Tag Archive | sewing

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!

Finery of the Red Queen

So after resurrecting this thing we promptly decide to move house and chaos ensues for several months while we try and sell it then do the whole wait for the paperwork to happen thing during which time I’m finding it hard to sew as for the best part of three months I’ve had to have my sewing machine packed away incase anyone wants to come round and look at the flat. (We sold it pretty quickly, but then there were second viewings and surveyors and all kinds of people traipsing round needing it to look like a civilised flat rather than a sewing studio with a bed in it 😂)

However I have managed to make some stuff, basically by keeping it really simple and sticking to quick and easy projects that only take a couple of hours to make.

So first up are these two beauties I made during the heatwave (oh yeah , that hasn’t helped- zero energy to sew and no way in hell Im wearing what I’ve made whilst that was going on). A plain black Sewaholic Renfrew and McCalls M7542 mashup, which needs no real explanation, it’s just a basic wardrobe staple….

And a self drafted gathered rectangle skirt with an elastic waistband (so barely drafted at all) made out of this gorgeous Dolce and Gabbana knock off fabric I picked up from a Russian seller on Etsy.

The fabric is actually really good quality, but I don’t think it’s genuine, or if it is it was a dodgy print run because the black background fabric is a bit mottled and grey.

There was only just over a meter by 1.5m of it so my options were limited with what to do with it – hence the gathered rectangle skirt to maximise use. It has pockets though (in a complimentary other fabric) I was undecided as to whether to bother, & I’m really glad that I did.

Here I am wearing both of them together on Monday…..

Think both of these will be very useful and get worn quite a lot.

The skirt has Alice in Wonderland vibes and I am going to try and find appropriate accessories to style it up in a more alternative kind of way.

The necklace I’m wearing in these photos is a good start. It is awesome actually, I was thinking I did not have any appropriate accessories and then I walked past the Sally Army shop in Catford and this was in the window for £3! I bit back my dislike of the Salvation Army (they are actually quite vocal anti gay and trans rights activists specially in America) and went in and bought it, and it’s perfect…

To me that looks like proper lolita brand jewellery.

It is about to be Halloween season though, TKMaxx have got all their stuff in already. So it’s just a case of waiting a couple of weeks till Claire’s and Flying Tiger and Asda start stocking stuff and then going down to Lewisham and doing a haul. I have a set of skeleton hand hair clips I bought in Flying Tiger last year that I have worn pretty much two or three times a week all year, & whenever I go out people comment on them. Hopefully I will find something as good this year, and I’ll certainly be looking for anything Alice in Wonderland themed.

Such an exciting time of year!

Floral old masters dress

So nearly 6 months ago now a lady whose sewing blog I followed on Instagram ( @vladivos) ran a competition where for the winner she would have a look through your Instagram and pick a fabric and a pattern to give to you to make. & for once in my life I won something and was absolutely over the moon when she sent me the Deer and Doe Patterns Belladone dress pattern and this amazing Dutch laser printed fabric….

It is fairly thick, almost something like drill and was panels of the most beautiful Dutch Old Master Still Life painting of flowers, complete with caterpillars and insects. So she nailed it, it was something I was so excited to make.

I hadn’t tried the pattern before or indeed anything by that company so I made a mock up for my Halloween costume very quickly ….

And it fit lovely with only a bit of minimal tweeking to stop the back panel gaping.

Then I got hit by the winter of never ending flu and it got parked. (I would be in deep despair over my chronic fatigue and general health worsening except most of the endless stream of illness I caught was off Jon who has been ill just as often (he just recovers quicker) & I know loads of people who have had flu 3 or 4 times this winter – so it’s really just been a shit year for it in London, it isn’t just me.)

Finally a couple of weeks ago I was well enough to give it a go. & finished it just in time to go on holiday to Split in Croatia last week and get some pretty photos amongst the Roman ruins and medieval buildings.

Excuse the fat arms – weight gain is a massive side effect of the medication I’m on, I don’t know why it all piled on my arms like that, it isn’t the most attractive, but as I have to keep taking the medication and the chronic fatigue means I can’t do lots of high impact exercise, I’m unfortunately stuck with it. But it was far too hot for a cardigan, & obviously the cool back detail would have been covered if I’d worn one.

I’m pretty much happy with it. The armholes gape a bit on the shoulder. I know what to do to fix it if I make it again (which I probably will)

I’m really pleased with how the print placement has worked out. I have got to say that cutting this was one of the most nerve wracking but also one of the most creative sewing jobs I have ever done. I turned the panels sideways – luckily as a floral still life it didn’t matter – to get the full skirt width out of them. This pattern has a lot of pieces, & although actually I have quite a large piece left at the end (potential tote bag?) it was quite tight fitting them all in and getting them in the right place so the dress looked balanced.

I think the end result is one of my favourite dresses I’ve made in a long time.

Next up is a black bell sleeved Sewaholic Renfrew top to wear under this when the weather is less glorious.

I know the number of Renfrew tops and Lady Skater and Coco dresses I make must be really boring for anyone reading this blog, but I get soooo much wear out of them. I have three tops to make in the immediate future and then I am planning to start experimenting a bit more. I’ve been buying patterns quite a bit and I’ve been gifted a load, & I have loads of plans for interesting projects. I am keeping it very simple and easy to put away for the next month or two though as we are planning to try to sell our flat and so everything needs to be easy to put away for viewings.

Oh, & I’m not doing Me Made May this year as I spent the first week of it on holiday and I’ve got a couple of events later in the month that I want to wear specific non me-made outfits to (mostly lolita) so I couldn’t really join in. Am a bit sad though as it’s one of the best opportunities to connect with the sewing community. However I probably wear at least one me-made item of clothing 4 out of every 5 days anyway.

Guess who’s back? Back again…..

So about 9 months ago I stopped posting on WordPress. Partly I was under the impression that no one reads this damn thing, partly I got over excited by Instagram (so much easier to use if you are tired- & I’m tired a lot of the time) and partly even though my sewing has been going brilliantly, I got in a bit of a downer and wasn’t really in the mood to write about stuff.

However, having revisited my blog today for the first time in several months, I’ve realised that

a) even when I don’t write in it I get more hits than I was expecting – people actually read this stuff!

b) it’s not as awful as I thought.

& c) it is actually useful for me to record details of the things I make more than what I post on Instagram, largely for me – then I know what worked and what didn’t if I make stuff again, but also for other people, the more detailed reviews of a pattern there are the better.

Anyway….. apparently this new app makes it easier to post photos, so I’m going to do a very quick run through of all the stuff I’ve made since my last post (I have chronic fatigue, I sew slowly…. it’s not going to be that much!)

Firstly another Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress, fabric courtesy of the local fabric stall. I had a few issues with this one to start with, a little darling locally accused me of cultural appropriation 🤦🏼‍♀️ which massively upset me because under no definition of the term could I see a way it possibly could be, I’m super careful because we live in an area with a lot of African neighbours and fairly near to Goldsmiths uni (one of the hotspots for the social justice warrior movement) not to make stuff with African Wax fabric, even though it’s really easily available round here and it’s super fashionable with sewing bloggers & basically it made me feel really self conscious and worried about wearing the dress. (Actually I think this incident is why I stopped blogging – I was very very upset, it happened the first time I wore this out & I didn’t want to write about it I did not want to open the can of worms that is racial politics) However I made myself keep wearing it, & gradually fell back in love with it (also I got “called out” loudly behind my back by a bunch of teenagers for dressing like Gwen Stefani 🤦🏼‍♀️🤦🏼‍♀️ (I was wearing black and white striped leggings and had some stamped eyeliner stars round my eyes – and a massive great coat covering what else I was wearing it was freezing and I’d been at a metal club) and I’ve come to realise you just can’t win with the kids round here, they basically take offence at older people wearing anything fancy, cultural appropriation is basically a tag they use to justify being judgy little busybodies, so it doesn’t bother me as much any more. Which is good cuz it means I can give this dress the love it deserves.

Short sleeved version of a kitschycoo lady skater dress. Not my favourite make ever, had a bit less fabric than I expected so had to make the bodice in black, worked out ok, but basically I needed a sun dress in a hurry so I made it in a hurry, & it does the job ok. It’s only about two weeks of the year it’s hot enough to need sun dresses but those two weeks are usually one continuous block of time so you need loads of the damn things cuz you have to change at least once a day and I can’t do the laundry quick enough.

Another sewaholic Fraser sweatshirt like the one I made here . Made this for a friend. I like this better than the one I made me. The contrast sleeves and hem was largely a happy accident and I much prefer the 3/4 sleeve version to the full length version I made myself.

Took a cheap £10 Claire’s Accessories cloak for Halloween, added lace trim round the edge and a velvet bow and improved it from tacky children’s costume to something I could wear comfortably to a goth club.

Deer and Doe Belladone also for Halloween. Excuse the drag queen makeup – that was actually the look I was going for as I made this to wear to a Rocky Horror themed fancy dress event. I was supposed to be the lips. I need to get pictures of this at some point the way I wear it normally, cuz I wear it quite a lot, & so far I haven’t spilt anything down it which is an achievement!

Tilly and the Buttons Coco out of floral velvet from the fabric stall for my Mum. She really likes it, & wears it a lot.

Sewaholic Renfrew, but I stole the bell sleeves from McCalls M7542. Fabric is beautiful laser printed jersey from a Dutch fabric shop (the laser printed Dutch stuff is just amazing) with images of Rembrandt paintings on it. One of my favourite things I’ve sewn ever!

Another Tilly and the Buttons Coco – so useful for the middle of winter. In bright yellow beetles fabric I got from Ditto Fabric about a year ago. Doesn’t have the best recovery in the world, but I really like the dress.

& lastly a goldwork embroidery I did at a workshop a couple of weeks ago. It’s a bit shit, but I’m proud of it, it was my first try. The big problem was I found it difficult to mark out the fabric in enough detail to give me guidance where to sew, so I winged it, so it’s come out a bit wonky, but I think it looks nice anyway.

Anyway. That’s my catch-up. I’ve been sewing consistently but it hasn’t been a huge amount. There’s a dress I’ve nearly finished at the moment that hopefully I’ll be able to blog about soon.

Hopefully I’ll be able to keep this a bit more updated in future. I didn’t mean to stop blogging. If anyone is actually readingthis ofcourse!