Floral Mimi blouse

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Meet Mimi, my first ever handmade blouse. I’m so chuffed with this make as I’ve finally mastered buttonholes after 9 years of sewing. I didn’t purposely avoid them, I just never fancied sewing shirts or blouses. But when I fell in love with the Mimi blouse from Tilly’s Love at first stitch book, it was time to skill up.

I sewed a size 3 after hearing the pattern has a lot of ease and the fit was spot on. My normal size would have been a 4. I shortened the bodice by 3.5 cms and took 1 cm off at the side seams, tapering from the hem up to nothing at the waist line. I didn’t have any issues with the cuff being to narrow.

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I was nervous when it came to sewing the buttonholes and practised first. It’s make or break time and shoddy buttonholes could ruin the whole make. Fortunately my machine does automatic buttonholes so sewing was a sinch. I used 5 x 15mm buttons and re-positioned the buttonholes as I was working with 5 rather than 6 buttons due to the shortened bodice.

Tilly’s instructions were very detailed and included lots of helpful tips. I will now use 3 rows of gathering stitches in future as it does make for neater gathers. This was my first time using a Tilly pattern and her instructions were very easy to follow. I can see why her patterns are such a hit with newbie sewers.

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The pattern recommends using fabric with lots of drape so I went with a floral viscose from my stash. It was a little tricky to work with and shifts when cutting. A few of my pieces didn’t quite match the pattern but luckily I had extra fabric to re-cut the really wonky pieces.

Mimi does require quite a bit of prep and is not a quick sew. Nevertheless I found all the processes fun, from creating the sleeve pleats to making the collar. I’m tempted to make more blouses in future. The patterns in the book are overlaid so tracing is unavoidable. To speed things up, I photocopied the smaller pieces and traced the bodice pieces.

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I love how this turned out, it’s such a sweet little blouse. Next time round I’ll reduce the front bodice gathers as they are a little too full. I’ll also sew the top buttonhole closer to the neckline opening so the blouse buttons up better. I’m glad I’ve finally sewn something from Tilly’s book and learnt a new sewing skill in the process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Great British Sewing Bee woven shift dress

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One of my sewing goals for 2015 was to make a shift dress. They’re so easy to wear and I love my RTW versions. My first choice was Colette’s Laurel pattern but when I saw this woven shift in the latest GBSB Fashion with Fabric book, I knew it was The One.

You might recognise the fabric. I used it to make a top for my sister and loved it so much, I went back for more. It’s a mid weight poly crepe with lots of drape. Perfect for a shift dress.

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I made a size 12 and shortened the dress by a few cms so it came up above the knee. I also took off 4cms from the sleeves. Sewing was quick and I made this during the pre-Christmas madness. The only tricky bit was figuring out how the curved hem feeds into the side seams. The instructions in the book are hazy. It was not helped by me loosing my markings when I shortened the dress.

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I was able to forgo adding a side zip which was a bonus as I’m all for sewing short cuts. The dress isn’t too roomy either and fits really well. I didn’t toile it so there are a few changes I’ll add for my next iteration. I’ll widen the neckline (I can just about get my head through it and no, I don’t have an abnormally large head)! I went with the round neckline of the woven tee which uses the same pattern, rather than the V, as I prefer this shape. I’ll also lower the bust darts and consider using binding as the facing doesn’t sit that flat.

I’m so happy with this dress. I love the curved side seams, the fabric and fit. I’m going to try more patterns from the Fashion with fabric book and want to make the casual trousers for summer. Anyone made any other patterns from this book?

 

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Highlights, reflections and goals

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Getting a new sewing machine was definitely one of my 2016 highlights. I had no qualms about spending some serious money as I hardly ever buy big ticket items and sewing gives me so much pleasure. I upgraded to a Janome XL601, a machine I could grow my skills with. It sews so smoothly and is easy to use. It’s worth every penny for the drop in bobbin alone. No more tangled threads or running out of bobbin thread mid stitch.

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Joining Instagram was an unexpected highlight. I’m always behind the times with social media – it took me two years to start this blog.  Now that I’m on it, I’m seriously addicted and check in regularly to get my fix. It’s great for engaging with other sewers and is so easy to use. And it’s so, er instant! You post something and get feedback immediately. I used to look forward to my blog feed but that’s been usurped by IG and I dip into the #sewcialists feed most days. I also took part in #bpSewvember2015 which was great fun. I found so many new people and blogs through this. I still like reading blogs and they are invaluable for fit and construction tips. I hope they don’t die off completely.

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I have an ArtFund card and go to a lot of exhibitions. I love fashion and costume shows and my favourite was the Alexander McQueen exhibition at the V&A. The show was truly breath taking in terms of content and display.  Another highlight was going to the Balenciaga museum in Spain. I spent hours in there, jaw on the floor staring in wonder at his designs. As you can see from the photo above, the dresses are extraordinary.

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I also did a bit of re-fashioning, thanks to Portia’s re-fashioners challenge and Karen’s Made up initiative. They were both really fun to do and having a deadline meant that I finished my projects. The Datura top had a former life as a M&S mans shirt.

Reflections

The first part of the year was spent tackling my numerous UFOs. It felt like a chore at times, especially towards the end but two of my UFOs ended up in my top 5 makes so it was worth doing. I’m pleased to say they haven’t built up again and the only piles I have are bags of cut fabric ready for sewing.

It’s been a productive year and I sewed 27 items, including one coat, 14 tops and a few pressies. I sew far too many tops and need more trousers and skirts to have a functioning handmade wardrobe. Not bad, given that I had to spend precious sewing time job hunting twice this year.

I achieved nearly all my 2015 goals: finishing UFOs, sewing trousers, a shift dress and a dressy top. I failed to ration fabric purchases and added to my stash big time. However I did use a lot of what I bought so I’m not being too hard on myself. I’ve finally catalogued my stash which I hope will curb my spendthrift ways.

Goals for 2016

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Handmade bucket hat

After sewing up UFOs for the best half of last year, I want 2016 to be all about fun sewing. So my goals are:

# 1 – Sew a holiday wardrobe

What’s more fun that wearing handmade? Wearing handmade on holiday.

# 2 – Sew more skirts and fewer tops

Desperately need more summer skirts. I have a hunch I’ve worn the same RTW skirts on every holiday for the last 8 years.

# 3 – Casual dresses

I think I can incorporate dresses into my everyday wear. Just need to sew more casual styles like Inari, Bettine and Alder.

# 4 – More solids

I’m a print addict. Sewing more solids will give me more wearing options.

# 5 – Sew from stash and not buy fabric!

I can hope!

 

 

 

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Top 5 misses

So what were the duds of 2015? I know pretty quickly if I’m not going to wear something and am ruthless about getting rid, especially in this post Kon-mari world. Yes I’m a Konvert and am doing The Great Big Tidy.

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#1 Vintage wrap skirt

I made this for the Vintage pattern pledge. I’ve since decided wrap skirts aren’t for me and the fabric is a bit cheap. It went to the charity shop.

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#2 Lady skater dress

Should’ve done a full bust adjustment for this and it’s way too short. Gifted to my sister.

#3 Mandy boat tee

The changes I made to the pattern completely distorted it, leaving a top that’s too short and gapes at the back. This annoyed me the few times I wore it. It no longer lives in my wardrobe.

# 4 New Look vest 6863

The African wax fabric hasn’t grown on me. Plus the straps are too far apart and it’s too tight. Never worn.

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#5 Simplicity 2418

This pattern was also in my Top 5 but this linen iteration went so wrong I abandoned it. Bad fabric choice let me down here.

So all in all nothing too hideous, just items that I felt meh about the moment I put them on. Stay tuned for reflections, highlights and goals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sewing hits – Top 5

I look forward to reading all the end of year round ups and without further ado, here are my Top 5.

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# 1 – Gerard Coat

It’s my second winter wearing this coat and even now I marvel at the fact that I made a coat. I never thought my sewing skills would reach the dizzy heights of coat making and I found the whole experience extremely enjoyable. So many processes and new techniques and a coat taking shape miraculously before my eyes.

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#2 – Simplicity 2451

I love the happy colours of this skirt. The fabric came from a sofa throw found in a charity shop.

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#3 – Simplicity 2418 Cowl top

This has become a work staple, I wear it quite a lot! So glad I finished this UFO that was cluttering up the house earlier in the year.

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#4 – Sew Over It Ultimate trousers

Because I finally tackled my trouser nemesis.

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#5 – GBSB shift dress [from Book 3, Fashion with Fabric]

My last make of the year (in the blog queue). I’ve been meaning to make a shift dress and this one turned out exactly as I imagined. Love the fabric and the curved hem.

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FO: Lisette Portfolio top hack

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This is another variation of the Lisette Portfolio top. I’ve made it twice before, here and here. For this iteration, I re-drafted the front bodice piece so it could be cut as one piece on fold. I did the same with the back and left out the back opening. I decided to leave out the neck band because it didn’t fit my bodice pieces (er, not sure what went wrong there) and I didn’t have enough fabric to re-cut. So to finish the neck line, I added some bias binding bought from La Droguerie in France.

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If you’re heading to France and happen to be near one of their stores, you’re in for a treat. La Droguerie stocks some fab fabric and the haberdashery displays are a wonder. The bias is lovely and soft and not like the usual cardboard stuff. La Droguerie also stocks Liberty bias tape at a fraction of what you’d pay here.

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I used some white dobby that had been in my stash a while. It’s completely see-through so the top is underlined with cotton lawn. Underling gives the fabric a lovely handle.

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I know this little top is going to be in constant rotation. I love wearing white, it goes with everything. Note to self, must make more white tops!

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FO: Gingham NL 6225 v.2

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Winter’s been so mild recently (I made this in early November) that I’ve been not fussed about cold weather sewing. The stack of jerseys waiting to be sewn into Linden sweatshirts can wait. By the way my outfit is just for the blog, it’s not mild enough for bare legs.

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I’m not a clashing prints person but this works IMO!

I bought this fresh sky blue gingham at a sewing meet up in Dalston. I’ve a thing for large print gingham but it’s not easy to find. It’s a poly cotton, not my first choice but the colour and scale was just what I was looking for.

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I used NL 6225 again. I’m into sewing the same pattern back to back at the mo. This time round I sewed a size 12 and used view C, which has a higher neck line. I shortened the sleeves and bodice by a good few inches as they were way to long.

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The finished top turned out how I imagined it to be. I’ve seen RTW tops like this and wanted to make my own. I think I’ve done a pretty good job with the pattern matching too. This simple raglan sleeve pattern will be my go to tee pattern for a quick sewing fix. 

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