EDIT: This give-away is now closed and five lucky winners have been picked from comments below and on Instagram, using random.org.

Congratulations @anna_jo_sews@chloelallen@new_vintage_sewing@seamsoddlouise and @vapy99, I'll be in touch on Instagram to ask for your full names and postal/email addresses!


Friends, I have an exciting give-away today, but first, a huge THANK YOU to everyone who took part in my #VPJuly fortnight on Instagram. We posted almost 850 fabulous photos between us, fuelled by generous prizes! The year-long vintage stitching inspiration continues of course - you can still join the #VintagePledge and don't forget to check out the competition on Pinterest.

Back to the give-away!

Who here has been lamenting the lack of Great British Sewing Bee (GBSB) action on our tellies this year? Well, GBSB is back with a LIVE show at London's Excel from 21-24 September! It hosts hundreds of workshops, demonstrations, fashion galleries, catwalk shows and drop-in clinics, as well as over 200 exhibitors selling specialist dressmaking and textile supplies.

So, if you're in the UK and fancy spending a day re-stocking your fabric stash and mastering the art of dressmaking with the TV show's judges and contestants, keep reading...


GBSB LIVE TICKET GIVE-AWAY
  • I have 5 pairs of tickets to give away to 5 lucky UK readers only
  • The tickets are only valid for the Thursday and Friday of the show (21-21 September)
  • To enter the give-away tell me what you love about the GBSB in a comment below
  • The give-away is open until midnight (GMT) on Sunday 30 July

Good luck!

Yasss! #VPJuly is (almost) here! Whether you're taking part in the #VintagePledge or not, I hope you can join me for a fortnight of photo fun on Instagram, from Monday 10 July to Sunday 23 July. There are crazy cool prizes up for grabs and everyone's invited, regardless of where you are in the world!


#VPJuly 2017


#VPJuly takes place on Instagram, where I'll be posting daily photo prompts on a vintage theme. To play along, share a related/relevant photo each day and make sure you tag it with #VPJuly (instead of #VintagePledge). On prize days (shown with a * above) make sure you @ mention the relevant sponsor and at the end of the day I'll search the hashtag and pick a lucky winner...whoop!!!

To clarify: Take part in the Instagram challenge this month with #VPJuly. Share finished projects and work in progress this month and throughout the year with #VintagePledge.


#VPJuly Sponsors/Prizes









#VPJuly wouldn't be half as fun without prizes and this year we have both returning sponsors and new ones, all very generous with their offer! Use #VPJuly to be in with a chance of winning and make sure you tag the relevant sponsor in your Instagram posts.

The prizes are: £30 to spend at Til The Sun Goes Down, 5 reproduction patterns of your choice from Simplicity UK, £25 to spend at Sew Essential, £25 to spend at Girl Charlee UK, 3 patterns & 4m of fabric of your choice from Stoff & Stil UK, 4 PDF patterns from Sew Over It, £30 to spend at Beyond Measure, and £100 worth of vintage-inspired dressmaking fabrics from Minerva Crafts.


Don't forget that you can sign up to #VintagePledge at any point during the year. Make the pledge your own and join me for as much or as little of the activity as you like. To check out the competition following our dedicated #VintagePledge Pinterest board, with details of how to become a pinner here.

Happy #VPJuly everyone!

I planned on posting this round-up at the start of June to mark #VintagePledge's halfway point, but boy has it been a hectic month! Work has been insanely busy, including a week working away in Berlin, followed by a few days in Barcelona for pleasure and a full weekend of entertaining.

Better late than never though, because you guys are killing it this year and the proof is over on Pinterest! I'm making good progress with my own plans (here and here), how about you? 

There's still time to join the #VintagePledge if you'd like to - it's a yearlong challenge!

Nicole Needles - 1940s jacket in a lightweight wool


Allie J - flouncy 1960s dress in silk


Sleepless in Bavaria - 1960s dress in a blue linen-cotton


Seam Racer - 1940s dress in a burgundy wool 


Colette's Sewing & Stuff - 1950s floral dress


Kleidermanie - 1950s faux-shirtdress in a pin-dot cotton


Jade Juney - vintage 1960s jacket


Exclamation Point - reproduction 1960s shirtdress in yellow gingham 


Handmade by Lizzy - 1980s floral dress

Last week I shared my second #VintagePledge of the year, a sweet 1940s blouse made using the reproduction pattern Simplicity 1590. My post about it mainly focused on my collaboration with Spoonflower and the cute fabric they sent me, but I thought you'd also like to know a bit more about the pattern itself.

In my latest vlog I show you inside Simplicity 1590 and chat about my favourite things about the pattern and how I achieved my desired fit. It serves as a nice comparison to my vlog on McCall 8532, an original pattern from 1935 that I recently stitched up.



Hope you enjoy watching! Do let me know your thoughts on the pattern - have you made it before...are you tempted?




Whoop, I'm on a roll with my #VintagePledge! Thanks to Spoonflower's British Blog Hop I've now tackled my second make - a 1940s blouse with reproduction Simplicity 1590 - just the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s to go.

The American fabric/wallpaper/gift-wrap design and print company kindly invited myself and eight fellow bloggers to help celebrate a year and a half of its Berlin-based factory. Having a European branch is good news for everyone on this side of the pond, because you can order in your own currency and the delivery times are much speedier!

I would have happily picked wallpaper, but as we're not currently decorating I decided to stick to sewing. I toyed with the idea of designing my own print, but wisely put my trust in the fabulous many designers registered on Spoonflower.



My project was very much dictated by the print, because once I found Succulents I was instantly smitten. When I decorate my sewing room I'm seriously tempted to paper a wall with this print AND make matching cushion covers!!!

However, falling for this print scuppered my plans for a dress as I don't usually favour light-coloured backgrounds, so I compromised with a blouse instead. I was then gutted not to find a cotton voile on Spoonflower's extensive list of fabrics, but I was so determined that I went ahead and ordered it in the Kona Cotton Ultra instead.

I knew all along that a quilting cotton is not the optimum fabric for a blouse like this, but I powered on with pig-headed stubbornness and luckily it's wearable in a dramatically structured sort of way. I wouldn't use quilting cotton again for this blouse, but I'm gonna own the drama nonetheless. It's like wearing a bustle!



So, aside from picking an inappropriate fabric type for my project, what is Spoonflower's Kona Cotton Ultra actually like? Well, I won't lie, I've handled nicer quilting cottons before. It's very canvas-like and a little scratchy, so if I was paying £17.71 per yard myself, I wouldn't order it for a dressmaking project again. It may well be perfectly acceptable for crafty projects though and it can be ordered by the fay quarter, which is a good way to test the waters I guess. Also, it gets top marks for the printing quality, as the colours and vibrancy are great and there was no visible fading/bleeding after I washed it.

Out of curiosity I also asked for a swatch pack and what I would be very tempted by is their Organic Cotton Sateen Ultra, which feels really lovely. It is a whopping £25.16 per yard though! I was also quite taken with the quality of their jerseys and performance/sportswear fabrics, all of which seem to be a nice quality too. To get a more rounded opinion of Spoonflower, have a look at what blog hoppers The Fold Line, A Million Dresses, Sew Manju, Almond Rock and House of Pinheiro said, with final contributions from So, Zo...What do you know? and Kestrel Makes coming next week.

Have you designed for or bought from Spoonflower before? What did you think? One thing's for sure, I might have to go back at some point for the remaining prints that stole my heart - Cacti in Mugs, Succulent Garden and Cactus Flowers.

As for Simplicity 1590, I'll do a separate post and possibly vlog on the fit, construction and how it compares to original vintage patterns soon.

Despite having ages to prepare for #TheDressmakersBall earlier this month, I still ended up making my dress in a weekend. Luckily, choosing to work with stretch velvet meant minimal fitting drama...phew!



The ball gave me the perfect opportunity to kickstart my #VintagePledge for this year, by tackling my first ever pattern from the 1930s. McCall 8532 from 1935 stole my heart with its back detail, asymmetrical pleated neckline and voluminous sleeves.

Believe it or not, aside from some indecision regarding the length, this pattern fit pretty well straight out of the pack. No doubt if I was working with a woven fabric it would have been a different story, but I'll take small victories where I can!


I did make a few adjustments of course, but they were mainly of the time-saving and aesthetic kind. If you're interested in how I changed the sleeves, why I cheated with my buttonhole or what made me settle on a tea-length skirt you can find out more in this little video I made.

In the video I also give you a glimpse into the pattern pieces and instructions, to show you that not all vintage patterns are as scary as they sometimes seem. The older the pattern the more reluctant people can be, but McCall 8532 is actually a printed pattern with surprisingly good instructions. It's definitely made me feel more confident about dipping into more of my patterns from this era.






I totally stole Charlotte's style by the way and bought myself the rose gold version of her belt to accessorise my dress with. The overall look is definitely a bit costumey for my liking, but I'm pretty pleased with how this turned out and that I had the perfect event to wear it to.



Are you taking part in the #VintagePledge this year? Have you seen the inspiring makes that are popping up on the dedicated Pinterest board?


You guys, as beautiful as this dress turned out, I definitely needed some distance before I could bring myself to write about it. Since transitioning, Charlotte has found sourcing well-fitting clothes a stressful challenge, especially the smart/fitted variety. Even when shopping tall ranges she struggles to get the length in the bodice and skirt that she needs, as well as enough width across the back. 

With a number of weddings to attend this year I took pity upon her and naively volunteered to make her a couple of dresses. All I can say is thank feck I started the first dress a month before the first wedding. It took the best part of three weekends to complete, one of which was the long Easter break, and a staggering SEVEN muslins!

I started off by grading up The Mortmain, which worked fairly well with a nice fit across the back, but armhole issues meant Charlotte couldn't move her arms. I took some length out of the waist and added it through the armhole, but that backfired with movement restricted even further. In a frustrated frenzy I decided it would be quicker to just draft a bodice from scratch and dug out my copy of Metric Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear by Winifred Aldrich. Turns out if your measurements are outside of the average range you're screwed. 

My last resort was to rub off a RTW dress that fits Charlotte fairly well and make the necessary tweaks to perfect it. Easier said than done. Again, the back was pretty much spot on from the outset, but I ended up with extra ease in the side boob region. With invaluable hand-holding (via Instagram) from The Thrifty Stitcher I managed to remove the ease with some clever slashing and dart manipulation. But fixing that problem led to annoying fitting issues across the upper chest which I ran out of time to resolve. Not only that, but I also exhausted my limited trouble-shooting and fitting skills. 

The whole process made me realise just how limited my drafting/grading knowledge is and how unnaturally it comes to me. Thanks to fantastic advice from so many Instagram friends though, I now have a long reading list and tutorial recommendations before I tackle the next dress!



Aaanyway, despite it all, Charlotte was very grateful for my efforts and over the moon to have a pretty new dress which she reckons is better than any RTW fit she could hope for. It says more about the shortcomings of RTW than my dressmaking skills...haha! 

The fabric is this stunning cotton sateen from Mood, handpicked by Charlotte herself and hand-delivered by my mum. The P&P from the US costs an arm an a leg, but I got it sent to my mum (who lives in North Carolina) and she then brought it with her to Cyprus where I met her during a family visit in March.

Do you recognise the skirt? It's a slightly modified By Hand London Elisalex. At Charlotte's request, I altered the side seams so it's less of a tulip shape and more A-line. I was working with the original printed pattern, but I actually think By Hand London have altered the PDF version in a similar way.




I'm obviously biased, but isn't Charlotte a total knockout in this ensemble? She styled it with a cropped navy cardi for the wedding and has seriously good taste in accessories. I loved her ASOS belt so much that I totally stole her style and ordered it in rose gold for myself. I definitely wouldn't enter a 'who wore it better' competition against her though!

Despite the traumatic journey, it was all worth it to see her looking gorgeous and feeling comfortable. The things we do for love, eh?

Let's hope my second attempt goes a bit smoother... 


Happy Friday friends! A busy few weeks means that this weekend will be spent on frantically trying to make a frock for #TheDressmakersBall which is a week today. I'm hoping to pair the luxurious claret velvet I got from Leicester Market with one of the three vintage patterns below, in what will be my first #VintagePledge of the year too.

If I don't succeed I will have to go to the ball in RTW or naked...both terrible options, so no pressure!




To find out which of the three patterns I'll be tackling, check out my YouTube video below. Which (if any) is your favourite?

Also, are you going to #TheDressmakersBall? Have you made your outfit yet?


Hi friends! I've been super busy these past few weeks, making myself and Charlotte dresses for a friend's wedding this weekend. Charlotte's dress has been a real labour of love, with countless hours spent on grading and drafting, and mine is a bit of a departure from my usual style. More on those coming soon, but you can have a sneak peek over on Instagram if you're curious!

In the meantime, I shared a recent Stoff & Stil fabric haul on my YouTube channel which you can also watch below. I have plans for some of the fabrics, but would love to hear your ideas for the rest!