Tuesday, 30 October 2018

(Backup) Four Fabulous Freyas

Long time no blog! Not really sure why I’ve been absent for so long, think life has just been in the way of blogging. I’ve been sewing like mad for the last few months, so will endeavour to catch up on blog posts about my new makes!

As the weather started changing, I had to put away all the lovely Summer dresses I had been wearing for months and think about Autumn/ Winter projects. I’d been eyeing up the Freya pattern from the Stretch Book by Tilly and the Buttons for a while, but waiting for the weather to cool down before making it. 

My first version was in a stripe ponte de roma from 1st for Fabrics. I’ve seen loads of similar tops in stripes in the shops, and I was so pleased with how this one turned out. I also made a new Cleo pinafore in mustard twill to wear it with. The Freya is a really easy sew, mainly made on the overlocker. I decided to get over my Coverstitch fear and use that to finish the neckline and do the hemming. It really does make a difference to the finished look of the garment, so I’ve vowed to keep on practicing with it. 

After my success with the top version, I decided to make a dress. The ruffle version was one of the first patterns I saw from the book, and I couldn’t resist making a version myself. I used a real ponte de roma, also from 1st for Fabrics. The construction of the dress was identical to the top. It took a long time to get the placement of the ruffle right. I pinned and re-pinned the guide ribbon time and time again. I was pleased that I persevered, as I’m really happy with the final version - just need to find an occasion to wear it now!

My Freya top and mustard Cleo immediately went into heavy wardrobe rotation so I decided to make another using up some ponte from my stash. I used this to make a Coco earlier in the year, and was pleased that there was enough left for another Freya. Black and white seems to go well with the mustard colour of the pinafore. 

The final Freya was a gift for a friend, using the remainder of the striped fabric from my first version. I had to put a seam down the centre back, which gave me an opportunity to practice my pattern matching. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of this one. 

I’ll definitely be making more of these - they are perfect under pinafores and dungarees, and the dress version is smart enough for a party dress. 

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Keeping cool in the Heatwave - the Stevie dress

Can you believe the weather this Summer? It’s amazing - I’ve been able to wear my holiday wardrobe to work. The only downside (and I really don’t want to moan) is that I work in an un-air conditioned office that is glass-sided and south-facing. Luckily an email popped into my inbox with news of the new pattern releases from Tilly and the Buttons a couple of weeks ago. While the Seren dress looks nice, it was the Stevie that caught my eye as I knew it was something I’d get loads of wear out of. 

I had a couple of fabrics in my stash that I thought would work well with this pattern. I opted to make the first version in some navy cotton voile bought in the sale from Seasalt. You can only buy this fabric in pre-cut lengths. Luckily I had 3m of it as it is super narrow. I’ve only just about got enough for something for Polly left. I opted for the version with pocket and cuffs and was super proud of myself that I pattern-matched the pocket so well you can hardly see it!  This is marketed as a beginners pattern and it is a quick easy sew. However, it has some lovely features such as the back yoke and bow. I love the fit without any adjustments from my usual size in Tilly patterns (3). I was slightly concerned that it was too short, but looking at the photos, I think it’s ok. The fabric was gorgeous to sew with and so comfortable to wear. 

For my second version I used a bold Liberty print lawn from Abakhan. I bought this a while ago without a project in mind, and I knew it would work well with the simplicity of this dress. I decided to leave off the pocket this time as the design of the fabric has a large print. I also didn’t pattern match at the back as I was trying to be frugal with the fabric, but I think I got away with it!  As with all Liberty fabric, it feels buttery-soft and luxurious. I’m saving the rest for another project. 

I’m leaving it at two versions of Stevie for now, but I’m sure I’ll make other versions in future. It’s perfect for the warm weather and easy enough to sew in an evening. 

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Tag you’re it!

At the end of last Summer, I saw the new Alexander Henry fabric designs and fell in love with ‘Tag You’re It’, which is a retro New York style graffiti print. I’ve always loved old school hip hop and the opportunity to make a dress in this fabric was too good to be true. I bought the fabric straight away, then it sat in my cupboard for almost a year while I ummed and ahhed about what to make with it. I used a bit for the side and top panels for some board shorts for Thomas while I was trying to work out what to make. 

I came across a discussion on a sewing group on Facebook where someone had the same fabric and was asking for suggestions about what to make with it. Someone else suggested Simplicity 3833 which is a reissue of a 1960s pattern. It’s a simple a-line dress which suits a bold fabric design. It was a great suggestion and I ordered the pattern straight away. 

There were more pattern pieces that I expected, and I ended up cutting into the pattern itself rather than tracing off as I usually do in order to save time. For some reason, I got distracted by other projects, and this sat in a bag for about three months. We were going to a gig last week and I fancied making something new to wear, so picked it back up again. 

The bust dart seams were a new technique, and I’m not convinced that I’ve got the fit quite right. I really didn’t like the instructions or sewing order with this pattern, so ended up making it in the order I would normally sew a dress. I also changed the zip for an invisible zip. As I often find with Simplicity patterns, there is a huge amount of ease and it came up far too big. I took it in at the side seams which helped, but I think there are a few more adaptations I would make if I was going to make this again. 

The fabric is lovely quality and really nice to wear. I would be tempted to make the dress again in another fabric, but spend more time on fitting (as usual, I was sewing up to the wire with this!).

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Crazy about Kitty

The Kitty dress by Maven patterns first came to my attention when my Mum and Sister went to Sewing for Pleasure at the NEC (without me - how very dare they!!) and sent me a picture saying they thought this pattern would suit me. They were right - it pretty much ticks all the boxes - retro 60s style, Peter Pan collar, puffed sleeves and pockets. However, I had so many other projects lined up at the time, it was only this week that I actually got round to making it, inspired by all this fabulous weather we have been having (hope I haven't tempted fate by actually mentioning it...).

I bought some green denim from Sew Over It especially for this project and it has been sitting on my 'to-sew' pile for a few weeks.  I cut the size 10 based on my measurements. The garment is only semi-fitted. I found sewing with the denim fine using a denim needle and had to make very few adjustments to fit. The central bust dart and centre front seam are both unusual features. I love how the bust darts change the grain of the denim at the top of the bodice. I chose to topstitch in co-ordinating thread rather than contrast thread due to the bright colour of the fabric. Contrast top stitching would look amazing with blue or black denim and I'm tempted to make another version doing this. 

I was really pleased with the collars when I turned them out until I noticed a tiny hole on one at the seam. In the past, I'd have been tempted to just leave it and hope for the best, but I've learned the hard way that things like that always get worse after washing so I re-did the whole collar piece. 

I'm really pleased with this dress, it's a perfect daytime Summer dress and I feel like it's closely aligned with my personal style. The colour is really bright, but who wants to be dull, hey?  I also made another Blackwood Cardigan by Helen's Closet in cable knit jersey from Higgs and Higgs, this time using a raspberry colour in the shorter length. All in all, I'm super pleased with this outfit and I can see it going into heavy rotation. 

Monday, 28 May 2018

Sweatshirts and Hoodies - Beep Beep and Stella

I absolutely love wearing hoodies - I've probably owned 100s over the years. Making the perfect hoodie for myself has been a bit of a holy grail, dressmaking-wise. Last year I made myself the Papercut Patterns Undercover Hood. Although it is really warm and I love the colour (pale pink sweatshirt fabric from Guthrie and Ghani), I've never been completely happy with the fit and style. Recently, my newsfeed has been full of Stella sweatshirts from the new Tilly and the Buttons book. I bought some dark grey sweatshirt fabric with silver glitter stars from Fabrics Galore at GBSB Live back in September which has been waiting for the right project. I decided to make it with the sleeves in a pale grey (also from Fabrics Galore) in a nod to the 90s. 

The pattern actually came free with one of the sewing magazines I subscribe to, so I decided to cut it straight out rather than trace off like I usually do. I cut out a size 3 (my usual size in Tilly patterns), but graded out a bit at the waist. I used sweatshirt ribbing (also from Fabrics Galore) for the cuffs and neck band. I decided to add a waistband after seeing this on someone else's version  as I hate tops and jumpers to be too short, and used the ribbing for this as well. I cut the body pieces and hood from the star fabric and sleeves from pale grey. I used a remnant of grey jersey for the hood lining. Having made hoodies for the kids and myself previously, the construction was straightforward, with the hood itself taking the most work. Tilly's instructions were excellent as ever. I added the buttonholes for the drawstring but wished I hadn't as they weren't completely level so I decided to leave out the drawstring so as not to draw attention to them. I'm really pleased I added the waistband as I like the slightly longer length. I'm really happy with the fit and style of this hoodie - I think this is the pattern I have been looking for!

I had quite a lot of fabric left and I decided to use the leftovers to make the kids a Beep Beep Sweatshirt from Made by Jack's Mum from the latest issue of One Thimble sewing magazine (an awesome digital magazine full of sewing patterns for kids which I have only just discovered). For Polly, I used the star fabric for the body and sleeves and pale grey for the side strips and pockets. I made Thomas's in reverse. This is such a great kid's sweatshirt pattern - I love the raglan sleeves and the side strip/ pockets are a great opportunity to colour block/ stash bust. MBJM always have great instructions as well. I think this is my new favourite kid's jumper pattern. It was so quick to sew and I'm already planning more. I'm not sure I'll ever made the version with the road appliqué, but it is so versatile, I'm sure there will be lots of variations over the years as it goes up to age 12. 

We are off on a glamping holiday today, these are bound to get a lot of wear!

Monday, 21 May 2018

Summer in the City - the Zoe Dress

I am absolutely loving this beautiful weather we have been having recently. Even though I've been under the weather, the sun always puts a smile on my face. The only downside is that I work in possibly the hottest office in the universe. Comfortable cotton Summer dresses are a must, so I was really excited when Sew Over It released the Zoe Dress pattern. It is a semi-fitted dress with princess seams and most importantly, in-seam pockets (gotta love a dress with pockets!). I found some beautiful Japanese floral cotton from Higgs and Higgs, which has a heavier weight which is perfect for a slightly more structured dress. 

My measurements came out as a size larger than I usually make, so I cut out in this size. This is quite a straightforward sew, but I struggled with mistakes as I have done with all my recent projects. I've found it quite hard to concentrate while I've been ill. When I'm feeling myself, I'm sure this could be made in a couple of evenings.  The fabric was lovely to sew with, I'd definitely get more in different colour ways/ designs. 

When I tried the dress on, I was disappointed with the fit, it was far too loose and I wished I had made my usual size. I managed to take it in at the back side seams (it was too hard to alter at the front due to the pockets), and that rectified it. I have had this problem a couple of times recently - think I probably need to stick with the size I have made before with particular pattern houses, as I keep making stuff that is too big. 

I'm so pleased with the finished dress, it is perfect Summer work wear, I will be making plenty more!

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Back in time - Mila Dungarees

Everywhere I turn at the moment, people are wearing dungarees. While I've been wearing my Cleo dungaree dresses for ages, I haven't taken the plunge with full dungarees yet. When I saw the Mila pattern by Tilly and the Buttons, I decided to give it a go. The last time I wore dungarees was to youth club disco when I was about 13, so these are definitely a blast from the past!

I bought some amazing pineapple print stretch denim from the Denim Company to make a dress a while ago. However, I decided to repurpose as soon as I saw this pattern. Pineapples and dungarees seemed like the perfect combination. The pattern is designed to be quite fitted, so I decided to make a size up as I wanted them to have a looser fit. I managed to cut them out with quite a lot left from 2m - planning bags/hats from the remainder. 

As usual, the instructions from Tilly are fantastic. The first parts of the construction (front and back bibs, pockets and straps) reminded me of making the Cleo dress. I opted for black topstitching rather than the yellow I had initially planned. I was pleased with this decision, as it doesn't detract from the design of the fabric.  Although the instructions were clear, I made a right hash of the waistband. I stitched the inside bands on the wrong way twice and spent a lot of time unpicking. I've been feeling ill, and this project was mainly completed in short bursts as a way of trying to make me feel better. My concentration hasn't been great, so I'm blaming the mistakes on that!

Once I got my head round the waistbands, the rest came together quickly. I finally used some silver buttons I bought for another project years ago that was abandoned. The fit of the bib and waistband was spot on but the legs, especially around my hips and thighs was huge. I increased the seam allowance on inside and outside legs to remedy this. I'm pleased with the final result, although it feels weird to wear dungarees again after all these years. About half way through completing these, I got another dungaree pattern free with a sewing magazine. I might tackle that pattern next.