Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Baby Makes And A Fabric Giveaway

There are two patterns I keep coming back to when I'm (more often than not) making gifts for newborns - Straightgrain's Lua Sleep Sack and Anna Maria Horner's Quick Change Trousers. The sleep sack gives a ridiculously professional finish with a handy side-zip fastening and instructions for attaching the buttons very securely. The trousers are super cure, fully reversible and fast to whip up. Both patterns come in a good range of sizes, so can be used again and again...something I've certainly taken advantage of!

My recent makes were a gift to welcome our gorgeous baby nephew into the world. Isn't he a cutie pie?!? I used Robert Kaufman's bright and fun Message in a Bottle print, which I bought from Miss Ginger's, and paired it with some lightweight chambray from my stash. I really, really love the result!


There was a little confusion with my Miss Ginger's order, but Verity was quick to communicate with me and even quicker to rectify the issue. I ended up with a free metre each of the beautiful prints above (Playful Fox and a pansy print which seems no longer available), which I felt deeply guilty above. So to make things right with the sewing gods, I'm offering these two metres up to one lucky reader! To enter the giveaway, pop over to Miss Ginger's and let me know which your favourite fabric print(s) by midnight (GMT) on Thursday 3 December!

As an related aside, HUGE congratulations to Joanne Fox of A Zigag Road...the winner of Chinelo Bally's Freehand Fashion book which I gave away as part of my review!

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Bettine T-Shirt In Reversible Jersey

Whilst Tilly and the Buttons' Bettine dress pattern took the whole world and its dog by storm, I was left feeling sad that elasticated waists and tulip skirts are not a good look for me. Then Tilly shared tips for making a jersey Bettine dress and a light bulb went on in my head!

I absolutely love Bettine's scoop neckline, kimono sleeves and sweet tab cuffs...all details that I associate with the perfect T-shirt design. With that in mind and the abundance of jersey in my fabric stash, I'm well equipped to fill that smart T-shirt shaped hole in my wardrobe.

For my first Bettine T-shirt, of many no doubt, I used some super cool, reversible jersey I snagged for £1 on Leicester market. Sadly, I didn't realise that it was heat sensitive until I pressed the life out of the neckline, which has left an unsightly mark. I've still been wearing it though, because I love the shape and print...I'm just pretending its tie-dye fabric ;o)

The only modification I made to the pattern was to add around 15cm to the hem, making sure I followed the natural curve of the side seam to accommodate my muffin-top hips. I also opted to finish the neckline with the facing provided, instead of drafting a neckband. I love a good neckband, but sometimes feel it can look too casual and I wanted this to be a smarter T-shirt. The facing worked really well as my jersey is sturdy and I just trimmed it all the way down.

I'm sure you agree that the tab cuffs are a really sweet feature, especially in a different print. I'm excited to make an army of Bettine T-shirts, in both jersey and woven fabrics. Who's with me?

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Chinelo Bally's Freehand Fashion - Blog Tour & Giveaway

When you hear 'Chinelo Bally' you'd be forgiven for thinking of last year's Great British Sewing Bee winner. Inexplicably, Chinelo wasn't actually crowned the winner, but her enviable talent and creativity when it comes to freehand drafting and all things sewing, have certainly got her far since the show. When Pavillion asked if I wanted to review a project from her brand new book, Freehand Fashion, I couldn't resist having a go at chanelling the legend that is Chinelo!

However, having to fit this project into the margins of my time resulted in a major error. I chose to make the Hi-Low Top for speed's sake, knowing full well it wouldn't suit my shape. Although I enjoyed the freehand drafting process very much, it's a crying shame that I won't be wearing this top.


There were so many interesting things about the process though, that I barely know where to start! The book first takes you through drafting blocks for pretty much any pattern piece and then it moves onto the projects where you can put your blocks into practice. Drafting your pattern pieces involves taking detailed measurements that you plot onto muslin fabric or paper, drawing lines or curves to join them all together. Best of all, seam allowances are included at the plotting stage, so you don't have to worry about adding them in later!

I played it safe and drafted my top onto paper, as I felt drafting onto fabric could have resulted in additional waste. In hindsight, I should have gone with fabric and treated it as a proper muslin, to test the fit along the way. Naively, due to the number of measurements required, I thought fit was a sure thing. Turns out it's not and in the end I was pretty unhappy with the bust dart placement, the armhole shape, the way the neckline sits and the overall bagginess. I ended up having to take the side it by a couple of centrimetres each side and it's still not a great fit.

The biggest lesson I learned from this experience is that having Chinelo's book doesn't automatically equip you with Chinelo's skills. There's still a lot that can go wrong when drafting all-important curves, but nothing a bit of practice can't rectify, I'm sure.

The fact remains that I thoroughly enjoyed the meticulous drafting process, which I found oddly therapautic. With Chinelo's guidance, I'm inspired to nail freehand drafting, if only to tackle some of the more advanced and seriously stonking patterns in the book!

If you'd like to have a go and stretch your skills, then Pavillion have offered up a free copy to a lucky reader in the UK. Leave a comment with your email address below, by midnight (GMT) on Saturday 21 November!

Don't just take my word on all this though, English Girl at Home and Pavillion Craft have already shares their reviews, with more projects coming from:

The Foldine - Sunday 15 November

Lady Sewalot - Monday 16 November

Almond Rock - Tuesday 17 November

House of Pinheiro - Wednesday 18 November

Monday, 9 November 2015

Bunny Agnes Dress

You know the kind of project that's troublesome from start to finish, through no particular fault of its own? Well, this delightful make was one of them, to the point of embarassment. I was approached by My Fabrics 7 months ago (!!!) with an offer of free fabric in exchange for a review. I predictably pounced on some of their seriously awesome bunny-print jersey, yet I only finished this simple dress last month! 

Why did it take me so long to finish this dress? For all the reasons! 

I had overcommitted at the time, so this project went on the back burner for way too long. Eventually, I settled on a summery dress pattern, cut it all out and got busy sewing. But as the bodice came together, I really wasn't liking it and I couldn't bare the idea of not loving my bunny print dress. So I decided to start again and turned to my Tilly and the Buttons Agnes pattern for inspiration. Luckily I'd ordered 3 metres of thefabric so I managed to cut a circle skirt (using my Bluegingerdoll Violet pattern) from the leftover fabric and squeezed out my new bodice and sleeves from the old skirt pieces. I thought I was plain sailing, but ended up encountering the most frustrating issues with the sleeve elastic. At that point I almost gave up, but I didn't want to disappoint My Fabrics or waste such cool fabric. So I powered through and I'm glad I did. 

I'm still not 100% happy with this make, mainly because the front neckline gapes. I'm really annoyed about this, but it hasn't stopped me from wearing it and Claire has suggested a clever fix which I'll be testing out imminently. Also, my sleeve ruching is far from perfect as my stupid elastic kept twisting. I tried unpicking, but that left holes in my fabric, so I settled for less than in the end!

Have you ever made something you love wearing, regardless of its imperfections? To make amends I've just ordered another couple of metres of the bunny-print jersey!

Sunday, 1 November 2015

#VintagePledge: November Schedule & Giveaway's the penultimate month of this year's Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge, so make sure you enter your existing and upcoming makes into our competition for the chance to win amazing prizes! 2015 might be winding down, but we're certainly not, with a fun schedule and giveaways right up until the end!

November Schedule

Look out for this month's stash interview over at Kestrel Makes

I'll be showing off your makes and announcing our giveaway winner at the end of the make.

November Giveaway - 3m of Girl Charlee Fabrics

I'm so excited that Girl Charlee Fabrics UK & Europe are this month's love for their knit range and quality is well documented (especially here and here). They are generously offering up 3 metres of one reader's choice of fabric, open to anyone in Europe! To enter the giveaway, browse the Girl Charlee range and tell me what you would choose if you won, by midnight (GMT) on Saturday 28 November. 

Below are are some of my favourite prints, but they also have plenty of sublime solids too!

Thursday, 29 October 2015

#VintagePledge Stash Interview: Zilredloh

Hello friends! I have October's #vintagepledge stash interview just in the knick of time and it's another fabulous one! I've been a fan of Zilredloh since forever, lusting over both Liz's vintage-inspired sewing and knitting projects. Although renovating her stunning 1885 house has slowed her crafting down a tad, she's making a exciting comeback (look at this insanely amazing faux leather Robson Trench)! And did I mention she's a fellow bunny mummy? Gotta love a bunny mummy!

How and when did you start collecting vintage sewing patterns?

A very short 7 months after I enrolled in my first sewing course, I was collecting vintage patterns. I wanted to learn how to sew, primarily to make Colette’s Macaron dress after seeing it on Gertie’s blog.  From there I made the Ceylon which is very 40’s inspired. After that it was all downhill as I quickly realised there were mountains of vintage sewing patterns to be had and were begging me to make them up.

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

To be honest, I only went to count how many patterns I have in order to answer this very question.  

As I’m renovating my, new-to-me 1885 house, all of my patterns are safely boxed up in what will eventually be my mega sewing room. But for now it’s the storage room. My first inclination was to just say “Around 200” but then I wondered… “How many do I have???”

Elbow deep into my first box yielded a count of 180. I have about three boxes of patterns which makes around 540 patterns in total. I do have some non-vintage patterns mixed in with this bunch, so I’ll be generous and say 450-500 patterns that I own are vintage.  *Squeee*  

I love being organized and can’t abide all of the different sizes of pattern envelopes creating disorder on my shelves – where I used to store them.  

So for protection and my own sanity, I have them all in comic book sleeves (uv protection) and on a backing of acid free board so they're all the same size on my bookshelves.

Having the patterns in roomier cases means I can flip through my collection without fear of hurting the delicate envelopes. Plus the extra room gives me a place to put notes for next time and my altered, traced pattern.  

I trace all of my vintage patterns so that the next person can use them free of marks. While I feel very attached to my collection of patterns, I know that I'm only a temporary caretaker for these beauties.  I hope the next seamstress after me will appreciate them as much as I have.  

What attracts you to collect the patterns you have?

My love of vintage extends beyond vintage patterns into movies from the 40’s and 50’s along with home d├ęcor from the same eras. I often see garments on the screen that I want to recreate along with being inspired by the iconic actresses themselves and their daily attire.

One of my favorite patterns was worn by Katharine Hepburn in one of my favorite films, Desk Set – so naturally I made it my life’s purpose to hunt down that pattern for my very own.

Do you have any favourite style eras? 

Back in 2011 and 2012 I would have told you 1950’s beyond a doubt. The full skirts and accentuated waists seemed best suited to my pear-shaped physique.  

But as I’ve gotten a bit older, I’ve been leaning more towards 1940’s patterns. I’ve been able to fit them to my pear shape just as well as I did with patterns from the 50’s.

When I first started sewing vintage, the wide shoulders of the 40’s always turned me off. After sewing for 6 years, I’ve gotten better at modifying these patterns to fit my narrow shoulders and I love the challenge that the tailored styles and unusual style lines provide from patterns in the 40’s.

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

I have this beach pajama pattern from the 1930’s that I believe is the oldest in my collection, a New Deltor Butterick pattern #4297.

I had just watched Cheerful Day for the Wedding and I was hooked on the main character’s lounge set.  

So after searching for a few weeks, this pattern popped up on Etsy and I had to have it. I haven’t made it yet, but I hope to one of these summers.

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

Picking a favourite pattern to me, is like trying to pick a favourite child – they’re all special and lovely for one reason or another.  Not to mention, my favourites are always changing from one season to the next.  

So for now, these are probably my favourites:

And this one is just the best:

I mean come on - a tuxedo apron with happy 70's 'gents?! It's so funny, it always makes me chuckle when I see it. One of these years I'm going to make it up for my dad.

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

Hmm…. I’ve always tried to only purchase patterns that I will eventually make myself.  I have fallen out of love with certain patterns, but I know that one day I’ll fall in love with it again and will be reminded how much I loved it in the first place.  

I'd love to make this one day:

I think the odds are slim that I'll need to be this swanky for my Research Analyst 9-5 job, but a girl can dream. 

I also doubt I'll be making Bert & Ernie or Big Bird - but my mom made these for my sister and I when we were young and I have such fond memories of them - they'll never leave my stash.

The only patterns I get rid of are duplicates or if something doesn’t work out on me after trying to sew it up.  I know it’s still a great pattern – just not for me – so off to a better home it goes.

Where do you get your patterns from?

I’ve bought a great deal of patterns off ebay and Etsy when I first started collecting. But every time I go to the flea market or a vintage market I’m always on the hunt for new patterns.  Flea markets are THE best places to go for vintage patterns on the cheap – a lot of the vendors don’t realize the gems they have.  But if I’m looking for a particular pattern or style, Etsy is generally the place I go shop.

Thank you so much for sharing your precious collection with us Liz! I really appreciate you digging it all out of storage and I hope doing so has unearthed some hidden gems for you.

To all Vintage Pledgers out there, don't forget to enter our end-of-year competition to be in with a chance of winning awesome prizes!