25 Oct 2013

My question to you - What do you listen to when sewing?

Whilst sewing my Victoria Blazer on Saturday night I began to wonder how other people sew?  I have my sewing space in the living room so often sew whilst having the TV on in the background.  Usually catching up on Downton Abbey or The Great British Bake Off.  My favorite was to have it tuned into 6music.  I especially like Cerys on a Sunday Morning.  But this Saturday night was different in that I was listening to podcasts.

Whilst making the Victoria Blazer I was referring to the photos on the By Hand website. They are very good.  So I had the podcast running in the background. I haven't really been one for podcasts but these were featured on a blog that I just started following on Bloglovin.  They were all about the recent BFI London Film Festival and featured interviews with independent film makers. What is it with me and the independents?  I do not have much knowledge about this subject but found it fascinating.  The podcasts are not very long but contained so much information in the form of friendly interviews.  I was not able to attend any of this years festival but feel that I would love to in the future.

So my question to you this month (as this will be a new monthly feature) what do you listen to when sewing? Do you listen to music whilst sewing and if so what is on your playlist? Do you have the window open and listen to the birds?  Or is it films, tv series or podcasts, radio stations? I look forward to your comments

The site I was listening to is called Directors Notes and can be found here if you wanted to have a listen too.  I know it will take me a while to get through their back catalogue.

20 Oct 2013

Victoria Blazer. By Hand London.

Well I've made it and if you had asked me at the beginning of the year "could I make a jacket?"  I would have replied "not a chance".  The pattern is brilliant and there are some very wonderful and beautiful versions out there, but I'm afraid to stay this isn't one of them.  I have to say that I am not in love with mine and it has nothing to do with the pattern - which is fabulous and so very well supported on the web site that even I could make this.  I'm not in love because of my styling.  Others have done the shell in a gorgeous to die for pattern - but mine is solid navy.  Very functional but far from exciting.  Others have contrasting collar and main shell - mine is very tame. I had considered - and may still do this - having the collar, cuffs and lapels made out of the very same, lovely navy polka dot that I have lined it with.

I've not made many things so far that have been this plain.

So I am proud of the shape, the size, the finish on the cuffs, collar, lapels.  I didn't enjoy easing those sleeves but they really are quite good.  I traced this pattern something I have never done before.  I love the way when I turned the whole thing inside out at the end - I 'm sure there's smoke and mirrors involved- but it actually looked well, properly finished.   I'm so glad I made it as I can see my dream of making my own cosy winter coat coming ever closer.  I also love the pockets and as the instructions mention - I will be unpicking side seams to add pockets from now on on every dress - genius.

So it may just need a really nice brooch or button, or maybe the contrasting cuffs and /or lapels and collar.  Maybe you have some ideas cos it really does need some help.  Please let me know any suggestions in the comments below.

17 Oct 2013

Entangled for dressmaking

This is my first fabric pattern review  in my new monthly feature.  Actually when I first thought of this as an idea it was the first fabric that sprung to mind.  When I started sewing it was mainly due to the beautiful range of crafting and quilting fabrics out there, but when I started dressmaking I realised that many of the exquisite patterns did not give the drape needed for some patterns. So whats a girl to do?

I  found that a lot of my sewing time was being taken up with sourcing fabric. Sometimes I would like the pattern but the fabric was wrong.  Other times I would find the right fabric but not the right pattern, or worse right fabric, right pattern , wrong colours.  So introducing my first fabric choice Entangled by Hang Tight Studio.  Heather Dutton - the designer behind this beautiful design is based in Maine, USA and her design is available from many places including Modern Yardage and Spoonflower.  

The design can be printed in a variety of scales (small, medium and large), which is perfect for a range of projects, and also on a range of fabrics, both woven and knits.  In a recent offer Spoonflower were sending a free swatch of their new performance knit fabric.  I choose to have Entangled in Bloem Grey as my free swatch but this design is available in so many (32) different colour ways.   

There have also been several versions of this made into dresses and I recommend you take a look.  Many of you will have seen the simply perfect navy and white entangled Colette hawthorn dress by Emma and also a very pretty block dress for a little girl by Steph at girl. Inspired.  If you know of any other versions please let me know as it would be great to add them to this page.

How would I use this pattern.  Well I love this geometric, directional print, a clever take on polka dot spots and pin stripes .  I would love to make another April Rhodes Staple Dress, but if feeling up for more of a challenge, I could really see this a Sewaholic Minoru Coat In fact in contrasting colours for the outer and lining would be really fun.

Sewaholic Minoru - very much on my wish list White Lining and Navy Shell
Well I hope you have enjoyed this first fabric pattern review and maybe have started planning your own project.  If you have let me know which colour and pattern you would use?  Also any comments and thoughts on this as a regular feature would be great.

13 Oct 2013

agggghh fabric fear strikes again and the need to embrace the new

Does anyone else suffer from fabric fear.  I shall explain...

As you all know I've not been doing this sewing lark for long.  Along the way I have made a couple of tops, one good skirt and several really nice dresses - still in love with my April Rhodes.  But this week I was to start on a new project.  Not a skirt, dress or top this was something, well, else.  This was a blazer.  (OK no prizes for guessing).  Late to the party although I like to think fashionably late, I have decided to start on the By Hand Victoria Blazer.
navy cotton sateen and navy polka dot

The instructions and packaging are wonderful and there is a lovely sewalong on their website to guide you through, yet I've hit a wall.  I physically cannot cut out my fabric.  So I have cut out the pattern - I even traced it (new skill alert).  But I know that I will need to build up the courage to cut it out. So whilst I move my head out of fabric fear mode, please bear with me and next Sunday I will show you my blazer the progress I have made on my blazer.

So do you suffer from fabric fear?  and if you do, what causes it?

10 Oct 2013

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Fabric Designers

One of the things that drew me to start making my own clothes was my love of fabric. Like many, I fell for the vast range of pretty cottons and their cute patterns and bright colours.  I'm sure their are also many dressmakers who have made stunning outfits in quilting cotton only to find that although it looks beautiful , well sometimes its a bit stiff and uncomfortable.

For the last year I have been trying to find beautiful fabrics that would also make comfortable clothes.  There are a great many to be found online and , if you are lucky enough, in your local fabric store.  But it is still the quilters who have the largest choice and selection.    This is not to say it is impossible though.  I am hoping to start reviewing some of the best on my blog.

My intentions are to showcase my favorite designs sourced from independent fabric designers. (spot the theme)  This is very much an organic process.  I am in no way affiliated with any of the designs I will place on this feature in my blog. I simply want to show fellow dressmakers designs I think would be really nice made into clothes.  If you choose to go on and buy fabric from them and make stunning, elegant and awesome makes, I believe its a win-win situation.

I hope that the designers do not mind me posting on my blog, I will always of course credit them   The last thing I would want to do is offend.

So the first design will be unveiled next Thursday and then once a month after that. I hope you like it and look forward to your comments.

Also the photos of the staple dress are now available on this page sorry it took so long and thank you for bearing with me

6 Oct 2013

April Rhodes Staple Dress

April Rhodes Staple Dress
Very excited about this dress.  It was super super quick to make.  It only has 5 pieces (front, back, pocket, arm binding and neck binding) which is especially good for those who dislike the cutting out part of sewing.  Even though its super easy to make, thanks to some extremely informative instructions with photos it still has some interesting techniques that were new to me and allowed to practice some new skills.

So chic
The first was french seams which, for some odd reason, I thought would be really difficult - I think i'm always wary of new techniques.  I had not realised that there were french seams in this dress so when it said to "Place Dress Front and Dress Back WRONG sides together at shoulders"  I panicked.  I think read, reread and read it again for about 45 minutes before deciding to go ahead.   Well once I got over it and just followed the instructions I found I had some very beautiful and hard wearing seams that would allow my finished dress to last much longer.  Why did I ever doubt the instructions at all?

Elastic fantastic
The second technique was the shirring.  I had remembered seeing this on the Great British Sewing Bee when they made a girls dress and had thought at the time "ooh that looks difficult."  Well lets just say not only is it brilliantly straightforward, but with my new found faith in April's instructions, a complete joy to make.  After the first row of shirring I was addicted and in the end completed four rows only stopping because I didn't want to make the completed dress too tight.

Spot the pocket
The neck, arms, hem and pockets are all expertly described with step by step photographs and I would say that if you are yet to make a dress this is a wonderful introduction dress.  It is also a very practical every day staple dress which could easily be worn for so many occasions.  Can you tell that I like this dress?  I made the dress with 2m of cotton poplin bought on a whim whilst at Rolls and Rems.

Anyway I do plan on making this again but as you remember from Thursdays post I am really far behind on the Challenge. So another Staple Dress will have to wait.

3 Oct 2013

Challenge update

Hello, yes its Thursday and I'm back, so managing to stick to my new blogging schedule.  In my last post I said that I would be taking advice from Tilly and so here I go.  Well she advises that you blog regularly and  have regular features so here goes with the first one.

It seemed sensible to have a monthly update on the progress of my challenge however what is  more embarrassing is that its taken me till month 10 of a 12 month challenge to introduce a monthly update. So the challenge was to make 12 items from independent designers over the course of a year.  I thought that as a complete beginner I would struggle to make more than one a month so set an achievable target.

There is a more detail on the 12 finished projects page but so far this year I have made

1. Sewaholic Alma blouse
2. Colette Ginger skirt
3. Tilly and the Buttons Mathilde blouse
4. Made by Rae Buttercup bag  (currently only the first two are featured will sort this out soon)

 ...so I am one third of the way through and from recent fabric foraging trip to London I have most of the resources I need to complete this challenge

I am hoping that there will be two more projects completed this weekend

I will say that I haven't only been working on this challenge and found that I fell in love with too many new Colette dress patterns this summer.  This is not a bad thing, both Laurel and Hawthorn were really fun to make and I will be writing about them soon as well  but the truth is I haven't been as productive as I had hoped.  I should be making my 10th project.  Still a long way to go and its nice to have you with me for support.

So here's to a very productive weekend.  What are sewing plans this weekend?  Have you set yourself any sewing challenges this year and how are you getting on with them?

29 Sep 2013

Taking advice from Tilly

As you may know, when I first started this blog it was like many of the bloggers out there, on a whim.  I had decided that i wanted to do something creative.  I already had a (very dusty from lack of any attention) sewing machine and so sewing seemed to make sense, especially as i didn't need to spend much money.  A google search for beginners projects led me to Tillys site. I read it from beginning to end.  I then read some other blogs. My favorite are listed on the right hand side if your interested in some good reads.  I then took the plunge and thought I would blog.

The main two reasons for blogging were to keep a diary of my makes- success and failures and to encourage me to make more as it documents the date. Well I've been blogging now since January and one of the things I've done since then is to only make using independent pattern designers.  I feel there are some truly stunning and beautiful things to make from the independents.  The instructions are much more beginner friendly and many come with a wealth of resources that can be plundered. Colettes invisible zipper video being one of my all time favorites.

So I heard about Tillys Vimeo video on blogging and thought I would give it a watch.  It came from the Folksy Summer School which also looked fab and I would love to attend next year.  Tilly talks about how to make your blog really good and she ought to know.  One of the tips that I have picked up is the notebook idea.  Beautiful in its simplicity, it really is a structured way of blogging  Up till now my blogging has been sporadic and led by making.  So when I make something I would then blog about it.  But this means that if i haven't made anything, well I haven't blogged.  This a led to double guilt aggggghhhh!!!!.  Guilt over not making and guilt over not blogging.  With the notebook firmly in place I should become guilt free.

If you are interest in watching this video I have added to the link here.

If all goes well I will be back Thursday pm.

Quick mini update - for more on being a better blogger read Majos's post too, a good read and what amazing timing, thanks Majo  Look forward to reading your schedule too.

30 Aug 2013


Buttercup Bag
My much loved and overused handbag is now looking beyond its best and will have to go.  Sad face.  But this gave me an excellent opportunity to try out the very wonderful and free Buttercup pattern from made-by-rae. Sneaky happy face  (just don't tell my other handbag)

Spot the Mathilde
 So very easy and for me, the perfect size although for a mere $10 you can get the larger version.  The clear instructions with photos make assembly a breeze.  This bag is big enough for keys, purse, phone and lipstick and what more would I really want to put into it.  There are also buttercups a plenty in the flickr group to get inspiration for your designs

Button from a very old coat
I love the colours and all the fabrics bought from my recent London forage.  If you like me need a bag this is a great choice.  I will be making more Made by Rae and using very little amounts of fabric (2 X fat quarters) Buttercups could also become Christmas gifts   Am I allowed to say Christmas in August - well it is September soon.

Its lined in the grey cotton twill and has a magnetic snap too.  The front is a polyester wool plaid

So are you making plans for Christmas?  Have you made a bag?  Do you keep buttons from coats that have long since been binned from overuse?

28 Aug 2013

Fabric Shopping in the UK (well London really)

Having only achieved three of the 12 makes for the year and with only four months to go I feel that I need to step up a gear of my challenge.  I have found that the real delay in making is not the sewing but the sourcing of fabric and waiting for the postman to deliver it.  With this in mind I decided to hit the streets of London and forage for fabric.  Well I walked miles and went shopping.

I had planned to visit the Goldhawk Road mentioned in many a blogger site from the recent meet up.  I had also thought I would pop into Liberty's and as it was near go to McCullock and Wallis.  So this post is about what I really did.

I got into London at about 11 and went to oxford circus to go to Libertys.  It is a really nice store with lots of stuff, especially loved looking at their new season fabric but at £22 meter not really what i was after although the feel of the tana lawn is sooo nice - not something that can be done over the internet.

From Liberty I went to the famous MacCulloch & Wallis - the fabrics are all downstairs with the haberdashery upstairs.  All the fabric swatches are in the center grouped nicely together, with the bolts around the outside.  Although there was some good stuff , especially some navy peacock cotton which I had seen on the website I thought that I may still find what I need elsewhere.

I was in the area so dropped into Misan and Cloth House both lovely shops. For something unique this would be a perfect choice - the staff were really friendly in both shops.  Misan had a lovely range of fabrics and a whole downstairs section of reduced price pieces.  Cloth has a  much more natural and organic feel a really nice, relaxing place to be and browse.  On this occasion not what I was after.  I also noticed lots of silk in the area.

I had heard great stuff about a shop called Rolls and Rems in Lewisham but both Goldhawk Road and Lewisham seemed so far away so after a quick google found out there was three Rolls and Rems with the nearest being in Holloway.  The tube yesterday was sooo humid so found some buses going in the general direction and off I went

So glad I did.  The store is not vast - apparently Lewisham is much bigger but all the staff were friendly and helpful.   Its so nice listening to the conversations in the shop, what people plan to make and for what occasion and the Great British Sewing Bee were the hot topics.  So reasonably priced and with everything I needed I ended up with two large white bags of fabric, enough for all my foreseeable makes.
I plan to make...
A handbag
A jersey dress
A blazer
A top
2 hoodie tops

I had planned on visiting Raystitch on my way from Holloway to the V & A but the bus took me a different way so this is now on my to do list - Did notice that they are open on Sundays which is brilliant as not many fabric shops do this.
Ended my day with a walk around the V&A loving the fashion but also the patterns in the ironwork - this surprised me as i didn't know that I would love them so much.  With the two bags of fabric I was very glad for the cloakroom to store them as I explored the museum.  Also noted that the V and A sell Colette
patterns.  It looks like the fabrics are all moving to a new place soon so will be going back soon for sure.

14 Aug 2013

The fabulous and wonderful Mathilde Alma

I would not have been able to complete this challenge without using a Tilly pattern.  Back in January I decided that I would like to do some sewing.  I Googled simple sewing projects for beginners and found a link to Tilly's site.  It was so easy to read I think I read the whole thing.  When I had finished I had moved away from just wanting to sew a cushion cover to wanting to sew my own wardrobe and I wanted my own blog. I was completely inspired. It therefore made perfect sense to include her first pattern into my challenge.

I have finally completed this blouse and wanted to share with you.  It was so much fun to make and to be honest this is actually my second version.  I started this just after completing Colette Ginger and it was, for me, a step too far.  That's not to say that this is a difficult pattern, more that for a third ever make, I was not ready for it possibly a little over ambitious.

The problem with the first version
My first version was navy and white polka dot crepe de chine.  This I believe was a major problem because the fabric although beautiful and drapy was also a slippery little creature.  I also cut it out with scissors.  When I think about it now, these both combined  meant that the pieces I cut really had no bearing on the pattern and that was just the start of my problems. The neckline and the pleats were wonderful and challenging and really fun to make.  Tilly's instructions make it very easy to follow as do the wonderful tutorials on her site. My real problem came with the seven button holes.  I had not done button holes before.  i have also lost the manual for my machine. I tried to guess, starting at the bottom as this I thought would be least obvious.  The first one went well but with each successive buttonhole they got worse. The button holes were a disaster. I gave up on the project.  then...

The practically perfect second version

So I started a second version this time using a lovely navy cotton poplin star print.  

  Far easier to work with I wondered why I didn't use cotton more often.  I cut it with my rotary cutter and the pieces looked just like the pattern;  This made assembly sooo easy.The pleats were a joy and I even added  some crochet lace detail between the yoke and the front - an idea stolen borrowed from Lauren Guthrie.
The sleeves were not for me and so the I also borrowed the cap sleeve idea using Sewaholic's Alma as a pattern.  I also love those seven large buttons on the back.

To remember
If you are new to sewing this is a perfect pattern just don't use a slippery fabric - cotton poplin is cheap and perfect for the capped sleeve version and widely available in lots of gorgeous patterns.  Use a rotary cutter although with care they are very sharp.  You get a very accurate cut and accuracy does make sewing much easier. Do follow all the steps from Tilly's site, both the instructions and photos are brilliant.  Try not to lose the manual for your sewing machine.  Practice buttonholes over and over until they are perfect before moving onto the garment.

I will be making another Mathilde although again with cap sleeves.  This is only make three  of my 12 makes so I hope to make another Mathilde in the new year.  The next pattern I will be making April Rhodes Staple dress.  Have you made this?  I chose it for the pockets and the easy styling.

31 Jul 2013

Colette Hawthorn - 19 hour dress

Untitled by SewSleepy
pattern matching or happy accident

Grunge Hawthorn Front by SewSleepy
the front
I had been intending to make this dress from the moment the contest was launched.  I say from then because, the previous day when the dress was launched I was very underwhelmed.  You see it was another dress - I had just made two Laurels.  It was a dress that looks like it would need ironing, had aprox 1000 buttons and I've never worn a shirt dress in my life - well they never fit in the shops so I've never bought one.  So when the contest was announced it was my competitive side that made me buy the pattern.

So the pattern sat on my computer waiting for me to download it whilst I busied myself with finishing off a few other projects and generally avoiding it.  Anyway last Friday I remembered that it needed to be made before Sunday and so went fabric shopping.  I had been looking online and had seen some lovely fabric - a violet chambray, a blue cherries and flower print, purple gingham and a multicoloured seersucker plaid but had not got round to ordering them so fabric shop on the way home it was.

 It was 20 minutes before the shop closed and so I rushed around like a crazy lady trying to find the most fabulous fabric. I had vowed to stay away from anything where the pattern would need to be matched so imagine my surprise on returning home  to have bought grey, black and blue cotton plaid - puzzled look???

Untitled by SewSleepy
the back
I then went camping for two days - on my return and very sleepy-  i decided to start the dress; and whats more set about completing it in time for the contest,  well it finishes PST so there was plenty of time.

I printed it out, stuck it together and cut it out and then set about cutting out the fabric.  I have never liked this bit so tried using cutting mat and cutting wheel instead of shears.  Not sure if its a combination of the cotton and the wheel but the finished pieces looked really like the template.  My confidence increased and so I set about making the dress.  Using both the sewalong tutorial and the pattern instructions it was a breeze and when I finished for the day (3am) I had completed the collar and the bodice and just needed to attach the skirt and buttons.

I woke up at 8am and started again.  Trying to be quick I made two mistakes when attaching the skirt pieces together and attaching the skirt to the bodice which both had to be carefully unpicked and sewed together again.  Both involved not checking before sewing.  Seams showing on the outside is not a good look.

Well that just left the buttonholes and buttons - The sewalong suggested looking at the manual for my sewing machine, I had lost this so practised with a scrap of felt until I had mastered it.  I am very proud of the buttonholes - so neat. Then there's the slow process of sewing on the buttons and the hem.

Untitled by SewSleepy
the inside -
check out the bias binding at the arms
So all in all the dress took 24 hours - well 19 if you take out sleeping.  I mentioned at the beginning that I don't own any shirt dresses and I think I know why now.  Like all shop bought clothes it is made for an average person and I am not average.  My body shape does not have any very obvious places where adjustments would need to be made but on shop dresses the buttons around the bust would be pulled too tight or in the next size up the back would not be fitted.  I did not do a FBA but I did take the seams out on the sides from 5/8 to 1/4. Also shop dresses are straight cut and not the beautifully flattering circle skirt.  This shape skirt is very practical to move in yet very feminine to.

How do I feel about my dress?  Well i love it!!! its a perfect combination of 50's housewife uber femme and grungy 90's throwback.  Also perfect camouflage when picnicking.   I am also very proud of the attention to detail and how far i have come since January when i started sewing clothes.  Thank you Sarai for pushing me out of my comfort zone each time and supporting me with brilliant patterns and tutorials.

The dress has been placed onto Flickr and you never know the 19 hour dress may just make it though to the second round of the contest,  fingers crossed

UPDATE - It didn't make it through to the second round - sad face.  But I still get to wear it and wear it i shall.  I love this pattern and |I am already planning on making some new ones.  Also if you haven't already go place your votes there are some beautiful versions out there and  some great inspiration if you've not yet made this pattern.  Oh and feel free to leave a comment too.

29 Jul 2013

Colette hawthorn update

Untitled by SewSleepy

Grunge Hawthorn Front by SewSleepy
After a fabulous weekend camping I got back home in the mood for sewing.  So I whipped up a Hawthorn in a day.  This is an intermediate pattern -  but don't be scared.  The hardest part for me was finding a supply of 15 buttons.

The fabric is plaid cotton and is so lovely.  The collar took the longest but the rest just assembled itself - well not literally.  I had hoped to put it in the contest and it looked like I was too late  - very sad face -but fortunately there is to be a second round so fingers crossed my beautiful grungy picnic blanket dress will go through.  Either way I win as I get to wear it.  If the weather stays good I will be taking it to the zoo tomorrow.

Full write up tomorow...

23 Jul 2013

Navy Ginger

This is the second completed item that I've made so far, ten more to go if I'm going to meet the challenge.  I wanted to make a navy corduroy skirt after seeing Tilly's red chunky corduroy grain-line.  So got to work straight away.  After making the pink ginger that I posted last week I was confident that the size was correct and set about cutting and assembling.  Invisible zipper was not really a problem this time as I went straight to the video, no stubborn frustration for me this time.

 I also have noticed that others were adding facing in different materials so I added a lovely purple facing at the waist.  It a quilting weight cotton and has hydrangeas on it.  I love the way it peeps over the top of the waist band.  I think my next ginger will have piping along the bottom of the waistband.

Again a nice straightforward assembly which will look lovely in the Autumn with some knee high/ calf boots.  Just need to find the perfect pair.  Any ideas?  This is also a practice skirt but definitely wearable.  I wanted to check I liked the pattern and fit  before cutting the gorgeous liberty corduroy I bought back in January.

18 Jul 2013

Pink Ginger

Colette Ginger toile

I made this toile/muslin after Alma back in the spring.  In my quest to complete 12 projects, it would be rude not to make some Colette Patterns.  Having made a blouse, I decided I should try something different and so I chose Ginger, a beautiful A line skirt with three different versions.  A favorite of bloggers and with so many examples out there, it sold itself as a pattern.  Colette patterns are awesome and like Sewaholic so easy to follow.  As this was my first Colette and first skirt I thought it best to make a muslin.  

I had been shopping for fabric in Ikea of all places back in February and had some thick cotton strange pink coloured fabric.  It looks perfect for home furnishings but not sure for clothing, although definitely hard wearing in a gabardine kinda way.  The skirt requires interfacing.  This was straightforward although like always I checked and double checked everything so it actually took a while.  Since then Tilly has put up a post on interfacing which can be found here and is her usual high standard.  The skirt came together well and was a pleasure to make especially as it has few pieces.  

not so invisible, invisible zipper

Having recently completed Alma I was confident with the invisible zipper.  I thought I no longer needed to use the fabulous Colette tutorial video and so struggled for two stubborn days before watching the video and completing it perfectly in about 30 minutes.  lesson learnt ; Use the fab video from Colette 

Rushing the sewing 

The finish of the zip is not so good but this was never supposed to be a wearable muslin.  The zip is not very invisible  but the cream zip was always going to struggle next to the pink in it camouflage abilities.  You will also note, the observant of you, that the hem is unfinished tut tut.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and if you have please leave a comment.  This toile/muslin was in preparation for a navy corduroy ginger skirt.  My inspiration coming from a gorgeous red chunky corduroy skirt mad by Tilly   This will feature in my next post as well as pictures of the hemmed pink ginger. 

Have you made Ginger? or are you planning one at the moment, would love to hear what you have done.

8 Jul 2013

Floral Alma

Floral Sewaholic Alma
After the last post my PC decided that it would stop working and is currently at the PC hospital.  Not realising it would take so long but glad to be back to my blog.

I may make a plain Alma
with the rest of this fabric

I made this back in February but this is the first time its made it to the blog.  It is my version of Sewaholic's Alma.  During winter and spring I was sourcing places to buy fabric and this came from one of the local Asian stores which sell fabric as suits (Salwar kameeze). This means that you buy roughly 2 meters each of two complementary fabrics one would be for the trouser (usually plain) and one would be for the top (in this case floral).  Sometimes there is also a scarf made from chiffon.

There were some very ornate fabrics with beautiful border prints and embroidery but for this project I wanted something more simple.  The floral is similar to a ditsy print and I think the fabric is polyester.  For a first fabric it was a bit slippery, especially when cutting.  I used plenty of tins of baked beans as fabric weights to hold it down.

Invisible zipper is, well, invisible
front view of Alma.
Next one will be more fitted now
 I have my dress form

I made Alma version A, but without the belt.  I love the cap sleeves which although look tricky were not too much hassle.  They are also very flattering on me  The blouse comes together easily and the invisible zipper was a triumph.  What i really love is how many times i have worn this out and I have got compliments on it from people who didn't know I had made it.  I really like the neckline although it had its own issues and I tried topstiching which again will need some practise.  This is my first piece of proper sewing and I am very proud of it.

topstiching - not sure why I chose zigzag

I will be definitely making it again and with so many variations it will be difficult to choose which one will be next.  If you haven't made an Alma yet why not give it a try.  

Have you made Alma?  How did you find it as a pattern?  what fabric did you use?  Do you wear it often or does it lurk at the back of your wardrobe ?Next time its Colette's Ginger. 

24 Jun 2013


Well I was looking for a Sewalong  after missing the recent pajama party and so I have decided that it will be Hawthorn.  I am extremely nervous as I have never done a sewalong but will be brave and see how it goes.  My thoughts so far are sleeveless. Look out for updates as I venture into the world of sewalong and wish me luck.  I am very much a beginner but having completed not one but two Laurels feel that I should be fine especially as it is a Colette pattern.  So who's joining me?  Have you got a fabric in mind? Let me know so I can follow your progress too.

22 Jun 2013

Sewaholic Alma Muslin/Toile

Sewaholic Alma
I know most people start their sewing life with a skirt (something simple) or dress (something wow).  Some even start with something for the home - curtains, cushion cover, heritage style quilt. I started with Sewaholic's Alma.  I'm not sure why I chose this pattern but it a very popular choice for many.

For those who are not aware Sewaholic are a fabulous pattern house from Vancouver, Canada and designed by the very talented Tasia.  She designs  "sewing patterns for the modern seamstress".  Maybe it was that idea that took me to buy Alma.  By modern I took it to mean somebody with no sewing experience.  Isn't that a definition of "modern" I also quite like the idea of being a seamstress, much more exciting and romantic than a tailor or dressmaker.

There are many examples of Alma in the blogosphere.  The pattern can be adapted so offers great value, with different arm length, neckline and waist details.  I have never worn/bought a peter pan collar but thought this would be a good opportunity to try and paired it with elbow length sleeve. I had an old piece of cotton sheeting and thought i would make a muslin from this to check the sizing.

The pattern was very easy to follow and it came together well.  There were of course a few problems but this is a muslin and so I will sort these out next time round but the fit was good without need for adjustments.  I really like the length of the blouse and the overall shape of the bodice.  This pattern will be made again and I would recommend it.

Skills that I learnt on this project
Check out how straight those seams are!!
Well this is my first ever sewing project so pretty much everything from cutting out pattern and fabric to using a sewing machine.  This pattern allows development of some really useful skills especially concealed zips and setting sleeves.  Really they are not to be scared of with so many useful video tutorials online even I was able to do them. The Coletterie zipper tutorial was watched over and over.  I am stupidly impressed that my sleeves are the same length ( it is the simple things...).  The zip is far from concealed but it does up.  The sleeves are not too bumpy and wearable. Overall, as a first garment, I am very proud and happy, and have learnt sooooo much.

For next time... Well as it turns out I don't really suit peter pan collars and I'm thinking cap sleeves are also more me.  What I love about this is by sewing items I am learning so much about my own personal style and becoming more active in the clothes I choose to wear.

Problems with my sewing - most definitely not the pattern
The collar is not centered
-  how did that happen?

The importance of matching
zips and fabric

Next up the finished floral Alma...

20 Jun 2013

Several false starts but here we go...

I am not very good with writing this blog but hope to be more prolific from now on.  I have thought about why I was not blogging and it not because I wasn't sewing or that I didn't have time.  I have decided that it was because I am actually shy.  Awwww. This came as a shock to me as I'm normally considered to be a very confident person.  But seriously the idea of posting photos of myself online is quite daunting and this has been stopping me from posting the items I have made.  This blog was supposed to be a way of recording my sewing journey and all the things I have made.  A gallery/diary of my progress and something I should be proud of. So  I will be adding photos soon but for the meanwhile on my very new and beautiful Lady Valet until I'm feeling more confident.

What was I hoping to achieve this year...
When I decided to start sewing my own clothes it was because, like many others, I wanted clothes that fit.  My aim was to sew 12 garments in 12 months.  I also wanted to only use independent pattern designers. The list I started with in January has changed as new patterns have been added that I simply wanted to try.

1. Colette Ginger Navy Corduroy
2. Sewaholic Alma Floral
3. Sewahloic Minoru
4. Tillys Mathilde Navy spot
5. Colette Laurel dress
6. Colette Peony dress
7. Colette Hazel dress
8. Sew Liberated Clara dress
9. Sew Liberated Skinny jeans
10. A hoodie top - forgotten where this was from
11. Sewaholic Renfrew
12. Colette Clover or something similar

Let me know what you think and if you know which pattern  number 10 is.
Look forward to your comments and thank you for stopping by.  My next post will be about Sewaholic's Alma.  Hope to see you soon

Also I am wanting to follow a current sewalong, any ideas or recommendations would be appreciated

1 May 2013

long time since last post...

Well I haven't been blogging but I have been watching the sewing bee and sewing.  I have entered two dresses into the Colette Laurel competition, completed a Sewaholic Alma and started a Mathilde.  I also have a Ginger Navy corduroy skirt but that needs hemming.  Short but sweet.  Good luck if you entered the Laurel competition it was fun and there are some very beautiful and inventive versions.

7 Feb 2013

Hello February

I did get some sewing done this week and practiced some new ideas.  Wanted a simple and quick one day/week kinda project so thought I would make a wearable muslin of Colette Ginger out of some pink fabric I got from Ikea.  The skirt requires interfacing.  This was straightforward although like always I checked and double checked everything so it actually took a while.  Since then Tilly has put up a post on interfacing which can be found here and is her usual high standard.  Skirt came together well, but I got over confident with the invisible zip and that is as far as i got.

Things I practiced

1. Using a tracing wheel and paper so that i didn't need to cut the pattern
2. Interfacing
3. Invisible zip - will finish this over the weekend

Points to remember
1. label the pieces of cloth with the letter
2. press not iron the interfacing
3. follow the tutorial on zips from colette web site
4. buy fabric, zips and thread at the same time so that they match

the quest to have 12 pieces made in 12 months continues although as yet i have 2 near finished muslins   Still plenty of year left though.

need to sort out for next week
1. completed ginger
2. photos
3. start navy corduroy ginger

31 Jan 2013

Really busy week but no sewing

I have had a few deliveries of fabric and also some pinking shears but my tracing wheel has not turned up yet.  I really want to start of a navy corduroy Ginger as I think it will be much easier than Alma.  I'm hoping for a nice quick project next.  Also I really really want to use my Liberty print but that's for the second Ginger. Fingers crossed  I will get them for the weekend as it would be good to get going again.

I have seen a book that I would like as well that some people have used to help with fitting.  Let me know what you think of it if you have it as I am tempted to ask for it for my birthday.  It called
Fit for Real People: Sew Great Clothes Using ANY Pattern.

I have also got to find some time a post some photos of my final Alma muslin so you can see what I was talking about last week.

Last thing - I am thinking about printable patterns - especially Mathilde  There are some beautiful versions on the gallery and I think i will copy take inspiration from some of them.  Also an excellent tutorial on printable patterns.  Well done Tilly

24 Jan 2013

My week in Sewing. Wow what a busy week.

Well lots to report on this week.

I ordered some lovely fabrics (more on this later) and started my first project, Sewaholic's Alma blouse.  Looking at other blogs I was under the impression that this would take me (a complete beginner) a weekend.

Cautiously I began on Friday.  Starting with trying to work out my measurements and using measurement chart found through Tilly's Blog by Miss P. Once I worked out my measurements I decided to go for the 8 and started to cut my pattern and fabric.  The fabric I was using was an old cotton valance as this was going to be a muslin.

On Saturday I started sewing.  Cue first problem. My darts were awful I didn't know how to do a dart and I had to do 6.  After some Google research i found this video and was able to complete my 6 darts.  I also found a video on how to use a seam ripper as i was spending a lot of time ripping seems in a very inefficient way.

Sunday I made the collar - I didn't have any interfacing but this is a run through so didn't worry to much and was very happy with the shape of the collar. Especially how it met in the middle.  Not sure that I'm a peter pan collar kinda girl though so may try doing the other two collars in the real version.

Monday ordered an invisible zip from.

Tuesday Zip arrived and went about the complex and counter intuitive process of invisible zippers.  Used the Colleterie video to help me. First attempt was really good on one side and not the other.  I had gone over the teeth of the zip and the zip would not do up.  Hadn't realized to switch the position of my needle and had gone over the zip.  Used the seam ripper and tried again.  This time better, the zip goes up but is far from invisible   Used the seam ripper again

Wednesday, tried again with the zip.  third time and this much better almost invisible.  Will leave this now and move on to the sleeves.  Used this video on seam easing.  Then used this video on sleeve finishing.  I have at the moment one sleeve on the muslin.  I also have another sleeve ready to put on today and I need to hem the bottom.  Hopefully then first make has taken ,just one week.  Look forward to trying on when its complete.

My thoughts on this pattern.
This is advertised as an intermediate pattern.  I wish I had started with something easier to begin with...but I have learnt some really good skills this week and am confident that I could make this pattern again.

What went well
1. The sizing is good
2. The darts were easier than I thought they would be
3. The invisible zip is a challenge but definitely worth it
4. Sleeves were easier than I thought and made it feel like proper dressmaking

What I don't like
1.  I'm not sure that I'm a peter pan collar person
2. Plain fabric shows off your mistakes

What I will do next time
1. Use the same size
2. Choose an invisible zip to match the fabric
3. try the cap sleeve version
4. try the other two necklines
5. Use a patterned fabric


Yes I've been shopping.  With so many different fabric stores online it would be wrong to not try them all - wouldn't it?

Liberty print corduroy- Isla Rose-  Sewbox
Navy crepe backed satin - Fabric Godmother
Navy corduroy
Fusia floral viscose
Navy cotton poplin stars
Navy cotton poplin stripe- Remnant House

I'm now not allowed to buy any more fabric until I have used up this little stash.


Have bought some more patterns too.  Colettes peony pattern. McCalls 2401

I'm not allowed to buy any more patterns... well except maybe some trousers.

17 Jan 2013

New year New blog

Inspired by some lovely makes on Tilly's blog, I have decided to have a go.  I begrudge walking around stores trying on ill fitting clothes and feel that the time has come to make my own clothes.  I had tinkered with this idea two years ago but could not find fabrics or patterns that inspired me.  I have chosen to start a blog as a way of tracking my progress and a way of recording successes and pitfalls along the way.  I plan to post once a week. I have also seen the way bloggers support each other with ideas and really why wouldn't I want to be part of that. That's all for today. Thank you for reading.


Postie has been and the beautiful fabric and pattern that I bought from Sew Over It has arrived.  Nicely wrapped and exciting to open.  It contained Colette pattern Hazel for the summer, grey and white ditsy floral  chiffon and green and cream polka dot cotton. I have the Alma blouse pattern on order so I think I will make a spotty blouse first.  Also before I forget I have got the Cal Patch book and hope to work my way through it.  Need to source some navy blue corduroy for the basic skirt.