Monday, 18 August 2014

African wax cotton Hazel dress

Hey gang,

This is my Colette Hazel dress made out of a lovely yellow and blue African wax cotton. I bought this cotton when I was in Paris in January, and immediately fell in love with it. I can't remember how much it was - maybe about 20 euros for 3 metres. I had a vague idea when I bought it that it would make a cute sundress come summer.

It sat around for a bit while I debated what it should become, then May came along and I was one of the winners of the Sew Dolly Clackett sew along. My prize was my choice of a Colette pattern. I remembered some lovely Hazels I'd seem made by others and my decision was made! Plus, I'm just in time for Heather's Summer Sundress Sew Along - woohoo!

I didn't do a muslin. Naughty I know, but I figured I'd just try and solve any fitting errors along the way. Using the sizing chart as a guide, I cut a size 2 in the bust, grading to an 8 at the waist and hips. Just before inserting the zip I tried it on and decided I could do with a slight bit more ease all round, so I inserted the zip with just 0.5cm seam allowance. Once I'd inserted it I tried it on again and decided that wasn't quite enough ease at the upper chest, so took out the side seams a little. Clearly a litlle bigger in the upper chest than I thought? Ooooooops.

I decided I wanted to have the bodice sitting quite high on my torso, and therefore removed a whopping 13cm when fitting the straps. I'm really happy with their length but it does now mean I have crazy high bust darts! They're definitely way higher than they should be. It doesn't bother me too much with this version as they're not very visible and really don't affect the bodice shape too much, but if I make Hazel again it's something I'll rectify.

I did my best with a bit of pattern matching, which I think has worked out really well. It would have been tricky to make sure the leaves merged right into each other at the sides, but the rows are at least continuous. 

Instead of using the same fabric for the pockets, because it is fairly stiff, I used some lovely soft pink cotton from an old bedsheet. They make me feel happy with their little pop of pink.

The wax cotton was such a delight to sew with; it doesn't shift around, and its nicely rough enough that the two sides stay together when running it through the machine.

To finish my seams I did a mixture of overlocking and pinking. Nice and simple.

This dress really was a delight to sew, and I'm so pleased with it - it's lovely and bright, and just a little bit different. I really hope the sun comes back out so I can wear it out and about! I was properly cold today in bare legs, which made me sad - surely our British summer isn't over already??!

See you all soon!

Jen x

Monday, 11 August 2014

Blog hop!

WELL. We were honoured last week to be nominated for the Blog Hop by my friend Sarah who writes her fabulous blog A Life Less Physical. I urge you all to go and read Sarah’s blog now – she writes about food, fun and life and how it is affected by having fibromyalgia. It’s funny, honest, entertaining and heart-warming, so go READ IT.

But anyhoo, on to me! Being nominated for the Blog Hop means I get to talk about myself for a bit in the form of answers to three questions, and then pass the baton on to two of mine and Lena’s favourite bloggers.

Let’s begin!

1. What have you been doing / making / scribbling at your desk this week?

Making-wise, I’ve almost finished a Colette Hazel dress, made with a lovely yellow and navy African wax cotton that I bought in Paris. The fabric is so cheerful and bright! Can’t wait to finish it and wear it before the summer totally finishes (she says as an enormous clap of thunder resonates outside). After that I have plans for a maxi Saltspring dress, and I also have a fair few vintage and charity shop finds that I’ve bought lately that need refashioning or, at the very least, taking/in/out/up. Ahh, the beauty of being able to sew!

My lovely African wax cotton

I don’t do scribbling in my spare time (except to write blog posts of course). I’m not a keen writer, maybe because by day I’m an editor. I just don’t have the inclination to sit down and write things, ever. I admire those that do have that tenacity though. At my work desk things are busy… but I don’t want to talk about that.

I did also promise to make something for Josh, but let’s not talk about that either. Moving swiftly on...

2. Where are you currently finding your inspiration? (Influences, heroes, sources of inspiration, paths exploring)?

I’m constantly inspired by fellow sewists, which is great, but I also have to be careful not to be lured into making something just because it looks good on them. That’s definitely happened before, so these days I’m really trying to focus on developing and honing my own handmade style.

I’m inspired by vintage clothing – in particular the shapes and prints. I have a few vintage patterns in my stash now, but I’m yet to make one, so that’s a goal for this year. If I can match a vintage pattern with the perfect print I’ll be really happy.

3. How important is being creative to you, and how do you blend this with your work / life / family balance?

So important I don’t think I can even stress it enough with words. It’s my outlet whenever I’m feeling stressed, bored or stifled by life, it’s what I think about while at work, while on the bus, and probably while asleep too. I’m lucky that parts of my day job can be fairly creative, but I work to live, not live to work, and the joy that being creative in my spare time gives me is so wonderful and so important to my sanity.

I can balance my creativity with my work fairly easily. I have time in the evenings to sew and make things, which is great, because I think if I was only able to do it at the weekends I would be very frustrated Monday to Friday. Sometimes life gets so busy that I feel like I’m having sewing withdrawal symptoms and I’m about to break down if I don’t schedule in some proper sewing time STAT. In our new flat we have a small second bedroom which is now my sewing room, and I’m so grateful for it because it means I can sew in fits and bursts here and then when life is too busy to have long sewing sessions, and I don’t have to get it all out at the start and clear it all away at the end.

In the future I would love to be able to incorporate sewing and making things into my work, maybe with a little shop somewhere, but for now I’m very very happy just making things and learning more and more with time.

The nominations!

Kirsten Summers of One Crafty Minx. Kirsten is a good friend of ours, and in particular is the person Elena is always having in-depth sewing chat with! Kirsten’s sewing blog is fantastic – you’ll be amazed at the speed she churns out those makes, and the way they suit her so much. She’s constantly inspiring me, I’m pleased to say. Plus, in real life she's awesome and funny. WIN.

Second, we have Kathryn from Yes I Like That. Another sewing blog, sorry not sorry! Kathryn's blog is a real favourite of both of ours, and personally is one of the reasons I started making my own clothes. Her jeans-making will blow your socks off. I've also had the immense pleasure of meeting Kathryn and she is one terrific gal.

The girls will be posting their responses and nominating two more bloggers on Monday 18th August.

And I'll be back with another finished make very soon!

Jen x

Friday, 25 July 2014

A super-soft Sewaholic Gabriola skirt

Another finished make from a while ago! I finished this in the last week of May and wore it a few times then. It's not perfect - far from it - but I do love a maxi skirt and this one's super soft and comfy, so it's been getting a fair few wears.

It's a Sewaholic Gabriola skirt, released in February this year. I bought the fabric on Goldhawk Road, and I'm pretty certain it's viscose. It's hella slippery, creases a lot, but is super soft and drapey. I loves me a viscose!

Sewing this one up wasn't too easy a job. First of all, the cutting out. Now, those are some looooooong pattern pieces, even if you're a short-arse like me and know you'll be whacking off a good 5 inches at the end. So my fabric slipped and slid everywhere. Thankfully my cutting mat and rotary blade came in handy but the whole process wasn't without stress.

The lovely thing about Sewaholic's patterns, for me, is that they're designed for my pear-ish body shape. Big bottom and hips! So I was pretty confident that as long as I got the waist size correct, the rest would be fine. And it would have been, if my fabric hadn't been so ruddy awkward and stretched itself like crazy. See, some of the skirt panels are cut on the bias and in my stressed-out state I forgot to staystitch them. That kind of thing still isn't second nature to me, so if it doesn't say it in the pattern instructions then I don't do it! Hence my side panels stretching and then not being the same length as the ones I was sewing them to. Gah. My waistband was fine, but I ended up with excess fabric on my hips that ended up being kind of wrinkled. In the end I took the skirt in at those bits and I think it's fixed it a bit but it's still not great. BUT it doesn't stop me wearing it and I think the fabric print is kind of busy enough not to notice it. Can you see it?

So with my next Gabriola I will staystitch to my heart's content, and maybe use a slightly more stable fabric and maybe then all will be good.

I used french seams for the skirt side seams, which is very pleasing. And then overlocked all other seams to finish them. Some have said they're not that keen on the straight (not curved) waistband but it suits me perfectly as I wear most skirts right on my waist, not my hips.

I used a chunky zip exposed zip for the back. I like the way it's so visible but it's clearly too heavy for my light fabric, so there's a bit of wobbling going on there. Again, not too much to bother me!

So all in all, I like Gabriola. The method is great, if a bit long-winded due to the multitude of pieces. The shape is cute, and perfect for summer. I'll make more, just gotta give myself a bit more time to recover from this one!

Jen x

Saturday, 19 July 2014

a ticket to the Cambie club, please

Guys, I've been a bad blogger, I know it. 12 weeks without a finished make post? And it's not like I haven't been sewing! But I just haven't felt like blogging lately, and I'm not sure why. Sorry about that. So I'm just going to give it a big kick up the backside and get on and blog all these finished makes and then hopefully the love will return! So get ready for a bit of an influx, as soon as I can get them all photographed...

First up is my most recent make - a Sewaholic Cambie dress. I made this dress to wear as bridesmaid to my lovely brother and now-sister-in law's wedding, just over two weeks ago now.

Elena and I were bridesmaids and it was an obvious decision to both make our dresses, under the brief from the bride of a 'dark blue and cream' colour scheme. I decided to make Cambie, because I love it's slightly vintage-esque style, and Lena made a beautiful one last year and loves hers (plus there are numerous other beautiful Cambies on the web), so I knew it would be a good choice. I made View B with the full gathered skirt.

These photos were all taken at the wedding, which was at the idyllic Trout Inn at Tadpole Bridge, a darling Cotswolds pub and boutique hotel. It's a lovely location, right on the river, and they had the ceremony outdoors which was wonderful. The staff at the pub were just amazing too, and made the whole day, and everything before and after, run so smoothly.

On to the make details! The fabric is from one of the shops on Goldhawk Road, and I think it's a viscose. It's lovely and drapey, but also nicely heavy so hangs well, and has a lovely silkiness to it. 

I did a bodice muslin straight out of the pack, cutting the bust at a size 4 going down to a size 8 at the waist. That first muslin told me that I needed to shorten the straps a little and the bodice a little too. So I took a little (about 1cm?) length out of the straps at the top, and shortened the bodice by 3cm. I also took a tiny amount out of the centre back to allow for my little bit of sway back. I then did a second muslin and those changes meant it fit like a dream. So on I progressed!

I lined the bodice with some old light white muslin drapes my mum was getting rid of a while ago. They were perfect as they're so light and I didn't want to add too much bulkiness to the bodice, plus I wanted it to be breathable. It did mean I had to topstitch all around the bodice neckline and straps though, to make sure none of the white lining poked out. That was OK though; I think it looks good topstitched. For the skirt lining I used some lovely gunmetal grey silk crepe I stocked up on a while ago at Goldhawk Road. The waistband lining uses the main shell fabric, as per the pattern instructions. Wanna see some insides?

Don't you just love a fully-lined dress?

And the topstitching!

I didn't bother with any pattern-matching. I didn't really see the point - the floral pattern is so whimsical and scattered. If I had bothered, maybe it would have looked quite lovely to have the back bodice line up pattern-wise. But what the hey, I don't see the back much so whatevs!

Am I going to lose sleep over my non-pattern matched back? Erm, nope.

Things I love about the Cambie dress:
  • the straps. I love the gathered effect on the straps, coming from the sweetheart neckline. VERY cute.
  • the gathered skirt. It was so good for dancing! And the skirt lining made it even more floofy.
  • it fits perfectly! Woo. And as I should always remember: a muslin is so worthwhile.

I'm so pleased to now be a fully-fledged member of the Cambie club. Always last to the party, but I make it in the end!

See you soon with more makes.

Jen x

Monday, 9 June 2014

review time: mr nutcase

A couple of weeks ago, a company called Mr Nutcase contacted me and asked if I’d be up for writing a little review of their services and their products. I’d never heard of them before but checked out their website and was pleased to see they specialise in custom mobile phone cases.

Coincidentally, my phone case was on its very last legs and so I jumped at the opportunity to get a new one, and share my thoughts with you all about what Mr Nutcase do. Apologies if you’re only here for the sewing – we’ll be back to that soon enough.

Their website gives you the choice to choose either one of the designs from their collection, or upload your own photo to use. I couldn't think of any photo I’d really like on my phone case (cue Josh crying in the corner) so I decided to go for one from their collection. I had a bit of trouble choosing actually – they have some very cute designs. Some are definitely a bit naff but they do also have some very nice geometric prints, florals and vintage-inspired designs. I decided to go for Rainbow because I like my phone case to have a bit of colour.

The ordering process was easy enough. You can zoom in or out of your image, and move it around to position how you want it. And you can then preview how it’s going to look before you click ‘buy’. The prices are pretty good - the iphone 5 case I got is £14.95 which I reckon is pretty good. 

I placed my order on the Friday and it was sent out really quickly – I received it the following Tuesday. I’m pleased with the quality – the colours are nice and bright and it feels as sturdy as any other cases out there on the market.

And the best part of all of this my lovelies? They’ve given me a 10% discount to share with all of you! Just enter ‘Thanku10’ at the checkout. Discount is valid for six months. Enjoy!

Jen x

**Yo: Mr Nutcase provided me with a complimentary phone case to review but did not pay me for this review. All opinions are my own.**

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Les miettes

Hello everyone!

I've got another double dose of a pattern to show off today! I seem to do this when I try a pattern and it magically fills a space in my wardrobe so perfectly - after the first, I promptly make another. But I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who does that!

Anyway, this time it happened with Tilly's Miette skirt. After about a year of ignoring its charms my mind suddenly did an inexplicable U-turn in early May and it was all I could think about. I had the perfect fabric, too - a gorgeous floral chintz I purchased from Marie of A Stitching Odyssey. She used it for her amazing Elisalex (love love LOVE!), so when she announced she had some for sale in her Etsy shop, I pounced.

Pic nabbed from Me-Made-May - excuse the wrinkles!

I don't have much to say about the pattern that Jen didn't say last April (along with the many other bloggers who've made and loved this skirt), so this post will mostly be photos! Suffice to say I love it. It works through all seasons - in May alone I wore it with bare legs, sandals and a strappy top on our rare warm and sunny days, and tights, boots and a jumper on the miserable ones!

My second version, completed 10 days after the first, is a slightly more functional version in denim. Functional, yes, but as MMM showed me, I need more plain-fabric items in my wardrobe to pair with my patterned tops.

I bought this denim from my local fabric shop and deliberately asked for only 120cm (it's 150cm wide). I wanted to see whether a Miette could be made from that small amount, and it totes can! Bear in mind I'm very wee and hacked 8cm off the length of the pattern, and I used a contrasting polka dot (of course!) fabric for my waistband facing and one side of the ties, but still... good to know this pattern is not a major fabric-suck!

Sorry to blind you with my pasty-white legs!

I made a bit of a feature of the centre front seam by topstitching each side with a tan topstitching thread. I used the same thread to stitch the hem, and love the way it looks.

Jamie took these photos for me last Sunday when we had some rare sunshine. We had a lovely lazy day - a lie-in, a nice walk along the river near our flat, and then I spent all afternoon sewing. Oh, and we started watching Orange is the New Black! In case you haven't seen it, it's awesome I'd totally recommend.

Rightio, I have a couple more photos, and then I swear I'll leave you in peace. Til next time lovelies!

Distracted by a passing pug

Elena x

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Me-Made-May '14: The final week, and some reflections

So, Me-Made-May '14 is over! It was the first time we participated, and I think I can safely speak for Jen as well when I say we thoroughly enjoyed it! We'll go into our reflections on the week gone by in a minute, but first, those final few days:

Day 26 - Monday 26th May

Uh-oh, photo fail! This was a rainy bank holiday and I pretty much stayed in my (not me-made) PJs all day, bar half an hour when I wore a repeat of day 8's outfit to pop to Waitrose for some food . So I'm not counting it as a total MMM fail!

Day 27 - Tuesday 27th May

Jen wore spotty Pattern Runway Coffee Date Dress (unblogged). Boots are Clarks.
Jen says: This was a typical day at work but as it was a little chilly out I decided to wear my coffee date dress with boots and tights. This isn't the most comfortable of dresses to wear for a long day at my desk but I'm glad I gave it one wear during MMM.

Day 28 - Wednesday 28th May

Elena wore grey wool Simplicity 2451 (blogged here). Jumper is from Primark and shoes are Clarks.
Oh dear, I need to clean my mirror. Anyway, this skirt often gets pushed aside in favour of my grey Hollyburn and I'm not sure why, as I really like it! My office was FREEZING last week so I paired it with this cosy jumper. The shoes added a little brightness to an otherwise grey day :)

Day 29 - Thursday 29th May

Jen wore adapted Dixie DIY ballet dress again (to be blogged soon). Shoes from Topshop. 
Jen says: A very reliable and comfy one. Nothing more to be said that hasn't already.

Day 30 - Friday 30th May

And another photo fail! Gah. On Friday I wore a repeat of day 10's outfit, my stripy unblogged Darling Ranges, but didn't love it half as much as I did that day. Despite my adjustments improving the fit a bit I'm still not happy with the bodice. So I got home on Friday and promptly threw the dress on my refashion pile - I'll chop off the bodice, add a waistband, and have a nice button-front gathered skirt instead. One day I may also have a good look at the Darling Ranges bodice and try and perfect that fit.

Day 31 - Saturday 31st May

Jen wore her new Gabriola skirt (to be blogged soon). Tee from charity shop (originally Zara), belt from charity shop. 
Jen says: Just finished this make and I love it. Perfect for a summer's day like this one. More in the future blog post about it.

Jen's thoughts on her first MMM

It's really helped me realise what I should focus on sewing more of the future. Comfy knits and wardrobe basics are definitely things I need more of and keep coming back to, especially for typical days at work. I also really like an interesting print to make me feel like I'm wearing something that will brighten my day. MMM's been a really valuable lesson and although it's been a little tedious having to take the pics I think it's been worth it.

Elena's thoughts on her first MMM
My most-worn items this month are definitely my cake: plain-coloured skirts and knit dresses - comfy clothing and pieces that can be livened up with a print top and colourful shoes. Must make more ballet dresses and Hollyburn skirts! I've really enjoyed MMM, though I second Jen's thoughts on photo-taking. At least I had her to share the month with - I don't know how some people did daily snaps!

So that's it from us! We've really enjoyed seeing everyone else's MMM posts (so much inspiration!), and will hopefully be back for MMM '15 next year!
Elena x

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