Halo Sigma

Sigma dress

Yayy, I’ve made something that isn’t jeans! I’ve hardly made any dresses so far this year which is unusual for me, so decided to get back into it by using up a pretty stash fabric and trying a new pattern, the Papercut Sigma.

Sigma dress

I bought the pattern on a whim from Ray Stitch – a bit of an expensive whim at £15. I could/should have self-drafted this rather simple style from my blocks – this frock from December is pretty similar – but fancied some instant gratification without fiddling with dot and cross paper and French curves. The fabric is delicious Atelier Brunette ‘Halo’ viscose bought from M is for Make a while ago. It’s a really nice slightly heavier weight fabric that’s just perfect for dressmaking, and is in my current favourite colours to wear. I cut it all on the cross-grain – the little pebble shapes actually run vertically but I preferred them horizontal.

Sigma dress

I made the size small exactly as patterned and I’m pretty pleased with the fit. I did view 2 with the cute side gathers on the skirt and the sleeves shortened a couple of inches. It’s a bit blousier on the bodice than intended due to my drapey fabric choice, but I like that effect.

Sigma dress

It’s just a bit loose through the shoulders and upper back, but at least that makes it comfortable to move in. Be warned that the skirt is pretty short – I’m shortish and like short skirts and needed to do a baby hem to keep it decent.

Sigma dress

It’s got two elements I’ve tended to avoid for a while – a neck facing and a centre-back invisible zip. I’m slowly warming to both of these things: a facing is admittedly less likely to pucker than a bias finish, and since I’ve actually learned and practiced how to do invisible zips I like them much more than I used to. Always be learnin’.

Sigma dress

I’m really happy with this dress -it was a fun Sunday afternoon sew and the result is a perfect work or dinner-out kind of frock, the kind of which will get a lot of use. To be honest, if I were to make this style again I probably would be less lazy and use my blocks to knock-off the shape in order to address the minor fit issues around the shoulders. Oh well, it was worth buying anyway to fire up my dressmaking desires again and it’s a sweet little one to have in the pile.

A grellow living room quilt

Quilt

I finished a new quilt for our living room! I’ve been meaning to make one for us ever since making my first one for my sister last year, and decided to make it one of my Minerva network projects so I’d actually get around to doing it.

quilt1

This is my Minerva project for Feb and March combined since quilt materials can get quite expensive. I resisted my typical urge to Use All the Prints and picked solids from their cotton poplin range instead. This smooth and soft cotton was really great to work with and gives the finished quilt a lovely silky drape. Inside is a double layer of cotton wadding for extra puffy cosiness, and I used purchased wide bias binding around the edge.

quilt2
quilt3

I did my usual dozens of design options in Illustrator, but went for a simple random-colour HST (half-square triangle)-based design in the end. Mostly because I wanted to take the lazy route and use Thangles again to be honest. I do really want to make the tumbling block and flying geese designs at the bottom-right some day though. My sewing room spare bed definitely needs its own quilt next…

Quilt

My technique for making quilts seems to be the “intense sprint” kind of approach. I just know that if I cut all the triangles and left it for a while, I would literally never pick them up again. So I spent a pretty hardcore weekend getting the top completely finished in one fell swoop. The process goes a bit like this: cut strips to width; pin Thangle templates to strips; sew; pull off Thangle template paper; press squares; lay squares into design; pin each row together and mark row order; sew each row together; sew all rows together. If it sounds like a lot of steps, it FEELS like a lot of steps while you’re doing it too. The peeling Thangle templates and pressing steps were an especially brutal 2-3 hours bending over the ironing board, ugh. After that I had a bit of a break before doing the quilting and binding, which was luckily much faster.

Quilt
Quilt

The downside of the sprint approach does mean I got a bit sloppy with matching up my points perfectly. The quilting pattern is less than perfect too as it was really difficult to drag the quilt through my machine’s rather small arm. I ended up applying the edge binding by hand as I was sick of manoeuvring the quilt through the machine by that point. Luckily the imperfections don’t spoil the effect or enjoyment of the final quilt for me.

Quilt
Quilt

The finished size is 36 x 48″ (9×12 4″ blocks) which is a good size for me – it looks nice on the back of the sofa when not in use, covers the legs and lets my cat fully sprawl out as he’s wont to do. Luckily I don’t really like overly large quilts since I don’t think I’d have the floor space to lay out anything larger, much less the will to drag it through my machine.

Quilt

I’m pretty happy with how this quilt turned out – it brightens up the living room, is helping stave off the last of the winter cold, and does a good job disguising our rather tired looking sofa. The cats dig it, too, which as we all know is the real reason we sew stuff, right?

A Kitty Holly

Kitty Holly

The wildest of all the wild animals was the Cat. He walked by himself, and all places were alike to him.

This is a double By Hand whammy – my approximately billionth Holly dress hack, plus the fabric was printed by their very own super-printer, Patsy.

Kitty Holly

I was one of the first to have a play with the By Hand fabric customis-o-matic – firstly because I helped the girls design the whole uploading process, and secondly because I backed their Kickstarter campaign to fund the printer. When to came to cashing in my reward print of 2m of fabric, it didn’t take too long to decide what to send to Patsy. I designed an interpretation of the Rudyard Kipling Just So story, The Cat Who Walked By Himself, which has always been a favourite of mine since I was a kidlet.

Kitty fabric

When I got the fabric though, way back before Christmas, I was a bit stumped as to what to make with it for a while. It’s not the kind of fabric I’d usually buy: it’s a cotton poplin so rather stiff and crisp to the touch – barely any drape at all. Then I remembered I already made Holly in a fairly crisp wax print and it’s one of my favourite dresses, so suddenly it seemed obvious.

Kitty Holly

Working with the fabric during the sewing process was easy enough. Its crispness means it presses and stitches up really smoothly, so hemming and doing the neckline and cuffs were a piece of cake. However I did find that it left permanent marks when I needed to unpick a few bits (*glares at buttonholes*) and I had a slight issue where I tried on my unfinished bodice and it tore right down the side, requiring a crafty patch-up that’s luckily now hidden under the arm. It feels more secure now it’s all sewn up but I’m slightly concerned I might bust out of it, Hulk-like, with any excessive arm movements. Next time I might consider underlining the fabric for a bit more strength.

Kitty Holly

Anyway, I’m really pleased with the fit I achieved, and with such a crisp fabric you really need to make sure you have the fitting nailed because any little error will show pretty clearly. Despite my initial misgiving about the fabric’s stiffness it’s very comfortable to wear, and I’ve washed it twice already with no noticeable fading or bleeding to the colours.

Kitty Holly

Now if Patsy could just start printing on a nice drapey viscose or knit, that’d make my day!

Black and blue Gingers

Ginger jeans

When I made my first pair of Ginger jeans, I knew it wouldn’t be long before I had another go. I whipped out two more pairs right after getting those fast-gratification overlocker projects out of my system. You’ll perhaps remember I said I printed view A (low-rise stovepipe leg) by accident last time instead of view B – so this time I did manage to print the correct view and try the high-rise skinny leg option. I made these two pairs in quick succession, and it’s interesting to compare the results using two fairly different fabrics.

Ginger jeans

I jumped in to the first pair without a toile, feeling pretty confident that the fit would be close enough that I could make some on-the-fly changes to perfect ‘em. The fabric for this first pair is a lovely light-medium weight denim from Cloth House‘s Soho shop with only about 1% stretch, so I cut a straight size ten all over to compensate.

Ginger jeans

I’m pretty happy with the fit! The legs are unaltered and the perfect amount of skinny for me. I took my usual wedge out of the CB yoke and curved the waistband more to account for my comparatively small waist (not quite enough actually as they are still a bit loose at the waist). There will always be wrinkles in a fabric with little stretch, so I’m not losing sleep over them.

Ginger jeans

I didn’t use special topstitching thread this time, just a pale blue regular thread, so it isn’t super great looking but I do love the scallop detail on the back pockets, which is just one of my machine’s built-in stitches. Pretty and zero effort!

Ginger jeans

Umm, the leopard head rivets? I found them on eBay and was just desperate to use them, even though frankly they look a bit silly on this pair.

Ginger jeans

I’m pleased with the finish inside, where I tried a few new techniques to get a more luxe result. The seams are flat-felled where possible: at the crotch, yoke and inseam. I thought flat-felling would be a real extra effort but it’s not too bad at all and really makes the jeans feel more special to wear.

Ginger jeans

I also included a pocket stay/extension, drafted using the great directions here and made from a leftover scrap of tana lawn. I would bear in mind that if your denim has stretch, you’ll want to pick a fabric for the stay with the same kind of stretch. I think this rigid lawn against my stretch denim is causing slight pulls across the stomach area.

Ginger jeans

I made up a second pair immediately to fix my minor fitting issues, grading the waist down a size and curving the waistband some more. This pair uses another Cloth House fabric, but it’s a super stretchy twill which I think is better suited to the pattern. It’s got a kind of brushed moleskin finish on the inside so they feel absolutely amazing to wear – like plushy, cosy leggings.

Ginger jeans

Ginger jeans

Also not to toot my own, but I nailed the fit, right? *fist pump emoji* I could get super fussy about the crotch and back wrinkles, but these are as close to perfect as it’ll get I think.

Ginger jeans

In fact these are probably one of the top five things I’ve made – I think they sweep the board of well-made, good fit, and a totally wearable wardrobe classic. And they were super enjoyable to make to boot – I love working with black on black for some reason (though good daylight is a must) and took the effort to make flat-felled seams and pretty topstitching even though it’s barely noticeable. Thank you Heather Lou for enabling my dream jeans!

Blog tour & review: GBSB Fashion with Fabric

GBSB book

I’m the second-to-last stop on this blog tour, so sorry if you’re bored of the reviews going around! But I’m glad to be part of the team sharing the newest GBSB book, The Great British Sewing Bee: Fashion with Fabric, because it really is the best of the bunch so far.

GBSB book

Written by Sewing Bee technical advisor Claire-Louise Hardie, the book’s USP is to take a fabric-first point of view in order to advance your skills, which when you think about it makes total sense. Selecting and handling fabric correctly is such a big part of a successful sewing project – something we’ve probably all learned the hard way – and it makes a world of difference to know your business in the fibre department. Starting with easy cotton and working through wool, knits and special/luxury fabrics, each chapter focuses on a fabric’s unique properties and goes up in difficulty as the book progresses. What I especially like is that for once it’s a book that does not pander to beginners. While it does have a concise chapter at the beginning with all that basic knowledge on how to use patterns I’d say it’s more aimed at intermediate sewists, who will definitely pick up some new tips from its pages.

GBSB book

GBSB book

The other big attraction of the book for me is the 30(!) included patterns. Claire-Louise clearly took great care in selecting the project range, both to complement the book’s fabric-first theme and to appeal to a wide range of readers. Several patterns have gone onto my to-sew list including the woven silk t-shirt, capri trousers, and elasticised jumpsuit. Each pattern includes ‘hack’ variations, such as using the jumpsuit pieces to make a camisole or casual trousers. There are also a couple of kids’ patterns (including that elephant costume) and some surprisingly nice and wearable men’s patterns – a classic crew-neck tee and cargo shorts. Maybe Josh will get some summery treats!

GBSB book

There’s a bumper envelope as large as the book containing the patterns on generous full-size sheets so they are painless to trace off, even for this tracing-hater. Each sheet has a handy contents list in the corner for the patterns it contains, so you don’t need to unfold them all to find your pieces. Two thumbs up there.

GBSB book

I made up the casual trousers (a variation of the jumpsuit) to test the patterns’ fit and usability. (Rachel made the same pair in her review.) Tracing and cutting this very simple pattern only took an episode of GBSB, and I had all the sewing finished in another session. This is a handy little pattern to have in the stash for sure, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be making a couple more pairs to use as PJs and lounge pants.

GBSB book

For me, it’s the wealth of fabric-specific information and breadth of the included patterns that makes Fashion with Fabric a worthwhile buy from my point of view. I think the contents and patterns are best suited to advanced-beginner and intermediate sewists, who are bound to find a bit more knowledge and inspiration in its pages. Will you be adding it to your sewing book library?

Check out the other blog tour reviews and projects here:
2nd March – Did you make that
3rd March – House of Pinheiro
4th March – Elena Cresci
5th March – Cut Out + Keep
6th March – A Stitching Odyssey
8th March – Handmade Jane

I was given a copy of the book by Quadrille Publishing for review. The Amazon link is an affiliate link.

White Tree / GBSB lacy tee

Lace tee

Just a quick one today to show this tee I made as part of a White Tree Fabrics blogger challenge. They invited their blogger network to pick a lace fabric to celebrate this week’s lace-themed episode of the Great British Sewing Bee – I still haven’t seen the episode so no spoilers please, but I hear someone on the show used this very same fabric for their dress! I went for a Burnt Orange corded lace because the colour is so beautiful and, being quite inexperienced in sewing lace, I thought a more rigid lace would be easier to deal with. It’s not quite as neon as it came out in these photos by the way!

Lace tee

To show off the lace I picked a simple T-shirt pattern – the Salme pleated t-shirt. I did plan to add the pleats initially, but decided against it in the end as I wanted the lace pattern to be the star of the show. I made sure to line up the bodice and sleeve hems against the selvedge to be able to use the scallops for the edges.

Lace tee

I cut the seam allowances down to about 5mm and finished the raw edges together with a small zig zag (the fabric barely frays at all anyway). The neckline is simply turned and hemmed and there was no hemming required on the cuffs and bottom hem, making this a very speedy sew.

Lace tee

Pop over to the White Tree blog to read a bit more and see the other bloggers’ lacy makes. Tomorrow I’ve got a review of the new GBSB book coming too!