Crafty Clyde goes to The Sewing Weekender!

Well what a weekend it was!

I arrived late Friday to be greeted by a concerned security man as I had wandered into the gardens of the Cambridge University campus in the dark and he'd picked me up on CCTV. Hilarious.

Punting in Cambridge - didn't have a go but just watched :)
Once settled however the weekend, organised by Charlotte of English Girl at Home and Rachel and Kate of The Fold Line - was outstanding! I even got to join them for breakfast on Saturday morning and was made to feel welcome despite my ridiculous nervyness. 

Charlotte and Kate 
Right from the start there was a serious excitable buzz going on as we were handed some amazing goody bags and a box of supplies from Adam Ross Fabrics. So many sewing ladies all in one room!!

I was on a table with Pippa from The Fabric WranglerEliza Sew-Little who works in Guthrie and Ghani,  and Melissa Fehr of Fehr Trade! They were an absolute comedy dream, very funny ladies.

tiny sewing machines
 I didn't actually get a great deal of sewing done - was too busy chatting, drinking tea, being overwhelmed by all the 'sewing celebs' in the room- but did finish an Ogden Cami just in the nick of time and wore it out for dinner. Turtle print - naturally. I'll blog about that another time as I have a second one in the making aswell...

A very tasteful Ogden Cami...
Sewing prefects were fantastic and went from table to table helping out and chatting away. I couldn't believe my luck when Elena from Randomly Happy stopped by for a chat. #fangirl I also failed to remain cool when Rachel from House of Pinheiro made an appearance, and even selected some of my fabric in the stash swap!

Day 2 was a little calmer as we had several talks on different subjects. I absolutely loved Rachel's discussion on inspiring creativity and the idea of 'finding your sandwich' (basically if you were to make a sandwich that represented you, what is it?!). Here is my sandwich! As someone who works in a very black and white industry (law) it was such a refreshment to hear about all this creative thinking and ways of getting your brain free to design and edit your own thoughts.

Marilla Walker was also fascinating to me because she has a clearly obsessive and inquisitive nature - I mean who else would make 20 toile versions of a bra...just because!! She gave a brilliant insight into her processes and why she does what she does.

Elena gave a talk on creating a meaningful wardrobe - which quite frankly made me fall in love with her a bit. That woman is hilarious. It certainly made me re-evaluate my ever growing sewing list and personal style. I really do think I'm going to delete the list and liberate myself from these self-imposed shackles of guilt induced by 'patterns bought but never made'.

Tilly and the Buttons (minus the Buttons) gave a very insightful glimpse into how she started and the behind the scenes of how a pattern comes to life - she also hinted of September and January new pattern releases!
Sewing talks
There were so many other lovely speakers and attendees that I could go on for ages - but needless to say it was a pretty epic weekend!

Feel free to comment and come and say hello on InstagramFacebookTwitterPinterest and Bloglovin too :-) xx

Serena Maxi Dress Sewalong! - Simple Sew Patterns

For this months Simple Sew make I got the honour of trying out one of the brand new summer dresses - the Serena Maxi Dress! It's now up on the Blogger website if you want to check out the other makes and team members :)

This is a long floaty number, perfect for hot weather... The fabric is a yellow crepe kindly provided by White Tree Fabrics.

Firstly we'll start as normal by checking the packet for fabric and sizing - it's finished measurements that apply with these patterns. I fell between a 10 and 12 - 10 for the top half, 12 from the waist down :)

You will need:
  • Fabric - handy hint: the bodice is lined, so if you want the lining to be made from the same as your main dress you'll need to buy a bit extra than the stated amount for your size ;-) 
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Thread
  • Shirring elastic
It is recommended that you make a toile first to check the fit - I did this and discovered I needed to add 3" to the bodice pieces for a long torso. I also altered the position of the straps and measured how long I needed the straps to be. All handy stuff to do first...

Once you've cut your pattern pieces and checked the fit (if you want to) it's time to start the real deal!

Step 1 - Cut

Lay your fabric out nice and flat so you can pin all your pattern pieces ready for cutting. This fabric was super lightweight so getting it to stay put was a challenge - but that's what tinned goods are for right?

Step 2 - Pin and dart

The first thing I did here was to transfer my pattern markings (see here for more info on how) and get the bodice darts all pinned and sewn in. The darts need to be pressed outwards towards the sides. Repeat this for both the main bodice and lining bodice pieces.

Step 3 - Side bits

Next you want to complete the sides of the bodice by attaching the side panels. Place the pattern piece, right sides facing each other and stitch together. There's no need to overlock or finish the seams of the bodice as its all getting lined and you won't see it anyway!

Step 4 - Straps!

Fold the strap pieces in half length ways and stitch 1cm all the way along it to form a tube. Finish one end - then using something thin and pointy - a knitting needle or a kebab stick (classy) - push the finished end up into the tube - keep going until it turns the right way out. Give it a good press for nice flat straps.

ye olde' kebab stick method

Step 5 - Attach those straps

Taking your main bodice piece, place the straps at the top point - right sides together and stitch down.

You then need to attach the other end of the strap to the side panel. Make sure your straps don't twist and that they are pinned and stitched right sides together. At this point - if you didn't make a toile you might want to check the length is good for you - those straps are pretty mighty and you don't necessarily need the whole length! (Or you could get jazzy and do cross over straps at the back). Once you've found the right length, trim to fit. My left and right were 36cm and 37cm as I have a wonky shoulder... always good to measure.

Step 6 - Line the bodice

Here's a very satisfying bit. Lay the bodice lining (*if you don't want to wear a bra but need support see the cheats tip at the end!) on top of the main bodice piece, right sides together - ensuring your straps are tucked out of the way on the inside. Pin and stitch all the way around the bodice from one side to the other. When you're done - clip into the seam allowance so when you turn it right side out, the curves are lovely and clean. Turn it out!

Step 7 - Back panel

Taking the back panel - finish the top of it by overlocking and turning over like a hem.

You might also want to transfer the pattern lines onto this piece as its about to get crazy. Mark out rows and rows of lines across your fabric. (Unfortunately my pencil was yellow as was the dress and I failed on that point!!)

So here's the fun - I think this is only the 2nd time I've ever 'shirred' anything and was surprised by how easy it was! Take your shirring elastic and manually wind your bobbin with it - give it a little tension, but don't stretch it too hard. You want the elastic in the bobbin, and regular thread in your needle.

With your fabric RIGHT SIDE UP under the machine - stitch rows upon rows of elastic - make sure you backstitch at the beginning and end of your row or it will all come pinging out again. The fabric will bunch up more and more so you need to keep stretching it back out and follow those rows. Look what you get!

Step 8 - Finish the bodice

Now to finish the bodice we need to attached that elastic back panel. This was tricky to photograph but go with it.... Flip your lining up so you can see the right sides of your bodice and the lining on display. Place the back panel, right side facing the right side of the main bodice piece. Then flip the lining alllll the way over the top and pin it down - so that all 3 layers are sandwiched. Stitch that edge and when you turn it out again its all neat and tidy! Repeat on the other side.

At this point I neatened things up a bit by stitching all the way around the bottom of the bodice to hold both layers in place. Just as few millimetres from the edge. Ta daaaaaaa bodice is done.

Tea break time?

Step 9 - Skirt pieces

Put down that brew and get back to work, you're nearly there :)

I chose to overlock all my skirt pieces at this juncture - granted I should have changed the threads but hey. Pin the skirt front panel to the front side panels and stitch - stopping at the notch to form the slits. Repeat for the back pieces.

Press out the seam allowance and continue all the way down to the bottom of the skirt so it forms a neat opening where the top of the slit lies. You want to now stitch alllllll the way from the bottom of the slit, up to the top, going round the seam join and back down again. Repeat for both front and back skirt pieces.

When that's all done all you need to do is place your front and back skirt pieces, right sides together, and stitch up the sides to join them. The skirt piece will look enormous at this point. Be calm - all shall be well.

Step 10 - To Gather or Not To Gather (that wasn't really a question)

Next up is attaching the bodice to the skirt. You'll notice that your skirt is infinitely bigger than your bodice at the waist. That's right - we have to get all that fabric in there.

The instructions say to 'gather' the fabric. Now the inner rebel in me ignored this because a. I'm not a gathering kinda gal b. I'm really bad at it. So I eyeballed some pleats instead.

IF you're doing this right - create long length stitches around the top of the skirt, so you can pull the bobbin thread and gather up the fabric, distributing the gathers evenly ensuring your skirt fits into the bodice. 

Turn the skirt inside out and drop the bodice inside it so your pieces are right sides together. Now attach :)

As reference, pin the side seams of the skirt to the side seams of the bodice. Do the same with the darts on the bodice - match them up to the skirt seams on the front. Same with the back - pin the skirt seams at back to the place where the back panel meets the side bodice panel. THEN gather between those points. Or if you're like me - just keep evenly pinning around and folding the fabric in, You'll have to stretch out the back panel to get it to join the skirt and pin carefully in place.

Stitch it together - ensuring you stretch out the back panel piece when you come to it. I also finished this bit off with an overlocker for neatness.

Turn it all right sides out!!

Step 11 - Hem that beast

Finish off by overlocking (or not) and turning up your hems on your voluminous skirt! I found the length of the dress just right - I'm 5ft 7 if that's any assistance. :)

Step 12 - Frolic in a meadow

Take your dress, wear it in the wild, let its floaty goodness flow in the wind as you shower yourself in beautiful flowers.

Or..... stand awkwardly in your garden whilst trying to take a decent picture without cringing/blinking/falling over.

*There's a little cheat in this dress that's not in the original - as this has a low back and summery feel, I added foam bra cups to the lining so regular bra straps didn't show. ;-) If you want to do this to your own I have a little tutorial here.

I hope you like it and that this is fairly useful - if you make your own please let us know! #serenamaxidress #craftycldye

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Soooo..... Norwich Sewcials started :)

I just wanted to write a little post today about my latest venture with The Fabric Wrangler and our attempt to set up a sewing social group in our area called Norwich Sewcials.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we plotted to set this up as there was nothing similar in the area and...well, why not really. However we quickly came to realise it was a fairly big deal to set up but we did it the best we could with what we had - which is essentially nothing, with the help of wise words from The Fold Line and English Girl at Home, hoping that people would be kind and join us for a coffee to set up this little group.

Cafe & Bar Marzano at The Forum were kind enough to let us have some space for free so we went to town decorating and trying to make it look welcoming all the while wondering whether anyone would actually turn up....

We could not have predicted the outcome.

Face after smiling face of people arrived at our table! Now I'll be the first to admit that despite my seemingly sometimes loud northern exterior - I am a mega anxious person and NO GOOD AT ALL at small talk and meeting new folks.  Which made this little venture all the more daunting. But my goodness these people were amazing. I was astounded at how kind everyone was, and really in the same boat. Straight away people sat down and began chatting like old friends and the room filled up, and the drinks came out and the volume increased and the patterns went flying around until we were overflowing !

There were way more people (over 20 that we counted) than we anticipated which was wonderful, as it would seem there was a need for this type of group in our area. There are obviously lessons to be learnt from this though - we need more space, we need more signs etc etc but this was our test meet up - we were seriously only expecting about 8 people to show up and I hope people have the patience and understanding that we are just giving this a go. But my goodness did that give us some drive to carry on and organise the next events! (And we have some good ones up our sleeve ;-) The next one is quiz night.... ;-)

So now apparently Norwich Sewcials is officially now a thing! Looking forward to seeing everyone again plus hopefully some new faces too :-)

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Mystery Food - Octopus Pocket Skirt

More octopus goodness! I love this fabric so much....

Yet another half-circle skirt - (I think the shape is much more flattering than full circle, just personal preference). My others were Mimi G version here and Gold sequin version here

However the glorious bit about this one is not only the print but THIS ONE HAS POCKETS! Seriously - the joy of a skirt with pockets. I have no idea why - one of the mysteries of the universe.

It's self drafted using the ol' Circle Skirt App from By Hand London - a wonderful little tool if you can't be bothered to bust out GCSE maths and use pi. 

The skirt consists of 1 front piece, 2 back pieces for center back invisible(ish) zip insertion and pockets which were taken from my True Bias Southport pattern. Oh - and a waistband of course. Fastened with a hook and bar trouser fastening so you can't see if from the outside.

This fabric is of course the notorious 'Mystery Food' in Sapphire - from the Cotton + Steel Bluebird Collection. I bought this and the white/navy version from Hawthorne Threads who offer excellent delivery to the UK. The white version is destined to be another one of these.

I was super excited to have made the skirt and shot outside to take pictures while it was still sunny - it wasn't hemmed. It is now. Cracked out the bias bound hem again - perfect for circles! Gives it a bit of weight aswell so aids the hanging of it.

Can't wait to wear this one - was one of those projects that's been in my head for ages and feels nice to have realized it!

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