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

Double trouble

I discovered a great couple on Instagram who I have been following for a few months called @bonponn511, they have a huge number of followers! Their tagline is

Couple | over60 | greyhair |fashion | coordinate

The theme is that they wear matching outfits! I just love them!

Some of you may know that I have secretly been trying to get MrTL to wear clothes that coordinate with mine, however he is not that keen, haha I wonder why??

I somehow managed to persuade him that he needed a new shirt for work and that I would happily make him another Colete Negroni, what I didn’t let on was that it would match the gorgeous gingham Deer and Doe Bleuet dress that I have just made for myself!

Imagine his surprise and delight, he even agreed to a visit to our local beach, can you guess where we are?                                                                                                                                                                      CNQR2027

I have made the Negroni shirt a few times and I think it is very straight forward and the instructions are easy to follow, sadly it is not available in pattern form anymore, only as a PDF from the Colette patterns website which is a real shame as I for one can’t stand sticking lots of sheets of A4 paper together, give me a proper pattern any day!!

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The Bleuet dress was also surprisingly easy, although the instructions assume you are a competent sewer so they are a bit minimal, thank goodness for automatic buttonholes and a machine that even sews on buttons (all 16 of them!).

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The fabric is a linen mix with a small navy gingham pattern, it can make your eyes go a bit funny if you look at it too hard! Its available form our website: TrixieLixie.co.uk

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Now, what matching outfits can I make for us next??

TrixieLixie Website

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!

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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]

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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.

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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 ….

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You can follow Sara on instagram @saraknitsandsews

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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!

What I made this month! (July)

I am not great at posting regularly so I am going to introduce a regular post about what I have been making each month. Hopefully it will result in at least 1 post a month if not more!

My first make was an unusual request from my daughter, and to be honest I still haven’t finished it as I need to work out how to do the back fastener!

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She does not have a huge bust so I used a halter neck bikini pattern for this Ikea bag hack, I have lined it with a soft cotton fabric otherwise I think it would chafe a bit! She wants to wear it at a festival she is going to this summer, I am sure it will be a great conversation starter!

My second make of the month was this stripey pair of Thread Theory Comox trunks, although it is a bit fiddly making boxer shorts, I find it very satisfying and it uses up any left over bits of jersey in my stash!

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This month we had a few new sewing patterns delivered to Trixie Lixie one was the Washi Dress from Made by Rae which I have heard so much about so I was very keen to give it a go. It was surprisingly easy to make, I was a bit nervous about the shirring elastic but the instructions are clear and easy to follow, so now I am hooked! I love it, its so easy to wear, smart or casual. I made this one using Liberty Travelling threads fabric which is available in our shop.

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Doesn’t the garden look great! I love it when we have loads of flowers in bloom and we can take photos in the garden. Of course I had to make some matching knickers to go with this dress because …………………well what better way to use up the scraps!

Also look at the lovely butterfly that we had in the garden!

In May we went to the Malvern Quilt show and I loved some of the gorgeous quilting and applique that was on display, so this inspired me to have a go at decorating a skirt with some applique, this is a denim Tilly and the Buttons Miette skirt that I have decorated with some Kaffe Fassett flowers and a bit of machine embroidery.

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That’s almost all my makes for July, although I also made some samples for our Kids summer sewing classes that will be running during the school holidays, details for these are on the website here!

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The classes are to make a pencil case, a book bag, an Applique cushion and sew a simple skirt or pair of shorts.

Anyway, I think that is everything I made in July, I have got a couple of projects started already that will keep me going into August and if this rain keeps up I may make a lot more than I usually do during the summer months, we will have to wait and see!

Ginger jeans & Lots of Linden sweatshirts

About this time last year I made my first pair of Ginger Jeans, you can see that post here. So I decided I needed a new pair in a slightly darker denim, it took me a lot longer this time but that is because I have been busy that I am struggling to find the time to sew. These Jeans were cut out in January, the pockets were done in February and I managed to finish them in March and now I am finally blogging about them!img_3795

img_3785In between making the jeans however I have managed to knock out a few Grainline Linden Sweatshirts this has got to be the easiest pattern ever! I made 2 in one evening! The one that I am wearing above and then a quick black & grey one, it’s also a great way to use up any scraps, the black and grey one is made from left over fabric that I had in my stash!

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I used my trusty overlocker to make these tops and also my coverstitch machine that I was still struggling with initially, I am pleased to say that now that I have a clear foot on it and can therefore see what I am doing, I am getting much better results.

I made a third Linden using some of the gorgeous new flowery jersey we have just had in to the shop combined with some black.

If you haven’t had a go at making a pair of jeans yet I would strongly recommend you give it a go, they are not as hard as you think and there are so many helpful tutorials online that cover everything from inserting the fly zip to getting a good fit that you can’t really go wrong.

Happy Sewing!

#bestnine2016

There is a trend on instagram for #bestnine2016 so here are my favourite nine makes for last year, from left to right starting at the top they are;

  1. The Colette Anise jacket, I bought this lovely fabric from Mood in New York and spent at least 3 months on this make as I wanted to do a really good job I used the Colette Anise sew-along to help with the complicated bits, I am really pleased with the way it turned out.
  2. Another gorgeous By Hand London Anna dress to add to my collection, this one in a floaty Liberty Tana Lawn. I wore this to my sisters 25th wedding anniversary party.
  3. This is a Jenna Cardigan from Muse patterns, I used a vintage scarf for the front panels and red jersey for the rest, it clashes beautifully with my hair!
  4. A Thread Theory Camas blouse, it is made with Liberty Jersey and contrasting blue woven fabric on the shoulders, there is a great sew-along tutorial for this blouse.
  5. These are the Ginger Boyfriend jeans that I made with some beautiful grey textured linen, I am wearing them with a Grainline Scout Tee which is a summer staple for me!
  6. My absolute favourite make of the year these are my Ginger jeans! I have worn these so much! I absolutely must make a new pair for 2017, they were far easier to make than I anticipated and I was amazed how great the fit is.
  7. I had a go at a lot of different things last year even shoes! This is an espadrille kit that we have available in the shop, I used up some of the scraps of denim left over from my jeans and the Liberty from my Anna dress. They were fun to make and now I can say that I make everything!
  8. I attempted to make a couple of bra’s last year, they turned out really nicely but do not fit me very well so I haven’t included them here (I am determined to make one that fits this year!) However I was very pleased with the lingerie that I made using one of Gerties patterns, I made knickers, camisoles and night dresses using a variety of our jersey fabric and elastic lace trim.
  9. Another well worn addition to my wardrobe was this jersey top, I can’t remember what pattern I used! It was free with a sewing magazine. I just love the colours in this Liberty Jersey fabric.

 

Watch this space for my #bestnine2017 sewing plans for this year!