NOT Me Made Appleton Dress

I saw the hand made dress swap on Instagram a while back and eagerly awaited the date for applications. It’s an initiative where you sign up, fill in a form about you and they kindly pair you up with someone to make a dress for. I signed up straight away and got paired up with the lovely Lhizz from New Zealand. We emailed back and forth about styles and decided on patterns for each other but that was all we knew about what the other was making. If you’ve thought about signing up but didn’t, I absolutely recommend it. It’s great to be involved in and a fab way to meet fellow sewers!

On the application, it asks what colours you like and I put brights but not pink (eurgh! – least favourite by far!) so Lhizz had lots of colours to chose from and I think she has chosen an amazing fabric.

The Appleton, made by Cashmerette is tailored to curvy girls, which is why Lhizz chose it, I think. I love a wrap dress but I have never braved one myself. Lhizz told me that she refashions more than she sews from scratch so I was impressed that she went for a style that I have avoided so far. Not for much longer though because she kindly included the pattern in my parcel so I will be definitely making another. I have a plain blue jersey I’ll try it in. I’ve never made a pattern by them but the dress fits so well, I’ll definitely be giving more of theirs a try!

I have taken lots of pictures in this amazing dress because Lhizz did such an amazing job. The finish is gorgeous. I love the facings along the neckline, they’re so neat.

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Apologies for the blatant boobie shot but I wanted to show off the facings!

It’s a proper wrap dress too, not a mock one so it goes right round me, without needing a vest, which is pretty impressive. She’s got the length just right too. What I’m most impressed with is that way the hem is lined up absolutely straight. I would have struggled to get where the wrap meets to line up, especially in a stretch fabric. She has obviously put a lot of hard work in and I’m absolutely made up with it. I love wearing it, knowing it came from around the world and I’m always secretly hoping that someone will ask if I made it so I can bore them to death about how it came all the way from New Zealand!!

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I joined the swap thinking of what I would make the whole time, trying to get the shape, Fabric and size right so I never gave much thought to the dress I was getting in return. As a result, when I got my package I was beyond excited, it was like it had just dawned on me that someone had been thinking of me and doing the same from across the world and it felt so special. Not only had Lhizz made me the lovely dress, but she had included the pattern, as I said and also a nice postcard. We have been chatting back and forward and I told her about my forays in to crochet so she also crocheted me this really cool black hat, perfect for the windy beach on my holidays. It was such a pleasure to receive and it made my week.

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I’ll share what I made for Lhizz in return soon. 🙂

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Self-Drafted Circle Skirt

Me Made May has done so much for the way I view my wardrobe. It was immediately clear that if I want to wear Me Made everyday then I am in desperate need of separates. With this in mind I set about to make a black circle skirt for work. I have lots of nice blouses and some that I am starting to make so I wanted something high-waisted, which I felt confident that I would be able to wear with most things.

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I bought some black cotton/viscose from my local market. I get a lot of my fabrics from there. They’re a bargain and often 60 inches wide too. I used trusty Pinterest to get the maths for making a circle skirt. It is so easy to do that I used a reversible bed sheet I had bought to make two more at the same time!

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Then you literally attach the waistband (which I chose to make nice and wide so I could wear my waist belts) and insert a zip, whip a seam up the side and it’s done. Oh, wait, no… The Hem. The hem on a circle skirt must be the longest thing in the history of sewing. I thought it would never end! But it did, eventually and hear it is, a perfect work staple for with all my brightly coloured blouses. I will share my bed sheet skirts soon – they’re a lot of fun!

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In other news – I’m off to Sew Up North tomorrow – my super kind husband has treated us to spend the weekend in Leeds and I’m really excited! More on that soon.

The Nina Shirt Dress

The Nina Dress by Cotton and Chalk for Simply Sewing Magazine was sat on my sewing list with no real conviction. I probably would have gotten around to it at some point. Then I saw the #sewtogetherforsummer challenge on instagram created by the lovely SarahMonika and Suzy in which everyone is making a shirt dress.. err.. for Summer, obviously!

I had bought this lovely grey vintage fabric in my holiday haul and even though it’s not very summery, it’s a lovely soft colour and really light. I was determined to make it work, even though I didn’t really have enough fabric… So there was some serious pattern tetris going on and I still didn’t have enough for the collar and the facing… Or the sleeves. My solution was to use a contrast and I’m not sure if this has worked or not.

I cut my size and measurements, even though my previous attempts at Cotton and Chalk patterns have been dangerously heavy on the ease! I thought this would work to my advantage when making a shirt dress as ready to wear dresses like this often don’t fit me.

There’s 6 body pieces, which came together nicely. In lieu of my facings, which I don’t really like anyway, I used a white bias binding as I knew I was using white for my collar and sleeves.

In spirit of the challenge there is a fabulous tutorial on collars on Sarah’s blog which I had a good read through; it has some great tips. I’ve only ever done one collar before on my brother’s shirt but I strangely enjoy the process. I’m really pleased with this way this one turned out and definitely won’t be scared of them in future.

On a whim and in an attempt to tie the contrast sleeve in with the rest of the dress, I created a slim cuff for my sleeves in the grey. The pattern does come with a frill cuff but frills aren’t my thing.

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I put it together to a point, before my mum came for tea and I was forced to tidy my house! Rude! I looked at it at this point and felt it looked a little like a uniform. It was also, predictably, too big but I had the 6 seams to work on for fitting.

And.. oh my goodness, did I have to work on the fitting. It not only had too much ease but it was absolutely massive. I used a technique (if you can call it that) which I’ve seen lots of people do and I pinned it at the front, put it on inside out and stapled it in place where I needed to take it in. After this very long process I had a dress which fit but had a bit more flare at the bottom, which I actually quite like and I think suits my shape.

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I found these amazing white square buttons at my local haberdashery, which tie in with the pattern perfectly. As I added these and started to get the fit, I found I started to like it better.

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I hand hemmed the bottom, which is fast becoming my favourite way of finishing garments, now that I have gotten over my hatred of hand sewing! Then, she was complete.

For some reason I then left her sat in my wardrobe looking at me, until the day I came to wear it to work and I realised I love it, I love the colour and it has suprisingly won me round as a summer dress, I love the shape and I love the square buttons the most!!

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It’s been a great challenge to be part of and I’ve since tackled two more collars, which you will soon see on my next makes, I’m sure.

Liberty Block Dress

I’m not one to go crazy for Liberty, I can appreciate it’s loveliness but I’m not too upset if I can’t have it in my life. However, when I saw some remnants going cheaply, I, of course, picked some up. I didn’t have enough to make anything substantial with so I was thinking maybe pockets, make up bags etc… That was until I was planning to make Threadcount 1501 (which was free with Love Sewing Magazine once upon a time) with the fabric I bought from the Sewing for Pleasure Show and I realised that it has an option to do a block skirt. 

There’s been many sneak peeks of this on instagram because I tried to enjoy it and sew it slowly. 

Some of the pieces I had fit the pattern pieces absolutely perfectly and I enjoyed the process of playing around with the order and deciding which colours would look best together. This is such a joy with these fabrics because they have so much colour and detail. I picked out the blues in the fabrics and bought a plain cotton in a Cornflower blue for the bodice.
I made the skirt up first and enjoyed the easy process of joining the pieces.  I love the shape of it, it has small pleats at the top and gathering to make it a nice shape. I was really pleased with the way the seams matched up too. It’s made me feel that I could confidently use more remnant pieces to make garments.

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I then moved on to my bodice, I cut the front and side pieces slightly larger to account for my FBA and should’ve made the sleeves slightly bigger too. This is something I usually remember to do to account for my chunky arms, but I forgot and as a result the arms are a little tighter than I would like. Again, I was so pleased with the way it all lined up, the princess seams and the pleats met perfectly at the front and the darts met the pleats at the back. I was really pleased with this because I think it shows that my accuracy is really improving.

I hemmed it in red thread and used a bias binding on the neckline as I do as often as I can get away with. I inserted the zip, though I’m a bit disappointed with myself because I chickened out of trying a proper invisible zip again. I really need to learn how to do them…

Anyway I wore this to our favourite restaurant on our holidays with my trusty wrap cardigan and light blue heels. It made me feel really girly but without being too frilly (I hope so anyway, frills and frou frou are not my thing!)

I love the style of it and I can’t wait to make my next one which will have a royal purple bodice with a water colour city scene skirt! I love this fabric. 

Breezy Birdy Tee

Me Made May has been so good to identify gaps in my wardrobe. It has become very apparent that I don’t have many separates. I am definitely a dress kind of girl but I don’t wear dresses all the time and I definitely need more casual separates in my life. 

With this in mind, I embarked on Mccalls M6927. It’s a pattern I got free with Sew Style although it only goes up to a size 16, it allows for different cup sizes which is where I usually need a bigger size. So I cut the biggest cup option and graded it up slightly so it was more like an 18. I made view C, which is really basic and exactly what I needed. 

I made it using this lovely turquoise with bird shapes on it, which was an absolute bargain from The Textile Centre. The pattern is levelled at easy and it really was. As I usually do if I can get away with it, I opted for bias neckline rather than a facing and I used it on the hems of the sleeves and on the bottom hem too. 

It was that quick to sew, that I really don’t know why I don’t have more separates like this in my life!! It’s a really easy top to throw on with jeans, perfect for my chilled holidays. 
I like it that much that I immediately decided to make another using some fabric from a bundle I am reviewing for Minerva Crafts. You’ll see it soon I hope. As there are so many options and different ways to change this top up, I can’t see it becoming a firm favourite.

I wore it with my RTW shorts and it was made just in time for my holidays to Bamburgh and the end of Me Made May! 

I convince Kyle to do some jumping pics
There’s a castle behind my head!

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