It's All About Kew

 Hola!

I've been away on a short (yet sorely needed) break and come to you today with a post about the Kew Dress.

The Kew Dress is by Nina Lee and has to be one of my favourite dress patterns of all time.  I have made several versions of this such as here and here

Once again my label can do the talking.

 Since it's original inception, the Kew Dress has been updated and added to, with several extension packs now available for differing sleeve and skirt shapes - there is the regular A-line version, a gathered version and also pencil skirt. All of which now come as separate skirt patterns too with the expanded sizing range. 

The version I could not get out of my head was this amazing maxi hack by Nina herself. It's a beauty of a version back from 2020 and I even bought the fabric straight away to make one!

And of course everything languished about for a couple of years.... 

During that time I found out I'm a fan of tiers (news to me but I'm going with it) and made a skirt and the Indigo Dress (yet unblogged). The gathering is now super easy using the shirring method and so an attempt at this Kew seemed less daunting!

I think I had also procrastinated about making this as I was sure I needed to size up and re-trace all my pattern pieces. I dug out my previous version and it fit just fine, so with a holiday on the horizon I set about a little project with a week to go. (For reference this is a 14 bust and 16 waist).

Oh it was worth the wait....

The pattern is immaculately drafted and the strap placement perfectly hides a bra. There are bust and waist darts in the front and back which shape the bodice nicely. The skirt piece then has a slight A-line shape to it and so skims the hips and tum wonderfully.

For this version I followed Nina's instructions and added a centre back zip which eliminated the need for a functioning button placket. The buttons were sewn through both layers of the placket without a buttonhole.

This fabric is 3m of viscose and I THINK it was Fabric Godmother however I can't be 100% sure on that. Regardless I absolutely love the colour palette and vibrant floral.

The tiers were added at mid-thigh and calf height and just consist of 2 large rectangles added to the layers above. The effect is a lovely swooshy maxi-dress perfect for the warm weather.

To anyone looking for a great dress this summer I would definitely recommend the Kew Dress! 

Kew (sic) another picture of me posing about in it.....

Wishing you all happy sewing.... in the meantime here's a picture of a little Wall Lizard I knitted when I got home.

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'It's Not Mave' Tiered Skirt Tutorial

 Saint + Sofia continue to advertise to me and give me ideas.... so watcha gonna do?!

Completely inspired by a tiered maxi skirt I did the usual sewist trick of thinking 'hmm, I wonder if I can make that?'. Turns out yes. Yes you can. 

At first I toyed with the idea of getting the True Bias Mave Skirt which is pretty much a dead-ringer for the maxi skirt in question. So if you did want an actual pattern, that's probably the one to go for. 

This is NOT a Mave review as I didn't use it in the end. I went with Ye Olde 3 rectangles and a waistband method. 

I took a good look at the proportions of the skirt and had a little help from The Fabric Wrangler to measure down from my waist to thigh, thigh to mid calf and then calf to ankle for the three tiers. 

The top tier was 1.5 x my hip measurement, second tier 1.5 x the top, and the third tier 1.5 x the second. The waistband was just double the width of my elastic + a seam allowance. Like this:(Aparently this post is now a tutorial - let's go with it).

My hips are pretty big to start with so when you're going up in these increments, the fabric rectangles got hilarious. This is the third tier laid out on my landing!

My favourite way of gathering is just to use shirring elastic in the bobbin and so attaching the tiers wasn't too traumatic in the end. 

I used a 2" elastic for the waist and at first try on, there was too much fabric gathered at the waist. This probably wouldn't be an issue for most people but I have a 12" waist to hip difference and so a bit of the fullness needed to come out. I unpicked the waistband, shaped the top tier a bit to reduce the volume and reattached it. The top tier and waistband is now 'hip measurement + 6 inches'. So my pattern is now more like this:

Much better! I gave the elastic a few rows of top stitching to flatten it down and voila. Skirt.

I have previously said 'Emma doesn't do skirts' but I think I've found one I like!

 Excellent wafting about potential and also eliminates the whole 'my trousers don't fit' issue. 

Oops forget to mention the fabric - this is a hot pink leopard print viscose from Rainbow Fabrics. They don't have it anymore but I did see the same on Felicity Fabrics not long ago. 

Thanks for stopping by again, happy weekend x

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Helen's Closet - Cameron

Brain fail on an exciting title but you get what you came for with this one. 

The shirt saga continues, but with slightly better results than last week!

I'm a sucker for Helen's Closet patterns and as soon as she dropped the new Cameron Shirt I snapped that up. It's a unisex pattern so plenty of making opportunities with this one. 

The shirt is dartless and 'boxy' in style with all the classic shirt elements you might expect. Collars, plackets, pockets, cuffs, the lot. 

On the measurement chart I fit into my usual 16/18 for Helen's Closet patterns so I cut that out of some viscose I'd stashed from Sew Anonymous. I was going for 'wearable toile' but as soon as I started making up the shirt I really wanted it to work as the fabric grew on me. 

The pattern instructions with this shirt are insane. And by that I mean voluminous, detailed and cover every potential aspect of a shirt you could possibly need. The pattern would be worth buying for the instruction booklet alone. That must have taken some serious time and effort to write.

That being said I immediately got myself in a muddle with the button placket. It has you do some fancy move where you flip and edge stich - this was a 'bit much' for my causal toile and so I just did the old 'fold and fold again' placket. Plackets for the non-fancy if you will. 

The pattern also got some feedback that the collar stand was tricky to insert as it's fairly short in comparison to the neckline. An updated pattern piece was released but even with the new one I did have to stretch it in a fair bit. 

 

The finished shirt initially came out really big at the shoulders. The shoulder seam extended a few centimeters past where it should have landed. In an attempt to save the toile that I now liked, I was advised to take the sleeves out again, recut the top shoulder at the armhole to about a size 12/14 and then re-insert the sleeve. I'm so glad I took the time to do that as it works a treat now!

It is a very large shirt though, and perhaps I could have sized down all over however I think it might be the style of the shirt. 

I then found a viscose remnant in this gorgeous lilac colour from Sew Hayley Jane outlet. Spurred on with my toile I cut into this and remade the shirt with all the tweaks done to the pattern.

 

I love adding buttons on my machine and found a neat little trick to put some wonder tape on them to hold them in place under the presser foot.  

The curse of the second make hit once more. I haven't a clue why but this version, despite being smaller (in theory) turned out bigger than the first! I think the fabric stretched out when I was making it potentially. 

I also messed the collar up quite badly, went to recut another but didn't have any fabric left (not even a patchwork version to squeeze out of leftovers). So I just finished it off without it. Not sure about this style but it works as a shirt nonetheless. 

So to summarize I prefer the wearable toile. However as I look back at these photos it still looks a bit sizeable and not particularly flattering from the back! It's a long shirt and probably looks better tuicked in or with slimmer leg trousers. At least it's casual and comfy...  

I'd make it again I think, but the next one shall be for the husband so will be interesting to see how it fits on him. 

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The Great Fayma F**k Up

Sliding into Sunday today with an absolute disaster of a project which I thought I would share to demonstrate it's not all sunshine and roses on the sewing front!

Also just noticed the bird is upside down!
 You made have seen pattern company Fayma (who are also now Hobbycraft Made to Measure) - you take a load of your own body measurements, along with some photographs for analysis, and a 'made to measure' pattern is created. 

Lovely job - so I thought. I didn't expect it to be a perfect fit, but a 'good enough' fit to tweak would have been alright. This was so far off the mark it was untrue. 

Just for clarity - before I wrote this I had the lovely Fabric Wrangler (and all round sewing Oracle) check my measurements that had been input, and they were all fine.

First of all I had a little gripe with the paper wastage. Every single pattern piece is printed separately - even the reverse pieces such as collar, under collar, top collar, another top collar piece. I get that you may need two of everything if measurements differed on your body however the collar piece was formatted across 3 pages of A4 set at 'portrait' when it could have easily fit on 1 page landscape. It's auto-generated pieces so I suppose the layout is a bit how you find it.

I set about cutting a 'wearable toile' from some stash fabric which I envisaged as a nice wafty summer shirt. Immediately we (I was in class at the time) spotted that the yoke was really small so had to extend that by 1/2" each side to extend the shoulder a bit. No big deal.

Then came the back piece. It was a whopping 6 inches too small to fit the yoke. I ended up cutting a stripe of extra fabric and inserting that to fit. Well that went wrong - although I'm not one for bothering to pattern match, a headless bird was even too much for me. 


I then had a 'make it work' moment and created a little back panel for the remnants. 


 Next up was the collar - and there was no way that was fitting (even with endless snips and wrangling) as it was 3" too short so I had to re-draft the collar myself in it's entirety. That should have fit as I hadn't
made any pattern changes to the neckline.

The sleeves actually went in really well so I was hopefully the shirt may be saved at this point.

I popped it on and immediately felt like I was an I.T advisor ready to tell someone to 'switch it on and off again'. Definite Jeff from Accounting vibes. Actually if I popped on a goatee I would have been David Brent. 

It was then I noticed there was some epic 'weirdness' on the back sleeves where they were sticking away from my body like wings. Again, a trip to the Oracle confirmed that it was just plain bizarre and we tried to pin out the shape to at least make the shirt 'one for gardening in'.

Well I think this thing was cursed because as soon as I tried to tidy up the edged my overlocker decided to eat the sleeves and pulled it all under. Out of fabric and out of patience I called time of death on the shirt.

The only part I actually like was the birds anyway, so I set about harvesting the cranes like I was on some kind of conservation project. 

The shirt is now suitable for a bit-part on The Walking Dead and available for audition. The birds are awaiting release back into the wild. 

Where I went wrong I have no idea, and I'm not sure I care either as I won't be making it again. I'd love to read some more reviews of these patterns though. Have you have any experiences?

I do have the Fouette trousers downloaded from Fayma and I'm now nervous to start these! That being said my friend Claire from class had some great success with the Fayma Boyfriend trousers fitting almost straight away. Fingers crossed for the next one.

Update: I made a Melilot Blouse in some fabric from the Hayley Jane Outlet as a kind of 'palette cleaner'. By fluke the colour was a match for the birds!!

 
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A Yarn of Spring Chickens

I thought I'd go for a mini Easter theme post today and share this cute little chick called Puddle. A super cute knitting pattern from Sincerely Louise. Made in some fluffy yarn he is absolutely adorable and really fun to make. 


 Here is how he came to be.

In March I got the chance to attend the first ever East Anglia Yarn Festival. It was such a great surprise to hear this was taking place and to see so many local makers and yarn dyers showcasing their talents. Plus a few from further away. What's best is that it didn't involve a massive trip to London or Birmingham. 

It was held near the airport. Yes, Norwich has an airport. Yes it's every bit as shit as you would imagine. 

The festival however was excellently put together by The Lonely Knitter, Noodle Soup Yarns and The Fibre Fox - and I am informed that next year March 2023 will be a massive event at The Norfolk Showground. Dates for your diary. And your wallet. 

I have a bit of regret about not snapping up some sock yarn from the Curated Yarn Co. as it was just so beautiful!

I did make a few little purchases whilst I was there and these were mainly from Sincerely Louise. I was a bit of a fan girl and went over for a picture and chat with Louise and her partner who were both absolutely lovely.  I picked up some patterns and fuzzy yarn to make Puddle and of course, I also went for a tortoise pattern (still to be made up).

Wishing you all a lovely long weekend (if you're having one) and if you need cheering up for any reason. Just look at this little face!!!!

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A Spring Journee at Makers Festival

Each year Norwich is host to Norfolk Makers Festival at The Forum which showcases so many different crafts and skills including embroidery, painting, knitting, printing, weaving, sketching, sewing, quilting, spinning, crochet, paper craft, cake craft, wood craft...you name it they probably do it.  

This year was no exception and our community sewing group Norwich Sewcials were asked if we would like to take part again - well of course who wouldn't want a creative day out! 

Not only that but we also had the opportunity of exhibiting some work. Gasp. Cue several months of panic that whatever I made would not be worthy or good enough. (Have a word with yourself luv.)

The brief was 'stepping into spring time' and after several failed attempts at making a Vogue dress (not even worth writing about) I reverted to a tried and tested pattern - McCalls 8110 Journee.

While I am happy with the outcome this was NOT an easy or pleasurable journey. The pressure of making something 'to be seen' absolutely got to me. I procrastinated for weeks, sewed seams the wrong way round which had to be ripped out and restarted and basically - it wasn't all that fun. It was probably a bit of a vanity project as I was so chuffed that someone wanted to display our work I felt that 'no' wasn't an option and it would feel nice to display. It was, but probably not worth the unnecessary anxiety. Lesson learnt.

Now that it's all finished and rounded up I can actually enjoy the make! After it was returned I popped it on for a little photoshoot in the sun. 

  

The fabric is some embroidered tulle from eBay (as is the belt). The hot pink dress is made from the Greenstyle cami tank lengthened to knee length. The best bit of this is that the cami has an inbuilt shelf bra and foam inserts so no bra straps on show under the tulle. Fabric for the slip dress is 'luxury' stretch viscose from Minerva (bought not gifted). I ended up with the 'luxury' version as a previous order failed and then I couldn't find a colour match anywhere else so I had to re-buy the entire length. Another faff!

The dress is being borrowed by my sister for a summer wedding so at least it's getting some wear in the wild!

The Makers Festival itself was good fun - we had our own stand showing different dressmaking techniques but we also got to have a go at the other activties available. 

There were some great lino printing templates with Hatchley at Stellabox who talked us through the process. I do want to get one of her kits or do a workshop at some point now!

I also really enjoyed story stamp printing with Julia Triay whose work was so delicate and reflected endangered nature. Plus I tried indigo dyeing for the first time with Jen at Fibre Workshop who knows about everything natural fibre and sheep!

A great initiative by The Forum and worth attending to learn something new if you're in the area.

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Uvita - You've Got to Meet Her

Despite having made a few of these lovely tops I have not mentioned them on the blog here. So today is the day that the Uvita Top gets a little love. 

The Uvita Top is a free pattern - yes people, FREE pattern - from Itch to Stitch. I am a fan of Itch to Stitch and have actually made a fair few of their patterns, all of which I have found to be well drafted and well fitting. This free version is no exception. 

Uvita looks a heck of a lot like the Mandy Boat Tee from Tessuti - which I have tried and failed 3 times to make. The Mandy Boat tee just isn't for me as the sleeves are too tight for the body proportions on my shape. Uvita however...


 I love the relaxed fit and easy nature of this shirt. It's surprisingly economical with fabric allowance too and can squeeze the pattern pieces on well. The smaller sizes could easily fit onto 1 meter.


This is the size 14/16/18 graded as per the chart. (Size ranges for this pattern are from 0-20 but the paid patterns go up to a size 40).

There's not much to say other than it whizzes up nicely on the overlocker and the sleeves are dropped so super simple to add in as its a straight seam on each arm attached on the flat. 

If you are after a quick and satisfying make this one could be a goer. 


 

Also handy if you are taking part in #SewFrugal22 over on Instagram and Youtube - grab a piece of jersey from your stash and this freebie pattern and you're well away. 

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