13 May 2016

Me Made May 2016




May is a special month for sewcialists (internet/social media sewers) in that it is Me Made May, where the idea quiet obviously is to wear handmade clothes every day in May. You didn't really need me to explain that did you!

 Knit dresses: Wren and Lady Skater

So I suspect you expect this post to be about me telling what I wore every day for MMM16, well its not! I don't have near enough clothes to do that yet (or I do but I would have the washing machine on near constantly and it would very boringly be the same clothes every week). So instead of actually joining in on MMM I thought I would just use it as an excuse to have a look at the things I have made that do actually get lots of wear so that I can see what things I like and also see what I want more of, where my wardrobe is lacking and see if there are any trends in the kinds of things I do wear.

Summer Viscose Dresses: Lilou and Kim

Lets start with the dresses. I know every home sewer always sews dresses and I'll be honest I never used to wear dresses but that's mostly because I am 2 sizes bigger in the bottom than I am in the waist so they either clung way to much to my wibbly bits or looked a bit like a sack on me. I love that I can now wear dresses. They are so easy, just wack em over your head and go! I have a lot of fit and flare but the shape is so good for hiding that post baby belly whilst still making a feature of my waist. Lovely, I see many more of these in the future, but I am actually on the hunt for a more fitted dress pattern, something with a pencil skirt, that I can tailor and make nice and flattering.

 Skirts: Zinnia and Clemence

Then on to separates;  I say separates but well I make a good few bottoms but really only ever one top which is the Mimi parrots blouse. Skirt patterns are so plentiful though and there are loads of nice ones to choose from. I think its also because I enjoy a pretty skirt but actually just tend to wear jersey vests on top, and well they are so cheap to buy why would you need to make them. I am all for handmade but I sometimes think there are some wardrobe basics which should just be bought: Jeans, jersey basics, leggings to name a few. I am sure there will come a time I will attempt them but for now I am happy to play with more fun patterns. I do have a plan to get the Agnes tshirt pattern (mostly to make a dress out of) so there will probably be a few long sleeved tshirts in here by Autumn. 

 Chataigne shorts

I think you can see a definite theme here in terms of colour/pattern choice in the clothes that I actually wear. Animal Print, Monochrome, pink, coral, blacks and whites. I have learnt over the past couple of years that there are a lot of clothes that I have made which I don't really wear. Some of that is down to the fit or shape not suiting me, but actually its mostly to do with poor fabric choice. It really is worth thinking about the colours that suit you, and that you like to wear as it really does go into making a better wardrobe.

Mimi blouse

So that's the wardrobe which I enjoy to wear. There are obviously things which I haven't included here. Looking back on this there is actually a lot less than I realised, I guess when mixed in with your bought wardrobe you don't consider what you have made and wear and what you don't. I really should think about sorting out the things which I don't wear and either charity shopping them or hacking them into something new. 

If you are taking part in Me Made May 2016 how have you found it? And if not and you haven't heard of it before go and have a search for #mmm16 on instagram and see all the gorgeous outfits people have lovelingly handmade themselves.


6 May 2016

Neon Skulls Kim Dress


There seems to be a bit of a neon theme going on here at the minute but this dress is a lot less gawdy than the tutu outfit I posted last week! I totally wasn't sure about this fabric when I bought it but I actually really like it now its turned into a dress. Also, before we carry on can I just address the fact that I bloody love my shiny Dr Marten Mary Janes, they literally go with everything.


This was a mock up test version of By Hand London's Kim Dress. It's the first time I've made this dress but I was looking for something with princess seems so it fit the bill. 

A couple of things to say about this dress before I go into a bit more detail. I really like the sweetheart neckline and the full skirt, especially in this viscose, the skirt is lovely to wear but my god it's a bit boobalicious! You cant really tell from these pictures but when I am sat and look down they are all I can see! I had the same thing with my last by hand London dress so they obviously like a low neckline but I'm struggling to wear this in the daytime! I think It's going to have to be an out to the pub dress rather than a chilling at home on a summers day dress.


The fabric was some viscose which I got from ebay. There is lots of it on there so you should be able to find it, I also think its one of those lovely cheap fabrics you are likely to find on your local market stall so certainly very inexpensive. I have started to really love viscose. Its so easy to wear and really cheap to buy. The only issue is it can stretch out of shape quiet easily when sewing and also it frays A LOT. but if you can get over that you can make some lovely summer outfits out of it. The reason I used this to make a mock up is because it was so cheap. You can see in the photo below there is a bit of excess fabric in the front bodice and this is due to it changing shape and ending up bigger than the cotton fabric I used to line it but its totally fine to wear.


I re-took my measurements before I made this dress and matched them up against the pattern and I fit the size 12 exactly (35, 28, 36). I sat there and I thought how can I have the exact measurements of the pattern but know even before I begin that if I sew this straight from the pattern pieces its not going to fit me? What I realised was that my back is proportionally smaller than my front and that what I need to do is cut out the size 12 but take a % out of the front and equate that into the same in the front as a full bust adjustment. I made a 3/4 inch adjustment to both front and back but actually I think that maybe should have been a whole 1 inch but again its a better fit than it would have been.


I started off making this dress really fast and rushing through it because I have another version planned which is the one I really want to make. I have spoken before about how when you take your time over something you are much more likely to enjoy the result but I was totally ignoring my own advice here. Thankfully Karen over at Did You Make That made a very well timed post about learning sewing patience. I really needed this. I think I sometimes try and make things really quickly to have something to blog about but what she made me realise was that actually you can have some very useful things to say as a blogger without always having to blog about something you made. So I thank Karen for the great outcome of this dress for making me slow down, take my time and enjoy the process. And do you know what, it really worked. I do love this dress (I've had it on for 2 days) and I think its totally down to the fact I took some care over it.


 So that's it from me for this week, I hope you like my new dress :) I am going to have to sign off because I can hear master Fox has woken up. But as a closing thought have you ever read any non sewing posts which totally inspired you in other aspects?

29 April 2016

Avert your eyes! Neon tutu tutorial


The brief was 'neon tutu' I think I nailed it don't you!

I love orange and pink together, I think its my favourite garish colour combo. I am desperately trying to decide whether put some orange back in my hair again, last time I got told I reminded people of a tutti frutti! Haha I don't think that's a bad thing do you?

Anyway, why have I made a neon tutu I hear you wondering? Why not? Honestly though there is a reason. I recently went to Leeds for a friends hen do, the theme was 80s and we were told we should be wearing neon and tutus! I did do the obvious and look on ebay for the cheap option but every time I looked at them I couldn't help think 'I'm not paying for that!' I didn't really have a plan beyond that though and by the time it was 3 days to go I realised I was a bit late to order one, there was no fancy dress shop near work and so I was just going to have to make it.

I did a bit of a search on the net for how to make tutu's but most of the results were for the no sew kind, and well I wanted to yes sew kind. I thought being as I just made up a process I would quickly type up how I did it whilst I show off the tutu in all its neon glory!


I bought one meter each of two different coloured cheap fancy dress nets from my local fabric shop (thank you My Fabric Place in Beeston) in these amazingly neon pink and orange colours. I then folder the fabric in half width wise and then in half again width wise and cut along the folds. This gave me 4 x 1 meter long pieces of both colours (8 pieces total).

Please note that I do have a small waist and whilst there is plenty of material here to make larger sizes if you want a bigger tutu, or in fact a fuller tutu you might want to consider buying 1.5 or 2 meters of each fabric colour.


Next I cut a piece of elastic which I measured to fit comfortably round my waist where I wanted it to sit (with a bit of stretch) and then added an inch for where it meets at the back. Make sure the elastic is not too stretched its uncomfortable but not so loose its not going to stay sat on your waist where you want it. I then marked the middle of the elastic with a pin.


I then lay 4 of the pieces of fabric on top of each other. I alternated mine so orange pink orange pink (have the colour you want facing out on top). You can of course do this however you like it, play about with the colours and see what works for you. You need to do the same with the remaining 4 pieces but keep these to one side we are going to be working on one half at once.


Next you need to attach the net to the elastic. You do this by making lots of large folds in the net and pinning it to the elastic. You don't need to stretch the elastic, but it might help if you do give it a little stretch as I did find my waistband didn't have much give. You want to put in enough folds that the piece extends just beyond the half way pin so there is a bit of an overlap.

Once you have done this with the first 4 pieces you then need to do the same with the second 4 pieces starting by overlapping where you left off and continuing to fold until the piece reaches the other end.


Finally you can get out your machine and using a zig zag stitch sew that bad boy down! take your time and make sure you catch all the layers.

Once you have done this overlap the two ends of the elastic and sew some tacking stitches to close the waist into a circle and that's it, time to twirl!

I did trim a couple of inches off the bottom of mine after I had stitched it as I preferred the shorter length, but you can choose whether you do this or not after trying it on.


It certainly is neon isn't it! I'm pretty sure I'm now at a point in my life where I am getting too old to wear outfits like this but regardless we had an amazing weekend away and had a great laugh (as well as some rather odd looks as we walked the streets in the day dressed in neon tutu's!). 

FYI, the matching bow I made using my Tulle Bow Tutorial

You have to excuse the lack of my face in these photos, I was a bit sleep deprived when I took them and my gaunt baggy eyes really didn't do these pictures any justice!


I hope this was a useful tutorial, or if not then a fun look into a crazy outfit! I do actually love this skirt, and I think its all to do with the colour. If only I had more occasions to dress like this!!

Have you ever made anything like this? Or bought one of those cheap ebay tutus? You should totally try making one, this one cost me £5, which was £1 less than ebay, and much nicer I think.

Now I want you to show me your crazy makes (or tutus) so I don't feel so silly!

22 April 2016

And then there was Wren: Version 2


Following on from that hideous version of wren I blogged about a couple of weeks ago I'm very happy to show of my second version of Wren which is a much much better fit. You may not have seen the other post as I purposefully made no reference to it on social media I think it was that bad!

Anyway, I had always planned on making two versions of this dress, when I was looking for the fabric for it I spied this lovely jersey here on Croft Mills website and it was a great fit for the pattern. I wanted something with a pattern but it needed to be something without a directional print as I'm not sure how that would transfer to the neck crossover sections. This ticks all those boxes and because I knew I would want to get some wear out of this one I thought it best to make a tester first.


I made a number of adjustments on this version. Not just in the sizing but also a couple on the pattern itself. I did a small back adjustment, a full bust adjustment (using the Myrtle sew along, thank you to the lovely ladies at Colette for getting back to me with this suggestion) and shortened the skirt. This one fits soooo much better now I'm really pleased I did them. How frustrating is it though that I can't even get away with sewing straight from the pattern even in the stretchiest of fabrics!!


So I also made a couple of adjustments to the pattern. The first was to cut the front wrap pieces on the fold so that they are actually doubled over. This meant that rather than having to sew a hem on the front neckline you have a nice smooth line, you just have to sew the two raw edges to the bodice piece and thats it. I also decided to add cuff bands instead of sewing a hem on the cuffs. I used the 3/4 sleeve which is in the additional sleeves download, but they are just a bit short, and I like something that clings to my arm a bit better. I nicked the cuff bands from the lady skater dress pattern but it would be really easy to draft your own just by measuring the width of your arm and adding a seam allowance. I'm really pleased with these two adjustments, I hated the twin needle sewing on my last version so it was nice to get rid of as much of that as possible. I don't think the neck alteration would work on the thicker ponte roma/interlock knit version as it might be too thick but it works well if using regular jersey. The only adjustment I would consider down the line would be to make the back neck a bit higher, it feels a little drafty for me but not too much to worry about.


I'm really chuffed with this version. The fit is brilliant, its really flattering, the fabric works really well and is comfortable to wear, it goes with all sorts and I can dress it up or down to suit the occasion. I am still having some slight issues with flashing depending on my undergarments but it is no where near as bad as the previous version. I have discovered that I can wear a vest top underneath if I am really worried and it doesn't look awkward at all. However, if anyone has any tips on how to prevent this happening tell me, tell me now!

I hope you like it. I really recommend this pattern, its it a breeze to sew once you have your twin needle sussed.
x

14 April 2016

Puperita showcase: Pirate dungarees for little pugwash


How bloody cute is this kid, I could eat him! I know I'm biased, but hey he is pretty handsome you know you can't deny it.

Anyway, on with what we are here for; firstly, I know it's a bit odd that I'm coming to you on a Thursday this week but bear with me, there is good reason for it which I will explain in a minute, but in the meantime why don't you scroll through another adorable picture of Master Fox...


I was very pleased to be invited to join in on a showcase blog event to sing the praises of Annalisa Puperita who designs the most amazing children's sewing patterns which can be downloaded in PDF from her Etsy shop. If you have seen my previous baby makes you will know that I have sung her praises a couple of times before so was more than happy to take part in this event. There is a list of all the other bloggers taking part at the end of this post so make sure you go and have a look at some of the other amazing makes to get some inspiration and see some of the other patterns which are on offer. 


I chose to use the little birds dungarees pattern again as I loved his Christmas dungarees and they are really nice to sew in fashion or quilting cottons. I think of all the bloggers I might have been the only one to make something for a little boy so I'm pleased to be able to show off how nice handmade boys clothes can be too. Master Fox has been in his current size for a couple of months now so I have made them in the next size up so he gets more wear out of them. So excuse the fact they are looking a bit baggy in these pictures, they are not meant to be fitting well yet and the cuffs have been double rolled up! The other nice thing about this pattern is that it's not too difficult to get on and off for a nappy change. I definite must for little ones who wriggle enough as it is! 


I used some lovely blue Makower skull print cotton for the outer and some plain cheap black cotton on the inside. I love a pirate theme on little boys, it's so cute! The fabric was from Ebay of course but I think there are still a number of online retailers selling it. The pattern features three pockets, a lovely big roomy one on the front and two which are nicely placed on the bottom area. There are four buttons which fasten at the sides and on the shoulder straps and the thing I really like to do for this pattern is make my own fabric covered buttons to match the rest of the dungarees. I think they fit really well rather than having to match a store bought button. These dungarees are newborn -2 but she also designs patterns for older kids, and some of the patterns cover newborn - 6 years! That's a bargain of a pattern purchase right there.


One of he best things about these patterns though is the commitment to support that you get from Annalisa the designer. When you buy one of her patterns you get invited to her support Facebook group where herself and other makers have built an amazing group that not only offers help with patterns but also showcases other peoples makes which is a great source of inspiration. There are all sorts of people in this group  from seasoned sewers, private children's clothes sellers to people that have never sewn in their lives and just want to make something nice for themselves. This makes it a great little community. 

But not only this Annalisa is happy to answer questions from you either via Facebook or through Etsy messenger. She is always quick to respond and really helpful. You honestly could not ask for more from her.


So whether you are seasoned at sewing and fancy making kids clothes, or have never done it before but want to make something from scratch with confidence I seriously recommend you take a look at her patterns. The instructions are so clear with pictures and clear directions that anyone should be able to follow them. Take a look around the other bloggers posts below and you will no doubt find some serious inspiration and testemant to the fact that these patterns always have amazing results:


Emi ~ Just Add Fabric     Jaime ~ Made By Jaime     Janice ~ So-Cal Sewing Mom     
Soso ~Moineau & Petit Pois     Ula ~ Lulu & Celeste     Nuala ~ clootie dumplings
Pam ~ Threading My Way     Maria ~ Fairies, Bubbles & Co.     Shelly ~ Sew Shelly Sew
Chari ~ Take time to smell the rose     Helen ~ The DIY Fox     Karly ~ Paisley Roots
Sanae ~ Sanae Ishida     Candice ~ Candice Ayala     Melissa ~ Rebel & Malice
Janet ~ 7 Pine Design     Jenya ~ While she was sleeping





8 April 2016

Grey Jersey Wren Mk1

What can I say about this dress other than Oooer hello Mrs! Its not leaving much to the imagination!

After all that structured fabric sewing I have been desperate to get onto sewing something stretchy. Colette recently (well 6 months ago) released their Wren jersey dress pattern which has a lovely wrap over style neckline. I have been really looking forward to having a go at this one, its jersey, its a low neck and wrapovers are supposedly perfect for the fuller bosom. I bought the pattern over Xmas and its been patiently sitting there waiting for me to get round to it ever since.


I plumped for trying a lighter jersey version with the gathered skirt (I might have lost a stone but those love handles are still a little large for something more bodycon at this point!) and used some very nice soft grey marl Jersey from Croft Mill. I think in the end this fabric was a little too lightweight for the project as it doesn't hold the shape particularly well but it does the job and is very comfortable to wear.


The pattern is very simple, not as simple as some jersey patterns given the wrap over, but still its very easy to make and I really like the instructions in Colette pattern books. It was a doddle to make this up with the overlocker, though I did have a few issues at first with my twin needle. I think the problem was I was trying to be clever and use the walking foot but it just fought me all the way. As a result my twin needle sewing on the wrap and back neck sections are really shocking, which is a shame as these are the most obvious bits. It did get a lot easier once I removed the walking foot though.


It's just that I can't quiet bring myself to wear this in public! I'm just super paranoid that if I lean forward or move about too much everything is going to be out on show! I think I need to go do some new bra shopping then give it a good wash and wear it for a day around the house to see what happens. Worse case scenario I can always sew some tacking stitches on the two wrap sections to hold them together a bit in the middle to save any embarrassing mishaps.


I did make this version up as a tester though, I have some nicer, sturdier fashion jersey which I bought for this pattern  which will hopefully hold the structure of this dress a bit better. I also plan on making a few alterations along the way to get a better fit and with any luck sort out those cleavage issues.

1 April 2016

Love at First Stitch; but was it love at last stitch?

You knew it was coming after all that sewing didn't you? Yep, that's right, I couldn't work through a whole sewing book without ending with a review could I so here it is;

Firstly I should say a massive thank you to my sister for buying me this book, I think it was well timed but it really inspired me to pick up sewing again and it really helped fuel that fire. So thank you Rachel :) . I think that in itself is testament enough for this book but I'll not leave it there.

So let's go over the patterns quickly and talk about my successes and failures. Remember though, my failures are not yours and mine have more to do with personal style than the patterns themselves. 

Starting with the positives my favourite pattern from this book is definitely the Lilou dress. Honestly, since making this dress I've worn it 3 times in a week and it's back on as soon as its out the wash! I already have plans for maybe 3 more, and a possible peplum pattern hack?!? It's become my favourite so far dress pattern :) Yippee! I am also really pleased with my Mimi blouse because it was a new challenge for me and I am still in love with that fabric.

I think my biggest failure was definitely the Delphine skirt. Mostly because the pattern shape doesn't really suit my body type or personal style and so it just didn't sit right. The pattern itself was very easy to follow and the skirt lovely to sew. This probably has my best invisible zip insertion of all the projects as well which is just typical.


Working through the book definitely made me think more about the types of clothes I prefer to wear and the fabric types/patterns which suit my personal style. There is no point spending hours on a beautifully fitting dress if you've sewn it up in a colour that you hate. It's a good thing to keep in mind when sewing for yourself as it will save you time, money and disappointment in the long run. Plus, when you do make something which is so totally you its definitely worth it as you will want to wear it again and again.


I got a lot out of this book in terms of sewing practicalities, tips and tricks and I definitely think it made me a bit of a better sewer. It made me a lot more aware of little things you do while sewing. The biggest thing it taught me was to stop being so lazy with pinning! It really does help when pinning to use more pins and this is definitely something I will keep doing. I also now think a lot more about the type of machine needle I use for a project rather than just using whatever happens to be in the machine, or the first one I pull out the drawer. I paid a lot of attention to the instructions as well, its so easy to assume you know whats coming next but it really helps to read every step and saves you a lot of time unpicking.


The book really is great for beginner sewers as well as those of us with a bit more experience. The projects are really well laid out in that you learn one or two new techniques with every project and build on them as you work through. Its a really nice way to pick up some sewing basics while making yourself some lovely clothes while you go along. Even with already knowing the basics I tackled a few new things because of this book, things which otherwise might have put me off because of not having enough information. This book however took away any mystery and explained things really clearly. The step by step illustrations really helped here. The new things in particular that I tackled were adding in sleeves and also piping. Its been a great sense of achievement knowing that I conquered these and don't have to be so worried next time.

The only downside I think to this book is that all the patterns use woven fabrics. I know this is because they are easier to sew with and the obviously suit the patterns better so are much better for a beginner. However it would have been nice to see some use of other fabric types. I did manage to switch a few out (crepes and viscose) but most of the instructions are for cottons. It's not a major flaw, I just don't really wear cottons so for me it got tedious a bit quickly.


So in conclusion? I think you can tell I definitely give this book a big thumbs up :) It's lovely to have got to the end of this book and know I will be coming back to it again and again, Albeit probably not for every pattern.

Tilly has done a great job here and whether you are new to sewing or already know all the tricks and want a few cute patterns you can't do much better than this. Go on! you know you want too! Have you sewn anything from this book yet, tempted to buy it for a particular pattern or have another sewing book you covet? Let me know.


Finally as a sort of note from the editor I lost a stone from the start of this book to the finish! Go me! I don't think you can tell much from the pictures but I can definitely tell I started to cut patterns smaller by the end! Its a good job I prefer the patterns from the last half of the book to the first ;)
x