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Baby bibs

Something I did manage to do while I was trying to ignore the half finished dress lying in my sewing corner judging me every time I passed, was make something to welcome some new little people into the world.

The great thing about sewing for babies is that it requires very little fabric. Also, it will probably look cute due to being tiny even if it doesn’t come out perfect.

I decided to keep it very simple and make some bibs. I used this tutorial and it was really easy to follow. The only mistake I made was that on the first bib I forgot that the line in the template is the sewing line rather than the cutting line, so doesn’t include seam allowance. So the first bib came out a bit smaller than I had planned, but it was just about big enough to get smothered in yoghurt by its new owner, so it did the job it was intended for.

The first set of bibs were for my friend’s little boy. She loves guinea pigs, so of course I set out to find some guinea pig fabric for her little man. And it turns out they had just the thing on Woven Monkey called Guinea Pig Vegetable Patch (which you can find here). All I needed was a fat quarter on standard cotton and some yellow flannel (from Plush Addict) as backing and I was ready to go.

Henrik's bibs 1

Aren’t the guinea pigs cute? I also got a big pack of snap buttons in all colours imaginable. I don’t think I’ll ever need that many snap buttons, but they only seem to come in massive selection packs.

Henrik's bibs 3

Come Christmas there was another new arrival that needed protecting from dribble and less pleasant liquids. My sister in law had a little boy and him and their dog are inseparable. The dog doesn’t leave his side and he doesn’t take his eyes of the dog. So I thought this called for dog themed bibs. She is a beautiful black labrador, so I was delighted to find a fat quarter of the perfect fabric on ebay.

Bibs for George  Bibs for George back

This time I used baby blue flannel for the reverse. Aren’t they adorable? Also, judging by these fotos, I can’t even iron a bib. Somehow the creases didn’t look quite so bad in reality…

Both sets of bibs were very well received and I would really recommend the tutorial. It’s so easy to follow (if you read the instructions properly, see my mistake about the seam allowance) and it was just what I needed. A simple quick project that got me back at my sewing machine when something bigger was a bit too daunting.

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Megan dress in black and grey chevrons

I think it’s fair to say that I’ve been having sewing mojo issues. I did little bits and bobs over the last couple of years, but this is the first item of clothing I finished in about two years. Why is that? Partly because I had a lot going on like buying a house (and all the madness that comes with that) and getting married, but I know that’s not really an excuse as lots of people do these things and still manage to sew.

The other reason is, that I just really struggled with this dress and I don’t know why. After all I had made it once before and it was really straight forward, so if anything, I was expecting the second version to be even easier. Oh how wrong I was. Something went wrong at every single stage. I had told myself that I couldn’t start a new project until I had finished this one as I was worried I would never finish it otherwise, but I really struggled to carry on with this one. In the end I put all hopes of pattern matching aside and just decided that it didn’t really matter. And at least it’s done now even though it’s not perfect. I finally finished it just before Christmas but it’s taken me until now to get Herr Makes to take some pictures (don’t ask why he decided to cut off my feet in all of them, I only noticed that afterwards…).

Megan 2 frontb

I made the same size as before (a 4 with an extra 5cms in length) but took in the sides slightly as I felt my first version was a bit baggy and I ended up taking it in a bit afterwards. I think I took about a cm from each back seam. I also decided to go for the zip this time as even though my first version is OK without the zip I have to be quite careful putting it on and taking it off as I’m worried something will rip.

The fabrics I used are very similar to the ones in my first version (I bought them from Ray Stitch at the same time I bought the others). The skirt is a black and grey chevron stretch jersey and the top is a plain black organic jersey.

And while they look lovely and the organic jersey is sooo soft I really struggled with that one. It didn’t like to lie flat, meaning I had to make very frequent use of my seam ripper, but because the fabric is so fragile it ripped really easily. I ended up with a hole very close to a seam which luckily was on the facing, so won’t show, but it meant that after that everything took ages because I was so worried I’d rip the fabric again. Which is also why I gave up on trying to pattern match. I just couldn’t get the chevrons to line up over the zip and in the end I just gave up. The second attempt was maybe ever so slightly better than that first one, but I was worried the fabric couldn’t handle another round of taking the zip out and putting it back in again.

Megan 2 back

It’s OKish at the top but gets steadily worse towards the hem. Ah well. It’s the back. I won’t see it anyway.

Megan 2 side

And unless I look down I won’t see the non-matching side seams either.

And while I’m at it, I also won’t look at the right shoulder where fabric is pulling:

Megan 2 detail sleeve

But again, when I noticed it, I was worried that ripping out the stitches would damage the fabric and I didn’t want to take that risk at the shoulder seem. It’s not as obvious when it’s on (at least that’s what I’m telling myself) and luckily it’s quite cold at the moment, so I’ll be wearing it with a cardigan anyway, so that will cover that bit.

So all in all, not a very successful make, but I’m glad I stuck with it and that I ended up with a wearable dress. And also that I can now move on to other things. I think I’m ready for something new.  Fingers crossed it won’t take quite as long.

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Ultimate Trousers

Last month I did the Ultimate Trousers Class at Sew Over It in Islington. I hadn’t been to a sewing class since my intro to sewing course almost two years ago. Since then I’ve mainly made dresses and tops and I thought I should really try and tackle trousers but thought that I could do with a bit of help. I’m so glad I decided to do the class! It was so nice to learn together with other sewers and the teacher was really experienced and just so lovely as well.

One of the great things about the class is that they have toiles of all the different sizes there, so before cutting out the fabric you can try on different sizes to see which is the best fit. That was such a big help and I always get a bit bored when making toiles as I already know that I won’t be able to wear it and I’d rather be working with my nice fabric. Having the toiles there to try on was great for choosing which size to cut out. And the teacher also measured us as well and helped with adjustments.

Would you like to guess how much length I had to add to accommodate my stupidly tall body? 7.5 inches plus hem! The teacher also pointed out where the best point of adding that length is, so that I wouldn’t end up with knees in an odd place or anything like that.

I had chosen a fabric from Sew Over It as well. It’s this black and white tiny houndstooth cotton stretch fabric.

Product Image

(Image from Sew Over It)

It’s got just the right amount of stretch to give the trousers a bit of ease when sitting down and the teacher recommended adding some stay tape (at least I think that’s what it’s called – I should have written this down!) to the waist to keep the waist from stretching when I wear them. That was such a good tip as otherwise they’d probably just get baggier and baggier with every wear.

Apart from the additional length I didn’t make any alterations to the pattern, but I think if I make another pair I might try and do something about the strange wrinkles in the ahem crotch area. I didn’t quite finish my pair in the two evening sessions we had, so I finally finished them last weekend and then wore them on a stroll through the park to get some photos in actual daylight for a change.

Ultimate Trousers_front

You can’t really see the pattern of the fabric in these pictures very well, but my boyfriend who took the pictures thinks that it made him feel a bit dizzy when he looked at them for too long, so maybe that’s a good thing. 🙂

Ultimate Trousers_side

I think they might need some tweaks, but overall I’m pretty happy with these. I can’t actually remember when I last had a pair of trousers because I really struggle to find ones that are long enough for me, so that’s quite exciting!

I can really recommend the class if you’re a bit daunted by attempting to make trousers. I was too, but the teacher was really great and so helpful!

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Betty Dress in Navy and Yellow Dots

Oh dear, I can’t believe how long it’s been since my last blog post. First work was really busy and by the time I got home and had dinner i just didn’t have it in me to sit down and sew. I then started on a project but my heart wasn’t really in it, so it was just lying there for weeks and I didn’t touch it.

But then three things happened.

  1. My friends decided to have a 50s theme for their wedding
  2. Lauren from Guthrie and Ghani wrote a blog post about Sew Over It’s Betty Dress and
  3. The wonderful Karen from didyoumakethat.com announced the Made Up innitiative in support of the National Literacy Trust

And so I decided to abandon the project that was just gathering dust in the corner anyway and to try and make a Betty dress in time for my friends’ wedding on 22nd August.

I had never made anything for an occasion before, so I’d never had to work to a deadline, but I managed to finish it by getting up an hour earlier in the mornings and fitting in an hour’s sewing time before work. And I think I’ll try and do the same for other projects as it really worked well.

When Lauren featured Sew Over It‘s Betty Dress as part of her Summer Dress Season blog series I just fell in love with it (you can find the blog post here)! I also immediately fell for one of the fabrics she suggested. A cotton with a cream background and navy, yellow on turquoise dots randomly scattered across each other. You can still find it in her online shop here. And I have to say the fabric was a dream to work with! It’s fairly light, but not light enough that you’d have to worry about lining it. It’s not see through. And it hardly frayed at all, which made life so much easier. I really enjoyed working with this fabric.

I traced a size 12 from the pattern and made a toile of the bodice. Based on that I decided to add an inch to the length of the bodice (I might have mentioned that I’m very tall before…) and also shaved off about one cm at the bottom of the armholes. I often find that armholes are a bit tight for me on sewing patterns, so doing this makes them a lot more comfortable.

Here’s the finished result (worn with a petticoat):

BettyDress_front

(I didn’t have a good picture of me from the wedding, so this is just the day after in my parents’ garden.)

I really love this dress! The sheer amount of fabric was quite daunting just because I’d never made anything with a full circle skirt before, but I’m really happy with the finished result. The most difficult bit were the straps. When I first read the instructions I couldn’t quite get my head around how it was going to work, but then I just worked through them really slowly and told myself to trust the good people at Sew Over It – they know what they’re doing after all! And it all worked out in the end.

I really like the low back (and the fact that it’s not too low, so there’s no danger of bits of bra peaking out):

BetyDress_back

When I first inserted the invisible zip it really didn’t deserve the name ‘invisible’. There was quite a lot of it showing on both sides. I was almost tempted to leave it as I was a bit pushed for time but then I noticed that all I had done wrong was not adjusting the position of my needle. So I just went over it again with the needle positioning adjusted so it was as close as possible to the zip and voila! I’m so glad I fixed it, I think it would have really bugged me if I had left it the way it was. I think it’s my best invisible zip so far.

Just one note on the amount of fabric required: on the pattern envelope it suggest 3m of a 140cm wide fabric for all sizes, but based on Lauren’s comments in her blog post I only ordered 2.5m of that width and it was plenty for a size 12. I probably could have gotten away with slightly less, but the fabric is so lovely that I’m sure I’ll put the left overs to god use on a smaller project at some point.

And because the full swooshy circle skirt is just the best, here’s a swooshy twirly shot:

BettyDress_side

I’m really happy with this dress and I’m so glad I managed to finish it in time for my friends’ wedding.

And that also means I completed my challenge for the Made Up initiative in time!

If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s an initiative in aid of the National Literacy Trust where you set yourself a creative challenge to be completed by 10th September and donate some money to go towards the National Literacy Trust. You can find all the details here on Karen’s blog. I think it’s a wonderful idea and there’s still some time to take part if you fancy it. It’s for such a good cause.

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Simple Sleeveless Top x2

For my next make I wanted a simple dressmaking project and something that I could hopefully make again and again just in different variations. And I think I found exactly that in the Simple Sleeveless Top which is another pattern from Learn To Sew With Lauren by Lauren Guthrie from Guthrie & Ghani.

Lauren recently posted some really useful additional instructions on her blog about adjusting the fit and also adding a yoke section and pin tucks.

For my first attempt, I decided to make a toile to assess the fit. I don’t usually do this because I’m too impatient and I just want to get going with the nice fabric straight away (and also because I often don’t have a cheap fabric in the same weight as the fabric I want to use, so a toile might not be that accurate anyway). But I decided that since it’s such a simple pattern I should really take my time and get the fit right. And Lauren’s tutorials came just at the right time!

I cut a size 12 to make my toile and then adjusted the neckline at the back by taking out about an inch as it wasn’t sitting flat against my back. This is something that I find quite a lot with things that I’ve made and also with shop bought clothes, so now I know how to fix that. Lauren’s instructions were really helpful! The top was also quite baggy around my lower back, so I also pinched out some fabric there. Once I was happy with the toile, I unpicked the side seams so I could lay the the adjusted toile over my pattern piece. I traced around it and then also added 3cms in length because I’m quite tall.

And then it was on to proper fabric.

For my first attempt I used a cotton poplin in wine with mustard polka dots from minerva crafts (you can find it here). It was really easy to work with, so perfect for a stress free project.

SimpleSleevelessTop_Polka_Front SimpleSleevelessTop_Polka_Side

The armholes and the neckline are bound with bias binding. A technique I hadn’t used before, but I will definitely do this again! It’s such a nice finish. As my bias binding was a slightly different colour to the main fabric (I guess that’s what happens when you buy it on the internet and can’t match the colours properly) I decided to hide the binding on the inside.

For my second attempt I chose a cotton lawn with a tree pattern (also from minerva – you can get it here). This was also really nice to work with but the edges frayed quite a bit, so I decided to go for French seams on this one. I do like French seams. They’re just so neat. I also shaved off about a centimetre from the bottom of the armholes for this version to make it a bit more comfortable. After having worn the first top to work for a day, I thought they were just a tiny bit restricting.

I also lowered the neckline just a tiny bit because on this version I left the binding exposed on the neckline and I didn’t want it to be any higher than on the first version.

SimpleSleevelessTop_Trees_Front SimpleSleevelessTop_Trees_Side

And that’s it – my first two Simple Sleeveless Tops.

Even though it’s a simple pattern, I still think I learned quite a lot on these makes: mainly adjusting fit but also using bias binding to finish armholes and necklines. I think they will come in really handy.

I’m sure I’ll make this top again and again. I love Lauren’s version with the embroidered cotton over a plain cotton, so might look into doing a version like that too.

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Knitted potholders

I’m lucky enough to live near a crafts café (Love13 in Enfield) and earlier this year I went to a beginners knitting class with a few friends. The last time before that I had picked up knitting needles was in primary school, so I definitely classed myself as a beginner. We learned how to cast on and off, knit and purl stitch and how to change colour and spent a lovely couple of hours there.

And over the last couple of weeks I finally tackled my first knitting project. I wanted to make something for my mum’s birthday but it had to be fairly easy because I didn’t want to overstretch myself on my first knitting attempt. And because my mum likes practical things, I decided on making a pair of potholders.

I found a pattern on ravelry, bought some wool (I kept it basic and used some Rico Creative Cotton Aran Yarn – in purple because that’s my mum’s favourite colour) and off I went.

And here’s the finished result:

potholders

I have to admit that it took me a lot longer than I had anticipated and they might not be 100% even as the tension varies quite a lot, but overall I’m pretty pleased with them!

The pattern was really easy to follow and I got into a rhythm pretty quickly.

And what I really enjoyed was, that I could still sit with the rest of the family over Easter and join in the conversation while knitting. As much as I love sewing, I do sometimes find it a bit lonely, because it’s just me taking over the only proper table we have in the flat and just concentrating on whatever I’m making for hours on end. So the fact that I could still sit with everyone else and chat while knitting was great. So I don’t want to neglect my sewing, but I think it’ll be a nice change to fit in some knitting every now and then.

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Have it Your Way Dress

Hello readers!

I’ve finally finished another make! (About time, I have to say…)

It’s the Have it Your Way Dress from Lauren Guthrie’s book Learn to Sew With Lauren (find out more about it here).

The book came out just in time for my birthday last year, so was number 1 on my wish list and I wasn’t disappointed. There are so many different projects in the book, I’m sure everyone would find at least a few patterns they’d like to give a go. I love the variety of projects and also the fabrics they’ve used throughout. Definitely want to try out a few of the other patterns as well.

I decided to start with the Have it Your Way Dress because I just liked everything about it.

I used a black viscose with cream dots (I ordered it from the Village Haberdashery a few months ago, but it’s not on their website anymore, so looks like they might have run out).

So, here’s the finished result:

Have it Your Way Dress front

The instructions were really easy to follow. What took me the longest (as usual) was tracing the pattern and then marking and cutting my fabric. That viscose is a slippery bugger! But I got there in the end and once I started sewing it went quicker than I thought. I’m especially pleased with the invisible zip – I think the neatest one I have achieved so far!

The only thing I found a bit confusing were the sleeves. I really liked the shape of them in the picture in the book but it took me a while to get my head around how the curved bottom edge and the facing all went together. To be honest, I’m still not quite sure I got it right, but it looks fairly similar to the picture in the book, so let’s just say I nailed it!

Have it Your Way Dress side

I cut a straight size 12 and didn’t make any fit adjustments and I think it fits really well. It doesn’t even need the belt I’m wearing in the pictures for the fit – the dress itself is a really nice shape, I just felt like the pattern needed something to break it up a bit, so paired it with a navy belt, which I think works quite well. (I have to say that I was a bit worried about the sizing as I couldn’t find a table of body and finished garment measurements anywhere – not sure if I just didn’t look properly or if they’re just not included, but luckily the fit worked out well for me.)

If I were to make it again I think I would use a contrast fabric for the collar. With this fabric you can’t see the collar that well, but here’s proof that it’s there!

Have it Your Way Dress collar

Maybe I should have made that navy as well, to tie in with the belt, but never mind. Something to bear in mind for next time.

The only other thing (and not the pattern’s fault at all) is that the fabric gets quite static and clingy. Especially as I work in an office with carpet throughout, the skirt part just ended up clinging to my legs quite a bit, which is um, not the most flattering look, let’s leave it at that. So I might have to look into making a petticoat of some sort. Something I’ve never owned, never mind made, so any tips would be greatly appreciated.

But overall I’m really happy with this dress! I wore it to work yesterday and had lots of lovely comments. (I was especially pleased about the ones from people who don’t know that I’ve taken up sewing, so they didn’t know that I had made it myself.)

Now I’m trying to decide what to make next. I have so many patterns I want to try and am a bit overwhelmed. But I think it might be another dress (not that that narrows the decision making process down by much…). Maybe something a bit more spring-like now that it’s starting to get sunnier?

I will report back once I’ve made up my mind.

Happy sewing everyone!