Friday, 28 March 2014

Easy Short Sleeve Dress: Take 2

Hello everyone! It's another Friday afternoon where I've let myself finish work early, so I thought I'd come and show you my latest finished creation. Here it is, my 2nd version of the Pattern Runway Easy Short Sleeved Kimono Dress...

This really is a super easy pattern; my original version (here) was one of the first garments that I sewed for myself, and even with my limited experience at that point it was fairly straightforward. Now that I've had a bit more practice, it came together really quickly, which is always nice and satisfying.

For my first version, I used a poplin and I said at the time that I thought it might be better in a fabric with a little bit more drape. This time, I used a lovely lawn that I found half price in the sales after Christmas (Minerva also have it here if you want some bright flowers in your life!), and I am happier with the end result. Looking back at that blog post, I think I also realise how much easier I find it posing for blog photos now. Don't get me wrong, I'm no model by any means but I used to HATE it, now it's bearable at least!

I didn't completely love the dress when I first tried it on, but then I realised I just needed to add a belt to it - the waist of the dress is elasticated anyway but I need a bit of waist definition or else I end up looking like a bit of a blob. Luckily, I have a couple of belts that go really well with the dress, so I decided to go crazy and use two different styling options for these photos. It may have been sunny while I was posing for them, but it definitely wasn't warm enough to be hanging around in a cotton dress without any layers under/over it and I did get a couple of funny looks!

Having taken two different sets of photos shows how versatile this dress could be - it looks good layered up while there's still a bit of a chill in the air, but will be good once it's warmer too, and it can easily be dressed up or down. Definitely a good addition to my wardrobe.

This button is the only fastening on the dress, which is one of the reasons why it's so quick to sew up and why it's a good pattern for beginners. It's also quite a relaxed fit so you don't need to worry as much about fitting issues as you do with some patterns.

All in all, another successful project as far as I'm concerned! It's being worn layered up for now, but I'm looking forward to the weather being warm enough to wear it on its own - and with the sun shining through my window this afternoon that time isn't feeling as far away as it has been recently!

Friday, 21 March 2014

Pretty Petals Paper Piecing

It's Friday afternoon and I finished work early (the advantage of being freelance!) so I thought I'd take the opportunity to show you my latest creation. I've got a couple of bigger sewing projects on the go, but in between working on them I decided to sew up this pretty little makeup bag. It's made using a design by Florence of Flossie Teacakes which was featured in issue five of the relatively new magazine Love Patchwork and Quilting (if you're in the UK and interested in patchwork or quilting then check it out, lots of lovely inspiration and ideas!).

While I mainly love sewing my own wardrobe at the moment, I also have a mountain of small bits of material and scraps which, short of making myself some sort of crazy patchwork technicolour dreamcoat, are never going to be big enough to turn into clothes so I need to find other uses for them. I kind of like the idea of making a quilt, but am slightly scared of the reality of it, so at the moment small little projects like this are a good compromise!

I made the bag using some lightweight denim, which was once a very well worn skirt, and the flowers and lining materials are some of the many bits and pieces I have left over from making masses of bunting for my sister's wedding the other year.

The flowers are sewn together using English paper piecing. You can see in these photos that my stitching probably leaves quite a bit to be desired but I'm working on it.

I made a couple of patchwork tea cosies and a patchwork cushion a year or so ago using paper piecing, and I really enjoyed the process then, but hadn't done any more since. This small little project has reminded my that I liked it and I think I might have to try something a bit bigger soon. Much as I love my sewing machine, things like this are much more portable, and unlike lots of people, I actually really like a bit of hand stitching every now and then - as long as there's something good on the TV anyway!

I went into autopilot when it came to putting the actual makeup bag together - I've made quite a few little pouches like this (they're quick and easy to make, and make great presents!) so I just used the method that I've always used, but I've just looked at the magazine again and it's actually pretty much identical to Florence's instructions so it's all good.

I think that's about all I've got to say about this one! I've just finished a new dress though so hopefully I'll be able to get some pictures of that soon and then I'll be back to show you. Have a good weekend everyone!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Simple Denim Skirt

While it's always nice to try new patterns and learn new skills, sometimes you just fancy a simple sewing project using a pattern that you know and love. This was just the mood that I was in this week, so I set about making another version of the Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt, this time in denim.

The Hollyburn was the first thing that I made for myself when I took up dressmaking, I made a second version quickly after and I've worn the second one in particular quite a bit - the first one not so much recently but it'll definitely be coming back out this summer. It's a great beginner's sewing pattern, nice and simple and with no fitting issues - as long as you've got the waistband right, you're sorted! It's a shape that I really like and that suits me, so when I wanted a simple project this was the obvious choice. As with my second version, this time I made view C with the belt loops from view A.

The fabric choice was also a no brainer because a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to win some denim and other related goodies in a giveaway from Winnie of Scruffy Badger Time - thank you again Winnie! If anyone fancies some denim for themselves, it's available with the other bits that I won as a kit from Minerva.

Anyway, winning the denim was quite exciting for me because I never win anything, and it was particularly well-timed because I needed a new denim skirt. I don't really wear trousers, so denim skirts are sort of like jeans for me - they go with everything and are easy to throw on so get worn a LOT.

My prize came with some fun gold ric rac, which I was going to use as a trimming around the pocket edges, and some nice contrasting top stitching thread, which I did even start using at one point, but then I decided to keep things totally plain this time so that the skirt will go with absolutely everything. And it means that the fun of using up my prize can be extended to another project!

The denim is obviously quite a bit heavier than the cotton and cord that I used for my first two versions of the Hollyburn, and that means that the skirt has a bit more body to it and hangs a bit differently which is quite nice. I think it'll probably soften up a little bit with wear - I've worn the skirt a couple of times already since I finished sewing it and I can already notice a slight difference.

All in all, this project did exactly what I wanted it to - it was nice and quick and has filled a little hole that had recently developed in my wardrobe. Now I'm ready to get my teeth into something more complicated again - watch this space!