Handmade baby shower gift set

A couple of weeks ago, I put out a cry for help on Twitter. I needed ideas for a non-gender-specific baby shower present, and it had to be handmade. Obviously I couldn’t show up with a shop bought gift – my reputation would be in tatters.

I got tons of useful advice, and ended up putting together a blanket, burp cloth, and bib. It took me less than a couple of hours, and I thought you guys might be interested in what I came up with. I think they make a nice set together.

(Whether these things are actually useful for babies, I have only the vaguest idea. Opinions welcome!)

baby set

Materials:

I wanted to buy everything in one place, and I had a gift voucher for The Village Haberdashery, so that’s where I started. Plus, they have an amazing selection of prints, and I didn’t want to choose  boring neutrals or pastel shades just because my present had to be unisex. Babies deserve colour!

I bought:

Baby Blanket

Lots of people recommended Handmade Jane’s baby blanket tutorial, which you can find here. It’s beautifully simple and quick, and seems to have the seal of approval from people who know about baby stuff.

baby blanket

I used cotton flannel instead of fleece, so my blanket is pretty thin. The flannel is super-soft and cushy though, and doesn’t shed bits of lint everywhere like some fabrics I could mention.

Also, can I just say that I LOVE this leaf fabric. I wasn’t expecting a quilting cotton to be so soft and beautiful. I would definitely use a fabric like this from Cloud9 to sew a shirt. The colours are super vibrant.

Burp cloth

Most babies seem pretty watery (and worse) so something to catch leakage was essential. I’m not sure though if a ‘burp cloth’ is an American concept? None of my friends with kids had heard of them by that name.

Anyway, I used this free downloadable pattern from Cloud9, which has a nice rounded area so it fits over your shoulder better.

burp cloth

The back is plain white flannel, and I used an extra layer of cheap flannelette in the middle to make it extra padded. I also sewed two lines down the middle to stop the layers shifting.

The bib

I had enough fabric to make this out entirely out of my yellow fat quarter, but I loved the leaves so much I had to include them. Once again the back is plain white organic flannel, with another layer of cheap flannel in the middle to make it more absorbent.

bib

The pattern is this one from The Purl Bee. It seems very small to me – next time I would use a template with more baby coverage, and possibly a wider neck opening. I used a jersey hammer-on snap as a fastening. These ones from Prym are pretty great and very easy to put in.

Note to self – use woodland animals next time

So there you go, a matching baby set. This cost me about £28 for fabric and just over a hour cutting and sewing time. It went down pretty well at the baby shower, although it didn’t elicit as much coo-ing as a tiny bandana bib made with owl fabric, curses.

You could definitely make it cheaper, although I think it’s worth using a really nice fabric for the blanket top at least. The bib could be made from any old scraps, and so could the burp cloth if you didn’t mind piecing it. I look forward to making many more of these whenever another one of my friends pops out a sprog…

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Backstitch discount code, and fabric tidying news

Check out the colours on this:

Hurricane sea bundle

It’s the ‘Hurricane Sea Bundle’ from Backstitch, and it makes me want to drop £100 on a walking foot and go over to the dark side (or take up quilting, as it’s also known).

If you like beautiful bundles of colourful fabric too, you’re in luck, because I’m part of the blog-hop that Alice of Backstitch has organised to promote their shiny new website. And that means I have a 10% discount code for you!

The code is: WLYES, and it’s valid from today (the 29th October) until Thursday at midnight (the 31st October). Just put it in at checkout on www.backstitch.co.uk

If you’re not a quilter they have lots of independent dressmaking patterns, including Victory, Sewaholic, and Megan Nielsen. And of course they sell beautiful fabric by the metre too.

To celebrate the new site, Backstitch are also running a competition. To enter, you just need to order something from their site. The prizes are pretty ace:

1st Prize: £50 off first order and 20% off all subsequent orders for a whole year

2nd Prize: £25 off first order and 15% off all subsequent orders for six months

3rd prize: £10 off first order and 15% off all subsequent orders for three months

So if you want to support an awesome small business, go and order something!

Fabric tidying news

In other news, I have finally got around to tidying up my fabric stash. You may remember from a previous post that my crafting area is not the most orderly of places. An annual clean-up is necessary, or I will end up sewing in a squalid nest of fraying scraps, orphaned pattern pieces, and stray threads.

My usual method is just to dump everything on the floor, and then fold it up and cull as I go.

Here’s the before shot. Readers of a nervous disposition might want to avert their eyes:

fabric stash

And here’s afterwards:

tidied fabric stash

I use these Samla IKEA boxes, and they’re great. I’ve currently got four boxes of fabric (one is entirely scraps) and two of wool. They’re completely full so I’m not allowed in any fabric shops until I’ve managed to sew some of this stuff.

What’s particularly pleasing is that we now have a shelf free for storing our picnic basket, a household essential as I’m sure you’ll agree.

That concludes your exciting tidying-up news for today. Does anyone else feel the need to do a seasonal cull like this?

Twenty Top Tips for Topstitching

20 top tips for topstitching
I promised to write this post AGES ago, and here it finally is – my top tips for topstitching, gained through many hours of frustration, swearing, and unpicking tangled threads from my Bernina.

The basics:

  1. Use topstitching thread in your top spool, normal thread in your bobbin.
  2. You must use a topstitching needle (or a jeans needle). If you don’t do this, terrible things will happen. Never, never, never use a normal needle for topstitching with heavy thread, unless you actively enjoy frustration.
  3. Set your stitch length to be slightly longer than normal, I usually click mine up three lengths on my Bernina.
  4. Take a scrap of your fashion fabric and fold it in half. This is now your practice scrap. Keep it close. Before you topstitch a tricky seam, sew a practice length on your scrap. Much better to get this scrap all gnarled up than your beautiful project.
  5. If your thread gets puckered on top, lower the tension number to loosen it. If it’s too tight, set the tension a bit higher.
  6. Choose a consistent position for topstitching, and stick to it. I often line the edge of my foot up against the seam line as it’s the easy option, but if you have a fancy straight stitch or edge stitch foot you can use that.
  7. To prevent your machine from eating the fabric, pull the bobbin and top thread together at the start of every seam. There’s an excellent description of how to do this here.
  8. Topstitching stretch fabric can be ugly. If you’re sewing decorative lines on single thicknesses of fabric (like jeans pockets), iron some interfacing on the back, or they will stretch out to infinity.

blue jeans topstitching

Using a double needle – ninja level topstitching

  1. Double needle topstitching is tricky. You will need to test it every time you use it. This is where your scrap fabric comes in.
  2. Buy a special twin needle – you can get a 4mm one here in the UK. I  wouldn’t recommend trying to mimic this by sewing two lines of thread, it’s incredibly hard to match them up perfectly.
  3. Every machine is different for twin topstitching, so check your manual. I thread the 2 threads exactly as I would with 1. I put the thread from the usual spool into the left needle, and the thread from the new spool into the right needle.
  4. You can only sew very gentle curves with a double needle, and you can’t turn and pivot. For jeans, the main issue will be the decorative topstitching around the fly. Draw in a smooth curve and practice it first on your test scrap.

General tips to minimise frustration

  1. Don’t be afraid to use the handwheel! Especially at the beginning and end of seams with lots of different layers, like the waistband.
  2. When your needle gets stuck, it can be temporary or it can be a sign of doom.  To find out, gently rotate the handwheel back and forth. Sometimes you can coax it out – often by rotating it backwards. Sometimes you need to stop, unpick an enormous hamster’s nest of tangled threads, and start all over again (sorry).
  3. Topstitching will never feel as easy as normal sewing. Expect some reluctance from your machine.  Learn to distinguish between the slow and reluctant feeling your machine makes when going over bulky seams, and the ‘help help I am stuck in the needle plate’ signal you get when things have gone very wrong.
  4. You might need to re-jig the pattern instructions to make topstitching seams easier. Here’s the order I sew jeans in.
  5. Arrange your pieces so you can do a period of normal sewing, then topstitch lots of seams at once. Otherwise you will go insane changing threads and needles and re-jigging tension.
  6. You should sew all your topstitching lines in one fell swoop. Stopping and starting in the middle never looks good. It’s very hard to match up the line of thread perfectly, especially with a double needle.
  7. Check the fit before you topstitch any seams. Unpicking that shiz is not fun.
  8. Buy a lot more topstitching thread than you think you need, especially if you are sewing jeans or doing double topstitching. 3 spools is the minimum for a classic 5-pocket jean style.

I’m not an expert by any means – this is just what worked for me. Let me know what I’ve missed out!

Sewing accessories – what do you actually need?

I have a new best friend – my ironing board. Here she is:

photo (16)

Okay, she’s not much to look at, but getting this posh John Lewis ironing board has changed my life (the sewing part of it, anyway).

Before this I was using a £15 number from the pound shop. I had to hunch over to iron, it gave me static shocks, the cover was so thin that the mesh underneath marked everything, and there was a massive hole burnt in the centre. So this is a 10000% improvement and has made my dressmaking time much more pleasant. Although I still try and avoid non-sewing-related ironing whenever possible.

It got me thinking about other sewing essentials. It’s definitely an activity where you accumulate more and more strange items as you go along – and sometimes it’s hard to know what you actually need. Some accessories make life a million times easier while others just sit in a box and never get used.

Sewing accessories I own and never use:

  • A flexible curve rule. I just tend to wing it when drawing curves.
  • A bias binding maker. I know everyone was drooling over these when they appeared on the Great British Sewing Bee but I don’t see the point. I hardly ever need pre-folded bias binding.
  • A loop turner. Maybe it’s just my idiocy, but these seem absolutely useless. I could never get mine to work. Also, I’m a strong advocate of not turning long tubes of fabric if you can humanly avoid it.

Sewing accessories I own and couldn’t live without

  • A blind hem foot. This actually came with my Bernina, and it’s brilliant, especially if you are allergic to hand-sewing like me.
  • My wonder tape! I cannot sew an invisible zip, stitch in the ditch to secure a facing, or topstitch pockets without this stuff. Get the Collins stuff, not the kind that Prym make (it doesn’t wash away! Ask me how I know.)
  • A rotary cutter and mat. Makes cutting out slightly less tedious.
  • My overlocker – probably stretching the point a bit to call it a sewing accessory, but I love it a lot.
  • Posh interfacing from the English Couture Company. I finally broke down and ordered some of this and it makes a huge difference. The stuff I was using before feels like cardboard now.

Sewing accessories I don’t own but have a sneaking suspicion that they really would make my life easier:

  • A tailor’s ham. I really should get round to buying one of these.  I know you can make your own but it’s such a dull project.
  • A dressmaker’s dummy. So expensive, and they take up so much room.
  • A seam allowance adder for Burda patterns – maybe something like this?

What about you – are there sewing essentials you couldn’t live without? Have you ever bought a sewing accessory that turned out to be totally useless?

New Look 6070 – The Last Dress of Summer

Two dresses finished and blogged in one week! What’s going on? Have I opened up an illegal sweatshop in my spare room? Have I reduced my sleeping requirements to 4 hours a night?

dress 1

Well, no. I have cheated. I finished this ages ago, 3 whole weeks before the wedding it was intended for. This advance planning is unprecedented in the history of this blog, or indeed in my entire sewing career.

This was the first wedding I have EVER attended in London, despite living in the city for 5 years and going to about 25 weddings in that time period. I highly approve and wish more people would get married here (slightly hypocritical given that we dragged everyone up to Scotland). There’s nothing better than getting a taxi home to your own bed.

It was a really beautiful, emotional wedding. The bride’s dress was beyond gorgeous, the vows made me weep, and it was sunny! This only downside was realising that I really can’t dance in these shoes for more than 10 minutes. Should have brought flats.

But anyway, the dress. The pattern is New Look Workroom 6070, which I bought in America more than 2 years ago. Sometimes it takes a while to find the right match, you know?

6070line (1)

I like the use of pleats in this pattern, I think it looks quite RTW, and it’s very forgiving to fit. The only issue was my fabric, which was so drapey and badly behaved! I had to treat it with a firm hand – I interfaced the midriff band, the facing, and a 2cm ring around the whole neckline to stop it stretching out of shape, as well as stay-stitching everything in sight.

I also basted down all the pleats rather than just pinning them as usual. You can see I also added piping, which helps to add some structure, although I’m not sure now if it detracts from the fabric.

IMG_2616

Now the fabric is a vintage piece from The Shop on Cheshire Street, and I just barely managed to squeeze this dress out of it. I did lengthen the bodice piece by 1 inch and the skirt 2 inches.

My only issue with this print? I’m not sure if  it looks like I’m wearing this dress, or that I’ve been upholstered in it. There is more than a hint of the chaise longue.

It might just be my discomfort with florals – I don’t really wear or sew them. But the fit of the dress makes up for that. I’m really keen to make this again with long sleeves for the winter, in a plain crepe fabric (maybe an aubergine-y purple?)

I need a bragging moment now. Check out how well I managed to match up the piping on the back! It’s not perfect but it’s probably my best midriff matching ever. High-five to myself.

back zip

Also, I hand-sewed the hems on the skirt and the sleeves. I KNOW. This is probably the first time I have hand sewn a hem since I made my friend’s wedding dress (pre-blog) but this fabric really needed it.

I think this is probably my Last Summer Sewing of 2013 – it’s time to think about autumn now. Unfortunately.

Minerva Blogging Network: New Look 6180

My second project for the Minerva Bloggers Network is now up! You can see it here. Warning: you might need to wear sunglasses.

pink dress 5

See what I mean? This fabric was described as ‘coral’ but in soft light it turns to a screamingly loud hot-pink. When it arrived I was very dubious about the colour. But in the end, I just had to give in to the pinkness. It won!

Here are 7 things about this project that I didn’t have room for in my Minerva post:

  1. I sewed a straight size 10, as there’s a lot of ease in this pattern. I could probably should have done a tiny FBA but for a last gasp summer project it didn’t seem worth it.
  2. New Look patterns appear to be designed for narrow-shouldered hunchbacks (ie. me). I didn’t do any alterations around the back and shoulders and it fits like a dream.
  3. I really should have added pockets in the side seams but I ran out of time.
  4. I managed to buy the perfect matching thread for this fabric without taking a swatch to the shop, which shows how memorable this colour is.
  5. I used this tutorial for turning out lovely pointy shirt collars, which worked really well.
  6. My shirt stand sewing skills are not good. I need to find a better method of doing this. I’ve got that David Coffin book about shirtmaking but I find it too intimidating to read for more than five minutes.
  7. This is not my usual style – too pink, too full-on retro. Which proves that it’s good to go outside your sewing comfort zone occasionally.

Here’s the back of this dress. This fabric is a dream to sew with. It’s a slubby linen-look cotton that presses beautifully.

pink dress3

There’s a v clever way of sewing a notched cuff in this pattern, which I am definitely going to steal for other projects. Here’s a photo, which also gives a better idea of the colour in full daylight.

sleeve cuff

Here’s a covered button close-up to finish. Originally I chose some lovely white buttons from Minerva which are included in the kit, but by the end of sewing I was obsessed with this fabric and needed the whole dress to be pink, including the buttons. The white ones will find a good home in another project.

pink dress4

You can buy the whole kit here from Minerva – it’s £21 including the pattern, which doesn’t seem bad for a new dress (although I forgot to include elastic and thread, as usual). Alternatively you can buy the linen-look cotton fabric I used in this dress here, or the New Look 6130 pattern here.

Minerva Blogging Network: Simplicity 2258

Thanks for all your thoughtful comments on my last post about my image being used by a styling website. I just wanted to say that I was impressed with how quickly the CEO of the business emailed me, and I’m happy with their response. I’m sure they’ll source their photos more carefully from now on….

Anyway, on to more exciting things, like sewing!

The first thing I made for the Minerva Blogging Network is up today, and it’s a colourful cotton skirt.


photo 4

Initially, when I saw what all the other bloggers had lined up, I felt slightly ashamed of the ridiculously simple pattern that I chose.

But actually, I’ve been reaching for this skirt non-stop! It’s perfect for summer weather and super easy and comfortable to wear.  The ties at the side stop it from looking too elasticated. Also, and this is crucial, it has pockets (and a gigantic bow).

Image 3

For once I matched up the fabric and pattern pretty well. This cotton poplin is delicious to sew with and the print is crazily awesome. It also hardly wrinkles.

If you do buy the kit you’ll have half a metre or so left over once you’ve made the skirt. I’m thinking of using mine for pocket linings or for the yoke on a top like my McCalls one.

I also think this would be the perfect project for beginners. Just please, please, promise me that you won’t try and sew up the long tie pieces right sides together and then turn them out. That has to be the worst, must frustrating sewing task ever.

All I did was iron down the edges, fold the tie in half, and then sew the long edge up. In this fabric nobody is going to notice if your stitching is a bit wonky or if the edges don’t quite meet.

Here’s what it looks like before you fold it in half and sew:

photo 2

You could probably draft this skirt yourself if you have the inclination, but the pattern also includes options for shorts and capris which could come in handy, so I think it’s worth a purchase.

You can buy the kit for this skirt here.

If you like the cotton poplin fabric you can get that on it’s own here, and the pattern is here. I totally forgot to include elastic in the kit as I usually have some lying around, but you’ll need a metre of this 32mm elastic, and some black thread.

photo 1

Thanks again to Minerva Crafts, and you can read my post for the Bloggers Network here. I can’t wait to see all the other projects now!

Minerva Blogging Network

Hello everyone! Thank you SO MUCH for all the lovely comments on my last post.  They properly made me well up.

Also, I love looking at pictures of other people’s weddings because I am incurably nosy, but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, so thanks for bearing with me if you come here for the sewing rather than the over-sharing.

I do have some actual sewing news for you! I’m rather amazed and happy to say that I’m part of the new Minerva Bloggers Network, which you may have seen announced on some other blogs this week.

Minerva-Crafts-Network-Logo

This project was the brainchild of Vicky at Minerva Crafts and the indefatigable Rachel of House of Pinheiro, two super-inspiring women, and I’m very proud to be part of it.

Each month I’ll be sewing up a garment, with all the supplies coming from the Minerva website. It’ll all be documented on their blog, and you’ll also be able to buy the project as a kit.

I’m interested to see if this kit idea takes off – I think people might enjoy the convenience of it, but I also wonder if other sewers will want to make exact copies of an existing garment. It’ll be fascinating to find out! Of course I’ll link to all the separate parts here on my blog as well in case you like the look of something in particular.

Also, I’ve not been the smartest sandwich at the picnic, as I didn’t quite get the whole ‘kit’ concept when I sent off my requests to Minerva. Therefore some of mine do not include essentials like thread, elastic, etc etc. I will link the missing pieces here too. Sorry guys.

On a practical level, I’m hoping that I can test out some lesser-known fabrics and patterns, and help you navigate the enormous warehouse of craftiness that is the Minerva website. I imagine it to be a bit like Hanger 51 in the Indiana Jones films. You could get lost in there for weeks…

The Minerva Fabrics warehouse, yesterday
The Minerva Fabrics warehouse, yesterday

There are 7 other ladies in the network, and they’re all rather amazing (I know I overuse this word spectacularly but for once it’s true).

Bloggernetwork

I’m sure you’re an avid reader of their blogs already, but as an introduction I thought I’d link to my favourite items they’ve made. This is what I would steal from their wardrobes if they invited me round for tea, and I had a bit less moral fibre:

I’m really excited about the network, and I can’t wait to show you what I’ve been making!

McCalls 6355 – white broderie top

I am currently on the train to Edinburgh, on the way to GET MARRIED, OMG. It seems like a good moment to blog about a top I recently made, while I enjoy my free wine, free food (brownies!!) and free wi-fi. First class rail travel is amazing.

mccalls white top

Hot sunshine-y weather has finally arrived in Britain. It’s no big deal or anything, we’ve only been waiting eight bloody years. Everyone in London is looking very over-coordinated, they’re all wearing carefully hoarded holiday outfits to work and it shows. Maxi-skirts a go go.

I have responded by making an all-white top, because if anything says summery it’s a chocolate ice-cream spillage just waiting to happen.

The pattern is trusty McCalls 6355. It’s worth having a simple top template like this in your stash –  you can make so many variations. For this one I just drew a line in the front and back pieces to create a yoke. Couldn’t be easier.

mcalls white top 4

This was a super thrifty little make. The main fabric is left over from another McCalls blouse I made last summer. The yoke is a very small old tablecloth I found in a charity shop about 6 years ago and have been hoarding ever since.

The trim down the front was a gift from the lovely Amy in our recent swap, and the trim on the sleeves was a present from the equally lovely Rehanon. The bias binding finishing the neck was made from the lining of this dress.

Basically, it was all free! Hooray!

mccalls white top 2

I did a faux-buttoned back (apart from the top one which is real), as you can pull this over your head with no zips or fastenings. The buttons are left over from the Peter Jensen sample sale.

I was heavily inspired by this Whistles broderie top, so basically I have saved myself £65.

c8d3ee0c9f706653e39c3e25303957c1

Plus I look slightly more cheerful than the Whistles model.

mccalls white top 3

Yay for summer! Of course I am going to Italy now so will probably miss all the nice British weather, there’s a cloud to every silver lining, as we pessimists like to say.

I hope you are all enjoying summer, or having a nice winter if you are in the Southern Hemisphere. I probably won’t be able to blog again for a while so I’m sending you lots of happy summertime vibes in the meantime! See you soon dudes!

p.s. it turns out that swap shop thing I did was actually a styling competition. Obviously am not expecting to win but I currently am right at the bottom with 2 votes, so if you can be bothered to vote for me by tomorrow, it will save me some public humiliation. Thanking you in advance.

By Hand London Victoria blazer review and giveaway

Firstly – this is a great pattern.

Secondly – I haven’t totally done it justice here.

victoria blazer 7

I was one of the original pattern testers, but I’ve held off from posting my version for a few reasons. I’ll share them with you now so you can learn from my mistakes.

– Don’t use a thick denim-weight fabric for this pattern. It’s a casual blazer, it needs drape, and those sleeves will be impossible to ease in if your fabric is too heavy.

– Don’t pre-wash your fabric and lining together if one is pale blue and the other is burnt orange (you probably already know this).

– Don’t buy fabric from Ultimate Craft in Stoke Newington. It always ends in tears.

victoria blazer 5

I’m happy with the finished result even though the fabric is a bit heavy. The strange mottling that occurred in the first run through the washing machine has almost gone, so it has more of a pleasing faded look.

jacket back

The pattern itself is brilliant. It’s very quick to sew, and the By Hand London girls have put together really comprehensive instructions. I’ve never made a jacket before so I was a bit intimidated, but it’s easy-peasy. I finished it in two evenings!

The way the neck dart turns into the collar is particularly fun to put together, and the lining neatly finishes all your seams. The side seam pockets come together beautifully, but next time I want to add patch pockets to the front, which would make it even quicker.

blazer close up

I know a few people wanted to see a line drawing of this pattern, so here’s the back of the (beautifully packaged) envelope. You can see they recommend ‘light to medium weight’ fabrics, so don’t be like me, do what they tell you. I am dying to see a version of this in a chambray.

victoria blazer line drawing

I’m actually planning another Victoria in my Tesco-duvet-space-galaxy fabric but I think it’ll have to wait until after marriage/honeymoon/wedded bliss etc etc.

But you should check out Marie’s beautiful pastel cropped version here, and Clare’s gorgeous neon palm-tree version here. I saw the latter in person at the By Hand London first birthday celebrations last weekend, and it’s a beaut.

You can buy the pattern from the By Hand London website and it’s perfect timing, as they’re about to start a sew-along.

I’m very proud to support these ladies! Their patterns are ace, they are lovely people, and they know how to throw an EPIC party (they also mix some extremely strong punch).

sidevictoria blazer 4

Giveaway – own your own Victoria blazer!

I have a copy of this pattern to give away to one lucky person! I worked out that I’ve been blogging for exactly two years now, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate.

victoria blazer pattern front

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below.

To make it interesting, will you tell me about your best or worst matches of fabric and pattern? I’m fascinated by how some fabrics suit a pattern perfectly, and some are an instant failure. If I had this mastered I reckon I’d be a sewing wizard, so I’d love to hear about your successes and disasters!

You can enter the giveaway from anywhere in the world, and you have until 12 noon (UK time) on Tuesday 16th July.

If you want to comment but not enter the giveaway, (perhaps to tell me that I look like Phil Collins in this jacket, or that I should have ironed my skirt before taking these photos), that’s cool too, just mention it in your comment.

p.s. check me out being interviewed in the Guardian today about making my own jeans! Fame at last, courtesy of the lovely Karen.

Brand new shirt – from a vintage Maudella pattern (again)

I’ve made another Maudella pattern! I just can’t stop. I’m a Maudella machine.

maudella shirt 5

It’s a 70s shirt pattern that I’ve posted about before, I couldn’t resist buying it from Ebay, although I wouldn’t exactly describe my lifestyle as ‘ship and shore’, whatever that means. It includes a pattern for a rather excellent pair of 70s bellbottoms which I may make at some stage.

Photo nicked from Ebay seller as I couldn't find the envelope in my sewing room
Photo nicked from Ebay seller as I couldn’t find the envelope in my sewing room

I really liked the yokes on this pattern, and the pocket placement on the front. I can let you into a little secret though – the pockets are completely non-functional.

maudella shirt closeup

The pattern has you sew two pointy rectangles right sides together, turn them right side out, fold over the top point and topstitch the whole thing down. Does that make any sense at all? Anyway they look neat, and I never use shirt pockets anyway.

I spent a lot of time working on the shoulder and bodice fit of this pattern, but somehow forgot to account for my gorilla arms so the sleeves are too short. I mostly wear them rolled up anyway.

shirt done up

The collar has a pointy finish to the band, which you can see when it’s buttoned up to the top. I know it’s trendy but I feel like I’m suffocating when I wear shirts like this. Maybe I have a particularly thick neck (must be all that weightlifting I do).

Here’s the back, with a lovely matching pointy yoke.

maudella shirt 2

This shirt was almost entirely brought to you by Wonder Tape. If you haven’t used this, it’s a thin double-sided sticky tape that dissolves in the wash, and which you can sew through without gumming up your needle.

photo (3)

This stuff has transformed my sewing career. It’s a brilliant cheating aid for lazy people who can’t be bothered to pin and baste, like myself. I used it to stick down the yokes and pockets before topstitching them, as well as securing the button placket facing before stitching in the ditch.

The fabric is a fine dotted swiss, part of my Peter Jensen sample sale haul. Yeah, I’m still working through it! I’ve still got a metre and a half left. Not sure what to do with it. Suggestions welcome! I don’t think I need two beige shirts….

maudella shirt 6

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!