Tag Archives: sewing blogger

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!

SewMyStyle January – Sunny dress

I was already sold on the Sunny dress by Friday Pattern Company as soon as I saw the sample picture of it. We chose this as the first pattern for the Sew My Style challenge as it seemed like a quick and easy make and would be a good way to ease everyone in, especially the more beginner sewists.

I managed to squeeze my dress out of a metre of leopard print jersey that I bought recently from Stoff & Still.

As I didn’t have enough to make a neckband with only one join, I decided to try just folding it over and coverstitching it. It actually worked out fine and was just one less step to worry about! I also coverstitched the sleeves and the hem.

One thing I have noticed about this pattern, is that due to the nature of the scallop, it can lead to quite a wavy hem, particularly if sewn in a lighter jersey, and twin-needled on a regular sewing machine. The coverstitch machine eliminates this waviness and gives a much more professional finish.

I didn’t make any adjustments on the pattern, however, next time, I would take the sleeves in slightly as they are just a little on the wide side for me, but not so much that I will alter this version!

Head on over to my YouTube channel for a more in depth review of this pattern.

Thanks

Sarah x

Pattern Review – Nina Lee Southbank Dress and the #smyly2018 challenge

My first make of 2018 was a real comfort food of a make – the Nina Lee Southbank dress!

I’ve made a couple of Nina’s patterns previously – the Portabello trousers and the Bloomsbury blouse and I absolutely love them both so had high hopes for the Southbank!

I had bought some gorgeous leopard print french terry with the softest fleece on the reverse from Stoff and Stil when I was at the Knitting & Stitching Show and was waiting for the perfect project to use it. I could have made a trusty Linden from it, but when I saw the Southbank pattern, I thought it would be perfect, as I would get more use out of it, as I could even wear it to work during the colder months.

I did think about doing contrasting neck, arm and hem bands from a grey rib knit, but I’m really glad I stuck with the leopard print throughout.

I didn’t make any adjustments to the pattern, apart from moving the pockets up by about half an inch, as I heard that they can be a little bit low down for short girls. This worked out really well and I am happy with their placement now, so will make sure I adjust the notches on my paper pattern.

The other thing I did with the pockets is use the reverse side as the right side so that the cosy fleece is against my hands.

The dress was a pretty quick so and I have to say the Nina Lee has done it again! I absolutely love it! So much so, that I chose it to be my outfit for the #smyly2018 (sewing makes you love yourself) challenge. I was asked to be an ambassador for this by the organisers. They are asking people to create a garment that makes you feel beautiful and I think this dress really fits the bill, for several reasons:

  1. it is leopard print
  2. it is so cosy
  3. it is comfortable
  4. it is secret pyjamas
  5. pockets!!
  6. it just looks really cool – such a great shape

While this wouldn’t be the type of silhouette I would normally go for, I really love the slouchiness of this dress – it is a great length, not too short but short enough and is great worn over tights and boots. I am going to try the hip length sweater version next and see if it can give the Linden a run for its money!

So, if you want to see more about my entry for the #smyly2018 challenge and more about my sewing story, head on over to my vlog.

x

Little Red Dress Project

Hello and Happy Nearly Christmas to you all!

If you are a sewist on Instagram, you can’t have failed to have noticed that the Little Red Dress Project is back this December. This challenge started in 2016, and this year, Rosa from Rosabella Angelica and Renata from Running in Style are hosting.

The idea is that you sew a red dress and do the reveal on Instagram between 17th and 24th December.

I didn’t take part previously, but this year, I had a dress to make for the New Craft House Winter Party so I thought I would combine the two.

Normally, I am a dive right in kind of gal. I rarely make a toile and just fit as I go. However, as I don’t make many party dresses any more, and wanted this one to be a real labour of love, I spent quite a lot of time on preparation.

I liked the look of the By Hand London Flora dress, so made a toile of the bodice out of some old pillowcases. It really didn’t work for my figure and would have needed a lot of fit adjustments, so I abandoned that one in favour of the By Hand London Anna dress.

Initially, I did think that I would mix the Anna bodice with the Flora skirt to create a Floranna mash up. I made a toile of that and I really loved it as the skirt is much fuller and more twirlable (!) than the Anna skirt. But, after watching an episode of Mad Men where Peggy has a navy dress with the most amazing red godets, I came up with the idea of adding godets to the Anna to give that extra fullness. And not just any godets, sequinned ones!!

I bought some stunning deep red satin from Barry’s in Birmingham when I was up there for Sew Brum. I bought the red sequins and lining fabric from Fabricland.

As with my Liberty Anna, I decided to fully line it, especially as I didn’t want the sequins to irritate my skin. I didn’t add the godets to the lining skirt, as I didn’t think that would be necessary.

The godets were a bit of trial and error, I ended up making them a bit smaller in the end as I preferred how that looked.

I usually love a dress with pockets but decided not to add them to this one, as I didn’t want to ruin the line of the dress and the satin showed every single thing so they would have really shown through.

The sequinned fabric was really good to me – I just sewed it up on my normal machine and I even managed to overlock the edges, with only one broken needle to show for it! I know you are normally advised against overlocking sequins, but as I was only finishing the edges in a single layer, I went for it and it paid off!

As an extra flourish and to add a bit of detail to the bodice, I added some sparkly beads, which I painstakingly hand stitched. The plan was to add quite a lot of them cascading down from the shoulders, however, when the four rows that I did manage took about 3 hours, I decided to call it quits then!

I had to be really precise with my stitching as the plain fabric was not very forgiving. I also decided not to hand hem, as even the tiniest of slip stitches would have created a pull on the outside, so I used bias trim and then folded it under and machine stitched. It is visible but it almost gives the effect of a horse hair braid hem.

I am glad that I took my time and I am really pleased with the overall dress.

As an added extra for the New Craft House party, I also made myself a fake fur stole and a silver pleather clutch bag. I will do a separate post on those as I am aware that I have gone on quite a bit here!

I can’t wait to see what everyone else has made!

Thanks

Sarah x

 

One Week One Pattern 17

At the end of September, you may have seen the term OWOP banded about on Instagram! For those that aren’t sure what on earth that means, it is a sewing challenge called One Week One Pattern, where sewists are challenged to spend one week wearing the garments sewn from the same pattern. The idea is, you mix it up to show how you style things and the different versions you’ve made.

This year’s challenge was hosted by the gorgeous Sheona from Sewisfaction. Check out her blog for more information about the challenge and sponsors.

I decided to take part this year and had to come up with a pattern that would work well for both the working week and downtime at the weekends. Had it been the summer, I probably would have chosen a dress, but as it is getting very cold here now, I thought that the Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top pattern would be the best option.

I have around 12 Agnes’ already made in various guises so there was no issue with duplicates!

So, here is a round up of my week:

Day 1 – Saturday

I wore my Sugar Skulls Agnes with my Ginger jeans for a day of sewing and fabric shopping. This version has long sleeves and the ruched neckline. This fabric was from Fabrics Galore but I don’t think it available anymore.

Day 2 – Sunday

A day of cat snuggles and more sewing called for more casual look so I opted for one of my Agnes vests. I hacked the top pattern by using the front for both the front and back, but scooping out the back more, and scooping out the sides slightly. I just overstitched the neck, hem and armholes and it was a really quick and easy make.

This picture also won the prize on day two – a £50 voucher for Netprinter – woo hoo! Jasmine got extra Dreamies to say thank you!

Day 3 – Monday

Back to work for me, wearing my Breton striped Agnes with a navy skirt for a Parisian Chic look! I just love this look as it is really comfy but looks well put together. The skirt is another Tilly pattern – the Clemence skirt from her first book.

Day 4 – Tuesday

Another Agnes hack for a day of meetings. This is  my most recent Agnes, and I hacked the pattern to turn it into a dress. I wrote a blog post about it a while ago, so if you are interested in how I did it, head here!

Day 5 – Wednesday

I kept it simple with a basic black Agnes with sweetheart neckline, teamed with some self drafted burgundy culottes. Another easy to wear look for work. Not shown, Driftless cardigan and massive scarf!

Day 6 – Thursday

Mixing it up with some florals! This is one of my favourite Agnes tops – I just love the colours and, as I got the fabric from a fabric swap, it was completely free! I wore it with my lovely Pauline Alice Sorell trousers for another smart work look.

Day 7 – Friday

I don’t work on Friday’s so I got to have a casual day, wearing another striped Agnes with my Cleo dungaree dress. This is one of my go to outfits on weekends. The larger stripes lend this top to a more casual look and I just love the colour combination with the olive green dungarees.

Also bonus round on Friday! I went out for dinner and changed into another Agnes – my lovely velvet and lace version! I actually made this version as part of a costume when I went to see Moulin Rouge at the Secret Cinema. I just added some scalloped stretch lace as a cap sleeve and I think it works really well.

So there we are, one week, one pattern! I still have enough Agnes variations to carry me into next week, but I think I will mix it up a bit so my colleagues don’t think I’ve gone completely mad!

Despite its simplicity, the Agnes top really is such a versatile pattern that can produce really different looks. It works equally well dressed up or down and can really produce some great wardrobe staples.

I’ve done a vlog on my YouTube channel if you would like to see more!

Thanks

x

 

 

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 Bloomsbury Blouse

Why make one Nina Lee pattern, when you can make two?!

I thought that the Bloomsbury Blouse would be the perfect compliment to my recently made Portobello Trousers.

I had seen a few versions of the Bloomsbury and thought it looked like a great work wear staple.

I bought some lovely patterned rayon from Stoff & Stil when I was at the Knitting & Stitching show earlier in the month specifically for this blouse.

I decided to make the version with the smaller ruffle as I preferred the look of that one – I cut out the fabric for the neck ruffle too but decided it might be a step too far so I omitted it when it came to construction.

It sewed up really easily and the instructions were really clear. I love the idea of snipping into the seam allowance of the yoke to make it easier to join to the bodice – as the edges are all stay stitched, it means it won’t go out of shape but gives you enough room to manipulate it.

The fabric was lovely to work with and I’m really pleased with it, as it is not a light floaty rayon but has a nice weight to it so it is warmer.

I was worried that the ruffles would make me feel like a clown but I think they are really chic and I had lots of compliments when I wore the blouse out for the first time.

And can we take a moment to talk about how stunning these ceramic buttons from Beyond Measure are?! I spotted them at the Knitting & Stitching show too and thought they would be the perfect shade  to complement the fabric.

I would love to make another version of this top maybe in a plain black with a contrast yoke or ruffle.

Next time, I may make the sleeves a fraction longer and also, I will make sure I overlock the sleeve/ruffle seam really close to the stitching line as it does want to peep out.