This month for my Minerva Crafts Blogger Network project I chose to try something a little different – instead of a dress, a skirt and a top! WHOAH THERE. It’s mind-blowing stuff, isn’t it?!
I have quite a collection of sewing books and many of them contain patterns within them that I have wanted to try for a while. This month’s project is two patterns from ‘Gertie Sews Vintage Casual’ book which my good friend and co-blogger Aileen bought for me as a birthday gift last year. The patterns are for the ‘Knit Sweetheart Top’ and the ‘Easy Knit Pencil Skirt’. This combination of fitted but mega-comfortable clothing seemed like the best thing ever to sew right now, after putting on about half a stone over summer due to having a picnic lunch with the children almost every day. You always need more food than normal for a picnic – it’s the picnic law. I’ve eaten a lot of bread and a lot of cheese and a lot of crisps and a lot of biscuits and a lot of chocolate and a lot of cake and a lot of pies. It’s been pretty awesome.
Let’s start by talking about the top, then. For the top I chose ‘black and beige wide stripe viscose jersey‘. I really like the width of the stripes of this fabric, and I was really pleased with the quality of it. Viscose jersey which I have used in the past has been slippery and drapey, but this one seems slightly thicker and more sturdy, which as far as I am concerned is a good thing. The top was simple to construct. I used my overlocker for most of the sewing. I used clear elastic to stabilise the shoulder seams and I used a twin ballpoint needle for the first time ever to hem the top and also to sew down the neckline and armhole binding. Having never used a twin needle before I was wondering how it would turn out, but it was great! It helps that the fabric was really easy to handle.
The skirt – well. IT IS SO EASY TO MAKE. It’s just one pattern piece – front and back – cut on the fold. An elastic waistband at the top, twin needle hem at the bottom, and Bob’s your uncle! But the wonder of this skirt is not only to do with the ease of construction, oh no. It’s the fabric: Ponte Roma heavy jersey – it’s the actual bomb. Thick, proper, no-nonsense fabric, absolutely perfect for a pencil skirt. It has enough body in it not to reveal every lump and bump of the ‘body’ in it. AND SO COMFORTABLE. I never want to wear anything else ever again. I don’t even want to make more because this one is just THE ONE. If you haven’t made one of these skirts then I’m telling you now if you can sew a straight line you can make this skirt in under an hour and then WEAR IT FOREVER.
The waistband elastic also deserves a special mention. I chose ‘32mm non-roll Peterstretch waistband elastic‘ and it’s great. Having recently made some pyjama bottoms with cheapo waistband elastic that rolls and folds and twists despite being strategically stitched down, this stuff is like the Rolls Royce of waistband elastic. Excellent stuff.
Thanks to Minerva for sending me the supplies for these two garments – opinions as always are completely my own!
I’ve been sewing for just over five years now, and this is the first time I have ever bought Liberty fabric. I have heard its praises sung time and time again but I’ve never been drawn to it. There are two reasons I’ve never been interested in Liberty fabric, the primary one being, of course, the price. This particular fabric from the Liberty website is £22.50 per metre. I ordered mine from White Tree Fabrics using a discount code they had when the Great British Sewing Bee was on, so I got it a little cheaper. Plus, to avoid breaking the bank, I only ordered 1.5m, so that I could make a dress for my daughter. The other reason I’ve never bought Liberty before, though, is that I’ve never really fallen in love with any of their prints. Sure, I like some of them – but not enough – until I saw this amazing Liberty Art Fabric from the SS15 collection called Gallymoggers Reynard. The Editor’s notes from the Liberty website describe it as ‘a modern interpretation of the Charles Voysey ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ print and an illustrative representation of the wonderful characters featured in the novels’. I’ve always loved Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass, and the Disney film was (and still is) a favourite. The characters are part of my childhood. So when I saw this fabric, I just had to have it!
When I was researching a bit more into this fabric, I found out that Charles Voysey, an architect and designer, was born in Hessle: a small town in the East Riding of Yorkshire which is surrounded by, but not part of, the city of Kingston upon Hull, where I live. Voysey (1857-1941) designed some Alice in Wonderland furnishing fabric around 1920, and this ‘Gallymoggers Reynard’ print is inspired by that. So where does the term ‘Gallymoggers’ come from? Well, apparently it comes from the Tim Burton film of 2010, and it means ‘crazy’. Lewis Carroll did have a flair for creating nonsense words, and it seems that Linda Woolverton, the screenplay writer for the film, added several nonsense words of her own for the film!
Anyway, back to sewing! You won’t be surprised to hear I used New Look 6205 for this dress. I’ve made six variations of the dress now, so I know how to construct it exactly how I like. I fully lined the dress, and, as is customary for me whenever I line pleated skirts, I sewed the pleats of the lining and the main fabric together, but sewed the side seams separately and hemmed each skirt separately. It’s a bit of a faff doing it that way, but it makes the pleats look great, so I think it’s worth it.
I chose to do a lapped zip this time, and it’s the first one I’ve done in AGES, and I’m really pleased with it. I might start doing lapped zips more often again now. I also blind-hemmed the dress by machine – which is my new favourite technique.
I love the finished dress, and so does my daughter. She wore it to a wedding: a traditional hand-fasting ceremony in a beautiful garden which was very magical – it was the perfect dress for the surroundings!
I’ve still got a small bit of this fabric leftover… I will definitely be hoarding it until I find the perfect use for it! But until then I can admire it on my daughter.
And if you’re wondering if I’m now going to join the masses who sing the praises of Liberty fabric…well, no. Yes, it is nice, and yes, it is good quality, but as usual I am primarily led by prints rather than fabric itself. I only bought this fabric because of the print. In fact, the high thread count of the Tana Lawn meant that even with a brand new sewing machine needle, the fabric was so finely woven that at times it was hard to penetrate! Still, it produced a lovely dress and after I washed it, it didn’t need ironing at all. Which is good, because I don’t do ironing, even if something is really creased!
Ahoy there shipmates! Here’s my latest dress for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network:
Minerva kindly sent me the By Hand London Kim pattern for this dress, but I only used the pattern pieces for the bodice as neither of the skirt options appealed to me. For the skirt I used New Look 6776, which was sent to me by Minerva in April 2014 for my tape measure dress. It’s similar to the By Hand London Flora skirt, but better in that your fabric doesn’t need to be 60″ wide. My main fabric was 60″ wide, actually, but I also fully lined the dress with 45″ wide fabric.
The anchor print fabric is a very pale blue with narrow white vertical stripes and large royal blue anchors printed on. I just couldn’t resist it! However, because it is so pale and also because it’s an extremely light and floaty cotton, I had to fully line the dress rather than just lining the bodice. Minerva sent me half a metre of polycotton lining fabric which was fine for lining the bodice, but I had to buy extra in order to line the skirt as well.
The By Hand London Kim bodice pattern turned out to be a great fit. It’s rather low cut, so if you’re not into revealing a bit of cleavage then it may not be to your taste. It shows a tiny bit of my bra but I’m not really bothered by that! It has a lovely low-scoop back, too. I love how it looks.
I think the New Look skirt works really well with the Kim bodice. I matched the pleats to the princess seams at the front to make it look proper. I sewed the lining and main fabric pleats together as one, but sewed the side seams separately so I could hem both skirts separately too. I recently gave a sewing lesson on blind-hemming by machine, and having practised my technique before teaching I’m now a big fan of it! I blind hemmed my Cherry Macaron dress and I blind hemmed this dress too (although I just serged the lining).
The dress got its first outing when I wore it to a Gin Festival in Leeds! When I got on the train, a fellow passenger asked me where I had bought it, and when I told her I made it, she exclaimed “Oh my god, it’s gorgeous!” – so that was a nice thing to hear so early in the morning! I wore it with a separate belt for most of the day, but removed the belt later on. I’m not sure which I prefer: with or without belt.
I’m so pleased with the dress, and the pairing of the Kim bodice with New Look skirt. I will definitely be making more of these. I think the style would work in a more formal, dressy fabric, too. I could imagine it in a plain duchess satin – lovely!
I had a bit of fabric leftover from this make, and also from last month’s zig zag dress, so I used the leftovers to make two very simple envelope-style cushion covers.
I think they go really well with the two shop-bought nautical-themed cushions I already have, and the co-ordinating bedding:
Thanks to Minerva for sending me the supplies – I am continually grateful!
Mmmm. Cherry Macaron…
WAIT A MINUTE. I’m talking about the Colette Macaron dress pattern, which I made in a cherry print fabric, not the cake! Let’s try again…
I bought this fabric a few years ago at Sewing For Pleasure, but it wasn’t until a few months ago I was able to pair it with the perfect shade of contrast fabric, and then I just knew it had to be a Macaron dress.
The last Macaron dress I made for Valentine’s Day 2014 is too big now, so I wanted a new one. I seem to be on a never-ending quest to find my ideal skirt style and I thought this might tick all the boxes: pockets, nice shape, not too tight, not likely to blow up in the wind, no gathered waistline. The instructions for making the skirt with pockets seem a bit mad at first, but the design is very clever as you end up with pockets at the side front which are set into the outer pleats.
The thing that I found the most frustrating about this dress was setting in the sleeves. I spent a good while scrutinising pictures of other people’s Macaron dresses to see whether or not their sleeves were puckered/slightly gathered/puffed or smooth. There was a mixture of all types, to be honest, although completely smooth, pucker-free sleeve heads were rare. The pattern tells you to ease the sleeve cap in by sewing a few rows of gathering stitches around the sleeve head. I wanted a very smooth sleeve cap but I just couldn’t get it. OH WELL. I’m sure I can live with it!
I like the combination of fabrics in this dress, and obviously the red and navy blue colours are right up my street. I don’t envisage making loads of dresses with this pattern as I think it’s tricky to find two fabrics that work really well together, but I am very happy to have this one Macaron. Plus, it matches my earrings which my daughter frequently asks me to wear!
Have you seen the twitter account called ‘Get In The Sea’ (@getinthesea)? Its bio: ‘Highlighting people and things that need to get in the fucking sea’. My photo shoot for this blog post really made me laugh when I thought about it. If you find me annoying, then here you are: I GOT IN THE FUCKING SEA. What more could you ask for?! :-)
It was Monday afternoon. I was planning out my week and liaising with my neighbour about when our kids can go to each other’s houses to play after school. She says ‘It’s school disco on Thursday’. Errrr what?! I had no idea! One of those instances where your child loses the important letter and you’re totally oblivious to what’s going on!
As I’m waiting to collect my daughter at hometime that day, I chat to another mum and I’m telling her how I didn’t even realise it was the disco on the Thursday, and that leads her to inform me that it’s Hawaiian themed! I feel so unprepared! She suggests my daughter could just wear generic summer clothing – shorts, tshirt, sunglasses etc, but then says “Mind you, you’re quite creative; you could just whip something up, couldn’t you?”, to which I laughed and said that I could, but I wouldn’t really have time as I knew I had my Minerva dress to make by the following Tuesday, and having made plans for the weekend, that basically meant I’d need to get it made that week.
But the thing is…I knew I already had the perfect Hawaiian fabric in my stash. I got it in a swap, so long ago I can’t even remember which swap or who it was from, but that 1.4m of fabric had been waiting to be made into a little girl’s dress and now it’s time had come! I had even bought a matching zip, matching thread and I had prewashed the fabric! Past Louise was extremely organised!
That night once the kids were in bed I got to work. I chose New Look 6205 because it’s such a lovely style, but I needed to trace age 5 this time as my daughter’s previous versions of this dress no longer fit. And, y’know, she’s 5. I wanted to fully line the dress to make the white part of the fabric stand out properly, so I cut a full lining out of plain white cotton. The only thing I would have ideally had to hand would have been either purple or white bias binding for the neckline, but I made do with hot pink as it’s turned to the inside anyway.
I lined the bodice as directed in the pattern, but the pattern doesn’t include instructions for a skirt lining. Having made several versions of this dress with various different types of lining, I knew what I wanted to do for this particular fabric: I wanted to ‘underline’ the skirt and have it as one piece with the main fabric. This would help to keep the pleats together and to keep the opacity of the white parts of the main fabric.
The final touch was to make the flower corsage. I had a flower garland from a Hawaiian party a few years ago so I detached a couple of the red flowers for contrast and sewed them onto the dress with a lovely big green flower button in the middle. I then made two co-ordinating ‘corsages’ for my neighbour’s two daughters who also went to the disco. In fact the younger of the two sisters wore a dress I made for my daughter last year which can pass for a Hawaiian print too!
I finished making the dress on Tuesday night about 24 hours after I started it. It didn’t take that long to make of course, I did things like sleeping and eating, the school run and taking my son to the park etc during that 24 hours as well! I was pretty pleased with the outcome though and I still had time to make my Minerva dress the same week! Hurrah!
This month’s project for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network is Simplicity 1610 in red and cream zig zag striped fabric from the Playground Collection of quilting fabrics. The red is very orangey, but that means it goes really well with my new sandals which are also meant to be red but seem to be more orange! Bonus!
I chose this pattern because I was looking for something that would work well with a striped fabric. I knew it was going to be a bit of a challenge to pattern match, but I managed to match up the stripes at the side seams, lower princess seams and across the centre back.
The bodice of the dress is lined with plain cream polycotton. The pattern doesn’t call for a skirt lining, and although I would have liked to add one in, I didn’t have any lining fabric at the time of sewing so I didn’t bother. Because of the colours I can’t see me wearing this dress in the winter anyway.
I really like the fit of the bodice of this dress, and can see me using it again. I’m not sure if I like the skirt pattern, though. I’ve gone off gathered waistlines because they add too much bulk around the waist, and I’ve realised circle skirts are impractical if it’s a bit windy, which it nearly always is here. I’m leaning more towards a-line skirts, and thought this might fit the bill. I’ll have to see how it feels when I wear it properly – these photos were just of me trying it on for a short while. In any case, I do like the built-in pockets!
Perhaps the most pleasing thing about making this was that I managed to get it made in a school day. I had already cut the fabric, but I started sewing it around half nine and it was done with time to spare before I had to go and pick up my daughter (my son was at nursery for the day). I can’t remember the last time I started and finished something in the same day – it was a good feeling!
Thank you to Minerva for sending me the things I needed: the pattern, zip, fabric and bodice lining.
Today I’m excited to show you my newest dress, made with fabric bought on Goldhawk Road at a sewing meet-up last year, and the Simplicity Cynthia Rowley 1607 pattern.
Last summer I made the crazy strap version of this dress, and although it was fun to wear out on a hen night, the straps really got on my nerves, so I haven’t worn it since. However, I really liked the shape of the dress and so I finally got around to making the other view of the pattern, which is the same silhouette but with a vest style bodice with a mini crossover detail at the back.
This dress is very fitted around the tummy, and as it’s not exactly my best feature I wanted to build some support into the dress, so as well as interfacing the midriff section (which is basically more of a waistband), I also interfaced the ‘yoke’ section (i.e. the stomach bit), and made a facing for that as well, and then I thought I might as well add in a skirt lining so that I can wear the dress over tights in the winter.
When the dress was made I was pretty unhappy with the crossover straps at the back – they stuck out and looked really silly, so I had to unpick the stitching and reposition them. I love the strap detail but the dress would work just as well without, as a low V back.
At first I thought the dress was too tight, but having worn it today to walk to school and back, and to take my son to playgroup, I’ve decided I don’t care! It wrinkles a bit at the back, but I’m not going to let that worry me. I think it goes without saying that I did not wear those shoes all day, however! I wore these for the photos then changed into my silver Birkenstocks!