Book: Stretch

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m pretty sure you will have seen that Tilly from Tilly and the Buttons released her second book in March. Stretch: Make Yourself Comfortable Sewing With Knit Fabrics is the perfect book for anyone who has mastered sewing with wovens, expertly demonstrated in her first book, Love At First Stitch. I still have some projects from the first book I want to make (mainly the Megan dress) and now I’ve got a whole bunch of great knit patterns to add to my ever-growing to-sew list!

As is her main goal, this book takes you through everything you need to know and have to be able to sew great knit garments if you’re a complete knits noob. (And the projects are great if you’ve mastered knit basics). I like how in the below list of items you need she has separated items into ‘need’ and ‘nice to have’ – sometimes it’s easy to be put off starting something new by thinking you have to have ALL THE THINGS but she shows this isn’t the case.

A book on sewing with knits wouldn’t be complete without some tips on matching stripes! Breton tops of my dreams here I come….

I love that Tilly takes you through how to sew knits on a regular sewing machine (and doesn’t say you absolutely have to have an overlocker). My first few knit garments were sewn entirely on a sewing machine and I still sew all the seams on my sewing machine before finishing the edges on my overlocker as I am too much of an unpicker (and the tension on my overlocker isn’t great) to sew things with the overlocker in the first place.

Having said all of that, there are also some tips on how to use an overlocker if you do have one.

And there are some troubleshooting tips, which I definitely need to have a look through to try to sort out my tension issues. I love that she has clear photos of what the issue might be and then an explanation of how to fix it.

Now onto the projects. As with Love At First Stitch, the projects go from simplest through to most complicated, which is a great way to structure the book as you can get used to working with knits using a more stable knit, as is required for the Bibi skirt. To be totally honest I probably won’t use this pattern as it’s pretty similar to the Colette Mabel, which I’ve already made and traced.

I love that she shows you ways to alter the patterns to make them more easy to adapt to your own style. I like the Bibi with the split and waist tabs.

It seems like this adaptation has already been pretty popular online – the season of the pinafore dress has obviously not come to an end yet. I’m pretty behind on the trend, though, and am only just now planning my first Cleo.

I think this will be one pattern I will use. I wasn’t sure about raglan sleeves on me, but then I realised two of my favourite dresses have them (1, 2) and I made another version of the Linden sweatshirtΒ  and I don’t hate it, so I’m going to give the Frankie baseball tee a go. I have a couple of small but lovely amounts of knit fabrics, which would be perfect for colour blocking – I just need some ideally white jersey to go with them. Any ideas where to get nice white jersey?

I love this version in stripes – who doesn’t love stripes – and it’s a really great idea to add some applique. It’s a fairly simple way to make something more interesting and add some flair.

I really like this version with the v-shape in the neckline, too. And the short sleeves are super cute.

The Freya is another pattern I definitely think I’m going to make – probably the top version as I already have loads of dresses I don’t wear very often.

I can see why this mustard yellow dress version had everyone obsessed on Instagram. Zeena Shah looks adorable in the photos and the frill has made me want to try frills for the first time!

There are 3 different necklines to choose from with the Freya pattern and I like the roll neck, especially since it seems like we are never going to get Spring again in the UK – I’m still in the mood to make snuggly, warm makes!

The last pattern in the book I think I’ll try is the Stella joggers (though probably not the hoodie as they aren’t really my style). I feel as though I’m missing some comfortable-lounging-around-the-house clothes so the Stella joggers could be the perfect solution. Also I think without the ankle cuff they wouldn’t look quite so sporty so might be good casual trousers to add to my wardrobe.

The final pattern in the book is the Joni dress, which again I probably won’t make. It’s not really my style, though never say never!

And I do love this version with the sequined skirt, modelled by the gorgeous Alex from Sew Happy. The blush pink is perfect on her and I basically want her hair (though that would take years of growing it out and lots of dye!).

Now I just need to buy a bunch of great knit fabrics to make my comfy wardrobe of my dreams. What are your favourite places to buy knit fabrics? Which pattern from the book are you planning to make first?

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5 Things I Learned Making A Coat

After the triumph that was making my first proper coat (if I do say so myself!) I thought I would share some of the things I learned while making it and the resources that helped me, so here are 5 things I learned making a coat.

1. How to make bound buttonholes.


There are loads of tutorials on how to make bound buttonholes. I used this YouTube video, and I practised twice before I did it on the real thing. This tutorial shows you how to do bound button holes when you have a lining (or in my case a facing). The only problem was she didn’t make it 100% clear whether you need to put the pieces right or wrong sides together, but after practising it I figured it out for myself. There is an ebook by Karen from Did You Make That for only Β£2 which will also give you extra help.

 

2. How to do tailor’s tacks.


As I mentioned in my post about my coat, I tried to do all the marking for the coat ‘properly’ with tailor’s tacks – I say ‘properly’ because it feels like it’s the proper technique, though, of course, tailors must have used chalk for as long as it has existed too! Again there are loads of tutorials, but I used this one on YouTube – I feel like there are some techniques it is really useful to see someone doing, rather than to read instructions and look at pictures. Just be careful not to pull them out by mistake! But then remove them as soon as you don’t need them any more – I didn’t do this and spent several rather irritating minutes with some tweasers trying to get all of them out from seams I has sewn over the top of them!

 

3. How to do tailor’s basting


To be honest, I’m not sure I did the basting stitches quite right, but as I mentioned in the post about my coat, I was very glad to have an extra later to baste to instead of trying to stitch the hair canvas to the wool, without the stitches showing through to the other side – I have no idea how I would have done it! I did find it interesting to put in some hair canvas, having unpicked some (which was disintegrating) from my dad’s suit.

 

4. That sewing a slippery lining is really difficult!


ObviouslyΒ coat linings have to be slippery to provide lubrication (snigger) to get the coat on and off, but I haven’t sewn with that many really slippery fabrics and this definitely proved a bit of a challenge! Not helped by the inaccurate job I did with the cutting out. If anyone has any tips, please pass them my way for next time πŸ™‚

 

5. I really enjoyed the hand sewing.


Each time I do lots of hand sewing (like when I made my Dressmakers Ball dress and hand-stitched all the hems) I discover I like it. Especially making this coat where I planned to take my time, it’s nice to slow down and sew some things by hand. I hand stitched all of the interlining pieces to the wool, basted in the canvas, hand sewed the stay tape and attaching the lining to the shell along the bottom and the cuffs was all done by hand. I got a little fed up of hand sewing, though, when I had to redo the hem because I had shortened the lining too much and it was pulling the wool up inside the coat.

I would like to learn some more tailoring techniques – if you have any recommendations of courses (online or in person) please let me know.

 

 

Style Crush: Alison Brie

I’ve loved Alison Brie since binge-watching Community a couple of years ago when it was on Netflix – for some reason it has now disappeared, which is a shame because it’s brilliant! Also, of course, I then enjoyed her role as Trudy in Mad Men.

Then last month Netflix released GLOW – Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. We watched it all in 2 days and could easily have watched it all in one go. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a funny, smart show about women. The central friendship between Alison Brie’s and Betty Gilpin’s characters is a refreshingly 3 dimensional look at female friendship. And there are lots of good female characters as all the wrestlers have personalities and get time being more of a central character. And they don’t just talk about men all the time, so this definitely passes the Bechdel Test!

I also slightly love all the terrible 80s fashion, hair and make-up! Can someone please invite me to an 80s party so I have an excuse to make an 80s outfit?

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I saw an interview with Alison Brie where she said she got a perm for the role! Now that’s dedication to your craft.

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Since I now have a total girl crush on her, I thought I’d do a post about her style, which I really like. I also totally want to be as fit as she is in GLOW. I have (again) started jogging, so maybe one day!

I’m not sure I could pull off leather trousers tbh (I’m not Theresa May after all!), but I do like this look. I like the top and the lipstick too. If only I ever wore lipstick…..

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I really like the details on this dress – the black side panels and the unlined part of the skirt at the bottom. I really want to know what kind of fabric this is! On the skirt it looks almost like chain, but that would weigh a tonne, so I’m sure it’s not! Answers on a postcard please if you know.

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I really, really like this sweatshirt. I reckon it would be fairly easy to knock off, with the Grainline Linden pattern, but the tricky thing would be finding the right fabric. I like it with the shirt underneath, too.

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Ah, my love of collars is definitely coming back! Not totally sure about the cuffs, but I love her hair and make-up here.

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I’m not normally a huge fan of strapless dresses, but for some reason I really like this one. Look at the embroidery! I assume it’s embroidery, but it could be on the actual fabric and they’ve done some really clever pattern placement?

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I like the fake cut out type panels on this dress. The (I assume) lace inserts look really cool.

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I really love this dress which she wore to the People’s Choice Awards in 2016. After some googling I have discovered it was designed by Cushnie Et Ochs. I love the minty colour and she shape of the front panel, and the cut outs look great. A contender for my dress for next year’s Dressmaker’s Ball perhaps?

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I really like the simplicity of this dress. I think it works so well because it fits her perfectly. It looks like the edges might be leather/faux leather, which adds a bit of an edge to what might have been a slightly twee dress.

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I love this jumpsuit! I’ve had a couple of jumpsuits patterns in my stash for ages and I’ve still not made one. I’m not generally a fan of wrap fronts (as I don’t have the chest to fill them) but I really like this. Probably mostly in love with it for the colour! And it has pockets!

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I really like this coat and scarf combo. I always feel like I don’t look that stylish when I wear scarves, but I’m not sure how to tie/wrap them to look cool. I might copy this coat at some point in the future……when I apparently have unlimited sewing time and money!

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To be honest, I’m not entirely sure why I like this Bella Freud dress so much, but I do really like it. I love the colour, even if it’s one I wouldn’t wear, and I like the seam details across the upper chest and the sleeves. It’s quite 70s I think.

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Have you watched GLOW yet? If so, did you love it? I’m almost certainly going to watch it again next week when I have a sewcation from work πŸ˜€

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Book: Couture Sewing Techniques

Every couple of weeks I pop into my local Oxfam bookshop to have a look at the sewing/craft section. There often isn’t much, but the other week I stumbled across this gem:

It’s a book written by Claire B Shaeffer who is an expert in sewing and construction techniques. She has a website and has designed sewing patterns for Vogue. This book has since been updated and revised, but this version is still really good! I’ve only had a flick through so far but I will read it in more detail!

I love the above photo showing personalised dress forms at the house of Christian Dior – that really is couture!

The first part of the book is a history of couture sewing and there are some amazing examples! Like the below dress, which I’m sure must have been the inspiration for the amazing one made by Cynthai Settje of Red Threaded. As of writing, the dress is her profile picture on instagram, and there are some amazing photos of it in progress and also finished!

And I couldn’t not post the photo of the classic Christian Dior outfit! If I had unlimited time and resources, I would definitely recreate this outfit, hat and all!

After the history chapter comes one on hand sewing techniques. I definitely need this! As I mentioned in my Dressmaker’s Ball dress post, I did a lot of hand sewing and did quite enjoy it, but I don’t think I’m very skilled at it. Also there are loads of different stitches for different places on garments so I’m thinking I’ll do a sampler or something to practice.

And who knew there were so many different needles! I guess it makes sense – there are different needles for different things on sewing machines, so I can’t believe I’d never thought that there would also be different needles for different hand sewing tasks!

And of course, there are as many threads as there are needles, for all the different things you could want to sew.

There’s a great section on all the different kinds of seam you could need. I like the look of this false french seam, though I can’t imagine sewing seams by hand would be strong enough!

One of the things I like about this book is how thorough it is – I would probably never think of all the things it covers, like interfacing. There would definitely be some helpful tips in here for properly tailoring a jacket or coat. It also mentions the non-fusible kind of interfacing, so I’d like to have a go with that when I do some proper tailoring.

The dress below holds its shape purely with interfacing!

The next chunk of the book looks at edge finishes like hems, facings and bindings.

I love, love, love this sketch by Christian Dior. I wish I could draw like that and show what a garment will look like with relatively few lines!

There’s a great section on buttons and button holes, including bound button holes, which I still haven’t done! I love the buttons below from a Schiaparelli jacket.

After all the sections on general techniques, Schaeffer shows you how to apply these (and other) techniques to actual garments.

I love this Dior skirt and jacket combo! Another one to copy one day…..

The below photo of a Balenciaga dress is from the dresses chapter. It shows the structure underneath a loose, billowy front to make sure it stayed where it should. I really want to see the Balenciaga exhibition at the V & A to see all the amazing things going on underneath the clothes!

Below is another Balenciaga dress, with structure to keep the shoulders in shape. Definitely getting some tips for next year’s Dressmaker’s Ball dress, assuming they run it again next year!

There’s a chapter on sleeves and there are loads of details about tailored and non-tailored sleeves. I like these diagrams that are scattered throughout the book,which show you how different elements are drafted and constructed.

Another useful diagram from this book shows all the details that go into a tailored jacket. I do really want to have a go at making something properly tailored either for me or for The Boyfriend – I did promise to make him a coat!

This is the section I’m possibly the most excited about! Definitely tips for my next evening outfit. If the Dressmaker’s Ball happens again next year, I definitely want to make something more ambitious, both in terms of construction and fabric choice, so hopefully this chapter will come in handy then!

I’ve not yet sewn anything with boning, so I definitely want to give that a go at some point. It actually would have helped to have more structure inside the dress I made for this year’s ball! Then I wouldn’t have needed the tape…..

The below photo shows embroidery done by machine! I have no idea how you would even do that! I think there must be some applique in there too.

And I hadn’t even considered beading before I came across this section!

At the end of the book there is a really great glossary of terms, which is super helpful. I can definitely feel myself turning into more of a sewing nerd after flicking through this book. I already think about it for most of my waking hours, and now I’m all enthusiastic to learn new skills and techniques and to make some more involved projects, rather than just churning out loads and loads of fairly basic garments, though there are some gaps in my wardrobe still so I will still be doing some of that!

What’s your favourite couture-type technique? Are there any techniques you’re dying to learn?

 

 

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Inside My Vintage Sewing Box

When The Boyfriend and I moved into our flat back in August, we had to buy furniture as we had previously lived in furnished flats. We bought a load of flat pack stuff from Argos and Ikea (bed, sofa, bookcases) partly because we needed things quickly and partly because they’re relatively cheap. But apart from these basics, we wanted to try to get nice things from our local anqtiques centre and we did find a nice coffee table, a table for our phone and this lovely sewing box (which we keep our tv on):

It first caught my eye because I love the mid-century vibes, then when I realised it was a sewing box, I had to have it! And it came with lots of sewing goodies inside!

There’s a crochet hook and thimble in the lid, and I love the unashamed shade of pink of the fabric lining!

There are quite a few poppers and hooks and eyes.

There’s what I assume is a home-made needle case, complete with needles – and several other packets of needles. (How many times can I say needles!?)

I particularly love this little paper packet of needles – it looks like it should have matches in or something!

Possibly my absolute favourite item is this slightly crazy pin cushion with sumo wrestlers (?) around the edge.

I like this retro box of pins too!

You never have too many thimbles or tape measures πŸ™‚

The only sad things about this little haul is that these are the only buttons. They’re nice, but it would have been great to have some really cool old buttons!

The main bulk of what was in the box was threads and ribbons and a bit of elastic.

Β  Β  Β Β  I feel a little weird about using the stuff that came in this box, and I’m not sure why. I’m sure the previous owner of the box used all of the things she kept in there, so I don’t think it was a life’s collection or anything. I just feel like I should keep the contents intact for some reason.

Have you every found a secret haul of sewing goodies?