Wedding Season

New to Me” week has just drawn to a close on the Monthly Stitch and there were so many fantastic entries, which means I am so flattered that mine was picked as a finalist! You can read my post here, or go and see it over on the Monthly stitch. I would be so grateful if you wanted to go and vote for it too – and you should definitely go and check out the other entries, I am sure I will be buying up a few more indie patterns after seeing all of those fantastic makes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

With wedding season fast approaching I needed the perfect guest outfit for my Aunty’s upcoming nuptials. The wedding will be at the beginning of August and it is an outside affair. I needed the perfect dress – fancy yet not too flamboyant, summery yet amenable to the British weather!

After scouring the list of indie designers so kindly provided on this blog I set my heart on the Georgia dress from By Hand London. Having never used one of their patterns before I had no idea what to expect. As it turns out they give plenty of direction and there is even an online sew-along with more helpful tips.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, once I had read the instructions and looked at the pattern pieces I realised where my first problem would lie. That bodice. With the bodice made up of 5 separate pieces a full bust adjustment was not going to be easy and it was pretty obvious I was going to need a full bust adjustment looking at the size of the pattern pieces. This is where the sew-along came into its own. There were plenty of detailed instructions with photographs about what was required. So I followed the instructions and added a 1 inch wedge into the centre of each of the front bodice centre and side pieces and made a toile. It was not good! There was no way I was going to be decent with that bodice on a dress! – So I took matters into my own hands. The circumference of the bodice was fine, it was just the height, which the FBA described in the sew-along had not accounted for at all. I slashed all the bodice pieces in half horizontally and added another inch of height.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once I had figured out these changes to the bodice the rest was fairly plain sailing. The pattern recommended medium weight fabrics with a little bit of stretch but having looked at some pictures of others I wanted to use a slightly heavier fabric (to hide a multitude of sins on such a fitted dress!). I went with this gorgeous stripy jacquard from Fabworks. It’s pretty heavy for a dressmaking fabric and it frays constantly – my floor looked like I’d attacked the fabric with a shredder when I’d finished but the colours are amazing, a royal blue with stripes of pink, mint green and white running through it.

The details:

Pattern: By Hand London – Georgia dress

Fabric: Blue Jacquard from Fabworks

Alterations: Size 8 bodice with a one inch FBA and an extra inch of height added. Skirt is graded from a size 8 at the bodice to a 12 at the waist and a 14 at the hips

 

I probably could have afforded to go down a size at the hips but for a first go at this pattern I am pretty pleased with it. There are still some fit issues on the bodice but for a first attempt at a pattern from a new-to-me designer I am pretty pleased!

Helen

If you liked this overview of my project why not keep up to date with my current makes over on Instagram or on my blog

My new go-to

It’s Indie Pattern Month over on the Monthly Stitch and there are loads of great things to see, interviews with indie designers, discount codes, competitions and best of all lots of amazing sewers making indie patterns! Last week for the first week of Indie Pattern Month the theme was dresses and there were some amazing winners. I submitted my most recent Heather dress from Sew Over It. You can read about it over on the Monthly stitch or find the post below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t you just love it when you find a pattern that is perfect for you? Be it the style, the fit, or just how fun/easy it is to make. I am so pleased that I have recently found one of those patterns. As soon as the Heather dress by Sew Over It was released, I just knew I had to make it!

 

My first effort was a straight out of the envelope size 10 and it was a pretty good start. Once made I just had to nip a bit out of the back seams so that it wasn’t really baggy. However, just one wasn’t enough and so on my second version I made a few extra changes. I took a couple of inches out of each of those back seams as well as an inch off the waist at each side seam. I also added a bit of extra room into the bust by just curving those princess seams a to have an extra quarter inch. In order to make this dress different from the first I took 5 whole inches off the length! (Sometimes it pays to be short, you can really play around with the length of things!

For Indie Pattern Month, I have made my third version of this dress. This has pretty much the same alterations as the first, but this time the length is somewhere in between (only 3 inches off the pattern this time!) I also added an extra quarter inch to the bust (making that a total of 1/2 an inch on each seam). I really love the dress and can see myself getting a lot of wear out of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those that follow me on Instagram you will be well aware that I love anything blue and so this definitely fits in with my wardrobe! I really love that it is made from a knit fabric as it makes it so comfortable for everyday wear but it doesn’t look to obviously like secret pyjamas due to the way the fabric holds its shape. I always love a good Ponte de Roma and this one is no exception. It has a lovely feel to it and the pattern is super fun yet not too in you face (even if I do now match my curtains!!) I bought it at the Knitting and Stitching show back in spring at the London Olympia from Guthrie and Ghani and have been waiting for the perfect time to cut into it.

The pattern is pretty easy to follow. I got a bit confused the first time around the pockets but if you take your time and follow the instructions there is absolutely nothing to worry about as it is so well described.

The details:

Pattern: Sew Over It – Heather dress

Fabric: Blue diamonds Ponte de Roma from Guthrie and Ghani

Alterations: Size ten, 1/2in added to the bust on each princess seam, 1 inch taken out of each side of both back seams, 1/2in pinched out of each side seam at the waist, hem raised by 3 inches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sew Over It has always been one of my favourite Indie designers and the Heather dress is just another great pattern from them. I already have three but I can definitely see many more in my future!

If you liked this overview of my project why not keep up to date with my current makes over on Instagramon Instagram

Anchor Dress

Anchor DressEarlier this week I showed you my completed Outfit-Along dress and cardigan. For those of you who were paying super close attention you will have noticed I mentioned that it was the second dress I had made using the bodice block from Freehand Fashion. Well, here is the first.  I am really pleased with this make and it was so close to being a perfect fit that I made another straight away for the outfit along..

I decided to make a dress for my holiday which was a couple of months ago now. I had this nautical themed fabric with anchors on it so it was perfect for watching my partner compete in the 3-peaks yacht race yacht race. Also, the race was being filmed for tv so I wanted to be wearing something extra special just in case I was caught on camera!

side

So as I said, I created the bodice block using Chinelo Bally’s book and fitted it by making a toile in white polycotton. Once I had the fitting just right I cut out the bodice in my fashion fabric and attached it to the lining.

bodice

AS I was making this dress way back in June I couldnt help but be influenced by seeing all the great makes over on the monthly stitch for Indie Pattern month. That definitely got me in the mood for sewing and whilst I didn’t have time to contribute anything myself I decided to get into the spirit of the ‘hack it’ competition and use the skirt from one of my favourite indie pattern designers and used the skirt from theLilou dress in love at first stitch by Tilly Walnes. I took about 10cm off the length to allow me to squeeze it out of the fabric (I only had 2.5 m).

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I really enjoyed making the skirt – look at all those pleats. I think fabric manipulation such as pleats and gathers is definitely one of my favourite aspects of sewing!

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I would have quite liked to put in an invisible zip but couldn’t find a red one long enough so opted for a centred zip instead. I think it actually fits in quite well with the dress.

back

 



The details:

Pattern: Bodice block and Lilou skirt from Love at First Stitch

Fabric: Anchor print polycotton (I think it was from Abakhan a while back)

Notions: Gutermann thread, red zip

anchor dress

I love this dress and now I have a well-fitted bodice block can see myself making lots more dresses in this style. I really like the fit and flare look but have never had many clothes like it before because of all the fit issues with ready-to-wear stuff.
anchor selfie

If you liked this overview of my project why not keep up to date with my current makes over on Instagram

oh and I almost forgot…the obligatory twirling photo!

twirl

OAL2016 is complete!

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Who doesn’t love the chance to both knit and sew whilst discussing it every step of the way with a group of like-minded crafters? I personally love it and the Outfit-Along has not disappointed. For those who missed my previous post about this and have no idea what I’m talking about it is a challenge to create an outfit in two months. There is a set pattern for both a sewn skirt and knitted top which you can choose to follow along with a series of guided posts from Lladybird and Untangling Knots or go your own way and make something different. This is what I chose to do as I have quite a few skirts and was looking to make a great summer dress. Also, another cardigan was top of my list for knitting so I decided upon the Agatha cardigan and got started.

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I picked up this gorgeous fabric from the knit and stitch show earlier this year and knew the subtle ivory and black print could handle a bright cardigan so chose to go with a red yarn. I used the suggested yarn for the pattern which was Cascade 220 and I actually really loved working with it. It is 100% wool so it’s really warm and will definitely make the cardigan great for the Autumn and Winter (even if it is a little bit much right now!)

 

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The dress is self-drafted. I used the bodice block from Freehand Fashion, a book by Chinelo Bally from Series 2 of the Great British Sewing Bee. This is the second time I have used this bodice block and after a few tweaks it is almost perfect in terms of fit. I also drafted a semi-circle skirt. I am really pleased with it and the fabric is perfect for this kind of skirt. It drapes really well but has some body to show off the fullness.

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Also, I put the biggest pockets known to man into the side seams! Why doesn’t every dress have pockets this huge??

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I really enjoyed taking part in the Outfit-Along and I’m already looking forward to next year. It was a great experience to think about making an entire outfit as so many of my handmade clothes are one-off pieces that I have to mix and match with shop-bought to create a wearable outfit. Perhaps I will consider this more from now on and start thinking about creating a more cohesive wardrobe.

If you want to see more of the outfit along and see all of the other wonderful outfits people have created you should definitely head on over to Ravelry where there is a wonderful forum of delights awaiting you!

If you liked this overview of my project why not keep up to date with my current makes over on Instagram or Twitter

Slow Progress

Just thought I’d give you all a quick update to explain my absence this week! My partner, Rob, is currently taking part in the 3 peaks yacht race. This is a crazy event where teams of 5 sail up the west coast of the UK dropping off a pair of runners at various points asking the way where they run in land and summit the highest peaks in Wales, England,  and Scotland. Rob is one of the runners in team Sail 4 Cancer raising money for them and the work they do. Its a really great cause so if you do have some time you should find out more about the work they do our if you are feeling super generous you can support them with a donation.

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Team Sail 4Cancer excited to start the race

Currently their progress in the race is pretty slow as we have had no wind so the teams have been doing a lot of rowing rather than sailing. They set off from Barmouth in Wales on Saturday afternoon and reached Caernarfon around 2 in the  morning – that’s when they had to run the 24 miles to the summit of  Snowden and back. They then sailed/rowed to Whitehaven to make the long journey to the summit of Scafell Pike (around 54 miles cycle and run). Just this morning they have set off again to  Scotland where the highest peak of them all, Ben Nevis, awaits.

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Looking calm in Caernarfon

It really is a crazy challenge I think you’ll agree and all to raise awareness of this amazing charity!

So, i’m sure you’re not here to read about crazy sailing/rowing/cycling/running races… On to the crafting!

Well I actually made a new sailing themed dress to wear at the start of the race to see them off. I was hoping to get some pictures on the beach but we didn’t have time. I’ll just have to get some at the end in the beautiful scenery of the Scottish Highlands

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I am also making great progress on my cardigan for the outfit along. Once I saw the boat off at Caernarfon I undertook the epic drive to Fort William

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I stopped off on the show off Loch Lomond

I am now here and it is beautiful but I will probably be waiting another couple of days for the boats to show up given the lack of wind making for poor sailing conditions so there’s plenty time for knitting in this beautiful scenery.

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Hopefully they will get here before we  are due back at work next week!

H.

Ps. Sorry for the rubbish photos but i’m writing this whole post on my phone so there has been no chance to edit!

Planning Moneta

I have had my eye on Moneta by Colette patterns for some time, and so when they had a sale last week I decided to snap up a pdf copy. I have recently come round to liking pdf patterns. Although they can be a bit of a pain to stick together, there is no need to trace the pattern just cut out your size. Then if you want to make another size at a later date, you can just print it out again!

I am currently a bit snowed under with sewing projects! I started a pencil skirt from Freehand Fashion but then decided I should make a dress for my holiday instead. It turns out this was a good plan as we go away on Thursday, and the dress is not quite finished yet! So when I get back, I will finish off the pencil skirt and then get to work on my dress for the Outfit-along. Once those are all done, Moneta is next on my list. Jersey dresses are just so comfy yet still look like you’ve made an effort with your wardrobe. I hope it will quickly become one of my sewing staples! I have already been admiring lots of lovely jersey fabrics but am holding back from buying them until I am ready to make it!

Here are some of my top picks at the moment

I would love a good basic dress that can be worn with anything and I think a jersey dress is perfect for this. This grey jersey has just enough texture to it to make it interesting while still being versatile. I think I could make one in every sleeve length in this sort of fabric!

 

 I always love a good stripe fabric, and these two are just perfect. Monochrome for autumn and winter and a bright red and teal for summer. But which one to make first?

 And speaking of summer, I love this abstract palm tree print it would be perfect for strolling down the beach in.

 

 

So many potential Moneta dresses to make I don’t know where to begin. I hope this is an easy make so I can make them all in super quick speed!

Helen

Outfit along 2016

As Me-Made-May draws to an end I have been thinking about what I could do to keep the part of my brain busy that enjoys snooping  looking at all the amazing things everyone else has been making. I thought I would be at a loss come June.

However, the awesome crafting community has come to my rescue! This time in the shape of the Outfit along. What could be more exciting than a bunch of crafters creating outfits by both sewing and knitting whilst discussing it every step of the way! Cue major excitement! I really enjoyed the selfish sweater knit along at the start of the year so can’t wait to take part in this one!

The Outfit along is run by Untangling Knots and Lladybird covering the knitting and sewing aspects respectively. This year the chosen patterns are Zinone for the knitting and Sewaholics Hollyburn for the sewing. Unfortunately, neither of these two really inspires me but never fear! I will be taking part anyway – I will just be choosing different patterns .

Right now I am thinking of making a different untangling knots pattern – the Agatha cardigan (one day I may make a knitted garment by a different designer but for now I am in love with all of Andi Satterlund’s patterns!) During Me-Made-May I have realised how muted my colour palette is in my makes so I think I will make the cardigan in a red yarn – possibly Cascade 220 in ruby.

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I will be pairing this with a dress made from the fabric I bought at the Knit and Stitch Show (bottom left in the picture above). A gorgeous cotton poplin floral (oh look we’re back to monochrome again!) I am open to suggestions for the pattern but I am thinking possibly the Lilou dress from Love at First Stitch or a Sew Over It Betty...or I am actually currently working on a custom bodice block, so depending how that goes it could be in the frame. Any suggestions are more than welcome.

Who else is joining in with the Outfit Along? What are you making?

Helen

 

 

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions my own

A new dress is for life, not just for Christmas

With only two days to go before Christmas I decided I couldn’t possibly not make a new dress for the big day! I even had thefabric ready: the navy and emerald tartan (I only used a tiny bit for the hem of my Lou Lou dress).

Megan

I’ve been meaning to try remaking a pattern that I’ve already tried in the hope that it would save a lot of time, particularly at the fitting stage so it seemed the perfect opportunity to make another Megan dress as I really loved the fit of my first one.

 

Not having to fit a toile can save tons of time!

I know it sounds obvious (right?) but I guess I just hadnt really ever thought about how much quicker it would be to make a pattern for the second time. As I am still relatively new to making my own clothes the excitement of new patterns is still a major driver when I choose what to make next. However, given that this was a project with a deadline, makiing a second version of a project I know I can get a great fit on was the perfect plan.

The fabric was wonderful to work with, it just seemed to glide through the machine. I wish I knew more about fabrics so that I could look out for similar things in future. Maybe someone will be able to help me figure it out! The only issue was the large checked pattern required a lot of matching. In fact, I didnt really bother too much other than pinning it when folded so that the stripes remained straight and symmetrical about the centre. I just let the side seams take care of themselves (but shh, don’t tell anyone)

stripe matching

In terms of fitting, I pretty much used my toile from last time as a pattern piece. In fact, I only adjusted one thing and that was to make the bodice longer by 1.25inches so that it sits a bit lower down rather than creeping up right under my bust.

megan top

I also added a centred zip. I chose to do this for a few reasons. Firstly, and probably most importantly they didn’t have an invisible one in the colour I wanted. Secondly, as my fabric was a little thicher than the one I used last time I didnt want to get stuch with bulky seams around the zip which can sometimes make them tricky to open and close. I had also just seen this tutorial for one over on the Colette website and really wanted to try it out.

Megan zip

Unlike last time I decided to leave the length of the skirt as in the pattern as I largely intend to wear this dress in the winter over tights I quite like the extra length.

The only other change I made from last time was to redraw the neck facing pattern pieces to match the new shape of the neckline after the FBA and it worked really well – no more weird protruding neckline. The only slight issue is the zip does sag a little at the neckline so I still need to figure out why that is happening but it’s fine if I just wear my hair down over it!

The details:

Pattern: Megan dress from Love at first stitch

Fabric: Navy and emerald tartan?

Notions: 56cm Navy zip, gutermann thread in navy, light weight iron on interfacing

Alterations: Full bust adjustment, 1.25 inches added to length of bodice

I really love this dress and it was the perfect thing for Christmas day, smart but not too over the top for dinner with family!

H.

 

Lou Lou Dress

A few months ago I noticed a new pattern from English girl at Home appear: The Lou Lou dress. It was her first dress pattern and so when Charlotte was looking for people to make and review the pattern I jumped at the chance and was delighted when she gave me the pattern to try.

Lou Lou Dress on HsHandcrafts

I chose to make view A of the dress – a simple shift dress with a cute lining poking out of the bottom. The dress is designed as a summer dress and calls for a lightweight fabric. Many of the pictures of Charlotte’s own look lovely and airy for the summer. However, it was already early Autumn when I had time to begin work on the dress. I decided to go with a navy twill for the main fabric and a navy and green tartan for the special lining fabric at the bottom. As this lining fabric is visible only at the bottom, the pattern allows for a different lining fabric for the full lining. I decided to go with a green lining to match the green in the tartan.

Lou Lou lining fabrics

As the dress is quite loose fitting it was recommended to go from the bust measurement alone. As, with every pattern (and almost every sewer in the world) I fell between 2 sizes. I decided to go with the larger size as I didn’t want to risk the garment being too small. The pattern was also designed to fit a B cup and so knowing there was no way that was going to work for me I decided to do a full bust adjustment adding 1 inch to the front pattern pieces for the lining and main fabric, I also added a bust dart so as not to add any length due to the FBA.

The sewing was actually quite straight forward and the instructions were really easy to follow. In fact I was really surprised to discover that I had just completed my first fully lined dress without only problems. The only thing I might change is possibly understitching the lining especially around the neckline because I have a feeling it will start to poke out after a few hours of wear.

After a quick try on I realised I probably could have gone with the smaller size as the dress was pretty loose everywhere, but this was easily fixed. I took 1/2 an inch off each side seam and resewed the arm holes. I also chose to take an inch off each of the shoulder seams. This made the armholes smaller and lifted the neckline up but this was more for personal preference than fitting issues.

The only problem I now have is the back does sag a little and I’m not sure if this is due to some of the adjustments I have made or if this would have been a fit issue all along

LouLou back

I especially like the detail of the contrast lining at the bottom of the dress. I feel like it allows you to have a layered outfit look without all the bulk.

Lou Lou layers
The details:

Pattern: Lou Lou dress from English Girl at Home

Fabric: Navy Twill from ebay, Navy and green tartan and green lining fabric from Fashion Fabrics in St. Albans

Notions: Gutermann thread in Navy

Alterations: Size 3 with FBA, 0.5 inch taken from each side seam and 1 inch taken off the shoulder seam

I really enjoyed making the dress, especially the fact that I made a fully lined dress for the first time. The instructions were nice and easy to follow. I like the layered look although I am not convinced of the style on me. Given the fact I added the full bust adjustment it feels very big, although once I put some heels on I did feel much better – perhaps it is not one for my everyday style but needs dressing up a bit!

H.

Megan Dress

It’s been a week since I finished my latest project and it’s just as well as the weather we have been having is amazing so its already been getting a fair few outings. I am slowly working my way through “Love at first stitch” and so the next thing to make was the Megan dress. A quick search on the internet will show you loads of gorgeous versions of this dress, which seems to be the perfect shape on everyone so I was really excited to make mine!

Megan dress in fun blue and white chevron print

Megan dress in fun blue and white chevron print

To be honest, I started this dress about a month ago. Firstly I traced out the pattern for the bodice in a size 4 and cut out a toile from some really cheap plain white cotton. I pinned it together with all the darts in place and it looked terrible. The arm holes were gaping open and whilst it fit nicely across my chest it seemed to fit terribly everywhere else. So I turned to google and soon found out that what I needed to do was to cut a smaller pattern size and do a full bust adjustment. So this is exactly what i did – I eventually got the bodice toile fitting perfectly! At this point I decided I needed a break and set to work on my Anémone skirt.

After completing the skirt I was keen to move back to my Megan dress, especially as the weather was warming up and I had the perfect cotton that would be fun and bright to match the season! As the toile was complete there was not much fitting left to do. I removed all the pins and drew in the darts with a marker pen so that I could use the fabric toile as my pattern piece.

The fabric I had chosen to use I had originally purchased with the idea of making a top and so only had 2 m of fabric. The pattern calls for closer to 3 so i decided to first lay it all out and see if I could fit all the pattern pieces on. Luckily for me the zigzag pattern does not really need to be “the right way up” so I was able to fit it all in by putting the front and back bodice pieces on facing in opposite directions whilst still orientating the grainline correctly.

Squeezing all the pattern pieces onto a piece of fabric which should have been too small

Squeezing all the pattern pieces onto a piece of fabric which should have been too small

Once the pattern pieces were cut out the dress came together relatively quickly last Saturday. Sewing in darts was a lot simpler than I thought. I don’t know what I was expecting but I was really surprised at how quick it was. Also gathering is my new favourite thing – expect more of this coming soon!

gathered sleeve on Megan dress

Look at all the pretty gathering on the sleeves – so much fun!

The only thing I am not to happy with this the neckline. It seems to sit proud of my shoulders and I’m not quite sure why. I think it might be something to do with the way I altered the bodice for the full bust adjustment. Perhaps I also need to change the shape of the facing pieces or use a lighter weight interface? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Neckline on Megan dress sitting proud and I dont know why?!?

Neckline on Megan dress sitting proud and I dont know why?!?

This was also my first project where I felt I really ought to give pattern matching a go. I didn’t really know how to go about this so I thought I would just try really hard on one seam. I felt the most important place was the front of the dress where the bodice joins the skirt. I measured the seam allowance on the bodice pattern piece and marked where on the zigzag the seam would be. I then tried really hard to align the corresponding pattern piece on the skirt with that part of the zigzag. I am quite pleased with how it turned out. Its not perfectly matched but from a distance its not amazingly obvious! The back however, is a different story. I’m not sure how it managed to get so horribly mismatched!! Oh well, this is Britain, I will be wearing a cardigan most of the time!

The details:

Pattern: Megan Dress from Tilly and the Buttons book: Love at first stitch

Fabric: 100% Cotton Craft Monotone Zig-Zag Print Fabric Material in navy and white from the textile centre

Notions: YKK invisible zip in dark blue, Guterman thread in white, medium weight interfacing.

Alterations: Full bust adjustment for bodice. Skirt shortened by approx 4 inches

Megan dress

Megan dress