For New Year’s Eve, my husband and I were invited to our friends’ house for a four-course French-themed evening meal. They did the cooking, and it was amazing: blue cheese soufflés, beef in red wine, profiteroles and a cheeseboard. SO. GOOD. We provided white wine, red wine and Champagne, but I wanted to contribute further to the theme, so I bought some Paris-themed fabric from Leon’s in Manchester, and made myself a dress (any excuse!) and 2 metres of bunting for the party. We also took along an Eiffel Tower as a table decoration, and a selection of French cds!
It wasn’t until after this idea was borne that I did the Myers-Briggs personality test, and the results were SO ACCURATE it was like I was reading an exact description of myself. I am EFSJ – Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging – and whilst I won’t go into the full description here, let me just provide an excerpt which is pertinent to the subject of this blog post:
Guardians of birthdays, holidays and celebrations, ESFJs are generous entertainers. They enjoy and joyfully observe traditions and are liberal in giving, especially where custom prescribes.
Anyway, back to sewing. The Sewaholic Cambie. WILL I EVER GET THIS DRESS RIGHT? I made a Pirate Cambie in 2013 not long after having Baba Tweedie, and it very quickly became too big to wear, but I loved it so much that I unpicked the whole thing (with some help from Aileen!), and sewed it up in a smaller size. I hate alterations with a passion, so this was a real labour of love. And then I lost weight and now it’s too big. Damn.
So when I decided to use this pattern, I opted for the next size down. But then Christmas Day happened. I didn’t even really eat that much, but I felt so bloated and horrible and my stomach seemed to have expanded several inches. I started panicking. I knew I was going to wear this dress to sit down to a four course meal, and I didn’t want to chance it being too uncomfortable. I had no time for toiles, I just traced the bigger size and sewed it up.
In hindsight I should have realised that eating a few big meals doesn’t mean I have gone up an entire dress size! The dress, although wearable, was a little on the large size. I sewed it up without fitting because I was in a rush and then I had to unpick the side seams of the skirt and take them in a further inch each side: a quick fix which hasn’t led to the best fitting dress I’ve ever made!
Anyway, it looked fine for the evening, I got to wear it with my favourite shoes and we all had a wonderful evening, so, not exactly a failure.
I’m already making my next version. I will conquer this dress.
I didn’t make a Christmas dress this year. Instead, I made Christmas pyjama bottoms, using the Sewaholic Tofino pattern, with red holly print fabric and green contrast fabric, both from Leon’s in Chorlton, Manchester (which is awesome, by the way – same company as Barry’s in Birmingham). One Christmas, maybe in 2015, I want to make my whole family Christmas themed pyjama bottoms. They won’t necessarily all match, because NO, but they’ll all be Christmas or winter themed. One day. One day…
This is only my second pair of Tofino pyjama bottoms, which is a bit odd because I think as pyjamas go these are the absolute best. The cut and design are so good, and so much better than your average pyjama bottoms.
I chose to do flat piping, as I did for my first pair, to preserve the comfort factor. I added a patch pocket, again like I did on my first pair, to put my phone in when I’m carrying children around.
There’s not much else to say about these, really, except that I fully intend to wear them every Christmas for the rest of my life, seeing as I wore them, washed them, wore them again and have now packed them away with the Christmas stuff in the loft, ready for next year!
Our Christmas was very nice, but I’m very glad to bid it farewell now and get back to our normal way of life…and also to our normal way of eating as my stomach seems to have expanded rather a lot! Juices, soups, salads: here I come!
Hope you had a lovely Christmas. If you made something to wear on Christmas Day, why not leave me a link to it below, as I am a bit behind in reading blogs at the moment!
I’m a sucker for a nice print. When deciding what to make, most of the time I will look for a nice printed fabric, and only then will I think about what it might be suitable for. That’s how I came across the fabric for this month’s Minerva project – I was lurking their quilting cottons to see what grabbed my attention, and this ‘Mint to Be’ collection stole my heart. I had a hard time deciding which print to choose. I really love this Mandala print, but I decided on the navy ikat design (which also comes in mint green and orange) because it’s something a little different in my handmade collection. I had no idea what I was going to make with it, but I hazarded a guess at a dress and ordered 2.5m and a matching zip.
The pattern, Simplicity Amazing Fit 1882, was sent to me by Simplicity a while back, and was perfect in terms of fabric requirements – I used the full 2.5m and had none left over. I like it when that happens because there’s no waste, and no holding on to scraps ‘just in case’. I bought co-ordinating ivory fabric from Boyes for the collar, pocket flaps and piping.
I’m a big fan of the Amazing Fit patterns – the ones I have made so far have turned out well – so I was pretty confident to go ahead and make this dress without making a toile first. I measured myself carefully and looked at the ‘finished garment measurements’ to help determine what size to cut. In any case, the pattern instructions are designed to help you ‘fit as you sew’, and include larger seam allowances to adjust accordingly. The pattern guides you through basting the dress together with the seams on the outside, so that you can try it on and very easily make any adjustments.
My adjustments were as follows:
- Decreased shoulder seam allowance to 3/8″ to provide an extra quarter inch of length in the bodice
- Extended collar by 3/4″ to accommodate shoulder seam adjustment
- Decreased seam allowance between the upper bodice and the midriff (probably by about 1/8″) to give a bit more length in the upper bodice
- Shortened the skirt by 6″!!!
- Took in 1/2″ each side on the princess seam of the front bodice at the armscye and tapering to nothing at the bust
- Made my own bias binding to make my own piping cord, ensuring a perfect colour match with the collar and pocket flaps
The dress was quite tricky to make. There were a lot of pattern pieces and I found myself wondering why I always seem to choose complicated things to sew. I think I’m ready for a break now – I just want to sew simple things for a while!
Anyway, I love the dress! The collar makes it feel quite smart. There is an option for a bow which, although I cut it out, I didn’t sew in the end as I thought it would look a bit too fussy. I like the length of it, too. Above-the-knee seems to work with both flat shoes and heels. Hurray for new dresses!
This year, two of my closests friend’s daughters turned two, and it gave me chance to use this cute pattern again that I made for Girl Tweedie when she was two.
First up I made this one for the daughter of a friend who I’ve known since we were seven years old :-)
I made it out of fabric leftover from a Colette Peony I made last year, and added a navy ribbon waistband trim.
The second one was made for the daughter of a friend I met at work 11 years ago now, and who has been a wonderful friend ever since. I made it out of fabric leftover from my Simplicity 1652 dress. I left this one unadorned.
These little dresses are the perfect present for me to give, I think. Each dress takes a couple of hours to make, and the recipient gets something handmade and unique, and I get to put my fabric remnants to good use! Everyone’s a winner!
Ok, so that wedding I wore the red lace dress and black bolero jacket to? My daughter was the bridesmaid at this wedding! So for the second time since August I found myself sewing yet another special dress for her to wear!
The bride chose the fabric, a beautiful teal and white border print by Moda from their Autumn Woods range. Border prints open up lots of fun possibilities for print placement, but after playing around with the pattern pieces I decided to keep it simple and only have the border print at the skirt hem. Although it could have looked pretty repeated at the waistband, or even at the neckline or armholes, I thought that the print would have maximum impact if just used at the hem.
I used New Look 6205 again for this dress, but this time I made the short sleeved version. I didn’t bother with the skirt pattern because I didn’t want pleats in the dress – I just made a gathered skirt instead which worked better for the border print.
There’s not much else to say about this pattern that I haven’t said before, so I will just leave you with some more photos of the day.
Remember the red lace dress I made to wear to a friend’s wedding? Well, given that the wedding was taking place in October, I realised I was going to need some sort of shrug or jacket type thing to keep the chill off. I don’t often buy RTW clothing any more, but my first port of call was to look online and perhaps buy something.
Being a SAHM mum is great, but it does mean a distinct lack of funds for any luxuries other than gin (which is pretty much a necessity), so when I saw how much these sorts of garments were selling for I was quite outraged. The cheapest option I could find was a jersey shrug cardigan for £15, and the prices just went up and up! I couldn’t afford it, never mind justify it, so my thoughts turned to making my own. How hard could it be?!
I searched for a free pattern online but didn’t find what I wanted, and then I remembered Scruffy Badger’s bolero jacket, using the Built by Wendy Coats and Jackets book. I had a discount voucher and free postage coupon for The Works, so I ordered the book and got it delivered for £3.79. Bargain!
I didn’t think I had anything suitable in my stash, so I went to Boyes to see what they had to offer. I was hoping for some nice plush plain black fur, but the only fur they had was £20 per metre and was grey, so I found myself drawn towards the spangly dance fabrics. I bought a metre of black sequin dot fabric and a metre of plain black jersey for the lining, all under £10, and came home to set about preparing the pattern.
Oh. God. I made it , and it was hideous. I can’t bring myself to show you a photo, it’s so awful.
I was rather disappointed, I must say, having bought the book and the fabric and not having anything to show for it. I resigned myself to having to buy something RTW after all. I left it a few days before looking again online, and when I did, I got really annoyed again by the stupid prices. I remembered some black linen I had leftover from my Burda Ruby Shorts, and wondered if it would be enough to try again with the bolero. It was enough, and I managed to cobble together enough scraps of black cotton for the lining. I redrafted the neckline of the pattern to give a bit more coverage and a slightly different shape, and got to work. If this didn’t work, I would definitely have to stump up for RTW. Eek!
Thankfully, it worked! It might be quite a boring make but it was just perfect with my outfit.
I made the sleeves short so that I could wear these awesome gloves!
I’m so glad I gave it another go. I now have the bolero jacket and the pattern that I could reuse to make other versions in the future! Sewing win!