Thursday, 12 November 2015

The quick Cascade

Well, its been a while (again!). I've not been doing much sewing for most of this year because I'm pregnant and my unborn child has decided to make my life a misery! A few weeks ago, though, I got drenched on the school run and decided I needed a coat that would be good in the winter (the only coat of mine that will actually do up now is my Ziggi, which isn't great when its cold and raining) and I needed it finished for bonfire night so there wasn't time for a muslin or anything. It turned out really well though.

I've liked the idea of Grainline's Cascade duffle coat since Jen released it but didn't really think it was very me. At this point though, all I wanted was a coat I could do up and would give me some protection from the rain when I'm pushing a pram. The Cascade seemed ideal - it's not fitted, so there should be enough room for the bump and I can still wear it later in the winter so its not a waste of money (the main reason I wasn't going to buy a maternity coat, not even a cheap one off ebay).


I managed to pick up 3m of navy boiled wool from ebay for £25 and used some horse print fabric I bought last year at Abakhan for the lining. I made the stupid mistake of buying the wrong length zip but that's a minor detail.


Obviously there are fit issues with the coat but I'll have to wait until the baby arrives before I can figure out what needs adjusting other that that the sleeves are a little snug and need lengthening. That said, it has been one of those makes that I am really proud of and has been a winner with the family and Stuart thinks I should make some in different colours, which I'm taking as permission to spend a ludicrous amount of money on fabric - the wool I used for this coat is probably the best quality fabric I've worked with to date and it was a revelation!






Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Adventures in corset making

The past couple of months have not been good for me sewing-wise. I lost count of the number of patterns I got out to make, only for them to go straight back in the drawer. I started a dress, which turned into a skirt, which went in the bin along with a pair of trousers. I wandered around the fabric shop for inspiration and left completely underwhelmed. Three times.

Then things started looking up when Stuart bought me a corset kit from Sew Curvy! I chose the Silverado corset and got some extra fabric so I could use the stuff that came with the kit as a trial run. I made a quick muslin to make sure there was nothing drastically wrong with the fit then dived into my first go. I thought it was a good idea to do it this way since I have never made anything like it before and by doing the first one properly at best I would come away with a decent enough corset and at worst I'd have an idea of what to do differently fit- and sewing-wise next time.

This was a project I have been waiting years to do so I wanted to make sure I took my time and did it right. I have a tendency when I start sewing to wqant to get it done, which leads to rushing and cutting corners (I'm really impatient) so I decided to to one bit a day and only when Faith was at school so I could focus. It worked really well, although I was dying to get 'just a little bit' done each night. I resisted though and it turned out surpringly well.

The Sew Curvy busk tutorial got me through the busk insertion and I made a cover for it as suggested, partly for wear and partly so I could have a go at putting one in before doing the real thing. The stitching is a bit wonky on one side and it overlaps a bit but I'm pretty impressed with it. I was paranoid about breaking a needle by hitting the busk so I hand cranked the needle all the way round.

I tried using a tailors awl to make the holes for the eyelets but ended up punching the holes out because I couldn't get the eyelets through the holes made with the awl - I had poorly fingers to prove how hard I tried!

Everything else was pretty straight forward, I just took it in half an inch at each side seam before sewing the lining and coutil togetherr, although for the next I think I'll re-trace the smaller size and use the bigger gores - I have enough of the coutil that came with the kit to make another trial run. These will be the most expensive muslins I will have made but it's going to be worth it! If anyone knows anything about corset making and fit, any advice is very welcome.

I feel a bit silly making relatively expensive (compared to what I normally make) garments knowing that they will rarely, if ever, get worn, but I think that is partly why I've enjoyed making it so much. There are clothes that have been on my mind for longer than I car to admit (corsets being one of them) that I haven't made because fabric is an expensive thing to waste of somethi that I know isn't really my style or the I don't need - one of e unfortunate side effects of becoming more financially responsible!

But making this corset was quite freeing - who says I have to make things with a purpose? I'm going to make sure I do more 'for the hell of it' sewing from now on, I think this was the push I needed to start.






Sunday, 18 January 2015

The feel good Charlotte


Last night I was in need of a confidence boost and sometimes the only thing that does the trick is a bit of sewing, so I emptied my basket of traced patterns on the floor to hunt for something I knew would go together quickly, easily, and would make me feel good. Obviously the first thing I looked for was my Georgia pattern (a guaranteed feel good pattern) but remembered that last time I used it I messed it up and threw it out. At 10pm and in the mood I was in, I wasn't about to re-trace it so I made a Charlotte skirt instead using some African wax print effect fabric I got from Abakhan in the summer. I've used this pattern a couple of times as part of a dress, but this is my first Charlotte skirt.

I never get on very well with the front of skirts - the darts are never quite right and I don't know whether it's because they're in the wrong place or whether I should take them out, that's next on my list of fitting problems to figure out.

I lengthened the waistband a bit to include a tab - I'm not a fan of zips that go to the top of the waistband. I was going to add a slit but completely forgot about it while I was sewing the centre back seam, so it's not as easy to walk up stairs as I would have liked but that's a minor detail.

I really love this skirt, and it definitely did the job. This was one of thoses fabrics that I loved but thought I wouldn't use because it's a bit to bold for me it so I'm very happy to have proved myself wrong.




Friday, 16 January 2015

Squares project: week two

This week I tried my hand at a bit of embroidery using a chandelier transfer from Sublime Stitching's Craft Pad.

It took much longer to do than last week's attempt at smocking with less reward, and as much as I would love to be able to produce beautiful embroidery (I envy my Mum's talent for it), I got bored of it after a while (partly why it is unfinished). I do like the idea of it though, and it has inspired me to finish some of the cross stitch projects that have been in a drawer for years.

Any future embroidery I do on any of my projects will be very simple and very small.



Friday, 9 January 2015

Squares project: week one

Week one was easy enough to do but I have no idea how I'm going to blog about them each week. There are lots of notes I want to keep incase I do the techniques again, but they probably aren't going to be interesting/relevent to anyone reading this. Some weeks I might just post a photo with a link to the tutorial I used, but some weeks I might write my ramblings too (if I don't put them here, they'll end up on bits of paper which will inevitably get lost).

I've started my little project with lattice effect smocking which is something I saw in a magazine ages ago and have wanted to try since but it was one of those things I never got around to doing.

All of my squares are 12" and the smocking has reduced this one to 7"x7" including a 1" border (roughly 60% of the orignal size) and using a 1" grid. This is the tutorial I used.

I do want to use this technique again but it's quite bulky so I'm more likely to use it on something for Faith rather than myself, I'll just have to make sure I line it so she doesn't catch all the stitches on the back.



Sunday, 4 January 2015


Hello! It's been a while but I'm (hopefully!) back. Things got pretty busy after summer and the blog just hasn't been a priority. I do have a few things to show you through the next couple of weeks though, so hopefully that will get me back into the swing of it.

I guess now would be a good time to share with you how badly I did with last years goals!

1. Complete the bombshell dress class on Craftsy - I started it last month but didn't have the attention span to sort out all the fitting required. I might go back to it, but I'm not in any hurry

2. Make a pair of trousers that fit well and look good - I didn't do this, but it's not a fail either. I just haven't really worn trousers this year except my jeans a few times. I would much rather wear skirts and dresses

3. Quality over quantity - make fewer things but do them well - well, I've certainly made fewer things and I think they're better quality

4. Complete Goodbye Valentino's RTW fast - check! I feel a bit of a cheat though as it didn't really feel like much of a challenge and most of the things I made last year are things I would have made anyway, with the exception of a swimsuit

5. Put more thought into what I'm making - pattern first, then fabric, and make sure it fits in with my wardrobe - no. Just, no. This was never really going to happen, was it.

This year, I just want to have fun with my sewing and be a bit more creative: I became so focused on wanting to have a handmade wardrobe that I lost some of the fun (probably partly why I haven't been blogging), there are only so many clothes I can wear, and I don't really feel like I'm getting any better.

With that in mind, and armed with the tablecloths from my sister's wedding, I'm going to practice a different creative technique each week of the year and will be blogging about my attempts every Friday and will try and use at least one of the techniques in a garment each month.

I hope you've all enjoyed the holidays, happy new year!





Tuesday, 16 September 2014

For the love of sewing

September is sewing month and to celebrate Maris is hosting a series of guest posts from a number of bloggers talking about why they sew.  My post went up yesterday so head over to Sew Maris to find out how sewing keeps me sane.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014


It's been a weird few months - a loss of sewing motivation followed by a sudden burst of it that left me with no time or inclination to blog, then we moved last month. I'm still working on getting everything sorted and depsite what I had hoped for, my sewing space is looking to be the last thing that will be set up. It's been awesome though and we're all loving our new home. I've got a few things to share, starting with this beauty.

This pattern has been in my stash since April. It was one of those patterns that I loved on everyone else but wasn't convinced it was very 'me'. After my Flora revelation and getting my hands on some lovely cotton lawn, though, I decided to give it a go. So glad I did. I've been wearing it loads in the last couple of months because it is so easy and comfortable to wear without losing any glamour points. I took it on holiday to Wales thinking that it would be perfect for days on the beach or mooching around if the weather was nice, but my dad had us all walking up massive hills every day except our last one so I was mostly in jeans. At least I managed to get some photos that aren't taken in front of a brick wall for a change though!

I was too impatient to make a muslin first so winged it and fit isn't great but as long as I wear the right bra it's not too bad, I just need to make a few little tweaks. I have surprised myself by loving the thigh high split which I only really put in to see how much I would have to close it up before I felt ok wearing it. As it turns out I was perfectly happy walking down the street with an entire leg out despite a little niggle in my mind about flashing a bit too much. I did add a few stitches to it before a night out - a split that high plus alcohol probably wasn't going to go too well for me!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Final Me Made May round up

Me Made May is officially over for another year and with this being my second year doing it, I decided I needed to up my game by wearing mostly me mades all month.  After I had made my pledge I immediately started panicing - how would I survive a whole month without my trusty jersey pencil skirts and tops that form the basis of my everyday wardrobe?  As it turns out, though, I didn't really miss them much at all.  I mean, there was the odd occasion when I really couldn't be bothered to think about what I was going to wear that day but that's why dresses are so great, and I only had two days when I didn't wear anything me made so I'm happy with that.

links to all clothes can be found on the My Makes page at the top

I don't feel like there were many surprises this year - there were a few items I don't wear very often that I remembered how much I loved (my maxi skirt and Alma) and, unlike last year, there wasn't anything that I realised I don't like.  Nor were there many surprises at which items I wear most - my striped Cambie was worn 6 times and my two wrap dresses were worn 7.  I also spent the majority of the month in dresses (21 dress wearing days) which I guess goes back to the not having to think about it thing.

I actually think the most insightful thing about this May was the things that didn't get worn, which were mainly separates.  Well, tops to be precise.  Of the 17 items of clothing I wore this month only 4 were plain which leads me onto why some things didn't get worn - they don't go with anything else.  I wish I was one of those people who can clash prints and still look amazing, but I just look like I got dressed in the dark so that's not an option for me.

The idea of having a completely hand made wardrobe really appealed to me but after this month I've realised that I don't care enough about achieving that to actually make the basics but I do want the majority of it to be made by me.  Which leads me onto my next realisation - I'm all set for summer (if and when it decides to show its face!) but I'm going to be screwed in winter if I don't start making winter clothing.  I have some things that I can add tights and jumpers to, but I need some nice wintery dresses.  I'm thinking about doing another me made month after summer to really figure out what I need to do.

I hope everyone else's MMMays went well, I've loved seeing everyone's outfits - check out the Flickr group for some great inspiration

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Me Made May week 4 and a bit

Day 22

Maxi skirt and last week's WIP. It's a Renfrew I cut out ages ago but never got round to sewing it, no idea why not - I finished it in next to no time last night.



Day 23

No me mades today



Day 24

Star print wrap dress



Day 25

My first Renfrew (unblogged) and Flora skirt



Day 26

Apple print wrap dress



Day 27

I wore my Flora dress for a trip to Nottingham with Stuart



Day 28

Striped Cambie



Day 29

Georgia dress and rtw cardigan. Until now I had thought of this dress as more of an evening dress rather than everyday wear but after getting behind on all the washing this was pretty much my only option. It's a bit more boobage than I feel comfortable revealing on just a normal day, but the cardigan helped make me feel not quite so exposed so it will be going into a more regular rotation from now on. Stuart moans when I haven't done the washing for a while but I think this proves that it isn't necessarily a bad thing!



Day 30

Striped Cambie again



Day 31

Renfrew tunic and GBSB leggings


No WIP this week as my machine needs a service. And that's that for me made may this year, its not been as difficult as I thought it would be. Round up post coming up.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Me Made May Week 3

Day 15

Star print wrap dress, no photo


Day 16

Got to wear my Flora sans cardigan for the first time, got some interesting tanlines from the straps.


Day 17

I wore my new, unblogged Flora skirt with a rtw top. I am now a complete full skirt convert - I have plans for loads of them

Day 18

No photo, but I wore my Mission maxi again


Day 19

Another outing for the Spotty cambie, no photo


Day 20

Wore my apple print wrap dress for a day on the sofa with a poorly Faith


Day 21

Striped cambie again


Can you tell I'm getting bored of the round ups?! Like last year, I'm finding the documentation much more difficult than the actual challenge.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Me Made May Week 2

I've been terrible with photos this week, not helped by the fact that I misplaced my memory card and reader.


Day 8

No me made today. I woke up feeling rubbish and had to do some cleaning for a viewing and seen as I don't have any slob out me mades, I threw on some rtw. It did spur me on to make some leggings for the next time I feel like that though, so its ok.


Day 9

Friday's theme was blue so I wore my Mission Maxi and a rtw cardigan


Day 10

I wore my new leggings (from day 8) and a Renfrew tunic (both unblogged and unphotographed)


Day 11

Renfrew top and Vogue skirt. I didn't get chance to photograph my outfit in the morning and then the heavens opened and I got drenched, so no photo. Again.


Day 12

Alma blouse and maxi skirt. This is a top I hardly ever wear (propbably because I can't be bothered to iron it) but every time I do wear it I remember how much I love it.


Day 13

Felt pretty rough so slipped on my striped Cambie again as it is one of my comfiest and planted myself on the sofa for the day


Day 14

Apple print wrap dress. Ended up having to attach a safety pin to the skirt to stop the wind revealing too much!


I did start to finish a WIP this week but didn't. My Clovers have been in my sorting out pile since I made them (they need some fitting adjustments) but when I started sorting them out I realised that I just don't care enough to do it. I do really like them in theory but I've stopped wearing trousers and have no inclination to finish them when I know I'm not going to wear them. I did take the zip off to use for a new skirt, so it hasn't been a complete waste.


Thursday, 15 May 2014

DI Craft Swap goodies

Last month Hannah at Dainty and Ivory started a craft swap which will have a different theme each month. The first theme was spring and I was given Sarah at Youngonesfive to send something to. As always I was racing to get finished in time for the deadline and I wasn't helped by the fact that the things I had ordered for Sarah's gift didn't show up in time (and still haven't arrived a week later). Fortunately I managed to substitute some fabrics in my stash for it so all was well. After reading her blog and stalking her on twitter, I discovered that she and her family are keen letter writers so I made a little writing set for her and put in a crochet book to help on her way to becoming a crochet queen.

I received a package from the lovely, and very talented, Gayle at Make Thrift Love Life. Have a look at what she sent, I was overwhelmed.

Faith was with me as I opened the parcel and immediately called dibs on the bag. She didn't look too convinced when I told her she could borrow it sometimes. I've managed to keep hold of it so far but I think it's only a matter of time before it finds its way into her bedroom!

Gayle also made me these lovely earrings and kilt pin. I had no idea what to do with the kilt pin but was immediately on google looking them up. It has been on my coat this week and it has had lots of compliments.

I keep meaning to keep a notebook in my bag to jot things down in because I always forget something so this has found a hom in my most used handbag.

The Matryoshka dolls have also reminded me that I have some fabric with them on that I need to use.

Thank you so much Gayle, I love it all!

This month's theme is 'geek' so if you'd like to join in have a look at Hannah's post for the details.


Thursday, 8 May 2014

Me Made May Week 1

Phew! One down, three to go!
It took me all of two days to start thinking I had bitten off more than I can chew with my pledge for this year - there are some big gaps in my wardrobe that I'll have to sort in the coming weeks. That being said, though, it hasn't been too painful this week.
Day 1
I started the month with one of my favourite dresses - the star print wrap dress.
Day 2
Not such a great day. When I got up in the morning it was nice and sunny so I put on my Flora, then the sun went in and it stayed grey for the rest of the day so I had to resort to using up this week's rtw allowance with my black cardigan.
Day 3
Broke out my striped Cambie.
Day 4

Unblogged maxi skirt and Renfrew hack.

Day 5

Day 6
No photo, but I was wearing my striped Cambie again

Day 7
This is my finished WIP as per my pledge.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Me Made May: Week one's WIP

Part of my pledge for this year's Me Made May was to finish one work in progress (WIP) each week, so here's number one.

This dress was started back in February but got put away when I messed up the hemming. Since then I've got it out a couple of times with the intention of finishing it but I'd already fallen out of love with it so it just got put back.

The pattern is the same as my star print dress and I didn't make any changes to it but the fabric is stretchier so it hangs differently. To be honest, finishing it hasn't made me like it any more (I think it looks like a granny dress) but I'll see how I feel after wearing it today.



Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Raincoats and pledges

I've been meaning to make a coat for Faith for a while now but never quite got around to it. I picked up some fabric for her a while ago and with the weather getting nicer (lasted all of a week!) I felt bad that the only options she had were a too warm winter coat or a not warm enough hoody so I dug the fabric out and two nights later had this done:

I found the pattern on one of my increasingly regular trawls of sewing patterns on etsy. The fabric print is busy so I wanted a simple coat with a hood and this 5berries pattern fit the bill perfectly. I made a size 6 so she had a bit of room to layer up and it fits really well. I decided against the cuffs but think I could have done with making the sleeves a bit longer - they sit perfectly at her wrists now but she grows so quickly.

I've made a few coats with ripstop fabric or similar before and they have a tendency to stick to the foot and wrinkle when sewing the seams, with this in mind I dug out the walking foot I bought before Christmas and immediately threw in the bottom of my sewing box because I fell out with quilting. I was going to put it on ebay but I am so glad I didn't get round to it - it was a godsend. There was no wrinkling, no sticking, and no swearing!

I am by no means an expert on this, but I had a bit of a conversation on twitter about waterproofing the seams so this is what I do:

  • Use a small, sharp needle
  • Set the machine to a longer stitch length
  • Hold fabric together with paperclips instead of pins
  • Use a walking foot (or teflon feet are meant to be good too - I do actually have one but haven't used it yet)
  • I know you can get seam sealant but in the five waterproof coats I have made now I've never used it - it intimidates me a bit (hot irons on nylon? Eek!) and it looks like a bit too much of a faff. I'm not sure whether this is an actual thing or whether it's just in my head, but I always try and do flat felled seams or at least turn the seam to the side and topstitch rather than having seams pressed open just because I think it probably offers a bit more protection.

Finally, Me Made May starts on Thursday and this year I'm upping my game. Last year got me wearing more of my me mades more often and after a big purge at the start of this year the majority of my wardrobe is now me made but I'm still no good at making basics or buying fabric that is going to go with the rest of my things. With this in mind, here is what I am pledging this year:

"I, Sally of Sally bee makes..., sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '14. I endeavour to wear only me made clothing (with the exception of underwear) each day for the duration of May 2014 but will allow myself the use of one ready to wear clothing item once per week. I will also finish one WIP each week."

It's going to be tough, but I'm looking forward to it.