Free Motion Fun

Earlier this week I had the great pleasure of teaching a free motion embroidery class at Fabric HQ, in their amazing classroom at their equally amazing shop. 
This was only my second time teaching free motion embroidery - the first time was a one to one workshop I gave at my house.  Fabric HQ was a much better location, they have more room and more fabric - not to mention cake!  It's a beautifully inspiring location for both teacher and student. 
I had 6 students for the evening, which kicked off with a very brief overview of free motion embroidery followed by a chance to doodle on a piece of fabric to get used to the technique.  It's a bit of a strange sensation at first, because you need to lower the feed dogs to move the fabric in any direction you want.  Instead of the machine taking the fabric through by itself, you have total control.  I was very pleasantly surprised how quickly everyone got the hang of it, and started producing lovely swirly designs on their scrap fabrics.
Next we went on to choose a design for the "real thing".  I took several templates with me, ranging from a sewing machine, to a cup and saucer and a very lovely high heeled shoe.  The sewing machine was pretty popular - as you'd expect - and one student chose to draw her own design instead of using one that I'd brought along.  She ended up with a totally unique and amazing chicken.
Choosing fabrics was the next fun step, accompanied by tea and cake.  We spent quite a bit of time rummaging through the large box of scraps provided by Fabric HQ, matching colours and choosing prints that coordinated well. 

By the end of the evening everyone had a completed picture to take home with them.  Some decided to mount them up there and then, others took them away unmounted as they already had plans for them. 
Sadly I wasn't able to get a photo of all 6, but here are some of the finished projects.  I love how the two sewing machines look so different sewn in different fabrics. 
I'm teaching another 2 free motion embroidery classes at Fabric HQ early next year, on Tuesday 14th January and Saturday 14th February .  If you're local and are interested, check out the details here
Thanks so much to the lovely Rae at Fabric HQ for asking me to teach these classes.  I had such fun, I only hope my students enjoyed it as much as I did!

Minerva Blogger Network - Purple Ponte Dress

Another month, another Minerva project.  It only seems 5 minutes since I told you about the last one, where does the time go?
This month’s project is a cosy ponte knit dress.   I ordered the fabric with full intentions of it being a dress, I just wasn’t 100% which pattern I would use.  I had a couple in mind, then when I had my hair cut a few weeks ago neither of them seemed right any more. 

After a bit of browsing around the internet and through my Pinterest boards I settled on the Ludivine dress by Republique du Chiffon.  It’s a free downloadable pdf, but unfortunately the instructions are only in French.  Luckily it’s simple enough and the pictures that go along with the instructions are good enough that I was able to make it without any difficulty.
The hardest part was the mitred corners joining the centre front and back to the side panels, but the pattern shows you pictures of exactly what you need to do here and they went together pretty smoothly.

I debated topstitching these seams, then decided against it in case the fabric decided to wrinkle as I sewed. 
I picked two fabrics, and had a metre of each.  The patterned fabric is this Purple Embossed Floral Ponte Roma
and the plain purple is a morgan crepe.
I ended up using the wrong side of the morgan crepe as colour wise it was a slightly better match to the ponte fabric.  With hindsight, I would have got 2 metres of the ponte and used the reverse side of that (which has a tweedy appearance) as the contrast side panels. 
The pattern is designed for woven fabrics and comes up quite loose.  I added a little shaping to the back panels and ended up taking the side seams in about 5/8” each side once I’d tried it on.  The other change I made was to omit the pockets, as they would have been exactly on my widest point. 
One change that I wish I’d made but didn’t was to the neckline.  It is very wide, the back in particular.  I solved this once I realised by adding small darts into the back neckline.   The patterned fabric hides these really well!
Neckline, sleeves and hem were just turned under and stitched down using a 3-step zigzag stitch.  I used nice deep 2” hems on the bottom of the dress and the sleeves.
I only made this dress a week ago and already I’ve worn it 3 times – I call that a win!




The Beginners Guide to Dressmaking

I got a new sewing book the other day and I really like it, so I thought I'd do a little review for you.
The book is The Beginners Guide to Dressmaking by Wendy Ward.

I first became aware of this book before it was released when I chanced upon Wendy's stand - MiY Collection - at the Knitting and Stitching Show last month.   As soon as I knew it had been released, I ordered myself a copy.  
I don't wish to blow my own trumpet but I'm not a beginner dressmaker, so technique wise there's not much in this book I didn't already know. 
However if you ARE a beginner, Wendy takes you through everything you would need to know to complete the 6 projects in this book, including working with fabric, taking measurements and sewing machine basics before going onto sewing seams, hems, inserting zips etc.. 
There are several things I really like about the book.  Firstly, the projects it contains.  I find the projects in a lot of dressmaking books a bit too twee for my tastes, but the projects Wendy has chosen to include are all simple and stylish shapes.  There is a great looking T-shirt, a maxi dress/skirt with a jersey foldover waistband, trousers with the same waistband as the skirt, a fishtail skirt, a zipped jacket and a shift dress.  Each garment can be made "as is" or customised with a number of variations.
After a short introduction section, the projects section comes next, with the techniques following on.
I really like having the book structured in this way - if you're flicking through you get to see what you can make almost straight away, rather than having to read through all the techniques before you can find out what you're going to use them for.
The section for each project is laid out in the same way, the first double page gives you an overview of the garment, the techniques that will be used, and the types of fabric you can use.

The next double page gives measurements and information on cutting out the fabric. 
Cutting plans come next, and depending on the complexity of the garment and the number of options, these might have their own pages.  
The "Putting it all Together" section comes next, giving good instructions on how to construct the garment and telling you when you need to look in the Techniques section further on in the book.
Finally there is a "Make it Your Own" section, showing some of the customisation options you might consider.
At the back of the book Wendy has included a double page glossary, the first page describing types of fabrics, and the second sewing terms. 
The patterns themselves are printed on tear out sheets at the front and back of the book.  They're overlapped and double sided, so you'll need to trace them off, although this seems to be the norm in sewing books these days. 
I think this book would make a great purchase for a beginner dressmaker who likes a simpler, more modern style of clothes, or for a more experienced sewer looking for some good basic patterns to customise.
I personally can't wait to get started on the zip jacket - I think the grey one above with the orange bias trim looks fabulous!  In fact, I'd like that whole outfit.
Have you got this book, or are thinking of getting it?  Are the projects your style?

A Decision Has Been Made!

Thank you all for your comments on my last post - both on my new haircut and on which coat I should make. 
After much consideration, I've made a start on the first coat, which is the one I spotted last year and bought all the supplies for.   

I think as a "main" winter coat this one will go with more things, whereas I think the cocoon coat needs to be worn with skinny jeans/trousers and heels.  And lets be honest, skinny jeans and heels are not something I do or even can wear every day.
I've actually got it cut out and the bodice and sleeve pieces underlined with flannel, ready to start sewing.  I got some gorgeous lining fabric yesterday too. 
I still love the other coat, and may possibly follow Libby from Truly Myrtle's suggestion that I make both.  The lady I bought the navy fabric from last year has the same fabric in a camel colour, so I could end up with both coats looking exactly like they do in the Burda photos (or nearly as good anyway!).
Once again, thanks for all your comments and suggestions, each one was helpful in the decision making process!