I’m a sewer and vegetable grower who loves taking photos. Warmer days are spent in the garden with smaller sewing projects on the go, turning my harvests into yummy dinners and chutney making which my family and friends can’t get enough of! I am currently busy sewing away so that I can have a me made wardrobe. Dresses are my thing but skirts, tops and jeans are definitely on my to sew list.
Sew… with the Beast from the East trying to make another appearance my latest make for Sew Me Sunshine was perfect. I made (another) French Navy Orla dress out of this amazing 4 way stretch tripe crepe. It sounds scary but it was super easy to work with so I will definitely be using it again.
Here’s a sneak peak but make sure you head over to the Sew Me Sunshine blog for a full review.
My new favourite corner for taking photos.
As well as the floral designs Harriet also stocks some plain colours too.
Sew… I love Wendy Wards new book A Beginners Guide to Sewing with knitted Fabrics. I was super lucky to be given a copy of the book from Make etc Books and some fabric from Minerva Crafts to review the book. My blog post for that will be coming soon. After making my first project, there are some sneak peeks over on my Instagram, I just couldn’t wait to get started on one of the other patterns. I want to make them all!
The super amazing Harriet from Sew Me Sunshine gave me some of the Cotton and Steel Mystery Food jersey after helping pack up all of the Black Friday sales. I love the grey background with the bright pink contrast and it is so so so soft.
How amazing is the selvedge?
As soon as I saw the cover of the book I knew I wanted to make the peak t-shirt dress. I love Tillys Bettine and this is very similar. With the large octopus print this dress is perfect.
A perfect match.
The fabric is brilliant to work with just as you would expect with Cotton and Steel fabric. I cut out a size large which is fine for the dress as it has an elasticated waist but when I make the t-shirt version I will size down.
I found the neckline too high and unflattering for my large bust so recut the neckline and instead of a band I just turned it over and top stitched. Next time I will definitely work out the size of the band I need and add one.
With the elastic waistband you stretch it out and sew it onto the fabric so the stitching is visible. I always struggle with this and find that my stitches are uneven. As its gathered you can’t see them but I know that it’s not as neat as it could be. Any tips on how I can do this neater?
I love this dress and have worn it loads. It’s so comfy and goes perfectly with my pink Converse! It’s perfect for layering up with tights and a chunky cardigan in the cold but come spring and summer it will be great on its own.
Harriet has sold out of the Mystery Food but still some of the Dress Shop It’s a Plus in stock which are just as amazing.
Which do you prefer the navy or cream?
My full book review will be coming soon and all I will say at the moment is buy it!!
Sew… Recently I’ve been feeling like I don’t have enough time for sewing and perhaps I should just give up. Being miserable and speaking to my amazing sewing friends they suggested focusing on small chunks of sewing time rather than a whole day. This was the best advice ever as its been working so well and I feel like I’ve been sewing more than when I was giving myself a day for sewing.
Amazing sewing friends.
Here’s some tips of things that I have been doing to make the most out of my time.
Be Tidy – If you are lucky enough to have a sewing room then keep it tidy! Get into the habit of tidying as you go. When you have finished cutting out put your weights and rotary cutter away and just keep out when you need. I always keep my pins, stork scissor and unpicker right next to my machine. Everything else is kept tidy in a storage box. If you don’t have a dedicated sewing space then it’s definitely a good idea to be organised. You know exactly where everything is and don’t need to spend ages searching for everything which will take up valuable sewing time.
Ikea make the best storage boxes. I found these in the children’s section.
Set Up – If you can set up your sewing area before your allocated sewing time. If you have to use the dining room table then set up your machine after dinner ready for sewing in the morning.
Machines at the ready!
10 Minute Tasks – If you have a spare 10 minutes during you day why not make a few bobbins ready for your project or thread your machine or check the tension on a scrap of the fabric or check your Overlocker is threaded and working. Mine always seems to come unthreaded when I don’t have time to sit and rethread it. All these little tasks only take a few minutes and mean you have more time to do some actual sewing.
Washing and Ironing – Another good habit to get into is washing your fabric as soon as you get it. Put it straight in the washing basket and once washed add it to the ironing pile. No more waiting around when you could be sewing.
Sewing – Don’t try and make a dress in an hour. Yes lots of people mention about how quickly they have made something but don’t worry about what they do just concentrate on you. I am not a quick sewer and if it takes me a week or a month to finish a garment then so be it. Break down your make into small sections that you know is achievable. Cutting out. Darts. Bodice. Sleeves. Zip. Skirt. Hem. This week I’m making another Orla and at the end of the week I’ll let you know how long each section took.
Multiple Makes – If you know what you want go get made in the next few weeks or over the month then cut everything out at the same time. Or if you are making two or three versions of the same pattern then do each step on all the garments rather than making one and then starting on the next on. Try using a neutral colour thread that works with all the fabrics so you don’t need to keep changing it. I always used to colour match my thread but recently I’ve stuck to black, grey or white. Although I do like a coloured top stitching.
My Coco tees
The message I’m trying to get across is you do have time. You will be so surprised at what you can fit it. Yes working on a brand new pattern you have never tried before will take longer but it is still possible to make it in 20 minute or 30 minutes sewing slots. Quality well made garments will last you so much longer and you will love them so much more than if you rushed and it wasn’t your best sewing.
Sew… on my #makenine2017 there was a crochet blanket. I love crocheting and for me it’s the perfect crafting activity for cold winter evenings. However I have more than enough blankets so really didn’t need another. I wasn’t sure I would be able to crochet a cardigan so got my mum to make me one. But one evening whilst getting lost in Pinterest I found some free patterns for crochet cardigans so decided to just give it a go and if it went completely wrong I could get my mum to re do it!
My mum made cardigan!
Inspired by Maddies (@thimblebee) mustard cardigan she had crocheted I decided I wanted one too so off to Hobbycraft I went! I picked this Women’s Institue Mustard Soft and Smooth Aran wool. It always seems to be on offer which is great as you can get three 400g balls for only £20 which is plenty to make a cardigan.
So in love with my first cardigan.
The pattern is the Yarnspirations Caron adult v neck cardigan. It’s for beginners and only has 5 pieces. It comes in 6 sizes so to make the pattern easier to follow I highlighted my size for each step so that the pattern was quicker to follow.
I was super amazed at how the ribbing came together. The little things right?! The cardigan comes together really quickly and It’s definitely possible to get one made in a couple of weeks.
Look at the ribbing.
The cardigan fits great and I’m so pleased with my first attempt. It’s super soft too which I wasn’t expecting from acrylic wool. When crocheting on the band I didn’t add the button holes as I would never to it up but I still added these cute vintage flower buttons as I thought I would look a bit plain.
Cute flower shaped buttons that you can’t really see!
I would definitely say this pattern is beginner friendly. It’s basically doubles and trebles with some increasing and decreasing. The pattern is American so remember to use the correct stitches as they vary from the UK stitches. Why can’t they be the same everywhere!
I’ve already started making a second one and this time I’ve gone for the round neck version of the pattern. I’m also using the same wool in the blue.
Im so pleased I pushed myself to crochet outside of my comfort zone. I know want to crochet everything! I would love to make a cable effect cardigan but don’t know if that’s possible with crocheting? I can knit but I just find it takes forever! Also crochet socks would be amazing. Would love some pattern recommendations if you have any. What are you crocheting at the moment?
And just a quick note about some amazing customer service from Hobbycraft. With bigger companies I find their customer service can be amazing or completely non existent. On this occasion it was great. In my local store they only had one ball of the blue wool but assured me it would be back in stock the following week so I purchased it. However after checking for the next couple of weeks it was always out of stock and unavailable online. I called their customer service to enquire when it would be back in stock and was told that it wouldn’t be for a few months. Disappointed that I wanted to get my cardigan finished, because what use is a chunky knit cardigan in the spring, they called one of the stores that had the some in stock and asked them if they would be able to send it to my local store which they did, yay! So I can now finish my cardigan, whoop. Have you had any great customer service recently?
As my sewing improves I want to expand on my skills and challenge myself more. But in doing this I also want to make sure that what I’m making will be worn and loved. I can honestly say that everything I’ve made is worn lots or if its something that I’m not 100% in love with then I will alter it into something that is lovable.
Since making two pairs of the Tilly and the Buttons Marigold trousers last summer I’ve wanted to make a fitted pair of trousers so why not jump straight in and make a pair of Ginger Jeans!
On Christmas Day, I was working and had some down time, I printed out all the sew a longs on the Closet Case website and had a good read. I do love a sew a long as I feel like they are there making it with me! I know a lot of people set up their tablets next to their machine and follow the instructions from that but I personally prefer a paper copy. After reading both the sew a long and pattern instructions I was definitely excited to get started. It was also reassuring that they don’t focus on the fitting and just encourage you to make your first pair based on your measurements. You can then see if there are fitting adjustments that need to be made on further pairs.
I used this stretch denim. It’s described as a medium weight denim fabric. It was lighter weight than I thought it would be but it was perfect for my first pair of jeans as my machine coped sewing though all the layers and it is so soft and comfortable to wear.
The fabric washed and ironed really well. The pattern is printed onto tissue paper which I ironed on a low heat and then traced out my size. Hands up if you are a tracer? I’m a tracer! Instead of grading between sizes I went for my waist measurements as that’s my largest part.
I had 2 meters of fabric and managed to get all the pieces cut out with a reasonable sized piece left. Any suggestions of what I can do with a piece of denim?
The denim cut really nicely with my rotary cutter and all pieces were quickly cut out. As it mentions in the sew along I flipped the leg pieces 180 degrees when cutting as this apparently stops the legs twisting when you wear them. I decided to use a cotton facing on the waistband rather than a double layer of denim. With the jeans being nice and high waisted I wanted something more comfortable around my waist.
Due to only had a small periods of time each day to sew. The sew along breaks the construction down into perfect size chunks so that you can do a section each day even if you don’t have lots of time. I started off with cutting out and pocket preparation. Followed by the front pockets. Next they recommend basting the inseam, side and yoke seams to check the fit. Once basted I tried them on and they were huge! They wouldn’t even stay up and the legs were super baggy. I was home alone sewing and Mr C wasn’t due home for a few hours and I didn’t want to waist valuable sewing time so nan to the rescue. With the jeans on inside out my nan pinned them so that they fit closely as skinny jeans should. In total I took in the waist by 4 inches and the legs by 5 inches. The only problem with checking the fit now is you need to undo it all to complete the fly. With the basting unpicked I marked on the new seam line with pins and carried on with the instructions.
Photo by nan!Surprisingly the fly was really satisfying to complete. I’ve never sewn a fly before and there were a few moments when I was like what???? But it worked!
Next up was the yoke and attaching the pockets. I got Mr C to read the pocket placement guidelines and trusted him to pin them in the right place. I think he did a very good job!
Anyone know what’s causing the diagonal lines?
I was worried about the waist band as I was so close to the finish and didn’t want it to go wrong on the home straight! Following the sew a long meant there were no problems at all and it went on perfect first time. Another super worrying part was the button hole. My machine has a one step button hole function and I always have a practice on a scrap of fabric which mirrors what the garment is. The practice always goes perfect and when I do it on the garment straight after it ALWAYS goes wrong. I have no idea why. Anyone else have this problem? So practice button hole tested and worked perfect. I was so scared about it ruining my jeans that I got Mr C to press the go button and it worked, yay!
Jeans hemmed and complete whoop!
Gingers and sparkly shoes make the perfect match.
I love them. Yes they aren’t perfect but they will be worn. I’m definitely going to jump straight back in and make another pair and this time I think I’m going to go for this slightly heavier weight denim. I will be recutting the pattern to a smaller size but don’t think I will cut out the size 4 inch smaller as I’m assuming all denims come up slightly different depending on the amount of stretch. I will take it in by a couple of inches and I also shortened the leg by 5 inches. I’m also going to shorten the rise by an inch. I also had to do this on my Marigolds.
You maybe wondering where the rivets are. I have these ones but haven’t added them as I want to wait and add them to my next pair as I know the next pair will be an improvement on these ones. I also unpicked the top stitching around the fly as I found that this just drew attention to the fly area!
Overall I am so happy I was confident enough to try something new and learn some new skills. Here are some tips I have if you want to make some Gingers:
•Topstitching- buy two reels! I ran out. It’s surprising how much you need. My machine wasn’t a massive fan of the topstitching and although it looks fine from the outside it has bobbled in places on the inside. I went for a dark navy and when I ran out I just used normal Guttermann thread and I think it looks just as effective. Zoe from Zoe Sews recommends using two strands of regular thread so I am definitely going to try that on the next pair.
• Basting- next time I’m going to add the fly and yoke before basting the outside and inside leg seams and then I won’t have to unpick all the fitting alterations to complete these steps. I don’t know much about fitting but if you have already cut out your jeans surely you aren’t going to be able to alter the rise, crotch or seat?
• Machines- every step requires a machine with normal thread, topstitching thread, an iron and depending on your seam finish an overlocker! If you have more than one machine and using topstitching thread then definitely have two machines set up and a massive table/sewing surface and 4 plug sockets! I feel like I spent so much time moving round machines and changing plugs. I didn’t know why I didn’t clear the rest of my table so set everything up!
• Seams- I went for the flat fell seams and it all seemed (pun not intended) to be going really well until I checked the insides. My second row of topstitching wasn’t catching the seam and therefore in sections the frayed edge was visible. I couldn’t alter my topstitching placement unless I did it by eye which I didn’t want to do. In future I’m going to overlock one seam and trim the other. Then press the overlocker seam over the trimmed one and then topstitch. This is the method Tilly uses in the Cleo pattern.
So to summarise make some Gingers! Be brave and go for it.
Sew… my initial plans for blog posts throughout January where I shared my goals, plans and reSEWlutions for 2018 with you have clearly not happened and it is now the second week in February! Im going to do a quick overview of what I’m aiming to achieve this year as if I tell you all I’m more likely to get it done!
Let’s start with the reSEWlutions.
These will probably be the same as all the sewists out there but I’m going to put them on my list anyway. First up is my stash. I am going to work through my stash. I had a big destash last year so it is a much more sewable size. I’ve decided to use this fabric sooner rather than later as I currently love this fabric but I may not love it so much in 12 months time for example and then it would have just been sitting there unloved and taking up space. For my make nine I have picked nine fabrics and patterns from my stash.
Most of the fabric in my stash is cotton but it’s perfect for wearable toiles. I also have a decent supply of zips and I stocked up on guttermann thread in the hobbycraft sale. So in theory I have no need to purchase anything for my next few projects! I’m going to try and only buy fabric for a project where I don’t have anything suitable. Fingers crossed this works!
Try one new pattern a month. I want to be braver and improve as a sewer. I feel like I keep repeating the same pattern over and over which I will continue doing but I will never advance if I keep doing that and never try anything new. Now I feel more confident with doing an FBA adjustment after my Orla dress last summer I’m hoping I can work this into different patterns.
On my list of things to make this year is a pair of jeans, a coat, a bra and some leggings.
Try one new pattern a month. There are lots of new patterns in my make nine that I already have so they will be sewn up first before buying any new patterns. Well hopefully. There are a few I’ve got my eye on but maybe I’ll try sewing three buying one!
I also want to go through my wardrobe and work out what I wear the most and where the gaps are in my wardrobe. I definitely need more lounge wear, hence wanting to make some leggings. I was asked to review the My Handmade Wardrobe Cosy dress and I definitely need to make another one as it is super cosy and perfect for lounging.
I love my bullet journal so have decided to make a sewing journal. It’s three years since I went on my beginners sewing course and two years since I’ve started my blog. I’m going to start printing off a picture of every make to go in the journal. I just waiting for a delivery from Cheerz with all the photographs.
So that’s what I’m hoping to do in 2018. Basically use my stash, push myself and try a new pattern each month.
Sew… the year started off with lots of sewing but did I manage to make all nine makes throughout the year? Keep reading to find out!
Here’s the nine makes I picked:
Yes I am a massive Tilly and the Buttons fan!
Tilly and The Buttons – Agnes ~ so I didn’t get any of these made. I’m not going to make this post a list of excuses but the reason is I already have plenty of similar ready to wear tops so didn’t actually need anymore. Another aim for 2017 was to sew from my stash and I didn’t have any suitable fabric to make an Agnes. By autumn/winter 2018 I will definitely need some Agnes tops in my me made wardrobe and have hopefully of made a dent in my stash so I can justify buying some fabric!
Tilly and the Buttons – Coco ~ complete opposite for this pattern and I made 4 dresses and 4 tops! I absolutely love this pattern. Perfect for super comfy dress and t-shirts. I also adapted the pattern to make a velvet top for the festive season. I’ve blogged about most of them here and here.
Perfect for all occasions.Tilly and the Buttons – Cleo ~ yep it was a very top heavy TATB patterns and yes I made 3 of these! A yellow one with a heart pocket, a super soft Liberty one and as watermelon one!
The Cleo is a super fun dress.
Christine Haynes – Emery ~ well I did make this dress but the fit wasn’t right. It was this dress that made me tackle the FBA. I used the French Navy Orla pattern to practice this on and the fit was perfect. I have since become addicted to the Orla dress so haven’t made any other dresses! I will definitely hack the Orla bodice with the Emery neckline.
A very summery Emery.
Simply Sewing Magazine – Audrey ~ have you ever found “the” dress pattern? Well I found that with the Orla. It’s so hackable, with so many variations for the neckline, sleeves and skirt. I therefore haven’t made any other dresses since the Orla. I have to do a large FBA and alter the neck as I always find they gape. To do this on every pattern it would become a chore and I want sewing to always be fun. This was another of the nine patterns that I didn’t make but I will definitely hack the Orla with the Audrey skirt.
When you wear Orla you have to look to the right!
Sew Over It – Ultimate Trousers ~ yep I didn’t make these either. I’ve never made trousers before so wanted to start with a more relaxed fitting trousers. I decided to try the TATB Marigold trousers as I know that Tilly’s patterns and instructions are amazing. I’ve made two pairs of these, one for Minerva and one for Sew me Sunshine. I can definitely see more in my future.
I have a thing with matching poses!
Tilly and the Buttons – Clemence Skirt ~ yay a pattern I made! I loved this skirt but then decided that skirts don’t really do anything for me. Luckily I had fabric left over so turned the skirt into a TATB Lilou dress which I wore throughout the summer.
Clemence to Lilou.
Elizabeth Hartman – Fancy Forest Quilt ~ I haven’t finished this but I’ve made a good start. All the coloured sections are cut out. Just the black, white and background fabric to go! And then for all the sewing together. This is a project I have been working on at the Bedford Sewing Club run by Kitchen Table Sewing.
Crochet Blanket ~ the final make was a geometric crochet blanket. Although I love crocheting blankets I really don’t need anymore. So I have decided to focus my crocheting on something that will be used… a cardigan! I’ve never attempted to crochet anything but a blanket but I am so pleased. It’s not quite finished yet, just needs sewing together but I’m sure it’s going to be a great make. Fingers crossed as I would love to make more for my me made wardrobe.
Nearly finished.So even though I haven’t completed all nine makes I am super pleased with what I have made and there are lots of other makes that I haven’t mentioned above that have been made throughout the year. In total I have made 19 dresses, 5 tops, 2 trousers, 2 skirts, 2 pairs of espadrilles and a cardigan (well nearly!).
Now I’m busy planning my #2018makenine.
Sew… I’ve opened an Etsy shop. I will mainly be selling cards and pins. Sewing themed pins coming soon, yay!
Follow my little shop so you’re the first to know when new items are added.
I started making cards to sell in a local cafe and vintage shop as in the evenings I can’t just sit in front of the TV. Don’t get me wrong I love a bit of TV time I just have to be doing something whilst watching.
My cards at Jolly Brown Vintage in Hitchin.
My cards are simple yet quirky. Each letter is individually stamped on the card, either a word or phrase, and then I add a wooden button detail. This is the perfect excuse to justify my button buying addiction. There is just something I love about buttons. Anyone else agree? Some of them may have accidentally creeped into my own button stash!
Some of the buttons!At the moment there are only Christmas cards listed but cards for all occasions will be coming soon! I can also make cards to suit your needs and they can be personalised with what ever you like. There is also a huge selection of buttons to choose from!
Keeping with the buttons I have some amazing giant buttons that I want to make into brooches to share with you all. I was hoping to get them listed in time for Christmas but sometimes life gets in the way.
I love these! Soon to be brooches.
Pin collecting has definitely gone wild at the moment and it seems all the creatives have been busy pin designing. There are already some sewing themed pins out there but I’ve got some of my own designs I want to get made. I’m hoping to send these designs off after Christmas and I hope you all love them as much as me!