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

Re-made May

During #MeMadeMay2019 I realised that almost all my lush Amy Butler pattern Barcelona skirts that I had made over the years no longer fit me! This is due to the weight gain that I have had during the perimenopause. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy with my changing shape although I could do without the aches and pains that seem to have taken over my body and the hot sweats, the brain fog and the emotional roller coaster that I have been on for the past 5 years (when does it end?).

BUT these skirts are made from gorgeous fabrics that I am not ready to get rid of!!! What to do? Well join in with #RemadeMay of course! So I took 4 of the skirts and completely unpicked them to re-use the fabric! Barcelona skirts became Sew Serendipity panel skirts almost overnight! (well not quite overnight, it probably took me almost the whole of May to do 3)

These are the original skirts that I had to work with, so far I have re-made 3 of them.

This is my Grayson Perry skirt – the original skirt fabric is a Grayson Perry design for Liberty Fabrics that features images of his childhood teddy bear – Alan Measles. I had enough of the lovely fabric to do the main front and back panels and 2 patch pockets, the rest is some grey shirt fabric that I had in my stash.

This is another of the 3, this is a combination of 2 of the old skirts sewn together in panels to make one that fits me! you can see how the skirt is made up from panels in these pictures.

Finally I converted this one from a Barcelona skirt into a panel skirt but I was really lucky with this one as I still had enough of the original material left in my stash to completely re-make it in the same fabric!

I still have a couple of skirts that I have unpicked and have in a pile ready to be transformed so watch this space. I am also looking at ways to make my wardrobe full of By Hand London Anna dresses fit me again – that will be another blog post!

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

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!

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