Fabric shopping in London

Working in London last week meant I got to make a quick fabric shopping trip in the capital.

First stop: Liberty. I was prepared to leave with at least a couple of metres of Liberty fabric, but at 50 quid per metre for their silk crepe de chines, and the cotton lawn being just too lightweight for dressmaking, I didn’t actually pick up any fabric.

Instead, I picked up the Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers pattern, which was on my shopping list, and a handy little Merchant and Mills sewing gauge for marking hems and seam allowances. A very worthwhile visit.

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However, I found the real magic at Goldhawk Road. Two streets lined with fabric shops, plus a Costa for important caffeine stops. I struck gold and found some Burberry cotton in Fabric World, which I bought for £15 per metre. That was my only purchase, but I’ll be back soon.

If you haven’t been to Goldhawk Road for a fabric splurge, I can’t recommend it enough. Matt at Sew What’s New has written a handy guide to the street here.

The dilemma I’m left with now is how to use the Burberry. A pair of Ultimate Trousers or a pencil skirt instead?

Love,

Steph x

 

 

Sewing in 2017

A new year brings new opportunities, plans. A clean slate. A fresh start.

For me, this year also excitably meant moving into a new home. I’ve been so wrapped up in creating the perfect home for Mr BATB and I, that sewing and blogging has sort of dwindled. Understandably.

Now that we’re settled in, and I’m yearning to get back to my machine, I feel like I’m in a place where I can start a fresh, get some plans in place. This year I consciously want to improve my sewing, and my blog, so I’ve set a few goals and resolutions. Things I want to do, achieve, and make.

It’s a starting point, and not an exhaustive list:

  • Get better at taking photos
  • Invest in an overlocker
  • Sew more, blog more

These are the patterns I want to make in the first half of the year. I’m focused on creating some stylish workwear and pretty, staple pieces that will help me hone some new skills, too:

2017-resolutions

Have you made any of the patterns above? What are your sewing resolutions?

Love Steph x

Good trousers are hard to find

Blessed are the women who enjoy shopping for trousers.

It’s bloody hard to find a pair of trousers that fit right and look good. It’s not just the bullshit vanity sizes on the label we have to contend with. A good pair of trousers needs to be the right length, the right size for our lovely but always-changing waists and arses, and we don’t want them to split anytime we sit down. Enter the By Hand London Holly pattern…

I’ve already declared my love for By Hand London and unashamedly, here I am again.

BHL describes the trousers as ‘figure flattering high-waisted, snug on the butt, wide in the leg trouser’. I describe the trousers as Victoria Beckham versus ABBA.

I loved the silhouette created by the tailoring – a few waist darts, an invisible zip and a thick waistband that was hand blind stitched and made me feel rather couture, even if they were made from bargain 100% polyester from my local fabric shop (I love you, Dainty Supplies!)

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The only change I made to the pattern was cutting a few inches off the bottom of the trousers. I picked out the shoes I wanted to wear with the trousers before I cut them so I could get them to the exact length I needed. Thank you Mamma BATB for the help as I stood and wobbled on a kitchen chair in seven inch wedges!

You might notice that I’m not actually wearing the shoes in the photo, but instead I’m awkwardly pointing my big toes upwards. I need to get better at taking photos and posing.

I love these trousers. I wore them for Mr BATB’s birthday celebrations but soon I’ll downgrade them to my workwear wardrobe. I’m also dreaming of using this pattern to create some smart, everyday culottes. I’ll keep you posted!

Love, Steph x

Cross-front maxi dress

Last week me and Mr BATB flew to the outrageously stunning Portals Nous in Mallorca for a beautiful wedding.

  

The week before, I decided that I would make a dress for the ‘do’, View E from Simplicity 1804. I used a gorgeous Lycra jersey from Calico Laine which falls beautifully and is perfectly light for a summer wedding. I loved the crossover front and how easy it was to wear.

I didn’t have time to make a toile for this so I measured myself twice before carefully cutting. Once the dress was almost complete, I had to take it in by THREE whole inches around the bodice and scale this down to the skirt. Pas un gros problème though, because all I had to do was remove an inch and a half from each side, but Simplicity could do to check the sizing on this one.

I added French seams to each side seam too becase a) it strengthens the seam on a soft and slippery fabric, and b) French seams are just wonderful.

There were a few things on this pattern I had never tried before, like elastic casing and lots of gathering, but nothing I couldn’t conquer quite quickly and won’t be frightened to try again.

  
There’s something not quite right with the drape in this photo, which is hanging loosely under my left boob. Blame it on the tie not being tight enough and the three glasses champagne I had already consumed by this point.

Oh, and thank you to Mr BATB for taking my photo!

Losing my mojo…and finding it again

 

Image via popsugar.com

Should I be feeling guilty for not sewing as much lately? I’ve been super busy with life and it’s had to take a back seat. I have all of this pent up creativity, but I haven’t had time or space to actually create for the past few weeks. There’s a half made dress pinned to Taylor, my mannequin, and a pile of the most gorgeous lycra jersey on my floor waiting to be made into a wedding guest dress. And the rest…

I miss sewing every day that I don’t do it. My non-sewing days are often filled with daydreaming up new patterns, writing lists and shopping for fabrics. That hasn’t been the case lately and that’s okay. Sometimes life comes and sweeps us off our feet, or we end up juggling too many temporary arrangements for too long.

What I do know is that I’m not the first person with a creative hobby to ever feel like this. What I am learning is that we need to make time for ourselves. Whatever your hobby is, even if it’s eating rich tea biscuits and watching Corrie, then you need to make time to do it, don’t wait for the perfect opportunity. I’m taking a day or two off work over the next few weeks to regroup and relax behind my sewing machine. I might have lost my mojo but I’m more than excited to find it again.

Love, Steph x

(image via popsugar.com)

 

LBD: Little Bright Dress

Let me introduce you to my favourite pattern of all time: By Hand London’s gorgeous Georgia dress.

When I first began sewing I found the Georgia dress pattern on the lovely BHL website, I fell in love. I fell HARD. It was way out of my depth…I wouldn’t dare attempt it. And then a few months ago I thought ‘what the hell, took the plunge and downloaded it. YAY CONFIDENCE.

I so wanted the paper pattern but sadly BHL don’t stock it anymore and I couldn’t find it elsewhere. The PDF version was completely fine, I just like to touch and own very pretty indie paper patterns (and I know I ain’t the only one!)

BHL Georgia

BHL Georgia dress

I wanted to make this dress in stretch scuba fabric, so even though I managed to avoid installing the zipper with plenty of stretch, I knew I would have to play with the sizing so I measured myself and made the dress a full size smaller. I made a toile first with some plain scuba fabric which worked well and was almost wearable if you couldn’t see my knickers through the fabric, before making it in the most beautiful and slightly thicker scuba from Fabworks which made me feel like a hula girl. There were 13 pattern pieces altogether so I had to be clinical with cutting, measuring and matching, but the pattern instructions were wonderfully written and illustrated so there were no huge issues.

Georgia 1

I found that the skirt was a bit too straight for me and I wanted a more hourglass shape, so I cut from 4 inches of each side panel skirt up to the widest part of the dress (hips) to bring it in quite a bit (16 inches around the hem altogether!). On the toile I also found the straps to be a little bit too thick and bulky with scuba fabric so I added a wide length of coral coloured ribbon to create a cute halterneck strap and added a cute peplum to the bottom of the skirt. Scuba is just the PERFECT material for peplum-making!

Georgia 2

I loved this pattern so much that I made a second version, sans-peplum, to wear to a friend’s wedding with more Fabworks scuba, this time a gorgeous cobalt blue embossed version. This scuba was a bit thinner than the first version I made, so I figured I could add French seams for tidier and stronger seams.

I made this dress even smaller by another full size, since there was a small bit of looseness around the waist and booty area on Georgia #1, and the tightness around the bust gave me the option to keep it strapless. BHL have a fantastic walkthrough on their website for making a strapless version with boning, but because I’m lazy and because I thought the firm fabric and a bloody good strapless bra already gave me plenty of support up there, I went without. In hindsight, I should have practiced dancing when I tried on the dress because I spent all night pulling my dress up, a very classy look. Maybe I’ll go back and add some straps after all…

Have you made the Georgia dress? Let me know your favourite pattern of all time.

Love, Steph x

Business at the front, party at the back

I called this dress ‘the mullet dress’ as a joke when I first made it (business at the front, party at the back) and the name just stuck.

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I copied this dress from an original I bought a few months earlier from eBay. The original dress was just 3 pieces of material (one front, two back) stitched together. Because it’s loose fitting, there were no complicated issues with fitting or sizing. And because there were no other features such as zips or darts, all I had to do was trace around the front and back of the dress on tracing paper to create a pattern, and use that to create a brand new dress. Tres facile! A couple of French seams later and some bias binding for the neck hole and armholes, we were complete and ready for a night on the town!

Mullet Dress

The original dress (not worn by me)

What I loved about the crepe de chine fabric wasn’t only the gorgeous drape that pulls me back to this type of fabric again and again, but how the shiny side of the fabric was visible underneath, even though I had decided that would be my ‘wrong side’.

I’ve only made one mullet dress so far, but there will be more coming soon. Because I love the richness of this ruby colour, I’d love to continue the jewel theme by making this dress in emerald and sapphire colours too.It’s perfect for a warm summer holiday (or a freezing cold night out in Newcastle, whatever you fancy) and shouldn’t take much longer than one hour to cut and stitch.

Have you ever used any of your RTW clothes as inspiration?

Love, Steph x

Ohh Fifi! 

 

Fifi_Finished

The Fifi pyjamas are my first pattern from Tilly and the Buttons. I ordered the paper pattern instead of the PDF and I was not disappointed. The packaging, the instruction booklet, and the photography are flawless and super simple to follow.

Pattern

Mixing the stripes on the bias cut top and grain cut shorts made me nervous but it worked out great and I didn’t end up looking like a giant stick of candy rock. Taking risks pays off people!

I bought the cotton lawn fabric from eBay, a material I’d never stitched before, but was pleasantly surprised how lovely and simple it was to sew. I will definitely be having me some more of that!

Fifi_Fabric detail

I managed the pattern fine; the instructions were super clear and it wasn’t too demanding. It’s a fabulous pattern for beginners and improvers, but I think it’s luxury enough for accomplished dressmakers to enjoy. French seams are my favourite thing EVER so I would have added these even if the pattern hadn’t told me to but if you haven’t done these before, the pattern gives great step-by-step instructions.

Fifi_French seams

I loved the pattern that much I made another pair in some super expensive but gorgeous silk from John Lewis I bought when I first started sewing and went on a crazy fabric buying spree. I could only afford/morally justify buying one metre at half price, so I jazzed them up with some stretch lace cups and booty for a bit of ooh la la and just look how pretty they are. The fabric was a slippery nightmare so I starched the hell out of it before I started, and like a good little sewing angel I left the bias cut pieces to hang overnight before I stitched them.

 

Fifi is incredibly versatile and I’m already planning my next project with this pattern: lengthening the camisole into a chemise (or a nightie as we say in the North of England).

Fifi is available from Tilly and the Buttons as a PDF download or paper pattern.

Which pair do you prefer? Have you made the Fifi pyjamas?

Love, Steph x

 

International Women’s Day 2016

LittleGirlSewing

(image credit: cathylynnforcino.com)

I’ve been holding onto this blog for ages now, planning posts in my head but never felt brave enough or sure enough what to write. Fear got in the way, I guess.

But as today is International Women’s Day, I day I fully support and celebrate, I decided to listen to the wonderful women I know, some who I don’t know, and lots who I admire and listen to and decided to take the plunge. What would I tell somebody else in my shoes? Feel the fear and do it anyway!

I’m not remotely scared of the internet, I use social networks daily and even rely on it to do my day job. But talking about myself, my passions, and dareisayit something I’m getting good at, absolutely petrifies me. And why should it? I can post my makes to Facebook all day long but 99% of that audience won’t appreciate a good French seam or invisible zipper. This is my space to warble on about sewing patterns and zig zag stitches as much as I like!

I’m so excited to share my journey with you. I plan on talking a lot about sewing, but who knows where else we’ll end up!

Please say hello if you’re reading this, I kind of feel like I’m talking to nobody at the moment…

Love, Steph x