The Handmade Fair v’s The Knitting & Stitching Show

What a lovely spring day it is today.  I decided this morning to get some fresh air and walk with my youngest daughter as she begins her day testing out a new school.  Whilst there is a little nip in the air, it is sunny and warming on the face and a great vitamin D day! Sitting here in my sewing room, typing this post, the sun is coming through the window and I’ve even opened it ajar to feel the lovely spring air.  Not sure if this picture shows that enough, but it’s the best I’ve got!  Hope you feel in good spirits today too.

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This post was meant to be posted yesterday, but my wifi was playing up and after a three hour slog involving unplugging and plugging wires, running up and down the stairs pressing buttons to try and connect, I got fed up and realised it was not meant to be.  This morning has a positive feel to it and within 15 mins I got it working.  Hurrah!

 

My post today is, hopeful, a helpful comparison of two craft fairs that I have attended since starting sewing three years ago.  The first was the Handmade Fair last September, hosted at Hampton Court in Greater London and the second was last weeks Knitting & Stitching Show, held at the Olympia, West Kensington, London.

Being new to the sewing world, I’m only just finding out about all the events being held for craft enthusiasts and whilst I have knitted for many years, I’ve only ever attended local craft fairs before.  I do enjoy a good local fair to see what my local community has to offer and it’s an easy morning or afternoon spent browsing.  Is it worth paying the money to go to these national craft fairs though?

Let’s start with the Handmade Fair.  This trip came about as a belated birthday present for a dear friend.  We decided to made a whole day of it and go out into central London in the evening after the fair had finished.  When we arrived, we were overwhelmed by the scale of the fair.  Two huge sellers marquees, in addition to food and drink stalls, theatres and activity tents.  The cost of the day ticket was £28.89 and this included a theatre viewing, a grand make activity and a skills workshop, which we booked in advance out of the list of programmed options.  A lot were already booked up when I purchased the tickets three months before, so it is definitely worth pre-booking rather than booking on the day.  We had to ensure that there were no cross over’s with events either as many take place at the same time (i.e. a theatre show might be on at the same time a skills workshop etc.).  This took a bit of planning to also ensure that we left ourselves enough time to go and see all the stalls and have some lunch.  In the end we decided on the following:

1) A head to head in the theatre between Matt Chapple, winner of the sewing bee two series back and Zeena Shah.  This was brilliant as they had a timed challenge to make a lampshade whilst answering questions from the audience.  They were both great sports and very funny and personable and their multi tasking skills were outstanding.  Who says men can’t multi-task!

2) We did a grand make with Velcro Brand making flower crowns.  This was hilarious fun and we came away with fetching crowns which we wore for the rest of the day!  Not something I would wear again but it hangs in my sewing room as a fun reminder of our day together.

3) For the skills workshop we decided to do the printing on fabric, which both my friend and I were interested in learning.  I have to say the session was very rushed with trying to explain what you need to do to us amateurs and getting something printed.  People with more experience would have completed their fabric print within the hour time frame, but for us all we felt was pressure to finish, resulted in my mediocre attempt!  I couldn’t tell you how to print on fabric as the instructions were so rushed, my withered brain chucked any references to this experience out within seconds!


All in all, I do think the workshops and makes were OK however, the time frames made it impossible to learn new skills efficiently and it did eat in to our browsing time.  If I ever go again I would probably get a day ticket and just pay for one event, likely a theatre session as this was worthwhile.

In terms of the two shopping halls, the variety of craft stalls was outstanding and each stall was a visual eye catcher that just drew you in and made you want to buy everything! Stall holders were so friendly and welcoming and were happy to talk to you without putting pressure on to buy.  This only enhanced my spending urge as I wanted to buy something from all of them!  The beauty of this experience is that I got to connected with fabric sellers who I wanted to meet in the flesh and see the quality of their products.  As being new to sewing and with not living near wonderful dressmaking fabric shops (meagre offerings in my town – great for essentials but variety of fabrics is sadly lacking), I was very nervous ordering fabric on line as you can’t touch, feel or see it’s true colour or drape. Meeting fabric sellers in the flesh gives you the chance to build a trusting relationship. One seller I got to know was Josie from Fabric Godmother and she was just lovely.  I have ordered from her online shop a few times since meeting her and haven’t regretted it.

The final thought on this fair was the food and drink stalls.  My friend and I enjoyed trying the food and particularly the many varieties of gin samples!  There truly was a wealth of variety for all tastes.

All in all this is a great fair to go to for any craft enthusiast.  The experience in itself is worth going to and it is a full day out.  In fact, if doing workshops, I would consider going for two days to really see everything.  I would definitely go again in a few years time, but would just pay for the entry only and not attend the workshops.

Turning now to the Knitting & Stitching show, which I went to last Sunday with another dear friend of mine.

Both of us were really excited as we hadn’t spend a day together, minus children, for a long time.  After enjoying the Handmade Fair, I was excited to attend this event hoping for a similar experience.  On arriving we nearly ended up in a guitar and bass convention as went in the wrong queue, who were mostly men!  In addition we found out that the Walking Dead convention was next door with a lot of the cast attending and I was very tempted to gatecrash that to meet Rick!  Once we eventually got in, the feel was very different from the Handmade Fair.  Effectively it was a conference hall filled with stall holders and a few areas hosting workshops and demonstrations.  I certainly didn’t get the WOW factor here, but that wasn’t the reason I came.  My friend and I had different craft stalls we wanted to visit, I wanted to get hand-dyed wool and needles for knitting my first ever socks, together with maybe a few more sewing patterns.  Fabric was strictly off limits as I have a stash to bust first before buying any more.  My friend was looking for felting supplies.

From the get go, we hit the first stall which was a lovely felt supplier called The Makerss, and their little stall and demonstrations were a delight.  My friend kitted herself out with all her supplies straight away, even going back again for more before we left!  For me I found a lovely yarn supplier called The Loveliest Yarn Company, who were absolutely charming and gave me so much help and advice on knitting my first socks with double pointed needles.  The hand-dyed yarn I bought is so soft and gorgeous, it was so difficult not to buy more!  They even threw in this lovely project bag!  Can’t wait to start my socks!

In addition I got to meet Jules from Sew Me Something, who was lovely and bought a couple of her patterns.

I also popped to Sew Over It and Guthrie and Ghani to have a browse also.  I also met the girls from Trend Patterns and loved their madness and fun and the patterns are gorgeous. Looking forward to their spring/summer releases soon.  I also bought a rag tool kit, from the lovely lady at Ragged-Life, to use up my scraps of fabric to make a rug.

Other than that, I found the show a little underwhelming and some stalls feeling more market stall in their offering.  There is nothing wrong with that, but I wanted an experience that I wouldn’t get locally and this just didn’t do it for me.  I also found some stall holders impatient and a little unwelcoming, which certainly won’t get me spending on their stalls or looking them up in the future!  This resulting in us whizzing around the stalls by early afternoon, ready to leave by 2pm.  We did enjoy Lauren’s sewing with knits demonstration and I’m sure other demonstrations were really good, but that wasn’t the reason we went.

Also I can’t comment on the workshops as I thought these would be similar to the Handmade Fair and decided not do book any.  I may be wrong, so if any of you did go to the show and attended a workshop, please let me know your thoughts.

The sculptures and displays were very interesting to walk around and immerse yourself in, but all in all, it wasn’t anywhere near the scale of the Handmade Fair and I don’t think I would be going again.  However, the day ticket cost £11 with a discount code and a day out with my lovely friend, feeling very pleased with our purchases.  The bonus being that as we left early, we popped to Liberty before heading home.  Now that’s a great end to a crafty day out isn’t it?!

All in all, both events had similar offerings, but on different levels.  If you want a wonderful day and craft experience, go for the Handmade Fair.  If you are just wanting to have a browse at a large craft fair and live an hour or so away from the Knitting & Stitching show, it’s a nice day out. Otherwise I wouldn’t travel any great distance to attend as a local craft fair in a nearby large town will offer you something just as good.

What are your thoughts on these events and are there any others you can recommend? Please do let me know, after all this is just my opinion and I would love to hear yours. xx

Partying hard at the #monetaparty! 

Currently sitting in a hospital room with my poorly eldest daughter, in limbo, awaiting the hospitals next move, I thought I would do an impromptu blog post whilst all is calm and A is resting.  It’s strange how we find ourselves in unusual situations, doing unexpected things isn’t it?

Me with my gorgeous baby girl, happier than she is now, bless her x
Obviously my mind is focused on A, but whilst she rests and to distract me from my worry, I’ve caught up on my blog post reading (limited however, as some blogs I access via Instagram and the hospital wifi seems to not like this particular social media platform!!)
One blog I read was from my newly found sewing friend Emma, from Emmaandhermachine.  I do enjoy her posts as they are lighthearted but also very insightful in to her very new sewing journey.  I am amazed at the amount of sewing she has done and her many amazing outfit achievements.  It’s truely inspiring and she definitely inspires me.  

One of her posts covered her two amazing Moneta dresses made for the #monetaparty.  Now I’m always up for a party but as an Instagram newbie, when Emma first asked if I was going to join the Instagram party, a week before, I said yes (I hate to miss a party!), but had no idea what an Instagram sewing party was! Not sure whether many of you not on/new to Instagram would either!  Well let me explain!  This particular ‘party’, hosted by the #triplestitchers – Abigail, Rachel and Elle, started on Instagram last weekend, as a means of bringing the sewing community together and challenge each entrant to sew up their versions of the triplestitchers’ favourite dress from Collette Patterns – the Moneta dress. Various sponsors would choose their favourites for a chance to win prizes, which was an added bonus.

Now, once I got my head around the idea that it wasn’t a physical party that you go to and are face to face physically with the people attending, also that I had less than a week to make the dress and post it for the party, I thoroughly embraced the idea!

Leading up to the weekend of the party, I enjoyed many Instagram posts building up to the event and it certainly made the whole thing very exciting.  I started sewing my version of the dress on the Saturday evening after the party started (always late to a party!) and was very happy (also relieved) that it whizzed up on my overlocker in two hours!!! A record for me!

I decided to do version 3 of the pattern, which was unlined and three-quarter length sleeves.  I procrastinated on whether to add any ‘extras’ or ‘hacks’ after checking out the Colette blog, but decided in the end the fabric I chose didn’t need extra embellishments – it could hold its own.  The fabric was left in my stash after the dress I drafted for my eldest (wearing above) and I had just enough left.  I bought it last year from Ray Stitch, by Art Gallery Knits and is a beautiful stretch knit with a black base with white dots shaped as chains across.   

The pattern instructions were really easy to follow, particularly given the time pressure I’d given myself to get the dress finished before the party ended on the Sunday evening.  I did a rush pattern fitting on the Friday and decided no adjustments were needed and that the size L was suitable for my body measurements.   

The sewing process was very straightforward as I’ve already said, using my overlocker, but using a zig zag stitch on a normal machine would be just as straightforward too.  The only slightly ‘aarrhh’ moment was sewing the invisible elastic to the skirt waist.  The pattern says to divide and tackle in the four sections marked on the pattern.  When I make another Moneta (and I definitely will), I will probably divided the elastic further in to eight sections to give more even distribution of the shirring.

All remaining processes were easy to put in place, for instance heming with a twin needle if like most of us you don’t have a cover machine.  I had used a twin needle a few times with jersey and knit’s and find it quite easy to use.  Even if it is your first time, it’s quite easy to master. 

Overall I’m happy with my first Monenta and entry, particularly with the speed I made it! In future makes I would grade from a size M at the shoulders and bust up to L on the waist of the bodice, as it’s a little wide and shows my bra straps easily (you can tell in the piccie above).  I would also shorten the bodice an inch and shorten the skirt an inch to ensure a better fit at the waist and the skirt comes on my knee rather than below.  I would also lengthen the sleeves as they didn’t come quite to three quarter length and I’ve got relatively short arms!   All of the above adjustments I will do on this dress but for now it’s still perfectly fine as it is.

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​So what are my final thoughts on my first #instaparty?  I LOVED IT and can’t wait for more!  As you can see from my pictures I certainly embraced the party atmosphere at home and with my family.  It was so nice that I was able to share it with them as sewing can be solitary, particularly if you have few like minded people who live locally.  Connecting through mediums such as Instagram, especially via events like this, is a brilliant way of connecting Worldwide to an amazing sewing and crafting community.  Hope to connect with more of you in the future, for now look after yourselves. X

Preparation for Spring – Poncho Style!

Well hello there!  How are you all today and what have you all been up to these past few weeks?  I know, I know, I’ve neglected my blog recently and not done my weekly post’s for a while, but I’m back!  Yay or maybe nay I hear you say?!?! Very poetic, but hopefully `yay’ is the general consensus on my return.

img_2272After a run of health related issues in my lovely little clan of five, some still continuing for two of us, we are slowly getting back on our feet.  With that comes the energy and enthusiasm to finally start completing some of my WIP’s (‘work in progress’ for all you newbie’s to the crafty lingo and certainly not what you may have originally been thinking!). One WIP in particular has come together very nicely whilst having a very housebound February half term.  For those of you who follow me on social media, you will know that I announced on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, that I had completed my free style knitting project last week.

img_2539When I started the project, I really didn’t know how it would turn out or whether I had enough yarn.  I had seven 50g balls of Rowan Truesilk,  shade SH340-Malachite, which is a lovely deep dark grey.  Composition is 100% silk and is a soft gorgeous yarn, excellent value at half the price, obtained from a John Lewis clearance sale last summer.  I would have been mad to have walked away from the bundle! Unfortunately after grabbing the only seven balls I could get my hands on, I realised I didn’t have enough for a cardigan or jumper.  I also didn’t want it’s destiny to be a mere scarf – the yarn deserved more than that! I had an idea of what I wanted to create, but kept it secret as I’ve never been brave enough to plan a knitting project from scratch.  I didn’t want to make promises I couldn’t keep!

I saw something similar when we went to Cornwall last year. We stayed within a stones throw from Padstow harbour with it’s quint little boutique shops.  One shop in particular had some poncho’s that I quite liked, but on trying one on, I wasn’t sure on the quality for the price or the style of it on me.

img_2562Bearing this in mind, I set to work with my swatch and stuck to stocking stitch.  I used the recommended needles on the yarn tape (UK 8, US 6, 4mm).  My swatch was true to the tape measurement, no adjustments needed.  With that I continued to calculate how many stitches I would need to make the desired width of the poncho – 134 stitches to cast on to be precise.  Once I’d cast on, I then continued in stocking stitch, with the exception of the start and end of each row. Ten stitches at the start and ten stitches at the end knitted in reverse stocking stitch to create a boarder along the sides.  I continued in this way until I had used up four balls of yarn.

At this point I started my first of six button holes.  I’d never done button holes before, but once completing my first within one side of the boarder stitches, it was easy doing the remaining five.  There are many video tutorials on Pinterest, and I have saved the one I used within my knitting board for you to see.

To space the buttonholes, I counted how many rows it took to knitted 3 balls of yarn and divided that by the number of buttons I wanting to use to secure the sides together – in this case 6.  My calculations meant I needed to knit 24 rows in between each buttonhole, with the remaining buttonhole ending right at the bottom of the poncho.  It worked perfectly and I finished with just enough yarn to sew the buttons on (and spare in case one falls off in future!).

I must say I an delighted with the result and will definitely try my hand at drafting more knitting patterns in future.  This poncho will be a key feature in my wardrobe for spring and autumn days or those summer days/evenings when there is a little chill in the air.  The colour goes with most of my wardrobe essentials, but I want to make many more of my own basics (such as t-shirts, vest tops) and of course jeans soon, to ensure I have a totally ‘me made’ wardrobe.  Watch this space for more on these projects in future posts.  In the meantime, if you would like further info on how I made my poncho, please do let me know.  For now, take care and see you all soon xx

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Reflections, Pure & Simple

I thought I would start February and this weeks post reflecting on how January turned out. As is the case for many, it started with resolutions made.  For me that included starting a personal sewing blog, sewing more and making more use of my time.  For the most part, resolutions achieved.  I started my blog mid-way through January and as a result I am more focused on my sewing.  However the ‘more use of time’ resolution has had its’ up moments and slight down moments.  My plan was to feel more in control of my time, not just for sewing, but encompassing all things important in my life; my lovely husband and wonderful children, my wider family, close friends and other things I enjoy; like cooking, reading, dancing, walks and so much more, whether alone or sharing with others dear to me.

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Me with my amazing husband and children.  They are my rocks.

This is a lot to pack in and for most of January, I felt I was steadily encompassing the majority of these things in to my daily life. However, heading in to February, I quickly burnt out, a glitch of mine sadly, one which is health related and not so easy to control. The usual result being I have to put on pause, for a while, a lot of the things I love to do. Last week was no exception.  This frustrated and saddened me because I had set my stall out, of what I wanted to achieve by the end of the month and I’d failed in my mission. Family and close friends were, as always, so supportive and stopped the guilt I felt about not fulfilling the majority of things last week, but my sewing goals were the one’s I could not shake the feeling that I’d failed in.  The reason being, when I say I’m going to do something, I mean it!

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My first blog post, was the route of this ‘failure feeling’.  I had set six projects that I wanted to complete by the end of January.  Needless to say only two and three-quarters have been completed; the tea dress, the renfrew top and three quarters of the way through hubbie’s shirt – which has not been plain sailing, but will tell you all when I finally finish it!  So when February came loud and clear, I felt like I had gone back on a promise I’d made.  A promise to who, I’m not sure……..readers of my blog? me? ……..honestly I really don’t know.  The expectation weighed heavily on me, until I realised, after reading and watching other sewers blogs and videos, that sewing plans are made, but are not definitive in any time scale.  They may say they would like to have such and such completed by the end of the month etc etc, but no big deal if that doesn’t happen and everyone is cool about it!  How refreshing and a complete relief for me that I am only beholden to me, for what I decide or don’t decide to make.  If I fail, delay or change my mind it really doesn’t matter. I’m doing this for me and I should learn not be so hard on myself!

 

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1940’s Tea Dress
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Pin tucks on hubbie’s shirt!
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Renfrew top

I will need to remind myself of this `eureka’ moment on the many occasions I’m likely to feel a sense of failure or frustration over my sewing journey, but for now, I feel a sense of calm, at least in my sewing life, and I am ready to start next week with a fresh view.  This has also been helped in particularly from the last blog post from Sew Me Something, where Jules’ words resonated in me to love what I do and be thankful for the positive things in my life, like family, friends and my sewing too.  I have so much I am thankful for. Rachel’s recent blog at Sew RED-y also helped by launching #failfebruary and celebrating and sharing our sewing failures – genius! Click the button below to find out more:

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I wonder how you all are doing as we enter February?  Feel free to let me know and also your sewing successes and those that were not so successful.  After all we are all continuing to learn from our experiences in life.  For now, take care x

It’s An Ochre Obsession

How cold was last week?  I am definitely not cut out for the UK winters’.  Damp, cold and miserable.  Very envious of anyone who lives in warmer climates or those lucky enough to be on holiday in the warm.  Any chance you could send some sun and an increase in temperature over here please?!  The weather has certainly affected my sewing mo-jo, as my sewing room, positioned at the back of the house, has more external walls than internal. Even with a radiator and electric heater, it is very cold indeed!  Cold hands – less sewing. Perhaps I need to invest in some finger-less gloves for times such as these, or knit myself a pair for next year?  Cold weather calls for a lovely hand-kitted jumper and handmade fluffy wool coat and I have just the garments!

Let’s start with the coat.  This lovely warm furry wool coat was made using the Yona Coat pattern by ‘Named‘. The pattern is designed as a wrap coat however, I decided to omit the waist tie as I wanted the coat to be more like a faux-fur look, as the main structure of the pattern was perfect for this gorgeous soft grey wooky wool from Fabric Godmother . Sadly I think this is now out of stock, but Josie at Fabric Godmother would, I’m sure, be able to find you an alternative if you wanted to do something similar.  The pattern called for a lining and I had just the fabric for it – a Liberty Silk Satin called Tiers of Light from Ray Stitch.  I also decided to add a ochre/mustard coloured piping, using some poly cotton I had in my stash.  I inserted the piping between the lining and facings to tie the grey of the wool with the grey-y blues, with hints of ochre, of the silk.  This wasn’t part of the pattern but an adaption which worked wonderfully well.  The coat looks as gorgeous outside as it does inside.  A true mark of a good coat.  The coat is effortless to put on due to the smooth silk and warm/snuggly with the wooky wool.  As you can see in this picture the colour combination works really well – I think so anyway!

The pattern was true to sizing, and instructions very easy, which made this coat much less stressful to make than I thought.  As this was my first ever lined coat, I was really pleased with the result and I have a gorgeous coat that will stay with me forever.

Before making the coat, towards the end of last year, I had already finished knitting my ochre oversized jumper.  I became a little obsessed to say the least with ochre and mustard shades last year, as my family and close friends will no doubt confirm!  I love the colour and the way it goes with my other favourite colours; navy, black, grey, brown………I could go on!  This colour will feature more in my handmade wardrobe over the coming year.

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Back to the jumper (sorry I got distracted by the ochre colour again – told you I was obsessed!).  I came across an amazing picture of an oversized ochre jumper on Pinterest in the summer and knew I had to make an equivalent for myself.  I scoured the internet for knitting patterns that would fit the bill and eventually came across a pattern on Etsy by Shibaguyz Designz called Diva (appropriately named!).  The pattern was available only in PDF form, which was fantastic as I could instantly download it and start knitting my swatches for the correct gauge straight away.  For the wool I decided to use Rowan Wool Cotton, colour Brolly, which I bought from  John Lewis in their end of season sale – result!  This was the perfect colour and thickness for my jumper, although the pattern suggested a much finer yarn.  No matter, I was a good girl and did my swatches and found I needed to go up a needle size to a US 6/5mm.  Going by the measurements of the pattern, I went for the small as with being oversized I had plenty of ease to play with.  Also being on the short side in terms of height, I didn’t want it to come to my knees!

The jumper did take some time to knit due to the oversized element.  Having said that I only focused on it in the evenings for 2/3 hours at a time, as it was a relaxing make.  Once I got to grips with the pattern, I found it very easy to watch the television and knit at the same time, which was a huge bonus!  Overall, I am chuffed to bits with this jumper and it’s already become my go-to-comfy-warm jumper of choice.  You will usually find me in it whilst sewing, relaxing or on lovely family walks.  Well worth the four months it took to make.

One final point to make, the above photo’s were my attempts at selfie’s and mirror selfie’s!  My daughter has made a guest appearance in the first shot, showing stupid, confused old Mum how to mirror selfie.  I posted this picture on social media yesterday, as I thought there would be many a parent or grandparent, who would appreciate the confusion on my face of this most taxing task!  After various selfie and mirror selfie’s, the next three photos were the best I could come up with.  Apologies to all who are proficient at selfie’s, this was the best I could do.  I promise to do better next time!  Until then……….

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The Renfrew Top-A Simple but Worth While Make

fullsizerender-3                                                                            Hello again, here I am with another sewing make after what seems like a busy and very fast week.  Already 2017 is speeding up and looks to be faster than ever for most of us, with little time to draw breath!  A interesting, dramatic and saddening  week Worldwide too with lots of discussion and views appearing in force on social media and beyond.  Whilst I have my own thoughts and views on these events, I do feel that we should live very much in the present, balancing our minds and sharing what we feel positive about in our own lives.  For me, I have been overwhelmed with the response from family, friends and new contacts in the sewing community, following the start of my blog nearly two weeks ago.

It’s quite a scary experience putting yourself out there and I was very nervous and self conscious about the whole thing, so far you’ve all made me feel very welcome.  Thank you.

Turning to my finished Renfrew Top by Sewaholic Patterns , I had planned to complete this earlier in the week however, life took over and here I am –  fashionably late!

fullsizerender-1I decided in the New Year to go for view c, which has a cowl neckline but swapped the sleeves from the three-quarter length to those of full length shown in view a.  The main reason – it’s cold outside and I want to be warm!  After making my 1940’s tea dress last week, this make is a more understated but very necessary part of my developing handmade wardrobe.  I’ve made a few dresses and statement pieces in the few years I’ve been sewing more, but have never made a simple long sleeved top – essential for every wardrobe.

I decided to use a lovely warm grey fleece jersey fabric, from Guthrie & Ghani, that had been gathering dust in my fabric stash since this time last year.  The fabric is gorgeous, and whilst it’s fairly light, the fleece backing keeps the chill away.  I got myself two and a half metres and only used a metre or so on this top as its very wide – two meters in fact!  I will definitely be using it for more tops throughout the year.

So, how did I fair with this pattern?  Very well indeed and was a lot quicker making up than it took me to get round to actually starting it – two and half hours in fact!!  The pattern was very straight forward and the fabric sewed up beautifully.  I shortened the front, back and sleeve pattern pieces by 4 cm to ensure the top finished on my hips and sleeves finished at my wrists.  The pattern didn’t include a lengthen/shorten line, so went by the waistline on the front and back pieces, and from where the sleeve piece came to my elbow. I went for the size 10 based on the finished measurements as the fabric had a lot of stretch, so was happy with the ease.  I removed the seam allowance on all pieces as I made the top using only my overlocker, which made this super quick.  One point to note, the cuff pieces came out rather baggy when joined to the sleeves and were much wider.  Not sure if that was the design of the top, for me I preferred the cuff’s to be a little tighter than the sleeves.  As a result I reduced the width by two inches.

Overall, I’m really happy with this top and whilst before I thought perhaps it wasn’t necessary to make all my essential jersey tops, the speed with which this came together has definitely changed that view.  I’ll be making my own tops using this pattern a great deal as it’s so versatile with different sleeve lengths and necklines.  This is a pattern that will take you from winter in to spring and back again.  Looking forward to experimenting with different jerseys, knits, colour and print with this pattern, one that should be in every sewists stash!

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First up – 1940’s Tea Dress

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My first project of Jan 2017 is made and I have to say what a joy to make.  I used the Sew Over It 1940’s Tea Dress PDF pattern, which is recommended for a intermediate sewer.  I made the dress out of this beautiful teal patterned Liberty  sandwashed silk, from Ray Stitch in London.  I have had this in my stash since last summer and was waiting for the moment that I was brave enough to make something with it, without making a hash of it! This would have been criminal, not to mention an expensive mistake!  So I waited patiently for a little bit of experience with similar floaty fabrics and silk.  I will share some of those makes with you soon, which include a silk lined faux fur coat and my eldest daughter’s prom dress!

img_2155Sufficiently confident, I decided that the 1940’s Sew Over it pattern would be a great dress for this fabric.  I’ve had my eye on this pattern for a while as I like a bit of vintage style and this dress is perfect.  It’s also not too vintage so that it remains very current and – I think – timeless.  A great pattern for a handmade wardrobe but also to support slow fashion.  This baby will be a staple in my wardrobe for years to come!

How did I get on with the pattern and fabric you may ask?  Well I can hand on heart say that the instructions were extremely clear, with sufficient references and clear diagrams.  I purchased the PDF pattern and this was very easy to download and print off, using the instructions provided on the Sew Over It website.  I’m fairly new to PDF patterns and even though I like getting a new pattern, particularly one in a fancy box like the Named pattern packs (yummy!), PDF’s are cheaper and instantly downloadable for those eager beavers!!  Also if you make a mistake or rip the paper, like the clumsy clot I am, you just print off the part destroyed again.  Voila!

img_2124Now is it true to measurements? Answer is yes!  Well for me anyway, but to give you an idea of what I’m working with, I’m a 5ft 2 inch, 30 something lady(!), curves in all the right and wrong places (!!), with a traditionally pear-shaped figure, short torso and short legs!  Also rocking a generous B cup to-boot!  Most of the time I need to shorten at the waist and the hem about 3 inches on patterns, but with this one all I had to do was length 1cm at the hem!  Yes indeed, minimal adjustment and maximum impact! Shocked? I was!  The pattern is probably designed to be above the knee, but I preferred at the knee.  I traced the pattern pieces using swedish tracing paper from Creative Industry, which is a revelation.  It’s so flexible and fabric-like that you can sew up the pieces to make your toile and adjust accordingly without tearing. Saves on time and well worth the investment.

Once I was happy with the fit of my toile, I went on happily cutting my fabric.  I had 2.5 metres of the Liberty silk (137 meters wide) and used the full 2 metres required for the pattern.  Minimum wastage, which was great as I find sometimes I’m left with excess fabric with some pattern requirements.

img_2130As mentioned above, the instructions, references and diagrams were well written and easy to follow, making the process of sewing the dress very straightforward.  All I had to contend with was the silk itself however, even that behaved itself with very few ARRRHHH(!) moments.  This only happened when I forgot to start the seam a little further in to stop the fabric snagging in the machine!

Talking of seams, the pattern suggested zigzag stitch or overlocking the raw edges.  As it was beautiful silk that would fray over time, I decided to spend a little more time on these and decided on french seams.  Overlocking or zigzagging would have been fine too, but french seams are much neater for floaty fabrics.  I know it’s lovely on the inside of the dress as well as the outside and that makes me smile even more wearing it!  Other than that I followed the pattern instructions as written.

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Overall, I’m so pleased with the result and love the rolled up sleeves and the buttons on the centre front.  Very cute.  The panels for the waist nip you in nicely and hide any lumps and bumps, whilst the skirt flows over the hips making a flattering fit.  Can’t wait to wear it out – perhaps with a cardi as it’s freezing here at the moment!  Please share what projects you are doing for Jan and if you have any questions about this project, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment.  For now, happy sewing………

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