Archive | November, 2013

A round up of Black Friday sewing pattern sales…and some overseas ordering annoyances

28 Nov

Popping up in my blog reader and twitter feeds over the last couple of days have been lots of independent pattern companies with sales on their entire pattern range for Thanksgiving/Black Friday. Brilliant I thought! I mean, who doesn’t love a sale!

Below is a little round up of the sales I’ve come across:

Victory Patterns have a generous 30% off all their patterns to celebrate their anniversary and Black Friday

I may have ordered Lola…

Victory Patterns Lola

And maybe Ava as well…

Victory Patterns Ava

Most of Victory’s patterns are 20CAD for the printed pattern, 12CAD for the PDF (with 30% off on top of that). With the discount, the PDFs work out at about £5, so I bought those both as PDF. I’m not a *huge* fan of PDF patterns, I’d much rather have the printed version – I think they’re usually nicer, but they also save me the time of all that cutting and sticking and inevitable frustration when the lines don’t match up. But I’m also great at saving money, and if the difference is enough to justify the extra work, I’ll go for the PDF!

Papercut Patterns have 15% off all of their patterns

I’m seriously tempted by the Bellatrix Blazer (about £12 instead of £15), will have to ponder that one a bit more…

Papercut Patterns Bellatrix Blazer

The bonus of Papercut Patterns is that they do free worldwide shipping, so no extra costs to worry about there.

Grainline Studio have 20% off their patterns, so now would be a good time to try the Archer shirt if you’ve been contemplating it!

Grainline Studio Archer shirt

Colette Patterns have 20% off all of their patterns tomorrow, which got me very excited, as I’ve been lusting after the Hawthorn for quite a while. Unfortunately the shipping charges from the US put a stop to my plans on buying the paper copy. With the 20% off, the paper copy will be $14.40. Unfortunately the shipping to UK is $15. So while just under £9 is a great price for the pattern, the extra £9 shipping means that it’s cheaper to buy it full price from a UK stockist (about £13.50 plus a couple of quid shipping). Colette do the Hawthorn as a PDF as well, which, with the discount, works out as just over $11, so I’ll probably go for that, but it makes me a little sad that I can’t benefit from the sale if I want the beautiful paper copy.

Colette patterns Hawthorn

That’s the only thing I find a bit frustrating about these sale – they’re a great decision maker when it comes to things you’ve been thinking about buying – if you can get it cheaper for a limited time, then you’ve got to make a decision! That is the main reason I own an iPad – a couple of years ago a colleague was going to the States on a business trip. Knowing how much cheaper iPads are to buy over there, if I was going to get one, that was the time, and so I made a snap decision, rather than umming and ahhing for months like I would have otherwise.

But when the sale doesn’t save me anything over buying it from a UK stockist at full price, whereas I would have gone ahead and bought it in the sale, there’s no imminent rush. Which means that half the time I will probably end up not buying the pattern in the end. That might be good for my wallet, but it isn’t so great for the pattern company, and I miss out on making a beautiful pattern!

I had a similar issue with Blue Ginger Doll‘s new pattern the Stella blouse.

Blue Ginger Doll Stella blouse

When Abby launched the pattern, she offered 10% off the pattern until the end of November. I haven’t made any Blue ginger Doll patterns yet, but I REALLY like look of Stella. Also, the possibility of a Stella dress, yes yes?  I went to buy it, but at £5 shipping, I’m actually better off waiting for it to become available with a UK stockist. Which is a shame, as, when I can, I’d much rather buy the patterns direct from the designers themselves, but not when I end up paying so much more in shipping to do so. Abby has now released Stella as a PDF, so that is at least a possibility if I don’t want to wait until I can get the pattern in the UK!

Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciate the pattern companies offering these sales, and this is by no way a problem that is exclusive to sewing patterns. It’s just a shame that, in a world where most websites are global, companies still miss out on sales, and customers miss out on offers, because the high shipping charges make things unviable.

But, I’m going to end up with a few nice new patterns, and maybe I have brought a sale to your attention that you hadn’t been aware of before (enabler, me?)! Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in the US, happy Thursday to everyone else! In honour of Thanksgiving, Marcus and I have gone for a roast dinner tonight (any excuse!), the chicken is in the oven and smelling good! Enjoy!


Finished: My namesake skirt

23 Nov

It had to be done really didn’t it? At some point I was going to have to make a Kelly skirt. I held off for quite a while, I wasn’t entirely sure about it, and all of the Megan Nielson patterns also seemed to be in short supply. But then she released some of her patterns at PDFs, and they worked out at about £7 each – half the price of the printed patterns. That made it a no brainer really – I bought both the Kelly skirt and Tania culottes pattern the day the PDFs were released.


My ‘blinded by the sun’ look

Ok, before we get started, a disclaimer on the photos – it took me weeks (and weeks!) to get round to taking these photos – finding time when it’s not dark, or grey or miserable or raining is nigh on impossible these days. I was off work yesterday and it was a little sunny, so I grabbed my camera and ran outside. Of course, I didn’t notice until I looked at the photos afterwards that the neckline of my top was sitting properly WEIRD – it’s meant to be much more drapey at the front, and not all bunched up at the back! Also, this top is so not see through in real life! At least I don’t think it is…I think it was the weird, slightly eerie sunlight. And my top isn’t tucked in properly either and is doing a weird muffin-top thing, again didn’t notice til later, and after waiting so long, I’m not going to wait til I can re-do them! So just forgive all that please :)


When I made the baby dungarees, I completely fell in love with the fabric I was using for them, and decided it would make a perfect Kelly skirt. I had about a metre of the corduroy left after I’d made the dungarees, and hoped that I’d be able to get the skirt out of that piece. But when I came to make it, no matter how I laid out the pattern pieces, there was just no way they were going to fit. So I took a trip to Masons to get some more of the lovely blue cord. Except they didn’t have any! Noooo! I did manage to find some purple corduroy, and some lovely flower print needle cord, both of which I purchased (enough of) to make some more Kelly skirts.


Yes, I chopped my head off in this photo – was pulling THE most ridiculous face!

But having been visualising for weeks the blue corduroy version, I just couldn’t give up on the idea. So when I got home, I set to work figuring out how I could potentially take the pattern pieces apart so that I could eek the skirt out of my fabric. I started by turning the back of the skirt into two pieces, rather than one cut on the fold. Of course, remembering to add seam allowance onto each piece. But even that wasn’t enough. I then cut a few inches off the bottom of the back pattern piece, again, adding seam allowance onto each piece. I also cut the waistband in half, so that it would have a centre back seam. This was enough to just about get all the (important) pattern pieces out of my fabric. I also cut the waistband in the opposite direction, so the cord runs round the length of it, rather than vertically like the rest of the skirt. This was necessary to fit the pattern pieces on, but I also prefer the way it looks like this.


The extra seams are hardly noticeable :)

The only pieces I couldn’t fit on were the pocket facings. I got out all the scraps and offcuts I had from this fabric, and laid them all out to figure out if I could piece the facings together somehow. I swear I spent longer trying to do this than on any other part of making the whole skirt! In the end, I gave up on trying to piece together the whole facing, cut the facing out of the same fabric as the pocket lining, and then attached to that just enough of the corduroy  to cover the pocket opening. Turns out I only *just* used enough corduroy – I’d forgotten that more would be showing once I’d attached the pockets, but it just about worked out ok.


For the pocket lining, I used the same blue and white striped seersucker that I used to line the dungarees, and I got some more of the same buttons as well.


The skirt went together really easily, despite my slight pattern alterations. There was one mistake I made though: when it said to finish off the seams at the end of each stage I thought ‘I’ll just do them all at the end’. This was mainly because I started one, using the overcasting foot on my machine, and somehow the needle hit the foot, which broke the needle, and bent the foot. So I had to give up on that idea, and I couldn’t be bothered to have to switch between my overlocker and my sewing machine constantly (mainly because they both need to use the same table space so it is a case of lifting each of them off the table each time…).


I feel like it is shameful showing off the naked, unfinished innards of my skirt!

Of course I realised, once I’d sewn the hem and the waistband, that this meant that the ends of my finished edges weren’t neatly tucked away inside the seams. To be honest, most of the seams are still unfinished…I overlocked the edges of the pockets, but haven’t yet decided what to do with the others!



Helpfully, while I was planning my corduroy Kelly, Lauren published a post with a few helpful tips on making this skirt out of corduroy, such as hints on ironing and interfacing. This was a huge help, as I’d probably have ironed it normally otherwise, and then been really disappointed when I ruined my fabric!


Broken sewing machine feet aside, the only other problem I had with skirt was with the buttonholes. Man, I am not a fan of buttonholes! My machine has an automatic buttonhole function, which is great when it works (which it always does on the test pieces), but after having ripped out 6 buttonholes from the waistband along, I was a little fed up with it! Especially when the thread is such a good colour match to the fabric, and the texture of the corduroy means that the thread kind of sinks into it, and I had to resort to a magnifying lens and a head torch to be able to see enough to rip a couple of them out!


My attempting to kick the leaves shot!

I think the problem is that, where the buttonholes are quite close to the seams, the buttonhole foot trips up when it has to ride over the seam allowance. I have not explained that well AT ALL, but just trust me. I also have another Kelly skirt in progress, and am having exactly the same problems – haven’t managed to get one buttonhole done yet! Anyone got any tips for sewing buttonholes near seam allowances?

I might interface the button band next time – some of them have stretched a little with use.


I also made a slight mistake with the positioning of my buttonholes and buttons – I didn’t put the top one on the main part of the skirt close enough to the waistband, and as a result, it gapes open slightly at that point. I did sew a popper in the gap to try and remedy it, but managed to sew the two halves of the popper on so that they didn’t quite line up. Boo! But at this point, it was late, and I wanted to wear the skirt the next day, so I gave up, and may not have quite remedied that yet…oops! It’s better than the gaping, but it doesn’t quite lie flat. I will fix that at some point, but I have worn it a good few times an awful lot in the meantime.


Gaping without popper done up


Slightly better, but still doesn’t quite lie flat

And having worn it, I love this skirt! And ohmygod, it has pockets! I mean, I have heard people raving about making skirts/dresses with pockets, but I never quite understood what all the fuss was about, until I wore this skirt for the first time. Given that none of my clothes that I regularly wear for work have pockets, it was a refreshing change to actually have some. I will definitely be making more skirts and dresses with pockets!


Lauren’s post also made me really want a Renfrew to wear with this skirt. It’s a pattern I want but don’t have yet, but I do have a RTW top that is a very similar style. It’s a lovely drapey viscose, and it works brilliantly with this skirt. Renfrew has gone to the top of my list of patterns to purchase!


There will definitely be more Kelly skirts in my future. Other than the one that’s already in progress, I probably will make two more out of those other cords I bought, and I’d like a cotton one as well. I think I’m going to give piping a go on the next one, after seeing Daniela’s lovely piped version. I’m also looking forward to making some more of Megan’s patterns, as this one was such a joy to sew.


Did I mention how much I love the pockets?!

A homemade fabric pocket advent calendar

17 Nov

I always liked the idea of having an advent calendar that wasn’t a cardboard one, or a chocolate one (much as I like chocolate advent calendars), but one with pockets or drawers that you can fill yourself, and would perhaps become a family heirloom.

So last year I decided to make one of these advent calendars, and fill it for Marcus. I had a look around online for inspiration, and decided on a simple design with rows of pockets.


This was shortly after I’d received the batch of fabric I got from freecycle, and I managed to make the entire thing out of the freecycle fabric, other than a couple of pieces of felt that I bought to make some red and green pockets, and some Merry Christmas ribbon to go along the top and bottom. Included in my freecycle stash was a small strip of squares that spelled out Noel – absolutely perfect for the job!



I made this fairly early on in my sewing days, and probably didn’t do as good a job as I could have done. I essentially just cut out each of the squares, folded under the edges and stitched them down (except for the felt, which didn’t need it), making a bit more of a proper hem on the top edge, and then sewed each pocket onto my backing fabric. The Noel squares were a bit smaller than I made the rest of the pockets, and they also didn’t have enough leeway to turn in the top and the bottom edges. Instead, I sewed a strip of red ribbon along the edges on these squares.


I did also have plans to knit a couple of the squares, but I only managed to get halfway through one before I ran out of time, so had to give up on that idea!


Some of the pockets I made a bit more of an effort with, and embroidered (I use that term loosely!) some Christmassy designs onto. These are some of my favourite pockets, particularly the baubles one. I used some sparkly thread for some of them, which worked really well. I sewed over the designs two or three times, which made the colours stand out more, but I think also gives them a really nice ‘sketchy’ look.





The backing fabric was a loose weave fabric, sort of like a light hessian, and it was perfect for the job. I folded over the top edge to make a tube, which I then threaded some spare tent poles through, so that I could tie ribbon onto the ends, and hang it from an over door hook. I also hemmed the bottom edge, and left the sides unhemmed, and I sewed Merry Christmas ribbon along the top and bottom.



If I recall correctly, I cut it a bit fine time-wise and struggled to get it all finished before the 1st December, but just about managed it. I also only just got it finished before my previous sewing machine decided to die on me.


This year we are going to share the filling of the advent calendar, so I get to open some too – yay! When I suggested that we do half each this year, Marcus said that he had been planning on filling it for me, so we could take it in turns – how sweet is he?! :) But sharing makes it easier as well – I have to admit, it was hard work finding 24 things to fill it with that were small enough to fit in the pockets!

Although it only gets used once a year, it’s nice knowing that we will hopefully use this for years to come.

chinelo bally

Dressmaker| Author| Blogger| Freehand cutter


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