Saturday, 18 October 2014

Unplanned break and vintage fabric finds


This afternoon I'm flying to Cyprus because my beloved granddad was taken ill suddenly and is having a very risky operation on Monday. Despite his ongoing and complicated heart problems, we're staying positive as a family and are relieved to know that he's being looked after by some of Europe's best.

You can never plan for 'breaks' like these and it has completely thrown my sewing/blogging schedule. It may seem weird to even mention that, but I'll be gone a week and I know I'll get withdrawal symptoms from our lovely sewing community and this wee blog. I'm sure everything will go well though and that I'll be back here again soon! To cheer myself up and leave this space feeling positive, I'm leaving you with my most recent (and totally gorgeous) vintage fabric finds...

1940s rayon stitched together in panels to form the prettiest tablecloth. 
I'm sure I can squeeze a dress out of it!


1960s (I think) curtains which feel like a luxurious sateen.
The warm colours would make a gorgeous A/W dress!


A kooky novelty print poplin with random bunches of radishes. 
I love the stripy and heart-print radishes the best!


I lied a bit...this isn't a vintage find at all! 
A recent buy from Fenwick's which needs to be a jacket with a leather trim.
Wonderful and amazing texture!


I hope to be back and blogging regularly soon, but I'll catch you on Twitter in the meantime no doubt and won't be able to stop myself from reading what you're all up to! Take care for now!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Inside...Vintage Simplicity 5489


Remember my second #vintagepledge make, Simplicity 5489? Pretty cute, no? But it wasn't without its fitting woes, which I've finally got around to sharing, along with a tour of the pattern instructions.


Typically for me, the fitting issues I encountered were with the bodice and didn't affect the waist or skirt. After making a bodice muslin, I noticed the following problems: side boob gaping, back keyhole gaping and extra width across the back and shoulders. I pinned out the excess on the front pieces quite easily. For the back pieces I eyeballed the excess, took the muslin off, pinned out what I thought necessary, put the muslin back on and repeated until I got the fit I was after. 

At this point I need to apologise to my ever-suffering boyfriend. I stormed downstairs, demanded he pin out the excess at the back for me without any guidance whatsoever (he should just know what I mean instinctively dammit!!!), then proceeded to get really mad at him when he struggled. I recall stamping my foot and storming back upstairs while he looked on hurt and bemused by my reaction. I'm so sorry boyfriend!


Anyway, I marked the excess on my bodice pieces and even remembered to transfer them to the relevant facings too...yay me! After that though I fudged the rest in a totally non-technical way and it's probably down to sheer luck that this worked out for me. You can see the changes I made in the picture above...I basically treated the excess as darts which I violently flattened down (creases and all), taping them as I went along. This is *not* the proper way of doing things, which involves slashing and overlapping probably. So please don't do as I say, but I do think it's interesting to note that not everything has to be done by the book always...though it's probably best practice if you want to be on the safe side!

Right, onto the pattern itself! If you're into bygone styles, but are reluctant to use vintage patterns, I seriously suggest dipping your toes in the water with a 1960s pattern. The pattern pieces are usually marked really clearly and the instructions are a lot more detailed than older patterns.


Simplicity 5489 dedicates a whole sheet to using and altering your pattern, as well as nifty tips on cutting and preparing your fabric, transferring pattern markings and finishing your seams.



Amusingly, a disproportionate portion of that sheet is all about cutting layouts! So much detail! Could it be because resources were scarcer back then, so people had to be really frugal?


Reassuringly, the pattern's construction instructions are also pretty good, with clear illustrations to accompany each step.


I sure hope you found this little glimpse inside Simplicity 5489 interesting. How are you getting on with your Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge? If you've not told me about your finished makes, please do so I can add them to my badass Pinterest board and spread the inspiration!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Pattern Testing: Bonnie Knit Top


I know, I know...another post another pattern tested. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it! On a more serious note though, I honestly can't rave enough about the Bonnie Knit Top from Bluegingerdoll Patterns!!!

During the colder months, my daily uniform consists of jersey skater dresses or jeans, with a cropped jumper that sits above my muffin tops! That's the shape I'm most comfortable in and the one I think suits me best. But finding RTW cropped jumpers is not easy, so for me, this pattern is quite literally the solution to my wardrobe woes! Don't worry if you're not into cropped lengths though, because Bonnie's a versatile lass!


Minor changes may have been made to the pattern and instructions since I tested it, but you guys, it's a total winner in my book, and not just because of its vintage vibe! It has three super cute variations that can be mixed and matched, few pattern pieces and takes minimal time to sew up on a regular sewing machine, and even less using an overlocker. The instructions are really clear and easy to follow, with plenty of top tips for sewing with knits.

The only change I made for my version was to half the width of the waistband and stitch it on using a 1.5cm seam allowance, instead of the recommended 1cm. This is due to my very personal muffin-top issues and wanting to avoid unnecessary bulk.



Can we talk about my amazing fabric now please? Isn't is AH-MAZING?!? It's a soft and snug knit (perfect for jumpers) in a gorgeous charcoal colour with vibrant little floral clusters. It was just £4 p/m from Leicester Market and my only regret is that I didn't buy 10 metres!


Ok, back to Bonnie! Aside from my beloved cropped feature, I also adore the gently gathered sleeve-heads. It's a sweet detail which provides just enough volume without being over the top.


I don't think I've ever been this excited about a 'cake' pattern before, but it's definitely got the potential to become winter frosting. I'm thinking metallic knits, sequins...the lot! I've already planned a Bonnie production line with snug knits from my stash and I'm just dying to try View A next!

What's your go-to cake pattern? Are you tempted by Bonnie?

Monday, 6 October 2014

Pattern Testing: Dolores Batwing Top


When Zoe - So, Zo...What do you know? - asked me to test her Dolores Batwing pattern, I thought it fitting to honour her cool sense of style with something equally cool. Admittedly, this print is a little more crazy than cool, but you can't argue with £1 for over 1.5m...can you?!? Twitter friends informed me that it's a Versace or Hermes style scarf print, which I scored ages ago on Leicester Market, alongside a navy colourway I'm saving for a dress. It's ok, you can call me crazy!



Can you believe that this pattern from Zoe (named after her supremely cute baby girl) is her first ever for sale? Considering her creativity and experience, it's hard to believe, but better late than never I say. The Dolores Batwing pattern is an absolute bargain, with six possible variations when you combine the different sleeve and length options. It takes no time at all to assemble the PDF and almost as little time to sew up. It's also the perfect stash-buster for shorter lengths of jersey if you make the short sleeve top version, which I'm hoping to give a go soon. Although the pattern and instructions may well have changed a little since I tested Dolores, I can assure you that it was incredibly easy to follow and understand...everything you'd expect from stitching goddess, Zoe!


I really love the slouchy sleeve detail, which is fun to sew up and comfortable to wear. For my next go I'll size down the neckline for a snugger fit, but size up the sleeves and hips for a slouchier feel. 



Have you tried the Dolores Batwing pattern yet? If you're undecied, keep an eye on Zoe's dedicated Pinterest board for inspiration!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Simplicity 5489 - #vintagepledge


Hallelujah, I've finished my second Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge make, so just three more to complete by the end of the year...pheeewwwww! I won't be bashful, instead I'll put it out there right now - I LOVE THIS DRESS! I'm a huge fan of back detail (cue my first #vintagepledge dress) and I'm finding slimmer fitting skirts really flattering at the moment.


Simplicity 5489 is a simple little pattern with three different back views to choose from and an A-line skirt, the perfect canvas for cool fabric prints if you will. Speaking of cool fabric prints, do you like mine? I was very generously sent this fabric by designer Frances Newcombe and it took me ages to pick Bon Voyage Noir as my favourite print from her gorgeous new Cherie collection. Frances's prints come in cotton lawns, knits and voiles, and I imagine they're all divine judging by the quality of my lawn. In case you can't wait to get your mitts on some in the UK, I've seen her collection over at M is for make. You're welcome ;o)



Like with most original vintage patterns, I had to make a lot of alterations to get this baby to fit. The bodice was drafted for very different proportions to my own (broad back / shoulders and a side boob), but as usual the waist fit just fine. I'll cover the alterations in a different post, but suffice it to say that I'm pretty happy with the fit I managed to achieve.



Onto the back detail...*swoon*! Simplicity 5489 is a relatively quick and easy make, but the bow took me forever! It's by no means perfect, but it's cute enough to be honest. It's one thing tying the perfect ribbon bow on a gift and quite another doing it with bulkier fabric. Next time I'll probably narrow it a tad...and practice tying bows in the meantime of course!


I hand stitched my bow to the left back opening and affixed a press stud / snap fastener to the other side.


My second favourite detail Simplicity 5489 has to offer is the skirt. I love how flattering an A-line shape can be, skimming the hips (aka muffin tops) without the bulky waist of a gathered skirt. This pattern offers the best of both worlds though, with gentle gathers either side of the centre front skirt. I think the reason I find slimmer skirts appealing is that I personally find them easier to dress down to fit in with my less-than-glamorous lifestyle.


The neckline and back are finished with a facing, but I skipped the armhole facings and opted to finish them with bias strips instead. Shock horror, I even lined the skirt! I'm usually too lazy and can get away with it for fuller skirts, but this shape would have clung to tights like no one's business.


Once again, I LOVE THIS DRESS!!!



Are those of you signed up to the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge panicking, like me, that there's only three months left? Check out my dedicated Pinterest board to get your butt in gear and do let me know if you've finished any new makes - hit me up on Twitter using #vintagepledge, leave a blog comment or email me. I want to share your #vintagepledge makes with the world!!!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Bronte Knit Top in Tropical Floral


About an age and a half ago, the lovely Jennifer Lauren generously sent me a copy of her Bronte Knit Top to try out. With a long queue of sewing commitments to work through, it took me longer than anticipated to get to Bronte, but I can happily say that she's well worth the wait!


What sets this T-shirt pattern aside is Jen's signature vintage twist - the back pattern piece sweeps over the front of the shoulders resulting in a 1940s style shrug sleeve. It's such a sweet detail, exposing enough of the collarbone without being as problematic to fit as a boat-neck. 



Bronte is one of those satisfyingly fast makes and can easily be sewn up without an overlocker. I just used my regular sewing machine and finished the neckline, sleeves and hem with my double needle. I managed to squeeze it out of just one metre of the most divine tropical floral print jersey from my stash and I'm feeling particularly smug about my stripe matching skills.


This pattern is so easy to work with that I really don't have much more to add about the construction. I can also assure you that despite its simplicity, Bronte is very well drafted with really clear instructions and an accurate sizing chart to boot. If you've never sewn with knits/jersey before don't panic! Jen's got you covered with a series of helpful tips and tutorials


Have you tried out Bronte yet? What are your thoughts on sewing with jersey?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Home Improvements #2 - The Dining Room Reveal


You guys, I'm so excited to finally 'unveil' our finished dining room today! We've worked really hard to transform this room - overcoming some frustrating challenges along the way - and we're calling it a resounding success! For the curious among you I've documented how it all started, as well as listing the said challenges.



What's important to note about this room is that it's North-facing and rarely sees direct sunlight. With this in mind we wanted to strip back the previously oppressive decor and make it as light and airy as possible. On the other hand, we didn't want to end up with a stark and clinical room. We've joked that it looks a tad like a media conference/meeting room, but I think there are enough inviting features for this not to be entirely true.



Unlike with our mid-century living room, we went all out to 'finish' this one with all manner of accessories and wall art...although we're still searching for a cute cabinet or sideboard for the alcove on the right. Next on the agenda is to revisit the living room in terms of artwork, accessories and a cabinet/sideboard too. All in good time I guess...it's quite a costly thing this!




I love that I now have somewhere to proudly display my rather stunning, vintage (30s maybe) tea set. And I think my favourite feature of the room still has to be our revamped fireplace!



Overall it's a more contemporary aesthetic than I usually go for, but I think this room was crying out for it, so I'm pretty happy with the end result. What do you think?

Walls: Dulux Blossom White, Dulux Apple White

Floorboards: Dulux Trade Primer & Undercoat, Dulux Trade Diamond Matt Emulsion Paint (Pure Brilliant White), Polyvine Heavy Duty Floor Varnish (Satin Finish)

Rug & Canvas Print: Ikea

Table & Chairs: John Lewis

Light Fixtures: Lights World

Framed Wall Art: Juniqe

Cushions: Aldi