Tag Archive | sewaholic patterns

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.

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.

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!

The top that nearly didn’t happen

All the credit for this top rightfully goes to Jon.

I was clearing out my fabric about 6 months ago and this fabric was added to the Chuck It Out pile (it got to a grand total of 10 pieces of fabric out of a stash of nearly 200 that I didn’t actually want.) About 2 months later, we did actually come to chucking it out, we had had ambitious plans about selling stuff on Facebook sales communities, but in the end what was chucked out was so little and all the shit quality stuff, that there didn’t seem much point doing anything with it but sending it to the recycling bin.

But Jon stopped me and persuaded me to look again at this piece. I bout it up Goldehawk Road about 5 or 6 years ago, before I discovered the local fabric stall, & almost immediately decided I made a mistake, it seemed quite primitive and 90’s to me at the time, & I didn’t think the fabric quality was great. However as Jon pointed out when I tried to get rid of it, extremely 90’s and bold florals is very heavily in fashion at the moment. & he persuaded me to at least wash it and see what I thought then.

So I washed the fabric, & it came out an awful lot softer than before, & I was in need of a basic Sewaholic Renfrew top, same as millions of times before (here, here & here) as the washing was backing up…..tangentially, it is one of the extra paradoxes of living in a small flat that no one ever admits to, but if you don’t have a garden to dry clothes in, & you don’t have room for a tumble dryer,  all your clothes have to dry on a clothes rack in the flat,  & a cycle of washing can take up to a week to dry in grimy weather, so you need to have twice as many flipping clothes as you would need if you lived in an actual house , & of course in a tiny flat, you don’t really have room to store them! ……..so I decided to make it up quickly and if it was shit I’d only wasted 3 hors of time so it didn’t matter anyway.

I was moderately rigorous about pattern matching, but tbh, its a wavey stripe, those are the ones that on the Great British Sewing Bee they go ‘are you sure you want to use that?’ so I matched all the main points and then didn’t really worry about it too much. In the event, I aced it!

IMG_6845

Its not 100% if you are being nitpicky, but its the same under the arms and on the other side, & actually thats a lot better than I was expecting it to turn out.

Actually the same could be said for the whole of the top. I tried it on, & my response was like “wow, this actually really suits me!”

IMG_6834IMG_6797IMG_6836

So now it is in constant rotation in my wardrobe (albeit it takes it 2 1/2 weeks to get through the laundry and ironing pile) the jersey is still a bit stiff, but actually that means it isn’t at all transparent (An issue with white jersey) and it will wear well with age. I am so happy with Jon for making me look again at what is actually a really useful bit of fabric.

 

Holiday sundress.

I completed this a couple of weeks ago before I went away, but the weather was so damn miserable that I didn’t fancy going outside in it to take photos let alone wear the dress, so I waited a week till last week when my boyfriend and I went with my parents & my brother to Sorrento in Italy. Which was a really good idea, as the weather over there was beautiful, so it was the perfect thing to wear.

Anyway. I first started working on this dress about March or April, but lack of inclination (largely due to the complete lack of summer this year) and illness got heavily in the way and I finished it a few weeks ago.  This was not only very fustrating, but the stop/start way in which I sewed, with only a couple of hours at a time, may have contributed to putting me off the pattern I used, which is a shame as the dress is gorgeous.

I used Sewaholics Cambie Dress pattern. I’d seen a fair few of these on the internet and thought it was so pretty, but although I have got on extremely well with a couple of her other patterns, I was very nervous at having a go at this one as I needed to scale the waist up by about 4 inches. Sewaholic patterns now make their patterns go up to a size 20 (my size) but at the time this one came out they only went up to a size 16. In the end it worked out perfectly, but I used a fairly stretchy fabric for both the main dress and the lining and it fits me exactly, so although I wrote down what I did to scale it up, I would be wary of  using those instructions again for a printed cotton or a normal lining fabric.

So yeah, aesthetically it has worked out really really well…..

cambie dress

So well (with a little help from Italian sunlight) that we took loads of pictures of it. The lump in the background is Mount Vesuvius.

cambie by the sea cambie and mount vesuvius cambie 4 italian cambie seaside Cambie

Pretty though it looks however, I’ve got to say, with the proviso that the disjointed way I sewed as I was ill made it seem like it took even longer than it did, this thing was a bastard to make.

For a start it is fully lined…

inside of cambie

which looks beautiful, especially with the contrast waistband (which is part of the pattern) but essentially means you make the bloody thing twice.

& theres an invisible zip

invisible zip

which is not as bad as all that, even with attaching a lining to it (for which there are zero tutorials I could find on the internet. Loads for just the zip onto the front, one for a facing, but zero for a full lining!) It was my first attempt, & I think I’ve nailed it, but it took me three hours and two goes, not because putting in the zip was difficult, but because of what is actually my main problem with this dress, the sheer amount of inside out fabric you are heaving around with the dress and the lining (specially as I’m fat so this is two dress sizes larger than the largest intended version) makes it really really difficult to work out which seam is supposed to go where & I ended up with a moebius strip on two occasions.

I think I would find it a hell of a lot easier a second time, however this dress does take a long time, in comparison to other simpler sundresses, so I don’t think I’ll be rushing into making it again, despite the really professional finish you end up with.

Both fabrics I used, the crepe and the satin, were £2.50 a meter off my favourite market stall, & I love how they look, what I love even more, and means I’m going to get a lot of wear out of this , is the finished dress doesn’t need ironing! Ever! Even when its been rolled up in a suitcase for 2 days!

Leave you with a couple of bonus pictures of the windows of Valentino, and some other designer clothes shop (Either Moschino or D&G) on Capri, with £1000 dresses that one day I will find some kind of way of replicating. So pretty!

IMG_4523 IMG_4518

 

Stuff I have been doing!

I’ve been really super busy with the whole sewing thing lately….well ok, a bit with the sewing…quite a bit with shopping, but its all sewing stuff so it counts!

Firstly…the top I’ve made….

It is the v–necked version of the Renfrew Top from Sewaholic…Took the body in by a dress size and used 3/4 length sleeves on this one, which looks a lot better.

Slightly messed up the v-neck, the tension of the neck band either side of the v ended up being different, and I slightly, slightly missed the centre of the v with the centre seam of the top band. Fixed the slightly wonky centre by whacking a bow over the top, but there isn’t a lot I can do in this round about the tension…next time I will measure a bit more carefully, tack the centre in place before I sew it and follow some advice I saw on a blog to cut an inch off the neck band before I sew it in order to stretch it all out as I sew it in place , so it all has high tension and hopefully doesn’t end up uneven, and it looks tidier when its finished.

It is still totally wearable though, so that is ok! 🙂

I think it looks ok anyway. 🙂

After that I decided I wanted to keep sewing a load of jersey tops as they are great for this kind of transitional weather and I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing with my sunmmer sewing yet. However I hit the massive barrier that I’d run out of jersey, and  all the stuff I’ve seen online that I like was about £20 meter.

So I decided to go on a couple of reconnaissance missions up Berwick Street and Goldhawke Road to see what is actually available in the shops and for what prices as I have never really done jersey before so had no clue.

Started with Berwick Street, as I had a load of haberdashery stuff to buy and it was convenient. Total no goer on the jersey front. Very few shops stocked it, those that did were like £30 a meter for plain stuff and I couldn’t really see that that was value for money.

Just as I was beginning to be slightly relieved that Berwick Street was a total waste of space as far as being too expensive and not really my kind of thing went, I went into Biddle Sawyer silk, which is totally the last shop before you get to the end of the fabric bit and end up in the remnants of what used to be the red light district.

Oops. First thing I spotted was this….

.

in the bargain bin for £10 a meter.it is pure silk, and on closer inspection has little art deco naked ladies all over it! 🙂

I have bought 4 meters of it, and hope to use it to line a cape or a coat at some point in the future when I get hold of some cheapish coating I like.

Then I turned round and on the table saw multiple shiny metallic shades of what I assumed was some kind of lamé, but on closer inspection was actually leather!! It was rather expensive, totally bad for the environment, but one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

So I went home and talked it over with Jon and thought about it..and ended up dreaming about it..and so I am now the proud owner of a sparkly champing pink cowhide …

it looks gold in that picture, but it is actually pinker. I have decided I am going to make a simple A-line or straight skirt out out it, as it is sooo trashy looking anyway I need to keep it classy. I am going to wait a while to make it though, as I am chronically loosing weight at the moment and the smaller I am the more skirt I can make from the cowhide. 🙂 Also I haven’t selected a pattern yet, and whatever I get I want to mock up in denim first to make sure it is totally perfect before attacking something that expensive! (I also could do with a denim skirt.)

Then yesterday I went down Goldehawke  Road with a shopping list of stuff I needed….black denim, lavender lining, black t-shirt jersey and any patterned jersey I could get my hands on…

And remarkably got it all, for far less than I had anticipated…..

purple/lavender taffeta (its a lot less pink in real life), black denim and black t-shirt fabric

patterned jersey – the range at Goldehawke Road was pretty damn awful as well, however this one shop had these in, for what ended up being £3 a meter, which will do nicely, and there was a shop which has ultra fashionable nautical stuff for £8 a meter, which I didn’t like enough to pay that much for.

Think Goldehawke Road is mainly best for basics actually and I’ll buy anything patterned off the internet in future 😦 or from Ditto in Brighton, they have some nice looking stuff at the moment, but experience tells me to look at their stuff in real life first, and we are going to Brighton for two nights next month, so I will look properly then. 🙂

Now I bought all this, I am totally not going to get the chance to use it for the next 5 weeks. Jon is on Sabatical for a month, and we are going away for two and a half weeks to various places, and even when we are at home I doubt I will get anything done as our flat is super tiny and its very difficult for me to sew without taking over the entire living room/kitchen which really won’t be possible when Jon is home.

I will also be sharing this computer for the duration, so doubt I’ll be blogging much.

Looking forwards to it so much though! 🙂