Craftee_Welsh_One’s Sewing Exploits – Darling Dress – Floral Chambray

Megan Neilson Darling Dress – Floral Chambray

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The first time I visited TrixieLixie, I stroked this fabric [White Floral Printed Chambray] and knew I had to have it, though did not walk away with it that day – big mistake. All I could think about was how nice it would be once made into a dress. I knew exactly which dress pattern I wanted to use too. For weeks all I could think about was getting my hands on this fabric.
My birthday was around the corner and I knew that was the perfect excuse for another visit to get some. I had a plan…. a pattern in mind and the fabric – that’s not normally how it goes, I normally pick a fabric because it’s beautiful and worry about what I will make with it later!

I choose to make the Megan Neilson Darling Ranges dress. I just knew the pattern and fabric were meant to be together. The pattern is so lovely, it’s an easily adaptable modern shirt dress. It has a v-neck, button front, high waistline, multiple sleeve lengths, large pockets and ties at the back to allow it to be worn in a fitted or loose style. Suits me down to the ground.

While there, I spotted some gorgeous buttons that jumped out at me. They are absolutely stunning – I knew they would look amazing on my dress so added them to my pile of goodies. I also picked up the amazing Prym magnetic pin caddy, with it being my birthday, I had to treat myself!

The fabric was amazing to work with and behaved really well – making it a really enjoyable project. It’s nice and light which makes it awesome for the lovely Welsh summer that we have [occasionally!].

I already have my eye on some other fabrics to make different versions!
Until next time…

….

Tee
@the_craftee_welsh_one

Craftee_Welsh_One’s Sewing Exploits – Liberty Dominique.

Hi guys! I’m new here, so let me introduce myself. My name is Tee and I live in a little Welsh Valley approximately 30 minutes away from Cardiff.

When I came across TrixieLixie – I was over the moon to find that there was a fabric shop that catered for my needs (and wants) so close to home! The fact that it stocked lots of independent patterns really excited me! The fabric selection goes without saying…. It is absolutely amazing. The colours, the variety, the amount, just absolutely glorious! I have visited the shop a few times now, and am always filled with the little excited butterflies in my tummy, that’s without stepping foot through the door, it’s just from seeing the shop front and window display! When I go inside, it’s a different feeling altogether, I get so excited I start squealing, literally, with delight. The shop is so quirky and colourful, it will make anyone smile just because everything is set out so beautifully. It’s the little sewing machines on display that totally got me. You really need to visit the shop to see what I mean about how it can make you feel.

I went with the plan of getting some fabric just to have a play with – I had no project in mind really, but took a look at some of the Tilly and the Buttons patterns there and fell in love with Dominique. That went on the table – I used the table as my little basket so I had my hands free the whole time to do plenty of stroking!

I absolutely love the colour pink and really thought I would go for something along those colours, but I went completely a different way and ended up purchasing some of the gorgeous Liberty fabric that I knew would be perfect. It has little speckles of orange and green in it, on a navy and white base with little birdcages as the main design. I fell in love with the print and that was that – it went on the table – along with some other bits and bobs – which I will leave to chat about another time – nothing like keeping you in suspense is there haha!

I thought the fabric would be amazing to work with as the quality is beautiful – I was right, it behaved so well and was so easy to work with. I love it when you get a nice fabric that behaves – it makes the process and end result that little bit more rewarding – it made me do the whole ‘swishing and twirling’ whilst wearing it!

Tilly’s patterns are so lovely to work with – she talks you through everything in lots of detail – the Dominique is a lovely pattern – especially for beginners and is really a nice add on to your wardrobe. It can be dressed up or down and is lovely and cool for the warmer weather. Each time you make it, it will look totally different, depending on what fabric you go for.

I will most definitely be sewing with some of the Liberty fabric from TrixieLixie in future!

Until next time….   Tee

You can follow Tee on instagram @The_Craftee_Welsh_One

A day out in Stockport

If, like me, you love scrolling through Instagram looking at pics of fabric and frocks and patterns etc, then you may have noticed the appearance of the hashtag #sewover50. It started last summer after a blog post by @susanyoungsewing talking about how older women are under-represented on pattern covers, magazine covers, advertisements etc. This lead to a lively debate from many who felt the same. @judithrosalind created the Instagram account @sewover50 and soon women and men, all around the world were using the hashtag to show that sewing is not just for the bright young things!Susan then contacted Love Sewing magazine and asked if they would be interested in a feature and photo shoot for the mag. Love Sewing said yes and so Judith and Susan put out the call for some like-minded sewists willing to take part,and after mentioning it to my husband, who said ‘go for it’  I put my hand up!

Which is how I came to travel to Stockport, on a very grey and damp November day, with some me-made items in a case, for a photoshoot for a national magazine! There were ten of us, from as far away as Edinburgh and Port Talbot. Some women had been sewing all their lives, some earned their living from sewing and teaching sewing, and some, like me, were home sewists who enjoyed making their own clothes. To be honest, I felt like a terrible imposter. Here I was in a room with people who had so much more experience than me, who had forgotten more than I would ever know. In the weeks before, we had set up an online group chat, so by the time we arrived, it felt like seeing old friends.

There had been much discussion about what to wear for the pics. In the end, I took my rose and spot patterned Joni dress, fabric from TrixieLixie, it’s a dress that makes me feel good when I am wearing it – and surely that’s the measure of a good dress!  Amy Thomas, editor of Love Sewing was there to greet us, with hair and make-up artists too! Amy was so friendly, making us feel at ease and putting us in groups for various photos. Have you ever seen that episode of Friends, where Monica and Chandler have their engagement photos taken, and Chandler can’t smile, and ends up gurning at the camera? Well that was me! Who knew it was so hard to look at the lens, stand up straight and smile all at the same time? It was such a fun day, and since then we have kept in touch, and are hoping to meet up again. I came away inspired to improve my sewing, and with lots of ideas for new makes, new designers to try but more importantly I felt good from spending time with a group of wonderful women. I felt that a conversation had been started, and there was no going back, it was time for designers and publishers to reflect the makers of all ages and sizes. 

If you would like to see these fabulous women and read their thoughts on sewing and life, then get yourself a copy of issue 64 of Love Sewing magazine, it’s in the shops now. And do keep an eye on the #sewover50 hashtag on Instagram, there’s more to come from all of us over50s, all over the world!

You can follow Sara on instagram @saraknitsandsews

Nothing Fancy – just a denim skirt!

Hello my lovelies, happy new year to you all. Yes, I know it’s a little late, but this is my first blog of the year, so I feel I can still say that to you.

I have a little hack to share with you today. It is a Miette wrap skirt, pattern by Tilly and the Buttons. You might remember I made and blogged one last summer, but this one has buttons instead of the ties. I really love my summery, purple Miette, and fancied making one in a denim for winter wearing – but I didn’t really fancy the ties. I also omitted the front pockets. The fabric is a lovely light weight, dark coloured denim from TrixieLixie. I pre-washed this fabric – dark denim like this can bleed dye, so be warned! Because I knew I would be wearing it with tights, I decided to line it (nobody likes a clingy skirt!). They have plenty of lining fabric in stock at TrixieLixie, in lots of colours. 

I have used two, a cream and a pale green, and by a happy coincidence they match the fabric I used to line the waistbands – a piece of rosebud print cotton I had left in my scraps basket.

If you follow the pattern instructions, you will cut out various lengths of waistband and attach the ties. Because I wasn’t using ties, I cut the waistband pieces to match the top of the skirt pieces – denim for the outside and cotton for the lining. But I cut the piece that would be on the outer wrap, (my right side) approx. one inch longer than the skirt piece. I omitted the buttonhole at this stage of making (the one where your tie would thread through, if you were using the ties) I did use an interfacing as well, but it wasn’t stiff enough, and my lovely waistband has a tendency to crumple (usually after lunch!) and roll down a bit. I made the lining in the same way as the skirt, and basted it, wrong sides together, to the skirt before attaching the waistband. I hand stitched the waistband lining inside. I do like to sit quietly with a mug of tea and some quiet hand sewing, there is something rather soothing about it, isn’t there?

I also hand sewed the hem of the skirt, but I overlocked the hem of the lining. Once the skirt was fully assembled, I was able to wrap it on me and work out where to put the buttons and the buttonholes. This was quite straight forward, with the help of some tailor’s chalk and pins.

I had two big navy buttons in my button box. Once I had worked that out, I made the buttonholes on my old Singer. This is always an anxious time, for both of us. She prefers to do her 4-stage button holes in the order 2,3,4,1 – which is fine by me, as long as she does them neatly.

So here it is, my new denim, Miette skirt. It’s nothing fancy really, but I do love the shape – it’s just the right A-line shape for me, and it’s just the right shade of denim and so far this winter it’s had lots of wear.  Sometimes nothing fancy is just what you need!

You can follow Sara on instagram @saraknitsandsews

The pattern and the fabric were bought at TrixieLixie. I pay for my fabric, but I do get a discount.

Fade to Grey

Fade to Grey

Hello sewing friends. Thanks for all the love for the Jonis in my last blog. Despite my moans about the neckband, they have had a lot of wear already. And so, onto my latest make – yes, it is me, you didn’t recognise me in a plain dress, did you? Plain grey? Me? No print, no flowers or purple swirls, no feathers or spots or stripes!! And yes, I am a little out of my comfort zone!!

The pattern is the Fringe dress by Chalk & Notch. It’s a dress I hadn’t heard of until I saw the version made by my Instagram pal @like_my_granny. It is a downloadable PDF of many pages, which means it needs time and space to stick it together and trace it out.

I made view A, with the button placket. View B has a notch neckline. My grey fabric is a cotton chambrey from TrixieLixie, its light and drapey and I needed to pay attention to the right and wrong sides, as it was easy to muddle them up. Compared to some of my recent makes, the Fringe dress was a little more complicated, with more pattern pieces and more stages, but it was quite soothing to lose myself in the process of making it. That’s part of the joy of making our own garments, isn’t it? The making is nearly as important as wearing!

After sewing the darts with the waist ties, and the sleeve cuffs with the button tabs, and the inseam pockets, and gathering the skirt and attaching it to the bodice I tried it on. Oh dear, I know it is supposed to be a relaxed fit, but this was enormous.  I couldn’t put my hands in the side pockets, as they were so far down my thighs that they were almost on my knees!! This poor dress needed some serious structural alterations.

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I took the skirt off, opened the front bodice darts, took out the waist ties. I chopped a whopping two and a half inches off the bodice and an inch off the skirt. I resewed the waist darts making them an inch wider before reattaching the skirt. Finally, I had a dress that fitted – it still has a relaxed fit, but at least now it doesn’t look like I am a toddler wearing a grown up’s borrowed clothes. I sewed the button placket closed as the buttonholes don’t need to open – despite them being the best buttonholes I have ever managed on my old machine.

I wasn’t sure what buttons to use and asked for votes on my Instagram account. My button options were bright red, pearly red ones, pearly purple, bright blue or grey metal ones. Metal won the day, making my grey dress even more grey! Despite being a cotton dress, I think I will get some winter wear out of it, with tights and boots.

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I am already thinking of another, view B with the notch neckline, perhaps in a blue and white ikat print. So, my foray into plain fabrics didn’t last long, did it? Whether you are sewing a plain or a printed fabric, happy sewing to you.

You can follow Sara on instagram @saraknitsandsews

 

The Tale of Two Joni dresses

“Hello, this is Joanie, I’m sorry, but I’m not home,

But if you leave me, your name and number,

I promise, soon as I get in I’ll phone”

Hello there, sewing friends, who remembers that little tune? It got to number 6 in the UK charts in 1978? It’s a catchy little song about a chap whose girlfriend (yes, Joanie) is killed in a car crash and he is so keen to hear her voice he calls her landline to hear her answer phone message.  This may sound odd, but in 1978 having an answer machine was a big deal, trust me!

Anyway, as I sewed the first Joni dress I had that song going around my head, not just because it is catchy, but because I feared the dress would be a bit of a wreck too! The pattern is from the latest book Stretch by Tilly and the Buttons, it contains seven patterns all designed for stretch fabrics, starting with a simple tube skirt and ending with the trickiest pattern – Joni, a dress with a twist in the bodice.  I sewed it in a beautiful Art Gallery Fabrics cotton jersey from TrixieLixie, it’s a lovely dark navy with a white feather pattern on it [Petal and Plume Panache Profundo – Jersey].

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The patterns in the book come on thick white paper, so I traced it using greaseproof paper. Once my fabric was cut I started to add the clear elastic to stabilise the shoulders and waist of the bodice pieces, and this, dear readers, is where my troubles began.

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My overlocker just chewed it all up (don’t worry, this was a test piece!) so I ended up having to use my regular sewing machine, with a jersey needle and zig-zag stitch. I found leaving a long tail of elastic helped to keep it in place when starting to sew.

Once the bodice is twisted, the neckband needs to be attached. This is where the tears (and swearing!) really started. Now, I usually find the instructions of Tilly patterns clear, well-illustrated and easy to follow. But I really struggled with this stage. I scoured the internet for reviews and tutorials and got lots of tips from friends on Instagram. I managed to get the neckband on, but it’s not perfect and it was a bit of a fudge! There was a gap between the end of the band and the top of the twist, on both sides, which I folded in and hand-stitched down. The rest of the dress came together easily – I love it when you seam the sleeves, bodice and skirt all in one go. My first Joni was finished, and I do like it, honestly I do, it’s a great shape on me, with a swishy skirt. But some of the seams felt bulky, and that neckband finish irked me, and it all felt less well-made than garments I have made from woven fabrics. So (and I am sure you will understand this, sewing friends) what did I do? I jumped straight back on the Joni horse and cut out another. This is another fabric from TrixieLixie, a lighter jersey with a spots and flowers pattern [Bromley Jersey]. I bought it during our recent #WalesSews meet-up, and I know it was really popular. (Those of you who were there, I am looking forward to seeing what you all make with it!)

This time I used regular white elastic instead of clear at the waist, and ribbon to stabilise the shoulders (much less bulky) and I added the neckband so it is visible, with a zig-zag topstitch. I lengthened it by about 2 cms, and joined it at the centre, which gave me a V above the twist, but I don’t mind. It’s still a neater finish than the first dress.

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And here ends the story of my two Jonis, thankfully with a cheerier ending than that catchy song. Neither are perfect, but I will wear them happily because I like the shape on me and I like the swishy skirt. Now, if I could only get that song off repeat in my head…!

You can follow Sara on instagram @saraknitsandsews

Spring Green – in Autumn??

Hello, Sewing friends, thank you so much for all the kind responses to my last blog. That purple Miette skirt has had so much wear this summer, it is definitely a happy skirt. Here in Cardiff, autumn is beginning to make its presence felt. But, like a stubborn toddler I am ignoring it, sticking my head in the sewing sand, making another summery skirt and resisting the lure of tights and boots. Let’s face it, ladies, we are going to be pulling on those 40 deniers for months to come, so whilst there is a glimmer of sun in the sky I am going to make the most of every bare-legged second.

So here is my latest season-defying skirt – it is New Look 6346. A simple button front, A-line skirt that comes in two lengths – 18” and 24”, and suits most woven fabrics. I used a beautiful, bright spring-green and white floral Moda cotton from TrixieLixie. It is quite a stiff cotton and I thought it would work well with the A-line shape. I decided to cut the 18” length, then fearing it would be a little short for my chubby knees, added an inch and a half, which sits almost at knee- length on me.

The skirt construction is perfectly straight forward, made up of two back pieces, two front and the four-piece waistband. The button bands are made by interfacing & folding over the front edges of the two skirt fronts. I had my usual nervous moment when it came to the buttonholes – after years of faking it with poppers or faux plackets (yes really!) I have worked out that although my trusty old Singer does do a four-step buttonhole, but she doesn’t like going 1,2,3,4, oh no, my old girl goes 2,3,4,1! Since we worked that out, we manage just fine!

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So far so good, but – and there always is a but – the one thing I struggle with, when it comes to mainstream patterns (commonly known as the Big 4 – Simplicity, New Look, McCalls and Butterick) is working out the correct size to cut. Quite an important thing to get right, I am sure you will agree. I know from talking to others that I am not alone with this problem. This certainly happened with this skirt. I looked at the garment size measurements on the back of the packet, and I looked at the finished garment measurements, usually found on the actual paper pattern – yes it really does say 10 ½” of ease!

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No wonder people get confused as to what size they should cut out. If a pattern has this much ease, then what size should you cut? My measurements put me just outside the size 8, but with that amount of ease, could I get away with it? I decided to cut the 10. After this initial dithering, the skirt came together quickly. My machine co-operated beautifully when it came to the buttonholes, and I sewed the hem, the inside of the waistband and the buttons by hand.

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When I finish a garment, I always ask myself, would I make it again. In this case, yes, I think a denim version would be nice. In the meantime, if you see someone inappropriately dressed for the Autumn, be kind – it could be me! Happy Sewing.

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You can follow Sara on instagram @saraknitsandsews