Sunday, 26 April 2015

Doris does stripes.....

  BREAKING NEWS: Yesterday while at a children's party a mum (who didn't know sewing was my hobby) came up to me and said that I looked really nice and 'where did I get my dress?'

  Well you'll never guess which dress she meant! - I was only wearing my denim shift dress!

   I was totally proud of myself and then really embarrassed as everyone turned to look at me and my dress!! But still it put a big smile on my face for the rest of the day! I was glad she was impressed as I had made part of her daughters gift - just a little drawstring bag with girly things inside but you never know weather people will appreciate handmade gifts. Do you make gifts for people you don't know very well and if so what?

 It is May 1st on Friday and I have come to the realization that a MMM15 pledge of wearing one me made item each day may have been a little rash. If I was not working during May I think I would just about be OK. However I am of course working throughout May and my total me made spring/summer work wardrobe consists of 2.5 sorbettos (the 0.5 is my first ever garment, and is really only suitable for emergencies)!

  So what I should have done this weekend was made up a few tops that I could wear for work. However I saw on instagram that the weekend Doris dress by the Lazy seamstress (who seems anything but lazy if you ask me!) had 15% off the pattern and it's such a cute dress, and I had seen quite a few great versions, and you can never have enough jersey dresses can you??

  Doris is a 60's style knit dress with a decorative zip designed for double knit and ponte roma fabric, it is 3/4 sleeve and there is either a dress or sweater option. I wanted to make a summer Doris so I went for a drapey viscose jersey, made short sleeves and crossed my fingers! I am pleased with the outcome and can see how versatile this pattern is. I love the way the dress hangs loose over the tummy but still has a flattering shape to it. Of course I adore the pockets which hang down a little in the middle due to the loose drape of the fabric. The only thing I would change would be to widen/lower the neckline a little as this would suit my shape a little more. I can see me making quite a few Doris dresses in various fabrics for various seasons!

  The photos are not great as my daughter wasn't really in the mood and it started to rain! I tried to capture the 60's vibe and failed miserably!!

The back is a bit t-shirty - I left the zip out as I thought it would be too heavy for my light material.

Check out my amazing pattern matching!

Not so good this side!

  I had just enough fabric left over to squeeze out a short sleeved grainline hemlock - so at least I will have one t-shirt to wear to work in May! I did find the pattern matching very frustrating and will be avoiding stripes and other similarly tricky patterns from now on!! 

  Thanks for stopping by!

         Su xx

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

New Look 6145 - Simplicity star sewist challenge - A tale of two halves........

  After trying to photograph my entry for the Simplicity star sewist challenge I needed a sit down and a good strong cuppa!

  Why I hear you ask?

  Well let me explain.......

  I decided to go for the dress New Look 6145

  The dress itself is a simple shift dress with lots of collar and sleeve options. I say simple but I must admit I hadn't tackled double back darts, vents and the only other invisible zip I have ever inserted didn't go too well!!). However the construction was straight forward and the instructions excellent (as always with new look patterns).

  I decided to make the dress in denim as I have never sewn with denim before and for a while I had been wanting a loose fitting denim shift dress. I chose a lightweight 5oz dress denim from Merchant and Mills. I was a little worried as initially it was really stiff - even after pre-washing, but it seems to have loosened up a lot with handing and wearing.
  I wanted the fit to be loose but shaped a little (I get too self conscious in very fitted shift dresses and I need room to move around, especially in the shoulder area). 
    I decided to draft my own tulip sleeves, firstly as this was not something I had ever done before (tulip sleeves or drafting anything on my own!) I love tulip sleeves and also I felt they would give me more room for my 'muscular' arms as well as add some uniqueness. I hemmed them with a floral self made bias binding. As you can see from the photo I did have some issues setting in my self drafted sleeves.

I have topstitched the neckline, sleeves, hem and vent in purple - I love purple! 

  The inside bits are all nice and neat!

So I hear you ask why DID you need a large cup of tea and a sit down after taking photos?
  Well I love this dress, I took time and care over all of the construction and I added little details, it is made well, is comfortable and I love wearing it and I can see it becoming a versatile wardrobe staple but I struggled to capture the little details in photos and I think it just looks a little boring....

I even cajoled the little people into taking some photos whilst on a day out in Avebury but the cold and wind put a stop to any photo plans I had!

  I have really enjoyed the challenge and on a personal level I am really proud of what I have achieved (even if it is boring!!). So there you have it - my entry for the Simplicity star sewist challenge!

I can't wait to see what everyone else has done - there are so many possibilities and options! I am also looking forward to seeing all of the skirts and vintage tops (I took ages to decide which pattern to go for as they were all desirable!).

  Did you enter? Did you enjoy the challenge or find it stressful? The closing date is the 31st of May so there is still time to enter if you want to............

    Thanks for stopping by!

          Su xx

Saturday, 18 April 2015


   Another garment I wanted to make when I first started sewing was a Japanese style pinafore to wear over a top and skinny jeans or leggings. When I was looking I just couldn't find the right pattern. Recently I stumbled across Sew me something - as well as fabrics and workshops they also produce some amazing patterns - the Beatrice pinafore is one of them and appears to be my perfect pinafore!

   There are three versions - Bias bound edges, hemmed, or lined. The pattern is produced on paper and comes in a card envelope with excellent instructions.

  Construction was straight forward and the instructions were very clear - a great project for a beginner. The fabric was a thick cotton from my stash - I think it is really meant for craft or perhaps even light upholstery but it has a rustic almost linen look to it which I love.

  My first overlaid seam - a bit wobbly but OK I think.

  I chose the bias bound version - I actually enjoy applying bias binding although I must admit after 7m I was glad to see the end!

  The pattern is supposed to be loose, but because my fabric had hardly any drape I looked like I was wearing a cardboard cut out!!!! I removed 1.5cm from each side seam (and probably could have removed a little more). I am hoping that the fabric will become softer with wear and washing.

Great for pottering about in!

I do love the cute little pockets!

Also loving the crossover back detail.

  I had been planning to wear this as a pinafore for everyday activities ie doing things with the kids, taking them to and from school etc but my daughter asked why I was wearing an apron today - so honest opinions please - can I wear this in public or is it really just an 'around the house' garment?

Me Made May 2015:

  I have only been blogging since late December so have never had a chance to take part in any of the previous me made may's - here is my pledge for this year:

 'I, Sewingsu of Butterflies and lemon drops, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '15. I endeavor to wear one handmade by me item each day for the duration of May 2015'

 Is anyone else taking part?

  I have the end of Easter Holiday blues, and don't want to have to return to normal life again on Monday!!

     Thanks for stopping by!

                           Su xx

Thursday, 9 April 2015

New Look 6022 or 'a dress from a dress'




    It's been one of 'those' days! The little people seemed to be totally wired and despite my best efforts involving a two hour dog walk, car cleaning, and various garden based activities I did not manage to tire them out or calm them down until bedtime. They were very enthusiastic photographers, but most of the photos are of random things or have fingers in the way, or I look like a wally (to be honest that is quite normal for me!).

  I had traced out the pattern for the 'Drapey knit dress' from the new GBSB book thinking that I might be able to make it up using a jersey fabric rather than the recommended pointe roma - I loved wandering how all of the bizarrely shaped pieces would fit together! Whilst getting out my chosen fabric the sensible voice in my head reminded me that I was not an experienced sewist and that I really should stick to the recommended fabric - it is recommended for a reason! Perhaps it should be an autumn make rather than a spring/summer version!

  So this left me with a problem - when not at work I like to wear leggings (of various lengths, weather dependant) teamed with skirts/dresses/long tunics. Many of my old favourites are looking just that - old! And with this amazing Easter weather I am in need of suitable garments! I looked through my pattern stash for something practical and comfortable and came across New Look 6022:


 I have lots of fabric in my ever growing fabric stash but in the corner of my bedroom is a pile of clothes that I don't wear but think that I could use the fabric for something (please tell me that everyone's bedroom is like this!). In this pile was this lovely maxi dress:

  Being ample of bosom I cannot wear this without a top underneath which I feel defeats the purpose of a 'sundress' so it doesn't get much wear but I have always loved the fabric - so I wondered if I could upcycle it!
  New Look 6022 is an easy loose fitting shift dress with several sleeve options. I chose to make view B with capped sleeves - I love them they are so cute! And as I have huge arms (I expect due to years of lifting children - rather than years of eating cake!) I often find sleeves very tight so the capped sleeve is perfect for me.
Capped sleeves - my new favourite sleeve option!

The instructions were easy to follow, my version is a little shorter than the pattern as I struggled to get the length onto the remains of my dress and I wasn't able to pattern match at all due to some fabric flaws that were not obvious on the flowing maxi dress but would have been on a shift dress. I made a size 16 but think I could have made a 14 on top and graded out to a 16 from the waist down as without the belt it does look a bit nightdressy. If I made it again I might include the elastic on the back of version A just to bring the waist in a little. I also wish I had included pockets (I feel lost without pockets to put all the bits of Lego in that I am constantly picking up!). I suppose I could add patch pockets, but I think the fabric might be a little thin for them and I'm not sure it would look right.
First beach walk not needing coats, hats etc! Hurrah!

The back - the neckline is a little loose and the button pulls it down in the centre - even when I changed the button for a lighter one.

One of the three reasons why my arms are so 'muscular'
  Thanks for stopping by!
              Su xx


Monday, 6 April 2015

The saga of the colette clovers comes to an end.....

  In the dim and distant past the clover by colette pattern along with suitable material was one of the first patterns I bought (I also bought the moneta + material - which currently remains unmade!). I think it was my fear of sewing trousers that stopped me from having a go myself. I needed a project for last terms sewing group and thought that this one would be a good choice. I enjoy going to the sewing group and always learn lots, I come back all fired up and ready to sew more of my chosen project - but for some reason I never do any 'homework' and always work on other projects instead. I had a great deal of help with the fit and the finished garment is so far removed from the pattern I don't think I could make it again without fitting help. I basted, tried on, re-basted, and repeated the process so many times. The fabric has quite a bit of stretch and I wanted a close fit so I think that is why it ended up being taken in so much. 

    Due to my lack of work on the project at home I ended the term not even having attached the waistband and without the invisible zip inserted (which is the one stage I really knew I would need help with). I was determined to finish the trousers so armed with various you tube videos and web posts as well as a dressmaking book I embarked on my first invisible zip insertion. I think it would have been fairly simple if only my £6.99 invisible zipper foot had been even remotely functional!! - Lesson learnt - you get what you pay for (I have now ordered the proper invisible zipper foot for my machine). With many expletives, sweating brow and some hand sewing later I have inserted a functional zip - which sadly is a) not invisible and b) a bit bumpy! - mind you when I asked my daughter to get a shot of it she did say 'what zip?'! I guess the pattern of the trousers hides it a bit!
The fit is not perfect and I think think they could do with being a teensey bit shorter - but they are one of the most comfortable pairs of trousers I own!

And there are tiny pockets!

I do love a good pocket........

Photobombed by my youngest!!

  I think a cropped pair will soon be in order considering all of this sunshine we are having!!

  I hope everyone had a great Easter!

  Thanks for stopping by!

           Su xx

Saturday, 28 March 2015

A summery Ilsley on a gloomy day!

  Yesterday I walked my dog along the beach in glorious sunshine with my shoes off paddling in the waves - today it is gloomy, rainy and windy - and the forecast for tomorrow is worse! So I'm afraid my terrible indoor photos really do not show off this summery skirt very well!

  This is the  Ilsley skirt which is a free pattern download from Marilla Walker (there is a link for donations to cancer research). This skirt has a curved hem and also a type of pocket I hadn't tackled before so I thought it would be a good make for me to try a couple of new things. I wanted to make it for wearing in the summer and as I have so many patterned tops I thought a plain fabric would be best. I bought the fabric last year on a trip to Brighton, it is a wonderfully soft Linen and cotton mix.

  I know it really does not look summery when combined with leggings and a cardi!!

  If you look closely you can see that I struggled quite a bit with the curved hem! I think it is a great feature and adds interest - I just need a little more practice!!

  I am however totally in love with the pockets! And I just couldn't resist adding a bit of colour!!

  The instructions were clear and easy to follow and the skirt came together quickly (except for the french side seams meeting the curved hem - but that was my issue and I'm still not quite sure how I managed to mess it up!). I really loved how the pattern was arranged on the PDF print out - saving as much paper as possible, I wish more patterns were like this. All in all this is a great pattern and I really enjoyed tackling some new techniques. 

   After reading Scruffy badger's amazing blog this morning I thought it might be fun to join in with the Simplicity star sewist contest there are several categories - best newcomer, best vintage make, and best dress. Each has a specified pattern but you can add your own creative ideas to change or add to the pattern. I thought I would have a go at the dress as it looks like a fairly simple make (famous last words!!!!) - I am under no illusions that I would win but I just thought it would be a fun thing to do - is anyone else joining in?

   Thanks for stopping by!

           Su xx


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Tween sewing and a reality check....

    My Biggest little one recently turned eight and for her birthday she requested a pencil case and a notebook! Whilst I was pleased that so far she has not succumbed to the materialistic world we live in I also suggested that perhaps I could add to her gifts by making her something - she reported that she would like some summer PJ's and a summer dress.
  At the beginning of my sewing adventures I bought a copy of 'Happy homemade sew chic kids':

     It is an English translation of a Japanese book, has patterns for both girls and boys up to the age of eight. The garments in it are lovely and I thought I would get lots of use out of it - sadly I only made one pair of boys shorts for the smallest boy and they hardly got worn (mostly because they looked like pyjamas due to poor fabric choice on my part!). So I thought I would put it to good use and make her some items from the book. My first make was a pair of pyjama bottoms aka 'wide leg pants' This would have been an easy make had I read the instructions before I started - I happily traced the pattern adding the 1 cm seam allowance, cut it all out then read the instructions and realised I had not added the extra 3.5 cm at the waist for the elastic casing as well as the extra 2 cm for the bottom hem! Luckily they came up long so hemming was OK but I had to make a waistband and add it to the trousers - I have never done this before so it was a little fiddly but 'all's well that ends well':

    I added some button holes and threaded ribbon through them for a false drawstring, I'm so glad I took the time for this extra step as it makes them look more PJ like!

    I didn't have time to make her a top for the PJ's so I bought an inexpensive plain jersey top. She has been learning 'you are my Sunshine' on the ukulele recently and I thought it would be nice to embroider the words onto the top to personalise it - she loved it! Phew!

    My second make was planned as the smock dress (on the left) but with short sleeves:

    I had bought a beautiful (and expensive) Scandinavian designed cotton with colourful birds and flowers on it, looking back I chose to ignore the fact that when I showed it to my daughter she had politely said it was nice but you couldn't have said she was thrilled by it. 5 days before my daughters birthday I turned up to my sewing class temporarily abandoning my Colette clovers and armed with everything I needed to make the dress. I excitedly explained to my teacher about the dress, my teacher asked how old my daughter would be on her birthday, then looked at me and asked if I wanted her to be honest with me.........
     She explained (rightly) that the patterns in the book were 'up to' age 8 ie they were designed for much younger children and that given the fabric I had chosen the dress would probably end up looking like a nightdress, she said I needed to be looking at fabrics and designs that children my daughters age were wearing and go from there. I'm so glad she was honest with me and I instantly saw that she was 100% right.
  I began searching for 'tween' patterns with the added problem that my daughter is tall and skinny, will not wear buttons, is not keen on zips, refuses to wear trousers (other than legging's or jeggings at a push), and won't wear a skirt unless it has an elasticated waist. I struggled to find much that matched the remit, and my search is ongoing! Needless to say I did not manage to make the dress in time for her birthday but promised to make it the weekend afterwards.
   I needed something quick and easy and chose the go-to-shift dress

    OK so I realise that this is modelled on a younger girl and has a dreaded button, but I thought that with a belt it would still look quite grown up and by extending the neck bias binding I would be able to add a popper at the back rather than use a button. I chose an inexpensive fabric from Ikea that I thought had the right mixture of 'girliness' and 'funkiness'. I found the neckline way too high so I decided not to gather it as much as the pattern suggested - I should have positioned my minimal gathering all at the front centre neck but instead I followed the pattern instructions and spread it out so unfortunately after adding the bias binding I only had a few random pleats, it is still wearable and my little lady (or should I say tween) loves it!!

     She likes how the skirt flares out with the belt - so I will be trying to find a pattern with a fitted bodice and slightly flared skirt that is not too 'little girlish'. I think I have a long way to go before I understand her fashion ideas and taste in fabric and I know this will change rapidly as she gets older but hopefully it is a journey we can enjoy together as she grows up. I have certainly learnt a lot about myself and come closer to accepting that my little ones will not be little for ever and have their own tastes and ideas, I need to accept this and embrace it!

    Thanks for stopping by!!

             Su xx