Thursday, 26 June 2014

Drink up folks! There's a new pattern company in town.

Hello everyone!

It's been a while since I last blogged because I've been so busy attending the amazing Minerva Meet Up weekend extravaganza, as well as visiting family and friends in Canada.

But, I'm back and ready to get sewing and blogging.

I have some lovely makes to show you over the next couple of days, but first I want to share some exciting news about a brand new Indie Pattern company that has just launched. Welcome Capital Chic Patterns!

I love this pattern line, not only because it's been designed and created by my lovely friend Sally from Charity Shop Chic, but also because I genuinely feel that Capital Chic Patterns is offering something different and unique to the plethora of sewing patterns now available to the home sewer.

Focused on work wear and cocktail wear, Capital Chic Patterns make for perfect day-to-night outfits. There is also great versatility to adapt the patterns for a sleek girl-about-town weekend look - of course stopping for a little champagne brunch along the way.

The awesome 'Cosmopolitan' dress

Named after cocktails, each of the PDF patterns comes with two variations included. Above, is the Cosmopolitan dress which can be made in either a blouse or dress, and features a gorgeous lace appliqué trim above the bust. The White Russian sweater below is also super cool; it comes with a selection of motifs (lion version in picture) that can be quilted onto the sweatshirt - sign me up!

The silhouettes of Capital Chic Patterns are certainly more structured and slimline, which really suits my personal aesthetic, creating a chic, stylish city look. As a city girl and participant in all things cocktail related, I'm very excited about making some of these patterns up! Don definitely approves :)

The clever 'White Russian' sweater 

The patterns’ difficulty ranges from intermediate to advanced, perfect for those looking to move on from sewing beginner styles. Available now for digital download from as print-at-home and print-at-copyshop PDF files, the patterns currently come in five sizes, from UK 10 to UK 18, and are nested for easy blending between sizes. A wider size range may be available later in the year, depending on demand. They are also very affordable ranging from £8-10.

I have already made up a very special dress from the range, the Martini, but I'll save all the details for that post. Let me just say though, it's a hottie!

I know Sally has worked extremely hard on creating this amazing debut and I would like to wish her all the luck in the world. Get over to Capital Chic Patterns now and grab yourself a little something special - the cocktails are waiting!

Sunday, 8 June 2014

The John Lewis Sewing Bee and the Betty Bacteria dress

Just over a week ago, I was lucky enough to take part in a mini 'Sewing Bee' at John Lewis' flagship store on Oxford Street to help celebrate the store's 150th anniversary.

Run by the lovely Lisa Comfort from Sew Over It, the goal was to use fabric from John Lewis' special anniversary edition prints and aim to make a dress in a day. I was so excited to take part, especially after finding out that fellow Spoolettes, Roisin, Fiona, Amy and Emmie, would be sewing alongside me. I am also so thankful for having the opportunity to get to know bloggers Elena and Charlie. Saturday's do not get better than this y'all.

On arrival, after gushing at our gift of sewing box, scissors and Cath Kidston apron (John Lewis, you spoil us!), we were asked to choose our fabric and pattern. From the samples sent out to us a few days prior to the event, I knew straight away I wanted to choose the 'bricks' fabric in the grey and yellow, which looks like this. For my pattern, I settled on Sew Over It's 'Betty' pattern. It's a very cute retro dress featuring a fitted bodice with dipped back and full circle skirt. Considering that the fabric is a reproduced 1950s print, I considered this would a perfect pairing. Pictures of the finished dress are at the end of this post!

I think I can speak for the other girls in saying this day was a total blast. From start to finish, we had such fun sewing together, helping each other fit the dresses and playing on the fun sewing machines. We each got to use a Janome DC3050, which was a really great machine. I would definitely recommend this if you're on the lookout for a mid-range computerised machine.

Here's a few pictures to give you an idea of what went on!

 The John Lewis Sewing Bee in full swing

Emmie and I preparing to cut her 'Betty'

Love this photo of Emmie and Fiona

Working on my Betty

Me and my finished Betty

At the end of the day on the rooftop of John Lewis. (L-R: Freya, Lisa, Fiona
Elena, Charlie, Moi, Roisin, Amy and Emmie)

With Emmie and Fiona in our Cath Kidston pinnies
My gal Roisin with her finished dress - she is
The Dress Lady!

And here's my finished Betty in all her glory. If you're interested in this pattern, I have included my usual details of sizing and techniques etc at the end. Otherwise, meet Betty Bacteria! (Roisin and I named this fabric the bacteria dress as the bricks do kind of look like bacteria under a microscope!).

The deets!
During the Sewing Bee, I decided to cut a size 12 (slightly larger than my measurements) and reduce the fit. With Lisa's help, we adjusted the basted dress on the side seams and the shoulders, the latter being typical fitting alterations I make on commercial patterns. I also took in the back zip seam a fair bit, which helped produce that lovely fitting bodice and back neckline. 

I did manage to put in the zip and have a pretty much finished dress on the day, but when I got home I ripped it out and put in my preferred method of a handsewn lapped zipper. I used double thread coated in tailor's wax and a prick-stitch to attach the zip. I love the finish and the perfectly aligned waist seam. 

The neckline and armholes are finished by an all-in-one facing, which is then understitched to keep it in place. I finished the hem by overlocking the raw edge and then turning it up, easing in the fullness, and machine stitching. I took quite a bit off the hem as I prefer dresses to finish just above the knee. 

Betty Bacteria was worn to brunch today in Clerkenwell with my gorgeous friend Tania. To show just how fantastic this fabric is, these photos were taken AFTER I got home. So that's after a few hours of sitting in the sweaty hot sun sipping on a peach bellini. Hardly any creasing! Well done Betty Bacteria!

So there you have it. A fantastic sewing day plus a brand new dress for the summer. Massive thanks to John Lewis and Lisa Comfort and a big shout out to the other bloggers for making it such a fun experience.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Minerva meet-up dress tease

It’s just over a week until the much-anticipated Minerva Crafts Meet-Up weekend! I know myself and the other Spoolettes are very excited to get together for a weekend away up north, and to celebrate a weekend of sewing – I’m sure there’s going to be some mighty fine cocktail consumption going on. I also cannot wait to finally see the Minerva Crafts centre and meet Vicki and the team.

So what's this post all about?
As part of the weekend celebrations, Vicki has asked the bloggers on the Minerva network to make a super special outfit (using Minerva fabrics) to wear on the Saturday evening.

The final reveal of these spectacular outfits will take place on social media on the night of the meet up (14th June) and then subsequently on the Minerva Blogger Network and my blog, but we've been asked to produce a little teaser of our outfit plans to whet your sewing appetite.

So, as you can see here I’ve gone black. I’m using some of the hot self-lined Prada crepe available on Minerva’s website. It comes in a multitude of colours, but I’ve gone for classic black. It washes, presses and cuts like a dream. I experienced no shifting about and accepts pins like best friends. I am yet to start sewing this up, but I am certain I won’t have any problems. My favourite part of this fabric is the self-lined satin back. Talk about having a bit of luxury against your bits and pieces!

My theme for the evening is based on my favourite decade, the 1930s. If there’s a period in time that gets me excited (apart from Elvis’ gyrating hips) it’s the glamour of the 20s and 30s. The colours, lines, shapes, furniture, architecture…everything was so alluring and beautiful. I loved the women’s shorter hair, the dresses, the shoes and the flamboyance of a period struggling through an economic depression. This is a nice website showing the silhouette of 1930s daywear fashion. Evening gowns of that period, however, were typically cut on the bias and skimmed the body like liquid. At sewing school, I designed and made a 1930s evening gown in navy satin, which I should really blog as it's something I am really proud of.

To help me achieve my 30s look for the Minerva Meet Up, I have acquired a special pattern that's not even out yet (watch this space!), and one that with some slight tweaks I’ll be able to convert into a full on flapping 1930s ensemble. There will be floaty legs, bust darts, waist darts, a nipped in waist…and all that jazz (sorry couldn’t resist!) So with a bit of luck, I’ll be turning up with Leonardo DiCaprio on my arm in full on Gatsby mode - not Wolf on Wall Street mode – we don’t want things to get too rowdy up there in Lancashire.

Thanks, Leo. Pick me up at 7!

I am quite excited about this make and when you see it, you’ll definitely think, ahhh, she don’t half love that sort of thing!

Stay tuned for the big reveal next week!