Tortoise News and Variegated Thread Testing with Minerva Crafts!

I was very lucky to get selected to test a product for Minerva Crafts and was send a beautiful box of variegated embroidery threads!  

In other news - I can announce that the namesake of this blog - Clyde - our beautiful Hermans tortoise has now got a brother! (Brother from another mother ;)

 We have welcomed Sammy into the family. He's very sprightly and settled in so well - despite the fact that he is over 100 years old!!!!!  

For more information on tortoise welfare or for caresheets and general advice please see the Norfolk Tortoise Club website and Facebook page.

When Ogden met Carolyn

Just a really quick post today which may not even be worth a mention but here we go anyway...

I thought I would just share how great a combination the True Bias Ogden Cami and the Closet Case Patterns Carolyn Pyjama shorts are for some summery PJs! A match made in heaven...

I actually made the Odgen cami in this Minerva Crafts turtle print last year at The Sewing Weekeneder. Needless to say it did not get worn however I couldn't bring myself to get rid of it. This print however lends itself rather well to PJs! Having made some winter Carolyn Pajamas I knew that the pattern fit well and so whipped up the shorts version at Norwich Sewcials Sew Day a couple of weeks back.

The best bit? Pockets of course!

The other little pattern hack I did which was seen on Instagram several weeks ago, was to make the Ogden Cami in drapey black viscose, and added a cross over back strap for detail. I love this version! This is my 5th Odgen! Made in a couple of hours it really is instant satisfaction...

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Beautiful Blue Whales - McCalls M6044

I am really excited to share this make with you as I'm really proud of how this turned out. It is of course the McCalls M6044 casual shirt.

This pattern is my go-to menswear pattern and I have already made several versions (octopus and lobster version, another octopus version) and now we have a Blue Whale version! Wait a minute....why are all these sea creatures??

This beautiful fabric is called 'Fred & Carrie' by Cotton + Steel from the collection S.S Bluebird and bought from The Crafty Mastermind. After its initial wash it turned gloriously soft and was a dream to sew with!

 I made this in secret as a gift and was astounded once more at how simple the construction is and how quickly it got whipped up. 1 day. All the steps are in lovely little chunks making it very manageable and none of it felt like a chore.

The inside seams are overlocked however the hem is a neat rolled hem and all enclosed. The plackets are super neat and easy to sew and the collar goes on a dream with this method - and the only method in my opinion! I even squeezed a little Crafty Clyde label on there!

Fortunately this present went down a treat and I imagine it will get a lot of wear :) You can't see in the pics but the buttons are a 'natural' colour giving it a bit of a beachy summery vibe. The top stitching is light blue.

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Kalle Shirt Dress - Closet Case Files

This woman can do no wrong.

Yet again...another genius of a pattern from Heather at Closet Case Patterns in the form of the Kalle Shirt Dress.

After Heather had blogged about her self-drafted shirt dress last year, looking gloriously styled and perfect in Barcelona, the comments section went crazy requesting this be turned into a pattern. I held out hope this would be the case, even listing this little number on my MakeNine list before it was released. Sure enough - beautiful breezy Kalle emerged! Well of course this was purchased immediately...even if there was some time lag in sewing it up. But her she is!!

Excuse the pics and how creased the dress is - I had been wearing the dress all morning by the time I got round to photos.

This loose and cool dress is the perfect solution for a super-hot day when you want to stay fresh and breezy. Ideal for running errands. Or for all-you-can-eat buffets.

I bought some navy viscose from Textile Express which was wonderful value for money - lovely fabric and didn't fray all that much which was good.

I cut a size 10 on top and graded to 12 at waist and hips and this seemed to work very well. I was actually 14 at hips on the chart but there is advice in the instructions that so much grading is not necessary due to the roomy nature of the design.

Curvy hem!

The instruction booklet is incredible and each step well illustrated and explained. I tried the 'burrito method' of attaching the yoke and shoulders and WOW why haven't I done that before?? The shirt is rolled up into a sausage, stitched and voila....all seams are neatly enclosed inside and out! There's also now a sewalong with full photo illustrated blog posts on each step which I think I would return to next time.

This was a great project to make in bits - snippets of 15 mins here and there as each step is self-contained. The bit that was fiddly was the bias binding on the hem. Viscose being slippery enough was one thing but the bias strips are really thin so turning and enclosed edges really was 'a bind' (::cringe at unintentional pun::)

Many creases.
I'm 5ft7 so fairly average height I think and found the dress length to be spot on - I was worried the front and high side hem would be a bit extreme but its just perfect. Of course.

Dress win. Of course I immediately ran to my stash to see what else could be used to make another! I do however love my navy version - classic and chic - and shall be intended for wandering around a French market!

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Evie La Luve Rosie Bra - Workshop with The Fabric Wrangler!

My partner in crime for Norwich Sewcials, the very talented Pippa (aka The Fabric Wrangler), has recently started her own sewing school and kicking it off was a workshop learning how to make a bralette!

As it happens a bralette was another tick off my Make Nine 2017 list so that felt rather satisfying to have tried something completely new.

The pattern in question was the beautiful Rosie Bra by Evie La Luve. It is a lined soft bra (non-wired) with adjustable straps and bra clasp fastening at the back - a gorgeous bit of lounge wear!

Pippa spent the day walking us through this pattern step by step which was a massive help - turns out its not easy! Elastic and a temperamental sewing machine made for some pretty tricky stitching.

The sizing of this pattern is very comprehensive. The measurements we took were underbust and bust so to get a good picture of which size would best suit us. The stretch nature of this makes this bra a very nice fit as there is not actualy too much shaping to worry about. The advantage of a small bust ;) I ended up cutting a Small.

After tracing and cutting out pattern pieces we were treated to a table full of lovely lace and elastics to choose from! These came from Evie La Luve and also Elise Patterns who both sell supplies. I went for a kit made of coral lace and dark grey knit. The straps were ribbed blush pink with rose gold findings....ooooooo........

The scalloped edge of the stretch lace is used for the top of the bra, and cleverly flipped to the opposite side of the lace to pattern match.

The initial construction took a litle time however this was because we were all going very slowly and carefully - perhaps a little nervous of cutting into these new beauties! It seemed very strange working with such delicate and small pieces compared to dressmaking!

Now I'm going to level with you - although the pictures look fairly decent - this bra is riddled with errors, mistakes and wonky stitching!! As you can see there is a centre front seam, however I sewed the underarm elastic on the wrong way round and so the raw seams were at the front - I tried to hide this with an extra strip of fabric and a bow!

My machine HATED the elastic and skipped stitches, broke thread and generally threw a hissy fit every 2 minutes. I actually ended up hand stitching the bra straps together as after atempt number 5 of the machine chewing them up it was time to end that trauma...

All in all though a good day was had and a completed bra finally materialised! It fits and it is wearable which is good to know - and as a first atempt into lingerie making it certainly was a great learning curve. This pattern is an excellent stash busted for any scraps of knit you may have around, especially as there are matching knickers/thong to choose from aswell. I think I will try another at some point - after the memory of shredded thread and elastic has faded...

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Busy Bees at Embroidery Night

Norwich Sewcials sewing meet-up took place last week and we were treated to an embroidery demo by one of our very talented ladies, Linda, a long standing embroidery aficionado and all round thread addict it seemed!  

For those of us who had never given this a go, but had been tempted in by all those lovely embellished jeans that are around at the moment, this was the perfect chance to learn some of the basics.

What a wonderful crew!
We covered stem stitch (green stem), lazy daisy (lilac) and a french knot (yellow), as well as satin stitch (green leaves) and a 'rose' technique (top left) in order form little flowers! Here is my rather lame attempt... It's a daisy with petals munched by a caterpillar. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

It was a very enjoyable evening and so nice to give something new a try...although I have discovered a massive impatience with trying to tread all those strands. Never the less we persevered!

For a while I had been a bit obcessed with sewing a bee...and I mean I was talking about this 6 months ago. I have no idea why I didn't just try it - it's like I was trying to put man on the moon or something rather than sew a bit of cotton on to another bit of cotton. Therefore complete lack of skill and pure brazen ignorance of the techniques prevailed... to produce this!

I think he's quite cute. I used a rayon thread which apparently was a massive faux pas - as you can see it went very fuzzy, slipped all over the place and doesn't look particularly neat on the other side. None the less its this side we're looking at so I think that's fine. To make matters slightly worse - and all you embroiderers out there are going to hit your head on a desk - I covered the entire thing in Fray Check after as I didn't trust by stitches not to fall right out!

I haven't worn this yet so I must see if it stands up to a bit of wear and tear and a wash! I don't know if its cute or I look like I work at a children's creche. Will try and style it out!

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True Bias - Lodo Dress

Following with the theme of sewalongs - Kelli from True Bias recently started a mini-sewalong to her latest release, the Lodo Dress.

FYI - the glowing whiteness above is a British person coming out of winter after not seeing the sun for some time. Do not be alarmed. I am also misleadingly wearing sunglasses - it is neither hot nor sunny (yet we keep the faith). However, sunglasses means not wading through 3000 pictures for one where my eyes are not shut! I digress...

As soon as I saw this pattern hit social media it was a winner in my eyes! That is my idea of a perfect dress - clean, simple, comfortable but oooohhh such beautiful little details to make it remarkable. (Those woven facings!)

Within minutes I had the PDF downloaded and taped up - which FYI took all of 5 minutes as the pieces are already printed to fit each other ie no cutting involved!

The dress has a couple of options - a very classy looking midi which looks beautiful in black and also a shorter version without back walking slits. As much as I love the midi version and will no doubt make it - I'm on a stash busting mission and only had enough fabric for a shorter version! As fate would have it, I found a leftover piece of striped ponte (bought from Minerva Crafts) from my Sointu project which was the exact size of the pattern! (Seriously, when does that ever happen)

I made the dress in little 15 minute bursts over the course of a few days but you could whip this bad boy up in a couple of hours start to finish I reckon.

The dress does have a back seam however I omitted this in the interests of not making stripe-matching life more difficult than it needed to be.

Using the chart I cut a size 8 bust, 10 at the waist and 14 at the hip and suprisingly it worked without looking crazy curvy as sometimes happens. I think for next time I would go to a 10 at the bust just to give a little more comfort room and avoid slight pull lines at the arms which occurred.

Let's move on to THE best feature of this stretch dress - the non-stretch facings!! The arms and neckline are stable and don't need any give so Kelli as designed this lovely feature of a woven bindings that sit perfectly against the dress. What I adore about this is that you have a secret little design on the inside - a personal touch which anyone else will rarely see but you know is there :)

Again on a stash busting mission - I used some ladybird print cotton to make the facings (and turned the rest into bias binding). Pretty insides!!

Needless to say this pattern has also reached my top favourites list - now if only there was enough fabric for one in every colour.....

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Gertie's B6453 Sundress Sewalong

Well hello's been a while.

Nearly a month has passed since I last posted anything (this little dog jacket by the way) and even that was a scheduled post... I'll not get into it but this month has been less than fabulous and that's an epic understatement. It's also strange how we sometimes don't do the things that are good for us in the times we need it most. Not only is sewing a hobby but my stupid brain also forgot its healing mindfulness properties as well - so back on the bandwagon we get and creativity is the way forward.

Enter my latest girl crush Gretchen Hirsch and this beast of a pattern.

Last year I searched high and low for the perfect sundress but to no avail, however not too long ago Gretchen Hirsch solved this mystery and set the sewing world on fire with B6453 - which if anyone else has been following on the Facebook Group, can see that it's got out of control! People are making hundreds of these!
 If you take a look at the line drawings the design of this is gorgeous. Princess seam bust, fitted darted back, amazing soft V backline, lapped vintage-look zipper and the option of two skirts (view A has pockets people). Best of all in my book - the straps have adjustable sliders!!! No more straps falling off my one weird shoulder! (I may steal this method for the Ogden Cami)

The sewalong really did go into a lot of detail and for this I was thankful as some of the construction was quite fiddly and complicated, despite the simple look of the dress. However, all the separate elements and effort go towards making this a lovely wearable piece.

Muslin tests were recommended and I'm so glad I took the time to do this. The sizing is crazy and Gertie herself told everyone not to bother with the packet. Butterick has 2.5" of ease around each seam!! If I'd have gone with the packet size, I would have been an 18 or 20. It was recommended that the finished measurements on the separate pattern pieces should be used as a size guide instead, I THINK I cut a 14 but in all honesty I can't remember now as I did this quite a while ago, and I took it in a bit as well when fitting.

 Surprisingly the bodice fit with little trouble! I just had to taper down from under the arm slightly to get a snugger fit and avoid a bit of arm gaping. Oddly it was the skirt that was a nightmare. I just could not get that SOB to fit my shape. First it was too small and tight so I added width to the hips; it then pooled fabric everywhere so I tried out a Full Butt Adjustment; which was then too big - it was like Goldilocks and the 3 Pencil Skirts. In the end I cut a giant version and had to just pin and fit it everywhere then cut up the muslin to trace a pattern piece. The skirt is a little roomy however I prefer that as I can actually sit down comfortably!

The fabric here is an anchor print black viscose from The Textile Centre via eBay which is beautifully soft and drapey for summer. I found the bra strap rings and sliders from eBay in gold, although there are some rose gold ones on there that look wonderful too.

 This is far from perfect as I struggled with the soft viscose and lapped zip - more stability required next time (or just sub an invisible zip in there). My iron then decided to shoot limescale all over the back of it so it looks a bit mucky. It wasn't until I put the dress on for some pictures that I also realised I'd done the straps completely wrong (despite watching Gertie's very informative video clip) and they did not in fact sllliiiddeeee. Fortunately that was a quick fix after inspecting a bra and seeing how it was supposed to be done!

This has got to be one of my favourite makes purely due to the fit and construction - it feels really classy but could easily be thrown on for day wear as well as dressed up. I will absolutely be making more of this pattern!

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A treat for Treacle! Personalised Dog Coat - McCalls M6544

March 2017 being the strangest of months, I haven't really had a chance to make much lately hence silence on the blog however I thought I would share this fun project!

I made my sister's dog Treacle (yes she does have her own Insta), a lovely little coat using left-over brushed cotton from my Carolyn Pyjamas. The fabric was perfect for this project - she looked so smart!

The pattern is M6455 - full coat View D. It is made for varying sizes of dog however Treacle is small and....round. I just had to use the pattern as a template the best I could to get the size right. Starting with neck to tail and then making a few adjustments along the way to get the neck and middle belts nice and comfortable. We did the fittings by post so it took a while to complete!

The instructions were quite easy to follow and the bias bound edges really give it a great finish! I was impressed that the soft side of the Velcro faced dog-wards so not to irritate them if there was any belt overlap on the straps. The coat looks like this laid flat:

The pattern calls for fabric and lining so I used the same soft PJ fabric for both of these. It's not quilted but for really cold weather I guess you could sandwich batting in the layers and quilt it in there for a snugglier coat!

And for that personal touch in case you haven't spotted it - a little embroidered name on the hind!

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A Sointu for Springtime - Named Patterns

Starting "Spring" (it's still only 5 degrees) off with a nautical little number from Named! This is the Sointu Kimono Tee - a loose fitting tee, with kimono sleeves and a wrap around belt. Love the beauty in simplicity...

This top is a beautiful alternative to a plain t-shirt and adds a bit of interest to an outfit with some lovely little details. The fabric is a lovely quality ponte from Minerva Crafts. I cut size 40/42 at the bust and waist grading out to a 44/46 at the hips. (As the pattern is loose fitting it comes in size-pairs). I found the sizing to be very accurate, hanging and draping well where it was supposed to.

Alterations I made were to lengthen by a few inches giving it more of a 'tunic' feel - and accidentally only cutting 1 length of the belt. The belt turned out to be absolutely fine on its own however I realise in the pattern its supposed to wrap around the body twice!

As the pattern itself is simple in its shape, I really tried to make an effort with the construction and pattern matched those stripes like a beast! There's a nice rounded v-neck to this as well which was a little tricky to lay flat but got there in the end. I just cut a strip of fabric and used it as the neckline binding.
Top of Sleeve

Another enjoyable and quick make - I hope the weather improves soon so it can get some wear! I feel like this might become a wardrobe staple...whack on some sunnies and sandals and good to go!

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