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!

Satin Pyjamas for White Tree Fabrics + 20% off code!

v7837 satin pyjamas for white tree fabricsHave you heard of White Tree Fabrics? They’re a brand new fabric and haberdashery website specialising in satins, laces and other luxurious fabrics. When they asked me if I wanted to be on-board with their blogger project, I have to admit that I hesitated. I’ve never sewn with satin, lace, silk, net, crepe or any of the other marvellous fabrics that they sell. What on earth was I going to make? And then I remembered my mantra: ‘try it and see’. And that’s just what I did with this project – a satin pyjama set! (I’d also like to apologise for the lack of photos of me in my pyjamas but, come on, nobody needs to see that…)

vogue 7837 satin pyjamas for white tree fabricsThe pattern I used for my pyjamas is the Vogue V7837 and is the same one that the lovely Simon used on the series 2 of the Great British Sewing Bee for the silk nightgown he made (click here for a reminder!). I chose to make view D, which is the shorts and cropped camisole top, with a lace trim and a bow at the back. What could be easier than that?!

My fabric choice is a lovely, cornflower-blue duchess satin, which you can find on the White Tree Fabrics website here for just short of £9/metre. And now here’s the amazing part – you can get 20% off and FREE DELIVERY using my unique discount code! That brings this fabric down to £7/metre which is just a bit silly to miss out on to be honest.

The code for your 20% discount and free delivery is: SEWSENSATIONAL

The pattern itself was easy enough to follow but there are are an awful lot of skills involved, ie sewing a channel, inserting elastic, attaching lace, mitring the lace at the points, neck and arm binding…nothing that I’ve not done before but definitely something that it’s worth taking your time over. The satin is quite thick too and, although lovely to sew with, can get quite bulky when sewing seams and binding, so make sure you do lots of clipping!

vogue 7837 pyjama top and shorts

What do you think to my finished summer satin PJs? They fit and feel comfy to wear but I’m not sure I’ll get around to wearing them very frequently… they’re a bit different from my usual cotton 2-pieces!

Liberty Sunglasses Cases + free sewing pattern!

liberty sunglasses caseAfter returning from the Minerva Crafts blogger meet-up weekend not that long ago, I was desperately tired but desperate to sew, and this Liberty print sunglasses case project seemed like just the perfect thing to make. Two of my closest friends had birthdays just recently too and were in need of a present that I could post to each of them – luckily a well-timed Tweet from Liberty Lifestyle was all it took for me to decide that this was what I was going to make!

liberty sunglasses caseAnd I am definitely making more of these – they were such a delight to sew.

The free sewing pattern and instructions for the sunglasses case can be found here on the Liberty craft blog.

The fabric I used to make the cases is a Liberty lawn that came in a patchwork bundle my mum got me for my birthday last year. Each piece in the bundle is a long strip, about 10″ wide, and so I keep dipping into it for small sewing projects like this one every now and then. My lining fabric is just a blue cotton I had in my stash, as were the buttons and the gold elastic used for the closure.

liberty sunglasses case and patternTo make the case, you need to line each of your pieces with interfacing and attach a layer of thin wadding to the lining so that it’s nice and squishy and will protect your sunglasses from scratches whilst they’re in there. The pattern also calls for box corners – something that I’ve never done before – so I’m glad to have now learnt that skill! If you need help with box corners, try this handy guide that I used myself.

Now that they’re finished and posted off to their recipients I think it’s time to make another one for myself – especially now that I’ve seen all the fingerprints on my glasses in these pictures!

Blogger Network #4 – Minerva Crafts Meet-Up Outfit Reveal – Liberty Print Party Dress!

simplicity 6243 liberty print dressSo here it is, my finished Minerva Crafts Meet-Up party dress! Did you come to the Meet-Up on Saturday? It was such a fun day and it was so exciting to see all the other bloggers reveal their evening outfits at dinner. You might’ve caught some of the ‘Big Reveal’ photos on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram over the weekend.

The dress I made for the evening used the New Look 6243 dress pattern; I chose to make view C, which has a fitted, panelled bodice, a flared skirt and wide straps. My fabric choice was a lovely big piece of Liberty lawn in a red/blue floral print – you can find the exact same fabric over on the Minerva Crafts site here. As soon as I found out that we had to make a dress for this June evening get-together I just knew I had to make something fit for a summer garden party. I think this fits the bill perfectly, no? It’d also look great at a summer wedding!

liberty party dress simplicity 6243

The New Look/Simplicity 6243 pattern itself is the most complicated thing I think I’ve ever made, so I’m very proud of the end result. The dress has several bodice panels, a lining and an invisible zipper so patience really was key as I sewed it together. As I’ve mentioned previously, getting the fit right is something I often struggle with, so I made sure to measure and pin and measure and pin constantly as I stitched the parts of the dress together. Even then I’ve still ended up with a bit too much fabric in the front so I have to be sure to sit up straight! My major bug-bear is that I didn’t measure the straps accurately enough so, once complete, they were about an inch too long and kept falling off my shoulders! A quick pattern hack later (read: I folded the straps under a bit and stitched them to the lining where you can’t see) and the dress was ready to wear. Pretty much.

liberty print dress simplicity 6243

I hope you love my Meet-Up dress as much as I do – I can’t wait to wear it again! Did you get yourself over to the Minerva Crafts centre on Saturday? I’d love to see your pictures and hear your thoughts on the day if you were there!

Bonjour Mathilde!

stripy mathildeVoila, my very first stripy Mathilde blouse! Very French, non? And perfect for the beach! After Tilly released her very first printed pattern – the Coco dress - I was absolutely hooked by her beautiful designs. The patterns are so lovely to hold, made of lovely thick paper and come with a gorgeous colour ‘how-to’ booklet which is super helpful for sewing your garments together. I can’t stress enough just how great these patterns are – for beginners as well as seasoned sewists.

Anyhow, I digress…. I was on holiday in Paris the other week and picked up a few bits and pieces from the myriad of fabric shops by the Sacre Coeur, including this very lightweight nautical-style cotton. Now that the Mathilde blouse is finally available as a paper pattern, using this fabric to make it seemed like a no-brainer. As soon as I’d brought the fabric back to our Parisian apartment I just KNEW this was meant to be.

striped mathilde blouse

The Mathilde pattern is really good fun to make and you learn a lot of dressmaking techniques as you complete each stage (including how to do French seams!). I made one of the smallest sizes because I’d heard rumours about it being a bit ‘roomy’ and I’m currently not confident enough to start editing pattern sizes according to my personal measurements! If anyone knows of an easy way to learn pattern-fitting, please do let me know.

mathilde2So here’s my finished Mathilde – I’m not sure I’ve seen a striped Mathilde before so perhaps this is a first! What do you reckon? I plan to use it as a ‘beach cover-up’ blouse because of the lightweight, semi-see-through fabric and the nautical-knot style silver buttons. It’s practically screaming out for a summer holiday in Greece/Italy/the South of France so that I can keep my very fair skin covered whilst also keeping cool. Perhaps not appropriate for my honeymoon in Iceland!

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Drum roll please! And the winner is…

… Emma Grace from Fall From Grace Crafts! Congratulations! You’ve won yourself a shiny new copy of the Simplicity Simply the Best Sewing Book!

Thank you to everyone that entered my giveaway – I appreciate the time you all took to leave me a comment or Tweet about the competition. Just so you know that the result was fair, here’s how I did the draw, using a technical method of lists and the Random Number Generator:

winner!Emma I’ve sent you a message telling you that you’ve won – as soon as I get a reply with your address I’ll have the book on its way to you :)