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The Paris Cambie

January 8, 2015

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!

Paris bunting!

Paris bunting!

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.

Haha, yep.

BUNTING!

BUNTING!

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.

Sewaholic Cambie Dress

Sewaholic Cambie Dress

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!

You can see it's a bit big in this photo.  This is my husband. He had just shaved off his beard!  He's growing it back again now though.

You can see it’s a bit big in this photo. This is my husband. He had just shaved off his beard! He’s growing it back again now though.

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.

Paris Cambie

Paris Cambie

I’m already making my next version.  I will conquer this dress.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

That Louise can be a bit prickly…

January 3, 2015
Christmas Jammies

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…

Contrast belt and piping, and patch pocket

Contrast belt and piping, and patch pocket

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.

Totally natural posing.  Yep.

Festive sleepwear :-)

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.

Some of our lesser-photographed bookcases providing a background here...

Some of our lesser-photographed bookcases providing a background here…

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!

TOTALLY NATURAL POSE. YEP.

TOTALLY NATURAL POSE. YEP.

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!

Oh hai bum.

Oh hai bum.

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!

My second White Tree Fabrics Make – The Coco Dress

December 2, 2014
Tilly Coco Dress

Tilly Coco Dress

Remember I said I was desiring simple sewing projects?  Well you could not get more simple than Tilly’s Coco dress!  White Tree Fabrics kindly sent me the pattern and 2 metres of their ‘warm jersey‘ for this project.

Now, I hope you are prepared to be really jealous of where I live – the tropical, glamorous beaches of the East Riding of Yorkshire were the perfect location to shoot these photos…

My feet aren't touching the floor in this photo!

My feet aren’t touching the floor in this photo!

The pattern is great.  Simple, but great.  I was on the fence about this pattern for so long, because of its simplicity.  I felt like after having been on three pattern cutting courses, I could draft it myself… but this is probably me being overly confident and, well, wrong.  Maybe.  We will never know, because when White Tree Fabrics started stocking Tilly’s patterns I hesitated not a moment longer and ordered it!

My feet aren't touching the floor in this photo, either!!

My feet aren’t touching the floor in this photo, either!!

Boy, am I glad to own this pattern!  I traced it one evening, and I’m not kidding, the next lunchtime I made my first Coco in UNDER ONE HOUR.  And I even liked it, which was itself a surprise because I wasn’t sure if it would be flattering on me (even though it looks great on everyone else).

It is a flattering fit!

Just running towards the North Sea.  Totally tropical, don’t you know.

My White Tree Fabrics Coco is one of the plainest things I have ever made.  You know me: prints, prints, and more prints!  But it’s getting cold, and I wanted cosy, and after ordering some samples I just couldn’t resist the ‘warm jersey’.  This fabric is actually like a woolly fine knitted fabric, like they use to make cardigans etc.  It is super soft and really warm and cosy.

Neckline close up

Neckline close up

I made the most basic Coco dress – plain neckline, no cuffs, no pockets.  I added 2″ to the length which still leaves it above the knee but not too short.  I was very careful not to stretch the fabric as I sewed, because the fabric recommendations call for a stable jersey and the fabric I chose was a bit too stretchy, really.  I stabilised the shoulder seams with elastic (pictured below), and I also used the same elastic to stabilise the neckline before turning it under and topstitching it, too.

Elastic to stabilise the shoulder seams and neckline

Elastic to stabilise the shoulder seams

I used Bondaweb to stabilise the hemline before sewing it.  The stretch recovery of the fabric is great, so its stretchiness is no problem now that the dress has been sewn together.  Oh, and it washes nicely too, on a machine wool cycle.

A mid-application shot of the Bondaweb, which I ironed in to stabilise the hem before sewing it with a zig zag stitch

A mid-application shot of the Bondaweb, which I ironed in to stabilise the hem before sewing it with a zig zag stitch

I really love this dress, but it does feel weird to be blogging about such a simple sewing project!  However, the dress is already getting worn a lot because it’s so snuggly and practical.  It feels easy to wear, and stylish in an understated way.  I’m on the lookout for some sort of bonkers jersey print for a future Coco, but for now I’m very happy with this one!

Thanks to White Tree Fabrics, and my photographer and co-blogger, Aileen.

My November Minerva Make – Simplicity 1882 Ikat dress

November 25, 2014
Simplicity 1882 - Navy Ikat

Simplicity 1882 – Navy Ikat

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.

Simplicity 1882 - back view

Simplicity 1882 – back view – not matched up perfectly!

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.

Simplicity 1882 - Collar

Simplicity 1882 – Collar

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.

Simplicity 1882 - Sitting

Simplicity 1882 – Sitting

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
Simplicity 1882 - Front view

Simplicity 1882 – Front view

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!

Simplicity 1882 - insides

Simplicity 1882 – insides

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!

Simplicity 1882 - back view

Simplicity 1882 – back view

About to go out for lunch... ;-)

About to go out for lunch… ;-)

Butterick B4956 – The present for two year old girls

November 18, 2014

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 :-)

Lighthouse dress

Lighthouse dress

I made it out of fabric leftover from a Colette Peony I made last year, and added a navy ribbon waistband trim.

Elephants dress

Elephants dress

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.

Inside one of the dresses

Inside one of the dresses

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!

Another bridesmaid dress!

November 11, 2014
New Look 6205 - Bridesmaid dress

New Look 6205 – Bridesmaid dress

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!

New Look 6205 Bridesmaid dress - back view

New Look 6205 Bridesmaid dress – back view

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.

The bride and bridesmaid

The bride and bridesmaid

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.

The bride, her brother and the bridesmaid - I love the way the skirt flares out in this photo

The bride, her brother and the bridesmaid – I love the way the skirt flares out in this photo

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.

The bride, her brother and the bridesmaid shortly before the ceremony

The bride, her brother and the bridesmaid shortly before the ceremony

About to walk down the aisle...

About to walk down the aisle…

Proud mummy :-)

Proud mummy :-)

Built by Wendy Bolero Jacket

November 4, 2014

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!

Built by Wendy Bolero Jacket

Built by Wendy Bolero Jacket

Thankfully, it worked!  It might be quite a boring make but it was just perfect with my outfit.

Wedding outfit

Wedding outfit

I made the sleeves short so that I could wear these awesome gloves!

Bolero jacket

Bolero jacket

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!

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