Sunday, 21 May 2017

No Need To Get All Shirty

Soooo, hello.  Today I would like to share with you a present I made for my honorary nephew, Jake (and delivered only two weeks late too!!!)

To be honest, there isn't much to say about this - no massive disasters, nothing I hated about sewing this shirt.

This is my first foray into shirt sewing, if you don't count this shirtdress and this shirtdress, or these pyjamas, and I am feeling a bit more confident about sewing up some shirts for my hubby now - I have a pattern and the fabric, I just need to crack on (after some selfish sewing of course).

Anyway, this is Butterick 3475, which is a sweet little pattern and easy to put together.  Pattern piece wise, it is a back cut on the fold, two front pieces, with grown on facings, two sleeves and one collar pattern piece, cut twice.  There is a separate pattern piece for the facing interfacing, as the actual facing is grown on to the front shirt piece.  Someone on instagram has said this had confused her a bit, and I was prepared for the same confusion, but my head must have been in the right place at the right time as I just 'got' this with no problems first time.

The shirt came together relatively quickly - about three episodes of Ally McBeal I think - and the collar construction was really straight forward with clear instructions.  I think that the only issue I really had with this shirt is that I decided to make it from chevron fabric - pattern matching was a nightmare, but once I stopped caring, it was fine.  I also couldn't decide which buttons to use.  I had a choice of about 5 sets, but my instinct were these red ones and my husband agreed, so we went with the red.

I hope Jake likes his present.  He's 8 now, so I don't feel that I can make him the wacky presents I used to, because he will want to be all cool now.  I remember my oldest niece going through that stage - she seems to have come out of it now even weirder than she was before, which I love!!!!  Anyway, for the time being, I have to make Jake sensible presents I think, so no wacky prints, no cool hats like this one . . . sad times.

Anyway, this might be the last post for a month or so.  I have no more set up (this is a scheduled post) and I have exams mid-June, which I should probably concentrate on, so even if I fit a bit of sewing in (and I hope I do), I probably won't get it blogged until after the exams.  In fact, I'm supposed to be studying now, but getting too distracted with blogging . . . 

Wish me luck!

In the meantime . . . .

Happy Crafting!


Sunday, 14 May 2017

Bohemian Like You

Soooo, today I would like to share with you my latest creation for my little muse, Pippa:

This is her birthday present for this year, which of course is late, because if it wasn't, then it wouldn't be from auntie Holly fabulous would it?!  I believe in her four years on this earth she has got used to it.

Anyway, I ummed and ahhhed over Pippa's present this year.  My original plan was a pretty dress, and I downloaded the Elegance & Elephants new Mira dress, and considered various dresses from Violette Fields, whose patterns I have used before (see here), but then decided that Pippa would likely appreciate something she can do the most terrorising in, so the idea of summers shorts and a top was born.  

I decided on the Elegance & Elephants Bohemian Babydoll, which is available as a dress and a top, as I liked the ruffle sleeves, and once I had decided on flouncy sleeves, I couldn't undecide it.  

I ordered some beautiful white broiderie anglais from Minerva Crafts which was lovely to work with and I shall be ordering some more for a holly-size project, and spent about half an hour while watching MotoGP a couple of Sundays ago cutting out a size 3 (after checking with Mother of Pippa the correct size as Pippa will be 4 but is tiny (yet fierce)).

Construction of the pattern was pretty straight forward.  The bodice is self-lined, as are the ruffles.  The instructions are clear, with links to video tutorials for more complicated or usual parts of the instructions.  There is one for showing you how to do the burrito method for the bodice, but I found that after a very small amount of head scratching that I didn't need it.  It was nice to know that the tutorial was there if I struggled though.

The only bit I did struggle with was attaching the 'skirt' to the bodice, but this was me being tired and not really reading the instructions properly.  The lightbulb moment happened the following morning when I had had some sleep, but I had already done it my way by then so it didn't matter.  Next time though, I will have another go at the E&E way.

The only alteration I made was not to use facings for the hem.  Instead, I just overlocked and turned up for a teeny tiny hem.

I love that the instructions directed you to add a label before you started, if you wanted to use one.  This was so handy to someone who nearly always forgets her labels until the end.  No more, I said, after this revelation.  This lasted a grand total of no projects as I promptly forgot to attach the label on my next project (see below).

Anyway, I have decided that I need to make myself a version of this top, so am on the hunt for a pattern, or at least a pattern I can hack to which I can add ruffles.  My current thought is the Seamwork Gretta.  I think this would just be perfect for day trips or walking around Havana on my holidays later this year (I am sooo excited I could get very annoying, but I'm trying to reign it in, I promise).

To go with the top, I decided on the My Little Plumcake Spring Shorts, which I have previously made (here) and were in my pattern stash already.

Not much to say about these really.  Nice clear instructions (except reminding me to put a label on).  I omitted the leg bands this time - I just wasn't feeling them.  I did manage to put the waistband on wrong - twice!!!  I think I am just tired at the moment and in need of a weekend of sleep.  However, this would require my body making the decision to stay asleep of an evening.  Just to 7am would be nice.  I did have one day last weekend when I slept until 8 and thought I had cracked the insomnia, but nope, back awake at the crack of dawn the next day.  On the plus side, insomnia creates productivity and I am flying through anything I can do without waking the husband up, and as he usually sleeps through anything, I managed to make a unicorn pull-apart cake for my niece's birthday last weekend before the husband awoke.

belt ties
Anyway, I have diverted from the issue at hand.  The shorts were made from some left overs cotton from a dress I made myself for work.  I had ummed and ahhed for a while about what fabric to use, and then as this was to hand, and bright and spring-like I decided to go with it.  I had just enough left overs for these shorts, with an attempt to pattern matching - it wasn't a successful attempt, but the thought was there.  I love the little pleats and the pockets.  I think next time I will make the waistband a bit narrower - I'm not sure if it is just too much.  

pleat details
The little outfit is now all wrapped up for delivery to Pippa (and less than a month late - a record I believe), and I hope she likes it (and it fits!).  I think it will be a fun summer outfit for her.

the back
If you have any suggestions for a Holly-size pattern, please let me know, but I will be adding some of the tops to my shop for sale at some point in the future.  I have nearly finished my sewing for everyone else, and then I can do a bit of selfish sewing and sewing for the shop.

In the meantime . . . 

I'm off to watch MotoGP . . .

Happy Crafting!


Sunday, 7 May 2017

Dressing Ombre

Soooo, admittedly a few weeks late, today I would like to share with you this years Easter presents for the nieces.

As you probably are aware from previous posts, many years ago the nieces requested that I didn't buy them easter eggs as the got loads and 'could never possibly eat them all Auntie Holly', and asked that I buy them pyjamas instead.  This was before I realised my chocolate intolerance and offered to help them out with the eating, but they declined that offer and asked again for some pyjamas, and a tradition was born.  This was before I could sew, so for the first few years they were bought, but for the last couple of years I have made them something (posts here here and here).

This year I decided to deviate slightly - but still in the pyjama circle of influence - and make them some summer dressing gowns.

I had this idea months ago, but because I have been so busy, I left it all to the last minute - something I am trying not to do so much from now on and part of that plan is to stop being so busy.  We shall see how well this works out.

Anyway, as I left it to the last minute, I didn't have the time (or pennies) to order some fabric.  I had some in my stash that would be suitable for the eldest niece (who is 12 today - depressing!  I feel so old, so I've just text my sister to check how old she is feeling, Ha!  Happy Birthday my most fabulous Georgia!), but I didn't have any for the youngest niece.  

BUT I had a cunning plan.  I had just retired my fave Laura Ashley bedding from use as it had developed a hole in one corner, which I couldn't be bothered to fix.  The bedding is fairly old, but still felt so luxurious - the benefits of having a bit of money when I was younger and lived at home and was able to buy some good quality stuff - I am still fussy about my bedding now, and will happily pay for some luxurious duvet covers and pillows - all white of course.  

Anyway, I thought that between the front and back of the duvet cover I should have enough to make two dressing gowns.  I had hoped to maybe use the pillow cases as well for the sleeves, but they just weren't wide enough. So they have been put to one side awaiting another cunning plan - more on that if I ever get to it.  Anyway, I did have just enough fabric from the duvet cover, but a bit of creative cutting was required.  The duvet had some embroidery on it which I would have liked to make a feature of, but it didn't quite work out that way, so the embroidery is just on the belt, which was probably a good idea really as I didn't know how well those bits would take to the dye, as the plan was then to make an attempt at ombre dyeing the dressing gowns in the girls' favourite colours - pink and purple.  
Anyway, construction was pretty straight forward.  I used the same pattern as I did for the dressing gown I made for my mum a while back - this time making 2 smalls.  It really is a simple process.  My actual paper pattern is getting a bit battered now, so I think I might replace it with a non-free pattern for future.  I'm thinking Gather Kits Buchanan.  Does anyone have any thoughts on this.

Anyway, easy bit over, then it was time to start the dyeing process, which of course seemed like a good idea at the time I thought of it, even the ombre seemed like a good idea - until I managed to dye my bathroom and myself pink and purple.  

I decided to start with the pink, and I knew that I would be using the bathroom for ease of cleaning up.  I had considered using the airer we keep at the back of the living room, as a good means of moving the dressing gown down a bit every few minutes - I could just move it down a rung on the airer, but the airer wouldn't quite fit in the bathroom and I didn't really want dye anywhere near my living room carpet - we rent and I didn't want to have to explain that one to the landlord, who is otherwise lovely, but I wouldn't like to push my luck!!!

Anyway, to achieve the ombre, I knew that I would have to put only the bottom of the dressing gown in to the bucket of dye and then slowly add a little bit more.  So I hung the dressing gown on a clippy coat hanger and then every ten minutes or so moved the whole thing - dressing gown, bucket of dye, hanger, around the bathroom to get a level slightly lower than last time.  So, the dressing gown hung on my bathroom door handle, the edge of the sink, the shelves next to the sink and the shelves under the sink at various points in the dyeing process.  I was going to try and ombre the belt too, but after it fell in  to the dye on after about thirty seconds, I decided that that could just be the same colour as the bottom of the dressing gown.

Other than getting dye all up my arms and having to wipe up various spots from the (thankfully linoed) floor, this process actually went fairly smoothly.  My issue arose when it came to rinsing out the dye.  This has to be done in cold water and my hands were soooooo very cold.  I have crappy circulation as it is and always have cold hands, but this was awful.  In hindsight I should have invested in some rubber gloves, which might have eased it a little, and I will remember that if there is a next time, but as it was I could only do it in small bursts.  In between, I hung the dressing gown up on the shower screen to drip away.  My bath was a rainbow by the time I had finished.  

I then repeated the whole process with the purple.  When I had both up hanging, I had one of the shower head too, and it looked like a chinese laundry/a unicorn had been murdered in the bathroom.  I worried a little that I had dyed the bath, but luckily that was not the case.

Once I got bored of trying to rinse the dye out, I left the dressing gowns to dry in the bathroom overnight.  When I came to check them in the morning, they still weren't dry!!!  But they had stopped dripping, so I moved them to hang on the curtain pole over a radiator in the living room, but they dried a lot quicker then.

It was once they had dried that I realised I hadn't put any belt loops on the dressing gowns, but I decided to use ribbon for these, so no problem.  And they were done - just in time to take them to the girls on Easter Sunday.

Georgia liked hers, and I'm not sure about Evie, but she never really gets excited about anything, so the jury is out on that one.  I am quite proud of my achievement with this one and the step-mother has decided I have a new line for my shop, but I am not so sure.

I think I will stick to PJs next year, from purchased, already coloured, fabric, and I think I already have a plan in my head - I'm thinking Tilly's Fifi PJ set.  I want some of these for me too, so win win I think!

I'm now working on a couple of new to me little projects and I will share those with you soon hopefully.

Anyway, in the meantime . . . 

Happy Crafting!


Monday, 1 May 2017

Summer Flowers

Sooo, hello, today I would like to share with you a fairly recent make - the Sew Over It Kimono, which I bought as part of my PDF club membership.

I bought this knowing exactly what I was going to do with it, which is most unusual for me.  Usually, patterns have to lie languishing in the what fabric shall I make this in pile for a fair few months before I actually  get round to doing anything with them, but not this one.  This one was destined to be made for my big sister, Kay, using some fabric she bought about two years ago for me to do something with, but still hadn't done.  This is her own fault because she won't let me measure her in order to make something like a dress, or a skirt, or a top.  The kimono therefore presented the perfect solution - minimal fitting, and so long as it pretty much fit me, it would fit her.  Problem solved.

The fabric, I think, is a viscose, which we picked up at The Shuttle in Shipley about two summers ago.  The fabric I bought in the same shopping trip was made into my Space Invaders dress and a waistcoat but these beautiful flowers had been added to the stash until I figured out what to make for my sister without having to measure her.  I knew that the drapiness of the fabric would lend itself brilliantly to a light summer cover up.

I made Version 1, the shorter version, of the Kimono, not really knowing how much fabric I had and made absolutely no attempt to pattern match in the slightest.

The Kimono came together pretty easily - attach at the shoulders, attach the sleeves flat and sew up the sides - and the instructions are very clear, although I have to admit that I didn't actually follow them - I have had quite enough practice at kimonos etc. recently with panto and dressing gowns and the like, even some I haven't blogged about yet.  French seams were used throughout, although I had thought about using the overlocker.

I toyed with the idea of a contrast, black satin, band, but decided against this and used a self-fabric band.  The hems and attaching the back of this band was done by hand as the fabric was so slippery, even with pressing it wouldn't stay in one place to allow a straight line on the hem  to be stitched, but I have now been and bought some spray starch so hopefully that will resolve the problem next time, and there will be a next time.  I really enjoyed making this kimono and plan to make myself a longer version 2 as a cover up for my holidays.  I already have some fabric in the stash in mind for this.  I also think they make great gifts for those people who are difficult to buy for and you can't measure.  I gave this to my sister as part of her birthday present, along with a box of french fancies from Bettys :-)

Anyway, I have more to blog and more to sew, so I will set up some more posts, but in the meantime . . .

Happy Crafting!


Saturday, 22 April 2017


Soooo, as I am sat blogging, I will share with you another of my 2016 makes (4 months late).

This is the dressing gown I made by hubby, Phil, for Christmas:

Phil is the warmest person I know - he is always boiling hot and is my own personal radiator, and all he does in summer is moan that he is too warm.  I stole his, what I thought was, lightweight dressing gown one day and realised how very warm that was too, no wonder he moaned so much, so an idea was born - I would make him a summer-weight dressing gown from lightweight cotton.

I knew straight away that  wanted it to be a Hugh Heffner smoking jacket style dressing gown, so the hunt was on for appropriate fabric, and I found this perfect polycotton from Minerva - navy with blue spots and plain burgundy for the bands.

I used a pattern from the last series' Sewing Bee Book, tracing it off the pattern sheets which was a pain in the butt, because they are stacked burda-style on the pattern sheets.  I got there in the end and construction from then on was fairly straight forward with not too many seams to deal with.  I even included in-seam pockets.  My main problem was keeping Phil out of my sewing room while I was trying to sew.  I put a sign on the door and everything, and he still kept coming into the room.

I was going to top stitch the bands in place and did try this but didn't do too fantastic a job, so gave up, unpicked and then handstitched them in place.

Phil was not too impressed with his present (rude!) and said it was too Hugh Heffner - duh!  that is what I was going for.  However, since it has started to get a little warmer I think he is happy to have a lighter, cooler, dressing gown to wear to solve him being too warm or having to walk around the house in the nuddy pants.

Hopefully I will be back soon with some more makes.

In the meantime . . . 

Happy Crafting!


Wednesday, 12 April 2017

The Pink Lady

Soooo, sorry for the delay AGAIN!  Life just seems to take over and prevent me from blogging at the moment.

I've managed to find a spare half hour while I am mother-sitting today.  She's going through a spot of treatment at the moment and needs someone with her 24 hours, so today is my shift.  She's fine - just needs someone with her just in case.  She's sat doing her sudokus so I thought I would take  the opportunity to do some blogging.  I'm also going to crack on with some studying and even brought my knitting so she can constructively criticise to her hearts content.  Nothing makes my mother feel better than when she can constructively criticise something her children are doing.

I've made a couple of bits since I last blogged - some Pippa dresses, which are now in my shop, half a pair of PJs, a quick dress for myself, which I've not taken pictures of yet, and this dress for my baby sister:

unfortunately, on a hanger does not present the
dress at its best

It was her 29th birthday at the end of March and she will love me for telling everyone that, and she wanted a dress making to replace the one I made her a few years ago, which you can see here.  She says that she has loved this dress, and she has worn it a few times, but it was getting a bit worn and she wanted a new one.  Not a problem I said, I would make her a replacement for her birthday.  She told me she wanted something similar but with an off the shoulder look, so I search my pattern box and found Simplicity 1418, which was perfect.  I have previously used this pattern to make a skirt, which I blogged about here, but haven't yet used it to make a dress.  It is a princess seamed bodice with a pleated skirt - a perfect me conbination really.  We went for View B (I think)

Gilly sent me her measurements and I was glad to see that she was perfect sized for one size.  I had thought I might need to do an FBA, but non.  I was also a little happy to see that although she is much skinnier than me, we are essentially the same shape :-)

When she told me she wanted a pink dress I nearly spat out my drink - Gilly is or was a bit of a tomboy and not usually one to 'do' pink.  She also said that she wanted quite a sturdy fabric.  Her previous dress had been chambray so I looked at that, but couldn't find anything I liked.  I also looked at some solid colour drill, but then found a lovely John Kaldor cotton sateen on the Minerva website which now seems to be sold out.  She wanted it lining so I also ordered some lining.  

When it came to cutting out the fabric, I was so confused.  The pattern, to me, runs sideways, which meant that I would either have to cut the pieces on the crossgrain, which I really didn't want to do, or have the pattern the wrong way up, which was causing my brain to hurt.  I kept going back to it and looking at it again, and just couldn't decided what to do.  I consulted the husband.  I consulted the step-mother (non-wicked).  I took three days to decide, but eventually decided that I would have to make a decision, so decided to cut on grain and live with the sideways pattern.  I am sure that the pattern is as intended by the designed, but having the florals run sideways along the fabric, rather than up and down was just to much for my brain to cope with.  Anyway, now that the dress is made up, it doesn't look bad actually.  I just won't look too closely at it.

Construction-wise, the dress was very simple to put together, and if it hadn't been fully lined, it would have been a really quick make - perhaps a full day at most.  As it was though, it was fully lined and that lining was a slippy devil, so it took a bit longer.  I also hand stitched the lining down, and I am the slowest handstitcher in the world, so that increased the time.  I did compromise and machine stitch the hem.  Normally, I do handstitch blind hems, but I simply ran out of time on this one, as my sister wanted the dress for an event she was going to, and didn't she look beeee-autiful?!

The only advice I would really give when making up this dress would be to make sure you mark up the dots for adding the sleeves.  I don't think I could have figured out how to attach these without the markings.  Otherwise, it was a straightforward make, but maybe I have just made enough princess seamed dresses now to be able to do them in my sleep?  Maybe I need a new challenge.  Before then though, I need to finish my PJs and I have a princess seamed dress please.  I also need to take photos of the dress I have already made.

In the meantime . . .

Happy Crafting!


I could really hate my sister
for being so pretty at times

Sunday, 26 March 2017

The Fireworks Dress

Sooo, hello.  I have been absent for a while (again!) while I've been trying to catch up on my studying and working on some projects.  

I keep dipping in and out of trying to make bras, but I haven't quite mastered it yet.  I am nearly there and will share with you once I've had a success.  In the meantime, you can follow my progress on that one on my instagram.   I've also started making a few bits and pieces to go in the Etsy shop, and I've made a dress for my sister for her birthday, which I will share soon.
doris the dress form modelling my dress beautifully

I have also finally got around to altering a dress I made back in November and it is that that I will share with you today.

the back
My lovely friends, Catt and Rik, got married back in November, and as soon as their invite came through the letterbox saying that they were getting married on Bonfire Night, I knew that I had to have a suitably coloured dress.  I spent months looking for the right fabric.  I knew that I wanted something bonfire coloured and in my head had designed something with golds and bronzes.  I also knew that I wanted a quite stiff fabric - a duchess satin or similar was in my head.  The only problem was that I just couldn't find the right fabric.  By the time October came around I was getting a bit desperate and decided that I would have to modify my requirements.

I eventually found some brocade on the Minerva Crafts website, although it doesn't seem to be on there anymore.  It had the golds and bronzes that I wanted but also had turqouises and purples, which I wasn't sure about, but decided to go with it anyway.  Then I had to decide on a pattern.  I knew that I wanted princess seams and eventually settled on New Look 6723.  I ummed and ahhed between View C and D, as I loved the neckline, but I couldn't decide on the sleeves.  I really do enjoy the idea of sleeves, but I know I am never good with the practicalities of sleeves.  In the end, I went with the sleeves (view C).

What?  Where are the sleeves I hear you say?  Well, here they are (kind of):

with my lovely, glamorous friend, Dr Sarah,
before she got verrrrrry drunk :-)

On wearing the dress for the day at the wedding, I decided that I didn't really like the sleeves, and as I realised I also had to lose an inch at the shoulder seams (I have the oddest bodice shape - short shoulders, large bazoomas, long waisted - it is a fitting nightmare), I decided to take the sleeves off for the final dress, so it is now view D.  I haven't ruled out View D altogether, as it could just be the stiffness of the fabric that was the issue.  I will probably try it again with a lighter weight, perhaps, cotton fabric.  The fabric, as pretty as it is, was a bit of a problem.  It does not press AT ALL and drove me nuts, but never mind.
I love the neckline

I did my usual FBA and I decided that the gathered skirt in the pattern would be too much in such a sturdy fabric, so I substituted the skirt pieces for a pleated skirt from a pattern in my stash - I just can't remember which now.  I suspect it was the same as I used to make my Minnie dress.  I lined the bodice with some black satin from my stash and I used some black satin bias to hem the dress.  I really need to stop leaving things until the last minute - I will still sewing this dress the morning of the wedding!
the inside is as pretty as
the outside and I'm not so
sure I don't prefer the wrong
side of the fabric!

Anyway, I don't have much more to say about the dress.  Will I make it again?  Yes.  I did wear it again last night to go out with some friends to Pierre Bistro in Ilkey (food was lovely, speed of service not so much, but it didn't matter).

I'll be back at some point to share some more.  I still have pre-Christmas makes to share with you, but have kind of lost my writing mojo of late.  I'm sure it will return - probably after exams. 

In the meantime . . .

Happy Sewing!

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