Sew Over It Giveaway! Ultimate Shift Dress, Ultimate Wrap Dress, 1940s Tea Dress

STOP PRESS – I’ve just added the 1940’s Tea Dress pattern to the giveaway too! So all three dresses from the new Sew Over It line of patterns are now on offer. Hooray!

New pattern company alert! Sew Over It (a sewing cafe in Clapham) have just released the first three dresses in their new line of patterns.

They’re all drafted by Lisa Comfort, who runs the cafe, and they’re all BEAUTIFUL. Previously they’ve only been available to people taking classes at the cafe, but now you can buy them here!

I have long coveted the 1940s tea dress, ever since I saw Zoe’s amazing version, so I ordered one within seconds of seeing it released. Ah, I love it.

photo (18)

The wonderful Lisa saw me gloating over my new purchase on Instagram, and kindly offered to send me the other patterns in the range.

And because it’s nearly my birthday and I’m feeling generous, I’m going to give them both away!

I’ve only just started fitting the tea dress pattern, but here’s what I love about this range so far:

  • Beautiful packaging, with a little booklet telling you how to make each dress, and an envelope style that means you can tuck the pattern pieces right back inside.
  • Comprehensive instructions with clear illustrations, AND the reminder to finish your seams at each step. It took me so long to get used to the fact that commercial sewing patterns don’t include this, which I think is very unhelpful for beginners. So hooray for Sew Over It for putting this step in.
  • These patterns couldn’t be any more reliable! They’ve already been tested and tested again on people taking the classes at the sewing cafe.

Here’s the two patterns I’m giving away:

Ultimate Shift Dress

photoGridImage (1)

This would be the perfect dress for a beginner – it doesn’t even need a zip. It’s a versatile one to have in your stash, as it includes long sleeves, cute cap sleeves and a deliciously 60s neck ruffle. I would make it in this bonkers Multicoloured Hippie Floral Print cotton from Minerva Crafts.

Ultimate Wrap Dress

photoGridImageI have to say, it really hurts me to give away this pattern, I am greedy and want to keep it, but I’m going to do it anyway just because I love you all. This is the perfect, simple wrap dress pattern for jersey fabric. I would sew it in this galaxy print jersey from Stone Fabrics that I have been coveting for ages.

NEW – 1940’s Tea Dress

Because I am the owner of the smallest letterbox ever (only bills fit through), I didn’t realise Lisa had also sent me another copy of the 1940s tea dress which was languishing in the post office. So I’ve now added that to the giveaway too!

Here’s the back of the tea dress pattern, which I think is my favourite of the three:

Sew Over It Tea DRess

How to enter the giveaway

I’m going to give away each of the three patterns to a different person, chosen at random.

To enter, just leave a comment on this post and tell me what your dream sewing pattern would be. A pattern you’ve been coveting for ever but just can’t find anywhere – it could be something you’ve thought up yourself, or an item you’ve seen in RTW and really want to copy. Or if you’ve already found your dream pattern, tell us what it is!

Leave a comment by Monday 18th November, midnight GMT, to enter. Open worldwide.

(You can buy all the patterns on the Sew Over It Shop here. You can also visit their sewing cafe in Clapham, which I fully intend on doing the next time I venture down to the wilds of South London. Huge thank you to Lisa Comfort for this giveaway!)

Spring Sewing Swap!

Readers, do you swap? I am, of course, referring to exchanges of the sewing variety. I recently took part in my first postal swapping event, which was kindly organised by the lovely Kerrie of Kestrel Finds and Makes.

I was lucky enough to be paired up with Amy of Sylko Twist, who I first met at the HUGE swap earlier this year, and even better, she put me to shame by sending her stuff early!

Is there anything better than a big mystery parcel? I think not, especially when you get it at work and sneakily take it to the kitchen to tear it open and paw through all the lovely stuff. Amy sent me some gorgeous things. First, the fabric. This was all beautifully wrapped up in tissue paper and ribbon, unlike the sorry parcel I sent her…

fabric

Check out these beauties! On the left we have a semi-sheer knit in some fabulous colours. I think I’m going to leave this until the colder months (although that’s all relative in the UK at the moment), and maybe make a Hot Cocoa sweater. Or possibly another little knit dress. There’s loads of it so I have a myriad of options!

On the right is a beautifully drapey crepe type fabric – I’ve already decided this is going to be a Scout Tee with long sleeves, like Shivani’s lovely versions. The print is too awesome to let any darts or pleats get in the way.

patterns
Next, some amazing patterns. I have some cunning plans for the jumpsuit on the left. I am a huge fan of the pattern art (and the pattern) in the middle – Upper arm bangle! Manicure inspection! 60s hair! And the shirt dress on the right is completely perfect, will definitely be making a version of that.

trimmings

But that’s not all! Amy also included a card of beautiful buttons, which I think she must have hand-stitched on herself. They are almost too pretty to use, I may have to just admire them. Plus there was some gorgeous ribbon and lace trim.

parrots

Finally, the icing on the cake – a parrot tea-towel! These may not technically be parrots –  if any Australians want to chime in to identify them, please feel free. They’ll always be parrots to me though.

And what’s that on the left-hand side? Could it be…I think it could be…yes it is….

parrot jumper

A parrot jumper knitting pattern!! Goodness knows where Amy managed to find this, but it’s made me very happy. At my current knitting speed it would take me over 20 years to make this, but I can dream…

Thanks to the lovely Kerrie for organising this swap, and the gorgeous Amy for sending me such beautiful things!

Burda 7863 version 2 – brown jeans of glory

I made some more jeans! Hooray!

Once again, I’ve totally struggled to get any decent photos of these. I couldn’t wait any longer to show them off though. Hope you can get the general idea.

brown jeans 1

Burda jeans

They’re made of brown fabric from Mandors in Glasgow. According to the label it was used by Burberry to make jodhpurs, and it really is ridiculously stretchy. It’s almost like a cross between a jersey and a woven, with great recovery.

Top-stitching on fabric as stretchy as this was what you might call an interesting experience.

pattern pieces

My pattern pieces look so terrible. I must get them traced off. I am embarrassed to admit I used brown parcel tape in desperation when I lost my scotch tape. Do you trace off your pattern pieces? I didn’t even realise that was a thing people did until this year. Shameful.

I made a few alterations from last time, including scooping out the back curve a smidgen, shortening the crotch by 2cm both front and back, and attempting a tiny bow leg alteration at the knee.

brown jeans 3

brown jeans 2

You can see I’ve still got a few folds under the bum but generally I think the fit is a lot better. Not sure what those drag lines are on the back thigh but I’ve decided not to worry about it.

trousers and hair

I used a new find, a double jeans needle, to do most of the topstitching. These jeans were total THREAD HOGS. I used up two and a half spools! Of course I managed to sew over the metal zipper halfway through construction and broke my lovely and expensive new needle, but it was fun while it lasted.

Like last time, I sewed them in a different order to the pattern envelope – first the inside legs (and topstitched), then the fly, then the outside legs (and topstitched down to thigh level), then the back seam.

I copied the pockets from my RTW Uniqlo jeans again and I’m super happy with them.

brown jeans back

I wasn’t sure if these jeans would get worn or not. It’s all because of my school uniform which was brown and ‘camel’ (ie. sickly yellow). If you made it to A-levels, you could wear any clothes you liked, as long as they were brown, white, or cream. I’m sure you can imagine how uplifting we all looked sitting in the sixth form common room. Truly a rainbow of beige.

Anyway those two years put me off brown for life. I think the last time I wore trousers of this hue I was 16 and off to see Blur at Bournemouth International Centre dressed in my best corduroy flares.

But times have changed! Damon Albarn is not nearly as fresh-faced, I can buy a pint without any fake ID, and I no longer have to worry about revising for my maths GCSE.

So I think these jeans have broken the curse. It helps that they’re unbelievably comfortable. I’ve already planned the next version in bright blue stretch twill. And this time I’m thinking RIVETS. Oh yes.

Me-Made-May and what not to sew

Are you doing Me-Made-May this year? I’m really looking forward to it. I think it’ll be a great way to identify all the gaps in my hand-sewn wardrobe (at the moment there’s too much frosting and not enough cake, as Tasia of Sewaholic recently put it).

It’s also got me thinking about what items I would never make for myself, and it’s a surprisingly short list:

  • Shoes: I know this is obvious, but some clever people out there do actually make their own footwear. Have a look at this interesting blog by a London based shoemaker – The Bottermann Empire

  • Sportswear: One of these days I’ll get round to sewing myself some trousers for yoga, but something like a waterproof bike jacket? Too complex and technical. I also include what the fashion mags like to call ‘luxe sportswear’ in this category. Hard to replicate without the right fabrics and equipment.
  • Underwear/swimwear: Both of these seem too fiddly, and I don’t have a problem buying stuff I like in the shops. I prefer to spend my sewing time on clothes that show on the outside.
  • Knitwear: What would life be like without machine-made knitwear? Rubbish, in my opinion. Chunky hand-knits don’t always do the trick. You can prise my Uniqlo cardigans from my cold dead hands.

  • Socks: I’ve knitted socks in the past, but those days are over. Making the second one makes me want to pass out with boredom, and I don’t even love wearing them. They’re too bulky (but don’t tell any knitters – not liking hand-knitted socks is woolly blasphemy)
  • Trousers: I just can’t make them fit. BUT I do want to change this and make a pair that works this year. I think stretch fabrics will be involved.
  • Well-made RTW clothes that would be tedious, expensive, and/or impossible to replicate: I’ve got a circle skirt from COS that I love. It would be super easy to draft, but sewing a copy would mean having to hem two enormous circles of fabric (it’s double-layered). It’s also well-made and the perfect coral colour. So it was a no-brainer to buy rather than sew.

So, everything above is exempted in my personal Me-Made-May challenge. I don’t want to buy any more cheap rubbish! Or sew from materials I hate, or make patterns I’m dubious about. I just need everything in my wardrobe to feel loved and special and wanted. Basically my wardrobe needs some serious therapy.

What do you reckon? Is there anything you would never sew? Do you think RTW does some things better?

(p.s. – This is my 100th post! I didn’t think I’d ever keep up with this blog, so hooray to me for proving my own pessimism wrong.)

Trend prediction for 2012: Unnecessary skirts

I’ve been slowing down my vintage pattern buying lately. When I do buy it’s exclusively online – old patterns in London vintage shops are usually hideously marked up, and when you’re used to Etsy prices, forking out a tenner for an 70s dungarees pattern stings a bit.

(reminds me of a late 60s/early 70s shift dress I saw at a fair in East London.Extremely ‘distressed’, unlined, and made from polyester. The price? £75, because, as the woman solemnly said to me “This is a very, very rare piece. It’s actually from the 1960s. It’s old!”. Er, thanks love. I’ll stick to online vintage shopping then)

Anyway, I had to break both of my self-imposed rules to buy Blackmore So-Easy 9422, because I’ve never seen a British-made sewing pattern for sale before.

Blackmore 9422 vintage sewing pattern

It’s a very simple shift dress, but I love the slim overskirt which buckles up at the front, or can be held casually over the arm if you… I don’t know, get too hot? Where would you wear an overskirt, anyway? I guess it would be handy for the Railway Children/runaway train situation recently discussed on this blog.

Some super chic accessorising going on as well. A flicky bouffant, long white gloves, pointy stilettoes, AND chunky jewellery? Nice.

I did a bit of online sleuthing on Blackmore, which was set up in 1845 by 8 siblings, who sound extremely interesting to say the least. 4 of them were deaf, one was a chemist, one managed a dress-shop, one was a ‘Professor of Shorthand’, and one was a mannequin for a fashion house (anticipating the work of Tom Cruise by over 100 years)

Anyway, it looks like my pattern is from the late 50s, as that’s when Blackmore were bought by the Associated British Paper Patterns Limited, the name written on the back of the envelope.

The tissue is marked with holes rather than printed on, and the instruction sheet is rather short and sweet. I assume that the phrase ‘Turnings are allowed on this pattern’ means that the hem allowance is included?

It’s a shame that there isn’t a home-grown British pattern industry operating at the moment. Even all the awesome new start-ups seem to be across the pond (Colette patterns, Sewaholic, etc).

I did find a few more Blackmore patterns on Etsy – click on the picture to see the listing.

Demonic Pippi Longstocking in a tweed cape, anyone? No?

Vintage Blackmore Cape Pattern from vintageblondedesign on Etsy
Vintage Blackmore Cape Pattern from vintageblondedesign on Etsy

This voluminous nightgown is actually rather sweet (and suitable for newspaper reading, apparently)

Vintage Nightdress Pattern from TheBrightonEmporium on Etsy

Shirtdress patterns are two a penny, but I really like the inverted pleat on this one (more redheads as well – are they related to the evil cape-wearing child, perhaps?)

Shirtwaister dress from kt3 on Etsy
Shirtwaister dress from kt3 on Etsy

That’s about it really, there’s doesn’t seem to be that many of these patterns out there.

Have you heard of Blackmore before? Do you know of any British sewing companies? And most importantly, would you wear a buckled-on overskirt, and if so, in what situation would you remove it?