Spot on

You won’t believe how long I’ve been waiting for August 2014.

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It’s a month of two major events – first, it’s my 30th birthday. (Today in fact) Huzzah! And second, I’m moving to my new home and getting a sewing room.

I am VERY excited. I hope you can sense a bottled up giddiness in my photos; take a look and see if you can catch the twinkle in my eye.

So for my August Minerva make I wanted to make a strappy sundress; I mean can you blame me given the weather we were having?

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I used an amazing spot viscose from Minerva that I can honestly say is like my absolute ideal fabric –

  • the print is small but noticeable;
  • it has brilliant drape;
  • it’s cool and soft to the touch; and
  • there are so many good colours in their I can wear a wild variety of coordinating clothes and accessories.

I’ve even used this fabric before on a dress, that’s how much I love it. I have TWO dresses in my wardrobe in it now.

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The dress pattern used is New Look 6886 which is a great staple sundress pattern with several cute variations. I was very tempted to use gathers around the bust but in the end went plain and simple with view D.

The bodice is self-lined, and I inserted a lapped zipper (as I’m done with my invisible zipper obsession now) plus as an interesting touch I used a slider set to make the straps adjustable.

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This is something I’ve always loved about ready to wear clothes because I have one shoulder lower than the other and even though I try so hard, fitting straps on myself isn’t 100% fool-proof. These nifty sliders are cheap to buy and come in packs of 10, in black/white/transparent.

Doing this will mean a couple of changes from the pattern pieces and a little extra effort – first you’ll extend your strap piece to  cut a much longer strap, then you’ll make a very short strap about 3 – 4 inches long. You should bring out a bra to sit next to you as you sew to compare how the straps feed through the loops.

I absolutely adore this finished dress and feel wonderful in it. It’s been worn every week since I finished it.

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Top 5s of 2013! The Hits

It’s nearly a brand new year so that means it’s time for a bit of reflection with the top 5 lists!

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Head on over to Gillian’s blog to grab a button and check out her suggested lists and proposal on why looking back on our projects is a helpful learning exercise.

1. The Anise jacket

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I am so proud of this jacket. I learnt so much and think it looks pretty smart. It was in daily rotation before winter hit. And I don’t think it’s scared me off jacket-making in the future

2. Simplicity 2444

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I won’t ramble on too much about this dress. Safe to say it’s an absolute winner in my eyes. And this lovely aeroplane lawn version is definitely my favourite.

3. Sassy Librarian Blouse

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My first craftsy course was brilliant. Christine Haynes was a lovely teacher and I finished up with a cute practical blouse that I have in regular use.

4. Simplicity 1755

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I’m pretty darn pleased with how polished this dress turned out even if I don’t have much opportunity to wear it. The lace matching turned out amazingly and I’m rather proud of my collar.

5. New Look 6069

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Not so obvious but this little dress has been a star in my wardrobe. Its mostly due to the soft drapey viscose. It skims over me in a flattering way and I love the print.

So there are my top 5 hits of this year. Next up are the dreaded misses!

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To The Point Top: New Look 6148

This post could also be called “The Top That No one Else Seems To Have Made But I Can’t Tell Why: New Look 6148”.

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Now we know I’m a big fan of New Look patterns… Ok so sometimes it doesn’t connect, but mostly I’m in love and they’re my go to pattern company.

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This top is a case in point. I love the modern yoke on the main view as well as the sleeve variations on offer. There is a slightly curved centre back seam to offer secret shaping which I like. And the pattern envelope isn’t horrendous either!

I made the straight 8 around the top, sleeves and bust and graded out to a 14 at the hips. I’ve done this so many times on NL patterns I could do it by heart. If I didn’t like cake and cider so much maybe I’d be cutting a straight 8 throughout but let’s call it genetics.

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My fabrics are bright blue and black microfibre polyesters from my local market stall. I had about 3/4 of a metre of each in the bottom of my scrap bin.

Throw in an overlocked yoke edge, french seams everywhere else and some “gossamer” cotton (aka super light and silky) bias binding and this top was finished in JUST OVER AN HOUR. Boom!

That includes overlocking the sides of my back bodice and then unpicking it as I changed my mind to using the French seams.

New Look 6148 almond rock

As you can see I went for black on the yoke and back with blue just at the front. There’s so much room for playing with colour and print here. Especially if you’re adding the sleeves.

I seriously cannot understand why there are so few finished versions out there on the Internet. My favourite hobby is checking out how others have made and styled a garment that’s in my sewing queue.

In my mind this is the perfect beginner pattern.

  • It has minimal pattern pieces so it quick to cut out and sew.
  • It has enough ease to make it semi-loose meaning no major agonising about fit.
  • It’s a modern fun pattern that looks great without being too difficult.
  • You can totally just pink your seams and go! Or use french seams, overlocking (with your machine or serger) or use a hong kong finish (using seam binding) to add some extra challenge.
  • The only mildly tricksy part to this pattern is sewing the V where the yoke meets the bodice, especially if you’re using a slinky fabric; but a) the V is not that steep which makes it easier, b) if you follow the instructions and go slowly it’s totally fine, I often sew these types of seams in two goes to make it even easier, and finally c) if you’re working in a stable fabric like a nice cotton lawn I don’t even think it’d be considered troublesome!

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I hope I’ve shown people this pattern is quite a good and quick little make.

 Now it’s time for me to put a lot more clothes on since the weather is rather grim outside, and then I’ll crack on with some more sewing. Hope you’re all wrapped up warm too!

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Adventures in silk

This weekend featured the unlikely but wonderful trio of Silk, Mexican food, and Trains. It also involved lots of lovely people. Win!
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Silk isn’t a fabric I ever thought I’d purposefully pick to sew. I have been given silk fabric as a present before and found the experience of trying to sew with it wholly terrifying.

So the idea of working with silk chiffon seemed even crazier!

I actually like chiffon… poly chiffon that is. I like its beautiful drape and transparency and the amazing prints you can get. I don’t even find it too difficult to sew with as I don’t think it snags or shifts about as easily as silk chiffon. Plus you can unpick stitches easier than in silk chiffon. And oh yes it’s cheaper than silk chiffon! Need I say more.

But when I clapped eyes of this beautiful print I had to whip up a replacement for my polka dot chiffon top.

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Nice and easy! Well compared to a jacket, it turns out silk chiffon is easy.

This is a very simple self-drafted, empire line, boat neck and elastic waisted top. It’s perfect for wearing with jeans and the elastic cinches you in right under your bust so you feel slim and a little busty.

In other silk related news; This weekend I bought some silk organza ready for my Jeanius course and  some awesome geometric print silk which I hope to squeeze a dress out of (I probably have no hope as I knew as soon as I left London that I hadn’t bought enough yardage).

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This weekend was rather a whistle-stop tour of the capital as I had to travel down for work Friday but then raced back home on Saturday in order to meet a friend visiting from Australia and eat massive quantities of Enchiladas. I did sneak in the fastest trip to Goldhawk Rd and quick lunch with a small collective of fabulous sewing ladies (Janene, Claire, Sally, Rehanon, and Alison; with a flying visit from Roisin). We went to Drink Shop Do so at the right time I could peg it to the station!

I also indulged in a bit of Sunday night sewing where I made a too small Sureau and had just enough left over fabric to cut out a Simplicity 2444 instead. Phew! More on that later though.

I hope your weekend was less manic than mine!

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Absolutely Loverly

Today I’d like to share some pictures from two displays I had the joy of seeing at the Creative Stitches and Hobbycraft show: My Fair Lady stage costumes by Jasper Conran and Philip Treacy, and an amazing knitted garden.

I was fortunate enough to be given two complimentary tickets to the show courtesy of Helen at Mancunian Vintage so the least I can do is share some lovely photos!

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For the 1992 production of My Fair Lady, Jasper Conran faced the challenge of bringing a new look to Simon Callow’s version of the play (originally staged in 1956 with designs by Cecil Beaton).

A central flower theme was vividly brought to life in the Ascot scene, where the ladies paraded in “stalk” dresses in various shades of green and were topped with huge hats. Visionary milliner Jasper Conran collaborated with Philip Treacy on the hats, which were fashioned as roses, tulips, pansies and lilies.

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Renowned for the elaborate detailing in his hats, Philip’s My Fair Lady creations are no exception.

The floral designs are made out of silk, feathers or natural straw. Each hat is a practically a work of art with some measuring more than a metre in height.

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For the Stitch show the exhibition paired these hats with sumptuous evening gowns and cloaks created by Jasper Conran for the Grand Ball scene.

It was rather clear the individual pieces were not designed to go together and as a result I found myself more enamoured by the hats than the costumes. What about you? Which takes your fancy more?

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The floral theme was carried through the rest of the show with the world’s first life-sized knitted garden; including hand-crafted greenery and groceries, creatures great and small and the perfect picnic scene.

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Created by the UK Hand Knitting Association, this unique knitted masterpiece is a sight to behold with everything from a deck chair, vegetable plot and garden shed, to a pond, curious squirrel and watchful gnome.

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It’s the level of detail that’s amazing to behold; the babbling water feature, intricate spider’s web, bottle of pop, and the ladybirds clambering over a plant pot.

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Have you ever seen something so creative on such a minute scale? Not being a knitter myself I’m amazed at the skill that’s gone into this! How about you? Which garden item tickled you the most?

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