Monday, 29 September 2014

I Made This: Papercut Patterns Clover Dress

Wow, I cannot believe I made this dress a month ago and today is the first time I've had the time to blog about it. 
This is/was my birthday dress and since my birthday at the beginning of the month it's been worn several times.  I totally love it!
The pattern is Papercut Patterns Clover dress, which I bought as soon as it was released.  I rarely buy a pattern immediately it is released, normally preferring to wait until there are a few reviews and finished projects I can check out, but I knew I wanted this as soon as I saw it.
It was a very easy project.  I received the pattern on a Saturday morning, by lunchtime had made a muslin, and had the dress finished to wear out to dinner on the Sunday evening.
Based on my measurements I cut a size small (do Papercut Patterns size larger than other companies, as I'm rarely a small!) and didn't need to make any fit alterations at all.  I did lengthen the skirt and also the sleeves, but that was purely to account for the fact that we're coming into Autumn and a I knew a short dress with short sleeves wouldn't get much wear.
To lengthen the sleeves, I literally just cut them longer, at the width the existing hem was, so that they were full length.  The cuffs - which I really should have taken a photo of as I'm so proud of them - were loosely pleated into a narrow band of pre-made bias tape. 

Initially I added 6 inches of length to the skirt, then at the hemming stage cut it into a high-low hem by removing 4 inches from the front.  If I get bored with the high-low look I'll just shorten the back to match the front.
I was really pleased with the way the pattern went together.  Every piece matched perfectly, even the lace inset pieces for the bodice.  I was really worried that I wasn't going to get them to line up nicely either side of the centre front seam, but my worries were needless.
For the lace inset panel I used some scraps from a lace collar I'd bought a couple of years ago.  I had just enough to cut the 2 pieces. 
You might recognise the fabric - it's the same as I used for my Polly top a couple of months ago.  I liked it so much I went back to the shop and bought some more.  It's a polyester georgette, but it's a lovely weight and only slightly sheer.  I have to wear a waist slip under it, but the fabric isn't so sheer that I need a full slip.  
I'll definitely make this pattern again - probably the blouse version next - and after seeing Tess Daly (on the right in the photo below) on Strictly Come Dancing, I'm wondering how I can hack the top into a jumpsuit. 

I also think a short sleeved maxi version would be lovely for next summer. 

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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Holiday Snaps

Sorry for the long absence, I was away on holiday last week and the week before that was manic, as this week is shaping up to be!  I haven't done any sewing for two whole weeks. 
As I've nothing to share with you on the sewing front, I thought I'd show you a few of my holiday snaps.
We spent the first four days of our holiday with friends in St Austell, Cornwall, in the little holiday cottage they have attached to their house.
Our cottage in the centre of the picture.  Our friends house is the stone building on the left.

We visited the Eden Project - which is only twenty minutes walk from the cottage - and spent some time in the tropical rainforest biome and the temperate Mediterranean biome.  Some of the plants in the rainforest biome in particular are stunning.

Look at the size of the leaf on this palm!
We spent the rest of our time in Cornwall visiting various small, pretty seaside towns; Fowey, St Mawes, Looe and Polperro.
St Mawes


After Cornwall we headed east to Dorset and stayed for a couple of nights in Lyme Regis. 
The town isn't quite as pretty as the Cornish seaside resorts, but has lots of lovely little shops and restaurants.  It was perfect for a two night stay and we had a room in the most gorgeous little B&B. 
Our final night was spent in Bournemouth, where we had tickets to see Riverdance, which is celebrating it's 20th anniversary this year.  My hubby's family are Irish, and he's always wanted to see the show.  It was simply amazing!
I do have a couple of unblogged sewing projects that were completed before I went on holiday, so I'll hopefully have time to share those with you sooner rather than later. 
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Monday, 8 September 2014

Hopping Around

If you read as many sewing blogs as I do you've probably seen at least some of the Blog Hop posts that have been popping up over the last few weeks.
I've really enjoyed reading them and finding out a bit more about what makes my favourite sewing bloggers tick.  I was very flattered when I received an email from Claire at I Want to be a Turtle asking me if I would take part.
So here goes:
Why do I write?
Good question!  I really had to think about this, why do I write?  Is it to entertain, inform, keep a record, learn? 
Really a bit of each of those things.
When I started blogging in the summer of 2012 I'd been reading sewing blogs for a couple of years, commenting on a few sporadically and learning lots.  Slowly the thought came into my mind that if all these people out there in the world were sharing their sewing and other skills online, then why shouldn't I?  It seemed to me - rightly or wrongly - that if I wanted to learn more and improve my sewing then I needed to be able to take a more active roll in the online sewing community than merely commenting on other peoples blogs.
Like many others taking part in this blog hop have noted, my blog largely forms a place for me to keep records of what I've done, alterations I've made to patterns, things I'd like to try differently next time. 
I hope that my writing is entertaining or at least interesting.  I have to say that creative writing was never my strong point - I'm much more of a "why use 200 words when 20 will do" type of writer so I do worry sometimes that my posts are a bit abrupt, but then other times I can waffle on indefinitely.
My blog is mainly about sharing what I'm working on or what I've just finished, with a few tutorial type posts thrown in along the way.  I see some bloggers writing detailed and obviously well researched posts on social issues, but I have to say that's not my thing!  That's not to say that I'm not interested in these issues, just that I don't want to write about them.  I'd rather keep things more light hearted here.
What am I working on?
Well, like most people I normally have several projects on the go.  Currently I'm working on my Alabama Chanin skirt, which I posted about last week.  As that is handsewn it's taking time, but it's a thoroughly enjoyable project.
I'm also working on my next Minerva Crafts Network project, which I can't share with you right now, but will be revealed next week.
Towards the end of the month I'm planning on starting my big project of the year, a winter coat.  I'll be making this Burdastyle one, the pattern is cut out and ready to go as I intended to make it last year and never got round to it!
I'm also working my way through the Craftsy Pattern Making Basics - The Skirt Sloper course.  I've wanted to learn pattern making for ages and my lovely hubby got me this course, and the bodice sloper one for my birthday. 
How does your blog differ from others of it's genre?
My initial reaction to this question was "I don't know"!   I suppose to a certain extent most sewing blogs are the same, we all make things, we all share them with our readers.
I think where my blog differs from some others is that I don't really have a defined style.  There are a lot of bloggers out there that have a very defined style, be it vintage garments, certain colour schemes, prints, whatever.  I'm much more eclectic with my choices (and always have been with clothes) and tend to make whatever takes my fancy.  I do love dresses though...
... except shirt dresses.  The sewing blogger community seems to LOVE shirt dresses, and I definitely differ in that respect because I hate them!  (On me, that is.  I love a good shirt dress on other people!)  I won't say you'll never see a shirt dress on this blog, but it's highly unlikely.
How does your writing process work?
I tend to write a post and then publish it almost immediately, usually within a few days of finishing the item if I'm sharing a finished project.  As I mentioned earlier, creative writing was never my strong point and there's only so long I can fiddle with posts before I hit publish.   I'm lucky in that I work from home at least part of the week, so I can normally find time during the day to write a post if I want to.  I'm not as restricted as some bloggers in having to find time at weekends to write posts which will then go live during the week. 
Having said that, if I'm feeling particularly inspired I will occasionally write two or three posts in a day and schedule them over the course of a week.

I had to choose two bloggers to take over this blog hop from me, and I've nominated Maria from How Good is That?  and Lucie from Love, Lucie, both of whom who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Minerva Crafts meet up earlier this year. 
You can read their answers to these same questions next Monday 15th September.

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Friday, 5 September 2014

Friday Fancies


I always mean to do these posts far more regularly, but anyway, here's another in my occasional "Friday Fancies" series.

Here are a few things that have caught my eye recently.

Papercut Patterns Clover dress.  It's quite unusual for me to buy a pattern as soon as it's released, but I did with this one.   My pattern arrived from New Zealand last Saturday and I went out for dinner in the completed dress the following day.  I made a couple of changes to it, but it's a fabulous design.  It will be blogged about as soon as I can get some decent photos.


Another new dress pattern, this time with a skirt option as well.  The Dalloway dress and skirt from Jennifer Lauren Vintage .  This one will have to wait until next Spring, but I can definitely see myself making this.  So pretty.


This Prewrapped Wrap from The Purl Bee looks as though it would be a really useful and cosy garment to snuggle up in over the coming colder months. 


This postcard cushion by nanaCompany is so beautiful.  I'd love to make one myself.


And finally, something to eat.  I was given a bag of courgettes (zucchini) last week and wanted to do something other than put them in ratatouille.  This recipe was so easy and very delicious.  Garlic, lemon and parmesan courgettes by Cooking Classy.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Alabama Stitching

If you follow me on Instagram (which you can do here) you'll probably have seen my first steps into sewing the Alabama Chanin way.  

You may not have heard of Alabama Chanin - I hadn't until Carolyn of Handmade by Carolyn wrote this post last year.   I was immediately intrigued, the book she wrote about looked beautiful, as did the stitching itself. I immediately jumped on Amazon and ordered a copy for myself.  (By the way, Carolyn has made some AMAZING Alabama Chanin projects, as has her mum!  A very talented family!).
When the book arrived I devoured it and ooh-ed and aah-ed over every gorgeous photograph, then put it on my bookshelf.  It wasn't until a conversation with Gail from Today's Agenda a couple of months ago that I seriously considered actually making something using this method.  Gail was preparing a project she could take on holiday with her, and I decided to work along side her.  She's a bit ahead of me, but then she got organised far quicker than I did!
I decided to make a skirt - the book comes with several traceable patterns for simple tops, skirts and dresses - and settled on dark grey with a black underlayer.  However, when I went to order my fabric the black jersey was out of stock, so I got dark and light grey.  I ordered my jersey here.
The next step was to decide on which stencil to use. You can buy the stencils ready cut from the Alabama Chanin website, but they're expensive.  You can also download (for free) pdf documents of the stencils, which you then tape together and cut yourself.  I decided to go this route, and after a lot of prevarication decided on the Angie's Fall Placement design.   
I have to say, cutting it was not easy, there are some small details that I could not control my craft knife well enough to cut from the plastic sheet, so I'm going to draw those in free hand.  
I was a bit worried about getting in a mess with applying fabric paint to the stencil, and while browsing my local art and craft shop, found a gel roller ball pen especially for use on fabric.  This was perfect, as I'd already decided I didn't really want any of the painted areas to remain after I'd finished stitching.  I was able to draw the outlines of each shape neatly onto the fabric and cut these lines completely away as I've progressed. 
You'll notice my under layer is indeed black not light grey - when I did my test piece (in the first picture) I didn't like the light grey, but luckily remembered I had a piece of black jersey in my stash from a previous project.  There was just enough to cut the skirt from, and I'm much happier with the darker underlayer.    
Here you can see one of the flowers in progress.  I like cutting away the centre of the stitched sections once I've done a few so I can see the design developing. 
Above is an almost completed flower - there are small comma-like additions to go between each petal, which will be drawn on free hand later and then stitched.
I'm absolutely loving doing this.  I'm finding it both relaxing and rewarding and cannot wait to see the finished skirt.  It's wonderful to see each flower develop and I'd forgotten how much I like hand sewing.
I'll definitely be sharing my progress on this skirt, and I'm sure there will be other Alabama Chanin inspired projects in my future.  A maxi dress for next summer seems likely...
Do you enjoy handsewing?  Would you take on a project like this?  
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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Autumn Sewing Plans

Autumn appears to be arriving in the UK (although we are promised another spell of warmer weather next week) and my thoughts are turning towards what I want to sew for this Autumn/Winter.
I have to say I love Autumn, I think its my favourite time of year.  I love being snuggled up in dresses and cosy cardi's, with some thick tights and boots.  Autumn clothing just feels so much more "me" than summer clothes.
So what am I planning on making?
First up, I think it will be another version of Butterick 5246, which is now sadly out of print. 
I made version A pre-blog, soon after I got back into sewing after a few years break, and I've worn my first one to death.  So much so that I'm getting bored of it.  My new one will use this lovely geometric jersey I bought recently from Bluebell and Brook.
I think this is going to be pretty much the perfect Autumn/Winter dress.  Cosy but still stylish.
Next will be Papercut Patterns new Clover dress.  Have you seen this one?  Do you love it?
I'll be making mine longer, and possibly lengthening the sleeves too.  I think I might make this in some black ditsy printed chiffon, from White Tree Fabrics.  The fabric has strips of lace sewn onto it, then the print is applied on top of that.  Depending on the pattern pieces (I didn't buy the pdf pattern, but the printed version - so I'm still waiting for it to arrive) I'm wondering if I can unpick one of the lace strips and use that for the bodice insert.
I also want to draft myself a dress.  I tried on this gorgeous Ghost dress today, but the neckline was indecently low. 
It's a fairly simple drop waisted style, with the "drop" being lower at the back than the front.  I'm thinking it would be fairly simple to draft myself?
My major project this year is going to be a coat.  I downloaded this Burdastyle pattern last year.  
I got as far as printing out and taping together the pdf, and even bought some fabric to make it with.  This year I'm definitely going to make it.
Apart from these that I've already identified I need some separates, particularly trousers.  I like slim legged styles, preferably with a side zip, but am finding it a bit difficult to find a pattern that works well for pear shapes.  I do have a Simplicity one that I've muslined once, made some alterations to and am soon to muslin again.
I also need tops, but haven't identified any patterns for those yet!  I suppose I've got more than enough to think about with my dresses and coat.
Have you made any plans for Autumn sewing yet (or Spring sewing if you're in the Southern Hemisphere)?  What's your favourite season?

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Friday, 22 August 2014

I Made This: Polly Top

Happy Friday everyone!  I'm working from home today, and having a nice relaxing time too.
I have a new top to share with you today.  It's the Polly top from By Hand London and is highly recommended by me.
I initially downloaded this free pattern as I was looking for potential patterns to use for a class I'm hoping to teach.  I wasn't sure if this would be a good one to use, or if Colette's Sorbetto would be better.  Having made both patterns now, my preference is definitely the Polly top.  I'll tell you why shortly.
As you can see I've made mine from a single fabric, rather than having a contrast panel in the front.  You can still see that there is a panel there, it's just a lot more subtle.
There are no darts on this pattern, instead the curves of the front panel provide all the shaping at the front, while the back is just a gentle A-line. 
The pattern itself went together very easily - once I'd taped together the 30 sheets of the pdf download.  That's my only gripe with this pattern - there were pretty large borders around the sheets, it could definitely be made to fit onto fewer pages.
I used French seams for the shoulders and side seams, and for the front panel I used a standard seam, trimmed the seam allowance down and finished it with a small zigzag stitch.   I was a bit worried about how easily the curved front seams would fit together, but with plenty of pins they matched up perfectly.
I then topstitched my front seam, both to make the seam allowance lay flat, and to make it stand out a little bit more.

I wanted this top to be work appropriate so I made some changes to the neckline.  As drawn, the front and back necklines are rather low, and the armholes cut in somewhat. 
As we are not allowed to wear sleeveless or revealing garments in the office, I raised the front neckline by just over an inch and the back neckline by a good couple of inches.  I also widened the shoulders so the armholes aren't too revealing.
Below are photos of the pattern pieces as I altered them.  The green highlighted lines show where I should have cut for my size.


So why do I prefer this pattern to the Sorbetto?  Well, mainly the shaping.  I know many people love the Sorbetto, but I find it too boxy on me.  Polly seems to be drafted for my shape and I think it's generally a "cooler" style than the Sorbetto. 
I think you do need to use a nice drapy fabric for this pattern.  I used a heavy-ish polyester georgette which worked really well.  I'm not sure I would like it as much in a cotton lawn or quilting cotton, but then I'm not a great lover of cotton fabrics for anything to be honest!   I much prefer the drape of a crepe de chine (whether synthetic or natural fibres) or a viscose.
I'll definitely be making more Pollys.  I have some gorgeous ivory silk with random black splodges on that I think would work really well, and I also have enough of my Oonapalooza fabric left over for a top.  I may well use one of those fabrics to make the pattern as intended with the lower neckline and armholes, as neither of them are fabrics I would wear to work.   I'm not sure I can see myself making this with 2 contrasting fabrics though.  Perhaps if I found just the right ones... never say never!
Have you made this pattern?  Do you think you'd prefer this or the Sorbetto?  I'd be interested to find out.  
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