then it fastens with hidden hooks and eyes or press studs under the wrap.
You can get hold of it with issue 37 of Love Sewing mag in any supermarket, WH Smiths or via www.moremags.com. Or if you aren’t into sewing mags, hunt down the pattern on it’s own through www.sewdirect.com or your local shop – I totally recommend it!
Because I wanted to make a ‘wearable muslin’ I decided to try some fun rabbit print viscose fabric from my stash. True viscose is very prone to shrinking so I made sure to wash my fabric first and found some black elastic and black liquid satin to line the bodice.
There aren’t too many complicated steps in this dress. The ties require you to sew around 90˚ corners by dropping your needle and lifting your presser foot to pivot so it’s important to mark your pivot point carefully and reinforce the corners with stay-stitching. I found it a little fiddly to get a neat point at the end of the ties with a point turner so resorted to a chopstick and finally a pin to gently ease out the end.
You might be interested in my sleeve-setting mantra too – “pin the seam not the sleeve”. Big-brand patterns are always accused of putting too much ease in sleeve caps. But accurate pinning can reveal this to be less ease than you think. Pin at the seam stitching line and don’t fight to align the raw edge curves. Curling the sleeve head over your hand can help so the sleeve mimics how it will sit with a real arm in there. Then just use the half and half again process; pin the notches, pin halfway between them, then pin halfway between those pins and repeat until your sleeve is ready to sew.
The style is supposed to have a bit more design ease than you see in my version but as I was between the sizes I opted to sew the smaller size S (aka 8-10 because it’s banded sizing). I’m very small in the shoulders, have a 37” bust but I’m wide across my back. Size S has a finished bust measurement of 38” and I think 1” of ease is enough for me. The ties add interest to distract from my small bust and the cap sleeves give me a nice amount of coverage. Not that you can see the ties in these pics hehehe. Something for the people who meet me in person to have a look at!
As a pear-shaped gal I really liked where the waistline sits, almost empire line, so the skirt fabric falls nicely over my lower half. Even with a 43” full hip measurement I have plenty of room in the flared skirt. I think the fastenings at the front could possibly be sewn shut as well… though I’m scared to rip my dress open so maybe I’ll stick with my hook and eye.
I should confess I like to pretend I’m taller than I am but in reality I’m 5’4” and, as I prefer not to show a lot of leg, I added an inch to the skirt length to ensure it fell at my knees.
Now I just need to pick what fabric to use for my second version! I have some lovely Atelier Brunette poplin and a luxurious piece of silk that would both work. I promise to share a picture when I’m done. Make sure to tag me any pictures you make of this pattern and I’d love to hear your thoughts on our new size offering. Maybe all the big four brands move to this?
Recently I shared my sewing room in the magazine and thought it should definitely appear on the blog too! I hope you like this peek into my sewing space. I know how lucky I am to have a dedicated space to sew, and although it feels like an indulgence at times, it has made me so happy in the short year I’ve had it.
Forgive the low light in the pics, these were shot in Jan!
This room is on the middle floor of my townhouse in Leeds. It’s a great size room and is definitely nice and warm, but it doesn’t get the best light and the view isn’t the prettiest. I’ve done my best to make it look lovely inside instead.
The main feature of the room is the cutting table, made by my partner. He used four Kallax units from Ikea, added a large MDF top and used ikea metal feet to raise the table to the perfect height. Underneath I use large baskets to store all my fabric, zips, and interfacing, as well as mugs of chalk pencils, tracing paper and bias binding. The whole thing is over 1m wide and 1.5m long, meaning I can cut delicate fabric single layer without them trying to escape. The only problem is that my cat Chewie thinks it’s the perfect sleeping spot so I have to shoo her away when it’s time to cut out projects. Then she just moves to another spot for a nap!
I’m fortunate to have several machines. The Janome SMD4000 is my main machine, then there’s the machine I learnt on – a Toyota Jeans Machine. I also have a Singer 14sh754 overlocker and two vintage Singer machines (a 1939 hand crank and a 1970s machine set into a table. My dad is a great antique hunter!). Having all my machines in a row means bouncing between each is easy and I usually keep the Janome and Toyota threaded in different colours in case I need to work on multiple projects at once.
My gorgeous pink mid-century inspired chair has a pretty scalloped back (Very.co.uk) and I’ll sit here when it comes to hand sewing and unpicking. The vintage glass cabinet was a gift from my partner’s grandmother and it makes perfect storage for yarn, ribbon, button tins and boxes of sewing patterns. (Orla Kiely tins, Selvedge yarn)
Decorating is still a work in progress but the majority of my wall space is used for spool racks. I chose polka dot wallpaper from Prestige Textiles (in Graphite – my first ever wallpapering attempt! Under the careful eye of my mum) as an eye-catching feature when you first enter. My most-used scissors hang from a pretty coat hook from BHS for easy access and fun quotes and pictures keep me smiling while I work. (Vintage decorative dressmaking stand, Korbond pear pin cushion, Sasse and Bell spool holder). A vintage sewing-themed calendar from SewDirect.co.uk adds retro inspiration and an illustrated portrait I was given for my birthday shows me wearing my favourite handmade dress (artist @andsmile). My plan is to frame some of my vintage patterns and add a bit more shelving space and then the room should be complete!
After years of working on my dining table and cutting out on the floor, it’s so nice to have a separate sewing space. I do miss Mr AR though, so we regularly run up and downstairs to see each other and take it in turns to brew up!
I hope you enjoyed having a peek in my sewing room. Hopefully the next time I share it the walls won’t be as beige or sparse heehee!
Hello everyone! Sorry for my absence. It’s been excruciating because I’ve got about 15 things ready to blog but don’t have any pictures!! I’m going to attempt taking some myself this weekend while Jimi is away, but the last time that happened I forgot to smile heehee.
So to solve this problem I found some pics of my jeans that show off my Sophia tee.
For those of you who haven’t seen Love Sewing issue 19, we included a paper pattern for a long pleated waist skirt and simple dartless top. Separates are pretty on trend and a nice alternative to a dress. Plus both pieces make excellent staples. I can’t wait to make a knee length version of the skirt and many more Sophia tees.
The mag explains how to hack the top into tee length. Essentially you just extend the front and back around 5 or 6 inches along the fold line and side seam and the draw the new hem at a right angle to the centre front and back.
I used a zigzag polyester from the Abakhan remnant bin. God I love that place. I think it was £2. It’s surprisingly not that sheer, but I generally wear a little tank top underneath to avoid any hint of static.
The length is probably 2 or 3cm too short for my liking but I wanted to try and make a top that sat above the bottom of my Jean pockets. It’s exactly that but turns out I do prefer the added length.
So there you go! I’ll be making loooooads of these because they are insanely quick to make. And I want to swap out the facings for coordinating bias binding.
If you want to pick up issue 19, head out to shops quick as it goes offsale on November 5th! Though it will still be available to buy online.
Ooh so it’s probably time to say it. If you aren’t already aware, I’m the new Editor of Love Sewing magazine. EEK! It’s a UK-based magazine based in the North of the country, available from most major supermarkets and WHSmiths, plus it sells internationally via moremags.com and is even exported for sale in Australia.
Basically this is the culmination of 10 years of professional effort and 5 years of sewing experience. I never really mentioned work on the blog before but I’m happy to change that for a good reason.
I’ve been in the role three months now and it’s still amazing to be able to be able to talk about sewing on a daily basis. I’ve produced two issues in that time and I’m slowly putting my stamp on the magazine: It’s always strange taking over a title from another Editor as they’ve lined things up for either a few weeks or a few months and you need to work around what’s already in motion. I’ve had an amazing amount of support and well wishes from everyone which has warmed my heart – so thank you to everyone who gave my magazine a chance and those of you sitting out there, sending me your best. It means a lot.
There are some people who have voiced concerned I haven’t been sewing long enough to manage a sewing magazine and if you fall into that category then I’m sorry you feel that way and I might not be able to convince you otherwise. But sewing experience is only one side of running a successful magazine and I honestly believe it’s better to have an Editor in charge who is experienced with both publishing and sewing. And to offset what I don’t know in sewing, I’m very fortunate to work with experienced and talented industry experts! I’d definitely be terrified by someone who claimed to know everything.
Either way, I hope you pick up a copy and like what you see, and it makes you want to pick up another!
Onto actual sewing now. In issue 18, my second issue, the lovely Charlie of This Blog Isn’t For You wrote a hack for turning the Simple Sew Lottie blouse into a button up pussy bow and I just had to try it out! I mean she is queen of the Lottie hack!! A pic of Charlie’s version is below:
First up I made this apple print crepe de chine version using fabric from Regency Rags (who reeeeeally need to get their webshop back up and running so I don’t have to use the eBay shop anymore). It’s only a little polyester feeling and a pretty nice weight, plus it’s only £2.99 a metre.
Then I thought I’d try the button up but without the bow tie! Crazy I know. But look at this pretty floral crepe from Abakhan Fabrics in Manchester. I think you all know about their crazy bins of fabric remnants where you pay by weight not length. This was £2.50 for a 1.2m piece. The flowers are so stunning and it’s actually navy blue not, black like it looks in the pics.
Side note. This photo was taken the day before I got poorly with a sinus infection! I felt like I looked weird somehow but couldn’t put my finger on it. Maybe that’s an early germ detection system?
It was a worthwhile experiment, though I think the button up either needs to be higher or lower for this version. I’ll wear it a lot though because of the print and it looks great with a cardigan which makes me wish I’d had enough fabric to add sleeves.
So there you go, short and sweet. What do you think of my tops? Did you see the hack in the latest issue? And I’d love to know if you vote that I use a lower or higher neckline if I make the button up with no bow version again? I love hearing from you!!