Monday, 27 August 2012

Hazedale – my happy ending!

A Hazedale is what happens when you cross a Colette Hazel with a Sewaholic Lonsdale and I couldn't be happier with the result!


I'm so happy it warrants a silly picture, although I hasten to add that this is also proof that I can move around very comfortably in this little dress ;o)

Of course I mainly have you guys to thank for this happy ending as you really came through for me with quality suggestions after my disastrous first go at Hazel. So I chose to replace the original gathered skirt with the Lonsdale skirt as the no-fuss, A-line shape and nifty waistband is pretty flattering on me. Initially I only went for the blue linen as I didn't have enough of my stripy cotton left, but I think it's turned out even better because of the darker, solid colour! 


I couldn't salvage much of my old Hazel as I'd overlocked it to an inch of it's life, so I just started again. This time I lined the bodice for more stability and shortened it by a couple of inches to accommodate the waistband. I kinda fudged the sizing a bit, cutting out some bodice pieces in a size 2, others in a 4 and then adjusting the seam allowances as I went along. Thankfully and finally it all worked out pretty well!

I love the contrast pockets and the angle of the stripes too

I'm also really pleased with the way my hand-picked zip turned out, the matching up of my waistband at the back and how neat the inside of this dress is too!

Close up of the stripes on the bodice - this cotton is surprisingly hard to photograph! 

My successful Hazedale has given me the exact confidence boost I needed to keep me going, so thank you all so very much for your help! I know future makes will still have their challenges, but now I believe that with a little extra effort, I can overcome or work around them.


P.S. Ironically I think that a regular Hazel could have actually worked for me if I'd shortened the bodice and graded the skirt up. I'm determined to make myself the breezy little Hazel that I crave, probably next summer though as the weather in the UK is beginning to turn...

Sunday, 26 August 2012

The demystification of bound buttonholes

Another weekend, another wonderful blogger meet-up, making me a very lucky girl indeed, especially because yesterday's meet-up was really rather special. It was actually a Bound Buttonhole Workshop hosted by  Karen (Did You Make That?) at her stylish London home and attended by Jane (Handmade Jane), Winnie (Scruffy Badger Time) and myself. 

As well as feeling excited, I was actually really nervous to attend, fretting that I'd expose myself as the sewing novice I am, but I needn't have worried at all! Karen's extensive preparation included a meticulously set workspace,  pre-cut swatches of all our supplies and  a hard copy of an e-book she'd put together detailing the whole process. That, together with her methodical, encouraging and relaxed attitude, helped us to produce extraordinary results. I never actually expected to 'get it' in such a relatively short space of time and I was genuinely shocked at how good my first ever bound buttonholes looked...THANK YOU KAREN!

All that's left is for me to simply open the rear of my buttonholes, which isn't half as rude as it sounds, I promise!

Getting down to business...just look at Winnie's excellent posture!


Just to really rub it in, look what we got to see in real life...Karen's stunning Simplicity 4934 jacket, which was subjected to A LOT of fondling! 


Karen's thinking behind the session was as a result of the isolation and frustration she felt when she first tackled bound buttonholes herself – perfectly explained here. The generous person she is, she wanted to make the process much smoother and less daunting for home-sewers and after a lot of research and hard work, she put together her e-book. This is what Jane, Winnie and I were essentially 'testing' yesterday and believe me, when it becomes more widely available, you are all in for a treat!  

This talented, yet reassuringly down-to-earth lady, was seriously born to teach!


It was so much fun getting to spend the day with these lovely ladies and finding out a bit more about them all...I'm sure you can imagine the conversation topics we covered and we could have gone on and on! As well as being an excellent teacher, Karen was a very welcoming hostess – there was delicious, home-made chocolate cake and fizz to celebrate our success at the end of the workshop people! We rounded off a perfect day with a perfect dinner. I'm still glowing from the whole experience, thank you ladies very much!


Well don't just take my word for it, pop on over and read what KarenJane and Winnie had to say about the day.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Have you ever...

...matched your kitchen roll to one of your makes?

What do you mean 'no'!?! It's the new coolest thing to do! Don't tell me that you could have resisted this...


I only wish my Tilly Picnic Blanket Skirt had bunting on it too!

What's the craziest coolest thing you've matched to a make?

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Millinery mantra - Roll and stretch!

Yesterday was a lot of fun! I hosted a modest blogger gathering (my first ever) instigated by the bubbly Dibs (Dibs and the Machine), who had a burning desire to share some of the millinery skills she's picked up during a recent series of classes. We were also joined by the wonderful Mela (Pincushion Treats) and Kat (Krafty Kat).

After lunch, Dibs expertly got down to business showing us how to roll sinamay strips cut on the bias – sinamay is always cut on the bias for millinery apparently. Our mantra was simple, 'Roll and stretch!' Simple to say, but not necessarily to do. Sinamay can be brittle to roll, but if you wet it too much it can turn a little sloppy. Dibs did try to help us by likening the technique to rolling a cigarette, which was lost on a bunch of non-smokers. Haha!


However, after a bit of goofing around...


...and a lot of concentration...


...we did it! To our disbelief, we each produced a darling, little fascinator - thanks to Dibs' expert tuition and much-needed patience. Pretty cool, eh!?! We all went for bows, which are super cute and more importantly...easy enough to make ;o)


Kat and Dibs making a statement with their beautiful fascinators.

Mela showing off her more delicate creation. Talking of creations, I just had to include a full-body shot so you can swoon over Mela's newest sewing project - Ava blouse from Victory Patterns - which she hasn't even blogged about yet...that's how exclusive this scoop is! Isn't it just perfect!?! The combination of black polka dot mesh together with the mustard is divine!

I chose to wear my fascinator in a rather unconventional way, after deciding it didn't suit me to the side. I'm hoping it's more 1950s rockabilly than 1980s Madonna! 

The whole gang wishing we had a wedding to gatecrash!


The day was a complete success, made even sweeter thanks to lots of cuddles from the happiest baby ever, Dibs' seriously squeezable Noah!

Leicester-based Kat and I were delighted to have visitors from London, so a big 'thank you' to Dibs and Mela for making the journey up and for brightening our weekend. And an extra special 'thank you' to Dibs for being so generous with her newly-acquired knowledge and skills. If you're interested in millinery at all, I suggest you follow Dibs' beautifully documented journey on her blog. I know yesterday's session has whetted my appetite for more!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Fleetville Vintage Emporium

There's STILL been no sewing in these parts, but boy do I have a treat for you today. Well, at least I hope this excites you as much as it did me in real life!

Last weekend I went back to Hertfordshire to visit beloved friends, and one of them had the genius idea of taking me to The Fleetville Vintage Emporium, situated less than a 3 minute walk from her house in St Albans. If I lived that close to it, I literally would spend ALL my free time there!

From the outside it looks unassuming.


But this place is a sensory delight...it's a never-ending warehouse, jam-packed with vintage goodies of all kinds. Seriously, they are spilling out of every nook and cranny and even spending an entire day in it, let alone a couple of hours, wouldn’t scratch the surface of its treasures.

Racks-upon-racks of vintage clothes and accessories, for men and women

Home furnishings in incredible condition

The most beautiful crockery, some in full sets - seriously swoon-worthy

Karen, this next collage is for you - aren't they lovely?

I also loved the random nature of the vintage goodies...

...to the downright bizarre - seriously, how creepy is this ventriloquist's dummy!?!

And as a sewing enthusiast, how could I not stop and caress each of these?!? 

Needless to say that I could have spent an absolute fortune in this place and kitted out more homes than a could shake a stick at. Alas, I had no real way of getting anything substantial back to Leicester in my small overnight bag on a train. But don't worry, I didn't leave entirely empty-handed. Just as we were leaving I spotted this beautiful fabric which looks and feels like 1940s/50s rayon - do correct me if you know otherwise. Anyway, I almost bypassed it in fear of the price tag, but it turns out it was cheap as chips - over 2.5 metres for just £2. Keeerchiiing!


So if you should ever find yourself near St Albans, I urge you to visit The Fleetville Vintage Emporium. But make sure you schedule in plenty of time ;o)

P.S. Apologies for the quality of my photos, they were taken on my mobile phone.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

1950s sundresses



Watching this little video by The Guardian yesterday produced an uncharacteristically smug feeling in me. It features 1950s dresses on the high-street for those who want to get on board with this summer's vintage trend, but all I could think about is that we (possibly I and most definitely you talented lot) could do it even better!

Don't get me wrong, I love it when vintage, classic and retro designs hit the runways, and subsequently high streets, spreading awareness further. I also think that some of the featured dresses are cute, but not cute enough to pay extortionate prices for.

Take the dress the 'presenter' is wearing for example. A pretty Jonathan Saunders number, costing a whopping £825!?! I'm sorry, but it's not dissimilar to this dress made by Kerry of Kestrel Finds and Makes and I think Kerry's make has a much more interesting neckline and authentic feel about it. It's so fabulous and only cost Kerry around £30. Among the other 'pricey' dresses featured (ranging from £60 to £157) there are some nice enough designs, but I know I would struggle to find my desired length and fit amongst them.

Even the more affordable dresses, for example the £39.50 London novelty print one from Dorothy Perkins, left me feeling a little cold. In fact, I think this dress by Amy of Sewing Through the Motions is much, much sweeter. The other thing about the more affordable dresses was that they are borderline boring and lacking in the detail that vintage sewing patterns are so popular for and that home sewers are so good at adding.

There are countless more examples like Kerry and Amy, so yes, the film made me feel smug to be a part of this talented community, where making awesome and affordable vintage-inspired dresses is commonplace and downright inspiring. 

Do you think we do it better?

Friday, 3 August 2012

Pattern testing - Sewaholic Alma Blouse

Have you seen Sewaholic’s new Alma Blouse yet?!? It’s so very sweet and better still, I was one of the lucky pattern testers that got to make it like two months ago - can you imagine having to keep it a secret for so long!?!

When I saw the pattern, there was no doubt in my mind that I would be making View B - the one with the peter pan collar of course! I’m convinced that the whole process was destined to be, as a day after being accepted as a tester by Tasia, a lovely colleague of mine randomly gifted me the most perfect cotton lawn!


So, what's the pattern like to work with? Lovely! There aren't too many pattern pieces and the construction is really straightforward. Everything came together pretty easily and the part I was dreading the most – the invisible side zip – was actually fine. The zip, together with vertical darts on the front and back (similar to the ones you see on so many vintage blouse patterns), make this a super flattering blouse. It literally just skims your curves without being too snug or too baggy! 


This blouse is so flattering that I'm even confident enough to show you side and back shots...now that's something I don't do often!

I slightly messed up my collar because I had to adjust my shoulder seams a bit and forgot to reflect that in my collar pieces. As a result it overlaps a little at the front, but I decided it actually looked ok, so just left it...lazy I know. In hindsight I also probably should have slimmed down the sleeves a little bit too, but I quite enjoy how comfortable they are.


I genuinely love this blouse and have worn it loads in the past couple of months. Tasia has yet again created a pattern that is both beautiful to work with and to wear. And with nine possible variations it's certainly good value for money – watch this space for more from me!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Liberty Wightwick and Willow: Autumn/Winter 2012

Is anyone else experiencing the summer stitching slump that seems to have plaqued me? In an attempt to get back into the swing of things, I've made a slow start on salvaging my failed Hazel...so watch this space!


On a much more exciting note, have you seen Liberty's new season Tana Lawn?!? It's such a sumptuous collection with deliciously rich colours. I would have a tough time choosing an absolute favourite, but here is a selection of prints that really called to me:

Viola D / Viola B

Maria Teresa A / Maria Teresa C

Sybil Campbell B / Sybil Campbell C / Sybil Campbell A

Plastic Fantastic C / Plastic Fantastic D / Plastic Fantastic A

Patricia Esther D / Ciara C / Denise Eva D

Strike B / Strike C / Strike A

Mawston Meadow B / Mawston Meadow C / Mawston Meadow A

I've actually never, ever sewed with Liberty Tana Lawn, let alone owned any before. I'd like to make amends before the end of the year, so once I decide on a print I think I'm going to go for it...maybe one of the Mawston Meadow prints...or one of the Strike perhaps?!? I do take solace in knowing that Shaukat & Company actually stock most Liberty prints for more 'affordable' prices - I've yet to buy from them, but don't see how else I'd be able to afford Liberty prints!

Are you a Liberty fan?