The Cambie Dress

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I loved the look of this dress. It was inspired from the movie “La La Land” with Emma Stones’s gorgeous yellow dress.  I had never previously followed a Sewaholic pattern and did some research before purchasing.  There were lots of positive reviews and a step by step guide on the Sewaholic website which is a great thing to have if you are a bit unsure during the making up stages. http://sewaholic.net/

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The pattern and instructions were easy to follow.  I did a mock up first as I am fairly large chested and always generally have to alter bodice measurements to suit my frame.  I am usually a size 8-10 so plumped for the size 10 to be on the safe side.

The dress is fully lined and actually the finished result looks more difficult than it really was!  Although I think that next time I may not line the skirt and only line the bodice.  The only alteration I had to make was ironically to take in the bodice slightly to achieve a more fitted effect!  I think next time I might even downsize and opt for a size 8!

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The only problem I have now is deciding on which material and pattern fabric to purchase for my next Cambie dress!

Thank you Sewaholic.  I will definitely be making more of your creations in the near future!
https://www.etsy.com/shop/Lizzyshomemade


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Hopeful for the sun!

I was thinking one day  with a cup of tea in my hand, of what other items I could make with my fabric remnants, apart from pincushions! (I always like making those!) and came up with the bright idea of making a few more sunglasses holders.  Last year I did actually make a Lovehearts sunglasses holder.  I ordered a beautiful 2 metres of this fabric and made myself a skirt with it and with what was left over, I also made my first sunglasses holder.  Not buying more of this fabric was a mistake as it went out of stock and I can’t find it anywhere else!

Anyway, back to making sunglasses holders!  I really enjoy making these as they are not too tricky to make and you can have a lovely finished result quite quickly.  They also look quirky and stand out a mile from the plastic boring solid colour ones!

Firstly you need some lovely fabric for the outside, a lining fabric and also a fairly thick wadding which will sandwich the 2 fabrics together and also give the case more stability and better padding. If you can obtain fusible wadding then all the better, but if not, don’t worry!

I use  a rectangular template which measures approx. 19 x 10 cm.  You will need to slightly curve one corner to given a rounded more professional appearance too.  However, if you have super fashionable large sunglasses, you will need to re-measure and make yourself a larger template. Similary, if you wish to make a case for a child’s glasses, then you will need a smaller template.

Firstly, cut out your outer fabric, lining and wadding. You should end up with a fabric sandwich of 3 layers; the lining fabric right way up on the bottom, the wadding in the middle and finally the outside fabric wrong side down on top.

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Pin all layers together, leaving a couple of inches gap in the middle of one of the sides.  (You can see this indicated by the 2 large pins at the bottom of the picture).  You will need this gap as the fabric needs to be turned out). Machine stitch all the way round (minus the gap!). Cut off any excess wadding and clip the corners.  Then turn out so the right side of the fabric is now visible.  Iron  all the square layers to make it easier and flatter to sew.

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The next step is to handsew the gap that you turned the fabric in from.  Once you have finished that, proceed to sew a topstitch all the way around again with the outer fabric facing you.

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When that is complete, fold the square in half and start stitching the open side about 2 inches from the curved top, leaving enough room to put your sunglasses easily in and out.  Sew to the end.

You shoukd have a lovely sunglasses case just like mine, which are available to purchase in my Etsy shop. https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/510562797/sunglasses-fabric-holders?ref=shop_home_active_1

Enjoy!

Simple Sew – The Skater Dress

I love making 1950’s style dresses – basically anything with a flared A line skirt will do!  I have tried various patterns over the years to see what fits best and which is the better style that I am looking for.  I normally stick to my Butterick B4443 easy sew pattern, which has seen me make countless dresses from.  This is all well and good for summer dresses,  however I have never really made a winter dress before so thought I would give it a go.

imageI do like the skater style dresses so had a look on the web at what was available.  I noticed the Simple Sew patterns had a lovely dress which looked good and importantly, looked easy to make.  I couldn’t really find many reviews of this dress. Having curves, I always check out the Curvy Sewing Collective, who do excellent reviews and advice.  However this dress didn’t feature there so I thought I would give it a go anyway. I also liked the idea that Simple Sew was a British company, instead of the usual USA sewing pattern providers.

When the pattern arrived, it was on one huge piece of tracing paper, not like the couple of sheets you usually get.  The paper was a crisp white which made it easy to trace/cut around.

I have had my fingers burnt often, with not doing a “mock up”.  I have cut the pattern out according to my measurements and have cut my lovely fabric only to find once I’ve made it, that the thing just doesn’t fit.  No more!  I always make a mock up now.  I trace over the sewing pattern and use some cheap material to test it out.  By doing this, I can alter fitting and hems etc to fit my measurements.  It is a long winded way of doing it but it’s so much better than spoiling your original lovely fabric.

Anyway, onto my mock up – my original material was a grey background of white outlined cats which I though would be more appropriate in the winter.  I am a regular size 8 in most clothes but went for a size 10 in this pattern to try to accommodate bigger boobs!

After tracing and cutting out I then went onto the instructions.  These I have to say are pretty vague, they miss lots of steps off and are very minimal.  I have never quite seen instructions so like this.  After finding no reviews online, I went onto the Simple Sew website where they do have pattern tutuorials.  This was better and the tutorial did admit that the instructions did miss out some steps.image

However once I had pieced what I was supposed to do together, it was all very straightforward.

There are not too many pieces in this design, front and back bodice, front and back skirt, sleeves x 2 and collar interfacing. I only needed to buy a 16inch zip and obviously matching thread.

I started by transferring  darts on the front and back bodice as per the pattern and sewing these, once this is complete, you sew the shoulders only of the back and front bodice together.  This seems strange to me, as on all other patterns you sew the sides too.  Next is the interfacing – I  always get this mixed up when ironing on interfacing – I can never remember if its the shiny side you iron or the other one and invariably I get it wrong!  Once you have successfully cut out and ironed the interfacing to the collar, you sew the 3 sections together and then sew onto the neckline.image

Next the sleeves.  I always found these hard, which explains why I’ve so many sleeveless dresses in my wardrobe!  Actually these are quite each.  Run a basting stich across the top of the sleeve to fit into the armhole and gather from both ends.  Don’t garther too much, jut a few gathers as the sleee has to fit in the sleevehole.  Once it’s pinned in and adjusted, then sew.

Now for the skirt.  Attach the front skirt to the front bodice and vice versa to the back skirt and bodice.  Simple.  Next the zip.  I dislike putting in zips intensely, however my experience of zips has been changed by watching the Professor Pincushion video tuturoals on YouTube.  Your will never look back, believe me! Once you have insterted your zip, sew from the end of the zip to the bottom of the centre hem. Once you have sewin in your zip you need to sew from the edge of the sleeve right down the side of the body all the way to the bottom hem.  The instructions usefully didn’t mention any of this.

imageFInally to finish, sew a neat hem at the edges of the sleeves and a hem for the bottom of the skirt.

Voila.  A skater dress. Thanks to Simple Sew.

I have to say this is one of the best fitting dresses I have made, I loved the mock up so much I’ve kept that for next summer!  It fits in all the right places, especially if you are not a stick insect and really looks good.  I can’t wait to wear it!

 

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A Retro Christmas – Nostalgia required!

I started my Etsy shop in September 2015 and I didn’t really properly prepare for Christmas, I was just learning the ropes, trying new things out and researching what sold and what seemed to be the most popular trends.

This year, I started Christmas earlier than I meant to!  It came about on a trip to my local Hobbycraft, in Shirley, Solihull.  I was looking for some cottons and happened to spot their Christmas fabric displays and homed in on some lovely retro looking material.  It was a fat quarter of 6 different Christmas themed fabrics.  My favourite was the pink fabric featuring a reindeer.  Very kitsch!  (The reindeer design also comes in a blue fabric).image1

I started making some hanging decorations with these fabrics and decided I was going to make a heart decoration.  This is a completely non-traditional shape and colour so a bit risky, however I thought it would appeal to all those retro fans out there who are looking for that something a little bit different and eye-catching.untitled

Making the hearts was relatively straight forward – I previously wrote a blog post on how to make a seamless heart which you can reference.

Fingers crossed, all those retro fans out there will like these lovely decorations.  A touch of nostalgia is all that is required!

See the shop link at the top of my website for links to my Etsy shop. Also, see Hobbycraft for lovely retro fat quarters.


Patchwork and Birmingham!

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I have been interested in patchwork for a while now, after a friend bought me a present of the Cath Kidston book, originally titled “Patch”!  I’ve made a few things from the book, most notably the patchwork hexagonal pincushion.  I really enjoyed making the pincushion as I could sit down and take my patchwork with me anywhere as it was all handsewn.  It even went on holiday with me! It’s just so relaxing, sitting down in front of the tv, just me and my patchwork (and hubbie of course)!  I like the idea you can mix and match fabric for patchwork, using up scraps of fabric or incorporating different themes.

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Indeed, I have made several patchwork pincushion, including a sewing notions pincushion, which you can see on my Etsy shop: Lizzyshomemade

I’m currently in the process of making a small patchwork cushion with a  vintage style maps material.  It’s been lovely this month to take my patchwork outside on a sunny afternoon and to sit sewing.

Anyway, as I knew next to nothing about patchwork, I thought I would look into this lovely craft.

According to the V&A museum in London, their definition of patchwork is ” 2 layers of fabric sandwiching a thickish padding, all held together by lines of stitching.  It is associated with quilting and involves sewing together pieces of fabric into a larger design”.

Apparently, from google research, the earliest examples of patchwork were found in the Egyptian tombs and there have also been finds from the Middle Ages, however patchwork seemed to become popular during the 11th to 13th centuries in Europe.

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Many people associate patchwork and quilting with the USA.  Indeed, the art of quilting became widespread during the Great Depression from 1929.  It became popular as a means to recycling clothing into quilts as money was scarce.

Indeed, I can remember the film “How to make an American Quilt” from 1995 with Winona Ryder, where a family sat around making a beautiful quilt for a wedding gift from fabric that had meant something to them. Indeed, I love the idea of incorporating your fabric strips from garments that you no longer wear but mean something to you.  For example children’s clothing and wedding outfits etc. These quilts then become heirlooms down the generations and can take years to make.  Its a lovely tradition of families and friends coming together to sew a quilt for someone they love with their memories incorporated into it.

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One of my recently read books from my favourite author, Tracey Chevalier was about  quilt making in the 1850’s.  Quaker Honor Bright comes to 1850’s America from England and has to overcome tragedy and misfortune, however she takes refuge in her quiltmaking.  “The Last Runaway” written in 2015 is a must for those patchwork and quilting fans out there.  I loved it!

From searching for patchwork and quilting museums or exhibitions, I recalled that there was a quilt museum in York, I remember my mother in law, who is an avid quilter visiting it.  Unfortunately, it closed in 2015 which is a bit of a shame.  Apart from the obvious V&A in London, I did find the American Museum in Bath which looks to have an extensive collection.

With regards to patchworking and quilting in Birmingham, I am very lucky to have a patchwork and fabric shop about 10 minutes drive from where I live in South Birmingham, called The Cotton Patch. They specialise in patchworking and quilting plus have a good array of fabrics for dressmaking.

When I last visited I picked up a leaflet about an exhibition of Welsh quilts in Lampeter, which looked interesting.  (I think Welsh quiltmaking and blanket making will have to wait for a new post!).  It turns out that there is a Welsh Quilts centre which houses the exhibition.  As I am Welsh, hopefully my husband and son won’t mind a weekend away soon.  The exhibition runs until 5 Novemer 2016.

On a slightly more local basis than Wales, there is a Festival of Quilts held yearly in Birmingham at the NEC which has exhibitors from all around Europe and sells itself as the largest patchworking and quiliting exhibion in Europe.  I missed it this year due to school holidays, but would love to go next year.

My other local haberdashery shop, Guthrie and Ghani in Moseley runs patchwork and quilting courses, so I am signing up for one of these.  I would love to make a proper quilt, even if it would take me years!  I need to learn how to do it though, as quilt making is obviously on a much bigger scale than patchwork pincushions and cushion covers!

I really enjoyed researching this blog and hoped you liked reading it and it has prompted you to try patchwork for yourself!

For more information on quilting, the Quilters Guild is a very interesting read.  Hobbycraft also specialises in fat quarters for quilting and has a lovely range of fabrics.


 

Lobster Dress

I have finally got around to completing work on my lobster dress!

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I purchased this lovely navy retro looking material, with white lobsters a few months ago from Fabric Rehab,  www.fabricrehab.co.uk with a view to making a skater style dress.  However, after making a tote bag from this material for my Etsy shop first, I received a large custom order from Newfoundland to make several lobster bags and progress on the dress stopped!

I went back to one of my favourite original patterns that I made my first dress from a couple of years ago; Vogue V8723, Very Easy Vogue Patterns.  This simple dress pattern consists of a lined bodice, a lined skater style skirt and a 20 inch zip at the back.

imageI had cut out the pattern pieces a few weeks ago and followed the bodice measurements for a D cup as I am quite busty.  Assembling the dress was fairly simple as the bodice consisted of a couple of darts in the front and only one in the back.  The lining was fashioned in exactly the same way.  However on trying the dress on, there was far too much material gaping at the front bodice so I had to take some more in from the darts, which seems to have fixed the problem. I will have to remember to use the B cup bodice pattern next time!

 

 

Although the pattern states that the skirt should be lined, I didn’t bother lining the skirt as the material is medium thickness and navy so hardly see through.  The skirt was fairly easy to assemble as it just had to be gathered and the gathers adjusted to fit the bodice seams.

I used to find the hardest part of dress making was zip insertion until I learnt how to insert a zip easily and properly through the YouTube channel of Professor Pincushion.  Here, they take you step by step on how to insert a zip.  This method works every time and makes dress making much easier. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huQh2aE2Sao

With some hand sewing to finish off the dress (mainly a hook and eye above the zip and attaching the lining to the zip too), the dress is completed.  Hurray!  I finally have my finished lobster dress in time for late Summer!

Next on the list is a fabulous Licorice Allsorts fabric in a black background, remembering to use the B cup front bodice pattern next time!image

My retro 1950’s shirt dress

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As readers of my blog will be aware, I am addicted to 1950’s style dresses.  I love the femininity of them, the swirl, that “princess” feeling.  Luckily for me I have an hourglass figure which really suits the 1950’s A-line style.

When my son started school a few years ago, I enrolled on a weekly dressmaking course and over the years, I have made a few tops and some simple sundresses for myself.  I particulary like the Vintage Vogue V8789.  However, this time I decided to tackle a 1950’s style shirt dress pattern; the McCall’s M6696.

Interestingly, this all came about as a result of receiving the new Boden Spring 2016 catalogue.  They have a lovely Sophia shirtdress in pale lemon but unfortunately had run out of my size with little hope of a restock.  I looked at the dress and thought how hard can it be?  So I googled simple shirtdress pattern and came up with the McCall’s M6696. This stated that it was an “Easy”pattern to tackle.  All the better!

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I looked to see if there were any general reviews of the pattern, then I looked at one of my newly discovered sites, The Curvy Sewing Collective. For the unitiated, this is a website designed to give advice on sewing patterns for the curvy person.  Although I am a size 8, I generally have a large chest which doesn’t always equate to size 8 clothes!  This website looks at sewing patterns and reviews and comments on them, giving helpful hints on how you can alter the pattern etc.  Anyways, they had the McCall’s dress in it and gave it a good review.

Next, I went to my favourite fabric store – Barrys, in Birmingham – to have a look for some fabric.  My husband and son are regular visitors here and the staff love my son and he loves hiding in amongt the fabric!  My husband has a good eye for material so he picked out a fabulous retro bicycle print in a pale green which would look amazing in a dress.  Great, I’ve now got my pattern and my fabric.

As I mentioned I went to dressmaking lessons but my tutor was always on hand for the more trickier stuff.  When I looked through the McCall’s pattern, although it stated easy, there was some stuff I had never tackled before, such as yokes, button down bands and collars.  Yikes!  The instructions would have been clear if I knew what I was doing in the first place!

Thank heavens for YouTube!  I googled “how to attach a yoke” and found a brilliant channel called Professor Pincushion.  This American lady has hundreds of different clips on all elements of dressmaking which are so clear, precise and easy to follow.  I have looked online for sewing stuff before but with mixed results.  However Professor Pincushion is now my new find!

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With her help, I made a yoke, learnt abou how to attach a collar and made a shirt button band.  I cannot recommend her enough if you are puzzled about instructons on a sewing pattern.  I completed the dress fairly quickly and really enjoyed doing it.  After previous bad experiences of cutting into patterns and fabric and finding the fit is not right, I now trace the pattern and do a mock up with some cheap fabric rather than spoiling the original! I was glad I did because the size 8 was a little too tight on the waistband (too many cakes?) so I altered it to a size 10 when cutting out my fabric properly.

I finally finished the shirt dress a few days later  I have to say I am really pleased with the results.  The fit is good and the dress hangs well.    The good thing is that I can now go ahead and make a 100 of these if I wish as I have the perfect pattern for my body.IMG_0454

So, if you fancy having a go at a new summer dress then take a look at McCall’s M669 and let me know how you get on!