Wax Print Wednesday: Cleo

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Cleo! Wax print!

I can’t say I thought of making Tilly and the Buttons’ Cleo up in a wax print all by myself – the idea came from the lovely Meg at Pigeon Wishes, when she posted her amazing yellow Cleo. But that’s the benefit of being constantly late to the party with new sewing patterns – you get to steal ideas from everyone else…

This is my second Cleo (I made one in a handsome black corduroy just before Christmas, but I’ve completely given up on the idea of blogging all my makes in chronological order), and I absolutely love the pattern. I know, I know, I must be the millionth person to say it, but it sews up so nicely and is such a lovely shape.

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As for the fit, I didn’t change anything. You might notice a bit of buckling on the bib, and I think maybe I could take a tuck out of the pattern and fix it, but honestly, I can’t be bothered. Guess what else I didn’t bother with? Matching the pattern on the back. That was partly laziness and partly fear – I am not great at matching. That fear is also what drove me to cut the front on the fold and skip the topstitching – I didn’t want to end up with any severed fingers right on the centre front! I did make an effort with the pattern placement though: I figured it was worth the time to make sure I didn’t have any unfortunately placed hands over my boobs!!

Hey and how about the fabric? I got it from Ktextile19 on Etsy specifically for this project. They don’t have any of this one left, but they have all sorts of gorgeous African prints (in fact, it’s also where I got the fabric for this dress).

That’s all I have to say about Cleo (summary: love it), but I should probably add that I live in London now – hence you can see St Paul’s Cathedral in the background of that last photo. I moved quite recently for work, so you can expect less greenery and more famous buildings in future posts!

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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!

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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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Freehand Fashion

It makes me sad to think that some of you might not have watched the Great British Sewing Bee, but, well, I have to face facts: not everyone in the world has seen it. For those of you not in the know, this is a British TV series that features amateur sewers facing increasingly more difficult challenges. They’re lulled in with a pair of cotton trousers, and before you know it they’re being asked to refashion wetsuits into party dresses.
There have been three series so far, but the second series featured a contestant with an approach to sewing I’d never heard of – freehand cutting. Chinelo made the most amazing clothes seemingly by magic, drawing measurements straight onto the fabric, no pattern required. I mean, look at this:
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Beautiful right? And the fit of her garments was absolutely amazing. Considering that I was almost literally hypnotised by Chinelo’s sewing, you can imagine how excited I was to learn that she was releasing a book and sharing her secrets. Freehand Fashion recaps all the basic sewing techniques you need and introduces freehand cutting techniques and projects.
I basically want to make everything in it. I decided to try one of the simpler projects first, partly to ease myself into working without a pattern, and partly because I have become a time-poor lady since starting my teacher training. I picked the chiffon wrap and quickly took to the Internet to find myself some suitable – and beautiful! – fabric.
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Construction is easy – one bit of fabric, a few French seams, and a lot of narrow hemming.

The instructions combined with the diagrams were really easy to follow – there was only one section I had to think about. With mainstream commercial patterns I often have to read over sections three or four times, so that must be some kind of record. The hem tapering up at the front is not part of the pattern instructions – I was trimming the hem and then lopped a piece off. Whoops. So I tried to do the same thing on the other side and I think it turned out OK…

The fabric is lovely too – I got it from eBay, where it is still available in three different colourways. It is polyester, so it’s very affordable – but I don’t think I would recommend it for anything close-fitting. Too sweaty! Also, the print is quite large – bigger than I expected. That didn’t really matter for a long, simple wrap like this one, but don’t forget to factor it in if you want to make something a little more complicated.
So – big thumbs up from me! I really liked this first foray into freehand cutting – I was super impressed with how a garment appeared without a pattern. I will be working through Chinelo’s book, so I promise to blog something more complicated next time!
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Goodwill to all men!

I was determined to make my own dress for Christmas this year. For one thing, I feel like I’ve worn all my party-type dresses to death, and secondly, we’re coming up on my one-year anniversary with sewing, and it seemed like an appropriate was to celebrate!

I got the pattern free with Sew Magazine – in fact, I’d been having a rough time and my Mama came home with a copy for me. The pattern is New Look 6723, and I decided to make view C, because I loooove an elegant boat neckline-sleeve combo in an evening dress.

In the magazine, they’d made a version out of silk dupion, listed at £20 a metre. Hmm. I can’t afford that kind of fabric, but it looked beautiful. Thankfully, I managed to find a likely substitute in the form of some faux silk dupion from eBay. I have to say, I was a little worried it was too good to be true – was I going to end up with three metres of shiny sweaty nightmare? But the fabric is actually really nice. Of course, you can tell if you touch it that it isn’t silk, and it doesn’t drape like silk, but it is still really lovely. I bought the colour “emerald” (fitting), but it has gold-y highlights and doesn’t feel too clingy and sweaty.

Want to see?

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It wasn’t difficult to make, although I don’t think my gathers are beautiful. Does anyone have a sure-fire technique for gathering fabric? I don’t understand how to make it even, then I get annoyed and give up. It took a little while – in fact, I finished all the hand-hemming on Christmas day morning!

The bodice is lined (but not the sleeves or the skirt, which suits me) and it was pretty nice to fit. I strongly recommend checking out this tutorial for doing a full-bust adjustment for princess seamed bodices. I think I might still need to take some material out between the shoulders and the “apex of the bust”. I think that’s why there are some wrinkles in the fabric there.

I paired it with gold eyes, nails, and earrings to bring out the gold tones in the fabric.

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I love the pattern and I want to make it in some other fabrics too – maybe a classic floral cotton? Let me know what you think!

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!