Sew My Style – March

Let’s talk about leggings.  I must confess, I’m not a leggings wearer.  Not because I don’t like them, but because I rather feel my thighs aren’t quite slim enough.  If I wear leggings I wear them under dresses in place of tights.  Or because I’m  doing exercise.  I wouldn’t wear leggings as trousers.  I hate the idea of making something I wouldn’t wear – that seems very wasteful to me.  I was so convinced February’s pattern pick wouldn’t suit me that I made it for mt friend Rachel.  So when I saw this pattern for #SewMyStyle, I said to my sister that I’d either have to make boring black leggings or completely whacky dog-walking leggings, otherwise I just wouldn’t wear them.  And who wants to make boring black leggings?  Not me!  Not us!  We made matching marble leggings 😀

The pattern
Megan Nielsen’s Virginia leggings.  I was really surprised at how easy these were to make!  I don’t know why, but I had always assumed the would be tricky to sew.  But there are only two pattern pieces for these Virginia leggings – the leg (of which you cut two) and the waistband.  The instructions are really easy to follow, and the construction couldn’t be easier.  I traced off my pattern, cut my fabric and sewed these in less than three hours!  Perfect for my hectic lifestyle – I don’t get much free time to sew these days, so quick projects are all the more satisfying.

The fabric
An amazing marble print scuba from Fabric Styles.  It was really easy to work with, and I will most definitely be using scuba again.  I actually bought more of this fabric – I think a Tilly and the Buttons Zadie dress in this fabric, and black side panels would be perfect!  My sister’s fabric is also still available.

The cost
The fabric was £4.50 per metre, and I used just over a metre, so let’s say around £6.  The PDF pattern was £8 once coverted from Australian dollars, including the Sew My Style discount.  That’s £14 for my uber-cool marble leggings 😀

#MonetaParty Dress

Have you ever ended up with a fabric and had no idea what you’re going to make out of it?  I’m sure you understand.  This was one of those fabrics for me.  I was completely dazzled b the sparkles.  Like a niffler!  I wanted the sparkles, but I had no clue what to do with them.  Then came the #MonetaParty on Instagram, organised by the Triple Stitchers (sewpositivity, sewabigail and rach_wain) and Colette Patterns.  I wasn’t initially sure I’d have time to take part, but then I saw Abi’s sparkly Moneta and knew I had to make my own!

The pattern
Moneta by Colette Patterns, of course.  It was third time lucky for me and Colette Patterns, having tried and failed to make a pair of Juniper trousers and a Macaron dress and having rather a a traumatic time of it for both projects.  Moneta, on the other hand, was super easy and I love it!  The instructions were easy to follow and the construction is really simple.  I think I probably sewed it in about three hours.

Modifications
I swapped out the gathers for pleats, because I thought it would give the dress a smarter look.  I put inverted box pleats where the notches on the front and back skirt are.  I’m surprised at how well they’ve worked on such slinky fabric.  I also omitted the pockets, again because I didn’t think they were suited to the style of dress.  The most exciting thing though (after having a spangly dress to flounce around in, of course) is that I learned to use a twin needle!  I’m a little too excited about this, and now that I’ve cracked it I’ll be a twin needle fiend.  Sadly, because I used matching thread (silly me!), nobody can admire my handiwork on this dress, but just wait until I have the chance for contrasting topstitching!

The fabric
A very slink, very sparkly lurex jersey from the Textile Centre.  I was worried my machine would try to eat this fabric, but it actually handled it just fine – nice surprise 🙂

The cost
The fabric was an absolute bargain – a grand total of £4.48 for two metres in the Textile Centre January sale.  The pattern was about £10, and I already had everything else I needed.  Less than £15 for a party dress – win!  😀

Coco Dress

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!  Today, I’m declaring m love for Coco.  Ah, Coco.  Je t’aime ❤

Meet the new Coco — the same as the old Coco.  Almost.  But I love my first Coco so much and wear it so often that it’s now a bit bobbly and looking sorry for itself.  Why wouldn’t I make another one that is almost identical?  With one difference — those heart shaped pockets ❤

The pattern
Tilly and the Buttons’ Coco 🙂  In case you hadn’t alredy guessed.

Modifications
Why, yes — those heart shaped pockets, of course!  I used the pocket tutorial on Crafty Pinup’s blog.  Thanks for the excellent hack, Abi!  Abi has also done an amazing Cleo hack that I’m desperate to try.

The fabric
A black and white striped ponte di roma from Girl Charlee UK.  I think they’re sold out at the moment, unfortunately.  This fabric is far more suitable for Coco that the interlock I used for my first one, in my opinion.  I would recommend going for ponte if you’re on the fence.  Also, it’s easier to work with, both when cutting and sewing, and it holds its shape much better so it really shows off the exaggerated a-line skirt.  The red pocket fabric is a ponte I had left from the first time around.

The cost
The fabric cost £19.90, but I had quite a lot left.  I gave the remnants to my sister and she squeezed a short sleeved Agnes top out of it.  So we got two garments at a tenner each!  Huge thumbs up!

Cleo Dress

Like the rest of the sewing universe, I’m sooooo in love with this pattern!  To tell you the truth, I’ve never been entirely sold on dungaree dresses – I’m quite curvy and always thought they would just make me look a bit round.  Enter Cleo, who started popping up on everyone’s Instagram feeds and seemed to be universally flattering 🙂

So, my friend Rachel and I decided we’d ‘host’ a #SewingCleo Insta-party, along with many fellow sewists.  Off we went to the Centre Front Studio to get up to mischief.

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Alex, Isabel, Charlotte, Rachel and me at the end of our #SewingCleo party

Now, it was an interesting day, our Cleo party – kind of a plague on all our houses.  Rachel’s machine broke a couple of hours in (luckily, the studio had spares she could use, but that was still very disorienting for her).  A couple of days later, my sister and I were trying to finish our Cleos and both our machines started doing very strange things, before mine finally gave up the ghost entirely.  Rachel and Charlotte have since managed to fix their machines with a bit of TLC, but I had to succumb to buying a new one (yay!).  Anyway, it wasn’t until a few weeks after the party, when we’d all dealt with our respective machine dramas that we’d all eventually finished our Cleos, and boy are we glad we did.

The pattern
In case you hadn’t already gathered, it’s Tilly and the Buttons’ Cleo.  I’m wearing it here with my refashioned Agnes top.

Modifications
None, in the end, but I did spend a lot of time debating whether I should do proper flat-felled seams.  Maybe next time.  Also, next time I will staystitch all the curves.  I didn’t this time because the pattern doesn’t advise it (at least, I don’t think it does), but when I came to attach my facings the shell had stretched out of shape, particularly at the back, which made it so difficult to sew.  I’ll staystitch next time to try to avoid similar difficulties.

The fabric
A fairly stable classic indigo denim from John Lewis.

The cost
This is truly shocking, but I genuinely can’t remember.  About £15 for 1.2 metres, I think.  The dungaree clips were £2.50 from a local department store (Fenwick’s, if you’re a northerner) and the topstitching thread was around £2.  Let’s call it £20 then (although that doesn’t include the cost of the pattern).

I absolutely love m first Cleo!  I’m even very impressed with my topstitching, which is the part I was dreading the most – if you’re going to topstitch with violently yellow thread, you’ve got to get it right!  I’ve already bought myself a Cleo kit for Cleo number 2.  I went for aubergine needlecord, because, purple ❤  I can’t wait to sew it up, but goodness knows when I’ll fit it in with such a busy sewing year ahead!

Sew Dots Take 2

Hello, everybody!  I hope you all had a lovely Christmas.  I had a lovely time visiting family in the Midlands and down south, before heading back home to end the festivities.  It’s safe to say I’ve indulged far too much, as one does at this time of year.  I hope your Christmases have been just as enjoyable 🙂

I thought it was about time I shared my second Sew Dots project with you all (check out my first one here).  It’s been so long since Sew Dots, but I fell ill when the time came to get some photos of my makes, so I didn’t get proper photos until recently.

The pattern: the Lilou dress from Love at First Stitch by Tilly Walnes, from Tilly and the Buttons.  As always, the instructions are excellent and the end product doesn’t disappoint 🙂  Anyone else hoping Tilly will release another book sometime?

Modifications: I added sleeves (I used the sleeve head from Mimi in Love at First Stitch, and just drew a line at the length I wanted), side seam pockets (obviously), and I self-drafted a neckline facing instead of lining the bodice.  I also added pom-pom trim to the hem as my tactile feature 🙂  I also may need to make a future alteration – even though I have been busy making toiles of this dress, this one has (annoyingly) still come up a little bit big.  Sigh.  My most recent toile fitted perfectly, so I think it must just be the weave of the cotton.  Luckily, I think I’ll just need to take the side seams in a little rather than make any huge adjustments.

The fabric: a Dashwood Studios cotton from Plush Addict, which is still available at the time of me writing this.  That hardly ever happens!  Being a cotton, it was really easy to work with.

The cost: two metres of fabric at £12 each, an invisible zip and some pom-pom trim.  Getting on for £30 for this one.

On the day I first wore this dress, despite being too disgusting to be in front of a camera, I still managed to host a cake day at work.  I’d like to thank everyone who took part in our little dotty party – whether you baked, wore dots, or donated money.  Between us all we were able to raise £120 for the RNIB!  And another big thank you to Rosie Martin for thinking this whole thing up.  There’s a round up of Rosie’s favourites here 🙂

Sew Dots Take 1

If you sew, and if you use Instagram or Twitter, you must know about the #SewDots campaign.  Sew Dots was brought to us by the wonderful Rosie Martin, author of the recently published No Patterns Needed.  When she’s not sewing or writing books about sewing, Rosie does fantastic work for the RNIB – the Royal National Institute of Blind People – helping people with visual impairments use modern technologies, such as mobile phones.  Sew Dots came as an extension of the RNIB’s Wear Dots Raise Lots, a campaign aimed at highlighting the impact of Braille, and Rosie, because she’s brilliant, thought she could rally up fellow dressmakers to try to raise even more awareness.  The idea was to sew something dotty (dots like Braille), share your creation/s on Twitter or Instagram and donate £5 to Rosie’s Just Giving page.  I sewed, and I donated, so let me share my first Sew Dots project with you.

The fabric: a white Swiss dot I picked up on eBay.  I liked the idea of Swiss dot because I wanted my projects to have 3D elements.  The dots on this fabric are perfectly reminiscent of Braille.

The pattern: I’m sure you’ve seen the latest release from Lisa Comfort at Sew Over It.  My Capsule Wardrobe: City Break has taken the sewing world by storm.  And rightfully so, everything in that e-book is beautiful!  This is my first (of many, I’m sure!) make from it – the Alex shirt.

Modifications: just two.  I used the tab from the Tilly and the Buttons Bettine pattern instead of the one provided, as the Bettine tab was a bit wider and less fiddly.  Because I’m lazy – there, I said it.  Also because I’m lazy, I was very naughty and didn’t bother with the buttonholes.  The shirt is so loose fitting that it slips over my head just fine.  In fact, I may even go down a size for my next Alex Shirt.

The cost: the fabric was £6.99 per metre.  I bought three metres, but didn’t use it all.  I used self-cover buttons, which were £2.50.  In total, that’s about £23.50.

I think Rosie has struck gold with this idea, and I’m really hoping it sticks around in future years.  This is something that means a lot to me.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned before that my father is blind.  He uses the services provided by the RNIB extensively, especially their talking book and Braille libraries.  I know he would be lost without books.  The work the RNIB does really is invaluable, and I’m a fan of any campaigns that support their work.

Vintage Vogue 9126 Pattern Hack

My blog has been shamefully neglected recently, but I have something extra exciting to share with you today – my first magazine feature!  I was asked months ago (it’s been torture keeping this to myself!) whether I’d like to be involved with a pattern hacking feature for Sew Style Vintage.  You know I love pattern hacking and refashioning and the like, so I jumped at the chance.

I won’t into my usual detail on here, as it’s all in the feature, but I wanted to share this exciting news and some photos of my finished hack 🙂  I was very kindly sent the Vogue 9126 pattern and a lovely viscose fabric with a vintage rose print.  The feature also shows off a beautiful hack by Abi over at Crafty Pinup – how lovely is her 50s frock?

The magazine is available in WH Smith stores at the moment, or you can buy a copy here if you like.  It’s a very pretty magazine, definitely one to keep, and it includes both Vogue patterns used by myself and Abi, as well as the pattern for the blue spotty dress you can see on the cover – 20 projects in total, so it’s well worth its £9.99 price tag.

Thank you so much to Sew Style Vintage for asking me to take part and printing my hack!  It’s been a real pleasure, and I’m so happy to be included in such a beautiful publication 🙂

#OWOP16 – Bettine no. 7

Right, it’s time for some real experimenting now.  A couple of weeks ago, I spotted a hack of Bettine on Instagram that was just the skirt.  It had been re-jigged it somehow so that it had a waistband, and it looked really great.  ‘Who is this genius?’ I hear you saying.  Her name is Helen, and she can be found on Instagram at @helenmenzies – please go check out her makes.  I asked how Helen had done it and she was kind enough to share, so I owe this project entirely to her – it’s not something I would ever have thought to do myself.  Here is Helen’s lovely, sophisticated Bettine skirt.

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My skirt on the other hand is more on the outrageous side, as you can see.

You’ll have to forgive me for camouflaging in the photos.  Unfortunately everywhere around my house is green.  Well, not unfortunately, usually I don’t mind that at all, but it did make getting photos of this skirt problematic.

The fabric: a slightly outrageous choice, no?  I have a gorgeous brocade-style fabric that I think would be perfect for this skirt, but learning from my disastrous Bettine top hack, I decided not to plunge straight in with the perfect fabric.  Now, this green stuff has been sat in my stash for a while now.  I got it from Resourceful Restoration, a vintage and antiques furniture shop.  Every now and then there’s some fabric up for grabs and I managed to snap up 2.5 metres of this for £20.  I think it’s quite an old fabric, as it’s only 90 centimetres wide.  I was drawn in by the colour and print – I love greens, and I love florals.  The thing about this fabric is that it’s textured.  It has a flocked/velvety/velour feel to it – I guess it was originally some sort of furnishing fabric – so I wasn’t sure what sort of project it would be suited to.  Eventually, I just decided that if it wouldn’t work for a simple skirt it probably wouldn’t work for anything at all.  I decided I’d try for a wearable toile, but I’m not sure how wearable it is.  Thoughts?  Is it too weird?  Anyway,  I do like the shape of the skirt, and this hack has been far more successful than the last one, so I’m going to go ahead and try with my brocade fabric (if I have enough…).

The pattern: a mash up of Bettine and Delphine (even the names sound like they belong together!), both from Tilly and the Buttons.  Delphine is from Tilly’s book, Love at First Stitch (which is brilliant, by the way – highly recommend) and you can see my non-hacked Delphines here.

Modifications: yes, I had to make quite a few.  Firstly, I needed to figure out how to make the two patterns work together and redraft them. Additionally, I added a side zip and a waistband.  I didn’t put pockets in this one – I didn’t think they’d work with the fabric.  I’m going to put a tutorial (of sorts) of this hack at the bottom of this post, so scroll down if you want more detail 🙂

The cost: just the fabric, at £20.  I have some left though, but I’m back to wondering what I could make from it…  I used a zip that was given to me and I already had the thread.

Although I’m unsure on my fabric choice, I’m really happy with how this turned out.  In the right fabric it would be beautiful.  It’s like a tulip-meets-pencil skirt in shape, and I think it would be lovely in woolen fabrics for winter.  We’ve hit September so I’m all over the winter sewing now!

And with this, I come to the end of #OWOP16!  What a great idea One Week One Pattern is – it’s great for showing off a pattern’s versatility and encouraging sewists to be abit more adventurous with hacks.  I’ve loved seeing everyone’s creations, and I’ve added about fifty patterns to my wish list.  I huge thank you to Cinderellis Sews for hosting it this year – it’s been a blast!
How I did it

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  1. I traced off the front skirt piece of Bettine onto some new tracing paper.
  2. I drew a line 1.5 centimetres down from my Bettine waistline – the waist seam on Bettine is 3 centimetres, and Delphine’s is 1.5, so I needed to even it out somewhere.  This would be my new waistline for Bettine.  I think I could have started further down if I wanted to, as long as the side seams met up somewhere.  Helen’s skirt looks shorter than mine, and I wonder if that’s why – but it could also be that I’m only 5’2″.img_2451
  3. Then I needed to trace off the top part of the Delphine side seam onto my new Bettine piece.  I already had Delphine cut out, so I placed that pattern piece on top of my new Bettine piece, lining the top centre fold corner with the corner of my new waistline.  I traced the Delphine waistline and side seam until it met up with Bettine, as pictured.img_2453If you have not already cut Delphine, I guess you could place the new Bettine piece over the top of Delphine (1.5 centimetres above the Delphine waistline) and trace it off from underneath, if that makes sense?
  4. I trued up the new curve where the two patterns met with my dressmaking ruler – as you can see from the above picture they met at a slightly funny angle.img_2454
  5. Finally, I cut it out and labelled it properly so I’ll know what the heck it is next time I’m rifling though my Bettine envelope.img_2457

And then I sewed it up using this new pattern piece for both the front and the back and the Delphine front waistband piece.  I mashed up the Delphine and Bettine instructions.  I used the Delphine instructions for the waistband and zip (except that I put the zip in the side instead of the back, because I’d omitted the entire back seam), and I followed the Bettine instructions for the hem.  I think next time I sew this it will be super-quick.  Even with all the technical stuff it only took me a few hours, so next time I’ll whiz through it 😀

#OWOP16 – Bettine no. 6

On to my sixth Bettine, which is sadly a bit of an epic fail 😦  I decided to try a hack, but it hasn’t turned out like I’d hoped.

The fabric: a lovely viscose from the Textile Centre.  They have it in another colour too.  I’m so gutted that this top isn’t as wearable as I’d ideally like because I love the fabric.  I might even buy some more and have another go.

The pattern: an unsuccessful hack of Bettine, from Tilly and the Buttons.

Modifications: this is where it all went wrong.  Firstly, I made the rookie mistake of not checking I had enough fabric to get both the front and back bodice pieces out of it.  Well, in my defense, if the pattern on the fabric wasn’t directional I would have had enough, but it was directional and I didn’t check and then all of the pieces didn’t fit.  I ended up having to chop a load of the length off the sleeves.  Then, all the alterations I made to the pattern turned out to be wrong.  I lengthened it – makes sense, right?  I thought that because Bettine is loose fitting that would be enough and I wouldn’t need to grade it out at the hips.  Wrong.  Unless you have extremely narrow hips (good for you, if you do), you will need to grade this pattern out at the hip.  Now that I’ve had this horrifying realisation (which I only had when I tried the top on for the first time – wah!) it makes perfect sense.  It also means that I wasted copious amounts of time painstakingly hemming the high-low hem I drafted.  Ho-hum.  It’s too snug at my hips is the crux of it, but I’ll probably be able to wear it under skirts.  Silver linings.  And I’ll definitely have another go at this, because I think it could be really good if I ever manage to get it right.

The cost: just the fabric, which cost £3.99.  So at least my epic fail didn’t cost an epic amount of money.