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Made by Me: Fancy Tiger Crafts Fen Dress

This is one of those patterns I've been meaning to make every since it was released, and I've finally got round to it, prompted by the fact that I'm going to be teaching a class on it soon.



I know it's not essential, but I always like to make up a pattern I'm going to be teaching just to see if there are any quirks or any parts of the construction I would do differently.

The "quirk" if you like with this pattern is the neck binding.  It's done in a way I'd never seen before in a pattern for wovens and looks something like the finish on many jersey t-shirts.  It's hard to see in the photo below unfortunately due to the patterned fabric.



I like the look of it, but goodness, it took me 4 attempts to get the binding on and laying flat.  I actually ended up cutting it off after 2 attempts and starting again with a new binding.  My neckline is therefore very slightly wider and lower than intended.

That was the only problem I had with the pattern, the rest of it went together beautifully.   I love the pockets - who doesn't love a dress with pockets!


Even the gathering on the skirt went smoothly, helped by the fact that the fabric actually gathered itself almost exactly the right amount as I was machining the two rows of gathering stitches!  It's not actually as gathered as I was expecting, I was quite surprised when I cut it out that the skirt pieces weren't wider.

The only change I made was to cut the back skirt in two pieces, adding a seam allowance so I could do a centre back seam.  This allowed me to use much less fabric than recommended in the pattern and I think I've got enough left for a top. 

I used French seams throughout, except when attaching the gathered skirt to the bodice - yes, I even French seamed the pockets and the side seams.  You can do it on lightweight fabrics if you cut the seam allowance on the first seam down as small as possible and use a small seam allowance on the second seam. 

To keep things neat inside I finished the sleeves and hem with bias tape. 


Speaking of the hem, I went for the high-low option.  I know some people don't like high-low hems but I think they're pretty nice on the whole.  The difference in length on this one isn't too great, just enough to add a bit of interest.  I debated whether to do the shirt tail hem, but thought I'd save that detail for the next time I make this pattern.



I'm looking forward to wearing this when the weather gets a bit warmer.  The fabric - a lovely drapy viscose - is a little lightweight to wear at the moment.  First of all though, it needs to go to Fabric HQ so they can display it to advertise the class!

More Bags

I don't know about you, but there are times when I get obsessed with a certain thing, be it making something in particular, eating a certain type of food, listening to a certain CD over and over again...

I'm currently obsessed with making clutch bags.

I showed you the free motion embroidered faux leather one the other week and over the weekend I made two more with fabrics from my stash.  Both were slightly experimental but I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out.

The first is made from some leopard print furnishing fabric I picked up at our local hospice charity shop.  In addition to their normal high street shop they have a warehouse outlet where they sell furniture, curtains and fabric remnants among other things.  When I bought this piece I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but it was too nice not to buy, and was pretty cheap.


I used a chunky navy zip from my stash, I'd have preferred a metal one, but I didn't have a long enough one. 

The back has a zipped pocket on the outside this time, as on my previous clutch bag the internal zipped pocket is quite tricky to reach.


The lining is a remnant of floral cotton lawn that's been in my stash for about 3 years.  There wasn't enough left to make a garment of any sort but I thought it too nice to get rid of.   It coordinates pretty well with the tones of the outer fabric.


That was Saturday afternoon's project.  Yesterday I was in a free motion embroidery mood, so after completing a sample for a potential new class I rummaged through the stash again.  This time I came up with a remnant of camel wool coating (actually from the same charity shop) and some Art Gallery fabric quilting cotton that coordinated well.  I also had a couple of metal zips the right colour.


This time I started by fussy cutting some floral motifs from the cotton which I appliqued onto the wool fabric.


I used the same fabric for the lining. 


I adore this combination and as soon as I'd finished it I started hunting online for some more of the quilting cotton so I can make myself a larger bag.  It seems to be discontinued, but I managed to find a piece on Etsy which is now on it's way to me.  I'm thinking of drafting my own tote bag pattern for this, but if anyone has a recommendation of a good one, then please let me know in the comments. 

My intention is to make a number of clutch bags in differing styles and using different methods with two aims; firstly to teach a class or two and secondly to (hopefully) sell some. 

Style Over Substance?

Have you heard of Suzy Magazine?  I saw a post about it on Instagram just after Christmas and was intrigued; I love sewing and I love magazines, but what really got me interested was it's claim that it was for the "Fashion Forward Sewist".  Despite the £10.00 cover price (and £2.00 delivery) I ordered myself a copy.


The magazine took a while to be delivered and I'd almost forgotten about it when a padded envelope popped through my letterbox last week.  Once I realised what it was I was excited, couldn't wait to see what this new sewing magazine had in store for us fashion forward sewists!

Sadly my excitement was short lived.  Once I'd flicked through the - admittedly very pretty - pages, I felt very let down, particularly for the £10.00 price. 

The good parts are that it is very pretty and it's printed on lovely quality paper.

The bad parts are that the content is very lacking - in my opinion.  There seemed to be lots of pages filled with not very much at all, and what there was didn't seem to be anything new to me. 

When something is billed as "fashion forward" I wouldn't expect to see the same patterns and ideas that have been seen time and time again in other sewing magazines, I'd expect something a little bit new and different.  Maybe something reflecting what is going on in the world of designer fashion - catwalk trends, something like that.  Not 6 pages on Tilly and The Buttons Cleo dress 5 ways.  Which actually wasn't 5 ways - it was just the pattern made up in 5 different fabrics. 



There are 6 pages on bomber jackets, which probably are slightly more fashion forward, but those 6 pages contained next to no information at all. 


There were a few random pages dotted throughout, a sewing playlist, some strange doodles and a double page at the back of outline drawings to colour in. 


The final section was 17 pages containing photographs of 7 outfits.  I get what they'd tried to do - to recreate a fashion story from a high fashion magazine - but to my mind it didn't work at all.  And again, there was nothing different or new, or fashion forward. 


Elsewhere there are a few pages of "Sewing Stories" - interviews with different sewing bloggers - and an interview with the By Hand London ladies. 

I really think that the Suzy Magazine team have missed a trick with this.  They could have produced something really new and exciting, showcasing independent pattern companies producing something a little bit different from the standard cute dress but they didn't.  If you like ditzy prints and Tilly and The Buttons you might love it.  Sadly I don't, I didn't and I wouldn't buy another issue. 

I've now passed my copy on to Frankie of Knit Wits Owls, who I think is going to do a review of her own.  I'll be interested to read her thoughts. 

And I'd love to hear what "fashion forward" means to you.





Made by Me: Faux Leather Fold Over Clutch Bag

I've been getting lots of love on Instagram this week for this little project, so I thought I'd share it here as well.

I turned the embroidered butterfly on faux leather that I blogged about last week in the tutorial into a clutch bag.



I started with two panels of faux leather approx. 12" wide and 14" tall.  Once I'd embroidered the butterfly on the bottom corner of one I worked out where I wanted my fold to be and marked the position for a couple of magnetic bag fasteners, as these needed to be inserted at an early stage.


I love funky linings, and when I was at Fabric HQ last weekend I picked up a remnant of some great Cotton & Steel fabric that I thought would be perfect.


I added a zip pocket in the lining, using a method almost identical to this tutorial.  If I made a bag like this again though, I'd put the pocket on the outside of the bag, as the pocket is a little hard to access because it's quite low down due to the fold over. 



The back of this bag is plain, but I think it would look nice with a chunky metal zipped pocket in the back.  Something to remember for next time!

The bag itself was very simple, just Google zipper pouch tutorial, and you'll find loads of ideas.   Once I'd made the pocket, construction of the bag itself was less than half an hour. 

As I was making the bag I had a few things on my worktable (as always) one of which was a selection of coloured felted balls.  Three of the colours matched the embroidery perfectly, so I added them to the zip pull.


I might have bought some silver faux leather yesterday for another one...