Win Tickets to London’s Knitting & Stitching Show!

K&S_LOGO RGB 600Alright London-locals, listen up! Who’d like to go to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace next weekend? For six lucky people, your tickets are on the house! The organisers of the show, Twisted Thread, have very kindly given me 3 pairs of tickets to give away to the show and I’d love to hand them out to you lovely people. Scroll down to the bottom for details of how to enter!

The Knitting and Stitching Show 2015 starts next Wednesday 7th October and runs until Sunday 11th October – all day, everyday. The tickets I have to give away are valid for all day Wednesday, Thursday evening and all day Sunday so there’s plenty of choice if you can’t make one particular day.

Fabrics at the Knitting and Stitching Show 2015

This year’s show is a cracker too! Unfortunately for me, London is far, far away so I can’t attend. I’d normally go to the show in Harrogate but this year it falls on my wedding anniversary so I already have plans! I actually went to the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show a couple of Novembers ago with my sister and it was great – read about it here if you’d like a sneak peek of what to expect. (Btw – how great are these sequinned crabs by Kate Jenkins?!)

Kate’s Plaice the Stitchmongers collection of knitted fish

So, what’s going on at Alexandra Palace this year? Well, the show is being opened by celebrity knitters Arne and Carlos who, if you don’t know already, are a Norwegian/Swedish duo who make the most wonderful, Scandinavian-inspired knitwear and crafts. Seriously, if you love Scandi style and fairisle knitting then you need to take a look at their books. You can even meet them at the show on Wednesday and Thursday at the Coats Crafts UK stand and join in the #arne&carlosselfie competition! I’ll only be slightly envious if you get to do this.

Arne and Carlos Knitting and Stitching Show 2015

The show also hosts regular fashion shows, over 200 workshops, 400 stalls and a brand new Dressmaking Studio in association with The McCall Pattern Company which offers a range of classes to improve your dressmaking skills. I also want to shout about the appearance from Great British Sewing Bee winner Matt Chapple! He’ll be hosting a talk about his sewing career on Saturday 10th which is definitely worth a visit. He’s a lovely chap.

Matt Chapple Knitting and Stitching Show 2015

How to enter! The competition is now closed! Thank you to everyone who entered!

Small print: tickets are valid for visits all day Wednesday 7th, the evening of Thursday 8th and all day Sunday 11th. I’ll pick 3 winners (2 tickets each) at random on Sunday 4th October at 8pm (GMT). Winners will be notified straight away. The tickets will be available for you to pick up at the collection desk in the Palm Court Foyer at Alexandra Palace – you just need to give your name and the tickets will be there waiting for you.

Good luck everyone! And make sure you share your photos of the day :)

Yarndale 2015! A few photos…

yarndale bus 2015This weekend saw the 3rd annual Yarndale festival in Skipton, North Yorkshire, and my lovely, lovely friend treated me to a ticket! Lucky me! Back in 2013 we both went to the first ever Yarndale (see my review for that here) and enjoyed it so much that we were determined to return again. I mean, could you resist a festival described as ‘celebrating all things woolly and wonderful’? I’d like to see you try. Here are a few (a lot of) photos from our day (plus bonus points if you can spot my new giant knitting needles, Lucy from Attic24, an Angora rabbit and a felt duck pond!):

yarndale buntingyarndale wall of flowersyarndale christmas craftsyarndale 2015 animalsalpacas and angoras at yarndale 2015yarndale giant knitting

Jersey Myrtle for Elephant in My Handbag

Colette Moneta cowl dressFor my post this week I’ve partnered up with the lovely team over at Elephant in My Handbag for their ‘Monthly Make’ feature! As we’re getting well into September now it’s definitely time to start thinking about a bit of autumnal sewing – and what’s better than a cosy new dress? I chose to use the Colette Myrtle pattern as it can be made with snug jersey and takes only moments to whip up. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look! Here’s what you’ll need to have a go at this yourself:

  • 1 x Colette Myrtle sewing pattern
  • 2m of navy floral jersey fabric
  • 1 x matching navy thread
  • 1-2m of 1/4 inch elastic
  • 1 x ballpoint sewing machine needle

Moneta dress - you will need

This is the first time I’ve ever used a Colette sewing pattern – despite having owned their Sewing Handbook for a fair while now. I’m always eyeing up their patterns and thinking how lovely they look yet I’ve only just managed to get stuck into one! For a Colette newbie the Myrtle dress is a truly great place to start – the instructions are very clear and easy to read, with prepare the patternhelpful diagrams of each step. I had no problem following it at all. It also looks super nice in it’s little booklet/envelope!

Before you use your pattern I definitely recommend prepping it properly. That means carefully taking your measurements and selecting your size, cutting out the pattern pieces neatly, giving them a good iron to ensure they hold flat and then using lots of pins to hold them in place on your fabric. I actually pre-washed my jersey fabric before using it too which is something I very rarely do! I must practise that more often…

Once all your fabric is cut out you’re then ready to start composing! The bodice on this dress is really quite genius – it has a lovely, draped cowl neckline at the front and a high neckline at the back with the option of adding shoulder tabs. I like the way that it’s super drapey and super comfortable, but I also love how the bodice is self-lined. Seriously, you just cut one massive piece which is folded over in half then, ta-dah!

Moneta cowl bodice

Next up is the floaty skirt, elasticised waist and pockets. POCKETS! I have literally never sewn pockets before and I have no idea why – this pattern makes them sew up like a dream. The skirt itself is made up of two back pieces, a front piece and four pocket pieces. To make the pockets you simply attach one piece to each side of the front/back skirt. These get laid on top of each other, right sides together, and you just stitch all the way up the side seam, around the pocket edge and up towards to waist line. All in one fell swoop. And suddenly you have actual working pockets! I was very impressed with it. The elastic waist band isn’t even that hard either – I was a little concerned about it to start with but it turned out really well. As long as you follow the instructions word for word you’ll find it a doddle too.

Colette Moneta skirt pockets

So here we are, my finished Colette Myrtle dress with cosy thick jersey from Elephant in My Handbag! What do you think? Before I leave you with my final, finished photos I thought I’d give you the heads up about adjustments – despite taking my measurements and cutting the size that matched, I found this dress to be very much inclined towards slightly ‘bustier’ girls… the cowl neck is quite wide for my petite top half and, unless I wear a cami top underneath, I do worry that it’s going to be slipping and sliding off my shoulders! I think if I was to make this dress again I’d take out a good couple of inches from the width of both the back and front bodice. I also had to chop off about 5 inches from the length… but that’s a problem I have with all clothes!

If you fancy an alternative pattern without the drapey neckline, why not try the Tilly and the Buttons Francoise dress? I made one previously out of twill cotton but I reckon a thick, double knit jersey would work just as well. Especially for the sleeveless version. Have a go!

Colette MonetaPS – one more thing! Want 10% off at Elephant in My Handbag? As a ‘thank you for reading’ and a ‘well done for getting to the end of this post’, use the code ‘Sensation’ at the checkout on the website. The code’s valid for first orders only but it means you can buy this jersey for just £8.55 a metre!

Blogger Network #18 – Broderie Anglaise Summer Top; Simplicity 4127

simplicity 4127Hello, September! With a new month comes a new Minerva Crafts Blogger Network make – although I think I may have misjudged the weather for this one. This month I’ve made a summer top!

The pattern I chose for this make is Simplicity 4127 which features 6 easy summer tops with a fitted bodice and choice of straps, strapless, straight hem or handkerchief hem. I picked perhaps the most simple one – view B – which is a babydoll style top with a slight V-neck and gathering around the empire line bodice. I picked to make it in a lovely baby-blue Broderie Anglaise in hope that’d it match the bright blue, summer skies! Well, I tried…

simplicity 4127 bodice

Now, whilst the fabric is the perfect fit for a garment like this, I’m not entirely sure that the pattern itself is all that flattering. The Broderie Anglaise is lovely and lightweight and I like how it’s semi-sheer when it’s just a single layer. I also love how delicate and summery it looks. What I do not love is how there’s so much gathering around the empire line of this pattern that it looks a little like maternity wear! I can’t be the only person that’s had this issue before?

simplicity 4127 top

On the hanger it looks rather nice – look at those lovely Broderie ‘stripes’ that run across the bodice. I even managed to get my straps the right length for my small shoulders! I’m a little disappointed with this make as I think it has a lot of potential. If I could easily detach the bodice from the main body of fabric I think I’d try to rectify the problem and remove some of the gathers. Unfortunately the bodice is lined, so to do that I’d have to unpick the entire thing, which I just do not have the time nor motivation for. Perhaps I’ll keep it for the distant future when I do need maternity wear?! What do you think?

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!