A plethora of pressies.

I don’t really think doing a round up of my blogging year will be worth it as I only started in September but I’m loving it and hope to continue. I’m offering a quick round up of my handmade presents instead. 
I love, love, love Christmas! I usually start thinking about it pretty much as soon as I get back to school in September. Therefore, I’ve spent the last few months sewing and making pressies for my amazing family without being able to blog about them or show anyone.

So here is a round up of this year’s pressies:

Personalised Calendars: I found this fab photo calendar template from It’s Always Autumn and set about making it pretty much as soon as it was released. I did one for my husband and one for my Mum, using lots of fun pictures and trying to roughly match them to months. So simple and super smart looking.

Patchwork Infinity Scarf: This was something I wanted to try for a while. I made gorgeous infinity scarves for my Sister-in-law and cousin following the Patricia Infinity Cowl Tutorial.

In the tutorial she uses fat quarters but a few of the pieces I wanted to use were fat eighths so I matched up some fat quarters and just cut those in half. It’s a simple but really effective make, which allows you to chose different fabrics to clash and compliment each other. As I made this for Jade, I was thinking of her style and colouring as I put it together. My cousin LOVES foxes so I got some super cute Fox fabric for hers.

Cork Christmas Tree: last year I made my Mum a Christmas tree from wine corks. My sister loved it so much that she asked me to do her one. The pair of us collected corks all year (such a hardship!) and I used a polystyrene cone and my trusty glue gun to stick them all in place. I then glued some red beads to add to the festive feel. If you wanted to make something like this start saving NOW. I’ve used 41 corks and it’s only a small cone!

I also made a fab book Christmas tree for myself,  which was so easy to make and used the inside of my Pride and Prejudice I used to make a book clutch earlier in the year.

Recipe Tea Towel: I shared this make back in November but it’s so cute, I thought it was worth a mention. It’s a tea towel made using a hand written recipe and a patch work binding for my Dad and his wife.

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Graces Pyjamas: I made these Sew Simplicity Children’s pyjamas for my niece in a super cute pink gingham. I made two at the same time and customised them using  pockets, buttons and iron on letters. The patterns as super easy to use. For more on these click here.

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Hot Water Bottle Cover: I bought some super soft grey faux fur fabric to make the hot water bottle cover that was in Issue 23 of Simply Sewing Mag. I used a purple cotton with lavender print for the stag’s head applique. This was a really quick sew but messy, furry fabric malts like crazy as you sew it. It’s a lovely, snuggly gift for my mother-in-law though.

Overture Set: I made this Dress for my sister; it’s the Overture set from Issue 20 of Simple Sewing Magazine,  the style is very her.  I love that I’ve been able to make her something proper to wear, it was a complex make and I will blog about it soon. 

Shirt for My Brother: This was easily my most complex and proudest make ever. I loved giving a present that I knew I had really put blood, sweat and tears in to. For more information on the complexities: click here.

Ultimate Shift Dress: I made this Shift Dress for my Mum. It is so smart and fits her a treat.  I loved working with this pattern and was really pleased to make something personal for my wonderful Mum. I’ll blog about this (and a selfish make shift dress) soon. 

Mini Dungaree Dress: I self-drafted a Dungaree dress for my niece using some beautiful mermaid fabric by Michael Miller, she looked so cute in it.  Making small clothes is so quick and easy.  She’s always guaranteed a home-made pressie! I’ll blog about this soon too! 

I also make some more PJ bottoms,  some in red poppy for my friend and some in blue checked brushed cotton for my father-in-law, who has put an order in for more! 
I think that’s it for my round up of Christmas presents. I’ve really enjoyed giving my family the things I have made and everyone has been so lovely and pleased to receive their gifts. It was stressful though, especially the shirt…  Best start on next year’s now. Happy New Year everybody!! 

 

My brother approved Christmas dress

I don’t know whether  I’ve discussed this but I love Christmas. I have all the Christmas clothes and accessories and last year when I shipped up to my Mum’s in my gingerbread swing dress my brother looked at me like he wished he was adopted or maybe that I was.

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As I’ve discussed, I love a bit of geek/cheesiness, whereas he looks like he’s stepped out of a rock band half the time. So I thought I would tone it down slightly this year…. note I said slightly… I also wanted a dress which would fit better!

I thought it would be really apt to use my New Look 6393 (previously 6020) that my Mum bought me for Christmas last year. It was the first pattern I owned and really sparked my passion for sewing and fuelled my whole year of learning to sew clothes. I have tried this pattern a few times over the year, not always successfully as the bodice would gape (see here) and on others it was too tight, so I was determined to get this right.

I made a muslin (literally from muslin) using view C and made some alterations to the arm holes so that it fit without gaping and then I transferred these changes to the pieces I cut out of this super cute fabric with little owls wearing Santa hats! (see, I’ve toned it right down!)

I used the muslin to line it as I felt a dress I will probably only wear once (possibly twice) a year would be the perfect opportunity for me to practice lining techniques.

I used a thicker maroon coloured fabric to cut the skirt pieces, though I tapered it down slightly down the sides. I used a longer length, which I’m pleased with too, as it is sleeveless but it is winter so I wanted a bit more fabric in the length. I wanted to use a plain fabric for the bottom so that it would be a little more subtle.

Both the pieces of fabric were in a bundle from Abakhan so this was a super cheap make and a good way to use the smaller pieces. The lining worked really well and I love putting the skirt panels together, I find stitching lengths like that really relaxing. I intended to put a zip in but was able to just slip in to it. I even used a Christmas ribbon on the hem!

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Finally a dress which fits well! It’s perfect and Christmassy and I wore it with pride at our Boxing Day party! I know I said it was brother approved and by that I mean he didn’t say ‘what on earth are you wearing?’ so that’ll do for me! 

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My lovely mum and sister
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I hope you’ve all had a nice Christmas.

Christmas Par-Tea Dress

So, this is my second blog in 2 days because I got published in Sew Magazine! I’m so excited! It’s a bookazine called Sew Style: Stitch Your Size and comes with 3 Butterick Patterns.

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So Exciting!

Anyway, today’s blog offering is the Simple Sew English Tea Dress. I wanted a black dress for the Christmas Party, which I could customise and make nice and Christmassy with this beautiful gold trim  – note, I can’t actually go to my Christmas Party so I actually joined my sister-in-laws!

I bought a lovely, drapey black viscose dress fabric from the local market and 2 metres of it just covered this dress (luckily I wanted to have a go at the little fluttery sleeves that are featured anyway!).
The pattern came together quite quicky, there’s darts in both the front and the back pieces which gives it a really nice shape. I stuck with the facings for this and soon remembered why I usually avoid them. They just don’t sit right… As this was my Christmas dress I used gold ribbon as a binding on the facings before sewing them in place. As usual, they were far too eager to pop out so I settled for some tacking stitches at my shoulders and moved on.

I thought that would be my mission complete,  however it was too tight on the chest… Not unheard of, sadly. So in my determination, I opened up the side seams and inserted a triangular panel at both sides to give me a bit more room. This makes the shape of the sleeves look a little more wide but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

I had left the dress very last minute, I’ve had it cut out for ages but the party date just crept up on me! Anyway, because I was rushing slightly, I didn’t have a long zip so I had to use a 9 inch one… luckily I had cut the back piece on the fold; it meant I didn’t have to cut in in half to insert a zip. and it does make it look smoother. It does mean I have to wiggle in to it a bit but it’s no big deal.

The picture on the pattern shows a V-shaped dip at the waist but I found the pattern doesn’t allow for this as much as it suggests. I inserted the cute little tulip shaped sleeves (it comes with 3 options) and then hemmed it, which was an absolute nightmare; it seemed to press nicely and then it stretched and went wonky as I was stitching. Luckily I was adding my gorgeous gold trim to the bottom so I wasn’t too stressed about it…  I think I would have done some unpicking otherwise.
Anyway,  I pinned and sewed the trim along the hem with the design slightly overlapping the edge. I toyed with the idea of adding the trim elsewhere and pinned it along the neck and the waist to try it but decided against it in the end…  I think my hubby’s words were ‘you have issues with simple being better don’t you?’ I do think it looks effective and more classy and not too OTT this way.

I styled in with black tights and these gorgeous festive gold T-bar shoes… Another reason I didn’t go mad with gold trim- I knew I had gold accessories!
The party was a mardi-gras theme and my sister-in-law and I went all out and had my lovely friend Ann do our make-up professionally.

I felt really glam and was so pleased to be wearing something I made when I didn’t even know how to sew clothes this time last year. Also, just to add, I borrowed my friends chopstick curlers and oh my God,  I’m in hair love!
We had a fab time and danced the night away! I even bagged myself a matching gold mask, which  has since made it’s way on to my Christmas tree!!

 

 

Shoes to overshadow my LBD

The theme for this month’s Monthly Stitch challenge is ‘if the shoe fits’. The idea being that you create something to compliment a pair of shoes you struggle to pair with your wardrobe. It took my all of about 2 seconds for THESE AMAZING shoes to pop in to my head!

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I made these shoes last year. After being inspired by good old pinterest, I took a pair of old shoes and covered them with all sorts of pictures of things I liked or I thought looked pretty, such as cartoon characters, peacocks, Ana Strumpf’s illustrations on fashion mags or anything which inspired me. I painted the sole in turquoise acrylic paint and glued turquoise ribbon, left over from my wedding, round the edge to neaten it. Then I varnished them to keep my pictures safe and make them nice and shiny!

They are so personal and I absolutely LOVE 💗 them, I get lots of compliments when I do wear them out, but there’s a pretty obvious problem… because they are so ‘out there’, it’s really hard to pair them with an outfit, it usually has to be black and I don’t wear much black outside of work. Cue a new black dress…

One of the first dresses I ever tried to sew was the freebie, Sew Different Tulip Dress. It was a disaster, it didn’t come anywhere close to fitting and the seams were wonky… the material wasn’t too hot either to be honest.

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I used a high flash to show up the pattern here

I had some black velvet that I bought to make some of the costume for the wicked witch in the school play (more to come on that). I got the fabric for next to nothing, I don’t suppose everyone goes crazy for velvet, though I have seen it in the shops more recently. There was lots of it so I wanted to use the rest up, on a whim out came the Tulip Dress pattern.

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I only used the back piece and cut both pieces at the same time (told you it was a whim!) I only had the 2 pieces so it was an easy sew, especially as it doesn’t fray. I sewed it together and zig zagged the edges really quickly. I took the neckline out and lowered it slightly at the front to make a boat neck line. As the fabric has stretch the curve allowed in the pattern was all the shaping I needed. There was no need for any zips or closings either.  I did my hem and it was done, an elegant, all black dress that is a lovely shape. I styled with with black tights and pink waist belt and my shoes, of course!

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I may have made this for a plain backdrop for my shoes but I’m thinking I could wear it with boots over winter too and I may even put a jewelled neckline or hem yet for over Christmas!

I did another cute yellow label too!

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I wore this to the Manchester Christmas market, for a cheeky mulled wine, with black tights, tan belt, shoes and bag and my black smart coat. This scarf was £2.50 from Marks and Spencer and my absolute favourite. I felt really snug in it but it really rode up, good job I had a coat on or else I’d have spent the whole night pulling it down. What a shame… any ideas how to combat this?

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