Monday, 17 November 2014

Coco

This is my first Coco dress and my first go at sewing with knit fabric.

Coco dress - Tilly and the Buttons


The pattern is by Tilly and the Buttons. The pattern comes with a detailed  instruction booklet with which includes lots of useful tips and hints. All the steps are illustrated with a photograph. It includes details of how to make either a top or dress, with the option to add cuffs, pockets or a funnel neck.




Coco is designed to be fairly easy fitting, so is a flattering outfit for all body shapes as it skims over the hips and is not too clingy. I made the size 4 based on  my measurements, grading to the size 5 on the hips (as usual). I decided to make the dress version with the full length sleeves and cuffs. I also chose the small pockets to add to the front of the dress. I lengthen the pattern by 5 cm as I thought it would be a bit short on me although when it was all sewed up, it was actually looked too long. I lopped off a fair bit so the dress is probably near the original length.

Coco dress - Tilly and the Buttons

I chose a quite heavy weight double knit which was fairly easy to sew as it didn't  have too much stretch. I don't know too much about the material as it was a bargain that I picked up at the Knitting and Stitching Show last month. I pre-washed the fabric and it  seems to wash quite well.  I deliberately chose something plain to work with as I didn't want to pattern match.

Coco dress - Tilly and the Buttons

The one thing I found tricky was the placement of the pockets as there are no markings for this on the pattern. I can understand why there are no markings, as with all of Tilly's patterns, she's keen to encourage you to make your garment your own. However, I would have preferred to have markings on the pattern for the placement of the pockets, that I could choose to ignore if  I wished. I found it very difficult to pin the pockets in the correct place. When I was happy, I then tacked the pockets first to make them easier to sew in place. In the end, I unpicked and removed the pockets as they made the garment look distinctly homemade. I do like the pockets on all the versions I've seen online but mine were just not neat enough. I would steer clear of the pockets if your top stitching can be a bit wonky like mine.

Coco dress - Tilly and the Buttons

I would like to look at how to finish the dress more professionally as to be honest it's a bit of a mess inside. Tilly suggests in one of her tips to stitch or fuse stay tape or hemming tape to the neckline and hemline to give a neat and strong finish.  She doesn't go in to any more detail about this in the pattern booklet so this is something I will have to investigate as I've never heard of either before.

All in all, I'm pleased with my Coco and will be tackling it again.  It's a quick and easy make and perfect for this time of year.  My new dress is nice and warm, and perfect for a cold day with tights and boots.  I've also discovered that knits aren't too scary for beginners!

Have you got a favourite knit pattern that you could recommend?

Catherine x

Monday, 3 November 2014

The Ultimate Shift Dress

So the first of my Autumn-Winter Stitching plans is now complete!

Ultimate shift dress - Sew Over It

This is the Ultimate Shift Dress by independent sewing pattern company Sew Over It.  The fabric was something I picked up at the Knitting and Stitching Show.

Ultimate shift dress - Sew Over It

This is a very easy dress to complete. In fact I think it is the fastest thing I have ever sewn. I traced the pattern pieces one evening and then cut and sewed most of the dress the next evening.

Ultimate shift dress - Sew Over It


This is a good pattern for a relative beginner like me and the instructions are quite clear. I think it's not suitable for a total beginner as it assumes a bit of knowledge such as how to sew bust darts and the sleeves are eased in which is quite tricky.However, the pattern booklet includes a glossary which is helpful as it explains some of the terms that other patterns assume you know and understand.

The pattern comes in size 8-20.  Looking at my measurements, I was between the 12 and the 14 sizes. This pattern is designed for a very close fit and includes less ease than more commercial patterns. I traced a size 12 and graded to 14 on the hips.  Thank goodness for machine tacking as when I tried it on to see what the fit was like, the dress was far too tight on  the hips for my liking.  I had to sew from the waist downwards with a very tiny seam allowance.  I will have to grade to a 16 on the hips next time I think!

I made the long sleeved version due to the season. I started with wrist length sleeves but altered them to three quarter length after trying the dress on. The dress is finished with a simple hook and eye but you could easily make a button loop instead.

Ultimate shift dress - Sew Over It

I like the simplicity of this pattern and also love the fact that not only can you make three versions of the dress (long sleeved, with sleeve frills and with a neck frill), cutting lines are also marked on the pattern for making a tunic or a top version instead. I think that to get a better fit though at the back, I would need to look at making a shift dress with some darts to give it more shaping.

It's a great basic pattern though and I will definitely be checking out some of their other patterns.

Catherine x


Sunday, 26 October 2014

My first ever dress - New Look 6022

I thought I'd share the first ever dress I made with you.



The pattern I used is New Look 6022. I chose this pattern for two main reasons - it said it was easy and there were no fiddly zips to tackle!  The dress has four options and I chose to make view A. View A has neck pleats and pleated sleeve heads. It also has an partly elasticated waist at the back and elastic gathers on the ends of the sleeves.



I chose this black vintage style poplin from Minerva crafts. I found this poplin easy to work with and it has washed well.

Now this is the thing, as this was the first dress I made, I didn't now that much about which pattern size to choose! I cut a straight 12 which is where I made my mistake as the finished dress is far too tight across the hips. Now when I'm cutting out a pattern for a dress, I tend to choose 12 or 14 depending on how much ease is included (and believe me some of these patterns have loads of ease) and then grade to the next size up on the hips. This gives me a bit more wiggle room!



I also don't cut out the paper pattern anymore. I trace my size on to large tissue paper, making any adjustments needed. I use this Burda tissue paper. This means I can use the pattern again if I need to make a different size.

I think that I should also start thinking about making a muslin first as it's annoying to spend time on a dress only to discover it doesn't fit that well!  Or at the very least make a "wearable" muslin in cheap fabric.  I'd love to hear what other people do to ensure a good fit.

Things I like about this dress:

The bound neckline. Think this could look good in a contrasting colour.
The pleats on both the sleeves and the front. I used tailor tacks to mark them and think I did a good job.
The material. Poplin is a dream to sew.
My button loop. This was my first attempt.



Things I don't like:

The fit! As I said too tight on the hips plus I think the sleeves are a tad tight.
The elastic on the back. Not sure of the point of this. I suppose it's suppose to make it less sack-like but I think adding a belt is a better option.

Does my bum look big in this?

I might tackle this dress again.  I'm undecided. Think I would go for version B or C next time as I've seen some nice versions, like this one on Louise's blog Sew Sensational. Just need to get the fit right and it might be a cute little summer dress.

Have you made Simplicity 6022 or had any fitting disasters?




Catherine x




Saturday, 25 October 2014

Vintage Patterns

I thought I'd share with you my first collection of vintage patterns that I bought recently. I bought a bundle of patterns from Ebay for £3.70.  I chose these patterns as they were relatively inexpensive - being new to buying vintage patterns, it seems the asking price varies wildly!  The patterns seem to range from the 1950s to the 1970s.

I was expecting 12 patterns but received a box with 20 patterns in it! The patterns are mainly Simplicity, Butterick, Style and Maudella. I'd not heard of Maudella patterns before, but a quick google informs me that this was a UK company set up by  Maude Helena Dunsford in Yorkshire in 1937.  Interesting fact - this pattern company became New Look, owned by Simplicity.

Maudella 5367

Simplicity 7765

Maudella 5760

Style 1539

Maudella 5845

Style 4010

Maudella 5884

Leroy 3018

Maudella 5841

Maudella 5780

Simplicity 5928

Butterick  4102

Maudella 5619

The People 173


Maudella 5660

Maudella 5262

Simplicity 8142

I have a couple of favourites already.Which would you stitch?

Catherine x

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Autumn/Winter stitching plans!

In this post, I mentioned that I was looking to make some basics that would fit in with my winter wardrobe and be suitable to wear on a daily basis. 

With this in mind I have had a look through my patterns and this is what I've got planned so far:

The Coco dress by Tilly and the Buttons.

I've got two lots of double knit fabric that I picked up at The Knitting and Stitching Show.  I'm planning on making the dress version but may also make the top!

Tilly and the Buttons

The Ultimate Shift Dress by Sew Over It.

I'm planning on making the long-sleeved version due to the season but I do love the version with the little ruffle sleeves.


Sew Over It

Simplicity 3835. 

I discovered this pattern on pinterest.  Unfortunately it's been discontinued but you can download it from sewingpatterns.com. This is a great site where you can download loads of different patterns so as long as you don't mind printing and sticking the patterns together, it's a winner. 





New Look 6035

I  have some black drill  that I am planning to make this skirt from.  Maybe a bit boring but I'm in need of a basic skirt!




I think that is plenty of sewing to be getting on with for now. I will let you know how I get on. Please feel free to check out my pinterest to see my inspirations for these patterns.

I have also decided that I might tackle some vintage patterns and I won this lot of 12 vintage sewing patterns for £3.70 plus postage on Ebay today. Exciting!


I'd love to hear what are your favourite patterns for this time of year or what you have got lined up to sew next! x


Saturday, 11 October 2014

Polka dot Mimi Blouse

At long last, I have finished my Mimi blouse! I started this in the summer but had put it to one side as was finding it a bit tricky.

Mimi Blouse


Now I've finally finished it, I'm so pleased with the finished result. Although sewing this has made me realize I have nothing in my wardrobe that it really goes with!

The Mimi Blouse is taken from Tilly Walnes' excellent book Love at First Stitch that I wrote about here.  I'd previously made the Delphine skirt (my first skirt) and wanted to tackle the Mimi blouse next. Maybe I was being a bit over ambitious, anyway it's certainly added some new skills to my sewing repertoire.

Mimi Blouse from Love at First Stitch
Mimi Blouse taken from Love at First Stitch


I love Tilly's style and think that  the book is an excellent resource for anyone beginning dressmaking, as is Tilly's blog.

The Mimi blouse uses quite a lot of different sewing skills, and I wouldn't recommend tackling this as your first make from the book. I made the blouse in a size 4 (Tilly's patterns range from size 1-8) based on my measurements. The blouse does include a lot of ease (7 inches) so if you like a more fitted style you may want to go down a size or tinker with it.

Mimi Blouse - front view


The material I chose was a cheap poly-cotton mix that I got on the market at St Albans. It's got a nice drape to it but I did find it very difficult to gather. I've gathered skirts and sleeves before and never encountered any trouble. When I tackled the gathered sleeve heads, the gathers just dropped out no matter how times I pulled them up. In the end I gave up and decided to try and ease the sleeves in. I managed this with only a few puckers.  Maybe the difficulty I had gathering the sleeves was something to do with the fabric? Any advice?

The Mimi blouse has a chelsea collar which is a cute detail.  However, the chelsea collar is much trickier than a Peter Pan collar as it's hard to get the points to match perfectly and they took a lot of coaxing out with a pin.

Mimi Blouse

Things I like about the blouse:

It's cute and has a vintage feel.
The polka dots!
The little pleats on the sleeve edges.
My button holes. All neatly done and evenly spaced. They came out slightly larger than I had planned so I just scaled up the buttons to 15mm rather than the 12mm recommended in the pattern.
My self covered buttons. I used my new gadget and it's great!

Mimi Blouse - Back view


Things I don't like about the blouse:

Nothing! I'm really pleased with this bit of sewing. It was time consuming and I nearly gave up at one point but I'm glad I persevered.

Mimi Blouse

I'm not sure I would want to make this blouse again but I definitely learnt a lot making it. I also like how Tilly makes suggestions in her book on how to make the blouse your own such as adding details like piping.

A couple of tips:
.
Tilly doesn't mention how to trim down the hem at the front facings to make it less bulky. I followed a method described in the Complete Book of Sewing that I've mentioned before, which really is like my sewing bible.

Complete Book of Sewing
The Complete Book of Sewing by DK

I  trimmed the hem allowance on the  facing to 5/8 inch wide , then the next part of the hem allowance to 1 inch wide stopping about 1/2 inch away from the point where the facing reaches when folded in. This made the hem much less bulky.

I would also move the button holes slightly as the spacing as per the pattern seems to leave a rather large gap at the top.

All in all, the Mimi Blouse is a great pattern. It's as Tilly says - "super cute". It's maybe a bit smart for every day wear, for me anyway. I think I need to start thinking about what I would want to wear on a daily basis rather than making something just because I find it irresistible!

The weather has turned colder the last few days and I'm thinking practical winter dresses or skirts in corduroy or heavier material, and I'm going to be tackling some knit fabric. What have you got planned to sew for the autumn/winter? I'd love to know.

Mimi Blouse


Also apologies for all the cheesy photographs, I've just treated myself to a tripod and have been experimenting with the self timer!

Friday, 10 October 2014

A trip to the Knitting and Stitching Show!

Had a lovely day off work on Thursday wandering around the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace. It's well worth a visit!

There was so much to look at, and so many tempting things to buy!

My first purchase was made at Simply Fabrics. This is a fabric retailer based in Brixton and they had a great range of affordable priced fabric on offer.

Simply Fabrics


I bought a lovely stripey double knit for my first attempt at sewing knit fabrics - I'm going to make the Coco pattern from Tilly and the Buttons. It was a bargain at £4 a metre.

Lili Fabrics



A lot of the other fabric retailers had gorgeous material on offer but unfortunately they were a bit too pricey for me!


Another good value retailer I found was Lili Fabrics. They are a retailer based in Romford, Essex.



I bought a grey double knit for £3.95 a metre. What to make? A second Coco maybe? I also bought some flowery cotton for £4.95 a metre. Another bargain!



I also fell in love with this dress on the Sew Over It stand - the Ultimate Shift Dress - which I think I will be using the flowery cotton I bought to make it with!

The Ultimate Shift Dress

Sew Over It

I love all three versions and this looks a super easy make. The long sleeve version looks great for winter. I can't wait to make this.



There were also loads of retailers selling gorgeous yarns and knitting patterns. Finally I treated myself to a new pattern booklet by Sirdar from Black Sheep Wools and two balls of this gorgeous aran weight wool to make a scarf.

There are loads of gorgeous patterns inside the booklet that I want to make, if only I had the time!





And finally for no real reason here is a picture of a knitted bear wearing a knitted waistcoat. Isn't he adorable!


Has anyone else visited the show and if so what did you buy?