• Maxi Hacks and a #SMYLY post

    One thing that you should know about me is that I love a good maxi dress in summer, despite being a jeans and t-shirt kinda girl whenever it is cooler out (which lets face it, in England is rather often).  The main reason for this is that I have a couple of medical issues with my legs that I prefer to hide  but I’m forced to confront every time it warms up. I suffer from a condition called lipoedema in my calves in particular, and although I could have this treated with liposuction, it would aggravate my other conditions which is a combination of thread veins and varicose veins. My legs have been like this since my teens and it doesn’t matter whether I lose or gain weight, they stay the same.

    Annoyingly, I exercise regularly and am only slightly overweight at the moment (usually I’m a healthy weight but the house move threw me for a few months last year!), but lipoedema doesn’t go away with diet or exercise. I’m incredibly lucky that its only one small area and I’m virtually pain free with it (a lot of sufferers aren’t), but it does affect my self confidence when my legs are on show.  So, I sew a lot of midi and maxi dresses, wear tights if its cooler and leggings when its warmer. I’m working on the “stuff other people’s opinions, I don’t care” attitude but it’s hard to when people stare. At 178cm tall when the average height for a woman is 168cm in this country, I stand out in a crowd generally so I should be used to the side glances and double takes.

    But this is a reason to sew! I can make dresses that finish below the areas that I don’t like and I can make everything fit right for my height and curves so I’m the best representation of myself that I can be. Because Sewing Makes You Love Yourself!

    On to the Maxis then.

    My favourite hacks of dresses into Maxis are these:

    • Colette Myrtle, like this one by @giddy (made with love) which can be found here.

    Colette Myrtle Maxi Dress

    • The Made by Rae Washi which Rae has included a tutorial for over on her blog. There’s also a boatneck version of it on there which after the Royal Wedding yesterday, I can see becoming a big thing this year!
      Made by Rae Maxi Dress
    • Colette Moneta. I’ve seen quite a few maxi Monetas and its on my to do list for the year as part of my #everydayeverymonth challenge. I love the version by Atia of The Bright Blooms which shows how some Maxis are Hijab friendly too! Here’s one made by Jenny of Cashmerette. Colette Moneta Maxi Dress
    • Cashmerette Appleton is another that I love. I’m right on the lower edge of the sizing for Cashmerette Patterns but as they have a range of cup sizes, the Appleton is great as I just grade down an approximate couple of sizes at the waist. This one is from the Well Sewn Style blog.Cashmerette Appleton Maxi Dress
    • Tilly and the Buttons Bettine. I’ve got one of these hacked now but I’ve no decent pictures of it and it clings in the wrong places at the moment (no fault of the dress, I just gained a stone in weight since I made it…). As with all the TATB patterns, they’re nice and easy to follow and the clean lines make them nice and easy to hack into maxis or midis. I’ve seen some decent Miette and Coco hacks and I’m making a midi Cleo at the minute (I’ll blog that in a few days). Here’s one from the Fold Line Reviews website.

    Tilly and the Buttons Bettine Maxi Dress

    So, who’s up for a maxi hack? Any more you can recommend?

     

  • Tilly and the Buttons Frankie

    This month I finally got round to tracing some of the patterns from my copy of Tilly and the Buttons Stretch! book and stared off with a Frankie T-shirt. I was a bit lazy and simply traced the pattern straight onto the fabric from the sheet of overlapping patterns. For this I used dressmakers carbon paper and a tracing wheel. I’m not a big fan of patterns that you can’t just cut out but at least this’ll mean that I can remake them for other people or if I change sizes. Ordinarily I would have traced it onto some paper (I like to use grease proof baking paper as its cheap and fairly see-through), but I figured that since I was only grading out at the hips, adding a bit of length and because its a simple 4 piece pattern, I’d chance it. I’m really pleased with the results!

    I decided to go with the short turn-up sleeve version that’s given as an option and opted to go for a different colour on the sleeves to the body. The pattern has raglan sleeves so it really shows off the main fabric well by doing this. For the sleeves I used some generic navy blue jersey that I got at some point for a t-shirt for the hubby and for the body I used some of my gorgeous Art Gallery Fabrics (AGF) knit in the Capsules Nest Clever Little Fox design. As per usual I added length as I’m tall so I lengthened by 3″ at the recommended point.

    Tilly and the Buttons Frankie Tshirt

    I love how the Frankie has turned out! It fits really well without any adjustment to the bust and I graded up a size at the hips which was a good call. The finished garment measurements really helped and I wouldn’t change anything the next time (and there’s most certainly a next time!). This has really helped to fill a gap in my wardrobe that Me Made May has identified this year.

  • A Colourful Version of the True Bias Hudson Pant

    The one thing that I did finish this past month was a pair of the True Bias Hudson Pant which I have in stock here.  I decided earlier in the year to do an #everydayeverymonth challenge to make an everyday item to wear each month this year. The Hudson Pant was April’s entry. Now I’ll freely admit that I’m not usually a jogging bottom kinda girl unless I’m exercising. Don’t get me wrong, I love to be comfortable in clothing but I’m also 36, curvy, don’t always bother with makeup and a mum.  I just end up looking like I can’t be bothered with real clothes instead of looking effortlessly fashionable like other people seem to in Hudsons.  So mine are for those days when you don’t want to get out of your pyjamas but have to.  Apparently if you nag your kids to get dressed, you actually have to as well. Who knew?! 

    I noticed that the pattern is drafted for a 5’5″ woman and I’m 5’10” so I knew right off that I’d need to add length. I also have what my mother diplomatically calls “child bearing hips and muscly thighs” (read that as huge hips compared to my waist and thighs like a weightlifter).  The Hudson Pant is a fitted design, so I added 3″ to the length and chose the right size to cut for my hips and thighs based on the finished garment size. I’m really happy with the fit around that area so the finished garment measurements proved to be accurate. However, I’d run out of cotton tape and decided that the waist measurement wasn’t too far from my actual waist and I opted not to add the drawstring waist.  It was a big mistake as the waist is huge on me.  Its not quite falling-down-when-I-bend huge, but it’s clearly a loose fit. One thing to fix on the next pair!

    These ones used French Terry from Fabrics for All in Leeds. The next pair will be from my Dark Blue French Terry.

  • Tilly and the Buttons Stella

    Well I’ve not blogged for a few weeks as my other day job of teaching random things (forensics one week, maths another, who knows what next week) at a local adult education college got in the way of sewing, but nonetheless, I made a Stella hoodie for one. In fact I’ve been working my way down my list of to-dos ready for this week -the start of Me Made May! If you’re new to this challenge then you can find information about it over on the So Zo… blog.

    I’ll blog some of the others during this week as I’ll be sharing them over on Instagram as part of my Me Made May pledge to wear a hand sewn item every day and make 4 new items from my to do list. So far this week the weather isn’t sure if it’s monsoon season, the middle of autumn or the start of summer. In fact, its early spring in England. It’s making dressing myself difficult, so there’s an added element to the challenge!

    Anyhow, here’s the Stella Hoodie that I made for myself recently (complete with “it has pockets” pin from Pink Coat Club on Etsy). This is a lovely, easy pattern to follow, which is of course typical of any of Tilly’s patterns. The fit is amazing and other than a bit of lengthening and grading out at the hips a little, it didn’t need much fiddling with.Tilly and the Buttons Stella Hoodie

    The dark blue and colourful fleck sweatshirt fleece is from Guthrie & Ghani, although I’ll soon have a plain dark blue version of it back in stock.   Because I’m 5’10”, I needed to add 2″ to the sleeve length and 4″ to the body so that it fitted properly.  I was using the free version of the pattern from Simply Sewing Magazine so there was no pocket hack and I decided to self draft one. Its definitely useful but adds bulk to my stomach making it less flattering. Since then my copy of Stretch! has arrived and I noticed there’s a pocket you can add on that version.

    Tilly and the Buttons Stella Hoodie

    Now what happened next was my hubby joking tried on my hoodie whilst it was hanging on Celine (my dressform) and it very nearly fit him. So I took the pattern, added another inch to the sleeves, brought the waist out 2 sizes and the hips in one to box it out more and then made the hubby one too! He was out in it the other day and said he felt like he was wearing PJs as it was so comfy. Clearly I’ve now let him in on the whole “secret pyjamas” thing too!

    Tilly and the Buttons Stella Hoodie

     

  • Seamwork Sadie Top

    My February Monthly Sewing Challenge also incorporated my #makeyourstash entry in the form of this Seamwork Sadie top. I’ve had this striped ponte in my stash for over a year. It was meant to be stock for the shop, but the last 2m had a stain on it so it joined my stash instead. I cut the pattern around the 50p sized mark (which looked suspiciously like a coffee mark). It’s taken me until April to finish this as I got making the 2 Albion Duffle coats.

    Seamworks Sadie

    I’m not usually a fan of funnel or turtle necks, but I needed a top that would go under a particularly scratchy cardigan with a high neckline so it works well! I chose to line the pocket, collar and cuffs up with vertical stripes and the given the number of stripes, I’ll take the pattern matching as close enough for me.

    Seamworks Sadie

    The Seamwork Sadie is meant to be boxy according to the pattern instructions, but I think if I make it again, I’ll either use fabric with more drape or I’ll taper it down a size at the waist as I prefer it to be more fitted than this one is.  I added 7.5cm (3 inches) to the sleeve and body lengths and this seams to always work for me with Seamwork patterns. It would suit being a little longer to turn it into more of a long tunic/short dress for wearing over leggings too. So, that’s another everyday item sewn for #everydayeverymonth and I better get on with April’s actual item which is the True Bias Hudson Pant in some leftover french terry.

  • Colette Albion Duffle Round 2

    After last months’ Albion Duffle coat was finished, I realised 2 things: firstly that coats are a major project and secondly that I still needed a coat of my own. So off I set again! I was going to make a Kelly Coat like I’d said on my Monthly Sewing Challenge post, but I figured that I’d already made an Albion for the hubby, so I knew how to construct it already and I’d already got a toile to adjust.

    This time, I did a shorter version as I didn’t want to be too matchy-matchy with the hubby’s Albion Duffle. I lined the coat in the same way as version 1 but did the version 2 length. I removed the external pockets as they looked a bit much on the shorter coat, but I did include the optional zip again which makes it far more cosy. Again, I made basic toggles using suede cord and toggle buttons from Duttons for Buttons in Harrogate.  The grey coating was a bolt end I bought at the knitting and stitching show in November and the flannel is from Fabworks.

    Colette Albion Duffle Shorter Coat

    The lining choice proved to be a mistake as I chose a thicker flannel and it’s a little too rigid on the sleeves, as well as making the shoulders look a little puffy when I’m wearing a sweater or hoodie underneath. I should learn to trust my instincts as I knew from the drape that it was stiffer than I needed! I also made the error of cutting the outer coat to the version 2 length which doesn’t include an overlap for covering the bottom edges of the lining. I corrected that by removing 3cm off the bottom of the lining, so my coat is now 3cm shorter than I’d planned, but that is fine since I’d already added 10cm to the length to take into account my longer torso.

    I’ll still make a Kelly later in the year, but I’ll do an unlined one in waxed canvas or laminated cotton.

     

  • Sew Over It Ultimate Shift Dress

    One of the first things I made last year was a Sew Over It Ultimate Shift Dress (which I have in stock here) whilst on their Introduction to Dressmaking course (where I met the lovely Harriet of Sew Me Sunshine).  I could actually make clothes fairly competently at that point but I wanted to make sure I was doing the basics properly and it seemed like a good thing to use my birthday money on! Plus, a full weekend of sewing and socialising is never to be sniffed at. We made a circle skirt which involved so much hemming that I wanted to just leave it partially unhemmed at one point, and then the shift dress on day 2.

    Now of course I’m tall at 5’10” so I had to add 4″ to the pattern to have it a reasonable length but thankfully that was really easy to do.  I find the fit to be a little boxy on me as I have wide hips and a reasonably large chest but I do have a smallish waist. The shift dress obviously doesn’t pull you in at the waist, so I lose the hourglass shape completely. I could get around that easily by adding a belt but then I’d need to add a couple more inches to the length to stop that pulling the dress up.

    Sew over it ultimate shift dress

    Because I was a little more experienced than some of the other ladies in the class, I took the time to sew neatly and even hemmed the edge with handstitching. It really does make a difference, I’d highly recommend taking the time to do it! I made my dress with some gorgeous Atelier Brunette Twist Dark Blue and I’m really pleased with the results. It’s a great dress for when I’m teaching as it’s comfortable and doesn’t show any cleavage when I’m bending over desks. I just need to make another a little longer and with a belt!

    Sew over it ultimate shift dress

  • Colette Albion – an epic sewing task

    Last week marked an epic sewing journey into the world of coat making when I decided to make the hubby a Colette Patterns Albion Duffle Coat.  Now, being a novice to coat making I looked at the pattern, looked at the number of pieces and thought to myself, “that’ll take a day or two, no probs”. It took so many more days than I thought! I should’ve had an inkling really when I saw there were 88 pages in the PDF pattern… Now part of that was just that I was being a perfectionist and the rest was because there’s so many stages to it all.  Now that’s not to say I wouldn’t do the whole coat thing again (in fact I definitely will as I’m still going to make myself a Closet Case Kelly coat), but next time I’ll know how much time goes into it.

    I started with a toile and found that the waist was really generous and although there’s an optional drawstring (see the sewalong over at Colette if you’re interested in adding one to your own Albion), the hubby didn’t want one on his wool coat as he thought it’d look odd on the thick fabric. So I graded the pattern in, avoiding any curved bit on the inseam pocket area. I added 2″ to the arm lengths as JK is tall and all tops are short on his arm area. I’d add a couple of inches to the length of the body if I did it again but he’s happy enough with the length as it is really. I decided that since its a winter coat, I’d interface the flannel lining as well as quilting it and I decided to use some thermal curtain lining to do it with. It’s a nice, sturdy, woven material but not too thick so doesn’t add lots of bulk. It is, however, a little heavy! I did the customisation of adding a zip which was definitely a good move as it would be a little chilly without it.

    Colette AlbionFor the outside of the coat, I used some Classic Navy Melton and for the inside I used a green and yellow checked brushed cotton, both from Fabworks. I made my own toggles with some leather cord and wooden toggle buttons from Duttons for Buttons in Harrogate, following the instructions over on the sewalong. I used a leather needle to make that bit easier, and quilting clips to prevent pin holes. It worked well after a few practise runs! While I was using the leather, I also made a little hook for hanging the coat up and attached it in the same way as the toggles.

    I definitely made a great decision at the start by attaching my walking foot to my machine and I seem to have avoided a lot of skipped stitches by using a step behind the foot whenever I was starting at a thick seam. My little Janome coped well with all the bulk, which was a little surprising! I used a point turner to push bits under the walking foot whenever I hit a really thick bit and it started to get stuck. Colette AlbionAll in all, I’d highly recommend the pattern if you’re up for a major project and have a few sewing projects under your belt. The instructions weren’t visual enough for me at times and I managed to get myself confused with the zip insertion on the facings and the sleeve lining insertion as those areas weren’t clearly explained enough for me to work out what went where. Even with the sewalong pictures, it took a lot of tacking and unpicking until I understood! I ended up referring to the instructions on the Grainline Cascade sewalong for help as the images and explanations gave a different angle that I could understand.  But, that might just be me overthinking things!

    I think the effort was worth it anyway as JK is now warm on his commute to work and it won’t take me as long to do the next coat either.Colette Albion

  • Candy Cat Cushion

    The reason that my Rosa took so long this month is because I got a little distracted by Jo Hart’s (aka Unicornharts) Candy Cat pattern that can be found for FREE on Craftsy right here.  Jo has some lovely Foundation Paper Pieced (FPP) patterns on there to buy as well as a few lovely free ones.

    I found out that Schnitzel and Boo were having a quilt-a-long over on their blog and I decided to have a go at a block. It’s been a good year since I did any quilting or patchwork for myself, other than to make samples for teaching it to a class, so it was great to just sit down and make a cat block. I used a selection of Kona solids, some from my stash and some from the Skep Knitting and Stitching shop in Leeds (soon to close down, boo!)  as well as some of the Meow range from Riley Blake for the backgrounds.

    Candy Cat

     

    The Candy Cat QAL is still going on over at Schnitzel and Boo and Unicornharts has made a cute Mr Squeak mouse and a fishy bones block to add to it too! I decided to add sashing to the Candy cat block and then an envelope back to turn it into a cushion cover for my sewing chair. I’m going to make a Mr Squeak block and turn him into a pin cushion at some point soon. For now though, I’m back to making my #everydayeverymonth item along with a better fitting Paxson for Mr Bobbins.

     

  • Rainbrella Rosa

    I’ve finally completed my first #everydayeverymonth item and sewn myself a Rosa shirt in some lovely AGF Charleston Rainbrella shadow fabric, which I’m calling Rainbrella Rosa! I have both in stock and given that I’ve got a long torso, long arms and am ample in the boobage area, I figured Rosa would make a perfect start to increasing my everyday wardrobe with an item that I struggle to buy. Rainbrella Rosa shirt

    For a change I made a toile and I’m glad that I did as I did loads of adjustments to it! I’m incredibly lazy with doing this step usually and I just usually fudge my way round the fitting as I go but with the collar and all the mock flat fell seams I thought this might not be a great idea. My measurements had me between a 5 at the waist and smack bang between a 6 and 7 at the hips but that toile showed that this was really loose fitting and I prefer a more fitted look. I cut a 4 from the top to the waist and a 5/6 at the hips and then did an FBA to make room for my boobs (no popping buttons here!). Idle Fancy has a fab tutorial on FBAs for princess seams here if you’re interested on how to do that. The shirt is actually really long in the torso so I didn’t add any length to it whatsoever, but if you’re a regular sized woman rather than 5’10” like myself, you might need to shorten it a fair bit. Rainbrella Rosa shirt

    I’m happy with the results although I’ve got to spend some time this weekend adding the buttons as I didn’t have enough when I came to attach them. Even the inside looks pretty with all the overlocked edges and mock flat felled seams! I will however, do the optional longer cuffed sleeve when I do a flannel version of this later in the year. These sleeves are quite loose fitting and because they’re 3/4 length, a cardigan or sweater over the top makes them bunch up a bit underneath.

    As per usual with Tilly and the Buttons patterns, the instructions are lovely and clear so I had no issues at all despite this being the first time that I’ve done a full collar and stand.

    Rainbrella Rosa shirt