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McCall’s M5791 – Toddler dress

June 4, 2018

I’ve got a bit of a backlog of projects to write about – this one is from October!  I was asked to recreate a special dress that had been made for an older sibling, for the younger sibling’s 1st birthday.

Birthday Dress

Dress from the back

The dress is basically the cutest little girl’s dress you could ever get, with loads of options to customise, such as adding a peter pan collar, puffed sleeves, a belt, contrast sections, bows, lace, flowers, ric-rac, matching headband, and even matching pants!

The fabric is a cute fruit print poplin in pale yellow, and plain green to co-ordinate like the original dress.  I also made the matching pants/nappy cover, because they’re SO CUTE!

Matching pants!

The birthday girl looked utterly adorable in the dress, but then I’m biased, because she’s one of my most favourite babies 🙂  Here are three photos which are essentially the same, but whatevs: she is soooo cute!

Beautiful birthday girly!

Starry Stella!

May 23, 2018

For my May Minerva Crafts project, I made a seasonally-inappropriate hoodie! It’s very warm and cosy, which means it will be handy 99% of the year. I used the Stella Hoodie pattern which is from Tilly’s new book ‘Stretch’, and some lovely sweatshirt fabric from Minerva.

If you want to know more about how I made the hoodie, head on over to my post on Minerva’s blog where you will find more information, more photos, and links to the supplies I used!

Sew Your Own Activewear

May 4, 2018

Sewing clothes to exercise in is not something I ever thought I’d really do, but seeing as RTW sportswear always disappoints me in one way or another – fit, quality, price – I decided to give it a whirl.  I was reluctant to splash out on sportswear patterns, so Melissa’s book seemed perfect because it contains lots of different patterns, making it good value.  I’ve also been following Melissa on social media for some time, admiring both her running and her sewing, so I knew that any sportswear designed and worn by her was bound to be well designed, as she will definitely have put it through more rigorous training than I’ll probably ever do!

I started with the simplest leggings in the book – the ‘yoga bottoms’.  I made these with fabric and notions kindly provided by Minerva, for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network.  You can read about the making of the leggings here.  I had a few scraps of that fabric left over, so I bought some plain navy 4-way stretch to make the vest top from the book, and used the scraps for the waistband and the side panels, which I had to cut on the crosswise grain.  Stupidly, I only ordered 2m of FOE, which was not enough, so the neckline is bound with a slightly lighter shade, but probably no one else would notice!

When I made the leggings, they ended up too big and I had to take them in a few inches.  I cut the top in the same size, and it’s quite loose, but I like it for yoga.  If I wanted compression, I would definitely need a size or even two smaller.  I quite fancy the idea of making the crop top with some power mesh lining – maybe I’ll get around to that one day – stranger things have happened.

The only problem I have with the top currently is that I need a racer back sports bra to wear under it.  I’m wearing a racer back crop top here, which is fine for yoga, but there’s no way I’d want to run in it for fear of causing an earthquake!!!

The back of the top

Overall I’m pleased with my new matching set of activewear, and keen to make more in the future.  I’d really like to make a swimming costume at some point, and once I’ve got a good mix of scraps, I’d like to make more jazzy designs of mix and match scraps, for a truly unique sportswear wardrobe!

Personalised handbag

April 17, 2018

I recently made a handbag as a gift for a friend, using a pattern from a book ‘Carry Me: 20 Boutique Bags to Sew’ by Yuka Koshizen.  The pattern is called ‘Left Bank Granny Bag’, and is the one shown on the front cover.  I’ve had the book for several years – it was a gift from my friend Aileen – and I’m glad I finally used it!

I chose some navy butcher stripe canvas for the outer fabric, and lined it with red gaberchino.  The result is a hard-wearing but soft bag, very much like a Cath Kidston cotton duck handbag, in a nautical style.  I added an inside pocket to the lining (but omitted the zip) and I appliqued the recipient’s name on the front of the bag to make it stand out.  I also added some red ric-rac along the handle.

Although some patterns in the book are included at the back, this bag was one you can draft yourself using the measurements suggested, which was fairly straightforward (I actually changed the measurements to my own specifications).  The instructions, although clear, were accompanied by diagrams over the page, so it did involve a bit of flicking back and forth between the instructions and the diagrams, but it wasn’t a major problem.  The bag came together in an afternoon.

I used my Simflex gauge to help with the pleats

I have never really been into making bags, but I must admit I could be tempted to make one for myself as I really like how this turned out.  It’s a practical style that slings easily over the shoulder and is surprisingly roomy.  It opens out nice and wide so you could fit loads in, but it hangs nicely and holds its shape when it’s empty, too.

Back in…

March 27, 2018

Hello!  I can’t quite believe that I haven’t posted since November!  I have been sewing, but mainly things for other people.  I’ve also put on lots of weight, so I’ve been wearing a lot of comfortable, casual clothes like hoodies, hoodie dresses, stretchy jeans and dungarees.  One day I decided to go through my wardrobe and get rid of everything that made me feel shitty.  I filled two bin bags.  I was left with mostly a collection of pretty dresses.  A few weeks later, I tried all the dresses on, and discovered that 80% of them didn’t fit any more!  It seemed sad to put them all the loft, but I haven’t really missed them at all.  My style has changed and I’m gravitating towards STRETCHY EVERYTHING.

As soon as I found out about Tilly’s new book ‘Stretch: Make Yourself Comfortable’, I knew I had to have it, and the more sneak peeks I saw of the patterns in the book, the harder I fell for it.  The Joni dress is probably my favourite of all the patterns in the book, but really I envisage making ALL of the patterns.

Although I think the dress will work in most stretch fabrics, I was keen to try this stretch velvet in teal for my March project for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network.  I love the richness and depth of colour, and the feel of the fabric is beautiful.  It’s exceptional quality given the price (£6.99/m!).  The reverse side is so smooth and it has great drape.  I would describe it as medium weight – not too bulky to present any difficulties sewing through several layers.  I would definitely order more of the fabric for future dresses, it really is delicious!  I could totally see myself making a red stretch velvet Joni for Christmas.

The pattern is simple enough to make up.  The only alteration I made was to lengthen the skirt as Tilly’s patterns often come up quite short on me.

I had a bit of difficulty with the neck facing, though.  I had already made another Joni dress before this one, and I had a few issues with the neckband on that one, too.  On my first Joni, when I attached the neck band, I attached it with the standard seam allowance.  This meant I ‘lost’ a lot of width for the band and it was tricky to turn it under.  This time, I sewed the neckband on with a smaller seam allowance, but probably too small, as when it is lying flat or on the hanger, it looks ‘bumpy’.  Luckily, when I’m wearing it, the shape of my body means it all lies flat and in the right place, and it looks fine.  Tilly does say to use a lighter knit for the facing, and I’m sure that would have helped.  Take heed, people!  She knows what she’s talking about!

The other issue I had with this Joni dress which didn’t happen with my first one, is that when I pressed the hem from the wrong side, it altered the pile of the velvet on the right side.  That’s why you can see a kind of ‘ironing stripe’ at the bottom of the dress!  I don’t know if it will wash out or not.  It’s mildly irritating, but I still LOVE the dress.  I’ll just have to be more careful next time I press stretch velvet.

I used my overlocker for the majority of the sewing, except for topstitching and hemming.  I even applied the stabilising elastic (Hemline swimwear elastic) with my overlocker, which to be honest was a bit of a faff.  I would just zig zag it on with my regular machine next time.

Thanks to Minerva for the beautiful fabric and matching thread.  I love my new dress!  Oh, and it is super duper comfortable to wear!  Yay!

A letter to my newborn nephew

November 28, 2017

Tuesday, 28th November 2017


Dear Luke

Welcome to the world, my new nephew baby Luke!  And guess what?  I’ve been working on a Christmas stocking for you, just like your big brother’s!  You are only three days old today, but I started making you this whilst you were still in your mummy’s tummy.  I hope you like it!

Now, I’m going to tell you about how I made it, which you may or may not find interesting.  I like sewing – it’s my main hobby.  I mostly like to sew dresses for myself, as you’ll see when you get older and I’m wearing some mad fabric creations.  Don’t worry though – I’ll save some for you and make you some mad pyjamas one day! 🙂 Most months, I work on a project I have chosen to do with materials provided by a company called Minerva Crafts.  It helps boost sales and interest for them, and it helps me fund my costly hobby, so I like doing it.  For this month I chose a Christmas stocking to make for you, for your first Christmas, which you won’t remember, but hopefully your mummy and daddy will keep the stocking safe and you’ll see it every Christmas from now on.

Two years before you were born, I made your brother Jacob the same type of stocking.  You might notice that yours is a little bit different, because this time I remembered to use toy stuffing inside, so it’s nicely puffy and squidgy.  I did the beard wrong though!!! You see the lines of blue stitching?  I was supposed to sew those through all the layers, including the stuffing, to give a more quilted look, but I sewed them on first before I even appliquéd the beard onto the stocking!  Hopefully you can forgive me.  It still looks good, I think.

Shall I tell you a funny story about what happened one night when I was making this?  I had a bowl of crisps to munch on, and I was sewing on sequins, and in a moment of distraction, instead of picking up a crisp to eat, I picked up a sequin instead and I ate it!  Luckily, I didn’t sew a crisp onto your stocking by mistake (BBQ Doritos, in case you wondered).

I also broke three needle threaders whilst making this.  Last night around 7pm my last needle threader broke, and your cousin, Lyra, came up with ingenious idea of fixing it with blu-tac.  I didn’t think it would work, but it did, just about!  She’s a clever girl, that one!

I’ll tell you another secret – we have bought Lyra her own sewing machine for Christmas!  It’s a surprise, so you have to promise to not tell her when we all come to visit in a few weeks, ok?  She’s been working on a hand-sewn present for you, so I’m sure once she’s got her own machine there will be no stopping her and you’ll get all sorts of weird and wonderful creations!

Well, dear nephew, I shall leave it there.  I’ll thank Minerva Crafts for providing the kit for you, so don’t worry about that.  Hope you have a wonderful, magical, first Christmas, and many more to come.

Lots and lots of love

Aunty Louise xxx

I made a pair of jeans!

October 24, 2017

I finally did it!  I made jeans!  Making jeans is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, but I was quite nervous about doing it.  After making myself some trousers over summer, my confidence level increased enough for me to treat myself to the ever-popular Ginger Jeans sewing pattern designed by Closet Case Files.

To read more about it, check out my full post over on the Minerva site – they provided my fabric, zip, twin needle and rivets.

The verdict?  I either need to size up or I need a stretchier denim!

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