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Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Date Night Dress - Butterick B5488

Last week I went on an actual date with my lovely husband, one that didn't just involve drinking wine at home in our pjs. This was all thanks to my Mum and Dad who took the kids for a week during the Easter holidays. As going out (especially together) is such a rare occurrence these days, I felt like I should make a new dress for the occasion! 

I bought some fantastic navy blue georgette with birds printed on it from Abakhan in Manchester the other week (fabric buying ban failed!). I fell in love with the design and justified it as I am making an evening dress in georgette in a few weeks' time and wanted to practice. The pattern I had in mind was Butterick B5488 which came free with issue 38 of Love Sewing Magazine. I really like the loose tunic style and semi-structured neckband on this dress. 

The pattern is relatively straightforward to follow, but I always find that the instructions and diagrams from the big pattern houses aren't as clear as those with indie patterns. Although I managed to make the neckband without any issues, I somehow managed to forget to insert the sleeves before attaching the band to the dress. The soft pleats work really well with this kind of drapey fabric. I was initially concerned that the fabric was a bit see through, but the volume of fabric used and the colour prevent me from flashing inappropriately!!

The neckband doesn't sit 100% straight, even after ironing. But it's not really noticeable and doesn't spoil the garment at all. I do like how loose this dress is, perfect for going out for a big meal!

 

We went to Chilli Banana Thai restaurant - would definitely recommend!

Thursday, 6 April 2017

One for me, one for you - M6927

McCalls M6927 was the free gift with Love Sewing magazine a couple of issues ago. The version with the dipped hem caught my eye and I trawled through my stash in search of some suitable fabric. I bought some pink crepe with a bird design from Fabrics Galore about 18 months ago. I was tempted to use it for another pussy bow blouse, but settled on it for this instead. 

This is a really quick sew with only a few pattern pieces. Annoyingly, the envelope didn't give all the finished garment measurements, so I felt like there was a bit of guesswork about the sizing. I've been feeling a bit fat recently, so I ended up cutting out a size bigger than I would normally make. In retrospect, this was a mistake as it is too big around the shoulders and arms (and I've lost a few pounds in the last few weeks). I don't think the finished result is very flattering at all, although it is quite versatile for wearing with jeans or a skirt. The fabric was very slippery and quite difficult to work with, especially on the hem as it wouldn't iron into place and I had to use practically a whole pincushion worth of pins to keep it in place at the curves. I keep reading about special hemming feet which make this much easier and I'm tempted to invest after this project!

I made another version with 3/4 sleeves for my Aunt's birthday, and I'm pleased to say that I got the fit right on that one. I used some of the fabric I bought in Manila for this. It was also crepe, with a cute apple design. Although hard to work with, it does give the top a more dressy feel. 

 


  

It's almost that time of year again, so I am posting my pledge   for this year's Me Made May:

 'I, Alex Howard of Alex's Adventures in Fabric @adventuresinfabric sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '17.  I endeavour to wear at least one me-made item each day for the duration of May 2017'

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Another freebie - the Free Spirit dress

A few weeks ago, i heard about a new girl's dress pattern by Duchess and Hare. The pattern was free to members of their FB group - unable to resist a freebie, I downloaded the PDF as soon as it was released. From the sample pictures, it seemed really versatile with lots of options for customising. 

I decided to make a version for Polly as she is starting to outgrow half her wardrobe.  Looking to my stash, I found a couple of potential fabric choices, but the dress needs more fabric than I initially thought due to the fullness of the skirt. A few people have made it with a contrasting bodice, but the fabrics I had didn't really lend themselves to this. Then I remembered some blue corduroy with teddy bear print that one of my Mum's friends had given me. I had just the right amount and it went well with some leftover ribbon from the Flo Dress I made for her first birthday. I also had a scrap of blue paisley lining fabric for the lined bodice. 

I decided not to add the bodice pleats because the fabric is quite thick and heavily patterned. They do look good on lighter fabrics though, so will definitely add if I make another version in future. Attaching the bodice to the lining used a method I hadn't tried before. Described as rolling it up like a burrito, I was initially confused and had to re-read the instructions a few times. Once I did it, it worked brilliant and was like a magic trick!  I did mess up the simplest part - sewing the sides of the bodice together. I ended up unpicking three times. Gareth came in to talk to me at one point and went straight back out as he knows that it isn't a good time if the unpicker is out and I've got a face like thunder!

I decided not to add the in-seam pockets as Polly isn't really bothered by pockets yet, but will definitely include them if I make it again when she is older. The skirt uses a lot of fabric and very tightly gathered. I always love this look for girl's dresses, but I think you could get away with using less if you didn't have quite enough according to the pattern. 

My favourite feature in the dress is definitely the keyhole back opening with ribbon tie. It makes it more dressy and will also be perfect for spring and summer. 

Polly loved the fabric when I showed her, and enjoyed showing off her new dress to friends. It's a bit big for her, but I'm pleased she can get plenty of wear out of it.  I struggled to get any decent pictures of her wearing it as she was far too busy playing!

 
  

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Free patterns - toddler hoodie and harem pants

After all the clothes I've made for Thomas recently, I decided it was only fair to make something for Polly. I'm still on a self-imposed fabric and pattern buying ban, so I revisited all my patterns and found a printout of the Brindille and Twig baby and toddler raglan hoodie. I first downloaded and printed this free pattern when Thomas was little, but I didn't really have the ability to make it then. As I've now had a lot of practice with sewing knits (and also have a huge amount of them in my stash, I decided to give it a go. 

I had just about enough of the red and grey stripy sweatshirt fabric and ribbing left to make this for Polly. I dug around to find some more grey sweatshirting for the hood lining. I'm so pleased I finally gave this pattern a go. The instructions are really clear - I think I could have managed it all those years ago. The only issue I had was with the optional armhole details, as they were a bit too narrow to be seen properly. As with all kid's sewing projects, it was super quick to make due to the size, and the majority of this can be made on the overlocker which is always a bonus. I realised that this is the first time I have made anything with a hood, and I'm now planning to find a good pattern to make a hoodie for myself (once the fabric and pattern buying ban is over!).

 
 

I found a free toddler harem pants pattern on A Joyful Riot, in the hope of making a matching pair, but sadly couldn't squeeze them into the fabric. However, I loved the pattern so much that I decided to make a pair in some french terry I had left from making Hudson Pants earlier in the year. I also cut another hoodie so she could have a matching set. I made the armhole details wider this time, and was chuffed with the result - I know I'll be making this pattern again and again. The pants are a great pattern - only about 20 minutes to sew up and big enough to accommodate a cloth-bummed baby! Gareth reckons that she looks like a late 80s/ early 90s dancer in this get-up, but that's a good thing, right!?! 
 
 

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Thrifty stitching and stash busting

My name is Alex and I am a fabric addict. Yes, it's true - my fabric stash is out of control. I've now run out of places to store it all. I've banned myself from buying any new fabric until I have used some of my stash (mainly so I can create space to buy more fabric in future!). I've also accumulated a stack of patterns that I haven't got round to making, or that I would like to re-make. Time to tackle the stash, and save some cash in the process. 

My first project was another Cleo dungaree dress by Tilly and the Buttons. I bought some red stretch denim to make this in ages ago, and even had the clips, but it had been slipping down my 'to do' list. This pattern is an absolute delight - quick and easy to sew (with a bit of topstitching thrown in to make it just challenging enough). It's also super wearable. I've worn my olive green corduroy version to death, but it won't look right for spring and summer. The red version looks good with tights now, but I'm planning to make a couple of summery t-shirts to go underneath so I can continue wearing it into Summer. I added a couple of inches to the length this time as the other one was VERY short, which is ok with my 60 denier opaques, but I'm not brace enough nowadays to go that short with bare legs. 

 

Next on my list was a really practical make. Polly has decided she hates sleepsuits and only likes wearing proper pyjamas like the ones I made at Christmas. I delved through my stash and found two lengths of cotton lawn to make some pyjama bottoms for her. I used the same pattern as for her Christmas ones (Tailors Kids Pyjama Bottoms, free download). I've also used this pattern for all of Thomas's pyjama bottoms. Less than an hour later, she had a pair of vintage Liberty pyjamas and another pair in atelier brunette dandy fabric. 

 

I bought some plain white crepe from the Fabric Godmother at the Handmade Fair back in September to make a Sew Over It Pussy Bow Blouse. I finally made it a couple of weeks ago. I made version B this time (v neck opening), and I'm in love with how clean and simple it looks. 

 

Last but not least, I did cheat a little bit and bought the 'Quicker Knickers' pattern for 85p from Little Finch Patterns after seeing them on one of the sewing groups I am a member of on Facebook. The pattern was so cheap and a great way to use up scraps of jersey fabric (of which I have tons), that I felt it was a good investment. They sew up quickly and are a fantastic stash-buster. 

 

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

A Star Sweatshirt for my little star

The latest issue of Love Sewing Magazine arrived last week and I was really impressed with the free pattern and the projects in the mag. I'll definitely be making the dress soon - I have some fabric that will be perfect for it. As I had loads of sweatshirt fabric left after making the Linden Sweatshirt, I decided to start off with the boy's star sweatshirt to use up some of the offcuts. 

They have started making the patterns (except the free gift) available as downloads only. I don't really mind, but it does mean that everything takes longer, as you have to print, cut and stick before you can get going. Annoyingly, there was a mistake in the PDF and I had to draft one of the pieces myself, based on the layplan and surrounding pieces. I didn't have enough plain fabric to do the star on the back, so I only cut one of each of the star pieces and self-drafted a back body piece using the back neckline pattern piece and the constructed front piece as a guide. 

 Attaching the front pieces together to make the star design was the most challenging part of the project. I used my overlocker to attach everything together, then topstitched with my coverstitch machine. I'm still getting used to using the coverstitch machine, and ended up having to unpick sections and re-thread the machine a few times. I'm still pleased with the finish it gives and will be practising lots over the next few months. 

The rest of the project was straightforward and the end result met with Thomas's approval (although he wanted me to finish in one evening and it took longer!). I like the star being plain and the rest of the sweatshirt being striped. I'd like to claim it was a deliberate design decision, but the truth is that I was dictated to by the amount of each type of fabric I had. The pattern goes up to age 11-12, so I imagine I will be making versions again for both kids as it is a good stash buster. 

Here is the finished result, and Thomas modelling it below:

 

 

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Linden Sweatshirt - super quick selfish sewing

After the complicated marathon project that was the boy's shirts, I was up for some simple sewing. I also felt like making something for no particular reason other than I wanted to. My sister lent me the Linden Sweatshirt pattern by Grainline Studios when I 'accidentally' bought 2 metres of grey and red striped sweatshirt fabric from Girl Charlee (I thought it was jersey and had planned to make a long sleeved Agnes top to wear under my new Cleo dress, not blogged yet).  I've been planning to make this for a while and had spent ages sourcing some grey sweatshirt ribbing to go with it. I eventually found some in the Ottobre etsy shop and bought it, despite it being ludicrously expensive. 

However, when it came down to starting the project a few weeks ago, I was put off by the thought of pattern matching the stripes on the raglan sleeves. Inspired by another sweatshirt I bought ages ago, I realised that the solution would be to get some plain grey fabric for the sleeves. No pattern matching required and it would stop the stripes looking too much. My Mum picked up some plain grey sweatshirting at Guthrie and Ghani last time she was there (she's lucky enough to live nearby). 

When I finally got round to starting the project, I was pleasantly surprised at quite how simple it was. It can be sewn up entirely on the overlocker and the whole thing took a couple of hours at most. Although it isn't essential to finish all the seams using a coverstitch machine (or twin needle on a regular machine), I've hardly used mine and wanted to have a play. I'm still getting used to it, but I love the professional finish it gives.  There were a couple of hiccups, like when I made the rookie mistake of forgetting to put the foot down (think I thought I was still on the overlocker).  Even spending extra time doing this, it was still a one-evening project, which is exactly what I needed. Even better, I know I will get so much wear out of it. This is a fab pattern and one I will make time and time again.