A Liberty Mathilde

MathildeMy love affair with Mathilde has been well documented, so needless to say I was beyond thrilled when Tilly of Tilly & The Buttons fame featured my two Mathildes on a blog post last month. I never thought that my makes would ever have their moment of fame, but, as sewing accolades go I was chuffed to bits! So, having waxed lyrical about my earlier Mathildes here and here, today’s post is a little shorter as there’s not much more I can add short of penning a love sonnet.

Mathilde

After my fabric-purchasing debacle, when I foolishly bought an insufficient amount of this Liberty Tana Lawn and had to source more, I ended up with enough left over to make another Mathilde. Result! British autumnal weather calls for exactly a blouse like this: it looks fab over a pair of skinny jeans. For this version, I went back to the original design after pattern-hacking my Mathilde in Chambray. I lowered the front neckline by an inch as I found the original a little high. The pleats seem to get slightly lost in the busy print, but nevertheless they are my favourite feature of this blouse. I’m a sucker for the buttons down the back too.

MathildeNo photos of me today, peeps. I’m sure you’ll survive! I had a scroll down my ‘In The Wardrobe’ page and had to chuckle at all of my ‘hands on hip’ or ‘just dropped a quid on the floor’ poses. Seriously, how do those supermodels do it?! I just couldn’t compose myself enough to do this blouse justice today!

The Blog Hop Stops in South London!

The girls

Greetings Sewistas! It’s been a busy few weeks in South London, and my sew-life balance is seriously out of kilter. That said, I managed to squeeze in another Mathilde blouse last week, this time in leftover Liberty Tana Lawn from my recent and beloved Sureau. Despite life-threatening fatigue I just couldn’t help myself!  Blog post to follow….

One very exciting sewing development of the week was being selected by Beth of SunnyGal Studio, aka The Pattern Whisperer, to help me find the PERFECT party frock. She offered her pattern whispering skills up to help her blog readers select sewing patterns. I couldn’t resist and she has very kindly agreed to help me find the perfect pattern for my forthcoming birthday celebrations. A lady never tells, but it does have a zero on the end, so it’s imperative that I look KNOCK-OUT!! I can’t wait to see what she selects, and will report back!

I was also thrilled to be nominated by Clarinda of Clarinda Kaleidoscope to contribute to the blog hop. I enjoy her blog enormously, and feel that we’re at a similar point in our sewing odyssey. Forging supportive links with other sewists is exactly why I wanted to burst into print and share my makes with the online sewing community. There’s sew much sewing love going on!

Belcarra in Liberty Mitzi

So without further ado, here’s my blog hop:

Why Do I Write?

I love words!! Like most bloggers, I’ve always been a massive reader and bit of a scribbler. I’ve got childhood/teenage journals detailing every event between the ages of 11 and, er, now-ish. Wouldn’t that make an interesting post…?

I started making clothes again last year after a twenty year break, and was so overexciting by my makes that I wanted to tell everyone that my clothes were handmade. I spent, and continue to spend, countless hours reading blogs for inspiration, sewing tips, and scouring images of patterns I wanted to make.

So my decision to start a blog was two-fold: I could channel my pride in dressing handmade into a blog where like-minded folk could seek it out, thus saving my dear colleagues and friends from having to feign interest in my wardrobe. Secondly, I have improved my skills immeasurably from reading other blogs. My sewing experience has been enriched by being able to see other people’s makes. Once I had made a number of homemade garments it was a natural, if scary, step to start a blog where I could contribute images of my pattern and fabric choices in my size. It’s all part of being a community.

What Am I Working On At The Moment?

Ooh! That’s an easy one. I was ‘trying’ to let the sewing machine cool down for a week or two, but I had signed up for a sneek preview of Colette Patterns’ Dahlia. As soon as I clicked on the email, I immediately bought a PDF copy of the pattern and had my two pre-schoolers helping with the glue & sellotape! I’m partway through making the first toile, but should probably wait for the sewalong to get the bust adjustments right.

Rose Red

I’ve also got some very pleasurable knitting on the go. It’s Ysolda’s Rose Red hat pattern, and my first foray into lace knitting. I’m enjoying knitting a few rounds each night and knowing it won’t take long to complete.

How Does Your Blog Differ From Other Blogs?

Do other sewing blogs include knitted prawns?! Seriously though, my blog only differs because it’s me and my sewing choices. I wouldn’t say I had a particular niche or USP. I find sewing an immensely satisfying hobby which has become part of my life. I don’t envisage making this into more than a hobby, so I’m not trying to launch a new career. It’s just a very satisfying outlet for my passion for sewing, and I am excited to be contributing to the huge online resource of sewing patterns in different fabrics and sizes.

Emery Dress

How Does My Writing Process Work?

I’m usually thinking in sentences when I sew. There’s always a few ‘incidents’ that I want to record, so I jot a few thoughts down as I’m going along. The real writing only gets done when I’ve got the photos taken and get the laptop out. I was worried that I might find the blog-writing an added pressure to my already jam-packed life (career, kids, husband etc). But the truth is the writing takes very little time, and the posts kind of write themselves. And I’m going to be sewing anyway.

Nominations….

The blog hop seems to have travelled some miles, so it’s hard to find someone that hasn’t blog hopped, but I would like to nominate Attempts at Being a Grown-Up to hop on to the blog hop next. I always enjoy reading her posts on all manner of crafty activity, and I’m willing her on to knit her second sock! Toodlepip!

Winter Knits: A Marin Shawl

Ysolda Marin Shawl

Don’t you love it when you unexpectedly stumble upon crafty inspiration? A friend at work was wearing the most beautiful and delicate shawl. I asked about it, and was excited to hear about a knitwear designer I’d never heard of: Ysolda Teague.

I’m a fairly recent knitter. Being left-handed, I found knitting and crochet really hard to master as a child. But once I had kids I found that I was craving an activity that was both absorbing and useful, and that would allow me a bit of mental space and relaxation. On a mission, I found Knitty Gritty by Aneeta Patel in my local library and I was hooked (pardon the crochet joke). I can’t recommend the book enough if you’re keen to learn and are not blessed with knitting mums or grannies nearby.

Ysolda Marin Shawl

I chose Ysolda’s Marin Shawl, and had some Amy Butler for Rowan Belle Organic DK I’d bought on sale. It’s gorgeous yarn: 50% organic cotton, 50% organic wool. The only drawback is that it’s handwash only. I learned the hard way. After my second baby was born, I knitted her a newborn-sized cardigan in the same yarn during those crazy early weeks. Somehow, in the chaos of newborn babyhood, it found its way into the washing machine. One 40 degree wash later it had felted into a cardi fit for a doll. I was gutted! So there was no way I was going to use this yarn for anything other than a small item that wouldn’t need to be hand-washed often.

shrunk cardi

This project took me the whole of last winter. I started in October in earnest and finished at Easter. Once I was a third of the way through i realised I’d been doing the ‘M1’ stitch wrong and so I had to pull it out. Undeterred, I soldiered on, starting from scratch.

Ysolda Marin Shawl

Tragedy nearly befell the whole project when my youngest, now toddler, had an outbreak of knitting envy. I must have been lavishing too much attention on my creation to her detriment, when one day a pair of bamboo needles sailed straight past my head. It took me a millisecond to realise that the little monkey had found my knitting bag, pulled the needles out of the yarn and thrown them at me. I’ve never moved so fast to get those needles back into the stitches. I’d been knitting it for four months by then!

Ysolda Marin Shawl

By April the shawl was finished, but it was too warm to wear it, so it’s been under wraps until now. The finished shawl measures 128 cm from end to end. I blocked it as instructed (unusually for me!) and saw exactly why blocking is such an essential part of finishing a garment. The blocking really made a difference to the finished look – the scalloped edges have been pulled into shape; the stitches have been evened out across the whole shawl. It was a labour of love, and I enjoyed always having a knitting project to pick up, although I did succumb to a bit of a pressure in the end as it had taken so long to complete. I’m now working on a little something for this winter….

A Liberty Robe Sureau

Deer & Doe Sureau

I may have found my new, most favourite pattern – the Deer & Doe Robe Sureau. This blustery, autumnal weather requires a lovely trans-seasonal frock in dark floral to wear with woolly tights and leather boots.  What better fabric to use than this delicious Liberty Tana Lawn in Edenham Navy, which I was shocked to find at Simply Fabrics. Being somewhat thrifty (and wanting to buy a whole stack of other Liberty bargains) I only bought 1.5 metres. This turned out to be just enough to cut the pattern, minus one sleeve.  So I had to track down another piece from Shaukat. If you have never been, and have a weakness for Liberty, this place is truly amazing.

Liberty Robe SureauWe are well-served in this part of South London for fabulous sewing supplies and venues. Afterall we have the SewOverIt Sewing Cafe, the Tilly and The Buttons HQ for sewing workshops, the ever fabulous and unpredictable Simply Fabrics and the hidden gem that is The Wimbledon Sewing Machine Shop in Tooting Bec. Yet, when overcome with the urge to buy buttons on a Sunday, the only place I could find south of the river was Morley’s in Brixton, which has a decent haberdashery. I was pretty happy in the end with these lovely vintage-style floral buttons but it took me a looooooong time to decide.

Sureau ButtonAfter the success of getting a good fit on my Emery dresses (here and here) I made up a toile bodice for the Sureau in a size 40, grading the waist out to a 42. Despite Deer & Doe drafting for a B cup, this combo seemed to yield the perfect fit, so no further fitting was required. The neckline has a tendency to gape, which was something I’d read about in a few different blogs. I’m not sure if it’s because I stretched the neckline out when i top-stitched it, or whether I need to follow Paunnet’s tutorial for a gapey neckline from the Sureau Sewalong for my next version. It always takes a few goes to perfect these garments!  I’m so happy with the finished garment – it’s got a lovely vintagey feel to it. The skirt isn’t as full as the Emery, so I don’t feel quite so much as though I’m going to work in fancy dress!

Deer & Doe Sureau

I’ve got a lovely bunch of Cocos!

Tilly and The Buttons Coco

As much as I have been having fun making dresses of late, it would be remiss of me not to write about my most worn home-made makes of this year: my Tilly and the Buttons Cocos! Plus, I’m waiting for my resident photographer to return home to help me photograph my new Deer & Doe Sureau (squeals with excitement – new pattern love affair!).

Tilly and the Buttons Coco

The Coco is a pattern that keeps on giving. I have made no less than four so far, and I suspect that I will keep returning time and time again. The striped Coco was my first foray into stretch sewing. Tilly’s blog convinced me that i could do it despite the lack of an overlocker and experience. So, filled with misplaced new-found confidence, I dug deep and went for it. After all, if I could crack this the possibilities of sewing knit fabrics would be a total wardrobe changer.

Tilly and the Buttons Coco

I found the striped viscose at Simply Fabrics (where else?!). It’s quite a lightweight knit with a good drape, and the perfect navy and white stripes. I duly read up on all things stretch and sat down to my first stitch. To my huge frustration, the needle just seemed to be bouncing off the fabric and skipping stitches so that there were more gaps than there was sewing. After an entire evening of web-search, I found the advice I was looking for:

  • put the kettle on/top up your wine glass
  • take a deep breath
  • do not throw the machine out of the window
  • re-thread
  • ensure the bobbin case is free of lint
  • check you have the right needle (stretch or ballpoint)
  • ensure said needle is in the right way round
  • test again using a larger needle size

It seemed that the sewing machine was using the rather bouncy fabric as a trampoline, and that the bottom thread wasn’t getting high enough up the needle to make the stitch. Amazingly, this advice worked!  I have since used a size 16 stretch needle on all my knits with success. The crazy highs and lows of sewing, eh?!

Tilly and the Buttons Coco