Emergency holiday sewing

Well what’s a sewist/dressmaking/sewer (*delete as applicable) supposed to do when they book a holiday except sew some new clothes!?

I originally had a list of 4 or 5 things to make but when I found out we were expecting I was put off by the idea of making something I wouldn’t fit into very soon.
Plus with exam marking and sewing a baby dress for a present I didn’t have much free time.
Two days before we went away I was frantically cutting and sewing and managed to make the True Bias Southport dress and the Merchant and Mills saltmarsh skirt from their new workbook.
I’ve been wanting to sew the Southport dress since it was released but the first version got canned after buying rayon fabric and not stabilising it when cutting which led to some very wonky cutting. A shame because the fabric was gorgeous! 

The second version was made from this rayon from eBay. I didn’t have any trouble sewing it up, I anticipated the bias binding armholes to be a pain but with a bit of pressing they went in fine. I omitted the button band and cut a size 4 grading to a 6 to accommodate bump, I think the bodice is a little big though and could’ve stayed at my usual 2. 

One problem I did have was trying to match the bodice and the skirt together and ended up with an 8 inch gap between the waistband casing and the skirt! I had to try and gather the spare fabric in the skirt so that I could sew the two together but I have no idea where I went wrong. I used ribbon from my stash as the waistband drawstring.

Next up was the Saltmarsh skirt from the new Merchant and Mills workbook, the fabric is from John Lewis bought when we went away to Edinburgh in Easter.

I originally tried to make the skirt with no pattern, just a straight dirndl with an elastic casing waistband but it looked so homemade I knew I wouldn’t wear it. It was the first thing I’d tried to sew since being pregnant and the first trimester tiredness is no joke.. I couldn’t visualise how to sew the bloody thing together! Following someone else’s instructions and a pattern turned out to be much better.

All in all the the skirt was very easy to sew, I used the ribbon M&M had tied some fabric together for me from a delivery as the drawstring and used my over locker for the sides. I loved how the waistband came together.

We went to Kos, in Greece, and had a fantastic time! I thoroughly needed a rest, we’ve had a stressful few weeks and a break was sorely needed. A bonus was just how beautiful it is over there as you can see in some of these pictures.

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2.0.1.4

Well, I know I’m a bit (!) late in posting the 2014 review but I had such a busy Christmas!
My family came over from Canada and I don’t think I had a minute to myself. It was wonderful to be surrounded by my family though, I do miss them lots.

I didn’t make as much as I would’ve liked over the year but I really got into dressmaking.
I made a total of 10 dresses:

From left to right, a wool Lilou, blackwatch Eva dress, Merchant and Mills dress shirt, Stylish Dress book E, two basic dress from the Sewing Bee book, another M&M dress shirt, a Betty dress with a long skirt and the Cath Kidston basic dress from the GBSB.

I also made a Cambie dress from Cabbages and Roses fabric for my sister-in-law’s wedding.

Out of all the dresses I made the Lilou and the blue dress shirt get the most wear. The sewing fails have to be the CK birds dress due to the terrible fit (the fabric bunches at the back) and the Betty dress as I dislike how the skirt hangs.

I also made an English paper piecing blanket from Tilda fabric for my gran.

And a homespun blanket for my mum and dad which was very well received. Sorry for the mid-make photograph, both blankets got finished very late and I did not get chance to take any proper pictures.

I also made my mum a Maggie Rabbit for her birthday (shown here with no nose or any clothes on!).

A baby blanket for my friend’s baby

Above, I learned to knit!! But haven’t actually made any thing yet…
And below, a glasses case for my gran’s birthday:

Above a tea cosy for a friend’s birthday and below a kindle case for my Gt Auntie’s birthday

I haven’t been as busy as I thought last year but I certainly made more than I remembered!

After trying my hand at sewing, crochet and knitting, sewing is definitely more my bag.
I absolutely love dressmaking and have many ideas for future makes floating around.
I’m desperate to get hold of one of those fashion books that you can draw the dresses onto the models so my ideas look a little neater.

I’m currently in the middle of making a Marianne dress and next up is a Staple dress for a class I’m teaching in February! Exciting stuff.

I hope you all had a happy new year

Amy

5 things you should do when sewing…

…that I don’t do

1. Wash fabric before use

When I washed my Dress Shirt there was some serious breath holding and crossing fingers in the hope it hadn’t shrunk (it hasn’t!) which made me realise I need to start washing fabric before use (but I probably won’t)

2. Make a toile/muslin

I know, I know, I’m a bad seamstress. I’m just too impatient! I don’t have much time to spend sewing and to take the time to make two dresses would defeat the object. Fortunately I haven’t had too many problems with fit….yet..

3. Back stitching

Ooh this is naughty one – for some reason I always forget to secure my sewing by reversing my sewing machine before starting a stitch and before finishing. This led to part of my dress shirt arm coming undone…oops. I might’ve learned my lesson with that one.

4. Neaten inside seams

I don’t see the point of this one, I know it looks more professional but it takes up so much time and you don’t even see it!

5. Change the pattern

Other than shortening or lengthening the length I find changing how the pattern fits really difficult, I wish someone would write an intermediate book for dressmaking, there are tonnes of fab beginners books out there but none that explain how to fit clothes properly and thus I’m swimming in a sea of CB, warp, weft etc without really knowing what it all means. Although I never expected to become an expert in a few months! Hopefully this blog will document more tips as I learn them to help others out.

What other naughty habits have you picked up whilst sewing?

Merchant & Mills The Dress Shirt Review

Merchant & Mills are my favourite online shop, I spend hours browsing their fabric and products dreaming of combinations of patterns and fabrics. The first pattern I decided to try was the Dress Shirt, I was a bit nervous about this pattern because it’s the first “proper” pattern I’ve used, the others have been from the sewing bee book. I also decided with this pattern I would invest in good quality fabric. Which made this project very scary for me!

The fabric I chose was Doll’s Deckchair Linen also from M&M, it’s a gorgeous baby blue stripe that feels lovely and soft. For the Dress Shirt I needed a metre and a half, but ordered two.

I had some trouble with the dress shirt’s instructions, they come on one piece of thick paper and the illustrations are quite small. The bib took some brain power to figure out how to attach, I thought the sleeves were going to be really tough to fit but actually found them really easy to sew in.
I absolutely love this dress but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’ve made at least one item of clothing before. Whilst I wouldn’t say it’s complicated, I would say it requires some skill.
Now to dream of other fabric combinations to make… I think a gorgeous soft white linen could be the next project.

I’m not sure if it was the time taken to make this dress – I made it over 4 days instead of rushing to finish in one day – or the expense of the fabric but I’ve worn this dress more than anything else I’ve made and even braved putting it in the washing machine!

I’m subscribing to the idea of slow fashion – making gorgeous items of clothing that I love instead of picking up poor quality clothes in Primark for that quick fix.

I’m already dreaming of my next project – a long summery faded floral dress.

In other news, I’m marking for the exam board and currently in the middle of marking 432 exam papers – nightmare! Come follow me on Twitter or Instagram for more up to date updates

Amy

Content

Life is looking up, the last few years have had their ups and downs (mostly downs but some ups including learning new skills and getting into dressmaking).
I was feeling very content this morning and realised that you do not need pots of money to enjoy life.

I was reading a cognitive behavioural handout at work and it listed some of the common faulty thinking processes which include: if I feel it, means its true, if someone says something negative it’s true but if it’s positive it’s false and everyone is looking at me, they can tell I’m nervous.
Sometimes it’s hard to spot these faulty thoughts but they heavily pervade into your everyday life.
It’s very important to look on the bright side and not focus on the negatives. I decided there and then I would stop worrying because it had no purpose except to add to my stress levels. Whether I was worrying about it or not, it would happen anyway.

All you need is love and health and le meilleu est encore a venir (the best is yet to come).
Sometimes all it takes is a beautiful bunch of roses to remind you the world is beautiful.
How do you stay positive?

Positivity

The last few weeks have been tough for us financially and with that and the rubbish weather, I’ve been feeling a bit down.
The weather really affects my mood, anyone else feel the same? I’ve put all my projects on hold (started a new one then stopped), I just can’t seem to get going at the moment.

I’m generally a positive person and not crafting plus the weather and work being stressful we’ve been having a bit of a tough time.
I’ve been feeling sorry for myself a far bit and a few posts I’ve seen online about other people’s lives really hit me. A couple of people I know (but don’t speak to) have gone through some incredibly tough times and it really puts things into perspective.

Our new motto is: Be Grateful.

We have a house, money to pay bills, our health and most of all love for each other.
What more do you need in life really?