Sunday, 28 June 2015

Lotta Dress - Compagnie M.


Remember the Louisa Dress I made and declared as my favourite little girls' pattern ever? Well, there's a close contender and it's another Compagnie M. pattern...the Lotta Dress. My friend's little girl recently turned one, so I decided it was high time I used this bold Amy Butler fabric I've had in my stash for years. 



My favourite thing about the Lotta Dress pattern definitely has to be the contrast collar and pockets, as well as all the different variations you can play around with (three back closures, three pocket options and the chance to add longer sleeves). 



I only had a fat quarter of fabric, so I had to think hard about the placement of such a large-scale pattern. At the risk of sounding big-headed, I really feel I've outdone myself in that department! My inner perfectionist is ecstatic that everything's so symmetrical. Due to my lack of fabric though, I did end up with the back pattern slightly off-centre, but I matched it up perfectly to make up for it. Can I get a 'whoop whoop' for my chevron stripe matching on the lining please?


You can find out a little bit more about Compagnie M. patterns and how I found using one here. The only thing I'm disappointed about is investing in the paper patterns. I thought this would eliminate tracing and save me a shed load of time, but I was wrong. The paper pattern comes on one sheet with overlapped pieces, just like the PDF. It also doesn't include instructions, as you get online access to them when you place an order. 

Needles to say I was pretty annoyed to have spent unnecessary money - the paper pattern provided nothing the PDF didn't already. But it's down to personal preference I guess and all griping aside, I absolutely adore Compagnie M.'s children's patterns. They're the perfect mix of contemporary and retro for my liking, and make such thoughtful and memorable gifts for little ones!

What do you think to Compagnie M. patterns?

*****

As an aside, the randomly-picked winner of my Fabrics for Sale giveaway is...What Katie Sews! Congratulations Katie! You chose this Liberty jersey, but I'll be in touch in case you've changed your mind :o) 

Friday, 26 June 2015

Fabric Friday #7: Double Gauze



Happy #FabricFriday friends! Got any good plans for the weekend ahead? Mine started yesterday with a lovely wedding accompanied by glorious weather!

On the fabric front today I'm sharing my surprisingly big collection of double gauze. I say 'surprisingly big' because double gauze ain't cheap, but I've acquired it over time thanks to various sales and discount codes.

In case you don't already know, double gauze is two layers of gauze woven together. It comes in the coolest colours/prints and is the softest, snuggliest fabric ever. One of my favourite places to shop for double gauze is Miss Matatabi, but the postal charges from Japan can be pretty steep. UK shops with a decent selection include The Eternal Maker, The Village Haberdashery and M is for Make.


Due to the pricey nature of double gauze, most of my pieces are 1.5 metres or less...ideal for tops and blouses. All these years later, I'm still adamant that I'm going to copy Handmade Jane's Alma Blouse, and I also have the Datura Blouse, the Afternoon Blouse and the Scout Tee in mind.

What breezy top and blouse patterns would you recommend please?

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

#VintagePledge Stash Interview: Michelle, Ma Belle...Tres Bien Ensemble

This month's interviewee for the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge hardly needs an introduction. Michelle of Michelle, ma belle...tres bien ensemble is quite the prolific stitcher, cleverly mixing and matching knitting and sewing patterns from a range of decades to create a contemporary wardrobe with a vintage twist. Oh, and she has THE most incredible selection of vintage patterns! You're going to want to get comfy for this, so go grab yourself a gin and tonic and enjoy...


Hello! I'm very happy to be here sharing vintage patterns with you. My name is Michelle and I am a vintage pattern addict. It's been incredibly fun to discover new patterns and to see all the gorgeous contributions to Vintage Pledge. I hope I am able to return some of the inspiration you've shared with me by showing you some favorite patterns from my collection! 


How and when did you start collecting vintage sewing patterns?

I started collecting vintage sewing patterns while I was searching for and collecting vintage knitting patterns. I had yet to start sewing at the time I started collecting sewing patterns, but I’ve been a fan of vintage styles and fashion as long as I can remember. The crossover from vintage knitting to vintage sewing seemed like a natural progression. Initially, I didn’t seek-out vintage sewing patterns. I bought them casually when I found them at thrift shops or garage sales. As my interest in sewing increased, my pattern collection expanded.


How many patterns do you have, and how do you store them?

The short answer: A LOT. I haven't counted them all. My personal collection is approaching one thousand. However, more than half of the patterns I've amassed are stored away in bankers’ boxes. They’re patterns that I’ve acquired in bulk lots and do not consider part of my primary collection. I’ve sold some, gifted others and ‘shop’ them when I get the urge to add to my stash. Mostly, I hold on to them because some part of my brain is convinced that I'm doing a service to future vintage pattern seekers by preventing them from being used for wrapping paper, scrap booking  or decoupage.


The patterns I’ve curated for myself, I store in an old Simplicity pattern cabinet. I keep the pattern pieces and instructions in manila envelopes and organize them by manufacturer and number. The manila envelopes are sturdy and can handle thumbing and flipping without any devastating effects.


To preserve the condition of my pattern envelopes, I keep them in acid free sleeves and store them in binders. Some of my pattern envelopes are in poor and fragile condition. Storing them this way lets me handle them without additional wear and tear.


What attracts you to collect the patterns you have?

Details. They really don’t make them like they used to. Vintage patterns have incredible style lines and design details. I love neckline and back interest, pockets, seams, straps, collars, embellishment, piece-work, shape, anything that makes a garment unique or unusual. When I come across something I haven’t seen before, I have a strong urge to take it home with me.


Do you have any favourite style eras?

I love them all! More than anything, I'm drawn to classic styles that blur the lines between decades. I like to mash-up eras and mix a bit of vintage with a splash of contemporary. I’m all over the map when it comes to choosing patterns. For me, vintage is all about influence and inspiration. I love looking at a garment and finding elements from bygone eras. It's never my aim to look vintage or decade specific. I'd much rather wear a 30's blouse, sewn using 60's fabric, paired with a 70's skirt and keep people guessing which is which.


Recently, I've started sewing with knit fabrics and have been finding lots of pattern options from the 70s to consider. The seventies also seem to be the current momentary direction of mainstream fashion, so I've been drawn to patterns from this decade a lot lately. 


What’s the oldest pattern in your collection, and have you made it?

It's hard to determine exactly which pattern is the oldest, but I would guess Butterick 7871. Generally speaking, my pattern collection is 1930s and onward. Sadly, I haven't sewn Butterick 7871.   


Can you pick three favourites - and have you made them?

This is an impossible task. Like a mother with her children, I love them all and for different reasons. Instead, I think I'll cheat and choose three patterns I plan to make this summer. Hopefully, telling you that I plan to make these will keep me accountable!


Is there a pattern you think you’ll never make, but will never get rid of?

Once, during a discussion regarding my pattern stash, a non-stitching friend asked if I planned to sew all the patterns I have in my collection. Truthfully, I would LOVE to. It's not an impossible goal. I have a lot of life ahead of me, and if time allowed, I think it would be incredible to sew each one. There are some patterns, for practical purposes, that are low on my priority list. For example, I have a series of little girl's Prominent Designer Patterns by Florence Eiseman. I think they're absolutely fantastic. However, I can only see myself sewing them if I have a little girl at some point. Even if I don't get to sew them, I plan to keep them, because they're so darn cute.   


Where do you get your patterns from?

I get patterns from a lot of the usual suspects: Ebay, Etsy, etc... However, I estimate that more than 90% of my patterns have been purchased at estate sales. I've been very fortunate to shop the estates of some ladies who share an appreciation for sewing and vintage patterns. A lot of Chicago's sewing and fabric suppliers haven't survived the years, but there used to be bustling sewing and millinery departments at the State Street Marshall Fields. As a result, there are a lot of treasures buried in the basements of seamstresses of yesteryear waiting to be discovered! Estate sale shopping can be thrilling. I never know what I'm going to find, but all the materials are vintage and, typically, very inexpensive, which makes it easy to get a little carried away.    


Thank you for letting me share my stash and thank you to Marie and Kerry for being wonderfully gracious hostesses during this year's Vintage Pledge! Happy Stitching!



Have you joined the #vintagepledge yet? You'll want to once you check out the awe-inspiring Pinterest board!

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Fabric Giveaway For UK Residents!


As the weekend draws to an end, I have something guaranteed to perk you up. New online fabric shop - Fabrics For Sale - is offering a lucky UK reader 1 metre of their choice of fabric! With a lovely selection of Liberty prints, cottons, wools, knits and more, there's plenty to choose from.

Some of my favourites from left to right:

How to enter the giveaway

  • You must be a UK resident to enter the giveaway, but Fabrics For Sale do ship internationally.
  • To enter, leave a comment below with your email address, telling me which fabric you'd pick if you won.
  • The giveaway closes at midnight on Saturday 27 June and a random winner will be announced on the Sunday.

Can't wait until Sunday or worried you won't win? Well, Fabrics For Sale are also offering a 10% discount on all orders until 30 June...just use FABLAUNCH10 at the checkout! 

Friday, 19 June 2015

Fabric Friday #6: Ocean Floral Voile


Ooof! It's been a long and tough week at work, so I'm delighted to finally be wishing you all a happy #FabricFriday! I hope you have some awesome plans for the weekend. Mine include dressmaking, gardening and cleaning...rock 'n' roll!



I have yet another stunning piece of vintage fabric to share with you today, a voile so airy and light that it feels like silken gauze. The print and colours are so divine! They instantly transport me to a magical island with a floral reef. Is it just an oasis or can you see my vision too?


Id' love to line it with white silk cotton to make the colours pop and turn it into Simplicity 5865. Or perhaps this isn't special enough for such a fabric? What would you make?

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Lisa Comfort's Sew Over It Vintage


There's no doubt about it, Lisa Comfort, the rather glamorous owner of Sew Over It, is too cute for words! But what's her second book like? Well, starting with the obvious, Sew Over It Vintage is pure eye-candy, with a modern-vintage aesthetic and beautiful photography. It's also written clearly and eloquently, a must when appealing to such a wide audience. The book's 30 projects range from customising, dressmaking, accessorising and home decorating, catering to all manner of stitching abilities.





The dressmaking section is my favourite, for obvious reasons, with 10 projects giving a nod to the 1920s right through to the 1960s. With tops, skirts, dresses, lingerie and outerwear to choose from, there really is something for everyone!


But wait, Lisa's book has an interesting twist...it doesn't include any patterns at all. Yep, you heard me! Instead, you're introduced to basic patternmaking and you make most of the patterns either from a drafted bodice block or by using key body measurements. If you're a lazy dressmaker (like me) or a little inexperienced this may sound like a deterrent, but Lisa holds your hand throughout the process and you get to learn some really interesting and transferable skills. No need to panic just yet though, as you can always start with the simpler dresses which only involve attaching a self-drafted skirt to a shop-bought top!



I'm not usually a fan of books that spread themselves too thin across the content, but Sew Over It Vintage offers a lovely range of projects overall. The customising chapter has 4 cute projects including adding a brooch embellishment or peter pan collar to tops, as well as adding fur cuffs and a collar to a coat, and glamming up a Breton top.



If you're big into accessorising there are lots of fun projects to choose from like making a fascinator and having a go at a lace necklace. The other projects include a clutch bag, a fur hat, a handbag, a veil and a men's tie.



Finally, if you fancy turning your home into a vintage-inspired haven why not try your hand at a fabric lampshade or patchwork pouffe? Or you could choose between doily placemats, an applique quilt, lace lanterns, or 3 different types of cushions.

Admittedly, Sew Over It Vintage is a much more involved book on the dressmaking front than others of its kind, but basic patternmaking knowledge is always good to have in your back pocket. And there's such variety in the projects on offer and required skills, that you can build your confidence up as you go along.

But don't just take it from me! Find out what other bloggers taking part in The Sew Over It Vintage Blog Tour have to say about the book throughout the week:

Wednesday 17 June - Did you make that?
Thursday 18 June - Handmade Jane
Friday 19 June - House of Pinheiro
Saturday 20 June - What Katie Sews 

If you like what you see, you can get a free copy of Lisa's book if you subscribe to Love Sewing magazine.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Simplicity 4647: A Dual-Purpose Project


Hello my friends! I've got a dual-purpose project to share with you today, which also happens to be rather pretty. Not only is Simplicity 4647 my third #vintagepledge of the year, it's also my entry for the Hillarys Craft Competition. Entrants had a choice of four blind/curtain fabrics, of which they were supplied with a metre squared piece. I went for Daisy Pistachio because it reminded me of the silk brocade fabrics popular in the 1950s, hence my pattern pairing. Daisy Pistachio didn't disappoint, the print and colours ooze sophistication!



A metre squared isn't a lot of fabric, but I was determined to make an item of clothing for myself, despite the £1,000 at stake. After all, dressmaking is my favourite kind of sewing! Simplicity 4647 was just the ticket as it only has three pattern pieces excluding the facings. To make this work I had to use cotton from my stash for the facings, ignore the grainlines and forget about pattern matching...but I still think my little blouse turned out great. The most challenging thing about this make was working with the fabric itself. Despite it's luxurious weight and forgiving stretch factor, it frayed like nobody's business and required overlocking within an inch of its life! 



My vintage pattern has some great design details like the right-angled cap sleeves, front bodice angled darts and V-necks. I think it lends itself to a wide range of fabrics and I'm keen to make up some casual cotton lawn versions to get me through summer.



I made a a number of small alterations to the pattern for a better fit, including shortening the bodice by 1.5cm, adding 3.5cm to the hem, increasing the front/back side seam allowances by 0.5cm and pinching out 2cm from the back neckline. I still need to make a few tweaks for next time, but I don't think I'm far off 'perfection'.


The closing date for the Hillarys Craft Competition is Friday 19 June and I'd love to win, but the competition is really stiff! Are you entering?