The Vampires Auntie Christmas Dress

So I’ve been stalking the Vampires Wife on social media for nearly a year now and dreaming of Liberty Tana Lawn or floral velvet maxi dresses. But making one was a massive time commitment when we were in the middle of selling our flat, & I would need to do a mock up version and these things are fabric hogs and finding very long lengths of fabric to practice with at the stall on Lewisham Market can be tricky and although I have a couple of lovely suitable patterns there was nothing in jersey. So I never got round to it.

Until literally the week before Christmas when I saw a post on McCalls Instagram (which I have stolen to replicate below) and was blown away….

Now Vogue V9264 is a pattern I’d completely overlooked. Largely because of the utterly frumpy granny style style line drawings of the dress on the pattern front…

And the even worse cheap looking crushed velvet Kardashian style number that was the main demo version I’d seen at that point on the internet.

Neither of which were prepossessing looks that got me interested in that pattern.

But within ten minutes of seeing the post on Instagram (above) I had ordered the pattern and was planning a version of it for my next make.

Luckily I had the right yardage of a perfect velvet jersey knocking around in my stash as well. I bought it from Maggies Fabric in lewisham market about a year ago and I’d sat on it having no idea what it wanted to be.

& two days later the pattern arrived and a project was born. To give myself extra pressure I intended it to be ready for my friends Christmas vinyl dj set four days later.

But I needn’t have worried it is one of the simplest patterns I’ve played with in a long time and at a straight size 22 it is pretty much spot on fit wise.

I even had time to hang it overnight to let the weight of the hem settle before hemming it.

So here are photos. Literally I loved this dress so much it got worn 3 times in 8 days (and washed in between – which was somewhat a miracle cuz at the time we had a rather crappy washing machine set up)

I debated properly ripping off Vampires Wife by adding a ruffle round the bottom, but overall I’m glad I didn’t.

I love this dress! I am planning two more versions of the pattern in different lengths and fabrics and I keep trying to find opportunities to wear it – which is quite difficult actually, even though I tend to be the queen of spectacularly overdressed for the occasion, it’s a bit extra for my everyday wardrobe needs.

On an interesting side note, I was browsing Depop a few days ago and came across this baby from Topshop….

Apologies to anyone if this is their photo, but I think it’s the original Topshop catalogue shot.

Now all the fabric from Maggies on Lewisham Market is deadstock and samples largely from high street stores, but occasionally from high end designers, but I usually have very little clue what the high street brands actually do with it – if they even use it at all. So in this case it was rather nice to see Topshop’s version. I actually quite like it. I suspect it would have been too short for me to have bought it though, & I just squeeze into a Topshop 18 (their sizes run larger than average) so I’m not sure I’d have found one to fit anyway.

I haven’t been very prolific with the sewing since Christmas. I’ve made a top for someone else, a dress I’m not too keen on, & I’m currently working on quite a big project fairy goth dress for a festival I’m going to in summer so I haven’t got all that much to show. We’ve been having to do quite a lot of adulting though, our flat sale fell through, Jons uncle has died and Jons dad is ill, so I haven’t had very much time to dedicate to sewing. Hopefully things will speed up a bit over the next few weeks.

The John Lewis leopardprint dress.

Happy New Year everyone,

Back to blogging the stuff I made before Christmas but did not get round to posting about – actually for some reason I went completely nuts with the sewing in December and made three things so there’s a good reason I didn’t blog everything in time. I am having a massive break from sewing at the moment as Jon had 2 weeks off work, then we were dealing with the house move – it’s fallen through, I’m a bit sad but the amount we were being mucked around it’s totally for the best. And now Jon has come down with a cold so he’s been at home for most of the week and today is his first day back at work, so I’m using it to catch up on admin jobs and hopefully will be back to the actual sewing next week.

Anyway, back to the dress….so the idea for this particular dress came from two chance happenings coming together simultaneously.

The first is that I was down the fabric stall on Lewisham market looking for a specific shopping list for some long term projects, and while I was there Maggie, the lady who owns the stall, tipped out a new bag of fabric. – She sells deadstock and samples from some very well known high street stores and independent designers – which is how I get such gorgeous stuff off her- and anyway, some of the stock comes as large bags of random from the high street clothes companies workrooms. So this particular bag there wasn’t actually very much of interest in it, it was mostly very small pieces, apart from a 4m length of the most beautiful leopard print jersey. So I had it off her pretty much before it even hit the stall.

Then I got an email advert from John Lewis with a really nice but very simple polo neck leopard print jersey dress by Ghost selling for like £95!!!! I took one look, sniggered and knew immediately that I could make my own version with pattern pieces I already had in my stash and the £12 of fabric I’d just picked up off lewisham market!

So of course because it’s my version it has a cowl neck rather than a polo neck and it has 3/4 length sleeves rather than full length ones, but for £12 I’m rather proud of it.

The pattern I used was a mashup of the Sewaholic Renfrew Top and the Colette Patterns Moneta dress . I’d love to say it was my idea but I’ve seen several people do it on Instagram so I just ripped off the idea from there.

I’ve made literally dozens of the Renfrew top over the years so it’s a pattern I’m very comfortable with, I only made one Moneta dress in the past and it was a complete utter disaster , I used a crappy cheap jersey, the neckline stretched out of all recognition and I didn’t get on well with the weird elastic gathering method of constructing the skirt. But that was two and a half years ago, my sewing has massively improved since then, I was using a decent quality jersey this time and I totally ignored the instructions for the gathered elastic, gathered the skirt using two rows of long machine stitch (ie my usual way) and attached the elastic to the bottom of the bodice instead.

& I think it’s worked wonderfully. My one remaining gripe with the Moneta is the skirt is not as full on the plus sized versions as it appears to be for thinner girls. But I love the fact it has pockets – a sad omission on most women’s ready to wear dresses- and I think what I’ve ended up with really suits me. I now have plans for two more in different jerseys I have in my stash.

So onto the pictures….

We took these on the balcony of Jon’s brother’s block of flats when we went over for an early Christmas celebration.

I’m particularly pleased by the way the gradient stripe lines up between the bodice and the skirt, because it was completely unintentional and it didn’t even occur to me to try pattern matching, so I’m really glad it matched itself!

It pretty much hasn’t been out of the wash since it got made. I’ve now set up an entire Pinterest board to stalk top end highstreet dresses, as clearly this is an inspiration method I completely need to be trying again.

End of year round up 2018

So I failed miserably at my aim of blogging everything I’ve made this year. But thats possibly a good thing as the reason for that is I’ve been on some kind of creative roll for the last couple of months and have made loads more good stuff than I have in ages.

I wasn’t very good at blogging in 2017 – got rather distracted by the new and shiny that is Instagram, so I didn’t do an end of year round up, but as far as I can tell I only made 11 items of clothes. It was a difficult year though – we got married which even though we kept it small took up a lot more time and energy than I’d imagined, & the end of the year was plagued with the cold season from hell, and I spent literally 6 months between September 2017 and April this year pretty much constantly ill. – it was even so bad that we did Christmas on Boxing Day as Christmas Day was spent in bed feeling horrible.

So this year was off to a slow start as well as I struggled to have the energy to get anything done. The idea that this year would be a write off was compounded by the fact we tried to move house in June ( although we had a decent offer very quickly, we have been plagued by a buyers solicitor who seems intent on spinning things out for as long as humanly possible. We find out next week if it’s either going to happen in the next month or so or not at all – in which case we’re stuck here till after Brexit! 😢) which meant I had to put my sewing stuff away for two months while we showed people round and then had all the surveyors and the like over.

So I’m actually very proud to report that I made 12 dresses this year, plus one piece of knitwear, two quite substantial alterations, decorated one hat and did one piece of random embroidery.

Which makes 17 in total sewing related projects.

So we have in rough order I made them in…

My Rendbrandt top & My yellow bugs dress – neither of which got properly blogged but are included in the general round up here.

My Floral old masters dress

My grey shrug which I don’t think I got round to blogging.

My Dolce and Gabbana rip off fabric skirt and black bell sleeves sewaholic Renfrew top – both of which got blogged together

My constellation print jersey top

My Fairly boring but totally necessary black ladyskater dress

My eye top that ended up with my mum

My Strawberry thief jersey dress

And then the stuff I haven’t managed to blog yet:

A leopard print dress, a replacement eye top that actually fits me this time, and a floral velvet maxi dress

My two alterations – a Violet Fane skirt and an infanta deer dress which I made bigger to fit me, & neither of which I have decent lolita photos of yet. I do intend to blog them at some point but I want better photos first.

A hat I adapted from a basic Fan plus Friend one and an embroidery I did at a lolita workshop.

So I’m quite proud of that considering how the first two thirds of the year was pretty much a write off and most of this stuff has been made in the last 4-5 months.

I’d love to take part in the Make nine challenge, where you plan out 9 projects you are definitely going to make this year, but as we have no idea if we’re moving or not till the solicitors all get back after new year – I currently feel like Shrodingers Laura – I have no idea what plans I’ll be able to make. If we are moving everything will have to go into store while the house is done up and it may be several months before I have a functional sewing room & I suspect the first few months will be spent sewing curtains. If we are not moving I can relax a bit and get on with some bigger projects.

However whatever happens I need to get better at blogging stuff next year.

The dream bucket list fabric.

So about this time last year I realised I was buying fabric far too fast for our tiny flat and far faster than I could make it into anything useful. I followed all the fabric stores on email and Instagram and I was a regular visitor to the fabric stall on Lewisham market. Things came to a head when Fabric Godmother posted a beautiful digital printed coating on her mailing list with limited quantities (there is more in stock this year) and within an hour I had dropped nearly £100 on 5m of the stuff. I had the vague intention of making a goth/fairy princess cloak with it. But really I was being a complete muppet as I in no way at that point had the skills to sew a coat, it’s something I am hoping to get into next year.

It is very very beautiful and I love to sit and stroke it, but should I have bought it – probably not. But buying it made it clear to me I had a bit of a problem so I needed to do something about it.

So I culled all the fabric stores from my email mailing lists and removed all the ones I was following on Instagram and Facebook. This did actually massively help and for the first part of the year my impulse buying fabric was a minimum.

As the year has progressed my fabric buying crept up again. Partly because I’ve got a bit of a problem – in my defence I have chronic fatigue, I spend large periods of time unable to get on with anything except lying in bed semiconsciously flicking around on my iPhone, if I’m dreaming of sewing but unable to do anything about it it’s the easiest thing in the world to buy things for projects I plan to make when I’m better.

Partly because this year we were supposed to be moving house (fingers crossed and all the prayers it will actually happen in January) and instead of trying new patterns and improving my skills but using £2/£3 market fabrics from my stash to make the first couple of versions, in order not to have projects midway through when we actually come to move I’ve been sticking to repeating the same couple of really simple patterns over and over again, which has meant I’ve had a major tendency to buy more expensive fabrics and fabrics I’m totally in love with to make it a bit more interesting.

& partly because three of my favourite things in the world ever, celestial prints, leopard print and liberty/William Morris fabrics have been completely in fashion this year so there’s been lots and lots of Laura friendly fabrics available whereas in previous years there hasn’t been so much.

Which leads me nicely to Liberty print/William Morris…. so I’ve been completely addicted to stalking The Vampires Wife on social media and totally fell in love with the Liberty print maxi and midi dresses she makes. I also bought as much of the H&M William Morris collection as I could get my hands on, & have bought several lengths of tana lawn in prints I’m particularly attached to to make my own maxi and midi dresses once I’m able to sew complicated stuff again.

The holy grail for me has always been Liberty jersey. I love Tana Lawn and sewing pretty sun dresses, but jersey is my thing and I was super sad a couple of years ago when Liberty discontinued their jersey. However when I complained I was assured they were relaunching it in August, so I waited and went into the store the first week it was back to check the selection out as they usually have more/different stuff available in store than online.

& it was dire 😢 I wasn’t particularly keen on the print collection this year anyway but there were no classic prints available at all it was all the stuff that was seasonal this year, so I didn’t buy any and went away and sobbed and decided my dream of beautiful handmade Liberty jersey dresses was still completely out of reach.

However unbeknownst to me, as I’d stopped following all the fabric stores, although the Liberty print jersey Liberty themselves were selling was a bit of a shit selection, on other websites some absolute classic prints were getting an airing.

& then one day a couple of months ago I was reading Lauren Guthrie’s blog and idly flicked onto her fabric shop (Guthrie & Ghani ) website in order to have a closer look at the materials she was using to make a coat -as I’m intending to try it myself when we move. & there was my holy grail of fabric. Liberty Strawberry Thief print jersey. My favourite print of all the Liberty and the William Morris ones, in my favourite fabric. & there was only 2.5m left!

So I had it. At £24 a meter it was out of what I would normally consider my pricerange but within 10 minutes I’d dropped 65 quid including shipping on it.

(In my justification- not that I really have one, I’d just picked up two Seasalt jersey dresses for £10 each in a charity shop that turned out to have cost £65 each new – so the way I’m looking at it is it’s only the same cost as buying one new Seasalt dress – that’s what Im telling myself anyway. 😂🤦🏼‍♀️)

So I made it up into a dress pretty much immediately.

It’s another basic Kitschy-coo patterns lady skater dress, of which I’ve made many before, but with a longer skirt than I’ve made previously and added bell sleeves. I thought that made it a bit more up to date and stuff like Vampires Wife inspired than if I’d left it plain, & as it was such expensive fabric I wanted the dress to look as expensive as possible.

To aid in which I trimmed the sleeves, the neck and the hem with a navy blue cotton crochet lace I found from a French store on Etsy.

And I think it looks amazing on….

& by sheer good fortune it looks amazing with my rainbow knitted shrug I made way back 4 years ago and was the first thing I knit.

I totally love this dress. I love it now it’s new and shiny and looks fashionable, but I think it’s one of those pieces that is really going to work well in 5 years time when it’s completely got that old favourite lived in feeling. & it’s such lovely quality fabric and hopefully well sewn enough that it will last that long.

So anyway on discovering that Lauren posted the fabric on the Guthrie and Ghani Instagram several weeks before I found it, I have reinstated my subscriptions to all the fabric shop news feeds. So I’m going to have to find another way of restraining my buying habits.

I’ve also discovered that there are several sites selling Liberty jersey, and a couple a lot cheaper than Guthrie and Ghani – though I haven’t seen Strawberry Thief anywhere else. So there’s going to be a lot more Liberty jersey coming up in my collection in the future.

But if you could have asked me when I first started sewing what my dream makes would be, a Strawberry Thief jersey dress would have been right up there. & being able to do things like this is why I’m so glad sewing is a skill I’ve persevered with!

It looks better on me!

I freely admit I’m totally awful at blogging regularly, but it’s coming up to the end of the year and I’d quite like to have blogged everything I’ve made by then – I’m only a couple behind! I’m also hoping if I blog this it’ll get me excited enough about it again to make a replacement.

You see this particular make was almost a complete cock-up.

So pattern Sewaholic Renfrew top made by me on at least 10 previous occasions and something I could possibly make in my sleep. So you’d think I wouldn’t have any issues with it.

Jersey from Stoff & Stil which I’ve never shopped from before, & the jersey came and washed up ok and I didn’t notice any problems.

Except it has absolutely zero stretch. & I totally failed to notice before I made the top.

So here it is on the hanger, looking lovely just off the machine….

And here it is on me two days later….

As you can see it’s a bit on the small side – not unwearably so, but it was not the comfiest thing to get into.

So I asked what to do on Instagram, all the seams were overlocked so there was no way of letting it out. & it was suggested that if the fabric was still available to just buy some more and make another one.

So I bought some more fabric and was procrastinating when my mother came round to visit. She admired the fabric so I showed her the offending top and was bemoaning what had happened when next thing I know it’s going home with her!

And yes I have to admit it looks better on her. Mum is about 2 dress sizes smaller than me & about 3 inches shorter.

I didn’t think it was her style but she’s worn it pretty much constantly since.

So now I have to make another one. I’m hoping that writing this post now and looking at pictures of how awesome the idea was will inspire me to make another (slightly larger) version.

I’m the top size of the pattern so I’m a little nervous about cocking it up, as I’m going to be winging it a bit with how much extra I add. So I’ve been putting it off partly through nerves and partly because I don’t want to make the same thing twice.

But it has to be done, & it’s a lovely sunny day to do some cutting out.

Back to black

So I’ve had a bit of a gap from blogging as our house sale slowly creaks on becoming more of a headache every week that goes by but still inexplicably the chain not collapsing.

However here’s something I made back in September that’s a little bit hard to blog as it’s basically a plain black kischycoo patterns lady skater dress. Of which I have made several here , here and & here amongst several others.

This latest version is short sleeved and I’ve made the skirt a bit longer as fashions are changing and I’m getting older and so I added about 3 inches to the bottom of the pattern. Tbh if I was making it again I would probably make it an inch or two even longer. I’m really getting into longer skirts.

So here it is:

The jersey it’s made of is the same as this top. I got a job lot of ten meters from the market stall in Lewisham and it’s doing very well so far to update my basics with.

So the dress is a bit plain, but aren’t the tights awesome….

They have bits of skeleton and anatomical parts on them. They are from Violet Fane a Spanish lolita brand (who I can’t link to because my publisher doesn’t like Etsy links, but they are Violet Fane on Etsy) who have started to do really gorgeous patterned tights that actually fit me. It is one of those things thin people probably don’t realise actually. Standard tight sizes go up to about size 16 and if you fall above that getting patterned tights is virtually impossible. It massively sucks. Which is why I am so over the moon Violet Fane does these ones. Even so, I am a large size 20 and I am the largest they will take.

& here is a picture of the full outfit I was wearing….

I’ve had this striped Laura Ashley cardigan since the early 00’s, & it’s still going strong & the cat necklace is from Curiology.

Sadly I haven’t got much more wear out of the black dress as it’s really a middle of summer dress and by the time I made it the weather had turned, hence the big woolly cardigan. But I am looking forwards to it being a wardrobe staple next year.

Shine like a star

So still on catchup with blogging the stuff I’ve been sewing this summer. Bizarrely moving house with the threat of having to put my sewing machine away every week or so to make it look tidy and I’ve actually been sewing as much as I normally sew.

It’s all the same patterns though!

On which note, introducing my latest incarnation of the Sewaholic Renfrew top . Again with added sleeves from McCalls M7542.

I wore it for a day out in Greenwich and we took loads of pictures round the Queens House and Royal Naval College (site of filming for Les Miserables, Thor 2 and Poldark – & pretty much everything that needs an unspoilt Georgian backdrop)

Lots of flouncy gestures to show off flouncy sleeves.

Trousers are shop bought from Simply Be. I am actually struggling to know what to do with this top. It’s harder to co-ordinate than I thought it was going to be. It’s also white so I am super paranoid about wearing it unless I know I’m going to be eating and drinking extremely bland coloured refreshments. I’m going to have to work on it.

Upclose of the fabric and trim.

It is a really good quality jersey from Maggies stall on Lewisham market (where 75% of my fabric comes from)

Ultimately I should probably stop worrying about wearing it. If I stain it I can always stick it in a dye bath. I reckon it’d look good a nice rich burgundy!