All posts by Sarah

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

Suzanna’s Kalle Shirt

This week’s LSA Blog Squad post comes courtesy of the lovely Suzanna from Threadquarters, who has made the most perfect Closet Case Patterns Kalle shirt.

 

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Hello everyone! Suzie here with my first post for the Like Sew Amazing Blog Squad! I am so excited to finally be able to share my gorgeous new Kalle Shirt, made out of the most beautiful Lady McElroy cotton lawn from Like Sew Amazing. Grab a coffee and read on for the full review.

I believe I may be a little late to the Kalle party, and no doubt most if not all of you will have heard of this pattern before. But I’m actually always late to a pattern party. I think I like to wait and see all the different versions pop up first. It’s so wonderful that the online sewing community (apart from just being generally awesome) often gives you the opportunity to see lots of different versions of sewing patterns made up in so many ways.

And it was because of all the awesome versions of the Kalle out there that a) I decided to give this pattern a go and b) I opted for the cropped version! Initially I wasn’t sold on the Kalle due to the dropped shoulder detail. It’s normally something I stay clear of, since I have quite wide shoulders and try not to draw attention to them. And I certainly would NEVER have picked the cropped version had I not seen so many amazing ones on Instagram. But I thought being on the LSA Blog Squad might be the perfect opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone and try a new style.

Details

My absolute favourite part of the cropped versions (View A) is the dramatic curved high-low hem, which is also fully faced. I have to admit, I really do not like the accidental look of a bias bound hem flipping out at the sides, and was worried this might happen to me if I opted for one of the other views, so that was another deciding factor (I’m actually wondering if anyone has made or seen a lengthened view A that still has that awesome hem? I couldn’t find one).

The Hem

With such a pronounced curve I knew I had to be careful with my sewing and trimming. And indeed, the process of attaching the facing to ensure a really crisp point at the sides is a little tricky so you do have to take it slow and pay attention! I must admit that I did have to go back and do a sneaky couple of hand stitches to finish it off.

As for the curve, I am so pleased with how smooth they turned out. I decided to do a little bit of research before doing my usual clip and notch for a curve and I happened upon a slightly curt comment on a well known blog’s tutorial on clipping curves. They informed the author that clipping would never achieve a perfectly smooth curve and the only way was to actually trim the seam allowance down to 1/8in. Curt comment aside, I decided to give it a go – and you can see my results. Super smooth! I also used my trusty Prym point turner to help push out the seam while ironing (using the curved end, not the pointed end). Another good tip.

I decided to cut the hem facings out of some white cotton from my stash. This palm leaf fabric is ever so slightly transparent. I was worried that if the facings were cut out of the same fabric you would be able to see the pattern on the facings. Meaning the pattern wouldn’t be as crisp at the hem.

The Collar

View A originally comes as a Mandarin or Standing collar but I much prefer a Standard collar on me, so I opted for that. I followed the really helpful sew-along tutorials for the Kalle on the Closet Case Patterns blog (do check them out – so many tips!) and decided to try their thread tail method for achieving sharp points. Let me tell you, I won’t be turning points any other way from now on – look how sharp I got my collar points!!

You can see from these photos that the inside of the collar stand is white. I decided to do this purely for a little bit of contrast. I did toy with the idea of using red, but opted against it as then I would be limited by what I could pair with the shirt.

The Buttons

So I ordered some really lovely brass coloured buttons for this shirt, but they didn’t turn up in time (not ordered from LSA by the way!) so I had to raid my stash for suitable alternatives. In the end I just opted for very classic semi-transparent white shirt buttons, and I think they are fine.

As for the buttonholes. Urgh. My machine ALWAYS plays up doing these so I procrastinated on starting for quite some time! Eventually I bit the bullet and all went well until I got to the buttonhole directly under the collar. My machine just couldn’t cope with the addition fabric bulk. I’ve had this happen to me before, and feel there must be a solution. Please do tell if you know!!! So because of that I also chickened out of trying to sew a buttonhole on the collar stand as well. I’m a bit annoyed with this because I was thinking that the shirt might look cute completely buttoned up, but to be honest, I almost always wear my shirts open like this so those buttons won’t be missed. My mum has an all-singing, all-dancing sewing machine so I may try finishing the buttons on hers sometime.

Beautiful Fabric

Oh this fabric. It really is gorgeous! It is a really high quality Lady McElroy cotton lawn that is so silky-smooth to the touch. The fabric behaves so well while sewing – such a welcome change from sewing with viscose and jersey! I love the quirky palm leaf print and this navy & white combo will pair so well with a multitude of things in my wardrobe. A real winner.

Sarah has some other really beautiful cottons in her shop at the moment too. Sticking with the tropical vibe, I am totally in love with this palm tree print(makes me think of Miami Vice!) or how about this really funky print,also a Lady McElroy lawn. Both would make totally amazing Kalle’s.

Style

So as I said at the start of this post, the cropped version was quite a departure from my usual style, but I am SO glad I took a gamble! Sometimes it pays off stepping outside of your comfort zone.

In these photos I’ve pair the Kalle with my navy linen Emerson cropped trousers, and I just love the combination. I can see myself wearing this outfit quite a lot this Summer. But I’d also like to get a few high-waisted jeans or trousers into my wardrobe, which I think would work really well with my shirt – and I would feel a little less conscious of flashing my belly to people!

An additional surprise to me was how much I loved the voluminous back. I opted for an inverted box-pleat and I just love the added drama it gives. I’ve tried to show it in these photos, but it was hard to capture!

Result

Overall I am totally in love with my new cropped shirt. I learnt a number of new skills and tricks during the process which is always good. And working with that luscious fabric was a real treat! Thanks Sarah!

 

 

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!!

 

 

 

Stef’s Carnaby Dress by Nina Lee

 Stef from Stef Makes has shared her first Carnaby Dress and it is a beauty!
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I recently had the pleasure of becoming part of the Like Sew Amazing Blog Squad. This wonderful new fabric shop opened its (virtual) doors online just a few weeks ago and houses some stunning fabrics aimed purely at dressmakers. As part of the Blog Squad, I have been spoilt for choice picking from some of the beautiful fabrics!

As I set about the task of choosing my first project, I discovered this lovely Black Linen Rayon blend fabric. It has all the lovely qualities of linen but with less of the creasing tenancies (thanks to the rayon mix). Sarah was also kind enough to drop in a small amount of her Stay Humble Sunset Cotton for the pockets too (which is equally delectable).

Sometimes, probably more often than not, I pick a pattern and then search out the fabric. This time it was the other way around. I loved the linen and was unquestionably keen to make something with it. The Nina Lee Carnaby Dress pattern choice (also available on the Like Sew Amazing site) came pretty organically after this. I was pitching for a Summer work dress. With pattern and fabric combimed, that’s exactly what I got.

I cut a size 10 and graded out to a 12 at the hips (a standard alteration for me). As a note for next time I think I will make a slightly larger seam on the shoulders as I am fairly narrow up top and the current version is slightly too wide. Other adjustments were pretty minimal although I did decide to eliminate the zip in the back. I felt that a key hole opening with a hook and eye was a little more in keeping with the organic, natural look of the linen.

The pockets are undoubtably the most notable feature in this pattern. (Who doesn’t love a pocket?!) The Stay Humble Sunset Cotton works perfectly and offers just enough contrast whilst still fitting my ‘work dress’ brief. What’s more it is just so soft!

The linen is as much a dream to wear (test driven in 26 degree heat during our freak May heatwave) as it was to work with. Having worked with a lot of drapey viscose fabrics recently, this was a welcome change. It handles fantastically through the machine and is even great when it comes to pressing. It does have a tendency to fray (a lot!) but nothing an overlocker can’t solve. Although I didn’t overlock it before I put it in the pre-wash, I would probably do this next time to reduce the amount of fraying on that front too.

My only other observation with this fabric is that it is fairly sheer and therefore would recommend either a full lining or a slip underneath. I did the latter and it works just fine.

Overall I am delighted with my finished make and I highly recommend both the fabric and patten. Not a ground breaking, statement look but a dress that will get a lot of wear. A dress that fits my style, is versatile and has filled a gap in my wardrobe. What’s not to like about that?

Pattern House: Nina Lee Patterns

Pattern: Carnaby Dress

Main Fabric: Black Linen Rayon, Like Sew Amazing

Pocket Fabric: Stay Humble Sunset Cotton – Soulful Designed By Maureen Cracknell Art Gallery Fabric, Like Sew Amazing

Myosotis dress – Pattern Review

The newly released Deer and Doe Myosotis dress was the SewMyStyle 2018 pattern for May. We were unaware of what the pattern would be until a few weeks before its launch but we took a chance as we all love Deer and Doe.

When I first saw the line drawing, I wasn’t too sure it was going to suit me, as I don’t really like things with a boxy silhouette. I decided therefore to make my Myosotis dress in a viscose so that it would be a drapey as possible.

I used this lovely black and white irregular spotty print viscose from my shop and I am so pleased I did. It was lovely to work with!

I chose to make the version with the frilled sleeves and frilled hem. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out but figured that ruffles and frills are really in at the moment so I would give it a go.

Construction-wise, it is pretty simple. There are some darts in the front and back bodice and just three buttonholes. I found that by running a long basting stitch along the top of the frill pieces, it naturally gathered enough to fit the corresponding piece – winning!

I love that there are pockets included, as they complete any dress!

I was going to do self covered buttons on the bodice but in the end I chose to use some bright red buttons that I had in my stash. I think they give the perfect pop of colour against the black and white.

When I first tried it on, I was a bit concerned that it looked a bit too like a beach cover up (and I think it would be perfect for holidays, especially in a light viscose). The more I looked at it though, the more I liked it – it feels very festival chic! I think in reality, I will wear it most over leggings or skinny jeans as it does have the potential to whip up and flash the world my underwear! I’ve worn it all day today over my jeans and I am now in love with it – it is so comfy!

I would urge you to give this one a try, even if like me, you are a bit nervous of the shape. I think in the right fabric, it will work out well.

I can’t wait to see everyone else’s versions this month!

 

 

 

Seamwork Audrey jacket – Pattern Review

Is it wrong that I decided to make a denim jacket mainly as somewhere to display my sewing pins and patches?!

As denim is a sturdier, more durable fabric, it is the perfect place for your pin and badge collection.

I had seen a couple of versions of the Seamwork magazine Audrey jacket (I’m looking at you Rhiannon and Vicki!) and thought it would be the perfect Spring/Summer jacket.

I decided to make it out of the grey slub denim that I have in the shop. As I can’t bring myself to do double denim, I figured this would at least mean I could wear the jacket with blue jeans if I wanted to! I had some Liberty Wolf Pack scraps left over, so I used that for the pockets.

Size wise, I made the smallest size, on Vicki’s advice and it still does come up a little bit big, but actually, would be perfect for wearing over a hoodie once it gets cooler. I don’t mind it not being super fitted though as it is a casual jacket.

In terms of construction, it was all pretty straightforward. It calls for lots of nice neat topstitching, which I always enjoy.

I chose to make a lined back yoke, from the Liberty fabric, as I just thought it would give the inside some interest. It is a completely unnecessary step, but sometimes you’ve just got to be a bit “extra”!!

I also added a hanging loop between the collar and the back yoke.

There are a lot of buttonholes to add, which I am always nervous about, and yes, I did have to unpick a few where my machine decided to misbehave!

I installed the jeans buttons using my trusty Prym tripod and they went on like a dream.

I have recently designed some sewing patches which are available in the shop now, and of course, I thought it only fit that one should take pride of place on my jacket. I think it goes perfectly!

Overall, I really love the jacket, I think it will get a lot of wear over summer dresses this year.

Me Made May 2018

I have taken in part in Me Made May for the last few years and am really pleased to be taking part again this year. So pleased in fact, that I am getting involved even further by offering a discount to participants during the last week of May! Zoe, who organises the event, will be sharing more information about this as we get into May.

As I have just launched my own business, my working wardrobe has changed significantly. Gone are the corporate dresses and skirts, in favour of a more relaxed working style ( I am still getting dressed every day by the way, even though pjs are tempting!)

I will therefore be using mmmay 18 to identify the gaps in my new style working wardrobe. To see where I need more of a certain type of garment. I will also use this challenge to identify garments that I know I won’t wear any more and donate them to charity.

So my pledge is this:

I, Sarah McKenna, of Like Sew Amazing, sign up as a participant of Me Made May. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade garment every day for the month of May and I will document my daily outfits on Instagram and do a round up blog post at the end of the month. I will use this challenge to identify and wardrobe gaps and donate any handmade garments that I no longer need to charity.

It always feels like such a special time of year which really brings the sewing community together and I can’t wait to see everyone’s pledges and outfits!

Sarah x

Jenny’s Cute Kitty Agnes

Jenny from Give us a Toile shares the first LSA Blog Squad blog post, and it is cute as a button!!
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Given that I was so late to the indie pattern party after my long break from sewing, I couldn’t go on too much longer without tackling some Tilly and the Buttons. After making her name appearing on the first series of the Great British Sewing Bee, she’s now so famous in the sewing world that she’s even become a drinking game on my favourite crafty podcast Stitcher’s Brew, and I must admit that her Stretch book has become my bible with all the jersey sewing I’ve been doing. Her patterns are incredibly popular, thanks I’m sure to their simplicity, great visual instructions, and high quality paper which you can easily re-fold and get back in the packet unlike traditional patterns which seems to expand as soon as you release them from their paper prison. As I’m on a bit of a stretchy roll at the moment I chose to start with the Agnes top. A great wardrobe staple with a few options to choose from to mix things up.
Usually I would diligently trace off my pattern to allow for alterations but this time I was feeling impatient and I figured ‘It’s Tilly, she knows what she’s doing’ so I just went from my measurements and cut the size 4 straight from the packet. My wearable toile showed up a few issues, namely my age-old problem of having narrow shoulders. Luckily as I’d chosen the ruche sleeved version I didn’t have to faff about adding anything to the sleeve head. Score! it was also just a bit too tight in the body for me. It’s a pretty curvy pattern so I just added a little to the waist curve and hip and it was problem solved.
Being as the sleeves are so pretty it deserved a pretty fabric and this good quality jersey from Like Sew Amazing was the perfect choice.
What’s not to love about the kitsch but wearable qualities of a fabric like this?! Best thing about it too was that it didn’t roll at the cut edges which made the process of constructing my Agnes a whole lot easier.
My one top tip for anyone making the ruched sleeve version is to allow more elastic than Tilly tells you to. She gives you an extra bit to hold onto at the bottom as you pull to get it through the machine, but if you also allow yourself a bit extra at the top you avoid potentially back-tacking off the end and you get a much more robust starting point for all the tugging it takes to get a good result. See the difference?
Just a little snip of the excess at the top and you have a far nicer effect.
Given the kitty print I couldn’t resist a little extra cuteness with a feature bow at the neckline. Some good quality cream scuba gave the perfect spring-back to make it hold it’s shape. Do you think Tilly would approve?

Introducing The Like Sew Amazing Blogger Team!

When I put a call out a couple of weeks ago for people to join my blogger team, I couldn’t have even dared to hope for the response I got! So many people kindly got in touch and offered their help, which made the job of choosing the team very difficult.

After a lot of deliberating, I think I have landed on a team of pretty special people to help me and I’d like to introduce The LSA Blog Squad to you here.

Jen Walker – The Gingerthread Girl (AKA, my sewing wife and birthday twin!)

Hi I’m Jen. Blogger and vlogger behind The Gingerthread Girl – a UK sewing blog which showcases my handmade wardrobe. I started sewing back in 2014, on the back of my post-wedding blues when I decided to take up a creative hobby. And from then on I have become a fully fledged sewing addict, loving nothing more than to spend time behind my sewing machine.

Emily Tan – Self Assembly Required

I’m Emily, a self confessed sewing addict. I’m the face behind the blog and Instagram handle Self Assembly Required. I love sewing all kinds of clothes and I’m slowly making my way towards an entire handmade wardrobe! My favourite kind of fabrics are viscose, jersey and denim.

Stef – Stef Makes

I’m Stef. Self-confessed craft addict, seamstress and lover of all things handmade. Originally taught by my Grandma, I have been sewing on and off for the last eighteen years. I discovered the online sewing community back in 2016 and set up an Instagram account in a bid to share and build upon my skills (and quell the post-DIY wedding blues!). I set up my blog last year and haven’t looked back since.
My sewing style is fairly clean and simple, with a predominantly neutral palette. I am big on creating a wardrobe of interchangeable and practical everyday items (with the odd stripe or floral thrown in for good measure)!
I’m super excited to be part of the LSA blogger team and look forward to working with some of Sarah’s gorgeous fabrics!

Jenny Hall – Give us a Toile

I’m Jenny Hall, a self-taught seamstress with eclectic taste. I’ve dabbled in clothing, corsetry, and softies but took a long hiatus from sewing after making a wedding dress for a friend and feeling thoroughly burnt out. I’ve recently dusted off the sewing machine though and, as I’m a bit late to the indie-pattern party, I’m working my way through some Instagram favourites. I’ve been dipping my toes into the world of jersey, thanks to the Tilly stretch book, and can’t resist bright colours and cheeky kitsch prints.

Suzanna Forsythe – Threadquarters

Hi, I’m Suzanna Forsythe, or Suzie for short. I am a thirty-something sewing fanatic based in the little sea-side village of Ballyholme, Northern Ireland. I grew up around sewing with a Mother who was always making something, but never really got into it myself until she gave me a sewing machine of my own about 9 years ago. I dabbled in a few crafty sewing things like bags and cushions, but as soon as I made my first wonky seamed skirt I was hooked – sewing your own clothes is addictive! Since then I have tried my hand at sewing many types of garments, and even sewed a dress for my own wedding reception!

I’m currently a stay-at-home-mum to a crazy nearly-3 year old boy so my day-to-day style has evolved from skirts and blouses to jeans and t-shirts so I have to admit to currently having quite a love affair with the instant gratification of a super quick knit project! Saying that, I do love getting my teeth stuck into a more complicated sewing project and learning a new technique.

Jenny Harrison – The Wardrobe Architect

I’m Jenny, aka The Wardrobe Architect. I’m an architect by day and have been sewing on and off since I was about 6 years old. Designing buildings is such a slow process, I really enjoy the speed of dressmaking and the ability to be able to create the finished product with my own hands. I mainly sew clothes for myself and am focusing on sewing items that can be integrated into my wardrobe seamlessly and worn lots!

Bianca Szekely – Sleepless in Bavaria

I’m Bianca and I started sewing 5 years ago after stumbling over a sewing blog and watching YouTube videos, that made me believe that sewing couldn’t be that hard. What followed was a serious fall down the rabbit hole and closet full of clothes that I made myself and adore!

Sewing has become such an important part of my life, a way to connect with like-minded people from all around the world and brings me never-ending joy!

I was lucky enough to have lived in the UK for two years, where I managed to connect with so many lovely sewists and now I live in southern Germany, where I sew up my garments on my trusty Singer sewing machine Ragnar II, and fight my cat Henry for space on the ironing board. 

When I’m not sewing I like to listen to podcasts, binge watch TV shows on Netflix and cook.

Despite being based in Germany most of the time, Bianca has kindly agreed to help out as she often comes back to the UK and I am just in love with all of her makes, so couldn’t say no!

You will be hearing a lot more from these guys over the coming months, so keep your eyes peeled, and if you don’t follow them already, you should definitely start!

Once again, thank you so much to everyone who applied and I’m so sorry to those that didn’t make the team this time.

Sarah x

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.

 

My thoughts and ramblings on life and all things stitched