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Ruffles and Sequins for a Budding Fashionista

One look at this Fabric in all its sparkly splendour and I knew it had to be mine. Or, more accurately, my daughter’s. At the tender age of four, she’s already revelling in the joy of twirling about in a new dress and experimenting with colour and texture. When my little fashionista clapped eyes on the fabric she draped it round herself like some fabulous superhero and proceeded to pirouette around the house!

I wasn’t sure what I would do with this fabric when it arrived having never used anything like it before. To be honest, it scared me a little! With so many layers of ruffles and the sequin embellishment, I was concerned about how well it would wash, cut and sew. I had visions of breaking machine needles, sequins firing off at all angles as I cut out pattern pieces and a washing machine full of sparkly rags.

As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. The RaRa jersey sailed through a prewash, so I set about scouring Pinterest and Instagram for some inspiration on how best to showcase such a detailed fabric. I wanted something with limited seams and large pattern pieces so the fabric could speak for itself. The layers of lightweight mesh ruffles create such beautiful movement and drape, it just had to be a dress.

As luck would have it my sewing plans coincided with school disco week, so I set about creating a dress suitable for the occasion. On my daughter’s orders, it needed to come down to her knees and have short sleeves.

Last year I made her a Brindille & Twig Swing Dress using a gorgeous drapey knit and I had a sneaky suspicion it would be the perfect pairing for this ruffle-y wonder.

The pattern couldn’t be easier with one piece for the back, one for the front and a pair of sleeves. 

The fabric was surprisingly easy to cut having no trouble at all cutting through the layers of sequins. The key to this jersey is keeping an eye on which way you lay your pattern pieces. The sequins are on the topside of the ruffles, so cutting your piece upside down would mean they were hidden in the layers. Not difficult to fathom but it did take a bit of second guessing myself to ensure the right direction!The swing shape of this dress creates a wonderful swish in the skirt. Simple construction meant I could fly through it without the instructions which is always a tonic when you have limited time to sew.

After sewing the shoulder seams, I added the sleeves and the same issue of making sure your ruffles are lying in the right direction made me slow down in a step I would normally rush through - I’m horribly impatient when sewing!

After constructing the dress there were a few ruffles around the seams which needed trimming but the effect was really pleasing and it had all the glittery movement that I’d hoped for.

The only issue I had with this fabric was adding a neckband. The pattern suggests using a rib knit or the main fabric for the neckband piece, but I didn’t have any suitable rib knit on hand and I had a feeling this jersey would be a bit of a nightmare to use as a neckband.

In the end, I enlisted my last spontaneous fabric purchase, a Crushed Velour Fabric like this with a glorious sheen. The colour and shine work really well with this fabric and it’s wonderfully stretchy, making for a comfortable neckband.

Unfortunately, my impatience at seeing the finish line in sight crept in and I charged ahead without enough preparation. No surprises then that the resulting neckband was shambolic, with pieces of missed fabric, ruffles caught in stitching and uneven distribution. Lesson learned.

I made myself a brew and went back to it, unpicked all my stitches and started again. Only this time, I used ALL the pins. I pinned the neckband at roughly 1-inch intervals and slowed my sewing right down, making sure that nothing was caught up and the edge I could see was actually the bodice and not a ruffle!

Having successfully managed to fit a neckband to the dress, I decided to skip hemming the sleeves and bottom hem as I felt it would interrupt and distort the drape of the fabric, and as it’s a knit fabric the raw edge should hold up to wear and tear pretty well.

I love the finished dress. It’s subtle but striking and it looks like an extra-twirly version of a 1920s flapper dress which brings me all sorts of joy.

I have a chunk of the fabric left from 1.5m so I’m planning something for myself. This fabric is playful and fun so picking something that will let the drape and movement shine through is the key. I think this would work beautifully as a True Bias Ogden Cami, a simple shift dress or even a Roksi Trio.

My daughter fell head over heels for her dress and stripped out of her school uniform to put it on as soon as she saw it. Even better, she wore it to her school disco declaring proudly that her mummy had made it. Truly, there is nothing better than that.

Thanks for reading,

Kate @kate_relton

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A Few Stitches Can Turn A Scrap Of Fabric Into...

A crafter but not a stitcher? Please, read on. This little gadget could work in your tool box too.
With the impact of a handmade garment, or quilt, or curtains, or toy, all containing hundreds, if not thousands, of stitches, it’s easy to forget that just a few stitches can turn a scrap of fabric into an item too.
I’ve been lucky enough to review this Clover Kanzashi Flower Maker for Minerva. It is a template form of a traditional Japanese craft of fabric folding to create petals and flowers to adorn kanzashi hair decorations.
There are several petal shapes, which all come in several sizes; extra small, small, and large.
I have the extra small round petal maker. It is a plastic hinged template, with numbered holes and slits. It looks complicated, but isn’t at all. I’ve shown my 5 year old how to use it, and he is thrilled with the flower he made. 
Each template requires a certain size and number of fabric squares; the extra small round petal needs six squares 2.5”. Yes, perfect for that jelly roll strip you’re not sure what to do with!
The instructions give fabric guidelines, and types to avoid. Most of my scraps are cotton, but I wanted to try some different fabrics too, so treated myself to a Scrap Bag of Fabric from Minerva. 
What a bargain! Look at all this fabric! 
Obviously each bag has a different selection in, but this should give you a rough idea of the amount of fabric you get. There were some great pieces in this bag to use for petals.
I also bought a bag of Yellow Buttons. Isn’t this a great selection? 
I like the variety of ‘yellow/orange’, and the range of buttons. 
The template is only embossed on the outer side. It is marked with a little graphic of the end flower, the end size, numbers, and start and finish. 
One of the things I like about the template is how portable it is. I wanted to test this, so cut a selection of squares, and took them, the template, the bag of buttons, and my sewing tin, on holiday.
My sewing tin used to contain biscuits, and I thought it was a cute hinged tin, so it now holds my most used hand sewing tools. I didn’t need all of them on holiday, so there was plenty of room for everything to fit in my tin, so thumbs up for compactness.
I love being outside, so this holiday, instead of my book, or my tech, I sat out and sewed. Luckily it wasn’t too windy; that would have changed plans! This was my workspace. 
The first fabric I used was this cheerful checked cotton. 
I used white cotton, but it doesn’t matter what colour you use, as the stitching isn’t visible from the front. The same thread is used for all six petals, and the suggested 75 cm is ample for the petals, and the button too. You might want to use a colour to match or contrast with the button, as you can use the same thread all the way through. I used a double thread to add a bit of extra strength.
Place the template wrong side down on the right side of the fabric. It should sit on the diagonal, so when you close the template with the fabric trapped inside, it makes a triangle. You could also pre-fold the fabric and slide it into the part open template. I tried both ways, and it works either way, as long as the fabric sits right into the hinge of the template. 
Holding the template securely, trim the excess fabric away. I had forgotten to take my small fabric scissors, so used the embroidery scissors from my sewing tin. They were great for a small area.
Once trimmed, make sure the ‘start’ side of the upright template is facing you. 
The easiest way to think about this is as a dot to dot. The needle goes in through ‘start’, so the knot is on that side. On the other side, the needle should pass through hole number 2, and come out back on the ‘start’ side. Continue like this until ‘finish’, but don’t tie a knot or cut the thread; this is the first petal, and the same thread will link it to the second petal, and so on.
Open up the template and remove the petal. 
Gently pull on the thread to gather the fabric, and a petal will appear. Don’t trim the thread! 
Petal two is formed exactly the same way, but you use the same thread as petal one, so they’re immediately connected. Once the template is opened, slide the petal up to petal one, and gather the fabric for petal two. 
Continue this way until you’ve made sufficient petals; this template is a six petal flower, but depending on fabric, you can add a few more to change the look. 
Using the thread, I secured the petals together, selected a button, and stitched that to the front. Then I secured the thread at the back, and cut it.
There is a quick and attractive flower. The whole process, including choosing a button, took less than 30 minutes.
I made flowers with a range of fabrics to see how easy they were to use, and what, if any, difference it would make to the flower. 
My least favourite was the white organza type fabric. It was a bit fiddly to use, and the sheerness of the fabric didn’t really show. I think this would benefit from a larger template, and it’s something I will try, because I thought it would be a lovely delicate flower.
This is cotton with glitter decoration, and it’s stiffer than quilting cotton, so I wasn’t sure how easily it would form into petals, but the slight rigidity actually made the petals look more defined. 
The glitter hasn’t photographed very well, but works well on the petals, and the flower looks quite celebratory. 
This is a stretchy velvet, and I love the flower it became. 
It’s such a rich, eye catching flower, and you can see how the different buttons give it a different look. 
It’s worth trying different buttons, because they really do change the look of the end product. Be mindful of the size of the flower when choosing a button; too big will look odd, and too small won’t cover the centre join. 
I hope I’ve not made this sound complicated, because it isn’t. 
It’s a simple and quick activity that’s a great way of utilising odds and ends of fabric, and stray buttons. You could even use beads in place of buttons. You don’t even need to add the buttons at the time of making; secure the flower threads, and store it until you’re button ready.
It’s an activity that can travel with you, with a bit of forward planning. It’s sewing that can be done in front of the television, in your lunch hour, on the bus...
The flowers were originally made to decorate hair, and they would look really cute as clips, on hair bands, on buns, or even pigtails.
They could be used to decorate hats, clothes, bags, cushions, serviette rings... I’m sure you can think of a few more! A brooch to match your dress? A necklace?
If you’re a scrapbooker or card maker, these would make lovely 3D adornments.
Instead of using a shirt to make a memory cushion cover, the buttons and fabric could make flowers which could decorate a picture frame, or even become a picture themselves.
And don’t forget seasonal decorations! Daffodils, poinsettia; there’s a range of sizes and petal shapes, so you could easily become a fabric florist.
Thank you to Minerva Crafts for the opportunity to review this great template.
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Sew Over It Heather Dress in Navy Blue Scuba Crepe

I’d been on the lookout for some fabric to make a Sew Over It Heather dress for a while but nothing had really caught my eye until I saw this John Kaldor Scuba Crepe Fabric.

I have used John Kaldor fabric before and been really pleased with the quality so I felt confident that I would be happy with this one. It didn’t disappoint, the fabric has a good weight to it and feels great against the skin.

I chose navy blue, which is unusual for me – I literally have nothing blue in my wardrobe except for jeans. Since I stopped dyeing my hair 2 years ago I have been wondering if I should change my colour palette and thought blue might go well with my new look!

I made the dress in the size 12, with the three-quarter length sleeve length option, and made no pattern adjustments other than take 4” off the hem length. It is a pretty straightforward sew - the pattern instructions are well written and easy to follow. The only tricky bit is the pocket – just follow the instructions unquestioningly and it will work out ok, trust me.

When it came to attaching the sleeves though, I didn’t follow the instructions. The instructions tell you to use a set-in sleeve method but I couldn’t see why you wouldn’t put them in flat. So that’s what I did. Before sewing up the side seams I attached the sleeves, then sewed the sides from the sleeve end to the hem. It hasn’t caused any issues so I would definitely do this again.

I used a zig-zag stitch for the hem. I’ve used the twin needle method in the past but have been getting too many popped stitches that I then need to repair so decided to give the zig-zag stitch a go. I’d avoided it in the past as I worried it would make the garment look homemade, but really I don’t think anyone will notice.

The final dress has a few issues. The neckband isn’t great; it sits up on one side. I think this is because it is too long. I did measure the neck opening, as per the instructions, but I have heard other sewists saying that you should then take 80% of that measurement. I have worn this dress to work but with a scarf to hide the neckband. Also, the dress is a little bit tight across the chest, if I make it again I think I’d need to trace a 14 at the bodice. Having said that, maybe a 14 all over would be best as there is also a problem with excess fabric at the lower back, maybe adding a bit more ease would help resolve this – what do you think?

Overall I am still really happy with this dress. It is a very comfortable dress, it has a flattering style, and I love the pockets. The problems are probably not visible to anyone other than myself and I will definitely get a lot a lot of wear out of it.

Ciao,

Linda

ciaolinda

@linda_hinds

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Working with Countil Corsetry Fabric

Coutil is a woven fabric especially made for corsets. It’s tightly woven structure helps to take the strain and resist stretching as well as helping to prevent the bones from poking through.

The coutil I have been sent to try by Minerva has a lovely Jacquard pattern that would look lovely on show on a single layer corset but I have opted to use Simplicity 1183 which is a fabric faced style. The coutil is a viscose and cotton blend and is machine washable. The outer fabric I chose to use with it is dress weight Microfibre Fabric.

When making a corset there is zero wear ease so it’s important to measure accurately and this pattern has a great explanation to help in this process.

Once cut each panel has to be layered, fabric onto coutil, and basted as the panels are sewn together as one piece.

Each seam is then pressed open and trimmed before a tape is stitched over the seam line. This tape is stitched down both sides producing a casing for the bones to be inserted.

For my corset top I am using spiral metal boning but you could also use plastic boning. Whichever boning you use it is important to use end caps on the bones to prevent any sharp ends from digging in and becoming uncomfortable.

As I chose to make View B this bodice only has a back opening which is laced up. Once the back section is made its time to punch in the holes and set in the eyelets. I use eyelet pliers as I find them so much easier but if you haven’t got one you can use the eyelet tool, that comes with the eyelets, and a hammer.

The corset is constructed in two parts, front and back, and the fit is adjusted at this stage by trying on and checking the side seams. This seams need to be straight and the fit correct before the finishing off can be started.

The top and lower edges are finished off with bias binding. This needed to be pinned and stitched on the right side before folding over, encasing the raw edge, and hand stitching in place on the inside.

The final touches include attaching a grosgrain ribbon stay to the inside and a modesty parcel to sit behind the lacing.

The pattern explains two methods of lacing. One where it’s tied at the bottom and one where you tie at waist level. I prefer the option where you end up with loops of the lace in the center as I find it easier to tighten myself when it’s on.

This coutil feels soft and smooth again the skin but gives the firm structure required for this make.

I really pleased with how this turned out. It feels comfortable to wear but supportive. It’s a sew that you need to take your time over with the amount of panels, seams and hand sewing but the coutil is not difficult to work with and presses well to give a nice sleek shape.  

Thanks for reading, 

Nicky @ Sew and Snip

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The Simple Yet Effective Freya Dress

Hiya! The Welsh one here,

This time... yes you guessed it.. I opted for florals haha! There is just something about florals that get me really excited. Its the mix of colours and the beauty of the flowers that make a garment look extra fun, for me anyway. 

I opted for this Ponte Roma Fabric this time as I had heard good things about this type of fabric. I can tell you it totally lived up to the expectations and was an absolute dream to work with. It's thick, sturdy with some stretch, a nice weight and really holds its shape. The floral pattern really took me back to a time that reminded me of my nan. She had something similar that she used to wear a lot of the time when I was younger and I'm sure that's the reason I was drawn to it.

I always cut my fabric using my rotary cutter and mat, I find this gives a cleaner cut. Plus it's a lot quicker than using a scissors. I like to use my pattern weights to keep the fabric still and prevent any movement while cutting. These, I whipped up one afternoon making use of my scrap fabric and filling with rice. I should really make more as they are super handy.

I decided to go with the Tilly and the Buttons Freya dress. I knew the fabric would hold it's shape, plus it's an awesome pattern to show off big prints. I opted for the mock neckband and ¾ sleeves to make it a nice warm dress to pair with some tights and boots. Simple yet effective.

When it came to the actual sewing, it was done and finished in no time at all. It really is a quick and easy sew, which is what I love! Especially when I get too excited and just want to wear what's on the machine like yesterday! The instructions are clear, well written and really easy to follow.

I like to mostly use my wonder clips – these are fabulous little clips that you use to simply pinch and clip your fabric pieces together. I find using these take less time than using pins, plus I am not at a risk of stabbing myself! I do still use pins now and again, but only on the smaller pieces where clips can be a little bulky.

To sew the mock neckband on, I used the 4 corner method. To do this, I folded it in half one way, marked it with 2 clips, then folded it in half the other way and marked with 2 more clips. I then attached it to the opening of the neck using the same method. I added more clips all the way around the neck opening to secure and stitched. I like to put the neckband in with the seam in the centre of the back of the dress, It makes it a lot easier for me to tell which way is which. After sewing in my neckband, I finished the seam using my overlocker. I absolutely love finishing my seams this way because my machine is threaded with rainbow thread. I think it makes the finish really colourful. Knowing this is on the inside, makes me smile!

Hemming the sleeves were a little bit trickier due to the fabric only having a little stretch. I used pins to secure the fabric instead of clips this time, this helped the fabric glide over the free arm easily. To finish off the bottom of the dress, I turned it up once, measuring all the way around to ensure it was all even, before sewing to secure in place. I only turned the hem up once as this fabric is not likely to fray. I really loved working with this fabric and am sure this dress will get lots of wear.

Until next time....

Tee @made_by_tee

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My (not so secret) 3 Piece Pyjamas

I have been eyeing the Fifi Pyjamas from Tilly and the Buttons for quite some time and I found the fabric to match at Minerva. It’s a Viscose Challis Fabric in a lovely shade of blue with non-directional printed flowers. A non-directional print was necessary for this make, since the top is cut on the bias but the bottom is cut on straight grain. Viscose challis is a really good fabric choice for “the Fifi” in my opinion; drapey, romantic and airy.

What I didn’t think about when deciding to make this for Minervas guest blog, was that I was going to display a whole lot more of my winter pale body than I´m usually comfortable doing. But here goes!

Since I love the look Tilly and the buttons have on the pattern envelope, with contrasting straps and that cute little bow in the front, I wanted to copy it in my make. I found a small Wine Coloured Bow on the Minerva webpage and a 19 mm Satin Bias Binding Tape in the same colour.

I also wanted a dressing gown to match my Fifi pyjamas. I usually use a 10 year old fleece bath robe, it serves it purpose I suppose, but it’s a very long way from being stylish. I saw myself looking fabulous in a kimono-inspired robe that I could wear both open or closed.

How I made my 3 piece set:

Washing and drying was no problem. The fabric shrank about 3 percent. No colour change afterwards.

The Fifi-set:

I´m usually a UK 12 on top and a UK 14 on the bottom, but for this make I was a UK 16 on the bottom! I’m not sure if it was a little extra holiday weight, or if “Tilly” have another idea about sizing, but since I didn’t want tight fitting pyjamas bottom, I followed the size recommendation when cutting out the pieces for the set.

I followed the manual included in the pattern envelope. I am a big fan of French seams and the pattern actually includes a detailed instruction of how to make them! I found the manual easy to use and the instructions and pictures clear. If you are a beginner, this is a really good pattern choice for you.

I took the short cut and used my already made bow and the satin bias binding tape to finishing the Fifi top. I love the contrasting wine colour.

The dressing gown:

I planned to self-draft the dressing gown using a kimono-inspired jacket I made as a guide, but adding some width and details like a neckband and pockets. I found a helpful tutorial in Swedish sewing wizard AnnaNeahs blog, and used that with some alterations. She has a free pattern in English, and also a tutorial with plenty of pictures if you want to check  it out.

My changes were:

My dressing gown is shorter, I skipped the armband, and I cut my fabric on fold both lengthwise and widthwise. This way I didn’t get a seam on my shoulder (this will only work if your fabric has a non-directional print, otherwise your back will have the print upside down). I took some short cuts and didn’t cut out that round part under the arms. See her pdf-pattern.

Here is a great tip for cutting viscose fabric on the bias;  instead of pinning, use some tape as a guideline, and hitting the center of the tape cutting into the fabric, you easily get a straight line.

I finished all my seams with French seams on the dressing gown too. I took some extra time to make the neckband equally pretty from the inside. The inside of the neckband is folded in, and then stitched from the outside, instead of overlocked on the inside.

I wanted pockets and took my pattern envelope(!) and used that as a guide for cutting my pocket pieces.

Just like AnnaNeah, I wanted two closing opportunities. A classic belt to wrap around my waist, and straps, so I could close the gown but still have a loose silhouette. I used the rest of the bias binding tape for my straps.

And voilà! The set was done!

I love my Fifi-set. My favorite fabric is a flowered viscose. I prefer a natural fiber on my skin while sleeping and this one is a great choice, both soft and breathable. I think it worked perfect with the pattern and I got exactly the look I was going for.

I can highly recommend the pattern. If you'd like to try to tackle thin material, small hems and French seaming, this is the project to start with. Since I will strut around my house all day long in my new 3 piece (not so secret) pyjamas, I really hope you will join me and make this set for yourself. Don’t forget to tag me in your pictures on Instagram if you do, I would love to see your result. Thanks for reading!

Malin from Bygousheh

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What’s Cooking Good Looking?

Today I have a little tutorial for you. I hope you guys like it.

I love cooking (and eating hahahaha) and make almost all of our meals from scratch. I also love wearing pretty dresses. Unfortunately the two don’t always go well together and may have led to the early retirement of a beloved me-made in the past. My own fault for not wearing an apron. It’s not that I don’t own one. I do, I’m just not reaching for it.

So when I saw this beautiful Cotton and Steel Border Print Fabric I immediately thought it is perfect kitchen linen. So I decided to make up an apron that I actually want to wear and that fits in with my vintage inspired aesthetic.

I love the border print and thought it would be perfect to run along the hem of an apron. I had a look for some vintage apron inspiration online. I decided I wanted the apron to be fully covering whatever I am wearing underneath. I remember my grandma wearing aprons like that. They were almost like overlay dresses, they did the trick and always kept her nice clothes clean underneath. So I came up with this design.

I’m not a great artist but I’m sure you get the idea. A bib with straps and ruching detail and a full gathered “skirt” that is showing off the border print of the fabric. I also planned a few patch pockets to pick up the blue in the border print for a bit more interest. I used some plain Cotton Poplin Fabric in the colour Copen for that.

This is the pattern I came up with. Most pieces are just simple rectangles. The measurements are based on my size. I’m 5’6” and about a UK 10/12 to give you an idea. Since the apron ties in the back it should fit a lot of sizes. Adjust the straps if you need to. Maybe cut them a bit longer and fit them along the way. Also the measurements in the drawing are without seam allowance!!! I added 5/8” to all of my pieces

How I made the apron:

  1. I interfaced one of the bib pieces, 2 straps pieces (out of 4) and one of the waistband/belt strips(this is optional but I like to add a bit of body to those pieces).

  2. I sewed the bib pieces together along the top, right sides of the fabric facing another. Then I turned the right sides out and pressed.

  3. Next I went on to do the Straps. I folded the 2 strips of fabric in the contrast colour in half lengthwise, pressed and gather the strips along the open edge down to the length of one of strap pieces.

  4. I basted the gathered strip along the edge of the two interfaced strap pieces, right side of the (strap)fabric facing up.

  1. Then I layed the second piece of strap (right sides facing) on the other strap piece sandwiching the ruffles in between.

  2. I sewed through all layers along the full length of the strap.

  3. Turned the strap out right sides of the fabric and ruffle showing. Then I pressed everything again.

  4. I then folded the remaining raw edges of the straps inward by 5/8”, pressed them and pinned them along the sides of the bib piece. I then topstitched along that edge of both straps along the edge of the bib and all along the rest of the length of the strap.

  1. Next I hemmed the sides of the skirt piece with a narrow hem. I had cut the skirt piece along the border print selvage of the fabric. I decided to keep the selvage and leave it unhemmed. I like the cotton and steel logo and branding along the selvage. I says “from Porto with love” which reminds me of vintage novelty tea towels that people used to bring home from holiday.

  1. Then I gathered the “skirt” piece along the top down to 29” and pinned it to the interfaced waistband piece with right sides of the fabrics facing. I made sure that the waistband and skirt panel middles were matching leaving an even amount of waistband each side of the skirt. Then I laid the other waistband piece right sides of fabric facing on top, trapping the skirt piece. I sewed through all layers, turned and pressed.

  2. For the next step I sewed the bib to the waistband using the same technique as I used to sew the straps to the bib. I also fitted and pinned the straps to the waistband. Finally I topstitched all around the waistband/ tie ends.

  3. Lastly I made the pockets. I pinned 2 pocket pieces together, sewed all the way around them, leaving a small gap to turn them inside out. I pressed them and then appliqued a motive from the border print to each of them. I had a small remnant left of the border print and cut them out to not waste any of that cute print. I appliqued them on using a zig zag stitch set to a very short stitch length.

  1. I then pinned and adjusted the patch pockets to where I liked them to sit and top stitched them onto the apron.

I hope any of this description was at all helpful. I realised as I was writing this how difficult it actually is to write a tutorial. I have so much respect for sewing pattern designers now, who describe in such detail what to do.

I wish I had a lot more pictures of the construction process. Although I find this to be a very easy make, it might not be the same for you readers. I am happy to answer any questions should you have any.

The end result is a very fun apron that is already in use in my kitchen. I love it as if covers whatever I am wearing and looks super cute.

You can find me on Instagram @beatricewinter for more vintage inspired sewing.

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A Self Drafted Maxi Skirt

Hello friends! I’m so happy to be back at my machines after a month or so away, and with my first make of 2019- a self drafted maxi skirt made from a gorgeous Art Gallery Fabrics Cotton Fabric.

When I first got this fabric, I had something totally different in mind to make from it, but then my husband mentioned that he really liked maxi skirts, and I don’t actually own any, so I thought it would be a nice addition to my wardrobe. I looked in my pattern collection to see if I had any good patterns for one, and I didn’t, so I set to drafting my own. That may sound more involved than it actually was! I promise it was really very simple. 

I knew that because of the big, bold floral pattern, I wanted as few seams as possible so  as to not interrupt it,  but I also knew that I needed to have pockets. I figured the best way to achieve this was to make a two-paneled gathered skirt, with pockets and a side zipper. This was my first time ever doing a size zip with pockets, and I was a little nervous, but it was far easier than I thought! I used the tutorial on Butchers Sew Shop’s site and it was really clear and simple.

To draft the skirt, I just used some basic tools- tracing paper, a sharpie, a ruler, measuring tape, my sewing scissors, and the pocket pattern that I always use because it makes the best pocket in my opinon, but any pocket pattern will do! I made my pockets out of some scrap lining fabric that I had laying around because I used every bit of the Art Gallery fabric for the skirt and waistband. Also, I find that using a silky lining fabric for pockets is my favorite way to do it because they add much less bulk than any other fabric.

I measured my waist and added the seam allowance for each side (5/8” + 5/8” = 1 1/4”). So 32” waist plus 1 1/4” seam allowances = 33 1/4” waistband. Most tutorials will tell you to add extra for ease, but I find that any time I do that, my waistband ends up being too big and I have to take it back in. 

Then decide how wide you want your waistband. I went with 2 1/2” once all put together, so I knew that I would have to double that, to fold it over, and then add the seam allowance twice, so the pattern piece that I drew out was 6 1/4” wide(2 1/2 x 2 + 1 1/4” seam allowances) by 33 1/4” long.

For the skirt, I simply measured from where I wanted the skirt to sit on my waist down to the floor, and then I added 5/8” for the seam allowance where I would attach the skirt to the waistband, and 1” for the hem. Because this fabric is 45” wide, I simply then serged off the selvages and used the full width for each panel. So I had to rectangles (one for the front of the skirt, and one for the back) that were 43” long and 45” wide. 

I applied interfacing to the front half of the waistband, and then folded it in half (wrong sides together) and pressed it. I then attached the pockets to the skirt panels as the tutorial I read suggested, and attached the skirt front and back at the right side.

Next I sewed three rows of gathering stitches - one at 1/4”, the next at 1/2”, and the third a little outside of 5/8” (this will be removed after the skirt is attached to the waistband).

Then I gathered the skirt to fit the waistband and pinned it right sides together to the interfaced side of the waistband and sewed it at a 5/8” seam allowance. After this, I attached a 9” invisible zip to the left side of the skirt (again, as the tutorial I mentioned above suggested). 

Once all of this was done,  I pressed the uninterfaced side of the waistband at 5/8”, and pinned it down to encase the seams (where zip is attached, and where skirt is attached to the front side of the waistband), and then edgestitched all the way around the waistband.

I then folded the hem up 1/2” and pressed, then another 1/2” and pressed, and then stitched the hem. 

That’s it! Super easy! I know, this is not a very comprehensive tutorial, but there are about a billion tutorials for making a simple gathered skirt on the web, and lots of youtube videos too, that will do a much better job of showing you the process step-by-step. I am more interested in showing you the outcome and what I thought of the fabric. :)

As soon as my skirt was finished, my husband and I headed downtown to get some photos for you. Lucky for me, he is an incredibly talented photographer, and made me look WAY better than I actually did! haha!

The thing about this skirt is that I didn’t really take into account the fact that a maxi skirt really would require a more drapey and flowy fabric. Since I only ever make midi length dresses and skirts, and cotton poplin works fine for those, I didn’t think about the fact that it would pose a problem for a maxi length skirt. It’s just a bit too stiff. While standing still, it looks amazing.

And with the wind blowing just right, it can look pretty good as well!

But most of the time, while I was trying to walk around, it was bunching up like crazy and sticking to my boots and making it very uncomfortable to walk and very funny to look at. 

Don’t get me wrong, the fabric is gorgeous! And it is really nice to work with and great quality! I mean, just look how beautiful it is!

I just made a poor decision in making it a maxi skirt. So my plan now is to cut some of the length of and make it mid-calf length. I think that will be perfect for this fabric, and with some cute vintage shoes, it may end up being a wardrobe staple.

I do love this side zip with the pocket, though, and will be implementing it into more of my makes now that I know how easy it is.

I hope this was helpful! The takeaway here is: get the fabric - it’s gorgeous and makes a nice structured skirt, and you can follow the tutorial for this skirt, but learn from my mistake and be sure to make it midi length rather than maxi, because it really doesn’t work as a maxi skirt.

Happy sewing friends!

-Victoria

@birdandbobbin

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Spots & Stripes are Good, but Winking Eyes are Better!

I'm so pleased to be able to finally share with you today my Tilly and the Buttons Agnes Top, made with gorgeous Art Gallery Fabrics Jersey Fabric.  I really fell for this particular print - the monochrome design means it goes beautifully under any one of my million pairs of dungarees and dungaree dresses - and of course, the quirkiness of the print is a winner.  Spots and stripes are good, but winking eyes are better! ;-)
Art Gallery Fabrics, to me, are a luxury brand.  Their designs are beautiful and unique, and their fabrics are expensive.  I've sewn my fair share of jersey fabrics of varying qualities but this is by far the best for t-shirt tops or dresses.  It is made with Pima cotton and spandex.  I did not know what Pima cotton was, so I had to look it up.  Apparently the cotton fibres in Pima cotton are longer and silkier, so the fabric they weave is smoother and stronger.
I actually made this top about 6 months ago, and it's been worn and washed many times, and it still looks as good as it did when I first received it.  There's been no pilling, the stretch has not deteriorated, there has been no shrinkage (or growing!), and the fabric is still lovely and soft and smooth.  I am super impressed with the quality, and with the gorgeous design as well, I think it's well worth the money.
This is the second time I have used the Tilly and the Buttons Agnes pattern - the first time I used it was for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network and I used a whale print jersey.  It's the perfect pattern for a basic long sleeved tshirt, and it fits my shape really well.  It's also a nice easy make, and comes together quickly.  I didn't make any alterations.  What more could you ask for?!
I sewed most of the seams using my overlocker, but did zigzag stitch around the neckline and the hems.  I do have a twin needle which I could have used for the hem, but I must have just thought it was easier to zig zag it at the time.  It's better for a stretch fabric anyway - when I made a pencil skirt in a knit fabric with a twin-needle-stitched hem, the stitches didn't stretch with the fabric.
I've tried to show a variety of photos of me wearing the top.  I'm wearing it with my pink corduroy Cleo dungaree dress in one of the photos, with my Bibi pinafore dress in another, and with a White Stuff skirt and cardigan in another.  It's certainly versatile!
Thank you Minerva for sending me the fabric for review, I hope I have done it justice!
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A Go-To Cardigan

Cardigans are one of my go-to items in my closet. They're just perfect for layering. I wear them under heavier coats in cold weather or just on their own if the weather is mild. They make me feel put together even if I just want to be cozy and warm.
My favorite cardigan is a fabulous orange color that goes with a lot of the colors I wear. But it's starting to wear out since I have it on so often. When I saw this plain Textured Crepe Jersey Fabric from Minerva, I knew it would be perfect for making a replacement cardigan. It is a lovely shade of burnt orange, but this fabric comes in a number of other colors for a very reasonable price.
The fabric itself has beautiful drape. It could be a lovely shirt with a cowl neck or something similar. The wrong side of the fabric is perfectly smooth. The right side has a texture that isn't too pronounced but gives a really interesting detail for an otherwise simple garment. The texture also made the somewhat slippery fabric easier to work with.
I chose to pair the fabric with the Seamwork Wembley pattern. It is an open front and simple cardigan. My measurements are 37" 30.5" 39". I made a straight medium. The fit was spot on. 
This pattern comes together very quickly. There are no hems. The neckline and waist are banded, and the sleeves are cuffed. The style lines are basic except that the front band comes down into a point. It was a little tricky to make it like up just right. The back of the cardigan is a little bit higher than the front, which gives it more interest.
The only change I might make is to do some topstitching along the bands. Because I serged the seams, they are having a tendency to flare out. I would prefer if they stayed to the inside of the garment, so I think that some extra stuffing would help hold them in place.
I liked using this particular fabric with the pattern because the subtle texture gives an otherwise basic cardigan a little more intrigue. But it doesn't detract from a classic layering piece. I can wear this with a number of shorts and blouses that have more going on. Nothing gets too busy.
While I like the pattern, I'm not sure I will make too many more. It's simply because I think that I prefer a buttoned cardigan after wearing this one. The actual pattern is great for a quick sew that has an elegantly simple look. The fabric is fabulous, and I would love to use it again for a shirt. Definitely try these out!
Keep Sewing,

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