Thursday, 3 November 2016

My AnnaLotte Dress

An Anna/Charlotte dress
With this dress, the fabric definitely came first. Usually I have an idea in my mind about the kind of dress I want to make, and then go in search for the right fabric. But this time, as soon as Caroline from Blackbird Fabrics posted about this fabric in an Instagram video, I knew that I had to have it! As soon as it was for sale, I bought 3m of the stuff so that I could make a dress for a few events that I had coming up (that actually took place in September/October - I am very late blogging about this one). It is no longer available which I think is testament to it's gorgeousness! 

I decided to buy the Anna dress from By Hand London as I really like the bodice of the pattern and thought that it would work well with the structure of this fabric. It is a cotton sateen so it's soft but sturdy. I decided to use the Charlotte skirt pattern, also from By Hand London, as I already had it and really liked how the combo had turned out for other sewcialists (notably here and here). The original skirt for the Anna dress is quite flared, so I did not think that it would work that well with this thicker fabric.  

A Gala-worthy dress
I made a muslin in size 14 and was pretty pleased with the fit. I think that the key to getting the fit right on the Anna dress is to get the waist right, as this is the tightest part. I think that the bust looks nice with a bit of room so I didn't mind it being a bit larger here. To mirror the top, I decided not to make the skirt super fitted. The darts on the top and bottom line up quite nicely which is handy. I did trim a good few inches off the sleeves, but the dress still has the kimono like look that is part of the appeal of the pattern. If I make the dress again, I think I will go down a half or whole size for a more fitted look, but it really depends on the fabric. I was tempted to line the dress, but I think that the fabric is thick enough to hold it's own. 

Me and my beautiful friend, Hannah
I wore this dress to an 80th Anniversary gala that I organized for my work, as well as two wonderful weddings that we went to back in England in October. We had an amazing almost three week visit to see our friends and family. We spent some lovely days with our family, and got to explore a new area to us, Sunderland, as my parents live there now. There are some glorious views in the Northeast of England. It was such a wonderful trip that I'm finding it hard to recover, especially as it has rained every day since we got back to Vancouver.

"Sunny" Sunderland!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Making a Quick & Easy Mug Hug

I made tonnes of Christmas presents this year for various friends and family. Small fabric things are nice and light to send back to ol' Blighty, and my colleagues love it when I make them things. It's still a big novelty for them! These mug hugs are quick and easy, and perfect those special people in your life who love coffee. The cups in the photo above are from Nordstrom, but it seems that most big coffee shop chains sell them. 

Firstly, gather your supplies. You will need:

  • A template (I made mine using a cardboard sleeve from a coffee shop)
  • Some fabric, around 10cm x 25cm will do, depending on pattern placement
  • Some felt or batting, same size as fabric
  • Pins
  • Cotton thread (matching, or contrasting... you decide!)
  • Pinking shears

To make your template, draw around your cardboard sleeve, adding 1mm or so at the top and the bottom, and 1cm at each side. 

Cut two pieces out of your main fabric and two pieces out of your felt or batting. You may need more fabric if there is a particular detail of your fabric print that you want to include, or if your fabric is one directional.   

Pin one piece of fabric and one piece of batting together, and sew them together along the top and the bottom, with a seam allowance of 4mm like below. If you don't have a sewing machine, you can definitely do this project by hand as well. 

Trim the edges with your pinking shears.

Next, place the two pieces together, felt sides together and then sew along the sides with a 1cm seam allowance. 

Trim the sides with the pinking shears, et voila! You made a mug hug. How quick and easy was that?!

I heart Seamwork

Seamwork. Just Seamwork. I have subscribed to Seamwork Magazine since the very beginning, and it is exciting to wake up on the first of each month to see what articles and delightful patterns are in store for us. And do you know what made me love it even more? In May I won their #Seamworkgiveaway competition! I won a 6 month subscription for posting my Madrid tote on Instagram and I was unbelievably chuffed!  

I had previously bought the fabric to make the Adelaide & Mesa dresses and my win inspired me to get on with making them!

The Mesa dress was the first knit garment that I ever made, and part of my challenge to get to grips with knits. I have been getting used to working with my serger with woven fabrics since August last year, but hadn't really got round to making an actual knit item. I really fell for this fabric in Dressew, partly because it is similar to one of the Mesas modelled in Seamwork, but I also love anything aztec-y at the moment. 

Seamwork Mesa
I found the dress straightforward to sew. It is stated that the pattern takes just an hour to make, but as a knitty beginner, I knew that it would take me longer to construct the dress than just an hour. I also needed to piece the pattern together and cut the fabric too. In total, I think I managed to do everything in around five hours, spread over two days.  
Unsure about my Mesa...
So now, the bad news. It's too tight around my belly and too big in the neck/shoulders/arms area! The fabric doesn't have the right amount to stretch for this design and my body shape. Can you tell by my grimace that I am unsure?! I made a large, which I think would have worked with a stretchier knit. I really love the design but I'm not sure how I will rectify this fit issue - perhaps I will grade to a medium at the top and take it out so that the waist curve isn't as drastic.  

Seamwork Adelaide dress
My second Seamwork dress is the Adelaide. My (always) beautiful sister sent me some more Atelier Brunette fabric; this time 'Bye Bye Birdie'. I really wanted a summery dress and I knew as soon as this pattern was released that this was the one. 

The construction is straightforward, like all Seamwork patterns. I like the fact that there are no separate plackets to attach. I interlined the dress with some plain black voile as I didn't want this dress to be see-through and the fabric is quite sheer, especially on sunny days. 

I decided not to make the tie as I like to wear this kind of thing with a separate belt. I also didn't make the belt loops, but I think I still might add these as an afterthought, as it would be handy to have them to keep the belt in place. I also used buttons, as I didn't have any poppers to use. This added quite a bit onto the construction time, but I'm really happy with the dress so don't mind about that. Andy took this photo of me wearing the dress when we saw the England women's team beat the Canadian team at the Women's World Cup. I am much happier here, of course! 

Happy in my Adelaide dress
I have also made two versions of the Akita. The first is out of some amazing black rayon twill that I picked up at Modern Domestic when Andy and I visiting Portland in August. I grabbed three yards of this fabric with a view to making an Alder, and something else like a Sorbetto. When I saw the Akita, I knew that it would be perfect with this fabric. It is really wrinkly though! I ironed this top about 30 minutes before taking these photos, and then did a bit of cleaning, and this is what happened!

Seamwork Akita
I made a shorter version, stopping at the top of the side slits. It seemed really long when I got to that point, so I thought that shorter would be better. It's really nice tucked into skirts or with trousers. I like the fluttery sleeves too. 

Zebra Akita
My second version was an emergency make as I needed something pink to wear to work for an Anti-Bullying day that we were running. I have nothing that is pink, but I did have a yard of this fabric... As the zebras are all standing up the same way, I cut the Akita pattern piece at what I worked out to be the top of the shoulder. I then cut the pattern out as two pieces next to each other with a seam allowance at the top. I'm not sure if I got the shoulder seam placement completely wrong or if it is the fabric, but the bust darts are really low. Droopily low. But I still love wearing this top and so tend to just ignore this fact! This is a really versatile top, and can be made with a yard of fabric if it is wide enough (and you can get the shoulder placement right...). I'm going to keep working on this pattern as it's so quick to make. This is a size 12 but I may cut a smaller neck size for my next one. Just to experiment, y'know.