Monday, 29 April 2013


I am nervously joining in Me-Made-May this year!  I loved watching it last year but had only just started sewing so had nowhere near enough me mades to join in.  Not sure I do this year, but I'm in anyway!

 'I, Joanne of Sew Little Time, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '13. I endeavour to wear one Me Made item each day (maximum of 2 days per week can be my Anise jacket) for the duration of May 2013'

I'm slightly terrified of this but I can't imagine Zo will come and get me if I don't manage it!  Five days a week will be pretty testing for me.  Even thinking out it has prompted a few changes to sewing plans (more separates - I have a feeling you'll see a lot of Kimono Tees!) and a wardrobe reshuffle to bring my Me Mades to the fore so I can see what I have to choose from.  I guess they should be at the front of the wardrobe anyway!

And I've got a bit of time to sew a few more things, don't i?

I'm hoping to spot where the wardrobe holes are as a result of this, and also push myself to see if I can find outfits for a few orphans!

I'm going to be blogging a weekly round up of items rather than one every day.  I'll also be on holiday during May and although we are supposed to have wifi I don't know how reliable it will be!

Are you pledging?  Is it anyone else's first time too?

Sunday, 28 April 2013

The much belated International Craft Swap Post

Fianlly now that Mad Men challenge and Sewing Meet Up madness is over, I am finally getting around to blogging the Craft Swap goodness.

So Rachel at House of Pinheiro paired up all the participants and I blogged about the fact that my swappee, Mrs M Makes, lives on a few miles away from me, so we decided to meet in person to swap our goodies!

We met in a local coffee shop (despite the fact that neither of us drinks tea or coffee - see, kindred spirits!  I don't know anyone else who doesn't drink tea or coffee) and swapped our gifts over a Diet Coke.

We had to follow a nautical theme/ colour scheme and make something, plus include a small purchased gift.  After reading up about Mrs M, I knew she loved travelling, so I decided to make her a Really Useful travelling washbag.

 I used my most useful sized washbag (from a Sanctuary gift set I think) as a template for size, and using mainly stash fabric, buttons and ribbons (as Rachel was hoping for) I replicated the size, lining it with waterproof lining fabric.  The only things I bought for this were the zip and the lining.

As I always find pencils and brushes fall to the bottom of a bag, I added a flap and a pocket with slots of hold these:

For my bought gift, I included a piece of Lush Karma soap.  It smells gorgeous and always makes me think of holidays so hopefully Mrs M will enjoy using it!

I was truly spoilt in return!

The first thing I opened was my bought gift.

Mrs M was in Malta on holiday (see I said she liked travelling!) when the swap was announced and picked this up.  It's an Eye of Osiris, traditionally found on Maltese fishing boats to ward off evil spirits.

See, nautical!  Very clever!

She also made this amazing leather notebook with an anchor button and anchor print paper inside for writing my sewing lists (she knows me well already - I love lists!)

She HAND SEWED this book!

And lastly (told you I was spoilt!) she made me this gorgeous jewellery to tie in with the colour theme:

How lucky am I?

Thanks for lovely presents Mrs M.  Check out her lovely blog Mrs M Makes to see all the other skills she has - she makes stained glass!  She's had a great idea for a Craft Circular, which would be lots of fun to get involved in if you love all kinds of crafting!  And thanks for organising the swap Rachel - you picked a great partner for me and we'll definitely be meeting up again since we are so close by!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Yet another Amazing Sewing Meet post

Photo by Digpal Singh

Yes, I know, you've read about this a million times! (or probably 45 given that 45 lovely sewing ladies were there!).  I met some fabulous ladies, some I had met before and some for the first time, but all fun, friendly and wearing the most beautiful handmade clothes!  The V&A, Goldhawk Rd and the Cedar Village Bakery Lebanese Restaurant didn't know what had hit them (especially the restaurant as they were expecting more like half that number!  But they coped admirably!).

Me, the adorable Clare from SewDixieLou and the very lovely Handmade Jane (Photo by Digpal Singh)

I recognised at least 2 or 3 people from reading about their dresses on blogs before the meet - I knew Sally from Charity Shop Chic from the back as a result of her fabulous mad Men dress!

Thanks so much to Rachel and Janene for organising and to all the lovely people who made it such a great day.  And Minerva Crafts and Abakhan for providing the goody bags - what a treat!

I had made a shopping plan before getting to Goldhawk Rd and I am happy to say I stuck to it!

Two gorgeous lawns (the blue tulips and the green) for summer dresses.  I was planning a Hazel with a bigger skirt but I'm not convinced is the fabric has enough body, so I'm going to use the tulip print for Simplicity 2444 (sleeveless with no collar):

and see how it behaves.  If I love it maybe I'll make another with the green!  The blue boat print viscose (£3.50/m - couldn't believe it!) is for a rub off of a much loved and worn top I already own.

I also got a couple of plains:

The (rather crumpled sorry!  I have prewashed but not ironed!) turquoise linen is for this Burda dress:

(the other version of the dress in the mag is actually much nicer - this looks pretty bland and worky!  But I'm hoping for something Laurel-esque).  And the blue twill (actually much more of a royal blue but looks quite purple in the pic) is for a Megan Nielsen Kelly skirt with either red or white buttons.
And I did really well in the swap.  There were loads of patterns in my size:

I know one is from Stevie (I think the front left - let me know if you gave in any of the others!).  Lots of people seemed to be trying not to pick up any patterns, hence why I did so well!  But I was a lot more restrained on fabric.  I try not to buy fabric just because I like it - I usually have a project in mind for it.

I got about 1m of each of the blue rose print cotton (maybe a lawn?  lovely and soft anyway!), the red spotty cotton, and I think 1.5m of the green (it's not really that turquoise!) twill.  And I grabbed a couple of spools of thread and zips and some pink ribbons to placate the small person at not having gone via a toy shop as she requested!

What a fab day!  My faith in sewists (and my blogroll) are much fuller for it!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Mad Men Dress Challenge - construction details

The construction went pretty much as planned once I had the bodice fit down.

I used a thrifted navy fabric with a slight zigzag texture to it (no idea what you'd call it - jacquard?).  From a burn test, there's not a natural fibre to be seen, but it holds a crease pretty well which was important for the inverted box pleats in the skirt.  I bought 1/2m of red cotton, thread and a zip, which was the sum total of extra spends on this dress - it's a cheapie!

I used the bodice of NL 6000, as well as the short sleeve. 

I slashed the sleeve from the bottom and added a wedge to it to loosen it up - as my fabric was on the thicker side I felt the sleeve would be too tight otherwise.  I wasn't sure about the pleats in the sleeve head at first, as I have fairly wide shoulders and I thought they might not look great.  But I muslined and decided to go with them and I actually really like the result - the pleats kind of mirror the pleats in the skirt.

I debated lining it as I can be a bit sensitive to certain fabrics, but it's actually fine.  I ditched the facings and used bias tape instead and it was so much easier - I think I'm going to do this much more in future!

For the skirt, I started with Colette patterns Peony as a base.  It's an a-line shape with gathers instead of darts so I thought I could work with it (and I had already altered it for length).  2" wide pleats seemed about right to me so I went with that.  I traced another copy of the pattern and marked on the pattern where the waist darts (back and front) hit the skirt.  Slashing up this line, I added 1" on each side of the slash plus seam allowances.  I then drew out a contrast piece 2" wide (plus seam allowances) x the length of the skirt. 

I ended up with loads of skinny pieces to sew together so I used french seams as I thought it would look better.  Often the insides of skirts can be seen and with the contrast between the two colours, I wanted it to look neat.

I then marked the fold line on the navy fabric and pressed it like mad (pressing was a key feature of this make!).  I folded the navy fabric over and stitched the folds together and pinned and basted them flat, before attaching the skirt to the bodice. On the muslin, I had shaved a bit off at the waist to make it the same size as the bodice (taking out the width that the gathers would have in the original Peony pattern) but once it was stitched, I thought the skirt was a bit poofy so I took in the side seams by about 1/2" at the hips widening to about 3" at the hem.

I was cursing the french seams when I was hemming - that's a lot of fabric to stitch down flat!  But my little machine managed it fine.

As for the insides, I was undecided on seam finish as the fabric was too thick for my usual turn and stitch - it would have made the seams bulky and visible from the outside.  I was assured by the lovely #sewcialists on Twitter, that pinking was vintage rather than lazy, so I went with that!  French seams on the skirt panels, and I bound the waist seam (badly!) with the same red bias binding I used for the neck.  It's not my neatest zip insertion but I don't think the fabric would have held up to unpicking and restitching.

Finally I stitched on buttons at the top of the front pleats and made a belt which fastens on like the original dress:

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Mad Men Dress Challenge - The Reveal

And here it is!  I posted a sneak peak (OK crappy camera phone pic) on Twitter but here's some better and clearer pics.

My dress:

Peggy's dress:

Peggy wore this dress in Season 4 episiode 11 (thanks Google!) when she won a big pitch - maybe it'll be a lucky dress!

I posted about my inspiration here and my bodice fitting tribulations here.  I've got another post coming with construction and pattern details and the insides (I love to see the insides of makes - I'm so nosy!).

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Inspiring the next generation of crafters

I was partly inspired to write this post after seeing the following tweet this morning:

I've actually been really excited hearing on Twitter about all of the children that have been watching the Great British Sewing Bee and seeing pictures on their efforts.

The very lovely and helpful Maris has been blogging about the children she teaches to sew.

A local shop to me, Make & Do, runs after school and Saturday morning classes for kids and they are always full.  They also do drop in activities for any age of child.

My daughter (who is 4) absolutely loves anything arty - she's a bit young for full on knitting or sewing yet, but she constantly makes cards and jewellery ("Yes, I'll definitely wear the pasta bracelet to work darling"), drawing, stamping, printing on fabric.  She reminds me a lot of myself when I was younger - I had a toy sewing machine, did lace making, macrame (how 1970s!), quilling, making stockings out of felt, clothes for dools, peg dolls, as well as knitting from the age of 7.

I love the fact that kids are getting more involved in crafts!  Using their creativity can only be a good thing!

So I was excited to see a copy of RubyLoves magazine in a newsagent yesterday and snapped it up for N.

It's probably a bit old for my 4 year old but great value for any craft loving little girl (I know boys can craft but it is very girly!).  For £4.99 there are 6 things to make with most of the stuff needed included in the pack (other than paper, card, scissors and glue).  There was:
a canvas tote bag to decorate with fabric and buttons to make yoyos (N spent an hour with my button box and ribbons designing this!)
cookie lollipops (cutter and sticks included)
a felt kitten keyring (everything included)
cards to make (stamp and inkpad plus patterned paper to cut out of mag)
a ring with a clear stone to customise (all included apart from the nail polish it suggests you decorate the stone with)
wooden pegs to decorate (all included except card)

I found it in WH Smith or you can subscribe online here.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Tira two!

I did say that my first Tiramisu dress definitely wouldn't be my last, and here is number 2!

It's been finished for a while and worn on several occasions.  I also get really lovely compliments when I wear a Tira!  This was made from a ponte Roma jersey from Fabricland, which I loved the colour of.

However the stretch of this fabric has meant that it really doesn't fit as well as the first - It's not as stretchy and it pulls at the front wrap slightly.  I did take a bit off the bodice section and add quite a bit to the midriff as before, but I think next time I would cut as per the pattern and do the fit check as I did with the first one.  Another step on the learning curve - I haven't sewn with jersey enough to predict how the different amounts of stretch will affect the final fit.

It's still a much better fit than RTW though and I love the swirly skirt! 

Friday, 12 April 2013

More Pavlova

One of the things I really like about the Pavlova top pattern is how you can get different looks depending on how tightly you tie it.

This navy long sleeved version is tied at the back quite loosely and even lie this there is no gape at all at the front - nice drafting Steph!  It's a nice casual look that I think goes well with jeans (although they need to be relatively high waisted even with my 4" extra length - and I remembered to do front and back this time!)

I wonder if leaving a gap in the seam at the waist and threading the wrap part through would allow it to be pulled down longer?  I think I have seen this in RTW wrap tops.

Still no builder's bum due to the fab muffin cover flap at the back.

I've also got some red denim to make another pavlova skirt for my holiday but it's gone on the back burner due to deadline for the Mad Men Challenge!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Another slice of Cake!

It's been well documented on here how much I liked the Tiramisu pattern, so here's the follow up - Pavlova (OK, hungry now!).

It's a woven circle skirt (although there is a jersey option).  I made this first one in denim that I got from a charity shop.  I previously made a dress for N from it which shrank, so I prewashed this several times before starting.  I love the seashell pocket - so pretty! I cut the 30" waist and the 40" length which works well for me with this style.

I also made the top in a red jersey from World Fabrics.  Their site isn't great but good prices and quick delivery, so would use them again.  I do find it hard to get nice knits in the UK - may have to order from one of the US sites like Girl Charlee. 

The pattern piece is HUGE!  I lengthened it by 4" at the front, and totally forgot about the back (doh!), but added on at the back and the ties cover the seam.  As usual, Steph's instructions were great.  I was worried about the lapped neck seam, but I trusted in the instructions and it went together perfectly! 

Steph had the fab idea of sorting us into houses to compete for the most number of completed items over a 10 day period.  My Strawberry house didn't win but it was close and everyone was incredibly supportive as usual!

It's been a bit of a Cake month - I have another Pavlova and a second Tira to show and then it's head down for the Mad Men Dress!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Sorry - claming my blog on bloglovin'

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Thought I had already done this but apparently not!  No idea why that doesn't come out at the link it is clearly supposed to be!

Further adventures in fitting (with help from the #sewcialists)

This week I have enlisted the help of the fabulous #sewcialists on Twitter (why did I resist Twitter for so long?  I am addicted!) to help with some fitting issues I have been having.

I am working on the bodice for my Mad Men Challenge dress, using NL 6000 as a base.  I started with a tissue fit to determine length adjustment (always! In this case 2" which is less than usual - I have heard this bodice runs long) and correct dart placement (fine).  No point on making a muslin that definitely won't fit, is there?

I also decreased the seam allowances to give myself an extra 1" at the waist, and here is the first result:

Pretty bad, right?  I thought the wrinkles above the bust were to do with my square shoulders and so I added those strange flaps of blue fabric you can see in the first pic to test the theory of changing the shoulder, but to no avail.  To say nothing of the gaping armscye and wibbly neckline.  So I turned to the ladies of Twitter for advice, and as ever they delivered!

I was shocked to find out (as I have always considered myself to be amongst the small-of-bust) that I needed a small (1/2") FBA!

Here's the results for round 2:

A massive improvement I think!  Those annoying wrinkles are gone and neckline is lying flat (in real life at least - holding up the camera makes it look off in the top pic). 

It's not perfect though - there's still a lot of gaping in the armscye which needs to be addressed.  I thought about increasing the FBA but think it would have been too loose around the bust.  I might try a slightly larger FBA another time.

Following more Twitter advice from the lovely Rachel at House of Pinheiro (that girl is great trying to explain the process to me in 140 characters from her holiday in Brazil to see her family!) I pinned a dart at the armhole, transferred to the pattern and rotated the excess into the bust dart.

Minimal gapeage! (it actually does lie flatter than it looks when I am holding up the camera!)

I even tried a square shoulder adjustment on this to see if it made a difference:

I don't think it changed much in this case although I will bear it in mind for future!

But what a difference some great advice and a few muslins made to the fit.  From this:

to this:

Thanks to all the #sewcialists who helped, especially Laura at A Make-it-Yourself Mom's Diary, Rachel, Maris at Sew Maris and Brooke at Custom Style!  You guys...

I'm ready to start drafting the skirt now!