Friday 28 March 2014

Spring sewing inspiration

Good morning! Blimey, the past two weeks have been busy, busy, busy, but all the action has been behind the scenes, so there's not much to show for it I'm afraid. First of all I've been pattern testing for two different companies, which has been really exciting. I love pattern testing, it's such a privilege to get a glimpse of an idea at the testing stages and such a thrill when all the different elements of a pattern slot together successfully. Both patterns should be released within the next few weeks and I can't wait to share my versions with you.

I've also been working on a large bag order for Rosy Rosie, which has kept me out of trouble. Shopping bags, drawstring bags, wash bags, make-up bags, you name it, I've been making them. 

Anyway, once my bag making and pattern testing duties were finished, I had a bit of time to scour Pinterest looking for spring sewing inspiration. That's when I discovered the new Kate Spade Capri Collection and nearly cried on the spot - it's all absolutely PERFECT.  And before you ask, no, I have no affiliation with Kate Spade whatsoever (if only!) - I've just fallen hard for her latest collection.  But if you happen to be married to me and you're reading this, my birthday is only a few weeks away! Just saying…

I seriously covet these Riviera style sweaters. Look at the little bow on the neck and the sleeve detail on this striped top…..

….and the lemons on the front of this one….

She's used a few different colours throughout - some blues and corals - but as you've probably guessed,  it's the yellow and white pieces which jump out at me. There's something wonderfully summery about that particular colour combination - just look at this gorgeous fifties style lemon print dress! Anybody seen any lemon fabric on their travels?!!

 Oh yes, mustn't forget the bags!!…..

I'm definitely smitten! Have a great weekend. x

Friday 21 March 2014

Purple Stitches fabric winner

Thank you very much to everybody who entered the Purple Stitches fabric giveaway - I hope my high glamour apron inspired you all to get sewing for Mother's Day! The winner is Katie from What Katie Sews, who chose a metre of Flea Market Fancy fabric (great taste). Hoorah hoorah, congratulations Katie!!! Please email me your address and confirm which of the Flea Market Fancy fabrics you'd like.  Thank you again to Vivian at Purple Stitches for such a generous giveaway.

Have a wonderful weekend everybody. x

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Mother's Day apron and giveaway

First off, can I just say a massive THANK YOU for all your kind words and wonderful comments about my Georgia dress. The style was a big departure for me, so to receive such encouraging comments really meant a lot - thank you!

Right, back to apron making. Actually the title of this post may be a bit misleading. I have made an apron for Mother's Day, but it's not actually for my mum, it's for my mother-in-law. The reason? Well, despite being totally awesome in about a million different ways, the one thing my mum can't do is cook. If you ever watched the 1970's sitcom Butterflies, then my mum's cooking skills are right up there with Ria's i.e. non existent (soz mum!) Ever the unconventional one, my mum has her eye on my tube map travelcard holders, so that's what she'll be getting for Mother's Day!

I decided to make an apron anyway, for my mother-in-law Audrey, who certainly can cook and is often seen sporting an apron. She chose Flea Market Fancy Leaf and Dot from Purple Stitches. This fabric includes all my favourite things in one go: red, polka dots and retro florals, so was a great choice!

I tried to tempt her into a fifties-style half apron, but she's a serious jam maker and needed an apron with full coverage. Now I've made lots of full aprons in my time, but usually for little girls. To make an adult sized one, I drafted the pattern myself, based on my own apron at home.

As the fabric is quilting weight, I added a lining to give it a bit of structure and used cotton webbing for straps. I always leave apron straps loose so they can be tied to order - much easier. The edges are simply pressed and folded twice, then topstitched.

 I'm rather partial to the finished apron - I may just keep it for myself…

It doesn't get much more glamorous than this….

If you'd like to try your hand at a bit of crafting for Mother's Day, Vivian from Purple Stitches is very generously giving away a metre of fabric to one lucky winner. There are some seriously lovely quilting cottons and home decor fabrics in stock here. To enter, just leave a comment on this post, telling me which Purple Stitches fabric you'd choose if you're the winner. The giveaway is open worldwide and closes at midnight GMT on Thursday 20th March. The randomly chosen winner will be announced on Friday.

Thank you Vivian for such a generous giveaway and good luck everybody!

Friday 14 March 2014

Georgia on my Mind

The gorgeous, gorgeous Georgia Dress was released last November and as usual, I'm a little late to the party. On the plus side, making a dress after the initial pattern hysteria has died down means you can pick up everybody else's construction tips! I used Sally from Charity Shop Chic's zip insertion technique for the curved seam and got some helpful hemming advice from Nissa. Plus the sew along posts on the By Hand London blog are great.  The pattern instructions are perfectly clear, but it's always good to see things visually and every step is photographed. Luckily I didn't have to make many changes to the pattern. I made a UK size 10 in the knee length version with skinny straps. I shortened the skirt pieces by two inches and the straps by one inch. I also made a one inch FBA (full bust adjustment) to the bodice pieces (documented here).

Once I'd got the bodice sorted out, the whole thing sewed together really easily. There are a lot of curved seams on this dress, so I made sure I clipped and notched them all as instructed. I also found pressing them open using a tailor's ham really helped keep the curves intact. My only mishap was a tragedy involving the zip…. I'd just inserted a perfect concealed side zip, (yep, concealed side zip - my sewing nemesis). I closed the zip and it broke. Big sigh. Let's just say I strongly regretted being a non-smoker at that moment! Happily, the new zip went in perfectly second time around, well it didn't really have a choice as I'd threatened to chop it to ribbons if it didn't behave itself.

Not quite sure what to do with my arms...
I think a fabric with a bit of stretch to it is essential for this dress - I can't really see how a woven fabric can cling to your curves in the same way. And boy, does this fabric cling to your curves! I used a navy stretch pique from the Goldhawk Road at £7 a metre and I only needed two metres, which included two bodice muslins.  Perhaps I should have bought more fabric so that I could have done a better job of the pattern matching, which as it stands is shockingly bad (ahem) The only reason I can wear it out in public is because the flower print is so busy and random. But you know what? I don't really care, the dress absolutely rocks and that's good enough for me.

If I was to make it again, the only thing I'd do differently would be to make the straps a bit wider to try and hide my fat underarm bits, but apart from that I love the way it turned out. In terms of style and flesh coverage, it's quite far out of my comfort zone. but sometimes you've just got to sew something that captures your heart regardless, and this is one of those occasions.  Happy weekend! x

Monday 10 March 2014

Georgia dress FBA

When it was released last year, the By Hand London girls very kindly sent me a copy of the Georgia dress to try out. Although I LOVED the bombshell look of the dress, my initial reaction was one of panic. It was so fitted, so party girl, so slinky - when would I ever have an occasion to wear a dress like this? I soon talked myself into making it though, how could I not when it has such a lovely va-va voom shape?! The very fitted bodice meant that I'd have to do quite a bit of fiddling to get it to fit. So a practice muslin AND a full bust adjustment were both essential - no fudging this one.

Following discussions with my almost-size-twin, Roisin (sadly for me she's lost weight recently, which means I can't just automatically copy the pattern size she uses!) I cut a UK size 10. This is one size down from my measurements because of the stretchiness of the fabric I chose. The fabric is a lovely navy floral pique, from the same family of fabrics as my grey rose fabric used here. It does have quite a bit more stretch to it than woven calico, so I made sure I bought enough fabric to make the bodice muslin in my actual shell fabric.

After scrutinising the Georgia sew along posts, it turned out that I needed a one inch FBA. This was super simple to do as you're only actually adjusting two pattern pieces - the bodice side front and the  bodice centre front. Here are the original pattern pieces…

All I did was make a hinge in each one.

The red pen shows the adjustments made
My first muslin fitted perfectly in the cups and across the back, but rode up too high at the centre of the bust. I remedied this by adding a ⅝" wedge starting at the bottom of the bodice centre front piece and tapering out to the cup seam, so that the fit of the cup wasn't compromised. You can see this adjustment at the bottom of pattern piece A above.

It worked!! I did take photos of me actually wearing the bodice muslin but believe me, so much white/blue flesh on display was NOT a pretty sight… You'll have to make do with Angie who's padded out to resemble me.

That's the only major adjustment I made to the pattern and it really wasn't as bad as I thought. I'm curious to know if a FBA on a plain darted bodice will be just as straight forward? I guess there's only one way to find out! Next up: the finished dress. x

Friday 7 March 2014

Liberty fabric giveaway winner

Wow, what an amazing response to the Liberty Lawn spring giveaway, probably my most popular giveaway to date! I'm delighted that there are so many Liberty fans amongst you, but I'm afraid there can only be one winner and that is….

Elena of Tea for Two!!! Yippee!! Congratulations Elena - please email me your address and I'll make sure your choice of a metre of Tana Lawn Capel in Red (swoon!) is sent out to you.

Thank you once again to Susan of Sewbox for such a generous giveaway.

I'll be back soon with thoughts on my first ever FBA…..!  x

Tuesday 4 March 2014

Overlocker thread tip

Having sewn quite a bit with knits recently, I thought I'd share a tip on changing overlocking thread. I always go for a tone match rather than an actual colour match with overlocker thread e.g. charcoal grey thread for dark fabrics and off white for light fabrics. This works perfectly for seam finishing, as the overlocking threads are all on the inside of the garment. But what about when you're actually sewing seams with your overlocker rather than just finishing the edges? There's a likelihood that the thread could show through the seam line on the right side of the garment, so a vague nod towards light or dark isn't going to cut it, especially with a strong colour such as red.

Here's my tip - I only change ONE cone. The thread for the LEFT needle is the only one that shows through on the right side of the garment, so that's the one you should match up to your garment colour. If, like me, you have a Brother 1034D overlocker, you simply change the cone on the far left (the YELLOW dial), which corresponds with the left needle.

Here's an inside view of the overlocked seams from my Coco top which I made this way. The majority of the overlocked seams are off white, but that's fine because nobody will see them.

The inside view has an almost invisible row of red stitches at the seam line.

And here's the outside when the seams are stretched. Look - lovely red matching thread!

It's not necessarily the time it takes to change all four thread cones that I object to, it's the expense of having to shell out for four cones, especially if it's a colour you're not likely to sew with very often.  Does anybody else do this? For a lot of you, this is just second nature, but if you haven't come across this tip before, I hope it's helpful. x


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