Thursday, 22 December 2016

Sewing Cleo: Tilly and the Buttons Denim Dungaree Dress

 I did have plans for a Christmas dress, a maxi Darling Ranges in cherry printed baby cord Darling Ranges but as  Christmas got closer and I was tired from work, another plan snuck in and I am so glad it did.  I placed an order for a Tilly and the Buttons Cleo dress and and a dungaree clips/button set and within a couple of days everything arrived, I'd traced it, cut it and sewn it.

It's a dream of a pattern.  I didn't make a toile, I just compared my measurements with the pattern and size 3 (equivalent to size 10 was the closest fit.  I'm pear shaped so I let my hip measurements lead the sizing as my chest is a size 2 but I knew this had to go over my head - the straps are the only opening and my waist and hip are closer to size 3.  Otherwise, no alterations, just the addition of larger patch pockets to the front.  My patches are the same width as the bib pocket.  It's a simple make and the instructions are beautifully done.  The layout is straightforward, accurate and economic.  If you are a confident sewer, you can enjoy the easy construction and luxuriate in the top stitching possibilities.   If you are a beginner, it's a satisfying project without too much to challenge you - turning the straps out is the hardest process.  I used Gutermann topstitching thread from the jeans/denim set with standard sew-all in the bobbin.   The fabric was a carboot sale bargain I picked up a few years back.  It's an easy fit, perfect for Christmas consumption and I like the length front and split.  It's practical and not too cutesy for a 40 something woman to wear.    You can read more about the Cleo pattern on Tilly's website and buy the pattern as a PDF as well as printed.

My Christmas prep is largely finished, I sung my last session at my day job today and squeezed in a beach walk with Lottie.  The sky was a gorgeous blue for the first time in days.  

I'm ready to rest and enjoy time at home . These few days before festivities start in earnest are my favourite.  Whatever you are doing,  I wish you peace and happiness, in the little things as well as the big.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Christmas Mellow Music Playlist

As well as sewing and fabric, music plays a huge part in my life, least of all in my day job - I've just finished a week of Christmas parties for 0-4 year olds, all jolly good fun!  So, as promised, here's my Christmas playlist recommendations for mellow Christmas sounds.  Sources include, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify and YouTube.   I add to this each year and my husband recently found the Fiona Apple and Tracey Chapman tracks, both wonderful.  I absolutely recommend a Bose SoundLink Bluetooth speaker if you are looking for easy to use, great sounding new kit, but I've played many of these tracks thorough a tablet speaker or just listened on my desktop computer and still enjoyed them.

A big thank you to Emily who sent me some of her piano tracks, a lovely listen.   There's nothing like music to help you relax and enjoy the season. 

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

December at Eternal Maker: New arrivals, cosy and gifts

My last sponsor post for 2016, it's Eternal Maker's turn and I've chosen some tactile fabrics for the cosiest of times, plus some gift ideas and patterns that you might want to sew up for the holidays or in the new year.

  1. Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel in Pumpkin.  Great for pyjamas and cosy blankets, clothes, cosies and cushions.
  2. Nani Iro, Fruity Pocho, Cream/blue brushed cotton, Naomi Ito.  Great for pyjamas and cosy blankets, clothes, cosies and cushions.
  3. Riley Blake, Farm Fresh flannels.  The cheeriest flannel cotton.
  4. Closet Case Files, Kelly Anorak Sewing Pattern.  
  5. Oliver + S Sleepover Pyjama pattern
  6. Gera Cross Stitch Pattern: Santa has Come!  Detailed pattern by Kyoko Maruoka.  For use with DMC colours or contact Eternal Maker for the Conversion for Cosmo threads
  7. Rainbow Stripe jersey.   Cotton/elastane blend (95% cotton 5%lycra) so great recovery for leggings and close fitting tops.
  8. Felt Kit Pig.  Includes die-cut felt pieces, embroidery thread, eyes and stuffing.  Instructions are in Japanese but there are lots of diagrams and it's described as a relatively easy kit. 
  9. Apples to Oranges Sewing kit pattern.  A lovely project from Liesl Gibson's Straight Stitch Society.  Perfect to make a gift for a sewing friend and a great scrap buster!


Sew Flower Quilts & GIfts (AKA 'Happy Flower Quilts') Review: Atsuko Matsuyama

Like many, I've been waiting for Atsuko Matsuyama's gorgeous book, Sew Flower Quilts and Gifts for the last few months since I saw an English language version was on the way. It's arrived with a change of title and cover for the UK market, so 'Happy Flower Quilts' as it's known in the USA is Sew Flower Quilts and Gifts but the contents are reassuringly the same and it's a stunning book with 30 detailed projects and a tonne of inspirational photos.

I selected 6 double page spreads from the first 27 pages of the book to give you an idea of the content but there's much more than this inside.  If you like detailed, pieced projects with lots of extra zakka-style details, you are in for a treat.

There's so much going on in this sweet little sewing kit.  Throughout the book, it is all about the details...

Some makes I just find so charming like the 3-D appliqué mini purse. 

I love these seasonal mini quilts, the colour and fabric selection is stella!  The appliqué and hand work that goes into these projects is typical of many in the book. 

Although the Happy Flower Quilt Sampler is the best known project in the book, the Lovely Vines quilt is equally stunning.

The star of the book, Happy Flower Sampler quilt.  I love how the quilt pieces move into the border.

Beyond the eye candy, this book is spaciously laid out.  All the techniques are set out in step-by-step detail with lots of photos.  The 'How to Make a Pouch' guide can be applied to all pouches/bag projects and  includes 22 steps with a photo for each - you can see what I mean by detail!   The translation and production is by Zakka Workshop and the editors are Lindsay Fair and Kristyne Czepuryk from Pretty by Hand.

For each project, the instructions are clearly set out with a thumbnail colour photo as well as carefully drawn and annotated black and white diagrams for layout and construction.  Cutting instructions are shown in a pastel coloured text box.  Imperial and metric measurements are included.

Things to note: the projects are hand pieced and are predominantly made with full size templates at the back of the book.  These could be adapted for rotary cutting and machine, especially some of the simpler blocks and shapes that use basic squares/rectangle/triangles but instructions for that are not included.  Needle turn appliqué features in many projects, along with an interesting freezer paper technique which is different from other methods I've used.  

There have been one or two stock issues with this book before it arrived in the UK, some shops originally had it listed as 'Happy Flower Quilts' with the pink cover - I ordered a pink cover copy and had my order cancelled by the UK supplier at a later date - but I think such issues are now resolved, the UK publishers informed me that cover and name changes can be a last minute editorial decision.   The UK title, Sew Flower Quilts & Gifts is available at Search Press (who kindly supplied me with this copy for review) and other shops like Pretty Fabrics and Trims who you can see were listed as a recommended supplier of 1930s style fabrics, along with USA favourite Pink Castle Fabrics.  Search Press have assured me that they have plenty of copies available.  If you enjoy some thoughtful, detailed slow sewing, piecing, appliqué, quilting and floral motifs,  this is the book for you. 

Sunday, 11 December 2016

December at Plush Addict: Luxury Crepe Special Edition

For December at Plush Addict, I'm going to do something a little different.  Following a chat with Kellie about luxury crepe, I'm concentrating just on that fabric in all it's nine colours and partnering it with Tilly and the Buttons patterns.  Why the two together?  The same fabric is often used for the pattern samples and many of Tilly's designs work well with the drape of the fabric.  They are also suitable for beginners, as well as experienced sewers.  If you need a special outfit for Christmas, either for evenings out or something glam for Christmas day, there's a style for everyone. Kellie sent me some samples of each colour of luxury crepe and as the name suggests, it has a luxury feel.  It's opaque and has a bit of weight so safe to use without worrying about of lining.  The drape makes it good for any garment that needs to swish and fall against the skin beautifully- tops, skirts, fuller/loose trousers, dresses, anything without too much structure.  The colours are gorgeous.  I photographed the strips in the sunlight today and the colours are true.

If you are quick, all dressmaking fabric is 20% off-  discount finishes midnight 12th December!

The crepes from top to bottom are:
1. Navy
2. Red
6. Black (limited quantity available)
7. Ivory
8. Teal
9. Aqua

The sewing patterns from bottom left to top right are:

You can get more of a sense of the fabric colours from a quick video I filmed on Instagram to provide an idea of the colours, thickness and movement of the fabric.  

Thursday, 8 December 2016

December at Village Haberdashery: Gift Special

When it's this close to Christmas, I think it's time to focus on gift ideas (feel free to share with your nearest and dearest to drop heavy hints).   Here's nine of my top choices from sponsor Village Haberdashery; I think I'd be happy with any of these.

From left to right, row by row:

  1. Parallels, Ellen Lucket Baker for Kokka, Double gauze, Lines in Grey.  Bold graphic print in a retro colour combination on the softest fabric.
  2. Oliver + S Building Block Dress book by Liesl Gibson.  All the instructions you need to design and sew girl's dresses, sizing 6 months - 12 years. 
  3. Tayutou, Root Crop in Green, Kokka, Cotton/linen canvas. 
  4. Bando 2017 I Am Very Busy 12 month Planner in Carnation, see other planners here plus notebooks and sketch books. 
  5. Merchant & Mills Teflon Coated 8" Tailor's Scissors.  Matt black scissors that sewing dreams are made of.   Come in an embossed box ready for gifting.
  6. Nani Iro Double Gauze for Kokka,  Lei Nani in Izumi,  the bluest of cobalt blues, design inspired by Hawaiian  flower garlands. 
  7. Parallels, Ellen Tucket Baker for Kokka, Double gauze Hashtags in Bright Blue.  A vibrant combination of colour and print.
  8. Make Something Amazing, Village Haberdashery Tote Bag.  A lovely extra that you might want to add to your order, bargain price £8.50
  9. Kuiskas, Heijastus in Green by Sawako Ura for Kokka, Cotton Barkcloth.  Amazing print inspired by nature.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Fashion and Textiles Museum: 1920s JAZZ AGE Exhibition

Whenever I travel to London to see my brother, I always try and fit in a visit to the Fashion and Textiles Museum on Bermondsey Street.  Every exhibition is an absolute joy; thoughtfully curated and creatively displayed.  The entry fee is always moderate, an Art Fund pass will make it an even bigger bargain, photography is allowed, the staff are always friendly and helpful and the atmosphere is relaxed.   The current 1920s JAZZ AGE exhibition is a mix of haute couture and ready-to-wear, 1919-1929.  It brings to life popular leisure acitivies of the time like going to the cinema, picnics, having tea and cake, sport and dancing.  If you are visiting London for a little Christmas shopping (or at any time), it is well worth a trip away from the crazy queues and relentless consumerism.  I've loved all the exhibitions I've been to there.  Runs until 15th January 2017.