Sunday, 5 April 2020

Marilla Walker's Belmenite Dress in Chambray

When Marilla Walker released her Belemnite pattern late last year,  I was smitten.  The 70s aesthetic, statement sleeves, relaxed fit-and-flare shape, the midi length - what's not to like?  I had a long length of medium weight chambray in my stash, plus a matching zip and thread so no additional purchases needed.  As part of my social media work for ClothSpot, Alice, Judy and myself each chose three garments for #makenine2020, a new year sewing community initiative started by Rochelle of Lucy Lucille.  The Belemnite was one of mine, along with the completed McCalls M74445 wide-leg trousers and the Closet Case Cielo top pattern (pics & post of that coming soon).  



I opted for view A.  The sleeves are set-in flat with a single fabric piece for each sleeve which joins the front/back bodice sections.  It's a really interesting construction method which works well with flat fell seams (how-to notes on these are included in the instructions) for a neat method that encloses the raw edges and adds topstitch detail.  I made a size 3 grading to size 4 at the waist, matching my body measurements to the pattern.  I made a couple of changes.  Firstly I made a small, high round back alteration, just 1/4", using this method.  It stops the front neck pulling back.  I add this change to almost every bodice that I ever make!  I also reduced the bust cup size as there is very little difference between my upper and full bust measurements.  Marilla covers detailed small and full bust adjustments in the instructions and I followed these to the letter.  They worked perfectly, the V lies flat with no gaping and the dress is an excellent fit.






The belt is long enough to tie at the front or back- there's a slight change in look with each tie style. I did toy with the idea of adding pockets but left them this time as I wasn't quite sure of the skirt's fullness.  I might add them to the next Belemnite.  The skirt deserves a special mention.  I love the lantern shape, subtle and much more economical use of fabric than long a-line skirt pieces.  I like the midi-length too.  It's a very wearable dress.  I wore it to The Stitch Festival which feels like many moons ago but instead was at the end of February.  I've been wearing it at home on lockdown and its a comfortable wear which makes me feel like I'm making an effort, especially on my daily walk, and not just living in yoga pants.  I would like to try the button-down front option with shorter sleeves so I have a dress to wear indoors in warmer weather, and outdoors when that time comes...I have a long length of Liberty lawn which might just work...I have loved Marilla's instructions and her pattern drafting so I am tempted to try more of her patterns, maybe the Maya top next?

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Keep Going


The embroidered words have never been truer, these are times for being kind and keeping going.  Routines have changed for us all and we're making the most of all the positives like getting out for quiet walks every day.  Although we're in an urban location, it's close to lots of green areas and a river so we get out each morning, walk Joni and enjoy spring carrying on regardless.




The tulip is from our tiny courtyard garden.  I'm always grateful for having planted bulbs back in autumn and this year, doubly so.  This variety is called 'Early Foxtrot' and each day the pink deepens slightly, very pretty.  Our daughter is home with us, returned from university a couple of weeks ago and she's been baking so we have something to enjoy with morning coffee when we get together from various home working, study and other tasks.  These oat and cinnamon vegan cookies are from Nora Cook's website, we skipped the icing, they didn't need it and the flaxseed egg replacement works really well. 


Some sewing is happening but it is erratic.  My concentration is patchy.  I am concentrating on exercising, getting my dopamine hit from Joe Wicks, plus some yoga from a friend putting her local classes online for the first time, walking, finishing work tasks and sewing when the mood takes me.  I dip in and out of 'news' and removed my radio from my bedside table- I've had a radio next to my bed for over 30 years. Instead, I downloaded the Calm app  (it has a 7-day free trial) and I listen to various non-fiction soporific narratives to send me to sleep.  If I wake up at 4am, which can be the case, I listen to another and I either return to slumber or it stops my mind racing. Otherwise, I'm keeping on, keeping on. I've sewn some clothes and quilts that I'll be sharing shortly. The embroidered hoop pattern is from Cozy Blue by the way.  Meanwhile, sending love to you all xxx

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

New Patchwork & Quilting Basics by Jo Avery: Blog Tour

Welcome to my turn on the lovely Jo Avery's New Patchwork & Quilting Basics book tour! I've known Jo since the Fat Quarterly retreat days and she is such a vibrant person buzzing with ideas and creativity.  Her book is a slice of Jo Avery, packed full of tips and advice from beginner to the more experienced quilter.  I've also taken a few of Jo's classes at the Threadhouse Retreats and she is a great teacher, always looking for a more efficient way of doing things or simplifying a process so it's in reach of all abilities and the same approach can be seen throughout her skills-builder book. Packed full of quick methods for maximum impact,  She's a whizz with colour and it shines throughout the bright and colourful pages.


I made a block from the Bedding Plants Quilt- my favourite project and the culmination of all the skills and techniques covered in the book.  I rummaged through my vintage scraps to find lots of bright prints for the on-point tulip blocks.  The instructions are clear and efficient, Jo's naturally encouraging tone comes through.  She emphasis accepting momentary imperfections and moving on so you can see the bigger picture, sage advice!  


I made five tulips and they came together really quickly.  I squared it off and I think in the true spirit of Jo, I might make it into a large zip pouch!




Find all the links to the rest of the blog hop and where to buy a signed copy over at Jo's blog.

Monday, 9 March 2020

Yay, trousers at last! M7455 Palmer Pletsch Wide Leg Pant in Denim

I have only one pair of trousers in my wardrobe, these dating from 2014.  I don't have any jeans- I know, it's weird.   But I hate the feel of a skinny jean, I don't do much in the way of clothes shopping and when I go to the beach or dog walking, I usually put on joggers or yoga pants. I have had a longing for a comfortable stylish pair of denim wide-leg trousers and I have been looking out for a pattern.  I'd see Katie of What Katies Sews reporting on a couple of pairs, and Diane of Dream Cut Sew who had created a couple of gorgeous looking versions- both inspired me!  As part of my social media work for Clothspot, the team of owner Alice, accountant-in-chief Judy, and me are taking part in #makenine2020, we selected nine garments (three each) to make this year and McCalls 7445 is my first!





This is a Palmer Pletsch pattern which uses their tissue fitting method before cutting into any fabric. The aim is that any obvious alterations can be done to the tissue first.  Large seam allowances are built in to provide extra fabric for fitting- on this pattern, the leg seams all feature 1" seam allowance.
The tissue fitting was a little hit and miss. It gave me a broad idea of length/width fit but once I moved on to the fabric, a 13oz denim with a little elastane for ease, it was a lot easier to feel how the final fit would be. 

I decided I wanted the faced waist finish and moved the zip from the centre to the side.  I also opted for a concealed zip. I cut a size 12 which was closest to my body measurements.  I only needed minor adjustments,, a slight reduction of the crotch seam to reduce bagginess at the front, but I did machine baste the seams several times to get to that point!  

To stop the waistline stretching out with all the trying on, I sewed a 3/8" woven black tape to the seam line for stability. When I did add the facing near the end of construction, it was quite a lot smaller and needed a lot of easing in. I also found the waist sat lower than I thought it would looking at the pattern images. I might add a waistband on a future pair.

 I like to make the insides comfortable to wear and pretty for me to look at so I bound the facing edges and the crotch seam with bias Liberty lawn strips and a Hong Kong finish, as well as adding a zipper tab cover.

The only other alteration was to take 7/8" off the length, I'm 5'5" tall.  



When I add a concealed/invisible zip, I've found life is a lot easier if I sew a double run of stitches. To prepare, I add lightweight interfacing strips to the wrong side of what will form the zipper seam, allow to cool and overlock the fabric edge.  I then pin the first half of the zip in place and with a standard zipper foot, a long stitch and the outer edge of the zip just meeting the overlocker stitches and I sew the very edge of the zip to the seam fabric. One half of the zipper is now nicely secured so I change to the invisible zip foot and sew a second line of stitches close to the zipper teeth.  Repeat on the other side. 


They are exactly what I wanted.  Denim, comfortable, stylish and incredibly wearable. I wasn't sure about the angled pocket intially but now it's one of my favourite features.  The vertical opening section is stitched down to keep the pockets flat but still useable, plus I used lighter-weight denim for the facing to reduce bulk.  


They fit into the much-worn category of my wardrobe already.  My next pair are from this exceptional quality dark navy cotton twill from Clothspot.  It has a touch of elastane for ease just like the denim so I think it will work well.  Yay for trouser success! I'm wearing this pair with a favourite striped version of the top from 'She Wears the Pants'

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Fibre Mood Holly Dress in Liberty Crepe

I made this dress just in time for Christmas so I'm playing a little catch up here.  It's the Holly dress from Fibre Mood. I saw a few versions popping up on Instagram and I liked the winter-friendly style: long Bishop sleeves, high neck, midi length.  Fibre Mood is based in Belgium and sell quarterly magazines (physical and digital) but also single PDF and paper patterns.  The PDF has overlapping pattern pieces so they need to be traced off and seam allowances have to be added too but I usually trace off anyway and fewer sheets to print means less to pay on the copy shop print- I use Dottyprint






I cut a size 36 based on my bust and hip measurements, then made my standard high round back adjustment and added 5/8" (1.5cm) seam allowances rather than the recommended 1cm so I had extra to play with.  I did tweak the fit a little, the shoulders were snug at the back so I let the seam out 1/4" or so and graded that into the shoulder and underarm.  I am quite narrow across the shoulder, I have read reviews where the shoulder width is commented on as being on the small size.  Not much else needed changing. I stopped the zip at the neck seam (rather than ending at the top of the collar) and added a button and loop elastic sewn in the seam as I don't like constriction at the neck.  The sleeves have a bias strip opening which is a finish I really like and enjoy sewing- quilters are used to narrow seams!  Although the cuff looks like a button closure, the pearl buttons are just decorative- I used black snap fasteners from my vintage notions stash.  




The fabric is Liberty Tana cotton crepe (eBay purchase) in 'Mitsi' which has been waiting at least four years for the right pattern!  It has good opacity and more drape than Liberty lawn.  It's also easy to cut and sew with, but hard to find (Alice Caroline currently has some).  For a similar weight and feel Atelier Brunette viscose crepe is a good option. I had two metres and I just about squeezed the pattern out of the fabric (the belt was pieced at the end from the scraps) so there was minimal wastage.  I wasn't sure this print was going to suit me whatever I chose to make with it but I've been surprised and loved wearing it.  It's feminine without shouting Liberty!  When I'm at home I leave the belt off and often wear it with a jumper but if I'm meeting someone or going out, it smartens up with the tie belt.  There are no pockets and I don't think I would add them with this style, the skirt is not particularly full so pockets would be a bit bulky and maybe too visible with a crepe.  I've seen the same pattern made up as a top too, great option!  I like the modern Victorian vibe and that the lines are simple and not too fussy; I'm not into the frills and overlay skirt layers that are everywhere at the moment. Check out #fibremoodholly on Instagram to see lots of top and dress versions. 

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Happy New Year

 I thought I'd sneak back to the blog to wish you all a happy new year!  I've been busy catching up with family, working (extra commission work that fell over late December) and creating presents for the festive period.  I thought I'd share my makes now they've been gifted- click on any photo to see larger:

Firstly a quilt-as-you-go gentle crazy cat lady cushion for my sister.  All the prints were chosen for sentiment as well as colours and it elicited a shared understanding of why they were selected as it was opened which gave me an inner glow of happiness.  This is a large cushion, 22" square with soft and squishy cushion form. This method takes a long time but the texture and end effect are worth it.  There's an invisible zip across the top seam.




Next, a requested cushion for my nephew.  He likes one each year so has quite the collection and my design task is to include his name/initials otherwise, I have free rein. He is adventurous with colour which is tremendously helpful.  This cushion started with the Cotton+Steel pop bottles and flowed from there using stash fabrics.  The letters are from a fabulous Japanese alphabet patchwork book, 'Moji Patchwork' by Kumiko Fujita and Kazue Nakaima.  Amazon Japan, Yesasia or Etsy are the most likely places to find this title.



Finally, my brother requested a denim apron.  I've made quite a few aprons like Japanese cross-back designs and children's aprons so I really enjoyed this challenge. It's good quality denim in blue/black. The tape is cotton webbing traditionally used for finishing carpets.  I found a series of apron designs that I liked online and fused my favourite elements to make a one-of-a-kind design. The top pocket is large enough for a phone and pen, the lower pockets can fit hands or a tea towel and the cross back ties threaded through bronze grommets give an adjustable fit. 




When it's been dry we've headed to the beach for breezy walks which is always my happy place.  It's been a hard year, saying goodbye to our sweet dog Lottie, welcoming gorgeous Joni but also finding she had many complex needs- I am so grateful to our vet who is amazing.  There have been other challenges as ever to deal with but ultimately I am grateful we are here with each other to start a new year. 

Monday, 25 November 2019

November at Plush Addict


A bumper post for pre-Christmas sewing for my November sponsor post for Plush Addict, plus you can save 15% on advent calendars and Christmaas panels before 30th Nov.


  1. Hand Dyed Shibori Cotton Vertical Blocks on Blue.  This is the real deal so this fabric needs to be washed on cool and will run if washed on a warm wash or higher.  Also best to wash separately.  Artisan hand dyed lightweight cotton.  There's a lot of Shibori patterns and colours to choose from!  
  2. Digital Cotton Print - Dinosaurs (140cm wide). Perfect for dinosaur fans!
  3. Stretch Cotton Jersey Knit- Space Travel on Teal. 150cm wide, 95% cotton 5% elastane.  This would be ideal for basic shapes like T-shirts.
  4. Dashwood Merry & Bright Draw String Bag Advent Calendar.  I made one of these last year, don't forget you'll need a lot of ribbon!  I hang mine on our stair banisters.
  5. Hand Dyed Shibori Cotton -Pink
  6. Makower Scandi 2019 Stocking Panel
  7. Stretch Cotton Jersey knit - Sea Birds on Aqua150cm wide, 95% cotton 5% elastane.  This also comes in grey.
  8. Digital Cotton Print-Toy Story (140cm wide).  For lovers of Toy Story!
  9. Hand Dyed Shibori Cotton Vertical Lines in Blue