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Thursday, 25 February 2016

Party time with Lilou

An unexpected invite to a black tie event arrived in my inbox a few weeks ago.  When I called Gareth to check he was around to look after the kids so I could go, he asked me if I had already been looking at dress patterns.  He knows me too well...

I have been looking for an opportunity to make the Lilou dress from Love at First Stitch by Tilly Walnes since I first got the book.  The pleated option with bow belt in matching fabric is a lovely retro-style cocktail dress:


I bought a red stretch cotton for the dress and Liberty tana lawn from the lining, both from Sew Over It.  I got the idea for using the tana lawn as lining fabric from a Joan Dress that was on display at the Sew Over It stall at the handmade fair.  I absolutely love sewing with tana lawn (I last used Liberty fabric for a tie for Gareth and a Sorbetto top for myself), it adds a real touch of luxury, and looks beautiful:


This was the second lined dress I have made.  Attaching the lining went well, but I found sewing it to the underarms tricky.  I was tempted to turn it right side out, but couldn't bear to turn it inside out, then back to the right side again afterwards, so I followed the instructions in the book and it turned out fine.  The pleats were made using a method that was new to me, and I have to re-read the instructions several times before finally pinning it correctly.  I love the movement and fullness they give to the skirt.  I had to adjust the fit on the bodice by taking a 2cm seam allowance on the back seam, and I think I could take taken more off.  I think I might need to start making the next size down in Tilly's patterns soon (yippee!).  Annoyingly, the waistband seam wasn't level after inserting the zip (seems to be a recurring problem for me at the moment).  At least it is hidden by the bow belt!

I ended up having to ask my Mum for some help with adjusting the fit at the shoulders - she had to unpick the lining and reattach to make the adjustments.  I think I might start making a toile for any bigger dress projects in future to avoid this.  The bow belt ended up being trickier than I thought it would be, but I love it.  I added poppers as well as hook and eye so that it would definitely sit straight.

Here is the finished result (modelled before all the champagne):


It was a great night (The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For awards dinner - we came 43rd), and I'll definitely be wearing Lilou again.

I joined Instagram a couple of weeks ago and am already slightly addicted to all the lovely sewing and fabric related posts.  You can see more of what I have been up to at @adventuresinfabric

Finally, I was the lucky recipient of this stash of vintage sewing magazines last week:


I'm very excited about trying out some vintage sewing projects soon! x

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Boxer shorts for my Valentine

I've made Gareth several pairs of boxer shorts previously, including a Star Wars design and headphones design. Although not the most original Valentines gift, they are practical and a great opportunity to use quirky fabric prints. The pattern is one I downloaded from Pinterest a couple of years ago (I think it is by Tokyo Textiles) and I can pretty much sew it from memory having made them a few times now. These are a quick make which is perfect as I was limited to sewing when Gareth was out of the house and children were also asleep. The fabric I chose was a skull and roses design from Frumble which is perfect for Valentines Day. Gareth loves them (he even offered to model them!!) - here is the finished result:


Happy Valentines Day x

Monday, 1 February 2016

Back to work (almost) with the Joan Dress and Ultimate Pencil Skirt

As I had a 'Keeping in Touch' day at work last week, my thoughts turned to workwear for my latest project.  Although I'm usually in jeans at the office, I do wear smart clothes for meetings and when I'm interviewing.  My sister bought me the Joan dress pattern from Sew Over It for my birthday back in October, as I had been telling her how much I liked it.  I bought some grey and purple check suiting and lining fabric from John Lewis with a voucher my aunt bought me for my birthday with this project in mind.  I've never made a fully lined dress before, and felt nervous about getting this right, especially with the time pressure of an occasion to wear it.

The fabric was the most expensive fabric I have ever sewn with, and also has an obvious check which needed to be pattern matched, so I was absolutely terrified cutting into it:


I pinned and re-pinned the pattern to the fabric in my attempts to match the checks effectively before cutting.  I kind of got it right, although the side seams of the bodice didn't quite match (not sure how I got this wrong).

The fabric was really lovely to sew with, but I found making the lining quite a challenge because the lining fabric was so slippery (no-one has to see it though!).  The sleeves went in really well in the main fabric, but were much trickier to set in in the lining.  The fit was really good without much alteration.  I did reduce the back seam allowance to 1cm at the waist, but I think it would have still fitted well without doing this.  My one frustration is that the back waistband seam wasn't level after inserting the zip and I couldn't work out how to rectify it.  I am planning on wearing it with a belt though, so this will be hidden.

Attaching the lining started OK, but then I got into a huge muddle around the kick pleat.  After a mammoth unpicking session (and a bit of cutting), I had to ignore the instructions and attach it by hand.  The kick pleat itself was a bit uneven, but the finished dress looks pretty good, and I loved the dress being fully lined as it was really comfortable and meant I could wear tights (pretty essential in January):


I actually ended up going in to work for two days last week, and decided to make the Ultimate Pencil Skirt from Sew Over It for the other day.  This was a very last-minute make and I made it in one baby naptime plus one evening.  I bought this as a kit when they were on special offer for the bargain price of £15 before Christmas.  I went for the Royal Blue version and I absolutely love the colour and fit.  I wish that I had lined it, as it kept sticking to my tights, despite wearing with a slip.  I have now ordered some lining fabric and will make the lining as soon as it arrives.  It's far too cold in Manchester to have skirts that can only be worn with bare legs!  I will definitely be making this again - it is the perfect work skirt:



 I had a rather lovely surprise on Sunday when I sat down with a cup of tea to read the latest Love Sewing magazine and saw this: