Sunday, 28 June 2015

Amy Butler Mini top, mini mini top and the problem with summer......

  I had to pop into my local haberdashary recently to buy some cotton tape for the waist of my Merchant and Mills linen skirt (still unmade!!) and just happened to accidently on purpose look at all of the other beautiful things in the shop! Most of the indie patterns were By hand London (not my style) or Collette (I just don't have much luck with) I saw some amazing Amy Butler bag patterns (I have millions of bags which I never use so thought best not buy a bag pattern - even though they were fab). Then I Stumbled across the Mini dress/tunic/top pattern

  For the bargin price of £9.99 this pattern includes dress, tunic, long top, short top for not just women but girls (age 7+) too!!!! - to be fair you could argue that it would be fairly easy to adjust one pattern for top/tunic/dress if you wanted to. Now I am not at all into me-mini-me matching outfits (if you were this pattern would be a dream come true!) but I could see the potential for lots of different outfits for me and my daughter.

    For my first try I didn't want to cut into uncut fabric so I had to make the short top for both me and my daughter, She chose the rest of the floral fabric that I had used to make her PJ's and as I knew this fabric pressed well I chose to make it as the pattern suggests with the pleat. For my self I just about managed to eek out enough blue and white stripped seersucker that I had used to make disastrous  shorts for my boys (pre-blogging days). I am not into the formal look of pleats but knew it would be easy enough to gather the 'skirt bit' of the top to make a less formal garment.

  Well the pattern was simple to cut out and the instructions were lovely, really suited to a complete beginner until I reached step 9. Maybe I am just particularly stupid but I could not at all understand what it was asking me to do - can you?

  I fudged my way through my daughters top but was not at all happy with the result so I ended up making a very bulky french seam on mine. I would love to make dress versions of this but won't be able to until I sort this shoulder seam issue out!!

  I also tried and failed to get my overlocker working (it's going to the overlocker hospital next week for an 'assessment' - to see if it is worth fixing - I really hope it is as I can't afford a new one and can't live without one!) so the insides are a bit of a mess. 

  Other than the shoulders I am really pleased with the results. 

  I made up a size 7 for my skinny 8 year old, she seemed to be pleased with it....

'A sailor went to sea, sea, sea......'

She is honestly wearing shorts but you can't quite see them as the top is longish - I tried to convince her to wear leggings but it seems that once a tween has made up her mind there is no changing it!!

I made mine in a size large, it does have a bit of a maternity look about it but I often don't like tops/dresses that are tight around my middle. I just wish I had enough fabric for some patch pockets.

It should be nice and cool for the hot spell we are supposed to be heading into!

I am getting better with invisible zips!!

  I love being out doors - any excuse and I am outside -with the kids - with the dog - on my own. Unfortunately you can't really sew outside which does present a particular problem in the summer - I wan't to make a cool summer dress for the heat wave we are about to have but I love being outside too much to stay indoors to sew!!!! - Does anyone else have this issue??

  I hope everyone has been enjoying the sunshine (but finding time to sew)

      Thanks for popping by!

            Su xx


Saturday, 13 June 2015

Burda success!!

    The past couple of weeks have been crazy busy for me and other than sewing my daughter a Roman outfit and turning a pair of school trousers into some emergency shorts for my youngest I haven't even had time to think about what I might like to sew let alone actually do any sewing!! I haven't even had time to read all of the many sewing blogs I follow. I was away on a course last weekend and was supposed to be on another course today - I was so tired last night that the thought of getting up at 6 am to drive two hours and sit inside all day to then drive two hours home again was just too much and I decided that in the interests of my health I would have to miss today's teachings.
  I was desparate to get sewing again but I was still feeling rather frazzled so I knew it would have to be something nice and simple. Issue 6 of the Burda style mag had this cute teen summer vest top:

   My little lady is obsessed with a TV programme called 'The next step' it is about a dance troupe and involves all of the friendship drama's you would expect to see in a teen soap. It is probably a little old for her but like I said she is obsessed. Anyway this little top is just like some of the tops they wear in the TV show so I was sure she would like it - plus it looked like it would be a very easy sew!

 I dug out a scrap of jersey big enough for the top and got going. It was nice and simple - I foolishly decided to twin needle the hem at the armholes and neckline not thinking that twin needles don't do corners! So close up the top stitching is not the best, but it is still a cute little top that I think will get lot's of wear over the summer!!

She decided that gymnastics would be the best way to show the top off!!

A near perfect cartwheel!

I managed to get her to stay still enough for some poses!

I wanted to get these photos taken before the light faded so the shoulder straps aren't quite attached properly but you get the general idea!

I think it must be every sewist mummy's dream to have their little person exclaim 'wow - awesome mummy' upon receiving a garment made for them - it certainly made my day!

Thanks for popping by!

Su xx

Monday, 1 June 2015

Burda - Meh! and a Merchant and Mills inspired refashion!

I occasionally buy Burda magazine if I see a copy of it in a newsagent, some of the garments I find too flouncy but some of the clean edged ones I like. However the thought of attempting to find all of the correct pattern pieces within the maze that is the pattern sheets and then having to add the seam allowances really put's me off. In a recent edition I loved quite a few of the patterns but thought I should attempt something simple first - hence this blouse:

 There was also was a cute dress which used some of the same pieces, if the blouse went well I thought I would attempt the dress too.

  As expected tracing the pieces and adding the seam allowances was a pain. The pattern pieces didn't match up well with a seam allowance added for the keyhole so I chopped it off, but I think this was a mistake as the keyhole on mine is massive! - I certainly couldn't wear it without a vest underneath!

I like the side curves and the relaxed fit but the back is slightly shorter than the front - weird!

Needless to say I didn't make the dress and am really not sure I can be bothered to attempt anything else.

  On a slightly more positive note I have had this Linen dress in my wardrobe for ages. I love the top half but the weird bubble hem ends mid calf which is a strange length and it basically looks like a huge nightie! - So I have never worn it. 

Inspired by my recent purchase of the Merchant and Mills Workbook I decided a refashion was in order. Off came the weird hem, a deep curve was added to both the front and the back and - Ta Da!! a new linen top!

  The evening sun was gorgeous on the villiage green as I walked my daughter home from her friends house so we took a couple of photos - It was a bit windy for photos really but you get the general idea.

  I really love this and can't believe I have left altering it for so long! 

    Looking at my me made wardrobe throughout May has made me realize my lack of plain basics so I have decided to attempt to create a plain capsule wardrobe using some of the patterns from the workbook I am planning 2 vests, one saltmarsh skirt (maxi skirt) and one pair of stride shorts - I think this should see me through the summer!

 Has anyone else realized that their me made wardrobes are lacking in any areas?

  Thanks for stopping by!

      Su xx

Saturday, 30 May 2015


After seeing this version of the Lazy seamstress's Maude skirt I couldn't wait for the pattern to be released! I bought it, downloaded it as soon as possible and got started on a practice version with the left over duvet cover from my Lilou muslin. I did have a little difficulty with the pdf, my triangles and page edges wouldn't match up which created a few issues when cutting out and meant that my side pocket pieces ended up longer than all of the other pieces. But it was totally worth working things out!

  This is a great stash busting pattern as the individual pieces only use up relativlely small amounts of fabric, also there are lots of potential combinations and variations. Depending on the fabric used this skirt could be great for either summer or winter. My practice skirt was a little on the snug side so for the real thing I reduced all of the seam allowances by 0.5cm giving me an extra 3cm over all. I used the lightweight denim left over from my denim shift dress and again top stitched the pocket edges and hemline in purple:

  The waist is supposed to be finished with petersham ribbon (I had no idea what it was so I had to google it!) I didn't have any but used this beautiful Cath Kidston vintage rose grossgrain ribbon from my stash:

I love the pockets (obviously)!!

  One of our half term activities was getting on a local foot passenger ferry to go crabbing on a jetty at the other side of the river, I convinced my daughter to take a couple of shots of the skirt while we were waiting (it was a bit windy so they are not great photos!) 

I find it hard to photograph plain garments - they never look as great in the photos as they do in real life! - I love this skirt - it will go with lots of things in my wardrobe and is so comfie but looks quite smart too.

 I can also think of lots of combinations for this skirt and have plans for more summer ones as well as a few winter ones!!

  We had great fun on our crabbing expedition - although we didn't actually catch any crabs!!!!

  I hope everyone else's half term has gone as well as ours.

  Thanks for stopping by

      Su xx

  We have had some amazing sunset's and cloud colours this week


Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Merchant and Mills Workbook Review

I love a closet full of posies blog - she always seems to make effortlessly stylish clothes. Recently some of the comments talked about the new Merchant and Mills book - so obviously I had to google it and after a little deliberation (roughly 5 minutes) I decided that I would buy it. Participating in me made May has taught me that I do need some simple non- patterned makes in my me made wardrobe. I have always liked the Merchant and Mills patterns they are unfussy and stylish but for some reason I had never purchased one.

  This is not just a sewing book it is a thing of beauty, a work of art even. I think that if you didn't have the slightest bit of interest in sewing you could pick this book up and appreciate the photography, layout, and over all put togetherness of this book.

It comes with 6 patterns on sheets that you need to trace off  (and occasionally add bits to). All of the patterns (except one) have at least one variation. The patterns are all typical Merchant and Mills patterns ie utilitarian, non fussy but stylish I don't want to show too many shots of the inside as I would hate to spoil it for anyone thinking of ordering the book - but take my word for it the photography is amazing.

  This is not really a beginners sewing book - if you have never sewn before then this is probably not the best book for you to start with (they have produced two other sewing books that I think guide you through the basics). If you have some sewing knowledge than this book will take you through simple projects (like the bantam vest) through to more complex garments such as the stride trousers (and shorts) or the Hazelmere Jacket.

  I decided that I would start with the Bantam vest - it has a racer/boxer type back, usually I steer clear of anything like this as I hate to have bra straps showing - and no way am I ever going without!! The photos of this garment (and all of the others) just make it look gorgeous and floaty - great dressed up or down.  So I thought I would give it a go (I can always buy one of those multiway bras!). I used a 100% cotton Ikea duvet cover that I picked up from a charity shop! (I already turned the pillow cases into my pom pom scarf), the fabric has quite an open weave I think making it a bit like a double gauze so perfect for a floaty sleeveless summer top!

  Merchant and Mills patterns are a little different from other patterns I have used but once I worked out what the symbols were on the pattern sheet (it mostly explains them in the book) and after I googled Merchant and Mills pattern sizing (it only gives finished dimensions in the book and I am not used to judging my pattern size on this) I was ready to go. This pattern is simple and easy and the book takes you through it, the only thing I did differently was to apply the bias binding not in a pre made loop as I found it was too long to do it the way the book suggested. It was generally a quick make with few issues.

  I am very pleased with the result - I think this vest can look quite different depending on what material you use and what you pair it with, I really like the high front and lower back hemline. I have been wearing it all day and am already thinking of what other versions I could make!

  I have dressed it up with my denim Maude skirt (yet to be blogged!) and summer clogs:

Lovin' the sunshine this half term!

  We went on a picnic later on in the day - so perfect to try it out dressed down:



High front, low back hemline adds interest.

  As for the other garments - I am desparate to give all of them a go plus the variations - I just need to start saving up for the copious amounts of linen that I want to make them all out of! (Seriously if anyone knows a good quality but fairly inexpensive linen source please let me know!!). It is hard to tell how good the instructions are for the more complex garments without making them - from reading them through they seem to take you through the making process in a logical way.

  Would I recommend this book? - yes - even if I had not made anything from it, it is a beautiful book with a good amount of information on various techniques - I have learnt a lot from just glancing through it (bear in mind though that I am not an experienced sewist). If you have a little sewing knowledge, like the style of the Merchant and Mills patterns and you are OK about having a few good quality patterns rather than lots and lots in different styles (some of which you would never make) then this book is for you! If you like flouncy frilly brightly patterned garments then this book may not be the one (although there is no reason why these patterns could not be made up in bold prints - It would give them a whole different look).

  I hope anyone on half term is having fun! - I can't believe we are already half way through the week, time just goes by too quickly!

  Thanks for stopping by!

             Su xx

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Lilou dress (wearable?) muslin or 'Did I mention my bird obsession?'

I think I touched briefly on my bird/ chicken collection (obsession) - you can imagine that when I saw this bird print duvet cover in a local charity shop there was no question as to weather I would buy it or not - it had to be mine!

  Initially I had thought it would be perfect for the Lazy seamstress's new Maude skirt but the pattern hadn't been released yet (although it has now, just as I was finishing my dress!!!!) . After seeing this amazing deer print summer fit and flare dress made by Rochelle from Lucky Lucille I really wanted to make one for all those hot summer days that I'm sure are just around the corner! I was given Tilly's book 'Love at First Stitch' for Christmas and hadn't got round to making anything from it yet (despite spending hours repeatedly looking through it and dreaming of all the wonderful things I was going to make!) The last pattern is the Lilou dress - here is what it is supposed to look like:

 The skirt is meant to be pleated but there is an option to use the skirt pieces from the Clemence gathered skirt instead - I always feel pleats are a little formal and don't really like them so I knew I would make the gathered version. I thought I could use my birdie duvet cover to make the dress before cutting into my proper fabric. 
  Although the duvet was a double, the bird print was only the center panel of the top of the cover so I didn't actually have too much fabric to play with which did make pattern matching almost impossible. Plus I had to add a band at the bottom of the skirt to make it longer (my leg's do not do 'above knee'). This was my first attempt at lining a bodice, I struggled with under stitching the arms but apart from that I think it went OK.

  This dress makes me feel partly like a 50's film star and partly like I'm five years old and am getting dressed up for a birthday party - guess what - I love this feeling!!!!

I'm not 100% sure but I think I could wear this as an actual dress?

So long as the owner of the duvet cover didn't spot my dress and say in a loud voice 'I used to have a duvet cover just like that'

What do you think? Actual dress or just a muslin? I don't want to look like more of a wally than I already am, so honest opinions are much appreciated.

The only issue is this 'hump' - do I need to shorten the bodice? Is this a 'sway back'?

During the week I made the Seamwork Sydney - I thought it would be great to put over summer dresses but I don't seem to have much luck with seamwork patterns - the neckline is massive!! - I had to chop my head off on the picture as I looked as grumpy as I was feeling!!

Look what I have just bought! I'm not sure I can wait until next weekend to make it but I have so much work to do this week...........

 Thanks for stopping by!

              Su xx

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Guerrilla sewing.........

My favorite type of sewing is turning something that no longer fits or is no longer worn into a usable garment - no patterns - no pressure - just fun!

  After my me made May work clothes sewing extravaganza I felt I needed something other than My denim shift and weekend Doris to wear on non-work days that were not warm enough for sleeveless tops or summer dresses. After seeing Just sew therapeutic's stripey boat neck plantain dress I really wanted to make one, but when I looked through my stash I didn't really have any suitable material, in my on line plantain dress research I had found this tutorial on the deer and doe blog. It made me wonder weather I could do something similar using a RTW top and some fabric left over from my floral ultimate cowl neck dress - It turns out I could and I rather like the result!

The RTW t-shirt has a distressed collar so I have left the sleeve edges and pocket edges raw hoping that they will curl up and look like I meant them to look that way - not like I just couldn't be bothered to finish them!!

Initially I was disappointed that I had made a mistake measuring the hem and made it a little too long for a tunic - as the day got hotter I took off my leggings and realized that the hem length was perfect for a dress!

The wisteria is just amazing at this time of year - out house is covered in it but all the flowers are high up so I could only get a few in for the picture!!

 Construction was easy - chop off RTW at the desired bodice and sleeve length, cut out rectangle of spare fabric at the desired width (for gathering) and length (I wanted more width to create a more gathered skirt but didn't have enough of the floral fabric). Add pockets if desired (of course you would want to add pockets!).  Sew side seams (or in this case center back seam) of skirt. Measure elastic at the same circumference as the chopped off bodice, stretch elastic while sewing to add it to the rectangle (sadly my elastic was a little old so the skirt is not as gathered as I would like). Hem and - Ta da!

  I add a little bird label to the inside of my me made clothes - this time I decided to add it to the outside at one of the pocket edges.

  This dress is sooooooooo comfie and I think looks OK? I suspect it will get lots of wear over the spring/ early summer and also on colder summer days (I imagine those will start just when the school holidays begin!!!!).

  Thanks for stopping by!

         Su xx