Do you have days when life is so ridiculous you just have to laugh? On mornings when we have photoshoots for Love Sewing I’m responsible for getting all the outfits ready, steaming them, checking for loose threads, prepping all the shoes and jewellery and so on. It’s pretty manic and Renata likes to tease me by capturing shots like this from last month.
In the afternoons we have the favourite part of my job, the reader photoshoots where I basically get to hang out with a fellow seamstress as they get pampered and help them have some fun in front of the camera. Every woman who has taken part in our shoots has left me feeling wowed by their talent, warmed by their big hearts and re-energized by their enjoyment of the day. Often there’s a small window to take pics of my makes before home time and this Thursday I took photos of this dress.
It’s the Annabelle dress from Simple Sew patterns, a beautiful take on the tea dress that I have made once before here if you want to see my size choices and adjustments. For me it’s the perfect throw on dress when you want to look smart and comfy. This version perfectly works with red or blue accessories and can be dressed up or down depending on the day.
I love this dress because of its easy fit, with flattering under bust gathers and swaying silhouette. Crepe de chine always feels very slimming and luxurious. What I didn’t expect was for someone to ask me when I was due while wearing it that very morning! “This is my pot belly lady… not a baby.”
This is especially comical to me as I’ve recently lost 1.5 stone in weight. I’m not saying it’s such a noticeable amount that everyone on the street should be high-fiving me over, but I feel pretty darn slender at the moment. Clearly I need to work on my posture if I’m sticking my tummy out that much hahah.
This dress makes me so happy because of those kissy lips! I picked up a 1.5m remnant of the kissy crepe de chine at Fabworks mill shop. I’ve also seen some in Holm Sewn’s online shop but there isn’t much left so hurry! I used a navy invisible zip at the side seam and navy thread rather than red.
The dress requires a bit of stitching in the ditch around the facings and waist which I always mess up a little. I never write down the perfect setting for my needle position. It’s pretty invisible this time so I don’t sweat it. I’m really happy with the weight of interfacing I chose though. Not going too heavy on lightweight fabrics is quite tricky when you have limited options but well worth finding something lightweight but stable.
I’ve spoken a lot to people about the importance of letting yourself be a beginner sometimes. I’ve written pieces on it for the magazine and reassured new sewists I’ve met that we’re all tackling new challenges in our own way and that’s great thing. To me being a beginner, keeps you fresh, keeps you humble and keeps your enthusiasm up. I’d certainly be pretty bored if I didn’t try to push out of my comfort zone.
My embroidery skills are slowly growing and although I know I’m still learning it’s exciting to practice each stitch and get better. The first time I did a great French knot I was so stoked. I wanted to get better at satin stitch so settled on this bike design to stitch up next.
It’s heavily inspired by Truefort who is an amazing embroiderer and wows me with their work. They have a bicycle embroidery pattern created with Martha Stewart but I didn’t really like the style of the bike or the flowers coming of both ends. I combined a few different images to sketch something myself. I used my Frixion pen to transfer the design. (I’ve heard people pronouncing it Frix-ee-on but surely it’s a pun on friction since that’s how you remove the marks?)
The problem this caused was having to come up with the design for the flowers when I don’t really know what I’m doing. I decided to put a few straight stitch blooms with leaf stitch greenery, lazy daisy and French knots. Adding the chain stitch for the chain was funny even if I didn’t stitch it that neatly.
I mixed dmc and anchor threads plus some of the vintage threads my mum gave me from her old sewing box. I really enjoyed mixing the colours. And I have to say stitching on to cotton suits me over working with aida. The sunshine yellow cotton background makes me so happy!
I used quite a large hoop so not to crowd the bike and already have it hung on my wall before I’ve even covered the back! I asked on Instagram about adding some words above the bike but got a strong no response.
Any tips for what I should include on my embroidery posts? Do you want thread colour codes? Greater stitch details? Progress photos? Up next I have this Love design by Brynn & Co but haven’t got round to starting yet. Watch this space!
Hope you’re having a great week. Lots of happy vibes over in my sewing room at the moment as I’m making progress with my bridesmaid dresses, I finished my bicycle embroidery and also a lovely reader of the blog sent me some beautiful vintage sewing patterns.
Turns out she wasn’t going to use them so I’m happy to give them a loving home. I’m not sure when I’ll ever make the slippers but I honestly love all the instructions and illustrations in each pattern. It’s so irresistible to see how things were done in the past
As you might know I’m woefully behind on photographing makes and have around 35 to share on the blog that haven’t been shot yet. I’m happy to report that I snuck into the studio last week and managed to take some pictures.
When I saw this scuba on the Minerva Crafts website I audibly gasped. I am of course addicted to florals but the colours in this print had been smitten. Although I don’t currently participate in the Minerva Blogger Network, Vicki was kind enough to still send me some of the fabric to make a skater dress.
I used my new favourite tshirt pattern M6886 which I stole from issue 44 of Love Sewing and added a waist seam. The neckline is the perfect amount of scoop without being too revealing I then added the skirt from the Simple Sew Lena Wrap dress. I love the flare on the skirt and decided to keep the hem band even though it’s not as obvious in this fabric. But as you can see I left off the waistband.
I actually constructed this entirely on my overlocker (the old one not the new one) which meant it was finished in around an hour. The only machine work was the hems which I overlocked, turned under and topstitched, including the neckline.
With the base fabric being white and the print being a little sparse it is a little see through in places if you’re wearing white lingerie, so I either wear nude or a slip to add opacity.
I’m so excited to pull this dress out of my wardrobe to wear with my chartreuse cardigan and red shoes. And you can’t beat the effect you can achieve when you make a full skirt out of scuba, it has a lovely sway when you walk. I end up swishing up and down the street
If you’re scared of trying scuba here are some tips. It cuts easily but if you don’t fancy the hand workout with your scissors, try a smaller rotary cutter for any intricate cutting sections.
Remember to prewash scuba as you should with any other fabric and wash it like normal but avoid hot heats and overwashing as you’ll get a bobbly garment and damage the stretch content.
With that in mind be sure to iron scuba on a low setting, this fabric will mark or even melt if iron too hot.
Last but not least use a stretch or ballpoint needle to prevent snagging and slipping.
It’s painfully obvious that my blog productivity and especially my time to read blogs has taken a nose dive but I’m pleased I’m clinging on and still posting. I imagine you’re all struggling too and I’m really grateful if you’ve clicked through and kept reading this long! So high fives all round?
Happy weekend! I’m currently in my sewing room whipping up a quick coat. Aka no tailoring, minimal hand stitching, maybe even no buttons… but welt pockets might make an appearance. Let’s wait and see.
In other news I wanted to push my sewing with a garment that’s pretty different for me. I reviewed the Butterick 5926 jersey blazer pattern that comes free with Love Sewing 49 (out Thurs 25th Jan in the UK). You can also read my thoughts inside the issue but here are the essentials.
Every time I reach for my jeans I agonise what to pair them with. I feel like I’m constantly chasing the ideal outfit that makes me look effortlessly put together; modest and tasteful but comfortable and easy. Generally I opt for a bright blouse and cardigan but it felt like time for a change.
I don’t think I’ve worn a blazer for at least 10 years as I’m petite with slightly squeaky voice and always live in fear of resembling a schoolgirl. The thought of a casual knit blazer was appealing but I wanted to make sure it felt feminine. This pattern calls for stable knits like Ponte Roma but didn’t mention scuba, which seemed like a great fit in my mind. This gorgeous geometric pink was £4 per metre at The Knitting and Stitching Show Harrogate and I used 1.5m to make this jacket.
I chose to make view B, the hip-length version with shorter bracelet length sleeves that I rolled up for a relaxed feel and omitted the button fastenings. The blazer comes together really easily but you’re asked to reinforce a lot of areas of the collar and facings with stay stitching before clipping close to but not through the stitching line (always a tense part of the process for me). Shortening your stitch length can help here and a universal needle helped me avoid any skipped stitches.
The recommended hem finish, with stitching that finish along the front edges wasn’t to my taste so I decided to top-stitch everywhere, varying the distance from the edge as I worked my way around. With this approach I had to be careful that the collar still rolled neatly to the outside where the front facing turns out and used a few pins to get the turn point just right.
I also used my trusty blind hem machine foot with an adjusted needle position to attach the pockets which were very bulky to sew in place. I should be on commission for the amount of times I mention that foot! It was also the last outing for my singer overlocker before it committed suicide by firing the blade into the moving parts! Not pretty.
This is a versatile pattern that looks great in a big, bold prints as well as plain colours and feels as comfy as a cardigan. I really think notched collars are very flattering as they frame your face but more importantly they’re pretty fun to sew! Like I say the issue is out Thursday and actually comes with a second pattern, McCall’s 7357 and both are double stuffed with all the sizes inside e.g. 6-22. Winner winner quorn chicken dinner!!
Hello everyone. It’s a new year, hooray! It’s also the year I get married. Double hooray!! Project Wedding Dress is about to commence. I have £370 in my budget, I’ve ordered most of my fabrics, notions and extra bits and pieces. It’s time to get serious! First up is sewing my corselette. I’m winging it using a number of online tutorials and books on the subject. Wish me luck please. And let’s see if I can come in on budget! If you have any good links to bridal or occasion sewing, corselette or corset sewing or generally couture techniques please link them. I’ve got a good collection of books and found a few blog posts but am very eager to hear more. It isn’t possible to overwhelm me people.
PLEASE INNUNDATE ME. I’m going to collate everything I’ve found into a super online document so no future DIY bride will struggle to find resources.
Ahem, in other news I have a fun top to share. I hope you like it.
So I’m in love. There I said it. I’m in love with this top. It makes me feel so wonderful everytime I wear it. The colours are just so epic. They’re the perfect shade and saturation to stand out from across the room. That’s obviously helped by the scale of the print and yes, those frilly little ruffles. It goes perfectly with my ochre cardigan and blue jeans.
This is the Sewaholic Pendrell top which I can’t remember buying but must have because I have the PDF. (There’s a lot of PDFs like that on my computer). It’s got princess seams which mean a great fit and the option to add different styles of frills (or you can leave them off if you prefer). It’s easy to overlock the entire inside for a neat finish and it’s a SUPER QUICK sew.
I made view B with ruffles set into the princess seams and regular cap sleeves. You gather everything up to match the notches and then set the frill into the seams and encase the sleeve with bias tape. The length was a little crazy on me and even after chopping off 5cm I still might lose a little more. At 5ft5 I like to be able to see some hint of hips when I wear a top to establish my proportions. You can see my “human butternut squash” body type here in full glory. Why did Triny and Suzannah never include that one in their tv show!? I used bias tape made from excess fabric to finish the edges and it throws on over my head without a keyhole loop. A tiny needle made sure there were no pulls in my fabric.
This polyester fabric was astoundingly cheap; If I remember rightly it was £1 per metre. I bought it on a shopping trip to Birmingham from one of the stalls outside the rag market and I’m happy to report Marie and Roisin bought some too. You can see more of Marie’s gorgeous kimono here.
There’s only one problem with this top and it’s my own fault. The ruffle on my left shoulder has one wonky area of gathering that makes the ruffle stand up. And no amount of pressing will keep it down! On the above picture it’s even peeking out from behind my hair for cripes sake. With the raw edges overlocked inside, I haven’t had the motivation since I made this to unpick and adjust the way the gather falls and don’t know if I ever will. It’s a problem, but one I’m happy to live with.
Now it’s time I shut up and do the I LOVE MY TOP DANCE! (Yep I’m that big of a nerd and it’s been captured on photo.) Bye for now.
Well folks, it’s the end of 2017! And I’m sure like me you had some sewing successes and failures, learnt a few new tricks and made some friends along the way.
I managed to drag myself out of my sick bed and used the age old lie that if you dress yourself up a bit you’ll start feel better to get a few photos of my recent make.
I know these pictures aren’t as nice as my studio shots, so the details aren’t as crisp and I definitely don’t have the energy to Photoshop my germy face but hopefully they show how much I like my Mayberry Dress.
This is the second Jennifer Lauren Handmade pattern I’ve tried but the first on the blog. I love a multi cup size pattern and sewed up the A cup in a straight size 12. As you can see I omitted the button front which meant cutting the left bodice and facing on the fold of my fabric. It still fits over my head easily and I really like the finished result.
My fabric is a mostly opaque cheap polyester from Barry’s in Birmingham. It’s a gorgeous floral design and the pops of mustard and fuchsia convinced me to get it. But there are a few flaws in the print I couldn’t work around; tiny white marks that look like tippex but thankfully blur into the florals.
My waist tie is actually a shoelace from a giant bundle I was given years ago with the ends shortened and knotted. I used eyelets also from my stash in a soft taupe colour.
The dress goes together really easily, has a relaxed fit and POCKETS! But you’ll want go practice setting your eyelets a few times on excess bits of fabric. It can go horribly wrong if you don’t apply pressure properly. I found it helpful to mark the channel stitching line and use an invisible zipper foot to move past the eyelets easily as I sewed. The instructions are a breeze to follow otherwise.
I have the Laneway dress in my stash to make which I won a few months ago and have my version of Felicity to share in the new year! Have you had your eyes on any of the JLH patterns? I really like that none of the patterns feel like copies of other companies and they mix vintage touches with modern style.
Not quite a tangerine dream but close to the perfect pumpkin, it’s all fruity over in my house with this newly finished orange coat. It’s the kind of orange that is easy to mistake for red… until you try and wear it with real red.
It’s of course the pattern of the moment Vogue 1537. This Kay Unger design was a firm favourite from the Vogue Cocktail Hour which raised money for The Eve Appeal. Check out my previous posts here and search the hashtag #sipandsew to see everyone’s makes.
I wanted a pass at this coat after seeing someone make a wool version on pattern review. You know I like to break the rules and was happy to find a like-minded rebel. It’s of course designed for lighter weight fabrics but who cares about that.
I lengthened the sleeves and skipped the tabs. You might notice extra buttons down the front though I prefer wearing it open. I actually hate wearing single breasted coats but like the way they look. This one is especially bad as there’s no hem vent. Shame on me for not adding one. It’s also lines up at the bottom, I’m just standing funny.
The wool was actually bought with a voucher won at Sew Up North. It was for my fave Leeds market shop BM stores too, how amazing. Thank you so much Sally and Beccs for bringing this coat to life with your awesome raffle. My lining is a stretch satin from Leeds market too. I’ve had terrible luck with coat linings lately where they rip at the seams after about a year’s wear. Maybe I get more aggressive in my coat wearing style after the 1 year mark. This is my fourth or fifth outerwear piece but first full length coat.
I’ve actually been singing the old nursery rhyme oranges and lemons for weeks as I have a mustard coat project lined up but keep changing my mind about what pattern. Maybe the new By Hand London release will be the winner?
There are a few different sewing subscription services you might have seen here and there. Like you I was curious what you actually received and Hayley of Sew Hayley Jane was convinced to let me in on the action by sending her November box out for a review!
Plus keep scrolling for a link to a free patchwork stocking project perfect for festive FQs.
So what was inside my November Classic box? Well it was Festive Fever time!! My box included:
Choc coins which I’m going to have to hide from the sweet monster who lives in the house with me.
A magnetic doughnut pincushion from Oh Sew Quaint. It’s like a special Christmas doughnut with festive sprinkles!! My favourite thing from the box I have to say.
A range of high quality cotton FQs in nordic style with red and grey prints. Plus 2.5m of white on scandi red floral poplin cotton which is a great amount to get a garment out of or multiple smaller projects.
There was also 2m of white crocheted lace trim which would look lovely on a garment or a home project. And 6 x 15mm floral white buttons with a lovely sheen on them. Matching gutermann thread as well!
There’s lots to work with here and you could make bags, cushions, aprons, child’s clothes or something for yourself. As I have predominantly Christmas themed cottons I had a few ideas for projects.
This sweet tree is from the latest issue of Love Sewing mag and would really work in coordinating Christmas prints.
Finally if you’re keen on making a Christmas dress how about this beauty from SillyOldSeaDog? Visit the shop for endless Christmas dress inspiration. I’d recommend a classic style like the Sew Over It Grace dress for a vintage look or the Colette Laurel for minimal seam lines.
I think that I’ll use the larger piece of fabric along with the FQs to make a table runner for my Mum as she loves these kinds of traditional prints.
It’s hard to think of negative things to say about the items in the box, they’re all great quality. The main fear may be that you won’t know what you’re going to get each month and if you’re a bit of a control freak about your sewing that will definitely stress you out. But if you generally like the style of the boxes and love surprise post this is really a dream come true! There are lots of beautiful prints in the boxes that you can see on previous unboxing videos if this Christmas collection is making it difficult to judge what you’d get.
So let’s get into some knitty gritty! The boxes are then sent out around the 8th of each month to arrive within a few days for UK customers, international deliveries may take longer. When you sign up you will create a unique login which will give you greater access to content on the website. Some of the blog posts are available to subscribers only – you lucky ducks. I’ve put the prices below but there’s a super helpful FAQ page to help you decide.
The Mini Box costs £20
The Classic Box costs £35
The Luxury Box costs £65
THERE ARE TWO DAYS LEFT TO SUBSCRIBE FOR DECEMBER!!
So why not head over to Hayley’s site to read more, check out people’s boxes with the hashtag sewhayleyjane and check out finished garments with the hashtag sewhayleyjanemakes
I hate winter. I know it’s a magical time of year but I hate being cold, and needing sensible shoes, and getting dressed in the dark. I spend my mornings fumbling in my wardrobe, putting my make up on in low light and regularly throwing my hair up in a bun.
So winter florals are giving me life at the minute. Such pretty blooms on dark bases are again cropping up in the shops, magazines and fabric stores. They’re lovely to wear too.
I worked out I could squeeze a Sewaholic Cambie view B from the dress if I used the sleeve lining piece instead of the gathered sleeve. I added a green invisible zip and lined the bodice in some leftover anti static polyester from the stash.
I get so so so many comments about this fabric when I wear the dress. I think it’s the combination of orange and violet. If refashioning is this fun I’ll definitely do it again.
Happy weekend everyone! The air is crisp and bright and there are thousands of orange leaves in my part of the world today. It feels really Autumnal outside so I’m snuggled in my sewing room, working on a few new things with a big mug of earl grey and some ginger biscuits!
And of course I have a new dress to share! When I first saw the Doris dress I thought she was a beautiful pattern but confess I was worried about whether it would suit me. I have a little pot belly which I thought would be highlighted by the panelled skirt and viscose fabric.
After finally talking myself into buying the PDF pattern, I then stitched it together digitally and used the a0 printer at work. I picked a busy and cheap fabric from my stash and hoped for the best.
This is halfway between the knee and longer length view which should be below my knee but I generally find the SOI patterns run short. There’s a button closure and side zip fastening and here I made a few changes.
Firstly I just sewed my Cath Kidston buttons on through all the layers… I don’t need the buttonholes to get it on.
Secondly I moved the ties so they extend from the side seams instead of the back. This is more visually pleasing to me but required some reordering of the construction steps to get the zipper to still work. I switched to a regular zipper to allow the tie to sit free.
It has excellent swishability and the silhouette the dress gives me is very nice. I think the print is busy enough to hide my tum, and as I keep losing weight that should improve the amount of hugging at the waist.
I made this dress while binge-watching Party Of Five and it feels unintentially 1990s. Very Jennifer Love Hewitt… who was actually my teenage years girl crush so that worked out nicely. Oh go on then. One more swish.
I’m not sure if I’ll make another but I’m pretty happy with this version. Have you tried Doris? Please link to your version in the comments as I’d love to be convinced into making Doris again.
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