Monday, 12 May 2014

Lekala Dress 5957 with no fitting whatsoever and #NYlon2014 excitement

I have found the best thing ever- a site that sends you patterns that are drafted to your exact measurements AND are a lot cheaper than usual PDF patterns. I picked the tightest thing I could find to test out how accurate they can get the fit and let me tell you, it's very accurate.

The illustrations can be a bit hit and miss on the site and the usability leaves quite a lot to be desired. You'd probably struggle with the pattern instructions if you are new to sewing so I'd recommend getting a bit of practice in before attempting the more complicated garments. Anyway, the dress:
I did absolutely no fitting on this dress and didn't even try it on until it was pretty much done. The first time I put it on, the words "like a glove" were in my head. This really is unheard of. I usually really struggle to get a good fit, mainly because I am ridiculously chesty (yeah, thanks breastfeeding).
This dress seems to completely ignore that. I LOVE princess seams and it does help that the fabric is lush. It's a wool/ poly mix I picked up last August from Edinburgh Fabrics when we were there for the Fringe. It is an amazing store crammed full of wonderful fabrics- definitely worth a visit if you're up there. It's been sitting in my stash for a while and was going to be a Brazilia dress with leather inserts but sadly I never got around to the pattern testing sewing (sorry, Rachel!)
The only issue I had with the fit were the sleeves as the original pattern had them quite wide and full length which didn't look good at all. (My husband was very impressed with the dress when  it was sleeveless so I'll probably make another version with no sleeves just for him to admire.) I shortened the sleeves to 3/4 length and tapered them down. I also drafted a self facing for the collar as the instructions called for using bias binding as a facing which I find a bit untidy.
I really love the fit of this dress and will definitely keep my eye out for some ponte to make another version of this and I will be attempting to turn it into a skirt as the fit is just perfect.
In other news, I have signed up to head to #NYlon2014 and am crazy excited at the prospect of meeting other people that sew and perhaps even a few of my favourite bloggers! I shall have to clear out some more of my stash so I have space for all the lovely fabric I'm planning to purchase so do expect to see more amazingly fitting clothes from Lekala.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Check out MY wide ones.. Claires that is

Now if there are not wide enough for anything, I don't know what is.
They are an experiment, as you can guess. I almost have the fit perfect for the Claire shorts so I wanted to see if I could use them as a base pattern for longer trousers. I used the pattern bit I'd adjusted for the flowery shorts though I think I'll need to undo the addition of fabric to the back and add even more depth to the crotch as they still dig in a bit.
I just lengthened the legs without tapering or widening in any way. They turned out quite special, huh?
I styled them here with a flowery top from BHS which I'd packed away for the winter and was SO happy to find again this spring. There are definite benefits to rotating my wardrobe according to seasons!

Go this shoot, Mia decided to come and play too:
 Not for long though:
So.. what do you think? Too wide? Just wide enough?

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Victoria II and a give-away

Oh Victoria.. how I want to love you..I so absolutely love Sonja's (Ginger Makes) versions of the Victoria  but alas, it is not created for a lady of my stature. I am just too wide-shouldered to carry off a boxy blazer like this. But I had to give her another go. The first one is now long gone via the charity shop. I feel a bit bad about that but perhaps someone found a use for it and at least I have learnt some new skills. Part of me even likes to think someone is wearing it somewhere. What do you do with your "failed" makes? I feel like (with the exception of the sleeve heads) this is a good quality garment so I'd be sad to take it apart which is why it will travel to the charity shop too but I'm still not sure that's the best solution.

Anyway, I digress- please meet Victoria II (and excuse my rabbit-in-the-headlights expression- it's quite hard taking photos using the iPhone as a remote):
 I cut the Victoria at size 12 US/16 UK and omitted the modifications I made last time as they actually made the fit worse. See- so boxy:
I added lining to the whole blazer as just lining the body felt very unfinished.
Both the fabric, a lightweight grey polyester suiting, and lining have been sitting in my stash for a while and are from the now-closed Sew Fantastic on Essex Road. I have been on a bit of a de-clutter mission recently so have not allowed myself to buy any more fabric until my stash has been significantly reduced.
Here's a picture of the back where you can see how miserably I failed to set in the sleeves.. oh well..
I really would love to love this pattern but it really does not work for me. Being an hourglass shape, I really need to emphasis the waist or I risk looking like a big ball.

With that, I would like to give my Victoria pattern away. Now, it has been cut to size 12 US/16 UK (I know, I never used to do that but fell into a bad habit for a bit last year) but it's easy to size up or down. To get your mitts on the pattern, just leave a comment below, telling me what material your Victoria would be.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Yoohoo! Did you miss me?

Hello there!

I'm back! And my sewjo is back! Whoop! Holler!

How are you lovelies? Did you miss me? I missed you. I kind of lost my will to sew there for a bit so didn't feel inspired to blog at all. I did do quite a bit of knitting over the winter but sadly all my jumpers went all kinds of wrong- I just can't seem to get the gauge right.

Anyway.. I'm sewing again! I've quite a few makes to show you but I'll start with yet another pair of the shorts.
The pattern is still Claire from In-House patterns though I did make slight modifications I lengthened the legs a bit and also did a full bum adjustment following the (very useful) tutorial from Coletterie. Looking at the back, I think I should have just added crotch depth instead of going the whole hog as they're quite roomy at the back now.
The fabric is a lovely quilting cotton I bought a while ago from Ray Stitch. I used the tiny bit of lining I had left over for the pockets and bound all seams with black bias tape.

You may have noticed that the pictures are all taken indoors. That's because I am a wimp and was too embarrassed to take selfies in the garden. Here's my best effort:
The shorts have already had an outing today- they even went down the slide!
And I finish with a wonderfully blue slushie for the bank holiday:
See you soon!

Monday, 21 October 2013


Gosh it has been a long time since I last posted- apologies for the silence! I've been busy with everything small boy- related so have not had much time for sewing and kind of lost my mojo for a bit.

When my niece came to visit at the end of October, I discovered that she was totally obsessed with all things princess and really wanted a princess dress. So I went to Ray Stitch, got a world of pink and made her one which I've now posted off to her in Estonia. I've yet to get a picture back of her wearing it so will blog about it a bit later.

I have also been learning how to make a block with the amazing Moyna Hamilton and now have a bodice block of my very own. I must find some time to go learn about trouser blocks etc. soon.

Meanwhile (as you can maybe guess) I have been making whales.
These guys turned out amazing! I have been doing a big lot of de-cluttering inspired by the 5-day de-clutter e-course run by Lisa Cole and had two merino wool jumpers that I was never going to wear again. So I did the thing you're never meant to do with wool and washed them at a high temperature AND tumble dried them to make them go all nice and felted.

I then used this gorgeous pattern for a whale softie from Etsy to make up these little fellas. They turned out super cute. I've made them for two gorgeous little men that I know and will be handing them over this afternoon- I really can't wait!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Planning a fall wardrobe

Recently I've been thinking a lot about clothes and what it is that makes a wardrobe. Growing up, we couldn't afford much so I never really had the luxury to dwell on these things.

I've just finished reading Lee Hollahan's extremely useful How to Use, Adapt and Design Sewing Patterns and am now reading Claire Shaeffer's very interesting Couture Sewing Techniques book both of which combined with the Colette Sewing handbook have changed the way I think about clothes. I have just discovered I can fit back into some of my pre- pregnancy clothes so theoretically I now have quite a large wardrobe to choose from. This sounds nice but how many of us have crammed wardrobes with nothing to wear?

Someone mentioned going back to the Italian notion of seasonal dressing and I do find the idea of rotating my wardrobe every three months appealing. Surely it would be nice to basically get a whole new set of clothes to play with every season? This sounds particularly good when considering the very limited  wardrobe space I have. 

So how does one plan a seasonal wardrobe? And how do you think about sewing warn things in this heat?!

Monday, 22 July 2013


Finished! I made some office-appropriate shorts and a blazer. The shorts are Claire from In-House Patterns and the blazer is the fabled Victoria from By Hand London (worn here with a T-shirt I made a while ago by copying an old one).

For the main fabric of both, I've used the mystery synthetic I found at Ridley Road market and I used a lovely viscose I bought in a fabric shop in Brighton for the lining, pockets, blazer cuffs and waistband facings. (Is it weird that the lining cost more than the main fabric?)

I'm sorry to say that I found the Victoria pattern instructions really difficult to follow- they just didn't specify things like where the cuffs were going exactly (how should they line up) and what the tailor tack was for (the dart, of course the dart- as I discovered once their sew-along got to that point). 

I also foolishly graded the pattern to accommodate my ridiculous bust (isn't nursing great?) but take into account my (relatively) normal hips. That does not work with this pattern. It would if there were buttons to be done up. As there's not, I just ended up with my pockets slightly too far back. Still, it's a nice casual-ish blaster. Some details here:

I have no idea how they meant for you to finish the lining inside the jacket but I decided to cover the seams with a black satin bias tape which I hand-stitched. It looks really neat.

That said, I will definitely have another go at this pattern once I figure out which fabric I'd like it in. 

The Claire pattern went together really well and was an absolute joy to use. I cut between sizes (I am so naughty!) but it works really well and the shorts are super comfortable. I had never  made a fly zipper opening before so it was a learning curve. I think it turned out really well, specially for a first time. Not that I could tell you what I actually did. 

I used some more satin binding for the crotch seam as I had that seam break in the wash on my Iris shorts (boo). I also had to join the facing material as I didn't have enough of the fabric to cut it out straight. Lucky the pattern is so busy- I don't think you can tell without looking for it. 

I definitely see many more of these shorts in my future though first I have to finish the Juniper trousers I started a while ago. Just have not been feeling it as I'm not really getting on with the pockets (long story. 

For now, it is faaaar too hot to sew... Oskar slept through last night which still has me confused as it's not really been his habit since he was born. Long may the sleeping continue.