Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Love at First Stitch, One Make a Month: July, the Lilou Dress


Happily, it has not taken at all long to return to the delights of my sewing machine after a couple of weeks away, and I already have a finished make to show you! 

It's the Lilou Dress from Tilly's book, Love at First Stitch, made as my second installment of the One Make a Month competition Janet is hosting on her blog, Kitchen Table Sewing. 

First things first - I love this pattern. It strikes a good balance between the feminine and the practical, being suitable to wear tightless in summer months, but also up for layering over a long sleeved t shirt in colder weather. Plus, my version matches perfectly with one of my cardigans! 

I picked the fabric up at Lauren's lovely shop, Guthrie and Ghani, where I met Tilly herself in May! So it seemed only right that I make this dress from that. I think it turned out really well! 

I cut out the smallest size, and fit wise it's pretty good. The only issue I have is that it came out a couple of inches too large under my bust, where there seems to be a lot of excess fabric. But, to solve the problem, I made a matching bow belt, which tucks in the excess and adds an extra detail to the dress! I added a lining to the skirt as well, although not called for in the instructions, so it wouldn't stick to my tights. I'm glad I made the extra effort because I can see myself wearing this dress a lot in autumn and winter. All in all, I would call this a pretty successful make :) 

Big thank you to Tilly for yet another well drafted pattern, to Lauren for the fabric, and my boyfriend David who took the photos. 

What have you been making, please? 

Beth x

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Home Sweet Home


Wow, it's good to be back. Taking me away from my sewing machine for two weeks is like taking away an alcoholic from their favourite tipple (not that I drink alcohol, horrid stuff, tastes like vinegar). BUT ANYWAY. Sewing is my addiction and I sure have missed it. So much so, that I spent a large amount of my holiday dreaming about pattern purchases that can be made when I returned home. I may have already sort of accidentally on purpose ordered a Miette Skirt in the lovely sale over at Tilly and the Buttons. Ahh, sales. Yum. Who can resist? 

When I woke up this morning I instantly went down to my sewing machine, whereby a miracle occurred. I got to work on Deer and Doe's Chardon Skirt which I'm making in red cotton, so I filled the bobbin up with matching thread. That thing moves so fast, unbeknown to me half the thread had ended up UNDERNEATH the bobbin rather than on it, so frustratingly I had to pull it out and waste it. I don't know what happened, I was sure I'd put the bobbin on properly. So then, I went to thread the needle and pick up the lower thread but panicked when the needle physically would not move. It was stuck. Totally and utterly stuck. I fiddled around and nothing helped, so practically in tears at the thought of losing my machine I went to fetch mum, who had no idea how to fix it but said she'd take it to a repair shop as soon as possible. Then I fiddled around a bit more and suddenly the needle moved. WHAT. My sewing machine fixed itself. That thing is so cool. I still have no idea what went wrong but my mum went back to her ironing, rolling her eyes, and I got down to sewing pleats on a machine which was miraculously good as new. I guess I'll never know for sure what happened there, but at least it seems fixed. 

Miracle machine. Has anything like that ever happened to you? 

Tomorrow I think I'll probably finish my skirt and get to work on my Lilou Dress for the Love at First Stitch: One Make a Month competition, as July is nearly over! It feels strange to leave a blog post pictureless though so here are a few photos of my time in France: 



Limoux Bastille Day Celebrations

View from Puivert Castle

Hope you are all having great summers too! 

Beth x

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Crafting in France


The weather here in France has been sooo warm, so we've made the most of it and been exploring castles and medieval markets in the sun. The crafting skills people have down here is unbelievable! 

These are both handmade - earrings and a bookmark - from market stalls in Mirepoix. 

This ring is also handmade - the woman running the stall would make them to order, depending on how big or little your fingers are! So clever, I would love to be able to do this. 

Speaking of crafting, don't worry, I haven't left it all to the market stall holders of France! My sewing machine was too heavy for the flight, but I didn't want to surrender all project making for two whole weeks, so instead of sewing, I chose to do some knitting instead. 

Here's how I've been getting on. A little out of season for a scarf, I know, but with my limited knitting abilities it felt like something easy I'd be able to do if I ever had any free time. And it turns out I've had lots! 

My knitting repertoire basically consists of fingerless mittens, scarves and blanket squares, but one day I would love to be able to expand this to cardigans as well. For now though, I'm happy being able to knit up winter woollies for me to wear when the weather gets colder. Last year I made a burgundy coloured scarf with navy tassles that I wore on a school trip to Russia! 

This one though, will be cream with rainbow tassles. I felt cream would be more of a neutral colour to go with all of my winter wardrobe, and I'm so excited about getting it finished in time for my first term at uni. Over in Wales, I have a feeling I'll be needing this scarf a lot! 

Do you have any recommendations for a good beginner knitter book? I'd love to be able to expand my skills but don't know where to begin - knitting patterns baffle me! 

I hope you're having a good summer :) Now I'm off to enjoy a violet lemonade (seriously, they're awesome). 

Beth x

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Ooh La La! A Handmade Holiday


I've been in the south of France for six days now and thought it was time for a bit of a catch-up - so I'm here to share my homemade holiday wardrobe with you. It's so exciting! I've dressed handmade nearly every day since my arrival. 

Outfit Number 1 - my brand new purple dungaree dress! There are two awesome Liberty fabric covered buttons on there too but they're hidden by my cardigan (from New Look and literally the best cardigan I've ever owned - it matches with everything!) 

Outfit Number 2 - my Cinema Dress. This dress recently underwent surgery to chop a couple of inches off the bodice. Since making it in May it's only been worn a couple of times because I always felt it looked a little frumpy - but problem solved! Now it's perfect to wear on a warm, sunny day. 

Outfit Number 3 - my Bird Skirt, or in other terms, my first ever make! Apologies for my foot which has snuck into the bottom of the picture there...

Outfit Number 4 - my Cambie Dress! I love this dress so much, but I have to confess to not having worn it yet because the sheer amount of material that goes into making that full skirt just makes it so warm to wear, which for English summers is fine, but France is a little different! However, if the temperature dips this will definitely be retrieved from my case. 

Outfit Number 5 - my Bike Skirt! The Tour de France has yet to reach us, but be sure that when it nears this shall be donned immediately. 

Outfit Number 6 - a skirt made from the most beautiful fabric I have come across so far (and my foot, again). This is a new make that I've yet to blog about, mainly because it was initially put down as being a disaster! Lovely expensive material that I can only afford a metre of is usually turned into a gathered 50's skirt, but this time I wanted something a little different. Recently I was rooting through our cupboard-under-the-stairs looking for a picnic basket, and when I eventually found the picnic basket, a skirt sewing pattern was inside! Thrilled, I instantly put it to good use, but the finished garment measurements were missing, so after I'd finished sewing, it turned out the skirt was way too short! Frustrated, I left it well alone for a few weeks and moved on to better things. However, one night, inspiration struck and I got to work the following morning. A flounce! Added to the bottom! Ahh. Now the skirt fits perfectly and I love it a lot. 

Outfit Number 7 - my Yellow Dungaree Dress. This has been my absolute favourite thing to wear this summer. It's cool in warm weather, it's pretty, it's flattering and it's so easy to just throw on with a white top. Perfection. 

That's it! Seven me-made outfits to wear in France. I am so proud to be able to say that I'm at the point as a sewer that I've been able to pack predominantly self made clothing into my suitcase and know that I'll be able to wear them all. 

And, just for good measure, I brought a me-made bag! 

The hedgehog bag! 

Happy holidays :) Do you wear homemade clothing when you're away? 

Beth x

Friday, 11 July 2014

It's Love

Readers, I have an announcement to make. Yes, it's happened. I have been overcome by a feeling so strong for a particular pattern company, that I could not restrain myself to simply ordering one - so I got two instead. Oh believe me, it would have been more, but there's only so far my allowance can stretch. You're probably wondering what this amazing pattern company is, right? Well......

It's Deer and Doe! Oh my gosh, how amazing are they?! 

About a week ago I was idly trawling the internet, on the hunt for a fab, signature style pattern that I could make as part of my university capsule wardrobe. I knew I didn't want anything from the Big 4, so I got a list of the companies who were involved in Sewing Indie Month and began my search. 

Once on the Deer and Doe page, I couldn't believe my eyes. Pattern after pattern of completely wearable, completely versatile and completely gorgeous clothes! Am I gushing? I'm not sorry. After about an hour of narrowing down my choices, I decided on these two: 

The Chardon Skirt and...

...the Airelle Blouse! 

The Belladone Dress was also a strong contender, but eventually I settled for these two as I had already matched them to fabric. Ooh, I can't wait to get stitching! I have a couple of weeks to wait yet though as I'm off to France tomorrow to watch the Tour and visit some castles (although hopefully I'll have time to hunt down a fabric shop as well!) 

Before I go I also want to share with you some fabric I recently acquired from Fabric Rehab. I won a voucher for here in a competition on Tilly's blog (Tilly and the Buttons) aaaaages ago and have finally got round to spending it! So, here goes: 

1 metre of red and white striped jersey to make a Coco Top (Tilly and the Buttons) 

2 metres of this gorgeous floral cotton, which I'm using to make an Anna Dress (By Hand London) with a gathered skirt

1 metre of this adorable Russian Doll polycotton for a bag! 

And finally...

2 metres of navy viscose and 1.5 metres of that awesome patterned viscose, for...yes, of course! The Deer and Doe Airelle Blouse. I'm planning on making one using the navy fabric with the printed viscose for the collar and sleeves, and vice versa for a second version.

Thank you Tilly, and Fabric Rehab, for the amazing material! I'll be sure to put it to good use :) 

Have a great couple of weeks. I'll try to hunt down a free Wi-Fi cafe in France to keep you updated with my fabric shop hunting progress, but no guarantees! See you in two weeks, and happy sewing :)

Beth x

Monday, 7 July 2014


Do you ever finish a sewing project, only to try it on and realise you've made a complete mess of it? I did, today. 

I had a spare day today and all the clothes I like to wear at the moment have been packed away for our upcoming holiday to France, so in my infinite (and questionable) wisdom, I decided to make another Sewaholic Cambie Dress to save me from my missing wardrobe crisis. 

I cut out all the pieces, I followed the instructions, I struggled with a wonky hem, but eventually the whole thing was put together and looked really nice. Pleased with myself, I skipped upstairs to try it on. 

What. A. Mess. 

Somehow, when I'd been lining up and pinning the bodice and skirt, I'd mistaken a dart on the front of the bodice for the bodice side seam, so the skirt side seam, pocket and all, ended up just a few inches off the centre of my stomach, a long way off being a side seam! Further to this, I'd unwittingly used a much smaller seam allowance when sewing the sleeves as suggested, so the bodice hung so low you could see the top of my bra. 

The utter disappointment I felt when I saw what silly mistakes I'd made was really disheartening, and I just left the dress on my fabric pile and went out to see my boyfriend instead. We met up with another friend of ours and had chips, which I've decided is a really good way to distract yourself if ever something sewing related goes wrong. 

After a few hours reflection and chance to calm down, I realised I will just have to carefully unpick the waistband, re-gather, and re-sew, this time in the right place, as well as unpick and re-do the sleeves to lift the whole bodice further up my bust. Before then though, I think I need a project that will actually go right! So tomorrow I'm going to make a simple waistcoat for my cousin, who has been after one for ages. I've used the pattern before and encountered no difficulties, so hopefully it should come together easily (fingers crossed!). 

For all of you crafters out there, I hope your projects run smoothly! :) 

Beth x

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Sewing Stash

Hey guys :)

I realised earlier today that I have been sewing for over seven months now, and got quite excited. In that time, I've managed to succumb to the obvious rookie mistake of making about 10 garments which I don't wear anymore, due to diving in with no experience, getting the fit all wrong and generally going off piste with my usual style and ending up feeling uncomfortable whilst wearing them. However, in between all the beginner mistakes, I've also managed to create clothes that I now love to wear, and feel so much nicer in them than their ready to wear equivalents. I feel a real sense of pride in what I do - people at school coming up to me saying 'Ooh, is that dress one of yours? It's nice', and 'We expect you to MAKE your prom dress Beth!' Their confidence in my ability to make a prom dress was really what pushed me to do it, and you know what? I got a lot of compliments :) 

Sewing is what I do now. I may not even do it well, I'm sure I never use 'proper' sewing techniques. But I love it. And this got me to thinking - should I have a fabric stash? 

It's said, on many of the sewing blogs I read, that even people who have only been sewing for a couple of months usually have a modest stash of material that they've collected over the course of their hobby. But that's the thing. I don't. 

In the eyes of many (probably those who have run out of space for their enormous stash of fabric!) this will probably be seen as a good thing. From what I hear, having a large stash of fabric is something that is never really admitted to in the world of sewing, viewed as something to be embarrassed of or to be kept secret. 

I can understand this, to a certain extent. Hoarding fabric which sits around unused is certainly wasteful, especially in our consumerist society where the production of these materials is hardly beneficial to human kind or our environment, but as a person who doesn't have a sewing stash at all, I can also see that having one may prove to bring just as many benefits as drawbacks. As selfish as this may seem, I admit I would love to be able to rifle through a box filled with the many sewing patterns I've collected, then head on over to pick the perfect material from my collection, before choosing the right notions to use. No trips to the market, no bus trips to Abakhan. Ahh, lovely. 

As good as that would be though, don't worry! That's not my reality. I have a pretty quick sewing output, so I normally find myself at the market once or twice a week minimim to pick up the metres of fabric I need for a specific project, along with any zips, interfacing and other notions needed. These then get used on whatever I've been planning, and when I want to make something else, I have to head back to the market again. I very, very rarely buy fabric without a project in mind, and it's even more rare for me to take more than a month to use any fabric sitting around. 

My sewing box is filled with about ten reels of thread, in various colours, most of which are only half full after being used for various projects, and I never have zips or buttons to hand. Everything I need comes from the market and then is used fairly soon after. Those ladies know me well! I enjoy this though. Being a regular visitor has enabled me to get to know the lovely people who supply me with the tools to do what I love. 

Here's the thing though: I can't carry on like this forever. I'm moving from my tiny English town over the border into Wales in the next couple of months to take a degree in Welsh History, and I have absolutely no idea what the fabric shopping situation is like over there. Will it be reasonably priced? Will the owners be friendly? Will they have everything I need? Will they be nearby? Will there be a shop AT ALL? I'm used to nothing being priced over £10 a metre, with £2 a metre polycotton available if I'm low on funds, so I know I'll be hard to please price wise. 

So. The time has come. 

I think I will have to start a bit of a fabric stash. Seven months is a long enough initiation period. Jars of zips and buttons, a box of fabric, a spool holder filled with thread and a folder full of patterns will have to be collated before I head off to Wales. Sewing has become such an important part of my life, I'm not letting it go just because there may be no affordable fabric shops near to my new home. I shall be prepared. Maybe not to the extent of my secret dream stash, but good enough to keep me going for a couple of months until I can get home to visit the trusty market! The best thing about this new stash in the making though, is that I know it will never reach a size where none of it gets used, helping me to keep a guilt free mind. 

So there we have it. Now all I have to do is find a way to afford all the fabric I know I'll need to keep me going with all my planned projects! 

How big is your sewing stash, please?

Beth x