Sunday, 17 December 2017

What to Make Out of Needlecord Fabric

Needlecords are one of my favourite fabrics to sew with at this time of year. There is something about them that feels perfect for autumn and winter. I thought it would be good to do a round up of some of the clothes that I've made using needlecord, to give an idea of what patterns you could use.


The Cleo works in a lot different heavier weight fabrics such as denim and corduroy and I think it works really well in a plain needlecord especially. Tilly and the Buttons actually have some top tips for sewing with corduroy for the Cleo, as it's one of their main fabric recommendations for the pattern. I used a needlecord to make this, but a slightly thicker corduroy would work too. I would highly recommend this as a quick and easy make, I love my burnt orange needlecord Cleo. Another couple of dresses to layer over which I think would work well out of needlecord are the Papercut Patterns Yoyo Dress and the Jennifer Lauren Handmade Ivy Pinafore Dress.


Tilly and the Buttons Delphine Skirt

When I was looking over my needlecord makes, I realised how they are all Tilly and the Buttons patterns, which I guess just goes to show how much I love their patterns! My next make is my needlecord Delphine skirt, the pattern for which is in Tilly's book Love at First Stitch. I really love the colour of this particular needlecord, and I think that it's quite good for wearing around this time of year too. Skirts in general are good for making out of corduroy, as well as the Delphine I think that the Grainline Studio Moss Skirt and the Pauline Alice Rosari Skirt would look nice.


I absolutely love my needlecord Rosa shirt, I think the pattern works perfectly in needlecord for this time of year. I would definitely recommend using a lightweight, quite fine needlecord for this though. I made the shirt version, but a dress would look lovely too. Looking through these photos I've realised that I've never made anything out of a patterned needlecord, something I definitely want to try! Other dress/top patterns that would look lovely in needlecord are the Celia Top by Sew Me Something and the Raglan Dress and Top by The Avid Seamstress. 

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Black Boxy Jumper

A few weeks ago, while looking for something else entirely, I came across this lovely boiled wooly/felty fabric from Fabric Land. I gave in and bought a metre of it, leaving with my head brimming with ideas. With such a plain fabric, I knew that I would have the opportunity to add some lovely details, and decided that this project would be the perfect opportunity to try out stand-up seams  as the fabric doesn't fray at all. It is quite a stiff fabric, so anything requiring drape was out of the question, but it was perfect to make a boxy jumper with, of course, the lovely stand-up seams.

For the seams, I just sewed the fabrics wrong sides together, as if I were to sew a french seam, but without then sewing the second line of stitching. For the seam allowance, I used I think 1/4 or 1/8", hardly anything so that it would stand up nicely. This worked perfectly with this fabric and would work for knits too, but would be an absolute disaster with anything that frays in the slightest! I based the pattern off a drop-sleeve jumper that I already have, which was a very simple design - the front and back bodices are pretty much a rectangles, and I then cut along the centre back to add a seam there too. I'm really glad I did this, It's something that I've noticed on quite a few items of clothing recently, and I think that it's a lovely effect.

My favourite feature this the drop down sleeve, where the shoulder stitching meets the top of the sleeve. I love how the details compromise for the plain fabric! It's hard to tell from the photos, but it has a lovely texture to it. My main problem with this jumper is that the fabric is incredibly scratchy, and while it's fine on my arms and where I can have a top underneath, I wanted to go for a higher neckline and it really rubs. Because of this I've had to wear a turtle-neck underneath, but whilst this is fine for the Winter I would like to do something about it, so I am considering sewing a bit of fleece inside the neckline, which should work nicely. For the hem, I simply left the jumper un-hemmed and then sewed a line of stitching 1/4" away from the edge.

Overall, I'm not entirely sure about this, but it is definitely growing on me. With the sleeves rolled up, it looks oversized rather than too big which is a relief, and I love wearing it with my pencil pin-badge! I also like the fabric a lot. In this picture I am 'doing a normal task', my Mum's idea so that I could see what the jumper looks like 'in action'. A surprising concept, but I actually think it worked - I was able to see what the sleeves look liked rolled up instead of down! I know that it's black, but it is winter and it's a nice shade of black, if that's even possible?! I think that once I have sewn the fleece into the neckline to make it less scratchy inside it should be more wearable.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Suzy Magazine Feature

A bit of exciting news today... In case you haven't heard of it, Suzy Magazine is a fairly new independent sewing magazine for 'fashion forward sewists'. It's a biannual magazine which is unique in it's lovely aesthetic and how contemporary it is. The contents of the magazine varies from top pattern picks to sewing business interviews and much more. I definitely think it's worth a read, the layout is beautiful and there are lots of lovely things inside to discover. Very excitingly, I appear in Issue 4! 

Issue 4 came out at the end of November. I answered a few questions sewing in the section of 'Sewing Stories'. It feels amazing to be in a published magazine, I still can't quite believe it! There are so many inspiring people in it and it's incredible to be part of. I loved reading the interviews with the other seamstresses, it's great to be able to discover new sewing blogs and it's interesting to read different people's answers to the same questions. I also really enjoyed the section on sewing the trends, there are so many great fabric and pattern combinations. I am determined to get some sewing done in velvet amidst the Christmas present sewing chaos!

I really can't say just how excited I am to be in Suzy Magazine. It's the first time I've done something like this. It didn't quite feel real until the magazine came out in print, at which point it became incredibly exciting! I would highly recommend it as a read, it's a lovely magazine that is quite different to the other sewing magazines around. It's layout is lovely, as is the contents, and if you do fancy reading my interview then have a read through of issue 4!

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

The Little Turtle

Some things are just too wonderfully awesome not to share, and this turtle is one of them. I made it as a birthday present for a friend back in September, and managed to get a couple of photos before wrapping it up. After the unexplainable decision of choosing the gift of a handmade turtle (that sounds even stranger written down!) I had a look to see what pattern I could use. It turns out that a lot of people before me have had the idea of sewing a turtle! I saw a few options, one of which was this amazing retractable turtle, but I wanted to use a free pattern and one which was quite small. In the end I decided to this pattern from the Hobbycraft blog, which has very clear instructions and is quite irresistible! I would highly recommend using it. Although it doesn't mention that it is English Paper Pieced, the shell is sewn together by EPP, something that I was happy to do. I've mentioned previously that I love EPP, and this was really very quick to sew, don't be put off by the hand sewing as it really doesn't take that long.

I decided to use greens and teals to make my turtle, although I actually really like the pink turtle on the tutorial too. I used four different fabrics for the shell and then a solid dark green for the base, legs, tail and head. I like that the shell is symmetrical, meaning that I could repeat the fabrics equally. I decided to de-scale the pattern when I printed it, and I wanted my turtle to be quite small. I can't quite remember the percentage that I changed it too, but it was around 50-60% and this turtle ended up about 5"in diameter, I hope that helps if you are planning on changing the sizing. The only problem with this was that the legs and tail were extremely fiddly to turn the right way after sewing, and there is very minimal wadding inside - which brings me onto the subject of stuffing. I filled the shell with lentils to weigh it down and for the legs, head and tail used stuffing. I think this worked quite well, it means that the turtle will lay nice and flatly on a surface. To finish off, I put a small black bead into a bigger white bead and sewed this on for the eyes, which I think is the perfect final touch. I loved making this and although it was hard to part with, I hope I made it's new owner smile!

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Lined Tote Bag Tutorial

A tote bag is one of those things that one always needs. They can be used to carry absolutely anything, and they are also really easy to make! I’ve created a tutorial on how to make your own tote bag, with a lovely contrast fabric strip at the bottom and the opportunity to use a lovely print to make it fully lined. I have made so many of these as gifts, and I use mine all the time.

You will need:

  • About 1/2m of main fabric (to make into the straps and for the main body of the bag.)
  • 1/2m of lining fabric
  • Fabric for the trim around the bottom
  • Colour co-ordinating thread

Cut out your fabric for the front and back of the tote (fabric a) the trim around the bottom (fabric b) and the lining (fabric c). Your pieces will need to measure:
Main Fabric: 2- 12.5" x 15"
Contrast Fabric: 2- 5" x 15"
Lining Fabric: 2- 17" x 15"
For the straps: 4 - 18.5" x 2" (You can make these longer if you would prefer)

Sew together the trimming fabric and the main tote fabric to the front and the back pieces. Press open.

Top-stitch 1/4" around the seam (this is optional, but I think it gives a neater, more professional finish.

Pin, rights sides together, the front and back pieces of the tote. Sew down the two sides and the bottom. Repeat for the lining, but leave a 4" gap along the bottom edge.

Box the corners; to do this, press open the seams, line the side seam and bottom seam up (push the side seam flat), measure 1", mark a line and stitch around the line. Repeat for both corners, and for the lining. If you've never boxed corners before, you may find this tutorial useful.

With right sides together, put the front of the tote into the lining. Pin around top edge.

Sew around the whole edge. You should be catching two layers. Be careful not to sew the opening shut!

Pull the front of the tote through the hole in the lining. You should have something which looks like this:

Sew the hole in the lining shut - and by the way, isn't my lining fabric the best fabric ever?!

Press any creases, and then push the lining into the tote bag. Press around the top to get a neat, crisp finish, and topstitch around the bag. Note: this will show in the lining as well, so make sure you have a matching bobbin. 

Onto the straps! From your four 18.5" x 2" strips, sew two right sides together, leaving a gap at the bottom. Turn right side out, and press the opening closed. Repeat with the other two strips.

Topstitch the whole way around both straps using a colour co-ordinating thread and a constant seam allowance.

If you used a 1/4" seam allowance, your straps should now be 1.5" wide. Pin your straps so that they are 1" down from the top of the bag, and the end is 5" from the edge of the bag (as shown in the photo). If your bag doesn't quite measure that, then place the straps at an equal distance from the edge. Make sure that they line up on the front and back.

Sew your straps onto the bag in an 'x' shape.

Press your bag and... it's done! Your very own tote bag!!

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The Skirt of Dreams


I think that this is one of my favourite ever makes! Unusually for me, this one was extremely spontaneous. No real planning, no fabric purchasing, just a vague idea that someday I wanted to make a button down denim skirt. I've wanted (and still do want!) a blue denim button down skirt for absolutely ages. I contemplated buying a pattern, for example the Pauline Alice Rosari Skirt, but what I really wanted was a skirt with panels. Plus, patterns are expensive, and when this is combined with fabric and notions, the price really starts to build up. So I decided to have a go at drafting my own pattern to make my skirt. I looked at a few YouTube videos, and decided to use this one to help draft my pattern. I didn't actually end up relying on it much though, and made it up a bit as I went along! I wasn't sure if it would turn out well, so I decided to use an old pair of my Dad's jeans for the fabric.

Here is what is left of the jeans after I destroyed them! Really annoyingly, I forgot to take a photo of them at the start, but it isn't too hard to picture a pair of men's black jeans. I literally used every single piece of fabric. This is my second re-fashion (my last one was also using an old garment that belonged to my Dad, you can see the finished top here). I love the freedom of using an old garment as your fabric. Had I been using expensive denim that I'd bought, I probably wouldn't have drafted the skirt, worrying that it would go wrong and that I would waste the fabric. As it was, I wasn't at all worried to make mistakes because at the end of the day, I was using an old pair of jeans that otherwise would never be used.

The main problem with using an old item of clothing as fabric is that it will probably be worn out. The fabric on the front of the jeans was very faded, so I decided to make the wrong side of the fabric the right side. This included un-picking and then re-sewing mock-felled seams, but it was definitely worth it as the fabric looks lovely and new. Also, the jeans weren't quite wide enough, so I did have to add an extra strip of fabric for the button band, but it isn't a problem. The only other problem I faced in terms of using old fabric was the fact that there was a hole in the fabric. This was solved by sewing a strip of fabric which consisted of two fabrics sewn together on top of the hole.

The lovely strip of fabric is for me the wow factor of this skirt. It was my Mum's idea, and at first I wasn't sure. The pink and green floral fabric is one of our absolute favourites, but although I thought it would look gorgeous, I was worried it would be too bright. However, paired with a slightly wider strip of grey spotty fabric, I think it looks perfect! I love this detail so much, I'm so pleased that I decided to give it a go. Furthermore, as mentioned above it covers the small hole, which is an added bonus. I used the same buttons that I used on my Rosa Shirt - I absolutely love these brass jeans buttons, I think that they add a lovely extra touch.

As well as the appliqu├ęd fabric and the buttons, there are a lot of nice details on this skirt such as the mock felled seams (down the centre back and two at the front) and the waistband. I saved the waistband from the original jeans, and then unpicked it and sewed it back on. I love the look it. I also kept the belt loops, and although I haven't worn this skirt with a belt yet, it's good to know that they are there and I also like the touch they add. So overall, this is absolutely the skirt of dreams! It started off as a bit of a tester project, but ended up as something that I know I'll want to wear again and again. And to think that it started off as a worn out old pair of jeans!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Needlecord Rosa Shirt

I know I've said it many times before, but I absolutely love the Tilly and the Buttons Rosa Shirt pattern. I've already made a shirtdress and a shirt, but I really wanted to make one that would be perfect for autumn. I picked up this gorgeous jade-green needlecord from Stoff and Stil, and knew that it would be perfect with brass buttons! I had actually originally intended to make a shirtdress out of this fabric, but I actually only just had enough to make the shirt. I have a habit of always buying the minimum amount of fabric possible, which although sometimes works out as better and cheaper, it often means that I am limited with what I can make out of it. Lesson learnt - buy more fabric than you think you will need!

Adding a contrast facing is something that I love about this pattern. I used a really pretty green Liberty fabric that I already had for the inner collar stand and button stand facings. To be honest, I wasn't that happy with the shirt once I'd sewn it all together. Something just didn't feel right about it, and I was quite disappointed. I was tempted to leave it a while before sewing the button holes, but I think we all know that when a project is stalled with the intention of being picked up in a weeks time, it won't be touched for a long time! So I was determined to finish the shirt. I bought these lovely brass jeans buttons which are just perfect and I am so much happier with it. The shirt really needed the buttons, with them the picture that I had in my mind is complete.

I think that the style lines are what really make Tilly and the Buttons patterns something special. I just love the back yoke detail! Once again, I did two rows of topstitching, using a almost matching thread to make it stand just enough, but not enough to count as contrast topstitching. Overall, this shirt is definitely growing on me. I enjoy wearing it, love the buttons and the fabric is perfect for this time of year. Although it's my third Rosa shirt in a year, I definitely won't be making any promises that it's my last... One for each season seems reasonable, right?!