Friday, 7 August 2015

Monumental Moments Maybe?

Hi everyone, 

This isn't a groundbreaking post, and is in fact pretty dull (wow, doesn't that inspire you to keep reading?!) but for me, it was quite revolutionary. 

I made a dress, in a pattern I've used before, I wore it, it fit, and I liked it.


Now, I know that some of you will not get this at all, but for me this was all quite revolutionary. 

I went to Paris with my mum in April, and goggled over some gorgeous chintzy fabric, with visions of gorgeous summer dresses and dirndl skirts. Until my mum pointed out that, although I love making dresses like that, I don't wear them. 

The Mortmain dress in the last post? I've worn once. The dungarees in the other one? Wear all the time. Hmmm.  
When I suddenly realised that I had a wedding coming up in about 7 days, and no idea what to wear, I dug out the old ByHand Elisalex pattern, and found some random fabric in my stash. I made two changes to the pattern, both in construction phase. I pinched a bit of the over-bust wrinkles out and sewed them up (classy) and reduced the waist seam allowance as although I toiled it (loosely...) and it looked like it was going to look ok, it came up a bit shorter than I thought. Which is supposed to be the whole point of a toile, but hey ho.

Anyway, the dress was a total success and I really enjoyed wearing it. The top fabric, a light cotton, was a length that I got out of the ends bin in one of the Shepards Bush shops, and the skirt was a thicker, almost like a jacket stiffness, of the fabric I made the HusBeast's wedding waistcoat out of. As it was thick, it held the creases beautifully, so those box pleats were really satisfying to sew! I think it may have helped that the wedding was pretty awesome too...

I started this sentence with 'I love to make clothes', but I'm not sure that's true - I love to make pretty things that I don't seem to wear. I like to use gorgeous flowery fabric, but i'm writing this wearing a plain navy tshirt and jeans. However, I got so much enjoyment out of enjoying wearing something I made, if that makes sense, that has stopped me in my tracks.

I think I need to rethink all of this...

Thoughts welcome.

PS - Here's the dress :)

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The Mortmain Dress

I hope everyone had a nice Easter filled with chocolate and fun stuff? It was lovely and sunny in London this weekend, which was perfect for a family filled long weekend. Apart from when we ran off to the spa for the day.. :)

Please excuse the terrible photos, but I actually really like this dress. I'm squinting like a weirdo and the outfit is generally a bit weird - its that difficult bit of weather where it's too warm for boots but too cold for bare legs... Really, I just wanted to wear the dress!

I haven't seen massive love for this dress on the blogs, but I thought it looked like a useful wardrobe staple which I could wear for work. My mum has tried the dressing gown pattern and thought they were fab instructions.

The pattern was quite easy to follow, apart from the bit round the zip insertion, but I think that was probably me being a dunce... I still need to really work on zips! So that bit is a bit messy. I don't think it helped that the zip was massively too long and I didn't want to wait until I could get a more appropriate one, so really, totally my fault!! I think it looks a bit weird at the bottom of the zip, and because I half followed their instructions but also half did it my self, it's a bit of a mess...

Other than the strange zip insertion that I cockled together, I also increased the length of the bodice by 1 inch, which is what I do for most patterns.

I also made a standard size 12, which I toiled and it fit, but when I fit the denim one one it was massively too big and I had to bring it in a couple of inches all the way down.

So, onto the pictures:

I will use this pattern again, I think next time it'll be in a work appropriate fabric. I do think I'll have to think about the changes that I'll need to make, mainly with the zip and the sizing... but even with all of that I still like the dress!

Have any of you tried this pattern?


Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A finished blanket.

Good morning all!

I hope it's as beautiful and sunny where you all are today, it's lovely here in London today. I've got a bit of a later work start this am so am still sitting at home with the sun streaming through the windows, which is lovely, apart from it totally shows how much cleaning I should be doing in the flat instead of sitting here typing away! Ah well...

Talking about sunny days, I'm STILL waiting for a nice sunny day to take photos of the completed Colette Negroni shirt, and my other version as well (long story), so in the meantime, here's the completed baby blankets - what do you think?

I loved making this, such a quick one to run up and it was really well appreciated which is always nice. In the last post I explained I was going to baste on the ribbon taggies, which I did, but I somehow still managed to miss one and had to do a bit of doctoring at the end. But at least it was only the one taggie, which makes a change.

I'm not sure about any of you, but although I enjoyed this make, I don't find working with plush fabric or flanneling that fun, I'm sure if I was less impatient and took a bit more time over laying it out and pinning it etc then it wouldn't seem to grow in all direction but who wants to spend time doing that?! 

Not to mention the fluff that ends up everywhere!

Have you got any good tips for managing these unstable fabrics?

The main good thing about making a baby gift is you get sent lots of lovely pics of said blanket in use with cute baby :)

Right - next up - Negroni blogging and the Mortmain dress by Gather for me. I've cut out the pattern and lengthened it in the waist by an inch so watch this space!


Friday, 6 March 2015

Just a little one!

A quick one today while I'm waiting for a sunny day to take photos of the Negroni photos (it's complete! Sortof...)

We had brilliant news last week with a close friend having a sproglette, a boy, which as all you crafters out there will know, means a handmade gift.

To date I've made three of these:

diy minky taggie blanket tutorial

The first two I made following the tutorial to the letter.

The third one I added a crisp packet to one of the corners for that lovely scrunchy noise that babies (and adults!) love. I did look at the proper scrunchy paper, but on my web based searching I read many comments to use crisp packets so I thought I'd give that a go and it seemed to work.

They've all been really well received, so I'm all prepped for the next one...

I think I might make one change this time, i'm going to baste on the ribbon tags prior to sewing the blanket together - last time I ended up with a lot of wonky tags!

Do any of you have a tried and tested new baby pattern? 

Thursday, 26 February 2015

A bit more about bridesmaids dresses...

HI everyone,

Oh I’m so sorry for the delay – and it’s been a long one hasn’t it?

One of the main reasons for that is the struggle I’m having with the Collette Negroni. Why on earth did I start trying to make a man’s shirt? Honestly – I’ve been so busy recently that the few hours I can snatch for sewing are very precious, and I would much rather be making pretty dresses than complicated shirts! All in the name of appeasing the HusBeast for years of leaving fabric everywhere, and trying to advance my sewing skills. Humph. Being a good wife isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…
I’m just starting on my third toile – and we all know how much fun they are!

So I thought I’d finish up the posts about the bridesmaids dresses, although to be honest there isn’t that much more to say. Once the patterns and fabrics were chosen – the dresses all came together quite comfortably. Apart from me being pretty anxious when I made the first cut into the fabric – deary me I was nervous! Have you all got ‘the first cut is the deepest’ singing away in your heads now? No? Just me then…

I know you've seen this one - but it's a goody ;) 

There were 7 dresses in total:

Two sleeveless Elisalix (one with pockets), one with sleeves, all in the patterned fabric.

Two wrap top Flora in the satin, one in the patterned fabric, one with a mullet hem and one with a straight hem

One Elisalex top with Flora high/low skirt in the silk.

Each of the girls chose the bits that they would like, which hopefully made them feel comfortable.

I’d previously made the Elisalex dress for myself, but like a tool I cut out the pattern. So I had to buy another one so I could have the range of sizes. I don’t know if any of you out there were also struck by the ByHand London mis-print of this pattern? If not, have a look at this post. I didn’t find this post for ages. I cut out the first top, and couldn’t make it fit. It was tiny, and nothing lined up, and it was a disaster. I re-measured the pieces, re-checked my pattern copying, re-measured the pieces again, but it was all correct. So I stopped, panicked, self-medicated with whiskey, put everything away and procrastinated for about a month (with more whiskey). In the end, I googled it – for a girl who lives on the internet, I’m not sure why it took me so long to do this – and found the post about the wrong pattern. I was very relieved and emailed the lovely ByHand London team who sent me the new pattern pieces, phew! Right – less procrastinating…

We did have to make several alterations across all the dresses, which was such a learning curve. One of the bridesmaids is under 5 foot, we shortened the bodice and the skirt a little but the main alteration was bringing up the dress at the shoulders. This meant that both the arm holes and the neck line needed to be dropped, she originally wanted to have sleeves on her dress but this seemed a bit complicated, so she just had to have cold arms for the day ;). This bridesmaid also had pockets sewn into the seams – although I managed to make them so small she could barely get her hands in… whoops. Aftet that disaster I just didn’t mention pockets to the others, and by the time they all saw she had pockets, well, no one huffs at a bride on her wedding day!!

The other two straight Elisalex’s was simple – such a lovely pattern to make! I have never really inserted sleeves so this was a new challenge, but the online tutorials made it pretty easy.

I don’t know how the rest of you have found the Flora pattern – but the wrap top isn’t the easiest to obtain a good fit with. I think they were going for a relaxed style wrap, but obviously this wasn’t quite the look we were aiming for, and they did take a good few attempts to get right – and one of them was a bit of a failure.  Two of the girls who chose this style are quite busty which really didn’t help matters! I read ALL the blogs on this and I’m so sorry I can’t remember which one recommended this, but one of the tips that I found really helpful was to cross over the wrap pattern pieces at the bottom into more of an an ‘X’ shape, instead of lining them up.

One of the Flora’s needed a small bust adjustment, which is something that sounded terrifying, but actually, again through copying the online sew-a-long, was pretty much easy. I was so surprised by how easy it all came together. Maybe it was just beginners luck…

I think the main issue that I had was with the bridesmaid who was breast feeding. This lady is also pretty petite, but she normally has fair size bazingas with such a small frame, that the area where the wrap meets was going to have to be so high up her neck if it wasn’t going to be indecent. So we had to add a modesty panel. I say we, I actually left the job of sewing the modesty panel in (with poppers so she could undo it to feed), to one of the other bridesmaids the morning of the wedding! Oh, I so owe her…

Getting sewn in

Seeing as I said there wasn’t that much left to write, I’ve ended up with too much for one post haven’t I?!? I just wanted to talk a bit about some of the things that I found useful during the whole shenanigans, and less than helpful, such as the dress form.

I know this is a bit of a strange photo - but it's me being very relieved the dress actually fits! 

I hope I’m not boring you all to death – please let me know if you don’t want to hear any more!


Monday, 2 February 2015

Turia dungarees


Sorry about the gap - this weeks been a bit manic at work and I really couldn't wait to share this make either.

Last weekend I sat down to finish off the Turia dungarees and, fair warning, I'm feeling a little pleased with myself :)

I'll admit - I didn't make a toile. I cut it out... but then didn't quite know where to start! It was really starting to hold me back, so I just thought wing it. Luckily it worked out!

The pattern itself is lovely, the illustrations are great and the instructions at the right level. Pauline Alice hasn't done an online sew-a-long, but has provided several tutorials about how to do tricky parts, such as this one on flat felled seams which explains the process clearly.

The flat felled seams are so pretty - which seams like a strange thing to say, but they're just so neat and tidy! At the beginning of Pauline Alice's tutorial, she explains how she likes to use the, as she doesn't have an over locker, and so finishing her seams are really important to her. I also don't have an over locker, although I'd love one I'm just not sure I've got the space :(. The insides of my makes are always embarrassing, I tend not to have enough patience to finish them off by hand and have never figured out how to make them pretty like the talented sewers can, plus I tend to just want to get on with the next thing. In fact (confession), my amazing mum hand finished all the insides of the bridesmaids dresses... Thanks mum!

That's not to say they all went well, as with a few other blogs I read of this pattern, doing this snazzy seam has caused issues in most of the crotches, including mine... But there's worse places to go wrong.

There's a lot of top stitching in this pattern, which would have been easier if I could figure out how to make my machine do the twin needle stitching that it says it can do. It was a real test of patience, not zooming down the trouser seams. But you do really have to go slow, as I used such a contrasting top stitch (can't beat the classic yellow) the few areas where I got distracted really shows.

I made several pattern changes. Again, after blog hunting, I also only put in one zip on the left hand side. Mainly because I'm still not very zip confident, it gave me half the number of areas to go wrong in. Although these instructions were so easy, this must be one of my neatest zip insertions.

I increased the size of the back pockets - I'm not I did them right, but they were really tiny.

I also increased the length of the bib piece by three inches. After cutting it out and starting to sew it, I had a sudden panic about it and tried it on, which was a good shout as it was really quite short, finishing at a pretty unflattering point. I wish I'd thought ahead (or made the damn toile) and also lengthened the straps. They're only just long enough really.

So, they aren't the most flattering things I've ever owned, but I really love them.

PS - sorry about the weird sports socks... ;)

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Onto the fabric shopping...

Yeah, I know, this one doesn't sound overly exciting does it?

To be fair, I'm not too sure on where to start with the whole 'making the dresses' thing, so I'm just going to do a short note on the fabric first, to get into it slowly!

If you all haven't noticed, i'm awesome at procrastinating. You know people always say you have one skill? Well, mine is definitely the ability to ignore something I really shouldn't, and procrastinate.

The other day I explained how long it took me to find the pattern. Before I decided on a pattern, I actually bought some cheap fabric from a shop down the road from me, in two shades of green, and two shades of dusky pink. They were all fine, but cheap, and I decided in the end that working with that much fabric probably required decent quality fabric for a change, if I was ever going to enjoy the process.

We were so lucky with the fabric buying. My mum and I spent the weekend in Birmingham staying with my brothers girlfriend's (now wife's) mum (complicated, but it was a brilliant weekend - and I thought you'd all like to know the full story...). I was still doing a brilliant job of doing a lot of wedding blog stalking (mainly Rock My Wedding, if you're looking for a good one) and Pinterest-ing, but not a lot of actually making decisions and sorting things.

That weekend though, we were on a mission. With the combined shopping experience of us four, we managed to buy all the fabric, for the bridesmaids dresses and all the napkins, and my wedding shoes!

The first fabric we found was on a market stall in Birmingham, which I just spotted when walking passed. As I'd finally made the decision of the Elisalix dress, the upholstery weight fabric was perfect. The stall owner told me it was £2.50 a meter, and as I was trying to get over my shock and hiding my 'shocked face' while my mum was working out the meters required, he came over to say he'd got it wrong - it was actually £2 a meter. We bought the whole roll. Brilliant.

The next fabric was from the Silk Shop, which is just like an adult sweetie shop - it's so full of rows and rows of towering fabric.

One of the first things I'd decided was that I wasn't going to make my girls wear something horrible and shiny - no silk or satin. Hmm. That decision really didn't last long, but seeing as one of the girls who'd be wearing it was with me and also loved it, that was acceptable, yeah?

It was gorgeous fabric - a really heavy satin and a gorgeous grape maroon, and only slightly over budget at £13 a meter. As it's really heavy, it sits really beautifully and isn't the clingy satin type.

It's a bit creased - whoops.

So that really only left making the dresses... (oh, and carrying all that fabric home - weighed a tonne!)


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The beginning of the Bridesmaids dress saga

A bit of background - the HusBeast and me have been together a long time. We'd been together so long that people had stopped asking us when we were going to get married, we'd been batting that question off for that many years.

So when we finally decided to go for it, we knew that not only was it was going to be huge, it had to be awesome. Tip to the young non-marrieds out there - be the first of your friends to get married, before they have significant others and children that you also need to invite!! Sorry - that sounds mean - it was the best day ever, mainly as we have the best friends and family in the world.

Right, back on track.

As I've said before, I'm really only a hobby dressmaker. I love to do crafty things, but I can probably count on one hand the number of decent items I've made and wore more than once. I'm not sure why the idea of making all seven dresses seemed like a good one, but once i'd had it, then dismissing it seemed to feel a bit like I'd be a failure.

This is where I started doing a lot of googling, I was desperate for any tips that might help with this daft task i'd just assigned myself. Although I read loads of bits and pieces, I couldn't find anyone who'd undertaken such a number of dresses... I should have taken the hint!

My girls are all great. They are all friends from different times: secondary school, uni, training, and a sister-in-law, I've been a bridesmaid a lot and I know from experience that finding a dress to suit everyone would have been a nightmare. I think we've got a girl who has every shape there!!

Secretly, I always wanted the ByHandLondon Elisalex dress - I love it. I made myself one out of old curtain fabric from Oxfam and felt a million dollars in it. I remember reading a blog post on it where they commented on how the extenuated, almost cartoon-like shape of the hips makes your waist look tiny and is just so feminine and fun. Not all the girls agreed though, especially the more pear shaped ones, who were really anxious about that shape of silhouette.

So the first pattern I found was the Simplicity 1606

These photos are terrible, by the way. I'm wearing a dress made out of a bed sheet from Oxfam, and slippers, and a very goofy face... My dedication to show you the process!

I thought this would be a good plan, as it comes (I first typed this as 'cups' - can you tell what I was thinking about?!) already sized with multiple bra sizes. Have any of you tried to make this pattern, or one of this range? I'm not sure if it's the same with all the patterns in this range, but it advises you against a toile and you kinda make the dress but baste it together only, then take it apart, make fitting adjustments, then put it all back together properly. With some boning in there too. All a bit confusing. And the dress, to be so descriptive, was just a bit 'meh'.

The next pattern I found was pretty similar, mccalls m6557

I bet you're all gutted - but I haven't got a photo of this one. In fact, I'm not even sure I got past making the top. Again, I'm not sure why I went for this one. I mean, it's a nice dress. But it's not a nice enough dress, for a bridesmaid. Well to be fair, I'm sure it would have been, if I wanted it to be ;)

I think I might have been procrastinating!

As I said before - I just wanted the Elisalex. From the beginning, the wedding was going to be fun and full of dancing, and this dress would work so well. But I also knew that half my girls had already said they didn't want it. Hmmm, tricksy.

I hadn't made the Flora dress yet and (i'm sorry to say) didn't think it was overly inspiring, so continued looking around for a pattern that maybe might go along with the Elisalex, until one of the bridesmaids phoned me with the fabulous news that she was expecting her second baby, which was due about 6 weeks before the wedding. Meaning she'd need a dress with easy access to feed in - and so the decision was made. With the wrap style Flora top, just a bit more fabric in the top would give her the flexibility to feed (or so I thought... it didn't quite work out this way but that's for another day!).

If you think of the flexibility of the patterns, they offer both round neck and v-neck, and totally different skirts, the option of sleeves and pockets, and even straight or high/low hem options. After a mammoth email to all the girls with 8 million links to different blogs and Pinterest pictures, it meant they could all pick and choose which bits of which they thought they'd be most comfortable in. 

So there's the story of choosing a pattern to match seven very different figures. I've kinda left out all the cups of tea, panicking, blog searching, internet shopping, panicking, and general procrastination, but I'm sure you can all imagine it ;)

Next time, I'll talk fabric shopping and the first few dresses.


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The bridesmaids dresses...

Hi everyone,

I honestly can't begin to say how touched I've been by all the lovely comments and attention me and the girls and, mainly, the dresses have received - it's really meant the world to me. So thank you.

In the middle of the bridesmaids dress project, I emailed the team at ByHand London and they were so lovely and helpful, I thought they might appreciate a photo of the finished articles. When they then asked me if they could put it out on their social media I was really nervous - I know I'm writing a blog and all, but I'm not massively into the whole self promotion stuff (I think its my Yorkshire-ness).

But when I remembered how many blogs I trawled looking for help and advice, and to see if any other nutters out there had done similar to make sure it was possible, I thought I should change my outlook. That, and the dress patterns they make are so amazing, and they all seem so lovely, they deserve to be able to show off the dresses!

I promise I'll write in depth posts about the whole process but I'm really swamped with work at the moment - give me a few days and check back, its so lovely to have you all here!

Thanks for looking,
L (and all my lovely bridesmaids) x

Photo by the amazing Andy Gaines

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Turia dungarees and procrastination

So this post today might just count as procrastinating.

The next on my list of makes is the Turia dungarees.

I'm not sure what it is about dungarees, but I have a strange attraction to them. I'm not sure if these ones will ever be worn outside my flat but I just can't resist. I'm trying to persuade myself it's all about learning the techniques - using denim, fitting the trousers, those snazzy denim seams... but it's not. It's because dungarees are just plain cool.

Yesterday I went to Goldhawk Road with the Hus-Beast to buy some denim. I was thinking a dark black denim would look cute, but the only dark denim they had was more of a washed out black which didn't quite fit the job. Instead I got a dark blue with a bit of a stretch, but quite a heavy weight to it. I got the trimmings, came home and cut out the pattern pieces, ironing them properly like a good girl.

But that's where I've stopped. The hurdle - how do you toile a pair of dungarees? I'm going to have to do one - I've got a strangely long torso which is a nightmare in any kind of one piece. But do I do the whole shebang? Does anyone have any recommendations?

Wish me luck peeps!


Thursday, 8 January 2015

A 'creative lull' buster.

So my first real post of my new sewing blog is going to be about knitting.

Go figure!

I don't really like New Year, instead of uplifting I tend to find it a little melancholic and sad, not that I'm not looking forward to the new year but I had such a fab year last year, it seemed a little weird to wave it off smiling.

I'm not too sure on the whole 'new years resolution' either - if you're going to change something, why wait till January?

But, saying all that, I did decide to use some of this non-wedding planning spare time I now have in being more creative. Last year I made seven bridesmaids dresses (yes, I am nuts, And yes, I will blog about this as I searched for ages for advice and couldn't find any!), as well as all the other random wedding paraphernalia you end up making, such as flower girl headdresses and decorating randoms.

Whereas this year seemed a bit, well, goal less.

Obviously, as soon as I decided to be more creative, I really fell into a creative hole. Do any of you feel that way? What do you do to get out of your rut?

I tidied all my sewing things and re organised it.

I sorted through my huge UFO pile and actually got rid or unpicked loads of it, which felt so liberating!

And still couldn't find anything to lure me in.

So instead of what I normally do, which would be randomly start cutting out a pattern I wasn't too sure I wanted in a fabric I wasn't too sure about, I thought i'd sit tight for a bit and do a bit of knitting. One of our friends is due to have a baby in mid January, so what's better than a little hand made cardy for a newborn? Well, probably a well knitted one!

My knitting is patchy at best. I can knit scarves pretty well, but other than that I lose concentration and concentrating on the numbers and the counting just isn't my strong suit.

I'm semi pleased with how it turned out. The pattern was easy to follow and the instructions you can find all over youtube make such a difference don't they? But I'm still going to be handing it over with a 'I'm sorry it's crap but here you go' conversation.

This is the pattern I used:Baby Wrap Crossover Cardigan

Edit - Wow - I've just looked at this link to check it's working and they're now charging £2.99 for it. Sorry - it used to be free!

Onto the photos (which are terrible by the way - we've lent our decent camera to my brother who's on safari, and I lost my iPhone so am using a really old phone which takes terrible washed out looking photos - but it's better than nothing?):

As you can see, it's quite cute, and as we don't know what flavor the little one is going to be yet, green is a nice safe colour. It didn't have any button holes to put in which is one of the main reasons I went for the pattern and it's easy and relatively quick to sew up, even for a slow knitter like me.

I think the worst 'surprise' that I managed though was the mess I made of the seams on the arms - can you see? I really need to look at how to cast on neater - the holes I left were huge, and so when it came to knitting it up it looks really messy.

So in summing up - I'm not sure - can I really give this a gift when it looks like this?!


Wednesday, 7 January 2015


Well hello, fancy meeting you here. 

Do you come here often?

Sorry - that's terrible isn't it?

So much pressure about the first blog post and I go and start it with that...

Hi, and thanks so much for coming to read my daft blog.

I'm Laura.  I've thought about writing a blog (along with the rest of the world) for such a long time - so here goes. 

I live in a small sunny flat with my husband and work full time in London, but I have always been a generally crafty person, I love to make new things and gifts and try to be creative. 

However, I really don't devote anywhere near as much time to it as I should. After a whirlwind of a year last year; with a new job, getting married, an awesome honeymoon, then my brothers wedding and Christmas, I just didn't have chance to spend any time spent crafting for pleasure.

How is it that getting married is such an all consuming thing to plan? I know everyone tells you it is, but I just brushed this aside until I went through it myself, and now i'm on the other side I still don't understand how or why it's so time consuming - but it just really is!

So onto the aim of this blog. If you stick with me, I would love to use this area not just to chart my progress and to discuss ideas and failures with new friends, but to inspire me and spur me on to progress in my crafts, to push myself to learn more and try new techniques. As craft is just a hobby for me, I find it difficult to step out of my comfort zone and really push myself to get better with my projects, so i'm hopefully going to be embarrassed into trying new things! Oh, and it might mean i'm more likely to actually finish my projects!

Anyway, so that's the first one over and done with. 

Gosh - wish me luck with the next one!