Liberty Carline Dress (BHL Anna / Simplicity 1873 hybrid)

Now, I've seen a fair few Liberty Carline print dresses on sewing blogs and, honestly, I have loved every single one. Being a Liberty print though, I had always assumed this fabric would be really expensive and out of my current budget. 

Not so! Minerva had it for £9.99 per metre, and so I used some of my birthday money to buy some. A good decision I think! It's a lovely quality cotton poplin, and the print is so vibrant. I love it.
When deciding what to make, I just could not get the Anna bodice out of my head. I think Roisin's beautiful version has stuck with me. I just think it's the most perfect match of pattern and fabric. So I decided to make an Anna bodice with the pleated skirt from Simplicity 1873. It all lined up pretty well - I just matched the bodice and skirt side seams first and only had to move a couple of the pleats slightly, but nothing too taxing or time consuming. 

A Thing to Shake the Heart dress (By Hand London's Anna bodice with Simplicity 1873 skirt in Liberty Carline poplin)
I only bought 2 metres of this beautiful stuff, so I didn't quite have enough to pattern match and I reeeeeally didn't have enough to make the hem facing I wanted. If Minerva had let me buy half metres I would've bought 2.5 (3 would've been way too much). So anyway I had to cut the hem facings on the cross grain (with one of them a little tiny bit off grain). It didn't seem to make a difference and I'm so glad I got to have my nice 3" hem facing! I just love them. Because the facing is a separate cut piece, it's weighty like a deep double fold hem but with no easing in required. What's not to love? 

My lovely hem facing, understitched to help it hang/sit nicely, and catch stitched in place
From the outside. Nice and neat and invisible!
I had intended to use an invisible zip for this dress, but for some reason I had it in my head that the background of this print is Ivory. It really isn't, it's a very yellowy cream colour, so the Ivory invisible zip I had bought looked ridiculous (yes I know it's just the zip pull on show really, but it still bothered me). Luckily I had an ordinary zip in cream in my stash, so I used that and put in a centred zip. 

I also did some more fit work on the Anna bodice, and I'm so glad I have finally fixed some pretty massive fit issues! When I made my earlier versions, I was much less experienced and, while I got so far with my fit work, I had a lot of neckline gaping that I really didn't know how to sort out at the time. I still wear two of my early Annas (here and here) but the neckline bugs me every time.
Really, what it boiled down to, was that I needed to raise the shoulder seams by a good 5/8". This is a standard adjustment for me, but I guess I didn't know that yet when I made my first version of the Anna back in the day! So once I had raised the shoulders, lengthened the bodice and redrawn the neckline, the back was perfect and at the front I only had a slight gape to contend with. So I split the wedge I needed to pinch out into two wedges along the front neckline, taped them down on my pattern piece and cut a toile. Imagine my delight when it was a goldilocks fit straight away (juuuuust right). 

Side view

I find it a bit comical how white my legs are in these pictures. I mean, I've got no problem with my skin colour, I quite like being pale! But there's pale and then there's almost whiter than the white wall behind me. Also spot the changing shoes! I wore the green flats with it all day but wanted to see which other shoes would go with it. Conclusion: I need some tan flats, preferably T bar. I'm all about the flats at the moment. 

I kept adding and removing the belt in these pictures too, just to be confusing! 

Anyway, I really love this dress. I wore it 
all day on Wednesday and blooming loved it. I felt all serene and swishy in it. And every new dress deserves to be danced around the living room in, right? 

Over and out x

Me Made May Week 5

Well, it went so quickly! Here are the last few days of my Made May outfits. 

Day 23: Sunday 29th May

Lady Luck dress (BHL Anna) - me made 
Pink belt - Apple tree boutique
Black Paloma cardigan - Hell Bunny
Black tights
Heart shoes - Melissa

Today was a lovely, very Sunday-ish Sunday, complete with lazy morning, bits of tidying, a lunchtime walk and then sewing with a cup of tea. It was so nice. 

I didn’t wear these shoes to go walking in, but I did wear them around the house. They were just sitting next to the wardrobe and I just wanted to put them on. They’re very lovely to look at but they crunch my feet up a bit :( I may have to put them on eBay! 

Day 24: Monday 30th May

Paper doll top - (New look 6217) - me made 
Jeans - H&M
Plimsoles - new look
Cardigan - Zara 

Today I was teaching a musical theatre workshop for kids, and they were lovely and rather comical. So I needed a "leaping around appropriate" outfit, and thought it would be a good occasion to debut my new black viscose tee shirt. I've got a feeling this is going to be a very useful garment! 

This jersey cardigan is so old now, but I keep wearing it! One of these days it will fall apart. I've been meaning to copy it for years. Perhaps this year I'll get round to it. 

Day 25: Tuesday 31st May

Flibertygibbet dress (lady skater) - me made

Black leggings - tu
Black ankle boots - office 
Black Belt - topshop 
Mac - collectif 
Mac belt (brown) - apple tree boutique 

Well it chucked it down today, and for once I was dressed for the weather! Even with my shower proof Collectif Mac and an umbrella, my hair got wet though! It was so wild, wet and windy! I was in such a good mood though that I didn't mind. Another day of workshop teaching then hanging out with my best mate, stuffing lavender hearts for her wedding in July. Then later we met our other extremely lovely friend for a catch up. An excellent day! 

I did it! 25 days out of the month wearing Me-Made clothes. Honestly, I’ve loved it. It has pushed me to sew some of the things I’ve had planned for a while, and it has really made me appreciate my lovely clothes. Maybe next year I’ll finally be able to try and wear one me made item every day of May? I just need to sew some more T-shirts, mainly for when I’m teaching dance and drama. Or maybe it’s fine and I’ll just keep wearing RTW on those days, and not sweat the small stuff. I did find it really fun to make those viscose tees though, so perhaps I’ll love whipping up quick jersey T-shirts. 

I hope you’ve all had fun too, if you’ve been taking part in Me Made May. I’ve loved seeing everyone’s updates or posts on Instagram. It’s really inspiring to see how everyone styles their hand made garments.

I’m on a roll at the moment with my sewing productivity, so I should have a few new things to blog soon. Here’s to hand made! 

Little Black Tee (another viscose New Look 6217)

Well, I was so happy with my floral viscose New Look 6217 that I immediately made one in black, too. This black viscose has been maturing in my stash for years, and I was glad to finally cut into it. I've also got a dress planned using the rest of it. It is just so lovely and drapey! So nice to wear. I even really appreciate the colour. It's kind of a blacker-than-black black.

So, not much to say about my little black tee, but here it is: 

Paper Doll top (New Look 6217 in black viscose)

I did a few things slightly differently on this version, namely:

  • lengthened by 1". I love this length, it's perfect, so I'm glad I lengthened it.
  • sewed the sleeve hems at 5/8" as the pattern instructs, rather than the 3/8" I did last time. I think I prefer the slightly shorter sleeves.
  • stuck to the order of construction as directed in the pattern instructions. I wish I hadn't! With my last version I didn't really follow the instructions much, only for the odd thing, but with the black one I wasn't really thinking so I just blindly followed the instructions to the letter. They have you hem the sleeves first, then sew up and finish the side/underarm seam. That's weird to me! There's a lesson there I suppose: I have trusted my instincts that the hem should be left til last. 

I made a rouleau loop for the button hole again, and actually used another of those brass-look buttons from my button tin. Not because I'm boring (honest). I tried lots of different buttons but liked this the best. 

Black is notoriously difficult to photograph well - and I photographed it against our black fire place - so I'm sorry if you can't see it properly! Basics also aren't quite as exciting to blog, are they, but I can tell this is going to be a well used and well loved part of my wardrobe. It could even be dressed up and be more of a blouse. Versatile little thing.

Having a little snooze while I show the side view

Yesterday I also got round to doing some mending, including a real bargain I got a while ago. This lovely silk £61 Mimi Holliday bra was already on sale at TK Maxx, but with a broken strap. I managed to talk them down on the price because of this (I may have even used the phrase: "well, it's broken. Who else is going to buy it?" Which I still maintain is valid and true). So I got it for the princely sum of £3. It took all of 5 minutes to sew back together, and once again I'm really grateful that I can sew! Do you find that being able to sew helps you get great bargains? 

Before: the broken strap and the bargain price tag

After: mended! Not the neatest but hey, it's on the inside anyway.

Right, I'm off. I've just cut into my lovely Liberty carline, and I can't wait to sew it up. Perhaps I'll do it while I watch the Sewing Bee. To be honest that sounds like a perfect Monday night to me. 


Me Made May Week 4

Day 18: Sunday 22nd May

Stern and tragical dress (S2444) - me made
Headscarf (bluegingerdoll's free pattern) - me made
Pink belt - vintage
Black Paloma cardigan - hell bunny 
Nude ballet pumps - office 

Headscarf completely necessary due to messy hair. My day off! What better outfit for a day's sewing than a tape measure dress? 

Day 19: Monday 23rd May

Ophelia top (New Look K6217) - me made
Jeans - H&M
Black vest top - H&M
Cardigan - Calvin Klein via TK Maxx
Nude ballet pumps - office 
Sunglasses - cheap Monday 

I made this top yesterday afternoon and couldn't wait to wear it! It didn't disappoint - it is lovely! so light and drapey and easy to wear but still looks like I've made an effort. Plus it's so cool and breathable! It gave me joy. How wonderful that something so simple as a new me made t shirt can make me so happy and make my day better for wearing it! 

Day 20: Wednesday 25th May

Jinx jacket - me made
T shirt - attacked by me with a sharpie 
Optional Lightbulb headpiece - me made
Grey cardigan - Calvin Klein via TK Maxx
Jeans - H&M
Pumps - TK Maxx 

May seems to have been the month for fancy dress! Today is my friend Kirsty's birthday do - and she decided she wants to walk the monopoly board! I was well up for it but also couldn't figure out how it would work! It's a long way!! So I wanted a fancy dress outfit that would be comfy to walk all day in. This was the best I could come up with! I was a bit disappointed in myself that I hadn't prepped earlier, when I found out you can buy Monopoly money print fabric! I could have made a money dress!! Ah well, I wasn't organised enough for that. So I plumped for the electric company square. It was a lot of fun but so exhausting! We walked 26km!

The Fitbit don't lie

Day 21: Thursday 26th May

Poet's corner dress (BHL Anna) - me made
Belt - vintage
Black leggings - tu
Black Paloma cardigan - hell bunny
Nude ballet pumps - office 

Achy legs day! Teaching/admin/errands day today, and this outfit again because I like it and it's easy to wear. I just needed comfort and practicality today! 

Day 22: Saturday 28th May

Magpie feather dress (Flora / Emery hybrid) - me made
Navy tights - Dorothy Perkins
Pink shoes - oasis
Green Paloma cardigan - hell bunny 
Green tweed handbag - vintage, from oxfam. The label says JR handbags.

This was just such a lovely day! A rare Saturday off for me, which meant I could do parkrun first thing, which, while painful and hard, was really fun and I felt great afterwards. Then Liam and I went to Hampton Court Palace for the day, which was just glorious. The sun came out, we looked around the whole palace and gardens, tackled the maze, had a picnic on the lawn and generally had a grand old time. 

Onto the outfit! This dress is my current favourite. There's simply nothing wrong with it and as usual I really enjoyed wearing it. Plus this bag is such a beauty! I picked it up in a charity shop years ago for about £3! A steal! 

Only one more instalment of Me Made May outfit posts to go! Right now I'm enjoying a lovely lazy Sunday, and I'm planning to cut into some absolutely beautiful fabric today. Happy Ree. x

Floaty Viscose T-shirt (New Look 6217)

Hi all! I seem to have got my sew-jo back, since I have my third May make to show you. And it's a good one. 

The Ophelia top (New Look 6217)
Yes, it's just a simple T-shirt, but I really REALLY enjoyed making this. I wore it on Monday and loved wearing it too, so I'm super happy. This project also gets big ticks on all my sewing lists - my goals for 2016: to sew more separates (tick) and use my stash (tick), and it's also one more project to tick off my "projects in the pipeline" list. I love ticking things off lists! Yes I'm one of those people. I sometimes even add something I've already done to a list I'm writing, just so I can tick it. I'm odd, aren't I? Anyway, moving on....

The fabric. It is a lovely, soft, drapey viscose (known as rayon in the US I believe) leftover from the Poet's Corner dress I made almost 2 years ago. In that blog post I even wrote that I would make a top from the leftovers. Well, I have finally done it and it's a definite success.

When I made that dress two years ago, I had a bit of trouble with cutting out the fabric. I found it hard to keep the grain true and stop all that shifting of the lovely floaty fabric, so my cutting was less than accurate. I've read lots of tips since, most advocating use of a rotary cutter, but that isn't my bag. Whilst I love my rotary cutter for cutting rectangles and for quilting, for cutting out garments I much prefer my shears! I'd thought of trying the tissue paper sandwich method, but it seems quite wasteful and faffy to me. I've had success with silks soaking them in gelatine, but I didn't have time for the soaking and drying this time. So I did a bit of googling and found this article by Sunni at A Fashionable Stitch. It is a GAME CHANGER!

I was a bit sceptical, but it totally, 100% worked. It honestly is a little bit like magic. All my seam lines and notches matched up, everything stayed on grain and I got nice clean cutting lines rather than jagged ones. And it was so easy. 

I didn't have any calico around, so I used an old duvet cover (which has been hacked a bit for dress linings). I laid it out on the floor, laid my viscose nice and flat on top of it, then pinned the pattern through all three layers. Then, as Sunni directed, I cut through only the viscose layer. Wow, oh wow I'm impressed with this method! It is making me want to sew all things viscose, because it was so easy and I love wearing viscose.

Did you know that viscose is made of wood pulp? So it is technically a man made fibre but it comes from a natural raw product, if that makes sense. That explains why it's so breathable and comfortable to wear! I found Karen's post about viscose really interesting, with lots of wisdom in the comments, too.

I used my walking foot when sewing it, and had no bother at all, it behaved so well. 

Now, the pattern. It's been sat in my stash for yonks - I think it came free with Sew magazine last year some time - and after doing a bit of googling of other people's versions, I decided this would be my viscose tee. I made a size 14 with no alterations, and it's just right. Be cautioned, there are 4" of ease on top of body measurements allowed in the sizing of this, so you might want to size down one size (my measurements were in the size 16 bracket but I'm glad I sized down, this is perfect).

There's a little keyhole in the back seam, which I really like. The pattern calls for you to make a thread loop but I went with a quicker and easier rouleau loop. I made so many for my wedding dress and blue dress that I don't really find them stressful now! 

Kind of pretty much pattern matched centre back seam!
The button is of mysterious origins, it was in my button tin. There's another thing that gives me ridiculous levels of joy. Searching for the right button in the button tin is my idea of a good time! Tell me I'm not the only one?! 

I used a 3/8" hem on the sleeves and the hem rather than the 5/8" allowed on the pattern. This was mostly due to laziness, as it meant I could just overlock and turn up the overlocked bit. I know, I know, I should have changed the thread on my overlocker. Shhh no one would ever know. 

The pattern calls for a bias binding neckline facing, so I used some white binding that I got for 50p a packet a couple of months ago up north. It also helps to stabilise the neckline a bit, so I'm glad I didn't go to the effort of making viscose self fabric binding, there'd have been no point. 

I do wish that I had made it slightly longer like Jane did. This length is fine, but I think I'll add an inch next time. There will be a next time! I have some black viscose queuing up, I'm itching to make another of these! 

Me Made May Week 3

Aaaaand we're past the half way point! It's whizzing by!

Day 13: Sunday 15th May

Meadow dress (B4443) - me made
Pale blue Paloma cardigan - hell bunny 
Criss cross sandals - new look 

Ah what a lovely day! I was shattered in the morning, so had a really lazy start to the day: we watched DVDs in our PJs for a while and then Liam made a lovely Sunday lunch. In the afternoon we went to Richmond park and had a gorgeous walk around, said hi to the deer. Also for the first time we saw the vista of St. Paul's cathedral from King Henry's mound at Richmond park. It's over 10 miles away but it's such a clear (and protected) view. All in all, a Blissful Sunday! 

Day 14: Tuesday 17th May

Sinking Sun dress (emery) - me made
Black leggings - tu at sainsburys 
Nude ballet flats - office 
Paloma cardigan in green - hell bunny 

I woke up today with a painful crick in my neck. Not my favourite! Wearing this dress is always nice, I love how colourful it is. I went with a green cardi today but it looks great with red too. 

A full day of teaching. I've taken on more teaching work lately and I have to admit, it is really tiring me out. I'm sure once I get used to my new work load it will be fine, but I am really feeling it at the moment! I still managed to finish the dress I've been sewing in the evening, and cook us a delicious home made curry, so I still feel like I've achieved stuff today! 

Day 15: Wednesday 18th May

Paloma cardigan in teal - hell bunny
Black tights 
Black knee high boots - Aldo
Wide elastic belt - topshop aaaaages ago 

Back in tights and boots for a rainy day. I really like this outfit, actually, and for once I'm dressed for the weather!! I love this belt but it does have a tendency to pop open at inopportune moments! I had to work for a few hours this afternoon but also did a bit of blogging and cut out a new top. I'm finally sewing some separates! Can you believe it?!

Day 16: Thursday 19th May 

Navy Coco top - me made (unblogged but seen here)
Red jeans - Vera moda 
Nude ballet flats - office 

A super simple and comfy outfit for a full day's teaching and treking around London. I really need to make more cocos, especially since this one is so comfy and sewed up so quickly. This navy ponte was from A1 fabrics on Goldhawk Road and it's starting to bobble a lot now, so I think next time I will go for a pricier ponte. 

Day 17: Friday 20th May

Marion dress (emery) - me made 
Black leggings - tu
Nude ballet pumps - office
Black Paloma cardigan- hell bunny 

I'm sooooo tired today! The polka dots definitely helped me feel a bit perkier though! I love this dress so much. I really would like to make a few in different colours - a royal blue polka dot dress would be wonderful, wouldn't it? 

Simplicity 2444 in tape measure print

I have admired the Simplicity 2444 pattern from afar for a long while, and have had it queuing up in my pattern box for over a year. I've finally got round to giving it a go, and I can see why it is so popular.

When I went up to visit my dad in Leeds over the Easter holidays, I took some fabric and the pattern to do some fit work on. In dad's loft is my Nanna's old (and hardly used!) beautiful Pfaff 260 machine, which I've been meaning to try for years, and I'm so glad we finally got it out and got it running again. Blooming heck is it heavy though!!!

It wasn't all plain sailing: first there was The Traumatic Incident of the Dead Bird in the Loft, and then the Tedious Hunt for the Foot Pedal, but we got there in the end. Also the machine was so heavy that we had to winch it down from the loft on a rope! It was so worth it though. I gave it a bit of a clean, threaded it up and checked all the settings, then away we went!! Luckily we found the manual and the box of accessories with the foot pedal (which finally revealed itself amid a bookcase of drill bits, old picture frames and quality street tins filled with mysterious contents), so once I'd checked all the tension settings etc I got going on sewing up my toile.

I usually have to do an FBA on most patterns, so I was slightly nervous approaching the fit of this bodice with it's double diagonal darts. I was considering rotating out one of the darts to do an FBA but I thought I'd make up a straight size first to see the lie of the land, so to speak. 

I'm really glad I did this, as the fit wasn't far off and only needed a few tweaks! I traced a size 16 (closest finished bust and waist measurements to what I wanted), and made the following adjustments:
- took each side seam in 1/8"
- raised shoulders 5/8"
- redrew neckline
- took two wedges of excess out of the front neckline to eliminate gaping 
- created back neckline darts, again because of gaping 
- lowered back neckline 
- reshaped the front darts to be curved 
- took a tiny wedge of excess out of front armsyces 

I have no idea whether I have done this fitting work "the correct way". I suspect that would have been to start with a size 14, rotate the dart and do an FBA. But my way was simpler and it worked. The fit looks and feels great now, and I know this will be a very useful bodice pattern. I really love the diagonal darts. 

So, the fit was sorted, and a few weeks later I got round to cutting out my dress. And I had my first proper sewing accident. Half of a pin went all the way into my foot, followed by a panic stricken 10 minutes when I couldn't find the other half, and I was convinced it was still in my foot (it wasn't, I found it in the end). So, that wasn't my favourite. It makes me go funny just remembering it. 

I was marking the skirt pleats, and the way I do it is on the carpeted floor, I stick pins vertically through the pattern paper at the ends of each pleat line, pull the paper off then mark between the pins. Only I got to the marking stage and my marking pen wasn't to hand, so I got up to find it, tripped and landed on one heel with all my weight. On top of a vertical pin. I now know that the pin broke and most of it went straight into my heel. I'm so glad a bit was still sticking out otherwise I'd have had to root around in my foot with tweezers (ew!!). Anyway, all is good, but it's made me extra cautious now with pins!!! 

Yep. The larger bit was aaaaaall the way inside my foot, with just the pointy bit sticking out 

Wow. I've written so much and in this saga I haven't even sewn a stitch yet. Luckily the sewing part went pretty swimmingly. Let's have an actual look at the dress, eh? 

Stern and Tragical dress (Simplicity 2444)
Ahhh fun fun fun! 

Now, the only thing I don't like about this pattern is the skirt pleats. Glad I went through the drama with the pin in the foot then. Ha. I like them in theory, but I don't really like how they sit. I think it is because they are diagonal, but the skirt obviously wants to drape straight down, so the pleat direction is fighting the drape direction. Which I think makes it look.... I don't know, messy? So I know I will use the bodice again, I love the lines and I'm really happy with the fit, but with a different skirt. 

Congratulations if you made it to the end! Thanks for sticking with me! Here are some more pictures of my new dress. 

And one more picture, only because I think I'm pulling a face where I look like my mum. <3