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Thursday, 3 November 2016

My AnnaLotte Dress

An Anna/Charlotte dress
With this dress, the fabric definitely came first. Usually I have an idea in my mind about the kind of dress I want to make, and then go in search for the right fabric. But this time, as soon as Caroline from Blackbird Fabrics posted about this fabric in an Instagram video, I knew that I had to have it! As soon as it was for sale, I bought 3m of the stuff so that I could make a dress for a few events that I had coming up (that actually took place in September/October - I am very late blogging about this one). It is no longer available which I think is testament to it's gorgeousness! 

I decided to buy the Anna dress from By Hand London as I really like the bodice of the pattern and thought that it would work well with the structure of this fabric. It is a cotton sateen so it's soft but sturdy. I decided to use the Charlotte skirt pattern, also from By Hand London, as I already had it and really liked how the combo had turned out for other sewcialists (notably here and here). The original skirt for the Anna dress is quite flared, so I did not think that it would work that well with this thicker fabric.  

A Gala-worthy dress
I made a muslin in size 14 and was pretty pleased with the fit. I think that the key to getting the fit right on the Anna dress is to get the waist right, as this is the tightest part. I think that the bust looks nice with a bit of room so I didn't mind it being a bit larger here. To mirror the top, I decided not to make the skirt super fitted. The darts on the top and bottom line up quite nicely which is handy. I did trim a good few inches off the sleeves, but the dress still has the kimono like look that is part of the appeal of the pattern. If I make the dress again, I think I will go down a half or whole size for a more fitted look, but it really depends on the fabric. I was tempted to line the dress, but I think that the fabric is thick enough to hold it's own. 

Me and my beautiful friend, Hannah
I wore this dress to an 80th Anniversary gala that I organized for my work, as well as two wonderful weddings that we went to back in England in October. We had an amazing almost three week visit to see our friends and family. We spent some lovely days with our family, and got to explore a new area to us, Sunderland, as my parents live there now. There are some glorious views in the Northeast of England. It was such a wonderful trip that I'm finding it hard to recover, especially as it has rained every day since we got back to Vancouver.

"Sunny" Sunderland!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Making a Quick & Easy Mug Hug


I made tonnes of Christmas presents this year for various friends and family. Small fabric things are nice and light to send back to ol' Blighty, and my colleagues love it when I make them things. It's still a big novelty for them! These mug hugs are quick and easy, and perfect those special people in your life who love coffee. The cups in the photo above are from Nordstrom, but it seems that most big coffee shop chains sell them. 


Firstly, gather your supplies. You will need:

  • A template (I made mine using a cardboard sleeve from a coffee shop)
  • Some fabric, around 10cm x 25cm will do, depending on pattern placement
  • Some felt or batting, same size as fabric
  • Pins
  • Cotton thread (matching, or contrasting... you decide!)
  • Pinking shears

To make your template, draw around your cardboard sleeve, adding 1mm or so at the top and the bottom, and 1cm at each side. 


Cut two pieces out of your main fabric and two pieces out of your felt or batting. You may need more fabric if there is a particular detail of your fabric print that you want to include, or if your fabric is one directional.   



Pin one piece of fabric and one piece of batting together, and sew them together along the top and the bottom, with a seam allowance of 4mm like below. If you don't have a sewing machine, you can definitely do this project by hand as well. 


Trim the edges with your pinking shears.



Next, place the two pieces together, felt sides together and then sew along the sides with a 1cm seam allowance. 


Trim the sides with the pinking shears, et voila! You made a mug hug. How quick and easy was that?!

I heart Seamwork

Seamwork. Just Seamwork. I have subscribed to Seamwork Magazine since the very beginning, and it is exciting to wake up on the first of each month to see what articles and delightful patterns are in store for us. And do you know what made me love it even more? In May I won their #Seamworkgiveaway competition! I won a 6 month subscription for posting my Madrid tote on Instagram and I was unbelievably chuffed!  



I had previously bought the fabric to make the Adelaide & Mesa dresses and my win inspired me to get on with making them!

The Mesa dress was the first knit garment that I ever made, and part of my challenge to get to grips with knits. I have been getting used to working with my serger with woven fabrics since August last year, but hadn't really got round to making an actual knit item. I really fell for this fabric in Dressew, partly because it is similar to one of the Mesas modelled in Seamwork, but I also love anything aztec-y at the moment. 


Seamwork Mesa
I found the dress straightforward to sew. It is stated that the pattern takes just an hour to make, but as a knitty beginner, I knew that it would take me longer to construct the dress than just an hour. I also needed to piece the pattern together and cut the fabric too. In total, I think I managed to do everything in around five hours, spread over two days.  
Unsure about my Mesa...
So now, the bad news. It's too tight around my belly and too big in the neck/shoulders/arms area! The fabric doesn't have the right amount to stretch for this design and my body shape. Can you tell by my grimace that I am unsure?! I made a large, which I think would have worked with a stretchier knit. I really love the design but I'm not sure how I will rectify this fit issue - perhaps I will grade to a medium at the top and take it out so that the waist curve isn't as drastic.  

Seamwork Adelaide dress
My second Seamwork dress is the Adelaide. My (always) beautiful sister sent me some more Atelier Brunette fabric; this time 'Bye Bye Birdie'. I really wanted a summery dress and I knew as soon as this pattern was released that this was the one. 

The construction is straightforward, like all Seamwork patterns. I like the fact that there are no separate plackets to attach. I interlined the dress with some plain black voile as I didn't want this dress to be see-through and the fabric is quite sheer, especially on sunny days. 

I decided not to make the tie as I like to wear this kind of thing with a separate belt. I also didn't make the belt loops, but I think I still might add these as an afterthought, as it would be handy to have them to keep the belt in place. I also used buttons, as I didn't have any poppers to use. This added quite a bit onto the construction time, but I'm really happy with the dress so don't mind about that. Andy took this photo of me wearing the dress when we saw the England women's team beat the Canadian team at the Women's World Cup. I am much happier here, of course! 


Happy in my Adelaide dress
I have also made two versions of the Akita. The first is out of some amazing black rayon twill that I picked up at Modern Domestic when Andy and I visiting Portland in August. I grabbed three yards of this fabric with a view to making an Alder, and something else like a Sorbetto. When I saw the Akita, I knew that it would be perfect with this fabric. It is really wrinkly though! I ironed this top about 30 minutes before taking these photos, and then did a bit of cleaning, and this is what happened!

Seamwork Akita
I made a shorter version, stopping at the top of the side slits. It seemed really long when I got to that point, so I thought that shorter would be better. It's really nice tucked into skirts or with trousers. I like the fluttery sleeves too. 

Zebra Akita
My second version was an emergency make as I needed something pink to wear to work for an Anti-Bullying day that we were running. I have nothing that is pink, but I did have a yard of this fabric... As the zebras are all standing up the same way, I cut the Akita pattern piece at what I worked out to be the top of the shoulder. I then cut the pattern out as two pieces next to each other with a seam allowance at the top. I'm not sure if I got the shoulder seam placement completely wrong or if it is the fabric, but the bust darts are really low. Droopily low. But I still love wearing this top and so tend to just ignore this fact! This is a really versatile top, and can be made with a yard of fabric if it is wide enough (and you can get the shoulder placement right...). I'm going to keep working on this pattern as it's so quick to make. This is a size 12 but I may cut a smaller neck size for my next one. Just to experiment, y'know.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Secret Shorts

I have had my eye on the Tania culottes by Megan Nielsen for a long time. I have seen many cool versions in the blog world, and I love the simplicity of Meg's patterns. But I'm not going to lie, the main reason that I really wanted to make these culottes is because I really struggle with bare legs in the summer! I can tell you stories and stories of days out and holidays ruined by the dreaded chub rub, and I saw these beauties as the end to my walking woes. 

Is it a skirt? Or shorts? 
I made size XL (one thing I really dislike about MN patterns is the minuscule waists) and I lengthened them by six inches all the way round. To do this, I extended the length at the seams, as suggested in this helpful tutorial. Staying true to form, I used some Cotton+Steel rayon from the Frock collection: this time it was Gemstone in Navy. 


Seeing them taking shape was quite exciting, as I have never made shorts or pants before. The construction was pretty quick and straightforward. I struggled with the first invisible zipper that I tried because I had the iron a tad too hot and so it distorted under the heat. I didn't realise how much it had until I had sewn it in! So, I unpicked it and tried with another, without ironing this time. I think that next time I make these I will try inserting the zip at the back as I would like to see how that hangs. 

All revealed...
Now here's another thing that I have to be honest about: I just could not be bothered to hem these babies so they sat in my sewing pile for around two months! The hems are just so wide, as indicated in the photo above. I didn't measure, but there must be at least three metres of hem. I'm not very patient when it comes to hemming (and actually finishing my garments...) at the best of times and I just couldn't face doing this. It was so hot during the summer and I really struggled to get much finished without throwing it on the floor in frustration at the heat, with sweat pouring down my face! But then came along the perfect reason to finish these: our BC Day trip to Portland at the beginning of August. I knew that we would be doing lots of walking around the city and therefore the perfect chance to try out my new defenders. 

The verdict? They worked a charm! No rubbing and the fabric was lovely and cool on a 38 degree day. I am really happy with how they worked out. I like the length, and where they sit on my waist. Once I find some good fabric, I will definitely replicate these! 

Beautiful roses
We had an amazing time in Portland. It was nice to be there when the sun was shining (and it was a lot warmer than the previous time we had passed through). We walked up to the International Rose Test Garden, and ate and drank copious amounts of local food and beer. We also went to some of the best sewing shops that I have ever been in, as well as the Pendleton factory for some super cheap fabric. So much to sew, so little time!

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Papercut Patterns Sigma Dress

Making dresses in one of my favourite things at the moment. I'm not sure why, but I think I find them the most rewarding because once you've made a dress, you have a whole outfit ready to go! 

I absolutely adored this fabric when I first saw it on the Blackbird Fabrics website and knew that I wanted to use it on a dress so that I could show off as much of the pattern as possible. I had bought the Sigma dress by Papercut Patterns a while before and had been toying for quite a long time about which fabric to use to make it. 


Papercut Sigma dress 
The instructions for making this dress were nice and clear, although I was a little confused about the interfacing for the pockets. I like the fact that there are two skirt options, and two sleeve options. This makes it very versatile depending on what kind of dress you want. I went for the gathered front skirt (variation one) with short sleeves. I thought that the gathered version would work best with this print. 


These flowers!
I made a muslin of the dress top to check the fit in large. As a result, the top is now a medium at the arms graded to an extra large at the waist. This was to accommodate the fact that my waist is larger than my shoulders, proportionally speaking. This seemed to work pretty well, although when I make this dress again, I will maybe go from medium to large at the waist as this one does feel roomy. Perhaps I should have made that second muslin after all?! I think I may also take the shoulders in by half an inch and adjust the sleeves accordingly. 

One thing that is different with this pattern when compared to most other dress patterns like this (that I have seen) is that the sleeves are sewn in flat before you sew the side seams together, and you don't gather the sleeve heads. I was dubious about whether this would work, but it really did and now I am going to trust whatever Papercut Patterns say in future. 

I originally added six inches to the length of the skirt after reading some reviews which said that the skirt came out very short. I took off around two before I hemmed and I'm pretty happy with this length now. 

I love the pockets; they are a great shape (not too big) and I like the fact that they are attached to the waist seam so that they don't flop around. 

In summary, this dress is really comfortable, in fit and because the fabric is so lush!  


Sewing Recap

I haven't blogged for a really long time... but it's not because I haven't been busy making at all! So I thought that I would do a quick recap of some of the things that I made way back in the summer so that I have them documented, and also to remind me that I actually made them!


Checked Grainline Archer
First up is the Grainline Studio Archer shirt. This was always intended to be a wearable muslin. I love this fabric from Dressew, it was super cheap and I thought that it would not only be a good test but great for wearing around the apartment. And good for my pattern matching skills. I made a straight-up size 12 based on my bust size as a starting point.


Yolk cut on the bias
I really like the big pockets, the yoke dart and I enjoyed making the cuffs. However, I think that the shoulders are too broad for me, and the sleeves are pretty huge which is why I have them rolled up (and I must also confess that I haven't even finished the cuffs by putting buttons on because I knew straight away that I would never wear them all the way down!). I am planning on making another version of this with slimmer shoulders (maybe about an inch?) and I really want to make it using this fabric from Cotton+Steel - just to match my Alder shirt, y'know. Really showing my creature-of-habit-ness right there. I think I will also attempt a sleeveless version like Andrea or Fiona - both equally beautiful and simple.


Pleated Front Dress from Salme Patterns
Next up is the Salme Patterns Pleated Front Dress. I was immediatey drawn to the simplicity of this dress, but wasnt sure what fabric to use. Luckily my beautiful sister sent me this Sparkle Midnight blue fabric from ol' blighty by Atelier Brunette. I still haven't found a North American stockist for this stuff! I did an FBA and added on an inch each side. I think this really helped with the fit, although it feels snug round the chest and big at the underarms at the same time. I didn't think that would be possible! Another problem is that the fabric is quite sheer, but I tend to wear this kind of thing with leggings anyway. Which is a good thing, as with my handbag it rides all the way up to my bum! Not a good look... Enough complaining, I really like this dress and always get lots of compliments at work!


Victoria blazer from By Hand London
I have wanted to make the Victoria blazer from the amazing By Hand London for a really long time and took advantage of a 20% off sale. I got the paper pattern delivered all the way over here, as it wasn't available as a PDF at the time. I have to tell you, it was really nice not to have to cut out bits of paper and stick them together for once!


Blinded by the lining?
This fabric can be recognised from here. I inadvertently made myself a little suit (I haven't actually worn them together... yet). I decided to use a contrast fabric (leftover from here) for the lapels and collar, and it doesn't quite work because they a different thickness. As the dot has a bit of knit about it, it stretched quite a bit when I was sewing, and the black twill is quite stiff, so the lapels and collar don't sit as nicely as I would like. I tried tacking them down as well but this doesn't seem to help. I had some salmony coloured rayon in my stash, which I used for the lining. Unfortunately you can see the lining around the collar because of the way the lapels sit, which is a bit frustrating. I will definitely make a more wearable version of the Victoria, probably the shorter version as I think that will suit me more. I would like to make it in a nice linen, something not as thick as this hybrid knit stuff!




Colette Violet with placket
I was very excited when, way back in January, Violet was announced as the first Colette Patterns Pattern of the Month. I have a sleeveless version that I made a few years ago (which could be so much better now I have learnt about making the armholes smaller). I was even more excited when I saw the button-band hack! I always thought that the facing didn't really work with thin fabric and so was desperate to try. I really like the short sleeves, and decided to gather them and make a band out of biased binding to neaten them up again. I would definitely do this again.

Amanda of Bimble & Pimble fame egged me on to use this swiss dot after I commented on her white Archer. The fabric feels really nice, but boy does fluff stick to it. I have to get my lint roller out everytime I wear it! This is a size 10 and I think it's quite a good fit. For the next one I make I think I will try curving the hems (a la Archer/Alder) to add something different.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Alder Love

Grainline Studio Alder Top collar detail
I just can't get enough of the Grainline Studio Alder top. This is the third version I have made and I also have a v-neck version lined up. 

My first version was a test and I did View A. I did an FBA by following Jen's excellent instructions from the Grainline blog and I'm pleased to say it worked a charm. I cut a size 12 and added an inch which proved to be an excellent fit. However, I had a lot of issues with the collar and collar stand. This was my first time doing a proper collar and it took me a while, and a lot of unpicking, to get the hang of it. I also did not like the fit on the dress length version on me. It was too loose and a bit floaty. This is why I deemed version uno unworthy of any photos and I plan to reuse the fabric for purses, or maybe even a pillow! 

But now onto my two shirt length versions (both View A). The first version was made with some leftover linen that may seem familiar. And I used some cute blue dotty cotton bias binding from another dress for the armholes. I'm not completely happy with the length, as the fabric curls up after a few hours' wear, but it's still proving to be a bit of a summer wardrobe staple. 


A creased Alder
My second attempt at a shirt length version allowed me to continue my love affair with all things Cotton+Steel. This fabric is a cotton lawn and so lovely and light. It's called Sunrise Bone and I think that is sums up the colour very well. For this version I added an extra inch to the bottom to give it the extra length I wanted. This shirt is really great to throw on with a pair of jeans or other trousers. 

Grainline Studio Alder Shirt
I totally love this pattern, as well as all of the other Grainline Studio patterns (they are amazing - I want to make every single garment and all three bags!). There will be many more versions on this shirt I am sure!