Pulpos

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Octopi! Octopuses! Octopodes! Pick your plural, these guys are the coolest. I mean, check this out:

I really love them – in fact, on holiday in Spain this year I fell in love with a knitted octopus and brought him back to the UK with me – he’s called Pulpo.

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This fabric called to me when I first saw it on Crafty Mastermind (they’re sold out of this colourway, but they have a really lovely black-on-dark blue one as well. Now do I need a coordinating top??), but as it’s Cotton and Steel and I live in the UK, it was a little expensive. £14.40 per metre expensive. Ouch. So, I wanted a pattern that would show off the fabric, but not use too much of it – enter Delphine.

You might remember that I planned to make this skirt in a red fabric back in August – and I actually did. There’s a reason you haven’t seen it though: it was huge. I tried to shape the waistband and somehow seemed to add about five inches to the skirt… I took it in, but the seams looked a mess, and in the end I gave up on it.

So I decided that the waistband would just have to remain unshaped, and cut a straight size eight (Tilly pattern sizes, not dress sizes!!), although I did add a good three or four inches to the length – I like my skirts to the knee.

It’s a very easy and quick sew, although I did finish the waistband facing differently from how Tilly suggests – I didn’t quite understand her instructions (which is a first – they are mostly so clear and accompanied by beautiful photographs), so I just understitched, pressed, folded the raw edge under, and did stitch-in-the-ditch to keep it all in place. It’s also very nice quality cotton, which made the whole experience even nicer.

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I was making this skirt just before SewBrum, and was thinking how lovely it would be to have something fresh off the sewing machine to wear. It struck me the day before the event, however, that I didn’t have a top to match. Uh-oh.

Sorbetto to the rescue! Sorbetto was one of the first patterns I ever made, and recently, when Colette had a “Sorbetto week” on their blog, I altered the pattern a little (FBA, lengthened it an inch or so, and took out the centre pleat) and made a couple of cotton versions that have yet to find their way onto this blog.

So, I had a simple top pattern ready and waiting, and I also had some lovely navy crêpe in my stash. And not just any crêpe – vintage 1930s/1940s crêpe from a wonderful little shop in Sheffield called the Front Parlour. They sell all sorts of vintage things, from women’s dresses, to cigarette cards, to cocktail glasses, to books.

This top was also a super quick and easy make except… I was seriously running out of time. In the end I wore it to the event unhemmed. I mean it was tucked in – so what’s the harm, right?

And I love this outfit! Two super simple patterns, two beautiful fabrics – and some octopi!

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Robe ananas Lilou

I feel a bit like I’m late to the party. The room is just full of people sauntering over in swishing Delphines, grasping cocktail glasses in gauzy Mimis, and stepping out to smoke in slinky Megans. And here I am, sidling in in my Lilou, a copy of Love At First Stitch under my arm, hoping no one minds.

So I may be late, but the party is still a good one. I am really impressed with Tilly’s book. I might have been sewing long enough to know how to mark darts and use interfacing, but I still found myself reading her instructions on basic techniques such as these. They are so clear and perfect for beginners. And the steps for each of the patterns – including photos! – are great whether you’re a beginner or not.

I plan on making basically everything from Love At First Stitch, but I decided to start with Lilou. Maybe it’s a little counter-intuitive, seeing as it’s the final pattern in the book, but there we are.

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The fabric! I knew I had to have it the moment I saw it. Pink AND pineapples? Now there’s an alliterative theme I can get on board with. I got mine from the Etsy shop On Trend Fabrics (for £5.75 a metre), although I’ve since seen it on Fabrics Galore (for £8 a metre) via Rosabella’s vlog on her August fabrics. I’m excited to see the dress she makes with it!

I mentioned when I said I was going to make Lilou in my August sewing list post that I thought I’d have to make a lot of fitting alterations… but wow did I make a lot of fitting alterations.

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I did a full bust adjustment (obv) and made a toile, hoping my work here was done… Erm, no. I moved the side dart down and made up another toile, but it still wasn’t sitting right (for you non-sewists, the line the dart makes in the fabric when it’s sewn up is meant to point towards the ‘apex’ of one’s bust…). So I changed the angle of the dart. I couldn’t face making another toile though, so I decided to just cross my fingers and hope. I’d run out of sellotape (hence the parcel tape in the photos) and I was going mad.

The darts still aren’t quite right. You can see in the photos above that they’re making the fabric stand out weirdly, but I’m hoping I can fix that by making them a little deeper. What I don’t know how to fix – and I’m hoping, Internet, that you can help me here – is this weird little pucker the straps are making:

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Why?? Are they too long in the front? Is the bodice too tight across the chest and can’t sit low enough? Why why why??

I also lengthened the skirt by five and a half inches (nearly 14 centimetres), but I expected that – I like my skirts to finish just below the knee. Even with the extra length, I managed to squeeze the dress out of two metres of 150cm wide fabric – super economical.

Right – fitting rant over. The pattern itself is lovely. The pleats sit really nicely (it’s the first time I’ve sewn pleats like this, but the explanation of how to do it was really clear, so no worries there). The front neckline is great, the back neckline is great, the skirt has exactly the right amount of swish and fullness – yay! I’m really happy with it and I’ll definitely be using it again. I just want to sort out the straps and darts, and then I plan to make a whole lot more.

And the best thing about the pineapple fabric? I got to crack out my pineapple earrings.

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Stealing ideas: my August sewing list

At the beginning of my teacher training in September, I spent a week in a Junior school, where the teacher had a very interesting saying for the kids: you can’t steal sweets or crisps, but you can steal ideas and make them your own.

Recently, and quite by chance, I saw the post My August Sewing List by Emily at Self Assembly Required. Hmm. I thought about that teacher’s phrase and decided I was stealing this idea. I’ve had a lot more time on my hands the last few weeks than I’ve had so far this year, and I haven’t used it particularly wisely as far as sewing goes. I decided a little dose of organisation might be exactly what I need. So without further ado, here are my #sewinggoals for August.

1. Tilly and the Buttons Lilou dress.

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This one is from Tilly’s book, which I acquired quite recently. It’s going to take a bit of pattern adjustment, because I want to lengthen the skirt and I officially live in FBA city, so I’ll need to do one of those as well. I have two fabrics to make it up in…

The pineapple fabric was cheaper, so I’m thinking I’ll use that, tack as I go, and keep my fingers crossed that I get away without making a toile…

2. Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers.

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I’m hoping these won’t take so much adjusting and should be a quick make (famous last words). I want to make a wearable toile of the trousers in this gingham:

And then I have a few other fabrics lined up to make them in – this plain blue should be lovely for summer and autumn (those ridges aren’t so obvious in the weave as this picture makes them seem… Blame my phone camera):

3.  Seamwork Addison blouse.

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Seamwork says this pattern should only take an hour to make up. Hmm. I might actually time myself (not including pattern adjustment) and see how long it takes. I don’t know if I sew super slowly or they sew super fast, but I suspect it will take me longer than an hour…

Anyway! I really loved the broderie anglaise they made the sample garment in. So…

And then, a couple of days later, I got an email from them about an add on alternative collar they were releasing with a sample made up in black and white gingham. So…

4. Tilly and the Buttons Delphine skirt.

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Also from Tilly’s book. Again, I’ll be lengthening this –  knee-length skirts look miles better on me. I am forever on the quest for the perfect A-line skirt. I tried Gertie’s flared skirt and my own self-drafted pattern, but I’m not completely sold on either of them. So once more unto the breach with Delphine and this red crêpe (same ridge caveat):

Is it too much? Am I mad? These are questions I ask myself often. But I guess we’ll find out!

Roxanne

I’ve been a little unsure of publishing a post with photos taken in bleak weather. After all, it’s high summer and I’ve had to crack out the factor 50 even here in the North of England these past couple of weeks. This morning, however, greeted by a wall of grey clouds punctuated by a thin veil of drizzle, I decided I could get away with it.

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I made the skirt from a very simple pattern and a very bold fabric. It’s view E of New Look 6107, which I got free a good few month ago with Sew magazine.

You might have noticed that it’s not me in the pictures – in fact it’s my friend Roxie, who picked this fabric out at John Lewis. They do still have some in the Sheffield store and presumably others across the country, although I’ve also seen what I think is the same fabric on eBay. It’s a heavy cotton that has a kind of linen-y feel. It’s a little looser weave than most cottons, so I lined it using Tilly’s method, although – full disclosure – I did make a bit of a mess by sewing the zip into the fashion fabric and the lining at the same time.

Roxie was a very good sport about both my lining mess up and me having to take the skirt in a couple of inches – why do big pattern companies add loads of sneaky ease??! I love the way she’s styled it – I wish I could say I made the cape too. So a thank you to her for 1. enabling my habit, and 2. looking a beauty in the finished product!

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Happy (belated) birthday to me!

The start of November saw a “significant” birthday for me – I turned 25. Hurrah! I think it sounds like a nice, responsible age, and seeing as I’m training to be a teacher, that’s a good thing. I want to at least seem what I know like I’m doing, after all.

I had a great day, including dinner with my parents at a pub-restaurant called the Prince of Wales. It’s a little expensive, but the food was really great, so if you have a fancy occasion in Sheffield, I can highly recommend it.

Of course, birthdays mean presents, and this year I got some pretty cracking sewing-related gifts. Shall we take a look?

It’s funny, my boyfriend lives in quite a small city in the centre of Germany, but it seems to be full of fabric shops! There are three within walking distance of his flat, which is very exciting for me and very boring for him. I visited him just before my birthday, and he gave me some €€€ and sent me loose.

I got everything at a place called StoffHaus (Fabric House). Nothing I bought was more than ten euros a metre, and I the quality is really nice. They also had some really fancy expensive silks and wools, if you were looking for something for a special project. You can also order from them online, although I’m not sure whether they ship outside of Germany.

This is a grey knit that will become my first attempt at sewing with knits. I am completely clueless when it comes to things like two-way stretch and stability and I don’t have an overlocker, but I’m hoping that I can turn this into a nice loose-fit dress by improvisation and sheer force of will.

I am so in love with this black and red houndstooth print wool. I actually had my eye on this for a Sew Over It Joan dress, but unfortunately they only had 1.4m left, so it’s going to become a pencil skirt instead.

More wool! I actually picked this up and put it back four times, then I decided if I’d been dithering that much, I’d regret not getting it. I want to make this into a relaxed-fit jacket, because I think the key to teaching is to having endless jackets and cardigans on standby.

And more wool!!! It was hard to get a photo of this one. It’s quite plain grey, I wanted to make some trousers… I haven’t decided if they should be slim leg and modern or wide leg and super forties yet.

That was my birthday fabric haul. Pretty good, eh? I was also the lucky recipient of this Vogue pattern:

I really like view C in particular: I’m planning to make up a few versions in different fabrics for summer and winter. At the moment I’m obsessed with having clothes I can wear in or out of work. That’s not too hard, because most schools aren’t crazy strict about what teachers wear, and I tend to like smart stuff anyway, but I do think my wardrobe needs a bit of bolstering with my job in mind.

Another friend bought me this book. Apologies in advance for the terrible photos, but the weather in Sheffield is so grim that my camera switched to its “night scene” settings and in the end I gave up a bit. But! I am the proud owner of Sew Scandinavian by Kajsa Kinsella.

It doesn’t have any dressmaking projects, but it has plenty of adorable decoration and accessory ideas. I’m planning on making this Nordic scene…

…thess lavender bags to make my drawers smell fresh…

…and this Dala horse earphone tidy! SO. ADORABLE.

 

And now for the big one… I asked all of one side of my family to club together to get something I’ve become more and more convinced I need…

This is the Lady Valet dressmaker’s dummy from Adjustoform. At risk of sounding like a copywriter, it has eight parts, so there’s plenty of room for adjustment in there – you can even change the back length. It also came with some handy bits: a tape measure (I’m always misplacing mine, so good to have several), a free-standing hem-market, and a clothes brush (essential if, like me, you share your house with four cats). I am completely in love – she’s so beautiful and professional looking. I am sure she will be a huge help in my sewing, so I can continue posting my home-made wares!

Trousers or pants? – New Look K6217

Of course that’s a rhetorical question, because these are clearly called trousers. But more importantly: the lovely Simo returns!

The pattern is New Look K6217, which I got free with Sew Magazine. You saw the simple top from this pattern here. I’m getting my mileage out of this one! They’re super quick and easy to make up – there are only four pattern pieces, and then the waist is finished with twill tape. The legs are a lot looser than you might guess from the drawing on the pack, so if you want a skinnier fit, I’d cut the legs a size smaller than you cut the hips and waist.

 

Simo actually picked out the fabric for these in January in John Lewis, my favourite overpriced department store. It’s 100% cotton and I think it was £10 or £12 per metre, which isn’t too outrageous.

Side note – Simo and I once went on a yoga retreat together where she upstaged me with her bendiness.

These photos were taken in Zürich by her conveniently obliging boyfriend – thank you Ansis! (They do live there, they didn’t travel to Switzerland just for the photos or anything.) We have another long distance sewing project currently in the works, so keep your eyes peeled, readers!

A casual spot of pattern drafting…

I wasn’t kidding when I said I still had some summery posts – although this photo was actually only taken a couple of weeks ago, on a day with particularly obliging weather.

Do you know what the crazy thing about this skirt is? I made the pattern myself. No really. Me. I drafted it. I used to have this wonderful skirt – it was floaty and full without being too huge, flattering yet comfortable, and it could be dressed for warm or cold weather. It’s long since been consigned to the bin, as I wore it until it was falling apart at the seams. But I still fantasize about what a perfect shape it was, and wish I could have more of that same shape skirt in my wardrobe.

Boom! I’d like to include step-by-step instructions on how I came up with his pattern, but honestly, I’m not quite sure how it happened. I started off drafting a circle skirt, but then I thought it would be too full for an everyday skirt, so I measured in about four inches from either side of the hem and redrew the sides to match the waist. Then I drafted a simple waistband – double the thickness I wanted, and a few inches longer than my waist measurement for safety. Then it was just centre and back and one side seam to sew together, waist band to attach, invisible zip to insert, and hem to finish. If any of you would like me to give a more detailed explanation, let me know and I’ll see if I can get a step-by-step tutorial together.

The fabric is a drapey drapey viscose (rayon) that I bought here in Sheffield at Grace’s Fabulous Fabrics in the covered Moor Market. I think it was £6 a metre. They’re always very reasonably priced and have a good range for a little stall, so do go and visit if you’re in Sheffield.

Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a pain to sew with, because it wants to scrunch up under the machine foot, and the seams can end up weirdly wrinkly. To counter this, I put some strips of tracing paper underneath the seam I was going to sew, then just ripped the paper off afterwards. It seemed to work pretty well stopping the fabric from twisting and slipping. The hem, unfortunately, did not want to be slip stitched into place, and I ended up using some iron-on hemming tape… So far it’s holding up, so fingers crossed!

I know my eyes are closed in this photo! Sorry about that…

I hope to make many many more skirts with this pattern! It’s so comfy, easy to wear, and smart enough for work. So you haven’t seem the last of it…