This weekend (23rd-24th Sept) marked the 5th annual Yarndale festival in Skipton, North Yorkshire. This is the 4th time that I’ve been and I loved it just as much as every other time before! Here are a few photos of my day at this wool-lovers paradise:
Just a quick post today to show off my latest feature – I’m the Back Page Blogger in July’s Sew Now magazine! The feature is in issue 10 of Sew Now, out on 6th July. I was super honoured to be asked to do this interview, so I hope you enjoy it if you get a copy 🙂
Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a restful and peaceful Christmas break. You may have seen my last post of the year – a round up of everything I made in 2016 – and for my first post of the new year I wanted to hop on the #2017makenine train and show you what I plan to make in the upcoming months. So here we go, and in no particular order:
Top Row, Left-Right
1. MillaMia Elk Cushion – I bought this cushion kit at the Knitting and Stitching show a couple of years ago, and it’s very nearly finished! I’ve completed the fairisle front and now just need to slave away on the plain back until it’s done.
2. Sew Over It Silk Cami – I received this pattern as a gift, along with some silk bow-print material, so I look forward to it being a simple-yet-useful make for summer.
3. Burda 6849 Shirt – I’ve made a chambray shirt with this pattern before, and I have 2m of Liberty print lawn in my stash that is calling out to be used.
Middle Row, Left-Right
4. Merchant and Mills Camber Dress – A birthday gift, my husband bought me this pattern plus some linen-look geometric fabric with which to make it. A simple shape but a dress I’ll hopefully wear often.
5. Tilly and the Buttons Rosa Shirt Dress – I bought this pattern when it came out in 2016 and have a length of aztec, woven chambray that I just hope will be big enough!
6. Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress – my first make of the year for Minerva Crafts, this loose fitted dress will be made in a silky monochrome viscose and should be good for spring.
Bottom Row, Left-Right
7. Simplicity 1563 Pyjamas – The second of my Minerva Crafts makes, I plan to make a pair of cosy, brushed cotton pyjama trousers with a matching jersey t-shirt.
8. New Look 6449 Shirt Dress – Another shirt dress and more chambray! And my final upcoming Minerva project, this time in a timeless charcoal chambray that will match with anything.
9. M&S Safari Crochet Kit – A fun Christmas present from my sister, this year I hope to learn how to crochet and make these cute zoo animals.
What are your plans for the new year? Are you making as many shirts/dresses as I am? Let me know in the comments!
As the year comes to a close, I like to take a look back on all the projects that I’ve made over the past 12 months and showcase them in one satisfying visual. In 2016 I accomplished and blogged about 17 completed projects – that’s an average of 1.4 items per month, including 13 dressmaking/sewing projects, 3 craft projects and a knitted bobble hat. I’ve also used a variety of pattern makers: I can see Tilly and the Buttons, By Hand London, McCalls, Simplicity and New Look in the gallery here. And this doesn’t take into account the handful of things that I’ve made and not blogged about, or not quite finished, so perhaps that total is nearer 25 than 17.
So what have I learnt this year?
- I now take longer on my projects than I did in 2015. Last year, I completed 27 projects – that’s 11 more than 2016! This is partly because I don’t seem to have as much free time as I used to (hello house improvements), but also because the projects I’m choosing are often that bit more complicated, and so take more time and care to complete.
- Blue and red are my colours. I think I knew this already, but seeing it laid out in one handy photo grid definitely confirms my colour palette for future projects! Knowing what does (and doesn’t) suit me makes choosing fabrics and patterns much, much easier.
- I love a good Christmas craft. This isn’t news either, but Christmas projects did make up 1/4 of my total for this year…
- Knitting takes me forever. I knitted my bobble hat over the course of a weekend because it was made with chunky yarn, and I parked myself in front of the TV for hours, but that Millamia fairisle cushion I wanted to get done by Christmas? Well, let’s just say it’s taking longer than expected.
- Moving into 2017, I need to make use of what I already have. I uploaded 94 fabrics from my stash to the Cora app (!!!), and have numerous sewing patterns and books on my shelves that I’ve been wanting to use for ages, as well as various WIPs. 2017 will be the year this happens.
- I need to spend more time working on the fit. Every single garment I make has some sort of fitting issue… as time goes on and I make more and more things, the issues have become fewer and less significant, but I still have trouble understanding the shape of my shoulders, back, waist etc. I really need to study this harder!
- I also need to sew what makes me happy. No more jumping on bandwagons or sewing to tight deadlines, as this only causes me unnecessary stress or leaves me with piles of to-do’s that I know will never get done. Sewing is my hobby and my escape, and I need to sew for me and not because I ‘have to’.
So how was your 2016? Did you complete more or fewer projects than me? And what are your goals for the new year? I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas period and have enjoyed reading my posts over the past 12 months. I really do appreciate your attention, comments and support – so thank you, and happy new year!
Remember the jersey maxi dress I made for my holiday in Italy last month? Well, it’s been featured in July’s edition of Love Sewing magazine! Grab a copy of issue 29 of Love Sewing and turn to page 14 to see me and my dress in print. Here’s a sneaky peek of it below (and also of the amazing free pattern that you get this month!). Thanks to Minerva Crafts for the fabric, Simplicity for making the 1804 dress pattern and Love Sewing for the feature 🙂
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:
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 dress, Mimi 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!
I’ve been a ‘creative’ all my life. Whether it’s sewing, cross stitch, painting-by-numbers or simply doing a jigsaw puzzle, you name it I’ve tried it. As a child my Christmas lists were generally based around circling numerous craft kits in the Argos catalogue – anyone else remember experimenting with sand art, weaving looms and Plaster-of-Paris animals?
I’ve always done a bit of hand-sewing here and there, but I only started proper ‘sewing’ and ‘dressmaking’ in the summer of 2010. I’m not sure what inspired me to begin but I’m so glad I did! Recently I’ve noticed that a lot of my lovely readers are telling me that they, too, are new to sewing and could do with a helping hand of knowing where to begin. So, here we go:
Sewing Machines for Beginners
My sewing machine is a Toyota 15JSPB. It’s very simple to use, cost around £100 and has minimal stitch choices – that’s about all there is to it! Many bloggers talk about their fancy Janome, Singer or Brother sewing machines (or worse, their overlockers) but, for a beginner, I really would recommend keeping the cost down and starting simple.
My sewing machine may not be a Rolls Royce but, you know what? Look at all the things I’ve made with it – this blog is proof of that! My machine can help me to straight stitch, zig zag stitch and make button holes – and that’s really all you need.
Threads, Bobbins and Bits and Pieces
My advice is to start your collection of sewing accessories small and then add things as and when you need them. Buy a good pair of fabric scissors, some sharp bead-headed pins and a reel of thread then you’re good to go! All the extra bits and pieces – like pattern weights, curved rulers and fancy sewing machine feet – are things you’ll pick up over time as the patterns you make get more complicated. Remember that all patterns come with a ‘things you need’ list, so check that before you get started.
In regards to sewing thread – I recommend a better quality thread (like Gutermann) for dressmaking and anything else will do for smaller projects. Yes, even those 500m reels you get at the market for 50p are useful!
Sewing Patterns for Beginners
This is a tricky one as what’s ‘easy’ for one person is quite difficult for another (I’m looking at you, Vogue)! I suggest choosing sewing patterns that don’t use too many different skills to begin with. Of course, the choice is yours, but here are a few simple patterns that I found useful for starting out with myself:
Sew! by Cath Kidston – this was the first sewing book I ever bought and I just cannot give it enough praise. If you’re looking for a wide range of homeware projects to make, with clear instructions, then this book is a must! I’ve almost made every single thing out of it.
Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress/top – this pattern is so incredible and so easy! I’ve made more Cocos than I can count – it’s such a simple pattern with minimal pieces and very clear instructions. An absolute essential for beginner dressmakers.
Simplicity/New Look 6022 – a basic dress pattern, great for cottons and other easy-to-sew fabrics. I made this dress in gingham which is super cheap! There’s a sleeveless option if you don’t fancy making sleeves just yet and you get to practice simple bias binding around the neckline.
GBSB circle skirt – this is the only pattern I’ve made from the first GBSB book but it was such a treat to sew. Only 2 skirt pieces and a folded over waistband then you’re done! Also a great introduction to inserting a zip.
Helpful Sewing Guides
The following is a list of useful online guides to various sewing techniques. Never be afraid to Google something if you don’t know how to do it! There’s no shame in not understanding what so-and-so on Twitter means when they say their interfacing won’t sit right despite their understitching. Sewing truely is another language…
- Colette’s guide to inserting an invisible zipper
- Tilly’s guide to marking and cutting fabric
- Simplicity’s glossary of fabric types
- Inseam’s how to sew a patch pocket guide
- Rachels’ guide to the types sewing machine feet
- Craftsy’s how to sew buttonholes
- Hobbycraft’s guide to choosing a sewing machine
I’m aware that I’ve not covered the obligatory ‘fabric for beginners’ module that other blogs always include – but I really do think that the choice is up to you! Cottons, jerseys and chambrays are easier to handle than laces, brocades and silks but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them! I’ll give anything a try – practice makes perfect – and you’ll never learn new things if you don’t experiment. That’s my opinion at least 🙂
If you have any sewing-related question then please leave me a comment below or get in touch via my contact page. It makes my heart smile to know that I’ve inspired so many people to give sewing, dressmaking and crafts a try – so thank you! And good luck 🙂