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?

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!

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 Elephant 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 effect. 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 of 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!

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

Simplicity 1699 Fit n’ Flare Floral Dress

simplicity 1699 dressI made another flowery dress! This time using the lovely Simplicity 1699 – 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!