Monday, 2 May 2016

Martha Dress in a ditsy-print ponte

Happy Bank Holiday, England friends! I've had a particularly long and fulfilling weekend as I took the Friday off work too, meaning I had time to finally sew for myself!

I chose Tilly and the Buttons' new Martha Dress, even though at first she seemed a little too late-1960s for my taste and I'm really not a fan of mandarin collars. But it was very difficult to resist the princess seamed bodice, gently gathered sleeve heads and bias-cut panelled skirt, especially after Tilly planted the seed of a ponte knit version.

I chose this ditsy-print ponte de roma from Girl Charlee, which has a nice retro vibe to it (1970s or 1990s...I really can't decide?!?) and is beautiful to wear and handle. Although it sadly camouflages Martha's lovely design lines, I absolutely adore the fabric and how the dress turned out. 

Despite making a knit Martha, I wanted a dress with a bit of structure that wouldn't loose its shape after a day's wear. So I still included an invisible zip (which ended up perfect if I do say so myself) and I added stay-tape (cotton tape) to stabilise the waistline.

I followed Tilly's easy construction, but instead of setting in the sleeves, I sewed them in flat and closed them and the side seams up at the same time. I omitted the mandarin collar and cut the neckline down to the smallest size, making sure to cut my facings to the same size too. 

I really like the neckline where it is, as it's modest enough for work, but not at all chokey. My one regret is topstitching it because the bulk of the ponte has made it go a little curly. I'll have to figure out a different way to finish off the neckline next time...any ideas would be most welcome!

Just to point out the obvious, I used a stretch needle and zig-zag stitch to sew my Martha up. For the skirt panels I just used a straight stitch as they're not fitted to the body so the seams don't need ease.

My one piece of advice would be to check the fit of the bodice as you go along, because unpicking six zig-zag bodice seams and two sleeves ain't fun. Yup, that's how I spent my Thursday evening!!! I know checking the fit is a no-brainer, but with knit fabric it's easy to get complacent due to its forgiving nature. Anyway, for reference, a straight size 4 with the regular 1.5cm seam allowances fits me perfectly. 

Even though Martha is a much more time-consuming and fabric-hungry make than your average knit dress, she's totally worth it. The design is ridiculously flattering with a bodice that's fitted with both bust darts and princess seams and a beautifully swishy skirt without any waistline bulk. 

I want more knit versions in my life, and heck, I'm even tempted to have a go at a floaty viscose version too! What do you think to the Martha Dress? Aren't these trimming ideas so much fun?!?

To celebrate Tilly and the Buttons patterns now being stocked at John Lewis, Freya, Jane and I will be joining Tilly for a Saturday Sew In on 14 May at John Lewis on Oxford Street. I hope you can pop by! It will be lovely to see both familiar and new faces!

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Vintage sewing fun in 2016

It's turning out to be a heck of a year for vintage sewing lovers, dontcha think? As well as the extravaganza Kerry and I have planned for our year-long #VintagePledge, there are a couple of other exciting initiatives that you may or may not know about...

Frankly, I'll be a little surprised if you haven't heard about Butterick's BIG Vintage Sew-along, but I've been meaning to shine a well-deserved light on it for a while! You have until October to take part, by sewing up your favourite pattern from a specially and beautifully curated selection spanning from the 1930s to the 1960s. Apart from the selfish fun to be had, the best thing is that funds raised go to The Eve Appeal charity which strives for the better detection and prevention of women's cancers. 

There's a comprehensive roundup over on The Foldline, featuring the full pattern selection and outlining ways in which you can get involved through social media. I'm joining a number of bloggers in sewing along, so look out for my make on 8 July!

The other really cool initiative is the Vintage Suit Sew-along, hosted by Mermaid's Purse and Chica Chica Boom Chic. April has been about sharing inspiration, in May the duo will share tips on muslins and fit, and then June is for sewing up and sharing your suits. 

Although my lifestyle doesn't really call for a sophisticated suit, I can't help but get all wistful when I browse the sew-along's sublime Pinterest board. Aren't the pins to die for?!?

The closest pattern I have to a suit is this McCall 1940s jacket, whose scalloped view I've had cut out as a muslin for years. I'm seriously considering plucking up the courage to give it a go thanks to Angela and Amy's virtual kick up the butt! Are you tempted to join them in sewing your dream vintage-inspired suit?

Do you know of any other vintage sewing initiatives this year that I should be aware of? I'd love to hear about them!

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Plans for #VintagePledge July Extravaganza

Hello friends, it's been a while! I first want to thank you for your kind and comforting messages about my grandfather's passing...they mean an awful lot to me.

But on a brighter note today, let's talk about the #VintagePledge EXTRAVAGANZA that Kerry and I have planned for July. It includes a jam-packed schedule of guest blogs from fellow Vintage Pledgers, as well as daily photo prompts and awesome prizes on Instagram!!!

July Contributors

Friday 1 July - Introduction - A Stitching Odyssey & Kestrel Makes
Saturday 2 JulyJet Set Sewing - A Stitching Odyssey
Sunday 3 JulyMy Happy Sewing Place - Kestrel Makes
Monday 4 JulyGussets & Godets - A Stitching Odyssey
Tuesday 5 JulyMichelle, ma belle...tres bien ensemble - Kestrel Makes
Wednesday 6 JulyHandmade Jane - A Stitching Odyssey
Thursday 7 JulyNicole Needles - Kestrel Makes
Friday 8 JulyA Stitching Odyssey #bvsewalong - A Stitching Odyssey
Saturday 9 JulyModern Vintage Cupcakes - Kestrel Makes
Sunday 10 July Lady Sewalot - A Stitching Odyssey
Monday 11 JulyBeyond Measure - Kestrel Makes
Tuesday 12 JulyUntangling Knots - A Stitching Odyssey
Wednesday 13 JulyHandmade By Heather B - Kestrel Makes
Thursday 14 JulyElena Knits - A Stitching Odyssey
Friday 15 JulyKestrel Makes #bvsewalong - Kestrel Makes
Saturday 16 JulyBlack Tulip - A Stitching Odyssey
Sunday 17 JulySewin' in the Rain - Kestrel Makes
Monday 18 JulyFadanista - A Stitching Odyssey
Tuesday 19 JulyMermaid's Purse - Kestrel Makes
Wednesday 20 JulyI Want to be a Turtle - A Stitching Odyssey
Thursday 21 July Lavender & Twill - Kestrel Makes
Friday 22 JulyMiss Kacy Sews - A Stitching Odyssey
Saturday 23 JulyBetty Stitchup - Kestrel Makes
Sunday 24 JulyUp Sew Late - A Stitching Odyssey
Monday 25 JulyVery Kerry Berry - Kestrel Makes
Tuesday 26 JulyThree Stories High - A Stitching Odyssey
Wednesday 27 JulyAllie J. - Kestrel Makes
Thursday 28 JulyPetit Main Sauvage - A Stitching Odyssey
Friday 29 JulyThe Vintage Knitter - Kestrel Makes
Saturday 30 JulyBy Gum, By Golly - A Stitching Odyssey
Sunday 31 JulyThe Story Sew Far - Kestrel Makes / Seamstress Erin - A Stitching Odyssey

#VintagePledge Sponsors

We'll be releasing details of our Instagram activity and specific prizes nearer the time, but I can tell you which generous sponsors have already pledged their support. Without these guys #VinatgePledge wouldn't be half as fun, and the good news is, we have even more sponsors and prizes in the pipeline for July and for our end-of-year competition!

That's a pretty cool line-up of guest bloggers and sponsors, don't you think? I hope you're excited as we are!!!

Don't forget that you can sign up to #VintagePledge at any point in the year. Make the pledge your own and join us for as much or as little of the activity as you like. And you can always stay motivated and inspired by following our dedicated #VintagePledge Pinterest board - details of how to become a pinner here.

That's it for now, but have a stitchin' weekend all!

Saturday, 26 March 2016

A tribute to my maternal grandfather

Two weeks ago today, my beloved grandfather passed away, aged 78. It was unexpected and he faded away over the course of three days. Even though there wasn't enough time for me to get back to Cyprus to be with him, I'm grateful I managed to fly over for the funeral and to spend time with my family. He was surrounded by loved ones at the time of his death and knew how much we all adored him.

I'm thankful that he was spared a drawn-out end, yet heartbroken about our loss. My grandfather had a super-sharp brain, the kindest of souls and brilliantly eccentric ways. He was progressive, revolutionary and without any doubt, one of a kind. Did I mention that he was devastatingly handsome too?!?

I'll miss so much about him - the soothing sound of his voice, his mischievous laugh, his sense of humour, his encyclopedic knowledge, our intellectual chats... 

Circa 1965

A lot of people have a special bond with their grandparents, but for me this couldn't be truer. My mum and I actually lived with my grandparents from when I was 5-10 years old and I still get all warm and fuzzy when I remember how safe and loved I felt. My grandfather used to tell me that he's two times my father, to make up for the fact that my dad wasn't around. I saw them everyday after that too, until we moved to England when I was 13, and have visited almost every single year since then.

I will forever remember him sitting at the kitchen table into the early hours of the morning, reading a newspaper or one of his thousands of books. His collection was remarkably diverse - academic, political, religious, philosophical, fictional, factual, name it - and legendary among all who have witnessed it. He kept a log since 1958 of every single book he bought, and his collection is well over 4,500!

When he retired he decided that he was going to live in pyjamas, sleep during the day and read all night when the house was quieter...which is exactly what he did! Although it's easy for us grandkids to remember him this way, he was actually a very academically and politically active man in his youth, which I want to do justice to in this tribute.

Pictured on the left

Born in 1937 in Leonarisso, my grandfather was orphaned at a young age. When he met my grandmother in his late teens - in her neighbouring village of Koma tou Gialou - he was immediately embraced by her family and he finally felt like he belonged.

Pictured behind my grandmother who is leaning against the side of the car

He was just 18 years old when they married in 1955 and he enjoyed reminiscing about falling in love with the long plaits my grandmother wore her red hair in.

Pictured second from the right

Pictured in the middle, crouching down

By 1957 he had fathered his first child and was studying at Morphou college. At the same time, his strong sense of patriotism led him to join EOKA - a Greek Cypriot nationalist organisation that fought to end the British rule in Cyprus. He had an active role in this, which also involved giving refuge to fighters wanted by the British military, until the organisation disbanded in 1959.

Pictured second from the right

Pictured in the middle

Pictured on the right, the embodiment of The Great Gatsby

My grandfather had always been a man 'of the people', seeking social justice and striving for 'the greater good'. By 1962 he was the General Secretary of the Commercial Employees of Cyprus, and he joined other trade unionists on a two-week visit to the UK, as a guest of the Commonwealth Relation Office of Information.

It included visiting a Government Training Centre at Perivale, and an informal dinner with regional officials in Birmingham.


1967 - my mum pictured on the right

My mum pictured on the left

In 1965, my grandfather moved his young family to England, so he could study Politics and Economics as well as Industrial Relations at Ruskin College, Oxford. He then went on to study Law as well. The family grew (four kids in total) and ended up working and living in England for 13 years, joined by my grandmother's sisters and families. These were financially challenging times, but my mum remembers them as full of love and happy family times.

By the time they moved back to Cyprus in 1978, the Turkish invasion of 1974 had cost them their homes, their villages, their much loved lifestyle. They settled in the capital, Nicosia, in a welcoming house which has always felt like home to me. 

My grandfather eventually turned to primary school teaching, but remained politically active and patriotic to the core.

His final resting place is picturesque and serene, befitting of the special and universally-loved man that he was.

Rest in peace my Bappou.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Black and biscuit Sewaholic Fraser Sweatshirt

In terms of sewing, I've had a sluggish start to the year. Life's been full yet challenging and my new job is enjoyable but tiring. I recently found the time and energy to squeeze in a quick project though, and it felt good! 

The moment Sewaholic's Fraser Sweater pattern was released I knew I had to have it. Not only do I love sewing with knits, especially when I'm pressed for time, but the design details and variations are really cool.

I used a snuggly, fleece-backed knit from my stash which is heavyweight and delicately flecked. I paired it with a lighter weight knit which is beautifully textured. I really, really like the colour combination of the black and biscuit - it gives a basic make a sleek finish.

Construction-wise, this was a doddle. Quick and fairly easy. But the instructions didn't go into tas much detail as you'd expect of Sewaholic, which might be an issue for those who haven't experienced sewing points like the ones on the front and sleeve yokes. 

Fret not though, because this tutorial should help with both Views C and A.

For a comfortable fit, I cut out a size 10 from top to waist and graded to a 12 from waist to bottom. I also shortened the sleeves by 6cm, although they could do with being a smidgeon shorter really. I'm pretty happy with the overall fit, but the length hits at my widest part...good ole muffin tops! I can just about get away with it with a black hem band, but I'll probably lengthen the bodice a little next time.

And there will be a next time as I already have Versions B and C planned!

What do you think to the Fraser Sweatshirt? Have you sewn one up yet?

Saturday, 5 March 2016

SEWN vintage pattern giveaway!

Whether you're joining in with the #VintagePledge or not, your vintage pattern dreams have been answered! Newbie on the block, SEWN, is offering one lucky reader a vintage pattern of their choice! I've shared details on how to enter the giveaway at the end, but first, a little bit about SEWN.

SEWN is a freshly-designed online shop offering vintage sewing patterns that are carefully checked for completeness and helpfully searchable by size, type of garment and era. New patterns are being added all the time and there is a growing selection of independent patterns on offer too.

Keep up to date with Marie's (great name, right?) lovely makes and top tips on the blog, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

I've picked out some of my favourite vintage patterns of hers...because a girl can dream, right?!?

Entering this giveaway couldn't be easier and it's open internationally...whoop! All you have to do is:
  • Pop over to SEWN, have a cheeky browse of the vintage patterns and let me know which your favourite one is.
  • Tell me in a comment below, but make sure you include your email address / contact details so I can notify you if you're the winner!
  • The giveaway closes on Saturday 12 March at midnight GMT and a winner will be announced shortly after.

Many thanks to Marie for her generosity and have a happy stitching weekend all!

Monday, 29 February 2016

#VintagePledge is off to a cracking start

Oh boy, the competition is well and truly on apparently! It may only be just over a month since we launched 2016's #VintagePledge, but you guys are off to a cracking start and the proof's on Pinterest. I've picked out some of my favourite makes below and doing so filled me with excitement for what's to come during the rest of the year! 

Kirsten's 1930s-inspired outfit for an Art Deco Weekend is utter perfection in its simplicity.

This slinky slip by Vintage On Tap is so sensuous and feminine!

A lot of planning went into Jane's topper, which perfectly reflects her chic sense of style.

Allie's 1960s coat is a real show-stopper in every sense...that colour, the bow, its contemporary-looking lines!

From one 1970s pattern Liza Mae has created not one, but three, awesome tops.

Are you suitably impressed? I ruddy hope so!

Make sure you check out #VintagePledge and sign up for some fun July activity and end-of-year prizes!