I’m pretty sure I once said I’d never make clothes for anyone else. But owing to my rubbish memory I now seem to be making a habit of it!
Lucy is one of my beautiful returning customers. and I love the challenges she throws my way. It seems I’m happy making things for other people so long as they are not boring things, lol!
Lucy has a way more interesting social life than me and loves pinning her favourite styles on Pinterest for future reference. It’s a great way for us to share the possibilities of what she’d like me to make next. Most of what she pins, slightly terrifies me but I already overcame my fear of sewing trousers by making her a jumpsuit (which you can see here). She was so delighted with the outcome and that spurred me on to investigate the method of making a cowl skirt.
I’d seen them before, but couldn’t for the life of me work out how to set about it until I came across this tutorial on YouTube by Ruralafricanshop.
It’s a pattern-free tutorial that transforms a length of fabric like magic! Thank you Ruralafrican shop!
I set about making one for myself first. You know, just to test the waters (*read, because I really wanted one too!) and the great thing about sewing with African wax fabric is that it is so darned cheap you can afford to toile it and make one out of the same bolt. Which is clearly the best thing to do in order to see the results for real.
I found me some red and black, of course. It’s quite an unusual colour palette among the wax cotton shelves it seems. Everything else under the sun but not much red and black without other colour interference. I just love the sunbursts. It’s got a great graphic feel about it. And totes lends itself to this crazy sculpture of a skirt!
It cuts some pretty cool shapes with one little turn here and there:
It looks so elegant from the back.
And does it’s finest heart-shape impression in the wind!
The trial was a success. I added a few refinements to the instructions, re neatening seams, interfacing the waistband and inserting an invisible zip on a centre back seam. And I rehearsed using different lengths of fabric to see the difference in length of the skirt. The pleats were formed by eye rather than maths.
Lucy supplied her own fabric which was the chosen fabric for the event. And it was a little bit lighter than what I’d used so the pleats and the drape worked even better the second time around. And the border on the fabric worked beautifully on the waistband.
She is far taller and way more leggy than me so I made sure the length was appropriate, and warned of the shortness of the front seam!
To be fair, she’d rock a potato sack but still, what joy to see her wearing another ooobop special… I was chuffed to bits when she sent me these photos!
I’m not stopping here. African wax fabric is such a pleasure to sew. And I’m ready for my next challenge. Bring on the party!
I am flexing those self-sabotage skills again. I have had notice of my daughters wedding for almost a year and with only a month away, have I begun making my mother of the bride dress? Don’t be daft. But I did make another Sew La Di Da French Gypsy dress. And I must say, I’m not even a little bit sorry!
I totally blame that upstairs bit at Misan Fabrics, in the Goldhawk Road, where they have the most desirable remnants on sale, way cheaper than the fabrics they have downstairs. There was this 3.5m bolt of bright red panel fabric that was signalling from the top shelf. I didn’t have a clue what I’d do with it at that point. Cutting it up for headscarves was an option. But not a very exciting or fulfilling one. Maybe posh napkins or a gathered skirt? Seriously, I’m so uninspired sometimes. I spread it out on the table and looked to the assistant for a suggestion. A shrug of the shoulders translated that she wasn’t the least bit interested and was I going to buy it or not? The reason I was stalling was that the label said £10. I didn’t imagine for one minute that meant for the whole lot. So when the penny dropped, so did the idea that I could indeed make a gathered skirt but with a French Gypsy dress bodice attached to the top of it… for a tenner!
It’s great to revisit a recently-made sewing pattern: It’s already been traced; the fit is established – though I had to keep in mind that the fabric I used last time had a bit of stretch – plus having rehearsed it already, it’s a more confident sew and the process is therefore quicker.
There was an issue of placement though. There were not going to be any happy accidents here, oh no! The skirt was dead easy to work out. I just used the width of the fabric for front and back and then halved the back for the seam allowance and zip. But I did think to make sure the panels aligned from the same point at the top/bottom… just before I cut, lol
The midriff – which I must have told you a hundred times before, is my favourite section of a dress – deserved a small floral border that came from the centre of the larger panel. I like how it kind of looks like a giant buckle from a distance. The little floral bits at the side were a bonus.
That same little patterned square worked for the sleeves just as well.
Back bodice pieces always give the most placement jip when there’s a zip to factor in. So annoying. Even more annoying when I’d already cut the back skirt pieces apart and could have made life easier for myself if I’d have thought it out properly and allowed for a side closure instead. But then I had a little brainwave and made sure that the placement didn’t need any matching up. I just needed to make sure the design was the same distance away from the zip on either side. Which it is. Kind of!
The only section I’m not crazy about is the front gathered bust section. There wasn’t enough plain red and I didn’t want to repeat too much the ‘lacy’ edging of the panel section. I can live with it though!
I still had enough duchesse satin left over from the last time to make the black binding which is lucky because I love how it outlines the dress at the top.
My new dress had it’s first outing today and proved to be very picnic-worthy and received lots of lovely comments. It also attracted some attention on our little shoot in the neighbourhood earlier this evening. One passing stranger couldn’t resist joining in and worked it so well it would be rude not to include him. Thinking of you, Karen (didyoumakethat). I didn’t even have to tell him what it was for!
Thanks as always to the lovely Mr O for these lovely photos. x
I’m definitely on a Burdastyle roll this year. And largely thanks to Saturday Night Stitch who prompted said roll with her #burdachallenge2018 over on Instagram. I didn’t commit to a set number of projects because, knowing me, I’d end up self-sabotaging my own plans (because that’s my favourite hobby apparently) and not make any at all! So in not making a declared commitment I’ve made two glittery bell-sleeve dresses, one black, one red (quellesurprise), a red raglan sleeve top which I’ve yet to blog and these awesome satin joggers that I made for my daughter:
I feel I can say ‘awesome‘, not to big myself up but because the fabric choice and the style was all down to Little Miss O. It’s very rare that she will accept a hand-made offering these days, preferring a high street label or a funky second-hand designer deal from Depop. So when she came to me with this request I couldn’t wait to get started.
I’m so thankful for my collection of Burda mags. There’s always a something I can use or adapt but in this case, the exact pattern I needed was nestled inside issue 04/2017. And if you don’t have it in your collection it’s available as a pdf download from the Burda website
I was a bit worried about the non-stretch factor of a satin brocade but the cut of the pattern was excellent. Allowing enough room to negate the need for expansion!
She didn’t want to include the zippered pockets. She felt that it would upset the shape of the leg, create more bulk and look ugly… Who’s the dressmaker round here?! She also rejected the drawstring at the waistline so I just incorporated an extra channel of elastic instead. talking of which, I’m a bit irritated by the ‘roll’ of the elastic. Doe’s anti-roll or non-roll elastic really make that much difference? Please let me know I’ll invest if it does. My loyalty to my Shepherds Bush haberdashery stall is strong but I feel I could possibly betray allegiance for the sake of a well-behaved elastic. Just don’t tell!
I included 3 channels of 1cm elastic at the waist. This technique worked so well for Amelia Fang’s petticoat so I didn’t see why it wouldn’t work so well for these. The instructions called for 1.5cm width. Maybe that’s where I fell down. Or maybe that there was more fabric to gather at the waist for the petticoat and so less room for the elastic to move around.
It’s not such a biggie when they are on. Seems to straighten out. I did stick to the instruction of 2cm wide elastic for the 2 channels at the ankle cuff and that seemed to stay in place a bit more.
These joggers sew up real quick. Especially if you’re leaving out the pockets. And even quicker when your daughter needs them in half an hour because she is going out and has ‘literally nothing to wear’. These inimitable words groans are recited literally every week accompanied by a stomp up the stairs. I’d like to say they took half an hour though the threading of the elastic probably took that long! But it really wasn’t much longer than an hour or so.
She’s had so many lovely comments about them and already wants another pair in black with pink stripes. I’m sure she could find those in the shops but to be fair, I really like that she wants me to make them. I like that she dictates how she wants them and recognises faults and fitting issues in RTW styles. It might sound a bit princess-like. But it’s also a learning curve. She can see what time is invested and she can see what works and what doesn’t. She’s currently in the process of making herself a slip dress that she is sewing all by herself along with a group of friends, all making the same. I’d like to think that I’ve got something to do with that but I don’t like to pressurise her. I prefer just to plant the seed!
So the trade-off for a second pair was that I got to take some photos of her wearing them for my blog post. Ordinarily not too much to ask but you’d think I was asking the impossible – sabotaging her schedule and ruining her whole life! I managed a five minute shoot. With no head. And a lot of huffs. Oh those hormones. Oh the joys!
When Yasmin told me she was going to get married my squeal was enough to summon the local hounds. When she asked me if I would make dresses for her bridesmaids, I squeaked a more fearful ‘yes’… Silk, tafetta, yards of it. Pale expensive fabrics poofed up all over my… kitchen table? Not to mention the pressure of producing something nothing less than perfect for such an important occasion for such a special couple! My head was racing with all the awful possibilities…’Of course, I’d be delighted and honoured,’ surfed my quivered reply on the outbreath.
I’d been dreading the day someone asked me to make a bridesmaid dress. Not quite as much as being asked to make a wedding dress. But still, nothing more than fear of not being able to come up with the nothing-more-than-perfect goods. Nothing more than I deal with every day as a designer tbh. Isn’t self-doubt a wonderful thing?!
Cut to a coffee date and handover of a bag load of the prettiest Liberty Tana Lawn, Betsy D fabric in turquoise. I should have known better. No prom-girl-meets-fancy-princess dresses on the guestlist here. Instead three classic pretty little girl dresses were the order of the day. Something the girls could run around and happily play in and wear again afterwards.
I was so impressed with Yasmin’s vision, not to mention her wedding dress find at a vintage wedding fair. A gorgeous original 1940’s number with very little alteration needed. And the deco details she found on Ebay re the Jenny Packham hair accessory and the dress clips. Who knew about dress clips? Such a beautiful thing. Just. So. Yas!
So of course the bridesmaid dresses needed to be simple, floaty, proper little girl dresses with a polite nod to vintage. And before I got pen to paper, Yas had it in the bag and downloaded the patterns already: These pretty angel sleeve dresses from an indie seller on Etsy – Aesthetic Nest. Quite the perfect stage for Betsy D!
The ages of the girls were 7, 8 and 10. Having had two girls of my own I felt the need to raise a possible issue about potential tantrums should there be any objection to such prettiness. The last thing you want on your big day is a scowling child, head sucked into shoulders, begrudgingly following you up the aisle, curled toes gouging tram tracks in the parquet en route.
So, on consultation, the 10 year old unsurprisingly wanted something a bit cooler! But that was fine because the the alternative was gorgeous too. A little halter dress from Simplicity 8064, with peter pan collar and bow.
I didn’t get to meet the girls, and it was logistically impossible for the older one given she lives in the US but by the power of technology and good old Royal Mail we managed a virtual overseas fitting which thankfully only threw up the need to take some excess out of the back.
The style of the Angel sleeve dresses meant no real fitting dramas at all, save the length. Incidentally this pattern comes up really long and would have swamped the little ones. I sent a toile by post and it was returned with a safety pinned hem of 5 or more inches!
So when all alterations were factored in, I made the dress version of the angel sleeve dress for one of the girls and the top and skirt version for the other. So happy that they chose a slight difference in style. We couldn’t help but be persuaded by the addition of some pink pom pom trim found in the Goldhawk Road.
There was just enough to add to the ends of a blindfold for Piñata fun and games too!
The halter dress commanded no such pompom fun but instead a carefully selected vintage button and some coral pink cotton trim to frame the Liberty print so perfectly.
But I’m assured there was no lack of fun to be had whilst wearing it!
Oh the pride when Yas sent me the photos. It’s so good to look back on something with fresh eyes. I so admire her determination not to have felt the need to comply with convention – the word in itself is so boring and automated – and instead, that every little personally sourced, perfectly chosen, and lovingly stitched item added all the more personality and meaning to her very special day.
I am so chuffed to have been asked to make these dresses and even moreso to have kicked self-doubt into touch!
I’m all up for revisiting patterns of late. Especially ones that just work and need little or no revisions. This was one of those.
It’s a hankerchief hem maxi dress from March 2015 edition of Burda Style magazine – one of my absolute faves. I first made it almost two years ago, and blogged it here! Clearly a dress befitting of the London summer climes!
I knew I was going to make another. It’s such an easy one to put together. And when I stumbled across a similar ruffle fabric but in silver, it was pinned and cut in a jiffy. A lovely sewing afternoon at Tilly and the Buttons studio got it all sewed up but it was proper sweaty work with all those metres of metal fabric draped over my knees, so I saved the hand-finishing till… this morning!
By hand-sewing, I mean the armholes and neckline which I finished with bias binding. I couldn’t be arsed with a flappy facings!
The fabric has a little stretch and has no need for finishing of hems or edges. Which is lucky, because there’s lots of them going on with the hanky-hem! Feels a little like cheating but when I see it photographed I’m assured it matters not.
It is also strangely transparent when you hold it to the light. But thankfully the metalic silver finish reflects with such distraction that you can’t see my pants!
The original Burda pattern includes sleeves. But I much prefer it sleeveless. It seems to work better with the v-neckline and creates a bit more elegance.
Dan took these wonderful shots, of course. Assisted by a dose of delightful sunshine at the ‘New Way In’ at the Victoria and Albert Museum. I get so excited by new space. Much like my printed design work, I’ve learned over the years, that space doesn’t always have to be filled with stuff! People were gathering and marvelling… at the space! All helped of course by the awesome stone work, some cleverly conflicting angles and some lovely reflecting glass and metals. I felt quite at home in my new dress and didn’t mind the attention it got, for once!
At one point, another photographer not only asked to take my photo but asked who the designer of my dress was. Oh the flattery. But oh the awkward pose for her!
The satisfaction of finding an edgy fabric and pairing it with a quirky pattern definitely floats my boat and it’s something I should definitely dedicate more time to. It gives me such a little buzz of butterflies when it works.
And of course Burda mags are a fantastic resource for inspiration. All those issues I dissed for abject weirdity will definitely be revisited in a new light!
That said, I have some lovely commissions for other people that will have to take precedence over any new dresses for moi over the next coming weeks. I’m not complaining at all. They are really exciting projects so keep tuned!
And where will I wear this dress – apart from to wander around the creative white spaces of London? I’m thinking festivals, parties, gigs and galleries. Maybe the office doesn’t get graced this time round!
Are you a sewing-obsessed, GBSB fan like me? Do you love fashion and vintage and tailoring and dressmaking… and Paddy?
In case you haven’t been party to this hot piece of sewing news, buzzing around the blogosphere, read on for why you should totally be at the UK’s biggest, most exciting new dressmaking event at ExCel London, 21-24 September this year. I am talking all things Great British Sewing Bee Live… Yes LIVE!
I spent last Tuesday morning at London’s Fashion and Textile museum, in a room full of superstar sewing bloggers, for an intimate audience with the legendary judges of the TV series, Patrick Grant and Esme Young. I know, right?! We’d been invited to hear a little more about what we can expect from this incredible event. And boy are we all in for a treat!
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1. Patrick and Esme will actually be there, in real life, right there before our very own eyes
Contestants from past shows along with the bravest of audience members will take part in challenges live on stage. Jenny Éclair, comedian, writer and TV personality, will be your host and will ensure the nerves and mishaps are glossed over with giggles. What can possibly go wrong?!
Patrick was asked, “Will there be sewing hecklers at the #GBSBLive Super Theatre?
“I hope so” he replied!
To be honest I would buy a ticket just for this alone. But there’s more…
2. Your chance to be a contestant!
Have you watched every episode, longing to be one of the contestants? Then here is your chance!
Click here to complete an application form. You just don’t know unless you have a go!
3. More than a hundred workshops
Hosted by your favourite contestants and other top stitchers and tutors, the hardest part will be choosing. Seriously, make a cuppa and get yourself comfy before clicking this link to all the amazing workshops on offer. The choice is insane!
Incidentally Patrick was asked who his favourite contestant was. He paused, with glint in his eye… he said, “I loved them all!” What a tease! “No one ever left early. It was always about who sewed the best challenge, not who was the best sewer.”
4. Live Demos
There’s a jam-packed programme of live demonstrations from well-known personalities from the world of sewing and dressmaking as well as contestants from the Great British Sewing Bee. You’ll get all the tips and advice you need to get you on your dressmaking journey, whether you’re a complete beginner or a seasoned professional there will be something for you.
All sessions will be free to attend and are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
5. Dressmaking drop-in clinic
We’ve all got a project or two in that pile of doom and defeat. Dig it out and bring it along to the drop-in clinic where one of our lovely sewing experts will help you to solve your issues and get you back on track.
It’s common knowledge how helpful the sewing community is. And it was really sweet to learn that Esme frequently got a telling off for trying to help contestants on the show! “As a teacher, It’s so difficult to watch people struggling.” Oh how I’d love to have Esme on tap!
6. Fashion Catwalk
From high-end fashion and couture creations to vintage designs, bespoke tailoring and wedding garments, it will be a feast of dressmaking fashion from both independent and larger pattern companies.
There’ll be three shows a day, free to attend on a first come first served basis, along with a daily showcase of garments from leading fashion and textile students.
7. 200+ (Yes 200+!) dressmaking and sewing suppliers
All your online favourites and more. This is going to be the best shopping trip ever ever ever!!!! Even Esme claims to have the most ridiculous fabric and button stash. She can’t help herself. If it’s beautiful, she just has to have it!
8. Garment galleries a plenty for your perusal and delight
This is your chance to get up close and personal with some of those amazing creations from previous shows. There will be a crazy collection of the garments from across the series, including some of the most stunning, the most stand out and frankly the most bizarre designs from the programme.
I wonder if it will include a certain pvc skirt that Patrick sewed for himself… ooops, did I just say that out loud?!
9. The Fashion and Textile Muesem: Liberty in Fashion Exhibition
Dennis Nothdruft (who incidentally Handmade Jane and I met at the Couture Inside Out exhibition and we can therefore advocate as brilliant) has curated a stunning exhibition of Liberty pieces: From romantic, densely patterned garments from the post-war 1930s to the Art Nouveau revival of the 1950s and Swinging 1960s, then Seventies Pastoralism with its characteristic smocking… I’d buy a ticket just for this too!
10. Bloggers delight
Asides from all the magic and mahem, inspiration and excitement of the above I truly believe that this super duper sewing event will also prove to be the best ever blogger meet-up you ever went to, like ever! And if you see me wandering around in a dreamworld, please stop me to say hello. I love nothing more than meeting my readers in real life.
Does any of that lot float your lil boat?
Designer and Sewing Bee judge Esme Young said: “Whether you’re a professional tailor or hobby dressmaker, fashion student or vintage fan, there’s something for everyone with a love of sewing, and even complete beginners keen to give it a go. We hope visitors will leave the show inspired and full of ideas for their next dressmaking project. ”
So who’s up for a free pair of tickets then? I have 5 sets up for grabs and you don’t have to do anything more taxing than to subscribe to my blog (top right hand column under the ooobop logo, if you are viewing on a pc, or scroll to the bottom of your phone screen) and then leave a comment below. You have up until Friday 14th July 2017 when the giveaway will close. 5 lucky winners will be announced on Sunday 16th July.
I’ve been neglecting my vintage patterns of late. But that did allow for some exciting rummaging and little squeals of delight when I found some treasures I’d completely forgotten about. And I just love that ‘aha moment’ when found pattern meets perfect stash fabric. Proper romance that is!
This is Blackmore So-Easy 9266. Not sure if it’s 50s or 60s as it’s not dated. The instructions were a little more explained compared to the last 40s Blackmore pattern I used but I enjoyed making both just the same.
I knew this dress wasn’t going to fit straight out of the packet. It was already too small and any dodgy fitting on this was going to shout from the rooftops. So it needed time and patience to grade it up properly and work through 3 toiles before I was ready to cut into the real stuff.
Once all the adjustments were transferred to the pattern pieces – grading up, shortening the back bodice substantially, taking out some excess from the overbust and increasing the waist – it was fundamentally a very easy to sew dress.
There’s no lining. The bodice is simply faced at the top edge. I must remember to tack this down in a couple of places on the inside, as the photos totally reveal how it peaks out at the back if it’s not poked in to start with.
I do so love recreating an original vintage dress but I should know by now how the drawings on the cover cheat so much! The skirt on the cover looks tapered and very fitted but in actual fact, not only is cut straight, it has a wide kick pleat allowance which gives the visual appearance of being even wider at the hemline.
I took it in quite substantially to arrive at this shape – like 4 inches each side seam! – and I sewed the kick pleat down too. I hated the granny hemline. Not flattering on my vertically challenged frame for sure. This does, however, mean that I have to walk very lady-like and in heels and therefore one helluva lot slower than normal. Not such a bad thing when for most of the time I’m rushing around like a lunatic with giant strides in Docs or trainers.
The fabric is bark cloth. Found in a little basement fabric shop in Waterloo ages ago. I love the texture so much, the colours are fabulous and it sews up beautifully. I made a Martini dress from bark cloth of the vintage kind but I have to say, this modern weave was definitely more grain-stable and less prone to stretch. It’s not usual to find this stuff in any old fabric store. Certainly a void of it in the Goldhawk Road. So if anyone has a link to a favourite UK store, please let me know. By the time shipping is added to the original Hawaiian brands, the price is rocketed!
Now, I would just like to touch upon the issue of straps. Fally down straps!! I felt sure that I had sussed the right width, length, the right position and before sewing them down, I walked around the house for a few hours with them pinned to make sure of their position. Ulitmately the ends of the straps would be sandwiched between the facing and the top bodice so better to get them in the right position first. I thought I’d cracked it. Made sure to sew exactly as pinned. But the buggers still fall down!! It really is the bane of my strappy-dress life.
To be fair, It doesn’t help that I’ve got sloping shoulders. But I do think also that I made the bodice a touch too wide for my over-bust and so the straps sit too close to the edge of my shoulders. Another little adjustment to bear in mind for next time.
Clever lady Clare, from River Elliot Bridal also had a great solution which was to sew a narrow elastic inside the strap to generate a little more grip. Must give that a go too.
I’m hoping the stormy skies keep at bay and glorious sunshine keeps coming over the next few months so my current favourite newbie gets more outings. But all the same, the fickle in me is furiously flicking through the collection to find the next new fave to make… because I can!
So I did it again… mixing business with pleasure. With no regrets – just pure delight in my two worlds working together again, so effortlessly, so cohesively this time.
Lets start from the top. By day, my hat-wearing is in the graphic design department of mostly publishing houses where I design covers and inside pages for children’s and young adult books.
Late last year I was asked by Pan Macmillan if I would like to design the inside pages for a very cool book by radio and TV presenter, Gemma Cairney. This is the point when all my senses got seriously ignited and creative juices whisked up on hyperdrive. Errr… ok… like yes totally please… honour all mine and all that!
Open is exactly what it says on the tin: “A toolkit for how magic and messed up life can be”. All those taboo hard-to-deliver subjects laid bare, on the page, cool as.
I don’t often shout from the rooftops about my work unless I truly believe the hype but in this instance, with Gemma at the helm, loud-hailing her invaluable advice and support, awesome art direction from Rachel Vale who also designed the gorgeous cover, fellow designer, and wonderful person Tracey Ridgewell, and a plethora of edgy art from illustrator Aurelia Lange, I was in my element and couldn’t possibly keep shtum.
Here’s a little taster of what’s inside:
This book involved a proper dream team, of that you can be sure. Just check out the thank you’s at the back. It’s all inclusive and that’s what made it such a pleasure and an honour to be working as part of #teamopen on this very important and unique book. Boy do I wish I had this book when I was a teen.
It was a lot of work in such a short space of time and yet when it was all over and the proof copies were in, it seemed like a distant blur. And then I got an invite.
So when one gets an invitation to a very special book launch party, whereby the dress code is ‘fantastical and dazzling’… what is one to do? Make it, right?!
I didn’t have much time to plan. A couple of weeks in fact. So I needed a tried and tested pattern. All hail the Capital ChicMartini! I have only made this once before, in a vintage bark cloth (see here) but always knew there would be a need for more versions. Thank you so much Sally for such a brilliant design. I love it so much!
The fabric had to be shiny – no doubt about that. And preferably yellow. Though the thought made me squirm. It could all go horribly wrong and I might possibly end up looking like some gone-wrong banana.
But I set to, with some weird synthetic shiny stuff from the Goldhawk Road, quite thankful that a no-smoking policy is ever present. All the time with a niggling urge to customize the dress somewhat. Then I chanced upon some pink fabric of the same kind in another shop. And appliqué stars just happened.
And then the night before, at quite literally the 11th hour, I had a thought that I could paint one of the illustrations from inside the book, on the dress. Excitement overload!
I couldn’t possibly go ahead without first asking Aurelia’s permission – Open‘s incredibly talented illustrator – so when she got back to me with an absolute yes, it was all stations go, and I made a stencil from sticky-back laminate paper and used black fabric paint to daub one of her many cool iconic illustrations. I just love the end result.
The party was immense. At the Women’s University in Mayfair, with period rooms bursting full of the most inspirational and creatively talented people. Jaw awe to say the least. I’m so proud of Gemma and I’m not even her mum! And just look how she rocks a sequin or two!
It’s insane that I managed to whip up this dress at a time when my workload has been so bonkers. But it just goes to prove that passion triumphs over ever everything. Even shut-eye! I will totally sleep when I’m dead.
I learned a lot from this project. Mostly that I respond well to a hefty deadline; I love that my job brings such creative people and projects to my table. But also that I relish a bespoke brief and a perfect opportunity to create an out-of-the-ordinary outfit for a party. I’ve just got to learn to deal with the attention it gets. Didn’t factor that in, lol!
Daniel took these photos for me a couple of weeks ago. Just love the yellow against the green. He is so clever to have by-passed the daffs in in the local park to get to a scuzzy railway arch… who knew?!
By stark contrast I’ve just finished three of the prettiest bridesmaid dresses in floral Liberty Lawn, that I hope to share with you after the actual wedding. So I must be due something more for me, hey?! Plus there are plans for a @Mccallpatternuk #thecocktailhour dress for the @eveappeal. More on that soon.
Are you more productive with a looming deadline or do you do just as well without? And would you be more inclined to make or buy a short-notice party dress? I’d love to know.
Till next time, my lovelies. Happy sewing! xxx
Your comments are always brighten my day and inspire me to write another post. Thank you.
This is my second version of the By Hand London Alix Dress. The first was a test version that I didn’t get round to blogging but in any case this one is way better!
Alix is such a great design. Echoes of the 70s and of the 40s even, with its flattering midriff and gathered bustline. Incidentally, the first version I pattern tested had box pleats at the bust line which didn’t work for me so the gathered option is way better.
I love the full sleeves, made possible by the shoulder pleat and the elasticated wrists. Pays to be a bit generous with the elastic though. The first one I made pretty much turned my hands blue!
Another plus for this dress is that there are no fussy closures. No zips, no hook and eyes, no buttons… nada! Just a lovely long sash to tie as tight or as loose as you like. The neckline is perfectly wide enough to get over even my moon head and theres a pleat at the back to balance out the fullness of the front.
And no lining! Just good old serged seams. Which works fabulously for this poly viscose tartan. I have been meaning to use Black Watch variety for some time, since I made my BHL Sabrina dress back in 2014. I loved how it made a contrast against the Royal Stewart tartan but still remain nervous that someone will shoot me down for mixing of the clans!
I’ve been wearing this to work – a lot – and it is perfectly comfortable to wear sitting down, standing up, running for the bus and climbing stairs. And its a no brainer for getting ready in the morning. Cue plenty dernier tights and a trusty pair of Doc Martens!
I get so resentful when I don’t get any sewing time. And I don’t sport a good grumpy look either. So with back-to-back work deadlines this month, I needed to find a little sewing project that I could tap into in between marathon stints in front of the screen to retain balance and sanity… for everyone concerned!
#sewdots was brought to my attention on Instagram. Instigated by the brilliant Rosie of DIY Couture and writer of No Patterns Needed. She also works for the RNIB – Royal National Institute for the Blind – where she learned about their campaign that runs every October called Wear Dots Raise Lots. It highlights the impact of Braille and raises money for their services. It encourages the wearing of dots to raise awareness, encouraging people to hold dotty parties, or coordinate with colleagues and pick a ‘wear dots’ day for the office.
So Rosie has upped the ante to encourage the sewing of dots too!
The idea was to use fabric from stash and donate what you would have spent via the JustGiving page she has set up. Simples!
This was all shaping up nicely. I had two pieces of coordinating red and white polkadot fabric. And I had a Tilly and the Buttons Fifi pyjama pattern on my to do list. A pattern that needs little space to cut out and can certainly be achieved in manageable chunks of sewing time.
The Shorts took 40 mins, including cutting out time. And including unpicking my first elastic attachment!
The camisole happened a week later… over 3 days: The cutting and stay stitching in one shift, the main body sections sewn together in another, and the binding made and sewn on before work one morning. I sewed on the bow and attached the back straps just now!
But I’m sure if you had dedicated and uninterrupted sewing time, you could easily rustle this set up in a couple of hours.
This is such a neat and gratifying garment to make. all the seams are ‘Frenched’ and it’s as neat inside as it is out. It really doesn’t need much fabric and if you are lucky enough to have coordinating scraps, the design possibilities are endless.
And to boot, I have a lovely set of PJs at last! It appears I’ve made them for everyone in the household except me. I know they are slightly out of season but I really don’t care. I’m going to make more.
Theres still days left this month if you’d like to participate. There’s some great prizes up for grabs too!
Doesn’t have to be a garment of course. Could be a much smaller project still, like a sleep mask or a headband or a scarf!
I can totally assure you that sewing and giving is a great self-indulgent, feel-good combo too. Good work Rosie!