Blogger Network #23 – A Spring Bettine Dress

tilly and the buttons bettine dress

Oh I do love a good Tilly and the Buttons pattern! Especially for the Spring weather. This is my latest Bettine dress that I made for my May Minerva Crafts Blogger Network post, sewed up in a wonderful blue cotton lawn which makes it lovely and light and great for the warmer weather. I’ve made the Bettine dress once before – see that here – and did the version with pockets. This time I tried the version with tab sleeves and used these beautiful metal flower buttons to finish them off. This pattern makes a great dress and I wear it all the time!

Click here to go to the Minerva Crafts website and see more of my make!

Floral Viscose Harper Blouse

floral harper blouseHere I am – back on the blog! I’ve had a bit of time off from sewing recently due to ‘life’ happening, so I’m happy to be back with you today for a new post. Today I’ve got a lovely, Spring-appropriate blouse to show you.

The pattern I used for this is called the ‘Harper Blouse’ and I downloaded it in PDF format from a lovely website called Spit up & Stilettos. Unfortunately, the website no longer exists – the company have changed their name to Sadi & Sam and only offer patterns for children these days – but I’m sure if you emailed the lovely Lauren and ask nicely she’ll be happy to send you the Harper blouse download!

The blouse is a tunic length (it just covers the hips) and features bias binding around the armholes, a waist tie (I used ribbon) and a very on-trend Mandarin collar, much like the new Tilly and the Buttons Martha dress. The only adjustment I made was to the neckline opening, where I added a hook and eye to stop it gaping and so I don’t have to wear a vest top underneath.

harper blouse mandarin collar

This is just one of a very small number of times that I’ve actually used a PDF pattern and, I have to say, it was easier than I remember. Last time I tried a PDF I had a nightmare trying to match up and stick the paper pieces together and vowed never to use them again! I’m glad I’ve put that behind me.

harper blouse

The fabric I used for my blouse is a blue and white viscose that I found on eBay from everyone’s favourite seller, thefabricman. The seller has so many different fabrics at such good prices that it’s hard not to buy more than you need! I just got 1 metre for my blouse and it cost me an astonishing £2.98. You couldn’t even buy a blouse for that price in Primark. The listing actually describes the fabric as ‘grey and blue gothic flowers’ but I think that description is up for debate! My blouse is definitely inky blue and off-white, and I’d say those flowers were much more feminine than gothic…

Anyhow, this blouse was a pleasure to make and I think it looks perfect for the upcoming sunshine. Do you like it?

Blogger Network #22 – A Kitty Cat Baby Dress! McCall’s 7308

mccalls 7308 baby dress

Hello everyone! It’s been all quiet on the sewing front for a little while as I’ve been pretty caught up in decorating our new kitchen – we’ve painted the walls, replaced the worktops and now I’m onto the final bit of cabinet painting (Annie Sloane’s chalk paint is the best, I recommend it). Once that’s complete the sewing production line should be back up and running and the blog posts can resume…

For now – here’s my latest Minerva Crafts Blogger Network make – a cat print dress for a toddler! In January this year two of my dear friends had their first baby so I thought I’d use the opportunity to make something teeny tiny and in a really fun print that I wouldn’t normally get to use. I picked the McCall’s ‘tent dress’ pattern as it looks a nice easy shape for a wriggly toddler to wear whilst also having plenty of details (pockets, a zipper and a bow) that make it more unique.

Head over to the Minerva blog right here to read more about my make:) In the meantime, stay tuned for more grown-up size dresses coming soon!

 

Tilly and the Buttons Agnes Top

tilly and the buttons agnesIf you’ve been dipping in and out of my blog posts for a while then it’s likely that you’re aware of my love for the Tilly and the Buttons sewing patterns. I’ve made a large majority of them – a mixture of the print patterns and the ones contained in the book, Love at First Stitch – but there are still a couple I’ve yet to try. So, for Christmas, my darling other half got me the Agnes top pattern plus some fab stripey jersey to make it with! He’s a keeper for sure.

The Agnes top is pretty much all about conquering your fears of sewing with jersey fabric. To be honest, I think I’d been avoiding jersey up until this point too, purely based on the scary stories you read online. The truth is that jersey is so, so easy to sew! You don’t need an overlocker or a fancy sewing machine foot – just a machine needle with a rounded tip (check this sewing machine needle guide out) and a zig-zig stitch setting. If you’ve got those already then you’re good to go.

agnes neckline

The fabric I used for my first Agnes is this red and white striped jersey from the Fabric Godmother. The stripes are actually a more even size than the website photo shows, but I love it nonetheless! The fabric is made up of a mixture of cotton and spandex, which is what gives it the stretch needed for the Agnes top. Your aim is for the fabric to be ‘form fitting’ rather than loose. However, make sure you choose your material carefully! I actually made a second Agnes from some grey, striped jersey fabric but the amount of stretch just really wasn’t enough. I cut my pattern pieces the same size (since my first attempt went so well) but then found I could hardly get the top over my shoulders due to the lack of stretch! I’ve managed to re-cut the sleeves to fix the problem but do be warned… the more stretch/spandex/lycra in your fabric the better is the moral of the story.

tilly and the buttons agnes tops

The pattern for the Agnes top is a rather fun one to make. There aren’t many pattern pieces (2 arms, a front and a back) but I enjoyed seeing the neckline come together and stitching on the elastic to make the little bit of ruching on the front. The top comes together really quickly, too. I think I made mine in about 2 hours, including cutting out all the pieces!

I’ve seen a few other great Agnes tops around the internet – link me to yours if you’ve made one! And what do you think of mine? I think Tilly would love it!

Blogger Network #21 – McCalls 7120 Chambray Dress

mccalls 7120 dress

Hello, February! How glad we all are to see you. A new month means it’s time for a new Minerva Blogger Network post and today it features chambray, pockets, rolled-up sleeves and a waist tie. Above is a sneak peek of my dress (a McCalls 7120) made in wonderful striped chambray. Head over to the Minerva Crafts site by clicking the badge below to read the rest!:)Minerva-Crafts-Network-Logo

Blogger Network #20 -New Year By Hand London Kim Dress

by hand london kim dressHappy New Year everybody! I hope you all had a fabulous festive season and are looking forward to what 2016 has in store. I’ve already done a bit of sewing in the lull between Christmas and New Year – the first project I have to show you is a polka dot Kim dress!

This is my 20th project on behalf of the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network – 20th! I’m very lucky to be able to blog for the Minerva website and I’m really grateful for all the opportunities it’s given me. Since my 1st project I’ve learnt all sorts of skills – from beadwork and needlework through to princess seams, collars and invisible zips. Without the regular practice I have when making these projects I don’t think I’d have developed as a seamstress quite so fast!

Anyhow, onto the project! For my first make of 2016 I chose a By Hand London Kim dress pattern. I made variation A, which has a scooped neckline, princess seams down the bodice, a wrap-style pencil skirt and a zipper up the back. I love the skirt on this dress – it’s made of 3 ‘petal’ shaped fabric pieces which overlap at the front like a wrap dress. A few little pleats at the waist make it drape beautifully and I love how it moves when you walk and/or sit down!

kim dress by hand london

The fabric I used for my Kim is this navy polka dot cotton with a slight stretch to it. It’s a really lovely material to work with – it’s super soft and silky to the touch and handles really well. I definitely recommend using it for a dress or skirt project because it feels really luxurious and the bit of stretch allows for an extra pudding/cocktail at dinner! It’s win-win really.

by hand london kim skirt bodice

The By Hand London Kim pattern has great instructions that are easy to follow. If you choose to make variation B then there are instructions for how to do a sweetheart neckline too which I’m looking forward to trying next time. The pattern teaches you how to sew a bodice lining as well as darts on the skirt and princess seams on the top. I’d say it was a pattern for intermediate sewists but don’t be afraid to give it a try if you’re a beginner!

barnaby and my kim dress

So how’s the finished dress? Well, I love it, and it fits perfectly around the waist and hips. Even the slightly longer length is great – I can definitely see this being a nice ‘going out for dinner’ dress for me. The problems? The straps are too long for me! I clearly didn’t measure myself accurately enough and could do with taking an inch out of each shoulder so that the neckline isn’t so low (I’ve actually pinned it into place in the photos here!). Unfortunately there’s no easy fix for this because the dress and lining are all self-contained and I can’t easily unpick it! If you’ve got any suggestions please do let me know…

I hope you like my finished Kim dress too! There’s even a couple of bonus pictures of our new kitten Barnaby there for you, although he didn’t really want to hold still for a photo! Tell me, what was your first dressmaking project of the year?

Sewing in 2015 – a Year in Review!

As we approach the end of 2015 it’s time for a little blog round-up. Let’s take a look back at all the projects I’ve made this year! I do like seeing everything all together:

2015 year in review collage

There are 27 finished projects right there! That averages at just over 2 a month and, with 17 dressmaking projects and 10 craft projects, I’d say I’ve found a nice balance this year. And this list doesn’t even include those items that I haven’t blogged about. I think my Top 5 have to be my first By Hand London Elisalex dress, my chambray shirt, my patchwork sewing machine cover, my needlework tote bag and my Christmas Megan dress – do you agree? Which are your favourite projects that you’ve seen on my blog this year? I’d love to know!

But how did I shape up against my new year plans – the ones that I made this time last year? Let’s take a look. Last December I told myself in 2015 I would:

  • Hand-make all birthday gifts and Christmas presents – this started off so well and then went downhill around early summertime. I think I lasted until around June and then had to resort to buying presents again due to getting ready to move house! You can either count yourself lucky or unlucky if your birthday was pre-June, depending on how you want to look at it😉
  • Make more use of my fabric stash – hmm, not sure I managed this one. I’ve made a couple of projects with existing fabric (my Bleuet dressMimi blouse and Christmas Megan) but it’s so hard resisting temptation… I did try though!
  • Buy less fabric – this relates to the point above, and whilst I haven’t actually bought that much new fabric this year I have acquired a lot outside of my stash – mostly thanks to the Minerva Blogger Network! Who am I to turn down a ready supply of fabric each month?!
  • Make more use of the patterns I’ve got – I’ve definitely tried hard with this one and have relied heavily on Love at First Stitch this year (thanks Tilly for this book, I love it so much!:) ), but there’s still room for improvement. I did have a de-clutter and got rid of all the paper patterns I don’t use though!
  • Finish all WIPs – this has to be my biggest success of the year I think – I actually reached the end of my sewing to-do list, yippee! At the start of the year I wrote down all of my plans and kept adding to it as and when. Once a project was completed, I crossed it off the list! It really helped me to keep track of what needed doing and stopped me from picking up too many new projects without finishing the old ones first. I recommend it!
  • Complete my fairisle jumper – OK I need to be honest with you on this one…my Grandma finished this for me because it was starting to drive me a bit mad. The stitches were so small and there were so many and it sat in the corner for ages unfinished. There, said it.:/ Thank you though, Grandma, you’re the best!
  • Not take up any new crafts – I think I succeeded on this too! I still want to learn to crochet mind…

So that’s it! A whole year of blogging, sewing and crafting condensed into one blog post. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading what I’ve been up to and I look forward to sharing more bits and bobs in 2016. Link me to your own review posts if you’ve got one, too!