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A ‘first impressions’ review of my new Adjustoform dress form.

As a dressmaker, a crucial part of my sewing equipment is my dress form. Up until now I have been using a very old and battered dress form which came to me in fairly bad condition, second hand, several years ago. She has served me well over the years but recently decided that enough was enough and refused to stand up any more despite several repairs to the legs.

As somebody that spends time sewing in one form or another most days, I missed her tremendously. I hadn’t quite realised how much I relied on her until she was finally unusable. You can imagine my relief when Adjustoform came to the rescue and very generously provided me with a beautiful new model  to use and review. The following is my entirely honest thoughts on her construction, set up and features.

The model I have is the Action Form in a glorious purple colour. It arrived very well packed in a large box. For those interested the box dimensions were

  • Height 79cm
  • Width 38cm
  • Depth 27cm

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Inside the box were all the parts required to quickly and easily assemble it along with a simple instruction sheet and a booklet describing how to get the best out of your dressmaking model.

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To assemble the stand it was just a case of simply slotting in the four feet to the bottom of the stand. Nice and simple. The stand feels strong and sturdy.

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Then you can just pop the body onto the post and secure by tightening the adjustable screws. (By hand – no tools required).

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Isn’t she beautiful! Front and back.

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She is an adjustable 8 part dummy, so after this basic set up you can adjust her to replicate your measurements. To do this you alter the 3 dials and 9 adjusting thumb wheels to give you an exact fit. In addition to this she has an easily adjustable back/waist length as well as the opportunity to adjust the neck. All incredibly simple to do.

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Finally adjust the height to match your height and hey presto! you are good to go!

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She is covered with a nylon, foam backed fabric to allow for easy pinning and has a handy little pin cushion at the top!

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By far my favourite feature of this beauty though is the hem marker with basting attachment. This feature had always been broken on my last old model and boy! is this a useful gadget to have.

Simply decide what hem length you need and open and attach the fixation clip on the hem at that point, slide the pin through the pin guide and when you remove the fixation clip your pin is magically in place on the garment exactly where you want it! Repeat at regular intervals and there you have a perfectly level hem marked out! Genius! I now have level hems on my handmade garments for the first time ever!!

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My new sewing assistant is already a firm favourite of mine. Although I have not had her for very long, I have used her to help me make 5 tops and 3 dresses so far. One of the dresses I recently made has a lined bodice and the dress form was so useful in pinning the lining in place (whilst the garment was inside out), without it pulling at any point. I also think with any dress it is good to let it hang on a dress form for 24 hours before hemming it. This is especially important of course with skirts/dresses cut on the bias or when using knit fabrics, simply hanging on a hanger will not give you the same result.

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Almost finished – just hem and sleeves to go!

The dress form enables me to check on my dart placements now without having to repeatedly try the garment on. Pockets and buttonholes can be checked on the dress form now in the same way without me having to try it on several times.

I am also looking forward to making up new patterns that I have not sewn before as it will be easy to fit and adjust a paper pattern on the dress form to try to work out some of the potential fitting issues before I cut into the fabric.

Although I have only used it for a few weeks and therefore can only review this on the short time I have owned it, I am thrilled to bits with it. It is, in my opinion, one of the most useful items in my dressmaking kit, and I do not want to be without one again! This model does everything I need it to – and more, and is simple to set up and use straight away. You will be seeing a great deal of her in my future makes, and I will continue to share with you any info on the model as and when I think you could find it useful.

This particular dress form is just right for me, it would be perfect for a beginner seamstress right through to the more experienced sewist, and it could just be the perfect Christmas gift don’t you think?

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This gives you a idea of what the dress form looks like when used for sewing a top

Adjustoform have a small range that you can purchase on their website – alternatively you can also search their website for local suppliers here. Correct me if I’m wrong but I’m sure I’ve seen several types of Adjustoform models in the John Lewis haberdashery departments too.

A huge thank you once again to Adjustoform for sending me my new best sewing buddy. I’m in love ..

Do you have an Adjustoform that you couldn’t be without? Which type do you use? Is an Adjustoform on your wish list this Christmas? Do let me know your thoughts, I love to hear from you.

Take care, I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

Thought you might like to see the sorry state of my old girl! ….

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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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price tag

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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A lovely day sewing on #sewsaturday at The Sewing Cafe in Hinckley

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I’m guessing that a few of those of you reading this will already know about the Sew Saturday event that we have every year here in the U.K. If you are not familiar with it, it is an annual event, organised by Sew magazine, which enables us to celebrate our local bricks and mortar independent fabric store and haberdasher. Around the country, small fabric retailers sign up to take part, and offer various classes, workshops, events and discounted prices on the day.

My local fabric and haberdashery store is The Sewing Cafe, which is in the market town of Hinckley, Leicestershire. It is a friendly and welcoming fabric and haberdashery store which is owned and run by Fay and Becky. Not only will Fay, Becky and the team be able to help you with all your sewing needs, the shop also offers a huge range of sewing workshops suitable for complete beginners right through to more experienced sewists as well as the use of the machines by the hour if you feel like some social sewing.

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Last year I attended one of the free workshops and learned how to make a couple of these triangular pattern weights. I promptly went home and spent the rest of the afternoon making a whole bunch more and now use them for EVERY sewing project I make. I can’t remember the last time now that I pinned a pattern before cutting out – it’s so much easier to use my weights and rotary cutter!

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This year, for Sew Saturday, The Sewing Cafe were offering a free workshop making pretty little fabric purses like this one below – totally adorable and quick and easy to make whatever your skill level. I loved that you could choose a button or snap fastening and there was a great selection of fabrics available for you to choose from.

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Throughout the afternoon whilst I was there, I was able to watch a steady stream of sewists disappearing into one of the sewing workshop rooms and coming out half an hour later proudly waving their pretty new fully lined purses!  A free raffle ticket was being offered to each visitor on the day with the chance to win some fabulous sewing prizes,  and tea, cake and generous fabric discounts were also available. The shop was buzzing!

After enjoying myself so much last year, I was thrilled to be invited along this year to take part in a little ‘social sewing’ in the other workshop sewing space during the afternoon. Happy days! I promptly packed my current sewing project, which is another version of The Scout Tee by Grainline Studios, and headed on over to Hinckley!

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I was thrilled to be joined by some really lovely local ladies and we had such a great afternoon sewing, chatting, drinking tea and eating delicious homemade apple cake ( thank you Fay)! If I’m honest I was so busy chatting all afternoon that very little sewing was done by me but hopefully you will see the results of the Scout Tee that I started when the #owop17 challenge arrives at the end of November.

Two of the ladies were whipping up pretty fabric travel tissue covers ready to sell in a forthcoming charity event. They were gorgeous!

By strange coincidence two of the ladies were also both wearing handmade versions of the Tilly and the Buttons Coco pattern – one dress and one top. The top had been made in a super fleece fabric and has certainly inspired me to whip one up in a fleece for myself as the weather is now getting colder. As it happens the Coco is one of the sewing workshops offered by The Sewing Cafe – so if you are local and are interested in attending a Coco workshop or fancy a little browse through the other workshops the Cafe has to offer then you can click here.

During the afternoon we were also joined by some of the ladies that needed a little more time with their workshop purses, and before I knew it the afternoon had flown by and it was time to call it a day.

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Thank you again to Becky and Fay for making me so very welcome, and to all the lovely ladies that I had the pleasure meeting and sewing with. If you are ever in the Hinckley area I would highly recommend that you pop in for a little visit, and if you’re not local you can still have a little mooch through their fabulous fabrics, patterns and haberdashery items on their online shop which you can find on the website here.

If you’re a bit of an Instagram fan like myself, you might be interested to see what the Sewing Cafe are getting up to here.   This way you can check out their new fabric arrivals and get to know which events they are attending.

I hope that whatever you did for #sewsaturday that you had a great time and enjoyed the hospitality and sewing knowledge that our lovely independent fabric retailers can offer us when we call in to visit them.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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A Spotty Tilly and the Buttons Cleo Dress

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It is very much ‘that’ time of the year now in England when there is no denying that Autumn is well and truly here. It’s cold, I want the heating on and most of my fabric shopping now is now cosy corduroys, soft jerseys and snuggly sweatshirting.

My Tilly and the Buttons Cleo pattern is also something that I reach for in the Autumn/Winter. Whilst I have seen many Summer appropriate versions of this – for me it is all about snuggly thicker fabrics teamed with long sleeved jersey tops.

My fabric choice for this Cleo is this stunning navy spotty corduroy.  It was very kindly sent to me by My Fabrics, and I couldn’t be more pleased with it. There are so many colour choices with this spotty corduroy, but as I kind of knew that I probably wanted to pair it with my red striped Tilly and the Buttons Agnes Top, I went ahead and opted for the navy blue. Along with the huge choice of spotty cords, there are several other patterned designs and a wide range of the thickness of cord – from jumbo down to baby cord.

I would describe it as a light weight corduroy, beautifully soft, but certainly with enough structure to make the perfect Cleo.

As with all my Tilly patterns I cut a size 4, and I made no alterations other than shortening the length of the straps by 2″

I added a pocket on the bib front, but chose not to place the optional pockets on the back of the dress as I didn’t want any attention drawn to that area!!

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This is the first time that I have used dungaree clips as a fastening for a Cleo. I always  opt for a button option, but I have had these clips in my sewing basket for a while now and thought that I would give them a go this time.

They are really easy and straightforward to use, really nothing to them at all – you will need a hammer however. Fortunately my husband was able to provide me with that!

To attach the clips, carefully mark out exactly where you want to place them.

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Pierce a small hole using an awl or other sharp point.

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Place the pointed part of the rivet through the hole from the back, and line up the button over the top. Make sure if your button has a design on it, that it is the right way up, as it is impossible  to twist it once in place.

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Gently hammer into place!

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Ta Da! That’s all there is to it, such fun and the good news is that you get to do it all over again on the other side!

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I hope you like the outcome as much as I do. I really like the pairing of spots and stripes together, also love the red and blue combo too!

Thank you very much to My Fabrics for providing the fabric for this post. This is something I am going to love wearing this season. I certainly have my eye on some of the other patterned cords at My Fabrics and you may well be seeing more of this again soon!

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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Sewisfaction Blogger Team Post – The Flatter Me Frock by Sew To Grow.

Today’s the day – it’s my first blog post as part of the Sewisfaction Blogger Team.  For my first post I have chosen to make The Flatter Me Frock by  Sew to Grow  using this amazing butterfly rainforest cotton linen.

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My full review can be found here so do head on over to read all about it and check out lots more photos. Look forward to seeing you over there!

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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‘Dressmaker of the year’ Finalist!

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Hi friends,

I recently had the amazing news that I had been shortlisted to be a finalist in the Make it Today Dressmaker Of The Year Awards. Yes, little old me.

This is a huge shock and I was totally blown away by this honour. The dress that I submitted was the Joni dress by The Fold Line.

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I loved making this dress, and the fabric was a particular favourite of mine too. If you are interested in reading the full review then you can do so here.

The dress has been sent off for judging in London, which I believe took place yesterday. I feel pretty nervous that such esteemed judges have been examining my dress in close detail!

Whilst the overall winners will be chosen by the judging panel, there is the opportunity for anyone to vote in the ‘Readers Choice’ category. If you take the time to vote you are automatically entered into a competition to win some great sewing prizes – a lovely sewing book bundle and a years subscription to either ‘Sew’ or ‘Make it Today’ magazine. These prizes are worth £230!

If you would like to have the chance to win these prizes, I will leave a link here, I think you will be impressed by the variety of entries – there is a childrens category, vintage, ready to wear and customising category, so why not take a look, have a little vote and give yourself a chance to win a great sewing prize at the same time!

Don’t hang about though! The entries for this will close on the 25th April!

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Whilst I am here, I would just like to take this opportunity to thank you all for the support and encouragement that you have given me since I started this little blog last October. Yesterday I received a notification that 100 people are now following me, so if you are one of them, I would like to say a very big thank you, it means the world to me.

The good news is I have lots of sewing plans lined up, and I look forward to sharing these all with you!

Thank you all, take care and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x