V1467 sewalong – update #1

I’ll be perfectly frank – I’m a bit intimidated by this peacoat sewalong project, and have been putting it off a bit under the pretence of “I’ll just get this (and this and this) project finished first and then I’ll start, honestly…”

I’d previously heard from other dressmakers that Vogue patterns are notoriously hard to work with, and my one and only experience of using one was just a complete and utter shocker. It also came up absolutely huge so I’m not really sure what size to cut this time. Reading through the instructions for V1467, they seem for the most part to be pretty straightforward, but it’s the fit I’m most concerned about.

Haven't exactly made huge strides but it's still progress...

However, I’m a fair way away from getting my knickers in a knot about fit as this is as far as I’ve got! (I know, I know…) Next steps – tracing my size off onto dot and cross and cutting a toile before next Sunday so I can start assembling and checking fit.

How is everybody else doing with theirs? What have been the biggest hurdles so far? Mine have been motivation and confidence,  or rather a complete lack of both, but I’d love to know how you’re all getting on!

The Refashioners 2015


Before… (not sure what I was looking at)

In July Portia from makery.uk announced she would be running the Refashioners project again for 2015! This year however was different to previous years (2011 and 2013) – instead of refashioning any garment they wanted, every single participant had to refashion a man’s shirt. The first month saw Portia’s line-up of guest bloggers demonstrating their amazing skills, but the second half of the competition was opened out to everybody else, so I figured I would have a go (plus the prize package is insane!)

After! (deliberately not looking at the camera this time)

This is actually the second shirt I bought! The first was a striped shirt from Cotton Traders but I wasn’t really sure if I could turn it into something I would ever wear. As I’m trying to think more realistically about the kind of clothes I’m buying and
making instead of just making wild and wonderful things that never get worn, I decided to keep looking for another shirt. On my travels out and about I found this great XXL pink gingham cotton shirt for just £2.99 in a charity shop and I knew I would be able to turn this into something more wearable.
The pink gingham is so sweet but it would probably look a bit naff on me in any other format than something simple and feminine. Using the free Diana Cami pattern from Spit up and Stilettos as my base, I worked out that the shirt would give me enough material to make a sweet and simple camisole. I ended up hacking the back piece to turn it into a classic 2 strap cami instead of the central halter style on the pattern. I really wanted to keep some of the elements of the shirt in my refashion so instead of cutting The-Refashioners-2015-Prize-Package-900the front on the fold, I cut it as 2 pieces to incorporate the existing button stand, and created
a fake button stand to go underneath. I also unpicked the back yoke as the pieces had been cut on a diagonal, meeting in the middle. Using just one layer of the yoke I stitched this back on to the large back piece and then cut the back piece on the fold to incorporate the new yoke piece. Not sure how effective the end result is but I know it’s there so it still counts!

I finished the top edge with baby pink bias tape and then did a narrow hem on the bottom – seams neatened with a tight zig-zag for neatness, but mostly speed as Sunday was the deadline for the Refashioners competition! Eeek! I submitted my entry via instagram on the day before, so fingers crossed!

Take a look at some of the great refashions already submitted below or on instagram under the #therefashioner2015 tag!

From makery.uk

Simplicity 2255, or ‘the comfiest shirt in the world’


Sorry it’s been a little quiet on the western front but I have been sewing, I promise – I even finished another make! Last Sunday I finished making Simplicity 2255 in an Indian print cotton voile and it’s basically the comfiest thing ever.

I’d seen a girl at work wearing a sleeveless Indian print shirt and thought to myself “I need it“. As I have this knack of liking something someone is wearing only to find out once I’ve asked where they got it that is years old, which only reaffirms that in am the least on-trend person on the planet. This time I decided to cut out the middle man of disappointment and decided to make my own!wpid-20150913_190337

Now, you would think picking a sleeveless shirt pattern would be simple but it was surprisingly difficult! Some were too formal, some too shapeless and some were too frilly. After a few weeks of deliberation I settled on Simplicity 2255 because it had the shape I thought would work best on me as well as couple of nice variations for future versions (I like buying patterns with lots of options so I can get my moneys worth!).

IMG_6773I made a toile, cutting a 16 based on measurements and I finally did my very first Full Bust Adjustment! *fanfare* I used the method from Fit For Real People and it was so simple that I berated myself a little for being too damn lazy to have done it sooner. I increased the bust by an inch each side to allow room for the girls, and was surprised at how much of at difference it made. The fit is more comfortable, there’s no gaping at the arm hole and it just generally looks nicer than some of my RTW shirts. Ladies, don’t be put off by FBA’S as they are not complicated at all!

I also omitted the side tabs, graded in a little at the waist, graded out a little more at the hip, increased the width and length of the back darts to help get rid of some fabric pooling (still haven’t cracked the swayback issue yet) and curved the collar piece instead of having the square corners. I didn’t want it to be too figure hugging as the fabric is quite sheer, so I’m always going to layer this over a vest top.IMG_6777

The pattern went together really quickly although I was a little baffled at the collar construction – I’m used to making up the collar and then attaching, but this pattern has both construction awpid-20150919_145606nd attaching at the same time, which is no more complicated than the other. I did however use an interfacing that was probably a little too heavy, but it was all I had and I was in the zone. Once I’d ironed it on to my button stand I was concerned it would be too stuff but actually now that I’ve worn it for a full day it’s fine. Although I know how to make bias strips, it can be quite time consuming so I wanted a quicker method so I could neatly bind the armholes – I remembered reading a tutorial on makery.uk and it’s so much easier! I used my normal scissors but I am considering buying a rotary cutter just for speed when cutting. Does anyone have any recommendations?

I’m really pleased with how it turned up as it’s soooo comfortable to wear! The fabric is from the Fancy Silk Store in Birmingham at £8 per metre. I only picked up 1 metre but at 150cm wide it wasn’t too much of a squeeze to fit it all on. For my next one I’ll make it a bit shorter as this feels almost a little too long on my 5ft 2 and 3 quarters frame (short people problems). Simplicity currently have a half price sale so if you can I recommend picking up a copy of this pattern as it’s a great staple pattern for any wardrobe.

In other news I’ve finished my Refashioners project (soon to be blogged) and eaten too many sweets so it’s been a good day! Tomorrow I’m going to finally make a

My first blog meet!

Simplicity 15th September blog meet badge.

On Tuesday I went to the very first Simplicity Blog meet! Held at the Good Housekeeping Institute in Soho, 50 plus bloggers and stitcher’s from all over the country attended a talk with the Great British Sewing Bee’s May Martin! I was really nervous because I have never been to a blogger event before, but my fears were unfounded and I had such a lovely time!

Gabby, Rachel and I, surprisingly (and unintentially) well coordinated

My day started with an unplanned power walk to the station in my home town – I figured somebody might be taking pictures at the event but I had spent too long putting on my eyebrows so made a mad dash across town to grab breakfast and jump on my train. I then nonchalantly zipped across London on the tube to Charing Cross Station blissfully unprepared, only at that stage bothering to properly check the address for Good Housekeeping… As it turns out I was in completely the wrong place and had to do another mad dash via Leicester Square an12027581_1078856435478490_2262004175447483493_nd Chinatown to get there on time! I made it with 10 minutes to spare (I hate being late) but I definitely got my 10000 steps in!

When I arrived there were a few small groups dotted around waiting for the doors to open. I only recognised Rachel from House of Pinheiro at first but I soon began to recognise a few more faces. I met a lovely lady in a beautiful purple coat called Sheila (the lady, not the coat) but she is not as yet a blogger, but if you managed to find me, hello! I also spotted Rachel from Rach Against The Sewing Machine and Gabby from Living On A Shoestring and soon pottered over to make slightly weird
introductions. There aren’t really many situations where it’s acceptable to approach somebody and say “I know you from the internet” without seeming like a complete nutter…

Once inside and sat down May began her talk with a brief introduction about how she had begun sewing, then how she became a teacher, and thwpid-20150915_132653.jpgen of course a presenter on the Great British Sewing Bee. Apparently the call for the Sewing Bee was unexpected and that she had initially screen tested with another Patrick but she had immediately known Patrick Grant would get the job “…because, well, look at him!”. She is much warmer in person than she at first appears on the TV but finds the Sewing Bee hard as she has to pick things apart in front of the cameras. I bet she’s a fab teacher!

May’s tips

Pinning – only pick up a small amount of fabric. I just pin willy nilly but since Tuesday I have tried this and May is right – it does give you more control with fabric as there is less wiggle room.

Place the top of the seam on the edge of the guide fabric so you don’t need to unpick anything

Zips – specifically finishing the end of an invisible zip. I can get the zip in but I’ve always struggled with how to neatly and securely finish the bottom of the zip. May demonstrated inserting an invisible zip and once she had sewn the long edges, leaving an inch or so near the bottom. Then on the inside she moved the loose end of the zip and closed the gap using a zipper foot. So simple but how did I not now this?! The other thing she taught was that when inserting anything into a garment with a waist seam is to mark the level of the waist seam on the zip and make sure this matches, not the top edge. Again another useful piece of advice that I was totally oblivious to! In the last few minutes of the meetup she showed us how to insert a semi-concealed zip and she did it perfectly, without pinning, in just 2 minutes. 2 minutes! I am both impressed and intimidate, not going to lie!

Sewing fine or thin fabrics – you how the fabric can get pulled in to the machine when at the top or bottom of the seam you’re sewing? May’s pro tip was to start sewing on a piece of fabric and then move onto the actual fabric. I was a bit dubious but whilst working on my latest make (Simplicity 2255) but I tested this and it actually works! No messed up seam ends!

She also talked about how to properly pin curves, walking feet for machines, how to do proper tailor tacks, pin-fitting paper patterns, what the markings on a sewing machine throat plate are as well as dropping hints and tips all over the place.

We were all also given a goodie bag! Packed full of great freebies, Simplicity had also laid out a table full of patterns for the group to help thepattern collagemselves to. I picked up some great patterns (Simplicity patterns 1459, 1039, 2917, 1587 and 1417), although a couple have since been rehomed to my mum!

Did anyone else attend the event? I apologise if I didn’t say hello and if you are in any of the pictures please let me know!

Taken by Rachel at House of Pinheiro. I have my eyes shut, of course…

V1467 peacoat sewalong

I caved in and am going to (try) to take part in Rachel from House of Pinheiro and Mccall Patterns Vogue V1467 peacoat sewalong! I saw this pattern several weeks ago when one of you lovely lot reviewed the new Autumn patterns (I’m sorry but I can’t remember who it was! Pleasv1467e let me know if it was you!) and I loved this on sight, but have been debating joining in for the sewalong. Do I need another coat?! I was at work on a break when I discovered Vogue patterns were half price (win!) so I dragged my partner on a later night John Lewis trip and picked it up! Based on the schedule I’m a bit behind as I don’t have any fabric yet, so I’m hoping to pick something lovely up next week on Goldhawk Road after the Simplicity blog meet. I’m not even sure what I’m after yet – it might be a case of ‘I’ll know it when I see it’.

Is anyone else taking part? Has anyone used this pattern before or have any useful tips for working with Vogue patterns? I know they can be notoriously difficult and my last attempt with one was a complete and utter fail so I’m not quite sure what I’m doing!

Birthday gifts!


It was my birthday last week! I was travelling from Cologne to Utrecht on the day so celebrations were quite subdued but when I got back home I opened my gift from mum and dad and found these! The Bestway pattern is from 1950 and the Butterick is probably mid Fifties, although undated. I love the dress pattern and I’m thinking of tracing it off and hacking it into a blouse? I don’t really wear a lot of dresses but they’re just so fun to make! I’m trying to make an effort to make more sensible, useful things to fill my wardrobe but this looks like it might work quite nicely as a blouse? I love vintage pattern envelopes, the ladies are all so pretty – this one is my favourite. She’s just so cute!


Simplicity Blog meet 2015

Simplicity Pattern Company are holding their very first blog meet! I managed to get a place – who else is attending?

On September 15th at the Good Housekeeping Institute in London, bloggers will be treated to a sewing workshop with May Martin (judge on the Great British Sewing Bee) as well as get a peek at the new pattern collection, a chance to meet other sewing bloggers plus a goodie bag (and who doesn’t love a goodie bag)! I’ve never been to a blog meet but as Simplicity and Good Housekeeping have been around forever, I’m sure we will be in good hands!

All the information is in the link above – it’d be lovely to meet some of you there! As it finishes at around lunchtime I thought I might venture to either Walthamstow or Goldhawk Road in the afternoon and abuse my bank balance… Who’s in?!

Simplicity 15th September blog meet badge.

A Lowlands fabric shop roundup

I’m back! I was away last week in The Netherlands and Germany, hence the radio silence but I’m home and getting back into the swing of real life, which means blogging again! Obviously being away from my sewing machine means no progress on any projects, so this post is just going to be a quick round up of the fabric shops I came across on my travels. I recommend expanding the pictures to get a good peek into each shop!

First stop – Cologne
Cologne was the first stop on our trip and it’s a lovely vibrant little city on the Rhine. Great for museums and galleries as well as shopping, I really liked the buzz oStoff Colognef the city, and we stumbled across a fabric shop in the first few hours of being there!

The first shop we came across was Stoffhaus Cologne. Just off the main shopping street (and right opposite the Hard Rock Cafe, where they do
a good cheesecake…), this little shop is packed almost from floor to ceiling with a good range of fabrics and haberdashery supplies. My eagle eyes had spotted the bargain bin outside from 20 paces, and I picked up a great cotton check double-sided gauze for just €2.90 per metre! There was also a big table of good sized remnants inside by the till although I didn’t pick up anything else. Unfortunately they don’t have a website at the moment (hence the Google link) but it’s worth visiting if you’re in the neighbourhood. They have a great range of wools, suiting and denistoffmuellerm as well as some upholstery fabric but they didn’t have much in the way of fine silks or cottons. However this might just be due to the changing season so it may be worth visiting in spring. Very reasonable prices too, with pure wool suiting starting at around €13. Bargain.

Next was Stoffmueller (sorry again about the Google link). This was slightly further away from the main shopping streets, but if you’re heading towards the Neumarkt for more shopping it’s on the way as it’s right opposite the Cologne Opera House. This was the biggest shop we found, stretching across 2 large units but I only managed to get a picture of one half! This too was packed with a really good range of materials. Their range was more complete as they had plenty of cottons as well as finer fabrics, although not much haberdashery in this store. They too also had a sale table starting from €5 but I didn’t pick up anything here either. I do regret not buying the sweet floral cotton print at the front of the top picture, and they also don’t have an online shop, which is a shame as their prices were also very reasonable.

Second stop – Utrecht
I’ve visited this city inUtrecht the centre of The Netherlands a few times now and I really love it there. Great atmosphere, beautiful old buildings and just generally a good vibe. On one of our wanders I stumbled across this great shop, Baars & Van De Kerkhof and their range was fantastic! Just walls of treasure! I fell in love with a woven ribbon with Delft blue windmills on. Why oh why did I make the sensible, adult decision and not buy it?! Regrets. Might just have to go back! Utrecht is also home to a weekly fabric market called the Lapjesmarkt which has been going on for centuries but is only on Saturdays. Definitely want to go back for this one day! However no website again (have they not heard of WordPress?!). Wortstoffhuis anjah a visit if you’re planning on stocking up!

Third stop – Gouda

We visited the town famous for its cheese on Friday for the afternoon. The town, although very pretty, was a bit quiet for us and to top it off it chucked it down with rain! I did however find another great fabric shop on a quiet little side street. Stoffenhuis Anja (woohoo! Website!) had a great range too and they also had some space for classes and teaching in the back. Don’t be put off that it’s in Dutch – Google Translate is a wonderful thing and if you’re really stuck, we found most Dutch people spoke pretty good English so you may have more luck calling the shop to get what you need.

If you would like to see more of last weeks adventures as well as my other day to day ramblings, follow me on Instagram (finally got a link in my sidebar) as I’ll be posting some more of my travel pictures this week! (as well as some pictures of cats and food, probably…)

#sewphotohop Day 30: Favourite era

#sewphotohop Day 30: Favourite era. Yes I know it’s September but I’m in Germany eating shnitzels so I’ve got a little behind! Will post properly about my trip when I’m home. I love the glamour of the 1950’s, but I never really wear anything that fits the era. Maybe one day I will be as glamorous as the ladies on this vintage Butterick pattern envelope…