Recreating Ready to Wear: Michelle Williams' Colour Blocked Dress

I'm continuing with my "Recreating Ready to Wear" series with another dress, again in collaboration with Minerva Crafts Blogger Network.

This month I decided to try and recreate a dress worn by the actress Michelle Williams in a shoot for Elle magazine last year.  Sadly, I've never been able to track down who the designer of Michelle's dress was. 

As you can imagine, this one involved quite a bit of pattern hacking.  If you'd like to read more about what I did and the fabrics/pattern I used, head over to Minerva Crafts and read all about it here.

I promise I'll make something other than a dress next month. 

Made by Me: Dress Cezembre

First things first...  as you can see, I've given the blog a little makeover.  What do you think?  I'm really pleased with it, I've been wanting to do it for ages but wasn't sure exactly what I wanted.  I found this theme ready made on Etsy, it was really cheap and the seller was super helpful with a couple of queries I had.  I even managed to install it myself AND I made the new logo myself as well.   

I also made this dress.

The dress is based on the Blouse Cezembre pattern by Anne Kerdiles Couture.  I have actually made it as a blouse as well, which is yet to be blogged, and as soon as I tried on the finished blouse I knew I wanted a dress version.

I love the way the hem is shorter at the front than the back, and that the change in length happens towards the front rather than at the side seams.  This is achieved by not having side seams in the pattern.  The back piece wraps around to the front princess seam line, so it is really wide, and the front piece is very narrow.  It looks weird when you cut it out, but great when it's made up. 

The pattern suggests you use crepe, viscose or light cotton and for my blouse version I used the remains of the cotton/viscose plaid fabric from this dress.

For this version I went totally off piste and used ponte roma fabric from Fabric HQ, sadly I can't find it on their website to share it with you.  It wasn't the cheapest fabric ever, I think about £20 a metre, but I bought it on their birthday celebrations and got 20% off.  I managed to get this dress out of 1.5 metres.

You'll notice I've added pockets.  I really wanted this to be a cosy dress with pockets - not sure that I'll ever use them, but they had to be there.  And I didn't want inseam pockets either. 

I actually added a side seam to the pattern as well as adding around 12 inches in length by slashing the pattern at hip level.  The narrow side section between the new side seam and the princess seam I lengthened a further 12 inches and folded this up to create a deep pocket.  With the patterned fabric you can't really see that the pockets are there, but I know they are, which is all that matters.

I also lengthened the sleeves, basically making them as long as my available fabric would allow, and they're lovely and cosy.  I put a deep hem facing on them so if I wanted to I could turn them back a bit. 

Instead of a facing for the neckline I used a band of fabric, and for I think the first time ever, got the right length first time!

I took a bit of a risk with this as I didn't make a toile first - I didn't have enough of another ponte roma to do so - so I did risk ruining this lovely fabric, but thankfully this has turned out exactly as I imagined it.  I want to wear it all the time and if I didn't have so many other things on my "to sew" list I'd probably have made another one already!

Christmas Gifts for Sewists

Am I too early to be talking about this?  I know some highly organised people - not me, sadly - will have already completed their Christmas shopping.  Some might even have it wrapped and their cards written.  I'm still under the impression that it's months until Christmas!

But if you need any inspiration on what to put on your Christmas list, or what to buy for the sewist in your life, these are some of my favourite things.

Top of my list is a controversial one - scissors.  My mum says you should never give anything with a blade as a gift - the blade cuts the friendship apparently - but if you do want to gift scissors, then you can ask the recipient to pay you for the gift.  It only has to be one penny, but then the recipient has bought them from you and according to the old wives tale the friendship is safe.

I treated myself to these scissors earlier this year and I have to say they are gorgeous.  Not only do they look pretty spectacular, but they cut beautifully as well.  I have the fabric shears and the 6" straight scissors, but I have my eye on the snips as well. 

Tula Pink Hardware scissors from The Crafty Mastermind - from £14.99

If you or the person you're buying for love using a rotary cutter, how about this pretty floral one by Fiskars?  It keeps popping up in my Instagram feed and I wish I liked using a rotary cutter, because I really want one. 

Fiskars floral rotary cutter from Remnant House - £14.99

How about some lovely Merchant and Mills goodies?  I absolutely LOVE the entomology pins. 

Merchant and Mills Entomology pins - £6.00

Other Merchant and Mills goodies I love are the sewing gauge and the bamboo point turner

I've normally got a mug of tea on the go while I'm sewing, and I often get so engrossed in what I'm doing that it goes cold.  A thermal mug would be ideal, and I love this one.   It's not strictly sewing related, but aren't we all very busy when we're sewing!

"I am very busy" thermal mug from John Lewis - £14.00

Sewing themed jewellery is always a good gift - well it would be high on my list anyway! - and there's a huge variety out there. 

I'm lucky enough to have the tiny silver Alex Monroe scissors necklace and matching earrings, bought by my husband last Christmas.

Alex Monroe Inline Sewing scissors from the Haberdashery collection

If you like something a little chunkier, then Tatty Devine have a whole range of gorgeous necklaces, from a sewing box, pinking shears or a sewing machine to patchwork pieces, and that's just things that are sewing related. 

Beyond Measure have some lovely unusual leather ruler wrap bracelets at the moment.  I'm tempted by one of these, but I have really tiny wrists and I'm worried it would be too big for me. 

Beyond Measure Leather Wrist Ruler - £20.00

Of course, there's always the old favourite - gift vouchers.  How about a voucher for a class or workshop at the recipients favourite fabric store, or just vouchers to spend on lovely fabric?  Who wouldn't love to receive one (or more!) of these Liberty gift coins - although they're so pretty I think I'd have a hard time parting with them to spend them.

Liberty gift coin - from £10.00

I hope that's given you a few ideas if you didn't have any already.  I'd be happy to receive any of these in my Christmas stocking this year.

What's on your Christmas list?

Free Motion Friday: Robin Wall Hanging

I hardly dare mention it, but I have a Christmassy tutorial for you today for Free Motion Friday.  I stitched a cute little robin and mounted him in an embroidery hoop.  I always think of robin's as being boys, I don't know why!

If you would like to make a robin wall hanging of your own, you will need the following:

·         Piece of linen type fabric approx 10” square.  I used Robert Kaufman Essex Linen in theNatural colourway.
·         Small scraps of fabric in appropriate “robin” colours.  I used scraps of “Twist” by Dashwood Studios. 
·         Bondaweb – approx 4” square.
·         Iron on interfacing – approx 6” square.
·         Black thread.
·         6” wooden embroidery hoop.
·         Fabric glue.  I used Gutermann HT2.

You will also need a darning or embroidery foot for your sewing machine, and you must also be able to lower or cover the feed dogs of your machine.

You can download the template for the robin I used here.


Print and cut out the robin template.  If the test square in the corner measures 1” then the robin will fit perfectly in a 6” embroidery hoop.

Turn the template pieces face down and draw round each one on the reverse of the appropriate fabric.  You don’t have to use exactly the same colours I’ve used, I just used what I had. 

Rough cut each shape out, leaving a small border and iron onto some Bondaweb.  Remember to use some greaseproof paper over the Bondaweb so you don’t get any of the glue on the plate of your iron. 

Peel the fabric pieces off the Bondaweb backing and cut out exactly.

Prepare the linen fabric by ironing the interfacing onto the back of it to give some stability for stitching.

Arrange the pieces of the robin on the linen, centring them, and then press with a hot iron to adhere them to the linen with the Bondaweb.
You can find a full tutorial explaining these steps in more detail here.

Using free motion embroidery, stitch around the edge of the pieces and add details such as the robins legs, beak and eye.  I used scribbly lines rather than straight ones to give a more hand drawn look.

Add details such as a branch for the robin to stand on, or a fence, or anything that takes your fancy!  I cut some tiny holly leaves to add a contrasting colour into the design. 

Make sure your design fits in a 6” embroidery hoop.  Mine does just, but I wanted it to fill the frame, so that's good!  Mount your linen in the embroidery hoop so that the fabric sits over the inner ring, press the outer ring down and tighten the top screw. 

Trim off the excess at the back, leaving about 15 – 20mm to fold over the back of the hoop.

Apply fabric glue around the top edge of the inner rim of the hoop and press the fabric down over the edge. 

Sit back and admire your completed picture.  You could add a ribbon loop or bow at the top for hanging if you wish.