Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Pretty Poplins!

While casually surfing eBay for fabrics last night, I stumbled upon a seller called Minerva Crafts. Some simple Googling later turned up their official website, and all I can say is, why have I never heard of this company before!! I'm sure some of you out there in blogland have shopped with them before, and they'll need no introduction, but for me, it was a pleasant surprise.

They have a huge range of fabrics, notions, wool, and all sorts of other crafty bits and bobs. Most excitingly, for me, is that they currently have 20% off all cotton poplin prints (just enter poplin20 at the checkout) but only until midnight on March 1st! I'm planning on making some summery dresses and I bought a few metres of this lovely teal green/blue poplin that I'm going to turn into Pattern Runway's gathered sundress.

My purchase
It hasn't arrived yet, so I can't judge the quality, but I'm hoping it'll be lovely. If all goes well, I'll probably pick up some voile too, and create a light, floaty Mathilde blouse with sheer sleeves and a lined bodice. I don't get to go fabric shopping very often, and rely on shopping online, so finding a place with a great range and great prices is a godsend!

Oh, and they also have 50% off New Look patterns (enter nlook50 at checkout) until March 9th. I'm planning on making New Look 6723 later this year, so I'll definitely be taking advantage of that!

Monday, 25 February 2013

My Mathilde

So thanks to my recent shunning of my wedding responsibilities, I've managed to complete 3 garments this month - the previously mentioned Cambie, a pale blue Mathilde blouse, which I adore, and a navy linen Hollyburn skirt. Today, I'll be showing off the Mathilde blouse.

If you aren't already aware of it, the pattern for this blouse can be bought from Tilly and the Buttons for £7. It's the kind of pattern you print at home, which for some reason, is always an ordeal for me. But it does mean I could get started straight away, and since I have somewhat of a reputation for impatience, this suits me just fine. I followed Tilly's advice and opted for a plain fabric which would show off the lovely tucks better. I'd never sewn tucks before (I don't think the front fold on the Sorbetto really counts) so I took it slowly, and I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out. This was in no small part down to Tilly's excellent online instructions for the blouse, which made it a cinch to make, even for the most disaster prone of sewists, like myself.

Please excuse the poor ironing job here. I was all set to take lovely photos when I'd just finished sewing and everything was pressed to perfection, but then I spilled soup down my front, because apparently I can't work a spoon, and it had to go in the wash. One hasty going over with the iron later, and here we are. The wash did reveal an issue with my lazy 'finished' edges on the neck lining, which I'd simply used pinking shears on. I'll probably need to zig zag stitch them in the near future as they frayed ever so slightly.

The fabric was described in the store as linen look cotton, which basically means it's 100% cotton with a texture that's meant to look like linen (I'm sure your powers of deduction allowed you to figure that one out.) It's actually pretty soft and cosy too. I didn't adjust the pattern, for a variety of reasons. Although I like my tops to be at least two inches longer than this (all the better to cover my mummy tummy) I felt I would need to add to much width to the hips to allow it to cover my backside without pulling on the buttons (which it's already doing to a certain extent as you can see below.)

Look how neatly the top of the back lines up! I never thought I'd be the type to actually get everything even and straight!

In all honesty, it would've been a simple enough adjustment to make, but I didn't want to mess with the pattern too much the first time around. Maybe next time I'll add length and an extra button.

Which brings me to the question of whether I'd make this top again. It's a definite yes. I'd like to give it a go in cotton lawn or voile, and while I whole heartedly agree that plain fabric really highlights the beautiful detail of the tucks, I'm thinking I might like to try a contrasting yoke in a lovely complimentary patterned fabric. I'd also maybe reduce the puffiness of the sleeves a little.

Pretty pretty buttons.

All in all, Mathilde is a hit in my book. The beautiful details make it just a little bit more special than your average make and it allows me to indulge in my obsession with lovely buttons (these little beauties cost 40p each in Remnant Kings - a bargain!) The finished blouse is a great addition to my wardrobe and the first item I've made that is properly wearable everyday while still being absolutely gorgeous. It's also the make I'm most proud of - so thank you Tilly!

And finally, down to the brass tacks. How much did it cost. Let's do the sums.

Pattern - £7
Fabric - £10 ( only £4.99 a metre - an absolute steal!)
Buttons - £2.80
Thread and interfacing came from my stash.
Total - £19.80

Considering the pattern will be used again, I think that's a great price. I've got my eye on Tilly's picnic blanket skirt pattern which I'll hopefully get to work on after I've made some headway with the wedding stuff.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Best Man's gifts with a Twist

Two posts in one week! What is the world coming to?

Just thought I'd share a small wedding update - our gifts for our best men arrived today (well, yesterday, but they were being held hostage by the customs people at the post office.) We put a lot of thought into these, and I did quite a bit of research online. Seems that most people give hip flasks, cufflinks or some kind of crystal or glass. We didn't really want to go down that route, and were looking for something a little bit more useful regardless of whether it was traditional or not. Enter Dirty Deeds Soaps. Originally we were going to get two of the simple shave sets, with handmade beer soap, a wooden soap holder and shave brush, but just before I ordered, their handmade aftershave caught my eye. They come in metal hip flasks, and I thought it was a really neat little twist on the traditional best man's gift. So we got a couple of those too.

A lady called Heather from the store advised us on which scents to choose, and we went with manly, cologne type scents - Green Tweed for the soap and Bay Rum and Lime for the aftershave (on a side note, a few weeks back I was watching Ripper Street and noticed that the fantastic Sgt. Drake was using Bay Rum aftershave. If it's good enough for Bronn, it's good enough for any man!) While the tyranny of Royal Mail meant that additional customs charges had to be paid (not to mention their ridiculous 'handling' charge), the box included a small sample of Vanilla Sandalwood soap and a full sized bar of Cedarwood Eucalyptus soap which more than made up for it. I would really recommend Dirty Deeds Soaps if you're looking for a gift for the man in your life - I couldn't really find anyone in the UK who did something comparable, and as nice (on Etsy at least.) I just thought they were so cool that I wanted to share, and since neither best man reads this blog, it's safe enough to do so without ruining the surprise :)

Friday, 15 February 2013

Shirking and Sewing

I've got the wedding craft blues :(

I've spent so long cutting and gluing and designing and printing stuff for the wedding, that I'm getting a little bit fed up. All along I was worried that my main problem would be getting everything done in time, and unless I'm forgetting some major task, that doesn't seem like it's going to be a problem. So this week I've totally shirked my wedding duties and rewarded myself with a little time to work on some projects for me!

Almost exactly a year ago, I bought the Cambie dress pattern from Sewaholic. I love Tasia's patterns - they are super easy to sew, with lots of handy tips on her website, and are flattering for pear shapes like me. I bought fabric online with an eye to make it for last summer. But alas! The perils of online fabric shopping! What was listed as cotton lawn, was actually more of a polycotton, so I was a little deflated. I added it to my stash, and other than using some of it for purse linings, I've generally forgotten about it. But when the urge to sew something struck, I decided to give it a go. I loved the print - white flowers with brown stems on a pale blue background - and I had picked it specifically because I have some super comfy brown wedges that I don't get to wear enough that I thought would go wonderfully with it.

I was really really careful with this project. Usually I just plow straight ahead, all guns blazing, and generally make lots of mistakes and messes along the way. Not this time. I took my time, pressing all my seams properly and checking the fit as I went (I still lack the discipline to make a muslin first.) It was my first time making a fully lined garment. I've lined skirts before, but usually only the lower half, and Tasia's method of constructing the dress was easy to follow and worked out great. No slip stitching the lining to the zipper for this girl! I now, however, super mega loathe anti static dress lining, which is, frankly, the most super static material on this earth! Next time I line a dress, I might opt for muslin or even cheesecloth, something a little more natural and a lot less slippery.

So check out my finished Cambie (I say finished, but the hem is still only pinned up. I'm hoping to finish it properly later today and will get photos of me wearing it in due course.

Close up of the patterned fabric

Am I happy with it? Yes and no. It fits well, and I think I did a pretty good job on the construction side of it. My decision to opt for a contrasting white waistband rather than the blue of the rest of the dress seemed like a good idea during the sewing process, but now I think it adds a nursey feel to the dress, if you know what I mean. I like its slightly retro look, and the material wasn't too bad to work with in the end, and doesn't feel (or sound) all that synthetic, but I'm worried it's a little too Alice or Dorothy Gale for me. I don't really know how much wear I'll get out of it. It's certainly not everyday garb, but would do for early evening dinners out with my other half - although those are few and far between. The combination of pattern and fabric has produced a strange mix between day dress and dressing up dress, in my mind. It's too full and poofy for a day dress, yet too sweet and daytime-y a fabric for an evening dress.

So, would I make it again? Probably not. That's no fault of the pattern, it's simply that this kind of full skirted dress has limited use in my wardrobe. Add to that the sweet neckline and I think this dress is firmly in the 'frosting' category, rather than the staple 'cake' category that is really more of what I need at the moment. The pattern comes with an A-line skirt option too, for heavier fabrics, which I may make one day, but I really don't think it would flatter my ample behind!

This has, however, reignited the sewing spark in me, and I've bought three new fabrics and two new patterns to be getting on with. I even pre-washed the fabrics, which is something I never usually do! I bought a dark blue linen, which I plan to use for the Hollyburn skirt, and a pale blue linen effect cotton, which is soft enough and has a nice drape, so its going to be used for the Mathilde blouse. I also picked up a dark blue fabric with a white floral print - I'm not sure what it is exactly. It's beautifully soft and light, and feels almost like jersey except it has no stretch at all. I'm going to be making the ever popular Sorbetto with it, and hopefully have some left other for another top too.

Linen and soft cotton (the very bottom is my bedspread) 
Linen effect cotton

 It was nice to actually go fabric shopping, and get a chance to touch the fabrics and feel their weight and drape. I don't often get to go to fabric stores, and when I do, I never get to browse as I've always got a gaggle of sullen males with me. Hopefully this careful selection of fabrics for each project will lead to more successful, not to mention wearable, garments and that I'll be blogging about them soon!