#FeelingSewMuchBetter Challenge: My Week Of Slow Sewing

I stumbled across the #feelingsewmuchbetter challenge on instagram after a few people I follow posted for the first day. Its run by Sister Mintaka, a fabric shop and haberdashery, and the premise is to pick a project and sew a bit everyday and hopefully finish by the end of the week and a winner is picked randomly each day to receive Sister Mintaka vouchers. I thought I would join in as I often sew for a whole day straight and I very rarely take more than 2/3 days of continuous sewing to finish a project. As a very busy person I decided it would probably do me a lot of good mentally and physically to force myself to just do a little bit each day. Its not about finishing, its about doing every step slowly and consciously and enjoying the process. I thought I would blog about it for this exact reason because its a new experience, something to document, discuss and share. I will do a micro-blog each day and then I’ll review at the end of the week. Without further ado lets get going!

Day 1

After only finding out about the challenge at lunch time, I spent the rest of today thinking about what project, fi any, I would like to attempt to join in. I say ‘if any’ because I didn’t want to just sew for the sake of it if it wasn’t something I had planned on making but I went through my stash extension – which is the part of my stash that has escaped the main box and so needs to be sewed more urgently – and decided that it was finally time to have a go at my Tilly and the Buttons Nora jumper. I’ve been meaning to make one for ages and this pattern does feature on my make nine grid for 2021. For fabric I chose a fun scuba/textured midnight blue jersey remnant which I’ve had in my stash for a while. Looking forward to sewing this project this week!

Day 2

Disaster struck almost immediately tonight as I laid out my pattern pieces on my fabric and immediately found I didn’t have enough fabric. I always forget that Tilly and the Buttons patterns do actually use the amount of fabric they say they will on the pattern envelope! So it was back to the drawing board and I came up with the two fabrics you can see on my instagram story below. I asked you all to help me choose which fabric I should use and it came back as a straight 50/50 which was unhelpful. At that point I mentally decided that I am definitely going to make both of these into a Nora as I think they would both be cute for different reasons but honestly it came down to the fact that I am absolutely freezing so I chose the extremely cosy Salmon/Coral-Coloured Knit from Lamazi Fabrics and I will make the Polka Dot Nora in the summer as the fabric is very light. I then got on to cutting the fabric and stupidly I decided to use my mid-range scissors instead of my super fancy new ones and I wish I hadn’t! This fabric was a pain to cut and foresee some frustrating and slippery sewing so the jumper better be super snuggly. One thing I would mention is that once again the Tilly and the Buttons patterns have got my back up as I think the sizing is way off. I came up as a 12 in the pattern due to my bust which I wouldn’t mind if the waist was right but its not, I wear a 36″ bust but a 26/27″ waist which normally puts me between two sizes which I have to grade. However for Tilly and the Buttons I am two sizes apart and trust me its really hard to grade between an 8 and a 12 especially when we think about shoulders and back pieces. I don’t know what it is about the bodice block because the waist to hip ratio is pretty standard. I come up as an 8/10(by an inch) which is absolutely fine but I wonder if there is a reason the bodice block is so square? In this case I’m making a 12 because its for loungewear so I don’t care about a close fit but its really frustrating!

Day 3

Today I was exhausted but I wanted to do something relating to my project so I decided to do something I almost never do – I actually read the instructions…in detail. I’m not sure if I’m the only one who does this so I might sound a bit weird but I often don’t read instructions, I will give them and the picture a glance for a bout 5 seconds and get one with it. The instructions I read are for techniques I’ve never done before, the first step of a pattern and of course I will depth read if I’m pattern testing for someone else. However on a normal day-to-day sewing basis I normally find that I know how garments are constructed and after about two steps I just get on with it. To me it feels like doing ‘nets’ in maths where you have a flat-lay of an object and you can see how it goes together so the instructions are kind of secondary unless its a complex garment – does that make sense? let me know in the comments below if its just me who’s weird like this. Anyway, I sat and I read as much as possible particularly as I’m determined to really make this jumper step by step. I know some people have chosen really tough projects this week but I have chosen something extremely simple that I would normally do in a couple of hours to make sure I actually take my time and sew slowly and consciously. Now I’m off to bed but I feel better armed to tackle this project step by step!

Day 4

Shoulder Seams Attached

I actually started sewing today and I made myself just do the first two steps. I stabilised the shoulders with some ribbon I had in my stash, it doesn’t match but its on the inside so who cares. Also I almost never use ribbon so I have no idea why I have so much? The pattern instructions suggested using a satin ribbon but I went for a quite stiff textured ribbon as my fabric is so fine and slippery so I thought it would work better, which it has. I then attached the shoulder seams and stopped there. Although I’ve been thinking about this project all week I feel strange stopping after these two steps as I know I could sew more right now but I am making myself stop and do something else. I’m trying to celebrate the steps, the little wins that make up a project. This fabric also has the potential to be immensely frustrating as its so fine that pins just fall out of it soo maybe its better for me mentally to take this make day at a time.

Day 5

Neckband is on

I’m starting to get into this slow sewing malarky! When reviewing my progress tonight and posting to instagram I got some lovely comments praising me for my stripe matching on my neckband which is hilarious because its entirely accidental. I swear whenever I don’t think about it I match patterns really well and whenever I try it doesn’t work. Regardless, the neckband is on and I’m pretty proud of it. Its nice and wide so I’m hoping I will be able to pull it on without having to take my glasses off. The dream.

Day 6

The Sleeves are on!

Today I nearly fell into the trap of keeping going and finishing my jumper today I’ve got the sleeves on which I’m happy with, they are even and neat and I’m so happy that due to the marl of the wool my white zigzag stitching is completely invisible as I had to fix one bit where I had accidentally caught the sleeve. I was just going to move on and do the side seams but I had to stop as I was getting so frustrated by the pins falling out of the fabric. Also I’m feeling really under the weather today (not Covid don’t worry) but I feel hot and cold and I keep shaking so I’m going to give it a rest now and have a very early night.

Day 7

Getting some use out of my fabric clips!

It’s the final day of the challenge and all I have to do is finish up the side seams, hem sleeves and close the stepped edges. I have been sat editing this blog this morning and listening to the Un:Cut Podcast which has been really relaxing and as I was sat thinking I realised the solution to my pin problem – I have fabric clips now! I’m not used to them yet as I only got them over Christmas but they worked like an absolute dream on my Nora. The only issue I had is that the sleeves were SIX INCHES, yes you read that right, six inches too long so I had to chop half the sleeve off to make it fit! Head over to my instagram to see how bad the situation was!

Completed TATB Nora

Here is my finished Nora! I love parts of it. I like the neckline, the fabric is so cosy and soft and I like the stepped hem. On the downside it is like a literal tent on me and honestly I don’t think I could wear it outside the house unless its tucked into something. The sizing is way off and after a rant on instagram this morning and many conversations with you all it seems the consensus is that Tilly and the Buttons sizing is not made for anyone with a significantly larger bust than waist. I chose a size based on my bust measurements but the rest of the garment is so enormous and its not even fitted on the bust so I think next time I will make a size smaller. Also having to cut 6 inches off the sleeve surely shows that something is wrong with this pattern? Although I love Tilly’s patterns I will be approaching them with caution in future and plenty of measuring, toile making and further attention to the finished garment measurements as well as the pattern sizing!

As for the Sister Mintaka #FeelingSewMuchBetter challenge I’ve loved it. I’ve loved giving myself permission to take things slowly, I’ve loved taking time over my makes and its been nice to do 5 minutes everyday. I’ve really enjoyed the consistency! Also its been wonderful to be part of a big community effort and see what everyone else has been making this week. Now I’m off to have a cosy night in my enormous Nora before the work week starts again!

Fabric Friday Reviews: My Sewing Box

Hello Everybody and welcome back to Fabric Friday! This week’s fabric purveyor is My Sewing Box, a wonderful independent fabric shop and haberdashery run by a mother daughter team, Amy & Angela. I particularly enjoy their instagram where they do long stories on the different equipment, fabric and notions they sell and what you should use it for; making My Sewing Box an extremely beginner friendly store.

My Sewing Box

  • Online Shop / Physical Shop / Both
  • Web Link: https://www.mysewingbox.co.uk
  • Core Purpose: Dressmaking Fabrics
  • Units of Sale for Fabric: 1/4 metre 

I have followed My Sewing Box for quite some time, as I’ve mentioned I love their instagram account and the way they relate to and understand their customer base. Their website is excellent and although I found the main menu a little overwhelming when I first looked, the main body of the website is simple, user friendly and well designed. Equally the payment process was simple and delivery was affordable and exceptionally quick even during an extremely busy Christmas period. They apologised on their IG for slow delivery but honestly they were quicker than most companies normal delivery! Delivery is free over £45 and standard delivery I paid is £4.50, again a little steeper than other suppliers but very speedy and very reliable so again, good value for money.

One thing that put me off to begin with was that fabric is priced and bought by quarter meter. Something you guys know I find a little frustrating! However the choice of fabrics available does make up for it. They stock a fantastic range of fabrics, haberdashery and notions for all skill levels and projects. I finally took the plunge after seeing their range of Christmas French Terry and I bought two types in their Black Friday sale to make myself a very cosy Christmas Jumper! My Sewing Box is a little pricier than other stores but I would say excellent value for money. I love how they have diversified and stock sewing gifts and books. They also offer a monthly subscription box which I am tempted by, I am actually going to look into whether I can buy one box as a one off to try it out first.

Rating

  • Range of Fabrics – 7/10
  • Cost – 6/10
  • Delivery (Speed / Cost) – 8/10
  • Ease of Use – 8/10
  • Ease of Payment – 8/10

Overall Score: 7.4/10

Overall My Sewing Box is a wonderful independent fabric shop, ideal for beginners because of their helpfulness and knowledge of their stock. They are a little pricier but I would say fulfil value for money easily and offer a wonderful service – I will definitely be shopping here again!

How To Choose Your First Overlocker

To the uninitiated Overlockers are baffling and choosing one even more so. Until this year I really didn’t need one, however, 2020 saw my sewing advance more than it has since I was 17 and now I’m looking for greater challenges as well as the ability to finish my seams with ease. In particular I want to tackle activewear and swimwear for which an overlocked is essential. After a lot of thought and a long phone conversation with my mum as we trawled through websites, we finally chose my first overlocker and its on it’s way to me now! Once I mentioned this on instagram I had loads of messages asking how I had chosen it, what specifications I looked for and if I had any advice on choosing an overlocker. I am by no means an expert however with the guidance of my mum, who is a bit of a sewing expert, and A LOT of web searching choosing my first overlocker was pretty painless. Now I’ve got a few tips and tricks that should help you to find your first overlocker easily.

Why Do You Want An Overlocker?

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

This is crucial. It can be easy on social media to convince yourself that you need a new piece of equipment just because other people are using it and using it to great success! (ahem…cricut machines) So when you start your overlocker purchasing journey its important to take a moment before you begin browsing, sit down with a piece of paper and answer these three questions:

  • What do want your overlocker to do?
  • What are you going to use it for?
  • What do you want your overlocker to do that your current machine can’t?

It is vital to understand what you wish to accomplish with your Overlocker that you can’t do with your current machine. Further more consider your sewing space, can you store your Overlocker easily? Once you have answered these questions then it will be easier to direct your search when it comes to individual models and specifications. After all you may want a more lightweight model if you’re just sewing Lycra whereas if you want to finish any fabrics then you may need a heavier weight machine. My choice rested on certain factors. I want to be able to finish off any garments regardless or weight or bulk as I’m awful for finishing seams. I want to sew with lycra and stretch to make my own activewear and yoga leggings which my current machine cannot do. So these were my criteria when I started to look at overlocker models.

What To Look For In An Overlocker

When it comes to specifications you do get what you pay for which is why one of my first pieces of advice is that if you are looking to go upmarket, wait for sales and offers as any reduction will help! However, as with sewing machines, you don’t always need all the spec’s on the fanciest of machines so if you are on a budget it’s a good idea to whittle it down to the base set of specific requirements you have and then anything you find above those but within budget is great. Also its a good idea to purchase from a well-known brand if you need to get parts, attachments or get maintenance done.

What Specifications Should You Look For?

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Overlocker specifications can initially feel baffling. Even for some who is very comfortable with seeing terminology, overlocker have a whole new layer of assumed knowledge so before we discuss machine specifics, I’m will attempt to demystify the specification categories.

  • Adjustable Stitch Length – Its important to make sure that you can alter stitch lengths and tension for different fabrics. Most machines can do this but if you are looking for a cheaper machine do make sure that you have this functionality.
  • Number Of Thread Lines – e.g. 2, 3 or 4. It’s a good idea to make sure your machine can do three and four thread overlocking again to give you options and the greatest functionality when you sew.
  • Differential Feed – The differential feed is the way the machine feeds the fabric through, similar to a walking foot. It’s a good idea if this is adjustable as it means you can adjust for different fabrics to make sure you’re not stretching or gathering fabrics, or that you can do so purposefully.
  • Presser Foot & Knife Options – an extra high presser foot lift and a larger knife is useful when working with bulky fabrics.

Beginner Machine Options

Just for transparency, I have no affiliate agreement with any of these brands. These are just some of the machines I looked and held in my shortlist before choosing my overlocker.

Good Beginner Options

  • Janome 9300DX – this model is very compact and provides good value for money. Sews up to 1500 stitches a minute, with 3 or 4 thread overlocking, adjustable cutting and seam width. Whatsmore this machine, unlike others, uses standard sewing machine needles so very easy to care for and replace needles. Janome also has great access for maintenance and spare parts as John Lewis stock their whole range.
  • Singer Overlock 14SH754 – This model was my initial choice as its very user friendly and a wonderful entry-level option with colour coded thread lay-in lines, with 2-3-4 threading and a range of hem and stitch options. The only thing to be aware of with this model is that it is quite lightweight so may not be suitable for heavy fabrics that being said, if you’re happy finishing woven seams on your sewing machine and just want this for lightweight stretch projects then it would be great!
  • Brother M343D – When I first mentioned on instagram that I had chosen an overlocker I got lots of messages wishing me luck and asking what model I had got. I would say about 90% of the people I spoke with had bought this model and love it! It’s a fantastic entry level machine, well priced and able to handle the majority of projects and fabrics with 3 and 4 stitch options as well as a handy tension release disc and colour coded lay-in lines. The only note on this machine is that it can be a little noisy so make sure you are overlocking in a space where noise is okay!

These were my shortlist and honestly it would have been one of these three except for the fact that Singer had a sale on so I went a little more upmarket! My new model is the Singer 14HD854 Heavy Duty overlocker, as used in the costume department for Dancing on Ice, so you know its good for lycra and stretch. Its got coloured coded lay-in lines, an extra high presser foot, it does 1,300 stitches per minute and it has a much larger knife and a heavier motor to get through any fabric you care to throw at it. I’m so excited for you to see my beautiful new overlocker when it arrives and rest assured there will be a full introduction blog and vlog!

I hope this post has been a helpful guide for purchasing your first overlocker and has illuminated one small corner of the overlocking world for you! Let me know in the comments below if you found this post helpful and I’ll see you guys next time.

Fabric Friday Review: MyFabrics.co.uk

Happy New Year everyone and welcome back to my Fabric Friday review blog which this year will be bi-weekly. Today we are talking about MyFabrics.co.uk, a large-scale online fabric and craft emporium based in Germany that stocks a large range of materials for sewing, knitting, crochet and textile crafts. MyFabrics is one of the biggest fabric shops I’ve bought from online and it was a very different experience to the mostly independant small businesses I patronise.

MyFabrics.co.uk

  • Online Shop / Physical Shop / Both
  • Web Link: https://www.myfabrics.co.uk
  • Core Purpose: Dressmaking Fabrics, Haberdashery, Wool & Crochet Materials
  • Units of Sale for Fabric: 1/2 metre minimum

My exploration of the site began as I was in need of christmas themed quilting cotton for a fun Christmas stocking making project and let me start by saying there is a great range of fabrics and craft materials (festive and normal). All of the fabrics are categorised into types and My Fabrics stock upholstery and quilting fabrics alongside dressmaking fabrics. Due to the scale of the operation they have broken down all fabric types in a sub-menu for ease of selection. One thing I found immensely frustrating is that the fabrics do not show you that they are out of stock until you enter the individual listing. Equally the listings are somewhat impersonal although they do give you all of the necessary information they lack the personal touch. However with a company of this size you don’t expect the personal touch, in the same way that I don’t expect a note from hobbycraft whenever I buy elastic. What the size of the company does enable is for you to personalise your own order. My Fabrics have a very useful feature when purchasing fabric in that when you want a specific amount over half a metre you can select it, for example you can buy 0.7m of fabric if you want. A feature which would be helpful if you want to build in an insurance buffer on the amount of fabric for example an extra 10/20 cm, 1.6m or 1.7m, when you don’t want to go up to the 2 metres.

What really let My Fabrics down for me was the delivery. I got no notifications of despatch and delivery was exceptionally slow. So slow that I began to think I hadn’t ordered anything! While slow delivery is acceptable at Christmas, what isn’t acceptable is no delivery notification, once you know its been shipped you just wait, but not even knowing if its left the supplier is unnecessarily stressful. However, when I did get them my Christmas fabrics were good quality and sewed up beautifully into Christmas stockings! If you want to see more about my fabrics and how I used them, check out the vlog below where Adam and I make Christmas Stockings.

Rating

  • Range of Fabrics – 8/10
  • Cost – 8/10
  • Delivery (Speed / Cost) – 4/10
  • Ease of Use – 6/10
  • Ease of Payment – 6/10

Overall Score: 6.4/10

My Fabrics are a good choice if you are on a lower budget and very good for all round crafting, sewing and quilting however I wouldn’t call them a specialist dressmaking fabric shop. However they are great for basics and I really liked the Christmas fabrics I bought. My Fabrics are well priced and the purchasing process is easy and simple. Unfortunately, delivery was quite incredibly slow and I got absolutely no updates from them so they won’t be my first call for fabrics however I would definitely recommend them for beginners and anyone who is branching into dressmaking from knitting/crochet etc as you would be able to get multiple materials in one place.

2021 Sewing Plans: My Top 9 Patterns For Next Year

It’s new years day, its absolutely freezing and I’ll be honest I’m still in my pyjamas. There’s something about the period between Christmas and New Year that makes absolutely everything and anything acceptable, so the pyjamas will stay at least for today until I return to the real world. I would love to say I’m still relaxed from the best christmas I’ve had in years but alas my MA assignments due on Monday now occupy most of my brainpower. I have however started reflecting on my makes from this year, the techniques I’ve learnt, the challenges I’ve overcome and I’m honestly proud of everything thats come off my sewing machine this year. This was the year I invested in an advanced sewing machine that is such a workhorse I doubt I’ll need another one for the next decade.

I’ve also begun to think about new years resolutions, aims and goals, I always make some and actually for the last three or four years I have achieved most of my goals and kept to my resolutions. I differentiate between goals and resolutions because resolutions are somewhat intangible and goals can be ticked off a list but i think both are important. This year I am going to set myself a few sewing resolutions!

Resolutions

  1. I will finish all of my seam edges all the time, not just when I feel like it.
  2. I will pre-wash all fabric even when its super inconvenient to do so.
  3. I will try to use up the fabric I have in my stash before buying more.

We will see how I go with these and I’ll report back in three months time to see how I’m getting on. I’m hoping this blog will keep my accountable!

Top Nine Patterns For 2021

After a lengthy period of trying on my clothes and excavating my wardrobe, I’ve also started reflecting on what pieces I would like to add to my wardrobe in 2021. I have seen other makers do this on instagram so I will be joining in this year and creating a Make Nine grid. Nine patterns or garments I would like to aim for this year. While these nine patterns will by no means be the only things I make, they will be core projects that I plan for and focus on in 2021. With the exception of the jeans, I don’t have fabric in mind for any of these makes and half of them I still need to buy the pattern! However I am going to try and do one big blog on each of them as well as the inevitable YouTube sew-a-longs and vlogs which I really love filming. I’f you would like to see me talk through these patterns in detail then head over to my youtube to see a full vlog! (linked below)

Tilly and The Buttons – Cleo Pinafore

Closet Core – Elodie Wrap Dress

Size Me Sewing – Florence Blouse

Tammy Handmade – Leona Dress

True Bias – Hudson Sweatpants

Megan Nielsen – Dawn Jeans

Tilly and The Buttons – Nora Jumper

Yoga Leggings

Fitted Work Blazer

So there we have it, my Make Nine patterns for 2021! I can’t wait to share the making journey for all these with you over the year. Let me know in the comments if you’re doing a Make Nine this year, and which sew-a-long and projects reviews you’re excited to see!

2020: The Year Of The Blog

As we approach Christmas, albeit a very 2020 Christmas, I have started reflecting on the year. While it’s been stressful in some ways, its been a great year for me, I started my blog/channel and instagram this summer to name one great thing!

Adam & Me in Zurich

I rang in the new year with Adam in Zurich while visiting his extended family. In January I had a great birthday and started playing badminton weekly with Adam for some time together from my busy work schedule. In February I left my stressful workplace and got a new job and I went on a bra making workshop at the New Crafthouse. I saw my family in London in March and my family and Adam’s family all had dinner together which was really special. Then the pandemic hit. After some extremely stressful moments considering whether or not I would be made redundant, my colleagues were put on furlough and I stayed full time helping clients reschedule their events across the next two years.

During this time I sewed a few things, did some pattern drafting and planning but my old red machine was getting to me a little, my motivation was slack and the living room was not configured in a way that let me have enough light to sew. Adam and I did some gardening and I taught and filmed a lot of yoga classes. But I wanted to sew more. I also had always wanted a blog. I have tried many times to keep a blog going but I always felt silly because I didn’t feel like I really had anything good to say. I could do the first few posts but then I just felt like I was forcing it. Its one of the great challenges of blogging to keep the authentic voice and purpose. However talking about sewing is something I can do and whats more I LOVE doing, much to the dismay of many of my friends.

Enter The Blog

My First Logo

I vividly remember the day I started this blog. 28th June, I was lying in bed watching treasure planet on Disney Plus and I’d been toying with the idea for a few days and then I decided to go for it that morning. I spent all morning trying to think of names, I enlisted my sisters to help but in the end I actually came up with So What If I Sew. Honestly ‘So What If I Sew’ is the crux of the response I give to people who make judgemental comments about my hobby and a response I’m sure we can all relate to. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t incredibly nervous about starting the blog because I am by no means an expert. In fact one of my first blog posts was put down by a woman who decided to tell me my scissors were rubbish and I clearly had no idea what I was talking about but I don’t care, I love sewing and dressmaking and it is for absolutely everybody.

So now here we are six months on and I’ve loved every minute of it. I love blogging and vlogging and instagramming. My YouTube Channel has been a great source of relaxation and fun, watching other sewing vlogs on YouTube has been very inspiring and the sewing community as a whole are wonderful and supportive. I am now starting to plan my landmark makes for next year and I can’t wait to show you all what I get up to. I am going to return to fabric Friday blogs in the new year but I am going to aim for fortnightly reviews instead. I will also do a monthly blog spotlight on a project and I’ll be asking on instagram what you guys want the blog to be on!

Now I’m off to relax with Adam before we go and pick up our Christmas Duck from the Farm Shop and start really getting ready for our first Christmas just the two of us.

Merry Christmas all and Happy New Year!

Tilly And The Buttons Eden Coat – Sewing Project

I’ve been a little bit absent on here recently due to my degree workload however if you head over to my youtube you can see what I’ve been up to for the last few weeks! In November, I finally, FINALLY, finished my Tilly And The Buttons Eden Coat. This project is by far the most complex make I’ve ever attempted and I am so proud that not only is the garment wearable but that it looks vaguely professional and its waterproof! I decided over the summer that I wanted to attempt this pattern as a present for my eldest sister so of course I had to try one for myself. I was nervous when I bought the fabric but it was also really exciting, it felt like such a big step forward in my sewing life. As I’ve always wanted a proper barbour jacket, I decided to make my coat in that style using black waxed cotton, a white floral cotton lining and brass zips and snaps. I tell you I was the most nervous I’ve ever been when I cut into the waxed cotton for the first time but it was worth it for the coat I’m now living in every time I go outside.

The pattern is labelled as ‘for improvers’ and is produced digitally as a PDF. While the pattern itself isn’t particularly complicated, there are a huge number of individual pattern pieces. The pattern and fabric cutting took a couple of hours and was mentally exhausting but after the cutting stage it wasn’t too bad. The instructions could be a lot clearer and I would like it if they were numbered and the pattern pieces were in bold when mentioned in the pattern to avoid some of the more confusing elements of the making process. Otherwise its a time consuming but not a particularly difficult sew and I had to work on it in the mornings only because the lighting in our house isn’t great and trying to sew black thread on black fabric in the evening sure does hurt your eyes! In this blog I’ve picked out a few elements that I liked, disliked and of which I feel other sewists should be aware. If you want to follow the whole making process check out my two part sew-a-long vlog linked below for more information.

Inserting my first jacket zip

Honestly I was most nervous about this step because I’d never done a jacket zip before, I’d never even sewn a zip using my new machine and new foot. So, true to form, I dived in head first and it went really well! I split the zip, placed the tape on each side and marked the top and bottom with chalk, made sure they were at the same height and went for it. I was surprised and delighted to find that jacket zips are actually quite simple and I am no longer scared of them – so thats a result!

Working with Waxed Cotton

Croft Mill have a wonderful selection of lightweight waxed cottons perfect for a ‘Barbour’ style waxed jacket. After great trepidation I was somewhat surprised to find I absolutely love sewing with waxed cotton. It’s a joy to work with, it stays where it’s put, you don’t need pins and it flows through the machine like a dream. My only advice would be to use a denim needle and if you want a 100% waterproof coat consider how you are going to seal your seams against the weather.

My First Snaps

At this point having made two Eden coats with two different snap applying methods I have a mixed opinion about snaps. My black Eden coat was my first attempt at applying snaps and it was incredibly frustrating. I used the Prym antique brass coloured snaps and the equipment that came with them to apply them and it was absolutely maddening. There is a small plastic tweezer type contraption that you fit a series of heads to and you use a hammer too apply the snaps. However using a hammer and the instructions, it took Adam and I over an hour to apply them all and it was not error free I can tell you! After this frustrating experience I bought the Prym Snap Pliers from The Makers Merchant to use on my sisters coat and they made a massive difference. I cannot recommend them enough the whole process took 15 minutes and I didn’t swear once!

Overall this coat has made me smile and its made me scream with frustration but I am proud of the result. Its surreal to look at it hung up next to my other coats for all the world as though I bought it somewhere. It’s a coat of firsts. My first snaps, my first jacket zip, my first lined garment, my first hood, my first patch pockets, my first piece of outerwear in fact! So of course there are little bits and pieces I would like to improve but its a win, a milestone and I am almost giddy with pride whenever I wear it. If you want to learn more about my making journey and process then have a watch of the vlogs below!

Follow my progress on YouTube!

Part 1:
Part 2:

Sewing Project: Tilly and The Buttons Lotta Dress Pattern Review

Hey everyone! Apologies for the prolonged absence I’ve just finished a massive project which I was vlogging so I’ve neglected the blog a little(more on that soon!) but today I wanted to check in with you all to tell you about my new favourite beginner pattern! That’s right, you guessed it, it’s the Tilly and The Buttons Lotta Dress. An over the head dress with an elastic area waist, optional grown-on sleeves and patch pockets. One of the wonderful things about this pattern is that it can be made in either woven or knots fabrics which is amazing!!

It’s a good, easy sew and great fun for beginners or more experienced sewists alike. I finished mine today and I’m already in love! I used a viscose marrocain from Rainbow Fabric Kilburn and followed the woven instructions. In this blog post I’m going to talk about the good points of the pattern and give you a few of my notes to consider when making the pattern for the first time.

Good Points:

Easy Construction

The beauty of the Lotta is the simplicity of construction, all the pieces are cut on the fold so you literally have a skirt and top each with two pieces and a neck facing/band – that’s it! It goes together as you would expect and as the sleeves are grown on even they are very low maintenance. For an experienced sewist it make the garment a very speedy make and it’s also not too intimidating for complete beginners.

Minimum Technical Sewing Required

This is the joy of the Lotta, it’s almost like a palette cleanser project, quick, simple, minimal brain work required! The simplicity of the garment construction is enhanced by the sheer lack of technical sewing. There are no zips, no fastenings, no darts, the only shaping is the elasticated waist which is the simplest of casings as it just uses the seam allowance from the top. It was a refreshingly relaxing sew coming after finishing my very technical Eden Coat.

Points To Be Aware Of:

Very Fabric Hungry

It surprised me how much fabric was required. I only just got my Size 10 Lotta out of 2 metres of fabric and that was with some extremely creative pattern laying. The pattern says you need 2/2.5 but as the fabric amounts aren’t listed for each size I assumed that I would need less. I pretty much always under-buy anyway because apart from my Eden Coat I’ve literally never used the whole amount fabric “required” for a project. The reason it needs so much fabric is because every single pattern piece needs to be cut on the fold, the larger sizes will also not fit on 45” wide fabric which is worth being aware of before you buy your fabric!

Hem Sleeves Before Closing Sides

Because these sleeves are grown on, you assemble them by first attaching the front and back bodice at the shoulders and then opening them flat, attaching the sleeve heads and finally sewing them up with one long side seam from the wrist to the waist. However what this means is that it is surprisingly hard to hem the sleeves once they are closed. This is not mentioned in the instructions and so by the time you realise it’s too late! So my advice is to ignore the instructions and hem your sleeve arms first and then sew up the side seam. You’re welcome!

Be Aware Of Hem Lengths

This is just a note for your own planning, I made the mini-skirt version which is supposed to sit above the knee however I am 5’2” and I had to remove 4 inches to get the skirt to just above my knee so please be aware that the skirt is fairly long.

The Lotta is a wonderful entry level pattern and I hope it brings lots of new people into the dressmaking community. It’s also a nice quick sew and a perfect dress for all occasions, its so nice to find a pattern that I can wear to work and socially. I am actually planning to make another one almost immediately out of a structured Navy Ponte Di Roma for a cosy winter work dress. To conclude, if you could only buy one pattern to make your first garment I would definitely recommend the Lotta! Got any tips, tricks or comments on the Lotta? Let me know in the comments below!

Sewing Plans For Lockdown 2.0

Hello everyone, I’m writing to you having just woken up from a nap after a fantastic Sunday roast courtesy of Adam and we are back in lockdown. Now I don’t mind lockdown especially, it’s a strange time but not much will change for me personally however mentally and emotionally its still very tiring. So! To combat this emotional time I have started thinking about the projects I want to accomplish in lockdown alongside the very significant amount of Christmas present sewing I’ve got to do. I’m sewing something for my mum, dad and eldest sister this year along with some other potential sewing presents so lots to do and therefore even more important that I continue some selfish projects to challenge myself as a sewist and make sure I’m still getting time to relax.

My current work in progress is my Tilly And The Buttons Eden Coat. I’ve been working on it for ten days so far and its incredibly tiring but I’m proud of my work and I’m super excited that I will have actually made myself a coat. It feels like such an incredible step forward and advancement in my sewing. I’m hoping to finish it by next weekend as I’ve got to make a whole second version for my sisters Christmas/Birthday present so I will write a blog post reflecting on the making process and any lessons I learnt along the way.

However there are a few other garments I’m looking to make in the next month or so which I have listed below:

Lotta Dress, Tilly And The Buttons

I’ve got these two stunning fabrics from The Sewist Fabric Shop and from Felicity Fabrics, both of which are destined to become Lotta’s however I’m not sure if I’ve got enough of the green one but I’m super excited to work with these fabrics and this pattern! I’m saving the first one up for this week, I think it will be a palette cleanser when my Eden Coat gets too much.

Nora Top, Tilly And The Buttons

As the weather gets colder the Nora top is really starting to call to me and luckily I’ve quite a few snuggly fabrics in my stash. I’ve got a grey rib knit, a coral rib knit as well as a cosy navy textured jersey/scuba and some other jerseys and I’ve got a feeling that the Nora will be making making appearances in my wardrobe. I’ll be writing a blog about my first Nora so stay tuned!

Wrap Dress, GBSB

Above is a picture of the first GBSB wrap dress I made in October. I want to make another of these now I understand the sizing better and make the adjustments I discussed last time. I have some gorgeous slightly heavier viscose jersey that is a black base with an abstract print from Rainbow Fabric Kilburn that would look stunning as a wrap so I just want to have another go at this pattern knowing what I know now.

Something with my waffle

I’ve not got a pattern in mind for this one but I have the most gorgeous ochre waffling from Felicity Fabrics and I really want to make something cosy and comfy for the winter. I was considering a cute yellow dressing gown but then maybe a Freya or similar would work for it? I’m not sure. Please let me know below if you’ve worked with a non-stretch waffle and if there any patterns you could recommend!

Florence Blouse, SizeMe Sewing

This is a new pattern purchase from SizeMe Sewing, a raglan blouse with shirred sleeves(never done shirring before so very exciting!) and I’m going to make it in my purple viscose marrocain from Rainbow Fabric Kilburn. I’ve been holding on to this fabric for ages now because I just couldn’t quite find the right pattern for it but as soon as I saw the blouse online and I knew this would be the one! Can’t wait to make this but definitely need to get some shirring elastic in.

Christmas Sweatshirt

Finally project on my wishlist. As we are stuck at home for the foreseeable I wanted to get into the christmas spirit buy some plain sweatshirting/loop back jersey and some christmas patterned sweatshirting to make two tone Christmas sweatshirt! It will be my first christmas video so I’m just looking at fabrics at the moment and then I will buy the fabrics themselves once I’m paid at the end of November!

So these are some of my sewing plans. Not a definitive list by any means but the projects that I have in my mind at the moment to complete before Christmas. Above all I don’t want to lose my sewing motivation because I’m sewing complex things for other people, I want a list I can turn to when my inspiration is low to just make something fun for me. I will learn loads from the presents I’m making but sewing for others can get a little dull so I’m excited to work through my personal sewing list. Now I’m going to finish uploading my first Eden Coat Vlog and tidy the house before another very busy week!

Fabric Friday Reviews: The Sewist Fabric Shop

Happy Friday everyone! What a week it has been; ups, downs and everything in between but here we are another friday and of course another Fabric Friday review. This week we are talking about The Sewist Fabric Shop a lovely little online fabric boutique with a gorgeous selection that I got the chance to explore this week. I was led here as part of my quest to find affordable McElroy fabrics and I was not disappointed in what I found!

The Sewist Fabric Shop

The Sewist Fabric Shop is run by the lovely Han and demonstrates a small but wide ranging selection of high quality dressmaking fabrics. While choice is still slightly limited, effort has been put in to make sure there are still a range of woven and knit fabrics available and I like the way the colours have been chosen what feels like seasonally. The shop right now exhibits a beautiful autumn palette and going through the knit section just makes me want to buy sweatshirting and make something cosy! Most of the fabrics are plain which is quite refreshing to see as most shops focus on patterns but it would be nice to see one or two feature fabrics. That being said new fabrics are added regularly and the beautiful Lady McElroy fabric I bought is patterned so it may be the selection I’m looking at on the site currently is plainer. and the fabrics themselves are sold by the half metre, priced on the medium to high end of the scale with a minimum of £8 per metre up to £14/15 per metre.

Delivery was a little on the slow side however we are still in a pandemic so it doesn’t bother me too much. The packaging was lovely, my fabric came carefully folded in a large letter sized cardboard box, wrapped in tissue with a branded card. No handwritten note but a nice branded card with their shop and social media details and I do like that my fabric came with a label attached explaining the length and fabric qualities etc. The website is good, very user friendly and I love the ability to filter and reorder the fabrics on the subpages. Equally I like the presence of the fabric types underneath the woven/knit subdivision, its a nice piece of user-friendly design. The one thing that frustrated me somewhat as I speed bought my fabric on my phone is that I had to create an account rather than having the option to check out as a guest. That ia little thing but I don’t like having to create an account because its just another password to forget and reset however it didn’t mar my purchasing experience and its nice being able to look back on exactly what you ordered!

Rating

  • Range of Fabrics – 6/10
  • Cost – 7/10
  • Delivery (Speed / Cost) – 7/10
  • Ease of Use – 8/10
  • Ease of Payment – 6/10

Overall Score: 6.8/10

The Sewist Fabric Shop is a wonderful new discovery from me and honestly its earned a spot on my list just for having such good selection of high quality plain fabrics, something I often struggle to find! The purchasing experience was positive and I know Han is constantly making improvements and adjustments to the site which I love to see because it demonstrates a level of care and attention to the actual customer journey as well as the stock. I’m thoroughly looking forward to buying from here again, now to plan something cosy I can make with that sweatshirting…