Tartan Reindeer Megan Dress

tilly and the buttons christmas tartan megan dressWhen this post goes up it’ll be exactly four weeks until Christmas – just where has this year gone to? It’s also my first wedding anniversary this weekend which I cannot believe either. Time has raced past like Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve. But never mind that – onto the sewing!

This week I’ve made myself the ultimate Christmas Day outfit in the form of a reindeer print Megan dress from the Tilly and the Buttons Love at First Stitch Book. I’ve made this pattern a couple of times before – a baroque linen Megan dress here and a summer seersucker Megan here – and I really do like it. There are flattering darts on the front and back skirt as well as the bodice, little cap sleeves and a long zip down the back. I also know that I can cut my fabric straight from the pattern pieces and it’ll fit me perfectly! No other pattern company seems to cater for my measurements as accurately as Tilly does. Even the length of her dresses are perfect (normally I have to hack at least 5 inches off the bottom of everything!).

reindeer tartan megan dress love at first stitch

The fabric for my Christmas dress came from the Remnant House in Harrogate. I think I bought 2m of it and I’ve used nearly all of it for this dress. It’s a tartan cotton with embroidered reindeers and hearts all over it and I love it. It’s so festive and cutesy and will make my Scottish mother-in-law very happy! Unfortunately they don’t seem to stock this particular fabric on their website any more but here are a few festive alternatives:

love at first stitch megan dress

If you see me out and about in my reindeer dress this Christmas please can you compliment me on my pattern matching? Aside from a teeny misaligned stripe on the back I couldn’t have got this cut out more precisely! I love how the tartan stripes match up so well on my side seams and how they run straight down the middle from top to bottom. This was quite an easy fabric to pattern match due to all the straight lines in the tartan but it does always impress me when I get it right!

tilly and the buttons tartan megan

Have you made a dress for Christmas this year? Is it as festive as mine or have you gone more glitzy? Show me! I also recommend adding Tilly’s book, Love at First Stitch, to your Christmas wish list if you don’t already own it. I’m sure Father Christmas would be more than  happy to deliver it to you :)

Sew Your Own Advent Calendar

advent calendar sewingJust a quick sewing project for you today – a DIY Advent calendar! As a child we used to have a big, fabric advent calendar with little pockets that my mum used to hang on the wall each December. She’d fill the pockets with three sweets – one each for me and my two sisters – and it was such an exciting time. I loved reaching into those numbered fabric pockets and seeing what Advent treat had been put there for the corresponding day!

As a slight homage to my mum’s version – and because I now have my own house – I’ve made my own version and hand-sewn what I hope will become a family heirloom (maybe). And it couldn’t have been easier!

The Advent calendar is made using one of those quilting panels that you can pick up in most fabric shops. The panel features instructions printed at the top, 25 numbered squares printed below and the backing fabric to which you attach the pockets. I think I got my Advent panel from eBay for about £7 but I’ve seen them around the internet at The Cotton PatchElephant in My Handbag, and Etsy amongst others.

patchwork advent calendar kit

The calendar is actually quilted, so you sew a layer of wadding in between two layers of fabric. The pockets are then sewn directly onto your padded backing, creating a quilted effecct. It’s a very simple project to make but looks really effective when it’s finished. The worst thing about it was having to press all the pockets! All four edges needed to be folded under and ironed before they were stitched down so it’s a very hot job to do!

hand sewn adent calendar

What do you think to my finished Advent calendar? I really love it. The illustrations of the little woodland animals on the pockets are so sweet and I love the Christmas-sy colours! Now I just need to plan which sweets and treats to put in it come December!

Autumn Apple Bettine

tilly and the buttons bettineHello, I’m back! And so is the dressmaking! It’s been forever since I last posted about a garment I’ve made and since then a whole host of ‘life’ has been going on. We moved house 6 weeks ago and have since been unpacking, decorating and organising in every spare moment, plus I was full of cold for the entirety of last week, so my poor sewing machine has had to sit in the corner for a while. This weekend I finally managed to bring it back out of hibernation and restore the peace!

So what was my first dressmaking project in the new house? A Tilly and the Buttons Bettine dress, of course! I’ve had the pattern for this dress since Tilly brought it out earlier in the year but, due to both the move and my never-ending to-do list, it’s taken me until now to get it made up. It’s a lovely little dress with kimono-style sleeves, rolled cuffs, an elastic waist and pockets that teaches you a whole host of sewing skills as you work through the instructions. It’s also very easy to wear which is a bonus.

tilly & the buttons bettine dress

The fabric I used for my Bettine is a very autumn-appropriate apple print cotton from White Tree Fabrics (remember you can get 20% off and free delivery using my code, SEWSENSATIONAL). It’s a lovely, soft cotton which is very easy to cut, sew with and press. It’s perhaps a little lightweight for the upcoming cold weather but I can definitely see myself giving it a good try with woolly tights and a massive cardi!

tilly and the buttons bettine dress 2

I think the best part about this dress is the pockets, which are rapidly becoming my new favourite thing to sew. They also make this the perfect dress for wearing whilst you stitch away – you’ll never lose your scissors or seam-ripper again! The pattern also features a plain skirt version if you want to whip up a new dress in mere minutes as well as optional cuff tabs which I think I might try next time.

So what do you think? Have you made a Bettine dress yourself? A quick Google search reveals a myriad of beautiful Bettines in all sorts of pretty fabrics. Show me yours!

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?