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I admit it up front: I’m using this post as an entry to (try and) win two metres of the glorious Cranford Liberty Fabric from Leah at Sewbox. I have in mind a wonderful project for it… If I win, all will be revealed!

If you haven’t already checked out Sewbox, I advise you to immediately. I once compared the service I got there as like having a dealer, but legal. And for fabric. I have purchased gorgeous fabrics from there, some lovely pattern packs, buttons and other bits and bobs. I can’t rate it highly enough!

Right, I’m off to bed! I may be back later this week with a quick blog post about some sewing projects. Or I may not…I’ll see how I feel!

After a brief look at the pattern layout, I thought making this dress would be easy: two main pieces, (there are seven in total), with a few darts and sewn together at the side seams.  Because of this, and because I didn’t know what to expect of a pattern that comes free with a magazine, my expectations were quite low.  I was wrong in both respects: the pattern was not particularly easy to follow, but the finished result is stunning.

The pattern assumes prior knowledge of dress-making and would not be suitable for a beginner.  Terms such as ‘catchstitch’, ‘narrow hem’ and ‘gathers’ are not explained (luckily I knew from previous patterns how to do a narrow hem and how to gather, but had to look up how to catchstitch in one of my sewing books).  The pattern is also incomplete: it tells you to add 16cm to the end of the dress front and dress back (presumably to save paper), and to ‘cut sufficient 3.5cm wide bias strips to join and finish armhole edges’, leaving you to work out the length required!  If you’re a beginner, how would you know what a bias strip is, and how to press it correctly?  You would have to look it up!

However, detailed instructions of how to insert a concealed zip were included, and thanks to these instructions I was able to do the best concealed zip I’ve ever done.  I have never been bothered about stitching showing on the outside of a dress before, as I quite like the uniformity and evenness of machine stitching, but this time I took sufficient time and care to ensure that the zip really is concealed, and the slit at the back does not have stitching either side (thanks to catchstitching).  The only place where the stitching shows on the outside is around the armholes where the bias binding is attached, and the hem.  The hem allowance was two and a quarter inches, but when I tried the almost-finished dress on, I decided I would prefer it to be a little longer, and so opted for a narrow hem at the bottom instead of catchstitching a deeper hem.

The finished result is such an elegant shape.  My hips, bottom and thighs are usually too big for this style of shop-bought dresses, but making it myself allowed me to create a perfect fit.  I am looking forward to wearing it as I have nothing like it in terms of style or fabric in my collection.  The fabric is 100% cotton and purchased from my local market for £3.99 per metre (and I only needed 1.5m of 150cm-wide fabric).  I think the dress has a very Vivien of Holloway feel to it (and in fact is quite similar to a lovely halter-neck Vivien of Holloway dress that Lemonianta bought in March, which is also red and white polka dot).  I will definitely be using this pattern again to make variations on the dress, perhaps the next without the bow (depending on the style of fabric I choose, as the bow adds a fun, retro element).  I think it would look good in a plain navy with the waist drape in a contrasting colour such as rose pink.  I think it would also look excellent in tweed for winter.  Lemonianta suggested using duchess satin for an elegant evening dress.  YUM.

I will certainly not turn my nose up at Prima patterns in future!

Since my last post, I used the remaining fabric from Lemonianta’s vintage apron to make myself a new bag.  It is lined with plain white cotton.  I didn’t use a pattern, just made it up as I went along, and I’m very pleased with it.  It ended up being quite fiddly and, like the last time I made a bag, I broke several machine needles.  I plan to make simpler bags with left-over fabric and use them instead of gift bags for future friends’ birthdays.

I also got some lovely fabric from John Lewis and a Burda Kids pattern 9750 (which goes up to 3 years) with which I made this dress for Lyra:


I’m currently using the same pattern to make a red polka dot dress for her, and with the same fabric I’ve started on a dress for me too using a pattern which came free with Prima magazine (collected by my great Aunt!).

Finally, I felt my usual style of clothing needed a wake up and shake up, and I can’t tell you what made me really badly want to own a denim playsuit.  I found this in a charity shop, which fitted my bottom half perfectly but was too big on top, so I took it in at the side seams, and here is the finished result:


Apologies to Lemonianta for the ‘outfit shot’, but this has to be captured in all its ‘noughties’* glory so that in a few years Lyra can tease me for ever, ever having worn such a garment!

And now it’s back to the ongoing projects: red polka dot dresses for me and Lyra, and I’m also doing an applique ‘Home Sweet Home’ cushion cover…photos to follow!

* OK, so it isn’t the noughties anymore…so what do we call this decade?

I’ve been yammering on about making this coat on this blog for some time now. Because it was my first “advanced” pattern, I really wanted to take my time over it and do it right.

I decided to make it in a black linen with a yellow and white polka dot lining as I thought it would be light enough for summer wear. Turns out I was wrong! Of course, the linen was heavier than I had anticipated and, with the added weight of the lining, it became a good autumn weight coat. Nevertheless, because the summers here may as well be autumn I have already had some wear out of it.

In general, as with all Colette Patterns, I found the pattern easy enough to follow and clearly laid out. At times, I got frustrated with it but that’s my own impatience and inexperience and not the pattern’s fault.

As this was a jacket, I didn’t make a full bust adjustment for it. When I look at it now I figure I probably should have adjusted a little as it tends to gape a little. (I’m not entirely sure how I would go about that though, so that’s something I need to look into) This made the placement of the buttons a little more difficult as well. Ultimately, I decided to put two buttons on as it looked a little better on me – and held it’s shape better – than just having the one.

One thing I did find about the coat was that, when I was wearing it I noticed the pockets tended to hang a little below the hemline when there was something that was just a little weighty in them. Next time, I think somehow attaching the pockets to either the lining to to the hem might be in order, if only to keep them a little better in the shape I’d like them! On the subject of pockets as well, I tried topstitching alongside one edge of the left pocket, but found the stitching tended to warp the shape of it. All other edges were topstitched and this gave it a lovely finished look.

I also attached the lower edges of the sleeve lining to the lower edges of the sleeves, drawing the sleeves back up inside themselves nicely. Originally I had wanted to self hem the sleeves with the lining, creating a nice neat line underneath. However, at around this time my brain started to hurt and I just wanted to get the coat finished. I eventually attached the lining to the edges of the outer sleeve, automatically pulling the sleeve up inside and then I covered the exposed seam with a little bias binding. This I stitched in two parallel lines which I think looks really nice on the outside!

All in all though, I love this pattern and I’m really pleased with the way it worked out. It looks lovely over a nice fitted skirt and makes me feel great when I wear it. I will definitely make it again for winter, possibly with longer sleeves and in a longer length. I also happen to think that with a smaller (or no?) collar this could look lovely as a coat dress for winter.

Anyway, here it is!

A new sewing adventure to bore you all with: I borrowed a vintage apron pattern from Lemonianta and used it to make her an apron as part of her birthday present.  It turned out well, and here it is (on me):

Lyra’s Godmother liked it so much she has requested one the same for her birthday!  It’s a great pattern although quite fiddly due to lots of gathering, and uses a whopping 2.6m of fabric, which could make two dresses!  But it is a lovely, unusual garment, and I love the vintage style, especially the full skirt.  And of course, it’s always good to make things for other people.

I have been on a sewing mission since my last post. Here are some of the fruits of my labour…some more to follow when i can get some pictures.

Burda Button down Skirt

I made this skirt on a whim the night I finished my Rooibos dress (pictures of that to follow!). It’s not perfect and, to be honest, I used it to try out buttonholes for the first time so they are much too close to the centre seam. It’s also a little too big around the waist to the point it makes me wish I had spent a little more time on it to make it better but, ah well, it’s perfectly serviceable.

I used some gorgeous vintage buttons I picked up in  Liberty to add a little interest.  I’ll probably end up taking these off at some stage and using them for something else. For the time being, they’ll stay.

Alexander Henry April Showers Top

I’m actually wearing this top today and I absolutely love it! People at work keep commenting on how unusual the fabric is. It reminds me of something I wore when I was little – and I specifically remember having something with a similar print on it -I just have no idea what that Item of clothing was.

Here is a close up of some of the little fellas:

I only bought a metre of this fabric because I was intending to use it to make a small set of curtains to protect my fabric stash from sunlight. However, when I looked at it I couldn’t bring myself to use it for that and instead decided to make a top using the Simplicity pattern TicTacSew used for her pin-up dress. I made the straps a little too long however, so ended up having to drag them up, fold them over and add some lovely blue buttons, attached with green thread for contrast (and because they both matched!)


Love Birds Parfait

I finally got round to making the Parfait dress in this gorgeous green fabric I bought in Spotlight in Coffs Harbour back in March. I adore this material: it’s so summery,  fresh and unusual. I have to say, I  love being able to make something that is different to what everyone else is wearing at the minute.

This is a picture of it pre-zip and pre hemming. I promise it’s lovely on! Next time I’ll make it a little longer though.

I covered some buttons in the fabric as well to make it that little bit more finished looking. The pockets turned ot really well and I’m really pleased with them. I also got a little carried away and made the buttons on the pocket “look” at each other. Here they are!

I also covered the strap buttons but chose two butterflies for those:

Michael Miller Doodle Fabric dress:

This dress is from the same pattern as the April Showers top above. I was so chuffed to put the invisible zip into the side of this dress absolutely perfectly, only to break it as soon as I had it in! This fabric and the April Showers fabric were bought at the same time.

And a close up (with added kitten):

I love how the different patterns make this dress look completely different. Thanks to the colour combination this will be a good dress for summer with some sandals, and for winter with some thick tights and boots.

I find that now, with each time I pick up the machine, I feel more confident and more easy using it. I can pretty much thread it blindfolded, I have got the hang of seaming without marking the allowance (which I really shouldn’t do), I know just how much thread to wind onto the bobbin to make sure I don’t run out and, best of all, I’m getting much faster at it! This past weekend I made both the dresses and this top. The Parfait dress is classed as an intermediate pattern and I found it no hassle at all to do, In fact, I didn’t once make a mistake with the seams or matching up the fabrics whilst I was doing it, which surely must show I’m improving, right?

I was also overjoyed today to find that my longed-for Tattoo print fabric arrived along with the lovely flower print fabric, which is much prettier in real life. I still haven’t fully decided what to do with the tattoo print fabric, nut I have a pttern in mind for the other. That should be this weekend’s project I think (and the Lady Grey coat, if the fabric ever arrives!)

In fact, I’m enjoying sewing so much I decided to buy a Supafit dress dummy to help me along. I really hate trying on clothes when there are pins sticking out of them and trying to adjust seams, check the fit and all that because I just end up scratched and annoyed so this seemed like a logical next step. Hopefully it’ll be worth the expense!

A quick update to say I have finished making the halter-neck dress (using the Simplicity pattern again)!  Here it is:


Also, I was thinking back to previous sewing exploits, and I forgot to mention I made my friend’s baby a cushion cover to match the curtains in her nursery using this material from kidsfabrics.co.uk:


I have quite a bit of that fabric left and so I’m going to use it to make a cot tidy for the travel cot.  I just need to get some good quality plain white cotton for the background.  I’m going to sew around two rectangular pieces of cardboard to make it sturdy and then sew large pockets on with the curtain fabric.  But who knows when I’ll finish it as I have other crafty things on the go too – knitting and painting!

I have been coveting this Sailor Jerry-esque, tattoo-print  fabric from Alexander Henry for a long time now. Whilst I was on holiday a month or so back I saw a stunning shirt dress made from the black version which I was desperate to have. Unfortunately, the shirt dress was over Aus$200 and was only in a size 8. So, what’s a girl to do but make her own? Finally, yesterday, I decided that enough was enough and I bought about 5  metres of it. My plan is to make a shirt dress and then possibly a skirt with whatever is left over.  Now, the problem is that the only shirt dress pattern is the Colette Ceylon Pattern which I don’t think will suit the pattern or colour of the Tattoo fabric.Perhaps something in this style? Or something a little simpler? I’m going to have to sit down and really look at it, I think!

As I had to purchase 8m of fabric (well, I didn’t, but postage was going to be the same either way, so why not?) I also ordered 3m of this:

Luca Aubergine Fabric from Alexander Henry

TicTacSew has made a lovely halter neck dress out of a pattern with a small floral print (something I’d never really thought of using before) so I thought I might try my hand at something in a small print to try it out. It’s nice and summery anyway, so It will be good for work and can hopefully be teamed with a cardigan and dark tights for winter.

I went a bit mad yesterday when buying fabric and also saw this really unusual and stunning Underwater Sisters fabric (from TheFabricLoft.co.uk. I’ve been planning a Macaroon dress with this, possibly with a white contrast, but I shall have to wait and see what it’s like when it arrives. I fell in love instantly, and I  really couldn’t help myself buying it.  I do often cringe at how much fabrics cost, then I think to myself: “Would I be able to buy this garment for the same price?”. The answer is invariably no, and I love the fact that I can sit down at my machine and make something that I truly love, that fits me perfectly and that I have created with my own hands. As a consequence, I often find I’m more careful with my home-made clothes and I wear them that little bit more confidently.

At the minute, I have a lot more time than I normally would to sit down and make things but I can see that going out the window very shortly, so I’d better make the most of it!

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