GBBS Asymmetric Skirt

Do you remember that skirt made from a tricky Japanese pattern in the last series of the Great British Sewing Bee?

This one:

Sewing-Bee-Semi-Final-2016

They all look really happy there, don’t they?

Well the pattern is in the new book, ‘From Stitch to Style’. I crazily told my dressmaking class that I will make the skirt. So I did…

gbsb asymmetric skirt

I made it in a scuba type fabric that I picked up in my most local fabric shop for an unbelievable 30p per metre (“because we don’t know what it is”). I used some of it to make a Coco dress, and now there’s this. I have a little more that I can probably use to make something for a child! It’s brilliant because it’s nice and swishy, a knit of course so doesn’t fray which is essential for this project, and it was so cheap that I wouldn’t be upset if I messed it up!

And the skirt wasn’t as difficult to make as you’d think. I survived! There are perhaps a few small things that Patrick and Esme would pick up on, but overall I’m 90% happy with it.

The cutting out was the most time-consuming part. Because you have to cut every piece (of which there are 6) individually, and really carefully because those raw edges are on show – and you must mark the notches carefully too as they have to meet up.

gbsb asymmetric skirt

I cut out the pieces then got busy so left it on the side for two and a half weeks; but if you can’t sew for yourself on Bank Holiday Monday, when can you? So I sewed it up in the afternoon.

Have you made anything out of the new book yet? I found the instructions to be good; in the past the Sewing Bee books haven’t always been too great but I had no issues with this one.

The biggest annoyance is in this photo…

gbsb asymmetric skirt

Yeah, the lines don’t match up across the seam. Quite frankly at that point I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to go back and redo it all. It’ll do. The skirt took some patience, a lot of tacking and careful sewing, so by the end I’d had enough!

To finish the “waistband” you sew grosgrain ribbon to the top of the skirt and flip it to the inside. Ahhh, I rummaged through my ribbons and the widest I had was this bright green! I had exactly the right amount, so that was to be it! As it’s on the inside, you can’t see it. I love how little this skirt cost me! Excuse the poor photo.

gbsb asymmetric skirt

And as the fabric doesn’t fray, I didn’t actually hem it. Which feels weird but I love how there’s no bulk at the bottom.

Finally – essential twirling shot!

gbsb asymmetric skirt

So are you going to make this? Have you already?!

Beth x

 

Jeans Refashion Tutorial: Patchwork Dungarees

My little girl has recently become rather obsessed with Bob the Builder. So, sewing mum that I am, I naturally thought I’d make her some “Bob the Builder” dungarees. AKA denim dungarees, that she can wear as normal dungarees, not just for dress up!
I won’t keep you in suspense; here’s the outcome:

jeans>dungarees refashion

Pretty cool, eh?! I won’t lie: I LOVE them.

I’ve written a quick tutorial for you in case you want to do something similar. The same principal (patchwork denim) can be used for any clothing, too – not just toddler dungarees. Skirts, dresses; adults or kids. The possibilities are endless.

jeans>dungarees refashion

Those of you who have been following me for a while will likely know that I’m keen on refashioning and upcycling. In fact I’m starting 5-week-long refashioning courses in November (alongside my dressmaking). So partly spurred on by that and the need for more examples, I decided to upcycle some old jeans that have been hanging around. Who needs to buy new denim?
So I used these two pairs; one was in fact my mum’s, and one was mine. Both much loved and a little worse for wear.

jeans>dungarees refashionI used all I could of these two pairs, plus a little bit of denim I had in my scrap bag (that would’ve been from another pair of jeans). With the addition of just a couple of buttons (and thread) that of course I already had, this was a really frugal make.

Now on to the tutorial…🙂

refashion jeans to dungarees

Begin by cutting up the jeans; cut along the seams, discarding the bulky seams. Incorporate the back pockets if you like, and save the tops of the jeans for another project!

jeans>dungarees refashion

For these dungarees I used a pattern which I highly recommend: Vintie Overalls by Tadah Patterns. But you can use any pattern you already have, or create your own. You will need to use the pattern piece to help you with the placement of your denim pieces. This pattern has four large pieces (2 x back, 2 x front) and some top yoke pieces. I patched the large pieces.

So lay out a pattern piece, and (ideally using a rotary cutter, ruler and mat) chop up your long legs of denim into squares and rectangles, creating a patchwork. Ensure you overlap each piece by the seam allowance you wish to use. Take your time and thought to try to lay the colours out in a way that’s pleasing to the eye. It’s interesting how many different shades of blue are in a single pair of jeans!

jeans>dungarees refashion

It’s fine to have some fabric sticking off the edges; in fact, that’ll be helpful just in case you need a bit more allowance than you initially think.

Once your pattern piece is entirely covered up, it’s time to sew.

jeans>dungarees refashion

Sorry, I forgot to take photos of the sewing stage! But you will basically sew all the pieces together as if making a patchwork quilt. I sewed then overlocked the seams as I went along.

Once you’ve done all your pieces, you’ll end up with something like this:

jeans>dungarees refashion

Nice!

Now, place the pattern pieces on top, and neatly cut – as you would if that was just regular non-patchy fabric underneath!

jeans>dungarees refashion

There we go; nice and neat.

And then just take the extra bits for the yokes and straps (if you’re making kid’s clothing there’s probably no need to patch these unless you really want to; they’ll be big enough). And sew together the dungarees according to the pattern instructions. Sorry, I’m not going to tell you how to do that – you’ll have to buy the pattern!

jeans>dungarees refashion

If you do make something like this, I’d LOVE to see it. Any questions, do ask in the comments below!

And if not – I hope you enjoyed the post regardless.

Beth x

 

Alice In Wonderland

This is one of my most favourite recent dresses! I made it for a little 1 year old, but my own 3 year old, has since ordered one for herself…
I was asked to make an Alice dress (for an Alice in ONEderland first birthday party). This is what I came up with:

Alice dress

 

I used the Cottage Mama Vintage Georgia dress pattern as a base, then made a few adaptations. I curved the collar’s corners slightly; on the pattern they’re quite sharp.

alice dress

 

I added the broderie trim on the sides of the bib (the pattern calls for piping there), and the hem of the overskirt. Of which I made more like an apron by only cutting the front piece and hemming the sides as well as the hem.

I think a lot of the Alice-likeness comes from the choice of colours; where to put blue, and where to put white, which looks like an apron over the top of a dress.

alice dress

The back features a beautiful big bow, and snap fastenings. Snaps were my second option because I had an issue with the buttonholes… there was too much bulk in the seam to sew the lowest buttonhole; the foot just doesn’t go over it. So I had to panic, unpick the others, and improvise with KAM snaps. But I do really like the look of the pearly white snaps anyway – every cloud, eh?alice dress

The Georgia Vintage dress is a lovely pattern – probably best for intermediate level; some of the instructions aren’t perfectly clear for beginners and there are some techniques you want to get accurate, like the collar. I really dislike unsymmetrical collars!

alice dress

Hope you like it…

Beth x

 

 

Tilly Walnes ‘Love at First Stitch’ Book Review

I own several sewing books and I have to honestly say this one is my favourite. It’s so beautifully presented; from the bright and eye-catching photography, to the fonts and backgrounds used in each section, right to the back cover.

Image credit; tillyandthebuttons.com

Image credit: tillyandthebuttons.com

It comes with full-size pattern sheets with patterns for five of the designs in the book (Tilly explains how to make your own simple pattern for the other two projects). You do need to trace the patterns as they’re printed on double-sided paper; but this is best practice regardless.

I really like Tilly’s down-to-Earth, ‘chatty’ writing style; the language she uses is easy to understand, even for beginner dressmakers. She explains all the jargon that comes with sewing throughout the book, and adds helpful hints and tips along the way.
The book begins with a little background on Tilly, then goes on to explain how to use the book (i.e. how it is laid out), and there’s just one page on sewing equipment you will need. The book then jumps straight into the first project; a simple headscarf. This is unlike many other sewing books, which tend to have a good chunk of pages at the beginning based on techniques. Instead, techniques are incorporated into each project (which makes each chapter). Tilly makes it easy for the reader to distinguish between project instructions and explanations of key techniques by displaying the techniques on a gridded background, and the project steps on a plain yellow. You can easily skip the technique sections if you’re confident with them already; just look for the plain yellow background. Some may find this slightly confusing, but once you use the book a few times you will most likely get the hang of the layout.

Another difference between this book and others is its fun, fashionable edge. In each chapter Tilly has added a ‘Make it Your Own’ section, where she gives ideas of how you can use the basic pattern and customise it to do just that – make it your own. An example of hers is adding a fabric bow belt to the skirts and dress; she shows you how to make this, too.

Image credit: tillyandthebuttons.com

Image credit: tillyandthebuttons.com

‘Make It A Lifestyle’ is the final section in each chapter; these sections give the reader some inspiration and an insight into Tilly’s own lifestyle and personality. Her background in blogging really comes into play here.

Another idea I love of Tilly’s is the way she sizes her patterns. All five patterns in the book are not sized in the traditional 8, 10, 12… format. She has devised her own sizing structure, labelling sizes with numbers 1 to 8. This encourages you to sew your true size rather than the size you think you are on the High Street – which often varies when it comes to dressmaking patterns. Tilly doesn’t go into much detail about altering patterns, but seeing as the book is targeted at the beginner dressmaker, this is understandable.

I think the one aspect of the whole book that really stands out to me is the quality – and sheer amount – of the photographs. There is a very clear, real photo image (not an illustration or diagram as is common in other sewing books) for each step. For a beginner, especially, this is so important. And if the photos weren’t enough, the clarity of the text should be sufficient. The book is written with true passion, which really comes across and pours into the reader.

I have made three out of the seven projects in the book so far (consisting of one pair of Margot pyjamas, one Delphine skirt and four Clémence skirts), and the construction of them all went swimmingly. The one bugbear I have – and I have learnt others have had too – is the chunky, untailored waistbands on the skirts; it doesn’t suit many figures and does need some alterations to be comfortable if you actually have a waist. Annoyingly, everything looks perfect on Tilly!

Overall, this book makes sewing fun. As a 20-something-year-old, I can see myself making all the projects – which is not something I say about every sewing book! It’s a beautifully written and presented book.

Beth x

Funky Floral Delphine

Jane at Jane Makes gave me some beautiful floral fabric way back last year (I won it in her giveaway). I think about it every now and then, wanting to use it. But time has been of the essence recently; I haven’t sewn myself anything for some time. Then I saw Jane’s recent post where she sewed the same fabric up into a beautiful skirt, so I thought some selfish sewing was definitely overdue and made Friday night sew-for-me night. And this is the outcome!

delphine skirt

As soon as I received this fabric I knew I wanted to make a Tilly & The Buttons Delphine with it. It has some structure; the fabric is like quilting weight. So I didn’t change my mind, and went with the Delphine.

This is my first Delphine, and I really like it. The pattern is dead easy, really straightforward. One front piece, two back pieces, 8 waistband pieces (4 outer, 4 facing). One invisible zip.

delphine

I finished the seams with a simple overcasting stitch. Even though I do have an overlocker, it’s a lot quicker to just use the machine I already have out!

delphine

As with most things, the skirt did give me a challenge on fit.

It was big round the waist. Too much room even for a very big dinner. I did try it on mid-making but it’s hard to secure it at the back and look at yourself; there’s always some guesswork in it! It’s OK on my hips though.

delphine

Instead of taking out the zip, redoing the waistband… urgh too much work… I improvised and made some little pleats at the back.

delphine

It worked well and I rather like it like that; until you tell me it looks stupid. Next time I will grade it from a 3 to a 2 at the waist. (This time it was a straight 3.) Note to self!🙂

delphine

I traced the pattern, cut the fabric, sewed it all up in one evening. I love a quick sew. Besides the altering of the waistband, which I did this morning. I sewed it whilst wearing it!

I hope I’ve got away without pattern matching the back seam… I just couldn’t be bothered trying to make out which flower goes where!!

Final photobombed photo – I was holding my skirt so little A came and said “I can be a princess too!” Also please excuse the chopped-off head shots; I have no where good to take photos!

delphine

Jane did say we may end up with matching skirts and we kind of have… hers is also A-line!🙂

I have about a metre left so may make one of my girls something to match… one day…

Beth x

Why do we sew?

I wrote this for my journalism course, and thought some of you may find it interesting, so here goes…

Why has sewing become so popular?

It’s no secret that the population’s love for sewing is on the rise. But where did the trend come from? Why are more people than ever now sewing?

Fulfilment/Pride

I carried out a survey on people who sew, simply asking why they sew. The most common answer was the pride that comes with it; the fulfilment gained through making something useable/wearable from scratch. You take a 2D piece of fabric, maybe a zip and a few buttons, and in a few hours you have something 3D that can be worn! There’s no need to find the perfect outfit on the High Street; you can make it yourself. You can’t buy pride; there’s no better feeling than walking into a party wearing a dress you made yourself, with no fear that someone else will be wearing the same.

[I drew a fancy pie chart to show the results of the survey, but I can’t upload it here😦 ]

Creativity

The second most popular answer in my survey was “I am naturally a creative person.” I don’t know if we as a population are getting more creative but I think we do crave fun in our otherwise mundane lives and we discovered that being creative and sewing is fun!

Therapy

Sewing being relaxing and therapeutic was the third most popular answer in my survey. Sewing takes a lot of concentration; your mind cannot wander when you’re concentrating on where to pierce the needle and which direction to place pattern pieces. It also has social benefits; in teaching sewing, I have come across people who otherwise rarely get out the house, and suffer from various mental health issues. They have told me that their health and well-being has improved as a result of coming to the classes. Indeed, in the sewing community it’s often heard that sewing is therapy.

P1070416Financial benefits

Several other popular answers to the survey were based around money; either making it or saving it.

The recession is to blame for a lot of cut-backs; people became wiser and more careful with money. They stopped buying luxury items – and thought about making them themselves. If you ignore the sometimes high cost of fabric, there is money to be saved by making clothing, home accessories and gifts yourself. If you get clever with upcycling and refashioning unloved textiles, you can create something new from nothing. I’m sure we’re all aware of the influence television has on us; and indeed, programmes such as Superscrimpers, Dawn O’Porter’s This Old Thing, and Kirstie Allsopp’s numerous craft related programmes have certainly seemed to educate the nation on saving money through crafting. It seems that, gradually, the throwaway (or ‘fast fashion’) lifestyle that we have come to live in is changing. We are thinking more about how clothes are made; where they come from; how long we can wear them for.

The Great British Sewing Bee

Since the first series aired in 2013, the sewing equivalent to The Great British Bake Off has been a common explanation to the rise in people learning to sew. In April 2013, The Telegraph reported that sales of a bias binding maker that was featured on the programme were up a massive 230% on the previous week.

Viewers of the final episodes of the show rose between the three series; the second series’ final episode gained almost 200,000 more viewers than the first final did – and the figure continued to grow by the end of series three; this final gained almost 400,000 more viewers than the final of the second series did. This is clear proof that more and more people are joining in the sewing revolution. The fourth series has just begun, and I wouldn’t be surprised if ratings continue to sour.

So why do you sew? Is there a reason that I haven’t mentioned?

Beth x

Felt play phone

EXACTLY one year ago today I won a giveaway over at Me and My Veritas for a pre-cut felt play phone kit. And I just finished sewing it up!! So I have to quickly share… Jana, I’m not sure if you blog anymore or if you will read this but just in case you will, I would like you to know it’s no longer sat in the drawer!

It was dead easy to sew up, yes I don’t know why it took my so long to get round to it. Jana cut all the fiddly pieces out and all I had to do was sew them together and stuff it.

If you want to make your own, you just need some scraps of felt – here’s the tutorial and free pattern!

Now without further ado… ta dah!!

felt play phoneThat’s the front! This is the back:

felt play phone

I sewed half of it up at the poolside when S had her swimming lesson last week, almost all the other half in the car at the weekend and I stuffed it and sewed up the gap this morning. I wish I always remember to take something light to sew in such situations as I hate to sit and do nothing. And now I feel accomplished!

And A likes it. She immediately called Grandma!

felt play phoneAnd took some snaps of me!

felt play phone

So thank you to Jana at Me & My Veritas for the adorable kit!🙂

felt play phoneI’m just sorry it took a whole year for me to put it together!

Beth x