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Swedish Tracing Paper – my product review of Patterntrace.

As someone who traces out EVERY pattern that they use, I am always interested in learning about different products and techniques that will make my life easier when doing so.

 

A few weeks ago, I was approached by Patterntrace  who asked if I might be interested in testing out some of their Swedish Tracing Paper  in return for  writing an honest blog post with my thoughts. I absolutely jumped at the chance of course, and after testing it out for the last few weeks, using it on 4 or 5 sewing projects so far, I think I am ready to share my thoughts with you.

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Your Patterntrace tracing paper comes to you on a 10 metre roll – long enough to last you for several projects. This roll is lovely and wide at 1 metre, so it easily fitted all my pattern pieces on nicely. I was interested to see what it felt like, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it feels and looks a little like very lightweight interfacing (but more see-through). It’s made from plant fibres therefore giving it a greater level of strength than paper, and this also means that it is compostable too. It will tear – but you need to try quite hard to make it do so – and this is such a bonus, as paper pattern pieces can take quite a beating what with pinning, cutting, marking and folding.

Before using it to trace out my patterns, I find that it is best to give the original pattern pieces a good press. Skip this step and you will find that wrinkles in your pattern will distort your tracing lines and give you an inaccurate traced pattern piece.

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I was absolutely thrilled when I lay the tracing paper over the pattern. Look how easy it is to see what you are tracing!

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When tracing my patterns, I usually just grab the nearest biro for transferring my markings. But during sewing I am also likely to use other tools for marking. Below you can see how easy the Swedish tracing paper is to use with

  • pencil
  • Frixion pen
  • Chaco chalk liner pen
  • Regular biro
  • Water erasable fabric pen
  • tailor’s chalk

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What is also really clever is that because it is fibrous, you can also sew it together therefore using it to make 3d shapes, toiles or accurately help with fitting issues. Just machine sew through it as you would with any fabric!

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Something else that I really liked was that when you unroll it to use it, it lays lovely and flat on the table. You can imagine that a regular roll of paper would not behave itself like this and just curl up. Just a small thing, but so helpful!

I always keep my leftover scraps/offcuts of tracing paper too, do you? Often they can be used again on other projects for small tracings like neck facings, cuffs or pockets, or they can be taped together to be used for slightly larger pieces. Just to let you know that it tapes together really well without any slipping and holds it perfectly. So don’t throw the small leftover pieces away, you can use it all!

I was also keen to see how little space it would take up when it was folded for storage – and also how it would look when it was then opened out again. Would it crease? Could the creases be ironed out? The good news is that it folds up nice and flat ( rather like the tissue paper that you find in the big 4 pattern envelopes), and it will iron out on a cool iron setting so that it is super easy to use again. To put this to the test I cut a rough square of Patterntrace tracing paper, screwed it up as tightly as I could, and then flattened it out by hand and ironed it. As you can see from the pics below – the final pic after ironing is almost as good as new!

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This is the ‘before’

 

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This is hand flattened after screwing it up as tightly as I could.

 

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After ironing – almost as good as new!

 

After I finished with this particular pattern, I folded it all up, gently ironed it flat and it fitted into the pattern envelope (with the original pattern and instructions) easily. What a bonus!

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I shudder to show you the chaos that is my current pattern tracing storage situation, but brace yourselves, that is exactly what I am going to do! Below is the how I store my current pattern tracings. There’s lots of them, I know. Told you I traced everything! So these tracings are using 90gsm tracing paper. It’s much thicker and stiffer, and whilst it’s fine to trace through, it does tear easily, it’s bulky to store as you can see, and you cannot really fold it. This is definitely a situation that could be avoided if I were using Swedish tracing paper.

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Don’t judge me..

 

If you think that this might be something that you would like to try, I am delighted to share with you a 10% discount code. The code is  sewdainty  and you are able to use this for anything on the Patterntrace  website (not just tracing paper), and just so as you know, there is free postage on orders over £10 within the UK too!

There are all sorts of sewing goodies on their website, ranging from sewing workbooks and notepads, to fun clothing labels and pin badges. Do take a look, and if you’re not quite ready to splash out on a full roll of the tracing paper and would like to try it out first, why not add a generously sized sample to your order (at only 50p) and you can see what it’s like for yourself.

Thank you so much to Patterntrace for sending me this roll to test out. It’s safe to say that I am very impressed by it and can certainly see what all the fuss is about. It’s been a real pleasure to use and although I have used it on several projects already, I have so much left on the roll it will last me for quite a while yet!

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

 

 

 

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A review of ‘Sewing Your Dream Wardrobe’ by Athina Kakou.

If ‘Me Made May’ has taught me anything, it is that my handmade wardrobe is huge, lovely, but isn’t very well planned and often doesn’t work together. For those not familiar, #mmmay18 is an Instagram challenge which offers you the opportunity to wear handmade clothes during the month and possibly use it as a chance to evaluate your me-made wardrobe during this time to see how it can be improved.

As if by magic, during this month the lovely Athina Kakou approached me and asked if I would be interested in taking a look at her e-book ‘Sewing Your Dream Wardrobe – a guide to creating a handmade wardrobe you’ll love’. The timing could not have been better. Athina’s book basically takes you through the process of creating a wardrobe that works for you, your lifestyle, and that you will love! I’m hoping that sometime soon I will be able to throw open my wardrobe doors and find a whole collection of pieces that I can mix and match and eliminate that ‘head scratching’ dilemma that I have ‘nothing to wear’.

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The e-book contains 5 simple chapters taking you through ways to curate your closet, putting those ideas into place, lots of helpful tips and tricks for better and mindful sewing, and some examples of how Athina has put together wardrobe collections for herself using this guide. There is also a chapter dedicated to your maternity wardrobe which has been written by Athina’s great friend and business partner Hattie van der Krohn.

 

Chapter 1 and 2 made me realise that I have a ton of pretty clothes that I have made, but am really lacking in basic staples – the foundation that we can build a more wearable wardrobe from. I struggle to buy simple solid colours (as I am like a magpie and am always distracted by pretty patterns – usually florals), but have recognised that in order to tie my wardrobe together, particularly with my separates, I need to focus a little on this area. I am determined to try to do this.

The e-book also comes with a workbook which I used to help me when sorting out my wardrobe. Take a breath before I show you below what I have cleared out of my RTW wardrobe, a mixture of charity donations and maybe eBay listings will be the result of this clear out.

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Eek! This lot has got to go!

Using the workbook allowed me to identify why I didn’t need these items anymore, to try to identify my personal style and gather inspiration for more wearable replacements. It’s genius! After I have finished with my RTW wardrobe I will then move on to my handmade wardrobe and do the same thing.

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I loved chapter 3. This is packed full of tips and tricks to make your sewing process simpler, more cost effective and a better experience all round. There is a great deal to be said for slowing down and enjoying the process, and combining this with saving money and making the most of what you’ve got is a recipe for success.

The book is an easy read, Athina’s writing style is fun and encouraging and has certainly motivated me to change my sewing habits. It’s a book that you can pick up and put down whenever you like, and the colourful photographs throughout make it colourful and enjoyable to look at. Reading it felt like I was having a conversation with a sewing friend who knew exactly how to gently guide me through a more organised sewing situation.

I am very lucky to be able to offer you a discount code on the ‘Sewing Your Dream Wardrobe’ e-book. Athina is offering my readers a 20% discount on the book by using the code SEWDAINTY and this is valid for one week from today. The usual price is 15 euros, so with this discount you will be able to purchase it for 12 euros. If you head on over to Athina’s website, you can find the link in her shop.

I’m quite sure that many of you will know of Athina, as she is an incredibly busy lady! Also available on her website is her PDF download – ‘My Sewing Planner’ which is an incredibly useful planner in it’s own right, but something that I have been using alongside the e-book. I am going to be SO organised from now on you wouldn’t believe it!

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Athina is also a co-host of the #smyly2018 challenge which she ran with Hattie and Lisa, which was hugely successful and has now lead on to the release of the smyly magazine! There is no stopping this talented lady and her sewing friends!

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I hope that this review has been helpful to you. I think that especially now as we transition into Summer it is the perfect time to take a look at your wardrobe, sewing habits and how they can be improved. Thank you so very much to Athina for sending me the PDF downloads, I feel that my sewing journey will be a great deal more organised and relevant in the future!

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 lovely day out at #sewbrum

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Saturday 28th October 2017 is a date that has been eagerly anticipated by a great deal of the sewing community in the U.K

It was the date of the annual ‘Sew Brum’ sewing meet-up organised by the wonderful Charlotte from English Girl At Home and as it’s name suggests it is a friendly gathering in Birmingham of sewing enthusiasts from all over the U.K  which consists of lots fabric shopping, tea drinking and chatter!

Our meet up point was at the John Lewis restaurant where everybody gathered between 10 and 11am. The restaurant quickly filled up with lots and lots of excited chatter and it was wonderful to meet up with old friends and make new friends too. I believe that over 130 people had signed up to attend and many had travelled a very long way to be there.

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The itinery was fairly relaxed. Charlotte had provided a list of suggested fabric retailers in the City and it was a case of deciding where to go during the morning before reconvening in Moseley Village at Guthrie & Ghani to meet for lunch and an afternoon at this wonderful fabric shop.

Myself and my group of friends decided to start off at the famous Birmingham Rag Market, and we were not disappointed. I purchased my first ever piece of African Wax fabric, and also some pretty navy floral jersey which will probably end up as another Agnes Top.

Next it was off to Barry’s Fabrics.

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Barry’s is a short walk from the City centre, but the weather was dry and it was totally worth it! It’s a small warehouse style fabric store and is packed from floor to ceiling with hundreds and hundreds of rolls of fabrics. Bliss!

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We spent quite some time here. So much fabric to look through! Hard to believe – I did not find anything that I wanted particularly and decided to save my pennies for a special fabric from Guthrie and Ghani later that afternoon.

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Outside Barry’s was this beautiful wall and I could not resist a pic of my ‘partners in crime’ for the day. In the middle is Kate  and on the right is Vena. We did not stop laughing all day. Such great girls.

No time to rest, and it was off to find the bus stop to take us on a 15 min journey to Moseley Village to tie up with the rest of the sewists at Guthrie and Ghani.  It was a bit of a squeeze in the shop, but great fun and we were made very very welcome by Lauren and all the team. We all bought raffle tickets and had a little browse around the shop. It’s so beautiful. It’s a pretty black and white timber framed building on the main through road and houses a great range of superb quality fabrics, patterns and haberdashery items downstairs and another room upstairs where a lovely range of workshops are normally held.

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I could not resist purchasing a super soft pink fleeceback jersey fabric, and I will share what I make with it here in the next couple of weeks or so.

A fabric and pattern swap was held at the shop, I took along a couple of pieces of fabric and two patterns that I didn’t want and swapped them for two patterns and two fabrics that I wanted from the swap table! Thank you to whoever donated these pieces – I am going to enjoy them very much!

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The raffle prizes were amazing. Fabric suppliers, pattern houses, sewing magazines and the like had generously donated some wonderful prizes and I understand that the outcome was that £431.50 was raised for The Eve Appeal and £80 to provide a toilet for a village in Africa who doesn’t have one. Pretty great I think.

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This is Lauren, the owner of Guthrie and Ghani selecting the raffle prizes, and Charlotte picking out the winning tickets!

The day was over in a flash. It really was disappointing when it was time to go, especially as I felt that I hadn’t had the chance to chat to everybody that I had wanted to. I know that everybody I spent time with said that they had enjoyed their day immensely, and it is so very generous of Charlotte to give so much of her time to organize such a great event. Thank you also to Lauren and all the team from Guthrie and Ghani for looking after us all in the afternoon.

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Sewing friends are the best friends don’t you think?

I feel I was quite restrained in my fabric purchases considering all the temptation of the day, but what I brought home I am thrilled with and am looking forward to sewing up.

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My fabric purchases on the day were: top – fleeceback jersey from Guthrie and Ghani, middle – jersey from the Rag Market and bottom – African Wax from the Rag Market.

After a tiring day it was time to say goodbye to all, I was especially sad to leave Vena and Kate, and hope it won’t be too long before we see each other again.

I, for one, am already looking forward to #sewbrum 2018!

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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A lovely day out at Sewisfaction

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Being part of the blogger team at Sewisfaction is a huge honour and great pleasure, but so much of sewing blogging is spent working and communicating online from home. So recently the lovely Sheona, who most of you will know as the owner of fabric and haberdashery shop Sewisfaction, arranged a little get-together for the Sewisfaction Blogger Team. The plan was to all meet up at Sewisfaction ‘HQ’ and spend a lovely Sunday sewing and chatting. Bliss.

As a great deal of you will know, Sheona opened her ‘bricks and mortar’ shop a couple of months ago. It is located in the idyllic Berkshire countryside on the outskirts of Wokingham, at Holme Grange Craft Village. The craft village has a great location near motorway links and is also not too far from Wokingham railway station.

As is often the case it is tricky to find a time and location that everybody can make. We were so very sorry that Lesley,  Suzie, and Maddie were unable to make it this time. Fingers crossed that we can all be together one day – how awesome would that be!

It was so exciting to actually visit the shop at last, after seeing it online so much in Sheona’s vlogs and on her Instagram account, and it did not disappoint. The shop is easy to locate in the Village (plenty of free parking by the way), and you are greeted with a welcoming selection of pretty fabrics, haberdashery items, sewing patterns, knitting wools and general sewing lovliness! New fabrics are being added to the shop all the time, and you will usually find Sheona will mention them on her social media (particularly Instagram), so if you want to be the first to know what’s going on then do give her a ‘follow’. You can also sign up on the website to receive updates and news from Sewisfaction is this is easier for you.

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Don’t forget to tag your makes #mysewisfaction and you may well find yourself on the ‘wall of fame’!

It was a huge thrill to finally meet Sheona and two of my fellow Sewisfaction Bloggers –  Amanda and Samantha . What lovely, lovely girls – truly sweet, and I felt like I had known them for years. Also I was super happy to meet Suzy who a great deal of you will have seen in Sheona’s vlogs, again what a sweetheart – and we all had the most amazing time sewing and chatting accompanied by plenty of tea and biscuits!

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The shop has an impressive sewing space where we were able to use the wonderful Janome sewing machines and overlockers that are available at Sewisfaction for the many sewing courses and classes that are held there. Check out the website for a full list of what is available – there is something for all abilities including parties and half term activities.

Lunch was the perfect opportunity to have a little break, and there is a pretty little cafe just downstairs from the shop where we grabbed a sandwich before more sewing in the afternoon.

All too soon it was time to go – not before some fabric purchases were made – well, it would be impossible to go home with nothing don’t you think? You might have seen my fabric purchases on my Instagram Stories, and I will of course be sharing the finished makes on here in due course.

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I hope it won’t be too long before we are all able to meet up again. Sewing and chatting really is the perfect way to spend the day. Thank you to Sheona for all her hospitality, and also to Amanda, Samantha and Suzy for making my day so enjoyable.

Here’s to the next one! #teamsewisfaction

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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My #sewtogetherforsummer #vintagepledge Shirtdress.

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A couple of months ago there was a flurry of excitement as 3 beauties that I follow on Instagram announced that they were launching a Summer shirtdress sewing challenge.

Sarah from @sewsarahsmith, Suzy from @sewing_in_spain and Monika from @rocco.sienna had decided to come together to share their love of shirtdresses and host a friendly challenge to sew a shirtdress in time for Summer.

I loved that it aimed to encourage all to have a go. The whole point of this sewing challenge is for everybody to have some fun. Prizes are not to be awarded to the ‘best dress’, but given across the board to recognise the enjoyment of participating and sharing with others in the sewing community. For those not aware, the sewing community is the BEST there is and this is a whopping example of why – friendly, kind and helpful interaction between sewists of all abilities, ages and sizes all having a bit of fun together! I’m in!

More shirtdress inspiration can be found at #sewtogetherforsummer over on Instagram.

It also gave me the opportunity to make my first #vintagepledge make which is hosted by the lovely Marie from A Stitching Odyssey. I have written a separate blog post on this here  if you would like more information on this fun challenge too! Again this is another amazing way to bring wonderful and creative sewists together and I believe there may be the opportunity to win prizes in this challenge too! Woohoo! Again – do check out the hashtag on Instagram for some breathtaking makes!

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A shirtdress is something I had not considered before. I don’t believe that a collar suits me – hence why it is very rare that I ever make anything with one! Whilst there are plenty of sewing patterns out there with collarless options, I decided to choose a collared version just because it was a little ‘out of my comfort zone’.

Rather than buying a new pattern for this I had a hunt through my pattern stash and came across this wonderful vintage Style pattern from the 1970’s I think. (A charity shop bargain at 50p).

 

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I knew that I would need a few adjustments. I wanted to keep it as close to the original design as possible, but it also needed to be something that I would want to wear, so some alterations were necessary.

I was delighted to find that all the pattern pieces were present, along with the instruction sheet. The pattern was already neatly cut out and had pin holes where the previous owner had used it. I can’t help wonder who it belonged to before and what her dress turned out like. So off I set, using an old duvet cover as my toile fabric. I am so pleased that I made a toile, because on this dress I made a TON of alterations!

The pattern pieces are incredibly detailed. Seam lines are shown on all seams, there are more than enough dots and notches and plenty of written instruction on the pattern pieces as well.

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Such thorough pattern markings!

The instruction sheet is just one piece of paper which has the cutting layouts on one side and written instructions on the other. However it was more than adequate. I had no ‘scratching my head’ moments, and whilst it was much more time consuming to make up that most things I have made lately, I must admit that it was thoroughly enjoyable.

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I used a light/medium weight cotton chambray from my stash purchased at Barry’s in Birmingham earlier on in the year. I had been saving this for something special and I am really please I used it for this project.

I cannot quite decide if I like the buttons undone or done up – but I must admit I don’t mind the collar despite my reservations as to whether it would suit me. It was easy to make and feels soft and comfortable – no interfacing required.

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Although I shortened the length of the sleeves, they remain fairly gathered at the sleeve head, maybe my next version would be less gathered at the top here. I can live with this though. My absolute favourite part are the double pleats at either side of the centre front and back. The gathers were pretty on my toile but I just wanted pleats and am so happy I did. Love them.

I did remove some of the fullness of the skirt, it really was much too flared for my liking. I feel that it has the perfect amount of fullness now.

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The original pattern calls for a 55cm zip down the centre back of the dress. When making my toile I found that it could be easily put on and taken off over the head without using the zip, so my finished version has no zip and I cut the bodice back on the fold removing the seam allowance that would have been there had I been using a zip.

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In brief, otherwise we will be here all day, the alterations I made on view 3 were:

  • I cut the toile skirt to the length (using view 3), where the ruffle started thinking this would be a perfect length for me – in fact it was slightly too short and I ended up adding 4cm to the length in my final dress.
  • I omitted the back zip and cut the back bodice on the fold instead. It is perfectly easy to put on and take off over the head without the zip.
  • I cut the sleeve to a short sleeve length. I could not live with those poofy sleeves!
  • I took out the fullness of the skirt quite a bit, it was much too ‘flared’ for my liking.
  • I chose to make double pleats rather than gathers either side of the centre front and back and I just LOVE that – it’s my favourite part of the dress!!
  • I decided to add an extra button on the bodice band – just because I thought it looked more finished.

So all in all this has been a great experience. I have ended up with a dress that I will wear alot.

It has been quite a surprise that I love this shirtdress so much, given my collar reservations, but I am now browsing t’internet to gain inspiration for another! Who would’ve thought!

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I have also massively enjoyed using a vintage pattern and taking part in my first #vintagepledge challenge. Last night at 2am I was still browsing through the vintage pattern selection on eBay – very inspiring! Although quite pricey sometimes – I would recommend charity shops and car boot sales for some great bargains on vintage patterns.

Thank you to Sarah, Suzy, Monika and Marie for organising these challenges, and allowing us to share our own makes and enjoy the inspiration that we gain from seeing others.

Thanks for reading, take care and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

 

 

 

 

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A Wonderful Day Out at ‘Fabric Meet Birmingham’

Yesterday was just lovely. Fabric shopping in Birmingham on a beautiful sunny day with lots of creative and inspiring sewists. What a perfect way to spend a day. Let me tell you more..

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About a month ago, Samantha from Create It Samantha and Bianca from Sleepless in Bavaria decided to host a fabric shopping trip and get-together in Birmingham. It sounded like too much fun to miss out on so I stuck my hand in the air straight away!

We were all meeting in John Lewis, which was perfect as I was arriving by train and John Lewis is on the doorstep! Samantha and Bianca had thoughtfully arranged for us to have use of a private dining area next to the restaurant which was so perfect as we could all grab ourselves some refreshments and get to know each other before we started.

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During this time we had a little pattern/fabric swap. I was delighted to pick up a Colette Patterns Peony dress pattern. Thank you to whoever donated this item, I am thrilled with it! Further more Samantha and Bianca handed out goody bags for everyone. I will pop a picture of all our goodies at the end of this post. Totally spoiled already and we had only been going an hour!

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Firstly we met June who works for John Lewis in their haberdashery department. We enjoyed a lovely demonstration on their range of sewing machines, and had the opportunity to give them a try ourselves. I enjoyed using a machine with no foot pedal for the first time – it has a start/stop button instead, and quickly made a little quilted square. Such fun!

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Forgive that it is a little wonky, it was cut without ruler or measuring and not pressed, but you get the idea!

After this, it was time to move outside into the sunshine and take a walk to the Rag Market. Plenty of bargains were bagged by us all as there were lots of fabric stalls inside and outside.

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One of the stalls inside the Rag Market

No rest for the wicked, it was then off to a much anticipated visit to Barry’s Fabrics. Boy! we weren’t disappointed. Packed to the rafters with rolls and rolls of fabrics, we had a wonderful time, like kids in a candy store.

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By this time I think we were all beginning to flag a little. Perfect time to break for lunch. Of course lovely Samantha and Bianca had already reserved tables at The Stable, so it was a quick walk back to the Bullring area to grab some lunch. Two long tables had been booked which was so perfect as we could all continue to chat together as large groups and didn’t need to separate up into smaller tables.

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After lunch we jumped into taxis and made the 10 minute journey to visit the Adam Ross warehouse. We were warmly greeted by Jas, Faisal, Saira and the team, and enjoyed refreshments whilst we learned about the company and how they work. Did you know that Adam Ross offer free postage on all orders, and always aim to get orders cut and dispatched on the same day. Very impressive. If you would like to check out their website you can do so here.

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Jas took us over to their cutting table to show us their newest range of fabrics. We wanted to buy all of them!

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Next came the moment we had all been waiting for. A good look around their warehouse. Two enormous floors worth of fabrics. I have never seen anything like it, we were given free rein to take our time and wander anywhere we liked and choose any fabric that we wanted to purchase.

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The welcome that we received from the team at Adam Ross was second to none, and just when I thought our day couldn’t get any better we were each given beautiful little notebooks which had been bound and covered with their fabrics. I picked a navy blue with star design.

Thank you so much to Bianca and Samantha for ensuring we all had the best day. Every little detail had been carefully planned, and not only was the fabric shopping amazing, the friendly company of such wonderful ladies and gent was a great experience. New friends have now been made and will be treasured.

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My fabric haul from the day. Top two from Adam Ross, middle from the Rag Market, bottom two from Barry’s Fabrics.

Finally let me show you the lot! As well as the fabrics I purchased, take a look at the beautiful fabric bound notebook and pen from Adam Ross, and the extremely generous gifts from Samantha and Bianca. Also the pattern I picked up from the pattern/fabric swap!

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I think if this wonderful event is ever repeated, it might be wise to follow Vena’s example and bring a suitcase on wheels. We all had a bit of trolley envy at the end of the day when we had to carry our bags home!

I hope you have enjoyed this little insight of my day out in Birmingham, it was lovely to meet so many new friends and hope to see more of you all in the future.

Take care and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

 

 

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Quilted Fabric Thread Catcher Tutorial

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I’m so pleased to share this make with you all. Such a pretty little fabric basket that could be used for a number of other uses, and as usual with me – fairly quick to make using small pieces of fabric.

You will need:

  • 2  coordinating pieces of  fabric. Out of each piece of fabric you will cut 2 rectangles measuring 8″ x 10″
  • Quilting wadding (batting), or medium to heavy weight interfacing. From this you will cut 2 rectangles measuring 8″ x 10″
  • Pins
  • Fabric scissors or a rotary cutter and mat
  • Fabric pen (not essential you could use an ordinary pen or pencil if you are careful).
  • Ruler
  • Needle and thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron and ironing board

Before you start it is always a good idea to iron your fabric. This ensures that your fabric pieces are going to be nice and neat and a perfect size.

Cut out the 2 pieces of fabric which you have chosen to be your outer bag, the 2 pieces of fabric which you have chosen for your lining fabric and the 2 pieces of wadding or interfacing.

To make your quilting stitches neat, you will need to take your 2 pieces of wadding and mark out a diagonal grid pattern. I started by marking this out using a vanishing fabric marker pen, however my lines disappeared more quickly than I wanted so I decided to use a regular pen for this. Take care if you choose this method that your pen lines will not visible through the fabric.

You will also notice that I marked out these lines using an 45 degree angle. Do not just draw them corner to corner as this will result in uneven and wonky diamond shapes when you stitch it. I marked one line first and then used the width of my ruler to make even parallel rows of lines thereafter.

If you are using iron on interfacing, you will not need to do this. Simply iron your interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric pieces which are going to be the outer bag pieces.

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Take one of the wadding pieces and place it on top of the wrong side of one of the fabric pieces which will be the outside bag. Pin in place. Repeat for the other wadding piece and outside bag piece.

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Take these pieces to your machine and stitch along all of these lines. Take care not to miss any out!

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Continuing with these pieces, place them right sides together and stitch around both sides and along the bottom edge (leaving the top edge open). I used a 3/8″ seam allowance. Take care if you are using a directional fabric that you are sewing it the right way up!

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Press the seams open as well as you can. This is a bit awkward and I used my tailors ham/sleeve pressing roll for this. Next you need to pinch the bottom corners in order to make your bag stand up nicely. Pinch each bottom corner to make a triangular shape and pin. Measure 1.5″ from the point and draw a line across at this point. Repeat this for the other corner. This is hard to explain, I hope the photographs help you to understand this.

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Take to the sewing machine and sew along the lines you have marked. Cut away the excess, leaving a small seam allowance.

 

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Great! Then you can turn the bag right sides out.

To make the lining bag, place the two lining pieces right sides together and sew along both sides and along the bottom edge – but this time leave a gap of approximately 3″ along the bottom edge. This gap should be large enough for you to pull your bag through at the end. Again be careful if your fabric is directional – think about how it will lay when it is made up and which way up it will sit when the lining is rolled over to the outside, and choose what will be your top edge and bottom edge accordingly. If your fabric has no directional print you don’t need to worry about this.

When you have done this you need to pinch both bottom corners just like you did with the outer bag, pin, stitch and trim excess. Again if you can press the seams open at this stage it will look neater when it is finished.

Place the outer bag inside the lining bag. The right sides of each bag should be facing each other. Pin all the way around the top edge and take it to the machine and stitch all the way around this edge.

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Turn the bag over and you will see the 3″ gap that you left open when you made the lining bag. Gently turn the bag ‘right side out’ by pulling the outer bag through this hole.

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Now it’s time to close the opening in the lining bag. Pin the opening closed and either machine stitch the opening as close to the edge as you can, or hand sew it closed. I chose to machine sew it because I was feeling lazy however this will create a little ‘ridge’ along where you have sewn. It is not particularly noticeable but if you want a neater finish I would suggest you hand sew it using a ladder/slip stitch.

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Push the lining bag inside the outer bag now and you’re almost there. Pin all the way around the top edge and machine stitch all around this edge. This will stop your outer or inner bag slipping and looking messy. This is the finishing touch and as well as serving a purpose it really gives the bag a professional finish.

There you go, you’re all done! You can leave it as it is or roll the top over to expose the pretty lining fabric which is what I will do with mine.

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I made this basket from 2 fat quarters. There is enough left to make another basket, so if you were using 2 fat quarters maybe you could make one for yourself and one for a friend – after all it doesn’t have to be used for threads only!

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Thanks for reading! I would love to know if you are going to have a go at making one of these, and what you are going to use it for.

Take care and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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Sew Over It Tulip Skirt Pattern Review

I thought it was about time that I made a skirt. I’ve made lots and lots of dresses lately and I fancied a change. I have had this fabric in my stash for a little while now and knew I wanted it for a skirt. During the Black Friday sale in November I treated myself to the Tulip Skirt PDF and I was excited to make it. I have made a Sew Over It Erin Skirt recently here and loved it, so I was pretty sure I would enjoy this one too!

Is anybody else taking part in the #2017makenine challenge?  This is the first of my nine choices. A good start to the new year!

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So just to let you know that it is only available in PDF format. I must admit I do prefer a paper pattern, but it didn’t take too long to put together as there are only 4 pattern pieces – a skirt front, a skirt back, pocket and waistband. Nice and simple. You can choose to make it in 2 lengths. I chose the shorter length as I am only 5’2″ and it was spot on.

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I was so pleased with my fabric choice. The style of this skirt definitely requires at least a medium weight fabric. The pattern recommends a medium to heavy weight cotton, wool or crepe.

It was quick to make up. I prepared the PDF, traced the pattern and cut it out on one afternoon, and then it only took a couple of hours the next afternoon to sew it up. The pleats are easy to fold if you simply follow the written instructions, don’t try to overcomplicate it and then end up scratching your head for 10 mins like I did. There are photos to accompany the written instructions. I also struggled a bit with the waistband for some reason, but got there in the end!

My only other ‘alteration’ was that I used a standard zip and not a concealed zip as suggested. This was a bit of an error on my part. The pattern calls for an 8″ concealed zip and I was beyond excited to find that I actually had one which was the perfect length and colour already in my stash. Off I jolly well went fitting it to the skirt with my invisible zipper foot on my machine, thinking that the teeth didn’t feel like invisible teeth normally do as they run through the grooves on the zipper foot. It was only as I finished and zipped it up I realised that I had used a regular nylon coil zip, and therefore due to the width of the pull tab it wouldn’t be invisible at all. Ho hum, you live and learn, it doesn’t really matter that much I don’t think. At least the waistband seam matches up pretty well!tulip-skirt-5

I chose to make the skirt without pockets. Unusual, as I normally can’t get enough of them but I wondered that in a skirt of this style whether it would make for too much bulk around the hips. On reflection I don’t think it would have made much difference as they would lay so flat inside the skirt anyway.

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The back of the skirt is lovely and simple. Just a couple of darts for shaping and a nice smooth finish.

I’m really pleased with how the skirt came out. The shape is very flattering, feminine and very wearable.

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I would love to hear if you have made a Sew Over It Tulip Skirt too. How did you get on?

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts,

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