Tag Archives: Handmade

Birthday Anna dress

I made my first By Hand London Anna dress a couple of months ago and I absolutely love everything about it and resolved to make another one very soon.

I was lucky enough to get some money for my birthday earlier in the month so headed to Liberty at the first opportunity and bought a couple of metres of one of their new collection cotton tana lawns – Earthly Delights.

I thought it would be perfect for another Anna and as it is on a black base, it would still be good to wear in winter with tights, but I decided to make it fully lined so I wouldn’t have to worry about it riding up.

For the previous version, I had done the slash neck option but I decided to try out the v neck for this one. Having looked at a few pictures of other people’s makes on Instagram, I took the decision to take the v down about half an inch as I thought that would look more flattering. I think I might split the difference though next time, as it is maybe a teeny bit low for work, without a cami underneath!

The other major change I made, was to abandon all of the facings and line the top instead. I think this gives a much nicer finish, and as I wanted to line the skirt, it made much more sense. I managed to engineer it so that I could machine stitch all of the seams to make it a really clean finish. if you would like more details or a tutorial on how I did this, please let me know!

The Liberty lawn was such a pleasure to work with – if you’ve been working with slippery or difficult fabrics for a while, it is such a refreshing change to work with something that just behaves itself!

The biggest challenge I had though was when it came to pattern placement. The fabric contains lots of fruits and vegetables that, if placed incorrectly could be quite comical. There are some very phallic looking carrots and some very “yonic” looking fruits – look at me, I learned a new word. Basically, I didn’t want to end up with any of these in the wrong place but it did create the hashtag #secretvajayjay!

I also had to avoid any melons on my er, melons!

Amazingly, I managed to avoid all of the pitfalls although cutting out did take a lot of thought and consideration!

Had I bought the fabric online, I may have been more clued in, as the website describes it as capturing “a hidden fairy-tale world of thick foliage and luscious fruits, presented with a delectably twisted sense of humour”!

So yes, secret vajayjays aside, I have a lovely new Anna dress and it is one of my favourites!

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Birthday Ogden Cami

Yesterday was my birthday and I recently discovered that I share my birthday with two other lovely sewing friends, Jen from Gingerthread Girl and Amelia from Sewing Machinations.

We were all together for Sew Brum last weekend and Jen and I cooked up an idea as a way to celebrate.

Jen and I decided to buy each other 1 metre of fabric as a gift and make the same garment. We decided on the True Bias Ogden Cami, as it is a quick easy make and is easily done with a metre of fabric.

We quickly decided on this stunning petrol blue peachskin from Guthrie & Ghani. At time of writing, it is still available on their webstore.

I had already made two previous versions of the Ogden cami but it was Jen’s first time. I love how simple and wearable the top is. I love to wear it to work under a cardigan or on a (very rare) night out, with skinny black jeans.

The peachskin was beautiful but it was actually a bit tricky to work with as it was quite slippery, which made sewing the facings to the outer shell a bit fiddly and I don’t think my straps are lying as straight as they should be, but I don’t think anyone else would notice so I have just left it as is!

I also made the mistake of ironing on too higher heat so I have left a slight iron mark, but again, probably something only I would see.

Jen and I decided to launch our new tops using the new Instagram Live ‘add a friend’ feature, which was essentially just like skypeing a friend but having the rest of the internet watching – very strange!

Anyway, I am super pleased with my top and I can’t wait to see Jen again in real life so we can get a good picture of us both together in out birthday camis!

x

 

 

Pattern Review – Nina Lee Portobello Trousers

When I was at the Great British Sewing Bee Live a couple of weeks ago, I bought the paper pattern of the Nina Lee Portobello Trousers. I also bought a piece of stunning charcoal grey wool and silk mix suiting from Holland & Sherry and I thought they would be a match made in heaven!

I had spoken to a few local bloggers who had made the trousers before and they advised that they came up on the big size so I made the smaller size, even though I was between sizes.

The suiting was an absolute dream to work with. It pressed beautifully and held its shape while still having a lovely drape.

I decided to use some plain grey cotton for the pockets, as I thought it would be less bulky. I understitched them as well to ensure they wouldn’t show on the outside.

The darts on the back give a lovely shape and the pleats on the front give a nice bit of interest.

I found the instructions to be really clear and I probably made the trousers in around 4 hours, including cutting out time.

I didn’t have to make any fit adjustments and used a four cm hem. I used my blind hemming foot for the hems as I didn’t want to have any machine stitching on the outside. I also hand stitched the waistband facing down for the same reason and I am so glad I did as it gives a beautiful finish.

Overall, I am really pleased with them. I love the high waist and of course, the pockets! It was a shame that today was so windy so we couldn’t really get any good pictures of them on!

I will definitely make another pair – maybe in a viscose for the summer.

Here’s a little outtake from the windy photoshoot!

 

Jennifer Lauren Handmade Mayberry Dress Pattern Review

I recently tested a lovely day dress pattern for New Zealand designer Jennifer Lauren Handmade, called the Mayberry Dress. If you haven’t seen her patterns yet, head on over to her website immediately!

The Mayberry is quite a casual dress with side seam pockets, a button up bodice and a waist tie.

I made my test dress from a lovely navy and floral cotton fabric that I got from Fabricland. I chose pink snaps, rather than buttons for the bodice and then a pink grosgain ribbon for the waist tie.

JLH’s last couple of patterns have been released with different cup size options, which is a great idea. I made the size 6 D cup and the fit is spot on. Enough room to move about and not feel constricted but not too baggy.

I love that Jennifer always includes quirky details in her patterns, such as the crossover bodice. It sits really nicely and enables you to get it on and off easily without the need for a zip.

I did find that the skirt was a little too A-line for my taste, and I may go back in and take some width out of it at some stage. However, I think that if the fabric was drapier, like a viscose, it wouldn’t be an issue.

The only change I made to the pattern was to create a really narrow hem using bias binding, as I didn’t want to lose any length from the skirt as I felt it would have been too short on me.

I have done a tutorial on how to use bias binding to finish a hem here.

Overall, I am really pleased with how this turned out and will definitely make another version out of a drapier fabric next time. I’ve seen Jennifer’s 3/4 length sleeve version and will try that one out for a more Autumnal feel.

The Handmade Fair – who’s in?!

I have a very exciting offer to share with you all, dear readers!

The lovely people at The Handmade Fair have given me a discount code for anyone who wants to go.

For those of you that haven’t been before, this is the fourth year that the event has been running and it will return to The Green at Hampton Court Palace from the 15th-17th of September

I went to the very first Handmade Fair and had such an amazing time. I found it so inspiring to try out different crafts and workshops – I particularly loved the Annie Sloan master class!

I’ll be there on the Sunday and I will organise a little sewing meet up over a cuppa with anyone there that day. Let me know if you are going to be coming along!

5% off Full Experience or Entry + Super Theatre tickets

Full Experience tickets (including entry, 1 x Super Theatre, 1 x Skills Workshop and 1 x Grand Make): £27 instead of £32 – save £5

Entry + Super Theatre (including entry and 1 x Super Theatre session): £17 instead of £20 – save £3

Book at thehandmadefair.com or by calling 0871 230 7153* quoting LIKESEW15

 

*Calls cost 10p per minute plus network extras. Booking fees apply. Offer ends 14/09/2017 or when sold out.

Sewing workwear and my BHL Pencil Skirt

I recently recorded a vlog about my favourite patterns for workwear and I thought I would share a bit more information about a couple of garments that I made this week – the By Hand London Charlotte pencil skirt and the True Bias Ogden cami top.

I had enough cotton suiting fabric left over from my Pauline Alice Sorell trousers to squeeze in a pencil skirt and I decided on the BHL Charlotte pattern as I really like their sizing as it seems to suit my shape.

You do need to be aware that there is no ease built into this pattern so make sure you take this into account if using a fabric without any stretch. I ended up letting the side seams out by half an inch on both sides just to give myself a bit more room to move. I also cut the waistband slightly longer so that I could give myself the option of making it slightly bigger if necessary.

The long darts give the skirt a lovely shape. There were a lot to sew as I decided to line mine but they work really well.

The pattern doesn’t state that you should interface the waistband, but I always find that interfacing helps waistbands keep their shape so I used it in mine.

I used a black snap fastener for the waistband and I used my Prym vario pliers to install it.

While I love Elisalex’s midi length version on the BHL website, I finished my skirt just below the knee as I thought it would be more practical. I also created a 5 inch slit at the bottom of the skirt to allow me to get up and down stairs and in and out of cars more easily!

I finished the hem of the lining with machine stitching as it won’t be visible from the outside and then I used my blind hem foot for the main fabric. Make sure you check out the BHL Charlotte sewalong for lots of useful tips on how to make the skirt.

I have only recently bought the Ogden cami pattern but having made one recently for a night out, I have to say I absolutely love it. It’s really versatile and makes a lovely flattering top.

I found a few pieces of this striped peachskin fabric at the fabric and pattern swap at the Sewing Weekender and snapped it up as I thought there would be enough to make a top.

I took care to match the stripes when cutting out and sewing and it has turned out beautifully! I even had enough fabric to make the facings too so it worked out really well – especially since the fabric was free!

I think some people may worry that the Ogden cami could show a little too much skin for work, but I have teamed it with a fitted red cardigan and it works perfectly.

The Charlotte skirt and Ogden cami are a great match but would work equally well mixed with other patterns. I just love versatile separates!

 

 

Selena high low hem skirt

I have been living in skirts and dresses this summer and when I saw the Selena skirt pattern that came free with Simply Sewing magazine, I knew I wanted to give it a go.

 

As the hem of the skirt is higher at the front than it is at the back, you would be able to see the seams on the inside so they need to be really pretty. I would recommend doing French seams, rather than overlocking the edges.

I was very much inspired to line my skirt in a contrasting colour by the lovely Nina from Thumblenina, who had made an amazing satin high low hem dress for the Dressmakers Ball. I had also seen Elizalex from By Hand London‘s stunning gown made from blue cupro at the same event and knew I would like to make something from that fabric as it almost looks like silk, while being infinitely easier to work with!

I found some more of the blue cupro from Rainbow Fabric in Kilburn and I bought that along with the smokey black colour way.

The original pattern had the zip on one of the side seams but I prefer zips to be at the back so I altered it. I also made the waistband piece longer so that I could add a button, rather than have the zip go all the way to the top, as I prefer that look. I also omitted the tie belt as I thought that would look too fussy.

Once I had constructed both the outer skirt and lining skirt, I placed them wrong sides together, and then basted them at the top, before adding the zip and waistband.

To hem the skirt, I sewed a line of basting stitched around the hem at a 5/8 inch seam allowance and then pressed up to that line on both the outer skirt and lining. I then hand slip stitched them together for an almost invisible hem.

The cupro was really easy to work with  and I think the colours really compliment each other. I love how the skirt is very easy to twirl in (always a good test) and I think it looks great both for the office with a cropped cardigan or dressed up for a night out.

 

 

 

By Hand London Orsola pattern review

I absolutely fell in love with the latest pattern release from the girls at By Hand London – the Orsola dress and skirt.

It is a unique take on a shift dress that means you put in on almost like an apron and it wraps at the back and ties at the front – no zips, buttons or anything!

What I particularly loved was the deep v of the back neckline and the stunning scalloped hem.

Fabric recommendations for the Orsola are quite drapey fabrics, such as viscose. I chose to make mine in a cotton lawn from Liberty as, with all of the bias cut edges, I wanted to use something a bit more stable. Plus, I had just bought this gorgeous black and white print in the recent Liberty sale, and thought it would be perfect.

I decided to line the bodice with plain black cotton lawn, to save some of the Liberty fabric for another project. It was really easy to fit into much less fabric than the pattern suggested – probably less than 2 metres.

There is a wide facing that runs along the entire curved hem. I did initially think that I would scrap the facing and use bias binding instead, however, on second look, I decided that this would be much harder to do as I wanted to make the version with the front scallop, so I stuck to the original instructions. I do think that you could use bias binding on the non-scalloped version though.

In terms of construction, it all came together pretty easily. The instructions were clear and concise and the illustrations were helpful. If you are making this pattern yourself, I would add a few pointers:

  1. It may be helpful to draw a stitching guide for the scalloped hem to make sure you get an even curve.
  2. Sew the hem with the facing side towards you.
  3. Topstitch the hem with the facing towards you, otherwise the main fabric can bunch up a little if that is on top. It may also be worth using a walking foot for this stage.
  4. Take the time to do all of the stay stitching advised at the start of the pattern – these details will make all of the difference and prevent any stretching out.
  5. There are 18 darts to sew in total (!) Mark and pin them all out and batch sew them in the beginning for greater efficiency.
  6. Press the lining darts in the opposite direction to the main fabric darts. This means that you will have less bulk at the seams.

Overall, I am absolutely thrilled with this dress. I really enjoyed the process of making it. I think the fit is brilliant and really true to size. I love that it is a smart dress that can be worn to work, or out to dinner.

I actually don’t have that many darker items in my handmade wardrobe so I am really pleased with this combination, especially as it means that I can wear it in the summer, but also in the winter with tights and a cardi. I love the way you can synch it in or let it out, using the waist tie, as needed.

The crossover back and scalloped hem details are what really sets this pattern apart and make it a really special dress.

Well done to the girls at By Hand London!

Listen to me Linden!

I have recently fallen for the Grainline Studio’s Linden sweatshirt. I made my first version as a Christmas jumper in December, before quickly moving on to the adorable Pug version. it’s such a simple pattern that it is perfect to show off really special jersey fabric.

Christmas LindenPug Linden

It has raglan sleeves and neck, collar and cuff bands and you can make it up in the same fabric, or combine them, as per these examples.

I recently bought the most gorgeous Robert Kaufman double knit jersey from Sewn in Bristol. I knew it had to be a Linden, as soon as I saw it. It is reversible and has a thermal type inside, which I did consider using for the cuffs, however, inspiration suddenly hit and I decided to use the reverse to appliqué a design on the front. The Linden is perfect for this as it is a wide expanse of space. My first thought was a simple star design so I got to work.

I used the double sided appliqué paper to cut out my design. I then ironed that onto the wrong side of the fabric (in this case the right side though!) and then ironed it on to the front panel of the shirt, making sure that I centralised it. I did this before constructing the top to make it easier.

You need to make sure that you let the fabric cool down for a good half an hour before using it. Once that was done, I ran a straight basting stitch around the edge of the star, to make sure that it was secure, and then I did a narrow zig zag at the edge. I did a few tests before hand, and this was the best way to ensure it didn’t stretch out.

I am in love with the finished result! So much so, that I bought some more of the fabric and made another version immediately!

For my latest version, I made view B, which has short sleeves and no waist band.

I decided to use a heart design on this one and I couldn’t be happier with it. I was unsure as to whether I would get much use out of a short sleeve jumper, but I have been throwing it on in the evenings during the summer and it is just perfect!

 

I’ve got some jersey with some French bulldogs on it and have my eye on some lovely cat jersey too, so there will definitely be some more Linden’s in my future!

* Also, if you don’t get the reference in the blog title, you have to check out this video – one of the funniest things I’ve seen!

Me Made May 17 – final round up

With May drawing to a close, I thought I would blog about the final few days and a little summary of the month and what I got out of it.

Day 29

 

As it was a particularly rainy bank holiday Monday and I had lots of sewing to do, I pretty much wore my pjs all day! I made these lovely Rosalind pyjama trousers by Sew Me Something in a lovely cotton lawn with a contrast inside waistband. I decided not to make the matching pyjama shirt in the end, as it is just not something I would wear. I wore it with my beloved Linden star sweater.

Day 30

Back to work today and keeping it smart in my sleeveless wrap dress. I can’t remember the pattern I used here as I made it a few years ago but it was one of the big 4. The fabric is a lovely brown and white polka dot jersey from Guthrie and Gharni.

Day 31

For the final day of Me Made May, I wore my stretch dress that I tested recently for Kommatia Patterns. I love the fit of this dress – the neckline is perfect. I used this stretch jersey from my stash and had great fun matching all of the stripes!

Me Made May Summary

At the end of the month, I sat back and thought about what I have learned:

  1. I wear a lot of blue!
  2. I don’t have a lot of ‘going out’ clothes (mind you, I don’t go out that often anymore!)
  3. I definitely have a certain silhouette that I stick to
  4. I probably need to get rid of some items that, while I was pleased with them at the time, are just not really my style
  5. I managed to get through 53 unique items of Me Made clothing
  6. I love my handmade wardrobe and am really proud to wear it

Even though it is extra work each day to remember to take pictures and write round ups etc, I actually really enjoy the process of documenting my daily outfits. It forced me to be more creative with my wardrobe and not rely on the same few pieces. Thanks once again to Zoe for organising the challenge!

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