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My July Minerva Make – Octopus Dress

July 26, 2016

Hello, I am back with another novelty print dress, hurrah!  I made this dress to go with a necklace I stole from my daughter.  Seriously!  My friend Martha gave some of her old costume jewellery to my daughter for playing and dressing up, and when I saw this necklace I just had to have it for myself!  How low can you go, eh?!

A dress to match the necklace

A dress to match the necklace

Once I had stashed the necklace safely amongst my own jewellery, I searched Minerva’s website for some octopus fabric, and this ‘Timeless Treasures Mini Octupi’ instantly came up.  WINNER.  Did you know, though, that ‘octopuses’ is actually the correct plural form of the noun ‘octopus’, rather than ‘octopi’, which many suppose to be correct and is in common usage?

I used the Surplice dress sewing pattern from Gertie’s latest book ‘Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book’, which was very kindly sent to me as an unexpected gift earlier in the year.  The dress was a straightforward make, and I like the bodice because it is different to most of my other dresses.

Surplice Dress from Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book

Surplice Dress from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book

Thanks to Minerva for the fabric, lining, thread and zipper – all fabulous as usual – you can read more about it on their blog here.

My June Minerva Make – Polka Dot Megan Dress

June 28, 2016

For my Minerva Crafts Blogger Network project this month, I made a classic black and white polka dot day dress using the Megan dress pattern from Tilly’s book ‘Love at First Stitch’, with a red lace exposed zipper at the back.

Tilly and the Buttons Megan dress

Tilly and the Buttons Megan dress

I wear my first Megan dress loads – I love the design, shape and fit.  I imagine I will get a lot of wear out of this dress all year round!

Exposed lace zip

Exposed lace zip

Thanks to Minerva for sending the fabric, zipper and thread.  You can read more about the making of the dress here on their blog, where I have included a few more photos as well.  Opinions, as ever, are solely my own.

MoonWalk Bra

June 15, 2016

Recently I was asked to adjust the length of three bridesmaid’s dresses, and when I went to measure up and pin to the correct length, one of the bridesmaids asked if I could customise her bra for a charity walk she was doing: the MoonWalk in Edinburgh, organised by a charity called Walk the Walk – apparently the largest grant making breast cancer charity in the UK.  People taking part in this walk wear only bras on their top halves, and they decorate them in all sorts of fun ways!

I was given a beige bra, some fabric, and an inspiration picture from Pinterest (below).  Oh, and a deadline of one week!

This is the inspiration image from Pinterest - notice the complete lack of pattern matching!

This is the inspiration image from Pinterest – notice the complete lack of pattern matching!

I must admit that this little project turned out to be a lot trickier than I at first thought – for instance, the bra still needed to be able to stretch, so I’d need to use a triple zig zag stitch.  I bought some velvet ribbon to accessorise the bra, but realised I’d only be able to use this on the cups because it was non stretch, so I bought elastic for the back and shirring elastic for the straps.

I started by sewing a few lines of gathering stitches along the selvedge of the fabric, so that I could have a raw edge along the top that wouldn’t fray.  I distributed the gathers as evenly as I could and attached it to the top of the bra, then sewed some more gathering stitches along the bottom edge of this, positioned them to fit and pinned it all in place before sewing, tucking the raw edges under on the inside of the bra at the bottom.

The bra was underwired, so when it came to sewing the fabric down at the bottom band, I had to mostly hand sew, and at points I used my machine but operated it with the hand wheel only, to ensure the needle was going where I wanted it to go.  The machine sewing was tricky because with the foam cups, underwire, and gathered fabric, it was pretty thick and uneven!  After the fabric was stitched into place, I then hand sewed the velvet ribbon to the bottom, which helped to cover up the stitches!

Part-way through - hand sewing the velvet ribbon to the bottom to cover up the stitching.

Part-way through – hand sewing the velvet ribbon to the bottom to cover up the stitching.

For the straps, I cut long strips of tartan fabric with pinking shears, then sewed two lines of shirring elastic down the length to gather them up, then triple zig-zagged these strips to the straps, skipping stitching over the metal bra adjusters and loops.  I added the two bows at the base of the straps as a little finishing touch.

Finished bra!

Finished bra!

Pretty bows

Pretty bows

Overall, it’s not the neatest thing I’ve ever made, but I think the effect is good and it should serve its purpose!  It was certainly a fun thing to make!

On the mannequin

On the mannequin

African Wax Print Birthday Dress

June 10, 2016

Today the daughter of one of my longest-standing friends turns four.  Last year I made her some cute vintage style pyjamas for her birthday, and this year it’s a party dress.

New Look 6205

New Look 6205

I used New Look 6205.  I just can’t get enough of the design – I really like the way the straps curve, and I love the pleated skirt.  I bought half a metre of hot pink lining to line the bodice, but can you believe I managed to squeeze a full lining out of it?!  60″ wide, obviously, but still…impressive!

Half a metre!!

Half a metre!!

The skirt is underlined because in my experience the pleats sit better that way.  I love the way the dress looks on the inside, as well as on the outside!

Innards

Innards

The fabric is the last of my African Wax print fabric I bought ages ago in London.  I’ve already made myself two dresses out of it!  I just love the colours and the design.  I think it’s one of my favourite prints ever.  I added hot pink ric rac to the neckline and the hem.

Hem

Hem

The back closes with a centred dress zip – kinder on the skin than an invisible zip.

Back view

Back view

Hopefully the birthday girl will like her dress!

Firefly: Captain Malcolm Reynolds’ Browncoat

May 24, 2016

This month’s Minerva Crafts Blogger Network post is something a little different – not a novelty print dress for myself, but instead a vintage-style western men’s frock coat for my husband, who is off to Comic Con in Manchester this month.

Captain Malcolm Reynolds

Captain Malcolm Reynolds

My husband is a lecturer in Film and Television Studies, and one of his areas of interest is the works of Joss WhedonFirefly, directed by Whedon, is the television series my husband taught first when he started working at the University of Hull, and we have fond memories of watching it on a laptop balanced on a high chair in an otherwise empty room when we first moved here.  Firefly is most succinctly described as a western set in space.  The lead character is Captain Malcolm Reynolds (Mal), who is captain of Serenity (a spaceship).  Mal was formerly a soldier fighting for independence from The Alliance, and these soldiers wore a uniform which included a simple knee length brown duster-style coat. Mal wears his ‘Browncoat’ throughout the series, and the term is now not only used to refer to the garment itself, but to the crew aboard Serenity and even the fans of the show.

Browncoat

Simplicity 2895

The pattern I used to make Mal’s coat is a Simplicity costume pattern – Simplicity 2895 – a pattern designed in conjunction with a company called Buckaroo Bobbins, who make historically accurate Old West clothing and sewing patterns.  The design wasn’t 100% perfect for Mal, but it was easily tweaked.  You can read more about the alterations I made to the pattern here on Minerva’s blog if you want to know more about the sewing details.

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Browncoat

The Browncoat is obviously the main part of the outfit – but there are lots of other parts that I want to show you here.  Firstly, my husband is wearing a red shirt, just like Mal in many Firefly episodes.  This shirt is one I made for him in February 2015 (also a Minerva make!), using Burda 6931.  I am really pleased that the shirt he is wearing under the coat is also made by me!

Burda 6931 shirt

Burda 6931 shirt

The trousers and boots he already had, but I have now modified the trousers to look make them look more like Mal’s.  I sewed a brown stripe down the side of each outside leg – just some ribbon I picked up in Boyes.  They aren’t quite as wide as Mal’s stripes, but they’re ok.  I also added buttons to the waistband for the braces I bought for this outfit.  Mal wears braces which attach by buttons, so I had to get some for the costume!  I used different buttons at the front and back because unfortunately I didn’t have six of my favourite ones.  I know this is just a costume, but I really like the way these look.

Braces - back view

Braces – back view

I also bought a gun holster!  There is no me-made element to this, but doesn’t it look awesome?!  Unfortunately I didn’t manage to find the right type of toy gun – I ran out of time to look – and money to spend, in all honesty!!

Gun holster!

Gun holster!

I’m pleased with how the costume as a whole looks, and my husband really likes it, and hopefully any fellow Browncoats at Comic Con will instantly recognise their hero, Captain Malcolm Reynolds!  My husband joked that this is the only fancy dress outfit he will ever need now for the rest of his life, except he wasn’t even joking….haha!  That’s certainly a compliment, anyway!

Now, quick, get me back to sewing novelty print dresses!!!

My April Minerva Make – Zebra Dress!

April 26, 2016

A glimpse into the inner workings of my mind when deciding on my next project for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network…

I could choose some of Minerva’s lovely denim and make a pair of jeans!  *looks at denim* Ooh that’s nice denim.  That would be perfect.  I’ll just have a quick look at the quilting fabrics

OH ZEBRAS YES I NEED THAT!!  I could make a zebra dress.

But would I wear a zebra dress?

Yes I would.

But I’m a mum walking kids to school and everyone’s in jeans wearing black and I’ll look out of place.

But if I make it with an A-line skirt then it’s practical and it won’t blow up in the wind.

But really I should make jeans because that is a good and admirable skill.

BUT ZEBRAS.

No, there is a reason this is quilting fabric, it’s because it isn’t meant for dresses.

Then again quilting fabric is excellent quality and it wears and washes well and it’s 100% cotton poplin.  And look the zebra fabric is red, and red is my favourite colour!  I could wear it with black tights so it’s definitely practical.

I really ought to make jeans.

ZEBRAS.

I could make jeans next time, maybe.

MAKE A ZEBRA DRESS.

If you want to read about the actual making of it and see the lovely vintage pattern I used for #VintagePledge, click here!

ZEBRAS!

ZEBRAS!

Colette Sorbetto Top

April 11, 2016

Sometimes, I will set aside some time for sewing without a clear plan of what I’m going to do.  I usually have a few possibilities in mind, but every so often I’ll just end up sewing something completely unexpected, and that’s what happened on the day I made this Colette Patterns Sorbetto top.

Colette Sorbetto top worn with Gertie's Knit Pencil Skirt.

Colette Sorbetto top worn with Gertie’s Knit Pencil Skirt.

I was looking through my box of scrap fabrics, because I was trying to find a scrap large enough to use as a lining for something else, when I came across quite a large piece of this lovely cotton lawn sent to me by Minerva for my Eliza M Audrey dress.  I measured it and found I had just under a metre left over, but because the fabric is 58″ wide, it had potential!  With it being such a silky, lightweight cotton, I thought it would make a great top.

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I used the Sorbetto pattern when it first came out in 2011 to make a top which I didn’t much like, truth be told, a top which has since been given to charity.  I hadn’t given any further thought to the pattern until it suddenly called to me from the depths of my pattern stash!  It was the perfect pattern for this bit of fabric!

I wore it to London and here I am in the William Morris room of the V&A museum eating THE BEST CAKE EVER

I wore it to London and here I am in the William Morris room of the V&A museum cafe eating THE BEST CAKE EVER

I didn’t have enough of the fabric to cut bias strips, nor did I have any store-bought coordinating binding, so I used the tutorial on the Colette Patterns website to make ‘continuous bias binding’.  With two 8″ squares of fabric, I made more than enough bias binding to bind the neckline and arm holes of the top, which is great because it matches exactly and it isn’t stiff and scratchy like most of the ready-made stuff.

After making the bias binding, I then fed it through my bias binding maker to help fold the raw edges in before pressing

After making the bias binding, I then fed it through my bias binding maker to help fold the raw edges in before pressing

 

The top was super simple to make, and because it’s a relaxed fit I made no alterations.  In hindsight, it could perhaps do with a swayback alteration, but even if I made another version, I can’t promise I’d be willing to devote the time it.  The fact that the back is cut on the fold complicates it further.  It’s just a simple top and I’m lazy.

Colette Sorbetto top - back view

Colette Sorbetto top – back view

The top looks nice with my Gertie Knit pencil skirt, and is good with jeans.  A surprising, useful, and pretty addition to my Spring wardrobe!

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