#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:

2017makenine-sew-sensational

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!

 

Simplicity’s New Collection: the 8131 Blouse

simplicity-8131-blouseIt’s October, it’s a new season and, with it, comes a new collection of sewing patterns from Simplicity! I was emailed by Simplicity a few weeks ago with a link to their new collection of patterns and couldn’t wait to get sorting through them. Which one is your favourite? I picked to make the new 8131 blouse!

The Simplicity 8131 blouse is ‘a V-neck bow blouse pattern allows you the ability to choose different bow styles and sleeves plus round or pointed hem.’ You can also do an off-the-shoulder style if you want to be really on-trend! I chose to make view B which has no sleeves, a rounded hem and a cute little pussy-bow neck tie. Despite all those features I actually think I selected the most simple pattern of the lot, but I wanted to make something that I’d be more likely to wear regularly than the bare-shoulder or long-sleeved variants.

simplicity-8131-blouse-neck-tie

The fabric I used for my blouse is a navy floral viscose that I actually bought on eBay, but there are loads of other lovely navy viscoses available at Minerva Crafts here if you want to take a look! Viscose is a really soft, drapey fabric and suits the bow neck-tie feature on this blouse really well. It feels a little like wearing pyjamas when you’ve got it on which is win/win really! However, viscose can be both quite slippery and stretchy to work with so make sure you cut our your pattern pieces accurately and use lots of pins to avoid producing a slightly wonky garment…

simplicity-8131-view-b

simplicity-8131The pattern instructions are what you expect from Simplicity – very easy to follow with clear pictures for each step and I didn’t have any problems. I’d probably recommend this pattern for an intermediate-beginner as there are a fair few techniques needed, such as the rounded hem, gathering on the shoulders and attaching the tie/collar. If you’re new to any of these techniques then the pattern instructions are clear enough to help you out, but it’s always good to know what you’re doing beforehand!

So what do you think? Will you be having a go at any of the new Simplicity patterns this autumn?

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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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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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 #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?

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…



Blogger Network #14 – Summer Strawberries

strawberry country kitchen table matsHappy May! OK, so this post is a bit late to the table (I can only apologise for both the pun and the delay) – my Blogger Network projects are always done and dusted for the start of the month…. but this one didn’t exactly go to plan. I had originally intended to make a dress – Simplicity 1699 in fact – but, well, I’ve got some place mats to show you instead! I’m trying to be optimistic about it because this month’s post features gingham and strawberries in abundance. In fact, it’s is pretty much Wimbledon in fabric form and I can’t exactly pass up on that…

Now, I absolutely love the pattern I had intended to show off this month. It was from Simplicity 1699, which has a dress, peplum top, jacket and trouser pattern option included (which I definitely plan to come back to). I was originally going to make the dress but then decided I’d actually rather try the peplum top, as I’ve never made one of those before. To cut a long story short – it just did not go well. You can read more about that over on the Minerva Crafts blog if you can bear to look 😉

The fabric I’d picked was a navy blue gingham and strawberry print cotton poplin and it’s incredibly soft, a little like a cotton lawn. It’s great to work with and is perfect for country-kitchen based sewing projects. So, to avoid calling my original make a total disaster, I decided to use my remaining fabric to make something completely different – table mats! This fabric is calling out to be used for a homeware project and I wish I’d listened to my instincts in the first place. I love how they’re a bit nautical-come-Wimbledon and the little gingham cutlery pockets are just my favourite.

liberty simple sewing table mats

The pattern for the place mats comes from the Liberty Book of Simple Sewing and they really are a joy to make. I actually already own a set of  mats just like these – you can see that post here – so I’m unsure as to whether I’ll keep these for myself or hand them out as a gift. Saying that, I think they’d do great for a wedding present for someone this summer.

Do you ever have a great idea in mind that just doesn’t turn out quite how you expected? Or have you ever experienced a fabric/dress pattern clash like I did? I love to learn from my makes but it’s always disappointing when things don’t turn out quite as planned. Bring on my next make is all I say!



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 #8 – Wedding Flower Bunting

flower buntingOh gosh, it’s October, that means I’m getting married next month! Eek! I’m over the moon with excitement and nerves and all those emotions that come with a year of planning this one, significant November day. This month, therefore, I chose to incorporate my wedding planning into my Minerva Crafts Blogger Network post and have made some white rose bunting for our head table at the reception venue. Isn’t it just darling?

The pattern for the flowers is Simplicity 1601, though I only chose to make view L. The pattern comes with about 100 different flowers to make as well as a Christmas wreath, Christmas stocking, picture frame and wall-hanging – talk about value for money! The fabric I used is simply ivory polyester lining fabric, which is the cheapest of cheap, and then some dark green felt and yellow felt to make the leaves and centre, plus some little sparkly glass beads to represent the stamen in the middle of the flower.

Now, if I told you that this project involved fire, would you believe me?! To make the petals all life-like the pattern instructs you to cut out all the shapes, light a candle and then curl the edges of the fabric using the heat from the flame! Well, I’ve never had so much fun! Here are a few pictures of them being made:

flower buntingOnce all the petals are sufficiently curled it was simply a case of stitching them together, attaching the leaves and sewing on the glass beads to the centre. I chose to make my flowers into a string of bunting by sewing them onto a long length of ivory ribbon but I’m sure there are endless possibilities for what you could do with them! I quite fancy making some of the poinsettia-like flowers (view F) for Christmas next – they’d look great draped over a fireplace.