Category Archives: Sewing

Four year blogaversary!

Thanks to a little calendar reminder, I realised that it is 4 years today since I launched my blog. In some ways, it seems like it’s been forever, but on the other hand I can’t believe it has been so long.

I started my blog while I was undergoing some pretty big life events and needed to carve out a space on the internet for documenting the creative journey I was taking. Little did I know that four years on, it would have made it possible for me to be doing my dream job and ultimately turning my hobby into my own business.

Looking back at my posts, I can see the initial enthusiasm and flurry of content, and then a long period of neglect while life got in the way! I then took up blogging with renewed energy and commitment at the start of 2017 and haven’t looked back since!

Funnily enough though, I have always continued to microblog and document my creative journey on instagram. It is so much more immediate and easier to create and consume content on but I think that people also still appreciate the detail that goes behind a blog post.

Thank you all, dear readers, who have stuck with me.

Over the years, I have made some wonderful friends through my blog and Instagram and have been afforded some fantastic opportunities, so it is something that I will always be grateful for.

This year, I was also really excited to welcome my guest bloggers – the LSA Blog Squad – when I opened the shop. This group of awesome sewing bloggers are adding fantastic reviews and articles to the blog each week.

By way of celebration of my four year blogaversary, I am giving away a free Sewcialist patch (worth £5) with all orders placed on Wednesday 23rd May 2018 (offer ends Midnight GMT).

Thank you all for your continued love and support.

Sarah xx

The cat’s pyjamas

I had some of this stunning Cat Nap Pink Art Gallery Fabrics cotton that I bought from Sew Me Sunshine in my stash for a little while. I was planning on making the Carolyn pyjamas by Closet Case Patterns, however, as I always wear vest tops to bed, I didn’t want to make the Carolyn top as I knew it wouldn’t get worn.

While browsing through one of my wholesalers, I spotted that they had the same design in a jersey and I couldn’t resist getting some for the shop. I then decided to go the whole hog and make my perfect pyjamas using the Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top as a base.

I have made several Agnes vests previously and it is my go to pattern so this was a no brainer.

I only had enough fabric for the Carolyn shorts, but I think it worked out really well as I love wearing pj shorts in the summer time. I opted for the piped version, using some shop-bought ivory satin bias binding. For the three pairs of Carolyns that I have made, I have adapted the waistband so that I can add ribbon as a waist tie. To do this, I simply attach the waistband side seams to match the trouser side seams. I then add two buttonholes to the front to lace the ribbon through. Easy peasy and I think it gives a lovely professional finish.

The Agnes vest was made in my usual way, with a dipped back and then coverstitched hem, neckband and armholes. I also added a bit of the lace trim to tie the two together.

I think these are officially my favourite pjs ever!

Oh and maybe I made a little cape for Jasmine too…just maybe!!

 

 

 

Simplicity 8558 Pattern Review

The team at Simplicity Patterns asked me if I would review a couple of the patterns from their new collection. When I had a look at the new styles, I was delighted to say yes.

The first pattern I chose was 8558, a three in one pattern from Mimi G. I’ve heard lots of good things about her collection so was excited to start on this one. There is a jacket, a cropped vest and culottes (either ankle or knee length).

I opted for the vest top and ankle length culottes.

I made the vest from the most divine Art Gallery Fabric, that I have been dying to work with since I got it in the shop! It was lovely to work with and washed really well. It has tiny white crosses on it.

I think that the cropped vest looks really cute and summery but I do have some issues with the pattern.

I found that the vest top doesn’t fit that well. I need more coverage in some areas and less in others so would need to do a lot of tweaking to be really happy with this pattern.

I think the vest design is overly complicated and takes far too long for such a tiny garment! This is due to all of the bindings and having to press in such narrow folds. My preferred vest pattern is a hack of the Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top, where I can just turn over the edges and coverstitch them. I think this is a much easier method and is quicker, as well as giving better coverage over the bra.

I made the culottes from a tencel chambray in the most stunning mid blue colour. The tencel is dreamily soft and I wish all of my clothes were made out it! The fabric has a similar drape to viscose but is slightly easier to work with.

The culottes have in-seam pockets, which immediately gets them extra brownie points! The construction is pretty straightforward and they can be made in a few hours. The only elements I changed were, shortening the hem by an inch, as they came up fairly long on me, and I also omitted the three smaller elastic pieces that make up the waistband, in favour of one wide piece of elastic. I then top stitched the elastic in place to give it a nice ruched effect.

I think these trousers are going to be my go-to trousers over the warmer months. I think they will also pair really well with my cropped Kalle shirt.

I may still make the jacket option, as it does look lovely as an ensemble and I will definitely make more of the culottes.

I think the yellow and blue go beautifully together and I think this would be such a great outfit to take on holiday.

 

Lander Pants – Pattern Review

I have had the PDF of the True Bias Lander Pants printed out and ready to go since they were first released but I was waiting for the perfect fabric to come along.

I recently got the most stunning linen/viscose blend into the shop and knew that it would be a match made in heaven. I chose the beige colour for my first pair of Landers, but I know I will be making a pair in the black colour way very soon too!

I decided to make the cropped trousers as Spring is finally here in the UK and I am feel that my wardrobe is missing some seasonally appropriate garments.

I lined the pockets in this cute green cotton fabric – the pocket linings aren’t visible at all, but I know they are there!

The construction of the trousers was pretty simple – the instructions for the fly front and very straight forward and they only took me about 5 hours to make from cutting out the pattern to last stitch.

The only adjustments I made were to take the back seam in by about half and inch and to take the side seams in by quarter of an inch on both sides. As these are high waisted and I have a big difference between my waist and hips, I prefer to nip them in as much as possible to avoid that dreaded gape at the back when I sit down.

I used these lovely wooden buttons for the closure and I think it gives them a really classic look.

Overall, I couldn’t be more pleased with these. The fabric was a dream to work with and, due to the viscose content, its softer and doesn’t crease as much as regular linen.

I think the combo of the landers with my cropped Closet Case Patterns Kalle shirt will be one of my favourite looks this Spring.

Sarah x

Simple Sew Amelia Tea Dress – Pattern Review

I am really pleased to be part of the Simple Sew Blogger team this year. What this means is that I am going to be reviewing some of my favourite Simple Sew patterns every month or so.

For my first review, I chose the Amelia Tea Dress, as I love the shirred waistband on it.

Amelia is described as the perfect day-to-evening pattern with a choice of two lengths of fluttery sleeve.

I chose to make mine from this stunning red floral viscose that I got on a recent trip to the Birmingham Rag Market. For those not in the know, the Liberty Man has the best fabric selection!

The viscose was really easy to work with and remains surprisingly uncreased.

I cut out the smallest size, as it was closest to my measurements. I do think that they could do with one size smaller for us tiny girls though.

I chose the version with the smaller sleeves.

The construction of the dress is pretty straightforward. I didn’t really find I needed to refer to the instructions, however, I think that there are a few steps missing, such as seam finishes and understitching. An experience sewist would do these naturally, however, I am not sure a beginner would without instruction.

I love the waistband with the eight rows of shirring elastic – I think it is super flattering and makes the dress really comfortable to wear.

I added in seam pockets to my dress, as I just really love pockets! To do this, I just used a pocket piece from another dress and added the pockets in six cm down from the waistband. Easy!

Despite me choosing a very seasonally inappropriate make, I absolutely love my Amelia dress and can’t wait for the Spring time when I will get to wear it properly, hopefully without the tights and snowboots!

SewMyStyle February – Rumana Coat

February has been a really busy month for me and I wondered at times if I would get my Rumana coat finished in time!

I didn’t have any dedicated chunks of sewing time so I had to squeeze in the odd hour here and there but I got there in the end!

For those that haven’t seen it yet, the Rumana coat is the latest release from the girls at By Hand London. It is a fully lined, mid calf length coat pattern with princess seams that is an absolute classic shape and will be something to treasure for years to come.

I have some lovely grey wool in my stash but fancied making my first Rumana out of a navy cupro, to give it more of a trench coat vibe. I also wanted to check the fit and length before I cut into my expensive wool so was happy for this to be a toile if necessary.

I wanted to have a really interesting lining for a dramatic flash of colour and I found the most perfect tropical print viscose from Minerva Crafts. The colour match of the blue with the cupro is pretty spot on.

As per my previous post, I used an polyester lining for the sleeves to help them slip on and off more easily.

I needn’t have worried about the fit – it is spot on, and surprisingly the length is great on me, considering I am only 5’2! I have seen a lot of shortened versions on instagram but I love the longer length.

In terms of the construction, there are a lot of parts and I think it pays to be really organised. I like to keep my pattern pieces pinned to the fabric so that I can be sure which bit is which.

I did find the instructions/illustrations to be a little bit confusing in some places – it was really great to have the Facebook group for SewMyStyle so that we could all hive mind where necessary as it seems a lot of people were encountering the same issues. I think until the sewalong on the BHL website is finished, it may be a project to shelve for now if you are quite new to sewing, as it does need a little more handholding than the current instructions allow for.

I had to make some alterations to the pattern to allow for the fact that I wasn’t using a thicker wool. I redrafted the sleeve heads based on the lining pattern, as there wasn’t much difference in the weights of the two fabrics and I didn’t need to allow so much for “turn of cloth”. I managed to get the sleeves in with no puckers or gathers in the end, but it did take a while. Similarly, I had to shave some off of the collar band to account for the thinner fabric. Again that took a lot of patient easing in and unpicking!

I waited until my coat was finished before deciding on button placement. I ended up going with three wooden buttons which give a really nice shape and finish.

I will definitely make this coat again in a wool so that I have a lovely classic winter coat in my wardrobe. I’m just going to give myself a breather and some more “quick win” projects for a little while first!

Who else has made the Rumana and how did you find it?

Sarah x

 

 

Pattern review – The Avid Seamstress Day Dress

When I first saw the Avid Seamstress Day dress pattern, I fell in love instantly. It is such a simple, yet flattering silhouette and, above all, it has pockets!

I decided to make my first Day Dress (for I am sure there will be more) from one of the wonderfully fun Cotton and Steel fabrics that Harriet at Sew Me Sunshine stocks. My recent makes have been a bit more on the sensible side, and I was keen to embrace a bit of whimsy so I chose these adorable lemurs.

The fabric is a mid weight cotton, with a good amount of structure in it, absolutely perfect for the Day Dress or a similar pattern such as the Nina Lee Carnaby dress.

This was the first Avid Seamstress pattern I have worked with and the instructions are really clear, with lots of handy hints and sewalongs on the website.

I found the order of construction a little strange as you assemble the front and back completely separately, rather than the bodice and the skirt being separate. It still works out ok in the end, and I can’t see any reason why you couldn’t assemble it the more traditional way if you wanted to.

The only area that I had a little bit of trouble with was the waistband elastic. The pattern tells you to leave the first and last 2cms free from the elastic, but when I did that, it meant that the bodice was way too small for the skirt. I unpicked all of the elastic (yuck) and gathered it from end to end and that fixed the issue.

I knew that the smallest size was a tiny bit bigger than my measurements so I just used a slightly bigger seam allowance on the side seams and that worked out well. I didn’t want it super fitted but also wanted to make it flattering.

Overall, I absolutely love this dress. The fabric is just gorgeous – really lovely quality and the lemurs make me smile every time I look at them. The fit is great and I think it is a great addition to my handmade wardrobe.

 

 

 

Fehr Trade – Yoga Leggings Review

I first met Melissa Fehr when she gave a really inspiring talk at the Sewing Weekender last year. I loved her take on drafting patterns for clothes that would work with your body as you move.

I was thrilled to be asked to be part of Melissa’s blog tour to launch her book, Sew Your Own Activewear.

I decided that I would like to try out the yoga pants, as yoga is pretty much the only active thing I do at the moment (apparently, sewing doesn’t count)! I loved the design detail of the little pocket within the waistband.

I spotted this gorgeous neon coral sports jersey from Fabric Godmother and thought it would work well for the leggings. I also used some of their suede scuba which I had leftover from a dress, for the contrasting pockets. I even found some coral fold over elastic in my stash for the pocket trim.

 

What I found really interesting about the book is that, rather than being provided with patterns, you are given four blocks (close fitting top and bottom and loose fitting top and bottom), which you then use to create the patterns in the book, closely guided by Melissa’s instructions.

I have sewn a couple of simple leggings patterns before but I liked the separate waistband pieces of Melissa’s yoga pants.

I sewed these up on my overlocker, so that I could get the best and most long-wearing finish, with the exception of the elastic, which has to be attached using a regular sewing machine.

Next time, however, I would use a wider piece of elastic than indicated and probably wouldn’t attach it, as I did find that this method made the inside of the waistband bunch up slightly.

In terms of adjustments, I just took the inseam in slightly for a better fit and have adjusted my pattern already for the next time.

The leggings came together pretty quickly and easily in a couple of hours, including drafting the pattern.

I finished my hems using my coverstitch machine and even added some overstitching below the waistband for some interest.

The only issue I encountered was when I attached the waistband to the leggings inside out so had to spend 20 minutes unpicking the overlocking – but that will teach me for sewing when I am too tired!

Next time, I think I would use a fabric with a pattern on it, as plain colours like this do show up every lump and bump! It was certainly a challenge finding underwear that wouldn’t show up underneath them!

If you would like to sew your own activewear, you can buy the book here.

You can also get a sneak peak at the book here:

Sew My Style – Rumana Coat – Getting Started

Hands up who’s excited to make the Rumana Coat?!

I have been itching to get my hands on this pattern since I knew it was coming out last August and we were fortunate enough that By Hand London agreed to work with us for February to have it as our featured pattern.

For those sewists who are fairly new to sewing, or coat making, I thought I would give you an idea of where to start when gathering supplies.

Printing:

Firstly, as this is a PDF only pattern, I would recommend printing via a copyshop. There are five AO sheets so, goodness knows how many if you were printing A4 at home! More power to you if you are up for that challenge, but I would much rather pay a few pounds extra and get someone else to do the leg work!

I personally use Netprinter, who are an online copy shop. I have used them for during 2017 and have never had any issues with them and find them super speedy. They do deliver internationally too. You can use the code ‘SEWMYSTYLE – Can I have my chocolate please?’ for an extra sweet treat with your order!

Outer fabric:

In the UK, we are still in the depths of Winter, so this is a great chance to break out the wool fabric. There are lots of lovely options out there and you can look at different wool blends with a fibre such as cashmere, for a more lux coat. Of course, if you are in a warmer climate, or would like a lighter coat, you could opt for more of a linen mix.

When I was shopping for wools, I found it much easier to shop in person. As the fabric tends to be more expensive, I really wanted to be able to see and feel the fabric to make sure I was 100 percent happy with it. Most online shops do offer samples though, if you do want to order online.

Lining fabric:

I love a colourful contrasting lining for a coat. It is mostly hidden but you get a flash of it, as you take it off. You can of course, use a more traditional acetate/polyester lining fabric and sometimes you can get them in a polka dot or similar pattern, however, they do tend to be quite plain. If you are looking for a patterned lining, I think a lovely cotton lawn or rayon would be perfect for the Rumana.

I adore the contrast lining of this version by Cotton Reel Studio.

One thing I would add, is that you should try and use something slinky on the sleeves, to allow you to get your arms in and out easily. You can use something different to your main lining fabric on the sleeves, but if you are using a cotton lawn for the entire lining, it will make it harder to get the coat on and off if the sleeves are also cotton lawn.

Fabric preparation:

I always pre-wash my fabric before sewing, however, with wool, I am going to leave it, as I won’t be washing it when it is sewn up into the coat. I would simply spot clean or dry clean. There is also an option to put the wool into the tumble dryer with a damp towel, however, I haven’t tried that myself, so please don’t take my word for it!

Lauren from Guthrie & Ghani has just done an excellent vlog on fabric care which you can find here.

Top Tips: 

Consider adding a small fabric loop on the inside under the collar (stand). This will help no end when it comes to hanging the coat up!

For a perfect fit, make a toile from a cheaper fabric before cutting into your main fabric. There are lots of areas that you can adjust the fit with this pattern – ie, the princess seams and the two part sleeves.

You may find it easier to block fuse your fabric. To do this, simply apply interfacing to a section of your fabric before cutting out your pattern pieces. I find this much easier and quicker than cutting out the interfacing separately from the main fabric and then fusing them together.

I can’t wait to see what everyone makes this month!

Mila dungarees – pattern review

Who hasn’t been waiting for the perfect dungarees pattern to be released?! Well Mila is finally here to save the day!

I bought the pattern as soon as it was released from the gorgeous Harriet from Sew Me Sunshine and it queue jumped everything else on my list meaning I got started on it as soon as I had some free time this weekend.

I had a 1.4 metre bolt end of indigo stretch denim from Fabric Godmother that I thought would be perfect for these dungarees. I had to do some very precise pattern tetris to get it to work, but my determination paid off! I also used this amazing Cotton and Steel Magic Forest Foxes fabric from Sew Me Sunshine for the inside front facing, back bib, inner waistbands and the back button tabs. I don’t even mind that you can see a bit of it peaking out from the button tabs as it is just so adorable!

I finished the raw edge of the front facing with some lovely satin bias tape. I know, only I will see this detail, but it will make me smile every time I put them on!

I was initially worried that the dungarees would sit right on my hips and not be the most flattering shape, but actually they come up quite high waisted on me and the fit is really good. I usually make a size 2 in Tilly’s patterns, but actually sized down to the 1 for the Mila, based on the finished measurements.

I top stitched using a lovely dark grey gutterman extra strength thread and it goes really well with the denim.

I took an inch off of the hems before I turned them up and they hit the perfect spot on my ankle, with the ability to turn them up for the summer months.

I also added some cute embellishments to the pockets. I got these lovely patches from Liberty on my last visit, which had been waiting for the perfect project. I especially love this lightning bolt on the front, which is very David Bowie!

I completely agree with Emily from Self Assembly Required about feeling as if they are missing side pockets. When I put them on, my first instinct was to put my hands in my pockets. I might see what I can do to hack the pattern to add pockets for my next pair!

If the Cleo dungaree dress was your introduction to dressmaking, then this will really develop your sewing skills. Nothing in the pattern is particularly difficult, and once again, Tilly’s instructions are super clear and helpful.

I can also confirm that, thanks to the stretch in the denim, they are super comfy to wear!