Friday, 26 June 2020

Black Floral Viscose True Bias Shelby Dress



I'm so excited to share my latest make today! I love it so, so much. I have been wanting to make myself a new dress for quite a while but waited to find the perfect pattern and fabric. I'm not really a dress person so in order to wear it, I wanted to choose a fabric and style that I really loved. I've seen a lot of floral dresses and skirts on the high street at the moment which I wanted to recreate and I'm really enjoying sewing with viscose fabric.



Like I said, I wouldn't describe myself as a dress person. That's not to say that I don't like dresses, they just don't really fit the description for the kind of clothes that I wear every day, though I do wear skirts quite a bit in the summer. I have made dresses in the past, some successful and some not quite so much. I've probably worn my dungaree dresses the most, especially this black needlecord one (now given to my sister) as I find the style a bit easier to wear. This dress never really got worn as it's not really my style and although I love my Rosa Shirtdress and have worn it a bit, it could definitely be worn more often. More recently I made a simple rib t-shirt dress which I really like as it's a bit more casual and a chambray dress that I made to take on holiday last year which I also like but would class as more of a holiday dress than a going-about-my-day dress. So that's the rundown of my handmade dress situation - I probably could have made that into an entire blog post to be honest!
Anyway, in summary I've sometimes struggled to wear the dresses I've made as they feel a bit too out there for everyday clothes. However, as I've got older this has been another thing which has changed and I felt that this year was the year to finally make myself a perfect summer dress. And I think I have!


Other than wanting a ditsy floral print, I still hadn't settled on the style of dress that I wanted to make. I had seen the True Bias Shelby Dress when it first came out and liked it but didn't think much of it as a style that I would wear. It wasn't until I saw Liz's dress that she made on the first week of the Sewing Bee and then Fiona's version of the Shelby Dress that I realised it was the perfect pattern and that I absolutely had to make it! Both Liz and Fiona made the longer version but wearing a dress is already stepping out of my comfort zone a little, I don't think I'm ready to cope with a midi or maxi dress yet!


My re-discovery of the Shelby Dress pattern happened at exactly the right time as I wanted to make the dress in time for summer. Of course the inevitable happened and the paper pattern seemed to be out of stock everywhere just when I decided to make it. Luckily I managed to find a version at Sew Essential. I did briefly consider making the playsuit/romper version but I really wanted a dress. I do think it's really great to get those two options in one pattern though.


It then came down to finding the perfect fabric. Like I mentioned, I knew that I wanted a ditsy floral viscose print. I discussed my thoughts on floral fabric a bit in this post but basically I feel as though I can now wear a floral pattern without looking like a 10 year old! I love the look of ditsy floral prints and I think I'm correct in saying that they're very 90s, so it's the perfect print to pair with the Shelby pattern. As someone who wasn't alive in the 90s, I'm delighted to be able to wear the dresses now that they've come back in!


There is honestly an overwhelming amount of floral viscose fabrics available. I spent so long trying to decide which one to get but I love the one I chose. I knew that Minerva has a really great and affordable viscose fabric selection so focused on their fabrics. I wanted a white flower on a black background which you'd think would narrow down the choice considerably, but there were still lots to choose from! The one I bought is this one, but I also love this one, this one and this one. Honestly, I was very tempted (and still am !) to buy several of them to make some skirts and trousers too but managed to resist. I find that Minerva can be a slight gamble with fabric quality and I try never to order fabric with polyester in it online so I got a 100% viscose fabric and the quality is amazing! It's really the most gorgeous fabric, so soft and drapey and not at all see-through. I bought 3m to be on the safe side but measured how much I used once I'd pinned the pattern pieces to the fabric and found that I used exactly 2m. So I have 1m of it left and would love to make a skirt or some trousers (like these ones) out of it.


The dress is a pretty relaxed fit so I made a size 2 which was just perfect, it fits so well with no adjustments. I love that it comes in at the waist thanks to the ties so it's fitted while the skirt is loose and floaty, making it comfortable for warmer days. I'd really recommend using viscose as it drapes beautifully and gives some swooshiness to the skirt. I made view A which is the short dress version. I'm still slightly amazed at how well it fits me, I even used the suggested hem width and it's the perfect length which never happens!


The princess seams give the dress such an effortless feel, although I did have to do quite a bit of ironing when sewing them! The best part of the dress is probably the tie back which brings it in at the waist to give it shape. In tying them loosely at the back the dress is still loose and comfortable around the waist but avoids looking at all sack-like. 


I like the effect of the rouleau loops a lot, as well as bringing the dress in at the waist the bow adds a really pretty touch.

I was pretty lucky that my sewing of this dress co-incided with shops reopening after lockdown (non-essential shops reopended on 15th June for us). While I did have to wait a while before buying the buttons I was able to pop into my local craft shops to find the perfect ones which I was very happy about. I think buttons are always the final touch so I didn't want to order some online without matching them to the fabric.


I went into the shop knowing exactly what I wanted but also knowing that I had to buy whatever they had so that I could finish the dress! Luckily I was able to find the buttons that I had in mind. I chose to go for matte black buttons, it's a finish that I much prefer the look of at the moment and reminds me of FIMO buttons that I used to make when I was little.


I hadn't made the dress in time for the first heatwave around Easter so when I heard that there was going to be a heatwave this week I was determined to finish it in time! The dress had been waiting for its buttons for about a week so I bought those last weekend and then finished sewing the buttonholes and buttons on Tuesday evening. We had 30-degree weather on both Wednesday and Thursday this week and I wore my new dress on both those days! I loved wearing it too so it's safe to say that it's a complete success. By the way, I do appreciate that 30-degrees is nothing in a lot of countries but for us it's almost unheard of and has everyone moaning and drooping all day long! Except for me of course, because I had my new dress on...

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Faberwood Organic Jersey Handmade Button Down Top



I might be unusual in this opinion but my favourite things to sew are always the simple, everyday makes. Sewing elaborate dresses and intricate blouses can be really fun, but for me nothing beats sewing a classic jersey top or jumper. That isn't to say that I don't enjoy more involved projects because I really do, it's just so nice to make something knowing that it will receive a lot of wear. 


This top is basically my ideal make! It's simple and easy to sew but still involves techniques that make it interesting both to make and to wear. If I had drawn a sketch of what I thought this top would look like before making it (this scenario assumes that I can draw and this thus hypothetical), it would have looked exactly like the finished version. What's not to love about a make that comes out exactly as planned?! 


It's often interesting to think about what comes first in sewing project planning, the fabric or the pattern. For me, it's nearly always the fabric, only occasionally do I choose the pattern first and then buy the fabric. When Fiona from Faberwood offered to send me some of her lovely fabric and mentioned this Flàme Organic Jersey I immediately knew that I wanted to make a button-down top out of it. I use this as a way of deciding whether or not to buy fabric, if I can't envision it as a garment then I don't get it. I've made a few things from Faberwood fabric in the past and I love the selection of fabrics that Fiona has. My Arum top, pineapple trousers and raindrop top (which I then remade here) are all made from gorgeous Faberwood fabrics. I already find it strange looking back at posts written a few years ago, the photos are so much worse and I look so young!


I do have a slight obsession with button-down jersey tops. As in, I've made at least four with plans to make more! I wear them all so much though, it's a style that I really like and one that can look really different depending on the shape of the top and the fabric. The first button-down top that I made was this one, which I then made again with long sleeves in white. I then made a version without a collar in navy last year which I really like and wanted to make again. This top is the same as the navy one but I think the different colours mean that they don't look too similar. What makes this fabric really perfect for a top like this one is that it's a lovely weight and really good quality (which is why I love organic jersey). I also love the flecks of colour on the cream background so much, they add such a nice detail. I love elevated basics and this top is exactly that.


I used my usual cheat button technique which I love, it involves sewing the buttons through both layers of fabric to avoid sewing buttonholes. I don't hate buttonholes but they're not particularly enjoyable to sew onto stretchy fabric. Using this cheat technique massively simplifies the sewing and avoids any messy buttonholes. I always use buttons from my dad's old shirts on these tops (I think he finds it quite strange that these buttons used to be on his shirt!), they're the perfect size and mean that I can get enough buttons that match.


I often finish jersey makes with a lettuce hem but wanted a crisper, neater finish on this top. I felt like the fabric, which is really high quality, deserved a proper finish. I'm really happy with the wide hem, it avoids the fabric twisting and showing the wrong side which I can't stand but is something that I wasn't aware of when I first started sewing with stretch and turned under too little fabric when it came to hemming. The other benefit of the hem is that it's different to the other similar tops that I already own. 


I'm so happy with this make, it's such a lovely feeling when something turns out exactly as planned! I really love this top, the style and fabric are both very 'me' and it's exactly the kind of thing that I wear all the time. 

Sunday, 7 June 2020

Floral Jersey Wrap Top


I love having the opportunity to try out different fabrics and make things in a style that I wouldn't always choose. This top represents both of those things and is also a reminder of how much fun it can be to make something completely different as I really like the outcome! 


I've recently been liking fabrics with small floral prints more and more, I like to think that I'm old enough now to wear them without looking too childish! What I like about this fabric is that the background is navy, meaning that it still remains relatively in my comfort zone. It's lovely to find a jersey fabric with a print like this one too, I find that most of them are either striped or plain. The fabric in question comes from Visage Textiles so it's a great quality cotton jersey which is completely opaque. After making one item out of floral fabric I'm tempted to go all in and make lots more! I really love the tiny flowers of this Craft Cotton fabric and I'm still on the hunt for a perfect floral viscose.


Onto the design! I'm so proud of the drafting of this top because I've never made a proper wrap top before. Until recently I would never have seen myself wearing a wrap top but I've liked some of the RTW ones I've seen on the high street and my friend Alice (who I made this top for!) has one which looks great on her and I wanted to copy her! She very kindly sent me lots of photos of her top so that I was able to draft my own pattern. I'm so happy it worked, I wasn't really expecting it to! It's quite a tricky shape to get without any gaping but luckily jersey fabric is also very forgiving. 


I really like how the ties come together at the side and I also quite like the little ruffle effect you get at the back from where the tie comes round. I have no idea if mine wraps round the right way but I'm happy with it!

Head over to the Craft Cotton Co blog to read more about this top

Monday, 25 May 2020

Contrast Topstitching Grainline Studio Moss Skirt


This skirt has been destined to have been made for a very long time now. I've been coveting this style of mini-skirt with contrast topstitching for a while and always had plans to make one, the plan just took a little longer to become reality than anticipated!


Contrast topstiching has always been a detail that I love. In general, I always try to make a feature out of neat topstitching by adding parallel rows and I like the subtle effect of this when done in a matching thread. But plain fabrics such as denim and chamray provide the perfect opportunity to experiment a bit more with contrast colours, my most obvious project that uses this being my Rosa shirtdress with contrast gold topstitching. 
I have to say, topstitching on this heavyweight denim was a lot harder than doing so on a chambray! There are definitely a few wobly stitches on this skirt and my instinct is to immediately unpick these, but I've tried to let a few parts slide as I don't think they're really that noticable to anyone other than myself (exept for the bit at the bottom of the fly! I'm kicking myself for that!). 


A combination of using a heavyweight fabric and what is becomming a rather tired sewing machine meant that I did have a few struggles and broken needles when topstiching, particularly over the thick pockets. I'd really recommend these topstitching tips from Tilly and the Buttons, I always keep them in mind and changing the thread tension especially really helps.


To recreate the skirt I had in mind, I used the Grainline Studio Moss Skirt as my base. It's a pattern I've made multiple times, and other than my first version they have all been adapted to be high-waisted. This skirt is actually pretty similar to the skirt that I made last year in terms of the trapezium pockets (which I love!) but a change in fabric and colour makes it feel completely different. 
Apparently I make a Moss skirt a year: classic denim in 2018, a green needlcord version in 2019 and now this one for 2020! My first version was made in 2016 but is no longer worn, partly because the low waist annoys me.


I've talked about this 'hack' in the past but my way of making the Moss skirt high waisted is to make it longer, wear the waistband on my waist and then take a wedge of fabric out of the centre back seam. I need to make this adjustment for most items of clothing anyway but it's particualy important for this as the pattern isn't designed to be worn this way. The frustrating thing for me when it comes to fitting trousers/skirts is that I have a quite a big difference between my hips and waist measurements. This basically means that I can't fully fit something around my waist or I wouldn't actually be able to get it on and off! The other frustrating thing with this skirt is that I think I may have over-fitted it, the back isn't quite lying flat and to be honest I think it would have been better if I hadn't taken so much fabric out. But again, it isn't that noticable when it's being worn and definitely won't keep me from wearing it.



The back waistband just wasn't looking great once I finished it. It was an absolute nightmare to topstitch and I just wasn't quite happy with it. To compensate I added two belt loops to the centre back, I won't be using them for a belt but they cover up the bad bits and draw attention away from the fitting issue at the back. I think they look quite nice too! 


Even though I knew exactly what I wanted to make once I started, this project was pretty spur of the moment. I was sorting through some fabric when I found the leftovers of the black denim used on my Lander Pants. There was just just just enough left over to make a skirt!
Like with the Landers I added a Kylie and the Machine 'You can't buy this' label into the side seam which is the perfect final touch.

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Tilly and the Buttons Allsorts Jersey Ruched T-Shirt


I really enjoyed making this ruched top a few weeks ago and knew immediately that I wanted to make another. It looks complicated but is actually simple to do which is always a bonus with homemade clothes -  I love how professional the ruched effect is. So that the two tops weren't exactly the same I made this one with short sleeves, although the fabrics are so different that it doesn't feel like I have two of the same in the slightest.


This is my second make from the Tilly and the Buttons jersey range with Craft Cotton Co and the fabric was so perfect for this top. I used the 'Allsorts' jersey fabric which is a fun geometric shapes design. I didn't want the print to look too childish which is why I think it works so well with the style of this top. The jersey is the perfect weight for the ruching creating a nice and even bunching effect. My first TATB jersey make was this top out of the 'Love your nails' fabric and while that fabric is fun I like this one a lot more, it definitely feels easier to wear especially when sewn into a youthful design.


I decided to add short sleeves partly as I was limited by the amount of fabric I had but also so that the print wouldn't be overpowering. The shorter sleeve worked really well, for me it adds to the summery look of a top that I'll definitely be wearing on holiday - one day! Both the sleeves and the hem are finished with a row of double topstitching to add a professional feel.
The v-neck is definitely the hardest part of this top and mine is far from perfect! But the best thing about the ruching is that it hides most of the mistakes. I actually found I really like the v-neck style when wearing this top even though it's not something I've been drawn towards in the past, so I might make myself a v-neck top without ruching at some point. I'd really recommend the Megan Nielsen tutorials (here and here) for sewing a v-neck.


The longer back balances out the cropped front of this top and as an added bonus it gives a really nice uninterrupted view of the fabric! You might be able to see that there is actually a scoop in the back neckline. This wasn't something done intentionally and I wouldn't have noticed it had my mum not pointed it out, but it's a random detail that I actually quite like! 
While the sleeves are short they're not cap sleeves as I felt it was important to make them long enough once again balance out the front. I was tempted to make them elbow length, but this has ended up being a nice compromise.


I really love this top! The more complicated design gave a real sense of satisfaction to the making process. It's fun and easy to wear, I really like the style and I think it fits the fabric perfectly. It's definitely one I'll be wearing throughout the summer and hopefully on holiday too. I also made it from hardly any fabric so it's one I'll keep in mind for larger scraps.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Burgundy Papercut Patterns Anima Pants


Today I present the ultimate lockdown sewing project: joggers! Joggers are pretty much all I've worn since the lockdown started, they're the perfect balance between comfort and something that isn't pyjamas. Luckily, I've already made a few pairs and both my grey and my checked Anima Pants have been on contstant repeat. It got to the point where I needed another pair of joggers (and to be honest I could do with yet another!) and I've worn these ones so much since I made them.



I've made the Papercut Patterns Anima Pants so many times now and I still love the pattern, I'm sure I'll be using it again. The main difference between these joggers and my other pairs is that I wanted to be able to wear the others on a day to day basis (I wear my checked ones to school) whereas I made my latest pair with staying at home in mind. This meant that I was able to make them out of a thinner jersey that I probably wouldn't wear out as they look more pyjama-like than joggers made out of thicker fabric. However, I did leave off the cuff and roll the bottom up instead meaning that they look a little bit smarter if I do want to wear them out of the house.


There's another cool twist to these - they're upcycled! So perfect because because I can't go out and buy any fabric at the moment and it's rare to have a piece of fabric lying around that's large enough to make a pair of joggers out of. These joggers actually began their life as a pair of men's pyjama trousers. You may remember my grey ruched front top which I upcycled out of a men's pyjama top; these are the trousers that came with the top. They were actually pyjamas that my dad was given on a long distance flight, he never wore them and gave them to me and I'm really pleased to have actually used both garments to make something out of. The trousers were way too big for me but the change into a pair my size was really easy. I just cut along all of the seams and then lay my pattern pieces on top of each piece of fabric and cut around. This did mean that these trousers are a little bit different to the original pattern though because I didn't have any spare fabric to make pockets. 


The strangest thing about the design of the pyjama trousers is that they had one pocket in the right side seam. Why only one pocket?! I managed to keep the pocket in the side seam so I can use it but I really miss the pockets that I have on my other joggers. It's not a bad sacrifice to make though given that I got a free pair of joggers! The other notable difference is that the waistband on the trousers was much narrower than the width of elastic that the Anima Pants call for. I cut off the waistband and took it in before re-attaching it onto my trousers so it fits, it's just that the joggers are a little bit lower waisted than I would have liked. My favourite detail of this pattern is by far the faux fly, and with a bit of determination (you can't see this but I wasn't able to fold the fabric over as far back as it's meant to go so it's basically just topstitching) I was able to include it on these joggers.
I would probably never have made a pair of burgundy joggers if I hadn't been given those pyjama bottoms, and if it weren't for lockdown the pyjama bottoms would probably still be intact waiting to someday be turned into something else. It's not a colour I would usually choose but they have been so perfect for umm... doing nothing in!

Saturday, 2 May 2020

Scrapbusting - Closet Case Patterns DIY Pouf





I've got a slightly different project to share today but one which was really fun to make - a pouf cushion. When the Closet Case Patterns free DIY pouf pattern came out I immediately liked it and stored it away in my mind for the future. What I love about the pattern is that it was created with scrapbusting in mind; the idea is that you make the cover out of scraps and then fill it with scraps too. Fabric scraps are forever a frustration for me, so I thought that this cushion would be perfect.


The only thing I would say is that the pattern requires quite a lot of fabric, so you might not be able to make it fully out of scraps. This is fairly easy to overcome with piecing, although most of my scraps were large enough so I didn't need to piece any pieces together. Exept, of course, for the English Paper Piecing panel! The EPP takes the scrapbusting one step further as the fabric needed for the hexies was next to nothing. I wasn't planning on English Paper Piecing a panel specifically for this project but as I was choosing which fabric I wanted to use I suddenly remembered this project from a few years ago. It was exactly right for the pouf and I was just able to squeeze two triangles out of what I'd pieced together. I mentioned in the post I wrote about it exactly which fabrics are in it and I love how it means that there are even more different fabrics from past projects in this make.


My main goal was to produce a pouf made only of fabrics I genuinly like. It's so tempting to use up scraps that aren't so nice but I kept reminding myself that it should be something that I enjoy having out not something that gets hidden away. I decided to use a blue colour scheme for a couple of reasons. First, I thougt blue would be a nice colour to actually have out in a room and I think blue probably matches our house the best (grey would have been good too but I didn't have a lot of grey scraps). Blue was also good because I tend to make things out of blue so I had lots of leftover woven scraps, especially lovely chambray and denim fabrics.
Some of the fabrics that I used include scraps from these pyjama shorts, my mum's chambray skirt, my wide-legged trousers, my rosa dress, this off the shoulder top and a few other fabrics that I had leftover. The EPP panel contains even more fabrics from old projects. 


For the finishing touches I added a fabric covered button and piping. I was given some metal buttons to be covered ages ago and never found the right project for them but this was just perfect. I used quite a big button and chose the dark blue chambray to cover it with. When it came to the piping I wasn't sure if I would be able to include it as I couldn't find piping cord anywhere and because of lockdown I couldn't go out and buy any. After looking at several versions of the pouf I decided that it needed piping and I didn't want to keep going without any. Enter the ultimate make do and mend situation: I used string as piping cord! Ideally the piping would have been a bit thicker for such a large cushion, but the string worked surprisingly well.


Unfortunately the base requires two fairly large pieces of fabric so I was pretty sure I would have to piece some denim scraps together to make it. However, we were given a roll upholstery weight grey fabric with a kind of velvet feel to it at some point and it turned out to be perfect. I'd really recommend using a heavy weight fabric for the bottom as it's pretty heavy. The zip too involves scrapbusting as again I couldn't go out and buy one - I used the zip from this old jacket. My mum was worried about the zip pull damaging the floor so I added a little fabric cover to it which should hopefully prevent this.


This was such a fun project and I love the result. It has also really helped me tidy away my scraps, it's honestly massive and fits so much inside. The pouf is also very heavy, I can hardly lift it! Despite having quite a few scraps I didn't actually have enough to fill it so I filled about half of it with larger leftover fabric and things like old shirts that I'm keeping to potentially upcycle.