Tilly & the Buttons Mimi Blouse

love at first stitch mimi blouseIt’s no secret that I love Tilly and the Buttons’ sewing patterns. If you’ve been a reader over the past couple of years then you may remember all my makes so far: a Coco top, a handful of Coco dresses in Christmas/stripe/aztec prints, two Megan dresses, a floral Francoise dress, some Margot pyjamas and a striped Mathilde blouse… I’m not sure my wardrobe could actually survive without Tilly these days. This week’s make, therefore, is no exception – this time I’ve made my first Mimi blouse!

The Mimi blouse is one of the first patterns I eyed up in Love at First Stitch but it’s taken me a little while to match the pattern with a suitable fabric. Last year my husband and I took a trip to Paris and I bought lots of 5€ fabric ‘coupons’ from Marche St Pierre. One of those pieces got turned into a Deer and Doe Bleuet dress and another has become my very first Mimi! What’s more fitting for a French-named blouse than a piece of Parisian fabric?!

tilly and the buttons mimi blouse

Because the fabric came from France (how very la-di-dah of me), I can’t direct you to an online source, but I can describe it for you. This fabric is very, very soft and drapey and lovely to cuddle up in. It has the feel of brushed cotton but is quite lightweight – perfect for the Mimi blouse! I’ve seen many variations of the blouse in various fabrics around the internet – a few cotton lawns, polycottons, linens, double gauzes, chiffons… it seems that anything lightweight will sew up well. I also love the colours of this fabric – navy blue and white – and love how the little flowers look like actual cotton plants!

tilly and the buttons mimi

The pattern itself is a fun one to make although perhaps a little fiddly if you’re a beginner. There are lots of details to contend with (which is great if you like a challenge or want to learn new skills) but, as usual, Tilly explains each stage perfectly and with lots of pictures. Features include a gathered yoke across the back and shoulders, pleated sleeves, narrow sleeve cuffs, set in sleeves, buttonholes and buttonhole facing plus a fab Chelsea collar. As long as you follow Tilly’s instructions word for word then you can’t go wrong, but there are quite a few steps to this pattern. The end result is definitely worth it though! You can see how much effort has gone into this blouse by looking at all the finished details – it’s absolutely worth slaving over!

tilly and the buttons love at first stitch mimi blouse

I really like my finished Mimi blouse. It fits me well (as do all Tilly’s patterns) and I didn’t have to make any adjustments. I cut the size 2 and it’s perfect for my petite frame! It’s such a comfy blouse to wear and I like the way it’s all loose and floaty. I wear mine with a little camisole underneath and I think it looks great. How about you? Have you ever made this pattern? Show me!

Simplicity 1699 Fit n’ Flare Floral Dress

simplicity 1699 dressI made another flowery dress! This time using the lovely Simplicity 1699 dress pattern – one I’d originally planned to use for a different fabric, but when I saw this lovely print at White Tree Fabrics I just knew it was a match made in heaven. Let’s take a closer look.

This fabric is a ‘chirimen’ – which I have literally never heard of before. It’s a bit like a polyester/crepe/silk type fabric which, after a bit of Googling, apparently originates in Japan. I found this fab floral print version at White Tree Fabrics just hanging around their cotton prints section, despite it definitely not being made of cotton! However it’s only £6.50/metre and with my discount code (SEWSENSATIONAL) you can get a whopping 20% off and free delivery. You can basically buy enough of this fabric to make a dress for £10 which is incredible.

simplicity 1699 dress sleeves

Anyway, the fabric is described as ‘cream, green and raspberry’ which I think is pretty true to form, although I would also add ‘sunshine yellow and cornflower blue’ to that mix as well. It’s absolutely ideal for a summer holiday because it’s so pretty and floaty and lightweight (though it can also be a bit static so a skirt lining is recommended if you have the ability!)

This floaty-ness does make it a little difficult to cut out accurately too – I suggest using a rotary cutter if you have one or else just use lots and lots of pins like I did. It’s quite easy to end up with pattern pieces of different sizes if you’re not careful, which I think is why the waist of my dress ended up a bit tinier than planned. I’m not sure I’ll be eating much cake in this dress…

simplicity 1699

The pattern itself is really nice though, it has cute little raglan sleeves, princess seams down the bust and a long zipper up the back. I’ve only ever heard the phrase ‘fit n flare’ in regards to wedding dresses on Say Yes to the Dress so it was nice to finally see that style up close! And I have to say I rather like it. The ‘fit’ is around your middle and then the skirt ‘flares’ out below, making it super swishy.

simplicity 1699 back skirt

What do you think? Sorry again for the lack of good photos too – we’re in the midst of moving house and I can’t seem to find time nor space to take proper pics… it also may have something to do with the fact that I still need to alter the zip as I was a bit generous with my seam allowances and could do with claiming an extra inch back before I wear this out in the wild…

Hexie Sewing Machine Cover!

hexagonsOh my gosh you guys you have absolutely no idea how long it’s taken me to finish this project. I’ve had the blog post for it scheduled for February and then March and then April and then May… well, you get the picture, and now here we are in August! For this week’s post I thought you might finally like to see my hexie patchwork sewing machine cover!

A while back I suddenly became obsessed with the look of hexagons, pinned a load of projects to my Pinterest and made a mini hexie patchwork clock for a friend. It was so much fun to make that I thought I’d take on something a little more ambitious and make a hexie patchwork cover for my sewing machine! I think I got the word ‘ambitious’ right on point.

This project has taken me many months to complete – I kept picking it up here and there and then putting it back down again. There are a total of 284 hexagons making up this design and each one has to be sewn together by hand. That’s 6 sides on 123 hexagons which = 1704+ lines of hand-stitching. Can you see why it took me a while? However, just look at the result! Isn’t it beautiful?!

hexie patchwork sewing machine cover 2

The fabric I used all came from my ‘fabric scraps’ stash – you know, that big bag of pretty leftovers that you just can’t let go of. Each scrap comes from a project that I’ve made in the past so it’s good fun to look at the hexagons and think ‘oh! that’s a piece of my chambray shirt, my Liberty print t-shirt and my piano stool cover!’. I tried to pick out all similar colours – shades of blue, purple and turquoise – to give it a bit of an overall theme. I even lined the whole thing using some bigger scraps of mint-green seersucker from a pair of pyjamas that I made.

hexie patchwork sewing machine cover 3

I actually made up the pattern for the cover myself – I simply measured the height, width and depth of my machine and then stitched enough hexagons together so that they would wrap all the way around it. I ended up with a big ‘snood’ of hexagons which I ironed at the ‘corners’ to make it a box shape. I then stitched a separate top panel, squared off the edges and machine stitched that in place. The lining was made in a similar fashion – a front and back panel, two side panels and a top panel. I then slipped the lining inside the hexagon cover (wrong sides together) and stitched a hem all around the bottom to attach them together. Phew!

As well as making my machine look lovely in the corner it also prevents the dust settling in those moments when it’s not in use. So, do you love it? Have you got a cover for your sewing machine? Or perhaps I’ve inspired you to make one? Let me know!

Blogger Network #17 – Embroidered Wedding Gift

carolyn gavin bird embroideryJust a quick post for my Minerva Blogger Network make this month – why? Because it was a super quick project to make! I’ve been enjoying getting stuck into a few more ‘crafty’ projects recently (rather than just dressmaking) as I’ve always loved dabbling in a bit of everything, whether it’s cross stitch, sewing cushions, origami or card making. This time it’s embroidery!

I picked this Carolyn Gavin/Dimensions embroidery kit from the Minerva Crafts website as a wedding gift for my near and dear workmate. He and his beautiful wife got married in Ilkley a couple of weekends ago (I got to wear my China-blue-toile By Hand London Elisalex dress– yay!) and, when you’re as crafty as I am, it’s only fair that they get an equally lovely handmade wedding gift ;)

dimensions embroidery kit

The kit I used is called ‘A Heart That Loves’ and features a heart-shaped flower, a cute little bird and a quote to the side. All the things you need are included in the kit, like the coloured canvas, fabric shapes, embroidery thread and needle, so all you have to do is follow the instructions and you’re done! You get to practise a few different stitches so it’s a good little project for those with limited experience/patience. I think I completed it in an afternoon!

embroidery kit contents

The only thing that the kit doesn’t include is a frame. I bought a gold frame from H&M (no longer on their website) which has glass on both sides and a chain to hang it up – I used some coloured paper on the reverse side of the embroidery and wrote a little note to the happy couple!

Overall a great little project and (I hope) a fab wedding gift! Have you ever made anything like this before?


Summer Seersucker Megan Dress

tilly and the buttons meganDoes anyone remember that heatwave we had in the UK the other week? Or does it seem like a distant memory to you, too? The weekend before the sunshine struck I actually made myself a brand new Megan dress (from the Tilly and the Buttons Love at First Stitch book) which turned out to be absolutely perfect for the hot and sticky weather that was to come. Want to see? Let’s go!

I’ve made this dress pattern once before in a ‘baroque’ linen fabric – read about that one here – and I have to say that it’s one of my most favourite makes. I wear it all the time, it’s really comfy, it fits really well, the length is great on me and it matches everything else that I own. A definite winner! Isn’t that something you wish every garment achieved?!

After the success of Megan number 1 I thought I’d use the pattern again and make Megan number 2, but this time in a completely different fabric – a floral cotton seersucker from White Tree Fabrics. Unfortunately they seem to have sold out of this particular print but there’s an equally summery yellow floral seersucker just waiting to be snapped up! This type of fabric weighs about 2 grams and is ideal for hot, sunny days. I’ll definitely be taking this one with me to Portugal in a few weeks’ time (did you know it’s around 41°c there at the moment?!)

tilly and the buttons megan seersucker dress

The pattern features bodice front and back pieces, skirt front and back pieces, slightly gathered cap sleeves and requires a long invisible zipper down the back. This is a good pattern for newbie dressmakers because there are no difficult seams – the dress is shaped using darts on both the skirt and bodice pieces and there are no pesky bits of bias binding or anything else fiddly. Plus Tilly’s instructions are super clear that I reckon even the cat could have a go ;)tilly and the buttons megan dress

I really like this dress and I can see myself making another in future. It’s very easy to wear and it’s a great addition to my wardrobe. I also don’t have to make any changes to it as it fits me straight off the pattern sheet! Apologies for the lack of photos by the way – I’ve been waiting for a sunny day to get some snaps of me in it but we’ve had nothing but gloom and doom recently…

Oh and I might have recently ordered a copy of Tilly’s new Bettine dress pattern so I hope to be making that up soon, too! I do like a good ‘throw it on and go’ dress pattern. Let me know your thoughts!

Blogger Network #16 – A Needlework Tote Bag

embroidered tote bagHappy July! With a new month comes a new Minerva Crafts Blogger Network post – and this time I’ve taken on embroidery in the form of a needlework tote bag. This is a great make for the sunny weather we’ve been having, I can see myself using it on holiday or on trips to the beach this summer. In fact, it’s the perfect size for a book, some sun cream and bottle of wine!

Everything you need to make the bag comes in this Design Works kit and the only prep work involved is cutting up the canvas. It’s a great project if you don’t have a lot of time to sit down and sew. I actually completed most of it in front of the TV! The bag is made up of 34 squares of plastic canvas which you embroider with the Aran yarn provided. There are 3 square designs to alternate between. You know those sewing cards you used to get when you were little – cardboard pictures with a shoelace to thread through? It reminded me of those!

aran needlework tote bag

Once you’ve stitched all 34, you then assemble the squares in a random pattern and stitch them all together into one big piece. Next, you attach the felt lining and fold it into a bag shape, stitching all the sides closed with the yarn. It sounds a lot more complicated than it is! You also get a lovely set of bamboo handles included in the kit which you just have to sew onto the sides of the bag once you’ve assembled it.

wooden tote handles

If you’re looking for a sewing project to take on holiday with you, to stitch by the pool or sat in the garden, then I really recommend this kit. It’s a great pick-up-and-put-down project and one that kids (or husbands) can definitely get involved with too. Have you ever made anything like this before?

A Denim Elisalex

denim elisalex dressRemember in my last post when I said I had a denim Elisalex dress planned? Well, here it is! Rather than repeat myself and talk about how great the pattern is and how lovely the By Hand London girls are, I’ll just leave you with a few photographs.

The fabric, by the way, is a lightweight denim that I picked up at Boyes in Scarborough. You can find similar here at Minerva Crafts or here at My Fabrics. I also found some really lovely looking patterned denim on eBay that you might want to check out! The reason I chose to use real denim over a lighter, more versatile chambray is because it holds the shape of this dress really well – chambray fabric is quite drapey and probably wouldn’t make the tulip skirt look as effective.

denim elisalex dress

Talking about the skirt – can you see the seam I had to add in down the centre?! Unfortunately I managed to rip my fabric whilst sewing and I only had enough spare to do the front panel as two pieces, rather than one. It doesn’t look majorly out of place but it does mean that the skirt doesn’t hang as flat as I would’ve liked – I think because the fabric is still quite stiff. Perhaps once I’ve washed it a few times it’ll soften up. Other than that I think this is a success! What do you reckon?

denim elisalex