Blogger Network #32 – Chambray Shirt Dress, New Look 6449

New Look 6449 Shirt Dress

Hello April! I don’t know where the time is going these days, but it seems as if I haven’t shared a project with you for a whole month and it’s time for another Minerva Blogger Network post already! In my defense, this month I’ve made a lovely chambray shirt dress (New Look 6449) to share with you, and we all know that shirt dresses don’t just sew themselves together overnight… (can you imagine?!). I used this charcoal grey chambray to make my dress, then finished it off with 12 of these silver shell-effect buttons and an Eiffel Tower motif. What do you think?

Click here to head to the Minerva Crafts website and read/see more of my shirt dress!

#2017makenine – What I Plan to Stitch This Year

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 PyjamasThe 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!


Blogger Network #24 – Italian Holiday Maxi Dress

simplicity 1804 maxi dress

Happy June everyone! For my Minerva Crafts Blogger Network post this month I’ve got something a bit different, a bit special and a bit dramatic: a floor-length jersey maxi dress! I made this dress especially to take on holiday to Italy with me – here I am modelling it outside the Duomo di Firenze (Florence) on a rather warm evening a fortnight ago.

I’ve never made anything that uses this much material before so it was a good learning curve for me and definitely challenged the proportions of my sewing (dining) table. The fabric I used is this great floral jersey with big swirly flowers all over it. It’s a lovely soft jersey and drapes over the body really well, although it’s pretty heavy when you’ve got this much of it!

The pattern is Simplicity 1804 but you could use any maxi dress pattern for it – like the New Look 6774, that’s a nice one with straps.

Want to read more about how I got on and see more photos of me being stylish outside the Cattedrale? Click here to see the Minerva Crafts blog!

Simplicity’s Star Sewist Competition: My Nautical 6145

simplicity star sewist new look 6145 shift dressSeveral months ago I spotted a Boutique by Jaegar dress on ASOS and saved it to my wishlist immediately. It was stripy – check. It had a nautical rope detail – check. It was £99 – come again?! Once you become a dressmaker you often find yourself looking at clothes, tutting at the price/quality/fabric and thinking ‘I can do that’ – and so, I did!

For my entry to Simplicity’s Star Sewist competition I chose to make my own version of the stripy ASOS dress, using the New Look 6145 shift dress pattern provided for the contest. The pattern reminds me a little of the Tilly and the Buttons Coco, in that you can choose to add a collar and/or sleeves, although it’s a lot more roomy than the Coco and has a zip down the back – definitely more of a shift dress than a fitted dress.

The pattern itself is easy to make – for view B (the one I picked) there’s a front piece with darts, two back pieces with vertical darts, two sleeves and an invisible zip. No problems there! I used some black and white striped jersey from Minerva Crafts to make my dress as I wanted to emulate the one that I’d seen on ASOS – if you plan to do the same note that this fabric does carry quite a bit of weight and, due to the stretch, this makes it quite a difficult fabric to fit. I had to do a fair bit of tweaking to the size of my pattern pieces in order for the dress not to gape so much round the sides. Lesson learnt!

asos striped dressnew look simplicity 6145 dress

The best bit about this dress though has got to be my rope detailing across the front – doesn’t it look effective? ‘The dress’ on ASOS has two rows of squiggly rope but I chose to just do the one. And that was absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I ran out of rope. Nope, definitely not. You can find the polyester cord I used on the Minerva Crafts site here – it’s a bargain at 39p a metre, perhaps I should’ve bought a bit more!

rope detail new look 6145How do you like my finished dress? Here’s hoping it’s good enough to earn a round of applause from the judging panel in the Simplicity Star Sewist competition (hello Lauren, Claire-Louise, Rachel and Wendy if you’re reading!) Has anyone else entered the competition? And did you choose to make the dress, the top, or the skirt? Send me your links!

PS – hope you enjoyed my pics this week!

Simplicity Blogger Circle

Blogger Network #4 – Minerva Crafts Meet-Up Outfit Reveal – Liberty Print Party Dress!

simplicity 6243 liberty print dressSo here it is, my finished Minerva Crafts Meet-Up party dress! Did you come to the Meet-Up on Saturday? It was such a fun day and it was so exciting to see all the other bloggers reveal their evening outfits at dinner. You might’ve caught some of the ‘Big Reveal’ photos on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram over the weekend.

The dress I made for the evening used the New Look 6243 dress pattern; I chose to make view C, which has a fitted, panelled bodice, a flared skirt and wide straps. My fabric choice was a lovely big piece of Liberty lawn in a red/blue floral print – you can find the exact same fabric over on the Minerva Crafts site here. As soon as I found out that we had to make a dress for this June evening get-together I just knew I had to make something fit for a summer garden party. I think this fits the bill perfectly, no? It’d also look great at a summer wedding!

liberty party dress simplicity 6243

The New Look/Simplicity 6243 pattern itself is the most complicated thing I think I’ve ever made, so I’m very proud of the end result. The dress has several bodice panels, a lining and an invisible zipper so patience really was key as I sewed it together. As I’ve mentioned previously, getting the fit right is something I often struggle with, so I made sure to measure and pin and measure and pin constantly as I stitched the parts of the dress together. Even then I’ve still ended up with a bit too much fabric in the front so I have to be sure to sit up straight! My major bug-bear is that I didn’t measure the straps accurately enough so, once complete, they were about an inch too long and kept falling off my shoulders! A quick pattern hack later (read: I folded the straps under a bit and stitched them to the lining where you can’t see) and the dress was ready to wear. Pretty much.

liberty print dress simplicity 6243

I hope you love my Meet-Up dress as much as I do – I can’t wait to wear it again! Did you get yourself over to the Minerva Crafts centre on Saturday? I’d love to see your pictures and hear your thoughts on the day if you were there!

Gingham Summer Dress – Simplicity/New Look 6022

simplicity 6022 gingham dressNow that UK temperatures are reaching the lofty heights of 15°c, it’s definitely time to start planning your spring/summer wardrobe! I’ve had this Simplicity 6022 pattern hanging around for a while and thought that it would make a perfect gingham summer dress.

The pattern is super easy to follow (look at me getting all familiar with dressmaking!) and can be made in all sorts of fabrics. I chose to do variation B, which has short capped sleeves, but you can also make the dress with longer sleeves or no sleeves if you wish. The fabric that I used is a navy/white cotton gingham that I picked up at my local Saturday market – can you believe that it only cost me £4.50? Gingham is generally quite cheap but it’s lovely to wear… even if it does make you feel about 5 years old.

For similar gingham fabric try Minerva Crafts here, Elephant in My Handbag here or Croft Mill here who have some lovellllly looking seersucker ginghams!

simplicity new look 6022 gingham summer dress

The skills you’ll need to make this summer dress pattern include: inserting an invisible zip, creating a button loop, setting sleeves and attaching bias binding. Phew! All of these skills are ones that I’ve learnt from various other dressmaking projects so it was lovely to see them all come together on one garment.

So what do you think? I’ve paired my dress with a belt to give my waist a bit more definition and turned the hem up a bit to make it not quite so long. All I’m missing is a straw hat and a glass of something iced and I’m all set for summer!

New Look 6483 Sleeveless Top – GBSB2 Inspired!

my new look 6843In the first challenge of series 2 of the Great British Sewing Bee, the contestants were required to make a simple, cotton, sleeveless top. Easy! I hear you cry. Everyone has a piece of cotton in their sewing stash. Every dressmaker knows how to make interfacing, sew curved seams and make a button loop…. or do they? Welcome to my very own Sewing Bee-style challenge!

After the first episode of the Sewing Bee had aired, and thanks to the lovely ladies at Simplicity patterns, I found myself with a copy of the New Look 6483 sewing pattern on the sewing (dining) table. This pattern is almost exactly the same as the one used in the show, although there’s no ‘pulling through to the front’ business involved in this one which, perhaps, makes it even easier.

The bits and bobs you’ll need to make this pattern are as follows:

new look 6483 sewing bee challenge

First up, notice how the sewing pattern is marked as ‘1 Hour Easy’? If this isn’t perfect for a Sewing Bee Sleeveless Top Challenge then I don’t know what is! I decided to go for view ‘E’, which is the one on the top left of the pattern cover.

new look 6483 sleeveless topHowever, 1 hour is perhaps something of an understatement. It probably took me an hour to cut out the pieces and a couple of hours to sew everything together – but that’s not too bad, right? Plus I had to allow an extra hour because I made the pattern way too big (Top Tip! I compared my measurements with the fit-guide on the back and used the appropriate-sized pattern. When I sewed it up it was about 3 sizes too big so I had to take a big chunk out of my side seams. I suggest choosing a smaller size than you think clipped seamsyou’ll need!)

Overall this pattern is pretty easy to follow and good for a start-up stitcher like myself. Attaching the interfacing is simple and the curved seams are nice and big so very easy to do on your machine. I didn’t even have any trouble adding the darts.

A tip I have for clipping all the curved seams is to use your pinking shears! I learnt this from Lucie over at Love Lucie and haven’t looked back. It’s so much quicker and neater and works just as well. how to sew a button loopGive it a go!

As for how to sew the button loop… try this little diagram! Using the tiny image in the pattern, I created a loop of cotton the width of the button and then wound my thread around the loop a few times to strengthen it. I think it looks quite good! It does the job at least.

Has anyone else made this pattern before?

If you’re looking for other Sewing Bee related patterns then try my posts on the silk nightgowns and the men’s pyjamas!

New Look Goes ‘Grunge’

A few posts backs I posted about H&M’s new limited edition Girl With the Dragon Tattoo clothing range (read it here). Packed with leather jackets, worn jeans and spiked jewellery, the collection is pretty much everything you’d want and expect from a high street retailer.

And then New Look decided they’d jump on the bandwagon. Yet calling their newest range ‘grunge’ has sparked a small flame of disappointment/fury within my soul. Grunge is a subgenre of angst-ridden music also known as Seattle Sound. For many of you, images of Kurt Cobain should be flung to the front of your mind almost simultaneously with that loose definition.

Grunge is cheap, thrifty, flannel-based, comfy clothing that looks a bit rough round the edges and possibly a bit like you live under a bridge somewhere in downtown Chicago. Grunge is not New Look. Their newest range of ‘Bronx Brogues’, crochet tops and floral shorts screams more Pixie Lott than Courtney Love. And the animal print trousers and Giles Deacon tights certainly wouldn’t look out of place at Loveboxx Festival.

I’m not saying I don’t like any of the pieces – I’d certainly buy into one of the ‘cross print’ jumpers, but only because they look a bit like I could pass it off as an homage to Ed Banger’s Justice.

You can see the New Look grunge collection here. But don’t get your hopes up.

jelly shoes, a cult classic

Growing up in the late 90s it was ESSENTIAL for every school girl to have high-heeled, glittery jelly shoes. You know the ones – usually clear in colour, a buckle at the ankle and filled to the brim with iridescent silver sparkle.

Just as aztec print leggings and animal-logo jumpers are also back ‘in’ – 2011 sees the further rise of the jelly shoe. Vivienne Westwood, of course, has had a £90 rubber boot under her belt for generations (see photo above). Little ankle-high wellies have always been hot in her eyes. And it’s fair to say I’ve had my eye on a pair of her £120 Lady Dragon heels for a good quarter of my lifetime (see photo right, and my blog entry here).

Vivienne Westwood wasn’t the first polymer-lover to jump on the plastic bandwagon though. Melissa Shoes have had eco-friendly, plastic designs on the market for around 30 years. And they haven’t only teamed up with Westwood either – John Paul Gaultier has also collaborated with the Aussie based company to create a range of to-die-for footwear.

Until now though, I’ve yet to see much of an imitation of Viv, John or Melissa’s styles. And so enter New Look. The high street store have worked in partner with ‘Mel’ – Melissa’s playful younger sister, vegan friendly and totally recyclable. Why you’d ever chuck them in with your bean cans and cereal boxes is beyond me. The ankle boots here are £37.99, and the butterfly heels are £39.99. Compared with the Vivienne Westwood designs up top, and aside from the obvious contrast in price, is there really much in the way of differences? I’m starting to think that even I prefer the New Look variation…

Berry Skirts & Love for House of Holland

Berry coloured skirts are perhaps my favourite trend for Autumn/Winter 2011. I’ve picked a few of my (affordable) online favourites as an example of just how many there are to choose from! Whether you’re more of a raspberry-reveller, a rose-tinted honey or a rich nectarine junkie – there’s sure to be a design to suit you here.

ASOS Mini £30

H&M Mini £14.99

House of Holland Mini

New Look £24.99

South Pleat Midi £35

Topshop Pleats £35

The key for wearing this trend seems to be colour clashing – mix your berry hues with a crazy print blouse or patterned knit. Graphic = great. I love the new crochet-look prints from House of Holland too. You can buy the pieces here at ASOS, although don’t say I didn’t give you fair warning of the steep prices! They look exactly like the blankets my grandma has on her sofa. Shabby ,vintage chic clearly still has a place among the fashion elite.
I’ve recently developed a crush on 1920s pleated skirts too. I currently own 2 calf-length lovelies – one in navy blue (New Look) and one in bright coral (River Island). I’m therefore very happy to see that this trend isn’t just limited to summer – although I may just need to invest in a rose-petal coloured one in order to keep right up to date…