Blog by Kathy it’s so lovely to see you here at Sew Dainty and I hope you will join me on my sewing adventures. This blog will hopefully show you my favourite makes and some not so favourite, along with tutorials and other sewing fun thrown in. I hope you will enjoy reading about all my sewing projects, I can’t wait to share them with you all.
Time has really run away from me just lately and I have just realised that I did not blog about my Secret Valentine Swap experience last month.
So, for those who are unfamiliar, this is a friendly crafting swap, organised by the amazing Sanae and Ute and I understand that this is the fifth year of it taking place.
The idea is that you secretly make a handmade gift for your assigned partner, to be sent out in time for Valentines Day. You will also receive a handmade gift from another partner. Such a lovely idea.
I chose to sew my items, but any craft that you are into is acceptable. Some knit, some paint, some crochet, some wood turn and others have made jewellery, to name but a few. I imagine pretty much every craft has been covered by this exchange.
In order to help you make something for somebody who is essentially a stranger, you answer a couple of short questions regarding your taste and style, and this information will be passed to your partner. You will also be given their social media information so that you can take a little peek to see if this helps you make up your mind on what to make for them. I think the idea is to use bits and pieces that you already have where possible, to try to keep your costs down. Ooh and it is an International event so you may receive or have to send your item abroad.
This is the second year that I have taken part and I loved it so much last year that I couldn’t wait to take part again this time.
They lady who I made for lives in the U.K. I will not link her here, as I have not asked for her permission, but I had a little peek over at her Instagram to see if this would give me any clues as to what she might find useful. I must admit, nothing jumped out at me, so to play it safe I decided to make her a fabric basket, as I have made a couple of these for myself before and I think they are super cute as well as very useful. I knew that her colour preferences were blue ( which is lucky as anybody who knows me will know that I wear lots of blue – therefore meaning I have lots of spare blue fabric), and I made a large quilted basket.
This was pretty quick to make, and I felt like I could do more. So I also decided to make a smaller bag, made up with small patchwork pieces to add to gift her too. Again it is a bag that I have made before and I use it to keep my Clover Wonder Clips in. The bag came together really nicely and I also bought some Wonder Clips for her in case she might like to keep some in her bag too!
Finally I raided my felt stash, and cut several different shades of blue felt into circles to stitch together to make some felt bunting.
I was excited to package it up and send it off to London in time for Valentines Day.
So the gift that I received bowled me over! Again I won’t mention her as I haven’t her permission, but I received the most beautiful Seamwork Almada robe from my lovely partner.
I cannot tell you how beautiful it is. My clever partner has chosen something that I will treasure and truly love wearing. The fabric is super soft and the colours are right up my street. I cannot believe that somebody would make something so lovely for me, and am truly moved by such kindness.
If you are active on Instagram, you might want to take a look at the hashtag #2018sve and check out all the wonderful items that were given and made during this wonderful exchange. I believe that there were 576 participants worldwide this year which is incredible!
I think this is a great way to share your love of craft, with like-minded individuals. Thank you so much to Sanae and Ute for organising such a huge event. It really is fabulous. It is also a great way to make new friends. I now have two new sewing friends (alongside the two new sewing friends that I made with last years swap).
Belated Happy Valentines/Galentines day to you all. Take care, and I’ll be back soon,
Happy March! The beginning of the month means that it is time to direct you to the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network if you would like to read my thoughts on this fun floral Piper Top from Christine Haynes Patterns.
It’s another quick, easy to sew jersey top, this time with a funnel neck, and without giving too much away – I really like it.
The real star of the show here though is the stunning Art Gallery Fabrics cotton jersey that I used for this project. It’s beautiful isn’t it? Stunning colours and design, and super soft and easy to work with.
Thanks again go to Minerva Crafts for providing such a knock-out fabric for this make, as always I couldn’t be happier.
Just lately I have been making an effort to sew more tops. Whilst I am a dress girl through and through, there is no getting away from the fact that it is freezing here (literally – the snow is falling as I type) and I just want to layer up in separates.
Inspired by the lovely Nikki and Rachel from The Stitch Sisters, who made an amazing YouTube video all about free top sewing patterns, I picked up this FREE pattern from Tessuti Fabrics– The Mandy Boat Tee. I mean, who doesn’t love a free pattern?
It’s a ‘one size fits all’ oversized boxy top, with a boat neck and 3/4 length fitted sleeved with drop shoulders. I have chosen to make it in this gorgeous brown and grey striped cotton jersey blend knit fabric from Girl Charlee but it would look equally fabulous in a cotton or viscose fabric too don’t you think? On the YouTube video Nikki had made this top in a stripe jersey from Girl Charlee too and I totally wanted something just like hers!
I picked up the fabric during the Black Friday sales, and I was lucky enough to choose it using a voucher which was kindly given to me by Ana from Cocowawa Crafts as a prize for a competition she ran just before Christmas for making her Chestnut Sweater. I have written a couple of blogs about these sweaters which you can catch up with here and here. Lucky me! I also chose a couple more fabrics at the same time which I haven’t cut into yet but I have plans!
So the pattern is a free download, but is available in printed format for 12 Australian dollars if you prefer. It was simple to download and print out at home. I must admit the pattern pieces look a little basic – they look hand drawn and the writing on them is hand written, but they are a good shape and I found that they fit together nicely. The instructions are also fairly basic looking but are accompanied by clear photographs and in fact they are actually very well written and to the point. I liked how the neckline was the first step of the process, also the sleeves are added before the side seams are sewn which is always good, and the final step to neaten the boat neckline is the finishing touch and really gives it a neat finish.
I adore the drop shoulders. They are very similar to the Molly Top I feel from Sew Over it, although that top is not so boxy and oversized.
I must admit I had my concerns that it would be too large in the body and whilst it kind of is, I actually quite like it and will not hesitate to wear it. I think the slim sleeves work to balance it out nicely. Perhaps I might slim it down in the body very slightly next time I make it, I’m not sure. I will definitely make more and probably in a stripe fabric again as those drop shoulders in a stripe are amazing I think.
Just to mention the boat neck is quite wide and you might get a glimpse of your bra strap if you’re not careful, but hey, it’s not the end of the world!
I am chuffed that this is now the second make of my #2018makenine list, where I am trying to make nine items from independent pattern companies that I have never used before. So far so good.
I would thoroughly recommend this pattern. It’s a useful everyday top and is quick and easy to sew. Thank you for the freebie Tessuti Fabrics!
O.K, I know. Another Pattydoo Chloe dress. I just can’t help it, I love it so much!
I recently made this as part of a contest entry over on the Pattern Review website and decided to mention it here as part of the #smyly2018 challenge.
The idea of the #smyly2018 challenge is to make a garment that makes you feel good and helps the sewing community talk about positive body image and mental health issues.
Whilst I have been incredibly touched with reading and listening to so many situations that other sewists have found themselves dealing with, I feel that it is still too difficult to share with you my struggles with overwhelming shyness and other issues that affect my mental health.
I will say however that I agree with everyone that has taken part, in that sewing definitely makes a huge difference to me and I am constantly amazed by the support I have from fellow sewists, and that which I see shown to others. It is always important to remember that we all have struggles that we are dealing with, often unseen, and these affect us all to varying extents, but kindness costs nothing and patience with others is always something to aim for as we can never truly know what others are dealing with.
I have talked before about how I love the style and comfort of this dress, and if you would like to read a couple of my previous reviews on this dress you can do so here and here. I have made others, but not blogged them.
I have used a moss green scuba fabric which I picked up from The Rag Market in Birmingham last year. It has a bold floral design with the addition of berries, butterflies and bees.
… and pockets and pleats. Yay!
Thank you to Hattie, Athina, and Lisa for setting up this friendly challenge. I am going to try to leave this dress pattern for a while as I think I have enough versions of this for now …
It’s no secret that I absolutely love this sewing pattern. Almost as soon as Cocowawa Crafts released this pattern last Autumn I had snapped it up, downloaded the PDF and whipped up a couple of versions which you can take a look at here.
During the #sewbrum sewing meet up last October, I decided that along with some fabric purchases from the rag market, I wanted to save some of my precious fabric spending money on a special purchase of some fabric from Guthrie and Ghani, as this was where we would be ending up the day. My special purchase was this Rose Pink Marl Fleeceback Jersey. It’s just beautiful. Immediately I knew it would end up as another Chestnut Sweater.
I love bows and ribbons, and decided that with this version I would add bows at each cuff. Why not? I already had some grey ribbon in my stash which would be perfect for the bow at the back of the neck and just needed to purchase some narrower ribbon for the cuff bows. Oh by the way, I have chosen to make view A again, which has the ribbon at the centre back neck.
So my plan was to insert the cuff ribbons through two openings in the cuff piece. The cuff piece is basically a rectangle of fabric which is folded in half lengthwise and attached to the sleeve. Before I attached it to the sleeve I needed to work out where I wanted the openings (as I wanted them to only be on the outer layer of the cuff). I folded the cuff, pinned it to the sleeve and carefully tried it on to work out where I wanted the centre of the bow to sit. I marked this point on each sleeve.
After unpinning the cuff pieces again, I measured each one to make sure the point where I wanted the centre of the ribbon to sit was evenly matched on each cuff and adjusted them very slightly so that they matched perfectly. I then worked out how far apart I wanted the openings to be – in my case 4.5cm, and also marked these positions on each cuff.
So there are a couple of different ways that you can make the openings for the ribbon. I chose to use eyelets. These come as a kit with the tool itself included. You can select different metal colours and I chose a gold finish. There are also different sizes and I used the 5.5mm size.
The instructions on the back of the packet are a little vague, so I resorted to good old YouTube for some visual help with how they work, and found a good video which helped me work out how to fix them. You’ll need a hammer, and my advice would be to hit it REALLY hard, this way you get a good strong finish and it won’t come apart at a later date. This is something that really needs at least a couple of practice attempts on a scrap of fabric. It’s good fun though!
If you don’t have eyelets, you could always sew little button holes to make the openings. Or perhaps take the ribbons, tie them in a bow and knot them tightly and just sew the knotted bow on the cuff where you want it.
I was able to then attach the cuffs to the sleeves, and thread the ribbons through after they were attached using a large blunt darning needle. They are super cute and I am really pleased with how they have turned out.
I warn you now, this is not the last Chestnut Sweater. You will be seeing more – I just love them!
Happy February everyone! A new month means a new Minerva Crafts Blogger Network post, and this time I am reviewing The Adele Dress which was the free pattern in issue 34 of Simply Sewing Magazine.
I’m just giving you a little sneak peek here, but if you would like to read my full review with lots more pics, and also take a little look at the fabric and notions that I used, then you can hop on over to the Blogger Network post here.
I’ve seen lots of lovely versions of this dress popping up on Social Media since it came out in the magazine. I chose to use a navy blue linen look polyester crepe but I would really love to make a floral version next time inspired by some that I have seen – watch this space!
I’m not really a fan of New Year resolutions, but this year as part of my #2018makenine list I am going to try to sew more patterns using independent pattern companies – especially those I have never tried before. The perfect opportunity to get this off and running is the January project from the #sewmystyle2018 challenge. Two birds with one stone and all that. For those who are unfamiliar with the #sewmystyle2018 sewing challenge I will link the website for Jessica who is organising it this year here and you can head on over to read all about it if you are interested. Basically it is pretty much a monthly sewing challenge which enables you to connect with the sewing community and have a bit of fun sewing up a different pattern each month.
It’s a reversible dress ( and by that I mean it can be worn with the scoop neckline at the front or back) for knit fabrics, with set in sleeves and a scalloped hemline. I don’t know very much about The Friday Pattern Co. but do like the fact that they support a rotating collection of the top-ranked charities in the world. For purchases of this pattern they donate 5% to The Against Malaria Foundation.
Originally I was all for making the dress just as it was with no planned alterations, but when it came to making it I decided that in all honesty I probably wouldn’t wear this body skimming shape so I decided to alter it to a design that would be more wearable to me. I was really pleased to read a post on Facebook (I think) that Jessica had written where she mentioned that this design was really a blank canvas that you could adjust in so many ways, and so I went for it!
My fabric choice was a floral print stretch jersey from Minerva Crafts. It’s super pretty with a good stretch and a nice medium weight.
Before I started I had noticed comments from others that the dress seemed to come out a little on the small size, so although I probably am a size medium, I cut it to between a medium and large. I feel that this left it a little on the large size, and would stick to a medium if I were to make it again.
In my head I wanted to create a simple dress with a gathered skirt – rather like The Moneta Dress by Colette Patterns. In order to achieve this I cut the top version out (view B), but cut it straight across the bottom hem edge as I didn’t need the scalloped shaping.
The pattern is basic. No pattern markings such as notches were indicated, which was a little unusual, but not actually necessary, as it was a pretty straightforward shape to sew. The instructions are simple, but were perfectly adequate for what it was asking you to do. I decided to set my sleeves in to the bodice sleeve edge before sewing the side seams together to make a ‘tube’. This worked well and I simply sewed up my sleeves at the same time I sewed my side seams in one long seam. I must admit that I was disappointed by how loose the sleeves are and will certainly take in quite a bit next time. I shortened the length of the sleeves by 1″.
There are a couple of ways to finish the neckline. You can simply turn it under and stitch in place, or make a neckband which is my preferred method. The Friday Pattern Co. provides a link to a tutorial on how to do this if this is your first time doing so.
As my fabric was really quite stretchy I chose to make my neckband 20% smaller than my neckline opening, and this worked out just right.
O.K, when I got to this point it was time to decide how much I needed to take off the length of the bodice. To do this I simply tried it on and marked it. In my case I needed to take off 6.5″ from the bottom of the bodice. I also pinned my skirt pieces on roughly to see that they looked about right. This also gave me the opportunity to mark out on the skirt pieces where I wanted to place my in-seam pockets – let’s talk about the skirt and pockets…
So to make the skirt I simply used two rectangles of fabric that were left over after I had cut out the top. I didn’t calculate how wide/gathered I wanted it to be – it was simply going to be as gathered as the width of the fabric allowed! As I had a fair bit of length left I realised that it could possibly be long enough for a maxi dress – we’d have to see when it was finished. So I left the length as long as I could, as it could easily be shortened to knee length if necessary later on. Originally I was just going to sew my remaining fabric into a ‘loop’ which would make a skirt with a vertical seam down the back of the dress, but could not bring myself to make a skirt without in-seam pockets so needed to cut the remaining fabric into 2 rectangles to create a side seam either side that I could insert pockets into.
The pattern does not come with a pocket piece ( I would not expect it to with it being such a close fitting style), so as always I fell back on my trusty favourite pocket pattern template that I always use when adding my own in-seam pockets, which is from my Colette Peony dress – but any in-seam pocket pattern piece would do – I added them to each side seam of the ‘skirt’ at the point I had marked out earlier when trying on. Next it was time to gather the ‘skirt’. There are several ways to do this, but I chose to measure my waist, cut some clear elastic to that length, and stretch and sew it to the top of the skirt. This gathers the skirt evenly and it can then simply be stitched to the bodice.
So, some things to note if I try this again… The weight of the skirt when added, pulled down the bodice piece more than I expected it to, so if I were to make this alteration again, I would probably raise the waist by at least another inch (especially if the fabric has the same weight as this one).
As mentioned, the sleeves were far to wide , so these would be narrowed down next time. I would also cut a size medium as I didn’t find that it came out small on me as others had.
Also another thing to hold my hand up to is the unfinished nature of these photographs. I finished this dress the same morning that my husband was taking photos of a couple of other projects that I have made recently. I knew that he wouldn’t be available for another good few days to take photos of this dress, by the time this challenge would have been finished, so please excuse the hastily ironed neckline, the complete lack of sleeve hem ironing (that twin needling is crying out for a good press), and the fact that the skirt hem is unfinished because I wanted to leave it on my dressform to hang for a couple of days. I’m pleased to say that it has dropped nicely now to a perfect floor length and my job this afternoon will be to finally hem it.
All in all I am super pleased with the outcome. I didn’t imagine it turning into a maxi dress originally, but that is the wonderful thing about sewing that you can do just whatever you like.
Thank you to Jessica and all her team of assistants for putting this challenge together – do head on over to social media and search #sewmystyle2018 for tons more inspiration on this dress pattern and the project in general. Thank you also to the Friday Pattern Company for generously giving all participants of this challenge a discount code for their pattern purchase.
I have been bursting to share this dress make with you since last August! I was kindly approached by Minerva Crafts who asked if I would be interested in working with them in reviewing a pattern for Sewing World magazine. Of course I jumped at the chance, and as it was such an amazing opportunity, I wanted the garment to be really special.
I chose the most beautiful dress pattern I could find, Vogue V1392, which is a Vogue pattern in collaboration with Kay Unger. It’s a stunning design and the first time I have used a Vogue pattern before!
My fabric choice was this pretty stretch brocade, I love the sage green and dusky pink colour combination.
The full review of the dress is available now in the current issue of Sewing World magazine (February issue 264), so I won’t go into details of the make here, but I can’t resist sharing a couple of pics of the make which aren’t in the magazine…
These cute little elasticated straps are hidden in the shoulder straps to stop them from slipping – so clever!
So many layers to the skirt – main fabric, organza petticoat and lining too.
Pattern matching is always challenging but worth it!
So, I think it only fair to leave it here and direct you to Sewing World magazine to read the full review, but I would love to take this opportunity to thank Sewing World for allowing me to share my thoughts with their readers and to Minerva Crafts for their generosity in supplying me with such superb supplies, they were a dream to work with.
I’m trying to add a few cosy jumpers to my handmade wardrobe this Winter. Whilst I love wearing dresses, when the weather is really cold I love my jeans and jumper combo and had noticed that I definitely needed more ‘me made’ items in this area.
This is the first time I have used a Style Arc pattern. They have a HUGE range of great sewing pattern designs and I particularly liked the look of this cocoon style top.
I downloaded the PDF pattern direct from the Style Arc website a while ago. I don’t remember how much I paid, but I generally only buy sewing patterns when they are on sale so it may have been a Black Friday purchase or something similar. I usually opt for paper patterns over PDF’s, but didn’t fancy the postage costs from Australia for this. However I noticed a couple of days ago that Minerva Crafts are now stocking Style Arc paper patterns – yippee! Definitely worth remembering for future Style Arc purchases. A real drawback of the PDF downloads from Style Arc is that you are only sent the size that you ordered plus the size above and below that size (3 sizes only), so if you were thinking that this might be a great all rounder to make for yourself and friends and family – then this will only be possible (on the PDF download) if they are the same size or very similar to you.
That being said, this loose fitting cocoon sweater is a great design. From the line drawing above you can see the seam lines show the dropped shoulders which take you down to skinny sleeves which I absolutely LOVE. There is a horizontal seam front and back around waist height and a vertical centre back seam too. A lovely little neck band completes a very simple but neat looking top.
My fabric choice is a stunning knit from Barry’s Fabrics in Birmingham. It has a black background and abstract blue, green and wine coloured flowers. It is also soft and warm, which I am very grateful for these past few cold days.
The Style Arc measurements were spot on for me. I made up the size recommended for my measurements and it was perfect. No adjustments at all, it fits me just right. Only 5 pattern pieces are needed for this top and I made it entirely using the overlocker, apart from the twin needling finishes on the hem, sleeves and around the neck band. It’s a good quick make on a rainy afternoon!
The instructions are very basic, and very brief. This was absolutely fine for me, but this may be tricky for a complete beginner as there are no pictures or illustrations to back up the written instructions, and when I say written instructions I mean 9 short sentences! All good though, the finished result is super, a great wardrobe essential and easy to throw on and layer up if necessary.
My favourite part of this sweater is the skinny sleeves. I feel they balance out the cocoon shape perfectly. Love them.
So all in all, I am very happy with the finished top. It has turned out exactly how I was expecting and I would totally make it up again – I can see several versions of this in my future Winter wardrobe. I have lots of other Style Arc patterns on my ‘wish list’ of future sewing makes so no doubt it won’t be long before I give them another go.
Just lately I have been taking extra time to try to make my sewing projects as pretty on the inside as they are on the outside. In order to enjoy the whole sewing process more I have decided to slow down a little, pop on a sewing podcast whilst I sew (which has significantly improved my whole sewing experience – and I would particularly recommend listening to the wonderful Helen and Caroline who host the Love to Sew Podcast), and pay particular attention to finishing my seams nicely and trying to remember to attach my little ‘Sew Dainty’ clothing labels to each piece, which in my haste to finish my garments I have been forgetting to do quite a bit until now….
When I was approached by The Dutch Label Shop for my opinion on their products, I jumped at the chance of checking out what looked like some seriously impressive woven labels.
I’ve been using little ‘Sew Dainty’ clothing labels in my handmade garments for over a year now. I started with printed satin ribbon – cheap and cheerful, but not great. The ink fades after a few washes and the needle can cause ‘pulls’ in the satin ribbon where it punctures it when sewing them in. I upgraded to some simple woven labels a few months later and these were much better but just lacked the ‘wow’ factor.
In order to have the most fabulous clothing labels I knew that I wanted to use the Sew Dainty header which runs across the top of the home page of my website. It has a white background with black lettering and gold spots.
The label ordering process couldn’t have been simpler. Let me tell you that I am not great with anything technical, but it was very straightforward. I simply popped on over to the Dutch Label Shop website, selected the ‘Brand Labels’ and ‘Woven Logo Labels’ options and went ahead and uploaded the jpg file of my blog header image. Simple.
You can select how your label is folded (several options) and your exact size dimensions by using a sliding scale. Next, choose your colours. Easy for me, I wanted a white base colour, and for my logo colours I needed black and sparkling gold. These were pretty simple but if you are after another colour you are treated to a wonderful choice of shades – for example if you need the colour green for your label there are 19 shades to choose from! WOW.
I selected the sew-on option, but there is an iron-on choice too. I also chose to have a double white background. This is recommended when choosing a white or light coloured label with dark stitching details, and ensures that the dark thread will not show through. Clever.
A helpful comment box is included so that you can communicate any information to the designers to help them with your order, and you can also ask for a photo proof of the proposed label where a photograph of the finished label can sent to you for approval before the order is finally made up.
Finally choose your quantity and you are done! I will say that whilst you are going through this process, there is a box on the screen which continuously updates your total order price as you go along so you can adjust this if necessary as you plan your perfect labels.
Although they are shipped from overseas they arrived quickly, in a week, packaged securely in a resealable plastic bag inside a jiffy bag. The detail is beautiful, accurate and precise, and I cannot fault them.
Since they arrived I have been so excited to include them in my garments and they look amazing. I am super happy to see my little ‘Sew Dainty’ sparkling gold spots on the labels in my clothes, but should mention that the basic woven labels that Dutch Label Shop have look pretty special too. You can choose a template or design your own, select your font and add a little symbol if you like ( there are lots of sewing symbols to choose from). So cute.
Whilst I was lucky enough to have these labels gifted to me, I can assure you that my review of them is entirely honest and I am sharing with you my delight on what I think is a fantastic product. Do check out the customer reviews on the Dutch Label Shop website and you will see what I am talking about.
A huge thank you to The Dutch Label Shop. I am over the moon with my labels, your customer service and quick delivery.
It’s been lovely posting a product review on the site today, I would love to hear your thoughts. Do you pop a clothing label in your handmade wardrobe too?
Take care and I’ll be back soon,
So the lovely guys at Dutch Label Shop have very generously given me a 15% discount code to share with you all. Simply head on over to their website linked in the blog post above and use the code ‘sewdainty15’ at the checkout! Valid for 30 days from 10th January 2018.
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