Friday, 23 September 2016

City Break - My Capsule Wardrobe

Something a bit exciting to share with you today. Sew Over It have just realised their first eBook, that is, a book of 5 patterns in PDF format only. For those of you that come here often… you’ll know I absolutely love Sew Over It patterns. I’ve made the Ultimate Trousers, Vintage Shift Dress and Betty Dress, and each is an absolute staple in my wardrobe.
 
http://sewoverit.co.uk/product/capsule-wardrobe-city-break-ebook/

In this book the patterns are :

The Erin Skirt – a short or calf length button up pencil skirt.

Molly Top and Dress – knit item with long or short sleeves.

Lola Coat – Waterfall style coat/jacket in two lengths

Mia Jeans – stretch fabric jeans with fly front and pockets.

Alex Shirt and Dress – button up dress or shirt.

I have to say I wasn’t 100% about the concept when I first heard about it. A book of patterns specifically for a City Break? But what it really is, is a suggestion for when you might need a capsule wardrobe, and 5 (well 10 including two versions of each) great patterns that work interchangeably together to make one. I love me a city break, but these patterns would also work great for me for workwear.
I love the design of the book, it’s well thought out and well-illustrated. Lisa doesn’t just tell us these patterns work well together but jaunts around Paris and London in different combinations of the patterns throughout the book. The patterns themselves are also a great selection. I often find with pattern books the patterns are a bit over simplified, but with things like jeans and coats, these definitely aren’t. I also really appreciate it when pattern instructions are illustrated with actual photos of the process, rather than diagrams; as I learn much better from seeing things being done! (or as close as I can get..)

 
 So when it came to making one of the patterns I was a little bit naughty. Firstly I didn’t listen to Mr Makes’ advice after asking which one I should make. I went a bit outside my usual box, and went for the button-up pencil skirt, the Erin. Then I ignored the clear suggestion to NOT use a stretch fabric, and picked a mid weight chambray weave denim with just a teeny tiny 2% stretch.
I don’t think the stretch was too much of an issue, although it made the waist a little roomier. I am happy with the sew, but I can’t help but think Mr Makes was right, I’m just not convinced the style of skirt suits me. I’m contemplating hacking it a little and cutting up to the shorter length.
That being said, I’m fully intending to make other patterns from the book. The Lola coat is right up my street, and the Molly top will make a great autumn staple for layering. Watch this space….
 
Apologies for the rather pained expression on my face in these photos...I was keeping an eye on the maahoooooosive spider that was behind the camera!
 
 
******Disclaimer******* - I was sent an advance copy of the eBook with no obligation to use or write about it.
 
Emily Kate.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

The Ultimate Snazzy Trousers

This is my third pair of Ultimate Trousers from Sew Over It after my Rupert bear tartan trousers, and the original pair from my sewing class. And they really are ultimate trousers. Easily my favourite pair yet. I LOVE them.

I wasn't really sure about my fabric choice at first. It's a stretch cotton I bought months ago from Fabrics Galore with these trousers in mind, but when it got to actually making them I was worried the print might be a bit loud and not suit me.
I decided to try a high-waisted version of the trousers, which Lisa has helpfully done a pattern hack for here.
 
 
This make wasn't without issues though... I thought my days of unpicking were more or less over, but apparently not. I ended up unpicking the zip and waistband twice! After I had installed it the first time, I tried the trousers on. I don't know whether I had been a bit over generous on the extension measurement, or my waistband was a bit wide, or if they were intended to be that high, but they ended not far from the bottom of my bra. Not the most flattering of looks...
 
So I marked where I wanted them to end, ripped the zip and waistband out and cut them down to the right length. Then I got to the same stage again, everything was perfect, and the zip pull flew off the end of the zip. Third times a charm though, and after a new zip everything was sorted.
 
When it came to pattern matching these trousers. I tried. I really did.
 
 
As you may have read about in my first ultimate trousers post, I apparently have one leg fatter than the other. (yes really) This doubles my cutting out time as I have 4 separate pattern pieces. I spent a fair while trying to make sure the centre front and back of the crotch seam pattern would match up, only to discover I had accidentally cut the back pattern pieces the wrong sides up, so they were the wrong way round. I managed to fix it by laying the pattern pieces on top of the fabric ones and drawing in the stich line, but it meant the front and back seams weren't going to match anymore.
 
I was a bit miffed about it, but when they were actually finished I loved them so much I didn't care, besides which the pattern makes your eyes blur if you look too long!  
 
I finished these just a couple of days ago, and have barely taken them off since. The high-waisted style makes them flattering and comfy and they don't budge from my waist like trousers tend to.
The stretch cotton also makes the seams feel that much more secure, I don't feel like my crotch or waist seam is in danger of ripping when I bend over. I'm completely converted to using stretch cotton for this pattern, and I've already spotted a beautiful flowery fabric for my next pair.
 
 
The pattern may be a bit too snazzy for small town Somerset, I've had quite a few looks strutting them down the high street, but i'm pretty sure everyone's just jealous...or at least that's what I'll tell myself!
 
Emily Kate.



 

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Autumn/Winter Sewing Plans

September is national sewing month. It's also #sewphotohop month over on Instagram. Are you taking part?
 
August was not the most productive of months sewing-wise for me...or anything-wise really. I have a real tendency to get lots of things done, if I don't have much time. If I have very little work and lots of time, I can waste whole weeks days at a time not doing a whole lot (watching the Olympics..!)
So September is a whole new month, and the start of the autumn months. So I thought I would share my sewing plans for the Autumn/Winter season with you, in an effort to re-start my sewing mojo.
 
 
 
This was actually on my sewing plans list last Autumn, but I got somewhat sidetracked with my wedding dress. Hopefully this will be the year I finally sew a sweatshirt/jumper!
 
 
Winter Coat
 
 
I haven't got a pattern in mind to use for this one just yet. I am in love with full skirted 1950's style double-breasted coats like these, so perhaps a vintage pattern is the way to go. 
 
 
 
 
Something else that's been on my list for a long while. I've recently completed the Sophie Swimsuit course, so can't wait to get stuck into another well-explained pattern from Closet Case Files.
 
 
Deer and Doe - Melilot Shirt

 
I've not tried a pattern from Deer and Doe yet, but there are so many I'd like to! I saw a beautiful version of this shirt on Instagram recently so had it to check it out.
 
What are your sewing plans this season?
 
Emily Kate

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Silk Wedding Ties

When I originally wrote my list of what I was planning to make for the wedding, ties didn't feature on it at all. It was only when I read a blog where someone had made their wedding dress, their bridesmaids dress, and attempted to make their grooms whole outfit that I thought I wasn't being ambitious enough.
 In all seriousness though, I thought it was a lovely idea to make part of the grooms outfit too, to make it extra special. I didn't fancy making his suit and he can be pretty picky when it comes to things like shirts, so I settled for the tie.
 
 
When we had decided on poly silk/satin for the bridesmaids I realised the same fabric would work for ties, and it would mean the colour was a perfect match. So I planned to make one for all the men in the wedding party.
This was really something that was supposed to be 'ONLY if you have time', but once I got the idea in my head I got carried away as usual. I ended up making them when really I should have been concentrating on the bridesmaids dresses!
 
After a spot of google research, I found this article, which I found overwhelmingly helpful for constructing a tie. The only problem was, they never mention which pattern mentioned they use. I plumped for Burda's Osman tie, as it didn't seem too skinny and was quite an inexpensive download. Annoyingly I found out later Sew Over It also has a tie pattern.
 
Mr Makes didn't fancy having his face in it...but wanted to show off his beard growth!
I didn't do the tip as instructed in the pattern, instead using the article above to do a more professional finish. For the tie lining fabric I used a similar curtain lining from eBay. When it came to folding up the tie around the lining, I found that this pattern had an extra fold-in. So at the centre seam it would be several layers of fabric on each side, and as the silk I used was already medium-weight, it would just be too thick.
I cut down the pattern so that after folding the edges in there would be just one fold to the centre. In retrospect, the fabric I used was probably a little on the heavy side anyway, as they didn't have as much fluidity as I would have liked. But then it was the perfect choice for the dresses!
 
The main centre seam has to be sewn by hand in silk thread. This was actually a blessing as it meant I could pin each tie together, and then take them with me when I left to work in London for 3 days each week without my machine. I ended up sewing 5 of them one sunny afternoon sat in a Wandsworth park for several hours!
 
 
I also ordered some cute handmade labels from this Etsy shop so I could sew one in each tie, and mine and the bridesmaids dresses.
 
 
As well as his tie, I made a little pocket square for my groom just a few days before the wedding. It's just a simple 15" square of silk with double fold edges. For tips on how to fold them try Brit & Co's article.
I made him a little wedding present too... a pair of boxers! Despite the fact they have reindeer on them, the pair I made him for Christmas are worn as often as the washing machine allows, so I thought it was about time he had a new pair...
 
Emily Kate.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Tips on Baking Your Own Wedding Cake

When I told people I was going to make my own wedding cake, and dessert table, that seemed to be the thing that pushed them over the edge. Make your wedding dress?... sure, bridesmaids dresses even but the CAKE???! Which is kind of ridiculous really. I might be more of a sewer than a baker nowadays, but I wasn't planning anything too difficult. And whilst the cake would have to be done nearer the big day, my dress was finished with weeks to spare, so the two didn't interrupt each other.
 
 
As well as my cake, my mum and I made various things for the dessert table. Lemon cheescakes, chocolate mousses, profiteroles, cupcakes, brownies and other treats. Unfortunately they went down rather too well and I haven't found a single photo of the dessert table before it was demolished by the hoardes!
 
 
I wrote about my practice cake a few months back and my DIY cake topper, but I thought I would share what I had learnt when it came to the real thing. So here are a few tips...

  • Make it in advance and freeze it. - Even if you're not making a cake that is usually made far in advance like a fruit cake, sponge cakes can easily be made ahead and frozen. Contrary to what you might think, freezing the cake after wrapping it well in Clingfilm actually keeps it moist. I took out the largest layer the night before I iced it and the smaller ones just an hour or so. They are also easier to cut and ice if still slightly frozen. Every dessert we made was also made in advance and frozen, and you would never have guessed.
      My timeline looked like this:
      The weekend before - Make all desserts and wedding cake.
       2 days before wedding - Take biggest layer of cake out of freezer and make icings.
       1 day before wedding - Take all desserts out of freezer. Take cake out, ice and sandwich layers.
       Day of wedding - transport to venue, stack layers and decorate.

  • Think carefully about what you plan to make - Given that we had a very DIY wedding, I wanted a cake and desserts that needed very little to no work on the actual day or day before. The cake just needed sandwiching together, and I chose desserts that could be frozen as is.

  • Let someone else arrange the cake on the day - I was constantly told by our vicar, my mum, mother-in-law, the hairdresser... that I could do all the DIY-ing I liked until the actual day, when I would have to delegate jobs. As difficult as this was for me, its true, you want to enjoy every minute of the day and concentrate on getting married. Mr Makes' mum kindly stacked the layers of the cake on the day and did a beautiful arrangement of fruit and gypsophilia around it.

  • Think about how you will store it and transport it. - Each of my layers was quite tall so I had to get some deep storage tubs. Make sure they are airtight so your cake won't dry out overnight.

  • Practice - Practice and perfect your cake recipe, even its a straightforward sponge. And practice the entire process, from baking and freezing to assembling the cake. Then you know how long it will take, and any issues you might have.
 

 

 
I'd definitely recommend making your own cake if you like a spot of baking, or enlist a family member to do it for you. Cake is one of those things that you can really save on as ingredients cost very little and its just a case of investing time and love into it.
 
Emily Kate

Sunday, 31 July 2016

A Lovely Liberty Circle Skirt

A bit of a break now from the wedding related posts... (there's just a few more I promise!) and onto a bit of more simple, selfish sewing.
 
We decided to have a bit of a break between our wedding and honeymoon, just a couple of weeks, but enough that we could relax a bit and take in the wedding day. Although it did mean going back to work too.
 
 In my mind, a couple of weeks was enough to make a few items of clothing for honeymoon right? I even intended to make a swimsuit. In the end though, it would have been a rushed job, so I stopped, and you'll have that to look forward to by the end of the summer. Not that i'll have anywhere to wear it though! So when it came down to it, after a busy week of work, a birthday and then a day where I just vegged out on the sofa watching Downtown Abbey... I had time to make just one item for the honeymoon.
 
 
 
I'd had my eye on this fabric for months after spotting it in Fabric's Galore a while back, but resisted as I was in full wedding sewing mode. Its a bright Liberty tana lawn cotton, and my first thought was actually, i'd love some curtains made out of that! Given that Mr Makes' first response was 'It's quite... bright, dear.' I think it will just have to be a skirt for now.
 
After my recent Betty dress obsession, and then my full skirted, full pouffe wedding dress, I am all about the circle skirts right now. They're easy to do, can be made out a variety of fabrics, and are just very flattering since they cinch you in at the waist.
 
 
 
With this skirt, as the tana lawn is very lightweight, and I didn't want a bad case of VPL; I decided to underline the fabric with a simple white cotton lawn, and treat them as one from then on. For the waistband I interfaced one side of the strip of the main fabric, and folded it widthwise. I sewed the ends together and turned it right side out, poking out the corner. I then attached the waistband, and stitched in the ditch to keep it down on the inside. I made the waistband a bit longer than the skirt so I could them overlap the extra bit and finish the closure with a couple of hooks and eyes.
 
The pattern I used for the skirt is the same one I made for my wedding dress, so it's a little on the tight, I'm-not-eating-anything-it's-my-wedding-day side. I already have plans for at least a few more circle skirts/dresses from my wedding dress pattern so I may just add a little extra room at the side seams, for those days when i'd like to eat.
 

 
 
Emily Kate.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The Bridesmaid Dress Saga

I think I might be about ready to talk about THE BRIDESMAID DRESS SAGA.
I had just the two bridesmaids, my sister, and my husband’s sister. If I’d have had anymore than that I think trying to make their dresses as well as my own, plus everything else I DIY-ed in the end, it would have been nigh on impossible in just the 10.5 months we had. But I’m sure I would have gone for it regardless.
I was extremely lucky to have two lovely ladies who were perfectly happy to wear a dress I was going to make them, long before they knew what it would look like, or the amount of prodding and poking it would entail. I decided on navy blue for the colour early on, and I knew I wanted them to have a full 50’s style circle skirt with a petticoat like mine, only shorter. I toyed with the idea of the Betty pattern from Sew Over It, but decided I wanted something a bit more occasion-dress like for the bodice, and they weren’t sure on a boatneck style. The Collette Macaron was also a contender, but in the end we plumped for Salme Patterns Yoke Dress, and that’s really where things started to go a bit wrong.

 
I used the link I was sent to print out my pattern, but decided to only print out the bits I needed, as I always do. I was aware there was a limit to how many times you could access the pattern link before it expired, but I didnt realise there was also a time period of just 3 months. (mostly because the other side of the pond y’all love to put dates the wrong way round and 4/12/16 to me is the 4th December….) So I had the pattern, but no instructions. I figured I could email them and beg for them to send me the instructions only again. I sent two emails, commented on a blog post, tweeted them. Nothing. So then I figured I’d just have to make do, surely I’ve been sewing long enough now that I can manage without.
The pattern doesn’t include seam allowances, but I found it entirely confusing for there to be some places to not add any, and one place where I had to add an inch. Really I think it would have been better to include them. There were no notches on the pattern. Given that it involves sewing a difficult curved seam I think that’s kinda ridiculous.
Sizing was difficult. Both of my girls are pretty short, but well endowed in certain areas so I had to grade between several pattern sizes in one case. To be honest the choice of pattern, one with waist darts, rather than princess seams like my own, was never going to fit closely as I was trying to make it. I did a bodice toile for each of them, then a full mock up in polycotton, then the actual thing. Even then I ended up redoing the top chiffon section on one 3times, (once I managed to sew the wrong girls upper bodice pattern piece to the dress!) and both ended up having to have the opaque neckline lowered as a couple of centimetres too high made it look frumpy.

The satin fabric I used was from Bridal Fabrics, who have an amazing selection. It was actually a polyester satin called ‘Contessa’ but didn’t feel cheap at all. I spent hours pouring over different fabric colours online and ordering samples and this ended up being the perfect Navy blue, not too dark, or too close to royal blue. It was also non-snag which was a godsend when I was ripping sections out to start again. The chiffon was cationic (not a clue what that means) chiffon from the Remnant House, and matched the satin colour perfectly.
In the end I did managed to get them done with around three weeks to spare, which although pretty good for me is much later than the 2 months beforehand I had originally planned for. Did they fit perfectly? No. But when it came to it I was much happier with them then I thought I would be. They looked pretty close to perfect, they suited both of them, and they seemed to really enjoy swishing about the dancefloor in their full skirts and petticoats (who wouldn’t?!) In hindsight, if I was to rewind the last 6 months and do them again, I’d use Simplicity 4070, the same bodice I used for my own dress, and draft an overlay myself.
And although I hate to be negative about a pattern, especially an indie pattern company, I just wouldn’t recommend the yoke dress. As an idea, its gorgeous, but the actual pattern is lacking a few things to help, and the support just doesn’t seem to be there from the pattern company itself if you get stuck.

I don't have many photos at the moment so will update this post when the professional pics come in!
 

Emily Kate