Wednesday 28 August 2013

Cotton and Dresses at Saints and Pinners

In my recent List post, I mentioned a blog I had been following, Lucky Lucille and as luck would have it there is a sew along with a vintage theme just about to start up:
What's not to like?  I love vintage and I love cotton and this  looks like a friendly informal sew along. Almost all of my dressmaking is cotton.  I have sensitive skin and cotton suits me best (along with a little silk and cashmere) plus it is by far the easiest fabric to sew with.  I am happy with all weights- voile, lawn, quilting, chambray, denim: I love them all!  So, I am ready to join in and this is my first choice of pattern (I think, I have a Cambie as back up)
This is a Vogue vintage reprint which I first spotted sewn up here.  It includes shoulder pads to give a little form to the kimono sleeve line and I am rather taken with the French darts (diagonal darts combined bust/waist darts which start at the side seam.  I have a plaid that I thought would be perfect but there isn't enough- I need 3 metres and I have a 1/2 metre short fall and it was a remnant so I will have to see what else I can find or make the Cambie instead.  The sew along includes vintage and vintage inspired so Sewaholic and Colette are great indie pattern designers that have used vintage influences to create modern patterns. Meanwhile, I thought the cotton theme and the patterns could take me to my monthly trip to Saints and Pinners.  Jo and Fran have a good selection of cottons for dressmaking all discounted by 20% when you buy more than £10 and there are vintage inspired patterns available too so lets browse...
There is a range of organic bamboo/cotton blend prints and plains which are aimed at the dress maker (each photo is a direct link to the fabric details so click the pic)

You can get a good idea of the scale of the spots here:
These fabrics are all shirt weight so a little lighter and softer than quilting fabric, great for soft styles- e.g. gathers and soft pleats rather than a tailored more formal look and also lovely for children's clothes. Colette's Chantilly dress is ideal for these soft fabrics, though do consider that you may need to line the dress too.
Colette's Negroni men's shirt would also work well- I do like the idea of this, definitely a challenge
And a the Jasmine shirt would be pretty and a good way to use two prints with a contrasting collar or sleeve cuffs.
For cotton fabric with a little more body, there are the cotton crossweaves in blue and pinky red

I made a Deer and Doe Bleuet dress with the blue and it is one of my favourite makes, I have worn it countless times this summer and felt like a cross between Alice in Wonderland and a 1960s nurse.  Jo made a lovely bib style skirt with the pink see here for pics.  This fabric definitely needs a prewash, it does shrink and is a little wider than the standard 44" to allow for this.  
You can find other organic choices here at Saints and Pinners and 20 % discount will be taken off at checkout.   Let me know if you are going to join in with the sew along, it's nice to have company!
sib blog

Monday 26 August 2013

Double Gauze at Eternal Maker

Hot on the heels of my Chardon Double gauze skirt, I thought I would show you the wonderful selection of double gauze at Eternal Maker for this month's trip to their Aladdin's fabric cave!  Double gauze is 2 light layers of fabric held together with a clever weaving technique so you get the benefits of a light floaty fabric alongside a fabric that isn't see through or slippery and can be used for tops, dresses, blankets etc.  Kelly at Superbuzzy gives a great explanation here.  It is best with simple, floaty styles that make the most of its properties.
It comes in an array of colours and patterns from the more classic large polka variation that I used for my skirt: Nani Iro by Naomi Ito for Kokka, Pon Pocho in blue... the more cutesy designs like this Panda print for Cosmo which would be great for children's clothes or blankets with its smaller scale print.
Double gauze is incredibly soft and is ideal for babies and children's wear
At its simplest, it makes beautiful scarves and blankets from basic square and rectangle cuts of the fabric. 
This larger Nani Iro Waltz abstract print would make a beautiful scarf, there is a very helpful post here on making a scarf and a free pattern for a neck wrap here.
On the Nani Iro website, there are many more free patterns ranging from a men's kimonos to a plethora of baby bibs, booties, clothes as well as women's wear and accessories.  Just click on the different years to see patterns designed for that year's fabric.
The Tomotake doughnuts print double gauze is a another graphic print, it look good on a scarf or a bigger project- a long full skirt?  Maybe another Chardon?
And this pink Kiyohara baby print would make a beautiful blanket, backed with a snuggly flannel
or if you prefer a blue print, these delicate sail boats
My absolute favourite is this print, Nani Iro Little Letters in peach.
This one might be my next order!  Enjoy x  And any questions about double gauze, please ask and I will answer in the comments.
sib blog

Double Gauze Chardon

This summer has been perfect for dressmakers.  Summer dresses and skirts that would barely get an outing in the last couple of years have been promoted to wardrobe essentials.  I used some Nani Iro Pon Pocho double gauze from Eternal Maker to make a Deer and Doe Chardon skirt.  
Lula took the snaps and they were very much on the move as we were en route to meet a friend and her children.  The print comes with an irregular border pattern on the selvedges which are perfect for the back bow belt and pocket detail.
As with all Deer and Doe patterns, I found the cut and the fit were spot on.   Their pattern pieces fit together beautifully every time.   This is a straightforward skirt, you only need to measure your waist- and I am talk about your proper waist where you bend either side, and with the style, no practice run was needed.  The side pockets are generous and placed quite low, just where they need to be for walking with your hands in your pockets.  
The bag was made a few years back, pattern from Pochee magazine vol 7 spring 2009 (you can find this magazine on Etsy/ebay from time to time).
I have worn the skirt a lot.  It is great to travel in, floaty and light but not sheer and a pretty feminine style.  Double gauze worked well as it hangs nicely and doesn't create bulk at the waist box pleats. 
I added cotton tape at each box pleat to add support (pics 1 and 2 right to left below) and I also added a light woven interfacing when I inserted the back zipper (not shown) and prettied up the waistband facing edge and the hem with Liberty lawn from a thrifted shirt (pic 3 below.
Fabric: Nani Iro Pon Pocho in blue.  I used 1.75m
Size: 10
Length: cut to the longest length of largest size and added 1/2"
Box pleat: reinforced with 3/8" cotton tape and top stitched 1/8" either side
Waist Facing: graded (layered) the seam allowance and under stitched (where the facing is stitched to the seam.  And top stitched on outside front edge only. Secured facing to zip and side seams.
Hem: used bias strip as facing
sib blog

Sunday 25 August 2013


I read Nova's list and enjoyed the idea, first found here.  Here's mine...interspersed with bunny pics

Making :  Clothes, quilting, toys, everything
Cooking : Lots from the Wagamama cookbook and cakes from Hummingbird Cake Days
Drinking : tea- Oolong and Jasmine for hot days, Earl Grey and Ceylon for cooler ones
Reading: Collected stories of Lori Moore sporadically
Wanting: Summer to go on forever and at least into September
Looking: The Americans, just finished but I enjoyed watching in the way that I used to enjoy Life On Mars or the first series of Heroes
Playing: Laura Marling all summer long
Wasting: Too much time on Etsy searching for vintage bits and bobs that I will not buy

Sewing: Just about to start a dress, Vogue V8811
Wishing: I never had to wear socks again
Enjoying: Being at home
Waiting: to go to London
Liking: the radio
Wondering: When Lynne and I will touch a copy of our book
Loving: family
Hoping: Someone's operation goes smoothly
Marvelling: At how much better summer is when it is warm
Needing: My lunch, very soon
Smelling: L'Occitane Ultra Rich body cream

Wearing: Hand made wardrobe of dresses
Following: Lucky Lucille, I enjoy her postings and style
Noticing: Lula has become a young adult and even though the 'child' is leaving us, the person she is now is even better and she will always be our honey however old
Knowing: That time is short and family matter more than everything else
Thinking: About dress making a lot of the time, it gets me to sleep as I plan my next project last thing at night
Bookmarking: clothes making tutorials
Opening: drawers to tidy up fabric that has got out of hand
Giggling: At my husband, he is very silly

Feeling: grateful
Maybe your list is next?
Bunny for a dear baby gift, pattern by Alicia Paulson, bloomers- pattern is my own.

sib blog

Friday 23 August 2013

September Meet-Up

There are still over two weeks of Summer holidays left so I am making the most of them but I also have my eye on September.  My favourite month, the weather is usually good, it is my birthday month and this year it is the release month for mine and Lynne's book which makes it extra special:
We don't know exactly which date but we will have copies to sell on our blogs as soon as they arrive with us and if they come in time I'll be bringing a selection to The Sewing Directory Meet up on Saturday 14th September. All the essential details are here.  I am busy prepping applique ideas- hand and machine techniques and I will bring along a selection of books for extra ideas.
It is a longer meet up as time really did fly so we start at 11am finishing at 4.30.  There will be an informal lunch break at 1pm so bring a packed lunch or pop up to Waitrose- I am very partial to their Sushi rolls!  Once we have tidied up at the end people are welcome to eat or just chat in a pub over the road if they don't need to rush.
For those who haven't been before, we meet in a well appointed hall with kitchenette next to a large car park and 5 mins from Waitrose and Exeter Sewing Machine shop.  I am leading an appliqué activity, all materials provided, just bring the basics (needle, pins, threads, scissors and erasable markers e.g Frixion pen would all be helpful and a real bonus would be a silver gel pen) or if you would rather bring your own work in progress to sew that would be welcome too. The emphasis is on hand sewing but this time there will be a couple of machines and irons so that we have an option to use machine raw edge appliqué as well as hand turned techniques.  We will be sewing bags for  Macmillan Cancer support and I will design a range of suitable motifs and talk you through a range of appliqué methods.
 Abakahan have generously supplied fabric/bondaweb/trim and a lot more- its all waiting in my loft for me to cut up ready for you and  Will and Beth from Abakahan will be there too.  I might have to tell them my dream- that they open a branch in Exeter!  There is a raffle with a ton of prizes and The Sewing Boutique will have a stall of goodies if you want to buy anything.  It was a wonderful warm event last time, it really lifted my heart so I am hugely looking forward to it and planning to make a new dress which is pretty much how I celebrate everything!  Fi, her mum, Jenna from sew happygeek will all be there for a warm welcome.  And a ticket, only costs £20 including tea and biccies!
sib blog

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Summer loving

I love summer holidays.  I don't even need to go away, I am happy to be at home with my daughter, with Damian when possible, with our pets and have lots of free time.  I have reduced working hours in the summer and at the moment there are just under 3 weeks of hoiday to enjoy- it seems to be longer this year and with favourable weather I am loving it.
We have just returned from visiting my husband's family in the North West.  Lula is an only child so she has the fun of being one of the gang with her cousins.  I visited my granny who is in good health and we went through old photos.  The joy of an iphone is being able to snap the snaps.  She is with my late grandfather looking very much the young couple in love.  I adore the shine of her tightly pinned hair, very film star.  The picture below shows her with her sisters. She is back right.  The styles look very like the sort of thing you could easily find in Colette patterns.
This was a glamourous blurry and tiny photo of her at the beach.  It captures a mood and a time before they had a child, before the second world war.
It was truly a pleasure to see her.  I don't see her often and I wish I lived nearer.  All the visitng lead to lots of time on the train so I pulled out neglected EPP started last year when the olympics was on and completed the central rosette of the design.  Now I need to prep the next for another set of train journeys coming up soon.  I really enjoyed getting back into hand sewing again.  This quilt is 'Tesseltations II' from Feathering the Nest
 I finished another Miss Maggie rabbit, ready for a new baby gift.  This is my third.  Each is immensely enjoyable to put together.  She needs clothes and I am thinking of drafting some bloomers to go with the dress.
And a visit to the Northwest always means a trip to Abakhan.  From left to right:  1m feathery georgette, 1m drape comma mamade silky fabric,  1.5m striped jersey and 2.4m tweedy looking printed cotton.  These were all remants from their clothing fabric bins.  All this fabric for £14- such bargains!  The craft fabric was disappointing this time, I couldn't find anything I liked but there were a lot more dress remnants to chose from.
And now I am home I need to get my swap item finished for The Sewing Room Flickr swap.  One of the items I am making is The Social Tote, a collaborative pattern between Anna Graham and Carolyn Friedlander.  It is one of those projects that you need to give your full attention to, a brain workout as well as a sewing one and it has worked well so far.  I am making two, one for me, one for my swap partner. 
And I am getting the itch to get more clothes made.  Planning that in my head so far.  Happy holidays!
sib blog

Thursday 15 August 2013

Laura Ashley

Yesterday, I had a lovely daytrip to Bath with my daughter with the main feature of our packed day being a visit to Bath Fashion Museum to see the Laura Ashley Exhibition.  Featuring almost entirely dresses from mid 1970s I was in dress heaven.
Furthermore, photography was allowed and a notice welcoming photographers to share with social media.  My daughter and I snapped away.
I have a white high collar Laura Ashley dress from the mid 1970s similar to the one below, a thrifty find a few years back from the car boot sale. It is a hard item to wear, being so white, but it makes me happy just seeing it hand and every now and then I try it on and put it back.
You will notice how blue is a dominant colour,
This one was stunning
A close up on the sleeves, beautiful fall of fabric over the cuff.
I thought this one looked dramatic with its deep dark print.
There are many historical references, this dress with its elaborate leg o' mutton style sleeves has a pioneer, prairie aesthetic.

Great shoulder detail
I liked the use of lace and the deep scoop on the neckline
And the regency buzz on this one took me straight to Jane Austen's novels
Colour: short tunic shift dresses in needlecord dating from the mid 1960s.  I had no idea Laura Ashley was commercially designing dresses so early on.
Contrasting colours

Bright colours, strawberry
Orange and a little flamenco styling influenced by the rise of Spain as a favourite holiday destination
 Acid green
Stunning print and colour
Historical references galore 

Startlingly low cleavage in with all those high collar buttoned up styles.
Home made using Laura Ashley dress patterns for Mccalls.  I remember my mum making this one for my sister in the days when such dresses were worn as 'party' dresses to birthdays.  She made the bonnet too.
Handsewn hexagons, sewn together mid 1970s by 'Beverly Peach during her evenings working as a nanny in Spain'.
Our favourite and one I would happily wear today ( I would happily wear almost all of them)
Each dress (with the exception of the shift dresses) was made of acres of cotton fabric, maybe 6 yards or more in many of them.  Voluminous skirts and complex sleeves- I cannot imagine such dresses being mass market high street store styles today.  I have been a long time fan.  My mum was partial to the prints and home wares and the romantic historical styles have always been a favourite.  Taking me back to The Getting of Wisdom, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Room with a View- these are all key films in my personal cannon.  The exhibition continues until 26th August and a ticket includes entry into the Fashion Museum which is full of treats and with lots to try on- corsets, hats, bonnets, dresses. We had a lot of fun.  I am just about to enter into a few weeks of day trips, visits and generally enjoying the summer holiday period so emails and response may be a little slower than usual as I spend a little more time with my nearest and dearest xxx
sib blog