Tag: review

The Foldline immediately caught my attention with the release of their first pattern The Billie Collection through their new pattern company Tribe Patterns. Not only because the style of the dress was right up my street, but also by the premise of their new venture. The concept is not only simple but generous and giving. Kate and Rachel have decided that they want to help the sewing community to become designers. They will regularly run competitions where sewists enter their own designs and the winner will have their design turned into a pattern by the girls at The Foldline. They have kicked off this venture by asking Rachel Pinheiro to design the first offering and the result is the Billie Collection.

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I remember when the Wren dress was first released, it took the indy community by storm. I wasnt that overwhelmed initially but over time I became warmer to it. A few weeks ago Girl Charlee very generously sent me some pineapple jersey fabric to review and although I was also considering the Moneta, I just felt the Wren was the perfect pattern for this summery, fun, quirky fabric.

wren1The fabric was sent to me within a day or two, which I was really happy about. Who knows they have fabric coming and are happy to wait? Not me. Too exciting! When it arrived I loved how vibrant it was. It was just like the pictures, if not brighter. It is more of an aqua blue than I was expecting but that was a good thing. It is a lightweight jersey – just the ticket for these summery days at work.

If you have been reading my blog you will know my machine had to go into sewing hospital for a while so I have taken longer to make than I expected. I have a basic back up machine so I was able to get on and make the dress.

Firstly I downloaded the PDF, if you need help with putting together PDFs, Little Miss Lorraine has done a really helpful video here. This took a while as there were quite a few tiles (pages) to stick together but luckily I really enjoy doing this.

Once I had the pattern pieces all sorted I cut the fabric. In the past I havent been a massive fan of jersey (it doesnt behave in the way that woven does) but I have bought quite a bit recently as it is so comfy to wear! The pineapple fabric was very well behaved I have to say, I didn’t have any problems cutting it out. It sliced like a dream too (of course a new rotary blade helped with this).

I decided to cut a 2x in size and not worry about fit adjustments. I really just wanted to make the dress and wear it but also I knew that jersey is very forgiving so could probably get away with any minor alteration issues. I love the little gathered part on the front (as seen in the photo of me posing below)

One of the first problems I came across was hemming the bust line. The pattern advised to coverstitch (if you’ve won the lottery!) or use a twin needle. I have a twin needle but have never really used it. It is quite a thin one so I went and purchased a new one with a wider width. It wasnt until I got home that I realised it was intended for jeans…. so it wasnt that huge of a surprise when my machine began eating the material… In the end I decided I was going to zig zag the bustline hem instead – I wasnt 100% sure it would work or look good but it worked out well (I was able to disguise the tiny hole).

I’ve never made a wrap dress before, or any kind of wrap top, so making this was partly new to me. It was very easy to do though, completely beginner friendly. The only thing I did stumble with is how far to cross over the two front pieces. In the end it was just guesswork based on the technical drawing.

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Also, I was following instructions for version 1 and sewed up the side seams before realising I hadnt sewn in the sleeves. It wasnt a biggie, I knew how to set in sleeves so I did it this way instead and they were a complete success.

The skirt was even easier really. It comprised of a front piece cut on the fold and two back pieces. I just sewed a seam up the centre back and then sewed the front and back together.

At this point I was required to shurr clear elastic, but lately whenever I do this I can never make the elastic stretch far enough (though I was able to initially), so I ended up scraping that idea and zig zagging over yarn and then gathering the skirt. Once I did this I attached the top to the bottom with a basting stitch to ensure I was happy and pulled the yarn out and then serged the edges.

Then all that was left to do was to hem the sleeves and skirt bottom. This is where the real trouble was; when I looked in the mirror the hem looked really uneven. I thought this was because my bum sticks out, as does my big chest, so this will bring the material up. So cornered the husband and equiped him with pins and a metre rule! Once he did this the back hem was 3 inches longer than the front hem! So we tried again, this time I put washi tape on the ruler so there was no mistaking where to pin and it happened again. I just didn’t get it! I was getting frustrated by this point! So I thought I am just going to hem as it is even if it doesnt look right. So I serged and then turned the hem up twice. When I tried it on it looked even; I think I probably wasnt standing straight previously.

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Despite the journey to this point, I love the dress. To be perfectly honest I wasnt sure such a bright fabric would work but it does and I feel a lot more confident wearing it. It is very flattering to my figure which can be hard to find for plus size peeps. I will make the dress again, without a doubt, but there are some adjustments I will make. The back comes down a bit lower than the front and I think this is because my bust rises the front; so next time I will put extra length on the front. If I make it with a thicker fabric I may try the straight skirt but we will see.

I made the dress inside about 4 hours, it really wasnt a lengthy make (it would have been quicker without the hemming issues).  I was super keen to get it finished yesterday so I could wear it to work today. I’m glad I did, it was so comfy and the colour bought sunshine into my office. I received lots of compliments, which is always a nice reward to my hard work.

Thanks for reading! Please visit Girl Charlee for your jersey fabric needs. They have lots of really fun fabrics that I would love to have in my stash! Thanks Girl Charlee for gifting the fabric for this dress, its my favourite outfit.

I’ve used many things as tracing paper for my patterns over the last few years that I have been sewing; mainly cheap greaseproof paper from the poundshop! It works well but its not very wide and the better I get at sewing the more intrigued I’ve become to try the professional equipment.

A couple of weeks ago the Swedish Tracing Paper company sent me a roll to try out. I was very excited because I’d heard it not only acts as tracing paper but you can sew it into a toile too!

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Previously I had been sewing mainly for others, but further to my last post, I decided to bite the bullet and make The Rushcutter by In the Folds for myself.

FRONT-PAGE_WITH-TYPEThe first thing I noticed about the Swedish Tracing Paper is that it is very wide (1m) so there is no taping together of pieces necessary. As if that wasn’t reason enough to fall instantly in love with it, it almost has a feel of fabric about it. Well, maybe a cross between high quality paper and poly-cotton fabric. Ideal for making a toile.

Once I’d cut and pieced together my PDF pattern I put the Swedish Tracing Paper over the pattern pieces; pinned and cut. I then drew any information on the Swedish Tracing Paper that I needed to. I used an ordinary pen and there was no problems with writing on it. You could perfectly see through the Swedish Tracing Paper too.

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Once all my pieces were cut I began to make the pattern following the PDF instructions, leaving out any non-essential steps. The sewing of the STP was straight-forward and worked exactly the same as if I were sewing fabric – probably better if anything – no chewing of tracing paper here! I was sewing with quite a lot of Swedish Tracing Paper and it did become crumpled in places, but this didn’t weaken it (I think the paper is very strong really).

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Okay, so toile made – my first real one – and I tried it on. The pattern is an easy fit. One thing I did notice in the measurements was I went across two sizes, but decided to stick with the smaller size as it is an oversized garment. The toile showed me how much room I would have with the dress made at that size which was really informative at that stage, although you cannot rely on the tracing paper for an idea of drape because obviously paper doesn’t drape very well!

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I did not end up making any adjustments as the toile seemed fine, it was nice to approach a garment feeling secure it would fit in the end.

When I got to work with the actual pattern it was quite easy as I had done many of the steps already, much better than blindly forging ahead with a pattern in manic excitement! I decided to block sew with two different fabrics, so I made up two dresses as I went. Here are the results:

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Conclusion

If you are concerned about getting a precise fit and improving your dressmaking skills to professional standard then Swedish Tracing Paper is definitely worth the investment. I’m glad I tried it and will be purchasing more in the future. It does make the process of sewing more long-winded but that is preferable to getting the seam ripper out after you have finished your piece!

The next project I plan to use Swedish Tracing Paper on is SEW OVER IT’s Ultimate Pencil Skirt. I recently went on a fabric haul trip and sourced some lovely red tartan…

Have you used Swedish Tracing Paper for your projects? What did you think? Have you used something else to toile? Or do you just shortcut to the making of the actual garment? Let me know in comments below…

Disclaimer: Swedish Tracing Paper company supplied me with the tracing paper in exchange for a review. However, all opinions within the article are my own and not influenced by the company.

My blog is fast becoming a place of reviews; I promise I will soon be posting my makes and even a few tutorials. Leave a comment to let me know what type of tutorials you would like to see. However, before we get to this I am going to review Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book and I hope you will love it just as much as I do!

Ultimate Dress coverI have been a fan of Gretchen Hirsch’s for a while now, I first discovered her through Creativebug (a subscription video site for crafters) when I made her Sailor top. She appealed to me because she had a fifties rockabilly look about her (which I love love love) but not only did her style stand out but the way she teaches sewing is instructional, entertaining, informative and developmental. What I mean by this is that no matter how good a sewer you think you are, you always come away from her tutorials learning new skills, methods or ways of working. In this way she is an inspiring creator and her new book is no different.
Ultimate Dress Book was released on the 8th March 16 and I have to say I was dropping hints left, right and centre for weeks before in the hope that someone would get it for my birthday (on the 13th March). In the end I wanted the book so much I didn’t dare chance it; I ordered my copy the day of its release. And the day it arrived in the post wasnt a great day for me but it certainly brightened up my evening when I got home from work!

The first thing I noticed about this book is its spiral bound. It’s my first spiral bound dressmaking book so I can’t comment on whether I like this style but I can see the attraction. Another book (which I recommend for new sewers), Love at First Stitch by Tilly & the Buttons, has become so worn out and bulky that I can’t help thinking a spiral bound book might have been better. Anyway, lets get back to Gertie’s book!

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In the front of Gertie’s book she has all of the resources a new or intermediate sewer could need. I really wish I’d come across this book earlier in my sewing hobby. It explains in great detail all the sewing terms, fabric types, techniques and much more. If you have a question about dressmaking then somewhere in this book is an answer for you. There are 23 patterns in total but this is not the best bit – the biggest selling point of the book must be that you can mix and match the skirts and bodices to form any number of different dresses. Not only does this make the book more worthy than the paper patterns stored in the back of the book, but it inspires creativity and individuality too. It really is telling the reader to go with their own creative instincts and make Gertie’s designs your own.

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While the resources in the book does lend itself to new sewers, I feel the book is more aimed at an intermediate sewer. There are plenty of books out there that give basic dressmaking construction and I would approach this book once you have been sewing a while and feel a little more confident. That said, if you are happy to learn by trial and error then jump right in.

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The book is very much vintage-inspired; this is as much in the fabric choice as in the dress design. Some fabrics I would not have been instantly drawn to on the bolt but they work well nevertheless. What I do like is she doesnt just go for polka dots which has been done to death with vintage design – there’s lots of bright plain fabric, florals, and much more. Check out her website to see for yourself.

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Do you have this book? What do you think? What other vintage-inspired books can you recommend? I will post some pictures once I have made something from the Ulltimate Dress Book but until then I will look forward to your comments – the more the merrier!

Have you fallen in love with sewing but have outgrown your entry level machine? Do you wish for a machine that is more stable, can do more stitches and yet is affordable? Do you prefer mechanical over electrical sewing machines? – if so, then the Brother XR37NT could be the machine for you.

Just over a year ago I was enough into sewing that I could justify upgrading from my cheap-as-chips Ikea sewing machine. I’d only had it a few months and although it did what it said on the tin, my frustration at constant thread snaps, re-threading and fabric snagging was enough to send me to my local sewing machine supplier for an upgrade.

I didn’t have heaps of money – I was still working part time then – but my budget was around £250. I headed to the shop still a newbie to sewing and not really knowing what I was doing. I may as well have gone in the shop wearing a blindfold and pointing at the nearest machine.

In the event I did go in with my eyes open but couldn’t see what I wanted so I talked to the staff. I told them I am new to sewing and want to learn and develop the skill. They suggested a few machines and in the end it came down between the Brother XR37NT and the next one down in the series.

I didnt really want a mechanical machine. I wanted a snazzy electrical one despite knowing mechanical is probably safer long term (if an electronic one dies there isnt much you can do). But I was shy and unsure and felt a little out of my depth… the lovely lady encouraged me to sew and told me about this machine. I particularly remember her showing me that it could sew stretch knits (not that this meant much to me at the time). I was happy enough with it, so paid my money and the boyfriend carried it home (much to the chagrin of the local football supporters coming back from a game).

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My first machine!

Once I got home and tried it properly I was really impressed – it was a massive step up from my Fisher-Price Ikea model and it was such a relief not to snag the thread every few minutes. In fact, over the year I have had it, its rarely snagged thread. It’s not a huge fan of top-stitching thread (thick) but otherwise no complaints.

One of the reasons I agreed to this machine is the range of stitches. It has 20 normal stitches, both functional and decorative, and another 20 that were similar but for stretch fabric. I really loved this aspect (so much better than my previous 9 stitches) but in reality I didn’t use anywhere near enough of them.

This model also has a 1-step buttonhole. This was a mindfield to me when I first tried to use it and it was quite a learning curve. You can see my buttonhole tutorial here. But it was so cool to be able to make buttonholes. I wasnt always pleased with the results of this, it sometimes seemed to have a mind of its own but I wonder how much was the machine and how much my lack of experience.

1aaaaa51FYFMe6eJL._SL1000_ (1)I would say its a medium-sized machine, not massively heavy although I did find it a little cumbersome at times. It comes with a hardcover for storage, which I didnt use enough probably and a booklet that is rather comprehensive – I turned to it a number of times for help and support and it always came up trumps.

But alas, the time again has come to move on (I’m not fickle at all!). I have outgrown it and am now investing in a mid-range machine that will give me extra features to make sewing a breeze and take my dressmaking to the next level.

While I am excited for my new machine, I am also quite sad to part-exchange this one. I do feel the time is right to let it go but it was the machine that really taught me everything I know (although the amount I do know is negotiable) and is the end of a sewing era.

Would I recommend this sewing machine?

It depends what you are looking for? If you have developed an interest in sewing that you know is likely to last, and you want to learn more, develop your skills, then yes this is a good training machine. Even if you are not massively into sewing but want a machine for repairs, cushion covers etc then you also wont go wrong with this machine. Overall, its a good solid machine that has served me well and enabled me to make some gorgeous things.

If you have any questions about my machine that I have not covered, or about sewing in general, then please leave a comment and I will get back to you.

Disclaimer: I am not being paid, or complemented in any way for writing this post. I have written this review because its a machine I have had and am now saying goodbye to.

I have been a huge fan of Tilly and the Buttons since I found them as a sewing newbie. Their brand is bright and colourful, their designs modern retro (I guess). Tilly’s byline is ‘learn to sew your own clothes’, and by purchasing her patterns I was well on the way  (from someone who thought they would never achieve dressmakery this is quite a compliment!).

To date I have bought her book Love at First Stitch, Francoise dress, Arielle Skirt and Bettine. It is Bettine I am going to review today.

I ordered the pattern online and it came pretty quickly. The pattern is made of thick paper (almost card) and is only printed on one side so will be re-usable time and time again. Nothing worse than a pattern made out of something you use to wipe your nose then to have to recycle it to use the other side!

Bettine_sewing_pattern_cover_grandeMy first step was to trace the pattern pieces. I could just cut them out and use but in case I want to make the Bettine in a different size in future I opted for tracing it. There are lots of different ways about doing this (a blog post in itself!) but I use greaseproof paper (which you can buy from the pound shop!) and a Sharpie.

The pattern comes in 8 sizes and gives guidance on sizes and measuring yourself – this is really helpful. It’s also simple to understand. I decided to make this in a size 5 (roughly a size 12) so I could give it away as a gift.

Once my pattern pieces were created and cut out, now came the time to pick fabric. For this dress I decided to go with a cotton twill I had in my stash – green with white bows on it. It is slightly Christmasy but not enough that you couldn’t wear it the rest of the year. I only had two meters and was concerned it wouldnt be enough but following Tilly’s advice about laying wide fabric out, I managed to cut everything within the stash I had – result!

Once the fabric was cut and the markings made with water washable ink, I found it really helpful to write which piece was which on the fabric in the seam allowance.

Before I started to make Bettine I read through the booklet that comes with the pattern. I think this is a really good idea. I am a huge fab of this booklet. It gives simple step by step instruction with colour photos to show what she is talking about. There was only one time I couldnt work out what she meant, which was probably my lack of experience, however given it’s for newbee sewers I would expect this to be explained. This didn’t take away from the experience – I just used my initiative and did what I thought she was asking.

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I added my own touch with a star button on each tab. Ignore the green line on the facing, that will wash out in the machine!

As it was the first time I’d made Bettine, I expected there to be errors and for it not to come out perfect, but to learn from that. I have to say I exceeded my own expections. It did take a long time to make – from tracing, through to finishing the hem it was 9 hours of work (which I would expect to be speeded up in future) and so was quite a process, however it was a lot of fun to see my project coming together and mistakes were few and far between – pretty unusual for me!

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Pockets! I am in love! So glad I made the pocket version!

My biggest problem was getting my serger to work properly – I ended up giving up on that and using pinking shears instead. My only other trouble spot was sewing the channel for the elastic. I sewed from the underside and ended up sewing half the skirt together (or the pockets in the wrong place anyway!) so the seamripper did come out for that. And I had to thread the elastic twice as it got twisted – otherwise a very straight-forward exciting project that I throughly enjoyed.

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Love the shape of the skirt, so sexy! No gushes of wind up the bum! Really love the elasticated waist, this will be so comfy to wear!

I can’t tell you the immense pride and joy I experienced looking at my finished garment. I never in a million years would have believed I could make something like this, it is by far the most advanced dress I have made to date. I went for the pocket and tab version – thank you Tilly and team!

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Here is the finished garment. Thee picture really doesnt do it justice. I am very happy with the end result.
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