Sewing For Summer!

I’m honestly not sure how we’ve already ended up mid-way through the summer. Things that felt way off on the horizon – starting my yoga teacher training, my 30th birthday (!) – are now just around the corner. Not to mention the fact that I’ve just celebrated my first wedding anniversary and have now been in my apartment for a whole year, even though it feels like I only just landed in the US. I’m honestly feeling a bit blindsided by how quickly 2018 is progressing!

Thankfully, I’m feeling pretty accomplished when it comes to my sewing. I already have a lot of makes under my belt and have definitely taken good steps on all of my 2018 sewing goals. Mostly I’m pleased that I’m finding a way to spend more time on building my everyday wardrobe and I’m getting so much joy from actually wearing my makes on a daily basis! I still have big plans for the rest of the year. Sewing is definitely harder in the summer – longer days and nicer weather mean that I’m generally keen to spend as much time as possible out and about. Plus my work commitments have escalated dramatically, so trying to fit everything in is definitely presenting a challenge. But that won’t stop me!

I’ve just wrapped up a beautiful make with one of my all-time favourite fabrics – the Fox Tales fabric from Dear Stella. I deliberated for quite a while on what pattern I wanted to use. In the end, I settled on the skirt from Sew Over It’s Rosie Dress. I really love the pattern – plus, it was one of the few that worked with my very narrow fabric. I’m excited to show you some proper pics, although I’m working on a new white version of the Lucia Top to go with it before I’m ready with an outfit to photograph. For now, here’s a little teaser…

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Definitely the cutest fabric ever!

I’ve been planning out some other new projects. I’m super lucky to have been accepted as a new member of the Minerva Crafts Blog Team, for which I’ll be reviewing some different sewing-related delights. I’ve been working on my very first Minerva Crafts project and my first post will hopefully be up on their blog soon! I’ll be sure to link you to it once it’s done so that I can finally reveal one of the things that I’ve been working on.

I also picked up a few new vintage Simplicity patterns from Joann’s a couple of weeks ago. I got them in a super sale, each for about $3, and thought the sale would be a good opportunity to stock up! One of my more immediate makes will be this super cute 1940s pattern…

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I picked up the fabric from Joann’s at the same time as the pattern, without much thought on an appropriate project. But mulling over it, I think the cotton will work incredibly well for this skirt and top! The fabric itself is a little stiff so I think I’m going to have to pre-treat it in the hopes that it will soften up. If anyone has any tips on this, please let me know! I normally just do a standard pre-wash but I feel like this will not be enough to soften this particular fabric. I also have crazy sensitive skin so need to be careful about what I use (if I don’t use certain brands of washing liquid, I break out in a full body rash, so it’s no joke!). Any tips are definitely welcome!

I picked up a couple of other Simplicity patterns that I consider to be more along the lines of wardrobe staples. I’m not sure when I’ll actually use them but, at such a wonderful price, I figured it was a good opportunity to grab them!

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So much to work on! I think it’s going to be a busy summer of super sewing. Fingers crossed I’ll continue to feel the motivation. What are your summer sewing plans? Do you find yourself sewing less or more in the summer months?

Have a beautiful week, friends!

My Spring 2018 Favourites!

Happy 4th July, everyone! To those of your reading from the US, I hope that you’re having a fabulous holiday and are looking forward to seeing some wonderful fireworks this evening. I’m excited to spend a few days off with my husband – it’s our first wedding anniversary on Saturday so we’re celebrating with a mini staycation! We don’t have many plans, other than some trips to the book shop and a couple of museum visits. But this will be the longest amount of time we’ve had together since I moved to the US so I’m just hugely excited for that!

In other news, my eye has finally healed itself meaning that I’ll actually be able to get some pictures of my Lucia Top this week. Look out for that post on Friday. In the meantime – and now that summer has officially started – I wanted to do a roundup of my various ‘favourites’ from the past few months. Originally I had intended to do a very general ‘my favourites’ post but I’m one of those people who reliably claim that whatever I’m currently focussed on is my “favourite thing of all time.” So I thought it wise that I restrict this post to just the past few months. With that, here we go…

Favourite Pattern: Vintage Shirt Dress (Sew Over It)

I’ve been pretty productive with my sewing through Spring. In fact, there are no patterns I’ve sewn that I don’t absolutely love! But my favourite pattern to work with has to be Sew Over It’s Vintage Shirt Dress. The construction process was just so simple and the finished product looked incredible. Not to mention the fact that the fit was total perfection.

Obviously my obsession with this dress is largely assisted by the fabric because the Le Map cotton from Dear Stella is beyond a dream. But purely from an ease of construction, clarity of instructions, and just all around fun-level standpoint, the Vintage Shirt Dress is definitely my favourite pattern from the Spring!

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Favourite Fabric: Le Map (Dear Stella)

What a surprise! I really wanted to be able to mix it up a little so that all of my sewing favourites aren’t focussed on one make. But, let’s be honest, was there any way that this super sweet Parisian fabric wasn’t going to be my favourite from the past few months?! Not only is the pattern so adorable, the cotton has such a great weight to it – it made the fabric perfectly suited to the Vintage Shirt Dress, giving the garment a really crisp and tailored look.

Obviously my other Dear Stella fabric – Fox Tales – would be a contender here. However, since I’m not quite finished sewing with it, I decided that it counts as a Summer make! I feel that this is probably a spoiler for a Summer Favourites post!

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Favourite Listen: Studio Ghibli Cafe Music

I’m super obsessed with listening to music while I sew. I tend to stick to lyric-free music, mostly because I like to create a very relaxed environment whenever I’m in my sewing room. My favourite listen from the past few months has to be the Studio Ghibli Jazz playlist. I actually found out about it from one of the few YouTubers I watch and it has changed my world. The soundtrack consists of snippets from various Ghibli films but played in a jazz style. I love Ghibli so I’m all about anything that integrates my favourite films into my everyday life. This soundtrack/playlist is just amazing and, if you’re a fan of Ghibli films, I definitely recommend giving it a listen. An added bonus is that it’s available via YouTube and on a 3hr30 loop – so you can leave it be for a good long time and just get on with what you’re doing!

Favourite Watch: Agatha Christie’s Poirot

Every so often, I’m really in the mood to pop something I love on my laptop and watch while I work on sewing projects. As with the things that I listen to, I tend to go through extended periods of focussing on just one thing. Spring has been a very Agatha Christie heavy time for me – and I’m totally on board with it. I adore the various televisations of her books but I’m most in love with David Suchet’s Poirot. The series is amazing and I watch the episodes on repeat without any enjoyment diminished at all. Plus I met him and he stayed in character as Poirot the whole time, so this series will always have a special place in my heart.

Favourite Read: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

This one isn’t sewing related at all since, although I’m an epic multi-tasker, even I can’t read and sew at the same time. But I’ve done so much reading this spring (I think about 16 books, which is pretty good going!) that I felt compelled to include my favourite. Most recently, I’ve been working my way through the Pulitzer Prize winners going back from the most recent (I figured that they will always be pretty reliably amazing books) – so obviously this meant that I finally got around to reading Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. I can’t quite put into words how much I loved this book. At around 750 pages, it’s definitely a lengthy read. However, I ended up racing through it because I was so enthralled. Although the book is emotionally heavy, it is truly Dickensian in its scope. Definitely my favourite read from the past few months!

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Favourite Purchase: Spirited Away Mug

My favourite purchase from Spring happens to be very much unrelated to sewing – unless you count the fact that I drink tea from it habitually whilst sewing. As I mentioned above, I love Studio Ghibli films. I’ve always had a love for animation (of course, I remain totally Disney obsessed) and Studio Ghibli takes the art to a completely different level of beauty. Plus the stories are just amazing. I was so excited to find that Barnes and Noble have a pretty good collection of Studio Ghibli items – although they’re all quite pricey – and I’ve had my eye on the Spirited Away mug for ages. My husband bought it for me as a present last month and I’ve been glued to it ever since!

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So those are all of my favourites from Spring 2018! It’s been an incredibly varied and successful few months – something that I hope carries over into Summer! Do you have any favourites from this Spring? Share in the comments – I’m always excited to read your thoughts!

Vintage Shirt Dress (Sew Over It)

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My second make of Me Made May is here! And while I’m very aware of the fact that I call every new make my favourite, I think the Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress might legitimately be one of my favourite patterns of all time. I’ve had it in my stash for ages – I bought it not long after I started sewing in 2015. But, I just never got around to making it. There were really two reasons for my avoidance: (1) I just couldn’t seem to find a fabric that stuck out as being super perfect for a shirt dress; and, (2) I was legitimately concerned about making that many buttonholes look neat and lined up. So I let the pattern gather dust on two separate continents, until I came across what is *definitely* my favourite fabric of all time – the Le Map design by Dear Stella.

All it took was a little Parisian flavour to make this amazing pattern happen. And, now, here’s the finished product….

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How many ways can I express my love for this pattern? I think one of my sewing mantras is fast becoming ‘when in doubt, make a Sew Over It pattern.’ Because they are SO easy to work with. I very rarely have issues with sizing, following instructions, or the fit. The process is just clean from start to finish.

As with my previous encounters with Sew Over It patterns, I used the size guide to determine the sizes I would cut – although I can’t remember which sizes these were. And I made zero alterations to the fit. The resulting fit is perfection. Just the right amount of ease whilst still looking tailored to my body. Just another success story for Sew Over It pattern sizing!

The construction itself posed few issues. I’d decided from the beginning that I wanted to make the version of the Vintage Shirt Dress with sleeves (there is a sleeveless version). I just really love the cuffs and am generally a sleeve gal. If you read my previous mid-construction post, you’ll know I had a problem figuring out the sleeves – the only construction issue that I ended up encountering. I would retype the whole saga here but it’s probably easier if you just follow the link to an explanation of my issues with sorting out the cuffs. Although I definitely think the pattern instructions could’ve been clearer on this point, it wasn’t a tough issue to resolve and I ended up with some super cute cuffs once I figured out the problem!

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Another feature of this pattern that I love is the skirt. I think the little pleats on the front are just adorable. They give the skirt a bit of extra shape and just make the whole dress look even cuter. I’m fortunate that the cotton I used was relatively weighty, which definitely helped to give the skirt a bit of extra structure and encouraged the pleats stand out.

I also needn’t have worried about the buttons. Going in, I was concerned about sewing the buttonholes without having them look wonky or misplaced. I’ve only had one experience sewing multiple buttonholes and that was with my Beignet Skirt a couple of months into my sewing journey. Needless to say, the buttonholes weren’t very well aligned! So I took extra time to make sure that my measurements were correct for each of the buttonholes on the Vintage Shirt Dress. It’s a good idea to experiment with button placement before sewing, just to make sure that you don’t end up with any gaping over the bust. Personally, I just ended up following the button placement as on the pattern and the dress is perfectly closed the whole way down the dress – no gaping at all!

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Another super sweet feature of this pattern is the neckline. I love the collar and lapels! They definitely give the dress its ‘shirty’ feel! In order to achieve a really crisp shape, I ended up using a medium-weight interfacing. This gets attached to the fabric facing and then sewn down the back and front of the dress. The combination of fabric and interfacing has worked incredibly well in this case – once pressed down, there’s been no movement from the lapels or collar. So they’re pretty reliably in place, meaning that I’m not having to constantly reposition them or press them back (which I find is often the case with lapels). So, if you’re thinking about making this pattern, the weight of the interfacing is definitely an important consideration!

Construction-wise, the collar and lapels were actually super simple. I did have a problem with size disparity between the facing and the dress shell. After attaching the iron-on interfacing, I found that it had shrunk the size of the facing slightly. So, when pinning the facing to the dress – specifically the collar – I did find that I had to stretch the facing out a bit in order to get it to fit. This didn’t end up posing much of a problem and the size discrepancy wasn’t especially big, but it’s definitely worth being aware!

I also just want to give a shout out to Sew Over It for the fact that their instructions include mentions of when it’s appropriate to finish your raw edges or seams. I think Sew Over It is the only pattern company I’ve used that does this, and it helps so much! I love that the pattern tells me where/when to serge so I don’t have to debate when it’s most appropriate. It also stops me waiting until the whole garment is together and having to spend hours just serging seams and feeling that life has lost all meaning.

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So, in summary, make this dress! I’m actually debating whether I’ll end up using my new fox fabric to make another version, because I’m so in love with this pattern. I think the whole thing probably came together in about 8ish hours (not including pattern/fabric cutting time) so it’s not too big a time investment either!

I think there are so many amazing things you could do with this pattern: add piping to the front; put ruffles on the ends of the sleeves instead of cuffs; add pockets! Or just make it as it is and you’ll still end up with a super chic dress! I’m really excited to experiment with some more versions of the Vintage Shirt Dress. Definitely the perfect make for a beautiful summer!

 

New Projects: Foxy Cotton and 1960s Ruffles

Starting off this post with a big thank you for the response to my Ginger Jeans! I’m definitely super pleased with how they turned out. And, seriously, if you think jeans are beyond your reach, I promise you they aren’t. You’ll just have to trust me and give the Ginger Jeans a go!

With the Ginger Jeans ticked off my list and my Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress all finished (photos to come soon and boy is this dress a stunner!), I’m turning my mind to some new projects. I’ve had my eye on a couple of patterns for a while and, with summer now fully here in St Louis, it’s time to get sewing a few more heat-appropriate outfits! So let’s take a look at what I’ll be working on…

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S8591 is a pattern that I’ve been lusting after for some time. I’m often found perusing the vintage section of Simplicity’s website when I have an overwhelming desire to sew something vintage-inspired. Fortunately, on one of my frequent trips to Joann’s, I came across the pattern in one of their pattern sales! I can’t remember how much I ended up paying, but I think it was 50% off. Bargain! Obviously, after finding the pattern, I had to uncover the perfect fabric. As soon as I saw this cotton, I knew it was the one! Mint green is my favourite. Plus there are gold butterflies! I mean, really, what could be better? Another outfit that will match my favourite mint green petticoat and shoes (are you sensing a theme?)!

I’ve already started work on S8591 (hence the crumpled pattern sleeve!). Fingers crossed that it’ll be an easy breezy construction process and I’ll wind up with a perfect summer dress!

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The second project I have in mind is the Sew Over It Poppy Playsuit, using this gorgeous floral crepe. I’ve wanted to sew a playsuit for ages. I actually own one that I bought from Modcloth ages ago but the fit isn’t great. Which is a shame because it’s super cute and covered in an umbrella pattern. I mean, it’s fine and comfortable as long as my arms are down by my side. But as soon as I raise them, it gets super uncomfortable in the crotchal region. I figure sewing my own playsuit will probably give me the best chance of actually owning something that fits properly. I’m planning on making the version with the shorter legs because SUMMER!

Right now, the plan is to work on the jumpsuit after I finish S8591. However, we all know that I have a propensity to get wildly off track when it comes to my sewing plans. I get distracted by shiny new patterns and fabric. So, while I’m sure the playsuit will happen (probably this year), it’s anyone’s guess whether it will get sewn any time in the near future!

My final project isn’t really a project. It’s another AMAZING fabric for which I have some vague ideas…

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Let’s just take a moment to appreciate the pure sweetness of this fabric. I found this in one of my favourite local fabric stores. I don’t shop there much since we moved to the city – also, they don’t really do sales or discounts so all of their fabric is on the pricey side. That said, I totally couldn’t resist this cotton. It’s actually – totally incidentally – designed by Dear Stella Designs, who also created my favourite Parisian fabric! Clearly they have a knack for making incredibly cute cottons.

Anyway, my plans for this fabric are to make a summer skirt – probably on the longer side (just past the knees/mid-calf, I’m thinking) with some pleats for shape. The main issue is that the fabric doesn’t have a lot of width to it. I think it’s about 43″ wide and I have roughly 4 yds (I bought it a while ago, so my memory is evaporating – it could be 3.5 yds). I like the skirt version of Sew Over It’s Rosie Dress (and it has an option for fabric that’s 1.15m wide) but I do prefer the skirt of the Elsie Dress (which doesn’t have a 1.15m option). So I’m a bit stumped on what to do. If you have any pattern ideas that fit the bill and maybe look a little more pleated – like the skirt of the Elsie dress – definitely leave me a comment! I really don’t want to use the fabric on a pattern that I’m not hugely enthusiastic about since (1) it was expensive, and (2) I really like it!

Those are all of my current project updates! I’m also in the process of putting together a list of patterns that I want to get through this year. There are about 15 items so it’s definitely overly-ambitious. But participating in Me Made May has shown me that my wardrobe is dramatically lacking in separates (I have literally no tops). So my goal is to start spending more time on ‘small’ projects – where I can, perhaps, make multiple versions of a pattern to fill my every day wardrobe. Ideally, I’d like to get to a place where I can put together a good number of self-made outfits (not counting dresses) and mix-and-match what I have. So wish me luck!

I’ll be back next week with some pics of my new Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress and the usual does of Laura’s internal ramblings. In the meantime, have an amazing weekend!

Spring = Shirt Dresses + Sleeve Failures

I’ve been a super busy bee over the past couple of weeks! I’ve managed to acquire even more fabric since my last fabric haul post, so I’m practically swimming in cottons. But oh my goodness, my newest fabrics are some of the sweetest I’ve ever seen! With all this fabric overflowing my sewing spaces, I’ve been attempting to make a dent in my growing stash. And where better to start than with my favourite fabric of all time (I know I say this about pretty much every new fabric I buy):

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But seriously, is this not the sweetest? Bien sûr! I got this gem after seeing it on The Foldline’s Facebook page and ended up ordering it from a US-based stockist (saving on the postage!). Fortunately, this particular fabric seems to be available from a few different places so I had no problem getting hold of it. If you’re interested, the fabric is called ‘Le Map’ and is designed by Dear Stella. I got mine from New Arrivals Inc. who mostly seem to cater to babies, but needs must. They have a 20% off voucher for joining their mailing list and I had the fabric within about a week of ordering. So definitely recommended!

As soon as I got this fabric, I wanted to set to work! Fortunately, I had the perfect project in mind. I’ve been messing around with plans for a Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress for ages now. I think I’ve had the pattern for about two years. But no fabric ever really jumped out at me as being entirely appropriate. I have a lot of difficulty pairing fabrics and patterns. It’s beyond the level of just thinking that a fabric would work for a pattern. I have to really feel like they go together – it’s the fabric/pattern equivalent of pairing soul mates. I’m like a matchmaker, except that there’s so much more at stake with what I do (I joke, of course. People are just as important as fabric). This is why shopping for fabric with a pattern already in mind is always a nightmare for me. It takes forever. I swear, my skeleton will eventually be found in an aisle at Joann’s.

As soon as I had the Paris fabric in my hands, I just knew it was time to dust the cobwebs from my Vintage Shirt Dress pattern and finally put it to work.

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I’ve been working on the dress this week and it’s coming together a treat! As expected from Sew Over It, the pattern has proved very easy to follow so far. I decided to make the version with sleeves because I always love a sleeve. I’m not sure why but I really never wear anything sleeveless. That may need to change now that I live somewhere that gets 100F summers, but we’ll see.

Of course, this project hasn’t been without its problems. I spent most of the day yesterday trying to figure out issues that I was having with the sleeve cuffs. This is the first time I’ve found any instruction from Sew Over It to be vague enough that I end up spending ages trying to decipher them. The problem was in hemming the sleeves. The instructions tell you to turn the sleeve under to the wrong side and match with a notch on the inside seam. My mistake was in matching the raw edge of the hem with the notch (then spending ages pressing and sewing it) when I was supposed to match the sleeve’s actual edge with it. Essentially this meant that I had two sleeves with short hems and, when it came to turning the sleeve back to the right side in order to get a proper cuff, I had barely any fabric. Enter much unpicking…

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The line of stitches is about 1cm from the edge of the hem (which is where the notch is). So, as you can see, there is definitely not enough fabric to turn back to the right side in order to make a cuff.

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The seam gauge makes this photo look like a police evidence photo and I only just realised it.

This is my current status. I’ve unpicked and have now turned the hems under properly. Finishing and attaching the sleeves is on today’s agenda. I’m hoping that I might actually get around to doing the buttons/buttonholes, in which case I’ll only have the hemming left to do!

Despite my sleeve issues, I’m seriously loving this pattern. It’s come together really quickly and easily. I just love Sew Over It patterns. They’re always so clear (with the exception of the sleeve hemming) and well illustrated. Plus, the Vintage Shirt Dress has lapels! What could be more exciting?!

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So that’s where we are! My plan is to get this dress finished by the end of the week and hopefully have photos up on Sew for Victory soon after. I’m off to see An American in Paris in a couple of weeks (one of my favourite Gene Kelly films!) and I can’t think of a more appropriate outfit. I’ll be a Brit in America in Paris fabric, watching An American in Paris. Perfection!