I have a Leibster award darling, [not a lobster!] and worth far more!!

Oh I’m chuffed right now…happy, content, thrilled, delighted…but why? Well, I have many reasons for feeling like this and to be grateful for but this one is all mine…I have recently been nominated for a Leibster award!!

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I was nominated by the wonderful Laura over at Two In The Hand and like me, has not long set off along the crazy road that is sewing your own wardrobe! so a big ‘thank you’ to you Laura!!!

I have just celebrated my first year blogging, and it’s been a strange and exciting relationship I have with my blog…I’ve stop started with my sewing and been a bit despondent at times, and for all sorts of reasons, but now feel the I’m on the right path again towards making clothes I love and want to wear…which was what it was all about to start with!!

When I started blogging, I kept seeing these little images dotted around on the blogosphere, and wondered what it meant…truth be known, I didn’t really check it out…until now!

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So what does this award mean? Well, this is a blogging award given by bloggers to other newer bloggers…generally with a following of less than 300…answer some questions given to you by your nominator and nominate 3-5 bloggers of your choice…and ask them some questions…a kind of chain letter but without the bad vibes or threats that something bad will happen if you don’t accept it or pass it on! The award highlights new blogs and helps get them noticed, thereby increasing their audience! Every blogger’s dream I’d say! Im going to follow Laura’s format (as it were) so here goes !!!

My questions from Laura…..
What is your favourite sewing tool or accessory?
Hmm…it seems as though it’s been my seam ripper lately but I’d say my gorgeous little Baby Bow
scissors recently purchased from Merchant & Mills

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Do you listen to music or watch TV/films when you are sewing?
Oh I’m a huge radio listener…often it’s Friday’s and Sunday’s I sew the most so it’s either Radio 2 ‘Show tunes’ on a Sunday as a fave or Radio 6, particularly World Music…usually something on those stations

Who is your favourite designer or style icon?
Ooh…that’s tricky..it would mean me trying to define my own style and I’m not sure I’ve found it yet! However, it would have to be The Sex and the City girls!!! All of them at some point or another wear clothes to die for…vintage, avant garde, eclectic, tailored, colour…

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What is the garment you most want to conquer and sew a version of?
This would be a vintage style or actual vintage dress…basically a fitted bodice with zip and a full gathered or pleated skirt…and some sort of sleeve! This is my next challenge as I love these types of dresses…one or all of these….

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By Hand London Elisalex dress…

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Simplicity 2444…

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Christine Haynes Emery dress…

What blogs other than sewing ones are in your feed?
Pretty much crochet and knitting blogs!! I’m self taught with my crochet and improved no end and knitting is my next to master! Attic24 was where I started my crochet adventure and I follow all sorts of other crochet related blogs now!

So there you have it! Hopefully you know a little bit more about me now and would be keen to follow my progress… All that’s left for me to do now is nominate some of my own fave blogs for a Leibster award and ask them some questions…therefore I nominate the following…my lovelies you are nominated for a Leibster award!!!

1. Elizabeth at Sewn by Elizabeth love her vintage style dresses and fabric choices.
2. Alice at The Virtual Princess and the Pea again, another sewist with a fab taste in vintage style clothes and super fabrics as well as a rockin’ taste in footwear!
3. Lili at Frocks and Frou Frou Lili has a great style and sews all kinds of different styles and shapes of garment…she did a wicked vintage swimming costume!
4. Hanne at Een nieuwe jurk colour, style, dresses and a great taste in tights!
5. Ange at Clothed in Rubies vintage style dresses and tonnes of print and colour!

So there are my lovely bloggers I follow and wish to nominate….clearly they’re all more experienced than me but I kind of love the fact that I have found some blogs that have the style I aspire to!

Now the questions for my Leibster award nominees…
1. What is the the dress pattern you would recommend the most?
2. What’s the worst thing you have ever made and why?
3. If you could dress like any woman in history, who would it be?
4. Out of the four Sex and The City lead women, who would you be?
5. Where and what would your ultimate holiday be?

That’s it!! Can’t wait to hear your replies!!!

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Kate xxx

Polka dot Coco dress and she’s risking it with lace…

Ok, so she’s been a fair time in the making…but my Tilly and The Buttons Coco dress is finally completed and had her first outing yesterday, just in time for Easter…

The rain finally subsided and the sun came out, as did my daughter and the camera! My Coco took a bit longer than planned, largely, as always, due to time restraints…with my three children and their after school/evening activities and my work plus all the other stuff that gets in the way of sewing time…it’s grabbing minutes here and there! I had to re-draft some of the pattern to allow for the different top and bottom sizes! also made a few boobs which involved unpicking and starting again, and had a bit of a challenge getting my sleeves to fit…but I did it and am rather pleased with the result! I sourced a great large polka dot knit with minimal stretch from Ditto fabrics in Brighton, which I’m lucky to live not far away from! I knew nothing about knit fabric (well, I didn’t, but I do now!) and the fabric I chose was not quite what I thought it would be. It feels like it’s mainly a poly knit? soft on the inside but a tad in danger of being a bit shiny on the outside perhaps…..but then it doesn’t need ironing so that helps!

I’m totally new to knits and never sewn with them before and this pattern is aimed at people just like me so win, win!

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I was pleased with how I managed to lengthen the pattern with little difficulty and it worked!
Next came the tape for the shoulder seams…I didn’t have the proper elastic stay tape so used some ribbon I had instead as suggested in the pattern as an alternative.

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Tilly suggests attaching the funnel collar with the collar seam lined up with one of the shoulder seams on the dress. However, I decided to line up the collar seam so it was at the back of the dress, centrally…make sense?? to me, that was aesthetically more pleasing and avoided more bulk as the shoulder seam with the ribbon tape in the shoulder seams felt a little too bulky attaching the collar seam here. It worked well and when the funnel collar is folded over as you wear it, you can’t really see the seam.

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I have found that the collar does sort of ‘flop’ a bit when I’m wearing it…I’d possibly consider putting in interfacing in future to keep it more stiff and ‘standing’….it could be the fabric is a little too floppy or too heavy…hmmm…not sure, but I saw a Coco that Karen made and she used interfacing, although not for the same reason, but it gave me the idea that this could work to keep the collar stiffer.

I didn’t do the pockets because ideally I really wanted them in a contrast colour but couldn’t quite find what I was looking for so,rather than halt the make by having to find from another source, I left them out. Instead, I decided to experiment with some lovely chartreuse green stretch elastic I had in my stash…

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Does it work? well, getting it attached was the first hurdle…a stretch elastic to a stretch knit…challenge!!! but I did it! With the help and advice from some lovely sewists blogging friends (they’ll know who they are!) I attached using a zig zag for attaching elastic to fabric…I had a few practice runs and didn’t quite have the perfect match thread but it doesn’t look too bad! First I was going to trim the sleeve cuffs and then went the whole hog and decided to trim the hem of the skirt too! Not sure if the hem is too much…haven’t decided yet if I should keep or take it off, what do you think? but the overall effect is certainly different and that’s what I wanted!

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I think this is a lovely dress and pretty straightforward to make. I was SO pleased with my sleeves…it’s the first time I’ve made something with sleeves and probably a baptism by fire using a knit fabric for my first time! Putting them in did require a few attempts at re-pinning…I cut the same size sleeves as bodice but seemed to have too much ease on the bodice and not enough of the cap? of the sleeve to fit! despite all my notches matching! careful re-pinning using a lot of pins and gently easing and stretching the sleeve as I went, and bingo! The finished result was smooth and flat with not puckering and a perfect fit…wey hey!!!!

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I’m not sure if this dress is quite right for me…it’s so comfortable and warm and although I cut a size smaller for the bodice and graduated at the waist to the next size up for the skirt section, it still feels a little big around the bust…I’m not sure I was quite ready to manage altering the bust again with a knit yet, so left it. The dress looks so lovely on so many people I’ve seen post pics and I’m still trying to find the style and fit of a dress that suits me best…I think I prefer a more fitted bodice and fuller skirt for a dress, but that is my personal preference for my short waist and tubby middle! This is a lovey dress pattern and I love the whole 60’s A-line dress look, but perhaps not so much on me…

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This was a dress and make that taught me some new skills…

* I lengthened a dress pattern for the first time by adding an extra 2 inches as apparently this dress does come up quite short
* I re-drafted the bodice to waist to skirt size to fit me
* My first ever sleeves….panic over!!!!
* Sewing a stretch lace to a stretch knit fabric
* Sewing with a knit fabric

All in all I’m chuffed to bits with my achievement…and if you’re new to sewing with knits and considering it, then give this dress a go! Tilly’s accompanying pattern booklet and instructions are brilliant and super easy to understand…as always, with great pictures for guidance. I didn’t use her blog this time for help but honestly felt the tips and instructions in the booklet were ace and I didn’t need to refer to her blog; but it’s there if you need it.

And at the end of the day of her first outing, I rounded it off in true Easter style with some great chocolate Easter cake and a cup of tea…..

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Thanks for stopping by. It’d be great to hear what you think of my polka dot Coco!!

Kate x

It’s official…the Tilly and the Buttons Miette wrap skirt is finished!!

Ok peeps, here it is…a momentous achievement…my Tilly and the Buttons Miette wrap skirt completed, modelled and ready for the Big Reveal!!

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Now, first things first…anyone who has seen my twitter posts @thepolkadotroom or instagram thepolkadotroom (you get the idea) will have seen my recent ramblings recording my progress with this skirt…and slow it has been!!! There have been various reasons for that…largely time…and the fact it is winter, I have poor light where I sew (the kitchen table and I really need to invest in a proper daylight craft/sewing lamp), and I rather naively used black fabric…eek! as the light fades so too does my ability to see what I’m sewing..black thread on black fabric is nuts!! but I’ve done it and I’m a bit pleased with the end result…that and the fact I’ve learnt a lot about my sewing whilst doing so and a little bit more about me…

First though, let’s talk about this skirt…

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I debated over what fabric to use, initially thinking I’d go for linen, but then changed my mind as I couldn’t find anything that was a heavy duty linen (is that a technical term?!) and not wanting to wear a slip under this skirt, I ended up choosing a simple black cotton twill (at least I’m sure that’s what it said on the label!) As I had decided to do the pockets for the skirt (I mean, they are just lovely), I thought I’d go a bit ‘in for a penny in for a pound’ and line the pockets in a contrasting fabric…kerching!!! Love them!!!

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Pocket lining was black cotton with red stars..very cute..and thinking about it now, it would have been great to use it on the skirt ties as well. I then decided on following Tilly’s suggestion to try top stitching the pockets in a contrast colour thread…yeah baby…red, loud and proud!!

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Like it? Look, if you’re planning on making this skirt…go for the contrast pocket top stitching…just take your time and don’t rush it and it’ll be brill…this was the first time I’d used a decorative top stitch on my machine and I’m impressed with how effective it is…and this is on my little basic Husqvarna E20!

This pattern is suitable for beginners and I mean absolute beginners; it has no closures like zips or button holes…just the ties. This is the beauty of this skirt. The pdf printable pattern comes with a great step by step set of instructions you print off, great for sewists with some experience and for the total beginners or if you just want or love or both some pictorial guidance, you can follow beautifully illustrated step by step instructions on Tilly’s blog…it’s almost like you’re I’m a workshop with her! and if you still get stuck, just tweet or email her and she’ll help you…what a **sTaR** you are Tilly!!!

This really is a great, easy to follow pattern. I had a few hiccups,,which were nothing to do with the pattern or my not understanding the instructions but my choice of fabric…the cotton twill I chose was very very heavy duty!! and probably too much for this pattern…great for a pair of trousers (work trousers??) and I mean lumberjack’s trousers!! but quite hard work when sewing with this weight as the pattern does at certain points have several thickness of fabric to sew through…with a more sensible weight fabric such as linen or quilting fabric, it would be easier. Having said that, my dear Betty (my sewing machine’s pet name) coped well. There was a bit of unpicking and starting again, but then I have realised I am a bit of a perfectionist!!

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Here are some pics of the pockets….THOSE pockets…wicked! I apologise for the fact I appear to have stuffed my hands plus a few pounds of potatoes in them…why??? They do actually lie pretty flat normally but aren’t designed to lie totally flat against the skirt, in order that you can fill them up or store essentials…

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Oh yes…please excuse my hound!! My daughter was taking these photos of me outside our front door…she started laughing, which I thought was a bit rude as surely taking pics of me was not THAT funny? No, she said, you’ll see…and yes, it became apparent that my dawg decided to ‘photobomb’ (as my daughter called it), our photo shoot!! What with trying to avoid and smile at passing neighbours…I didn’t go for any retakes…so he stayed in them!! Real life…!!

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And then he tries to make a run for it over to my neighbours….honestly..never work with children or animals!!

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And then I have to coax him back in…

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The one thing I had the most tricky time with was the hem…not sure why…but it reminded me of parking…you get it wrong the first time and it’ll probably take you three attempts to get it right!! My hem was similar…unpicked in part, some of the hem, around 4 times…the thread snapped, the bobbin ran out (note to self…always check the bobbin love)….but got there in the end…the skirt pieces are curved at the bottom and for some reason, turning the hem up despite it being straight when pinned, seemed to end up gathering up as I started sewing!!! I just used a longer straight stitch width and pinned carefully, and went slowly and it was fine!

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I do not have an overlocker….and I so desire one…but I have to settle for the good old overlocking stitch on my machine, which I think gave a pretty good finish…

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So there we have it…my lovely Miette wrap skirt!! I’m so pleased with the result.
What have I learnt along the way? That I am quite a diligent sewer…I prefer to take my time and get it right, even if it means unpicking and starting something again! I love the feeling of being methodical…it suits me. It ‘zones’ me out…calms me and helps me focus….I do a pretty stressful and emotional day job that quite honestly can drain me…sewing just grounds me. People from all walks of life love to sew. It surely must be for some of the same reasons I have mentioned. Yes, it can be frustrating when things go a bit wrong…but even if you end up with something that you’re not sure you’ll wear (hopefully rare!) the fact is, that for me, the process of making can be rewarding enough..there’s progress there, there really is.

Also, when it comes to photographing the finished item, I have started to relax with seeing myself in my finished garment and feeling more comfortable actually being photographed. I’m not a perfect 10, far from it, you can see that…but I am really not keen on having my photo taken, let alone a full body shot! What I love about sewing, is seeing people of all different shapes and sizes taking photos of themselves in the clothes they’ve made and looking so proud…it’s started to make me feel more comfortable with myself and body image and stop looking at my flaws…it probably sounds quite cheesy..but there you are..through blogging and looking at other people’s blogs and photos, I’ve started to feel a whole new confidence because of them..so thank you all you wonderful sewing bloggers!

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Oh, and not forgetting my number one fan…Mutley

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Have you found blogging has helped with your self image and confidence?
Until next time…

p.s. having just looked through the pre post blog preview I’ve noticed the photos are a bit small…should have done them larger…oh well…you can click on them and that should make them a little bigger…too fiddly to go back and change now..but I’ll remember for next time!! I think.,,
Kate x

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Ooh…what’s in the bag honey?

This week I had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful East Sussex town of Rye. I’m lucky enough to live not far away and guess what? it just so happens that the fabulous Merchant & Mills have their home there! what to do but pay a visit….

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What a wonderful place…it’s like stepping back in time to a working Sheffield cloth factory….a large open space, bright and airy and you can hear the whirring of machines from behind the shop counter.
So what is in the bag?

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Well, beautifully wrapped in tissue paper came a gorgeous dinky pair of Baby Bow scissors…

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All Merchant & Mills shears and scissors are made in Sheffield and are of amazing quality and I can see myself investing in a pair of tailor’s shears just as soon as I can!
I also bought this lovely tape measure…

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I only seem to own cheap tape measures and I realised the difference a good quality one feels like…this one is almost rubber like in texture and feel and ‘Made in Germany’ yay! not China for a change (no offence) but often made as cheaply as possible for a mass market drastically reduces quality.

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A beautiful little box (one of many varieties they sell) of traditional glass headed dressmaking pins…

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And a tailor’s chalk pencil as well as this wonderful pack of 9 ‘Sewing Thoughts’ post cards…can’t wait to get a frame to home these lovelies….

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It did occur to me what a great present for a sewist friend you could put together from the huge choice of accessories the shop stocks. You should have seen the beautiful handmade patterned cotton bias binding!! There are kits for oilcloth bags, dress patterns (all designed by Carolyn herself) and the choice of beautiful linens, wools, silk fabric is breathtaking!
So if you haven’t, do take a look at their website or blog or even better, take a trip to beautiful historic Rye, it’s also very near to Camber sands and Hastings so lots to see and do for everyone! and if you do get to visit the shop, you might even come away with your own little bag of goodies!

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Have a lovely weekend whatever you’re up to!
Kate x

*please note; I was not asked to do a review of the shop, it was just my own opinion and experience of my visit there*

Completed!! Burda summer linen dress – Burda 7796

Oh it finally happened….I completed the linen dress I posted about an eternity ago!! Thanks to the gorgeous summer we have been having, I’ve even managed to wear it…whoop! whoop!

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Burda pattern 7796

Please excuse the awful photo!! It’s the first time I’ve ever posted a picture of me and in something I’ve made! It was also taken by my 10 year old son on my camera phone!! It’s linen, so boy, does it look creased…oh well, it can’t be helped!

This is a dress of “firsts” because, it’s the first item of clothing I’ve completed.

It’s the first time I have made my own bias binding…

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…and the first time I’ve made a sleeveless bias bound armhole…. (*not sure if that makes sense) and I’m actually quite pleased with how well the bias on the armhole matched up with the side seam….yeah!

It’s the first time I’ve ever made gathers!! Just look…how proud am I?!

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It’s the first time I’ve ever made a handmade thread eye!! Took me two attempts but I’m rather proud of my teeny tiny blanket stitch! And look at my little vintage button too….

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It’s not perfect….but it’s so pretty and has lasted a wash or two…

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I’ve learnt such a lot from making this dress…my wonderful buy, Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing has been invaluable in helping me work through some of my more “challenging” moments, and there’s been a few!! Do you remember the clanger I made when I slashed through the front of the dress (in two pieces = epic fail), when it should have been one piece!! Oh I was so angry with myself…but I managed to salvage it…see the tiniest seam I managed to get away with to put it back together?

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I finished the hem with some red cotton tape…well, it kind of links with the red button!! I like it, it’s quirky, I think.

And the fit?

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Hmm, well, it’s a bit small round the shoulders….the bust fit is fine, but the bodice around the armholes is a bit narrow? short? I’m not sure what it is really as I’m simply not experienced enough to put my finger on it but the neckline at the back seems too high, though the front looks fine….

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The back has a little slit in it at the neckline (held together with the button and loop closure) and this came together very neatly…

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I don’t have an overlocker, so used the overlock stitch on machine for the first time!! worked quite well….though I had a few practice attempts first…how do you decide how close to the edge to stitch?? Still not sure I got this right, I just went with what I thought looked about right!

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Trying to be as neat and tidy as possible…

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It’s not the most figure flattering dress…reminds me a bit of something out of “Annie” but it’s very comfortable and cool in this hot weather and I’ve had a lot of compliments about it. It’ll do me as a summer staple, and it feels quite expensive on because of the colour and fabric type….linen works quite well like that. So overall I’m very pleased! It’s given me a confidence boost despite being quite a stressy dress to make! I’m not sure it’s an ideal beginners dress as there’s quite a lot of fiddly bits to make and the instructions threw me a bit! However, I’m planning my next dress and I feel this has paved the way well for (I’m hoping) a better second project….do remember I’m a complete beginner!
Tah dah!!!

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And the name “Brittany” dress….it was meant to be finished for my France holiday but never was…it became a bit of a joke in this house so it’s the Brittany dress that never was…maybe next year…!!

What do you think? Is linen an ‘easy’ fabric to sew with? Is it an ideal ‘beginners’ dress?

🍒