Any excuse for a posh frock

As always, I’m catching up on posts to share with you all! I know most of you may haveIMG_0194 seen, but a few weeks ago Crafty Sew and So in Leicester hosted the first ever (and hopefully not last) Dressmakers Ball! Held in the beautiful City Rooms, I snapped up a ticket when the event was first announced – how often are there fancy events to make clothes for?!

I had originally planned to make New Look 6393 using a reversible gold, pink and green floral design I had picked up from the Rag Market in March (you can find it in my instagram feed), but then I went to China and fell in love with an incredible sequinned tulle in Shanghai (as I mentioned in my last post). As soon as I could get on to wifi I ordered Simplicity Amazing Fit 1606 so it would be on the doorstop once we arrived back home! I knew I wanted to use the sheerness of the tulle to its advantage and I liked the classic cocktail dress styling on this pattern.

I’ve never used an Amazing Fit pattern, but after my experience with 1606 I will definitely be using others! The Amazing Fit range has been drafted specifically to include different options on the pattern to accommodate different cup sizes or body shapes. Simplicity patterns are drafted for a B cup as standard, but 1606 includes pattern pieces for A, B, C and D cups. I used the D cup bodice patterns, and I was very impressed – for IMG_0198the first time probably ever, a dress fit more or less perfectly straight out of the packet! I made a few very minor tweaks at the top the side and bust seams to take it in a bit across the chest, but I could have got away with leaving as it was – if I had bought RTW that fit like that I wouldn’t have complained! I had to shorten the back waist because of my sway back my back waist isn’t level with my front waist, and I also shortened the skirt a little, but otherwise didn’t have to do any difficult fitting at all. It was brilliant!

I made view D with the overlay, and chose to make the under-dress in a black duchess satin from John Lewis. I wanted something stable and comfy to wear, and at just £8 a metre this fit the bill. I lined it in some cheap cotton lawn that came from John Lewis too. I used the sequinned tulle for the overdress, placing my pattern pieces so that the design extended beyond the top of the under-dress bodice.IMG_0254

As I’ve not sewn with sequins before I did a bit of research on the best way to approach it. This guide from By Hand London was really informative, but I ended up winging it and not doing anything I was supposed to! I used my normal machine and used a slightly thicker needle, and only unpicked and trimmed sequins in a few places. I didn’t really have the time to remove every sequin from every inch of seam allowance, and definitely did not have the inclination. The only time this laziness caused any problems was when I inserted the invisible zip. The seams were a bit too bulky so I did reduce bulk here and got the zip in on the second attempt! 1606 is a straightforward, easy sew and I think a halter version might need to be made over the summer!

I was really pleased with the finished dress, even though it turned out I had shrunk a bit since I did the original fitting and did have to hitch it up a few times throughout the evening! I received lots of really lovely comments from other guests at the ball which was really lovely. I felt comfortable and I thought I looked pretty cute, so it was definitely a success all round! I took very few photos, and the ones I did were rubbish haha! I had a really fabulous time, got to hang out with some of my favourite sewing people – fingers crossed there is a ball in 2018!

Bonus photo – deeply attractive outtake. Didn’t want you think my life was all glamour…

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Fabric from China

20170525_191331Following on from my recent post about fabric shopping in China, this is just a brief summary of what we picked up on holiday, as promised!

My first purchase was this beautiful silk from Beijing. I liked it because it’s a slightly more modern take on a traditional floral print. I suspect it is a digital print but I love the different greens in the silk. It isn’t the best photo I’m afraid because of the lighting in my sewing room but it is a gorgeous grassy green base in real life! I only bought a metre but I don’t have anything in mind for it – maybe a simple cami top or some luxury pyjamas (the Tilly and the Buttons Fifi pattern might work).

My next purchase was in Wuhan and I picked up this crisp, summery white and neon 20170525_191424print cotton. I think this will probably be another Sewaholic Granville shirt, but this time with little sleeves? I picked it because I loved the little pop of neon orange in the print.

My final two purchases were from Shanghai. The first was this mid-weight crepe with a sort of Chinese/Japanese traditional print of flowers and lanterns. This currently destined to be a kimono type cover-up but I’m not certain how much wear that would get and I wonder if a more simple shell top like New Look 6217 might be better to make the most of the print.

The final purchase was this incredible sequinned tulle net that some of you may have already seen on my instagram posts from the Dressmakers Ball a couple of weeks ago! I saw it and I had to have it. It has a black background with beautiful turquoise blue and rust orange sequinned decoration in what I think is an underwater coral-type design. When I realised how cheap it was (£2.27 a metre – I know!!!) I snapped up 3 metres. I’d gone away with one dress in mind for the ball, and came home with another dress entirely! I’ll show you all the dress I made using it in my next post.

If you have any suggestions on what I could make with the silk, cotton and crepe I bought, let me know in the comments!

 

A successful Hemlock

I made another Hemlock tee! OK, I actually made this ages ago… I’m catching up slowly I promise!Photo 04-12-2016, 15 17 40

This second version was far more successful than the first and is yet to fall apart, unlike my first stripey attempt! This is a quick post really as I made it up in exactly the same way as last time, with no adjustments to the pattern. This time the biggest difference was the quality of the fabric I used.

I’d picked up this plain black cotton jersey from Goldhawk Road last year with all intentions to make it into a skirt (the Lindy petal skirt), but as I didn’t have a huge wealth of experience sewing with stretch fabrics, I’d been ignPhoto 04-12-2016, 15 18 23.jpgoring it in my stash. However, since my first Hemlock had come together so nicely and turned out so well (before it started to disintegrate anyway) I was chomping at the bit to have another go and end up with something wearable! Thankfully, the fabric you can get on Goldhawk Road is normally pretty good quality so I can always rely on it!

I don’t really have anything else to add haha! This is a really great t-shirt pattern, but if anyone has any good pattern recommendations please let me know. I have recently bought the Grainline Studio Lark tee pattern and I also have a t-shirt pattern from La Maison Victor, but I am open to all tips and suggestions!

 

Fabric shopping in China

Some of you may already be aware of this if you follow me on instagram but last month I went to China! It’s a trip Hayden and I had planned for a long time and it really was an incredible trip – when can I go back?!

We visited Beijing, Xian, Wudang, Wuhan and Shanghai, and naturally I wanted to do some fabric shopping whilst I was away. Being aware of the luggage/weight restrictions on our flights, I knew I’d be a little limited about how much I could bring home, and I actually ended up only buying 4 pieces (and I plan on doing a brief post about those someone worry!). I do have buyers regret about 2 fabrics I didn’t buy though. Maybe I should go back…

Beijing

We only visited 2 fabric shops in Beijing. I hadn’t done any research about fabric shops in the capital city because I didn’t want to turn the trip into a fabric buying trip, but we did stumble across 2 by accident. The first one is near Qianmen Commercial Street, just near Qianmen Gate. It had a sign saying ‘Silk King’, but ,Chinese censorship being what it is, I unfortunately can’t give you more information! It wasn’t far off the beaten track and they had a good range of both traditional style and modern silks. I found 2 really beautiful floral prints and bought a metre of each, with 1 in mind for me and 1 in mind as a gift for my mum. I paid about £25 for a metre of each, which I know is a lot for silk even back home, but then how often do you get to actually buy silk in China?!

The other shop we stumbled across was the Rui Fu Xiang Silk & Cotton Shop on Wangfujing. This is a big pedestrianised shopping street with some big name brands, but though a slightly inconspicuous doorway is a large fabric shop. I didn’t pick up anything here but it’s nice to rummage.

Wuhan

My lovely friend Megan from Pigeon Wishes had told me there was a really good fabric market in Wuhan so I hit google and found this really great post about it. I should point out, however, that this post was written about 4 years ago and the street has definitely changed – only a few seamstresses and tailors remain on the street itself but the indoor fabric market is definitely still there! This market covers 2 floors and sells predominantly dressmaking and suiting fabrics. I only picked up a couple of metre of a cotton print from Wuhan. I think it was 60 yuan, which works out to be about £6.75. I know you’re supposed to haggle but I’m afraid I paid the asking price – in my defence, it was so cheap that it seemed a bit greedy to get it cheaper!

Shanghai

When researching things to do on our trip, Hayden had actually found out there was a fabric market in Shanghai called the Shanghai South Bund Fabric Market. Now the confusing bit about this market is that it is in 2 buildings (or there are 2 fabric markets over the road from each other – either way it’s amazing). When you walk from the metro station, which is only 5 minutes round the corner, the smaller of the 2 buildings is closest to you – there is only 1 floor in this one although there are signs for an upper floor and escalators but this doesn’t really exist! Prices here were also cheap – I got a beautiful traditional-ish Chinese floral print on a grey crepe that was about £3.36 per metre (30 yuan) and an incredible sequin tulle net that was the ludicrously cheap price of £2.24 per metre (20 yuan) that I could not resist. Once I had a full bag we crossed the road to the other market. This one is 3 glorious stories of fabric and seamstresses and tailors clamouring for business and is definitely worth a visit. I though the prices in here were marginally more expensive but definitely still cheap! I didn’t pick up anything in here but Hayden picked up a gorgeous cotton double gauze.

I think next time I might take a spare empty suitcase next time…

May sewing plans

What a month. In my April post I did say I was going to have a very busy month – I went to China! As I was away for 2 weeks, I did pretty much no sewing at all over April. Before we flew out I was busy prepping and packing to go away, and then when we got back I was jet lagged and then I caught a cold (which I’m still nursing, cough sniff) so I haven’t had much energy over the last few days! However this month is a little bit more calm so fingers crossed I can get more done! I have a few goals for this month:

  • Finish my dress for the Dressmakers Ball! I’ve done the fitting, I’ve assembled most of the dress but I need to work on the lining and the overlay. I did not pick an easy fabric for the overlay (it’s going to be horrendous), so that is probably going to take the longest amount of time! Don’t worry, I will be writing a post about later in the month and will reveal all then!
  • Make the Valentina t-shirt from La Maison Victor. This was a goal for March but I just never got round to it. Hopefully it’ll be a quick make!
  • Make another Sewaholic Granville shirt. I’ve made 3 versions of this now so fingers crossed this will also be a quick make. I picked up a really great summery cotton in China.
  • Make another Simplicity 2255 shirt. I made this a year or so ago but I picked up a really great crepe from Adam Ross at the Birmingham Fabric meet organised by Samantha and Bianca that I think would suit this pattern nicely.

 

April in review

The only goal I achieved in April was to toile my dress for the Dressmakers Ball. I didn’t catch up on any posts or do any cataloging of fabric but I did pick up a few great fabrics in China. Keep your eyes posted for a post soon! Plus, I won a competition! Crafty Sew and So, the sewing shop in Leicester responsible for the Dressmakers Ball had run a competition on instagram and I was lucky enough to be randomly selected! I don’t need an excuse to spend £££ on sewing things haha.