Neon Pocket Zinnia

We just got back from Japan – an incredible, wonderful, beautiful place with stunning food, lovely people and AMAZING fabric. Tokyo even has a fabric town people – heaven!!

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I had a whole plethora of “travel clothes” projects I wanted to whip up before our trip, but only managed to execute the one. I am pretty delighted with it though. The pattern is the Zinnia skirt by Colette Patterns. I was inspired to have a go by The Stitchery, a Glasgow sewing space & blog. Their Zinnia sewalong is by far the most in-depth I’ve seen and I’d recommend it to anyone wanting to have a first go at garment sewing. The team really use the pattern as a launching point for teaching you lots about about fabrics, stitch types and all kinds of other useful things.

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I used two fabrics I got for Christmas 2013 (thanks mum!) – a dark teal floral print and a bright almost-neon yellow, with gold detail. Both from wonderful Ray-Stitch.

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Not the most obvious pairing perhaps, but if you look carefully the floral does have hints of bright yellow and, well, I love it. I made the patch pockets in the yellow, and covered my buttons to match. I even did the topstitching in a matching neon yellow thread. It’s one of those tiny details probably no-one will notice, but it makes me happy.

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This skirt got a LOT of wear in Japan. It packs down to nothing, the gathers mean it hides creases pretty well, it’s light and airy, it’s a nice length that feels appropriate for temple-hopping and lends itself to eating on the floor. And the pockets are a perfect size for phone/small purse/snack. All in all it is a great travel skirt and I can definitely see myself making multiple versions.

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One of my Japan highlights was wearing this skirt (whilst fabric shopping) and having an older Japanese lady complement me on it. Without a word of English (and without me speaking a word of Japanese) she said/mimed “ooh did you make that? It’s lovely. I like the coordinating buttons and pockets very much”. I nodded enthusiastically, beamed a “thankyou” and skipped off down the street.

Siobhan xxx

Victoria Blazer

This project marks a new sewing milestone for me – ladies and gents, I made a jacket!

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The pattern is the Victoria Blazer from the fabulous ladies at By Hand London. I made the outer shell in a pretty grey linen/cotton blend from Ray Stitch, which I picked up last time I was in London. I had originally planned on pairing it with something pale, but with winter coming on I decided to go bold and dark. I found this gorgeous soft cotton on The Village Haberdashery. It’s called “Waterfront Park – Flight”, and is covered in flying birds, I love it!! In fact I love it so much I couldn’t bear to only have it on the inside so you’ll see it’s on the cuffs, collar and lapels as well.

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The pattern came with a gorgeous little “By Hand London & Me” label that I wanted to show off, so I added a little patch pocket on the inside. It’s not really big enough to hold anything much. But then this is a cropped jacket with birds on, the practical/sensible ship sailed around the time I started cutting. And the pocket is adorbs, I think you’ll agree.

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Siobhan xx

Mathilde Blouse

My latest make is the puffy-sleeved, button-backed wonder that is the Mathilde blouse, designed by Tilly of Tilly and the Buttons fame.

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Blouse lovin’

Of all the Sewist bloggers I follow, I find Tilly particularly inspiring because she came to sewing later on (i.e. as a grown up), fell in love, and in just a few years has built a passion in to a business. She also makes lovely patterns and posts really helpful instructables on her blog to boot – superstar.

The Mathilde blouse was a project of firsts for me. To kick off it’s a downloadable PDF pattern – never done that before. But it’s actually very straightforward. You just print it off (using the test page to check all your settings are in order/the printer gremlins aren’t up to no good), then match up the helpful numbers, stick it all together and voila. You then just treat it like any other pattern – find your size, cut it out.

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Sticking the pattern pieces together

Other firsts included decorative pleats, French seams (so fancy and so pretty, check Tilly’s blog for instructions) and machine-stitched buttonholes, using the buttonhole foot and a 1-step buttonhole function. That’s right, a foot that you snap on, that uses one of your buttons button to calculate and create a buttonhole the right size – it’s actual magic. I had a small snaffoo which was that mine didn’t seem to realise when I was back to the beginning of the hole, so I had to stop and switch to a zigzag stitch to finish each buttonhole. If anyone knows how to solve this (Janome Decor Excel II), lemme know. Otherwise, no big deal.

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Buttonhole foot = wizardry

I did adjust the pattern just a smidgen. It’s deliberately straight-seamed and loose-fitting, and whilst this isn’t usually my style, I decided to go with it, particularly having seen ladies of all shapes and sizes looking gorgeous in it. But having finished it off, and worn it for a day, I had to admit it felt a little maternity-wear on me. So I went back in and curved the side seams just a little. This was fairly heartbreaking to do, on account of the above-mentioned beautiful French seams (lesson learned – be sure of the fit before you finish the seams) but I feel much more comfortable in it now that it curves a little. And having read Tilly’s post on sewing for your style, I’m hoping she won’t mind too much!

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Siobhan xx

The Elisalex Dress

One of my goals for this year was to conquer my fear of making clothes and just blimmin’ well have a go. In looking for a good first project, I came across By Hand London, a new pattern label whose brilliant website is chockablock full of tips and tutorials. If you have ever wondered how to insert a side seam pocket, add a waistband or roll a hem then this is the site for you.

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The BHL Gals, via By Hand London

By Hand London are currently running a sewalong on one of their patterns – The Elisalex Dress. Essentially the concept is that you buy the pattern and materials and then they take you through the process, one step at a time, so you can sew-along. To me this seemed like just the kind of hand-holding that might make the leap in to clothes-making manageable. Continue reading