Hello everyone. I’m currently sat intermittently knitting in front of the telly and thinking about sewing plans.
I’ve been playing around with some beautiful pleated fabric and dabbling with ladder trim insertion. Two projects with no deadline and a real desire to make considered choices before getting started. This means pinterest boards, testing machine settings and doodling designs.
In other news I shared a new video for my Sew North Soiree gown plans. I’m making a minty organza dress using a gorgeous sketchy floral with mint satin underneath. Check out the video here for more.
This leads me nicely onto today’s topic! Often a fabric would be amazing as a fancy party frock and sometimes it’s fun to make a great everyday dress instead. I picked up this cupid/cherub print twill fabric from Ditto fabrics after squealing at the sight of it. I was very torn between this and the mustard colourway and while I think made the wrong decision, it is still a stunning fabric.
Its a medium weight cotton twill which means it has that visible weave pattern and a lovely floaty drape. It shoots a touch redder than it is in real life. Twill is very prone to fraying and snagging plus standard slippery fabric rules apply. I used fine sharp pins and a size 70 needle.
I decided to choose a pattern I’d get a lot of wear from… enter the Jennifer Lauren Handmade Mayberry dress with my previous hacks to remove the buttons. See that version here. It’s the perfect dress if your weight fluctuates as the drawstring means you can cinch the perfect amount. I love that feature!!
At the minute my measurements are 36A:32:45 but know my first version still fits so I cut the straight size 12 and lengthened the skirt by 2″. It shrunk a tiny bit in the wash which makes it fit even better actually. My first version was polyester but the twill is slightly stretchy so a tiny bit of shrinkage counteracted this perfectly.
The drawstring is made in self fabric with the seam allowance rolled inside to make it very round almost like roulueau but not cut on the bias. If I’d had any I would have added cord inside. And instead of using eyelets like last time, I sewed buttonholes for the openings.
Proving it can still be dressed up I’ve worn the dress to a) my work leaving do, b) my dad’s 65th birthday dinner and c) the New Craft House Galentines party. The latter was extra special as my #sewingwife Marie of A Stitching Odyssey and I had a lovely weekend in London together seeing the Mary Quant exhibition, having dinner with our friend Allie and then winning the #sewingwife bingo at the party!
Dressing in the same fabric pushed us over the edge into winning I think. Marie’s dress is the Solina by Named with extra long waist ties. She hasn’t blogged it yet but watch this space. The prize was fabric vouchers for the NCH shop and we both ended up buying the same fabric!
I don’t think I’m done with this pattern yet as it’s a great showcase for prints as well as being endlessly comfy to wear. I have some solid chartreuse/mustard twill that could be good and a couple of viscose florals that would work well. Maybe just one or two more versions then…
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.
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).
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!
The eagle-eyed of you will have spotted an unfamiliar dress in my blogger meet up post.
In honour of the day I decided to dress up! I wore V8469. This is from their Very Easy Vogue range and I have to say it was pretty darn easy.
I used a polyester I’ve had in my stash for ages. I love the delicate petal shapes in such lovely colours.
Doesnt the line art look frumpy?!
I made a muslin in size 16 a few months ago but then doubted my fabric choice. Fast forward to last week and when I tried it on it was far too big. I retraced at size 14 (smallest on my pattern) and figured I’d adjust further on the real thing if needed.
I’m super pleased how it turned out. And I got compliments off my family, a very stylish Auntie of mine (who used to buy for Selfridges) and some lovely fellow sewing bloggers at the meetup.
It used all two metres of my fabric (mostly because of the ties) and a 22 inch zip. I used medium weight fusible interfacing and a pale blue polyester lining that was as close to the blue in the petals that I could find in my stash.
I think unfortunately given my fabric, plus all my faffing with the waistband I contributed to a troubling impact on the fusible interfacing. It’s started to come loose. I can feel it bubbling a little. It’s not visible but you can tell when you run over the dress with your hands. Doh.
And I really wanted to make a tulip sleeve. I used a tutorial off the internet which don’t get me wrong, made total sense and I was following it all the way, but the curve of my sleeve just looked stupid. I tried it three times on scrap cotton before giving up and cutting the regular sleeve. Sulk.
The other thing that got me a bit miffed is that they said I had to make the ties different lengths. I didn’t believe this at all but I followed the pattern. Stupid. I should have totally made them the same length! My bows look all lopsided now.
I think this style really suits me and the fabric is perfect for the dress. I feel a little like a 50s housewife but in a good way. A chic way. The dress turned out much classier than I thought it would. I imagined it as a day dress when I was cutting it.
Plus the fit is pretty amazing I’m pleased to say!
AND I’m pretty damn smug about something I tried with the sleeve insertion.
The sleeve is just a very small cap that just attaches at the top (not under the arm). I was thinking very intently about how they wanted me to disguise the raw sleeve edge between the lining and outer fabric. It just was too faffy and involved slip stitching for goodness sake.
So instead I basted the sleeve to the outer fabric then sandwiched it into the shoulder by folding it up tightly and squashing it in place. Then I sewing the lining over the top nice and taught. Finally I used a chopstick I coaxed out the lining out through the shoulders as per the instructions but I also coaxed out the sleeve too! Voila a perfectly sandwiched sleeve between the layers!
Would I make it again? And what would I do differently?
Next time I’ll use an invisible zip though. It seems the better my buttonholes get the worse my zips get! Plus I still haven’t tried out my invisible zipper foot.
Oh and if you’re a follower on instagram or twitter you’ll have seen I’m taking part in Me-Made-May.
Seemed fitting to step it up a year. Although I wear my self-made clothes nearly every other day I want to aim for 6 days a week.
Also, after laughing at the amazing amount of self-made polka dot items in my wardrobe I want to coordinate a FULL WEEK OF POLKA DOTS.
Oh yes, my work colleagues won’t know what hit them.
“So what did you do this weekend?”
“Oh I went shopping in London with 50 strangers off the Internet and we took over a Lebenese restaurant. What did you do?”
I want to say that this weekend’s meetup in London was so tremendous that I’m finding it hard to describe. I tried to summarise proceedings in an email to my brother and pretty sure I didn’t convey how amazing it was (plus I know I missed bits out).
So forgive me if I opt out from trying to do it justice. If you were there, well you know. If you weren’t, our delightful host Rachel and many of the FIFTY other attendees will do a much better job than I.
Instead of a full round up I wanted to hone in some of my highlights of the day.
A big highlight for me was how much more confident I felt at my second meet up than my first, especially given the scare factor of such a huge gathering. I think this was partly down to seeing lovely familiar faces. Rachel makes you feel like you’ve known her years. Marie is such a sweetheart, she always makes me laugh. Roisin is like a fantastic whirlwind and didn’t stay long but made a point to catch up with me. And it was lovely to chat with Catherine again (I had a feeling she’d pick my sparkly jersey from the swap).
Another highlight was meeting so many new people – people I’ve admired and read their blogs from afar and people that write wonderful blogs I’d not heard of before. Sitting with Camilla, Jo and Janene for lunch was great because they were all so chatty and funny. Finally meeting Sallie and confirming my suspicions of her Yorkshire roots was ace. And of course meeting LIZZY! Our international attendee. She really is so so friendly in real life. I felt a bit star struck to be honest; I didn’t get a photo of us together and I felt like I didn’t convey how grateful I was that she brought fabric over for me!
The V&A is so spectacular I can’t believe I’ve never been before! I’m definitely going again.
Goldhawk Road was kind of a revelation. It was so neat to see all the fabric shops along one road where we could bounce in and out of them all hunting for bargains. Now some of you may have noticed my desperate desire to find horse print fabric. And since Goldhawk Road is famous for getting end rolls from commercial fashion companies I felt optimistic.
I wasn’t disappointed. I also picked up some other delights. Not much mind you as I’d already spent all my money in Birmingham. My swap freebies included this amazing bird print rayon from Lizzy, and a printed silk plus a cute simplicity sundress pattern from a mystery source.
Finally, I was amazed by the generosity of Minerva Fabrics and Abakhans. These two companies effectively sponsored our day out. I can’t even begin to convey the amount of fabric, notions and trims Abakhans supplied to the swap. And Minerva gave everyone goodie bags they’d thoughtfully put together – see the awesome felted wool knitted fabric I was given (above). I always thought the blogging community was surpisingly separate from the sewing supply companies but lately my eyes have been opened.
* Meet up photos by Digpal Singh