Simplicity 8086 Cynthia Rowley Overlay Dress

Simplicity Cynthia Rowley 8086Wow, I can’t quite believe that I finished this one! You know when you spot that perfect dress pattern and know instantly it’s one you just have to make? I found the Cynthia Rowley 8086 dress from Simplicity online a few months ago now and I’ve been quietly working at it every weekend since. This dress isn’t for the faint-hearted and will challenge your spatial awareness skills like no other – but it’s so worth it.

The dress is almost like two dresses in one: it has a high neck/low back dress underneath and then a high neck/open back overlay over the top. The skirt is full and pleated, there’s a zipper down the centre back and a button loop at the neck. It also has a bodice lining and an overlay lining. (The fabric is a woven brocade from Minerva Crafts, by the way) Can you see why this project took me forever?

Cynthia Rowley Simplicity 8086 Overlay Dress

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it though – in fact, I loved that I could do a little bit each weekend and could see it slowly coming together on its coat-hanger. I spend quite a lot of time whipping up projects over the course of a weekend so it was nice to take a bit more time and care when making this dress! However, I did also run into a few problems… the pattern instructions are largely wonderfully written (as is often the case with Simplicity) but I had so much trouble when it came to attaching the overlay to the bodice. The instructions for this part were so unclear and it seemed as if steps had been missed out – which is a nightmare when this dress is already quite complicated. After a bit of Googling I found that other people also had the same issue (see Pattern Review for more!).

Cynthia Rowley Simplicity 8086 Overlay Dress Back

I also had trouble with the fit around my back and had to take it in and out a few times before I got it to sit right and not gape. This resulted in my back zip being massively off-centre, by which time it was too late to do anything about it! I think I’ve got away with it though – I wore this dress to my friend’s birthday party last weekend and all I got were lovely compliments. I think us sewists are too hard on ourselves sometimes: no one else ever spots the wonky bits that we berate ourselves for!

Simplicity 8086 Dress

Despite the few hiccups, I got there in the end. There was a bit of unpicking and trying again but I don’t mind that so much – how else am I going to learn new things? Trial and error is often your friend when it comes to dressmaking! And I really love my finished dress too. I’ve got a couple of weddings coming up in September so I’ll probably wear it again to one of those – I think this dress will become a nice staple in my party dress wardrobe. What do you think?

SImplicity Cynthia Rowley 8086 Button loop neck

I definitely recommend this pattern for the more adventurous intermediate/advanced seamstress. I’m super proud of my finished dress and I’m really pleased with how it turned out, especially because at one point I wasn’t sure it was ever going to work! Has this ever happened to you before? I think my cat Barnaby approves too – he loves being in my blog photos these days, perhaps I should get him to do my modelling in future.

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Sew Over It Knicker Kit!

sew over it knickers kitIf you’re a family member, friend or work colleague then look away now! (Although luckily for you there are no photos of me modeling in this post…) Yes, that’s right, I’ve made my first pair of knickers!

Making your own lingerie is a big thing in the sewing world right now – it seems there’s a blog post cropping up almost every other day from some talented seamstress who’s gone back to basics and whipped up their own undergarments. Maddie from Madalynne is an obvious inspiration, but they also turned their hands to bras and slips on this year’s Great British Sewing Bee which has perhaps caused this upsurge of interest.

sew over it knicker kit contents

I’ve never really considered making my own underwear as, at first thought, it sounds quite complicated and fiddly. But then I spotted the Sew Over It Knicker Kit on the White Tree Fabrics website and my curiosity got the better of me! The Sew Over It knicker kit is a fantastic introduction to making your own underwear – inside the cute little box you get everything that you need to make a pair including pretty cotton fabric, a reel of thread, a length of elastic, the reusable sewing pattern and the instructions. In my box I got a lovely purple floral fabric which I’m very pleased with (each box is different so the fabric you get is random – which I love!).

PS – use my code SEWSENSATIONAL when you checkout at White Tree Fabrics for 20% off and free shipping!

sew over it knickers

The instructions included in the kit are well-written and easy to follow. I finished my garment in an hour, from cutting out the 3 pattern pieces to stitching the fabric together and adding the elastic. There’s the option to embellish with ribbons or bows but I like the simplicity of mine without the added extras. I think what I enjoyed most about this project was the fact that you get everything you need all in one box – there’s no need to go out and buy extras, it’s all right there ready for you to get going.

knicker kit

And that’s really all there is to it! I really recommend this kit if you’re new to lingerie making or just want a quick sewing project that’s a little out of the ordinary. I had good fun making them and will definitely be reusing my pattern again! What do you think? Have you ever made your own knickers?!

sew over it knicker kit contents list

Blogger Network #25 – New Look 6407 Elephant Shirt

Simplicity New Look 6407 shirt

Well who doesn’t want an elephant print shirt? Click the link below to see more of my August Minerva Blogger Network post! It features this elephant print cotton and the New Look 6407 shirt pattern (and my kitten, Barnaby)…

Click here to read about my make!

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Yet another Tilly & the Buttons Coco dress…

nautical stripe tilly and the buttons coco dressHey guys, just a quick photo post for you today! I’ve made the Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress pattern so many times that there’s not much left to say about it except I LOVE IT. This is the pattern of dreams for me. So much so, I actually think I can make this dress with my eyes closed!

I always cut the size 2 and it fits me perfectly, aside from having to take a couple of inches off the sleeve length. I finished making this one in about an hour yesterday afternoon and was out and about wearing it on the windy Yorkshire Coast today. Hope you like it!

(Oh by the way, the fabric is the striped ponte roma jersey in burgundy/white. It’s so perfect for the Coco dress and super comfortable to wear.)

tilly and the buttons coco dressdress

tilly and the buttons striped coco dress

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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!

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!

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!