According to July's issue of Sewing World Magazine I'm 'Sew Stitched On!' - which surely makes it official, no?!? Please excuse my excitement, but this is the first time my little blog has appeared in print! Do you recognise any of my makes featured? I think I've done quite well getting a mixture of independent, vintage and self-drafted patterns in there.

I don't know about you, but I don't tend to regularly buy or subscribe to sewing (or any for that matter) magazines, as I'm much more of an online kind of gal. I usually wait for reviews from Ooobop and paunnet to determine whether an issue of Burda is worth buying and I'll usually invest in a magazine if I know it features any of my favourite bloggers (recently it was Cloth).

However, it did feel good having a hard copy of Sewing World in my hands and I was impressed with the Features and Techniques sections. In particular, I really enjoyed reading the interview with By Hand London's Charlotte and I found the pieces on sewing with chiffon and troubleshooting overlockers very useful.

But, can most of this information be found online for free? Or am I missing out by relying primarily on online sources? Are you a regular sewing magazine reader and if so, what titles would you recommend?
Guys, do you know Justine from Sew Country Chick? She's a super-cool, smokin-hot, LA mum of 5 who left the city behind for a craftier country life. Her story is fascinating and her blog is a rich source of DIY tutorials, cute home projects and inspiring handmade clothes for herself and her girls.  

It's no wonder then that I jumped at the opportunity when Justine asked me to take part in her series, Sewing The Trends: Summer 2013. The premise is to incorporate a summer fashion trend into your sewing, be it an exact copy or just inspiration from the catwalk. I must admit that since I started sewing I cancelled my subscription to fashion magazines and replaced my fast-fashion consumerism with fabric and pattern acquisition instead. So I'm not as in the fashion trend loop as I used to be, but this is why it was quite thrilling to get stuck into this challenge. 

Diane Von Fustenberg / Burberry / Christian Dior
The trend that really caught my eye was Metallic, or 'Sheen Queen' as it was tagged by the magazines. Metallic is so cool, but not something I would normally gravitate towards, or even feel comfortable wearing head-to-toe. So, I set out to make it wearable and came up with this sweet little number!

Isn't it a cute little top? I love how the floral skirt totally prettifies it - the whole outfit makes me feel so feminine. My make was ripped off inspired by the utterly gorgeous Sophie's take on Megan Nielsen's Briar pattern. I traced off the cropped version of the Briar and shortened it by another good 2-3 inches as I'm pretty short-waisted. I then followed Sophie's advice by making the scooped hemlines shallower and drafting a 4 inch (excluding seam allowances) peplum. I don't have photos of this stage (but can do a tutorial if there's a demand for it), but it was basically a bit like drafting a very mini circle skirt. 

I'm no stranger to sewing with jersey, but this jersey was particularly tricky to manipulate - due to its 'crushed' texture it tended to 'spread' out a lot under the pressure of my sewing machine foot. It was nothing catastrophic and the end result is great, because jersey is so forgiving. I used my 'stretch' needle with a zig-zag stitch for the majority of this make, but busted out my twin needle for the first time ever to finish off the neckline, sleeves and hem. Ironically, because of the jersey's texture you can't actually see the difference it makes, so I'll go into using a twin needle in a separate post.

I really like the high-low hem of this pattern, which is much more exaggerated if you don't make the alterations I did. I also think the curved breast pocket is really cute too!

In my head, I always pictured my metallic Briar worn with jeans, but I was pleasantly surprised when I decided to pair it with my floral skirt instead. However, I thought I'd show you how versatile it is, because it does also look cool the way I imagined wearing it originally!

Justine has asked an array of talented ladies to sew this summer's fashion trends, so don't miss out if you're interested in following the series:

Monday 17 June - Bethany from Lil' Bit & Nan

Tuesday 18 June - Me!

  Wednesday 19 June - Shannon from Little Kids Grow

Thursday 20 June - Melissa from I Still Love You

Friday 21 JuneMarissa from Rae Gun Ramblings

Monday 24 June - Abby from Sew Much Ado

Tuesday 25 June - Stacey from Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy Crafts!

Wednesday 26 June - Mercedes from Aventuras de Costuras

Thursday 27 June - Mie from Sewing Like Mad

Friday 28 JuneAlida from Alida Makes
Despite fighting off a horrible cold, I dosed myself up to the max yesterday and headed to Birmingham for the meet-up Kat and Claire and I had organised. I definitely started flagging by the afternoon and I'm paying for it today - I've been totally bedridden with a head that's threatening to explode and a lost voice. But what can I was worth it!

There were 32 of us altogether, so many of whom were new faces! Interestingly, we only had 3 repeat 'customers' from last year's Birmingham meet-up, but I'm not going to over analyse what that means! 

Co-hosting such a relatively large meet-up left little time for taking photos, so I'm hoping that some good ones will start appearing on other blogs soon. In the meantime, I'm sure you'll be fascinated to know the following:

Barry's Fabric Superstore delivered the goods once again. Not only is it the perfect size for large groups (read BIG), it's got a great range of fabrics and the manageress, Marilyn, kindly offered is 10% off all of our purchases!

We pretty much took over Cafe Soya - look, it's stitching friends as far as the eye can see in this photo! The restaurant was as accommodating as last time and the staff didn't even bat an eyelid when we embarked on our chaotic swap. 

Meet-up swaps are getting bigger and bigger nowadays and yesterday's was no exception. This was just the fabric pile and a second table hosted the patterns and notions. Just like at Rachel's recent epic meet-up in London, I readily handed over my goods and opted not to even try routing around for something to take from the swap. I find it all a bit too overwhelming if I'm honest, but I'm always grateful for the chance to de-stash. 

Don't worry though, once we got to the rag market after lunch I treated myself to a few bits and bobs...

1 metre of 'Liberty' lawn for £8 - my most expensive purchase of the day and that includes my lunch which consisted of a main, a pudding and a drink...hehe! This gorgeous fabric is destined for a summery Mathilde a la Tilly - I've already checked and with clever pattern piece placement I can totally squeeze it out of the 1 metre. Woohoo!

1 metre of tribal print viscose for £2 - I can see this as a funky Simone top, which I've had my eye on ever since it was launched by Victory Patterns last year!

2 metres of polka dot viscose for £4 - I might have to crack one of my vintage patterns out for this beauty.

I feel like I've not done the best job at documenting the day, but I look forward to seeing more detailed accounts of it elsewhere. 

My medication and some food is calling to me now, so I'll leave you with the full list of attendees, excluding my partners in crime who I've linked to at the start. If I've missed any one or a blog link off, please do let me know!

Anna - Get Crafty

Caroline Bones - Cotton Hairess

Caroline Booth & daughter Phoebe

Caroline Nixon


Charlie - Charlie Says Sew

Deborah - DFabrication


Hannah - Hugs and Kisses

Helen - Helen Made


Mellie - Mellie's workroom

Rachel Shaw - A Study in Stitching - &  mum Liz

Sarah - Not Found


A big thanks to Kat and Claire for their co-hosting, general organising, mapping, crafting and baking skills. And an even bigger thanks to everyone who came along and made it a fabulous and friendly day!
Apparently it's Sewing Machine Day today! I hope you manage to get some quality time with your baby tonight - I'm feeling a tad poorly so I'm going to celebrate my sewing machine by showing off my biggest project to date.

I've had a burning desire to try out patchwork for ages and as soon as I got Emma Hardy's Quilting In No Time, I absolutely knew I had to make the 'bunting' tablecloth. It looked like it would be so much fun to make, a great stash buster and the perfect summer kitchen accessory.

This project WAS fun to make, a stash-buster and the perfect summer kitchen accessory. BUT, what I underestimated when tackling this project, was the sheer scale of it. Not only was it physically huge, it was time-intensive and a fabric guzzler too!

I actually started this months ago. It took me a couple of evenings in front of the TV to cut all the triangles out. The coloured fabrics were all from my stash and the cream with red pin spot is a medium weight cotton from Ditto Fabrics. I initially bought 2 metres of it, but had to order an additional one as it wasn't quite enough.

Once I finished the top/front side, I got scared of attaching the backing, so I put it to one side and left it there for ages. I'm terrible at tackling problems head on, I like to procrastinate. But after a few weeks I started to feel bad and decided to finally face my fear. I decided to use red gingham for the backing and I made another mistake - I bought 3 metres which was long enough, but not wide enough. So I had to go back and get another 3 metres so I could sew the two lengths together to make a wide enough backing.

I swear, if we didn't have a good sized kitchen island, I don't think there would have been enough room elsewhere in the flat to finish this up. I painstakingly attached the front to the backing, right sides together, smoothing and pinning the two together as I went along. And by golly there were a lot of seams to trim! The end result isn't perfect by any means, but I still think the tablecloth is beautiful enough to brighten any kitchen and will be a conversation starter.

Even when I was tempted to give up on this mammoth project I kept going, because it was never meant for me. I made it for my lovely mummy instead! Originally it was going to be a Mother's Day present, but I missed that deadline good and proper. I just about managed to post it to her for her birthday last weekend, though it only arrived yesterday. She sounded pretty delighted with it and I'm glad I was able to make her something so special - she's an amazing woman in so many different ways!

Have you ever tried patchwork or quilting? Do you have any top tips to share, so I actually know what I'm doing next time?

Following my refashioning reveal on Wednesday, today I'm sharing a step-by-step tutorial for creating your very own cut-out shirt. Ssshhhhh, it's a day late...but hopefully totally worth it!

1. Draw your cut-out shape onto your shirt. Don't forget to take into account your seam allowance - I drew my cut-out 1 cm in from the button and neck bands.

2. Cut your shape out - I found using sharp little embroidery scissors to make the initial snip really helpful.

3-4. The make a facing, pin your cut-out shape to some tracing paper and draw around it. I was being thrifty and used greaseproof baking paper from my kitchen cupboard.

5-6. Decide how wide you want your facing to be. I wanted mine to be 1.5 cm, to which I added my 1 cm seam allowance, so I set my Seam Allowance Guide to 2.5 cm and cut around my shape. If you don't have a Seam Allowance Guide, you can just use a ruler to measure to plot and sketch out your facing. 

7. Hollow out your facing by cutting away your original cut-out shape.

8. Pin your facing to some extra fabric and cut out.

9-10. You now have perfectly formed facings that you can pin to your shirt's cut-out.

11. Once everything's securely pinned together, go ahead and sew your facing to your cut-out.

12. Trim your seam allowance right down (you can see how much I trimmed off by comparing the right and left sides), but be very careful not to nick your stitches as they will come undone.

13. Once you've trimmed your seam allowances down, turn your facing to the inside and press thoroughly with your iron. Pin everything in place and top-stitch to stop your facing from peeking  through the cut-out.

14. Finish your facing's raw edges. I pinked mine, but overlocking or turning under and stitching would work just as well.

Et voila! Now you can rock your DIY cut-out shirt!

To find out how I carried out the rest of the refashion, including adding pyramid studs to the buttons and collar, have a look at my guest post over at Miss P's.

Are you any good at refashioning? If not, has Portia's series inspired you to have a go?
Firstly, I have to say a HUGE 'thanks' to all of you who commented on my Elisalex - your kind words have literally made my week! Today, you can find me over at Miss P's flexing my refashioning muscles - which is ironic really as until now, I've never actually refashioned anything in the real sense of the word! But I became a huge fan of Portia's series The Refashioners when it originally unfolded in 2011, so I said 'yes' immediately and then broke into a cold sweat later. I'm so glad I took on this challenge though, because I totally surprised myself - thank you Portia for the opportunity!

I'll leave you with some cheeky photos, but to find out exactly how I turned a huge men's shirt into an edgy blouse, hop on over here! And if you pop back here tomorrow, I'll be sharing a step-by-step tutorial on creating the cut-out feature. 

Right now, I'm positively ecstatic to present to you my utterly beautiful Elisalex dress! This babe was finished last weekend, but before I could snap some pictures the sky darkened and the heavens opened, staying that way until about Friday!

But why the shame, you ask? Well, this pattern was generously sent to me by the gorgeous Elisalex months and months ago. For one reason or another, I kept putting it on the back-burner, making me feel ashamed and so jealous by the very many versions I kept seeing across the blogsphere! Roisin alone made 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 stunning versions for crying out load!

After taking my sweet time making this pattern up, I had to do it justice in every way - it's the very least I owed Elisalex. I picked the loveliest medium-weight fabric from my stash - a vintage floral chintz which has a sheen to it that fades somewhat in the wash. I know 'petite' girls aren't supposed to don such large prints, but I loved the colours too much not to give this a go.

I'm hoping it shows, but I really put my all into this dress! I carefully top-stitched the neckline and armholes to stop the lining from peeking out and I hemmed it by hand.

I hand-picked the zip twice for extra strength  and I took great care to match my princess seams up with my box pleats.

Still not impressed? How about this: Elisalex is my first ever fully lined dress! I don't know why I was so afraid of full linings before, you all told me how easy it was, but I'm definitely a convert. I lined the bodice in a cotton lawn and the skirt in a luxurious silk cotton that cost a mere £4 a metre from Goldhawk Road. Jane, you've created a silk cotton monster - I'm head over heels with the stuff and never want to line a skirt with anything else might have to become my dealer if I can't find any up here ;o)

Like some people, I too was dubious about how the exaggerated shape of the skirt would suit my curves. But, as part of my plan to make Elisalex proud, I wanted to make this dress exactly as it was intended. And, to my surprise, I really couldn't be happier with the result. I feel like a million dollars in this dress. I feel theatrical (think Marie Antoinette) and high fashion at the same time. It actually makes me sad that the only summer wedding I'm attending this year, is one that I'll be a bridesmaid at! I could go on, but I think Heather Lou sums this pattern up perfectly:

"The exaggerated curve at the hip makes your waist look teeny tiny and I think the end result is a sweet, vampy, almost cartoonish celebration of a woman's curves." 

Finally, and importantly, a word on the construction. This sweet little pattern comes with great instructions (helpful for other projects too) and sews up surprisingly easily and quickly. Sure, the princess seams are tricky little buggers - but more fiddly than difficult really. Before cutting out a size 8 (US) / 12 (UK), I shortened the bodice pieces by an inch and took a whopping 10.5 inches off the skirt. I then dared not to make a muslin, as princess seams are easy enough to adjust. It was a gamble, but it paid off. The shoulders and back fitted perfectly and I got rid of some side boob gaping by just taking in my princess seams by an extra 1cm from the armhole to my bust apex. When attaching the skirt, I did have to move the box pleats a little to get them to match up with the princess seams, but I think this is because I shortened the bodice pieces in the first place.

Now onto some gratuitous photos that show off colour, print and shape...

I had to include this photo of my incredible lollipop head and bug eyes - a hilarious insight into what I might look like if I abandoned my Cypriot-eating ways and lost a substantial amount of weight! 

In closing, this one's for you Elisalex and By Hand London girls - mwah! I foresee a number of Elisalex variations in my future...