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My Tilly and the Buttons Freya Dress

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Oh my goodness me, you know when you make something and are instantly planning your next. This is it. Although the warmer weather may have thrown a big spanner in the works now and delay me from making more until it turns cooler again as this is certainly a dress for when the temperatures aren’t so great in my opinion – especially made in scuba!

So this is The Freya and it’s my second make from Tilly’s amazing Stretch! book. If you want to check out The Frankie Baseball T-Shirt that I made last month you can do so here. The Freya is a close fitting A-line dress (I feel we all know that Tilly is the Queen of all things A-line), and can be made up as a sweater or a dress. There are a ton of variations that you can make using the book including sleeves, necklines and ruffles but I kept things simple and made the classic dress with 3/4 sleeves.

You might have noticed, especially if you follow me on Instagram, that I am loving scuba fabric just lately. This absolute beauty is the Chaffinch Bough Old Gold luxury scuba which I purchased on a recent visit to Sewisfaction.  I think it is stunning and as you can see has a rich gold background covered in brighly coloured florals with pretty Chaffinch birds set amongst them.

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I had not seen any versions of the Freya in scuba, so was concerned that the pattern might not suit this fabric choice, but after referring to the fabric suggestions for this pattern (which calls for knits with at least 25% crosswise stretch) I felt I should go for it.

It’s so quick to cut out, my version requires only 4 pattern pieces – less time cutting/tracing and more time sewing! Happy days!

The mock neckband fitted like a dream. Tilly had mentioned in her instructions that it needs to stretch quite a bit in order to get it over your head and this is true! I was careful not to use too short a stitch when attaching and finishing the neckband for this reason. Does anybody else love a bit of twin needle sewing? The neckband is of course finished with the twin needle, as are the cuffs and hem.

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I really wanted to make the version with the ruffle, but felt that this might be too much with such a busy fabric choice. I am determined to make a ruffle dress later on in the year though and may choose a solid colour for that version. Shocking I know, as I have discovered whilst taking part in #mmmay18 that virtually none of my handmade wardrobe is made from a plain solid fabric! Have you checked out the hashtag #sewingfreya yet? It’s a great source of Freya inspiration.

I am happy with the length but does come up fairly short-ish.  I am 5’2″ and as you can see it sits just above my (knobbly) knees.

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There is very little that hasn’t already been said on this dress, it’s wonderful in every way. Quick, easy and very wearable, I’m a fan.  Mic drop.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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My Cocowawa Crafts Honeycomb Dress

This is an exciting blog post to share today – my review of the brand new sewing pattern from Cocowawa Crafts.

I’m incredibly flattered to have been chosen as one of the pattern testers for the Honeycomb and when the design details came through I could not have been more delighted. It’s right up my street!

 

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I’m sure that most of you will be aware of the wonderful range of adorable patterns available over at Cocowawa Crafts, but if you haven’t nipped on over before, then I would certainly encourage you to check out this lovely independent pattern company which has the sweetest range of sewing patterns for women and children, available in English or Spanish, in your choice of printed pattern or PDF. Their website (linked above) allows you to access the Cocowawa blog where you can check out tutorials, sew-along’s and all round sewing inspiration.

It doesn’t stop there! The delightful Ana who is the owner and designer behind the brand can also be found regularly posting videos on her YouTube channel where you can find a mix of sewing tutorials, hauls and sewing chats! Most excitingly there is a brand new video especially taking you through every step of the construction of the Honeycomb Shirt and Dress!  For those of us who love visual instructions and sew-along’s, this is soooo helpful! It’s impossible not to be bowled over with Ana’s kind, sweet nature and this is totally reflected in her cute but wearable designs.

Ooh, one last thing here, Ana hosts a friendly sewing chat over on her Instagram page every Wednesday where you can join in with fellow sewists to discuss a sewing related question each week. Affectionately called the #sewinghourchat it’s a lovely way to connect with like minded members of the sewing community.

So, some of the features of The Honeycomb are a pretty Mandarin stand-up collar, front button placket, and pretty ties at the side panels to make fitting nice and simple. The shirt version comes with a cute gathered peplum and the dress option has a gently gathered midi length skirt. Four sleeve options give you the choice of sleeveless, short, regular long or long with bows. I can never get enough bows so it was always going to be the long sleeve version with bows that I made first, but no doubt further versions that I make will use different sleeve lengths.

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The great thing about this pattern is that the many sleeve options allow it to become a dress for all seasons, choose a sleeveless version made in a lightweight cotton fabric for those warm summer months and step up to a long sleeved version (with or without bows) made in a cosy corduroy, velvet or denim for when the temperature is cooler. I chose to make my tester version using a wonderful viscose from Material Magic in Leicester. I love the colour warmth of the browns and burnt oranges and well, you know me, I am never far from a floral print!

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The dress is finished really nicely on the inside, with the yoke and facing being neatly attached using the ‘burrito’ technique, ensuring that all of your raw edges are hidden inside the yoke. Don’t worry if you are new to this method, it is fully explained in the instructions or simply head on over to the YouTube video mentioned above if you would like some visual assistance with this.

I love that the Honeycomb has a Mandarin collar. It’s simplicity is what makes it so special and I must admit I am pretty pleased with how mine turned out. Again great instructions with illustrations will help you through this part as will the YouTube video. How did we ever manage before YouTube! Equally pretty worn buttoned or unbuttoned, the choice is yours.

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Construction of the bodice before the sleeves were added.

Even though we are moving in to Summer here in the U.K I could not resist making the long sleeved version with the bows. I really like the length of the ties – when they are tied into a bow, they are the perfect length and you will NOT find the ends dangling into your food!

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The side bows are not only sweet to look at but allow you to adjust an intentionally loose bodice to get a closer fit. Pretty and functional too!

The skirt of the dress has in-seam pockets. Yeeeeeessssssss!!!! So happy about this! Gentle gathers give the dress just the right amount of fullness without being too much.

This pattern offers the opportunity for some of us to try some new sewing techniques. Lots of lovely features such as princess seams, darts, plackets, burrito technique, buttons and button holes, mandarin collar and those ties offer the chance to try out new skills (or perfect old ones)! and whilst it’s not the quickest sewing project that there is, taking it slowly step by step will provide you with a very satisfying garment at the end. I will certainly wear my Honeycomb Dress with pride and will reach for this pattern again as I know one will not be enough!

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I know as the weeks progress we will all be able to access lots of Honeycomb inspiration on social media by searching for #cwhoneycombshirt #cwhoneycombdress #honeycombshirt #honeycombdress and #cocowawapatterns and in the meantime I would like to share a link on the Cocowawa website which shows all the wonderful pattern tester versions where you can find shirts, dresses and various sleeve lengths. I was certainly in good company when making up this dress and am very inspired by all these lovely creations!

How lovely is this mustard linen dress that Ana has made?

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Not forgetting the shirt! All the heart eyes for this one too!

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I had great fun making up this dress, and it was such a privilege to work with Ana and alongside all the other talented sewists involved with this project. I look forward to admiring lots of lovely Honeycomb shirts and dresses popping up on social media over the coming weeks and can’t wait to see everybody’s makes.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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A review of the Tailor’s Friend dress form from Figure Forms.

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I am incredibly lucky to receive some wonderful work opportunities through writing this sewing blog, and a few months ago I was contacted by Figure Forms of Cape Town who told me all about their dressmaking mannequin business and in particular the Tailor’s Friend.

A hugely important piece of equipment for any dressmaker, whether you are a professional seamstress or someone who is sewing purely for pleasure, is a dress form. I am looking forward to sharing with you today some details and features of the beautiful model that was sent to me, and have enjoyed giving it a thorough testing over the past few weeks.

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So firstly let me tell you a little about Figure Forms. They are a family owned business, established back in 1989, based in South Africa. They specialise in industrial/professional forms used by clothing retailers and manufacturers using industry standard measurements, and it is interesting to see that the more advanced models have been developed from anthropometric size surveys and even using casts from live fit models to ensure more realistic body shapes, proportions and anatomical details. So interesting and very impressive! All the models are hand produced by a small team of employees and the focus is very much on quality rather than quantity.

They have over 200 models that they can produce ranging from infants, children, teen, male and female forms right through to plus size adults.

O.k, so back to the Tailor’s Friend. At the time of writing any orders that are sent out to the U.K are dispatched directly from the factory in South Africa, and mine arrived in a little over 2 weeks. It was incredibly well packaged with cardboard and bubble wrap ensuring that the contents were well protected in transit and arrived in perfect condition.

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Assembling the mannequin was very quick and easy. It has a strong steel tripod base which the dummy itself slots into and the height is easily adjustable. So I would mention that it is fairly heavy but this is to be expected with steel fittings and you cannot argue with the strength and stability that this gives! I can see how years of providing to the retail market has meant that Figure Forms have developed sturdy equipment that is often used in a busy retail or manufacturing environment.

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How pretty is the beige fabric colour that I chose? Other colours are available and you  have the choice to select from black, red, pink or grey. The Tailor’s friend is currently available in 4 sizes – 8/32, 10/34, 12/36 and 14/38.

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The fabric finish (nylon elastane) provides a ‘frictionless’ surface, limiting the amount of drag on a fitted garment and replicates how the fabric would feel against the human skin. The body is made from rigid polyurethane, it is fully pinnable and I have found this particularly useful recently for button placements and also on the occasions that I pin my paper pattern pieces to the form. It is worth mentioning that although I have only been using this dress form for a short while, the pins when removed have not damaged the fabric surface of the mannequin.

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Over the last few weeks I have been able to test it using a number of different fabrics including crepe, gabardine, viscose and scuba. The crepe and viscose slide over the dress form easily, as does the scuba (which surprised me), and the gabardine has a little friction resistance, but nothing too drastic.

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Amongst some of the fabrics tested are from top left: crepe, scuba, gabardine and viscose.

The size of the mannequins are not adjustable. As someone who is prone to regular weight gains and losses I did have concerns as to whether a non-adjustable dress form would work for me, as an ‘at home’ seamstress. A pattern maker or designer will  create their basic block patterns with a core size and grade up and down to achieve different sizes, incorporating ease into the fit and allowing for the fabric types and style of the garment etc. So whilst I can see that this set size is perfect for the retail and design market, I have now had the chance to consider how it fits into the ‘at home’ sewing situation. Whilst our measurements can fluctuate all the time I can see that the dress form can be useful as an approximate guide to your size, and is great when being used to design, pin and drape the garment. I know that before I hem an item I will always let it hang for at least 24 hrs and the difference between doing this on a 3-D dress form and a regular narrow clothes hanger is incredible.

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With orders currently being shipped individually from South Africa, the cost of delivery must be taken into consideration and you will find an excellent customer service team  on hand at Figure Forms if you would like to discuss what these costs are likely to be, whether you are an individual customer or if you are considering larger order numbers.  I believe that retail outlets in the U.K are currently being sourced so that hopefully in the future they will become available to purchase in the U.K without the overseas postal costs.

I have been very impressed by the quality of this dress form, and have thoroughly enjoyed spending the last few weeks with this beautiful lady by my side in my sewing room. I have definitely got over my initial concerns about the fact that she was not adjustable and have found that on a day to day basis I am using her for everything that I need. I also think that she looks rather lovely at the same time!

As mentioned at the start, this dress form was kindly sent to me by Figure Forms for review. The thoughts and opinions shared in this blog post are solely my own.

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Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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A Review of the April Craftine subscription box and New Look 6302

I feel very lucky to have recently been kindly sent the April subscription box from the French fabric and haberdashery store Craftine.

Sewing subscription boxes are becoming increasingly popular, and I could not wait to receive the box and see what goodies were inside!

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So the boxes are sent over from France and they are issued every 2 months. I rather like this as it gives you enough time to plan and make your garment without rushing before the next box comes through! You never know exactly what your box contains but it will always have fabric, trims, a pattern and surprise items. You will also receive a colour booklet telling you everything you need to know about this month’s gift including information about your fabrics and how to care for them.

My box (which by the way is very cute, sturdy and will definitely be kept to store pretty sewing things inside) contained 2 pieces of fabric, a spool of matching thread, a belt buckle, paper pattern and some sweeties. The fabrics were a length of beige gabardine measuring 55×57 inches and some pastel tartan double weave cotton which measured 23×57 inches.

This months box focuses on Spring themed pastel colours and whilst I loved the fabrics and also the fact that they could be used to make a jacket, I didn’t think that I would necessarily suit the cropped trench coat suggested. So I had a hunt through my rather too large pattern collection and pulled out a pattern that I have never used before but which was a free pattern with a sewing magazine quite a long time ago – New Look 6302.

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The fabric quantities were perfect for the little jacket (view D) and I could use the contrasting tartan fabric for the cuffs and waistband. Just right!

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I am over the moon with how the jacket has turned out. It is a simple cropped jacket with long sleeves and contrasting cuffs and waist band. It has beautiful princess seams and I feel it can be worn with jeans to take you through these sometimes chilly months of Spring.

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The jacket has an unbelievable 13 pieces, but don’t let that put you off. Great instructions take you through this fairly simple make easily and it actually didn’t take me that long to sew despite the large number of pattern pieces! If you chose to make the simpler cropped jacket without the contrasting bands (view C) it would be even quicker. Also as there are no fastenings I would recommend this pattern for all.

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The only alteration that I made to the pattern ( I cut a straight size 12), was that I shortened the sleeve pattern piece before I cut it out by 5cm. Sleeves on coats and jackets are always too long for me so I pinned the pattern to my shoulder and roughly worked out how much I needed to lose for it to be the right length for my arm. If I had more time I probably should have made up a toile, as what I did is perhaps not the most accurate way to measure up for your sleeve length, but happily it worked out just fine for me. Phew!

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The belt buckle provided in the box was not needed for this particular project so will be kept for something special another time. I’m grateful that Craftine have provided a handy tutorial for making it into a belt that I can refer to when that time comes.

If you are interested in more information about the Craftine subscription boxes for yourself or as a gift then you can head on over to the UK website for all the details. I believe that they can be purchased individually at £33.90 (free postage), or a years subscription of 6 boxes for £200. The French website allows you to browse through a large selection of their fabrics and haberdashery.

Thank you very much to the guys at Craftine for generously sending me this box to review. I have been happy to share with you today my honest thoughts and hope that you have enjoyed this slightly different blog post.

I am also thrilled that as a result I have had the opportunity to make up a pattern that has been sitting around in my stash for so long too. At the time of writing, there are several retailers offering New Look patterns at half price – just saying!!

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Take care, and I’ll be back soon.

Kathy x

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A Special McCalls M6706 Pleated Skirt

The beginning of the month means that I get to share with you my latest make for Minerva Crafts.

For those unfamiliar, Minerva Crafts is a large online fabric and haberdashery retailer in the U.K and every month I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to sew up something using their lovely fabric, and write about it over on their Blogger Network.

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This month I chose to make this fab pleated skirt using a really great stretch cotton twill. Unfortunately, the navy colour way has now sold out (at the time of writing), but I had a look today and it is still available in a black which I will link to here.

My full review is over on the Blogger Network now, where I share my thoughts along with more pics.

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Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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My #alittlelawnparty entry – a Simplicity 2586 pattern review.

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You know me – I love a good Instagram sewing challenge.

This challenge has been organised by Mel from  Handmade by Ditsy-Tulip  and Atia from The Bright Blooms . If you follow me on Instagram you might have noticed that, as an ambassador for this challenge, I have mentioned it a few times on my stories. But if you need more details then do head on over to Mel and Atia’s website where it is all explained.

To summarise, it is a friendly sewing challenge to celebrate the arrival of Spring. In a nutshell the idea is to have a bit of fun sewing a Spring themed garment and share your make on Instagram using the hashtag #alittlelawnparty . I think originally the idea was to make a garment using cotton lawn, but as this is not always easy to get hold of at a reasonable price in certain parts, so you may use any fabric of your choice as long as you are using it to make an outfit that is ‘Spring-like’.

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At first I thought deciding what to make would be really easy. For someone who absolutely loves floral fabrics and has a ton of dress patterns this should have been a breeze for me, but whilst I knew the fabric that I wanted to use, I struggled deciding which sewing pattern to pair with it. I also think that because the challenge runs over a two month period, I sat back a little and kind of left things a little later that I should have! Not to worry though, if you are still working on your project the closing date is not until the 15th of May 2018 so there is still plenty of time to get your entry in!

After posting a picture of what I thought was the perfect pattern for this challenge on my Instagram account, I swiftly changed my mind after I received several messages to say that the particular pattern that I was planning to use required a great deal of adjustments and changes. By this stage, I really hadn’t got the time to spend on a dress which required so much work and alterations, so the happy outcome was that I chose another pattern that I have had in my stash for absolutely ages- Simplicity 2586.

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I don’t know very much about this pattern, except that it does not seem to be available in the U.K. It is possibly an old out of stock pattern? – correct me if I’m wrong – and I think I bought mine from an Etsy seller a long time after ago (as they do seem to be available in the U.S) but watch our for hefty postal charges as most of these patterns seem to be from U.S sellers.

I am crazy about the blue belted version of the dress as shown on the front of the pattern envelope, and thought that this could make a pretty Spring dress. I had bought this adorable crepe from Sew Me Sunshine fairly recently and decided that this combination was the dress I wanted! It’s a blush pink crepe with the classic crinkled texture and is scattered with light blue flowers. So so beautiful. I have linked the fabric for you and at the time of writing this it is still in stock at £3.50 per half metre.

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The dress has turned out really well, although the next time I make it I will make a couple of little changes. Whilst I LOVE the crepe and chose it as I wanted a really drapey fabric, it is quite slippery to work with (as you would expect with crepe) and in certain areas like the narrow neckband it was a little fiddly. I may have said some naughty words whilst sewing this part. On the subject of the neckline, I felt this came out quite low and wide. Still very wearable but I think I will adjust it a little next time. Finally the sleeves. They are slightly wide, but I can live with that. The sleeve cuffs though – they are massive! I would definitely need to make these much smaller for future makes as they are huge! This will teach me for not making a toile up. ( I always make toiles of patterns that I haven’t made before – I can’t imagine why I didn’t this time)!  Tut Tut!

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That being said, the dress is beautiful I think, and it is super cute. It has pockets for a start. Gotta love them.  I also really like the ruffles around the bottom of the hem and the fabric belt,  and with some small adjustments this could very well end up being a favourite pattern of mine. Easy to slip on and off over the head, I like that there are no zips, buttons or elastic on this dress. Nice and straightforward as far as construction is concerned. I do love Simplicity patterns.

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A huge thank you to Mel and Atia for organising such a fun challenge. Do head on over to their websites linked earlier on in this post for all the details. There are some great prizes to be won at the end of the challenge too, which is always a bonus! We are very lucky in the sewing community to have such generous businesses that always provide such wonderful gifts for these sewing challenges.

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More Spring inspiration can be found by searching the hashtag #alittlelawnparty over on Instagram. I for one am ready and waiting for warmer weather to arrive so that I can actually wear my dress!

Take care, I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x