Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Hacked Sewaholic Renfrew #3

Hello everyone! 

Today I'm here to share with you my most recently finished make - yes, it's another Sewaholic Renfrew dress! 

Sewing with knits is becoming somewhat of an addiction for me; it's just so satisfyingly quick and easy. The way the sleeves are attached flat with the Renfrew means there's no fiddling with set-in sleeves, and the whole process feels a lot neater. 

I did encounter a bit of a tension problem with the neck band - I didn't pull it taut enough as I was sewing and there was a lot of gaping, but adding two small darts in the back neckline helped enormously. 

The fabric is a cosy ponte de roma that I scored off Ebay about a year ago. It was originally intended for a Tilly and the Buttons Coco top with a funnel neck, but my wardrobe's demand for dresses altered its purpose. There was only a metre, so I really had to squeeze everything on - the neck band had to be cut in two halves (hence the problem with the gaping - I lined up the two seams with the shoulder seams, but as there is much more neck band supposed to attach to the front scoop rather than the high back neckline, I was left with a lot of excess neck band in the back!) 

Neck band issues aside, I am really pleased with the finished dress and can't wait to wear it come autumn and winter! I chose to crop the sleeves so that it can be more of a versatile piece, worn on its own in the warmer days of early autumn, and then with a chunky woollen cardigan when the colder days of winter arrive. 

How are your sewing adventures going? I'd love to see! 

As always, thank you for reading,

Beth x

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Colour Blocked Colette Astoria

Hello all!

Today is the last post in my summer sewing blog series, though in actual fact I've finished yet another project this week, so keep your eye out for that one! 

For this make, I used the Colette Astoria sweatshirt pattern from Seamwork Magazine. I'm not a subscriber, but I keep my eye on which patterns are released each month and if one takes my fancy, I buy it individually. 

The Astoria definitely took my fancy - this is my third, made using a combination of the cosy sweatshirt knits from my previous two, both of which were from Guthrie and Ghani. I cut the main body and hem band from my cream fabric, whilst the sleeves and neck band were cut from the navy. Luckily, the pattern isn't fabric hungry at all, using less than a metre for the whole sweatshirt. 

From start to finish, it didn't take any more than two hours to complete this project - such a satisfying sew! I know this will become a real wardrobe staple once autumn and winter arrive. I didn't encounter any problems, and am now feverishly hunting through the depths of the internet for more delicious sweatshirt knits. If you're looking to sew up the Astoria any time soon, be warned - I think it's addictive! 

The waist length hem suits all my handmade dresses and skirts, giving everything a lovely vintage vibe. I'd love one in burgundy...if anyone can link me to a suitable fabric, I'd be forever grateful! 

If you've stuck with me for all seven posts, a huge thank you and congratulations for reaching the finishing line with me. Now tell me, how is your summer sewing going, and have you begun to switch your focus to autumn wear yet? 

Have a fabulous week everyone, 

Beth x

Tuesday, 18 August 2015


Hello all, 

Just a quick one to note that Blogger had a bit of a strop earlier, which resulted in my post about my By Hand London Flora Dress being deleted. I've republished the post now, but any comments left on there also got deleted - for those of you lovely readers who did leave comments, I promise I did read them and had replied to them before they disappeared! 

I'm sorry for the mishap and thank you all for sticking with me :)

Happy sewing! 

Beth x

Floral Flora

Hello all! 

I'm here today with my first version of the By Hand London Flora dress - it's no secret that I love a good BHL pattern! 

The skirt drafted for this pattern is a beautiful thing to behold. With two box pleats in the back and two knife pleats in the front, there is so much fabric tied up in there to create a swirly, twirling loveliness! It seems to hold itself away from my body without the need of a petticoat, achieving in one fell swoop what I've been trying to do with gathering for a year now. 

The fabric is a red cotton floral which I picked up at Abakhan in Chester. As priced, it came to just over £10 for two metres, but in reality I paid less than that as the staff were nice enough to give me a student discount. 

Once sewn up, I thought the waistline looked a little frumpy. I like the look of short bodices and hate if they sit anywhere below my natural waistline. As a consequence, I ended up unpicking the zip and the skirt to chop a few inches off the bodice. One day I'll learn to make a toile... I just don't have the patience! However, once everything was reattached I liked the result a lot better than the original, so the extra work was worthwhile. 

Aside from the waistline issues, I didn't come across any other problems with this dress. Next time I would probably hem a little longer, just to be on the safe side, but the current length is fine as long as I wear tights! 

I have some fabric lined up for my second version of the Flora, it's just the decision to either stick with the square neckline, or go with the faux wrap version instead. Any thoughts? 

Overall, I'm really happy with my new dress and am looking forward to autumn when my handmade dresses see the most use, worn with thick, cosy tights. 

Two more posts to come in my summer sewing documentation! Tomorrow is another BHL pattern, the Elisalex, so check back then! 

Thank you for reading, 

Beth x


Hello everyone! How are you all?  

With September rapidly approaching and my return to university in chilly Wales imminent, my summer sewing has come to an end for the year, and instead I've turned my attention to garments that would be better suited to autumn and winter wear. 

With this in mind, I'd like to share with you a project which I am super excited to wear once autumn finally arrives! It's not just me dreaming of chunky boots and cosy tights right? 

This is a skirt hack of the Elisalex from By Hand London, made in a gorgeous patterned needlecord that I picked up from John Lewis well over a year ago. It is so comfy! 

In my infinite wisdom, I'd used some of this fabric to make a sleeveless, very ill-fitting top as a beginner sewer (what was I thinking?). As I'd only had a metre to begin with, this left very little fabric to cut the skirt from - just over half a metre at the most. To get the pattern pieces to fit, I had to cut the waistband in two parts and shaved off a couple of centimentres from the skirt side seams that go on to make the pronounced tulip shape. Because of this, the skirt isn't quite as full in the hips as drafted, but I am in love with the finished result! 

To create my skirt, I made up the Elisalex skirt pattern pieces as drafted (though I significantly shortened them before cutting from my fabric), then instead of attaching a bodice I simply attached a waistband, which I'd cut to correspond to my measurements plus a seam allowance. Then I inserted a back zip as instructed. 

Ooh, yes, and there are pockets! I borrowed the pocket pattern piece from the Sewaholic Cambie and cut them from a basic black lining fabric, which I also used to fully line the rest of the skirt so it can be easily worn with tights. 

Since sewing my first Elisalex skirt, I've been on a trip down to London where I picked up a metre each of burgundy and navy needlecord, and a metre of floral needlecord from Liberty London! 

Since its purchase I've been getting it out at regular intervals to stare at, but I know exactly what all my new fabric is destined for - more Elisalex skirts! I've realised what a fantastic wardrobe staple they can become, and know I'll be set up for a winter in Wales if I add a couple more to my closet. 

I also managed to get to the Victoria and Albert Museum when in London, somewhere I've always wanted to go, and as well seeing a gorgeous exhibit on fashion through the ages, I also found this: 

A tiny, single case on home sewing before 1900, containing a single hand operated sewing machine and other small items like knitting needles, beautiful thimbles and a heart shaped sewing kit. 

I had such a fantastic day out and am really looking forward to getting started on the rest of my winter wardrobe. Before then though, I have my final make of this summer to share with you, so tune in again tomorrow to see my third Colette Astoria sweater! 

Until then, happy sewing :) 

Beth x

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Muse Jenna Cardi

Hello again! 

You're probably getting sick of my relentless summer sewing project updates by now, but I have unashamedly returned to share my first ever sewn cardigan - Jenna from Muse Patterns. 

My finished piece is by no means perfect, but I love it nonetheless! I used a beautiful lilac jersey from Guthrie and Ghani, which although may be a tad bit on the heavy side for this project, was perfect for my first attempt as it wasn't too fiddly and drapey to work with. 

As you can see in the photo above, the hem band doesn't quite line up either side of the button band, but I'm not quite sure why! I suspect I should have a put a button directly in line with the hem band seams, to match them each side of the placket. For my next version I will try to match it up more carefully. 

The pattern has a lot of options - for my version, I chose waist length with three quarter length sleeves and no gathering at the yoke. I like the way it turned out, but with summer sewing coming to an end, I think if I attempt this pattern again within the next few months, I would make a hip length, long sleeved version. 

The buttons I used are so cute! Little shiny blue ones that my mum bought me from Cath Kidston. I've been waiting for well over a year for the perfect project to use them on! Since I upgraded to a machine with an automatic buttonhole feature, I've learned to love buttons, and they've started to make an appearance on many of the garments I sew. 

Jenna also looks nice unbuttoned, which is my usual preference for cardigans (and doesn't draw as much attention to the wonky hem band!). I topstitched the hem band, neck band and button bands in a small zip zag stitch, which I think adds a lovely decorative touch. 

For my first attempt at a project of this nature, I am really pleased at how it turned out. I can definitely see this cardigan working its way into my regular wardrobe rotation, hopefully seeing me through to at least early October before I put it away till the spring. 

Tomorrow I'll be blogging about my By Hand London Flora, so feel free to come and join me again then! 

Thank you for following along, and happy sewing :) 

Beth x

Friday, 14 August 2015

Foxy Holly

Hello everyone! 

Day 3 of my summer sewing documentation here - only four to go! Today I want to share with you my dress hack of the By Hand London Holly. The pattern is drafted as a jumpsuit, but with a few modifications it now has a gathered skirt. 

Arghhhh, the buttons! I may have an automatic button hole feature on my machine now, but I still had to stitch on all twelve buttons by hand. I know some sewers take joy in handstitching, but it's never really been my strong point. However, once finished, it can't be denied what a statement they are! 

To create the skirt, I simply cut a rectangle of fabric, added the button placket and attached it to the bodice - being sure to line up the plackets of the bodice and skirt really carefully! I was debating whether to leave the sleeves off for a truly summer dress, but decided against it in the end. However, I'm now wondering whether to go back and take them off again. What do you think? 

I've made the bodice of the Holly twice now, and it's come up small both times, despite me cutting out the correct size to correspond to my measurements. I'm not sure why this would be, but going back to let out the side seams solved the problem. 

Do you like the fabric I used? I found it at my local market and thought the pattern was just too cute for words! At first glance it looks like the fabric is just covered in foxes and trees, but on closer inspection there are little squirrels, owls and rabbits too! Definitely twee, but I like it. 

With the fitting issues, pattern hack and endless buttons, this was a pretty challenging project, but I enjoyed the way it stretched my skills. I often wonder if I'm making enough progress as a sewer, but just recently I've been trying new techniques that I feel are helping me to improve. Buttonholes are just one of these! I've also been practicing my pleating. 

Once finished, I wasn't 100% if this dress was for me - there's something about the Holly bodice that I don't think quite suits me, but I liked the process of making the dress all the same, and it has seen a couple of days wear this summer. Perhaps by next summer I will have warmed to it a bit more. 

Tune in tomorrow to read about my Muse Patterns Jenna Cardi! 

Until then, happy sewing :) 

Beth x

Summery Sewaholic Renfrew

Hello again! 

As promised yesterday, I want to share with you my second Sewaholic Renfrew dress. The pattern itself is for a comfy, staple knit top - but we all know I can't resist a dress! 

I used a gorgeous sky blue jersey fabric for this dress, which has a LOT of drape to it. Due to this, I think, there's some wrinkling going on around the neckline, but I think the finished dress looks pretty all the same. 

As with my last Renfrew dress, I simply shortened the bodice and attached a gathered rectangle of fabric to create the skirt. Originally, I was going to add patch pockets, but I couldn't get them to sit right alongside the gathers of the skirt, so I gave up on the idea in the end. I also chose the shortest sleeve option, to make this dress suitable for summer wear. 

When I first started sewing, it never really occurred to me to sew anything other than woven cotton fabric. However, I've got several knit projects under my belt now and am definitely a convert. Something about jersey seems to achieve a professional looking finish; my knit garments always seem to be the ones my boyfriend fails to notice I've made myself - good enough, he declares, to have been shop bought. I take this as a compliment! 

Overall, I am really pleased with this make and know that I am not finished with the Renfrew yet. I'd love to make a top version in a stripy fabric! 

Two projects in, I still have five to document! Join me again tomorrow as I share my By Hand London Holly dress hack. 

As always, thank you for reading,

Beth x

Treasure Trove Shorts

Hello! How are you all?

You've probably noticed it's been a bit quiet on the blog recently, and the truth is because I just haven't been bothered to photograph any finished projects! However, I've spent a good portion of today getting changed countless times to document them all, so stay tuned this week as I have seven (seven!) finished garments to show you. 

I'm going to blog them in chronological order, starting with the oldest, which means up first is a pair of BHL Holly shorts! 

Do you remember the bagfuls of fabric that were given to me by a family friend a few months ago? These shorts are the first project I've made using that fabric. I don't have a shorts pattern in my stash, so instead I chose to use the trouser pattern pieces of the By Hand London Holly, where I shortened the trouser legs and added a waistband. Voila, shorts! 

They're so comfy and cool, perfect for the summer weather. I also love how highwaisted they are - I can't bear anything sitting on my hips. Luckily they fit really well straight out of the packet, so I didn't have to make any fitting adjustments and they are sitting comfortably. 

The fabric is...quirky! I like the vibrant colours and pattern. It looks on the photos as if the legs have been hemmed to different lengths, but for some reason all my shorts, even ready to wear ones, look like this! Perhaps it's caused by the way I stand? Anyway, they are hemmed to equal lengths, don't worry! 

It was hard to pick which colour zip to use, but I eventually settled on a pale yellow to not stand out too much. It's inserted in the left side seam. The instructions suggested an invisible zip, but as I am still yet to buy an invisible zip foot for my machine, they never go in as neatly as I'd like! Instead, I chose an ordinary zip which does the job just as well. 
They fit well around the back as well! I had heard that shorts and trousers can be difficult to fit, but luckily I didn't encounter many problems with this pattern. 
All in all, I'm really pleased with these summer shorts, and am looking forward to making a second pair (though I may wait until next year as the summer weather seems to have all but vanished). 
Thank you for reading, and please join me again tomorrow as I share my Sewaholic Renfrew dress hack! 
Beth x

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Fashion on the Ration

Hello everyone! 

Yesterday I went on a trip down to London with two of my friends from uni, where we visited a fantastic exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, Fashion on the Ration. 

The core theme of the exhibition was how fashion survived and even flourished under the strict wartime rationing of WW2. 

I learnt that during the war over a quarter of the British population were entitled to wear a uniform, which varied in appearance depending on which service you volunteered for. The Women's Royal Naval Service drew the most popularity amongst female signups due to it's smart uniform of navy blue suit and proper stockings! This was seen to be far more fashionable than the thick green jumper and brown cord trousers which were provided for members of the Women's Land Army. There was even some jealousy amongst members of the British Army when they learnt that American soldiers had a smarter uniform! 

Despite the war, women were encouraged to keep up appearances, as it was thought this would help keep up morale. Beetroot juice could be splashed on the lips to add colour if you couldn't afford lipstick, whilst some women painted their legs with gravy in replacement of stockings! 

It was also really interesting to learn about how the government coped with shortages - stocks of cotton and wool fell by 80% during the war. As a consequence, clothing styles had to be severely limited. The minimum amount of fabric possible was used to make garments, which included cutting down on features like pockets, tucks, pleats and trouser turn-ups. People were encouraged to 'make do and mend', and whilst a lot of the official advice on this matter was dismissed by most women, they nonetheless found ingenious, inventive ways to make the most out of old garments. 

Though it worries me that if I'd grown up in this time, I would almost certainly have lost family members and friends as a result of war, I think the way people pulled together in a time of need was a better way of living. If we, as a nation, were ever to experience something like this again, would we uncomplainingly make the same sacrifices? I somehow doubt it. Despite the rationing, the bombs and the deaths of loved ones, the British population somehow managed to find a way to make it through the war in high spirits, making the most of everything they had. That sense of togetherness is something we lack in modern day society. 

I also think that we can learn something from the way women were treated during the war. Today, thanks to the closing gender gap, I often get the impression women feel like they have to be less feminised in order to succeed. However, during the war females could go out to work, whilst at the same time encouraged to remain women. It was accepted that although they wore lipstick and floral headscarves and corsets and stockings, women could do a fantastic job of keeping the country going whilst its  men were at war. Although feminism is, of course, a good thing, women should remember that it isn't about becoming men, it's about gaining equality to men in spite of our differences. We can have children AND work, we can wear lipstick AND run our own businesses. We can be feminine AND good at our jobs. 

At the end of the exhibition I was drawn into the gift shop, which was rather too tempting to resist! I came away with a book on the history of Make Do and Mend, the Ultimate Trousers sewing pattern from Sew Over It (I can't wait to give this a go!), a gorgeous bag and a pair of scissor earrings! 

Overall, I was really impressed with the exhibition and would definitely recommend a visit, but hurry as it is closing August 31st! 

Have you been to Fashion on the Ration? What did you think? 

Beth x