Blogger Network #7 – Baroque Linen Megan Dress

Tilly and the Buttons Megan dressAnother dress and another Tilly and the Buttons sewing pattern – I need to shake things up a bit more I think! Anyhow, welcome to my September (September! Where did that time go?) Minerva Crafts Blogger Network post. This time I made the Megan dress from Love at First Stitch and, to be honest, it’s pretty great.

The pattern in the book is nice and easy to follow and features lots of tips and tricks explaining how to do all the stages if you’re a beginner or need a reminder. Whilst these tips and tricks can get a bit in the way if you don’t want the help, that’s pretty much the only negative point I have to say about it!

The fabric I used is a ‘baroque print’ linen from Minerva Crafts and I really love it. I saw the fabric on the Minerva Crafts website and absolutely had to have it – I chose the blue colourway but it also comes in red or black. My only negative point here is that linen can be a bit scratchy on your skin so, if you have the skills, I suggest making a lining for this dress out of something softer (you’ll have to self-draft this as the pattern doesn’t explain how to make a lining – I currently don’t have this ability so my dress remains unlined!)

The one deviation I did make from the pattern instructions however was to do the entire dress using French seams. Since learning how to do them on my Mathilde blouse I’ve gone a bit French seam crazy – I even did them on the inside of my Margot pyjamas the other week! Linen does fray quite a bit so having encased seams makes the dress much neater on the inside. If you’ve never learnt to do French seams I definitely recommend it – you’ll be just as addicted as I am. Try this handy guide from the Coletterie to get yourself started.

Tilly and the Buttons Megan dress in baroque linen

Since making the dress I’ve put it through the wash to soften it up a bit and, looking at the photos, I think I need to take the hem up a couple more inches to remove the ‘Little House of the Prairie’ look I’ve got going on! Does anyone know how I can stop the neckline at the shoulders being so stand-off-ish too? I don’t know whether it’s just because linen is a bit stiff, or because I’ve not cut it round enough, or not done my top stitching close enough to the edge…. any help would be appreciated! It doesn’t look so bad in the pics but up close there’s a good centimetre gap between my shoulder and the dress. Thanks!

Mint Seersucker Margot Pyjamas

margot pyjama trousers from love at first stitchCan you call a pair of pyjama bottoms a ‘dressmaking’ project? This project is the first garment in Tilly’s lovely ‘Love at First Stitch’ book and is designed to be an introduction to sewing your own clothes. The steps for sewing the trousers (or shorts) together are simple and littered with little how-to’s and picture diagrams of what should go where. As a now somewhat seasoned sewist, following this pattern was a doddle, perhaps only made difficult by having to weed out the actual instructions from all the ‘beginners sewing tips’!

I used a lovely minty green striped seersucker fabric from Minerva Crafts for my pyjamas – this was actually the only fabric I bought from the Meet Up back in June! It’s lovely and soft and doesn’t really need ironing, making it perfect pyjama material – especially if you’re a bit of a fidgeter or, as Tilly puts it, like to do pilates in your PJs!

seersucker margot pyjamas, tilly and the buttonsThe instructions say that you can make a matching waist-tie for your Margot pyjamas using the same fabic, but I decided to use a piece of contrasting pink ribbon. There’s something about mint green and bright pink that just seems to work quite well! I also went a bit off-piste and added some elastic into my waistband as I wasn’t convinced that the ribbon would hold out. I made the size 3 by the way and they’re quite roomy, even though the pattern measurements are (supposedly) precisely my size.

margot seersucker PJs from Love at First StitchI don’t think I’ve got much else to say about this pattern as it’s so basic – my Margots went pretty much from paper pattern to ready-to-wear in a couple of hours. Have you made the Margot PJs? How did you find it?

Blogger Network #6 – Liberty Print Summer Dress

simplicity new look 6263 dressIt’s August! It’s sunny! That means a summer dress must be made. For my August Minerva Crafts project I decided to make the Simplicity/New Look 6263 a-line dress. It has a nice floaty shape, no sleeves, a fancy round neck and a keyhole feature on the front – which sounds perfect for hot summer days.

Now, here’s my confession – I really fell out with this dress whilst I was making it. The fabric is absolutely lovely (Liberty don’t you know – it’s the same one I used for my Meet Up Party Dress but in a different colourway). The pattern is simple but challenging (that round neckline caused me a little bit of pain). So why don’t I love this dress?

There’s just something about this dress that just doesn’t feel or look right – I didn’t make the neckline taught enough, I made the top too wide, the shape is really unflattering on me… I’m really struggling to pull any positives from this make aside from the fab fabric! I mean, it looks good on the hanger… just not on me.

simplicity/ new look 6263 a-line dress in liberty print

I think this pattern, whilst lovely on the pattern envelope, is just all wrong. The keyhole looks quite good, I’m happy with the neatness of the curved seams, my bias binding round the armholes turned out ok. Even the length is right. But you can’t make awesome clothes every time you try, right guys? This one might just head to the ‘to-be-recycled’ pile… :(

Now, show me your sewing fails! I can’t be the only one who’s made something that looks great on paper but terrible in real life…

The Blog Hop!

First up, thanks very much to Leanne at Knit Me a Cake for passing the Blog Hop baton onto me! If you’ve not heard about it before, a Blog Hop is simply a chance for bloggers to do a little presentation on why they choose to write and then showcase a couple of their favourite blogs for the rest of the world to discover too. I’m honoured that Leanne picked me – her blog is wonderful to read so do go and give her a visit! (She’s also the face behind the bunny baby booties I made a little while back!) So grab a cup of tea (coffee is also acceptable) and have yourself a little delve into my mind…

sewing booksWhy do I write?
Writer by day, writer by night – writing is what I do! I have a degree in English Language and Linguistics and as a child always loved to write stories, poems, magazines, quizzes… I’m that person who reads a book a week and has the ability to scribe an entire novel without the need to edit. Words just come naturally to me, and blogging seemed like the perfect fit! Why do I write a sewing blog? I initially started this blog to keep a personal track of my sewing projects. I never intended it to become such a big part of my life! After attending the Minerva Crafts Meet Up back in June I think I’ve finally learnt why I blog: I blog because it allows me to meet and interact with other, like-minded people. I love to talk to you all!

What am I working on?
I’m currently working on about 17 different projects. Don’t look at me like that – we all have a cupboard full of WIPs, don’t we?! To name a few, I’m making a pair of Margot PJ bottoms from the Tilly and the Buttons book, a Deer and Doe Bleut shirt dress, some fabric flower bunting for my wedding, a fair isle knitted jumper, a striped cotton knitted jumper, some felted Christmas decorations, a chunky-knit beanbag foot rest, table decorations for my wedding… I’ll stop there.
sewing patternsHow does it differ from others of its genre?
Everyone likes to think that they’re unique, but I’m sure my blog is pretty similar to all other sewing blogs out there! What makes me different? Perhaps the fact I do all sorts of projects – dressmaking, knitting, homewares, crafts… I also like to think I’m quite conversational :)

threadsHow does my writing process work?
I’m not one for writing a ‘draft'; I literally open a new page, type lots and there we have a finished post! I’m super lucky that I don’t have to edit my work for hours like some people do. I was the same at school – remember when teachers always told you to ‘plan’ your essay before you started writing it? Nope, not for me. I generally write my blog posts during the week and then schedule them to go live at the weekend. I always try to post every week and I very rarely miss that target! I often feel guilty when I do, though… I always have a stack of projects lined up, too, so I can look ahead at what I’ve got coming up/have nearly finished, and then will write about them accordingly. It’s a system that seems to work pretty well.

My nominations:

Well, thanks for listening, and I’m now passing the Blog Hop baton onto two of my favourite sewing bloggers! Check back on their blogs in a week’s time to see their answers to the Blog Hop questions. In the meantime, go and pay them a visit and lose a few hours scrolling back through all their lovely posts :)

almond rock1. Amy from Almond Rock – I looooove Amy’s blog. She does lots of dressmaking and uses some very pretty prints! Amy’s also a fellow Minerva and White Tree blogger, as well as living around the corner from me, so we’re often crossing paths all over the place.

barmy beetroot2. Amy from Barmy Beetroot – Another Amy and another fab blogger who lives local to me! Amy’s blog is great fun – she’s got a great sense of humour and makes all sorts of fabulous things for her and her son. Have a look!

Nautical Striped Coco

tilly and the buttons striped cocoI realise that it’s almost August and that it’s currently very warm outside, but it’s never too early to start sewing for the coming autumn, is it? I bought this fabulous double jersey fabric from Minerva Crafts in their sale a little while back (for only £3.99 a metre!!) and have been desperate to make it into a nautical-style Coco dress ever since. Unfortunately they’ve sold out of the fabric now but there are plenty of other Coco-suitable jerseys available right here still – have a look :)

This is the second Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress that I’ve made – I made an Aztec print, long sleeved version a little while ago and absolutely love it, although this time I made the smallest pattern size because my first attempt is a bit more ‘roomy’ than I’d aimed for. The pattern is so quick and easy to follow though that I actually whipped this striped version up in about 3 hours last Sunday afternoon!

I chose to make another long-sleeved version of the Coco because I never seem to have enough warm dresses once the cold British winter rolls around! I do plan to make a cropped sleeve version at some point though. And a short sleeve one for summer, perhaps in a lovely bright-coloured ponte? My to-do list is longer than I’d like to admit….

tilly and the buttons coco stripes

Check out my pattern matching around the sides of the dress too – stripes are much easier to line up than most patterns so are a good shout if you’re new-ish to dressmaking. I was going to add some little patch pockets, with the fabric cut on the bias so that the stripes run diagonally, but I changed my mind in the end because I quite like the dress how it is! Do you love it as much as I do? Je t’adore, Coco!

Simplicity 1663 Layered Chiffon Maxi Skirt

simplicity 1663 maxi skirt‘Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’14, if I could offer you only one tip for the future, avoiding chiffon would be it’  – Baz Luhrmann.

Alright, so that’s not quite the actual lyric, but it really should be! Chiffon is not your friend. Or at least it’s not mine! This sewing pattern, provided to me by Simplicity, looks absolutely ideal from the envelope – I chose it because I love double-layered, floaty maxi skirts that I can wear in summer without having to get my milk-bottle legs out and I also spotted this lovely printed chiffon at Minvera Crafts that looked perfect for the job. Or so I thought!

The Simplicity 1663 pattern comes with a few different options for mini skirts, trousers and this maxi skirt (view C) that I chose to make. The mini skirt underneath is made of a navy blue linen and then I used the patterned chiffon for the maxi skirt overlay, which is made up of 4 long panels of material. There are literally 2 pattern pieces for this skirt, so the cutting out and sewing together parts are super easy – it’s just the floaty fabric choice that isn’t!

simplicity 1663 long maxi skirt

A few tips for working with chiffon:

  • Avoid it in the first place if it all possible!
  • Use a rotary cutter and cutting mat to cut around your pattern template – this stops the fabric from sliding about or stretching as it would if you tried to cut it with scissors (trust me on this one!).
  • Move slowly. No moving quickly around your cutting table as this generates gusts of air which will blow your lovingly pinned chiffon out of position and onto the floor (trust me on this one too).
  • Go very slowly when sewing. As in, stitch-by-stitch slowly.
  • Pins are definitely your friend, and lots of them!
  • Set your sewing machine dial to the ‘very thin fabric’ setting so your stitch tension is right for the super thin chiffon.

simplicity new look 1663 skirt

(Here’s a picture of the linen mini skirt underneath!)

Anyhow, despite the battles with my fabric choice, I actually love how this skirt has turned out. As you probably know by now, I’m always one for testing out new skills and I’m not afraid to give anything a try! If it goes wrong then it just won’t end up on here, haha.

This really is a great pattern and it’s absolutely perfect for the summer months. The waist is elasticated too so it doesn’t matter if you eat a bit too much ice cream whilst on holiday! Have you ever worked with chiffon before? How did you find it?

Blogger Network #5 – Betty Draper Gingham Blouse

burda 6924 gingham blouseJust recently, and perhaps a bit late to the game, my fiancé and I have spent night after night after night watching back-to-back episodes of Mad Men. I’d already seen the first couple of seasons a few years ago but, aside from lusting over the outfits, had got a bit lost with it – until now! I’ve always kept an eye on the Julia Bobbin Mad Men Challenges that keep appearing over the internet (if you’ve not seen them, be sure to check out the entries, they’re incredible) and thought that it was about time I had a go myself – but on a smaller scale!

So, for this month’s Minerva Blogger Network post, I decided to have a go at making a Betty Draper inspired blouse. Does anyone remember the little yellow gingham number that Betty’s been seen to wear in various episodes during seasons 2 and 3?

betty draper gingham blouse burda 6924

If you want to sew along with me then you can get hold of the blouse pattern here and the yellow gingham fabric here. They’re both super cheap too!

The blouse I made uses the Burda 6924 sewing pattern for a knotted tie blouse. I chose to make view A, which is the version without sleeves, to make it look more like Betty’s! And this is the first time I’ve ever sewn a collar, so I was a little hesitant and I had to get very friendly with my seam ripper (don’t look at me like that, we’ve all been there).

betty draper yellow gingham blouse burda 6924

The finished blouse is actually a lot better than I had imagined! When you’re constantly unpicking and re-stitching your work, you often give up a little, but half-heartedly yet gallantly continue to sew anyway. And I’m so glad I did. My finished gingham blouse fits perfectly and is definitely something I’ll wear on holiday or on a sunny weekend. Check out my marvellously squinty pictures too – it’s definitely a garment that looks best in bright sunshine!