Wednesday, 23 October 2013

She's only bloody giving it away!

Hey everyone!

I'm pretty excited about this post as I am announcing my first ever giveaway. Raise yo hands!

To celebrate reaching 500 followers on Twitter, I thought I'd put together a cool loot to giveaway to one lucky reader of Sew Dixie Lou. To help me out, the brilliant folk at Minerva Crafts have kindly donated a huge bundle of fabric, and when I say huge, I really mean HUGE.

Take a look at this booty!

Houndstooth and checked knit, and a beautiful, sequinned sheer fabric

 More knits and a deep navy corduroy 

 Love this trio of stretchy goodness! 

 This is just beautiful: it feels like organza

 How fun is this? 

The blue is a knit and the smaller piece is a sheer fabric that
I think would make a lovely panel in a garment

And, that's not all! As a gift from me, I have bought an extra copy of this book to add to the fabric bundle. I own this myself, but I have used it so many times and find it invaluable. The pictures are super helpful and it's a great resource for all sewers looking to perfect the fit of their makes. So, you'll not only be receiving the fabric stash but also a brand new copy of this too, signed by me (kidding!).

The Complete Photo Guide to Pattern Fitting is a comprehensive how-to book about altering commercial patterns to customize the fit to one’s own body before cutting out fabric and sewing the garment. Poor fit is the number one reason many sewers get discouraged with garment sewing. Author Sarah Veblen guides the reader through the steps of sewing a muslin test garment, fine-tuning the fit by pinning the garment to mold perfectly to the wearer’s body, marking the adjustments, and then transferring those alterations to the commercial pattern. Veblen had developed this method during her career as a professional sewer and teacher and it is far more comprehensive and accurate than quick-fix flat-pattern methods in which patterns are altered using only a few body measurements. The results produce a perfectly fitting garment every time.

Unfortunately, as you can imagine the fabric and book are going to be a monster to post and so I can only offer it to UK dwellers. However, fear not my pretties overseas, also included in the Minerva Crafts stash was some gorgeous Christmas fat quarters and the prettiest reels of thread I have ever seen. I have decided to separate these from the main bundle and create a separate little prize stash for you guys abroad. Neglect has no place here, we've got to share the love! 

Not a tin of mints, but a tin of thread! Gorgeous.

So for those in the UK, you can win a whopping 13 pieces of fabric as well as a brand new copy of The Complete Photo Guide to Pattern Fitting. And, if you're outside Blighty, you can win 4 Christmas fat quarters, 5 reels of machine embroidery/quilting thread and a gorgeous Gutermann tin that includes 4 reels of polyester thread (navy, black, red and white). 

Okay, Clare, we get the picture, how do we get our hands on this goodness?

Right, there's just a few things you need to do in order to enter this giveaway.

1) First up you need to follow both myself and Minerva Crafts on Twitter, as well as tweet/retweet the
    giveaway announcement (@Clarebel79 and @MinervaFabrics) 
2) Next, leave a comment below telling me one thing you think you might make from the giveaway

Could you also please remember to tell me your country location so that I know what to enter you for.

The deadline to enter is 22nd November!

Good luck everyone and big thanks to Vicki at Minerva for helping me to arrange this as well as sending such a cool stash of fabric and thread to giveaway.

Friday, 18 October 2013

The Winter Shirt Dress: McCalls 6600

It's Minerva Project time and I'm kind of in love with my latest make.

It's safe to say we've skipped merrily into Autumn - does anyone else love this season as much as me? Who doesn't love all the beautiful colours of the leaves and that crisp smell in the air to say that Winter on the way? So, without further a do it's definitely time to break out the fall sewing.

For my latest Minerva project I wanted another shirt dress. I am in love with shirt dresses. What can I say? Me and shirt dresses are going steady. Browsing through the patterns, I instantly got the hots for another McCalls version - M6600. I loved the 70s appeal of the styling, the big hat, tights and the loose fitting, casual elegance of the dress.

The pattern has two versions. I went for version A, which is basically a loose fitting dress with a self-tie belt. Version B incorporates an elasticated draw-cord waist. The feature I like the most is that there are only 4 buttons on the front of the shirt - the rest is a seam down to the hem. Because the dress is so roomy, you just slip it over your head and then it's up to you how much skin you want to flaunt.

The fabric is a bit of an unusual choice for me, but I really liked it when I saw it on the Minerva website. It's viscose and features awesome swirls in bright pink, orange, white and taupe. It's so funky yet without looking too in your face.

I was a little nervous working with viscose to construct a shirt collar but it was actually fine. With the right interfacing, it's pretty much trouble-free. Cutting the fabric was also straightforward, I just made sure I pinned everywhere to prevent shifting.

The beauty of this pattern is that it didn't require a muslin. It's designed to be loose fitting with the shaping coming from the belt. I love the 'blouson' effect around the waist. It's roomy but without looking over-sized.

However, I did still pay attention to the flat pattern measurements and decided to cut the smallest size on the pattern - size 8. Even the 10 seemed like it would just be too big for me. I'm really pleased with this decision as the dress fits perfectly and pretty much matches the McCalls image on the pattern cover. I took off a few inches from the hem but otherwise I didn't make any alterations, and because this fabric is so light, I finished all seams by pinking. Simples!

The instructions were very easy to follow. Techniques include yoke, shirt collar and collar band, button placket/facing, cuffs and I think this would be a nice project for a beginner sewer who is looking to extend their skills.

The sleeves are constructed with the seam closer to the back so that you can create a pleat and a small 'rolled-hem' placket. There is a narrow cuff, which is fastened with a button. I chose these subtle shiny black buttons, which blend in nicely to the dress.

The pleat joining the cuff gives a subtle blouson effect to the sleeve and the narrow cuff band fits snugly yet not too tight around the wrist.

I'm wearing this dress with black bamboo tights and my winter faux-suede boots from Marks & Spencers. They have a kitten heel and are perfect for all-day wearing - bit of glamour with no pain for us big-footed girls.

If you like this pattern and fabric combo, don't forget you can get it from the Minerva Crafts website, here!

<Playlist: Winter - Rolling Stones>

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Did anyone notice I was gone?

No? Oh. Well if you did, I thought I'd just give you an update on what's been going on in the world of Dixie Lou. Mainly, work and travel are the two things that have kept me away from the blogosphere and my sewing machine. Although I have missed crafting and being knee deep in fabric and pins (ouch, perish the thought!) it's also been quite a nice break.

My first trip was an annual team meeting that my work organises in Munich. We have an office based there so we plan our October meeting around Oktoberfest, not bad eh? We all have to wear dirndls (or lederhosen if you're of the meat and two veg variety) and after a couple of days of meetings, we get to relax and let our hair down with steins of beer. Um...... YUM.

Fortunately for me, I got to borrow a dirndl. They're pretty expensive to buy, but with better planning I will definitely make one for next year as they're so fun and pretty. Here's me and my lovely colleague, Danielle.

From Munich, I then flew to Vienna where I met up with Mr S to drive to Budapest. We decided to spend the weekend there as I had never been. I'm so glad we went as I completely fell in love with this city. I didn't expect it to be so beautiful and accommodating - so, if you get the chance, go, it's fantastic!

We walked around for ages just taking in the sights and the beautiful Danube. We also spent a portion of Saturday evening just relaxing in one of the outdoor thermal spas. Such a civilised way to spend an evening sipping beer, talking to people while basically sitting in a huge bath. Fab!

I of course hunted out some fabric shops. These were quite an experience. In the first shop I got into trouble as you're not supposed to touch the fabric. What?! Oh no wait, you have a sample wall? Ooops, okay I'll just finger that then. Communication was zero here as they didn't speak English and despite my surname, I can only say 'thank you', but we got there in the end. I did love this shop though because once your fabric was cut, it got sent down a little chute to the till at the bottom where another lady wraps your fabric for you. Talk about service!

The following weekend after Budapest, we jetted off again to Belgium. Mr S was already there for work so I took the Eurostar to meet him. We stayed one night in Brussels and then spent most of the weekend in Bruges. Before we left for Bruges, I went to THE best fabric store I have ever been to. Okay, I didn't get the star struck chills that I get in Mood, but in terms of shop design, fabric display and choice, this wins hands down. Sorry Mood, but you need some planes and boats in your store, oh and your cutting tables should be old pool tables too!

If you're ever in Brussels then go to Chien Vert. It's absolutely stunning inside and the choice is incredible. Even Mr S said we can make trips back just for this shop. What a guy!

This is also why I love him.

So now, I'm back home for a bit and ready to get stuck into some projects. Tomorrow my latest Minerva post will go live - I'm excited about this one and have already worn it a couple of times - I hope you like it.

In other big news, I have an awesome giveaway planned to celebrate reaching 500 followers on Twitter. I have a surprise collaboration for this, so look out next week for the blog post announcing the giveaway. Until tomorrow!

<Playlist: Mind Your Manners - Pearl Jam>