**This giveaway is now closed - the lucky winner was Alexa from Almost a Hippy**

You guys! Have you heard the exciting news?!? The supremely talented Sally, of Charity Shop Chic fame, has literally just launched her very own sewing pattern company - Capital Chic Patterns. Having exploded onto the scene with a very glamorous debut collection, she's offering a generous giveaway for you guys, outlined at the end of this post. First, however, an exclusive interview with the lady herself!

You're hugely popular online for your outstanding re-fashioning skills, so how did that evolve into pattern design and drafting?

It was a natural progression for me. I’ve been interested in pattern making ever since I started sewing seriously a few years back. Since then I’ve learned everything I can about it through a variety of mediums and it’s still something I get really excited by! My background is actually engineering, so pattern making really appeals to the maths geek in me. I love the feeling of seeing something in a shop and mentally deconstructing the 3D shapes to figure out how to make it for myself.

I’ve incorporated pattern making into my refashioning projects as much as I can over the last few years, but really wanted to do something with more scope. Seeing some of the wonderful independent pattern companies doing so well made it appealing to start a company, but I was very wary of turning something I love into a business – a lot of people advised me that if I turned it into work I would end up hating it. So it took a lot of thought before finally deciding to go for it.

What would you say sets Capital Chic Patterns apart from other independent companies?

Firstly, the aesthetic of the designs is a bit different. I wanted the patterns to be fashion-forward but wearable designs that people would feel comfortable wearing to the office. I’ve deliberately styled them away from the vintage/retro look because I felt like that sector was already really well represented by independent pattern companies.

The other thing I really wanted to address is the difficulty. Personally, I constantly aspire to sew better, so I was a little frustrated at the number of ‘absolute beginner’ patterns out there. I wanted to offer something for people who are looking to move on from beginner stuff and really get their teeth into a project! So, the new collection is aimed at sewing intermediates. The designs are a little more challenging than what you’d find in beginner patterns, but don’t be put off, there are fully illustrated instructions included to help you learn new techniques. 

Your debut collection is very glamorous with formal undertones. What inspired the designs?

My major influences are the catwalk, the red carpet and all the stylish Londoners I see every day. For example, the White Russian quilted sweatshirt was inspired by a RTW one worn by the wonderful Kathryn, whose style I really admire. Meanwhile, the Martini dress was most definitely inspired by the red carpet, and designers like Chanel, Giambattista Valli, and Victoria Beckham.

Ultimately, I wanted the patterns to be something I wanted to wear, so my existing wardrobe (and the gaps in it) was an influence as well. As another example, readers might recognise the Cosmopolitan as a more refined derivative of a dress I made last year, which in turn was inspired by a Louis Vuitton design.

I know it's like asking you to choose between your children, but do you have a favourite pattern from the collection?

Tough choice! It’s got to be Martini, though. When I came up with the idea for a dress that looked like a skirt and crop top, but without the risk of flashing your midriff, I wasn’t sure it could be done. The design I wanted posed quite a few technical challenges and it took me a long time to work out how it should all fit together. It may look like a simple shape, but that’s actually quite deceptive – the lining changes between a lining and an underlining in places, and there are more advanced techniques, like boning, involved. Writing the instructions for this design was a lot of work, but I’m confident they are easy enough to follow for the intermediate sewer. I’ve worn my sample garments many times over the last few months and I feel great in them as the shape really flatters my figure.

Anyone who enjoys a night out will notice you've named your patterns after cocktails - where did that idea come from?  

Well, I love a good cocktail (if you’ve followed my blog for any length of time you’ll know I’m still a huge ‘Sex and the City’ fan). And the patterns include cocktail wear, so that works. There are so many different cocktails with different ‘personalities’ that already meant something to the reader... it was a natural fit really. It’s likely that future collections will also be named after cocktails, but never say never. At the very least, it’s been a great excuse to sample some of my favourite drinks while posing for pictures!

In terms of using one of your patterns, what can customers expect?

Customers can expect a well thought-out pattern that comes with clear, fully-illustrated instructions. The instructions explain the more complicated techniques in detail to help you master them. Going forward, I’ll also be writing extensively about many of these techniques on the brand new Capital Chic blog. I am hoping to offer things like sew-alongs on the new blog, too.

All the patterns have at least two variations for versatility. I’ve also tried to make sure that the patterns print in the minimum number of pages to avoid wasting paper! The sizes are nested for easy grading between sizes, and the pieces are laid out without overlapping, so there’s no need to trace them if you don’t want to.

I know it's early days still, but in anticipation of a great reception all round, what's next for Capital Chic Patterns?

Firstly, if there is a demand for it, I’d love to expand the size range of the patterns so that more people will be able to make them. I’m aware that I’m starting with a very limited size range, but this is due to my minimal resources at this stage; I’m a one-person start-up. I’m hoping that if the collection is a success I’ll be able to cater for a wider range of sizes in the future.

Beyond that, I have a lot of ideas for future collections! I’d love to take on trousers – personally I love to wear trousers but haven’t got much experience sewing them because there aren’t as many patterns available, so maybe that’s something I could work on. I’d love to do a collection of party dresses in time for the office Christmas party season too – watch this space! 

Finally, what can die hard Charity Shop Chic fans expect from their favourite blog?

You can rest assured that I’ll still be sourcing the ugliest possible garments from charity shops and thrift stores across the world and turning them into fashion, for your viewing pleasure. I’ll also be continuing to share my thrifty purchases restyled into fashionable outfits. Charity Shop Chic is something I’ve worked so hard on over the last few years and it’s become a really important part of my life, so it’s not going anywhere. 

In the near future, I’m planning an extended series of refashions inspired by the movies, plus more on Scandinavian textiles as I learn more about the pieces I brought back from Sweden. I also have two pieces from a Portuguese flea market coming soon, so stay tuned!

Sally, thank you so much for satisfying our curiosity by  sharing the story behind your new venture! 

Friends, enjoy browsing Capital Chic's debut collection and choosing your favourite pattern! Come back and tell which one took your fancy before midnight (GMT) on Thursday 3 July. I'll select a random winner shortly after the closing date and Sally will send on your lovely new pattern! This giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere...just make sure you leave your email address so that we can get in touch with the good news!

Coming up soon, my Capital Chic Bellini blouse, which I was fortunate enough to pattern test. 
Friends, can you believe we're already halfway through our Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge!?! Time flies when you're stitching up a storm and you've been doing just that. My dedicated Pinterest board is overflowing with your works in progress, as well as your gorgeous finished makes. I've been rounding up the latter in batches, because they're too lovely not to be featured on my blog, and today is no exception.

I hope what you see inspires you to crack on with your pledge, or to sign up in the first place...there are still six months left to get on board! If you want to join in or have a project to show off, you can either leave me a comment, email me, or use #vintagepledge on Twitter

Coming up very soon I have the first of my five #vintagepledge makes to unveil, as well as a really exciting guest post to share!!!

Have you been enjoying the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge so far?
A really quick one today in case you missed, or indeed are just interested in, my latest posts for Craftsy. They seem like a world apart, but I hope they'll introduce you to some new ideas, kick-ass patterns and indie designers!

P.S. Hands up who's excited for the Minerva meet-up tomorrow!?!

Woohoo! I finally managed to photograph my second Lilou Dress - a Tilly and the Buttons pattern found in Love at First Stitch - sans hives and basking in the natural light that our newly stripped dining room is now receptive to!

This time round I opted for viscose for a relaxed look, very much inspired by the super cute Amy of Almond Rock, who often uses drapey fabrics to make structured dresses more wearable. I think I've definitely succeeded  in my mission and I reckon this Lilou Dress will become a summer wardrobe staple! I'm totally in love with my tribal print, cotton viscose - just £4 per metre from Barry's Fabric Superstore. It's a welcome departure from my usual chintzy floral preference and the fabric is so soft and swooshy...I literally want to sew everything up in tribal print viscose from now on!

A thing or two to note about sewing with viscose

Much like jersey, not all viscose is created equal. My tribal print viscose was a delight to work with - buttery soft yet not slippery, easy to press and not prone to much fraying. The black viscose on the other hand, was not so great on the fraying front, but it boasts a luxurious silky sheen. The lining is also viscose, but again of a different quality - coarser to touch and cheaper looking. 

Due to the high levels of fraying and anxiety about avoiding this unfortunate situation again, I actually stitched my bodice side, armhole and neckline seams with a zigzag stitch and avoided trimming too closely. I then topstitched the armhole and neckline for extra security...I hope it works!

Ideally, I would have lined the bodice in a black cotton lawn for extra stability, but I couldn't find any at the time. As a result, I've ended up with a few annoying wrinkles here and there, as well as gaping around the back bodice/strap area which you can see in the two photos below. The gaping will need addressing next time, but I don't think these snags detract from the overall success of the dress.

Unlike my first Lilou Dress, I opted for the plain, rounded neckline this time, but I couldn't resist the pleated skirt again! With the printed viscose my pleats are almost camouflaged, but I still like not having the bulk of a gathered skirt puffing out my tummy.

What I really, really love about this make is how full the skirt is, without actually appearing to be. I can get away with wearing it in a more casual way, whilst enjoying the delicious caress of the voluminous viscose against my legs on a hot day (the hot day is wishful thinking of course). 

I've got the swoosh factor!

You can see just how different my two Lilou Dresses are, proving how very versatile this little pattern is. Play with the shape of the neckline, chose different types of fabrics or switch the skirt out for another design and you've got yourself an army of unique Lilous! 

Today my friends, I'm just checking in to tease you with a sneaky glimpse of my next make for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network. You see, we've been asked to make something special for the rather epic meet-up next Saturday, that we can only unveil on the day. Which, to be fair, is a huge relief because I've not even started on it yet. May/June is always insanely busy for me due to work and this year there have been social engagements and DIY endeavours added to the mix, so I don't even have time for a muslin. I've cut my pattern pieces out and I'm hoping I can negotiate any fit problems along the way...wish me luck!

Hmmm, what can I tell you about this make? I'm pairing some pretty cotton sateen with Vogue 5671, a 1960s vintage pattern from my stash. I must say, I deliberated over a pattern for ages, but settled on this so I can get a move on with my Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge. I launched this idea in February and I still haven't made any of the 5 patterns I pledged to by the end of the year. I feel that time's slipping away from me, whilst you lot are putting me to shame with your amazing #vintagepledge makes! So, I'm hoping to rectify this!

Are you going to the Minerva meet-up on 14 June? I really hope to see you there!