Where has the time gone?

So… I’ve been AWOL for a while! A lot’s been happening with me in the last few months and although I’ve had some time to sew, embroider and (learn to) knit, I just haven’t really had time to write about it or take photos of it. I still don’t really have that much time now but I feel so out of the loop with the sewing blogging world, that I’ve decided to pop my head in and see what’s going on.

We moved out of our rented flat in April and crashed at my parents’ house for a few months before moving in to our brand spanking new home. It was actually great fun and there wasn’t even a single argument. They were so kind to give us a spacious room to sleep and live in and we had everything we needed: it was cosy, there was a sitting area, we had our own telly and Sky (necessities according to my husband) and our king size fitted in comfortably! Also, we had my parents to fuss over us and bring us cups of tea and so on. However, what I didn’t really have was space to sew. I was so used to having our spare room as my sewing space that the thought of cutting on the floor and packing everything up after each sewing session just seemed like too much hard work. I did do it a few times, making small housey stuff in preparation for us moving in, but not really often enough to blog about. We pretty much spent those months peering through a hole in a fence watching our house being built!

We’ve been in our new house for a wee while now though and finally it’s starting to feel a bit more organized. It was SO worth the wait and we saved so much cash at my folks’ for furniture etc. When we moved out of the flat, I got a bit carried away and chucked out pretty much all of our stuff so we had to start from scratch… in a four bedroom house… when we’d moved from a pokey 2 bed flat. The first couple of weeks were very interesting (and echoey in here) to say the least! But, we’re in and I absolutely adore it.

A quick tour for those interesting in housey stuff. Feel free to skip past if you’re bored…

I think the kitchen is my favourite room in the house. It’s spacious, it feels nice and clean and it’s matchy, which we never had in the old flat. Everything in there was ‘eclectic’ in a bad way.

We also have a utility room and a pantry space (which is looking pretty messy at the moment)!

The utility room is next on the list of rooms to sort. I’ve been cruising Pinterest and so far have found the following pins the most inspiring.

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We need art on the walls, key hooks and other bits n bobs in the pantry, a more organised storage/jar system, perhaps shelving of some kind and we need a ‘unit’ of some description below the bottom shelf in the pantry. Oh and we need a light. My husband’s friend is an electrician though so he’s going to do this for us after the festive period. Really though, this room is tucked away and no one really sees it so we can just do it slowly.

Our livingroom is also pretty awesome but still unfinished.

We plan to put a gallery wall up above the couch as soon as we select some photos and print them out. We managed to find frames the same colour as the flooring which I think will look nice against the magnolia. As it’s a new build, we’ve been told to leave the walls for a year to allow them to settle (especially as it’s a brick and block built house) but I actually really like it! It feels crisp and clean and it really goes with our wooden flooring.

The downstairs WC.

Downstairs WC

I heart our Moroccan-style tiles (which are actually a bit lighter in person) and although they took a while to arrive (the room was a concrete paradise for the first three weeks), it was worth the wait I think. The only thing I don’t like about this room is the lack of a window (and, therefore, natural light), but let’s face it: it’s a downstairs toilet the size of a cupboard. It’s not a big deal.

Our front and side garden is really spacious and our back garden is 15m x 15m, which is HUGE to us considering we’ve only ever had pretty dodgy communal garden!

I must note that these pics are taken from the safety of the kitchen. The weather is wild out there! Thankfully we’re not in an area affected by flooding. We’ve been watching it on the news (and have some family friends in York) and it just looks and sounds absolutely terrible. Take care if you’re in an affected area. Sending love and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that you and your home is safe.

Anyway, back to the garden. My husband already has an outdoor pizza oven ready to be installed in the spring, and I think we’ll also make space for a seating and BBQ area and also get someone in to make us some raised beds for veggies and fruits. We had a strawberry patch in one of the communal gardens of one of our previous flats and they lasted us the whole of the summer and were delicious. We won’t need to make room for a shed because we have a detached garage, which is full of our crap. No way am I motivated enough to park our car in the garage every night.

Upstairs we have four bedrooms, an en-suite and a main bathroom.

Still a bit plain in here but I quite like it this way!

The master bedroom is my least favourite room. It’s not ‘me’ at all but the problem is that I’m not entirely sure what I want it to look like. There’s nothing on the walls yet other than a pretty cheapo canvas we were going to chuck out. I definitely need inspiration before I touch this room.

My husband has a games room, which he absolutely loves. There’s actually an alcove to the right hand side which isn’t in the photo and is pretty cool. He was joking about a bar (to match the beer fridge). Don’t think so. The sofa bed is quite handy when people stay over, although so far it’s only been my brother who, as you can imagine, was loving it! We woke up to him playing Fifa on the huge telly.  

I have a sewing room – yaaaaaay!!! It’s small but super organised. I absolutely love it!

And we have another bedroom reserved for the other reason for my long absence and lack of motivation to blog… our little baby boy arriving in April! He’s kicking like mad as I type this so I think he must approve of me sharing the news.

Baby Scan

This is pretty much the reason for the absence of dressmaking. I know it’s lazy but I don’t see the point in making maternity clothes at the moment when my body is changing so rapidly.

Feeling pretty big just over a week ago at 23 weeks

Feeling pretty big just over a week ago at 23 weeks

It’s been hard going moving and sorting the house while pregnant! Especially as most of it was done when I was in my first trimester. Although I wasn’t sick, I was so exhausted so chuck in work and moving house, you can imagine how tough it was. However, I’m feeling fantastic now that I have more down time. I think we’ve been very lucky so far so long may it continue.

So, that’s the deal with me at the moment! My posts will still be pretty sporadic but now that I have a dedicated sewing space again, I should be able to post a bit more often.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas (although it was a sober one, it was really lovely) and that you have a fantastic Hogmanay. I’m giving celebrations in Edinburgh a miss this year and spending the morning and afternoon babysitting my beautiful wee niece and then having a fancy dinner with my husband… and then of course it’ll be straight in to my pyjamas and lazing about watching the telly! :)

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Edinburgh Hogmanay Party

 

Learning to Embroider with Dropcloth Samplers

A while back, I posted about my desire to embroider. I gave it a go back then and I was pretty chuffed with myself; however, I was also frustrated because I really didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t know the various stitches that could be used, I didn’t really know why and where those stitches should be used and I was seriously lacking in practice!

Urgh, how I long for the skills to do this:

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f863a134fa4fd047c1bfa8a4e202689aWhile trawling for ’embroidery for beginners’ projects on Pinterest, I came across Dropcloth Samplers. They are insanely beautiful and so far removed from the stuffy and very dated starter packs you can buy in the likes of Hobbycraft. Who wants to embroider a cottage scene or a watering can, when you could embroider these?!

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After some digging, I realised that they are the creation of the very talented Rebecca Ringquist and that they are actually available to buy on Etsy either as a one of purchase or… wait for it… on a subscription basis. AMAZING. I heart a subscription! Especially a craft-based one. I immediately signed up for 6 months and opted for the stitch sampler subscription, which teaches you basic stitches each month.

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While I’m not entirely sure that I have the dexterity required for intricate needlework, I’ve really enjoyed my first month of the subscription.

The focus this month has been on couching stitches and I’ve used a great website by a UK blogger called Sarah Whittle to help me. Her tutorials have been really helpful so far. I’ve also signed up to the Craftsy class: ‘Design It, Stitch It: Hand Embroidery’ with Jessica Marquez.

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Unlike my last class, I’ve decided to just dip in and out of this one depending on the stitches needed. Jessica is a great tutor and her instructions are clear and concise.

It’s been a busy month so I haven’t quite finished my first one yet, but I think I’ve done quite well considering it’s all new to me.

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OOOOPS!!!

 

I love that I have a little project I can work on in front of the TV. Sewing, especially with a machine, can be such a faff at times. Next month’s sampler arrived this morning and it’s focused on blanket stitches. Exciting!

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DIY Roman Blinds

My husband and I are currently looking to buy our very first home and it’s a very exciting/stressful/terrifying/exciting/frustrating/exciting/slow-moving process! Arghh. The house we want doesn’t really exist yet because it’s part of a new development and the houses have yet to be released. Hence me being super-impatient. So, what does one do in this situation? Pin home décor ideas and stare wistfully in to space while planning never-ending crafty projects, obv.

Being a crafty goddess (ahem), I’d love to put my own stamp on our new house (when it eventually happens) through homemade cushions, blinds, curtains and maybe some crafty arty pieces.

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To help me pass the time, I decided to have a go at a Roman blind now so that when we do move in, I’ll already know the pitfalls. I figure it’ll make me feel a lot better about buying pricey fabric without the fear of messing up! I’m so glad I did…

I bought most of my materials from The Cloth Shop in Edinburgh and the wood and doweling from B&Q.

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It also gave me a great opportunity to use my shiny staple gun for the first time…

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DANGER!!

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The fiddliest part was sewing the lining to the main material. It was so tricky because the blind dimensions were pretty big. I’m not really sure how I’ll get past that in future. I think trying to use my usual sewing space was a bit of an error. A bigger table and more space would have definitely helped.

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And here’s the finished product:

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It’s slightly wonky but I’m immensely proud of it. I’ve learned a lot and I’m looking forward to having another go. Regardless, I reckon it’s not bad for a first attempt!

If you fancy giving it a go, I pretty much used this image as a guide. However, I’ve since pinned this tutorial. The only different for me was that I used four rows of cording because my blind was a lot bigger.

It was actually surprisingly straightforward to make. The only tricky part was putting it up. We found it difficult to hang it so that the hooks were completely hidden from sight. I don’t really care much at the moment because we’ll be out of here soon; however, I need a better way of installing it for our new home. I’ve since come across this YouTube video on specialist brackets and these roman blind kits. If you scroll to the bottom of the page, you can also find instructions on how to make your own.

Now back to dreaming about our new house…

I’m thinking of the following fabrics for my next set of blinds/curtains:

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If you decide to give it a go, I’d love to see the finished result!

Black Lace Loveliness

You may have read on Twitter that I recently became a part of the WhiteTree Fabrics Blog Team. I’m so thankful and grateful for their support and can’t wait to collaborate with them in this way! For my first project, I decided to try something new…

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I’ve finally finished my most challenging sewing project to date and I’m feeling mightily proud of myself! Despite the pressures of work and family/friend commitments, I’ve managed to find the time to make my very own piece of formal wear and just in perfect time for November, which is usually my busiest month in terms of social events. I’m not 100% happy with it (I never am!); however, I’m really happy with what I produced despite being unfamiliar with the pattern and all of the fabrics involved.

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To help me get a good fit with this dress, I enrolled in my first every Craftsy class: ‘Sew the Perfect Fit’ with Lynda Maynard. It cost me around £20 because they had it on sale and I honestly think that it was worth every penny.

While I don’t think I’ve managed to achieve that elusive perfect fit, it’s certainly made me think more carefully about the fitting process and I think that the more I practise the techniques suggested by Lynda, the easier fitting will become. It really opened my eyes to the problems behind certain gapings and pullings in the fabric, which, of course, is both a good and a bad thing. As someone who is already pretty critical of her work, I now find my eyes drawn to any little puckering. However, I’m hoping that it will encourage me to address little niggly things in future rather than just say, “Meeeeeh, it’s just a dress. I’ll do it better next time.”

I won’t go in to more detail about the class because I’m really rubbish at reviews; however, I will say that it has also completely opened my eyes to the wonders of Craftsy and how brilliant it is as a teaching and learning resource. I’ve already signed up for a few other classes (spending a whopping £50 in the process – damn my impulsive nature!!!) and hope to try out those quite soon.

The class uses the pattern I wanted to try out anyway (Vogue V8766), which was pretty handy. I decided to make View E (blue one), because I love a sleeve.

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As soon as I saw the lace, I knew that it was perfect. It’s Chantilly style and it costs £6.40 a metre, which I think is unbelievably reasonable for such lovely lace, given that my usual haunts charge a lot more or their reasonably priced ones look a bit shiny and (sorry!) a bit cheap. I was pleasantly surprised when this lace arrived.

15695061952_25c11af863_zLying on my living room floor in my PJs with lace draped over me like a blanket (and snagging it a little in the process) = unacceptable behaviour

I selected the pattern and lace combo for two reasons: Firstly, it looks like my favourite dress from a few years ago which is now sadly no longer with us.

I think this dress cost me £120 from Monsoon and I used to wear it ALL THE TIME! Loved it. Plus, it had pockets!! RIP.

Also, there’s something about this combo which is reminiscent of my wedding dress, which I absolutely loved wearing and haven’t yet plucked up the courage to have re-fashioned.

 

I was really nervous about working with lace but it was actually really lovely to handle, cut and sew. I think my biggest fear was that it would be slippy and completely unmanageable when cutting it but I was pleasantly surprised. It didn’t slip at all (although I didn’t double the fabric up at any point and just made sure that it was as flat as possible). Also, I typically use a rotary cutter with my fabric, but for this project I stuck to my super sharp scissors, which allowed for accurate cutting with minimal movement from the fabric. What I would say though is that it’s pretty delicate. At one point I did pull the lace a bit hard and it ripped a tiny wee bit. I just stitched it up and now it looks perfectly fine.

I’m really happy with the style of the dress. It is a tiny bit snug but I quite like that. I think it makes my waist look quite small, which is always a good thing!

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My main complaint with a lot of similar dresses I’ve tried on recently in the shops is that they’re a bit flimsy. I honestly can’t bear the thought of wearing my Spanx during the festive season so I wanted my lining to do a bit of the work in terms of holding me in and making me appear to be smoother and more svelte. The duchess satin that I used for the lining was perfect for that. It’s really heavy duty feels so beautiful against my skin. My only complaint though is that because it’s so thick and lustrous, it doesn’t hold a crease. This is perfect in terms of every day wear, but not so much in terms of stitch lines & deliberate creases. I think it also makes it appear bulkier in places whereas a more delicate satin or silk would have been flatter… but wouldn’t have held me in as much. Can’t win really.

I really enjoyed inserting the sleeves in to this dress because it had three darts, which I’ve never actually done before on a sleeve. I think it looks really effective! I’ll definitely try it again.

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I left the beautiful scalloped edge of the lace at the bottom of the dress to make the hem more effective.

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Overall I’m really pleased with the dress. It does have a few flaws – I might  have to wear those Spanx after all – however, I feel like I really learned a lot while making this dress and I’m immensely proud of myself for it!

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This looks so posey but in fact I was telling off my husband for not being a professional photographer. Yep, top wife. 

 So there we have it: my first project as a WhiteTree Fabrics blogger, my most challenging project to date and a dress that will hopefully see me through my crazy busy November and the festive season as a whole!

Cheers pals! Until next time…

Vintage & Meadows: Baby Dressmaking

The last week at work has been so hectic that I haven’t really had any prolonged time for sewing; I’ve only really had an hour here and there. However, it’s not all bad because, as it turns out, that’s all the time you need to rattle out a wee baby girl’s dress. This week I’ve made two of them.

First up, I used my most precious vintage fabric to create this gorgeous peachy piece of sweetness. The fabric is Sanderson fabric from 1984. What a good year for fabric… and babies (yeah it’s the year I was born and my husband and most of my wonderful friends). I bought 3 metres of the stuff from a lovely lady who was a seamstress many years ago for the measly price of £3. I actually felt like I was ripping her off but she was insistent. UNBELIEVABLE.

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It was such a pleasure to make this dress and it really makes such a difference when the fabric is special. I decided to make this dress in size 3-6 months. I’m not entirely happy with the top of the zip. I trimmed it but it’s a bit lopsided. From now on, I think I’ll use the Emery dress method of inserting the lining. Although then I have the issue of the arm scythes potentially looking messy.

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Other details: the bodice is lined, the skirt gathered and there’s a peachy concealed zip in the back (so beautiful) from Jaycotts (79p? LOVE IT). The waist seam is encased in cream bias binding to give it a nicer finish.

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Secondly, we have the little floral ‘I like to wander in meadows’ dress (age: 0-3 months). It’s so cute. I used left over fabric for the bodice. It was £11.99 a metre in The Cloth Shop last year and it’s 100% cotton and really lovely to work with. It’s lined with some neutral cotton that I bought on ebay for much cheapness.

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The skirt is also cotton and it’s part of the bundle of fabric I bought from Hulu Crafts last year. It has a slight stiffness to it but I quite like that it holds the gathers well.

The waist seam is encased in a cream coloured bias binding and I used another 8” concealed zip from my Jaycotts’ stash, this time in green.

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So, that’s all for now in terms of my baby dressmaking adventures. I have a busy day ahead of me. I get to see my beautiful wee niece, I’m visiting my parents and my husband’s parents and it’s my wee granny’s birthday. Oh and I have some work to do for tomorrow! Grrrr… I really grudge doing work at home. I guess that’s the life of a teacher though, eh? Sad face.

Pretty in Purple

Hello all! I’ve been a little quiet recently because I’m in the middle of a bit of a mammoth project. For the first time ever, I’m working with lace! It’s really beautiful but it’s so much more difficult to work with than cotton! It’s a bit frustrating at times, but I’m getting there. Slowly.

Rather than have two full sized projects on the go at the same time, I decided to appease my desire for a quick, no-fuss project by trying out baby clothes for the first time. My little niece has definitely played a part in this. Her dresses are just so adorable. I’m really surprised by how satisfying it is to make baby clothes!

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I looked around for dress patterns but it seemed silly to buy one. I did try one commercial pattern but the sizing wasn’t quite right. Instead, I decided to draft the pattern myself by tracing over an existing 0-3 months dress. It was fairly straight forward and it worked pretty well, except for the fact that I didn’t add enough seam allowance so it ended up being 0-2 months I reckon.

The only traced the bodice and decided to add a straightforward gathered skirt. Gathered skirts are really comfy and I think the gathers look really cute with the tiny wee bodice.

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This is the first time I’ve used the fabric I bought at Goldhawk Road. It’s 100% cotton and I think it only cost me about £3.99 a metre. Such a bargain! That place is so amazing for fabric. A whole street dedicated to sewing stuff? A-Mazin!

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Baby clothes present a problem in terms of comfort because I didn’t want any jaggy edges so I decided to encase the waist seam in some bias binding. It made it look nice and today as well as making it smooth. I bought this from Hobbycraft and it was relatively cheap. I do have the stuff to make my own but meh. Life’s too short. I might try to make it one day but it’s a bit of a faff.

The lilac coloured zip is from Jaycotts and this is the first time I’ve shopped there. It’s awesome and so much cheaper than the other ones I’ve bought in the past. I’ll definitely use them again! I think the zip might be controversial for baby clothes. The zip fastner is very secure and no more a choking hazard than buttons but I haven’t seen many baby dresses with zips. Maybe it would be uncomfortable? Hmm. Anyway, I’m really just experimenting at the moment. I think in future I’ll use a stretchier material for 0-3 month dresses so it can slip overhead rather than requiring fastenings!

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I’ll be back soon with lace-related updates…

 

 

Italian Floral Floralex

Warning: yet another floral print By Hand London dress coming up. You would think that I’d get tired of them, but hey, they make me happy so why not eh? Also, prepare for lots of photos! The last couple of weeks I’ve been trying to get some summer dresses sewn for my upcoming holiday to Italy. We leave on Friday and we plan to spend a few days in Rome, a few days in Sorrento (where we’ll visit Capri and Pompeii) and then back to Rome again before flying home.

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I can’t wait! While I do have some summery clothes hanging in my wardrobe, I wanted something new and I was left completely uninspired and frustrated by my recent attempt at clothes shopping. Everything I like is ridiculously expensive!

Anyway, I decided to make a couple of Floras (you’ve already seen my minty floral one and I’ve still got another one to write about). As I’ve already said, I honestly didn’t expect to love the pattern as much as I do. I think it’s the skirt that does it for me. It’s just so floaty and full and it makes me feel really feminine. With that in mind, I decided, for my most recent make, to combine it with the Elisalex bodice, which I love for its lower back and princess seams.

And here it is in all its glory: The Elisora? Elisalexora? Floralex? Flowery prettiness?

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The fabric is just amazing! It’s the same as my minty floral one but with a white background. It’s a cotton with a slight stretch and it cost £11.99 a metre from The Cloth Shop in Edinburgh (although I got it on sale for £9.50 a metre). Not too bad at all!

I decided to lengthen the bodice a little (by about 1.5”) and when I closed the shoulder seams I took off 1.5” there too. This actually solved a lot of problems I normally have with the Elisalex bodice, especially the gaping at the back.

No gaping! Although this is before I sewed down the pesky zip tab, which have now been safely tucked away. 
 

I think the next time I make an Elisalex, I’ll retrace the pattern and lengthen by 2″ and chop the extra off the shoulders to save doing this alteration each time.

The skirt is so easy to put together and I think it only took me about half an hour to pin, iron and sew the pleats in place.

I’m really happy with the way they turned out.

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I inserted an invisible zipper, which is my favourite type of zip. A lot of people seem to have trouble with these but I’ve always found these to be the easiest type of zip to install.

Although I’m pleased with the dress as a whole, I’m particularly chuffed with the lining. I bought it from Hulu Crafts while back (in the same haul as the fabric for my Beach Emery Dress). On their website, Hulu Crafts describe themselves as:

“A family-run business based in South Devon in the South West of England that started trading at the beginning of 2009. We love all types of crafting but have a particular passion for knitting and sewing, which is why we decided to set up this shop.”

I have to say that this was most definitely my experience. They were a little short of one of the fabrics I ordered and got in touch immediately with a range of solutions. In the end, they refunded me the price of the shortage and were very apologetic. As well as this, postage was free and my fabric arrived very promptly and well packaged. I’ll definitely use them again. Anyway, the fabric I used for my lining was a Moda Bella cotton in ‘Baby Blue’. It cost £7 a metre and, to be honest, this is more than I would normally spend. I actually intended to use it as the main fabric for a dress but couldn’t decide which style to make to avoid it looking pyjama-esque. It feels lovely to the touch and I think it goes perfectly with the pinks of the floral fabric, so I decided to use it for the lining. It was a dream to sew with.

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I topstitched around the neckline at the front and back to ensure that the lining didn’t peak out.

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I’m also particularly chuffed because I think the lining looks so neat. I’m really making a more concerted effort to make the innards of my clothes neater, simply because it makes me smile and it makes me want to wear them more! So, I pinked the seams inside as always, I secured the lining of the Elisalex bodice using the method suggested with the Flora dress and then I blind-stitched it down to give a flawless finish. It’s so pretty!

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I used a beautiful thread to sew the lining. I don’t know too much about it other than my friend’s granny, who used to be a seamstress, gave it to me along with a pile of other half-used, vintage threads.

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It is a 100% cotton thread made by a company called Molnlycke. From what I’ve read, it seems like it dates back to the 1970s or 1980s but I could be wrong. Regardless, it was lovely to sew with and it matched the lining perfectly!

My only regret of the project is that I didn’t pay more attention to matching up the pattern. I had the exact amount of fabric I needed and so couldn’t be too choosy, but next time I’ll make more of an effort with this!

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And that’s it for my lovely floral Elisalex-Flora mash up. I really love it and can’t wait to wear it to sip wine and eat pizza in Rome and Sorrento. Perhaps it would look good aboard a wonderful (terrifying? no way would ours look like this) boat en route to Capri…

Before I go I must apologise for this post being so long but Fiona at Diary of a Chainstitcher is technically to blame. I came across a super helpful post by her in which she details 5 things she wishes she’d known when she first started sewing. She suggested that new sewists keep a sewing journal to keep tabs on their projects and the things they did throughout and that’s exactly what I’ve started to do. I’ve even included swatches of the fabric I used. So that’s why this post is so detailed! It’s really been so helpful and I think it will come in handy the next time I sew these patterns!

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Oh and I hope this wasn’t too photo heavy for you all! Until next time…

Embroidery will be the end of me…

Argh, embroidery is bloody tough! I’ve been thinking about learning for a while but today I decided to suck it up and buy an embroidery hoop and some thread. By the way, did you all know that teachers get 10% off in Hobbycraft if you can show school related photo ID? Slow hand clap, Hobbycraft. Anyway, I bought the hoop and thread and I’ve spent a lot of the day tinkering with them (trying out various stitches and such like) and it’s so much more difficult than I thought it would be.

I don’t know why I’m surprised by this because hand-stitching is a real challenge for me. I have no excuse other than I’m impatient and scrappy. This is exactly why I figured that embroidery could be good for me though: it would give me something to do when watching telly or commuting to work, it would help me get a handle on basic stitches that I’m sure I must have learned during my childhood but seem to have forgotten, and most importantly, it might help to change  my slapdash, half-arsed habits that undoubtedly have a negative impact on the finish of my homemade clothes.

I’ve been drooling over various embroidery projects on Pinterest for a while now and figured that the summer holidays might be a good time to learn.

(click the image for the source) 

 

Unfortunately (and I do realise that I’m being overly harsh) my attempts at embroidery look like shit and will likely never look as awesome as the aforementioned loveliness from Pinterest. Woe is me. See below for evidence of this. Oh and I should say that I’m trying to make a little piece of embroidery hoop decor (which is such a fab idea! Thanks Pinterest) for my wee niece’s bedroom.

First attempt at embroidery

Ok, so my husband tells me that I’m a drama queen. I know that it’s only my first attempt but dammmmmnnnnn it’s annoying! I’m thinking of buying some patterny things online to help and of course trawling YouTube until all hours of the morning to pour over tutorials*. I think I maybe tried a bit too much today and got too frustrated by the final attempt.

I feel the need to add that I normally wouldn’t post stuff that looks a bit rubbish, which is silly, I know, but I figure that I’ll only get better. I wish I’d started documenting my progress when I made my first ever dress. The progress I’ve made since then is brilliant and I’m really proud of myself for it. I hope I can say the same about embroidery in a couple of years time.

Plan of Action

  • Print off lettering and trace so it looks a bit more fluid and less wonky
  • Work on producing consistent stitches
  • Keep practising the stitches I’ve learned (back stitch, split stitch and satin stitch)

Any advice on how to improve would be most gratefully received!

*I’ll post links to useful websites, tutorials or YouTube videos that I’ve come across soon.

Fabulous Floral Flora

Floral Flora Dress

Cheeeeeers!!! For us Scottish teachers, it’s now officially the summer holidays! Woooooooooop woooooop! They are finally here and I couldn’t be happier. It’s been a very difficult year at school and I’m so grateful to have some time to catch my breath, gather my thoughts, spend some awesome quality time with my family and friends, properly clean my flat and generally re-charge!

As well as it being the summer holidays, it’s also wedding season. I’ve been invited to a few weddings this summer, the first of which yesterday. My good friends were married in Edinburgh at Dynamic Earth. It’s such a wonderful wedding venue: it’s open, airy, it overlooks Arthur’s Seat, it’s very central, the rooms are lovely, you get to wander around the sciency bit after hours with booze in hand AND there’s a terrace that you can sneak away to so you can stand outside in the sun whilst you sip champers and gin. Perfect.

Disclaimer: I totally take Edinburgh for granted and forgot to take a pic. Nicked this one! Source: http://inzumi.com/en/travel/point-of-interest/d_id/Edinburgh/c_id/Sightseeing/p_id/Our-Dynamic-Earth
 

Floral Flora Dress

Sipping champagne with my husband on said terrace.
 

So, as you’ve probably guessed from the floral number in the photos above, I decided to make a dress for the occasion. I bought By Hand London’s Flora pattern a while ago after silently creeping around a few sewing blogs and BHL’s awesome Pinterest board. I was dubious though because it’s not the style I’d normally wear. The coupling of high neck line and exposed arms was terrifying for me. I HATE my arms. I always have. I think that in itself is the problem: I have always hated them so in my head it follows that I always will. I need to get out of that mindset. Despite this though, I made it and I’m so, so, SO glad that I did!

Floral Flora Dress

Floral Flora Dress

Construction-wise, it was so unbelievably easy to put together. I figured it would be because I found Anna and Elisalex to be the same. After looking at the sewalong posts and knowing from past experience that BHL’s patterns fit me really well straight out of the packet, I decided to just cut my main fabric.

The fabric is from The Cloth Shop and I bought it for just under £20. It was £11.99 a metre, with 20% off. You can buy it online here if you’re interested! I love that they often have random sales! It’s quite thick cotton with a tiny bit of stretch, which I think is great for adding a tiny bit of drama to the circle.

Floral Flora Dress

The bodice was very simple to put together and I managed to sew it up in a very short space of time. Unfortunately I didn’t have any colour appropriate lining in my stash (which is very strange!) so I just decided to go for a green polycotton instead. Hmm… it sort of goes. The straps were the only fiddly bit, but I reckon after one attempt at them, I’m now a total pro and next time will be much easier.

Floral Flora Dress

The skirt is glorious. I absolutely love it! I’ve always struggled with a circle skirt because my 31 inch waist is apparently a bit too chunky according to Google. I’ve always found myself trying to follow tutorials that require me to cut it out of lots of bits of fabric, or which requires maths skills that I simply don’t possess/haven’t used since Higher Maths circa 2001. However, this circle skirt was so easy. SO, SO EASY! I’m actually glad I bought the pattern just for this skirt. It’s brilliant and I plan to attach it to everything! AND I plan to make a couple just as skirts.

Floral Flora Dress

The only thing that I found tricky with this dress was hemming the skirt. I followed the BHL guide, which was really clear, but I think the fact that my fabric had a tiny bit of stretch made it a tad more difficult. As such, the hem is a bit wonky, but it’s hopefully obscured by the fullness of the skirt. In the past, when people complimented my handmade clothes, I’d immediately point out the flaws but I’ve managed to resist with this one. I’ve managed to avoid saying: ‘Thanks! But LOOOK at this hem, it’s so wobbly and shit!’ And instead, replied with some variation of: ‘Thanks very much. I really like it too.’ Gah. So. Difficult.

Anyway, I love this pattern. While I will always wear the dress with a cardi (unless I’m in a country where no one knows my name), it’s such a perfect fit and I already have in mind many other versions and variations.

Floral Flora Dress

Laters, pals! 
 
 

Beach Party Emery

A few weekends ago I was invited to a friend’s hen party in Brighton. Her wedding will be in Thailand in the summer (fingers crossed things settle down in the coming weeks) so she decided on a ‘Full Moon Party’ theme for the Friday night. If you’re unfamiliar with a Thai full moon party, the following might help:

Amazing! Now, because it’s Brighton and because it was likely to be BLOODY FREEZING (!!), I decided to make a dress that would provide some warmth but also be quite summery and bright…

Emery Dress

Sorry about the mess in the background. I was in the middle of a packing frenzy when I took this photo.
 

I bought the fabric a while back from Hulu Crafts. It’s a lightweight cotton in ‘Peony.

Peony

It was the first time I’d purchased fabric from them (it was quite a haul I can assure you) and they were just lovely. There was a shortage of one of the fabrics I’d ordered and they were very helpful and the communication was great. I’ll definitely use them again.

I made the dress up using Christina Haynes’ Emery Dress pattern (again). Nothing new to report on the construction of the dress, other than the fact that I lowered the neckline quite significantly to make it more summery. I LOVE the neckline on this dress I’m glad I re-traced it so I can use this version again.

For the very first time, I understitched the neckline. Why have I not been doing this all the time?! It makes it look so much neater and lie so much flatter! I used The Coletterie tutorial, which was fab.

Also, because the fabric is quite light, I decided to line the dress. I’ve just added enough under the skirt so that it covers my bum (& hides my uncoordinated pants!!) rather than a fully lined skirt which might make it a bit too toasty in warmer weather. I’m aware that I live in Scotland and that it is NEVER that warm.

It was just perfect for the party and I got a lot of compliments, which is always good. I’m so glad that I opted for a dress. If I’d worn anything skimpier, I think it would have been the end of me. Although it was chilly, Brighton is just beautiful and I can’t wait to go back. Here are a few snaps for your viewing pleasure…

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Prosecco Face 
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Candyfloss face

And a few snaps of Brighton pier…

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