Wednesday, 18 July 2018

July at Plush Addict and Eternal Maker

I've lots of the very latest fabric and pattern arrivals at Eternal Maker and Plush Addict for my July sponsor post.  The weather is forecast to continue warm in the UK for the next month or so which is a great encouragement for dressmaking, plus I've included some 'Christmas in July" quilting items for those who want to make an early start!  The Plush Addict website has had a makeover and I found it easier to navigate for specific items, especially on my iPad.

From Plush Addict, l to r:

  1. Dashwood Dovestone Large Floral Viscose (Rayon), wide width, ideal for dressmaking, lots of drape. I've bought a couple of metres of this for a Sew Over It Kimono and cami so this photo is from my fabric.  The background colour is a charcoal grey, it is divine!  Other prints include Ochre FloralSmall Floral.  It needs gentle handling and prewashing (30 degrees on handwash or wool cycle) as rayon tends to shrink.
  2. Tilly and the Buttons Seren Dress.  Suitable for a sewist with some experience. Lots of options- frill, no frill, tie front detail.
  3. Dashwood Studio, Winterfold 8 FQ bundle.  Winter themed quilting cotton with copper metallic detail.  Also available in yardage. 
  4. Dashwood Studio Christmas Street Drawstring Advent Bag Calendar 75cm Panel. Designed by Jane Farnham  I saw these on the Dashwood IG feed a few weeks ago and it was love at first sight. The panel is enough to make 24 drawstring bags (using your own backing fabrics) of various sizes.  Print includes metallic highlights.  I went a little Dashwood crazy in this month's selections, so many good things to chose from!

From Eternal Maker, l to r:

  1. Echino Sprout Natural, Echino in natural. Cotton linen blend. Metallic accents. Gorgeous print and a great weight for cushions and bags.
  2. Kokka Double Gauze, Bubble Birds Khaki and Grey.  Pretty soft double gauze in a simple print. 
  3. Nani Iro 'Grace' Double Gauze. Bold colours and block stripe design. 
  4. Friday Pattern Company.  This is a new-to-me women's wear garment pattern company with modern designs, often for knits, many of which are particularly summer friendly- Vernazza Two piece bikini (love the big briefs!), Joni Jumpsuit, Hi-lo Dress, Sunny Dress/Top

Saturday, 14 July 2018

The Gathered Dress Hack: Maxi Version

I've liked the fit of my Gathered Dresses (long sleeve and short sleeve versions) so much, especially the bodice, that I knew I wanted to try the bodice on other dresses so this is my first hack.  I had two metres of wide double gauze from Stitch fabrics, bought at a local craft show earlier this year and I wanted to make a maxi sundress with it to maximise its floaty qualities.  So, I used the top bodice and sleeve, tracing the front piece off and shortening it to the pattern waistline marking on the back bodice.  I added the skirt and pockets from an old favourite,  Simplicity 1801 (here's the original post for this pattern).   

I've used this skirt with Maxi Darling Ranges dresses several times and I love the front and back centre gathers, deep pockets and smooth line over the hips. The gathers make it an easy marriage between bodice and skirt and as with the Darling Ranges dress, I added ties to bring the waist in whilst still keeping a relaxed fit. This double gauze is softer and has more drape than a Nani Iro double gauze so the finished dress has a floaty look and feel and is really comfortable in hot weather.  I used the short sleeve from the Gathered Dress pattern and rolled up the finished sleeve which works well in this fabric.  I think the bodice will be perfect to adapt for tops so I predict more hacks in the future! 

Thursday, 12 July 2018

The Gathered Dress in Double Gauze

Each summer, I seem to have a favourite dress pattern which I end up making multiple versions of.  This year, it's The Gathered Dress by Avid Seamstress.  I've made three, this is number two:  short sleeved option and in Nani Iro double gauze.

It's a little crumpled from lots of wear!  It's a great style for a heatwave: loose, but still fitted at the shoulder and with a little back shaping to avoid the sack look.  The sleeves are on the longish side for short sleeves and stop at a flattering place, low on the upper arm. They also help protect against sunburn but I could imagine a cooler version would be a shorter angled sleeve.  Any changes made to the pattern were mentioned here, sleeves were unchanged.  

The double gauze has less drape than the linen I used for the long sleeve version but enough body to cope with the pockets and is of course, nice and airy to wear.  The print is Sen Ritsu and has been in my stash for a long time, years even.  I picked up a great tip from Cheryl of Sewstitchybee. She suggested holding a neck facing in place by adding a label on the back neck facing and stitching through all the layers.  I find labels scratchy so I used some of the fabric selvedge and it works really well!  Great tip. Another Gathered Dress coming up soon...

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Summer Exhibitions

I'm running my summer in reverse, doing a few holiday type things now before having some time off for a small operation and then a work project that will take up a lot of spare time, so I managed to book a weekend in London visiting my brother and catching the Royal Academy 250th Summer Exhibition and the Orla Kiely: Life in Pattern Exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum.  It was a hot, heatwave weekend, but I think that made viewing the exhibitions in a cool space all the more pleasurable!  If you're new to the RA summer exhibition, it's an annual event curated by different academy member each year and includes established and new artists through an open submission process.  Grayson Perry was this year's curator and it was a joy...

'Royal Valkyrie', Joana Vasconcelos
'Boom', Katherine Morling

'Prison Culture,' prison issue buttermilk soap, Lee Cutter 

'Red Bear', Debbie Lawson
'Cabinet Members', Sharon Wilson
'Rufus 3rd'', Timothy Blewitt
'Material Tenderness, free machine and handstitched, Michelle Holmes
' Via Con Me (Dreaming of You', hand embroidery on vintage photograph, Francesa Colussi
'Emmeline', hand embroidery on vintage postcard, Francesa Colussi
'Europe Running Through My Veins', Tisna Westerhof
'Head of a Dog', Patricia Beach
'Little House on the Prairie', oil and embroidery thread, Julia Hall
'I Love Alan', name tapes and dressmaker pins on canvas Joy Pitts

Each display space had a different colour background and wall treatment and the content was chosen and hung by Grayson and another Academy member.  I've been to a few RA Summer exhibitions and this was the strongest in terms of curation.  I could feel the difference in mood and aesthetic as I entered each space.  It was a journey, rooms of still and calm, rooms of vibrant, lively, stirring works.  Politics- Brexit and Grenfell featured many times, animals- pets, many dog paintings, 3D animals like the carpet bear and dog.  Lots of textiles too - embroidery, sewing, cross stitch, weaving, knitting, crochet and a strong folk art feel to many works (see Prison Culture example). Fun and silliness, particularly in the free McAulay gallery which is open to all without charge and had lots of Grayson's female persona, Claire, portraits, David Shrigley signs.  It was invigorating to go around.  You can explore all the galleries online here.  #RASummer

After a break for lunch, we walked on to the Fashion and Textile Museum to visit the Orla Kiely: A Life in Pattern.  As it was a hot Saturday and many people were in pub gardens watching a World Cup match, we ended up walking around almost alone which was an utter treat.  

Giant Dresses, patterns scaled up accordingly.  On the walls, tiny dolls wearing Orla dresses, patterns scaled down.

It's an exhibition about product and pattern.  It's not a personal exploration so it contrasts with other FTM exhibitions I've visited which show background, sketches, swatches and samples and so this might be a disappointment if you're looking for this sort of storytelling.  Instead, it was the journey or Orla Kiely's trademark motifs and how they are tweaked and reworked whilst still retaining their essential Orla Kiely aesthetic. The wall of bags (tiny part is shown above) was a perfect example of how a motif can be realised in so many different ways.  There were also collection photos, lookbooks and videos showing collections over recent years.  It was thoroughly enjoyable and I although I usually resist museum shops, I couldn't help but buy the exhibition poster and mug. 
I also visited the National Portrait Gallery and the BP Portrait Award exhibition which I try and catch somewhere every year. I didn't take photos inside as I was just off the train but it's always an interesting selection of styles.  My favourite was this  'Mrs Anna Wojcik', by Monika Polak.  The portrait canvas is a piece of vintage fabric bought from a charity shop and cleverly worked into the painting. #BPPortrait
All exhibitions are worth checking out.  An Artfund pass will get you half price entry to the Fashion and Textile Museum and also includes 50% entry to the American Quilt Museum in Bath and many other free and discounted entries elsewhere. 

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Favourite Four: Eternal Maker and Plush Addict

We're in the middle of a heatwave in the UK so that may have affected my choices for this months favourite four from sponsors Eternal Maker and Plush Addict!

Eternal Maker: Garment making fabrics for hot days.

  1. Robert Kaufman Stitched Ocean Aqua Pin Dot.  Drapey fabric with a woven pin dot in a glorious blue. 44"/110cm Wide.  Also available in white with woven red dot.
  2. Dashwood Sweet Notes Cotton Candy Lawn.  The prettiest modern floral print on floaty cotton lawn. 56"/140cm wide.
  3. Seersucker Cotton Floral.  Gentle ripple texture from the seersucker and dasiy style motif. 110cm wide.
  4. Kokka Rayon Double gauze.  Wonderful for creating cool, breathable clothing. 

Plush Addict: A quilting FQ bundle selection featuring the newest arrivals and a golden oldie.

  1. Makower Counting Sheep White, 7 FQ Bundle.  This fabric range was made for baby quilts and children's wear.  Also available in grey
  2. Nutex Woodland Friends 5FQ Bundle. Zesty colours and cute designs!
  3. Riley Blake Cats Bats and Jacks.  I don't go for many seasonal fabrics but this Halloween collection has some very appealing prints, I particularly love the cats. 
  4. A Little Sweetness Tasha Noel 9FQ Bundle for Riley Blake.  An older but a goodie with cute vintage motifs, ideal for hexies and fussy cutting, plus a classic red/aqua/navy clour palette.
The fabric in each bundle is generally available as yardage so if you wish to pick and mix prints and ranges, or buy few FQs, you can do. 

Sunday, 24 June 2018

A Mended Quilt

I made a lap quilt for Lottie six years ago and it is much loved.  It is very much hers and she associates it with sitting on my knee.  If we need to travel or go somewhere with her, it calms and settles her.  She has another quilt and more blankets, but this one is special.  When I originally made it, I combined vintage fabric with Denyse Schmidt and some of the vintage squares in the centre started wearing out a couple of years ago.  I had darned them on the machine but more washing and use meant more drastic action was needed.  So, I pulled together some similar fabrics- DS and other repro styles and made a centre Around-the-World block to applique on top.

Before, a rather threadbare centre...

 Around-the-world mid-construction.  The centre dog is from a  Michael Miller/Tammis Keefe Tribute Dogs fabric from a friend.

These squares were cut the same size as those in the original quilt, but it has been washed and used so many times that the old squares had shrunk and the new additions extended over them when I zip zagged the block edges on top.  I quilted through the new squares to match the previous quilting.

Here she is, just about to snooze.  She's been fortunate to respond to the various heart medications well so we feel we've had extra time.  She's still a happy, silly loving pup, living life to the full.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

The Avid Seamstress Gathered Dress in Linen: Review

June and July are crazily busy months for me, a mix of work, deadlines, family events which is taking up all my time.  I made this dress at least 6 weeks ago and usually in a British summer, it would've had lots of wear, but this year we jumped from a late spring into a warm summer which shows no signs of stopping and long sleeves are too hot, but I loved the pattern, I've just cut out two more summery versions so I thought I'd share this one before I stitch up the others!

I haven't experienced an Avid Seamstress pattern before.  As with the majority of indie printed patterns, it is beautifully produced with a colour booklet and step-by-step instructions.  The Gathered Dress is based on their already successful child's Gathered Dress pattern.  The adult version has a raglan sleeve and side seam pockets.  The main feature is the gathered back waist detail. It's a simple, well-cut dress shape, with minimal details and a relatively quick sew.  There's a zip closure but after sewing a quick test version, I could see I didn't need it so I cut the back as one piece and omitted the zip. No interfacing is needed (hooray!) and the uninterrupted front section is perfect for a feature fabric.  It's a variation on a shift dress and the back detail is what swung it for me, a basic shift often doesn't do much for my shape; this dress had the extra element whilst retaining a gentle fit. I had two metres of a wide Italian linen twill weave bought from Stitch Fabrics at a local fabric fair. 

I made a size 1 (UK size 8) and the fit was almost perfect for me.  The only thing I changed was to lengthen the bust darts by 3/8" to the  0/UK 6  size lines which is quite a common bust alteration for me.  I also flared the bottom of the hem by around 1/2" on each side to add a little extra flare to the side seams I walk quickly with quite a generous stride and so I wanted just a little extra room. I particularly like the fit of the neck and shoulders and I can see this pattern becoming the basis of other tops and dresses.  I am very small busted so anyone larger than a B cup may need to make a full bust adjustment.

I followed the instructions all the way through which start suggesting that after sewing the bust darts, most seam edges are finished before sewing.  I never usually do this but on a simple style like this it really sped up the sewing process and as the fabric frayed very easily it was extra helpful.  They suggest using an elastic method to gather the back skirt but I didn't find this worked for me; I used my usual three rows of long machine stitches instead.  The instructions are generally good with one or two little niggles where the pictures don't quite match the process- e.g. the sleeve shoulder dart came together following the instructions but it didn't quite match the picture, and occasionally some extra pressing details would've been good but these are minor elements in what was a really enjoyable make.  I added some homemade Liberty Lawn binding to the neck facing and over the back waist seam; it just makes the edges a little softer against the skin.

 I've just cut out a short sleeved version in Nani Iro doubgauze whichich I'm currently sewing up and traced off a short font and back bodice to add to a gathered maxi skirt so it looks like it will be a versatile pattern for me.  
You can find the Gathered Dress at Village Haberdashery and Backstitch or buy direct from Avid Seamstress as a printed or PDF pattern. 
There seems to be a blogger glitch with comments at the moment- they don't come through to my email so I'll reply below instead!