A Very British Summer

One of the things I love about being part of online sewing communities is getting to experience other countries, communities and cultures through the images and details fellow seamstresses share of their creations;  ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ or so the saying goes.

This notion inspired my latest sewing project; through my sews and images I hoped to convey what life is like for me and my family in the UK in the summer. I decided to tell my story though Twig and Tale patterns.  Those that have followed me know I have a particular fondness for Twig and Tale patterns and so it was only right I should use those to best convey MY Summer.

For me Summer is all about strawberries!  Strawberries and Cream, described by the Independent as ‘a minor British institution’ are very much a national dish in the UK during the summer months, one of the key statistics quoted after the Wimbledon Tennis Championship final is the amount of Strawberries consumed (166, 055 portions in 2017 in case you were wondering)!  Strawberries, Summer and the UK literally go hand in hand!  My family and I spend many summer days at one of several local Pick Your Own farms harvesting strawberries, and I have done since I was very young, so this is where I decided to take my  photos.

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So our outfits.  My daughter’s dress was also all about the strawberries!  I opted to make my daughter a Driftwood dress.  The Driftwood dress and blouse pattern is the latest Twig and Tale release and despite only being out for a very short time is definitely one garment that features very heavily in my daughter’s wardrobe.  Made in cotton lawn, as used here, it’s cool and airy and perfect for balmy weather.  There are sleeve options though I went ‘off pattern’ and simply hemmed the long sleeve – the sleeve has a bell shape to create a voluminous look when gathered into a cuff or with elastic, hemming it retained the 60’s bell shape seen here.  Photo 29-07-2017, 10 06 13

The Driftwood dress is a very simple dress but has some beautiful professional finishing techniques which give it an elegant finish.  The bias binding neckline is probably the most fiddliest part of the construction but it is very well explained and there is a full video tutorial for additional support.  For my daughter’s neckline I opted to make my own bias binding.  Although you could make construction quicker by using ready-made, shop bought bias binding, as I did with my blouse, I find ready-made shop bought binding so much stiffer and, as a result, far more fiddly and harder to work with.

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For my eldest son, I also used the Driftwood pattern.  The blouse and dress are both options in the pattern and thus help to make it unisex.  My son actually prefers to wear his Driftwood shirts instead of his jersey t-shirts as he finds them cooler in the sun.  This Driftwood was made in double gauze which is a perfect warmer weather fabric choice because of it’s breath-ability.  I used a similar fabric for my son’s Tree Climber Pantaloons creating a loose and relaxed outfit.  I opted to leave the neckline open with my son’s driftwood to complement the loose and relaxed look.

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I used the same fabric for my youngest son’s Barefoot Romper as I did for my eldest’s shirt.  The Barefoot Romper has so many options and different combinations to achieve different looks, as a pattern, it represents incredible value for money.  I choose the flat front, knee length, with broad cross over straps and kangaroo and back pocket.  In retrospect, I probably should of chosen a different fabric for my youngest son or made some alterations to my method and seam finishes in particular; he is far more rough and tumble than his older siblings and his clothes are put through so much more strain, there were signs of stitching being pulled though the loose weave of the double gauze on the seams under the most strain.  I’ve read that French seams are a good choice for double guaze to help create a stronger seam so that may of helped here.  Something to try next time.

Of course the joy of harvesting your own fruit is getting to sample the produce and, again,  I’m not sure there is anything more British than an Afternoon Tea picnic with scones, jam, cream and strawberries!

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I do look forward to seeing your countries, communities and cultures reflected in the garments and images you produce, do share them with me and the rest of the world here, on Instagram  or through online sewing communities.

Many thanks to Manor Farm Fruits in Tamworth for allowing me to take photos for this post.

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The Biker Coverall

One of the things I love about being able to make my own or my children’s clothing is the ability to create looks that you cannot find on the high street either through my use of incredibly creative and striking fabric prints or very unique sewing patterns, sometimes, I like to go all out and do both and the results are truly awesome!   My Biker Coverall is one such example!

MW Patterns is very much a new to me pattern company.  I will be honest, I was a little nervous about purchasing their Biker Coverall pattern not least because I would consider it to be at the high end in terms of pattern pricing costing a little over £18 ( I have since discovered that their Facebook group runs occasional discount days and special offers which would help reduce the cost).  I had a nightmare setting up an account on their website (I actually didn’t even purchase through the website in the end but rather through their Etsy store), which also made me nervous about purchasing.  I finally made the decision to purchase when I received some epic fabric from Llfab UK (‘Glass Houses’ available to preorder on their website until 11th July) and decided it needed something super special to show it off.

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Llfab UK sent me one of their amazing child sized panels alongside the main print.  Llfab UK’s panels offer incredible value for money; they are a very generous size (child sized panels are 48.5 x 50cm) meaning they can be used as whole pattern pieces for many children’s garments – I’ve previously used them as whole leg pieces – they also have so much detail across the whole piece meaning every part of it is a usable piece of fabric.  As I wanted to use as much of the panel as possible and not ‘waste’ the detail I needed to find a garment for my youngest son (3) which would offer a ‘big’ area and this was another reason I chose the Biker Coverall.  With it’s asymmetric zip, one side of the coverall is significantly bigger than the other so it would work well with bigger prints or panels.  The coverall is not originally designed for panels and so I did have to make a modification but no trickier than cutting the left side pattern piece where my panel would finish and adding seam allowance (which you already have to do for all the pattern pieces anyway).  This was the only modification I made to the pattern pieces and once I’d sewn the two parts of my left side pieces together followed the tutorial.

 

I was very pleasantly surprised by the tutorial.  Firstly it was in English.  I regularly purchase and use European patterns and am very friendly with Google Translate so I was never put off by the fact MW Patterns is a Swedish company however to find the pattern was written in English was a real bonus.  The translation is, in general, very good, there’s the odd spelling or grammatical error but it is still very understandable and the picture tutorial which accompanies the written tutorial is very detailed and clear and supports understanding.

There are one or two additions I would make.  Step 2 talks about sewing the zip in carefully as stretched fabric can become overstretched, I often find when sewing in zips in fabric, especially ‘moving’ fabrics (i.e. fabrics that can stretch or distort), interfacing is important to stop it stretching or distorting.  I did add a 1 inch strip of lightweight interfacing to both front pieces where the zip was to be sewn in.  I would also like to see guidance on arm binding for the sleeveless variation mentioned at the end of the tutorial.  There is no mention of size or how to insert it which might be important for non-confident seamstresses.  For the length of my knit binding I usually work on 80% of the arm opening with seam allowance on either end (certain fabrics, like ribbing, need a slightly smaller percentage (75%), others may need slightly more). Width can vary according to the look you want – I inserted my arm binding in the same way I inserting my cuffs so I doubled my desired arm binding width as the piece was to be folded and added seam allowance to the top and bottom.  My width of my binding piece was 2 inches.

 

I was extremely pleased with my Biker Coverall.  I love the look and the inside was very neat and very professionally finished.  It fit’s my average size 3 year old well all over.

 

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I would have no hesitation in buying patterns from MW Patterns again.

Disclaimer:  I was not a pattern tester for this garment nor do I have an affiliation with the company or associated groups.  

Glass Houses is available to preorder from Llfab UK until 11th July and is available on cotton lycra, woven, brushed poly and minky bases, international shipping options and layaway is available. 

 

 

My Oceanside Dress

There are many things I love about itch to Stitch Designs patterns.  They are very well written to give a highly professional finish and the designs themselves have plenty of unique details and design features.  The new pattern, the Oceanside dress, is no exception.

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The Oceanside dress is a casual or sporty style relaxed fit dress.  The cute ‘V’ cut out and raglan sleeves allow for creative colour-blocking (though there is an option to leave out the V should you wish for a simpler sew or style) and the cinching waistband shapes the dress to perfectly enhance and flatter the female form.

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The dreamy drapey look of this dress is greatly enhanced by a lighter-weight knit with good drape, of course, as there are no fastenings, the fabric needs to have a good stretch (50-70% stretch is recommended) and good recovery. I choose a stretch viscose for both my main fabric and contrast.  My main fabric was a simple stripe and my contrast a coordinating solid.  I felt the stripe would play to the sporty style of the dress and the lighter background would make the dress feel refreshing and summery.  An unexpected benefit of my stripe fabric was the effect that was created by the half circle skirt, turning my stripe into a very interesting ‘wave’, a unique design feature of my dress which fitted in beautifully with the ‘oceanside’ theme/name of the pattern.

The dress is a relatively straight forward sew.  One of the things I loved about the construction of this dress was the detail in a seemingly simple style – the sleeves attached to the bodice to form a V which mirrored the cut out on the front of the bodice and mirrored the V created where the unique sleeve band meet the sleeve at the sleeve seam.    It makes for a very satisfying sew when these detailed design features come together so well and so easily and is testament to how thought out and well written the pattern is.

The dress itself was incredibly comfortable and very flattering.  The waistband was not uncomfortably tight and helped shaped the dress to my curves whilst the relaxed bodice and skirt skimmed around, rather than clung to, my chest and hips.  The dress ended just above my knee which is the ideal length for my everyday style and activities, as it would be very easy to lengthen and shorten this skirt I intend to try some different lengths in my future versions – I will definitely be throwing a slightly shorter version of this dress in the bottom of my beach bag to use as a beach cover up, being so lightweight it will be perfect for protecting my skin whilst staying cool in the midday sun.

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All in all, this was a very enjoyable sew with a very satisfying result; a comfortable and flattering and very wearable everyday garment.

The dress is on sale now, no coupon code needed, until Tuesday 4th July, with an additional $1 discount available to members of their facebook group for the first 24 hours (until 8am Wednesday 28th June)

Twig and Tale Cosy Toes Tour; Hubby and Me

Hello and welcome to my stop on the Twig and Tale Cosy Toes blog tour, with so many incredible footwear patterns available in the Twig and Tale shop including the newly released adult Tie Backs, this is guaranteed to be an exciting tour full of lots of different designs and ideas.

I was thrilled to discover that Twig and Tale were extending the size range of the popular tie back boots to fit adults; I have been a big fan of the children’s boots, a very straightforward and rewarding sew with a professional finish, for a long time. The development of the pattern has also seen developments to the instructions in the form of a full video tutorial making the pattern even more accessible to all levels of sewing experience.

My inspiration behind my boots was my husband, my soul mate, with whom I’ve recently celebrated a significant anniversary with.  The tie back boot pattern is suitable for both women and men and covers ladies sizes 5-12 and mens sizes 8.5-15, so is perfect for couples – hubby and me – sets; with very few patterns available for men’s footwear this is somewhat of an unusual and exciting opportunity.  I decided to create a ‘union’ in the form of footwear by upcycling our clothing to create each others boots – we would literally be each others ‘sole’ mates!  I felt this would serve t+o create a sense of closeness to each other when we were apart; I could see this concept working so well for other relationships and not just couples, using your own or grandparents clothing to create first boots for newborns for example, or upcycling the clothing of distant or absent relatives to form boots to bridge the distance.

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The tie back boots, both adult and child, are a fully lined boot meaning there are no exposed raw seams, not only does this give the boots a highly professional finish but it also makes them much more comfortable.  For my outer boot I choose to upcycle old jeans.  Jeans are one of my most favourite things to upcycle as denim is very easy to work with and also jeans tend to have more interesting features like exposed stitching and stitching patterns and patch pockets which I love to incorporate in my projects to add extra interesting details without any extra work for me!  I’m very envious of my husband’s boots as the patch pockets on my old jeans were the perfect size for the front toe pieces of his boots – how perfect is that little pocket for a handwarmer mini heat pad!?!

The belt loops off my husbands jeans were the perfect size and length for the tabs on my boots saving me a job but also adding a decorative feature to my boots.

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For my lining I used brushed cotton shirts.

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The pattern itself, like all Twig and Tale patterns, gives detailed guidance and ideas about upcycling clothing for these boots, this includes a guide to felting woollen sweaters.  Since the boots can be made with a wide range of different materials – albeit giving a slightly different look depending on the material chosen – you will find you have plenty of options when it comes to upcycling.

The pattern has two boot height options; I choose regular height but there is an option for a longer boot, sizing wise my husband measured an 11.5 and I measured a 7, although this is true to our ‘real world’ sizing, I would always recommend checking measurements.  To get a more accurate measurement place you heel against a solid wall and stand straight before measuring, I found it easier to stand on a piece of paper and mark a line at the end of my foot and measure that – this was particularly helpful when measuring myself.  The pattern does advice that this boot has a generous fit and that should you want a tighter fit to go down.  The fit of my boots enabled me to wear the boots with thicker woollen socks on.

In terms of fabric usage, my size 7 boots only required half of my husband’s jeans for my outer boot, my husband’s boots required the majority of my jeans.

In the past, I have used several slipper patterns from a range of designers, one of the things I love about this pattern in particular compared to many others is the seam allowance included in the pattern.  At the Twig and Tale standard 3/8th inch (1 cm), I find this seam allowance so much easier to work with, and much more forgiving, than some of the much smaller seam allowances I have encountered in other patterns.  This is one of the reasons I think this pattern is as suitable for novice sewers as it is for more experienced ones.  The other reason I consider this pattern suitable for all levels of sewer is the tutorial, with full colour pictures and non-technical language, it is very easy to follow.  The accompanying video tutorial also supports more visual learners.

Construction was very straightforward.  In most cases, when sewing with fabrics made of natural materials I would use a sharp needle, for these boots I opted to use a denim needle for the outer boot because of my use of original jeans features making the boots thicker in parts – denim needles are angled to reduce tension when going through layers – this worked fine.

My husband and I were very pleased with our boots.  Our worn jean fabric gives the boot a slightly more slouchier appearance than you would achieve with ‘new’ denim or wool.  I really love how the irregular fading and original jean features add interesting details to the boots.

The adult tie back boots pattern is on sale until Midnight (pst) Friday 9th June 2017, the price is already discounted on the site so no code is needed.  As part of the Cosy Toes tour you can save an additional 15% of the adult tie back boots pattern, and any other footwear pattern, using the code COSYTOES.

Be sure to stopover at the other Blog Tour hosts to discover the entire range of Twig and Tale footwear patterns.

Toady you will find inspiring posts from Fleigfederfrei, Createnic and Sew Snippet.

Tomorrow you will want to visit Sew Shelley Sew, She who Sews , Life in Our Busy Household and Naeh Connection.

Thursday be sure to check out Skirt Fixation, Sprouting Jube Jube , Needle and Ted and Just Add Fabric.

A big hello to old friends and new …

Hello and welcome to my brand new shiny blog!  I know some of you have already been following my sewing adventures on my previous blog and instagram (thank you!), for anyone who I haven’t met before, my name is Amy, I live in the UK and am a stay at home mum to three children.  My sewing adventure started at the age of eleven when my mum bought me a second-hand sewing machine, no one in my family had (or has) any experience of sewing so much of what I have learnt and accomplished has been self-taught, learnt through trial and error or encounters with incredibly talented seamstresses along the way.  My sewing adventure is nowhere near complete and I make lots of new discoveries – be it new techniques, patterns, hardware, fabric bases, shops or sewing based web pages – everyday, and this blog was born from that.  I hope you enjoy sharing my sewing adventure with me and my discoveries and posts help you along your own sewing adventures.