Cleo Dungaree Dress

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As soon as I saw Tilly’s Cleo Dungaree Dress, I was sold on it. It’s the sort of item of clothing I would love to buy in RTW stores, but would never fit me on account of my unusual *ahem* proportions. Sewing it myself was a great opportunity to make my little dungaree dress dreams come true!

Normally I’m not a big fan of kits, as I like to choose fabrics myself and I think it adds to the individuality of a make. In this instance though, Tilly has done such an amazing job of sourcing great fabrics, that I swooped and bought an aubergine needlecord kit as soon as it went on sale. It seems to be a good job that I did, as since the day I purchased the kit it seems to be constantly sold out – I believe at the moment there is a waiting list! So I feel extra special to have gotten my paws on a hallowed Tilly aubergine kit.

Anyway, on to the pattern. This pattern does 100% what it says on the tin – it’s a speedy and satisfying make with nothing too tricky. Or at least it wouldn’t have had anything too tricky about it had I remembered the special email Tilly sent out saying there had been a printing mistake with the front facing and to use the email supplementary piece she sent out. As I completely forgot about this until I came to try and get my damned facing to fit, I had no choice but to perform extensive facing surgery (especially as I was out of aubergine needlecord fabric). I was actually quite proud of myself in the end though – I found a creative solution which actually looks relatively normal from the inside. Could definitely have been worse! What is the lesson here? DO NOT FORGET to use Tilly’s supplementary facing when you cut this out the next time!

The other lesson I learnt on this make is to pay more attention to pocket placing markings. I accidentally placed my pockets wwwwaaayyy too far down the skirt and had to take them off and re-attach, which was kind of sad as they were so straight and perfectly top stitched the first time round. You live and learn though right?

I cut my usual size 7 grading to a 4/5 on the hips as I do with most Tilly patterns and this worked perfectly for me. My partner did make some helpful comments about me maybe widening the top part/doing an FBA on the top to give me more boob coverage, but you know what, I’m just going to be happy with what God gave me and leave it as it is. I like it and that’s the main thing!

What I loved most about the Tilly kit is that the dungaree buckles and interfacing and thread are all really high quality. The buckles attach super easily and hold really well. I feel like I’ve made something that will really last which is great! I liked the kit so much that have now purchased a second – the dark denim. I can’t wait to stitch it up and combine it with fun t-shirts – maybe even some of my more fun printed Agnes tops which I’ve made! I would definitely recommend this make – even for beginners absolute beginners! Give it a go! I’m glad I did!

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Easter Agnes

Today I set about a little sewing project using a couple of things that have been in my craft stash for a while. My lovely friend Kaitlyn kindly gave me a voucher for two Tilly and the Buttons patterns of my choice for birthday last year (she knows me so well)! I was so excited, I took the opportunity to indulge in the Agnes top and the Orla top.  Unfortunately though I had such a busy end to 2015, I didn’t actually get to using them until today! As today is a bank holiday, I finally had the time to make something from my project pile and decided that Agnes was the lady for me. With just 4 pattern pieces, she was exactly what I needed for a simple afternoon of sewing.

I’ve got a selection of suitable jersey fabrics in my stash that would have been great for this pattern. In the end, I narrowed it down to three choices – black jersey, dark grey jersey, or bunny print. Seeing as it is Spring, I decided it had to be bunnies (even though this probably wasn’t the most practical choice)! How could I resist these cute little faces though? I’m ashamed to say that the bunny choice also had something to do with the fact that I couldn’t face rethreading my serger … I just wasn’t up for Serger trouble on a wet bank holiday!

Hello cute bunnies!

I was a bit worried about the fit on this top as it is very close fitting and I always have trouble with fitting up top. I cut a size 8 on the sleeves, neckband and bust, grading to a size 5 on the waist and hips. This actually worked out really well, despite the fact it looked a bit crazy on the pattern pieces. I was a little worried the sleeves would be too big, but I think they are drafted quite small as they came up quite well on me. I could have taken them in a little on the lower arms, but I decided in the end I quite like the comfort of how they were fitting.

I chose the most basic version of the Agnes top- omitting the ruched arms and gathered bust. I don’t think I will ever make the gathered bust version – I’m not sure I need to draw any further attention to that body area! I may however return to the gathered sleeves – I think they look quite fun and might make a plain colour version a bit more interesting.

As I made the most basic version, the construction of this top was an absolute dream. Having a serger meant that it came together super quickly and I love the professional finish on the inside. I didn’t have any issues on the thread tension and all of the pieces fitted together perfectly. A lot of the credit on that front goes to this amazing fabric – it’s a rather expensive cotton jersey made by the same company that made the fabric for my Birdy Bettine. It’s great to work with and so comfortable to wear.

So here she is … my finished Agnes:

Overall I am delighted with this make and will definitely be making more of these. They are a really simple sew and something I wear regularly in my day to day wardrobe. I plan to make up a selection of these in long and short sleeve versions – they are great and comfortable for both work and the weekend! In the past I had always bought these tops as basics from H&M or Zara – I’m happy knowing I can now make these myself and add them to my Me Made Wardrobe!

Minkrea Spencer 10004 Baby Dress

As there is such a wealth of free sewing patterns for children online, I don’t normally buy sewing patterns for children’s clothes (especially as I don’t actually have children!) However, on my recent trip to Frau Tulpe in Berlin, I couldn’t resist this gorgeous little baby dress pattern from Dutch pattern company Minkrea. The pattern is a super easy make, and with so many customisation options, it just seemed like great value to have in the stash for making baby gifts.

I made this dress over a series of evenings – it was so easy to dip in and out of as a project. I think I may have found a new love for making baby clothes! The pattern only requires 50cm of fabric, and I picked up some really cute thin grey corduroy with little roses on it as a remnant from a recent trip to the fabric market. It was quite a simple sew, although you do have to pay serious attention when sewing around the curves!


My favourite feature on this dress are the matching fabric covered buttons. I’d never made fabric covered buttons before, but now it is going to be my new favourite pass time! It’s a good job I finally made friends with my button hole foot! After looking through my vast button collection, I had decided that really the only buttons that would look good with this fabric would be matching buttons. Luckily I found this post from Sew Sew Easy which showed just how easy it was! I ordered myself a little kit and before I knew it I had perfectly matching fabric covered buttons. A dream! This was also the first time I had actually used my button hole foot to make button holes on an item of clothing. They turned out just fine! I don’t know why I had been so afraid of them. I can certainly tick it off my 2016 Sewing Goal list!

The only thing I am not sure about with this dress is the fact that I decided to add the pocket detail. The dress was looking pretty cute beforehand! The pocket looked like it was going to be great, but I totally underestimated pressing and sewing that curved seam. I just could not get it to curve well, even after cutting out a cardboard template a la English Paper Piecing and trying to press around that. I sewed it on to the finished garment and I think it looks ok, but I’m not sure if I preferred the dress better before! What do you think?

I made this one as a gift for my little niece. At the rate she is growing, I hope it still fits her! I’m sure she won’t notice the wonky pocket – I hope not anyway!

How about you? Do you like sewing children’s clothes? Do you have any other baby pattern recommendations for me to try? I’d love to hear from you!

Fabric Shop Tourism

Oo you beautiful fabric haul!

As I mentioned in my last post, last week I was lucky enough to take a whirlwind trip up to Berlin for work! Berlin is one of my favourite cities in the world. I used to live there for a brief time and I had the time of my life. Going back to Berlin is always a mix of nostalgia for the way things were and excitement to see what has changed. However, this time I had a whole new dimension to explore – the fabric scene!

As Germany’s capital city, Berlin is naturally larger and has more to offer than Frankfurt in terms of shops. In addition to being Germany’s political capital though, it is also it’s creative capital! Over the years some neighbourhoods have become decidedly trendy and whether you are for or against gentrification and hipsters, for fabric lovers and creatives, the growing mass of independent shops can only be an advantage! With this in mind, I did a little google search before my trip and happened upon Frau Tulpe. The shop is conveniently located near Berlin’s ever trendier Rosenthaler Platz, which is not too far from my office. As I knew I only had time to visit one store, after perusing the goodies of the online shop and watching their super cute video tour, I decided this was the store for me!

My incredibly patient friend Melissa let me crash our dinner date with pre-dinner fabric shopping. She was amazing as I oo-ed and aa-ed at all the pretty fabrics and the wonderful creations on show. This has to be my favourite thing about the store – the inspiring little handmade bits and pieces on display which just give you an insatiable itch to sew. I left the store overflowing with ideas and 24 hours after my return from the trip I’d already sewed up these Utsensilio‘s similar to what they have on display in store.



So what did I buy? I’m not sure whether a more suitable question would be, what didn’t I buy?! First up, this adorable pattern from Minkrea. I have to say, I’d never heard of Minkrea before I saw them in this store, but their patterns are gorgeous. They are really high quality, multiple language and very simple with great little adaptable add on features. Baby niece is going to look great in this little number. Just got to sew it up before she gets too big!

I also bought some gorgeous bundles of geometric print fat quarters (featured on my utensilios), a couple of funky and decorative lace zips which I’ve not seen anywhere else yet in Germany, a Moda charm pack (fabric line gooseberry), some cream and mint green spotty heavy weight cotton for a weekend tote bag, and the most gorgeous oriental blue floral cotton. I am still deciding for the cotton whether it will become the funkiest blazer you’ve ever seen or some kind of pleated circle skirt. What do you think? I also got some gorgeous fabric covered buttons, which has sort of inspired me to try to learn to make my own. All in all an epic haul! Even better, as my haul was so epic, they gave me a free fabric carrying bag to tote my haul about in AND a loyalty card. What’s not to love?! Here I am with my swag in store (photo credit to the ever-patient Melissa!).

Swag Happy!

  
How about you? Do you know of any fabric stores in cities that I should add to my fabric tourism list? Are you a fabric tourist too? I’d love to hear about your adventures!

 

A Tale of Tea and Scraps

I’m not sure why but sewing seems to have awakened a fanatical recycling obsession within me! Now I can’t throw an old item of clothing away without ripping all the buttons off for re-use, or discard an old hoody without taking the cord out or get rid of an old pillow case without chopping it up for quilting, or put gift wrap in the recycling without saving the ribbons! I have bags literally stuffed full of scraps of fabric from past projects, and there’s nothing that brings me more joy than finding a way to use them!

While I was on my Cambodian travels I found this delightful teapot.


When I returned from my travels I had terrible jetlag and needed something simple to do that would keep me awake, so I set about sewing a quilted coaster for it to sit on. This was a perfect opportunity for me to delve in to my scrap bag! I found these great scraps of Moda jelly roll which I had used to make a quilt. A couple of left over patches were the perfect size for the top and bottom of the coaster, and I finished it off by making my own ‘candy striped’ bias binding by sewing other scraps of the fabric together. I used a remnant of some batting from a quilt project for the insides and I was so pleased with how it turned out!


I still had quite a lot of scraps left over in these colors though and I was still awake, so I thought why not go the whole hog and make a matching tea cosy?!

There are loads of great online tutorials on making your own tea cosy, so I followed this one and then added a few bits and pieces of my own. I drafted my own pattern based on the measurements of my teapot (yep- my teapot has a made-to-measure cosy haha!) and then cut out two patchwork outers from scraps, two pieces of batting and some plain black lining. I then set about quilting in a diamond pattern which I did by eye (shh- don’t tell anyone my diamonds are wonky, I was jet lagged!) All you need to do then is just sew round the top, not forgetting to insert the little loop. Easy!

What I didn’t like about this tutorial is that it doesn’t suggest you finish the inside seam. Maybe I’ve become a bit fanatical about sewing looking as good on the inside as it does on the outside (only my teapot will see the inside of the tea cosy after all), but it just really bugged me knowing that the seam was all exposed and you could see the batting. As a result I improvised with covering the inside seam with some black double fold satin bias tape that I had in my stash. I love how it looks now! (Yes I think I’ve gone quite mad!) I finished it off with some more of my patchwork candy striped self made bias binding.

So here is my finished cosy in all its glory! Never did I think I’d be making a tea cosy, but it was quite a satisfying make and a great patchwork stash buster! There’s something really satisfying about sewing something pretty and useful out of something that could just as easily have been thrown away!


What about you? Do you used recycled materials and scraps in your sewing? Do you have any other fun scrap busting projects for me? Is my need to hide exposed seams in the inside of my tea cosy the final proof that I’ve gone mad?! I’d love to hear from you!

Contemplating Coats

As I prepare to head off to hot hot climes, I am doing something rather ridiculous and contemplating coat sewing. When I first started sewing, I remember reading  DidYouMakeThat’s chronicles of sewing V8548 and thinking that sewing a coat was an insurmountable task open only to super human sewers such as Karen. However, the more I have gotten in to sewing, the more I am tempted to give this coat thing a go. Here’s a list of reasons why I think sewing a coat would be fun:

  1. I find it incredibly difficult to find coats that aren’t double breasted and where the buttons don’t strain over my top half or alternatively look like a sack. Sewing a coat that fits me would make me feel smug and delighted.
  2. Sewing a coat would appear to give me a great opportunity to use some chunky buttons. I do love a good chunky button.
  3. Sewing a coat would expose me to using new materials – scary can be fun right?!
  4. Sewing a coat is necessary – my current dress coat has seen better days!
  5. Sewing a coat would be a long term project that could see me through the cold dark month of January.
  6. Sewing a coat would hopefully be a timeless and classic addition to my wardrobe.
  7. There seem to be plenty of participants in the V1467 Pea Coat Sew Along – If all these people can do it, why can’t I?!

With those 7 reasons in mind – who wouldn’t want to crack on with a coat?!

Helpfully, the McCall Pattern Company shared this great blog post today, helpfully entitled “If You’ve Never Sewn a Coat Before, Start with One of These Patterns”.  It was like they’d been reading my mind. There’s some great and very wearable coats in this selection. My particular favourites are Butterick B6244, Vogue 9136 and Vogue 9156.

I also really like Butterick 6143, Simplicity 1254and New Look 6325 (not from the McCall’s selection).

As it stands, I think I would be wise to choose an unlined coat as my first attempt, so I think that takes Butterick 6143 off the list for this time round. I’m keeping it in here as an aspirational piece though, it has everything I am looking for in a coat pattern! A full skirt, fitted waist, nice collar, chunky buttons *sigh*. When I’m looking for something to sew next Autumn, I hope by that point I can return to Butterick 6143 and whip up a lining in no time!

Between the rest it is a tough call – I think Butterick 6244 is very on trend in terms of the Coatigan look, although no chunky button usage there! I love the hood on Simplicity 1254, but then I equally love the draped cape look and chunky button of New Look 6325. The stand up collar of V9136 looks very snuggly, and yet V9156 looks very practical for wearing over work outfits. I think I’ve got some tough decisions to make! Any suggestions? What would you pick?

Here’s hoping I can pick up some bargain priced wool or felt in the January sales – nobody else will start coat making at that point in time right?!

With thoughts of coats I shall depart off to sunnier places to wear my Espadrilles! I will miss sewing and the sewing community, but it doesn’t hurt to be offline once in a while! I’ve got stacks of things piling up on my pre-Christmas sewing list, so I’m sure there will be plenty of sewing to be done when I get back! Enjoy the rest of November people!

 

Reversible Baby Skirt

If you’ve been reading my blog for a bit, you will know that I love fat quarters! I love their prints and how cute they are – the colours and the different patterns. I love the cute animals and the comical ones – basically all the ones you buy when you have no idea what exactly you are going to make with them! I’ve been having a bit of a tidy up of my craft stash of late (trying to make space for my new serger on my tiny Ikea table!) and I realised that I really do need to do something about my fat quarter stash!

I saw a little Ra Ra skirt recently to purchase for soon-to-be-here niece and thought they are a great choice for new babies, but you had to be able to sew them yourself in some cute prints. Luckily this amazing free pattern and tutorial for a reversible baby skirt crossed my path and answered my baby ra-ra-skirt and fat quarter stash dreams. I loved how simple it is and the different effects you can get by combining prints and decided I had to give it a go!

While tidying out my stash, I picked out these two cute prints along with some contrast bias binding I had been gifted and had waited to find the right project for. This project seemed just the one!

I purchased the fat quarters during Tschibo craft week and have been super positively surprised by the quality of the cotton. I love the contrasting prints! So perfect for a newborn baby girl gift! Hearts and polka dots, what’s not to love?

This pattern is ridiculously simple – I didn’t even print the free pattern as it was a bit of a spontaneous make this evening, so I just improvised by drawing round a plate to get a good curve on the waist. You pin the two donuts of fabric right sides together and stitch the inner circle and you are already on your way to skirt cuteness!

After that you turn them the right way out and sew around the circle again to create a channel for the elastic. Once the elastic is in, all you have left to do is bind. The binding is a little fiddly and seems to go on forever (but aren’t all circle skirt hems that way?!) However, it was good practice for me on using bias tape, so that was good. I was proud that I just worked out by myself how to attach it.

Overall I am delighted with my finished make. There is nothing on it I would change for once! I can’t believe it only took me an hour from start to finish – such a great project for when you have an itch to stitch but you don’t want to start anything major. Now I am ready to make a whole package of these to gift to friends and relatives. I can picture a matching set of three in a little gift box tied with a cute ribbon. What do you think? What a great way to use a fat quarter!

Oh also, I forgot to mention the best bit, the skirt is reversible! Two skirts for the price of one!

Unfortunately I don’t have a baby to help me model this skirt in all its cuteness, so I called in a friend to help …. meet Dave, our friendly household Minion!

Dave and I wish you a great rest of the week filled with stitching and crafting!

Winter Patterns and Projects

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I’m not quite sure how it happened, but I woke up this morning suddenly aware that winter is coming! This year I am planning on doing a couple of handmade gifts for Christmas, as well as sewing much more of my winter wardrobe, and I’ve realised that I’m going to need to get a wriggle on and do some planning! Looking back at my Autumn Sewing Plans post, I’ve managed to make quite a few of the things I was planning for, as well as a lot of extras I didn’t plan for! My particular favourites have been the Tilly and the Buttons Bettine Dress (of which I have made many) as well as the Tilly and the Buttons Coco. However, I am yet to make Mathilde or the ByHandLondon Charlotte Skirt, both of which are now rolling on over in to my winter sewing agenda!

In addition to those, I have added the following to my sewing agenda for the next few weeks:

wren dress

The Colette Patterns Wren Dress has been taking the sewing community by storm since its release a couple of weeks back. I loved making the Colette Patterns Moneta, so I have high hopes for the Wren Dress. It’s a style which I think will be very flattering on my figure if I can get the fit right, so I am planning to whip one up in one of the jersey fabrics that I bought at Stoffmarktholland. I think maybe a jewel tone purple could be great for a Christmas dress with a nice blingy necklace?!

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The McCall’s 6886 dress is also on my list – it looks like a great staple basic to make for work! I’ve seen a couple of people on Instagram post great photos of these – the shape of the pattern looks really versatile for many different fabric colours. The sleeveless version might also make a great dress for my Cambodian holiday!

In addition to that I’m also planning a second Grainline Studios Morris Blazer in Navy (post coming soon on the first one!)

As if that wasn’t enough, I couldn’t help but be tempted by Sew Magazine’s Chris Moose.

chris moose

How cute does he look? I’ve got to find time to squeeze him in!

So that’s going to be me busy stitching for the next few weeks! I’m also going to be learning to use my new overlocker which the PB bought me for my birthday (and the best ever boyfriend award goes to …. *drum roll*), so watch out for more news on that soon as I learn to thread the blighter! Fingers crossed it’s not as scary as people would have you believe! Wish me luck!

Baby Gift Parcel

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Back at the beginning of the summer a friend of mine brought these two gorgeous flannel charm packs back from America for me. The blue and yellow pack became a comfy padded baby quilt for my brother and sister-in-law. When I later found out that their baby was going to be a girl, I couldn’t help but decide I had to make something with the pink one for them too!

As the flannel charm packs are super soft, I thought I’d make a patchwork cosy comforter for the baby. The front is a normal square patchwork and the back is some lovely white fleece. Due to the pre-cut charms, the top came together really quickly and easily. I then basted it together with the fleece and “quilted” diagonal half square triangles through both layers to give a nice pattern on the back of the white fleece. I then bound the blanket with some “bias binding strips” of fleece. On reflection, this was a really bad idea, as the fleece did not make nice mitred corners at all due to being much too thick, but hey, you live and learn! I hand sewed the binding down to the back of the quilt and I was so pleased, my hand sewing is coming on a treat! Here’s the finished blanket! Apologies about the photos – it’s so tough to get good photos with less and less daylight every day!

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I also decided that it wouldn’t be fair if all of my friends’ babies received an Ernest the Elephant and my own niece didn’t, so I set about making one of those too. I used some chambray scraps from my Bettine Dress for the body of the elephant. I can’t believe that the 2m of chambray I bought have now made a dress, espadrilles and an elephant and I still have some left! I love making things with scraps as I really hate waste! I also had a fat quarter of faux-suede in brown in my stash that I got free with a sewing magazine, and thought that a couple of pieces of that would make lovely snuggle soft ears. I love the Birch Fabrics free template for this pattern – it’s such a nice shape and the little knotted tail is such a cute detail! So here he is – my finished elephant! The jury is out as to whether he should be known as Edna or Egbert – I guess in the end we will let our niece decide when she’s here!

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Edna-Egbert was the first project where I got to use one of my new Make Amy Make labels! I loved being able to add a little label – it makes it feel more finished somehow!

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Both gifts went off in the post to England and are now in the nursery waiting for our arrival. Not long to go! How about you – do you like making gifts for friends and relatives? Have you made anything out of scraps recently that you’re proud of?

Fabric Market Shopping List

Today is the last day of September, which is both a little bit scary that this year has flown by so fast, but also exciting as one of my favourite events is coming up super soon! 4 times per year, the Dutch Fabric Market (Stoffmarktholland) comes to Frankfurt for one day of stash expansion crafty joy! I am extra excited this time around as I unfortunately missed the market’s last visit as I was away on holiday … so I have waited a whole six months for this one! As we don’t have a huge selection of places to go fabric shopping in Frankfurt, it’s great to just have a splurge at very reasonable prices and to feel the lovely crafty vibe of all the other excited shoppers.

The last time I went to the fabric market, I learnt two key things:

  1. Thou shalt not visit the fabric market without a giant blue Ikea shopping bag to hold your swag
  2. Thou shalt always write a shopping list in advance, or thou will be mighty overwhelmed

So, heeding these two important commandments, my Ikea bags are at the ready, and today, I set about writing my shopping list. To create my shopping list, I decided to delve back through all of my scribbles and notes and have a look at what patterns I still plan to buy in the near future and which projects I would like to tackle next. I came up with the following:

Phew – and that’s the consolidated list! I definitely won’t end up buying something for all of those, but it’s just good to keep in mind what you want to make so that the fabric has some sort of purpose! As you can see, my sewing is looking pretty jersey heavy right now, so I may also look out for some more jersey sewing machine needles.

As a result my shopping list looks something like this:

  • Nice black jersey knit
  • Soft t-shirt jersey in stripes
  • Sweatshirt fabric (one for the Burda, one for the track pants, one for the McCalls)
  • Felted wool
  • Plain jersey in jewel colours for Moneta
  • Thick striped jersey for Coco
  • Cute print fabric for PJ trousers
  • Funky Buttons
  • Backing fabric for my Mum’s Quilt
  • Thread rolls

What I am not allowed to buy is zippers or any more fat quarters! I am drowning in them as I can’t resist a cute print or two … I’m sure I’ll end up with a couple and maybe some mystery fabric too! That’s the joy of the fabric market, you never know what you might find!

I can’t wait to show you what I come home with in a couple of weeks … in the meantime there seems to be a few babies on the way around here so I am going to set about sewing an army of Ernest elephants!