Friday, 21 December 2018


I havn't managed to post anything on my blog for a long while. It's been crazy not least because we're now expecting our second child. I spent most of the summer feeling poorly and the ridiculous heatwave we experienced this summer only made it worse. Time has really slipped away from me and I’m now 30 weeks pregnant- I have no idea where the time has gone! This has meant that I haven’t really felt like sewing at all. The only additions to my summr wardrobe are a pair of self drafted shorts and two Tilly and the Button’s Frankie t-shirts, which I have yet to blog about.

I don’t have extensive sewing plans for maternity clothes as I still have the RTW ones I wore for my previous pregnancy. Since we were planning (hoping!) to get pregnant I bought lots of jersey fabric in my last fabric haul from Fabricland. This was always intended to make some stretchy dresses to see me through my maternity. In my previous pregnancy, my two Moneta dresses were invaluable and still get worn regularly.

This time, I am planning to make two Wren dresses by Colette patterns. I am hoping the gathered elasticated waist will not only work with a baby bump but the wrap style will lend itself to nursing after baby is born, since I intend to breastfeed again. Other than these, I have no firm sewing plans as I am reluctant to make clothes knowing that I probably won’t be able to wear them for ages and also have no idea what my figure will be like post giving birth.

So, exciting stuff! I’m hopefully going to be able to find the time to blog about some of the things I have been up to and let you know my progress.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Fabric Haul!

Following on from Me Made May I've had a bit of a fabric shopping spree. There are not really any options for fabric shopping where I live, so I buy all of my fabric online and tend to splurge on a big order about once a year. 

This recent fabric haul comes from Fabricland. I knew that I wanted to make some jersey dresses and t-shirts so I have mainly bought jersey. Here's what I've bought: 

1. Blue and Yellow Floral Viscose  

I loved the print of these fabrics and the hints of yellow in the print. I bought 2m of this at £3.99 per metre. I originally planned to make a lovely summer dress using this fabric. It has a lovely drape but is quite lightweight and I'm worried it might be a bit see through. I'm not certain yet but I'm sure the correct project for this fabric will appear with time!
I've wanted a gingham dress for a while now and classic black and white check will go with a lot of accessorise and cardigans in my wardrobe. I think I've got 3m of this fabric which was £2.59 per metre. I have visions of something really simple: a knee length dress with a gathered waist, round neck and short sleeves. I have several patterns in my stash which might be suitable.  

3. Black and White Stripe Rib

Over this Winter I have enjoyed wearing my two Cleo Dungaree dresses by Tilly and the Buttons but have lacked any long sleeve t-shirts to go with them. I love anything stripy and so picked up 2m of this stripy rib fabric at a bargain at only £2.49 per metre. I'm planning on sewing a long sleeve Freya shirt from Tilly Walnes' latest book Stretch!
I had to have this jersey as soon as I saw it's lovely floral print. I don't think the photos on the Fabric Land website do this print much justice as it's beautifully detailed in real life and I love the pink, red and yellow colours. I also have 2m of this, bought at £4.99 per metre, which I originally intended to make another Freya t-shirt. However, it's very soft and with a lot of drape and I'm not sure it will work very well. I think it would make a lovely short sleeve Frankie t-shirt. Perfect for the summer.   

I've wanted to make another Moneta dress by Colette for ages, as mine have seen so much wear. What I love about this gray polka dot jersey is that it will be suitable to wear for work and also casually. This was £4.44 per m, I have plenty to make a dress and maybe also a t-shirt! 
Again, this fabric (£4.99 per m) is destined to also be another jersey dress, perhaps another Wren wrap dress by Colette. My previous wren dress has seen lots of wear but is made from a winter jersey so this one would be great for the summer. It's also another dress that could be worn for work or at home and I have plenty of red/pink/navy shoes and accessorise to go with it.  
This fabric is the only one which has been disappointing. It's made from a polyester, which doesn't bother me, but there is not a massive amount of stretch in the fabric. I had in mind making a Joni dress from Tilly Walnes' recent book Stretch! and thought the large scale print would look great. I also didn't realise the spots were navy and not black. I'm not sure if this will work out as Joni dress but at only £3.99 per m, I figure I might as well give it a go! If it all goes wrong, I can put a side zip in!

I'm currently in the process of washing all the fabrics so that they are ready for cutting out. I'm really excited to start sewing and am having trouble deciding which to make first! 

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Chambray Shorts

I don't usually wear shorts - I can never seem to find any to fit quite right due to my curvy thighs and slim(mer!) waist. After a spell of hot weather in April I decided to see if I could make some shorts myself.

I knew I wanted them to be lightweight for hot weather and a looser design with an elasticated waist. After searching for some patterns I came across several tutorials on designing your own shorts pattern and decided to have a go myself!

As the basis of my pattern I used the Margot pyjama pattern from Tilly and the Button's first book Love at First Stitch.  I made a few changes to this pattern. I decided where I wanted my shorts to finish, added 1/2 inch for hemming and this gave me the correct length. Because I was not using the channel for a drawstring, I added 5/8 inch to the fold line marked on the original pattern when tracing. I wanted to my shorts to be loose fitting and slightly a line in shape, so I added 1/2 inch to the outside hem of both the front and back pieces and curved the side seams slightly at the bottom, following a tutorial from the book Gertie Sews Vintage Casual by Gretchen Hirsch. I then cut a length of fabric for the waistband. 

The fabric I used was some chambray originally bought from Calico Laine that was leftover from a blouse I made. Despite this being the first time I have ever sewn shorts/trousers, I put these together very quickly in just a few hours spread across three sessions. For some reason there was a length difference along the crotch but I trimmed down the excess and it seemed to work out ok! There are also several issues with the waistband. I had a lot of trouble cutting out the length I needed out of what was left from my fabric. When I started sewing it in it was slightly too short. I tried to ease it in but it has puckered a bit- annoyingly at the front. It's also too wide, so I've made a mistake when calculating the width of fabric needed. 

Since making these I have worn them a couple of times - mainly around the house and also on holiday in Spain. They were great on the beach and comfortable without being at all revealing- I don't think I could wear short shorts!

I would definitely class these as a wearable muslin. I think they would look better using fabric with a better drape and maybe a bit of pattern. I need to fix the problem with the waistband and perhaps take some width out of the waist for a sleeker look. I'm also thinking about curving the bottom hem at the sides as a bit of a design feature.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Me Made May 18: The Results!

Today is the final day of Me Made May. At the beginning of May I pledged to wear at least one item of handmade clothes each day and to document my progress on Instagram. I often start a project but don't finish and so this time I was determined to make sure I stuck to my pledge.

In the first week, I found myself enjoying picking out which of my me-mades to wear and creating an outfit for that day. I have got to grips with posting on instagram, although my terrible selfies have not improved at all. A camping trip over the first May bank holiday made dressing handmade slightly harder, but not impossible, thanks to the glorious weather that weekend.

During the second week I enjoyed wearing both some of my newer items of clothing but also some older items that do not get as much wear: my red sleeveless blouse on day 10 and my denim hollyburn skirt on day 13. I also dug out my one handmade t-shirt on day 11 which fitted but was super tight and not at all comfortable.

I found in week 3 that I still had many handmade clothes to choose from and didn't realise how extensive my wardrobe was. There were some pieces that didn't get as much wear as others and I'm not quite sure why as they were great when I wore them. In particular the turquoise blue sleeveless blouse I wore on day 18 had almost never been worn, I think because I find it hard to build it into an outfit and the colour is quite bright.

Weeks 4 and 5 presented their own challenges as I had to pack for our holiday to Spain. Having only a limited amount of space in our luggage I developed a black/white/navy/red capsule wardrobe of pieces which I could mix and match. This was successful and I managed to stay on track with wearing handmade clothes and posting (almost) daily on Instagram.

One of my aims in taking part in Me Made May was to re-evlaute my wardrobe to find out which of my handmade garments had the most wear and where my gaps are. Here's what I've learnt:

  1. I wear an awful lot of red, white, blue and black. I don't know if this is necessarily a bad thing because my clothes are quite cohesive but I think I do need to add some accent colours to my wardrobe - mustard, yellow, pinks and emerald green would work well. 
  2. Surprisingly I found it easier to dress handmade on my work days than when I was dressing casually to stay at home or at the weekend. I have plenty of clothes which are suitable for me to wear to work and did not struggle at all to find outfits. My navy skirt is looking a bit tired and faded so this may be something to replace in the future and would match with many other existing items.  
  3. My most worn items are my black and white striped jersey pencil skirt which I wore 4 times, followed by my black and white striped jersey dress and red jersey pencil skirt each at 3 times. I love wearing these items and always felt fantastic wearing them. 
  4. The ready to wear items I missed the most were my jeans and t-shirt combos. This would have been my usual go to outfit on a day at home cleaning and taking my son to the park or playgroup. I definitely need to sew some more items to wear at home and casually, such as more jersey dresses and t-shirts.  
  5. I have a massive massive trouser shaped gap in my ready to wear wardrobe. I've never attempted to sew trousers and I think this is going to be my next adventure in handmade clothes. I currently do not have a decent fitting pair of work trousers and only one pair of ready made jeans that I like wearing.  
  6. Another gap I have is jersey t-shirts. I only wore one handmade t-shirt this month, which I do not like and most of my handmade skirts were paired with ready-made t shirts. 
I have found taking part in Me Made May not only a fun and creative experience but also really useful in assessing my likes and dislikes in my current wardrobe. It has given me a direction for my future sewing plans. I'm not going to be focusing on making clothes for work but on casual clothes: jersey dresses,  t-shirts and jeans/trousers (eventually!)

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Me Made May

So it's a bit belated but I've finally signed up for Me Made May 2018 hosted by Zoe of 'So Zo...'. I've wanted to sign up for years but have never been able to, I was either a newbie, pregnant/giving birth or too busy being a mum. So here's my pledge for this year...

'I, Fiona, of and @fiona.gibbs on Instagram sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '18. I endeavour to wear at least one item of handmade clothing every day and to discover which are my most worn handmade items and where any gaps in my wardrobe are during the month of May 2018.'

My aim is to reassess my handmade wardrobe and ready to wear wardrobe to see where the gaps are. I'm hoping to find out which are my most worn items and which are not successful. I'm then hoping that this will help me with planning future sewing projects.

I'm going to be posting daily outfits on Instagram @fiona.gibbs so follow me!

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Two Cleo Dungaree Dresses

So, I've made not one but two Tilly and the Buttons Cleo Dungaree Dresses recently. I wasn't blown away when this pattern was first released but slowly fell in love with it. After making my first one in corduroy I quickly made a second one. 

Cleo 1: Burgundy Corduroy

For my first Cleo I used some Burgundy Corduroy I had in my stash, which was leftover from making a Hollyburn skirt years ago. Luckily, there was plenty left over and I knew straight away that I needed to make a dungarees dress.

There are only 4 pieces to the pattern so cutting out was quick. It was also fast to sew together, although I have to do this over several sessions. It became apparent once I had finished sewing the side seams that it was going to be too baggy for me. I cut a straight size 6 according to my hip measurements. Whilst it fitted nicely in the hips it was massive around my waist. 

The dress then languished for a couple of weeks after just one wear. I realised that I just needed to take it in a few inches at both sides and managed to improve the fit. It is a lot better now and gets regular wear (I'm wearing this as I type!) despite still being a bit on the baggy side.

I really love the details on this dress, including the pockets and the topstitching. I used gold and tortoiseshell buttons, which I found at a vintage haberdashery shop on holiday in Bruges a few yeas ago. Unfortunately I used normal thread for topstitching which hasn't really shown up like I wanted it to.  

Cleo 2: Black Denim

My second Cleo came together much quicker than the first and only took me a couple of weeks to cut and sew. For my previous Cleo I cut a straight size 6 but found that it didn't fit around the waist. So, for this version I cut a size 6 skirt grading to a size 5 top using my previous version as a guide. 

The fabric is a black stretch denim from Fabricland online. I'm not sure how much I originally bought but there is quite a bit left over - I'm hoping to make some denim shorts for the summer! It was much faster sewing this cleo than my previous one and the fabric was lovely to work with.

Another change I made with this Cleo is to make it slightly longer, to enable me to wear it in the summer without tights as my corduroy one is slightly too short for my liking!

I also used proper topstitching thread for this Cleo, choosing a traditional gold thread which contrast nicely against the black denim. I'm pleased with the majority of my topstitching (just don't look at the back!). I chose mustard coloured buttons with an embossed flower detail from Minerva crafts.  

I'm so pleased with these two dungaree dresses and they are a great addition to my wardrobe. I'm already having fun combing these with different t-shirts and blouses but am excited to sew up some me-made t-shirts to wear under these this winter. 

What are you sewing at the moment?

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Black Apple Tea Dress

Meet my new favourite dress! This dress has already had loads of wear and am excited to share it. I fell in love with this fabric, an apple print on a black background, from fabricland which was on sale at just £2.49 per metre. At this price I had to have some but then it languished in my stash for over a year.  

I always knew I wanted to make it into a dress and originally thought that I might make something from Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book. The perfect pattern turned out to be one that had been sitting in my stash for a while- Simple Sew's Amelia Dress. I got this free with a copy of Love Sewing magazine and loved it immediately. I rediscovered the forgotten pattern when tidying up my sewing space and knew it would be perfect for this fabric.  

I made view B with the short sleeves, my preferred length of sleeve on a dress. I was attracted to the shirring at the waist of this pattern, which was a technique I hadn't used before. I did a few test rows on some scraps of fabric before shirring the waist panel. It is a very forgiving technique and although it's not as perfectly straight as I would like, it isn't noticeable.    

It is a very flattering fit due to the shirred waist panel and this makes it so comfortable to wear. As a teacher, I'm moving around constantly, so it's important that my work clothes are smart but also comfortable which this is. I'm looking forward to wearing it with my red clog sandals in the summer. 

The only change I made was to lower the neckline slightly- the V-neck was quite high so I made it about 1.5cm lower which is perfect and not revealing! I also bought the wrong zip - just an ordinary zip instead of an invisible zip which I am used to. Since I had never inserted a normal zip I had to look up how to online, but found it simple. It's not the best zip I've ever put into a dress, but it works and as it's at the back it's not something I have to look at!

I'm very pleased with this dress and it has inspired me to try another of the Simple Sew patterns - the Annabelle Dress - which is going to be my summer holiday project! It's currently baking here today - 26 degrees - so I'm off to get a cool drink and sew something summery to wear this weekend. 

What's your favourite tea dress pattern?