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Valentine’s Dress 2015

February 15, 2015

Greetings.  Today I want to show you the dress I made for this Valentine’s Day.

Francoise dress

The Colette Macaron that I made for last year, with Alexander Henry fabric and red silk contrast, is now too big, so I wanted to make a new one.

For my birthday in 2013, Aileen bought me a gift pack from Spoonflower.  It included a book about fabric design, some swatches of the different types of fabric, and a gift certificate which would cover the cost of at least 2 yards of fabric.  I looked into designing my own fabric, but not having the right computer software made that a bit tricky, and when I found red and navy heart print fabric designed by somebody else, I wanted that one immediately.  Not having much spare cash at the time, I simply opted for 2 yards (I was also fearing a possible customs charge!).  The fabric arrived and I was very disappointed to find that instead of sending me a continuous length of 2 yards, they sent me two separate yards!  What is that all about?!  So, I had two separate pieces, each 90cm in length.  Being primarily a dress-wearer, I couldn’t really think of a use for the fabric, so I set it aside and waited for the right pattern to come along.

The pattern that finally came along was Tilly’s Francoise pattern, sent to me by White Tree Fabrics for a project for them (which I haven’t made yet).  I’d always fancied the idea of getting a shift dress pattern, and after making and loving the Coco pattern, I knew that the simple A-line silhouette suited me and made me feel good, so I was keen to try this pattern for woven fabrics.

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I was quite worried about washing the fabric, to be honest, after hearing bad reviews of the print quality and colour retention of fabrics printed by Spoonflower, but, fearing shrinkage as well, I dutifully pre-washed the fabric and waited with baited breath to see if it was going to instantly shrink and fade.  It did neither of those things, I am happy to say!
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The Valentine’s dress I made for this year is actually my second Francoise dress – I will be showing you the first one in a separate blog post!  The Valentine’s version is sleeveless, and the only alteration I made was to cut the back on the fold instead of inserting a zipper, as I found that my first version went over my head easily.  I just got the pattern to fit onto the fabric, so, for reference, if you’re making this sleeveless version you can get it out of a mere 1.8m of fabric!  That includes the arm facings and everything.  WINNER.
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This dress is pretty short, but the style suits the length and I feel confident enough to wear it.
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Now let’s talk about the fit.  This is a size 5, and the only change I made was to cut the back on the fold.  My first version is a size 4, and I had to reduce the side seam allowance to get it to fit, or, to be precise, I had to reduce the side seam allowance to get it to look how it’s meant to.  It did fit, but it was too ‘fitted’.  Correct me if I’m wrong, please, but this dress is designed to be fitted at the neck, shoulders and bust but skimming out below that over your curves, right? Not tummy or hip hugging, and not coming in too much at the waist.  I appreciate that ‘fit’ is a very personal thing, and we all have our own preferences, but I am interested to know: what do you think of the fit?  I think I’ve definitely avoided the tummy and hip-hugging, but at the back, even with the size 5, I’m still getting a bit of wrinkling above my bum.  Any comments/constructive criticism is welcome – just leave me a comment below!
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I’ll be back to show you my first version of this dress soon, meanwhile I am planning another one with the lovely Tilda fabric sent to me by White Tree Fabrics.  Watch this space!
Although I cut the back dress on the fold, I forgot to cut the back facing on the fold as well!  Oh well!  It still looks nice and neat on the inside :-)

Although I cut the back dress on the fold, I forgot to cut the back facing on the fold as well! Oh well! It still looks nice and neat on the inside :-)

Congratulations Vicki-Kate!

January 22, 2015

Here’s for something a bit different!  As many of you will know, our fellow sewcialist and spoolette Vicki-Kate is expecting a baby.  She’s already started her maternity leave, so there’s not long to go now.  However, unbeknownst to her, since the end of September 2014, a group of us have been plotting a surprise for her – an online baby-shower!

We have each made her a gift, and today we’re all revealing them.  It took me a while to decide what to make for Vicki-Kate as we didn’t know the baby’s gender, but in the end I settled on baby trousers using a pattern called ‘Mr. Two-Face Pants’ from the book ‘Sewing For Boys’.  Despite the pattern’s provenance, these are unisex trousers as the design is basically the same as a pair of pyjama bottoms with an elasticated waist.

Mr. Two-Face Pants

Mr. Two-Face Pants

The fabric choice will look familiar to anyone who has been reading this blog this month, as it is the same fabric as I used for my Foxy Cambie dress.  I looked through my (quite sizeable) fabric stash to find a unisex fabric, and with the exception of plain green, I found nothing that would be suitable for a girl or a boy, except this.  But I think this is a brilliant print for kids’ clothing, and I hope Vicki-Kate likes it!

I made these for a 12 month old baby, so they won’t get worn straight away, but the growth rate of the baby starts to slow down a bit after the first year anyway, so that means that when the baby is big enough for them, they will last much longer!  Also, having had two kids myself, I noticed that people love giving teeny-tiny baby clothes because they are so cute, which is brilliant of course but it’s good to have some bigger sizes ready and waiting.

The trousers have a patch pocket on the back right, which is a really cute detail.  I sewed the inside leg seams with flat-felled seams, which is a hard-wearing finish often used for childrenswear.  The crotch seam was too curved for a flat-fell seam so I did a French seam instead.

Pocket detail at the back

Pocket detail at the back

I really hope you like them, Vicki-Kate, and I wish you all the best with the birth and everything after.  I will be posting these to you in the next few days.

Finally, thank you to Ann, who organised this – such a kind and thoughtful thing to do – I’m really pleased I was able to be part of it.

Hand-made by Tabatha Tweedie

Hand-made by Tabatha Tweedie

‘A skirt that spins out’

January 17, 2015
Dirndl tiered skirt

Dirndl tiered skirt

Recently my daughter has started to express a preference for skirts or dresses that ‘spin out’.  If they don’t spin out when she twirls around, she’s not interested in wearing them!

Turn, turn, turn again...

Turn, turn, turn again…

Sometime last year I bought the book ‘Sewn With Love’ by Fiona Bell, which is full of vintage-inspired sewing patterns for children’s clothing.  There are loads of sweet dress patterns in the book but I was quite taken by the idea of making the ‘Dirndl Skirt’ for my daughter.

A carefully-arranged sitting down pose

A carefully-arranged sitting down pose

I was very disappointed with the quality of the pattern, its markings and its ease of assembly.  The patterns come on a CD so you can print them and stick the pages together, but there were no numbers or markings to help you match them up.  This skirt pattern was basically a series of longer and longer rectangles, so it was pretty difficult to work out the order.  It would have been much more helpful to give the measurements of the rectangles to cut.

Look at the giant hand shadow!  This made us laugh for ages afterwards!

Look at the giant hand shadow! This made us laugh for ages afterwards!

Once I had finally assembled the ‘pattern’, I thought I’d be able to whip the skirt up in no time, but I had forgotten just how long gathering can take, and there is a lot of gathering in this skirt!  The bottom tier alone was 5.5m long.  For the third tier I had to split the gathering into eight sections to help control it and spread it evenly, and the bottom tier I split into sixteen sections.  Although it was fiddly and took longer than I planned, I did enjoy making it a lot.  I kept on imagining my daughter’s reaction when I showed it to her and imagining her twirling around in it.

Laughing at the hand shadow in the previous picture

Laughing at the hand shadow in the previous picture

The fabric is City Weekend by Liesl Gibson for Oliver+S by Moda.  I bought it a couple of years ago so I’m glad to have finally used it up.  It lingered in my stash so long because I only bought 1.5m – not quite sure why!  I added extra fouff to the skirt (completely unnecessary, but it adds to the fun) by adding in a yellow crystal organza tiered underskirt, which I had made for a previous project but not used.  I added it into the second tier so that it would hang a little below the final tier.  There’s no point in having it if you can’t see a little peek of it, after all.

Just a little peek of the underskirt, hahaha.  Here we have an example of someone literally ROFL-ing.

Just a little peek of the underskirt, hahaha. Here we have an example of someone literally ROFL-ing.

I had originally intended to give this to my daughter for her birthday, but I was too impatient to wait and I know she’s got tons of other things to open on her birthday.  Of course, she loves it!  It’s pretty long on her, and the elastic is pretty tight at the back, so I think this will last a couple of years actually if I added in a bit of extra elastic when it becomes too tight.

I need to strike a pose like this in my next blog post.

I need to strike a pose like this in my next blog post.

I’m not sure I’d use this book again.  I love the finished skirt, and I still really like some of the other designs in the book, but assembling paper patterns with no markings or numbers is a big fat pain in the ass.  Oh well, at least I got some use out of it!

Tilly and the Buttons Coco – Dress and Top

January 15, 2015

In November 2014 I made a Coco dress for the White Tree Fabrics blogging network.  Before I cut into the fabric they sent me, I made a test version with some other fabric I picked up at Leicester market.  The fabric was black, and I think the best way to describe it is as a heavy, textured double-knit jersey.  The texture is like a raised fish-net pattern, but it’s all solid black.  I wanted 2m, but the seller only had 1.75m.  Anyway, I went ahead as I felt sure I could make it work.

I did manage to squeeze the dress out of the 1.75m, but I broke all the rules of fabric cutting!  The front is cut on the grain as it should be, but the back is cut cross grain.  And I can’t even remember how I squeezed the sleeves out of it, but they had to be cut shorter than prescribed.  I did have enough odds and ends of fabric leftover to make the funnel-neck collar, which I was quite pleased about!

Anyway, I sewed it up and when I tried it on, I fell a little bit in-love!  I so rarely make garments in a solid colour, and especially not black, but this dress just felt effortlessly chic and flattering.

The Coco funnel-neck black dress

The Coco funnel-neck black dress

This dress is one of my most serviceable makes as it probably gets worn weekly.  It feels like an easy option to wear because it’s comfy and practical, but with the added bonus that it makes me feel good when I wear it.

Making the purple Coco dress for White Tree Fabrics only increased my love for this pattern.  Yes, it’s simple, but I just love the fit, and it’s so easy to make!

I decided to try out the top version with some leftover double-knit jersey.  I’ve been wearing jeans a lot more recently, but I always feel as though I am very much lacking in tops, especially tops I actually want to wear!  My leftover jersey was just plain brown, but I thought I might as well sew it up into a Coco top rather than leave it languishing in my fabric stash.

The Coco top

The Coco top

I love it!  I know it isn’t wildly exciting to anyone else, but it is to me because I really, really like the shape and fit of this top.

It feels odd to dedicate an entire blog post to these two garments, but I’m just revelling in the joy of making of some absolutely basic garments – life isn’t all lace dresses, after all!

The Foxy Cambie

January 11, 2015

Hot on the heels of my Paris Cambie comes a better-fitting Foxy Cambie.  This one is cut a size smaller, and I think it’s much better.

Sewaholic Foxy Cambie

Sewaholic Foxy Cambie

My first ever Cambie, the Pirate Cambie, was the version with a gathered skirt.  I have now decided gathered skirts can do one.  It’s taken me 5 years to realise they add bulk to the waist that isn’t always very flattering, not to mention they use a ton of fabric.  So I’m looking to avoid gathered waistlines for the moment.

It was stupidly windy when these photos were taken!

It was stupidly windy when these photos were taken!

For some reason, I had it in my head that the other skirt option on the Cambie pattern was A-line.  Clearly I didn’t pay too much attention to the line drawing!  The skirt shape isn’t great for me.  There’s a bit of excess fabric around the hips, and because of the pockets, it sort of stands out away from my hips and exaggerates their size somewhat!  What I would like to do the next time I make a Cambie, is to use the skirt pattern from the Deer and Doe Belladone dress, which is a very similar design but is definitely A-line.

From the back...

From the back…

The fabric for this dress is totally awesome and was a birthday gift from my friend Martha.  As well as foxes, it has little white rabbits!  I always love a good novelty print and this is no exception.  It also goes brilliantly with an orange cardigan I had already, and my bag.  The only thing I really need to complete the look is orange shoes.

Orange cardigan and satchel

Orange cardigan and satchel

Both this Cambie and the Paris Cambie are only partially lined.  I didn’t line the skirts because I didn’t have enough lining fabric, but I usually wear a slip or half slip anyway so it doesn’t make much difference to me.  The Paris Cambie is lined with crepe-backed satin, which feels lovely against the skin.  This one is lined with some bog standard poly slippery stuff, which does the job.

The wind is doing strange things to my hair!

The wind is doing strange things to my hair!

The skirt looks more A-line side-on, strangely…

Foxy Cambie - side view

Foxy Cambie – side view – and more wind-swept hair action

Anyway, even though I’ve complained a lot about the skirt, I still really love this dress.  The fit is much better than the last one and the fabric is brilliant.  It’s going to get a lot of wear!  I’m especially looking forward to wearing it when my son wears his amazing Foxy Coat:

Foxes 4eva!

Foxes 4eva!

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!

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