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

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This is progress, I’m sure it is…

HaPpY nEw YeAr!!!!

Is this a bit late? well, that’s not unlike me…hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year…so now it’s business as usual. Many of you may already have returned to work but for me that’s tomorrow (the joys of working term time only!) and the ankle biters are back at school too! It’s been all last minute ‘hunt the PE kit’ in the house today.

Having only recently made the promise to myself (NYR) aka New Year Resolution…to knuckle down and actually make those clothes I so want to this year, I’ve not got much to show and tell, other than projects on the go or in the pipeline!

So, without further ado, here are a few….

Crochet
My adorable children, 1,2 & 3, bought me some yarn for Christmas…I’ve made a lovely chunky headband for my eldest with one of the balls of yarn and now her friend (in the Netherlands) wants one…so have chosen this Barbe à Papa of a yarn (French for Candyfloss don’t you know!) as she loves baby pink! Excuse the terrible photo quality as it’s so dark all the time…

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Almost finished it but need an extra ball of yarn for the last piece!! So annoying as my daughter’s worked with the one ball!!

But look at what I have to use to
crochet with…

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What a wonderful Christmas present!! A full set of hooks all the way up to a size 10 in a gorgeous red aluminium…my favourite to crochet with…and in a polka dot case!!! I was thrilled with this!

My Anna dress toile is making slow but good progress, but as yet I’ve no fabric for the real one…I thought I had but it wasn’t enough…boo! So I need to choose something. In the meantime, I’ve started on my Miette Wrap skirt from the lovely Tilly and The Buttons…

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It took me a while to piece the printed pattern pieces together as I’ve not done this before but it weirdly was quite enjoyable!! I’ve got some great fabric so watch this space……

I made another of Tilly’s fake fur collar for another friend, which is her free downloadable pattern available here
•**•free pattern•**• and is super easy…actually need to make mine!!!

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Again, please excuse the picture quality…even with the flash on it’s so dark in my house at the moment!

The last project in my queue is my Simplicity 2451 skirt that I’ve just found some material from my stash to use. I love this skirt! Well, at least on everyone else I’ve seen it on it looks gorgeous…I’m hoping that I’ve not got some warped sense of thinking it’ll look good on me like it does on other women…will have to see! I’ve got a suitable zip but am now considering one in a different colour for a slightly more unusual look…if you like that exposed zip in a contrast colour thing, which I do!

So, I have quite a bit to be getting on with for now…and somewhere, somehow, in between working, three school children and their homework, after school clubs, taxi service, rabbits, dog etc etc…I will make time to sew!!! Even if it’s the odd hour here or there, I’ve promised myself this year…because sewing makes me very content..yes, it can be frustrating…but learning a new skill and making something is progress…rewarding, relaxing and with a great sense of satisfaction. I’m dedicating my Friday day off work to giving myself at least an hour of sewing time…stuff the hoovering!! I’ll take over the kitchen for a bit of self indulgence.

How often do you get to sew? do you have a dedicated sewing space?

So here’s to a positive start to 2014…chin! chin!

Kate x

Make a fake fur collar!! Fluffy love!

Hello and a very HaPpY cHriStMaS!!!!

This is a short post but one that may just solve your absolute last minute Christmas present dilemma!!! Oh yeh, read on…..

Thank you to the lovely Tilly Walnes, tillyandthebuttons.com @tillybuttons for giving us this•*•*•free pattern•*•*• for her easy peasy fake (fur) collar….

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Here is Tilly’s gorgeous collar….

And here is my version….

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This was for my lovely friend Sarah…and she loved it!!!!

Here she is wearing it….

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Cute heh?

I didn’t go with the slinky lining and instead used some left over red cotton gingham from my stash as my friend loves the stuff! The pattern uses a hook and eye to close it but I went with some gorgeous polka dot red ribbon! Very Christmassy!

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This was a super easy pattern to follow with Tilly’s fab picture tutorial to follow…warning: there’s a whole lotta fluff!!
So if you’re looking for a last minute present to make, give it a go!!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 🎄
Kate xxx

The Anna dress…sew excited there’s a Sewalong a coming!!

Ok, first, my apology….I have been so quiet….neglected my blog, I know…this is not wise. In truth, the summer holidays are 6 weeks of a large degree of chaos, lack of routine and generally family life turned upside down! We have not long returned from a holiday in beautiful Brittany, France. It takes such an effort to get back to some degree of ‘normal’ after being away.

I took some crochet and hooked and bumbled my way in calm and peace, by the sea, outside my tent, sitting in the sun….who could ask for more? Pics of one of my completed projects to follow…

I finally completed my dress (post to follow) a huge achievement! In the meantime I’ve seen this just arrive in my inbox….

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For those who may not know….this is the beautiful Anna dress from By Hand London….. and guess what….there’s a Sewalong!!!!

I recently bought the pattern after seeing a Handmade Jane version….gorgeous…..and also Lizzy’s version of the midi Anna Blue at Sew Busy Lizzy and let’s not forget the lovely Lauren at Lladybird her silk sexy thigh high split maxi version is hot hot hot let me tell you!

Take a look at these gorgeous ladies’ versions….inspiring!

I’ve NEVER participated in a Sewalong so I’m definitely going to join this….my first one! This dress is being raved about and rightly so! Here’s the link to the Sewalong that starts in September, so there’s time to buy your pattern and supplies!

http://byhandlondon.com/topics/anna-dress-sewalong/

Will you be joining in? Have you already made the Anna dress?

Would love to hear if you have!

Burda Summer Linen Dress “sew easy” sew what went wrong? or in the words of my children….”epic fail!”

HELP NEEDED PLEASE!!!!

Friday started well. My day off, and I had promised myself to allow myself 2 hours to cut out and make a start on the linen dress that I have been harbouring a pattern for…for ages!!

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I had chosen some lovely grey linen and some rather random buttons of which I only needed one but have yet to decide on which one….

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I spent time, a lot of time, carefully pressing the linen (which quickly proves to be a waste of time!) but that’s linen for you…..laying out fabric, pattern pieces and finally cutting….

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This is where it all goes wrong!!!!!
I have to wait until today to start to sew….I’ve transferred pattern markers with thread, removed my first pattern piece from the back of the dress and then horror strikes!!!!! Oh my ****! expletive, expletive! I cannot believe what I am looking at…..

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I have cut the wrong pattern piece on the fold!!!!!!
So, now, I am stumped….I have managed not to cry but I am stuck and so angry with myself. How, just how did I do this?? I’m no great seamstress, but I’ve never done this before.
This is where I could really do with some help please!!
The front of the dress should have been cut on the fold and the back in two pieces….I have done the reverse!!! The back of the dress as you can just make out in the pattern black and white picture has a seam straight up the middle just to where it meets a small opening to allow for buttoning it up to slip over your head. I can cut the back piece in two I’m sure with no problem, but the front? This should be cut on the fold so one front piece and is gathered at the neckline in the middle to form some pretty folds (?) If I seam up the middle to rejoin the fabric, will this not totally throw out the gathers/folds and look incredibly strange with a seam up the middle?!! I can’t think of any other way because I’m such a basic sewer…..if anyone has any ideas or advice I would be so grateful!!!! It’ll either be ok or just look plain odd, there’s not much to lose I guess as I’ve already spoilt it. I’m so gutted….and I was hoping to wear this to a job interview on Friday!!! I am going to return to my crochet project….at least I can unpick any mistakes!
Just total pants. K x

My Colette ‘Laurel’ dress pattern has arrived and it’s looking good!!!

It’s arrived!! I’ve taken the plunge after reading so many glorious reviews for the ‘Laurel’ dress by Colette, I decided to buy it and make my own………

The Laurel dress by Colette

The Laurel dress by Colette

It’s not just the dress that looks to be a gorgeous design…oh no, the pattern and instruction booklet is a work of art in itself and like nothing I’ve seen before!! Just look at what you get…….

Pattern book back page

Pattern book back page

For those of you new to Colette patterns (like me), I’ll explain why I’m so impressed……I had no idea how the pattern was packaged and presented….imagine my surprise when I opened the package and out popped this wonderful ‘booklet’ style pattern instructions and paper pattern (you can get downloadable versions I understand). Being a total newbie to independent pattern designers and companies, this was such a welcome change. Having recently decided to start sewing again, clothes I mean, I’ve spent a lot of time lately pouring over what patterns are out there….usually in a shop and looking at Burda, McCalls and Simplicity for example. I was quite shocked at how much these patterns cost now…..£8.00 plus!! I don’t always feel the choice is that great and find that a lot of these patterns have at times, quite a lot of unhelpful information in them, sometimes, not greatly proof read either! However, these are not to be scoffed at as there’s some fab designs out there. Yet, I can find it quite frustrating the way they’re laid out or can use sewing terms I’m not familiar with! (such as with an American pattern) I like simple, I like well laid out…something a lot of these patterns are not, and that just means I’m thinking ‘complicated’ before I’ve even picked up a pair of scissors!!

Enter Colette patterns!! Presented in the lovely booklet form, with well laid out instructions, tips and definitions of terms used etc…. like this….

Laurel pattern 'tips' example page

Laurel pattern ‘tips’ example page

and this…..

Laurel pattern 'definition' example page

Laurel pattern ‘definition’ example page

An example of how the pattern helps you with some of the terminology used…. How about that then heh?? There’s even a ‘notes’ section at the back of the booklet for making your own, well, notes!! see…….

'Notes' page in the Laurel pattern booklet

‘Notes’ page in the Laurel pattern booklet

I think that is so thoughtful and even more useful! and the pattern itself is tucked in it’s own back pocket as you can see from the pic above.

There’s help on customising your own fit……

Custom fit guide in the Laurel pattern booklet

Custom fit guide in the Laurel pattern booklet

Now you can see why I think this pattern is so lovely? I had no idea! Clearly I still have to make the dress but as a beginner/advanced beginner (lapsed), it makes a huge difference if I feel more confident after looking at a pattern rather than…err, what was the word?? that’s it…confused!!

To top this off (as if it really could be topped off), the lovely Susan from http://www.sewbox.co.uk/ is including a free gift with all pattern orders in June AND entry to a prize draw for a copy of the Great British Sewing Bee book! and this was MY free gift……

Turquoise heart buttons from Sewbox

Turquoise heart buttons from Sewbox

Aren’t they divine?? turquoise heart buttons. I love collecting buttons….what would you use these for I wonder??

I’ll keep you posted with progress on my dress!

Hope you all enjoy a glorious sunny weekend whatever you’re up to??!!
Kate x

Sew a little happines :: sunshine makes :: needle case

The weather has been so beautiful the last few days…just perfect bank holiday sunshine. However, I felt my sewing machine calling me and I decided to start getting on with making a summer top….photos to follow once finished and approved! It involved far more preparation than I had thought….I think it took me around 2 hours just to set everything up, machine, ironing board, laying everything out on the table, ironing the pattern and fabric, pinning and cutting out…phew! as they say…it’s all in the preparation!!

The sun has been beaming into my front room filling the place with warmth and how lovely to not have to have the heating on! hooray! The dog has enjoyed finding his rightful place stretched out on the carpet enjoying the rays….it’s a hard life Muts!

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I love the way the sunlight catches our little mirror mobile….the reflection casts tiny patches of sunlight all over the sitting room which my youngest always says looks like fairies!

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Ok, so there’s a little artistic licence with the camera work and editing but it seems so pretty I had to share it!

The title of this post is ‘sew a little happiness’ and I wanted to share with you some of my more smaller sewing makes, which I have given as a gift…hence the sew a little happiness theme.

Needle case

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This was made for a lovely friend who has just recently discovered the joys of sewing…I just embellished with some ribbon trim and velvet ribbon loop for the button closure.

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blue needle case back

And here’s one I made earlier….

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I do apologise for the wonky size pictures and picture quality….they were taken on a dull day….I just can’t seem to be able to get the edit right on here and make sure all my pictures are the right size or in the right place!! I reckon I need to go back to the drawing board and try and find where I’m going wrong!

Up and coming…I have a little crochet make on the go which should be finished shortly….pictures to follow.

In the meantime, thank you for stopping to read this and thank you again for all the lovely comments I have received so far….it’s really rewarding to be complimented in this way…I feel like I have a little blogland family growing by the day!

Kate x

Bespoke bunting :: so easy to make something beautiful for your home

Today the sun was out then the clouds came and the heavens opened…..so I decided it was the perfect day to get on and finish my most recent project….some gorgeous bunting for my friends birthday. It doesn’t matter how often I make bunting, I always love choosing the fabric and creating something pretty. This bunting is ‘bespoke’ because I chose colours that my friend had in her lounge…I just hope she likes it!

Here are some of the ‘flags’ made and ready to attach to the bias binding….

Bunting flags

Aren’t they gorgeous prints and colours? I used three fat quarters of fabric in total (one of each print) and purchased these from the lovely http://www.owlandsewingcat.com which is a wonderful shop….I dare anyone to go in there and come out empty handed!

I pinned on the cotton bias binding (I prefer cotton than polyester mixes as poly/cotton binding can stretch and move more when stitching; cotton is quite a lot easier and can be of great help to someone new to machine sewing.

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Then I stitched the binding to the flags or flags to the binding, whichever way you want to look at it!

I then considered what type of finish I should do for the end of the binding….leave them plain on the ends or make some sort of loop so that the bunting can be ‘hooked’ up?? I decided on making little loops and then hand sewed some small buttons (purely for decorative purposes of course!), to finish off the loops.

I think the end result looked really neat and individual….what do you think?

button loop

button loop 2

Finally, I had to try out the bunting and take some photos before wrapping it up….it would have been rude not to, I think! I got a bit carried away with the pics but the bunting looked so lovely (pics not great but am afraid it was a bit of a gloomy light due to the rain!)

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Then it was time to fold it up carefully and wrap, ready for my friend to enjoy……..

all wrapped up

** I loved the fabrics so much that I may just buy some for myself and make some mini bunting…hmm, yes, this sounds like a very good plan. So, hope you like my ‘bespoke’ bunting…it’s so easy and quick to do and a great first time project for the novice sewer. I love the way the colours all come together and it is such an effective way of injecting some colour and individuality to your home or wherever you fancy putting it! I’ll never tire of making it. I might try and get a small tutorial together for it soon.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post….I’m very new to this still!