Friday, 6 March 2015

GBSB Fashion With Fabric: A Review + Giveaway

Thanks to Quadrille, today I'm reviewing The Great British Sewing Bee Fashion with Fabric and giving away a copy to one lucky reader in the UK! Although I can't compare it to the books from the first two series of the popular BBC show - I don't own them - I can tell you that I'm pretty impressed with it as a standalone book.

As I had a bit of 'free' time on my hands, I decided to make a project from the book for a well-rounded review. Predictably, my love of vintage drew me to the Walkaway Dress - based on Butterick 6015 from 1952 - which featured as one of the challenges in Episode 3. Look out for a full reveal of my dress soon!

I found the instructions to be well illustrated, but a little lacking on the written explanation part. The book isn't aimed at beginners and does make assumptions that the reader has a good understanding of basic techniques. However, it provides excellent guides to Core Skills like setting in sleeves, inserting an invisible zip, shirring, and many more.

Overall, it's an excellent reference book covering topics like common sewing terms, choosing fabrics, how to use the patterns, and basic hand sewing stitches. It also contains some great tips for equipment, as it explores the use of more challenging fabrics.

In fact, its exploration of challenging fabrics is one of the book's greatest strengths. It's broken down into four fabric categories - cottons, wool and other animal fibres, stretch fabrics, luxury fabrics - each category complete with a comprehensive breakdown of types of fabric, as well as a super useful glossary.

If you're like me, you'll be pleased to know that the whopping 30 projects on offer are all of the dressmaking kind! There's so many of them that they even come in a separate slipcase! The bad news is that you have to trace them out (eurgh!!!), but the good news is that each pattern sheet is clearly labelled with the projects it contains (phew!!!).





Undoubtedly, the best part of this book is the variety of desirable and wearable projects on offer. There's literally something for everyone, whether you're a selfish or selfless stitcher. There's also enough choice to strike the delicate balance between enticing a beginner and challenging someone more experienced. 

If you're a UK resident, this is your chance to win a free copy of Fashion With Fabric! Just leave a comment and your email address below by midnight GMT on Thursday 12 March. I'll then pick a winner at random and the good people at Quadrille will do the rest!

Sunday, 1 March 2015

#vintagepledge in March & Giveaway

Hello friends! Last week flew by in a blur, but there's no more room for slacking as I'm hosting this month's Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge activities! If you missed out on any February's #vintagepledge fun, Kestrel Makes has shared a comprehensive round-up.

March Schedule

Wednesday 11 March - Stash Interview with Akram's Ideas on Kestrel Makes

Monday 23 March - 1930s Inspiration on A Stitching Odyssey

Tuesday 31 March - Round-up and Giveaway Winner Announced on A Stitching Odyssey 

6 Makes from February 

Boy, do you guys mean business this year! Just two months in and the #vintagepledge Pinterest Board is already overflowing with your wonderful makes! I found it really hard to pick just a few to highlight, but I've given it my best shot...

Now, I don't want to say that #vintagepledge has peaked too early, but how can we beat an outing at the Oscars?!? Julie of Jet Set Sewing made herself a Madame Gres design out of merino wool jersey for a glamorous, yet effortless, red carpet look!

Prolific knitter Andi, of Untangling Knots, set aside her knitting needles for #vintagepledge and stitched up a reproduction pattern in a delightful strawberry-print.

Michelle, ma belle...tres bien ensemble combined vintage and contemporary patterns for a dramatic look, channelling her inner Ulyana Sergeenko. 

A wrap dress made of faux suede?!? Sara of Mixed Emotions was truly inspired with this gorgeous combination, which brings me yet another step closer to embracing 1970s styles!

Evie of La Couturiere Dimanche made what can only be described as the sweetest maternity dress ever. And best of all, it was a 100% stash-buster!

Just Sew Jenna introduced me to a brand new concept - dungalottes! Doesn't her little girl (and photo-bombing doggy) look adorable in these vintage-inspired dungaree culottes?

Remnant Kings Giveaway

This month is generously sponsored by Remnant Kings, a family-run, Glasgow-based business offering an extensive collection dressmaking and furnishing fabrics, knitting supplies and haberdashery items.

Remnant Kings are kindly offering a 10% discount across their online selection for the duration of March - just use VINTAGE10 at the checkout. 

They're also offering one lucky winner a £15 voucher to use either online or in store, as well as a surprise goodie bag! The giveaway is open internationally and will close at 5pm GMT on Monday 30 March. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below telling me what you would spend your £15 Remnant Kings voucher on...don't worry, you can change your mind if you win!

Have a productive vintage stitching month!

Friday, 20 February 2015

#VintagePledge Inspiration - 1920s by A Few Threads Loose

Alongside monthly giveaways/offers and stash interviews for this year's Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge, Kestrel Makes and I also promised you monthly inspiration posts exploring different decades. I'm kicking off this monthly feature with a highly informative and beautifully illustrated look at the 1920s, by the very knowledgeable Anna of A Few Threads Loose. Anna's also this month's generous #vintagepledge sponsor, offering one lucky winner their choice of 3 digital patterns or e-books from her shop - Mrs Depew Vintage! Make sure you enter the giveaway here, by 5pm on 26 February!!! Anyway, over to Anna...

When many of us think of the 1920's, images that Hollywood has given us often come to mind. Chief among them, the flapper girl in her short tasselled dress, feathers in her short, pin-curled hair and a tantalizing glimpse of garter showing as she shimmies and shakes on a speakeasy dance floor. This is the quintessential flapper icon, she stands for every freedom that women fought tooth and nail for, the freedom to vote, to have her voice heard, to work and support herself, and the freedom to express that new-found voice in her clothing. 

(Image credit: Hemline Quarterly)

Her hemline was growing shorter by the moment, daring society to try and dictate its Victorian conventions to her. Thanks to Chanel's garçonne style, her silhouette grew more square than hourglass, and interesting art deco influences began to show up in both prints, pleats, and seam shapes. 

This change in silhouette meant that the corset was nearly obsolete, it became passé and most young ladies traded in their whalebone cages for tap pants, bandeau brassieres, and cami-knickers.

It is this particular freedom of the flapper girls' underwear and lounge-wear that has always fascinated me the most. I think some of this has to do with the fact that my mother, antique dealer and fashion historian that she was, often sponsored vintage clothing runway shows, and I was often one of her models. Being a string bean of a teenage girl, my (then) tiny waist was perfect for the lovely, rare Victorian gowns...which meant wearing corsets. I hated wearing corsets. I did my part as any kid raised in the family business, but when it was time for the corset to come off, my euphoria was unmatched. Perhaps that's why I can relate a bit to the flapper mind set...she is, in a word, liberated, and she shows it off. 

(La Femme Chic) 

As ready to wear was not really popular until the 1930's, much of our flapper girl's wardrobe was homemade. Through sewing patterns, we can easily follow the trends of this era. You can see quite an amazing collection of 1920's sewing patterns at the Vintage Patterns Wiki 1920's page

(One of my personal favorites) 

Chinese and Japanese cultures were another popular influence on 1920's fashion. One aspect of this was the kimono robe, which came to vogue, and has hardly left. A 1927 edition of Fashion Service Magazine contains a great pattern for a 'Coolie Coat' modelled after the Chinese style at the time that perfectly illustrates this influence. 

My most recent 1920's inspiration has been exactly along these lines. I am lucky enough to have McCall 5044 in my personal collection and just recently finished sewing one for myself. 

The robe initially started out as a wearable muslin and as I got more and more absorbed into the details of the project, it became apparent that this would end up being my most favorite hand-sewn garment. 

So I went all out and even added an art deco rose monogram to the sleeve. You can see more photos and sewing details on the robe on my blog - A Few Threads Loose.

I'm really excited to also be wrapping up development on a multi-size reproduction of this pattern. It is currently in the pre-order stage and I plan to have it available to ship by March! 

But for those of you who have instant gratification in mind, I'm delighted to be sponsoring February's Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge giveaway - a choice of three digital Mrs. Depew Vintage patterns or e-books to the winner!

Thank you to Anna, for such an enlightening look at the evolution of 1920s styles. I too am particularly fond of the luxurious 1920s lingerie, which Anna's monogrammed robe epitomises! What's your favourite era/decade for style and why? 

Have you joined the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge yet? Check out the #vintagepledge Pinterest board for plenty of inspiration!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

You're Going To The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show!

Hello friends! Thank you for showing such a big appetite for free tickets to The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show, now it's my pleasure to announce the five randomly-selected winners:


I'll be emailing all five of you shortly for your postal address and then the good folk at Twisted Thread will send you a pair of tickets, which you can use on any day of the show...apart from the Saturday.


Tuesday, 10 February 2015

A Bonnie Birthday Dress

So, it was my birthday yesterday (the big 32 if you must know) and not wanting to break with tradition, I made myself a knit dress and got a haircut (yep, that controversial fringe is back)! The dress obviously fits in with my plans to have fun with knits this year, which I seem to be nailing so far!

The pattern I used is none other than the Bonnie knit top from Bluegingerdoll Patterns. I adored the fit of my cropped Bonnie jumper so much, that I figured it would make a pretty cute dress. And it did, it did! I'm delighted with this little number!

I've said it before, but my favourite Bonnie feature is the slightly 'puffy' sleeve-head, which adds just the right amount of volume for a super sweet look. My second favourite thing about this dress is my awesome fabric pattern matching skills...haha! Speaking of fabric, I found this crazy print in Fenwick's and fell in love! It's actually quite a thick (but loosely woven and stretchy) sweatshirt weight, so it was fairly challenging to work with. It also frays like no one's business, so I hope it holds up over time as I didn't finish off my seams! 

On a side note, my Bonnie Dress was originally going to be a Linnie (or Lonnie) Dress. I really, really wanted to make it using the skirt from Tilly's Lilou Dress (found in Love at First Stitch), but my fabric was just too thick and disobedient for pleats. I fudged a circle skirt from my botched Lilou skirt pieces instead and just about got away with it...phew!

Anyway, don't be surprised if you see an actual Linnie/Lonnie Dress soon...I'm determined to make that idea work!

Monday, 2 February 2015

Giveaway: 10 Tickets to The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show!

Not only is there an exciting #vintagepledge schedule and giveaway for February, I'm also celebrating the last month of winter by offering up 5 pairs of tickets to the The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show (5-8 March) in Olympia, London!

The show celebrates a whole range of crafts - knitting, sewing and dressmaking, quilting, crochet, cross stitch and home furnishing - with over 200 exhibitors selling fabrics, wools and threads, sewing machines, patterns, books and much more. You can enjoy various workshops - introducing quilting and small projects like cushion, bag and bunting making - as well as fashion and textiles displays, one of which will showcase the knitted and crocheted farm animals entered into the Knit Your Own Farm book competition. There will also be lots of inspiration and advice shared by some of the UK’s leading craft authors and presenters, including Debbie Shore, Liz Betts, Lauren Guthrie, Alistair MacDonald and Wendy Gardiner.

To enter the giveaway it's super easy...just leave a comment below with you email address! The only catch is that tickets aren't valid on the Saturday (7 March) of the show, but you can use them on the Thursday, Friday and Sunday. The giveaway closes at midnight (GMT) on Sunday 15 February and I'll announce the 5 random (and very lucky) winners the week of 16 February. Tickets will be sent to you in the post.

Happy Monday friends!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Enid's Not A Square!

Everyone knows I LOVE a cropped jumper, so needless to say that I was over the moon when Jennifer Lauren offered to send me a copy of her Enid Sweater to try out. And surprise, surprise, I'm a big fan!

One of my favourite things about Jen is her unique sense of design which sets apart her patterns from other similar ones. I'm also a big fan of how easy Jen's PDF patterns are to use (she has a knack of setting them out and breaking them up in a really well-ordered way), as well as how detailed her instructions are.

For my version of Enid, I went with the square neckline for an authentically vintage look. A word of warning here: even if you're experienced with knits really pay attention to Jen's neckband instructions and don't skip a single step! I overestimated my abilities and only just about managed to salvage this make as a result. My neckline doesn't look bad, but had I followed the instructions more carefully from the start, it would have looked even better!

Adapting the Enid Sweater pattern for stretchy knits

Enid is designed with sturdy sweatshirt knits in mind and requires you to cut the bodice on the bias to maximise the stretch. However, it seems like I wanted to break ALL the rules with this make, as I decided to use a stretchier knit and cut my bodice on the fold. The latter wasn't an issue, but my fabric choice resulted in pooling around the side-bust area and seriously wide/floppy sleeves! So I unpicked it all (it took a deflatingly long time) and used my Violet Dress pattern pieces to amend my Enid ones. By placing Violet on top of Enid I was able to reduce the sleeve (by a lot) and side bodice (by a little) widths. If you're a big cheat like me, I hope this tip helps, because Enid's worth it!

So there you have it, my first Enid Sweater. I imagine it'll be my first of many, including making it in a sweatshirt it was originally intended to be!

Have you made this pattern? What are your thoughts on Enid?