Time pressures? What time pressures?

New Year’s Eve is a strange thing; for some people there’s nothing they like more than staying out into the wee small hours, giddy and drunk on the promise of a new year, whilst for others they couldn’t care less and are happily tucked up in bed like on most other nights of the year.

I am not one of the latter people.

And as one of those who like a good party on NYE, I also like to have a fancy dress to wear.

This year (16 into 17) I was thinking about my dress for months. Not on purpose. It was more that I had a vision in my head of the perfect dress that I wanted to make but no opportunity to wear it. A leopard print wiggle dress. Outrageous but, for NYE, just outrageous enough.

I found a pattern, I found some amazing leopard print scuba in Dalston, I was away.

And then, at 4:30pm on New Year’s Eve I actually tried on the dress (I’d not had a chance to before then because of various Christmas crafting projects and Christmas being social projects).

It was a disaster. Not unsalvageable. But certainly not something that could be sorted before heading out to a party.

I had less than two and a half hours before we headed out, and I needed to eat in that time. It would have been madness to try and make something new in that time, right?

Right.

I did it anyway…..


What is it?

A slash neck dress with a three quarter circle skirt.

Is it blue?

No, but it is a turquoisey green which can sometimes count….

What’s the fabric and where’s it from?

A gorgeous African wax print that I bought from the rag market during Sew Brum.

What’s the pattern?

The By Hand London Anna dress with the three quarter circle skirt I drafted for my Christmas dress

What was good about making this?

Erm, getting it done in two hours (allowing for the break for dinner)? I cut the fabric out not really sure if I would actually manage to get it done in time, so getting it all sorted felt pretty good. Plus, in amongst the mild mania of the creation, I managed to get a neat pattern match on the bodice back and I’m really pleased with the pattern placement of the yellow spiral on the bodice.

Would you look at the pattern placement on that….

What was bad about making this?

I did feel pretty rude when our friends turned up for pre-drinks and I went “can’t talk, got to hem!”. They all went and played some weird game about Vikings (so weird, a half hour of googling can’t find it…) with the boy instead. To be honest, based on the sounds of confusion they were making, I’m not sure who got the worst deal there….

SWOOOOOOSH

Would you make it again?

I would. I’m smitten with this dress and have worn it a couple of times already in the last month. It swooshes ever so nicely and is dressy without feeling over the top.

Although next time, I might try to take my time with it.

x

(Cotton) diamonds are a girl’s best friend

Reader, I have a confession. I have become a bit obsessed by African wax print.

It started out innocently enough; I noticed on Instagram that some bloggers (particularly Roisin and Vicky) were posting up dresses made from super vibrant bold patterned fabric. Something about the vibrancy sparked an affection for the fabric, but it wasn’t something I saw when physically fabric shopping so I watched from afar.

Then I started to see wax cotton on my rounds of the rag market, and realised how well priced it is. The affection strengthened, moving into an attraction. I even bought a piece, relatively subdued in pattern as it was, and used it for my Colette Rue, marvelling at how workable the fabric was.

The attraction morphed further.

Things came to a head towards the end of September. In my day job, I work predominantly from home, but when I’m in London I work out of an office that’s based in Rich Mix.

Which is a ten minute walk from Middlesex Street, one of the hubs of wax print in London.

Which I then discovered having not previously realised it.

Faced with overwhelming choice and a serious heap of desire I caved, and came back two wonderfully joyful outrageous pieces of fabric. The obsession was fixed…

 

What is it?

A strappy summer dress with a princess seam bodice and gathered skirt.

Is it blue?

Some of the panels are blue, as are the lines that connect the little roundels.

My house is on Bank Street. Cue obligatory ridiculous posing….

What’s the fabric and where’s it from?

An amazing piece of African wax cotton from Middlesex Street. I think I bought it in Good Luck Textiles, but, based on the number of stores in the area, you could into any of them and have a blast.

What’s the pattern?

I used the By Hand London Charlie dress, using a gathered skirt rather than a circle skirt, as per the strawberry dress.

What was good about making this?

How truly wonderfully vibrant it is. I did some pattern matching on the bodice that seemed to actually work (a feat for me….), and I also liked the pattern placement that I did with the roundels central on the bodice.
It came together relatively quickly and felt like a fun thing to sew, probably based on the happiness of the pattern.

What was bad about making this?

I spent a while wondering about the skirt length, and, although I ended up going for the shorter length, still wonder if I made the right decision and should have stuck with midi length (although it’s definitely too late for that now….). I also had worries that I wouldn’t actually wear the dress because it’s that bit more vibrant than my usual makes. I shouldn’t have though, as it was amazing to wear and, even if it ends up being mainly a summer holiday dress, it is still wonderful.


Would you make it again?

I do really like the Charlie pattern, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I made another. I also have a lot of fabric left (pretty standard where wax cotton is concerned as it comes in 6 yard chunks) so I may well make a skirt in the same fabric that might, possibly, be a way to wear the print more regularly.

x

Stationery addicts of the world unite!

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I’ve mentioned before how I have a habit of developing long lasting love affairs with particular fabrics, agonising over them, debating, walking back and forth like an expectant parent before finally biting the bullet and buying them.

This is one of those fabrics.

This particular love affair started quite some time ago, certainly the start of the summer (ah! Summer love!) and I knew it was exactly what I wanted. The colours are perfect and the interchanging pencils and sharpenings spoke to every part of my psyche that spent each summer at school agonising over what to buy for the coming year’s pencil case.

Despite this, I just couldn’t quite pluck up the courage to buy it. At least, I couldn’t until Sew Brum, where the positive influence of lots of lovely sewists (but especially Lauren) tipped the balance squarely in its favour!

What is it?

A boat neck fitted bodice dress with a gathered skirt.

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Is it blue?

No, but the lead of one of the pencils is!

What’s the fabric and where’s it from?

The fabric is certainly a Liberty print, but it came from the Liberty Man at the Rag Market for £8/m rather than the standard Liberty £22/m. Coupled with a very slight printing error on one side, this makes me think it might ever so possibly be a misprint rather than the real deal. That said, it is super soft and lightweight which is pretty fabulous.

What’s the pattern?

I used the By Hand London Anna dress for the bodice and matched it with a gathered skirt. I only bought a metre and a half of the fabric (it might be cheap for Liberty but it was still expensive for me!) and was very pleased to find that I could squeeze the dress out of that little; my scraps pile for this project bordered on non-existent!

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What was good about making this?

The speed of sewing was great; I put the fabric in to wash on the Saturday when I got back from town, cut in to it on Sunday afternoon and wore it to work on the Wednesday. It was also a great excuse for buying this sweet as a button pencil sharpener necklace from the Tatty Devine sale. It’s pretty much the perfect partner for this dress.

What was bad about making this?

The only bad thing was discovering the flaw in the fabric. I was pretty heartbroken to begin with, and then I realised that the slightly flecked abstract background of the print overall counteracted this and literally no-one else would notice.

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Would you make it again?

I think so. After the Space Dress I said that I wasn’t too sure, but with the addition of the gathered skirt I’ve found renewed love for this pattern. I’ve also worn it almost ever moment when it’s not been in the wash basket since making it, which is always a good sign!

x

Shh! Secret cats!

IMG_9216This may look like a polka dot dress, but it harbours a secret. A rather feline secret.

And why’s that?

Because some of the polka dots are secretly cats!

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What is it?

A sweetheart neck, princess seam bodice with a gathered skirt

Is it blue?

I think it definitely counts as on the spectrum. Plus a couple of the polka dots (and secret cats) are blue too

What’s the fabric and where’s it from?

The fabric is a lovely cotton called Happy Pop that I bought when we were in Japan last year.

What’s the pattern?

The By Hand London Kim dress

What was good about making this?

Aside from the secret cats? I made a couple of alterations to this after having made the underground dress, and it’s all the better for it. I could probably still take another centimetre off the straps, but otherwise it’s fitting and looking much better.

I also found the fabric was wonderfully easy to pattern match as the different cats made it easy to know where to lay out the pieces.

Honourable mention should go to the insertion of the invisible zip in this dress, which I expected to be a nightmare but which was near perfect (to my standards!) as you can see above.

What was bad about making this?

Pretty much nothing. It worked really well, I think I just want to take that one additional centimetre off…

Would you make it again?

Quite probably, I love the sit of the neckline on this dress and I have some lovely cotton I bought on ebay that is waiting for something like this….

x

Going underground…

Remember I mentioned that time I went fabric shopping with something of a hangover? Well floral fabric wasn’t the only thing my poor tired brain latched on to. It also found this:

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What’s this? Why only the most inaccurate tube map you’ll ever see. Don’t believe me? Take a closer look at it and then compare it to this which is the actual tube map.

So wrong.

And yet…. so right. I knew I had to have it. So I did, and this was the result.

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What is it?

A princess seamed bodice with a sweetheart neckline and gathered skirt.

Is it blue?

One of the lines is blue…

What’s the fabric and where’s it from?

Underground print cotton polycotton from a stall in the rag market. I’ve seen it elsewhere online.

What’s the pattern?

The Kim dress by By Hand London

What was good about making this?

I’d wanted to toile the Kim dress and this seemed like a good fabric to do it with. The instructions were really clear and it came together pretty quickly. I liked the construction of the bodice too.

I wore it for the first (and only, see below…) time on a London work day and had the miracle of not one but two complete strangers engaging me in nice conversations. Which made my day better too.

What was bad about making this?

The straps were way too long, but I didn’t find this out until I’d finished it. To get the neckline to sit in the right place (rather than half way down my bra…) I had to take at least 2 inches out of each side (maybe more). Which then meant that the waistline sits a bit too high. So although it fits it’s not as flattering as it could be. So it doesn’t get worn as much as it should.

I might get round to slashing it open and putting in a waist panel in to lengthen the bodice back out, or I might remake it using another £6 worth of fabric, or I might slash it and turn it into a skirt instead, but until then, every time I go to put it on I look at myself in the mirror and take it off again.

Would you make it again?

Yes as this was always meant to be a toile, although next time I’ll lose some length on the straps and add some length on the bodice to balance it out

x

Strawberry shortcake

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Way back when I went to Walthamstow for the first time, I picked up some fabric and, despite the cold, rainy October day, I just knew that it was destined to be a summer dress.

Then, at Christmas time (ish), the pattern with Simply Sewing magazine was the Charlie dress by By Hand London and I was smitten.

Rush forwards to May and the time for making summer dresses felt very near at hand, so armed with the PDF pieces I hit the stash and sewed it up in two shakes of a rabbit’s tail.

I love this dress and have worn it loads, including two summer breaks (ok, one summer break to Lille and Glastonbury Festival where it was muddy. Really muddy. And then it rained and got muddier).

And as for the strawberries? Well, why wouldn’t you match your breakfast to your dress when you can?!

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What is it?

A bandeau-style princess seamed dress with shoulder straps, fold over neckline and self drafted gathered skirt.

Is it blue?

No

What’s the fabric and where’s it from?

Teeny tiny sort of see through strawberries that I got from a shop in Walthamstow

What’s the pattern?

The bodice is the Charlie dress by By Hand London. I used the version that came with Simply Sewing magazine but they’ve since released a version that anyone can buy (and which the link points to).

What was good about making this?

I got to do a couple of firsts with this, not least first time making a top with princess seams. I really like the fit the bodice has as a result of the princess seams, it feels really feminine and flattering and I’ll look out for more patterns with it.

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(can we just take a moment to appreciate Kat’s cat leggings?)

What was bad about making this?

I had a bit of a scary moment where I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it up, but that turned out to just be one strawberry too many!

Would you make it again?

I would. I’d shorten the shoulder straps by about an inch as they fall down when I’m not paying attention, but that’s about it. I’d like to try it with a circle skirt, which is what the original pattern came with. Other than that though, it’s a winner for me, and might just be the perfect summer dress (maybe).
x

Space dress!

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When I made the floral Anna dress, it was a toile for some rather special fabric; this fabric. Space fabric.

Everyone loves space, because it’s amazing, and this dress makes it even more amazing.

What is it?

A fricking SPACE DRESS

Is it blue?

Not just any blue, space blue

What’s the fabric and where is it from?

The fabric is a lightweight cotton that I got from Fabworks Mill (although it’s sadly now out of stock). I was pretty excited to get the fabric, but that got even more exciting when I discovered from Elle that the fabric was originally from Paul Smith! And then I googled how much a Paul Smith shirt cost, which was pretty terrifying. Fabric find of the year!

What’s the pattern?

The By Hand London Anna dress in the midi length version

What was good about making this?

Getting to sew with space fabric. Also, making something for a special occasion always makes it seem more exciting.

What was bad about making this?

As before, the sheer volume of seams that need overlocking with a six panel skirt is just boring.

Would you make it again?

Honestly? Probably not. I might consider making the maxi length dress, but after a couple of wears of this and the other Anna dress, I’m not sure if I like the bodice fit enough to make it again. I do still like it lots though!

x

Floral 1940s style Anna dress

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Sometimes you hear a lot about a pattern so you decide to give it a go. And then part way through sewing, when it looks like this, someone really helpful (or not….) says it looks like you’re making a costume out of Dinnerladies.

Great.

BUT THEN you finish it off, and you have something delightful and wonderful and you realise that was all wrong

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What is it?

A boat neck, kimono sleeve, mid-length dress

Is it blue?

The bias binding is!

What’s the fabric and where is it from?

The fabric is a soft cotton (lawn maybe?) that I got as part of the fabric swap at SewBrum

What’s the pattern?

By Hand London’s Anna dress in the midi length. There’s a lot of love for this pattern out there, so I thought I’d give it a go.

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What was good about making this?

It was really quick to come together and also had a couple of firsts for me; first time I’ve made a seven panel (seven gore?) skirt and the first time I’ve used bias binding for a decorative finish. The finish of the skirt to the bodice is really neat, with the panels all lining up against bodice features in a very aesthetically pleasing way.

What was bad about making this?

Oh my days. With seven panels joined together, that’s 12 raw seams. That’s an awful lot of overlocking. I got into a bit of a rhythm with it, but my word I was pleased when I got to the last one.

Would you make it again?

Yes; this was my wearable toile for a special dress I have in mind to wear to celebrate the boy’s 30th birthday.

x