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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 Floral Simplicity New Look 6449

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I was very fortunate recently to have been sent a couple of sewing patterns from Simplicity New Look and am sharing with you today my thoughts on the first one.

One of the things that swayed me to choose this pattern was the fact that there are options to make knit or woven dresses, and 4 different dress styles too – with mix and match possibilities.

Whilst I love the woven shirt dress with the tie belt ( and will definitely be making one of these too), my eye was drawn to version A, which is the knit dress with short sleeves and patch pocket. I really liked the floral fabric that they had used in their image, and knew that I had a similar fabric in my stash. It’s a knit fabric that I picked up last year at a sewing meetup (#sewbrum), from the rag market in Birmingham. For this reason, I don’t have the exact fabric content details, but it has the perfect amount of stretch needed when I tested it against the handy stretch guide on the pattern envelope.

I think that the bold pink, blue and green floral detail on the black background is super cute, and these colours make it very wearable with thick black tights whilst the weather is still chilly.

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I have lost count of the amount of Simplicity New Look patterns that I have sewn up over the years, so it was no surprise to me how straightforward the pattern instructions were. It is rated as an ‘easy’ sewing pattern and I would agree. For those unfamiliar, the pattern pieces are printed on lightweight tissue paper, and the simple step by step written instructions are accompanied by black and white drawings.

The version that I decided to make has a little patch pocket on the chest and I chose to pattern match this as best as I could. It worked pretty well I think,  as I think it is almost impossible to spot from a distance (in the image above), although I do think that pattern matching is not essential, and you could totally make a feature of the pocket by ignoring all the pattern matching rules!

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Another feature of this dress is the deep cuff band, which is rolled back to finish the short sleeve. I think this gives it a more casual feel and makes a change from the usual sleeve finish which is simply turned under and stitched into place. To make sure they wouldn’t roll undone, I decided to stitch a couple of bar tacks on each cuff. To do this I dropped the feed dogs on my machine and set the stitch to a wide zig zag. This gives a neat and secure bar tack stitch which I sewed on the underarm and top of each sleeve.

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The neck band on the dress fitted perfectly, and required no adjustment. It lays nice and flat and I finished it with a row of twin needle stitching. I also used the twin needle to give the hem of the dress a lovely neat finish.

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I had a great time making this dress. Quick to cut out, simple to assemble and the result is a dress that will take me through Spring and beyond. I plan to make a t-shirt dress with it this summer as I think it would be cute made from a striped jersey.

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Thank you again to Simplicity New Look for sending the pattern to me, I am pleased with the outcome and look forward to making more versions for a long time to come.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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My entry into #therefashioners2017 #suitsyou challenge – New Look 6509

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Refashioning is something that I haven’t really given much thought to before, I’m slightly ashamed to admit. This Summer whilst attending The Sewing Weekender I was so chuffed to hear Portia Lawrie speaking. Firstly because she had just won The Dressmaker of the Year title with an incredible jacket made from old jeans and I was over the moon to actually get to see the jacket, and secondly because refashioning/upcycling/transforming something was something I wanted to know more about. Safe to say I was ‘suitably’ (do you see what i did there) impressed and knew that this year I wanted to give #therefashioners2017 a go.

Before I begin, you might like to take a little look over at Portia’s website where you can get all the details of this year’s challenge in full, but in a nutshell the challenge is to take an old suit or jacket – an unloved item that is not wanted anymore – and transform it into another wearable item of clothing!

First things first – to find the perfect suit or jacket. I knew I wanted something with some pattern or design, like a check or a dogtooth, and preferably in a very very large size so that I would have more fabric to ‘play with’. After several disappointing views at suits on eBay,  I finally found my perfect jacket in the local LOROS charity shop. It was a jacket only (no trousers) and was the bargain price of £6.95

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Best of all it was a whopping size 58″ chest so I figured that it didn’t matter that there weren’t trousers too as I should have enough to make a dress with the fabric on a jacket this size alone. Fingers crossed.

The dress that I wanted to make was New Look 6509, a pinafore style dress. I have had it for a while because I loved the look of view A. Fear not folks I am not tempted with any of the other ‘cut out’ views at my age…

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In order to see how much fabric there was available, it was time to grab the seam ripper and dis-assemble the jacket. This was quite a lengthy process, and it was quite interesting to see the work and construction that goes into a suit jacket.

I traced out the pattern pieces that I needed and then it was just a case of jiggling them around until I managed to somehow cut out all the pieces that I needed. It was my intention to share with you lots of pics of this stage of the make, but as always I get carried away with wanting to sew and only got this one shot of one of the sleeves being used for a skirt panel.

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Once constructed – this is the skirt panel that was made from the sleeve piece.

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The dress came together nicely, as always with a New Look pattern the instructions are thorough and have clear line drawings to help you. The alterations to the pattern that I made were that I wanted to use an exposed metal zip rather than the recommended invisible so that I could continue with the recycle/upcycle theme. I recently came upon a huge bag of old zips in a charity shop for £1 and so used one of those for this project as I felt it was very appropriate.

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Another change that I made was to the length of the straps. When it came to button placement (of course using the original suit buttons), I realised that the straps were too long, so removed the basting stitches, chopped off approx 2″, and re-basted into place before stitching.

Finally, I felt like I wanted to add a pocket on the front bib of the dress. So I simply used my trusty pocket pattern piece from my Tilly and the Buttons Cleo dress and cut a pocket on the cross grain, lined it up and popped it on. I love how it looks with the pocket.

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With a limited amount of fabric, and a checked design, pattern matching was always going to be challenging. I managed it for some of the seams and not for others. Hey ho! I can live with it. The seams and darts line up nicely and it fits like a glove.

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The bodice of the dress is lined, and of course I used the lining that was originally the jacket lining. There was plenty of this and so cutting this out from the pattern pieces was no problem at all.

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This has been such a fun project, and I have enjoyed it way more that I expected to. For more inspiration from this sewing challenge do head on over to Instagram and search the hashtags #therefeshioners2017 and #suitsyou for lots of images. Be sure to follow Portia on Instagram for all the updates on the challenge, and if you haven’t entered this time you might want to consider a trip to the charity shop for your next fabric purchase. Instead of looking at the clothes as garments, imagine them as pieces of fabric that could be used for your next project. The bigger the size the better.

Thank you to Portia for the insane amount of work that must have gone into organising this challenge. It’s been great!

I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

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Simplicity 8342 Summer Sewing Challenge Entry.

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I was really pleased when I heard that Simplicity New Look were holding another sewing challenge. To celebrate 90 years of creative sewing they launched a competition for all to create and share an item of clothing from a choice of 5 patterns.

I  loved pattern 8383 the most, but as this pattern was for newcomers I was unable to choose it. This left the decision between the Vintage Make and the Dressmaker patterns (as I did not want the Childrenswear or Menswear pattern), and in the end I opted for the Vintage Make pattern as I preferred the jersey top on this and decided that I could hack it into a dress with the addition of a contrasting jersey skirt.

I have some jersey fabrics in my sewing stash, but for this project I needed two pieces that would work together, so a little shopping trip into Leicester was required (shame …not)! and the result was this pretty Autumnal berry coloured super soft jersey for the top and a matching berry floral design on a dark background for the skirt. These little gems were from Stuart’s Fabrics on Leicester Market, he has some great jersey fabric at the moment.

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The pattern is a great one to have. There are 2 versions of the tie front top – either a halter neck or tiny cap sleeves. Also included is a ruffled wiggle skirt and cropped pedal pushers. I stuck to the tie front top and knew that I wanted to hack it into a dress as that way I would get more wear out of it.

The construction of the top is straightforward, as usual with Simplicity, and it took very little time to cut out and sew up. There were no surprises and nothing complicated. I cut a straight size 12 and the only alteration I made was to shorten the length of the shoulder straps by about 3.5 cm as they felt a little too long as they were.

In order to make it into a dress though,  I now needed to take off about 11 or 12 cm from the length of the body. A bit drastic, but this means that the waist seam of the dress sits on my natural waist. By the way, I loved the length of it as a top, and had I been leaving it as a top it would have been the perfect length – not too short and not too long!

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The skirt was easy to add. A simple full or half circle skirt is fun, and gathers was also something I considered.  But in the end I simply chose a skirt from a  dress pattern that I have already made and used that! I simply stitched it to the top, made a casing for some elastic from the seam allowance, popped in the elastic to give a very subtle gather, and it was done!

I love a dress without fastenings that you can throw over your head and you’re good to go. Hooray for jersey knits!

Although all the detail in the design is focussed on the front of the top, the back is pretty to look at too. A small amount of gathering across the back allows for a comfortable fit and makes sure it stays in place!

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Thank you to Simplicity New Look for the pattern, and congratulations on your 90th celebrations. It’s been fun trying to decide how to be creative with this pattern, and lots more inspiration can be found on social media using the hashtag #SimplicityTurns90

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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Simplicity New Look 6262 Pattern Review – My Christmas Dress.

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Forget Christmas jumpers, I’m a dress girl through and through.

I have had this Simplicity New Look pattern since July, and just haven’t got around to using it. It came free with the July issue of Sew Style and Home and the style is right up my street. As usual there are a few variations that you can mix up to make your ideal dress. I chose to make the boat neck version as opposed to the v-neck style. I also wanted short sleeves rather than sleeveless or cap sleeves.

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The construction is pretty straightforward, suitable for an advanced beginner I would say. Anyone who is confident with zip insertion, gathers and darts will be fine with this pattern, although these steps are all explained very well on the instruction sheet, as always from Simplicity New Look patterns.

The fabric was an eBay purchase, and once again slightly disappointing. When will I learn to resist a cheap fabric on the internet! It is a poly cotton and was a bit of a bargain, however the quality is not the best, but Hey Ho! you get what you pay for and I reckon I will only wear this dress a couple of times a year given it’s Christmas feel so it doesn’t really matter that much. It  has the cutest reindeer and snowflake design and the green background colour is just that of a perfect Christmas tree. So festive! I wanted to break up the colour a little though so decided to insert some berry red piping at the waistline and sleeves and I absolutely adore how it turned out. I will definitely be popping in some piping on more dresses in the future – a great little detail!

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Take your time with piping, your patience will pay off!

Overall I am very pleased with how the dress came out, it’s very comfortable and I will certainly make it again. I would love to make it up it a pretty ditsy floral fabric (Liberty style). Next time I would probably shorten the bodice as the waist is a little low for my body length, easy enough to shorten using the shorten/lengthen markings on the bodice pattern. Also the skirt was slightly too ‘poofy’ for my liking so I slimmed it down a little along the side seams. Oh and as I’m only 5’2″ I shortened the length about 3″. All these things are just my personal preference, I love this pattern and look forward to making up many more versions next Summer.

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I would love to hear your opinions especially if you have also made this dress pattern.

I can’t wait to wear it on Christmas day. Sending you all best wishes for a peaceful and happy Christmas, and I look forward to a busy 2017 with lots more pattern reviews and tutorials.

Take care and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x