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].

IMG_7387

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.

IMG_7491

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.

FC969A3A-96E7-469A-B431-33245F47032B

 

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

Just sewing away obsessively…….

I love sharing my latest makes, but I am a bit of a sewing obsessive, as soon as I finish something I start something new! I am constantly thinking about what I am going to make next! So let me show you what I have been making …………

These are the Sew me something Portia trousers, the fabric is a super soft cotton/linen blend that drapes beautifully. I struggled a bit with the zip on these only to realise that I hadn’t cut out enough facings! Great views of Barrybados in the background! I am also wearing my me made Colette Anise jacket and a huge piece of Liberty silk as a scarf!!

Another recent make is my Deer and Doe Myosotis dress, very comfortable, a great dress for big lunches! I would probably go down a size if I make it again as it is very generous. The fabric is a lush cotton lawn by Lady McElroy available here

I have recently finished a couple of Tilly & the Buttons Cleo pinafores, this one is mine. I made it slightly longer and put the split at the back. I regretted not inserting pockets, although I have been persuaded that front patch pockets will work so watch this space. The denim has a slight stretch so it is really comfortable. I also made a Cleo for my sister, I will try & get a photo of us together in them!

I am also doing a bit of mending after obsessively looking at Japanese mending techniques on Pinterest 😂 does anyone else hate throwing things away! I just love this Sashiko technique!

Anyway, I have got lots of sewing to be getting on with (Tamarack jacket) so I’m off to get on with it!

A PASSION FOR PURPLE

Hello sewing pals, thank you for all the nice comments following my last (first) blog post. It was heartening to see so many people had read it. And by that, I mean real people, not family or friends who could not refuse!!

So, which comes first for you, the fabric or the pattern? Well, in the case of this skirt, it was the fabric. TrixieLixie have bolts and bolts of gorgeous, colourful Kaffe Fassett cottons, but this one in particular yelled at me from the shelf, its purple loveliness was irresistible. I have always had a bit of a thing for the colour purple – perhaps it stems from my crush on Donny Osmond when I was five. Each Osmond brother had a signature colour, and Donny’s was purple.  Thankfully for Donny, my love for the colour has outlived my love for him!

IMG_7185

Anyway, on to the skirt. I originally thought I would sew a top, but when I got home I decided it would make a fine skirt, but sadly I hadn’t bought enough, so had to make a return trip to TrixieLixie to buy some more (tough, I know!).  Then I saw that the prolific blogger and my lovely pal @sewistella had made a Miette skirt, in blue patterned cotton, and I wondered why I had never tried this pattern.  So, I made third trip to TrixieLixie as they stock all sorts of independent sewing patterns, including lots of Tilly and the Buttons and I knew they had it in stock, thankfully the shop is not far from my house, though I think three visits in a week means I am entitled to my own mug in the staff room, what do you think?!! [Mmmm… not sure about that – Ed]

IMG_7107

As with all Tilly patterns the instructions are clear, with good colour photographs. The skirt is a simple wrap around, the wrapping taking place at the back, so there is none of the gaping you get with front wrap skirts. The skirt fastens with two very long ties, one of which threads through a gap in the waistband. You can see Mabel, my dressform, helpfully modelling all the lengths of tie & waistband, prior to sewing up.

The gap in the waistband is reinforced, like a buttonhole. I made a half-hearted attempt at pattern matching the two front pieces, but I didn’t waste too much time and worry over it as the bands of pattern are not straight, the ties hang down at the front, and if I keep twirling then no-one will notice some slightly dodgy pattern matching. I overlocked all the edges and hand stitched the hem and the inside of the waistband. No stitch in the ditch for me – I am far too sloppy a sewist, and anyway, I rather enjoy some peaceful hand sewing, with a nice mug of tea and a detective on the TV.

IMG_7133

This is the perfect Summer skirt for the sunny weather we have had in the UK recently, but I am already thinking that this would make a good Autumn skirt too, in a heavier fabric (a plaid perhaps? Or a nice coloured denim?), it would be great lined, worn with knee-high boots – what do you think? Have any of you made a lined Miette? Hmm, might have to nip down the road to TrixieLixie to look at more fabric ….

IMG_7188

You can follow Sara on instagram @saraknitsandsews

trixielixie

Club Tropicana

Hello Sewing Friends,

When the lovely people at TrixieLixie asked me if I fancied writing a blog for them, I said ‘who me?, no, couldn’t possibly’, and then went home and thought ‘well why not?’, and so I did!

Hopefully more Club Tropicana than Agadoo!

 

So, who took part in Me Made May this year? Did you stroll around in co-ordinated and elegant outfits, or did you (like me) find lots of gaps in your wardrobe?  Whilst I am always drawn to a floaty, flowery frock, I realised what I really need are nice basics – skirts, t-shirts and especially tops.

At first glance New Look 6217 doesn’t really jump out – it is a top, skirt, trousers and jacket combo, it looks a little bland but, trust me, it’s worth a second look. The top has only 3 pieces; a front cut on the fold and two back pieces with a centre seam. There is a hint of grown on sleeve, so it doesn’t feel too vest-like.  So far I have made this pattern four times in various cottons. The first was a little snug on the bust so using good old kitchen greaseproof paper I traced the front piece and did a FBA, following the tutorial on the Curvy Sewing Collective website.

I made this top in a lovely Moda cotton that I bought from the TrixieLixie sale bin (go and have a rummage, you won’t be disappointed!). TrixieLixie is a wonderful shop in Cardiff, it is bricks & mortar and online. It sells dressmaking fabric, quilting fabric, patterns and notions, and more importantly you get friendly (and very patient!) service and helpful advice.

The fabric is a vivid green, purple and orange tropical print on a white back-ground. I only bought one metre, which is slightly under what you need for this pattern, and decided to make a cropped version, ready for warm summer days. Perhaps I was inspired by the tropical pattern, and memories of Wham and those boxy, cropped tops we wore in the early 80s, with high waisted jeans, trying to look like the girls in Bananarama! I merely folded my pattern pieces at the lengthen/shorten line and pinned onto the fabric before cutting out. I think I shortened it so it was 17” from neckline to front hem – which sounds very short, but then I am only 5’1”.

I had just enough to make myself some bias binding to edge the neckline. I have tried the continuous construction method, but I just end up with wobbly edges and lumpy seams, so I used the joining strips method, which I find a little tidier. I think the binding gives interest to the neckline. In fact, I think it took longer to make the binding than to make the whole of the rest of the top!

The back of the neck fastens with a button, and my overflowing button box gave me a choice of four – so of course, I went for the biggest, shiniest, orangeiest button. For the button loop I used a length of narrow ribbon (I always cut the hanging loops of the inside of my RTW, so I have a jar full of short lengths of coloured ribbon). To be honest, the neckline is so wide that you could probably do without the opening – but why deny yourself a pretty button? Even if you can’t see it!

I overlocked all the edges, apart from the neckline, and machined the seams, I even machined the hem on the sleeves, though I did take my time to hand stitch the hem of the body.

So here it is, my Club Tropicana (New Look 6217) top in fabric from TrixieLixie. A simple pattern, a simple cotton top, but definitely worth a second look!

I will make a winter coat this year, I will. Honest. Well maybe….

Every year about this time, I think, ‘right then, lets make a nice warm coat’.

Then I dawdle and procrastinate, think well… maybe next week, and before I know it, it’s Spring and I can get on with making those nice fun summer dresses again.

This year, though, it’s going to be different. It’s definitely going to happen.

Firstly I have to choose who I am making this for. My husband is a good bet, he is forgiving and frankly would wear anything. I’ve got a couple of patterns to choose from, the good solid Colette Albion or the trendy Thread Theory Peacoat. We’ve got this nice soft Polyester Heavy Felt that would be up for the job. Mmmm but what about the lining…..

cp2002-albion-01-large-d676699b101ddfe4b4b60db7ebde0dac Goldstream Peacoat 1

Then again, I quite fancy a girlie version of the Albion too or maybe The Grainline Cascade Duffle Coat. We have some nice Boucle fabric, that would be good for the Colette Anise Jacket, or a Victoria Blazer or one of those nice Morris Blazers from Grainline Patterns.

cp2002-albion-08-largeCoatFrontAcp1023-anise-04-large

Some Gabachino Fabric might be perfect for a slightly more lightweight Sewaholic Robson Coat

robson coat 2 Fall+Jordan+Silver

Mind you, I’ve always fancied a Denim version of the Serendipity Jordan Jacket, that would be great for the Spring,

There you go, I’m procrastinating again!

Liberty Fabric Knicker Kits

 

We couldn’t have all this new liberty fabric without making up some beautiful and delicate new Liberty Tana Lawn knicker kits.

THORPE-KNICKS

There’s Thorpe, Tatum, Wilmillie, Kitty Grace and Clarricoates. See all our knicker kits for presents this Christmas on the website.

knicker-kit-set

 

Liberty Jersey Fabric

With all these wild, new Liberty Jersey Fabrics we’ve got in stock at TrixieLixie, it’s sometimes difficult to know what to make with them all.

liberty-jersey2We have made the Sewaholic Davie Dress ourselves and we know others who are ardent fans of Cake Patterns knit dress range.

knits-1Best-selling Colette do three dress patterns, [Myrtle, Moneta, and Wren] and a skirt pattern [Mabel] that have been designed specifically for jersey and after trying them all we can say they are straightforward and great fun, with a size range that will accommodate everyone.

knits-2