Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Simplicity sundress mark two

Way back in 2013 I made myself a strappy sundress using Simplicity 2176. During its short life it was a great success, it was made with lovely fabric and had a cool vintage vibe. Sadly it came a cropper in the washing machine when the blue dye from the main dress seeped into the white bodice band, leaving it an unsightly shade of dishwater grey. I know, I know, I probably could have saved it by unpicking the bodice band and adding a new one, but as we all know I'm totally lazy and that was never going to happen. The dress was donated to charity and I was left one sundress short in my summer wardrobe. This year, I finally got round to sewing a replacement.


I did a bit of tinkering with the bodice for this second version. The fit on the bust on my original dress was always quite tight, which made the waistline ride up as a consequence. This time I added a one inch full bust adjustment (FBA) and lengthened the bodice by 5/8". I also added a little extra to the side seams as I find very tight waists unbearable in hot weather. Overall I think the fit on the bodice is much better - it's not actually that noticeable but I feel the benefit!

Original on left, new version on right
The skirt is from New Look 6557, the same one I used for my Fireworks dress. I love this shape of skirt (a quarter circle) in the hot weather as it's cool and airy without being too big. The only other change I made was to substitute the lapped zip for an invisible one and attach the inside bodice band to the zip by machine for a neat finish. 


The duck egg blue fabric is a lovely lightweight floral lawn that I leapt on when Freya was de-stashing at a recent meet up. There was 2m to play with, which was just enough for this dress, thanks Freya! The colour is slightly brighter in real life, more like the photo below.

Spot the felt tip marks that still need to be washed out!
Because the fabric is very light I underlined the bodice sections and cut a separate skirt lining with white silk cotton. I probably should have added a full lining to the bodice instead of underlining it as this would have concealed the notched princess seams. I also added strips of interfacing either side of the invisible zip for extra support and stay tape across the top of the bodice to prevent it stretching.


Without really intending to I seem to have put quite a lot of effort into making this dress! The irony is that there hasn't been a truly hot day in London since I finished it, so it hasn't actually been worn yet. It does look good with a cardigan though! x




Sunday, 6 August 2017

Great British Sewing Bee Live ticket winners!


Thank you so much to everybody who entered my giveaway to win tickets to The Great British Sewing Bee Live, I loved reading about everybody's first makes! The five winners who each win a pair of tickets to attend the show on either Thursday 21st or Friday 22nd September 2017 are:

Pendle Stitches
Maria Makes
nanacathydotcom
Sharon Pickles
Frankie Baldwin

Congratulations ladies! Please email me your address details and I can arrange for the tickets to be sent out to you.

If you weren't one of the lucky winners, don't forget you can still claim £1.50 off advance adult ticket prices by quoting my discount code HMJ.

Looking forward to seeing some of you there! x





Tuesday, 1 August 2017

The Great British Sewing Bee Live giveaway



If you're a fan of The Great British Sewing Bee then you'll no doubt be aware that The Great British Sewing Bee Live will be taking place from 21st to 24th September 2017 at Excel London. I loved the GBSB when it was on TV and am really looking forward to seeing how the concept translates to a live show format.


From the information I've had so far, it looks like there will be LOTS going on to attract dressmakers and sewing lovers of all abilities, including:

  • The GBSB Live Super Theatre featuring Patrick Grant and Esme Young and hosted by comedian, author, Grumpy Old Woman and red lipstick fan Jenny Eclair
  • Workshops and demonstrations by GBSB contestants and top sewing tutors
  • Dressmaking drop-in clinics
  • A make-at-home fashion catwalk
  • The Fashion and Textile Museum's Liberty in Fashion exhibition, specially curated for the event
  • 200+ dressmaking and sewing suppliers

If this sounds like a description of your perfect day, then you're in luck as I have five pairs of tickets to give away to UK readers. Please note that the tickets are for either Thursday 21st or Friday 22nd September only so you must be able to attend the show on those dates. 

To enter leave a comment on this post telling me what was the first thing you ever sewed. The closing date is midnight on Friday 4th August 2017 and winners will be chosen at random and announced on my blog.

If you're not one of the lucky winners then don't despair, I also have a discount code - HMJ - which gives readers £1.50 off advance adult tickets bought here.  Come along, it will be a laugh!










Friday, 28 July 2017

More sleeveless shell tops

My Sleeveless Shell Top has been such a hit this summer I promptly made myself two more. Taking on board my own advice from my first version, I made a couple of tiny adjustments to the pattern: I lengthened the front curve to match the back and eliminated the centre back seam. I also used this method to attach the all-in-one facings by machine and it worked like a dream. Now that I know what I'm doing (it only took me five years to work it out...) it actually takes me less time to attach an all-in-one facing than it takes to attach bias tape and you get a lovely clean finish. I'm a complete convert!


First up is a Liberty lawn version in my all time favourite print - Carline (only available in pink at the moment). I had just one metre of fabric, which was lucky as that's all you need for this pattern! I made it during a sewing afternoon over at Tilly's and am amazed I managed to sew it without any mistakes as I was more than a little distracted by the sewing chat. It's such a lovely, colourful top and looks great with all kinds of solid coloured garments: jeans, skinny trousers, red skirts, the lot! 


The second version is made from Swiss Dot cotton*, this time in turquoise.


I used the same kind of fabric for my Malia top and it's a really nice weight for a sleeveless top - it has a lovely drape. I only had a 60cm remnant, (snapped up for £2 from Fabric Godmother last year) and it was just enough to cut out the front and back pieces. I love it when I get to use up smaller pieces from my stash like this! I cut the facing pieces from white silk cotton.


This top will probably get even more wear than the Carline one as it's a solid colour so can be paired up with virtually anything.


Three is probably my limit for this pattern this summer - I dread to think how many I'm going to make next year though! I love this pattern. x


*Every single time I type this fabric name I think of Dot Cotton from Eastenders...


Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Dragonfly Fabrics Giveaway Winner

Thank you very much to everybody who entered the Dragonfly Fabrics giveaway last week. I've pressed a few buttons and can now reveal that the winner of 2m of fabric and a pattern of their choice is.....kaytebell, hoorah! Congratulations Kaytebell, an email is on its way to you for further details.


If you've been tempted by any of the lush fabrics on the Dragonfly Fabric website don't forget there's currently 15% off all purchases with my special discount code. Just enter the code sew40 when checking out of the site. The 15% discount is valid until 30th August 2017. You're welcome!

Have a good week. x


Friday, 21 July 2017

Pattern Runway Kimono Sleeved Dress

This is the Easy Short Sleeved Kimono Dress from Pattern Runway - a relaxed fit dress with an elastic waist, short kimono sleeves and keyhole opening at the centre back. I hadn't heard of Pattern Runway before I bought this pattern and I think their designs are lovely - contemporary and chic with some great detailing. I actually bought my pattern as a PDF from Craftsy but the company also has a website with a pattern shop here.  


The instructions are well explained with clear diagrams and, where appropriate, industrial sewing methods are used in order to complete the garment quicker e.g. all seams apart from the centre back are pressed flat together and to the back. It's also worth noting that seam allowances for this pattern are 1cm rather than the standard 1.5cm (5/8").


There are no finished measurements provided (apart from the length), so I took a punt and sewed a size M based on the size chart. The fit was pretty much spot on and I only made two small changes to the pattern. The dress is supposed to have a deep (8cms) topstitched hem which I wasn't keen on, so I shortened my skirt piece by 8cms, plus a further 3cms once it was sewn up. The finished length is just above my knee. The other change was to the sleeve openings which were drafted too low for my liking. I raised the underarm seam by 3.5cm, then curved it round to meet up with the side seam. The armholes still have a lot of room but are now more modest, ensuring I don't flash my entire bra every time I lift my arms. 


Construction-wise, the dress was very straight forward and easy to sew. The skirt is just a rectangle with elastic sewn to the waistline seam to cinch it in. This does the job but I'd be tempted to create a waist casing for the elastic next time for a neater finish inside. The neckline and arm openings are both finished with facings but I only used the neckline facing. I find armhole facings a pain to stay in place at the best of times, even more so when working with the world's drapiest fabric. I finished mine with a narrow double hem and they look fine. 


Fabric recommendations are for light to medium weight fabrics that drape - the key word here is drape. I used a very drapey rayon from Fabric Rehab (now sadly closed down) and it was the perfect fabric for the pattern. The biscuit coloured background colour probably isn't the most flattering shade for my skin tone, but who cares when your fabric is printed with sailing boats and polka dots?! 


The relaxed fit makes this a cool and airy dress for summer. Perfect for slinging in a suitcase to take on holiday or for wearing out and about on baking hot days. The pattern is described on the website as 'super easy, super quick to sew and lovely to wear' and I don't think I'd argue with that! Have a good day. x





Monday, 17 July 2017

Dragonfly Fabric summer giveaway

The sun is out and the sky is blue in the UK - perfect conditions for summer dressmaking. I love sewing for different seasons and summer sewing definitely allows you to crack open the light, drapey fabrics in your stash. If you don't have quite the perfect fabric for that summer project then don't worry, because I've teamed up with Dragonfly Fabrics to bring you a terrific summer giveaway. One lucky reader will get to choose a pattern and two metres of fabric from the website. Hoorah! Read on for some fabric and pattern inspiration...

My favourites fabrics are the cotton lawns (see below), but don't forget cotton chambrays which are just crying out to be made into shirts or shirtdresses.

Closet Case Files Kalle Shirt & Dress
 Or linens for stylish trousers or shorts. 

Megan Nielsen Flint Pants & Shorts

These are my favourite cotton lawns, suitable for almost any lightweight top or dress pattern.

Floral Print Turquoise

Soft Cotton Lawn - Brushstrokes

 I love both colourways in this two-tone floral print.
St Ives Floral - Yellow

St Ives Floral - Red
Rayon Challis Viscose - ideal for patterns requiring drape. I absolutely love this teal chalked flower print.
Chalk Joyful
I think it would look awesome sewn up as the Named Helga Wrap Playsuit. It's not really my style, I just think it's a lovely combination!


Inspired to start sewing? Good! To enter, just take a look at the Dragonfly Fabrics website and leave a comment on this post telling me what your favourite fabric is. The giveaway is open internationally and closes at midnight GMT on Monday 24th July 2017. Please make sure you leave your email address if it's not linked to your Blogger profile so I can contact you if you're the winner.  

And there's more. readers of my blog can also claim a 15% discount on all purchases from Dragonfly Fabrics. Just enter the code sew40 when checking out of the site. The 15% discount is valid until 30th August 2017. It's also worth signing up to their newsletter for updates on any new fabrics or patterns they're showcasing. There's a sign up link at the bottom of their website.

Massive thanks to Simon and Dorte from Dragonfly Fabrics for offering this awesome and very generous giveaway. Good luck everybody! x





Friday, 7 July 2017

La Maison Victor Malia Top

I'm delighted to be part of a world blog tour to help launch the English edition of Dutch sewing magazine La Maison VictorUntil now the magazine has only been available in French or Dutch, so this will come as welcome news to its many fans. Bloggers in the launch countries (UK, US, Canada and Australia) have each been asked to make up a pattern from the magazine and blog about it. Today it's my turn!


I have to say, I fell heavily for the magazine as soon as I received my copy. It has a modern, stylish feel to it and the projects are beautifully photographed and designed. It's packed full of content too, with eight sewing patterns to choose from: three children's patterns, four women's (two dresses, a skirt and a top) and one men's pattern. There's also a knitting pattern for a short summer sweater.


I chose the Malia Top purely because it looked the easiest to sew and I didn't have a great deal of time to spare. It's a simple, sleeveless tank and as I'm currently on a roll with this style I thought it would be good to add another pattern to the mix. 


Patterns are included in a separate pull-out section in the middle of the magazine and need to be traced as there are several pieces on each sheet. There's a handy information box for each pattern which highlights the pattern pieces needed and the sheets they're printed on. I found this really helpful when tracing the pieces. Seam allowances also need to be added, but as I only had two main pattern pieces (the bias strips for the neckline and armholes didn't require them), this didn't take long to do. Instructions are comprehensive and detailed - refreshingly different from Burda instructions which have always made zero sense to me.


For fabric I wanted something light and floaty and this navy Swiss dot cotton in my stash was perfect. I deliberately chose a solid colour as I wanted to accentuate the bust gathers. The fabric is very light and delicate so I used French seams throughout.  


The only shaping on the Malia top are the bust darts which are gathered underneath. This is a really pretty and unusual feature but I'm still undecided about whether I like it or not. The darts also sit a little too high on me which doesn't help! The jury's out...



The sizing wasn't too bad (I made a size 10), although I could probably have given myself a bit more room at the bust. The neckline and armholes are finished with self bias strips, which fit exactly. This doesn't leave any room for error, so next time I'll be adding a couple of centimetres to both these pieces. Other than omitting the hem seam allowance I made no changes to the pattern, so overall it was a very quick and easy top to sew.


I'll definitely be looking out for future editions of La Maison Victor as the patterns are easy to work with and the designs very wearable. The magazine should be available in WH Smiths and major supermarkets from this week or can be ordered online from this site along with fabric kits for each project. 


That's it from me, in the meantime don't forget to check out the other UK participants blogging their projects this week:

5th July Katie at What Katie Sews
6th July Clare-Louise at The Thrifty Stitcher
8th July Laura at The Petite Passions



A copy of La Maison Victor was given to me free of charge to review. All views my own. 

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Quest for the ultimate sleeveless top pattern

Tank, shell, singlet, cami - there seem to be many different descriptions, but what I'm essentially talking about here is a simple, sleeveless top made from woven fabric. With such a straight forward design it's all about getting an excellent fit - and once you've nailed the fit, this kind of top really will become a wardrobe workhorse.

Easier said than done though! I can't tell you how much time I've wasted recently sewing up toile after toile in the hope of finding the perfect pattern. This week I came as close as I was ever going to get, so I'm going to formally adopt the pattern I used as my go-to sleeveless top!

Apologies for the chopped off head - I looked like a lunatic in Every. Single. Photo
The pattern in question is the Sleeveless Shell Top from the GBSB Fashion with Fabric book (reviewed here). Now I'll freely admit I'm rubbish at utilising patterns from sewing books, and would never have even considered this pattern if I hadn't seen Bea rocking a gorgeous version recently. So thank you Bea!


I made a straight size 12 and the fit is just what I wanted - comfortable but still fitted enough to be worn loose. Plus the neckline curve and shoulder width both adhere to my fusspot standards, which is an added bonus! The only adjustment I made was to sew the side and centre back seams at 1cm instead of 1.5cm. I basted the seams together mid-way through sewing and they seemed a bit tight at the bust, hence the adjustment. One additional change I'll make next time will be to even out the curve of the hem. As drafted it has a high-low hem which you can see in the picture below. This gets a bit lost on my version and just looks like it's riding up at the front. Once I've lengthened the front to match the back I'll have my perfect pattern, yay!


The neckline and armholes are finished with a lovely neat all-in-one facing and a button closure. Now usually I'm completely flummoxed when it comes to turning an all-in-one facing through, but not this time. The method is very clearly explained in the instructions and I'll definitely be using it again, it's so clever! The top actually fits over my head buttoned up, so I'll be cutting the back piece on the fold next time and eliminating the centre back seam to make it an even quicker sew. EDIT: As a wise commenter has just pointed out, if I cut the centre back piece on the fold I won't be able to use the all-in-one facing as it needs a back seam to turn through, duh! Thank you Anne for pointing that out! 
EDIT AGAIN: It CAN be done without a centre back seam, hoorah! This excellent video shows you how. Thanks Katie! 

All in one facing - back view
The fabric is a John Kaldor poly viscose from Remnant Kings, bought with a voucher I won during the #VPJuly Instagram challenge last year. It has a very nice drape and because of the high poly content, it barely needs ironing, hoorah!

Now that I've pinned down the perfect pattern I'm going to make several of these tops for the summer, probably in plain colours. They're so light and cool to wear. What's your favourite sleeveless top pattern? And more importantly, how many have you made?! x




Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Liberty quilt question

Just a quick post today to announce that I've finally finished the top for my Liberty quilt. My god it was gruelling, it seemed to take forever! 


The quilt won't actually be needed until the autumn, which gives me time to do a spot of research and brace myself for the next stage. All but one of the fabrics I used in the quilt top are Liberty Tana Lawn, which is noticeably lighter and finer than quilting cotton. My question is, do I need to add an additional layer of light cotton fabric (cotton muslin for instance) to the quilt top to provide extra strength and support? Or will it be OK once everything is quilted together? I've spent so long piecing it all together, I want to make sure the quilt has a good, long life! 



I know there are some experienced quilters who read my blog - I'm just hoping they're reading this post! If any of you have quilted with Liberty lawn (or indeed any thin cotton lawn), I'd appreciate your advice. Thank you!

Now all I have to do is quilt the bloody thing...  

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

#2017makenine update

The #2017makenine Instagram initiative (or in my case #2017makesix...) is the only sewing challenge I've signed up for this year, and it seems to have gone to plan so far.


Of the six patterns/fabrics I selected in January I've now completed four of them:



Plus a bonus second version here!





This was a substitution for the Deer & Doe Melilot shirt, using the same fabric I'd already earmarked for the project.



Of the two remaining projects on my list, the Pattern Runway Kimono Sleeved dress is still waiting patiently to be sewn, but the Grainline Maritime shorts have fallen by the wayside. This is because we're not having a beach holiday this year, and as that's when they'd get 90% of their wear, I couldn't really justify making another pair. There are a couple of other patterns that have sneaked into the queue though....

Last year, whilst wandering around the posh 'Village' area in Westfields Shopping Centre I came across this dress.


I really loved the design - a simple kimono shape with an integrated tie belt - but not the price tag. I can't remember where it was from (either Whistles or Max Mara I think) or the exact price, but it was definitely over £200. I knew I could make my own version. After a bit of online sleuthing, I soon had a copy of the Tie Belt Dress pattern by Sew Different and two metres of red luxury crepe from Sew Over It in my paws.


Yay! I have high hopes that I can replicate the 'Village' dress for a fraction of the cost.

And the final pattern to elbow its way into my sewing queue is the Closet Case Files Kalle shirt and shirtdress. After eyeing up lots of denim shirts on Pinterest recently and then spotting Sallie's gorgeous shirtdress version, I'm now desperate to add one to my summer wardrobe.


The looser fit is a departure for me, but I've been finding very fitted shirts heavy going in the warmer weather, so I think it's time for a change. I can't wait to get started!

That's it from me, how are you all getting on with your #2017makenine challenges?



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