Category Archives: Sewing

2018 – My Year in Review

I genuinely don’t think I have ever had a year as eventful as 2018. So many things have happened, and fortunately most for the positive!

January

I started the year by becoming part of the Sew My Style leadership team. I was delighted to be picked for this and really enjoyed working behind the scenes to decide on patterns and liaise with the indie pattern designers and sponsors for each month. It was lovely to see how many people embraced the challenge and I ended up with a gorgeous little capsule wardrobe too!

I was also asked to be an ambassador for the SMYLY (sewing makes you love yourself) challenge, organised by Athina, Lisa and Hattie. This involved making a garment that made me feel good about myself and sharing my story about how sewing helps me with body positivity and mental health. I was really proud to be an advocate for this challenge as I truly believe sewing has so many more benefits than just making pretty new clothes.

February

I was asked to be part of the blogger tour to celebrate the launch of Melissa Fehr’s Sew Your Own Activewear book. I made the yoga leggings from the book and wore them to Melissa’s book launch party in central London!

During a sewing meet up in London, I got myself a sewing wife! The gorgeous Jen from Gingerthread Girl and I decided to get Stitched (!) whilst at Liberty!

March

I joined the Simple Sew Blogger team as I thought it would be fun to give some of their patterns a try and it was also lovely to work with such a great group of sewing bloggers. Unfortunately, I only managed to make a couple of garments for them as the rest of my year got very busy!

I took part in the MIYMarch18 photo challenge, which involved daily prompts related to sewing. I do love a good photo challenge as it helps me think creatively about my instagram feed and is also a great way to discover new sewists.

I took a week long pattern cutting course at Bath College to help me get a better understanding of pattern drafting and how to create and alter patterns. I really enjoyed it and would definitely like to continue to study this in the future.

April

April was a huge month for me. After months of planning and deliberating, I left my corporate job that was making me pretty miserable and launched my own business! I had been contemplating making a career switch for a while and decided to make the leap and start my own online fabric shop.

The shop launched on 7th April and I was absolutely thrilled with the response. The sewing community is so supportive and I couldn’t have dreamed how well it was received.

Along with the Stitch Sisters and Jen from Gingerella, we began planning a Bristol sewing event that would become the Sewcialite Soiree. We really wanted to put Bristol on the sewing map and organise an event for the sewing community of the South West. The tickets sold in in just a couple of days too so we were really pleased with the response!

I put a call out for what would become the LSABlogSquad – a team of sewing bloggers to help me review fabrics and patterns for my shop. I was overwhelmed with the response and had such a difficult decision choosing the team but I am so pleased with the final line up. They have all helped me to create wonderful content for my blog, so a massive thank you to all the Jennys, Emily, Susie, Stef and Bianca!

May

It wouldn’t be May without Me Made May – a photo challenge, run by the lovely Zoe from So Zoe… I love how you can make the challenge your own and pledge to take part in a way that suits you. I decided to use this challenge to help me identify gaps in my new non-corporate working wardrobe.

June

I was thrilled to be asked to be an ambassador for this year’s Big Stitch Campaign, run by the British Heart Foundation. Along with a few of my gorgeous fellow sewing bloggers, Gabby, Alex and Rosa, we had a lovely photoshoot for the campaign which involved getting our hair and make up professionally done, by none other than Love Island’s Alexandra Cane! It was quite a surreal experience seeing my face pop up on Facebook as promotion for the campaign and I had so many messages from friends asking if it was me!

I attended the blogging conference Blogtacular with a group of sewing blogger friends. It was quite an interesting event, as it wasn’t sewing related. I definitely learnt a lot from it and made some great new contacts.

I was approached by a patch making company about working with them to create some “how to” videos for the products. We had a great time filming and I also worked with Aspinline to create my own range of patches, which I was really pleased with.

I was super excited to be invited to be interviewed on the Stitchers Brew podcast. My episode was all about the world of pattern testing.

I was asked by the lovely Ana from Cocowawa Crafts to take part in a sewing day as part of the launch of her Honeycomb pattern. A group of us headed down to the Village Haberdashery for the day and all made our version of Ana’s pattern.

Later that same day, I went along to the New Craft House Summer Party with some other sewing friends. It was great fun and a chance to meet up with some familiar faces! The theme of the evening was Tropical, so I gave my flamingo dungarees a good outing!

July

July was a busy month as I was prepping for a pop up shop in Bristol. I had had a lot of feedback that people wanted to be able to come and see the fabric in real life so we tested the waters with our first pop up shop. It went so well and we were absolutely rushed off our feet all day!

After mentioning how much I would love to be a pattern tester for Tilly and Buttons on the Stitchers Brew podcast, I was delighted to receive an email from them asking me to test their next two patterns. It was hard keeping them secret for the weeks between testing and release but I think we can all agree, the Ness and Nora patterns are gorgeous!

August

With August, came the much anticipated Sewing Weekender event in Cambridge. I was lucky enough to get a ticket again this year and just had the best time hanging out with all my sewing friends. It was lovely that we managed to get nearly all of the blog squad in the same place at the same time! I can’t wait for next year!

September

Following the success of the event in July, we held another pop up shop in September. We had more space and managed to get our processes much smoother this time around so it was a far calmer affair for Jenny and I to run. It was around this time that we had started to look for properties to start a bricks and mortar incarnation of Like Sew Amazing. We found the perfect space but then had several months of waiting ahead of us while the solicitors etc did their thing!

Once we had found the right space, we knew we would need help to get it up together, so I launched a crowdfunding initiative on kickstarter. I was so overwhelmed with the response and how supportive everyone was. I used my marketing background to get as much publicity as possible and managed to get us in the local paper, and on the local radio and retweeted by our local MP! We hit the target and secured funding so then it was just a waiting game until we could get the keys. 

October

What’s been lovely about launching a sewing business is being able to support the various events within the sewing community. I sponsored lots of great challenges towards the end of this year, including the Little Red Dress Project, the Cosi Cardy Challenge and the Refashioners.

I wasn’t sure whether I was going to attend Sew Brum this year, as I was very busy at the time, but I’m so glad I did. We had a lovely day of fabric browsing/buying, a big old trip to pizza express and a lot of talking about sewing!

November

In November, I partnered with Husqvarna Viking as a brand ambassador. I am delighted to be working with them and they are going to be providing lots of amazing machines for the shop. We will also be a reseller for Husqvarna, once we are up and running.

We held the Sewcialite Soiree in November. It took months of organising but I was so pleased with how the event turned out. We held an afternoon tea beforehand so that people could get to know each other in a quieter setting and then we held the party at a lovely hotel in the city centre. We had good food, good music and lots of dancing! I made a Carrie Bradshaw/ballerina inspired outfit for the event, which was a real labour of love and kept me busy for a couple of weeks!

I hit the magic 10,000 followers on Instagram in November, which was so lovely. I am extremely grateful for the amazing, supportive community that we have and am so pleased that my business is resonating with people.

December

So despite being plagued with a never ending cold, December was perhaps the most exciting month of all, as I finally signed contracts and got the keys to the shop! Such a fab Christmas present! We’ve already been in and had a big clean up in there with some wonderful friends who gave up their time to help. We’ve started decorating and getting it all up together and the current plan is to be open by the end of January!

I’m so excited for the shop to open. There will of course be a launch party, which I hope lots of you can make. We will also publish our workshop schedule very soon so we can start taking bookings.

I am so eternally grateful for the support I have received from my partner, family and lovely friends in the sewing community. Particular shout out goes to Jenny, who I am so excited to be working with.

It has been a year of real surprises and I would never have thought I would be where I am now, if you had asked me a year ago! It has definitely been a year of being brave and jumping in and long may that continue!

There is a lot of hard work ahead to get ready for opening but I am so excited at the prospect of whats to come in 2019.

I really hope you can all come and visit!

Wishing you all the best for a happy and healthy New Year.

Love Sarah x

My Sewcialite Soiree Outfit

I know it’s been a couple of weeks since the Sewcialite Soiree, but I finally managed to get some better pictures of my outfit and some close ups to show you the details!

The inspiration behind my outfit was the gorgeous sea green tulle skirt that Carrie wears on her trip to Paris in the final episode of Sex and the City!

I also had some fabulous shoe boots that I wanted to wear so kind of built my dress around that!

My outfit comprised of three parts: a top, a skirt and a sash. I’ll take each one in turn.

The top

I used the Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top as the basis for my bodice. I’ve done a previous post showing how I hacked the pattern into my go to vest top. I knew that the ruching on the neckline would give a hint of ballerina to go with the tulle skirt! I used some of our Glass Velour Mink as I love the colour and the glorious sheen that it has. I used my coverstitch machine to finish off the neckline, armholes and hem so it was a really quick make.

The skirt

I had wanted to make a tulle skirt for a while and this party seemed like as good a reason as any! I decided to use the By Hand London Charlotte pencil skirt as a base to add the layers of tulle to. I modified it by shortening it to mid thigh and adding button plackets down the back so I could get in an out more easily than having to deal with tulle and zips!

I used a beautiful pink micro satin for the skirt base and then two colours of tulle for the over layers – a baby pink and a hot pink.

Along with fellow tulle wrangler Jenny from Give Us A Toile, we spent a day measuring out, cutting, gathering and attaching about 40 layers of tulle to the skirt. It definitely helps to have another pair of hands to keep things straight.

I decided to sew most of the layers closed at the back (leaving a couple of buttons free so I could get in and out) but I left the top layers free, apart from a couple of catch stitches so that the skirt would have more movement.

In hindsight, I should have added the waistband last so that I could cover up that last line of tulle more neatly.

Jenny patiently hemmed the finished skirt for me, as I think it would be a really difficult task on your own. We trimmed it to a midi length and I think it works really well. I love it with the shoe boots and definitely felt like I was channeling my inner SJP!

The sash

To bring the whole outfit together, I decided to make a really long sash that would cover the join between the top and skirt and also hide any bit of tulle at the back that were still open.

I just made a really long narrow belt with angled ends from the same pink micro satin. I left a small gap to turn it through and then hand stitched that closed with a ladder stitch.

Overall outfit

I was so pleased with how the outfit came together. Yes, I was still sewing it on the day of the party, but that all adds to the fun! I would definitely wear it again to another party. The skirt was incredibly heavy, so I may remove a few layers of tulle as I don’t think they are all necessary. I will also be able to wear the top more casually on nights out.

But I think we can all agree that this outfit qualifies as part of the #SewFrosting challenge, given that I essentially look like a cupcake!

 

 

Sorrel dress – pattern review

This week, Jennifer Lauren Handmade has launched a kickstarter campaign to create printed patterns! I was one of the testers for JLH’s latest offering, the Sorrel dress.

If you haven’t seen it yet, go and check out the campaign and the pattern, while you are at it!

Jennifer describes Sorrel as a fresh take on the classic shirt-waist dress, seamlessly pairing vintage elements with modern design.

A few months ago, the testers were sent the initial pattern and asked to test it so that Jennifer could iron out any kinks in the pattern. Once that was done, we then retested the final version.

I made my initial version from a viscose as I thought it would look nice in a more drapey fabric. What I hadn’t taken into account was difficulty in marking darts on a dark floral fabric, especially one that moves around as much as viscose can! And there are 16 darts in total, so I was sick of the sight of the darts by the end of that first version!! I am really pleased with the finished dress though and think it will be a year round staple, as you can wear it bare legged in the summer or over tights in the winter.

I used pink snaps for my first test version and really love the look they give and the contrast against the fabric.

For my second version, I decided to use a more stable fabric. I was toying with using a plain black linen as I thought I would get more wear out of it, however, my eye kept being drawn to a combination of two fabrics and, as I couldn’t get them out of my head, I decided to go for it! I love that the mustard is picked up in the floral fabric so it feels like a bold but cohesive choice.

The darts were so much easier to mark and sew in cotton sateen!

I decided to try my hand at covered buttons for the first time and I’m so pleased I did. I wasn’t sure whether to match yellow with yellow and floral with floral or do all floral or all yellow. In the end I went with all yellow with yellow buttonholes and I love the finished look. I posted a sneaky close of pic of the buttons on Instagram and it was really popular!

I also chose to make my pockets from the yellow for an extra bit of contrast and I added one of my new Kylie and the Machine Labels for a finishing touch!

 

I didn’t make any adjustments to the pattern. The fact that there are four different cup sizes for the bodice, makes it really easy to fit. I may lengthen the bodice darts just a fraction though to see how that looks.

I am really pleased with the finished dress. I do feel that it is more of a summery choice, so I can’t wait for warmer weather to be able to wear it properly!

 

 

 

Ness Skirt Inspiration

The latest skirt pattern release from Tilly and the Buttons is the perfect addition to your Autumn/Winter wardrobe.

The Ness skirt is a classic fly front skirt in either a mini or below the knee length.

It is aimed at Improvers – ie, anyone who wants to up their sewing game a little. You will practice top stitching, a fly front and mock felled seams.

The Ness really needs a structured fabric to work well, so I have put together a list of my fabric suggestions for you.

Corduroy

I was very honoured to pattern test the Ness skirt and my first thought was that it would be perfect in a chunky corduroy. I made my test version out of our rich burgundy corduroy and I absolutely love it!

Purple fans will love this beautifully soft corduroy.

Perfect for Autumn, our bottle green chunky cord would make a fab skirt.

Denim

What better than a classic denim skirt for your handmade wardrobe? We have some beautiful deep indigo denim that would be perfect for the Ness.

Or why not try our reversible grey/charcoal denim?

Stretch cotton

The Ness would also work well in a structured stretch cotton – the ones below are the perfect weight for this skirt.

Jessie stretch cotton drill has a lovely slub texture and would make a really interesting skirt for those not a fan of plain denims!

Samantha stretch cotton has bold vibrant blooms.

Mustard fans will love this Ochre stretch cotton sateen.

I love this stretch cotton cheetah print and think it would make a super chic Ness skirt – especially when worn with black tights and a black Freya top!

You can get 10% off all of the fabrics featured here until Midnight GMT on Sunday 21st October. Just use the code NESS10

A guide to remnants

As I was listing some new remnants on the site, I started thinking about creative ways to use smaller pieces of fabric so I’ve put together some ideas.

I’ve broken them down into rough sizes for ease.

2+ metres

Yay, jackpot! You’ve probably got enough to make a garment – maybe even a dress. There are lots of options available to you, it will just be a case of finding the right pattern.

1+ metre

With some careful cutting, you should be able to make a top. You may need to shorten the sleeve length and might be better off cutting on the flat, rather than the fold to allow more options.

For jersey, the Agnes and Astoria tops can usually be squeezed out of a metre.

For woven, the Ogden cami is always a good bet. Ignore the cutting guide though as you should just be able to fold both sides of fabric into the centre. and cut on both folds.

If the fabric is a bottom weight, you may be able to make a simple A-line skirt out of a metre (size dependent)

50cm +

Patterns with panels are your friend here! The Bibi skirt from the Stretch book is perfect, as you can make it from really small scraps!

I also did a hack of the Agnes top into a panelled vest and that is a great stashbuster too!

You may be able to make children’s clothes out of half a metre or more, especially if it is a wide fabric.

Under 50cm

I usually include contrasting pockets and facings in my handmade garments – I love having special details like that.

If you are a quilter, you can utilise smaller pieces that way or you can also make smaller items such as make up bags. You can google Fat Quarter projects and will be inundated with project ideas!

If all else fails though, who can resist an outfit for your pet?!

Please let me know if you have any other great ideas and I will add them in!

 

2018 Make Nine – Progress

I didn’t manage to get all of my 2017 Make Nine plans finished, as I found myself changing my mind as the year went on. With that in mind, I planned my 2018 Make Nine makes with a bit more thought and looked at wardrobe gaps and sewing goals that I wanted to achieve.

Upon completing my Halifax hoodie, I realised that I have actually finished all of my 2018 plans and we are only part way through August – yay!

So here’s a little summary of the nine garments I chose:

The Southbank dress

This was one of my first makes this year and I absolutely love it! I made it from some super snuggly fleece back jersey from Stoff and Still. Perhaps it is too snuggly though as I haven’t been able to wear it since the Spring! I adore the pattern though and definitely want to try out the other variations.

The Rumana coat

This was the Sew My Style pattern for February and I thought I would be really clever and make mine from some cupro. This didn’t turn out to be the best idea, as much as I love the overall look, I think the seams look a little puckered and I just haven’t been inspired to wear the coat at all. I love the pattern and how it is cut though so definitely want to make a proper wool version ready for this Winter.

The Sunny dress

This was another Sew My Style pattern. I have got a bit of wear out of this one but only because it is so easy to throw on over tights. It isn’t my favourite knit dress pattern and I don’t think I would make it again.

The Kalle shirt

I made the cropped version from a gorgeous Atelier Brunette cotton lawn that I had in my stash and I couldn’t love it any more! I opted for a Liberty print yoke and collar band and added cute snaps instead of buttons! I’ve found this shirt to be really versatile and has gone well with lots of my other makes. I definitely prefer the cropped option of the Kalle and will definitely make another one at some point.

The Lander pants

I made some cropped linen Landers in the Sprint and they have been great for weekends away etc. I love the fit and the cut of the trousers and they were a lovely easy make. I made the shorts version too when they were the featured Sew My Style pattern. I think I improved the fit slightly with the shorts and I can see this being my go to shorts pattern now.

The Fumeterre skirt

Wow, I just love this skirt – so elegant and swooshy but also really cool when worn with a leather jacket and boots. I made mine from a really drapey rayon, and while the make wasn’t without its challenges, I love the finished skirt!

The Halifax hoodie

It took me ages to choose the fabric for this make – I just couldn’t make up my mind, but once I did, I was super happy. It came together pretty quickly and I love how there are lots of variations of the pattern.

The Hudson pants

I’ve actually made three pairs of Hudsons this year so far and I’m sure there will be more! The best tracksuit bottoms ever! I’ve made my boy a pair and he loves them too!

The Suki kimono

I really love this pattern and how it can show off a special fabric. I chose to make a day time kimono top rather than the robe, but I may make the robe at some point too when I next need a dressing gown.

The funny thing is, scrolling back through my feed, I realised that there were some patterns that I’ve made that didn’t make the list because they were released this year after I had made my plans but they definitely would have made the list! I’m thinking of the Mila and Jenny dungarees and the Myosotis and Seren dresses.

How are your make nine plans coming along?

Sew My Style – Lander shorts review

I had already made a pair of cropped Lander pants from linen earlier in the year but I really fancied making the shorts version. I had got the fit spot on with the trousers so knew what I needed to do for the shorts version.

I was going to make the shorts from some black linen for a chic look, however, as we have been having such a lovely summer in the UK and I’ve been wearing lots of colour lately, I changed my mind and opted for this gorgeous tropical themed Palms Peach cotton by Cotton and Steel. I think the colours are so stunning and it really gives the shorts a great summer vibe.

I lined the shorts with some scraps of the flamingo linen that I made my Jenny Overalls from, to continue the tropical theme!

The adjustments I made were to take out half an inch from the centre back seam graduating to the normal 5/8 inch seam allowance at the back notch. I then just cut a really long waistband so that I could cut it down to size to fit the trousers.

I decided to go for the inside front pockets. I had seen that Kelly from True Bias had posted this hack on her blog and thought it looked good. I wasn’t especially keen on trying to pattern match this busy print so this was a good alternative! I think it works really well and would definitely use this finish again.

I used some large red buttons from my stash and I think they look really good against the fabric.

As with my latest Carnaby dress, I used the cute Cotton and Steel selvedge as a label on the inside of the waistband. I used these gorgeous sunglasses for some cute detail!

I love the length and fit of the shorts – they fit so well and don’t feel too short! I will definitely make another pair now that the fit is spot on. Maybe a denim pair next?

Cute Kitty Carnaby

As I have been wearing my first Nina Lee Carnaby dress all the time this Summer, I thought it would be a good idea to make another one. I love that it is so easy to throw on and makes you feel put together while still being really comfortable to wear.

I bought some of this gorgeous Cotton and Steel fabric from Sew Scrumptious when we did our Pop Up Shop together last week and couldn’t wait to make it into another Carnaby. The dress really lends itself to being made from mid weight cottons, and I love the fun prints from Cotton and Steel.

In my previous version, I had omitted the back zip and opted for a button and loop closure, but seeing as I don’t even need to undo that to get it on, I decided to omit a closure altogether for this version and cut the back piece on the fold. I had to adjust both the back bodice and back skirt pieces to account for this and it did mean taking out some of the shaping near the hips but I still think it works just as well.

I also needed to cut the back facing piece on the fold and then I attached the new all in one facing to the dress using the burrito method. There are some great youtube tutorials on this, if you need further help.

Cotton and Steel fabrics tend to have adorable selvedges and I think this was the best one I’ve seen yet! It is highly complementary and tells you that “You look nice today” so I decided to add it as a label on the neck facing.

Overall, I think my favourite thing about this dress has to be the pockets. I used some leftover Cotton and Steel fabric in a contrasting pink for the pockets and facings – I think it just adds some nice detail. The pockets are just so useful for storage and means you don’t need to carry a bag!

The Carnaby pattern has proved really popular lately but the good news is, I have just restocked them!

 

Seren dress – pattern review

With two new Tilly and the Buttons patterns released this month, we are spoilt for choice but I decided to start with the Seren dress as I haven’t sewn a lovely summery dress in a while.

I was a bit torn between the tie front and plain front but I decided to go with something a bit different altogether – separates! When I first saw the Ariana embroidered chambray, I had a vision of it being made into a cool midi length button up skirt, worn with tan coloured clogs. I decided to make that vision a reality by hacking the Seren into the midi skirt I had in my mind, with a matching tie front top!

I made some other crucial changes too. Firstly, I added the all important side seam pockets. I just would have felt weird not having them there and they are super easy to add in. Secondly, I lined the bodice using white cotton lawn, rather than using the facings. I prefer the clean finish of a lined garment, and there is no faffing about with keeping the facings down. I also thought the flash of white  on the tie front would be a cute detail.

To make the lined bodice, I simply omitted the facings and cut another set of back and front pieces out of my lining fabric. I did interface them using the facing pieces as a template, just so that the button holes would be easier. I left a gap in one of the lining side seams to enable me to turn it all through and then I sewed the perimeter of the bodice together (RST). After trimming the seams, I then pulled it through and hand stitched the side seam gap using a ladder stitch. Easy peasy!

The skirt was a little trickier, as after I had sewn the front button stand facing on and understitched them, and sewn the side seams to the back skirt, I tried it on and it was way too big. It would have been a lot of work to unpick either of the seams and the fabric I used was not the easiest to unpick, due the embroidery. My solution was to fold the button stand back on itself on both sides and topstitch in place. This gave it a cleaner finish but did add a lot of bulk which made sewing the buttonholes slightly challenging.

I then attached the waistband and just sewed it to meet the new front end pieces.

There are 15 buttonholes on the midi length version of the Seren. And that is a lot of buttonholes when you are having to fight with the machine on every one! It is also a lot of buttons to sew on, but I sat in the sunshine doing that so it wasn’t too onerous.

I was thinking about using copper jeans buttons but in the end I found some cute wooden ones which will match my shoes perfectly!

I am really pleased with the look of the outfit together. And I have great options to wear them as separates and combine multiple looks.

The instructions, as always, are really easy to follow. Obviously I went off piste for a lot of the steps but if you are making the dress as normal, it should be a breeze!

I would really like to make the ruffle front version of the dress in a cool floaty rayon next.

 

Honeycomb shirt – pattern review

Honeycomb is the latest pattern release from indie designer Ana from Cocowawa Crafts. It has an option of making it as a dress or a shirt.

The gorgeous Ana invited me and a few other sewing bloggers to a sewing day at the Village Haberdashery to make our own Honeycombs. It was a wonderful day and I was very honoured to have been included!

I chose to make the shirt version of the Honeycomb as I want to try and make some more separates for my handmade wardrobe.

I used this lovely Silverleaf cotton lawn Lady McElroy fabric. I love the red details of the leaves against the soft grey blue colour. I picked out this red detail with the prettiest little heart buttons too!

I also chose to line the yoke and inner collar band with a white cotton lawn as I love the way it looks.

The pattern itself is fairly straightforward. It is really easy to fit as you use the waist ties to synch it in.

Ana’s instructions are great and she does a fab job of explaining the burrito method, which gives a lovely clean finish to the lined yoke. There is also a great sew along on her blog if you get stuck!

I’m really pleased with how my shirt came together. It is lovely on a hot day if you want to be a bit more covered up from the sun.

I plan to make a Honeycomb dress next out of a lovely drapey rayon – I’ll probably make the sleeveless version as I like how it is balanced.