What I like to use changes constantly but for now I thought I would discuss what I like to use to help give a professional finish to my garments.
What I like to use changes constantly but for now I thought I would discuss what I like to use to help give a professional finish to my garments.
When #theseamstresstag did the rounds (you can see mine here), there was a phenomenal result from it – the tag did lots to bring seamstresses together and so when Renata and Lisa put together #thefabrictag, I just had to take part. Here are my answers – I would love it if you did this whether you are tagged at the end or not 🙂
I am starting a new beginner dressmaker series here on my blog. Today’s post, which will go over the things we need in order to be able to sew, and things that will make life a lot easier. If you are interested, why not subscribe to me through bloglovin (the link goes through to my account which you can then follow).
In the three years that I have been sewing I have purchased and used a wide range of notions/toys/gadgets aimed at making my life as a seamstress easier. I have spent a small fortune when you add it up – sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. Today I want to share with you my top ten best sewing purchases
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.
As winter is setting in and my pattern stash in growing I thought I would write about what are in my sewing plans for the up and coming months, so please keep reading, I hope it inspires you…
I was tempted by this pattern after seeing Sarah from Sewsarahsmith make a pair. Nightwear has not really been on my radar until now because… well, because I still havent got enough daytime wear clothes. I have now purchased this pattern and I am looking forward to making them. I bought a king size duvet set the other day with pink flowers, it was half price, and I will use that to make my first Carolyn.
This is another Closet Case Files pattern (i love their style). I have had the Clare Coat in my stash for quite a while now. I’ve even bought some wool, but not thinking about the pattern matching I bought a plaid. So now I keep putting off making this. I may invest in a plain colour wool instead so it is a little bit less of a headache. I’ve been really encouraged to get on with this after seeing Lauren Guthrie make one, and SewSheSho embark on hers. I need to grow a pair and get going with a toile as I have the pattern all ready to use.
Tribe patterns is a new collaboration between The Foldline and the sewing community. They will be holding regular competitions asking the sewing community to design some clothes and the winner will have their imaginations bought to life by Tribe Patterns. The first offering from them, in collab with Rachel Pinheiro is the Billie Collection. This is the dress from that collection. I really love this. It is stylish and will flatter most shapes. I really love that the sizing goes up further than most other indie patterns so I wont need to grade the pattern (hurrah!). I have cut out a toile and am in the process of making this and it is a very simple beginner friendly pattern.
This is the blouse from the Tribe Patterns Billie Collection. I havent always been a fan of the peplum because I don’t see how it can flatter the fuller figure but the shaping in this is lovely. I will make up a toile and see – if it doesnt work I will take off the peplum and extend the length. I really love the zip feature on this top and can’t wait to make this.
I first found Love Notions a couple of weeks ago and have since made 4 versions of their LDT pattern. They are great patterns to follow. I was really encouraged by them going up into my size so no grading needed. This was fantastic, I was going through a meh moment with sewing after attempting the Colette Rue, feeling like I was rubbish at alterations and so this pattern company helped me to fall back in love with sewing. I don’t currently have any trousers in my wardrobe and with winter coming I thought a staple like these would be a great addition. I have some stretch sateen that would be perfect for these!
I have to admit to having this pattern in my stash for ages. I have been meaning to make a shirt for my husband for some time but selfish sewing has gotten in the way. I was planning on making a Halloween shirt with black cat fabric but I have missed that boat. I have some bees fabric from Sew Over It but he says its too loud. I will not be deterred though, I will find the perfect fabric and make this up. This will be my first man’s shirt I have ever made…
Yet another CCF pattern… as soon as this was released I knew I had to have it and I’d soon bought the perfect fabric for it – a white floral twill. This is now my second coat pattern so I need to get a move on before winter is over! The feature I love on this the most is that you can place the drawstring where it sits best on you – love it.
I’ve had this dress for a while and have made up a toile. It was a nice make but slightly too small. Once I have made the necessary adjustments I think its going to be a really flattering garment. I am taking part in the Red Dress Challenge that is being set by Running N Style and think it may be my Christmas day make. It is more of a summer dress but made up in a medium weight I think it is appropriate through the winter too. I probably wont have the neck collar though as I dont like anything that far up my neck.
I’ve had this pattern for over a year now and have made it up once before. I want to give this a proper go with some adjustments. I have 1 metre of a Ponte Roma stripey fabric and want to use this, along with some ribbing for the arms, neck and hem areas. I will probably make this as a top though.
This is the second pattern by Love Notions. I wanted a few different types of trousers and feel the palazzo pants would be really comfy for sitting down all day at work. I have cut these out but have yet to sew them up. Even though they are in my size I am expecting some adjustments but I am hoping they will be a simple make. If so, there will be lots in my wardrobe.
I have wanting to make a cape pattern for a while now and as I have this Seamwork pattern in my stash I thought I would make this. I am expecting this to be a fairly simple make. I might use the plaid wool I bought for the Clare Coat as I think this should be easier to pattern match… but we will see.
Do you like the look of any of these patterns? Have you made them up? Please tell all in the comments below…
And before you go, Have you entered The Big Giveaway? You can win a sewing machine, fabric and much more. Click here for more details…
The Big Giveaway is finally here! After lots of negotiation I have managed to source a number of very generous sewing companies who are willing to give gifts to help and encourage you guys with your sewing.
Here are a list of prizes and the companies that are offering them:
As a part of this giveaway I will be giving one lucky winner a mini sewing machine from John Lewis! This sewing machine will be a great gift for a child, someone new to sewing, or just a lightweight machine to carry around instead of lugging your main machine. The machine has a worth of £59.99 and comes in four colours.
Penguin and Pear is my blog for sharing my sewing makes, writing tutorials and discussing anything sewing related. Find me on Instagram, Facebook, The Fold Line and Twitter as ‘Penguinandpear’.
Abakhan are giving one lucky winner a bundle of fabric, carefully chosen by them for the winner.
Abakhan are a hugely popular fabric shop in the north of England. They have a good range of fabrics on their website at great prices. For more information go to the link below.
Sew Over It are generously offering 2 PDF patterns from their range of dressmaking designs.
Sew Over It are a hugely popular haberdashery shop (they have two in London) and are known for their pretty vintage style. Go to their website (link below) to see what they have on offer. This offer is open worldwide.
Fabric Godmother are offering one lucky winner a £20 gift voucher for their website. You might like to buy a pattern, fabric or notions with this!
Josie from Fabric Godmother has a wide range of fabrics and other products on her website and is well worth a look. Follow the link below to find out more.
Claire from Creative Industry is offering one lucky winner her Maker’s Workbook. This is a great prize where you can organise your projects, plan new ones and have as a reference for the future.
Clare also sells Swedish tracing paper and ‘made by hand’ labels. Her products are a very high quality and great additions to your sewing stash. To find out more, follow the link below.
Marie from SEWN BRISTOL is offering a jeans kit comprising of a metal zip, jeans buttons and a rivet kit. A must have if you are making jeans this autumn.
Marie owns SEWN BRISTOL, a haberdashery shop in the south-west of England. If you are close by, I highly recommend you pop in. Otherwise they also have an online shop which gorgeous fabrics, notions and more. Follow the link below.
To enter, go to the Sewing and Dressmaking Blogger Network on Facebook and request to join. Once you have been accepted you will see a post pinned to the top of the group page that will give you instructions on how to join and explain the rules.
The competition closes on 23/11/16 at 1pm GMT.
Disclaimer: Comments on this blogpost will not be considered entries. You must join the group to be eligible.
Hello! It’s been a few weeks since I have posted, life has been hectic. I am in the process of producing the second post for the Sewalong but in the meantime I thought I would join in with the #theseamstresstag that is going viral around the sewing community! This is the brainchild of Holly from Holly Sews and I have seen various other people take part such as Leigh from Clueless Seamstress, Jess from Little Miss Lorraine and Ellie from Ellie Maclulich, so here we go!
1) Who are you?
This question is difficult to answer without heading for the obvious response: My name is Claire, I am 41 and live on the Isle of Wight, in the UK. While the UK in general can be a bit drab in places, the island is gorgeous. Its a holiday resort for a very good reason and I love living here. I work in admin in the charity sector and love to be creative as often as possible. I am married and have an adult son.
2) When & why did you start sewing?
I have been sewing for between 2-3 years now. I’d gotten into other crafts and bought a sewing machine while in Ikea on a whim. The machine sat there for months collecting dust until one day I came across Tilly and the Buttons blog and my interest was piqued. I haven’t looked back. When I was young I remember my grandmother sewing, she used to make all her own curtains and upholstery, she was very creative. My mother also sewed when I was young but not seriously as far as I can recall. I never took a great deal of interest but wish I had now!
3) What is your favourite or proudest make?
My proudest make is my Bettine by Tilly and the Buttons. It looked fantastic when I finished and I got real butterflies in my tummy when I saw the finished piece. It went so well and I couldn’t believe I made something so professional looking. I must make another soon.
4) What is your most disastrous make?
I have had lots of disasters (this is how we learn, no?) but the one that sticks out in my mind is a skirt I made from Tilly and the Buttons book Love at First Stitch. It was the A-line skirt (I can’t remember the name). I made it in a gorgeous fabric and it looked wonderful all except I messed the zip up completely and one side of the waistband was much higher than the other…
5) Where is your favourite place to go fabric shopping?
As I live on the island there are not many shops to chose from (we only really have two and their stock is limited). So I am always really excited to go to the mainland and visit Fabricland. So many fabrics at such good prices. Okay they’re not high end but for what you pay you get good quality. I do most of my shopping online, usually on Ebay, Abakhan, Fabric Godmother or Sew Over It. I’m always on the look out for new fabric shops so please leave a comment if you recommend one I haven’t mentioned.
6) What is your most used pattern?
This is difficult for me to answer because it is rare I have made the same pattern twice. This is going to have to change now as I am starting to do extensive fitting alterations to the patterns I make, so I will have to make them more than once or they wont be worth the work. I love the Colette Wren and Moneta dresses (great for plus size), and By Hand London Victoria Blazer. I also like Sew Over It’s Betty dress (my wedding dress) and their shift dress.
7) Your most dreaded sewing task is…
Altering a garment I have finished making… so far this hasnt happened because it goes on the pile to be fixed and doesnt get looked at again!
8) And your favourite sewing task?
Pinning fabric because this is when you can see your garment start to take shape, and it gives you – the seamstress – more control when the fabric is under the needle.
9) What is your favourite ‘sewing entertainment’?
I usually like to watch vlogs but sometimes that doesnt work because the machine is noisy. Other times I don’t have any entertainment – my health condition means I can’t cope with excessive noise (I can only use my serger for 10 minutes at a time). Very occasionally I will have iplayer on while I sew.
10) Printed or PDF?
I like both but if I had to chose one it would be PDF. You can start making it more quickly, you have a back up copy, you can print on sturdy paper… but I do miss the glamour of a pre-made pattern envelope, they are so pretty these days!
11) What sewing machine do you use?
I have a Janome DKS100. I love this machine but I bought it less than a year ago and have had nothing but problems with it. It is behaving at the moment so fingers crossed. I also have a Janome serger, which has been fantastic, a vintage machine which I intend to sell, and two brother basic back up machines, which I hope I never have to use.
12) Do you have any other hobbies?
Yes! I havent come across a sewer yet who doesn’t! I also make jewellery and have a ridiculous amount of supplies, although I havent made anything in a while. I am teaching myself illustration at the moment so I can draw croquis (it is going to take a while!) Zoe Kong on Youtube is fantastic if you are interested in this. I also like to crochet, although my keenness for this comes and goes! Sewing is the only hobby that has really stuck!
I am supposed to tag others to do this but I think most of the people I would have tagged have already been tagged. So if you want to do this too please do and leave a comment with a link to your post.
Don’t forget to #theseamstresstag so you can be found!
Well, it is finally here! The Tokyo Top Sew Along!! This will be the first post in a series that shows how to make this top, right from accessing the website and downloading the pattern, through to the finished garment. I will incorporate any techniques or special ways of doing things. So if there is something specific you would like me to show please leave a comment below. I am writing this in conjunction with my sewing group on Facebook Sewing and Dressmaking Blogger Network. This is a collective of people interested in sewing and/or blogging about sewing and is growing by the day. I would encourage you to join and join in the chat about the Tokyo top and other conversations. Some of our members will also be vlogging about this make on Youtube and I will update my post with this information as soon as it is available.
Here is the plan for the make:
1st post (this one) – accessing the website, downloading the pattern and talking about fabrics and notions
2nd post – cutting out the fabric, creating the armhole and finishing the garment
This is such a simple make that it will only take two posts, and they will be published one week apart. You are of course welcome to go ahead and finish it before, wait for the post, or create a different garment all together.
Let’s get started!
The Tokyo Top is a free pattern by Makemypattern.com. I had no involvement in the designing of this garment and I am not connected to the website in any way. All credit should go to Joost de Cock, the owner of the website.
While we are talking about the website can I give a big shout out to this site and encourage you all to access it. It is a different type of pattern company. As you will see further down this post, you can input your own measurements and when you chose to download a pattern – which are all free – it will automatically download it in your exact measurements. In theory there should be no need for any alterations but we will see how realistic that is. I guess it depends how accurate your measurements are!
The first thing to do when you access the website is to set up a new account. You will need to do this in order to download the pattern. Go to ‘log in’ under the logo at the top of the page, and then chose ‘create new account’. Follow the instructions on the website to do this.
Once you are signed up and logged in, go to ‘you’, a menu option under the logo. You’ll see when you put your mouse over it some options drop down. Chose ‘add a new model’. From here you will be able to input all of your measurements. It will be worth putting in as many measurements as possible because then you will be ready to make any of the patterns on this website.
In the picture above is some of the meassurements you will need but these are not all of them, there are quite a few. Once you have inputted those, click on ‘model settings’ (as above) and give your model a name. You could think outside of the box but I saved my creativity for sewing and called my model ‘me’ LOL
Now go the the page named ‘patterns’ (link under the logo) and chose the Tokyo Top. You will see on this page it gives you some information about this top. If you are happy with what you read please click the link to ‘make this pattern’. On the next page your model name should show with a circle next to it – click ‘continue’. Now you can chose to make the top longer or shorter for your needs (how handy!). Click ‘continue’ again. Now you will have the option to either download your pattern through the website or receive it in an email. I chose to download it but the choice really is yours. If you download it, on the next page it will ask you to ‘download your pattern’ and takes you to a page with lots of options.
This pattern is really a no-pattern pattern so no need to take it to the shop for large scale printing! I chose the ‘download the A4-sized PDF’ and it all fitted on one side. I wont show an image of this as it would not be fair to the designer.
When you see the instructions they may look complicated upon first glance if you are a newbie to sewing but they are really not as scary as they look. Don’t worry, I will talk you through the steps for cutting and marking fabric in the next blogpost. On the bottom of this PDF is a link to find the documentation and I would encourage you to have a read of this before we meet next week.
Fabrics and notions
This has got to be one of the most simple patterns to make that I have ever come across, and if it really is as easy as it looks I will be making lots of these.
The first thing to say about fabric is this is not a pattern for a woven fabric. The fabric will need to have drape and has unfinished edges so cannot be anything that would unravel. I’d encourage you to look on the Girlcharlee website (they recently sent me some pineapple fabric to try). They have lots of really cool and funky knits at affordable prices. There is also the Textile Centre they are also on eBay.
To make this garment you will need:
Fabric, scissors, sewing machine, Walking foot (optional), Thread, fabric marker, pins, iron and that is about it. A mirror will help too!
Please leave a comment below to let me know if you are following this sew-along. I also welcome feedback, constructive criticism and any other comments. Next Saturday I will have the second and final post in this sew-along series and we will all have completed Tokyo tops! Please post pictures of your fabric choices and final garments on instagram using the hashtag #penguinandpear and #tokyotop (or post below).
I would also like to encourage you to donate to makemypattern.com to show appreciation to his website and skills. He offers everything on his site completely free of charge and its good to show we care through a donation. This is not obligatory, of course. You can find a link to donate here.
Thanks for reading,
*Please note, I am not sponsored or affiliated to anyone in this post.
Today I read a post by Becca at Red W Sews about why she sews; it is a pensive entry and has inspired me to write about why I sew and what it means to me…
Sewing has only been in my life for two and a half years. I didn’t start sewing out of a desperate need to make clothes; I just fell into sewing. My first makes were cushions and curtains, but then I made a skirt and fell in love with the process. It was much more exciting that sewing straight lines for miles hemming a curtain.
So I guess you could say dressmaking chose me (it didn’t really, it was a random interest that developed).
At the time I started to sew I was very ill and although I was volunteering at a local charity, I was unable to take on a proper paid job. So in many ways – although I did not consider this at the time – it was an escape route from what I was dealing with.
More than that, I was enjoying learning a new skill, and developing my techniques. I got frustrated at being a beginner and wanted to be better, like yesterday. As I made progress and improved, it made me feel good about myself at a very low point in my life.
I’m an overthinker, a worrier, and whenever I was focused on sewing – whether that was choosing fabric, cutting it, sewing, watching a video or reading a book – it would take my mind off other stuff, in turn this reduced my anxiety and made me happier.
I then got to the point where I was able to go back to work part time and my time sewing became more limited. This is the point where, historically, I would have normally lost interest. I didn’t; it grew. It helped there was a fellow sewist in the office, I guess.
I would take my makes into the office and I would love it when I impressed my colleagues… it was absorbing more good feeling around sewing.
Then we moved cities and I changed jobs, eventually going full time. My sewing was even more restricted because aside from the limitations on time of working full time, I was also dealing with chronic fatigue; it was a constant battle between feeling worn out and need to rest, and feeling frustrated I wasn’t sewing with each passing moment.
I have never really been into fashion, and I don’t have a very strong opinion on the state of RTW clothing so I don’t sew for these reasons. Some say sewists are thrifty but in this day and age its far cheaper to buy RTW, especially when you factor in time spend making a garment. I have always struggled with my weight (this is another post) and I do like that I can fit a garment to flatter my figure, not buy a piece of clothing in the hope that it will be close to a good fit (invariably it is not).
However, for a long time (until the last few months really) I hadnt been sewing garments for me because I did not want to accept the weight I had developed. It was only when I started blogging about the wardrobe architect than this changed. I still felt a huge sense of achievement making clothes that looked like they were sold in a shop with fabric chosen by me. Some say I have a distinctive style in terms of fabrics I choose and I like that.
I love the process of choosing a pattern and fabric. Weighing up in my head what I want the garment to look like and assessing which fabrics are best suited to this. I also like purchasing fabric for my stash to use later, when I find the right pattern or when I do not have funds to buy new fabric.
And I am set up. I have all the sewing equipment I could ever want or need. Should I find myself too ill to work again, or indeed set up as self employed working from home, I wont need anything (apart from more fabric, obviously) and I like that. It gives me a sense of security, that whatever happens I will have my sewing to fall back on.
When I read Becca’s post and she asked about wanting to sew versus needing to sew, I thought to myself I don’t need to sew, I sew because I enjoy it, and yet when I think about it sewing means much more to me than enjoyment.
This perhaps became most obvious when my sewing machine had to go in to be serviced a few weeks ago. It is a good machine that I really enjoying having and using. And when I found out it was staying in the dealers shop for longer than anticipated I became very upset. I didn’t expect to feel like this. I do sew a fair bit, it is my central hobby, but I never thought it would be the end of the world to go a few weeks without my machine. On the contrary; I have my overlocker so I could sew if I wanted to and yet I found myself in actual tears because I was without a machine. It surprises me how little I know myself at times. I ended up purchasing a cheap bottom of the line machine to tide me over, and this turned out to be a good decision as the dealer has told me he needs to send my machine back to the manufacturers.
I fantasise about giving up work and running my own pattern making company, and maybe that will happen some day but it is a long way off. Right now I am all about gaining experience. I do tend to go OTT with my projects though. I have three projects on the go right now and about 5 others my brain is nagging me to start. I don’t have the time but I will find it somehow, because I need to…