Sleek Silhouette

April 14, 2014
by Katy
37 Comments

Suprise Recre-Kate! And a giveaway

So I was not planning to make this recre-kate at all, it wasn’t on my list (yes I have a list). But then I saw this post and saw this skirt and it kinda hit me in the face screaming ‘MAKE ME RIGHT NOW!’. So how could I refuse? Oh and lets not make a big deal about the fact it’s another floral…. I’m getting obsessed! MUST. DO. A. NON-FLORAL.POST.SOON.

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Kendi everyday

I seem to be making a few things inspired by this blog (Yep, the next one on the list is inspired by her blog too….) This girl just seems to get style right most of the time! In my humble opinion anyway…. But actually I have to completely blame Suzie for this one. This skirt is a few years old so I would never have seen it if it wasn’t for Su’s post, that gave a link to THE ACTUAL FABRIC!!! How could I NOT make this skirt now??

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I’ve seen this fabric on Truro fabrics before but didn’t have the vision for what I could make with it until I saw this totally cute skirt. But Suzie also found the fabric on fabricland for half the price! Now, I have never, ever bought from this website as it scares the bejesus outta me! But at half price I couldn’t knowingly buy it from anywhere else. So I called up and ordered the fabric. Guys, it’s soooo easy. They just took my card details and it came a day later – ONE DAY!! This is good service, and you know what? It’s actually nice to talk to a real person, I don’t feel so dead inside. haha!

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BACK TO THE SKIRT. Despite Su’s very useful suggestion of what pattern to use to make this skirt, I decided to make my own pattern. Cos you know, I like doing that, and I wanted an absolute copy for this one. It was soo easy. I basically just made a pleated skirt with pockets. I looked very closely at the photos from Kendi’s webiste and discovered that the skirt has a box pleat in the middle with knife pleats around, and small pockets at the side. Canya see them??

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SO this was my pattern (it’s very basic).
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Then I added a 3inch waist band and it was all done in a morning! I even added a lining so I can wear this badboy with tights! It may be spring but it is still chilly out there.
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I LOVE THIS SKIRT. It’s so summery. I even made one for my sister! No photos of her yet, but there will be soon as this is my first make for someone else and she has been bugging me for aaaaaages to make her something!

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Onto the giveaway! So, the only downside of speaking to a real person to order fabric was that I got flustered. I knew I really only needed a metre of fabric, but I felt I couldn’t just say that. This woman had gone to to the trouble of answering the phone I couldn’t just ask for a measly meter of fabric. So, for some reason, the words ’3 metres please’ came out of my mouth. I don’t know why, I didn’t need that much, but it happened. To be honest though – it was HALF PRICE. I still hardly paid anything for it! haha. I am soooo tempted to keep the excess as I think it could make a really cute pair of trousers (I WILL make some this year), but I think it’s better that I pass this lovely fabric on to someone else who loves it.

The deets:

I have just over 1.5 metres of this lovely fabric. It’s a stretch cotton sateen, of nice medium weight quality. It could definitely be made into trousers, a jacket, skirt etc.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL! To go with the fabric, I am also happy to make a personalised pattern for this skirt so that whoever wins can make up their own version. You don’t have to use this fabric, but you might want to continue the skirt love? All I need is a waist measurement, it’s that simple!

So, let me know if you like the skirt and if you want to be part of the giveaway. You don’t have to do anything fancy, just put your name in the comments. Good luck guys!

 

April 11, 2014
by Katy
11 Comments

Jersey Love – The chevron maxi skirt

So, following the easy jersey dress earlier in the week here’s another easy, but slightly more exciting jersey make. A chevron maxi skirt.
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For this skirt you’ll need a striped jersey. In my opinion large stripes work better than thin stripes, but it’s totally up to you! (Thick stripes are easier to match at the seams) You can also totally make this skirt without the chevrons – it’s even easier if you do it that way. I’ll note the changes to the process as I go along.

This is seriously easy, but you will need a lot of fabric, not just cos a maxi dress is, well, maxi… but cos you’re also cutting it on the bias, and that uses more fabric. I reckon you’ll need around 3 meters for this skirt. I can’t remember how much I used as I had this fabric in my stash for a while.

First things first – take your waist measurement, your hip measurement, and the length you want the skirt to be. Easy so far huh? This time I would add at least an inch to your hip measurement as you don’t want the skirt to be skin tight like last time. I halved the waist and hip measurement as before drew them onto pattern paper, except I didn’t fold the pattern paper beforehand. (Just use a straight line as your centre point). This time you only want half the pattern. I just continued the line from waist to hip on to the bottom of the skirt . This will make the skirt quite flowy, like mine. If you wanted a more form-fitting skirt you could just maintain the hip measurement all the way to the bottom -that could look really awesome :) there are loads of options!
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Cut that out? Right, now the fun stuff. You want to put the grainline at a 45 degree angle to the stripes on the fabric. To be honest, you can put it at any angle you like! I think mine is more than 45 degrees as I just eyeballed it till I liked what I saw! It doesn’t really matter. This time its much easier to cut the pieces out when the fabric is folded. This way the stripes will run in the same direction on each piece, making it easier to match up your chevrons later! If you’re not making chevrons then just cut the fabric on the fold as usual.

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Remember you are cutting out 4 skirt pieces – two for the front and two for the back. If your cutting them out with the fabric folded that means you cut out the pattern piece twice. If you want chevrons at the side seams aswell as the centre front and back then angle the pattern in the same direction on the fabric both times. Then you’ll get front and backs that are exactly the same, meaning you’ll get chevrons at the sides too!
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Before cutting out try to ensure that your side seams will match up as much as possible. I.e. if theres a white stripe at the top of the front pieces, make sure there’s a white stripe at the top of your back pieces. I tried to do this with this skirt, but managed to get them matched up alternately. Looks fine, but it would have been nicer to have chevrons here too. Do as I say people, not as I do! Haha
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When it comes to sewing it together its worth spending some time matching the stripes on each of the seams. Remember, you’ll have four – side seams and one centre front and one centre back. If you don’t spend some checking this the chevrons might not meet perfectly, which doesn’t have the same effect and looks distracting. As long as the stripes match up nearly you’ll be ok – the stretch in the fabric means you can pull the fabric a little bit to make sure the stripes meet perfectly. As long as you don’t pull too much you won’t get wavy seams.
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Once all the seams are sew together then hem it using any of the techniques we discussed the other day. I then sewed in an elastic waist. This means I bought 1 inch elastic, sewed a channel for it to go in at the waist and then fed the elastic through. For more pics on this see my tutorial for jersey skirts. This is a really quick and easy way to add a waistband, it might not be the smartest but it works well with jersey!

That’s it! I’m pretty pleased with my skirt :)
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April 9, 2014
by Katy
8 Comments

Jersey Love – The simplest dress ever!

So have you guys been watching The Great British Sewing Bee? I can’t believe it finished last night? No spoilers here i case you haven’t seen it! But thoughts about who won? I was a bit surprised if I’m honest. Anyway, sorry, not the point of the post! I really enjoyed the show, but was in a bit of disbelief about the number of fabrics or techniques that the contestants were unsure about! I’ve only been sewing just over a year and so felt shocked that I often knew something that they didn’t.

One of my biggest shocks was when a few weeks ago most of them had a freak out when confronted with Jersey. Whaaaaaat? I LOVE jersey. I have made soooooo many clothes from jersey, and all of them made with a sewing machine, not an overlocker. Seriously, if you ask me every beginner should start with jersey. It’s not as scary as people think and within an hour or two you’ve got something wearable. It’s so quick! And so forgiving.

SO I’m on a mission to make you all love jersey and knit fabrics. I had a week off last week (absolute joy!) and after not having had much time to sew I took the opportunity to sew, sew, sew. I ended up making three jersey outfits! Because it’s soooo quick to sew with knits! I officially name this week ‘knit week’.

I do think that sewists are less scared by knits now, but I figured that if there are some people out there who are still scared maybe by showing you these (simple!) outfits and showing you how I made them you can feel able to give them a go yourself! Sarai has also put some fabulous tips up on the coletterie in prepration for her book release on this very subject – very exciting! Some of you might already know what to do when it comes to knit, so feel free to give me some more tips. I’m always eager to learn!

Ready to see what I made first?

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I have had this grey rose fabric (yes, floral – what’s going on!) in my (growing) stash for months…. I was going through a monochrome phase when I bought it but had no real plans for it. When it arrived I felt like the print was a bit overwhelming… So I ignored it. I tried palming it off on my sister as a skirt, but even she wasn’t keen. Then I saw this post by Geneva at A pair and a Spare. I love this little skirt.

how to make a two tone tartan skirt

While I love the tartan, and want to make something from red tartan (it seems to be everywhere!), the thing that really caught my eye was the black back of the skirt. My mind immediately went to the rose fabric. Could this be a way to calm that busy fabric down?

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Er, I think yes! I thought about making another gathered skirt or dress, but I didn’t want an overload of gathered dresses, plus the jersey is quite thin. In the end I decided to make a very simple dress with a more conservative neckline than the last one. I seem to make a lot of sleeveless/racerback dresses so I wanted to make something with more coverage round my shoulders. Inspired by the Anna dress by the By Hand girls I decided to lengthen the shoulder seam so that I had slight kimono sleeves.

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The thing I love about Jersey is how simple your pattern can be, and how forgiving the fabric is! This pattern took me maybe half an hour to draft and cut out and maybe half an hour to sew up? Seriously, this was QUICK sewing!  Wanna know how I made it?

THE PATTERN:

The pattern was merely created using my own measurements,  and transferring them to the pattern paper.  It really is as simple as that. I do this by taking these measurements:

neck

shoulders

bust

waist

high hip

low hip

and the distance between them

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When making a pattern for a knit fabric I always divide my measurements by two (halving them) and fold my pattern paper in half.  Using the fold in the paper as the centre point, measure from here out to the various measurements you took. Draw the points together and you’ll end up with half a silhouette of your body. I seem to have lost my pattern for this one, so this is just s little sketch to give you an idea!
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Depending on how tight you want the dress there is no need to add ease as knit fabrics are stretchy and will stretch to fit your body, and personally I like things tight and fitted. I’m comfortable with it being this tight, however I know that others might like some more wiggle room. I think adding an extra inch to all of the measurements would help to make it look more like a t-shirt dress, and less like a body con dress. I’m planning to make a version of this dress for my sister, and I think I might make it with some more ease added in to see what it might look like looser. 

I also don’t really add a seam allowance. Again the stretchy nature of the fabric will compensate!

So, once all the measurements are on the paper you can cut the pattern out. Then when you open it out…. You have the entire dress in one pattern piece!
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This is just my particular way of doing things because I don’t like to cut knit on the fold. If you cut knit off grain it can start to twist and pull in wierd ways so it’s important to get it right. For me, that’s easier to do if I can see the whole pattern piece on the fabric. That way you can line it all up and check it’s right. When it’s cut on the fold you have no idea if one side of the fabric has fallen off grain. I spend a lot of time on this part, just checking I’ve got it as perfect as I can – that way the stress is taken out later when you’re wearing it and it moves wierdly. You know that feeling when for some reason your top, or leggings keeps spinning to the side and you don’t know why? That’s cos it was cut off grain, and it’s soo annoying!

Checking the grain is right on knit fabrics is so easy as the ‘knit’ pattern runs right down the fabric, so just line up your straight edges with this and you’re good to go!
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Do you see it?? Sorry for the horrible knit, I had to find something that would show up the pattern easily in a photo.

A note on cutting out the fabric: MAKE SURE THE STRETCH IS ACROSS THE BODY!!!!! IF it’s the wrong way, nothing in the world will squeeze you into the dress! (unless you have four way stretch….)

THE SEWING:

So, another reason why knit is so cool? NO DARTS! and this dress has only 2 pattern pieces! Talk about quick sewing!

There are a couple of things I REALLY suggest you get if you’re working with jersey – a twin needle, and a walking foot. You can totally work without either of these things – I did for a while. But, having a walking foot makes everything better. The amazing thing about jersey is that it’s stretchy. But that’s also it’s frustrating bit! It can mean that when you use a normal sewing foot the bottom layer of fabric will be moved along as usual, but the top layer of fabric is more likely to stretch, as there is nothing to move this layer of fabric along as you sew.  Meaning you can end up with some crazy wavy seams and hems. It is NOT a good look. It can end up looking like this…

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The walking foot makes sure both layers of fabric move at the same time – no stretching! They are expensive though, and they are noisy and make for slower sewing. But, trust me, they are worth it! I ALWAYS use mine. In fact I usually leave it on for everything I make. I only wish I could attach a zipper foot to it,  that’s why I’ve started handpicking most of my zips on stretch fabric!

Anyway!! Once you have these wonderful accessories just sew that baby up! You do not need to use a stretch stitch or a zig zag stitch on the side seams as nothing needs to stretch there – you don’t want the dress to get longer do you? You want the stretch ACROSS the body, not down the body. Make sure to add in some twill or offcut of fabric to the shoulder seams. In case you forgot, this is stretchy fabric – and the weight of the rest of the dress is heavy and will pull on those seams. So you strengthen them with something that DOESN’T stretch. Twill is perfect! Sarai has some great tips on this too!

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When it comes to the hem, this is when you are going to want a stretch stitch – it’s gotta let you walk! There are many ways you can do this – you can use a stretch stitch, you can use a zig zag stitch, or you can use a twin needle. Or if you’re mega fancy, a Coverstitch machine. Most sewing machines will have a stretch stitch, it’s the one with three rows of straight stitch. Don’t ask me why it can stretch, I just know that it does! It’s my preferred way of hemming.
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I’ve gone off the twin needle, although that’s also a cute way of doing it. Helen has recently put up some neat instructions for using a twin needle, as has Sarai. If you don’t have either of these things a zig zag stitch is also perfect.
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Most of my makes are finished this way, and on a pure colour and on a busy print you can’t really see it. The ‘pointier’ your zig zag the more it will stretch, but, in my opinion, the uglier it will be. I would change you stitch length so you have a smaller zig zag, rather than an imposing one! Play around on a scrap before giving it a go. See how much stretch it gives you! Just fold up the raw edge once and sew it in your preferred way. If you like neat hems feel free to fold it up twice, but knit is not going to fray so you don’t have to worry too much. I never finish any of my seams when using knit fabrics!
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You can also finish your armholes and neckline in this way. Personally I don’t like to – as you’re more easily going to see these finishes. There are many ways to finish these edges. You can use a band, which can look super cute and sporty. See my old tutorial for this. You can use a facing, in the way you normally would. Or sometimes I use bias binding. I like doing this on edges that don’t need to stretch – so as long as your head can fit through the hole it’s all good. It also means that the neckline won’t stretch over time and look baggy. It’s up to you how you finish it! On this dress I went for bias binding.
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And that’s it! Wow. When I sat down to write this I didn’t expect to write so much! I did not write my latest essay for uni this quickly! haha. I guess I’ve just learnt a lot on my journey with knit fabrics. I felt a little overwhelmed when I first tackled this fabric so I hope I might have helped some of you that might have been scared to give it a go. Please do it’s the best ever! Have a play with fun prints, there are so many wonderful jerseys out there!

I’ve got a couple of other outfits I made that I’ll share will you this week and show you how to make. I hope you like it!

Seeing as that was so easy, perhaps Ishould do something a little more creative next time. Perhaps something more like this?

This one might be a bit too adventurous, but I’m interested to see if I could make something similar work:

More ideas to add to the ever growing list!

April 3, 2014
by Katy
18 Comments

The Floral Flora

What is with me at the moment? This blog has got far too many florals going on recently for my liking! Oh well, it is spring I suppose – I’m feeling inspired!

When I saw the new pattern by the wonderful By Hand girls I nearly spat out my drink. I needed that pattern! Isn’t it cute? I bought it staright away and made it up almost as soon as it arrived.
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I love the crossover version, but I’m a little scared that I’d look far too booby in it! I plan on wearing this dress to my friends wedding, and I have already had an unfortunate experience at a friends wedding in the bombshell dress I made  that I do not intend to repeat! So the high neck version it has to be! Although it is slightly annoying that I can’t wear a strapped bra with it, it’s peskily peaking out… (and why am I wearing a black bra with a light dress? I’m a muppet!)
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The skirt is also darling! I am still really digging the dipped hem look, so that pretty much hooked me from the get-go. It was a no-brainer. I needed to make this dress.
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And I already had the perfect fabric! I had originally bought this for my asymmetrical jacket, but as soon as I saw this pattern I knew I had to change my plans. I think it fits the pattern perfectly! It’s another stretch cotton sateen, my new fave fabric, which means it kinda moulds to my shape. This is great as the finished sizes are only half an inch bigger than the actual measurements! Now I can eat without feeling restricted! Bonus. The fabric has also got some body to it so it holds the drapes in the skirt well. Seeing as some people were commenting on how lovely the fabric is (it is, it really is) I thought I’d add a link to it :)

Let’s talk about the pattern and construction. I think others have said this is a quick sew, and I’d have to agree. I did it all in less than a day/afternoon and I really wasn’t stressing over it. The ease of the pattern meant I was able to concentrate on making it perfectly. I think it’s a pretty flawless make as a result!
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I added my usual inch to lengthen the bodice which was necessary, and cut between a 14 on the bust and a 10 on the waist, I could have gone even smaller on the waist but this is fine. I had to take about two inches out across the shoulders and neck as the 14 really was way too big. I really should start doing proper FBA’s rather than cutting between sizes, but they seem so scary! I also used the style lines for the largest size when cutting out the length of the skirt. I know I’m tall so need all the extra length I can get. Sadly I was restricted by the width of my fabric and so couldn’t go as long as I would have liked. Which is a shame as I think this dress has ended up being a tad too short for me. I’m not a fan of my legs anyway so it’s a shame that there’s a lot on show. I wonder if this skirt comes up short on anyone else? I added a lot of length to it and I shudder to think how short it would have been had I left it!
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That being said it’s still a super cute dress that I plan on wearing to death this summer.

Since we’re talking about the By Hand girls, have you all supported their kickstarter pledge? I’m SOOOOO excited about the prospect of designing my own fabric, aren’t you? I think this is one of the best ideas anyone in the sewing community has had in a while and if I’m honest, I’m a bit jealous they got there first! I really hope everyone backs them so we all can start wearing garments that are totally our own design!!

 

 

March 31, 2014
by Katy
45 Comments

Recre-Kate: The Floral Asymmetric Jacket!

Sorry for not having posted for a couple of weeks – things got CRAZY round here! I moved flat….AGAIN, I’ve been battling with a uni assignment, and finishing at my current work placement, ahhh! BUT, I have also found time to sew! And the first thing on my list was my floral jacket! Whaddya think?

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I gotta say I’m pretty chuffed that I made this jacket! But I am in two minds… I mean, it’s a STATEMENT! I feel so odd about it – I totally love it, but I’m scared to wear it! It’s all down to my fabric choice, I’m so unsure about it for so many reasons! Firstly the colours, which I liked to begin with, don’t feel very modern now. It feels quite old.  I guess it just doesn’t feel as stylish as the inspiration jacket?

imageThe pattern calls for a ponte knit fabric. Instead I bought a stretch cotton stateen – which I now think might be my favourite fabric! It’s like the best of both worlds – easy sewing with the cotton, and wonderful forgiving stretch. Amazing.

Due to the nature of the collar of this jacket, the fabric is viewed from both sides. So I lined the jacket in the same fabric. It worked a charm :)

imageAnnoyingly though, as lovely as this fabric was to work with, I just feel that it just looks a bit cheap and tacky. The print  was so tricky to work with! It has such an obvious repeat and even with thoughtful pattern placement it was hard to escape. It’s particularly obvious on the back, oops!

imageAll that being said, I also think this jacket freakin’ rocks!! It’s like I have a dual personality when I think about it!? Let’s talk about all it’s awesome aspects.

I added loads of fake leather accents! I love them, but my husband is less than enamoured with them. But then, when  have I ever listen to him? haha. I used leather bias binding on all the edges, on the collar and around the zip. I also added a fake leather strip on the sleeve,  I think it adds a bit of a tougher edge – I love how that sits next to the flowers. Hard and soft all in one :)  I’m getting so much use out of that one meter of leather I bought! haha.

imageThere’s actually a lot of hand sewing in this jacket. Maybe that’s why I love it in spite of the fabric – I am proud of the construction. I sewed all the bias binding on by hand, and hand picked the zip too. That gave me a great opportunity to catch up on The Great British Sewing Bee! Are you guys watching it?

imageI really love the shape of this jacket . It’s awesome zipped up, but what do you think of it unzipped? I don’t love it as much unzipped, but it’s definitely striking! The collar takes on a life of it’s own, it’s soo big!

imageSo, I’m completely confused by this jacket. At the moment I am 100% planning to make another version cos the shape rocks! But I want a version that I can wear more regularly – this jacket is definitely a ‘special occasion’ jacket.  I’m kinda thinking about a Chanel style fabric?? With leather trim…. obviously. What can I say? I’m obsessed!

 

March 12, 2014
by Katy
23 Comments

Next Recre-Kate: Floral Asymmetrical Jacket

After the success of my last jacket I thought I’d make another jacket, but this time a lighter jacket ready for spring. I’m on a jacket-making roll! It all started with this picture:

Floral jacket - burda asymmetric jacket?

I’ve recently stumbled across this blog and like a lot of what I see. Mainly this jacket! I love the floral meets tougher asymmetric silhouette, especially with that dark piping on the seams. LOVE IT! Also, florals = spring, it’s a no brainer. I pinned it straight away!

I’ve also found a few RTW jackets along similar lines from Ted Baker: (Click the photos for links)

But obviously, I’m not going to BUY a jacket. I’m a sewist, doncha know? And I recently found the most perfect pattern for this (click the photo for the link):

I actually bought this pattern ages ago from Burdastyle and was planning to sew it up exactly as it’s styled in this pic. Not very inventive I know, but why fix something that aint broke? But then I made my Lola dress with the fabric instead, oops!

It’s very like this jacket, also from Ted Baker:

But I already have an AWESOME leather jacket (RTW), and don’t need another one. So floral it is!  I’ve already snapped up my fabric and it’s arrived. It’s on sale at myfabrics.com if you feel so inclined:

I’ve gone with a black background mainly as I couldn’t find anything with a lighter background that I liked! I chose it as I liked the warm colours and that it’s not too ‘bitty’, sometimes I feel floral fabric can be too detailed and it’s the worse for it but this fabric has a slightly blurred/graphic quality to it. Now it’s arrived I’m not 100% sure about it, but hopefully with some thoughtful pattern placement it’ll be da bomb!

Anyone else thinking of sewing up a spring jacket?

 

March 9, 2014
by Katy
28 Comments

Recre-Kate Reveal: The Minoru Parka!

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The British government should hire me next time they struggle with mother nature as I clearly have the power to stop torrential rain! I swear, the moment I switched off my machine and cut the last threads, I ceased to need a coat! Haha. Not that I’m complaining! It soo nice to see some sunshine round these previously dreary parts.

For those that aren’t aware, Britain has been suffering with the worst flooding in years. I felt like I couldn’t remember a day when it wasn’t raining cats and dogs, and I was trying to navigate the storms with no hood or umbrella! Yeah, THAT was fun (and a bit foolish). Therefore I was so excited about the HOOD of this jacket!! And it had to have a fur trim, cos that’s just the coolest thing ever, Right? I was concerned I wouldn’t know how to add the fur on but by adding a lining to the hood I was able to attach the fur trim to both the lining and the hood. It is sooo snuggly, I can almost get lost in it!
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The pattern is Sewaholic’s Minoru Jacket. The pattern was fantastic, and the sew -along was fantastic to check out any bits I wasn’t sure about. The only alteration i made, was to add an inch above the waist so it hit at the right point. You guys, I LOVE this jacket! I’m so proud of it and I’ve learnt so much! Including that coat making is not necessarily a hard process, but that it is quite a long process (especially if you unpick it quite as much as I did). Probably as a result there are a lot of photos in this post! I’m not even that sorry! Enjoy!

Lets start with the fabric: I was originally intending to use a more dark green fabric, more an oliv colour. However, after ordering it I got a phonecall telling me that they’d run out! I was pretty gutted to be honest, I ordered this similar fabric which was called ‘Platoon‘ and the description was ‘There must be an army somewhere that dresses in this colour, but who would wish for a cloth as tough and yet as soft as this is for a uniform.’, so I figured it was going to be a good parka colour! I have to admit though that when it came I was really disappointed by it. The fabric quality is wonderful, it’s thick and hardy and yet so soft! But it’s a bit browner than I was expecting. In some lights it looks completely brown :( But I’d bought it so I carried on. Now it’s made I actually really like the colour, yes it’s not the most green, but it has got that army look to it. And did i mention how soft it is??? Mmmmmmm……
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Adding to the softness is this gorgeous brushed cotton for the lining…. It’s so warm and fuzzy, oh yeah and I love how that chevron pattern makes your eyes hurt! A bit of hidden crazy. The final soft touch is my gorgeous furry hood!!! I AM SO PROUD of this hood!
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However, the furry hood meant that I couldn’t use the hidden pocket that’s usually in the collar as it was just too bulky now. Frustratingly, I didn’t realise this until I had made the collar complete with zip. I realised I had to unpick it all… (unpicking take 1). So then I thought, ‘I don’t need the collar’!  Turns out you do, or at least I think you do, or the  neckline is too low…. So more unpicking…..(unpicking take 2) and I added the collar in again. Although annoyingly I didn’t have enough fabric to cut the collar out again and it currently had a zip through it…. therefore I had to make the collar half the height.  Actually I like this alteration as it raises the neckline a bit but I don’t have the huge collar getting in the way of the hood – I ended up putting the collar inside the hood.
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Once the hood and collar debacle was sorted (that took a full week…there was a LOT of unpicking) the rest of the jacket came together quite easily. Although, it did break 4 needles on the way… This fabric is THICK. Tashia suggests medium or lightweight fabric and I can see why! In my infinite wisdom I chose heavyweight fabric and thick brushed cotton for lining – that’s a lot of layers! At some points my machine struggled, needles broke… and that’s when my impatience got the better of me and I just started putting in thinner and thinner needles in as I ran out – as you might have guessed they broke quicker and quicker!

I finally got to finishing it though (just in time for spring)! And I’m really happy with the result. The topstitching is pretty perfect if I do say so myself, and the shape of it is perfect! The elastic round the waist gives a perfect shape. I even put in some side seam pockets, I did originally forget about these so I had to unpick the seams (unpicking take 3) again to put them in. But it was worth it, as soon as I put it on it was my first instinct to put my hands in the pockets. I was planning to add some big pockets on the front, but i ran out of fabric. I’m not really that upset, i actually really like the clean lines without them.
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So, first coat making experience? Not too bad! I kinda have another couple of jackets planned… Oops?

February 15, 2014
by Katy
18 Comments

Leather accent lola

I have been wanting to make a Lola dress by victory patterns since I first saw it. Its such a gorgeous, stylish, yet comfy dress. It was love at first sight, and yet I’ve never managed to get round to making it. I think I’ve just never found the right fabric to feel inspired enough. But seeing Tilly’s post the other day reminded me that I really did need to get on and make this!
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But, I still needed to feel inspired by some fabric!I currently have a project on the go involving stretch (faux) leather. Looking at the leather sitting on the side of my room I had a sudden flash of inspiration! Leather accents on clothes are everywhere right now, and have been for a while, so why not add my stretch leather to the lola dress????

That decided, I had to make it RIGHT NOW, despite having about three other makes planned… I even stole the ponte jersey planned for the other make (it wouldn’t have been right anyway…).
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Luckily the pattern is super easy to sew up and only took me an afternoon. I found the instructions very easy to follow, and the sewing is pretty self-explanatory. The only thing I struggled with was the little triangle that’s below the neckband. How did other people deal with this pesky triangle??? The instructions ask you to overlock the edges of the triangle before you sew it to the dress. Seeing as I don’t have an overlocker I thought I’d try zig-zagging it. But whenever I tried this with my sewing machine it proceeded to eat the triangle…about four times! I thought perhaps I needed a new needle, but this is a knit fabric so I thought the sharpness of the needle doesn’t matter? In the end I decided to just sew the damn thing onto the dress without zig-zagging it first. To make up for the not-so-neat sewing I sewed tight zig-zag stitches over and over again. In the end I think I’ve managed to make it look passable, but I know I could do a better job if I tried again.
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I really like this dress, it’s pretty much exactly what I was expecting it to look like. I added an inch to the length for my height, but still kept it quite short – I think this dress would look a bit odd if it were long. Annoyingly I think the faux leather does look particularly faux, and therefore a bit crinkly, but then I’m not sure I want to spend a lot of money on real stretch leather for a dress that will probably only last a season…
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For now it’s a perfect day dress for slobbing out in or wearing to uni.  I now need to re-buy grey ponte and more stretch leather (possibly the real stuff this time?), but it was so worth it!
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February 3, 2014
by Katy
30 Comments

The (sexy) Gathered Dress!

I’ve been thinking for a while about how I would like to make a dress version of my gathered skirts…. and the other day whilst waiting for my fabric for my Minoru Parka to arrive I thought I should perhaps stop thinking about it and just make it?
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I used this GORGEOUS navy blue Roma Jersey from Fabric Godmother which I bought from the voucher I got from work, and was specifically bought with this dress in mind. I’ve never bought or used Roma Jersey before, instead buying cheaper, thinner jersey. WOW the difference is incredible! This is sooooo soft and wonderful to touch, and yet feels sturdy. It is WONDERFUL!

This dress was so easy to make. I already had my gathered skirt pattern, and a jersey top pattern which I had designed aaaaaages ago. I just applied the same technique that I used on the skirt for lengthening the top so it could be gathered. Stuck them together to make a new pattern, and that was it.
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From start to finish, including creating the pattern to walking out the door in said dress for date-night, took me three hours – not too shabby!

The fantastic thing about this dress is that it fits me perfectly! I know that sounds silly as I made and designed it, but I get so fed up with RTW being baggy around my waist and SKIN TIGHT around my legs that it is so nice to wear a bodycon dress that not only fits perfectly, but is also so forgiving thanks to those gathers!
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I also feel unbelievably sexy in this dress. I don’t usually ever feel sexy, and I certainly wouldn’t class myself as a sexy person. But in this dress, on that date, I felt pretty amazing.

The images that kept coming to mind while I was wearing it were of Cameron Diaz in The Mask, and pretty much any dress that Scarlet Johansson wears….

(Yes these are both red dresses, I am planning a red version….)

I don’t normally wear anything too low cut, but this time decided I wanted to show off my ahem ‘assets’ and apparently this dress does that well. Next time I might cut a higher neckline and have thicker straps ( I feel like a lot of my back is on show too) but every girl’s got to have a dress they feel a million dollars in don’t they?
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I’m pretty pleased with the back, even though it’s a bit skimpy. When I designed this top, way back when, I took the time  to make sure the crossed over straps of my bra would be hidden.  I’m so glad I took the time to get the pattern right as it’s one of the few tops I don’t have to worry about a bra strap peeking out somewhere. On this dress it feels a like I’m showing a lot of skin and that’s because this time I used bias binding on the neckline rather than adding a jersey band as I would normally do. This was as I wanted the dress to look high-end, and not a bit sporty. This meant that due to folding the edge of the fabric over with the binding the straps became thinner than normal. I also only had a lighter blue bias binding in my stash but decided to use it anyway as I wanted to wear the dress that night! It isn’t a problem as you can’t see the bias binding at all, but next time I might try to match the biding a bit better.
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Clearly this is not a dress I can wear to work, but I’m thinking that a version with sleeves (and a higher neckline) might work. Of course that involves working out how to draft sleeves….

What do you guys think? Do you have a dress, either RTW or that you’ve made, that makes you feel a million dollars?

January 31, 2014
by Katy
15 Comments

1 Year Blogiversary, What the?

So, I’ve been sewing (and blogging about it) for a whole year now! Whodathunk?? Time flies when you’re having fun! And it seems much fun has been had. Since January last year I have made a total of 34 items of clothing!! Considering that most of that was actually squeezed into 9 months I think that’s pretty good going! Seeing as I haven’t done a new year post I thought I’d take this opportunity to bore you with the things I’m going to take away from this year (I know you’re secretly hopping with excitement!)

Things I have learnt:

1. I am NOT as big as I think I am.  I think this is a pretty common and standard thing for women to worry about. The media drills  into us that no matter how we look we’re probably not as thin as we could be. I don’t know about you but this leads me to costantly compare myself with nearly every other woman I meet (I actually think I check women out more than I check men out…). I’m not suprised that I have totally fallen into/still fall into this trap! However, through making my own clothes I’m realising that it’s not about being any particular shape, but about wearing clothes that fit your shape. When you wear something that fits you perfectly, it feels amazing! And therefore, you FEEL amazing. It’s only taken me putting my pics on the internet on a regular basis to realise that perhaps my figure is ok, and I can work with it. Yay! Of course it’s after Xmas now, prime ‘I hate my body time’…. I think that means I’m meant to diet…. It doesn’t appear to be happenning….

2. Drafting patterns is rewarding. Haha, understatement of the YEAR! (or is that last year?). I find that making my own clothes is amazing, but making clothing you’ve designed yourself? Well… I’m stuggling to find the words to express how happy and proud it makes me feel. Especially when someone comments on your lovely dress/top/jacket. It almost makes me skip off into the clouds and never come down. If you haven’t yet ventured into the world of pattern drafting (I have barely touched the surface) I can’t recommend you give it a go enough – join the ups and downs with me!

3. Sewists may just be the nicest people around. I learnt this when I went for my first bloggers meet up. I just couldn’t believe that I’d met such a friendly and wonderful group of people. People that are willing to help when I have problems that I can’t understand, and who will cheer me up when I make a big boo-boo. Thanks guys, you make this hobby even more incredible!

4. Sewing is a great stress-reliever. I’ve discovered recently that the best thing to do when I’m stressed out about something is just let me be on my own and in reach of a sewing machine! Something about following methodical and systematic steps means there no space to think about anything chaotic. It’s like it orders my brain. Although this is only true if you’re working with something easy like cotton or jersey, anything complicated my end up in a ripped heap on the floor if I persevere! (true story, this is how one of my bridemaids dresses ended up….). The thing that sadenned me in the last few months was having no place to sew and no time even when I wanted to. I still don’t really have a space to sew, and barely any room to cut out fabric. But where there’s a will there’s a way, and it’s worth making time for sewing if it makes me this happy :)

5. I think sewing is here to stay….Oops! I found a hobby, that might just take over my life! Sorrynotsorry.

Plans for my second year of sewing:

1.To push myself a bit further. I’m pretty confident making a skirt, shirt, dress and t-shirt. But I’ve only made one pair of trousers and one jacket. I want to push this more. I WILL make a pair of trousers before the year is out. And I already have two jackets planned! A whole me-made outfit is on the cards people, watch this space!

2.To make more clothes that I’ll wear on a regular basis. That might sound odd – surely I wouldn’t make clothes I don’t like? Well I do like all the clothes I’ve made but at times I’ve got caught up in a pretty pattern or fabric and made something that just isn’t really my style. From now on I’m only making things I would buy in a shop. My Recre-Kate series will help with this by helping me identify styles I really love. That means that although I want to push myself I don’t stop myself from making a simple t-shirt if I want to!

3.To get better at making my blog prettier and working out how to add text etc to my photos. I’m getting the hang of taking and editing photos, thanks to my new AWESOME camera but I need to now focus on making the rest of my blog awesome.

4.Try to still find time to sew while completing a time consuming and draining doctorate. It’s going ok so far right? Just bear with me when I have deadlines, and I’ll make hay while the sun shines!

Well that’s all been a bit text heavy hasn’t it? How about some nice pictures to break it all up? And a chance to laugh and my epic fails!

Best 5 makes:

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My interview dress! Well it worked didn’t it? That’s reason alone to love it! But it also took a lot of altering and tweeking to get it fit *just right*. I’m super proud of the result, which you might have noticed in my face. Only worn once, but still an epic win!

My first Recre-Kate dress. Worn to death over the summer, utterly love it. Can’t wait to wear it again!

My bombshell dress! By far the thing I’m most proud of making, and my first ever attempt! Sadly this dress didn’t survive, I wore it to my friends wedding and was uncomfortably aware all night of how ‘on show’ I was, and therefore kept pulling the straps up to somehow cover me up(?). This ended up with one of the straps breaking, bad news on a dancefloor when you’re not wearing a bra. I’m not going to fix it cos I’m not going to wear it again. But I could never throw this dress away. It was my first proper foray into dressmaking, and an act of love!

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Again, not a dress that has been worn lots, BUT it is my first attempt at designing and drafting my own pattern. I was so proud of this dress, and am so glad I finished it off perfectly. I think it will certainly get worn again in the summer, but the cotton lining makes wearing it with tights tricky.

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Last but not least my Gathered skirts! The BEST pattern I have made! Comfy and easy I have made three version of this and a new version I’m going to show you very soon! LOVE LOVE LOVE. WORN TO DEATH!!!!

I’m finding it hard to stop there I also love my new Mathilde dress (already it’s been worn more than the last!)! You don’t mind 6 do you? :)

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Worst 5 makes:

Haha, oh dear…. where to start!

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Nuff said, never worn….hate it!

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The Salme Gathered top. I like this top, but it’s too big. I did wear it over summer, and I think I’m likely to wear it this summer, but it’s too big across the back and too low cut, which makes it tricky to wear. It’s actually better to have it tucked into something – then it does look quite chic….

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My Mad men dress. I loved it when I made it, I still love the fabric… and yet I never reach for it. I don’t know why? I think it’s the dark blue bias binding on the sleeves that really gets me. I want to like it,  but I just…don’t.

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My low back breton top. I love the idea behind this top, but I can’t deal with the bad sewing…. I’m embarrassed when I wear it, so I don’t! I really should make another version cos I love the idea of it.

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My first Archer. I don’t really want to put this on the list, but I don’t really wear it so here it must be. I was so proud of finishing this shirt – it was my first! But my damn long body (I was told the other day by a physio I have one of the longest bodies he’s ever seen) means it is WAY to short for me. I can only wear it when it’s tucked in, but admittedly it does then look awesome!

So there you go! My reflections on the last year. I hope you made it through and haven’t nodded off :) I hope you’ve enjoyed your last year of sewing. I can’t wait to see what we all produce this year!

Oh and sorry that there’s no giveaway – I didn’t even realise my blogiversary had arrived until Helen’s post! Next year I promise to be far more organised. Promise :)

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