My Very Own Deer and Doe Belladone Dress – Finally!

When I first started to sew I really wanted to make the Deer and Doe Belladone dress, it just screamed chic and a little bit sexy to me. Unfortunately, it was well outside my sewing skills, so I settled for the Colette Sorbetto and a Ginger Skirt. Both a terrible disaster, the less said about that the better. Anyhoo fast forward 6 years and I finally felt ready to tackle my dream dress.

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I visited Victoria at Bloomsbury Square Fabrics last year and got some lovely fabrics including this stretch gabardine in red, which I thought would go well with this pattern. Then the doubt set in. What if I couldn’t fit it properly? What if I ended up doing muslin after muslin and lost the will to go on? So, to ease the strain and not put too much pressure on my seriously absent sewjo I decided to do a fitting class at Guthrie & Ghani. I ended up doing the Making Your Perfect Fit Dress Pattern workshop. It was led by Layla Toyah and she was supported in the morning by Dee. It was an absolutely fantastic day, full on, but so very good.

Everyone brought a range of patterns – big 4 and indies. There were discussions about ease and how much you really need where depending on how you like your clothes to fit and how much you like to breathe. We then set about measuring ourselves. Layla and Dee checked our measurements afterwards. I think I need to start doing this in front of a full-length mirror for more accuracy. I also need to consistently remember to go with my high bust and then do a full bust adjustment (FBA). I need to do an FBA every.single.time. Unless I am sewing a Cashmerette pattern, then it’s all good.

I made a lot of changes to my pattern, but the comforting thing about the whole day was the fact that everyone had to make numerous changes to their paper patterns initially and then again once they had made their muslins.

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My original pattern piece.

To start with, based on my measurements, I made size 52 and did a 3″ FBA.

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I then added 1″ to all side seams except for the front waistband where I added 1.5″.  I forgot to bring along my instructions, so I winged it and Layla helped me.

After making up the dress it was time to try it on and for Layla to step in with fitting advice. In the photos below you can see the adjustments made on the lefthand side (back) and on the righthand side (front).

DSC01136DSC01134I have quite a narrow back, so we did a narrow back adjustment and Layla pinned out the extra fabric. Then we took in the shoulders, which were acting up, for good measure. It looked like about 1″ from both areas. The neckline was gaping slightly, but the calico was probably a bit stretched out by that point, so we left it, but Layla showed me how to put in a v-neck, because I like those a bit more.  Finally, we did a 3/4″ full butt adjustment, this has been a long time coming – I tried to wear a TATB Miette Skirt last weekend and had to come back home because it was basically indecent! Surprisingly we did not do a sway back adjustment.

The original bust darts were not a good look, you can see the puffiness at my bust apex on the left, so Layla suggested changing the waist dart to a curved one. This got rid of the weird bubble and puffiness that you can see in the photo.

After all of the pinning and slashing it was time to transfer the adjustments back to the paper pattern. The idea of this has always puzzled me, but watching Layla do it made it all make sense and so long as I do it again on a pattern pretty soon I am (fairly) confident I’ll be able to do it again.

As well as guiding us through the fitting process Layla also gave us some sewing tips along the way including a quick way to sew darts without lots of pinning and a great way to avoid the weird bubble thing at the bottom of invisible zips. I’ll try to include some photos when I do my Belladone in my fashion fabric.

It was a busy day, but it was well worth it!

A TOFT ‘Cobblestone’ Hat

I went to a Mosaic Knitting workshop at TOFT UK earlier this year and later saw the Cobblestone Hat pattern and was inspired to make it for the autumn. I have only dabbled in colour work (read a 1/4 finished pair of mittens) once before, so I thought this would be a nice achievable project.

 

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I bought a kit from the shop and used TOFT Mushroom DK 50gTOFT Green DK yarn 25g and a TOFT Pom Pom Cocoa. The cast on was pretty straight forward and then the colour work and fun began. I was knitting away thinking I would have it finished in the recommended 5 to 10 hours when I figured my hat looked nothing like the pattern and was pretty tiny. After a while I realised I had been reading the pattern wrong and not repeating any of the rows. Then began the painful task of unpicking. There are a lot of slipped stitches in this pattern, so it was not easy. But, I have learned so much from messing up my knitting over the past year and half. So, although I cursed like a sailor, I was pretty happy throughout this project.

Life and other projects caught my attention and before I knew it six months had passed and my hat was no further along. So I picked it up again a few weeks ago and wouldn’t you know I made exactly the same mistake as I did the first time! Cue unpicking to the nth degree. It’s fine, it’s all learning. Right? Right.

Thankfully, I pushed through and I am now the proud owner of a new hat.

 

It is a one size fits all pattern and the instructions to block the hat flat, which I did, but I think I may have to go at it again with a balloon, because it’s not quite the ‘perfect fit’ yet; I need a bit of extra room for my natural hair, which seems to be getting bigger by the day. I am also considering lining it somehow with silk, because the wool seems to suck all of the joy (moisture) out of my hair and leaves me with serious hat hair. Have you ever done this? Did it help?

I thought  I had killed the pom pom after it had been in the water, it looked like Dr. Watson after one of his baths only worse.  But I am happy to report it made a full recovery and now looks slightly curly, which I think looks seriously cute.

I am still really pleased with the finished article and best of all it goes with my mushroom TOFT Skeleton scarf that I made a few years ago!

My next project is a pair of mittens, not the ones I mentioned earlier a different pair. Haha! Like I said I am easily distracted.

Happy knitting!

My First Hat – A Cabled Beanie

A few weeks ago I went to a Cabled Beanie Class led by Sarah Hazell. My knitting skills are not extensive – scarves short, long and twisted are pretty much the extent of my knitting projects so far (I have some WIP mittens and a cardigan and hopefully I will post about those in the future).

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Stitch markers are the key!

There were three of us on the course, so we got lots of one to one attention, which was great. Sarah’s pattern requires 50g of Rowan Felted Tweed and we had loads of colours to choose from (and doubles of everything, so we didn’t have to fight over colours Hunger Games style, which was great). I was torn, but chose this red, which is almost orange and has multiple of colour flecks in it. We did a stretchy long tail cast on and then we learned how to do the magic loop method. It’s a strange one – I have to say it’s not my favourite, I think I prefer DPNs; but I can see the benefits for when you want to take your knitting out and about, because you do not have to worry about the stitches falling off the ends of your needles or is that just me? I found it got really tight towards the top of the hat, so I switched back to the DPNs.

My hat took several weeks to complete and without wanting to sound preachy I now have a better understanding of the (true) cost of my Primarni hats of the past. I learned lots of new skills: twisted stitches, cables and how to TINK 🙂 I used a ton of stitch markers and I think that they are crucial to any future projects. In the end I think that I learned as much from my mistakes as anything else and I am really pleased with my hat. I got stuck on the cables and contacted Sarah and she was really helpful and got back to me quickly with great advice and I soon ploughed through those cables.

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Twisted stitches and two types of cables (and the obligatory cat hair).

Before I knew it my hat was complete and it was time to decide between the recommended tassel and a pom pom, which I used to hate as a child, but now veer towards. The IG vote went towards a pom pom and as recommended I went for the biggest one I could muster – I had forgotten how long it takes to make a pom pom the ‘old fashioned way’, but it was fun.

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Then it was time to block my hat and I fear this is where things took a turn. You can probably guess what’s coming next, either I squeezed too hard or the water was too hot or perhaps both, but I fear I now have a Design Feature Double Felted (is that a thing?) Cabled Beanie. Oh well, I shall wear it with pride. Because I made it and I love it 🙂

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Next stop? Mittens.

Fabric Haul – Bloomsbury Square: Fabrics of Distinction

On Wednesday I went on a road trip to Midhurst, Sussex. It’s a beautiful part of the country and the weather was unseasonably warm – still is.

Victoria Pender, the woman behind all of the beautiful fabrics at Bloomsbury Square, invited me to visit her shop a while ago and I was excited to explore a new source of fabric. I was not disappointed.

Victoria’s fabrics and haberdashery are extensive.

The shop is located in a very creative space: in the same building there is a woman, who works with leather and another, Claire, who leads sewing workshops. Victoria introduced me to Claire and her students for the day, who were working on Couture Jackets. They were on week 3 of a 4 week course and their jackets already looked amazing. They were working with Linton Tweeds and silk linings. There was a lot of hand sewing going on, apparently it takes 120 hours to make one. That alone tells me I will never make one, though I wouldn’t mind wearing one! I actually have some Linton Tweed in my stash from a shopping trip with my partner in crime, Bianca, when we went to a sewing exhibition at the NEC a couple of years ago, maybe I should rethink the jacket. Hmm.

Victoria gave me a tour of her shop, there were so many beautiful fabrics, it was wonderful. I had tried to be good and made a shopping list the night before the trip of my to sew list, despite my list I was seriously tempted to go off plan. I am still trying to decide on the wool for a winter coat; I plan to make the Closet Case Files Clare Coat and I want to push the boat out on some lovely wool and a silk lining. It took all of my will power not to commit on the spot, but the Kelly Anorak is first on my coat making list, because my friend Bianca gave me the pattern last Christmas and I only started to cut out the pattern tonight (oh the shame! note to self: stop stashing!)

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Wool Coatings, including a TARDIS blue and a tempting aubergine.

 

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Some more coatings and denim.

 

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Lots of cords including needle cords and the stretch gabardines.

After much temptation and deliberation I chose some stretch gabardine to make the Simplicty Mimi G 8177 Trouser pattern, there’s a video sew along, that makes me feel like I can sew anything! I also got some in the red colourway to make the Deer & Doe Belladone Dress. I have wanted to make this dress ever since I started to sew, so I am really looking forward to finally tackling it, I love the cutaway in the back. For Valentine’s Day they made a heart shaped one, which I thought was really cute too.

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My haul!

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In an attempt to up my sewing skills I bought some buttery soft satin, which will become a Cashmerette Webster Top, it is still unseasonably warm here; so I think it will get a lot of wear with one of my trusty cardigans. I also think it would make a great lining for my future Clare Coat.

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I got some glass head Merchant & Mills pins, some short ones and longer ones. They are magnetic and not rusty – so a definite upgrade from the ones I have been using up until now (including hat pins! Do.not.ask) and I shall not look back.

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Victoria was really welcoming and I had a lovely day and Bloomsbury Square has a fine collection of quality fabrics, that I will definitely be using again, in fact I have my eye on an electric pink waterproof cotton that I think will make a great jacket. It was so much fun talking about all things sewing related and I also came away with some great tips, including one to use a strip of stretch interfacing for doing twin needle work on necklines and cuffs. While I was eyeing her book collection I spotted ‘The Dressmaker’s Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques’. It’s great, it has sections on linings, interlinings and darts. It is definitely going to get a lot of use and it is spiral bound so it lies flat while you are working!

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Disclaimer – none of the links are affiliated. Victoria gave me a generous discount, but all thoughts are my own.

 

 

 

 

My First Webster

At this year’s Sewing Weekender inside my goodie bag was some lovely soft viscose fabric from Stoff & Stil, which I deliberated over how best to use. In the end I decided it would be perfect for a Cashmerette Webster Top. For my first attempt I used some Liberty Tana Lawn from the Liberty Man inside the Rag Market. This was not a good plan, let me explain.

I got really ill over the summer, but was determined to try to fulfil some of my summer sewing plans. As you can imagine, this did not turn out so well. But I now have a beautiful pj top! I now need to make some matching shorts or trousers. However, all was not lost, because I got to practise several techniques including the lovely cross over strap detail on the back, which is what drew me to the pattern in the first place.

 

So, step up the beautifully drapey (pattern appropriate viscose). It was a match made in heaven! Looking at the size chart I needed a size 14 for the shoulders and bust, I fall between the 20 and 22 for the waist and again between a size 16 and 18 for the hips. I decided to cut a size 14 for the shoulders and bust; I then graded to a size 16 for the waist and hips based on the finished measurements. In my toile I just turned the hem, but for the real one I used a facing as instructed. I think in my stupor I cut a size too big (18), so I had to do a bit of bodging. But I think I managed to make it work in the end. I slip stitched the facing following a tutorial from Megan Nielsen.

Based on my toile I decided to add waist ties to give me some more waist definition.

I am really pleased with how it turned out. So, I immediately rushed out and bought two more fabrics to make up into Websters. They will go great under cardigans for work as we go into autumn and I can always whip my cardi off if the sun (ever) comes out. September weather is usually really good, so I hope the sun does come out again, so I can get a bit more wear out of them.

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Will the sun ever come back?

 

Next year I will definitely have a go at the dress, as I really like the idea of a colour blocked version.

Happy sewing!

Secret Christmas Linden Swap 2017

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Last year following the Sewing Weekender my sewjo was in full force and I felt inspired by @shedabbles and @wethesewing to host a #lindenswap for Christmas, because I had missed theirs. As it was my first time doing something like that I kept it to UK based sewists for ease, but I know that people outside the UK wanted to join in. So, this year I am hosting again and it is open to international sewists too. I want to make sure that everyone, who wants to participate can, but I know that postage costs can quickly creep up, so if you only want to be partnered with someone in your neck of the woods, just let me know.

You can sign up by DMing me on Instagram or by emailing me (sewmyown at gmail dot com). You can sign up until Sunday 8th October 2017 and I shall let you know your partner’s details by Sunday 15th October 2017. Just like last year I would like your partner to have received their gift by December 25th 2017, so please check final posting dates carefully.  But it isn’t the end of the world if your gift arrives late.

Like last year you will not receive a Linden from the person you make for, which hopefully adds to the surprise.

This year the lovely Team at the US based Hawthorne Threads have been kind enough to offer one lucky person a $20 gift certificate, they will be chosen using the random generator (aka Dr. Watson).

We also have generous discounts from four UK based fabric shops and one in Canada.

A huge thanks to Josie and the Team from Fabric Godmother, who are offering a 10% discount on fabrics from 01.09.2017 to 21.10.2017. The discount code is “lindenswap2017”.

A huge thanks to Tivian and the Team at Dragonfly Fabrics, who are offering a 10% discount on the Grainline Linden pattern and fabric  from 01.09.2017 to 31.10.2017. The discount code is “sew55”.

A huge thanks to Lucy at Sew Essential UK, who is offering a 15% discount on all fabrics  from 01.09.2017 to 21.10.2017. The discount code is “Linden15”. They also stock the Grainline Linden pattern .

A huge thanks to Victoria at Bloomsbury Square Fabrics, who is offering a 10% discount on all fabrics and the Grainline Linden pattern from 01.09.2017 to 31.10.2017. The discount code is “linden17”.

A huge thanks to Harriet at Sew Me Sunshine, who is offering a 15% discount on all knit fabrics from 01.09.2017 to 31.10.2017. The discount code is “XMASLINDEN”.

Finally, a huge thanks to Caroline at Blackbird Fabrics, who is offering a 10% discount on all knit fabrics  from 01.09.2017 to 31.10.2017. The discount code is “LINDEN2017”.

Please note:

  1. This is all meant to be a bit of fun and is designed to spread a bit of Christmas (replace with your holiday) seasonal cheer. None of my makes are ever perfect and I do not expect perfection from the person, who kindly makes my Linden. It is a gift and I hope that we can all enter into this with that spirit of kindness front and center. Enough said.
  2. The Grainline Studio Linden pattern uses knit fabric, but you do not need an overlocker.
  3. Check final posting dates at your local Post Office. Here in the UK it was up to 23.12.16 to send within the UK and 03.12.17 for other parts of the world.

What I need to know:

  1. Which view you would prefer.
  2. Your size and any standard adjustments you make.
  3. Your real name and postal address.
  4. Whether you want to be international of not (I will try my best to accommodate everyone, but I will let you know in good time, if I cannot find you a partner).
  5. Any favourite colours or ‘special interests’ that might help your swap partner out when choosing fabric for you and equally any colours that you do not like.
  6. Useful but not essential your blog address and Instagram handle, so that your partner can get a feel for your style.

Please feel free to share the badge on your blog or on Instagram and use the hashtag #lindenswap2017 You do not have to have a blog or be on Instagram to join in though.

It was great seeing all of the makes last year, as well as seeing all of the works in progress popping up. I look forward to seeing what everyone makes and receives this year.

Happy sewing!

 

 

 

Sewing Weekender 2017

The Sewing Weekender 2017 happened on Saturday 5th to Sunday 6th August at Murray Edwards College, Cambridge. I had so much fun, despite coming down with the lurgy and feeling like a zombie most of the time! I want to say a huge thank you to Charlotte and The Foldline’s Rachel and Kate for organising such a fantastic weekend. I had such a great time and learned some new skills as well.

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I met Bianca on Friday and we went on a supermarket sweep style shopping spree around the fabric shops in Birmingham and then made our way down to Cambridge. We then went for dinner organised by Rudy with some lovely sewing ladies, sadly we were too late for the punting, but the photos looked fun.

I arranged to go a day early so that I could do Park Run with my running inspiration Emma. She.is.amazing! We did one a few months ago when she was up in Birmingham for a food festival and she paced me to my first PR – woot woot! This time she worked her magic again and had me (cruelly, mwahaha!) running nonstop for 30 minutes; up to that point my longest nonstop run had been 24 minutes. The course was mostly flat and the support there was very vocal and I came close to another PR (only 34 seconds off the pace!) Thanks Emma!

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Then it was time for some sewing. This year’s Sewing Weekender was different to last year. There were two embroidery workshops running all day on the Saturday and two talks and then on the Sunday there was one workshop and two further talks.

Elle did a machine embroidery workshop, which kept her extremely busy, with the Rolls Royce of Janome embroidery machines. The possibilities on that machine are staggering. Elle made everyone a beautiful Sewing Weekender badge for which we each chose a design, I am going to frame mine. Elisalex did a hand embroidery workshop, which I had a go at. I haven’t done that much hand stitching apart from some embroidery in primary school; more recently I tried to do some cross stitch and let’s just say it didn’t end well and leave it at that.

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In the end I spent the whole morning doing the hand embroidery workshop, it was so relaxing. I was so absorbed and focussed that I kind of forgot to talk to people, sorry about that! Elisalex had so many different coloured flosses including Tardis blue and Dalek red, so I was in heaven.  I practised the chain stitch, back stitch and satin stitch. Elisalex was very positive about my frankly wonky uneven stitches, so I decided to use it as the back pocket of my Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans. I carried on with the embroidery into the afternoon. Portia Lawrie gave a really interesting talk about refashioning, the garments that she shared with us were beautiful, such creativity. Fiona from Diary of a Chain Stitcher, gave the second talk about working as a costumer, which was so interesting. I love hearing about all of the different styles of sewing and techniques.  After listening to her talk I finally threaded up my machine and started work on my Gingers.

The pocket stay foxed me on my toile and this time was no different – I have finally printed out the instructions instead of working from my iPad – thank goodness Fiona doubling up as one of the lovely prefects, was able to help me figure it out. I switched it up so that I can see the ‘good side’ of the fabric when I put my hands in my pocket and I understitched them as well, so that the lining does not peek out when I am wearing them, I hope it works. Unfortunately, my machine is still out of commission, so I haven’t made any more progress wth them. So, instead I carried on with  the hand embroidery and now both pockets are originals by me. I have enjoyed it so much, that I am considering sacking off knitting this autumn and trying an embroidery sampler kit instead. I am open to any suggestions on beginner friendly patterns.

 

DSC00307There was a huge fabric and pattern swap this year, which I contributed to but stayed strong and took nothing from, for a change! My stash is out of control, it now takes up more than half of my wardrobe, so I definitely do not need more.

The generous sponsors provided refreshments throughout the day, the sewing machines and everyone got an excellent goodie bag, which included patterns, magazines, fabric and discount codes, which will keep me busy for quite some time, thank you so much.

On Sunday we got to listen to a thought provoking and timely talk from Melissa about clothing and movement. I have just bought one of her kits, which I am extremely nervous about sewing up, but I got some great fabric for making a toile on my Friday shopping spree, so I will eventually have a go. The second and final talk was from Elena about mindfulness and sewing.

Once again, it was an excellent weekend of sewing and chatting with likeminded sewing people, which was just what I needed.

Thanks again to Charlotte, Rachel and Kate and everyone who helped me out over the weekend, it was great seeing you all.

Welcome and Excitement

Hi, nice to meet you and welcome to my blog. I started it to document my sewing journey and my progress in making the occasional Who inspired outfits, but don’t worry it won’t all be about Doctor Who.

I watched the first series of the Great British Sewing Bee, which was fun and then I got the chance to go to a Doctor Who 50th Anniversary celebration and wanted something fab to wear. I enjoy fancy dress and after much searching for inspiration online I found somevelvetmornings‘ amazing Dalek Dress complete with helmet and I knew I had to have it. My incredible boss, at the time, helped me to make it thank goodness, because it was  way beyond my skills and after that I was hooked and knew I had to get behind this sewing train.

So, now here I am. I got my first sewing machine in February 2014 and I have been making things, slowly and wonkily, but surely. I have been busy bookmarking patterns that I would like to make over the summer. I think I am going to take part in Charlotte’s SewBrum Meet-Up (Update – I did go and it was excellent! I met some lovely new sewing friends and found lots of inspiration for my sewing) and Handmade Jane’s One Week One Pattern Challenge (Update – this is still on my ‘to do’ list, I am narrowing down my TNT pattern for this challenge).

I recently went to the Sewing Weekender in Cambridge, my second Sewbrum got me to sign up to Instagram, my first Sewing Weekender got me to have a go at the Christmas #lindenswap and this year the Sewing Weekender has pushed me to finally publish my blog, which I started in March 2014!

I look forward to sharing my makes and sewing (and probably unpicking) adventures with you.

Wish me luck!