Monday 26 February 2018

February Fabrics at Plush Addict, Village Haberdashery & Eternal Maker

It's been a cold month with more to come in the UK before Spring finally kicks in, so I'm keeping my selections bright and happy with a bit of added warmth and chosen from the new arrivals in my sponsors' shops.

First up, Village Haberdashery and some delightful prints which have just arrived from Dear Stella alongside a beautiful woollen fabric with some coat pattern suggestions:
  1. Cold Comfort by Dear Stella.  Cute landscape and animal motifs, contrasting palette and perfect for children.
  2. Wool blend Aztec Fabric: perfect for coats/wraps and cloaks, 85% wool/15% acrylic. For beginners, I Am Patterns Mimosa, a pop-over cloak, would be a great option.  For more garment makers, pair with the new Avid Seamstress coat or for a sleeved option, I Am Patterns Artemis coat, simple cosy shape with generous pockets would also work well for the Aztec motif. 
  3. Garden Sanctuary by Rae Ritchie for Dear Stella.  I just love Rae Ritchie's work and this collection has me longing for an afternoon in the garden, digging with my trowel!  Buy it in a bundle with some coordinating Kona solids here, or choose a cut of your favourite print here.  There are foxgloves, hedgehogs and so much more cuteness!

Next, I have some delectable fat quarter bundles from Plush Addict; Kellie-Rose knows how to put a tempting bundle together!  From left to right (individual print links are usually an option within the bundle link).

  1. Fat Quarter Bundle: Dashwood New Horizons- 8 fabrics.  I love this new Dashwood fabric range!  Great colour palette, mid-century shapes mixed with maps, it reminds me of paper collages too.
  2. Fat Quarter Bundle: Studio E Super Heroes- 6 fabrics. A blast of colour from Sarah Frederking's new comic themed hero collection for Studio E which would be perfect for children's quilts and clothes. 
  3. Fat Quarter Bundle: Happiness is Handmade- 7 fabrics. Vintage inspired prints from Loti Whitlock for Riley Blake.  Sewing themed designs + florals, what's not to like.  The floral yellow is my favourite!

To finish, I've chosen a mix of quilting and garment making fabrics from Eternal Maker:

  1. Chartreuse Blue Custom EM Bundle: 7 fabrics. Cottons and cotton/linen blends. I adore the Ellen Baker block tulip print at the centre of this bundle and all the supporting fabrics have such a vibrancy...this is project waiting to happen!
  2. Greyspot Loopback jersey from Lady McKelroy fabrics. This is my idea of perfect in a loopback jersey.  It's 100% cotton, a small amount of stretch, a little weight and a lot of drape. It really works best in a clothing pattern that maximises its drape.  I've bought a couple of metres for an I Am Patterns Zebre pattern- those full-bottomed sleeves.  It would also make a wonderful Wendy Ward Longley Cardigan- I've made three of these and they see a lot of wear. 
  3. Cat Panel: Woof Woof Meow Meow.  Seriously adorable cut-out style panel to make two large softy cats with four kittens, simple to make and instructions printed on the panel.  The dog/puppies version is here.

Friday 23 February 2018

Velvet Cleo Dress: A-line Edition

I made my first Tilly and The Buttons Cleo dress towards the end of last year. It's a wildly successful pattern, there a pattern reviews all over the internet, and it is easy to adapt if you want to add length, pocket modifications or change the skirt silhouette. The original pattern has straight sides; the split provides movement in the longer length. I tend to prefer an A-line shape so I gave that a whirl with a velvet Cleo:

This time, I sized down to the size 2 at the waist and hips.  This fits my chest measurement better but it also means the dress needs to go over my head rather than be pulled up over my hips.  Cutting size 2 made for a better fit at my waist and at the back.  The A-line was created by adding an extra 1.5" at the hemline for the front and back pieces and then using a ruler to blend this from the hem to the hips (around the top of the pockets).   I used a cotton velvet(woven and non-stretch) from Eternal Maker, the original colour has sold out but there is this sapphire blue.  I just loved the bright colour and I originally stitched this up in December for my Christmas Day attire.

Here are some of my construction notes:
  • I cut the velvet on a carpeted floor - it stopped it sliding.  It's also easier to cut in a single layer rather than on the fold.  I used a rotary cutter and cutting mat wherever I could; the pattern pieces slide like crazy so chalking around them helps too.
  • I made a simple lining from a shiny poly fabric in my stash.  Cut the same shape as the main dress pieces and cut shorter at the hem.  It does make the dress hang well and stops the velvet sticking to tops and tights. 
  • The front was cut as a single piece to avoid the central seam.
  • I finished the dress opening seam edge with Liberty bias binding
  • For the hem, the A-line adds a little extra fullness at the sides and you can see where I eased that in in the picture above and basted before hemming on the machine.
  • I used a walking foot as velvet tends to creep out of place.
  • Conventional pressing with the iron just flattens the velvet so instead, I hovered the iron using a little steam over the top of areas that needed pressing and then used a wooden tailor's clapper.
  • Patch pockets cut as my previous Cleo.


Saturday 17 February 2018

Spelling Bee Saturday: Dog Block

Hi and welcome to my second Spelling Bee Saturday. The Fat Quarter Shop and Lori Holt sew-along is now 20 weeks in and I am this Saturday's guest blogger.  I was lucky enough to make the Dog block which does bear a little resemblance to my own little dog Lottie!

All the blocks in Spelling Bee are rotary cut and I chose to make the block at 6" finished - all the picture blocks have instructions for both 6" and 12" blocks. There are lots of little pieces so it helps to tick the cutting list as each is cut as well as use some post-it notes for identification.   In the head and the bandana sections below,  I took a bit of extra time pinning to get a good alignment where the seams meet.

For the embroidered features, I used a snippet of Sulky Solvy.  It took me a while to love this product - sewing with it in warm weather can be a sticky experience!  The more I've used it the more I've enjoyed it, especially the stabilising effect it creates (especially good for a single layer of quilting cotton) as well as it being easy to trace on with a pencil. 

The features are embroidered in Aurfil 12wt thread.

This one is joining some of the other picture blocks I've made for a small quilt combining some of Lori's blocks with some picture blocks I have from other projects.  

Fabrics used:
  • Dog body: Free Spirit, Eastham by Denyse Schmidt, Fine Plaid in Bitter
  • Ears/Tail: Kokka, Lighthearted by Ayumi Takahashi, Dots and Flowers in Brown
  • Bandana: Vintage scrap
  • Background: Robert Kaufman Essex linen in Natural

The Instagram hashtags for those following along are #SpellingBeeSaturday and #fqsquiltalong
  • Links to all the Spelling Bee sew along blocks so far are here
  • My review of the Spelling Bee book is here where you'll also find links on where to buy the book.

Friday 9 February 2018

Sewing on Screen: A Stitch in Time

I envy sports fans, especially football.  Hours of radio and TV broadcasting devoted to watching and discussing their passion.  Great British Sewing Bee has not shown any signs of continuing, even the show that was planned for later this year has been postponed. So when some nuggets of sewing TV appear, sewists are quick to tune in and Amber Buchart's Stitch in Time series for BBC4 is a joy to watch.

You may recognise Amber from Tilly and the Buttons' Orla Shift top pattern. She's also an author on fashion related topics. I bought my daughter Amber's Nautical Chic book and it is an excellent combination of beautiful imagery combined with historical background on a perennially popular fashion theme. Stitch in Time takes a garment from a moment in history- usually through a painting or art object and then looks at the story behind the garment and its wearer as well as the construction and recreation by a team of specialist historical tailors.  Each episode goes off on a series of tangents appropriate to the garment.  I've watched all the episodes and there's a mass of sewing and textile detail in each.  Sometimes I was surprised which ones I enjoyed the most.  The Arnolfini dress recreation gives new insight into an iconic painting and what the dress symbolised. I wasn't expecting to be as drawn to the Black Prince's story and yet that was possibly the most interesting.  Amber wears the completed garment at the end of each programme- male or female clothing is covered and even learns how to move in some of them (The Black Prince). Amber carries historical clothing very well. She has a dapper costume style to her everyday dress and wears a dazzling array of turbans through the various episodes, even when working with indigo.

 The tailoring team are lead by Ninya Mikhalia working with Harriet Waterhouse and Hannah Marples.  Skills are explored in the sort of detail that sewists love, lots of close-ups on stitches and techniques...

 discussions on the most period-appropriate way to quilt layers of fabric and fibres for quilting...toiles and trials...old urine, dyes and colour matching...

it's all wonderful stuff!  There are also rare glimpses of treasures like Marie Antoinette's wardrobe book with its delicate fabric swatches and embroidery samples so she can choose the fabric she desires. 

For a short time, the recreated costumes featured are on display at Ham House.  I'm hoping they make it to some of the national sewing fairs and shows in the future too.  They showcase amazing textile talent- the tailors, embroiderers, dyers, fabric producers, who contribute to the different outifits. A Stitch in Time is currently on BBC iPlayer for UK viewers, tune in before it disappears as the first episode is no longer available!  I don't know if it's accessible to viewers outside the UK, I can only hope it is sold to other networks to show, it really is a pleasure to watch.