Giveaway Announcement and a Hacked Orla

As many of you will already know the winner of the Bloggiversary Giveaway was: Lynsey of Lynsey Makes

Congratulations to you Lynsey  and I’ll be in contact soon. She wins this lovely bundle: thank you again to Sheona at Sewisfaction for donating the gorgeous fabric. 

Thank you so so much to everyone who supported this. I was so overwhelmed with the amount of kind and supportive comments I had. Let’s hope it can be even bigger next year! 

Anyway, back to what I do best… The blog. 

Today’s make a a very hacked version of the French Navy Orla Dress. It actually looks nothing like an Orla Dress anymore. I find the pattern a really good block to change around so I’ll talk you through what I did. 

I used this gorgeous Cotton Lawn that I got in a Fabric Swap at Sew Up North, I’m really pleased that I’ve hardly stashed anything I got from Sew Up North. I’ve been slowly working my way through them. I made a collage of the fabrics and I’ve been updated it with my makes on instagram so you can see the fabrics I have used! 

Anyway, the pattern -I extended the bodice to curve round and make a top. I used another pattern to make some darts and treated it as a T-shirt. 

I then lowered the back neckline to above my bra strap by putting a bra on my Suzie Dressmaker doll and pinning it when it wanted it to sit. I then used the fabric to make two long straps (so therapeutic!) and pinned them to either side of the back neckline before attaching the bias binding. I think it adds a really cool feature. 

Finally, I lengthened the sleeves to three quarter length and attached them. There isn’t a lot of gather in the sleeves of the Orla which I really like. There you have it; I have a casual, comfy top with an added detail which I love. 

I will definitely use the Orla to create more personal garments. These may be some of the last pictures from my holiday, which makes me sad but it’s such a beautiful place for them. At least it means not more pictures of me in shorts for you lovely people! 

I also wore it for my first ever vlog which has also been really well supported so thanks so much, you can find my channel here.

Tribute Month Tunic

I’ve used Tribute Month in two ways,  I feel. One to inspire me to make relaxed and simple pieces, in plain fabrics to build on my wardrobe. I see so many sewists making well made, simple looking (but I’m sure lots of work goes in to them) garments. I wrote an inspiration post for the Sewcialists in anticipation for the challenge so I write about it in much more detail there.  However, I’m essentially copying the styles of amazing Lauren of Guthrie and GhaniMonika of Rocco Sienna and Maddie of Maddie Made This to make well made garments which stand the test of time. 

The second is to see the amazing prints that people use and endeavour to continue to source out fantastic fabrics to use for unique clothing, like Elle at Sew Positivity and Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow

Anyway, today’s make falls in to the simple but stylish category. 

With this in mind I bought a plain pinkish linen from John Lewis in Leeds and wanted to make a relaxed fit blouse. 

I rummaged through my pattern stash and came up with this simple Summer Tunic Top Sew Girl, I’ve never heard of them before. It turns out this pattern was free with Love Sewing Magazine, issue 3 about 3 years ago but I got it in the swap at Sew Up North. 

In a very strange situation, there are no instructions in the envelope, only the pattern so I was winging it a little bit but I felt pretty sure I could manage it. 

The first thing I did was shorten the tunic so it was more like a top. I cut the pieces and in my determination to make a high quality but simple piece, I paid attention to the details.  I French seamed the whole thing and I used the facings, which is something I wouldn’t usually do but it was crucial to the neckline so instead I used bias binding on the facing to make it neat. I was quite pleased with the facings, I’m pretty inexperienced with them as I am so impatient so I was quite pleased. So here’s the insides to prove my genius! 

The pattern requires you to make a little tab, which I had to redo three times as I couldn’t get it to turn out. I was quite pleased to have incooperated it in to the facings when I managed it though. 

The sleeves are a raglan style, something which I have never done but was really easy and that was it. All that was left to do was to chose a pretty button. (don’t you love patterns which need one button? It makes a tiny indentation in the stash!) I went with a pink sparkly one and that was it. 

I’m really pleased I was inspired to make this simple tunic and I’m hoping I can add more like this to the wardrobe. I thought maybe the style wouldn’t suit me but I’d definitely make it again! Sometimes simple is so much better. So thanks to my tributees! I love being part of the Sewcialists. Please feel free to check out my inspiration post for them or go to instagram for pictures and discussion!

I wore it with RTW Next jeans and my favourite brogues. Perfect for chilling on the roof terrace! 

Introducing, not one but two… Riviera Ruffle Blouses

I am so so excited and proud to announce that I have been asked to be a brand ambassador for Rebecca Page! Rebecca makes amazing PDF patterns for children and women. Sizing for women goes right from XXS to 5XL and are usually designed with curvy girls in mind, which is a winner in my eyes. The children’s patterns range from newborn to 12 years. She also duplicates many of the patterns to be made for dolls too, so you can match your little ones to their dollies and then to you if you wanted to!

She says:

“In our patterns you’ll find beautifully thought-out designs for you and your littles. Hidden raw edges, easy construction methods, detailed tutorials and superb finishes. You’ll learn, you’ll have fun and you’ll create gorgeous garments. It’s little bits of beautiful magic with stunning details!​” (www.rebeccapage.com/about)

I couldn’t agree more, you will soon learn that the patterns are exactly that and I couldn’t be more pleased to be involved and to be creating her lovely garments.

So, without further ado, let me introduce you the the Riviera Ruffle Blouse – this pattern has just been released TODAY so head on over there because she has an introductory discount on it until 2nd August. 

I signed up to be a brand ambassador and this is the first make that I have done of hers, even though I’d eyed up her patterns for a while. I was really pleased to find the pattern really accessible and the instructions are amazing. I would definitely recommend these patterns for newbies because they take you through everything, they’re super clear and have lots of little tips too. For me, I found that I could almost skip little bits because they were techniques I knew but I also learnt lots too.

My main learning curve was in creating the ruffles. I’m not usually a ruffle sort of girl but I didn’t feel right trying a ruffle blouse without them so I went with it. They were definitely time consuming and it took me a few goes to get it right. The pattern suggests a couple of ways of doing this. One is to sew a gathering stitch and pull it round on itself whilst pressing them hem. The other is to sew a rolled hem.

I bought a rolled hem foot some time a go and have since completely ignored it so I planned to continue doing so. However, I tried the method for pulling the curve round to a hem and it just looked really messy on the inside and I wasn’t feeling it at all. I think this was more because of the fabric I chose than the method because plenty of other ambassadors were able to do it. So… rolled hem it was. I found this(link) tutorial on rolled hems on YouTube and I was pretty pleased with the way they turned out. there was the odd twist in the fabric but overall it went well.

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I chose to use this gorgeous polyester (I think) fabric which was originally from Sew Over It but I got it in the swap at Sew Up North, so I’m super grateful to the person who donated it. I am even more grateful to the lovely Lou over on Instagram who kindly sent me the scraps of hers after I didn’t have enough to make two of the ruffles. We had been discussing what we might make with our matching fabrics and when I ran out I immediately turned to her and she sent it to me, after she had made a lovely Penny Dress -what a gem!

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What Rebecca says about having easy to follow instructions is so true and every seam is either tucked in or hidden away, it produces a really nice finish. As I said, the ruffles were time consuming, otherwise the garment came together pretty quickly overall. The instructions meant that I learnt lots of little tips and techniques when sewing shirt style garments like this – for example, the section on the back darts was really thorough and useful.

I particularly like the collar on the blouse – I find that I often find collars sit too big around my neck or that I feel a little masculine in them but this is curved, soft and feminine. The darts and shaping in it are lovely too. I put pink poppers on this as I was one, a bit worried about snagging the fabric with buttonholes and two, I was being lazy but I like the clean look of them. 

 I wore this to work with a black pencil skirt. I’m so pleased to have more separates to wear for work. 

So… I also made another out of this Lilac Cherry Blossom Poplin from Sewisfaction. If you haven’t checked Sheona’s online shop out yet – you should, she has some lovely fabrics on offer. I’m eyeing up the bumble bee fabric next. I fully fully recommend this fabric though, it has cut easily and sewn up a treat, it has a very small amount of stretch, which made fitting the collar and the curves of the sleeves that little bit easier. I’ve had lots of compliments about the colour and the quality feels really great. There are different colour ways too.

Again, the construction was really easy. It comes together super quick with out the ruffles and everything has a great finish. I used these pearlised buttons I got in the sale at John Lewis in Leeds with this fabric in mind and I’m so pleased with how well they go.

The couple of criticisms I have with the top, firstly is that I had to cut a 3XL, which gave me a bit of a gulp moment. I’m assuming this is because there is such a range of sizes available but it didn’t make me feel much better at the time. Secondly is that the sleeve is a standard pattern, there’s no grade lines –  I made a 3 XL, as I said, and found the sleeve to be big in it’s style so I imagine smaller sizes would feel a little swamped by the sleeve pieces.

It so happens that I love the look of these sleeves, they are quite a statement. I intended to join the sleevefest  organised by Diane of Dream.Cut.Sew And Helen of Valentine and Stitch with the latest pattern from Simply Sewing Magazine, the Mia set. But I think these sleeves definitely qualify for a year of the sleeve style celebration! I still intend to make the Mia but perhaps not which as much urgency now I have these funky sleeves for #sleevefest2017!

I completed the rest of the blouse pattern without the ruffles for this version but with the aforementioned ruffled cap sleeves, which you bias bind in so it looks really neat. Another trick, I have learnt!

I teamed it with grey trousers for work and I felt really summery and smart. Lots of people commented on how lovely the fabric is and the sleeves were a highlight. 

The pattern also has the option to use a paneled side, which is what I am going to do next time I make this in a maroon style purple with liberty detailing! Can’t wait! There are lots of ways to customise it to make it look different each time, which I love in a pattern. Definitely keep a look out for more patterns of Rebecca’s coming this way, there’s some very exciting patterns on the way! 

*Disclaimer: I received this pattern free of charge, pre-release as part of being a brand ambassador in return for creating it and taking pictures ready for release, the views are truthful and my own. 🙂

Breezy Birdy Tee

Me Made May has been so good to identify gaps in my wardrobe. It has become very apparent that I don’t have many separates. I am definitely a dress kind of girl but I don’t wear dresses all the time and I definitely need more casual separates in my life. 

With this in mind, I embarked on Mccalls M6927. It’s a pattern I got free with Sew Style although it only goes up to a size 16, it allows for different cup sizes which is where I usually need a bigger size. So I cut the biggest cup option and graded it up slightly so it was more like an 18. I made view C, which is really basic and exactly what I needed. 

I made it using this lovely turquoise with bird shapes on it, which was an absolute bargain from The Textile Centre. The pattern is levelled at easy and it really was. As I usually do if I can get away with it, I opted for bias neckline rather than a facing and I used it on the hems of the sleeves and on the bottom hem too. 

It was that quick to sew, that I really don’t know why I don’t have more separates like this in my life!! It’s a really easy top to throw on with jeans, perfect for my chilled holidays. 
I like it that much that I immediately decided to make another using some fabric from a bundle I am reviewing for Minerva Crafts. You’ll see it soon I hope. As there are so many options and different ways to change this top up, I can’t see it becoming a firm favourite.

I wore it with my RTW shorts and it was made just in time for my holidays to Bamburgh and the end of Me Made May! 

I convince Kyle to do some jumping pics
There’s a castle behind my head!

The Top of my Dreams

You know that feeling when you have something in you mind that you really want and then you get it?! That is exactly what happened to me with this one. I saw Liberty’s Dragonista fabric on sale at £9.99 per metre at Abakhan before Christmas and didn’t buy it straight away! It turned out to be a BIG mistake because it sold out. Since then I’ve been searching for it everywhere, not quite willing to pay lots for it but wanting it REALLY BADLY. Then… Imagine my joy, reader, when it came back on Sale again! Hooray!

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I got some straight away and determined not to let it sit in my stash I decided to make a top with it straight away. I pictured a relaxed button back blouse with three quarter sleeves and a good fit. I wanted it pretty simple to show off the fabric. In the end I decided on a little bit of a hack of the Sew Over It Ultimate Shift Dress, which I am a little bit addicted too!

I added an inch and a half on to each of the back pieces so I could make a placket. I cut a piece of interfacing for each side and did a double fold to make the button placket and sewed the rest up as usual. I did the whole thing with a french seam so I am more than happy to show off the insides! 

The fabric was a dream to work with, I can see why people rave about Tana Lawn.

Instead of the facing, I used a blue bias binding and then, because I had just ordered a mechanism for poppers, I decided to use blue poppers all the way down the back instead of buttons, which I think look quite cool and it meant it was quicker too!

When I tried it on I was so chuffed.. it was exactly what I imagined, which is the best feeling EVER and it is just what I need in my attempts to make more separates. I absolutely love it and I’m so glad that this amazing fabric has been used in this way. I have a tiny bit left over too so I’ll have to get thinking how I can use it!

Sew Over It Ella Blouse

I love my Anderson Blouse so when I saw that Sew Over It had released the Ella Blouse I didn’t think I needed it in my life… Then… Over Easter there was 20% off so it ended up in my basket!

I bought a fabulous geometric print, which is now in the sale at Adam Ross Fabrics in another promo code temptation! 

I’ve made a few Sew Over It Patterns so I already had an idea of changes I would need to make, so I added an inch to the sleeves to account for my chunky arms. Due to the way the style of the blouse is, I didn’t think I would need to do a FBA but this turned out to be a mistake… more on this shortly!

As with all Sew Over It patterns, it was great to follow and there’s little tips and tricks, which make it come together really easily. Like the Anderson blouse, the pattern pieces act as their own facing, which I love because I hate facings!

I was really pleased with my fabric choice, I have seen a lot of people do it in florals, but I’m trying to step away from florals slightly! I thought it may need less fabric as it is a waist length top but that’s not the case at all because it is made to wrap round you the pattern pieces are quite big and I needed a full 2 metres for it.

Once it was nearly done, I tried it on, similarly to the Boat Neck Dress it was difficult to see how it would fit without it all bring together. It wasn’t a good story at all though, I’m afraid. It was quite clear I needed a FBA on this, where it was supposed to drape it just sat open across my chest (no pictures here to save you the trauma) and it pulled all the facings out too. The fabric sat low under my boobs, which meant there was too much fabric around my waist. I could see there was enough fabric to salvage it though, so I had to quite literally sew the opening shut. I pinned it on my dressmaker dummy and pinned it in place. I then, redid the pleats so that they were much deeper and encase more of the fabric so that I wasn’t left with too much fabric gaping around my waist…

I made this with the intention of having it as work wear, I’m still having to wear a vest under it for it to feel suitable and secure but in the end it has been a good contribution to my work wardrobe which has lots of high-waisted skirts in it. Lots of people commented on it, saying it complimented me and was a great colour and it got so many nice comments on instagram (thanks guys!) so it’s maybe not as much as a nightmare as I thought.

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I would make it again but I think it would chose the Anderson Blouse over this any day.

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More Separates Needed

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In my bid to make more separates I came across stash Butterick 5997, which was free with which was free with Sew My Style which, I featured in!!

The blouse I a loose fitting top with no closures and comes in sizes 8-16 and and though I usually take an 18-20 depending on the pattern I thought it would be OK as it has such a loose style. I was wrong. 

I chose to do view A. I had got this brilliant and unusual fabric from Rosie from DIY Couture in a destash on Instagram and literally cut it up straight away as I was immediately inspired. I had to really consider the pattern placement for this unusual fabric and I think I managed it quite well. 

The pattern came together really easily and my facing and neckline were super neat.  I think this really cemented to me that I’m improving at my facings and the trickier details. Though you will notice that I completely avoided the pintucks!

The collar came together an absolute treat and for someone who is clumsy and in no way good at anything fiddly, I am surprising myself at how much I am beginning to enjoy the preparation of tasks like this. There was a bit of hand sewing involved too, which is something else I am improving on, albeit reluctantly!

The sleeves are made using a little tab and by creating rather large cuffs, I think these were supposed to be folded on the outside but I couldn’t work out how to do it without the inside of the fabric being on show and looking rubbish. It has turned out more like a really big seam allowance with a cuff! 

I left it to hang for quite some time, I told myself it would then be easier to hem but in truth I was worried I would mess the hem up. I decided to do it by hand in the end and I think this was a good decision, it gave my much more control over the curved hemline. 

I cannot tell you how happy it makes me that I matched up the patterns within this blouse so easily. It is bang on, in the middle and I’m so pleased. I really think this shows how my understanding of the process of sewing is improving. 

You will notice I am not modelling this. It turned out to be too small. So… It is tradition when I make something that is too small for me that it is donated to my Mum or my Sister. In this case my Mum as the blouse is very well suited to her. In fact, it will probably look better in her than me. I usually don’t mind too much when this happens as it’s all experience and they are always happy to have garments I have made. I am definitely going to make this again because I still need more separates, especially as I keep giving them away! I want one for myself as it is such a relaxed style but obviously I will grade it up and do a FBA next time. Wish me luck! (I don’t want all my clothes to end up donated!) 

A challenge I can join in! 

I feel slightly like I have had a curse set upon my sewing…  I saw a new challenge just today by Red of Sewredy called Fail February and I believe I made a comment,  such as ‘this is a great idea,  we all get our unpickers out and we learn from our mistakes’…  I say I believe I said this…  This is WHAT I ACTUALLY SAID.

So true to form… This happened

This is what will be a Sew Over It Anderson Blouse in gorgeous fabric from Abakhan. You will notice the sleeve is not going the right way. This is because I sewed it the wrong way round…. About 3 minutes after making the above comment. So I’m no so smug about learning from mistakes after all, the moral story of a teacher! Though I’ve never made this one and it WILL NOT be a mistake which happens again.

I keep seeing different challenges I’m going to join in with and have several on my sewing pile,  such as a skirt for Designin’ December which Linda of Nice Dress, Thanks I Made It organises and trying to find a 1980s pattern that isn’t horrendous for The Monthly Stitch’s, Through the Decades February challenge,  but it seems Fail February is the one for me!

This picture does indeed show the shoulder and underarm seam…in a line.

So… Here’s to reality and having a high quality unpicker friend! I’ll share more in this blouse when it is complete as my cuffs are to die for!!

Statement Collar Vintage Blouse 

I have been enjoying stitching up some modern patterns recently like My Sew Over It Ultimate Shift Dress and My Simplicity Christmas Dress but I fancied going back in time to some more vintage makes so I had Vintage Butterick 5601 dated 1969 in my stash. It has a blouse,  jacket,  trousers and skirt within it but I was eyeing up the blouse,  which has a proper statement collar!

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I made no changes or adaptations to the sizing of the pattern, considering it is a vintage, although it is a bit snug at the hip. There are lots of darts,  which I quite enjoyed putting in. The fabric is a thicker,  floral purple chiffon from my local market and was surprisingly easy to handle.

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 I shortened the sleeves as I didn’t want to have the big puffy ones the picture shows. I also used binding instead of facing, which I do as much as I can get away with,  though I have started making friends with facings more recently!

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I love the fact that it is a zip back blouse instead of a button front.

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And I absolutely love the collar, it’s like a pussy bow blouse but really chunky so it looks more like a cravat. It’s fab.

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I haven’t had chance to wear it yet but I’ll post some pictures on instagram @emmaandhermachine and twitter @emmasmachine when I get chance to!

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Getting Shirty for Santa

I’ll start this post by a bit of an explanation of my family dynamic,  I’m the eldest but so far from the coolest of 3 siblings,  my brother and sister are and always have been a billion times cooler than I will ever be and although they love me and we are so lucky to be as close as we are as a family, they consider me to be a complete geek…  Rightly so to be honest and it isn’t a title that I shun. Andrew, my brother, doesn’t usually find my home-made clothes very on trend,  until more recently as I’ve started to get better anyway. When he noticed this, he told me that if I made him a shirt, he would wear it so…  The challenge begun.

I bought Simplicity 6232 Shirt Pattern and cut a small in a lovely dove grey cotton and begun. I didn’t want to get overwhelmed by all the parts so I bought plenty of cotton so I could recut if anything went terribly wrong and tried to take a step by step approach. I really wouldn’t have been able to do it without this tutorial from Male Devon Sewing, it’s a fantastic tutorial and it made the whole thing much easier.  I did also follow this video from Sew Over It when it came to the yoke as I messed up the last one I did. I was doubtful the whole time, until I turned it out and it had only gone and worked!!

I used this brilliant Downton Abbey Fabric for a nice,  manly contrast, even though it is called Dowager Grey Paisley! I used it on the collar, cuffs, yoke and inside the pocket.

dsc_0123.jpgIt all seemed to be going so well and I didn’t have the ‘this doesn’t look right’ feeling but that was such a mistake, as it turned out that I had turned the packets in instead of out. I didn’t realise this until I came to the collar and it was about 1 and a half inches too short on each side. So…  I unpicked the right side and had to do the left side again as I had already done the button holes (gggrrr) Anyway, that solved that, so I moved on. I was dreading the collar but I felt it went really well as I followed the instructions and the tutorial. I found doing the button holes really therapeutic,  which was a good job as I did them twice! I chose these really cool metal buttons to go with it, I wasn’t sure whether they would look cheap or trendy but I decided on the latter.. My father-in-law pointed out that they look like little screws.

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The next problem I came up against was the cuffs,  I couldn’t get them to line up well and they just weren’t really up to standard,  I ummed and ahhed and then unpicked the lot and started again..  I’m glad I did though as it was unwearable with the original cuffs. They look quite neat now and I decided to use more on the contrast fabric the second time round.

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I’m really pleased with it,  this is easily the most complicated garment I’ve ever made and it was a great learning curve. I was really pleased to end a year in which I’ve been learning to sew with a big project like this. I’m very proud of it and Andrew liked it too, which is fantastic. They’ll be no pictures of him wearing it though as he is VERY camera shy!

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My Sister’s Top

Read the title as you will folks! The observant amongst you will notice that the girl in the picture isn’t me… though she does look rather like me… it is, of course, my sister. So I have myself a new model, which is the stipulation if I make anyone anything!

I wanted something I had made for her birthday, even though I had some gorgeous hand-made earrings I bought up in Northumberland. So I decided to put another New Look 6483 one hour top together. Which I’ve made previously here and here, amongst others. I wanted to change it up a little so I’ve hacked it a bit.

I took the back piece and added a couple of inches to the fold edge and cut 2 back pieces. I then put the t-shirt together as normal, using a green contrast bias binding. I then edged the 2 back pieces in the binding as I wanted to create an open back, which you see a lot in the shops at the minute.

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Rather than just sew the top of the back pieces together I made button holes and put 3 buttons to hold it together, I used green buttons here too. I think it’s so cute and Rach loves it too and was a brilliant blog model. A simple hack, which I definitely recommend, especially is you have broad shoulders and/or chest like me and my sister!

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