Archive | December, 2013

Top 5 of 2013

31 Dec

Just sneaking in before 2013 is over, I thought I’d jump on the (increasingly full!) bandwagon with some of my top fives from this year, as started by Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow, as well as a bit of a general round up.


In total, I think I have made 11 garments this year (I’m sure it was 12 when I counted a few weeks ago, but I can’t for the life of me remember what the 12th one is! Ah, I finally remembered it – 12 this year!) – 10 for myself, and the two pairs of baby dungarees I made. When I worked this out, I was quite pleased – given that I didn’t start sewing clothes until my dressmaking course in April/May, and that I’ve constantly felt like I don’t have enough time to get anything done, I’m quite pleased with that output. Of course I then look at my list of items that I want to sew, and there are about 26 on that (and that’s only counting the ones which I have both the pattern and fabric for already!), and I think I’d better pick up my pace a bit!

As well as the clothes, I also made my baguette quiver, a wedding garter, and 4 cushions and some napkins that were Christmas presents and will be blogged about shortly…

So let’s start with my top hits from this year:

1. Coming in at number 1 HAS to be my Bombshell swimsuit


I love this swimsuit! It was only the second ever item of clothing I made, and should have been so out of my league, that I can’t help but feel incredibly chuffed that I actually made a swimsuit! In fact, I think the fact that it was something so tricky and that I was probably insane for even trying it made it easier somehow (crazy I know, but bear with me!) – there was no real fear of failure, because I completely expected to not be able to do it, so every time something went right, it was a huge bonus. I had never sewn with knits before (I’d barely sewn with anything!), had just bought an overlocker that I really had no idea how to use, and didn’t really have a clue what I was doing. But that meant that, if it didn’t work out, it wasn’t really my fault, it was just that I wasn’t ready to do something co complicated yet, and that made it so much easier. Seriously, I have only sewn with knits once since this, and it took me a long time to get around to that – I seem to be developing fears of things now that I have started knowing how to do them! Must get over that!

2. Number 2 isn’t anything that I made for myself, but there is no question that it has to be my baby dungarees

baby dungarees

These are the only items of clothing I’ve ever sewn for anyone else, and I love them! The only thing I am disappointed about with these is that the photos don’t do them justice! Hopefully the babies they were made for should be fitting into them soon, I can’t wait to see them on!

3. A double dose of Kelly – corduroy Kelly skirt and denim Kelly skirt



What can I say, I love this pattern. I t has nothing to do with the name I swear! It’s such a simple pattern, so quick and easy to make (other than those damn buttonholes!), but has such a great end result. These are my two most worn makes by a long way, which surprises me, as when I started sewing, I was all about the dresses. Much as I love wearing dresses, these skirts just seem to be so practical.

4. The Giraffe Dress

Easy dress supplies

I kind of forgot about this one when I was thinking about this list, because it’s been a while since I’ve worn it, given the weather! But I did get a lot of wear out of it in the summer, and it was such a quick and easy make!

5. The Wedding Garter

wedding garter

This was a garter that I made for a friend who was getting married in the summer. Given that I haven’t made that many things for other people, I’ve surprised myself by putting two of them in my top five! This one made it here for a number of reasons – 1. It was a success and the bride really liked it; 2. I actually managed to get something finished by the deadline I had, despite not having much time to do it (this is a big thing, I need to manage that more often!) and 3. It has been a massive success for this blog – it is my most popular post by a longggg way, and is the only post that reliably gets hits every single day. Evidently lots of people want to make wedding garters, who knew!

Moving on from the hits, there have been a few misses this year as well, so let’s have a quick look at those.

1. Scout woven tee

scout woven tee

The fit of this is just not quite right – looser clothes aren’t my typical style, but I thought I’d give it a go. However, I could really have done with cutting a smaller size, and maybe doing an FBA and adding some darts. As yet, this has not been worn and is sitting in my pile of things that need something doing to them.

2. Paper tape dress form


This is not a complete miss, it is just not quite finished. My plan was to use the shell we created as a mould, to line with felt and more paper tape to make a dress form that should actually be my size. I did do this, and I now have 4 halves of dress forms that have been sitting round our living room for the last few months! I just haven’t got round to sticking the two halves together and finishing it off. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure that it’s going to work as I wanted, which I think is why I’m putting it off – if I don’t finish it, then it can’t be completely classed as a fail! I have also lost weight since we made them, and so I have a feeling that it’s not even going to be the right size for me any more!

3. Simplicity 2415

Simplicity 2415


This never made it past the horrendously too big in fabric that really wasn’t right for it toile. I still like the pattern and I’ll go back to it one day…

4. Stella blouse

As soon as Abby from Blue Ginger Doll released the Stella blouse pattern, I decided I wanted it. When she released it as a PDF, I bought it almost immediately. I spent a weekend trying to make it, but it hasn’t worked out for me so far. I had a few issues getting the PDF to line up, but that’s not uncommon. I was using this pattern to have a go at my first FBA, after doing my fitting course, but after a weekend of playing around, I haven’t got much to show other than a hacked up pattern piece, and the fabric for a toile that I have not yet managed to get to fit properly. I needed to move the darts down, quite a lot, and I think I still need to move them further. I will go back and start from scratch with another toile, as I really want to make this pattern work!

5. Simplicity 1803 – my first dress

simplicity 1803

I ummed and ahhed a bit over whether to include this one here or not. I love this dress. But…it really doesn’t fit that well. I should definitely have made a smaller size and done an FBA, but, it was the first thing I made and I didn’t even have a clue what that was! It was a huge success in that I made a dress, it worked, the princess seams worked, and it looks great…when I am standing up straight, with my shoulders back, so the yoke doesn’t gape at the front. There’s a lot of excess around the waist – it’s not necessarily that noticeable, but I know it’s there and it bothers me when I’m wearing it. Probably even more so now that I’ve lost weight. I would like to take it in so that I am happy with it again, and can hopefully wear it some more in the summer. That’s the other thing – it’s a gorgeous dress, but I had limited opportunities to wear it. Less a miss, more a learning experience (which is what your first project should be surely!).

So those are my misses – a couple of complete disasters, and a couple that, with a bit more work, would probably have made it into the hits category instead.

I have to admit, I am a little surprised that I didn’t end up putting more dresses in my top hits – really, I am all about making the dresses, and I do actually wear a lot of dresses as well. I think the main issue is with the fit – I haven’t yet conquered the FBA successfully, and I think that will be the key to making dresses and tops that I am happy with.

And this brings me nicely onto my goals, which are largely based on some reflections from the past year.

1. Conquer fit! I have made some nice items of clothing this year, but the ones I haven’t been so happy with are the ones where the fit isn’t so great, and I really could have some with some alterations. Conversely, my most worn items are skirts which required no fitting. Recently, when I haven’t had much time to sew, I’ve shied away from picking projects that I knew would require some fitting, as I wanted a quick win. I just need to get a couple of successful fits under my belt and I think that I’ll then feel more confident in choosing projects that require some work.


2. Attend some blogger meet ups. I really wanted to attend the meet up in London in August, but was at a friend’s wedding. I’m going to make sure that I make it to some meet ups this year, as the sewists I have met have all been such good fun! Plus, I need someone to keep me in check when fabric shopping!

3. Actually finish my projects. I have developed a bit of a bad habit – I’ll spend a day making a dress and do everything other than the hem and the zip. Or a skirt will be completely finished other than the buttonholes. It will then sit around for weeks, or even months, waiting for those last little fiddly (and boring!) bits to be finished. In the meantime, it is playing on my mind that I need to do it, and I miss out on wearing the item. It’s silly and I just need to get on and finish projects when I make them!

4. Make the most of my sewing time. I spend so much time getting worked up at how little time I have to get any sewing done, and of course I could be spending that time sewing instead! I also often have so many projects that I want to make, that I don’t even know where to start, and just end up floundering, and getting nothing done. I’m going to make much more of an effort in 2014 to make the most of every little bit of time I have to sew. This should be hugely helped once we have moved into the new house, as I’ll have a sewing room! I can’t wait! At the moment, my sewing takes place on our dining table, and essentially takes up half our living room. I don’t have enough space to have my sewing machine, overlocker and cutting mat out at once, so I’m constantly having to move things around, and having to get everything out, and tidy up at the end of every sewing session means that, if I only have half an hour, it’s not even worth starting.

I’m hoping that, once I have a sewing room and can leave everything out, being able to sew in those odd 20 minutes, and have everything I need out at once, will make me a lot more productive. That’s the theory anyway! Time will tell whether it works, I’m determined to try and make better use of my time. My sewing machine will probably have to be packed away soon ready for the move, and I’m not going to have much time to sew for a while, as I’ll be spending much of my time decorating and getting the house straight, but it’s going to be so worth it in the end!

I’m really excited about 2014, there are so many great things to look forward to, and I hope you all are too! What are your goals for the upcoming year?


Finished: Another Kelly skirt for Kelly

30 Dec

Wow, it seems that I dropped off the radar a bit recently, I do apologise! I have a few finished makes to show you all, and a few other posts lined up as well, but I just haven’t found the time to sit down and get them written. I’m still a bit preoccupied by the whole house buying thing (we exchanged on the 13th December, complete on 17th Jan and move in 1st Feb and I CAN’T WAIT!!), as well as trying to buy a new car before mine completely gives up on me, and I find it a little tricky to focus on more than one project at once.


I swear this top is not see through in real life either! Seriously, what is going on?!

The weather and just general winter-ness doesn’t help, as it leaves limited opportunities for photo taking! I had a week off work the week before Christmas, and jumped on the first sunny day to get outside and photograph 4 of my recent makes (watched closely from the balcony by our neighbour’s 3 year old! Man I am going to miss that kid when we move!)


I hope you all had good Christmases, with many lovely sewing-related packages under the tree. I was down at my parents’ for a few days just seeing my family, and also taking the time to box up all my possessions that are still there! It was quite a low key Christmas this year, but it was lovely to see them all, and also spend some time with our dog, who hasn’t been well recently, and had to have surgery just before Christmas to tie back his vocal chords as they were blocking his airways, and he gave us a couple of little scares over the holidays.


So, onto the good stuff! I loved my first Kelly skirt so much that the next thing I made was another one! This was the only thing I made in my sewing week that wasn’t, and I got it all finished in an afternoon, except for the buttons and buttonholes, which took me another couple of weeks to get round to doing – I was dreading them after the nightmare I had with the buttonholes on my first one!


Still love having pockets!

This skirt was just as easy as the first one, slightly moreso in fact, as I didn’t have to piece the pattern pieces together from limited fabric! This version is a denim one, made from some stretch denim I got for £4/m on Goldhawk Road. The denim was lovely to work with, the only problem I ran into was that, after I’d basted the pleats into the skirt, and went to sew it to the waistband, the skirt section was about 5cm longer than the waistband. I think it must have stretched with ironing when I was doing the pleats. I remedied this by making each of the pleats slightly bigger, to take in the excess.



I had the same problems with the buttonholes as I did on my corduroy one – in particular the top one on the button placket and the two on the waistband. I moved the top button placket one up on this version, to try and avoid the gaping that I had at the top of the first version. Despite putting the buttonhole in as high up as I could, there is still a little bit of gaping. On the next version (yes there will be another one!), I think I will try putting the buttonholes on the placket in before I attach the skirt to the waistband, as that should allow me to get it higher up. I eventually got the buttonholes in, but they are by no means perfect – the ones on the waistband don’t quite line up with the ones on the placket, which are a bit far over to the edge, and the spacing isn’t quite even but do you know what, it really doesn’t matter!



I am much happier showing off the innards of this skirt – I overlocked all the edges, and remembered to do it before I did the hem and waistband, which means all the ends are nicely tucked away, and it looks really neat and professional. I also love the fabric I used for the pocket lining (some of my freecycle stash), and the metal button as well.



If I loved my first Kelly skirt, then I am absolutely head over heels for this one – I have worn it SO many times since I have made it. The denim has much more structure than the corduroy, which shows off the pleats beautifully. I could happily live in this skirt, it’s perfect for winter with some thick tights and a cosy jumper, but should work equally well in sumer.


The only thing I’d change on this one would be to make the waistband a bit smaller – it’s a teensy bit big as it is, which means that it doesn’t quite sit on my natural waist, and so the waistband doesn’t sit entirely flat. Pinching out an inch at the back makes it sit much more where it should. I also can’t remember if I remembered to interface the waistband or not – I might have, but then again I might not have! Who knows! That slight waistband issue doesn’t detract at all from how much I love this skirt. It’s such a quick and easy make, looks equally good with a top tucked in, or with a jumper over the top and is such a great wardrobe staple.



chinelo bally

Dressmaker| Author| Blogger| Freehand cutter


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