Monday, 14 April 2014

The Fairy Tale Cape

When Charlie at put the call out for pattern testers I was all over it like ants at a picnic.  I totally loved the cape she had drafted herself and was so pleased that she was sharing her design with the rest of us.

I was so enamoured with Charlie's red original version that I was tempted to make a matching one myself- but when I went shopping for the fabric I thought better of it and found this gorgeous black and white loose weave wool.  This made a really light weight cape, which should be ideal for spring.  However, if I were to remake this exact cape again, I'd probably want to line it for warmth.

The construction was very easy, with nice clear instructions and gorgeous illustrations.  there are just two pattern pieces and it comes together really quickly. This would be an ideal project for a beginner who wants to move past dresses.  

I'm not very experienced with sewing on buttons- or embellishments of any kind really.  And I know it's, like, the most basic sewing skill there is!  So these took me a couple of goes to get them in the right place, and I'm still not happy with them.  The bottom two buttons are a whole inch too close to the ones above.  I will get round to fixing that as soon as I can be bothered (i.e. if it bugs me once I wear it.)

So, Charlie's pattern comes in one size fits all- it just pops over your head.  Tall girls might want to add more length, but that's easy enough to do.  Plus I hear that all sorts of extra tutorials, such as adding arm holes, adding lining and changing the length, will be featured on her blog, so look out for that.  

The Fairy Tale Cape is available to buy now, you can even set your own price!  Go on, trust me, it's a fantastic pattern!

Monday, 7 April 2014

The Notebook Sewalong #2

Yay! It's the second Hollywood Sewalong post! Last month we invited you to join us in stepping back in time and creating a dress/outfit/ anything inspired by one of my favourite films, The Notebook.  I hope you've been busy, because there is just one more month until we all share what we're been up to and I am super excited to see everyone's finished item. 

This post is to give you a peek into my plans-

This is the dress I've decided to recreate


Anyone else think its a little scandalously short for the forties though?

Anyway, I digress.  I think this dress is gorgeous, and fits in most neatly to my existing wardrobe.  I love the red, the buttons and the ricrac.  Although there are plenty of dresses that Ali wears in the film that I would love to make up, this one was immediately the clear winner.

So, once I found the right fabric- something patterned, red, and not floral, I just needed a pattern.  Now, I didn't think for a minute that I would be able to find a pre-existing pattern that just happened to be perfect and include all the right design features, so I didn't even look.  What I did look for was a shift dress pattern I could use as a starting point and make the tweaks from there. 

This New Look pattern (6095) was ideal, it just has bust darts on the front, which will make recreating that ricrac trim detail easier, and had a cap sleeve option.  There are a ton of shift dress patterns available, so I don't think I could go far wrong.

Looking closely at the picture, you can see there is actually a belt/waistband detail, which I'm just going to ignore.  I'm going to use giant ricrac and go on the hunt for the perfect flower buttons, I think they need to be at least 1/2".  And I haven't decided on length yet, definitely not that short, but probs not too long either. 

I'm currently just finishing off the toile, and as long as that works out, I'll start on the real thing next week. 

I'm so excited! And having far too much fun doing this :D  I hope you are too.

Go check out the others, we've all shared out plans with you today!
Amy from
and Courtney from

Monday, 24 March 2014

Sew Dolly Clackett- I am SO in!

When I stumbled across the Dolly Clackett blog, I fell in love instantly.  No word of a lie.  I had found some one who not only has a style I *wish* I could pull off, she also produces a new dress each week- that level of output is to be admired! I've reading Roisin's blog for about a year now, and just recently I have made up a dress directly inspired by one of her creations, my Sweet Poppy Dress.  And, we've both made dresses in the amazing balloon print cotton (her's and mine).  So, when the Sew Dolly Clackett contest, hosted by Sarah was announced, I had to make something special.  

Inspiration is not hard to find, Roisin has a handy Handmade Wardrobe link which takes you to full photos of all her gorgeous creations.  A quick browse through really got me ready to sew something a little bit wacky and off the wall.  

Well I've taken my inspiration from the Madarch Dress, made in Cath Kidson toad stools fabric, from the Elisalex dress bodice and a pleated skirt from Simplicity 2444 (She's the queen of mashups!)

For my dress, it was important for me to channel Roisin's style, but make something that I'm actually likely to wear.  I love and covet her style, but it isn't something I tend to wear on the day to day.  So, this is what I've come up with- 

I've chosen the strawberry print fabric from Cath Kidston.  I love the print because it is just so summery!  It makes me want to go strawberry picking, even though I know it gets stupidly expensive and it's better to pick some up at the market.  None the less, yummm, strawberries!

I thought about using my tried and tested Simplicity 4070, but instead went for a variation on a theme with New Look 6020.  Both are princess seamed bodices, but NL6020 continues the princess seams on the back of the bodice, and comes with a beautiful back neckline option- which I totally went for. Then, in true Dolly Clackett style, I paired it with a full circle skirt. 

The dress came together really easily, I used the facings as instructed, and only made a couple of changes once I'd finished to the bodice- I took an inch off of each shoulder and took in the right side of the bodice in by two inches because the zip was already inserted and I didn't want to unpick it. These small changes took the dress to being an ill fitting 'meh' of a dress to a lovely, twerly 'whoop' of a dress. 

The pattern didn't include lining for the skirt, so I didn't, which I might change next time- but really, what I need is to buy/make a fluffy puffy petticoat to show of the circle skirt properly!

Love the back on this dress :D

Monday, 17 March 2014

Plantain T-shirt - 1, 2, 3

Hey Guys!  You might remember the jersey dress I made last summer that was a bit of a fail.  Now, I think that was due to a couple a reasons- poor fabric choice (bought blindly off of Ebay) and choosing a 'difficult' pattern with techniques I hadn't yet mastered.  Since then I've made some much simpler items out of stretch fabric- like a tube skirt, a velvet shift dress and my graduation dress, all of which came together much easier than that first one.  So, when the Plantain T-shirt pattern was released by Deer and Doe I got to down loading it asap! And, in case you hadn't heard, it's a FREE pattern so really you must try it.

The first couple of weeks after it's release Deer and Doe held a wee competition to see how creative people could get with this top- and I originally intended to enter.  But, then I started to see what kind of thing people were entering, and how creative they were getting, and my (gorgeous) plain pink jersey was never going to compete.  Not that I really minded- It's so much nicer to sew without pressure.  

So I did make up the Plantain in my fabric (£5 for 2m on the market) in my own time- but it didn't quite go to plan.  All my own fault of course.

Firstly, I forgot to get matching thread, and impulsively decided that white would do the job- I was wrong.  Yes, it holds the fabric together, but it is clearly visible with all the top stitching involved.  I also ignored the elbow patch markers, so they are way wonky!  In the end I didn't even bother finishing the sleeves or the hem.  It's not a total disaster- I can always wear it as a layering top- underneath jumpers for warmth.  It's actually ideal for that as it has a low neck line and doesn't peak out like my other t-shirts.  It's also perfectly suitable for lounging about the house.

Of course I couldn't leave it there- since that fail I have made two more things using the Plantain pattern- first; a dress, and then a successful top!  Both out of a length of (maybe cotton, or at least some cotton content) jersey from the remnents man on the market- £3 for 2.5m.

I used the Plantain patten for the dress bodice, short sleeve option, and tried to cut out a circle skirt to go with it.  It didn't quite go to plan, but, over all, I'm happy enough with this make- I have worn it a couple of times, to slouch around the house, or a quick trip to the shop.  It's so comfortable, and light weight that it is perfect for those days you don't feel like putting on real clothes, but, you know, you still have to get dressed. So I'm going to have another go and fix the skirt issue next time I get myself some jersey.

what a cheesy grin!
The top however, went together perfectly! At this point I had already had two goes at putting it together and knew what I was doing!  The outcome of the long winded process (and this blog post) is that I actually made a successful Plantain by the end of all that drama! Yay!  I even remembered to cut the neck binding out the other way so I've got the nice stripe detail around there. Now I know what I'm doing, I'll make a lot more Plantains- they are a great shape, they fit well, and with the sleeve options (long, mid and short) I will be able to get a great selection of shirts for summer out of it! 

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Anna's Dress

I bought myself a couple of independent patterns at the beggining of the year and am now slowly working my way through them, resisting the temptation to buy more (damn you Coco and Flora, amongst others).  The Anna dress from By Hand London has been on my wish list for a short while because I love its shape.  It has an uber feminine shape but makes a change from my usual variations on a circle skirt (which I will always love!). 

I know there has been a ton of bloggy interest around this dress already, much of it, you know, when it was first released, but I don't really care if I'm "coming late to the party" or not, I just like making nice things and sharing them with you :D

I picked out two cottons from my (new) local fabric stall in the town centre, this red one and a black and white length too.  Both were destined to become Anna's from the start. 

Sidebar- this is why I don't really have a 'stash' of fabric- almost everything I buy has a specific end garment in mind, so there isn't the opportunity to 'shop my own stash' and come up with new ideas, but I can pick from the range of pre-planned projects I have stashed away.  Anyhoo- back to Anna.

Anna was a long project for one main reason, I decided to do a Hong Kong finish on the skirt seams to give it a really neat look-  but do the maths with this dress.  The skirt is made from 7 panels.  Which means there are 14 raw edges to bind before I even got to sew them together.  This took up almost 10m of (thankfully, pre-made) bias binding.  Now, this did take forever, but I can't lie to you, now that it is finished, I don't care how long it took- I love it! It looks amazing and so neat!  I often go on about being a lazy seamstress, and liking quick projects with instant gratification, but once in a while it's nice to take your time with something and produce an item you are truly proud of.  The bodice was finished with French Seams, much quicker!

I cut a size 14, based on my measurements, which fits pretty nicely.  I shortened the skirt by three inches and the bodice by one inch to accommodate my petite hight. The skirt shortening was a good call, but the change to the bodice means the waist is now an inch above my natural waist line, so I'll not bother with that alteration in the future.  

Oh, and I almost forgot! Check out my first invisible zip! Can you see it! I promise it's there ;)

I'm really please with this dress; the finish, the shape, all of it!  I finished it just over a week ago and have worn it two or three times since (ok, three times definitely, but shhh).  I will certainly be making more Anna's in the future- kinda have to to justify paying £14 for a pattern, but seeing as this dress is awesome (!) I mind less.  

Thursday, 6 March 2014

DIY Knitting Bag - Lined or Unlined

I have a long list of projects lined up at all times- a pile of fabric ready to be cut out and sewn together, and a handful of patterns to make my own.  But every now and again, probably more often than I should say, if forget about those and sit down to make something a little bit spur of the moment-ish.  This is how this tutorial came about.  I've been using a regular tote bag for carrying my knitting around in, and it was doing the job, but I really wanted a bag that was made especially for knitting.   So, this bag was born! 

This bag is made from stash fabric and a quick trip to the habadash' for the handles- it shouldn't take more than an hour to put together, possibly less. 

You will need-
half a meter of fabric for an unlined bag, two half meters for a lined bag
Bag handles, found in any habadash' for about £3- they come is a range of shapes and sizes so just pick whatever ones you like most.
Sewing machine and thread
Tailors chalk/ pen

Step One- Cut your fabric in half so you have two fat quarters (rough squares) and round off the corners at the top, you can also round off the corners at the bottom if you want to, or not for a square base.  Use tailors chalk to sketch out a nice curve on one side, make sure you're happy with it and, once you are, fold the bag in half to replicate the same shape on the other side.

Repeat with your lining fabric if making a lined version.

Step Two- with wrong sides together sew around the bag, leaving enough space (approx. 10cm) from the top so the bag has a big enough opening.  Sew as close to the edge as you can while ensuring both pieces of fabric are being caught.  Once you've gone all the way around, turn the bag out so that the right sides are together and sew around the edge again.  This time you want to sew a little but further away from the edge to ensure that the raw edges of your last seam are encased in the sew row of stitching.  This is known as a French Seam.

For a lined version, just sew both the outer and the lining right sides together, still leaving about 10cm at the top of the bag and another 10cm gap at the bottom of the lining (sew from the top on one side, but stop as you reach the half way point at the bottom, leave a gap then continue sewing.  This gap is to turn the bag right way out).  

A finished French Seam- leaves a really neat and strong finish

Step Three- We're almost there, that is the main body of your bag almost finished.  Now you want to finish the raw edges at the top of you bag before you attach the handle.  I stitched it down with a single fold, but you should feel free to fold the fabric twice before stitching the raw edge for a neater look.  Just use a single row of straight stitch to secure that in place.  Now you should be left with just the two raw edges at the very top of your bag opening, this is where the handles will go.

For the lined version, once both outer and lining are sewn, put the outer bag inside the lining,right sides together, and sew together the top seams, clipping the corners.  You can then turn the bag the right way out through the gap you left in the bottom of the lining.  Once it is the right way out, stitch up that gap.  There should be no raw edges on show now.  The handles will go on the long, flat, top edge.

Step Four- Fold over each of those raw edges in turn and press.  Then put the folded edge through your handle.  Some handles have a special slot for this, others, like the round ones don't and it goes through the main handle.  Fold the fabric down and pin it evenly over the handle.  You'll need at least a cm of overlap to stitch on.  With the handle resting on the presser foot as a guide, sew along the fold to secure the handle to the bag.   Repeat with the second handle- and you're done!

For the lined version, you don't need to fold the raw edge down as there isn't one'.  you simply push the long edge through the handle and stitch down as above. 

This has not been done neatly- sorry for the bad example
I hope that makes sense, shoot me any questions if it doesn't, ok.  Enjoy your stitching!

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