Wednesday, 16 November 2016

A Second-Chance Shirt

No two sewing patterns are created equal. That’s something I’ve really noticed recently. I always used to think for the basic no-frills items like shirts and trousers, one good pattern would do. And maybe it would if it ticked all the boxes and fit like a dream, but most of the time that’s not the case.
That being said, me being the tight-arsed cheap thrifty person I am maybe isn’t such a bad thing, as if we all bought every sewing pattern we wanted there wouldn’t be any money left for fabric. Or food.
So this shirt pattern is from the first Great British Sewing Bee book that accompanied the first TV series. I’ve made a few things from it, with varying degrees of success. I’m won over by the stylish pictures and the fact I have many patterns for just a one off cost of £20ish (it’s probably a lot less now) but in reality the patterns, or some at least come with a fair amount of issues.
I actually made this shirt back in January 2015 and wrote about it here. I discovered after that the reason for it coming up so small was not just my bad measuring, but also the fact my printer decided to regularly ‘shrink-to-fit’ after I’d asked it nicely not to and I was too lazy to measure the damn box.
So I thought perhaps it was time to give this pattern another shot. It is well into autumn/fall now at least, which is definitely the season of all things tartan. I measured properly and this time cut a size 14.
 Things went along reasonably well, although I found the lack of any kind of notches to match up once again infuriating. When it came to the collar I found it to be too big, by some margin. Even using gathering stitches to ease it into the neckline didn’t help enough and I ended up cutting close to an inch off the end of it. Those things aside, it came together in a few hours.
I’m reasonably happy with it, or as much as I can be with what is decidedly now quite a naff pattern. The shoulders are two wide for me so the seam is sitting too far down my shoulder. It also feels like the ‘relaxed boyfriend fit’ they were after is happening at the top, but by my waist it is pulled in more. So it feels like a cross between a fitted shirt and a loose, relaxed fit one, not really belonging in either camp.
I do love the fabric though, and I’ve worn it out for autumn walks several times already. I’m not convinced it was the kicker to bring back my sew-Jo though as I’m still struggling with finding the time and energy.
What may help is the sewing room I will (fingers crossed!) have in the next couple of months…watch this space.
Emily Kate

Monday, 24 October 2016

A Summer Sophie Swimsuit

I've got something very topical to share with you today on this wintry blustery Monday. Or not.
I don't know what it is about October; maybe its the nights closing in, or the colder weather, but it does terrible things to my sewjo, or sewing mojo if you will. My list of sewing projects for the autumn/winter grows and grows and yet it feels like too much effort to actually start one.
So whilst I try my best to regain it, in the meantime I have something I finished back in August to share with you. Unfortunately I'm not going to be modelling this one for you... Mr Makes wasn't oh-so-keen on the idea, and given the average temperature currently I don't fancy standing in my little courtyard garden in a swimsuit.
The Sophie swimsuit is by Closet Case Files, and is available in two styles, a full swimsuit and a bikini with high waisted bottoms. As this was my first ever attempt at a swimsuit, and the first time in a long time that I've sewn with stretch fabric, I decided to enrol in the online Sophie workshop. The cost is $49 (£38, at least at the time!), which seemed a lot when I had just finished paying for a honeymoon, but does also include the pattern. Heather is a brilliant teacher, and goes through each bit in plenty of detail so I found it completely invaluable and as a result found it quite an easy sew!
The best bit I found was the first lesson when she talks in detail about each material you need (there's a lot!) and alternatives if you can't find exactly what she suggests. There's even a list underneath with suggestions on where you can find supplies online for those in the US, Canada and even the UK! Although it can add up to quite a bit with all the bits and bobs you need, I almost have enough to make another entire swimsuit, or a bikini top at the very least. Heather also outlines how you can make the bikini into a long line bikini and options for colour blocking etc, which is something you wouldn't get with just the pattern.
Whilst I found the instructions fairly straightforward thanks to the lessons, I couldn't find a stretch needle, or the patience to wait for one in the post, so I settled for a ballpoint one. That would have been okay if it weren't for the fact it was a little old and blunt, so it kept skipping stitches in the zig-zag stitch. As a result, this is a project I am simultaneously proud, and not proud of. I mean, I made a swimsuit! But if you look close, on the inside the stitching is a bit of a mess all round. I also didn't take the advice to spread the weight of the straps through the bra cups, and so they are pulling the fabric awkwardly at the top.
The fit is pretty good generally, I'm happy with the bodice, but the bra cups are a tiny bit on the small size. I think I would go up a cup size on the next one, or just a half, but take out a lot of fullness from the centre. 
So there we have it, my first attempt at a swimsuit. whilst I'm not sure how much wear this one will get as the fit could be better, I will definitely be using this pattern again and for all my swimsuits in future!
Emily Kate.


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.

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

Sunday, 17 July 2016

10 Tips on Sewing Your Own Wedding Dress

**Disclaimer.** I have only sewn one wedding dress. It went down pretty well with the wearer though (myself!) so here are some tips for making your own.

First things first though, read. Read any blog you can find where they’ve made their dress. Read sewing books, couture sewing books and bridal couture books. Some links I found helpful… my advice!

  1. Know your limits. – Now I don’t mean limit yourself as such. I learnt so many new things sewing my dress than if I’d just used what I already knew. But if your dream dress is a lace fit and flare, you’ve only been sewing a couple of months and the wedding is in 6 months, you may need to scale it back a bit.
  2. Start early- I actually work much better under pressure, so even if we had ended up with an 18 month or 2 year engagement, I’m not sure I would have got round to starting that much earlier than I did. That being said, I had decided on the dress design  and the pattern 9 months before, although sewing didn’t start until 7 months before. Bear in mind the fitting can take as long, or longer than the sewing of the finished dress.
  3. Ask for help. – I don’t really like asking for help generally, I guess I’m quite a proud person. But a wedding is one time in your life where you are probably going to need help from friends and family. You can’t fit a toile yourself, even if the other person doesn’t really know what they’re doing, you need someone to pin you in at least. If you’re not confident though, definitely ask a seamstress friend, or book a sewing lesson and have someone fit you. Ask google if you’re stuck on a technique. Blog about it, or instagram it, the sewing community is pretty awesome, and there will be someone out there who can help.
  4. Have a back up plan. – The dress I decided to copy had scallop lace edging along the neckline and armholes, like mine did 😄. I wanted to recreate that, but decided early on that if I couldn’t find a suitable edging, or work out how to do it invisibly, or if I just plain ran out of time, I could do just white satin bias binding instead. If I had really struggled with the design I chose, I would have been happy to resort to a white version of a tried and tested pattern I loved, like the Betty dress from Sew Over It.
  5. Know your reasons - This really links in with point 5. I wanted to sew my own dress, for the sense of pride and achievement I would get from walking down the aisle in it. You might want to because it will be cheaper, or because then you will have a totally unique dress. Just know what your main motivation is. As I really just wanted to walk down the aisle in something I had made, I would have been happy in a simple white cotton dress, if that’s all I could manage. But if it was just about saving money, than I might have been pretty disappointed if I had to go to a back up plan, so taking a design to a seamstress, or a preloved dress might be a better idea.
  6. Don't sweat the small stuff - I hemmed the lining on my dress a few months beforehand, but then realised it was hanging below the main silk fabric in places. I left it, and ended up redoing it a couple of weeks before the wedding, long after the rest of the dress was finished. It wasn’t great the first time, as haboatai is so difficult to work with, but the second time was even worse, a bit of a rushed job with a terrible iron. I didn’t really have the time or inclination to do it again so figured it would do, no one would see the lining anyway. But the night before the wedding, all I could think was maybe I should have re-hemmed it?!!! No. People will not notice that your lining is not really neat, or that your spacing is slightly off on the odd button. And when it comes to your actual wedding day, you won’t either.
  7. Practice- if you’ve never done it before, make a toile/muslin. Make lots of toiles. I ended up doing around 4 versions of the bodice, before I was happy enough to do a full toile, and then it had more adjustments after a final fitting. I also practiced the boning, sewing with tulle, the lace edging, and even the handpicked zip. Anything that was new to me, I practiced.
  8. Don't listen to the naysayers.- I had a lot of people tell me 'You've taken on too much, how will you get it all done in time'. The majority of the time these were people who didn't know me really well, extended family, friends of friends. Only you know what your schedule is like, and how much time you are willing to give up. As I don’t have a 9-5 job, I knew I had quite a bit of time to work with, and being self employed I could just take on a bit less work if needed.  
  9. Don't give up too easily. I'm not saying don't give up whatever happens. If it's the day before, you're stressed, not sleeping and you've got a long way to go before you're finished then by all means resort to a back up plan. It's just a dress. At the end of the day you are marrying your best friend/love of your life/insert equally soppy description here and they should marry you in a sack if that's the only option.
  10. Be proud. - Whatever happens, whether you ended up with exactly what you had in mind in the first place, or if you had to resort to a backup plan. You made it. With your own two hands. That's something the vast majority of people couldn't do. So walk down that aisle with your head held high, because you should be damn proud of yourself. And you can bet the man at the end is proud of you too. 

Good luck!

Emily Kate.


Monday, 11 July 2016

My Wedding Dress!

Well, the big day has finally been and gone and my dress had it's first, (and last :-( ) outing. And it was perfect. Everything that should have gone wrong...didn't (well with the exception of one broken down car!) and even the British weather came through for us in the end.

It had been so long since I'd finished my dress by the time the wedding rolled around, almost 3 months, that I had almost forgotten I had made it. It felt like a lifetime ago, when we had different jobs and lived in a different city.
There were times when I tried it on beforehand, when I wondered if it really did look okay and if I'd made the right choice. I thought it might look a bit too twee and make me look young. I worried it would look homemade and people would think I was ridiculous.
But when it came to putting it on, on the day, with my hair and make-up all done, the shoes and the bouquet, and finally taking it outside into the natural daylight, I couldn't be happier with it.

It fit like a glove, all credit to my seamstress friend who helped fit it of course, and was comfortable to wear all day. Not once did I need to hitch it up, loosen anything or adjust it all, except move the poof out the way a bit when I walked about. I felt amazing in it, and it was flattering too, making my waist look smaller.
 I danced all night and ran about all over the place saying hello and goodbye to people and never having to worry about tripping over it.
It was the most fun dress. Ever. There's nothing quite like swishing a full circle skirt and petticoat about on the dance floor to a live band.

Most of all, it was very me, and looking back I can't believe I considered for a moment that it wasn't.
Emily Kate. 

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Sewing With Chiffon

So it's been a while chaps...I apologise. I'd love to say its because I've been off gallavanting or sewing myself silly... but really I've been stressing. I'll do a post about the Bridesmaid dress saga soon...but I'm not sure I'm ready to talk about it just yet. But I am NEARLY DONE!! So today I thought i'd briefly share with you just a couple of tips for sewing with chiffon.
So you're thinking of using chiffon for a project?
Tip Number One.  Don't. Use something that will be less slippery and not give you sleepless nights. Oh fine if you insist.
Tip Number Two. Use tissue paper when cutting out your pattern pieces. Lay tissue paper down, then the fabric, then another sheet on top. You can even cut on the fold and put a third piece between the layers, and it'll be just like cutting paper.
Tip Number Three. Pour yourself a large glass of wine.
Tip Number Four. Gelatine. This tip I found in the depths of the internet saved me.
Soak your pattern pieces in water. Make up a bowl of gelatine mixture with leaves or powder according to the packet instructions. Add your material to the bowl and leave it to soak for ten minutes (while you drink your wine). Squeeze out the gelatine water and leave it to completely dry. Now you can iron your chiffon and it sews just like a crisp cotton! It may look a bit streaky and odd, but after you've sewn all you need to, you can give the garment a handwash in the sink and the gelatine will come right out with a bit of washing powder.
Happy Sewing!
Emily Kate.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Wedding Dress Progress...The Finishing Touches!

So…it’s finished! Honestly.
I’m going to wait to show you the final result until after the big day, when hopefully there may be at least one or two photos of me not pulling a photo face like Chandler from Friends. In the meantime, I’m going to share with you a few of the finishing touches of my dress, and what I learnt along the way.
My dress is pretty much a copy of a dress I tried on in Candy Anthony, a specialist 50’s/60’s wedding dress designer. The one I fell in love with had a polka dot bodice, with a scalloped lace trim. When I first started looking at materials, I naively hoped to find a similar fabric, before quickly realising for the edging to be curved and on both sides of the shoulders, it must have been made specifically for those pattern pieces. So taking the advice of someone in a Soho fabric store, I looked for a polka dot tulle fabric, then a scalloped lace trim embroidered onto a similar tulle fabric.
My polka dot (or flocked spot as it is apparently called) tulle is from the Silk Society in Berwick Street and was an eyewatering £66 a metre, luckily I got away with 0.75 of a metre and still have a little left over for something else…  The trim I searched high and low for something I liked and that was a similar colour and eventually found one in Fabricland for just £1 a metre. Which just shows you that the expensive Soho shops aren’t the only options for formal wear!
The trim actually looked like this originally…. And I just used the scalloped edge.
I realised in order for the edging to lay flat I was going to have to ‘cut and paste’ the scallops, so they would follow the curve. I put the dress on the mannequin and spent a great deal of time working out where to cut the trim and join another scallop. I wasn’t sure of the correct way around, but found it looked best with the trim on top and bodice overlay underneath.
I then sewed them on by hand within the thick embroidered edge of the scallops using a sort of back stitch with the small stitches on the front. To join two scalloped I used a whipstitch. After sewing along the entire neckline I used nail scissors to cut away the excess tulle from the trim and behind the trim, from the bodice overlay. When it came to the armholes I didn’t need to cut and paste the scallops so just used one long strip and joined at the underarm seam.
Considering I sortof made the technique up as I went along, as I couldn’t find anything useful on the net or my sewing books, I’m very happy with the result. I was worried it would be obvious, but after showing it to both my Mum and sister, neither had any idea until I pointed out the exact place where the scallops were joined.

Another finishing touch I’ve used for the first time is a horsehair braid hem, also called a crinoline hem. It was suggested to me by my seamstress friend, and gives the hem a lovely full look and structure to the bottom. The crinoline I used was from Hemline which comes in a pack of 2” wide by 3m long, and I used 2 packs to get all the way around my 29” skirt.
It’s incredibly simple to do actually, just sew to the right side of your skirt using a ¼” seam allowance, then fold to the inside, which encloses the raw edge. I used a gathering stitch on the other edge and used it to help manipulate the braid to stay flat on the other side, then catchstitch the edge to the main fabric by hand. This worked for me, using a textured fabric like dupioni silk, but with a lighter, smooth fabric it might be better to underline first so the stitches don’t show though.  
Here are a couple of articles I found incredibly helpful and have pictures too!
I love the look this hem technique provides, and it was surprisingly easy, so I will definitely be using it on the bridesmaids dresses, and any circle skirts I do in the future!
Emily Kate.

Friday, 29 April 2016

A Handpicked Lapped Zipper

A handpicked lapped zip, with added button loop closure. Now as complicated as that sounds, it really is probably easier to do than say!
This is the closure used on most wedding dresses, if they don’t have a corset back. It gives an inconspicuous finish, whilst also making a decorative feature of the seam.
I had always intended to do a lapped zip for my dress, but it got steadily more complicated as I decided to add covered buttons and loops. The back neckline already brings the attention to the centre back seam, so I thought why not really make it a feature!
I have little experience with lapped zips, but after doing this one they will definitely be my go to option. Invisible zips are usually called for in most patterns, but I find them fiddly and they can be a right pain to do up. Doing a handpicked lapped zip is not much different except the last step is completed by hand with a prick stitch. Now I’m not going to explain a lapped zip, as there are plenty of tutorials out there…. So here are the ones I found most useful.
As you can see..(or hopefully not see!) using a prick stitch means the line of stitching that creates the lap is very almost invisible, particularly in a textured fabric like silk dupion.
When it came to adding buttons and loops… no amount of googling would yield much in the way of useful information, so here are a few of the most useful bits I gleaned through books, the web and a seamstress friend.
  • The loops will go on the right side of the zip, when looking at it. This felt the wrong way to me, but you want the lapped part of the zipper to be kept flat, so putting the loops on the other side and buttons on the lap pulls it over and flush against the body.
  • Use elastic loops. I had looked at silk loops, but without stretch they would be more difficult to do up, and wouldn’t pull the lapped part of the zipper over as the elastic ones do.
  • The loop tape has to be added before sewing in the zip. Prepare the seams, sew in or iron on your interfacing and then press the seam allowance in on each side. Place the loop tape on the underside of the right hand side of the seam with the loops poking out behind the fold. Tack it in, then pin and sew in the zip. So the loop tape is sandwiched between the main fabric and the zip. It can be quite an effort to sew over that many layers though.
  • The lining is not involved in the zip process at all, until the end when I slip stitched it down to the back of the zip, trimming down the lapped side first.
I bought my loop tape from an eBay seller for just a couple of quid. The buttons I splashed out on and ordered from Mine are 11mm handwoven dupion covered, almost an exact match to my main fabric, but they also cover buttons in your specific fabric if you send them some.
So there you have it, hopefully I’ve been a small help if you decide to do a handpicked lapped zip with added buttons and loops, or at the very least not confused you further!
I’m going to do another post to outline the other finishing touches of my dress, such as the hem and the scallop lace edging, so stay tuned for that…
Emily Kate.