Friday, 16 October 2015


Today, I interrupt my usual stream of girly pretty things to bring you something a little different - a tipi!

It was my nephew's first birthday the other weekend, so obviously I needed to make something suitably fun for him.

The idea to make a tipi first came to me by chance when I was mistakenly sent the checked fabric you see here instead of what I'd actually ordered. The problem was quickly sorted, but the company said that I could keep the fabric they'd originally sent as well as the right stuff. To me, it seemed to be begging to be made into something for children, and I had masses of it so it might as well be something big; enter the tipi!

I decided that having all of the sides in the check might be a bit too overwhelming though, so wanted to get something plain to go with it. The canvas that I ended up using also came from a slightly unusual source, namely an army surplus shop. It's a really good quality fabric, and I picked up a massive piece for just £10. So combine that with the check fabric, which was effectively free, and bamboo canes which I stole (with permission!) from my parents, and it turned out to be a fairly cost-effective present.

To make the tipi, I basically followed this tutorial but calculated my own measurements based on the canes that I was using, although they ended up being not all that far away from the ones in the tutorial anyway.

I left off the extra embellishments used in the tutorial - I thought that with the busy check fabric it didn't really need anything extra and it possibly looks a bit more boyish plain anyway.

The only other slight difference is that I used buttons for fastening the tie backs on the front "door" sections instead of velcro, mainly because the velcro that I could have sworn I had seems to have disappeared. Rather appropriately though, the two buttons that I used were actually left over from a pack of buttons I got to use on a little coat I made for my nephew last Christmas which now fits him just right!

The tipi was pretty simple to make, after all it does just involve sewing a lot of straight lines. The only slight difficulty was manoeuvering the large amounts of fabric through my machine, but even that wasn't much of a hassle.

As you can see here, my nephew was very excited at the arrival of the tipi - although at first he did seem to think that it was just there for him to pull down! I think he has now realised it's quite fun to leave it standing and have a place to play too.

I really like making presents for people (well, people who I know will appreciate them anyway!) and, even though it seems ages away at the moment, I've already started making a list of present ideas for a certain day in December. Where do you stand on making presents?

In the meantime, I've got a finished dress that needs to be blogged so normal girly-pretty-things service will resume soon! See you then!

Friday, 2 October 2015

Anyone for tea? New Look 6723

I warn you now, today's post may contain excessive gushing about fabric. Why? Because this dress, my second version of New Look 6723, is made of what may be some of my favourite material I've ever used.

I'm also likely to spend more time talking about the fabric because, in terms of construction, this dress is exactly the same as my first New Look 6723, so there's not a lot new to say!

As a quick recap, I made view D and used a size 14 at the shoulders and graded out to a 16 from the bust downwards. I also elminated the centre front bodice seam, added pockets (from the Emery dress) and used an invisible zip instead of the lapped zip used in the pattern.

So that's a Liberty lawn from the Alice in Wonderland themed Spring Summer 2015 collection, and the print is called Suzy Elizabeth. Like many Liberty lawns, the small-scale print means that from a distance it looks like a bit of a random pattern, but look at it closer and its true fantasticness is revealed.

Hopefully this close-up lets you see the host of teapots, teacups and general tea party paraphernalia - it's really fun!

I loved the whimsical print as soon as I saw it online but, let's face it, Liberty don't produce the cheapest of fabrics around and my sewing budget is unfirtunately not limitless. Some things are worth paying for though, and the combination of what I know is a beautiful base fabric and a print that I adore seemed like it would be one of those things.

So, I decided to be a bit of a geek and save up for it. I had a little piggy bank that I'd been given with some chocolate in it at Christmas, which I put on my mantelpiece and every time I ended up with a few pound coins in my purse, I'd put one in the piggy bank. It's amazing how quickly the fund builds up without you even noticing! Has anyone else ever done that or am I just weird?!

Luckily for me, the saving process was cut short by Liberty putting the fabric in their sale, making it cheaper than any of the other sources of Liberty online, so I snapped up enough for a dress, and then I just needed to decide what pattern would be the lucky recipient of this beauty. As it's undoubtedly my favourite pattern, the Emery dress would have seemed like the obvious candidate, but I think that it's better with a slightly larger print so I decided not to use it this time. I was really happy with my first 6723 though, so that's the option I went for - and I'm really happy with the results!

I love both of my versions of New Look 6723, but what I think I appreciate most of all is the fact that the different scales and colours of the fabrics that I used makes them look like totally different dresses. The floral fabric of my first version is definitely a medium-weight cotton too, so feels very different to wear from this floaty lawn. Isn't that one of the lovely things about sewing? There are so many variables that can create such different garments.

It might seem like a strange time of year to be making a sleeveless dress in England, but there are lots of colours hidden in the the details in this print, which to me means plenty of cardigan options for warmth. I also think the dress will work paired with tights, so I'll still be wearing it for a while more this year. And the best thing? I just made a teapot necklace so now I have the perfecct accessory for my handmade dress! What have you been making recently?