Monday, 19 June 2017

True Bias Southport Dresses for Summer

I'm writing this on one of the hottest days of the year, possibly one of the hottest for a few years. I've had my feet in the kids paddling pool trying to keep cool and I'm hoping the temperature begins to dip soon, because heat + Amy = melting! 

I'm also on tenterhooks waiting to hear news from my sister who is due to give birth to her first baby any day now! Eekk!!

I have been rather busy making lots of things in the months that have passed by since I last blogged anything. Creating always takes up much more time than I think it will. But I love this bit the best! And then I never have time to blog anything I have made - my particular stumbling block with documenting is the taking the photos... I'm trying to find more suitable locations and more time to take them; but then I also have to be in the mood.  Last week the photos finally happened! So today's first dress is one that I made last summer. It's a sweet pattern from True Bias - the Southport dress. I wore it a lot last year and I've already had it on quite a lot this summer too! 

My second version of this dress is in a red-pink chambray and it's my offering for the instagram challenge #sewtogetherforsummer hosted by Sarah (SewSarahSmith), Suzy (Sewing In Spain) and Monika (Rocco.Sienna). You can find out more about this shirt dress challenge on Sarah's blog. I think it just about scrapes in as a shirt dress because it has a button front. I had initially thought about the Alex shirt dress from the Sew Over It City Break ebook, but with limited time I opted for a pattern I'd made before & would get worn through out summer.

The True Bias Southport dress is:

"a tank style dress designed to be worn as a coverup at the beach or a dress for around town. It has a button opening at centre front and a drawstring waist with inseam pockets. View A hits 20” from the waist. View B is maxi length and hits 42” from the waist and includes a centre front slit."

I really do love this style of dress and have a few similar RTW versions in my wardrobe. They are loose fitting and comfortable to wear on warm summer days, or can be worn with leggings on a cooler day - perfect!

Fabric and notions

Dress one - Beautiful Atelier Brunette Blossom Night viscose rayon. Lovely to work with and wear. It presses very well and doesn't crease too easily. The buttons are little wooden, natural coloured ones.

Dress two - Chambray in (an iridescent) red-pink colour. It was lovely to work with too. (It took a while to match thread to fabric and in the end it was a pink gutterman thread that did). It does crease when I wear it though. The buttons are a natural shell.

All fabric and notions were purchased from The Sewing Cafe.

Pattern Alterations and Fit

Dress one - I cut a size 6 and as the bodice is loose fitting I didn't make any adjustments except to lower the dart by 1.3cm. 

I made a 1cm tuck in the neckline for my hollow chest - this prevents a gaping neckline and is an adjustment that I often make. I made a bodice toile and then decided to lengthen the bodice by 2.5cm.

Dress two - As dress one, with the addition of reshaping the armscye and lowering it by 1cm to give me a little more room.


This pattern is very straight forward to make. Dress one had pockets, and I made dress two without them (which I'm still unsure about, but didn't want to add bulk).

I interfaced the ends of the drawstring casing on the second version of the dress. The instructions don't call for this, but on my first version the openings have started to fray a bit. Whilst this could be to do with a slightly looser weave of fabric, I didn't want to take a chance on my second version.

What I love

EVERYTHING! I'm going to be making more of these for sure. The pattern drafting is great, so if you match it up with a lovely fabric you are on to a winner. I really love the Atelier Brunette fabric - it's so comfortable to wear and I love the print so much. These dresses are so easy to make and to wear. 

What I'd change

Looking at the photos I would want to raise up the waist of the back a little. It's difficult to see on the first dress, but on the red-pink chambray one it's easier to see that it need to go up a bit.

I would possibly sew in a full elastic waist or, maybe just the back - I have a RTW dress with this and the drawstring and it means that the gathers don't automatically move to the front of the dress, which I can see has happened from some of the photos.
In the future I may also cut the front bodice on the fold omitting the button placket completely for a really speedy make.

Final Comments

I'm thoroughly pleased with these particular makes on many levels - pattern and fabric choice, but also my sewing of them too. It's a pattern I will definitely make more of.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Finished garment: #monetaparty dress!

Hey, hey! Long time no see! The Instagram #monetaparty hosted by the lovely Triple Stitchers - Elle, Abigail and Rach - was just the kick up the backside I needed to finish a UFO and write a whole blog post! They do so love a Moneta and between them have made many beautiful ones - go check them out!  I've made the Colette Moneta pattern (1 and 2 and) three times before - all of them blue so I was in the mood for a different colour - and I warn you that my dress is BRIGHT! You might need sunglasses to view to photos😎😉

I chose a coral solid cotton spandex knit from Girl Charlee UK (they no longer have it on the website though). I have used it to make a Tilly and the Buttons Agnes too (not blogged!). It's lovely and soft, but it is very much more stretchy than I imagined it would be, and this did cause a few problems with the fabric stretching as I sewed (and I forgot to use my walking foot - doh!).

Pattern, Alterations and Fit
I started this hacked Moneta dress in May last year and now that it is finished I'm dreaming of summer again so that I can wear it properly. It's definitely a bit too pink to style with tights for the winter!

For this make I lengthened the bodice and lowered the neckline (I'm not keen on the higher neckline on me in the previous versions I've made). I needed to size down too and actually, I had to take the side seams in somewhat whilst construction was underway. But, it is easier to take it in, I suppose.

I made version 1 (sleeveless), with no collar. I also didn't want to line the bodice so I had to change the construction a little - I added a neck band (I think that I measured the neckline once the bodice was constructed and cut out a neck band that was 10% smaller) for a more sporty look and re-shaped the armholes and bound them with some binding made from the same fabric. I had had problems with a twin needle on this fabric with my Agnes top (skipping stitches), so went with a triple stitch for the top stitching.
With this stretchier than expected jersey I found that the skirt pulled the bodice down a lot (& perhaps I over lengthened the pattern?!). The waistline ended up a few inches lower than it should have. This was particularly frustrating because for the first time I had nailed the clear elastic shearing on my first attempt (yay!) and then successfully overlocked the skirt and bodice together. Tears were shed! I lopped an inch or so off the bodice and reattached it too the (slightly shorter, because who can be bothered to unpick serging?) skirt. 

After I had re-attached the skirt, the waistline had stretched out and I fell out of love with this make and it hit the UFO pile very quickly! However, after failing to find any fabric that I loved to make another Moneta for the party, I decided to give this one another chance. I'm very glad I did. It was very quick and simple to finish, and I even managed to successfully hem it using a twin needle.

What I love
The colour of this dress is lovely, it really does feel very summery and I can't wait to wear it in the warmer weather. I love the finishing of the triple stitch top-stitching around the armholes and the neck band on this version. I would use these methods again.

What I'd change
I'd use my machines walking foot during the construction - I think I did stretch out the neckline a bit when I was sewing it. 
When I took in the side seams (after initial construction) I couldn't be bothered to add in the pockets again. I think I will miss not having pockets, so would definitely add them in again on my next version.

Moneta is a good pattern! I really like this dress and think the lower neck and neck band really work well. I love the colour so much, I feel very girly in it!

Thank you to The Triple Stitchers for inspiring me to finish my dress. Enjoy the party!

Thursday, 8 September 2016

The Handmade Fair Ticket Giveaway

Hello guys, just a quick post today today to let you know that I'm running a giveaway over on my instagram this week. 

My followers on instagram are being given the chance to win a pair of tickets to Kirstie Allsopp's The Handmade Fair, courtesy of my wonderful local shop The Sewing Cafe in Hinckley. Head over to my instagram now and follow the instructions on the post (which looks like the collage below) to be in with a chance.  If you're the lucky winner you will receive two tickets to this awesome Fair taking place 16-18th September at Hampton Court Palace. The giveaway closes at 9pm on Friday 9th September.
Instagram giveaway

So I've been a bit quiet on the blogging front for sometime. I've been prioritising my sewing time as it was very scarce over the summer and having a think about blogging in general.

My little boys started school last week. It's such a massive change for the whole family and I felt a bit lost without them last week! But with them at school now, I should be able to do a bit more sewing and blogging. Which I'm obviously very excited about!!

I love to read other people's blogs and really find them useful as I research a pattern I want to make. So this is one of the reasons that I want to continue to blog. Along with having a record of what I've made and some notes for the next time I make it. But I did find that I put myself under too much pressure to blog, then felt guilty when I didn't! I don't know if that makes sense to anyone else? But taking a 'break' from it (from the pressure too) has allowed me to miss it and work out why it was important to me. Now I've done that I think I will give myself less of a hard time if I don't manage to blog about something I've made.

That said I do have a backlog of makes and other things like a pattern drafting course to talk maybe I'll see you again soon:)

Good luck if you enter the giveaway!
Amy x 

Friday, 10 June 2016

Me Made May 2016

Hello, hello! I've shocked myself by actually writing a blog post! Big thanks to Zoe for organisaing the Me Made May Challenge and to all the inspiring sewing people out there! 

Me Made May 2016 - My Pledge:

I endeavour to wear four me-made garments each week during May 2016.

How did I do?: 

I documented some of my progress on Instagram using #mmmay16. But I got a bit fed-up of posting and it was mainly due to the lack of choice in my wardrobe.  I was a bit ambitious with my pledge. Zoe, the amazing woman behind Me Made May, wants you to challenge yourself during this month. However, I'm seriously lacking in Me-Mades because many of the garments I've made no longer fit me. 

In February I made the decision to do something about the weight I hadn't lost after having my twins four years ago. I had felt quite low about my body for a while and knew that I didn't really need to be eating so much chocolate everyday! Three months of dieting later and I had lost the weight and I'm really pleased with myself! BTW I've still been eating chocolate, just not quite in the same quantity as before! Anyway, I'm feeling a lot happier about my body, but the downside is that most of my clothes, RTW and Me-Mades no longer fit. Some have been sent to the charity shop, or given away and some of the more sentimental items have been stored. 

So my choice was restricted from the beginning. Infact, it was quite lucky that I already had plans to make some items during May or I would have had even less choice! I made three new tops, started a dress and altered a top and a dress - quite productive!

I was managing quite well with my pledge until the last week when I just couldn't face wearing the same garments again. Possibly this was made worse by the fact that I could see quite easily on Instagram what I'd worn and worn and worn... I chose to wear some RTW items instead. So I admit defeat!


It's not a total failure. I've discovered that I need to make some more clothes! Shock! Skirts are a must. Some more tops. Jeans. Summer dresses too. 

I've known for a while, but MMMay confirmed that I prefer plainer fabrics (Gah! Don't hate me sewcialists!). Dresses that I have made in the past, for example the 1940s Tea Dress and this Dahlia, whilst both lovely, are just not 'me'. Because the fabric is not 'me'. There are too many different colours, the print is very busy and I feel very uncomfortable wearing them. I do love the fabric, just not on me. Hope this makes sense, but it is something I need to consider when purchasing fabric in the future. 

I do like bright colours and can sew with fabric which is not blue in colour!! I'm relieved about this. I also love fabrics which drape well. Rayon is my favourite.

I have some great fabric in my stash, so I'm going to try to shop from that for a while. It's definitely not a fabric buying ban though. I'm just going to be extremely fussy when selecting fabric and only purchase if I know I will wear it. 

Sewing plans:

I am now down to one RTW skirt and no Me-Made. I bought the Zinnia skirt and the Rosari skirt patterns. I really like the style of both and they look to be very versatile. I'm looking forward to making some summery versions very soon.

During May I made a few - Anges and a self drafted version of the Tiny Pocket Tank (because I couldn't get the bust darts on that pattern to work for me, but loved the shape of the top!). I've bought a couple of other patterns to try over the coming months, some are not very seasonal, so may have to wait a while (Coco, Astoria, Camas). But maybe Aster and Darling Ranges as a top might happen soon? Also the Bailen top, a free pattern by Pauline Alice.

I was halfway through making another Moneta when my in-laws came to stay as I had to clear out of the Sewing room (guest bedroom). Then we were away for a week visiting my brother-in-law in Bilbao, so I haven't had a chance to finish it yet...but this first and then the Southport dress, Adelaide has also been purchased (can you tell I took advantage of the 30% off on Colette patterns at the end of May?!). And Kim, once I have adjusted the pattern to my new size.

I like wearing jeans. I like how you can dress them up and down and mostly everything goes with them. I've got a nice pair from gap and one from FatFace. Actually, they are the only two I own now. This is not nearly enough for my needs!  I've got the Ginger jeans pattern and the denim to make up a pair. It feels like a committed project, so I'm saving it for the Autumn though when my children start school and I'll have 'nothing else to do'! I am also watching lots of Morgan jeans pop up and quite fancy a pair myself, however, RTW versions of this style haven't always felt right on me. More thinking required.


I have lots more sewing plans whizzing around in my head, including a coat for winter! But for now, it's back to printing out PDFs.

Happy sewing everyone x

Monday, 14 March 2016

Completed garment: Colette Moneta number 3

I've had a good couple of weeks, but not much has been sewn. Which does make me a bit sad. But I have finally started a garment project again. Yay! It's not for me though, it's for my husband - a Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat. I will post separately about it soon, because it is a BIG project. It's going well so far and I'm enjoying the process of sewing for someone else too, which has surprised me a little! Today I've got a familiar pattern to talk about, with a few tweaks...

Apologies for the dark photos - they were taken a few weeks ago when the UK was experiencing endless cloud! The weather seams to have got a lot brighter and the longer daylight hours are very welcome!

I've made another Colette Moneta dress AND it's another blue one! This is the third time I've made it & in this colour. I am really going to have to make it in another colour soon.
Colette Moneta dress
A slubby bluey-purple (in the right light) jersey from Barry's in Birmingham. This was purchased at the SewBrum meet up in October last year. I think I can remember insisting it was purple at the time, but I concede that it is more blue than purple! I think I have enough left over to make a top too. I can't remember how much it cost, maybe around £5-6 /m but I might be telling fibs!

I had already adjusted this pattern on my previous iterations - an FBA of sorts using Miss Makes tutorial. 

This time round I did a hollow chest adjustment too which involves making a tuck along the widest part of the neckline; the tuck I made is around 1/8" at the neckline tapering to nothing at the armhole.

I have also lowered the neckline somewhat! By 13 cm.  I did this purely by holding up the pattern piece against myself & marking where I thought I'd like the neckline to land. It's just a little too low actually, but an easy thing to fix for next time. A lower neckline does suit me better I think. 

I didn't include the collar and this is the sleeveless version. It is self lined.

When making a lined, sleeveless version you need sew the shell and lining together at the neckline first, then the armholes. Of course, I forgot to do this and then had to wrangle with the neck to get it to sew up. It wasn't too much of a problem, but it added time on to what should have been a quick make.

And speaking of time consuming activities. I didn't enjoy unpicking the clear elastic sheering on the skirt twice before the gathers were even! I think I'm never going to 'get' this step. I have to attempt it at least three times before I manage to get the gathering even every time I make it. I either pull the elastic too tight, or not enough as I sew or a combination of both. I know that I'm not the only one who has a problem with this bit of the construction, which makes me feel better! So the next time I make it, I will be changing how I sew this or not making a gathered skirt at all. Having said that, it's all neat and tidy now and looks absolutely fine, I was just cursing quite a lot at the time!

It's such a comfortable dress to wear. The fabric is a lovely and I have already worn it a lot. I really like wearing my Papercut Coppelia Cardy with it.
Moneta and Coppelia - I love this combo

Raise the neckline by 2.5cm on my next make.

Lengthen the bodice by about 5cm so that the dress waistline hits me at my waistline. I've been doing this on other patterns and I get a much better fit.

Take it in a pinch at the top of the bodice side seams. 

Apart from the coat I think I need to get on with my spring sewing, I've got plans for an Agnes top, so when I get a little bored with the coat I might have a go at that.

Happy sewing x

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Competition Winners

Just a quick post today, but an exciting one! The winners of the competition I was running over the last week are:

Picked at random out of a bowl, by my husband (who refused to have his photo taken!):

Each has won a pair of tickets to one of the following shows:

  • Sewing For Pleasure, Fashion & Embroidery and Hobbycrafts, NEC, Birmingham 17th – 20th March 2016
  • Stitching, Sewing & Hobbycrafts, ExCeL, London 7th – 9th April 2016
  • Stitching, Sewing & Hobbycrafts, NEC, Birmingham 1st – 3rd July 2016

  • I've emailed (or direct messaged on instagram) the winners - so please check your messages, if you've not already!

    Thank you to everyone who entered and congratulations to the winners!

    I will be back later in the week with another sewing post:-) Happy sewing!

    Friday, 4 March 2016

    World Book Day Blog Tour - Fantastic Mr Fox

    When Becki of Dobbin's Bobbins asked me to be involved in this World Book Day Blog Tour I jumped at the chance! I LOVE books!! When I was growing up, one of my favourite things to do, was find a quiet corner and curl up with a good book. Getting lost in the pages for hours. I still enjoy this simple pleasure today, but there's sadly less time for this now!

    Roald Dahl is one of my favourite authors from my childhood and I've chosen Fantastic Mr Fox as my inspiration for this make. Did you know that Roald Dahl would be 100 years old this year? There are some excellent events going on around the UK to celebrate. You can find out more here
    Fantastic Mr Fox inspired door stop.
    I really love how Dahl engages the young reader with such imaginative descriptions; you can conjure up the most vivid pictures in your head of what is happening!  Mr Fox's character is great, with his daring and adventurous nature, getting into trouble with the three farmers, Boggis, Bunce and Bean. The farmers have the most brilliant and quite disgusting descriptions and then they are summed up in this little ditty which the local children in the book sing:
    "‘Boggis and Bunce and Bean
    One fat, one short, one lean.
    These horrible crooks
    So different in looks
    Were none the less equally mean.’"
    I have the fondest memories of my dad reading this book to me and my siblings for the first time. I can't have been older than 7. I can distinctly remember begging 'just one more chapter, please?!', but my (younger) brother had fallen asleep so we had to wait for the next instalment the following evening! I found my original copy of the book, complete with tea stains on the front cover and my name and class number pencilled inside, when we moved house a few years ago. I bought a new copy when I decided to read it to my children recently. They are a little bit young for following longer stories (they are only just four), but they must have enjoyed it, as they have recounted bits of it to me.
    My original copy and the new one. Different Illustartors - I do love the original illustrations for the detail in them; but you really can't beat a Dahl - Blake combo!
    On to the make then... I prefer to make things for myself or my house, so I knew almost straight away that it would be something for the house (although I did waiver and consider making something for a child, but then I'd have to make two as I have twins, so that decided it!). We redecorated our living room just before Christmas and I'm still looking for accessories and art work for it. The rooms colour scheme is orange and grey (see my Pinterest board for more info) and so a fox door stop seemed very appropriate! 
    I've included some extra shots of the room so you can see how well the door stop fits in!
    Our curtains were purchased from the made to measure service at John Lewis (such great customer service - it is true!). I could have made the curtains myself, I have done so in other parts of the house. However decided not to for several reasons; there are two windows in the living room; one of which is a three meter long curved bay window; we wanted floor length curtains for extra warmth (and our house has high ceilings, as it's a 1920's semi, so that makes the drop nearly two and a half meters! That's a lot of fabric to work with!!); they needed to be blackout lined because we have a street lamp outside the window and I hate working with blackout lining! Finally, Christmas was approaching and I was short on time! The curtain fabric is a beautiful linen called Botantica Bird, in the French Grey colour-way. And why am I telling you all about the curtains?? Because John Lewis included the unused fabric in with my curtains, so I had some spare sitting in my stash perfect for a door stop! The other fabric was purchased from my local store The Sewing Cafe in Hinckley. I picked out a couple of fat quarters - a burnt orange coloured cotton and a light grey/brown, plain linen, along with a sturdy canvas webbing for the handle.
    The fabric - cotton and linen.
    I didn't use a pattern for this. I made a simple template for the doorstop pieces after deciding how big I wanted the door stop to be. I then drew out some ideas for the fox, ensuring that it would fit comfortably on the front panel. At first I couldn't decide whether or not to make a cute fox, which is very fashionable, or go down a more representative style. I chose the latter because it's in keeping with the curtain fabric, and will better stand the test of time in my living room.
    My pattern for the door stop.

    I copied out the fox design, with a fabric marker on to the orange fabric (I practised first on a blue cotton to get it right). I didn't have an embroidery hoop, so I decided to stabilise the cotton fabric with a fusible medium-weight interfacing. Then I free-motion embroidered the fox using black thread, then white thread for additional details. 

    My practise attempts and the finished fox.
    Mr Fox, before I cut him out and fused him to the front piece.
    I have only ever used this technique on felt Christmas decorations, so I was nervous about doing it for this project. But I'm really pleased with the results and would feel more confident about using the technique again. After I was happy with the fox I carefully cut around it and used Bondaweb to attach it to the front panel. I should have done this earlier on I think, as obviously I then had to sew around the edge of the fox again to finish securing it...isn't hindsight great!
    Close-up of Mr Fox.
    Photo-bombed by these little monkeys!
    What every home-made door stop needs - dried food goods!
    I then sewed the door stop together and stuffed it with a polyester toy stuffing and weighted it with a bag filled with store cupboard favourites - couscous and dried beans!! I hand sewed the final seam together using a ladder stitch.
    Wobbly ladder stitching to close up the stuffing hole.
    And viola! A lovely door stop, that fits perfectly into my living room and gives me a fantastic reminder of such fond childhood memories. I'm really happy with this make! 
    A Fantastic Mr Fox inspired door stop (hanging out by the fireplace where there was a bit more light for the photos)!
    Close-up of the handle.
    Fantastic Mr Fox  door stop in his rightful place!

    Before I leave just a quick reminder that Becki has the most wonderful selection of prizes in the giveaway. There are four to enter!! - check them out and enter here!!

    And finally, thank you to Becki for hosting and to all the others on the tour - there have been some awesome creations so far and still more to come!

    Monday 29th February
    Dobbin’s Bobbins
    While she was sleeping

    Tuesday 1st March
    Fairies, Bubbles & Co.
    As It Seams
    Wednesday 2nd March
    Sewing With Kate
    Call Ajaire
    Thursday 3rd March
    Sew Shelly Sew

    Friday 4th March
    Sewn In The Attic

    Just Add Fabric
    Saturday 5th March
    English Girl At Home
    Made by Sara
    Paisley Roots
    Sunday 6th March
    Sew Country Chick
    Dobbin’s Bobbins