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!

I Love Fabric!

It’s been a hard couple of weeks. Adjusting to life in a new country is definitely tougher than I expected when I moved here. Now that I’m almost a year on from the move, I was anticipating feeling a lot more at home than I do. But starting your life over again is no joke and trying to build one for myself is taking its toll. Fortunately, I have an amazing husband who knows exactly the right way to cheer me up – by taking me fabric shopping! So with a couple of new projects in mind, we headed over to Joann’s so that I could pick myself up with some fabric devotion. As always, I was in heaven.

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SO much fabric joy! Am I the only one who pretty much always fabric shops in person? I mean, I order the odd thing online – but mostly just fabrics with really cute patterns that I can’t resist. Otherwise, I much prefer a trip to the fabric shop. I guess I’m always worried that what I order online won’t turn out to be as good in person. Although I know you can order swatches, I’m also incredibly impatient when it comes to waiting for fabrics to be delivered. Also, when I’m feeling not so at home here, hunting out new fabric shops or returning to favourites is a sure way to make me feel more comfortable. It’s exactly the same feeling of ‘at home’ that I get whenever I go into a bookshop. I know, I’m super cool!

We ended up spending a long time searching through the various fabrics at Joann’s. I had a couple of projects in mind and was hoping to find some fabrics that would work. The first project is a new version of the Decades of Style Belle Curve dress. This was one of my first makes (ambitious, I know!) and remains one of my favourite me-made garments. However, in my eternal Laura wisdom, I decided a couple of weeks ago that I should try to tidy up my original version. Since I was super new to sewing when I made it, there were quite a few problems with the construction. None of the issues were a particularly big deal, but mostly I was getting annoyed with the wide, unfinished seams and a lot of subsequent fraying. Since everything was already constructed, I didn’t want to risk serging. So I decided to take my pinking shears to the seams and have a go at both trimming them down and stopping the fraying. As careful as I thought I was being, I ended up snipping through the body of the side of the dress – right by the amazing sunburst darts – and leaving a hole big enough that there’s no fixing it (flashbacks to my wedding dress muslin, anyone?!). Needless to say, I was pretty distraught. However, the dress was definitely in need of many alterations. I’ve lost a lot of weight since I originally made it and, with the way the dress is constructed, it would’ve been impossible to alter. So I guess my accident was actually providing an opportunity for me to revisit and remake one of favourite patterns!

I knew that I wanted to stay super plain with the fabric. The best part of the Belle Curve dress is undoubtedly the darts and using a patterned fabric would only make this detail much harder to see. So I decided to get a couple of drapey fabrics in bold colours that would work super well and show of the unique details of the dress pattern.

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Green is probably my favourite colour and I couldn’t resist this gorgeous bottle green. My original version of the Belle Curve dress was in green and it looked stunning. I’m not sure if I’ll use this fabric for my next version since I want to try something different but, either way, it’ll certainly be put to good use!

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Purple! I don’t think I’ve made any purple clothes so far, which is strange because I absolutely adore purple. This is definitely a super bold purple but I think it will work incredibly well with the pattern. I can’t actually remember what sorts of fabrics these are – I think they’re poly blends. But they are perfectly drapey with a silky underside, which will work very well against the skin. I can’t wait to get started!

I’ve also been putting together plans to make some shorts. Summer in Missouri is pretty crazy and temperatures can get up to 110F (I think that’s over 40C). Since I’m came over from England, clearly my wardrobe was very underprepared for such temperatures. I’m determined that this summer will be much more comfortable than the last, so I’m putting my sewing machine to work for the cause. Fortunately, one of the lovelies that I follow on Instagram (Erin from My Poetic Memory) posted a photo of some shorts she’s whipped up recently. All of the pairs looked gorgeous but she had a version of the Chataigne shorts from Deer&Doe that left me particularly in love (I was the personification of the heart eyes emoji, for sure). After searching out the pattern for myself, I knew that I needed to put this on my project list! Since I was especially in love with the styling of one of the models for the pattern, I decided to try and replicate the look by finding some faux suede to create some beautiful shorts:

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I’ve never sewn with faux suede before, so I’m excited to give it a go! I think these shorts will be amazing – although perhaps not made with the most cooling of materials. Just an excuse to buy even more fabric to make new versions!

So that’s a summary of my recent adventures into the world of fabric. I’m so excited to get started on some new projects (especially because Me Made May is coming and I need to get some more stuff together!). Fortunately, my Ginger Jeans are almost finished – just the jeans button, rivets, and hemming to go! So I’ll have those to show you soon.

For now though, I’m wishing you a wonderful weekend full of sewing and happiness!

1960s Dress (Butterick – B6242)

After a short Christmas-inspired lull in my personal sewing time, I’ve been back to sewing for myself over the past couple of weeks. My mind has been in another world for the past month while I’ve worked my way through sewing gifts for family but, with my new dressform in tow, I was super ready to get back to finishing off my version of B6242. This is a pattern that I got a while ago – free with an issue of Make It Today! Dressmaker magazine – and have been hanging onto it every since while waiting for the perfect fabric to come along. I finally found the right fabric on a trip to Joann’s and a good look at Gertie’s fabric collection! So finally, many months – possibly years – after the fact, I actually have a version of B6242 ready to share…

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I had a number of concerns going into making this pattern. Mostly, I was incredibly worried by the shape of the bodice. I’m very much one for structured and fitted bodices – these tend to accentuate an hourglass figure and, to my eye, help balance out the fullness of a circle skirt. This is the first 1950s/1960s inspired garment I’ve made that doesn’t come with a very fitted top. That said, I decided to place my confidence in the pattern and the fact that the cumberbund/cummerbund (I’m going to go with cumberbund!) would cinch the waist sufficiently to stop the dress looking shapeless.

I’m really pleased that I put my faith in the pattern! As it turned out, the cumberbund did manage to balance the whole dress and give a sort of symmetry to the top and bottom of the garment. The fact that the top isn’t super fitted also means that the pattern is an incredibly simple construction. The cumberbund relies on gathers to give it a wonderful ruched effect. Gathers are also used on the front of the bodice where attached to the cumberbund, while the back of the bodice is tailored with darts. Assuming that you are able to get to grips with these techniques, there is nothing about the pattern that poses any significant challenge.

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The sleeves on B6242 are probably the simplest that I have ever constructed. They come as part of the bodice, so there is no insertion necessary (inserting sleeves is always one of the most annoying parts for me). Once the bodice is attached to the cumberbund, it’s simply a matter of sewing seams up the side of the dress to the end of the sleeve. The only downside of the sleeve design is the way in which they attach to the side zip. Because this kimono sleeve-style curves so dramatically under the arm, the side zip runs quite far up the length of the sleeve – essentially ending parallel to your armpit. This means that the zipper-pull flaps down very obviously when you move your arm up (you can’t see it in this photo since I made sure to photograph the non-zippered sleeve!). Although this genuinely isn’t much of an issue in terms of comfort, it does look a little odd when you see it. The only real solution here would be to move the zipper further down the side of the bodice which I think would be totally doable without impacting the fit.

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This pattern is definitely full of really interesting and unique design choices. Aside from the cumberbund and sleeves, the boatneck structure of the neckline is a perfect fit for the dress. It nicely complements the width and curve of the sleeves and, once again, poses little challenge for someone with basic sewing skills. The pattern includes information on making bias fabric strips to attach to both the neckline and the sleeves (admittedly, I didn’t use them on the sleeves). I was way too lazy to slip-stitch a bias strip to the neckline and instead decided to attach it with my machine. I don’t think the visible stitching detracts from the overall look and, honestly, it saved too much time for me to feel particularly bad about taking the shortcut!

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Size-wise, I can’t say much about the pattern as it came. Since I got the pattern free with a magazine, I was given a pre-selected set of sizes. Although my bust size was included in the pattern (and just on the size cut-off), I had to grade out for both waist and hips by making my own pattern lines. This wasn’t too much of a bother and the final fit of the garment came out perfectly. However, I would suggest making up a muslin of the bodice if you feel concerned by the relative lack of shape. There is plenty of ease to work with if you want to achieve a slightly more tailored fit.

One final word of warning – be careful when you’re cutting this pattern. Almost the entire garment is cut on the cross-wise grain and I ended up needing considerably more fabric than was suggested by the pattern. Partly this was because the fabric I used came in at 43″ wide which seemed to make a big difference to the pattern layout. If you aren’t used to cutting on the cross-wise grain, just be sure to plan your cutting layout beforehand to avoid a last minute run to get extra fabric (totally my experience).

B6242 is an excellent pattern for anyone looking to branch out their vintage style. While the silhouette is relatively conventional for a 50s/60s look, it has a number of design features that really forced me out of my comfort zone. I was so worried that the bodice would look shapeless and unflattering but totally needn’t have been concerned. Ultimately, I really love how the dress turned out and would definitely make it again!

I’ll leave you with some outtakes from this mini-photo shoot when I encountered the real difficulties of attempting to do blog photos with a nosey dog running around…

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It turns out a dog is the must-have accessory for this look! Someone alert the fashion designers!

Project Updates!

After the super momentum that I achieved with my Cocktail Hour dress, I’ve been feeling seriously motivated to work my way through some new projects. So I thought that I would give you an update on my works in progress and everything coming to Sew for Victory over the next few weeks!

At the moment, I’m working with some seriously fabulous fabric picked up from Joann’s. It’s part of Gertie’s collection, and I had visions of 1960s dresses the moment I laid eyes on it.

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At $16.99 a yard, it’s definitely expensive. I love Joann’s for the MANY discount vouchers on their app and I exploit these every time I visit but, unless I’m working with a 50% off coupon, $16.99 is pretty steep (especially given that any 1950s/60s-style dress is going to take 4+ yards, which will leave you over $50 out of pocket for one dress). Fortunately, I hit Joann’s when they were having a sale specifically on Gertie’s fabric line and I think I ended up getting the fabric for around $6 a yard. Far more reasonable.

The only issue I have with this fabric (other than cost) is the 43″ width. This is something I’ve come across time and again, particularly at Joann’s. Am I the only person losing it with the fact that fabric manufacturers don’t account for the fact that EVERY pattern gives cutting layouts and fabric requirements for 45″ and 60″ fabrics as standard? Why on earth would you make a 43″ fabric? Please do enlighten me if you know. Normally it isn’t too much of an issue but it caused me such problems with this pattern. Every piece of the pattern, except for the two cumberbund/cummerbund pieces, had to be cut on the crosswise grain. Manipulating the fabric to account for this, plus cutting on the fold where I had to, I ended up dramatically short on fabric – despite the fact that I had originally purchased 1/2 yard extra than required to account for any issues. I had to go back and buy an extra yard (not on sale) which obviously cost me an additional $16.99. Since I’m working with the circle skirt version of the pattern, every inch of fabric is absolutely necessary. I was finding that I couldn’t follow the cutting layout on the pattern because two pattern pieces wouldn’t fit on the width of the fabric – being 2″ shorter than the standard 45″. I recognise that this has turned into a massive rant but I’m seriously baffled as to why fabric that sells in a nation-wide chain wouldn’t be standard size?

Anyway, moving on from that outburst. I really am seriously in love with the fabric itself. The blue is so gorgeous – the photo doesn’t do it justice. I’m about half-way through the make and it looks so wonderful. I think that this is going to be a truly fabulous dress! The pattern is one that I got free with a magazine ages ago. I wanted to go with a 1960s pattern that offered the standard silhouette but also looked different from anything I’ve made before. The bodice and sleeves are definitely a departure from my previous makes, so we’ll see how it turns out!

Aside from the 1960s dress, I also have plans for a couple of other fabrics that I’ve picked up over the past few weeks. Although obviously not keeping with the vintage theme, I couldn’t resist this Beauty and the Beast stained glass fabric. I’ve seen it floating around on Instagram for a while and have been desperately in love with it. So I picked up a few yards for myself and am still debating on what to do with it.

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Isn’t it sweet? I’m thinking potentially another Sew Over It Betty dress? But I’m worried that it would look too busy. My default with any heavily patterned or busy fabric is to set it aside to become a circle skirt. But I have about 4 yards of this fabric and I’m really not sure what to do with it. I want to stick to vintage-style patterns so, if you have any suggestions, let me know!

I’m also planning another 1960s make for the brocade fabric that I picked up as a back-up for my Cocktail Hour dress. It’s super cute!

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As much as I love it, I might wait a while to grapple with this one. If you read about my Cocktail Hour adventures, you’ll know that working with the brocade was a total nightmare. It frayed like nothing else. This 1960s-style fabric is beautiful but already fraying all over the place. I think I need to get a couple of other (nice and east cotton-based) projects out of the way before I decide to brave the brocade again!

So that’s most of the news regarding my ongoing/upcoming projects. I am also working on a big super-secret side project that I’ll be chatting to you about within the next month or so. In the meantime, I have a variety of plans for Sew for Victory. As well as the usual posts on my makes (as they occur) and some new My Vintage Life posts, I’ll be publishing another Sewing for Self-Care post. My last post seemed to create a lot of interest and I’ve been spending the past couple of weeks reflecting on your comments. Since it’s a topic that’s very close to my heart, I have a lot more to say about it. So watch out for that. I’ll be back on Friday with a new installment of My Vintage Life.

Until then, have a fabulous week. And Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers!

The Cocktail Hour: An Update

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You might remember that, at the start of the year, I announced that I would be participating in The Cocktail Hour Blogger Tour! Well, many months later, my reveal is actually approaching! I’ll be posting on 17th November about my finished dress – and finally showing you all the pattern that I’ve been working with.

Thankfully, my Cocktail Hour project has been just the motivation I needed to kick-start my sewing again. After the endless disasters of the Zadie dress (which is still not finished because of various construction issues), I’ve been having a seriously hard time getting myself to sit back down at my machine. But I finally took myself out fabric shopping in the hopes that I would find just the right fabric to get me moving again! So here’s a little fabric teaser for the dress that you’ll be seeing here in a couple of weeks…

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Stars for days! Cocktail Hour appropriate, while still sufficiently Laura! This gem was picked up from Joann’s and, although the fraying is already a pain, I’m super happy with this fabric choice. I can’t wait to see how the finished dress turns out.

If you’re feeling in the mood for a challenge or need a bit of sewspiration, definitely check out the great collection of Cocktail Hour patterns. It’s an amazing selection and the proceeds from sales of the patterns are going to The Eve Appeal – so you’re also helping out an incredibly worthy cause! Here are some of my favourites:

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If you decide to participate (which you absolutely should!), make sure to post your makes with #sipandsew so that we can all see them. And stay tuned on 17th November to see my make!

Laura’s Fabric Joy!

I’ve been having the best luck recently when it comes to fabric buying. Since leaving England meant saying goodbye to most of my haberdashery – and lots of other sewing goodies – I arrived in St. Louis massively understocked. Fortunately, I have the best husband in the world and, before I got to the US, he had set about getting replacements for all of the most important bits and pieces. But while I needed to make sure that I had a sewing machine ready to go on arrival, the process of rebuilding my fabric supply has been far more slow-and-steady.

I highly recommend fabric shopping to anyone trying to explore somewhere new. Of everything I’ve done to get myself acquainted with St. Louis, searching out off-the-beaten-track fabric shops (and by this I mean not Joann’s or Michael’s) has been an amazing way of discovering different parts of the city. That said, Joann’s has an incredible fabric supply and a constant stream of discounts so it’s also been an incredible resource. Since I’ve really lucked out recently when it comes to fabric finds, I thought I would share some of my favourites with you. These fabrics will be familiar to anyone who already follows my Instagram since I post updates there on an almost daily basis (it’s also worth heading over if you want to have a go at the amazing #sewphotohop challenge through the month of September and get to know some incredible crafters!). But otherwise, here are some pretty fabrics and details about where I found them!

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Just LOOK at this fabric. Genuine 1960s fabric that I totally lucked upon at the incredible The Future Antiques in St. Louis. I had actually visited The Future Antiques before a couple of years ago and picked up an amazing 1940s dress from their stunning collection of vintage clothing. Unfortunately, they’ve had a bit of an overhaul since then and their vintage clothes are no more. But I found a batch of vintage fabric in the back of their sale room – somewhat pricey but all marked down by 40%. I got 3 yards of this fabric for about $20 which felt like a steal to me. I’m thinking that this fabric obviously has to go towards a 1960s make and I’ve been browsing through Love at First Stitch from Tilly of Tilly and the Buttons for the perfect pattern. Still thinking it over though!

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I still can’t get over the beauty of this cotton. I’ve been totally enamoured since the moment I spotted it. This gem is from an incredible fabric store called The Quilted Fox in Frontenac, MO. They have an amazing range of Australian and African fabrics – this ‘Spiritual Women’ piece is from their Australian collection. I think it’s seriously the most beautiful fabric I’ve ever seen and I’m so excited to use it, although simultaneously too scared to commit to anything. Fingers crossed I’ll settle on a pattern eventually. In the meantime, I’m just enjoying gazing at it periodically!

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So technically not a product of my St. Louis fabric search but a delicious find nonetheless. This beautiful viscose fabric came to me from ‘Til The Sun Goes Down as part of my winnings from #vpjuly on Instagram. I totally lucked out and won a £30 spend on the online shop so bought 3 yards of this beautiful ‘Birds on Turquoise’ fabric and seven 1940s basket weave buttons. If you’re looking for some genuine vintage fabric/notions or fabric that has every appearance of being genuine vintage, definitely head over to the shop. Not only was it all super reasonably priced but these goodies got all the way to Missouri from the UK in a matter of days!

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Again not a US find but too wonderful not to share. This stunning fabric was brought home to me from India by my lovely Mum. She travels there a lot for work and used her most recent trip to do a bit of fabric hunting for me! It has a border print so I’ve been umming-and-ahhing over what to put it to but I think I’ve finally settled on the Vintage Shirt Dress from Sew Over It. I’ve had this pattern for ages but never found the right fabric for the job. I can see this Indian print totally working so I think I might mission on with it in the hopes of catching the last bits of summer in the dress!

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The last fabric/notions haul is from the accessible-to-everyone (in the US) Joann’s. I’m not huge on getting my fabric from such large chain stores, simply because I like everything I make to be as unique as possible. But Joann’s have such a wonderful and diverse collection of fabrics that it’s tough not to be pulled in. I found this adorable glittery bicycles fabric in their discount fabric section and took what remained of it. I think I got 3.5 yards for about $15, which is a definite steal. I also had my first forage through their buttons and OH MY GOODNESS they have some amazing ones. Hedgehogs, foxes, and a ridiculous number of Disney buttons. Of course, when I saw the Disney ones I couldn’t stop myself. I have absolutely no idea what these will get used for but they’re currently pinned on my noticeboard for me to admire every time I’m in my sewing room. I just can’t help it.

Anyway, that’s just about it for now. I hope you like these fabrics as much as I do! They’re all still waiting for projects because I am so indecisive. The more I love a fabric, the more difficult it becomes to actually commit to using it. Hopefully it won’t be another year before you see any of these fabrics on a finished garment!

Oh and Happy Labour Day to all of my US readers. I hope you’re enjoying some beautiful weather and an extra day of summery fun!