Crafty weekend plans

Ooh it’s been ages since I’ve got into my sewing room. The reason? There’s a great big cot in the way:

I’ve instructed the husband to find a new home for it as we won’t be needing it for months yet, and then I can get on with some projects I’ve been itching to finish (and start for that matter)…

The nightie.

Remember I bought a couple of metres of adorable swiss dot at Walthamstow market a month or so back? I’m trying my hand at making a one-size-fits-all-or-at-least-most nightie with contrasting yoke neck for myself. If it works out and looks good I might think about running a few up to sell on Etsy or something (hey this kid’s gonna have to eat and my maternity pay is shite). But I’ve got to get it finished first. So that’s first up come Saturday morning.

The blanket.

We are now on 145 squares and the blanket’s measurements so far are 40 by 45 inches. I’m loving this project and I’ll be completely bereft when it’s over. To be honest I’m not even sure when it will be over. Will I just be forever addicted to churning out pink, white and grey granny squares until I cover everything south of the Watford Gap?

The baby cardigan.

In an effort to prise me away from the granny squares I’ve started on a crocheted baby cardigan, using a free pattern from Bella Bambina Knits. Below is what the finished cardigan is supposed to look like. It’s. so. damn. cute. it. kills. me.

This is the first thing I’ve attempted to crochet other than granny squares so we’ll see how it turns out but it’s such a lovely little project to undertake and I just love the wool and the colour – it’s Debbie Bliss Cashmerino in teal. Oh yeh – I forgot to mention this baby will be dressed entirely in teal whether it’s a boy, girl or monkey-cat hybrid. Awesome colour.

In other news I will be bidding a sad farewell to a good chum of mine, Tanya of Strikk Handknits. She’s heading off to a fab new job and life in Zurich for a while, at least until we can tempt her back. There will be tears! In the meantime why not browse her beautiful handknitted items and give her some extra work to do? ;-)

What are your weekend plans – crafty or otherwise?

The Winter Coat: What fabric to choose?

Thank you all for your fabulous feedback on the Winter Coat patterns I highlighted a couple of posts ago. With your sensible and stylish advice I have settled on (and purchased)…

Simplicity 5148

Yep – Simplicity 5148. I loved this pattern from the off – the collar, the pockets, the chance to make the buttons really stand out. I loved Simplicity 6977 too but I felt that it was a touch too formal for me. It would be perfect as a coat for a bit of a do like a wedding, but for everyday comfort and style it was 5148 all the way. Plus, as Karen pointed out in her infinite wisdom, “I can hear my Mum’s voice as I say this, but… Are four buttons more practical than one? ” YES you’re damn right they are Karen my love! But they’re also more FUN!

By the time I finish this and the weather turns proper cold I will have had the baby as well so hopefully won’t have need of the extra space at the front that the one-button closure would have afforded, but a good point to make nonetheless for those of you that did!

So that’s the pattern sorted. Now for the really exciting bit – the fabric! I have ordered a bunch of swatches from one of my favourite fabric suppliers Truro Fabrics. I just love the quality of their coatings and corduroys. When I’m doing a special project and one that I want to last (like here and here) I tend to go upmarket and swallow the extra cost. I think it’s worth it in the long run.

So without further ado, here are the contenders:

Pure wool coating - Coral Herringbone (£15.50 per metre)

Pure wool coating – Coral Herringbone (£15.50 per metre)

Wool blend coating - Muted Turquoise (£18.50 per metre)

Wool blend coating – Muted Turquoise (£18.50 per metre)

Pure wool - Clover (£16.00 per metre)

Pure wool – Clover (£16.00 per metre)

Pure wool coating - Magenta (£15.50 per metre)

Pure wool coating – Magenta (£15.50 per metre)

Wool blend coating - Teal (£17.50 per metre)

Wool blend coating – Teal (£17.50 per metre)

Wool blend coating - Grass green (£12.50 per metre)

Wool blend coating – Grass green (£12.50 per metre)

Which is your favourite? I’m wavering between two (again!) – the grass green coating and the teal wool blend. I love all of the colours and textures but I think the magenta is just a tad too bright for everyday wear and the coral, turquoise and clover run the risk of coming up a bit grannyish in the finished garment. The teal for me is bright enough to make a statement, it’s rich and deep enough in colour to make any bright button or lining really pop and it’s my favourite. colour. ever.

Ooh I think I’ve gone and made up my mind… But I’m still excited to hear what you think! What’s your fave and why?

My Handmade Style – Dolly Clackett

Welcome everyone to the second in an exciting new series, looking at how some of our favourite sewing bloggers curate their handmade wardrobes. Where do they find their inspiration and how do they channel it into their makes?

I’m over the moon to introduce you to someone you probably already follow. We know and love her as Dolly Clackett, also known as Roisin Muldoon. We’ve swooned over her romantic vintage style dresses, we’ve gaped at her seemingly endless shoe collection, we’ve secretly wondered if she owns ANY trousers… and we’re about to find out! Over to you Roisin…

Dolly Clackett aka Roisin Muldoon

You have the most enviable collection of dresses Roisin, many of them vintage or vintage inspired. How would you sum up your style (oh, and do you actually own any trousers)?

I do have a *lot* of dresses, it’s true! And no, I don’t own any trousers. Well, I have pyjama trousers, and one pair of trousers that don’t fit me but which I have held onto for sentimental reasons. I think my style could probably be summed up as ‘romantic’, maybe? I sort of hate that word but most of my dresses are quite traditional in terms of shape and style – full-skirted knee-length dresses or pencil dresses make up most of my wardrobe, there isn’t anything very edgy in there.

Where do you find your style inspiration and how do you channel that into your me-made wardrobe?

I read so many blogs, both style blogs and sewing blogs. These are great because I’m not interested in fashion, strange as that might sound. I don’t care about what’s on trend, but I will take inspiration from people I think look stylish. I’m also lucky to have some incredibly stylish and well-dressed friends! I think my tastes have been well catered for in recent years, I know everyone loves the Mad Men look so I’m not saying anything groundbreaking here, but that show’s popularity has meant more inspiration and more beautiful clothes for dress-loving ladies like myself!

Who are your style icons and why?

This is actually a hard one to answer! I sort of hate to say this because the character annoys me no end, but there isn’t one thing that Charlotte wore in Sex and The City that I wouldn’t happily have stolen off her back. I think Diane Kruger always looks amazing – she has an edgy vibe that I can’t quite pull off, but I love how she looks. Yeah it helps that she has Joshua Jackson on her arm, yum. And yes obviously the Mad Men ladies, particularly Trudy Campbell.

Charlotte from Sex and the City

Are there any particular designers that you use for inspiration?

Yes! I love Vivienne Westwood. I don’t think I could wear her more architectural looks, but her use of prints and colours is amazing. On a more affordable level, I love Bernie Dexter’s clothing line and it was her Eiffel Tower dresses that made me decide to make my Foux du FaFa Chantilly dress.

Foux Du Fa Fa Frock

If you had to select one self-stitched garment that really encapsulates your style – what would it be and why?

My Sail Away Ceylon dress, I think. It’s probably the dress I’m most proud of. It has everything I want in a frock. It has a retro vibe, and anchors, and polka dots, and then more polka dots. I like things that are just a wee bit too much, and I think that’s it!

Sail Away Ceylon dress

Do you ever take risks and experiment with your look? What’s worked and what hasn’t?

No, I’m a bit crap in this department – I know what I like and what suits me and I stick with that. I did cut my hair up short a few years ago and I liked it, but I do like it better in a bob. I’m not naturally a redhead, but I don’t think that dyeing your hair red is really that much of a style risk.

Is there anything you wish you could wear but can’t? 

Goodness, yes. I would LOVE to look good in layers. Like, artful layering. It just escapes, and it makes me look untidy. I’d also love to look good in menswear inspired tailoring but I’m not Katharine Hepburn or Lauren Bacall! That’s fine, though.

What would be your dream outfit, existing or otherwise?

I know I said earlier how much I love Charlotte’s outfits in Sex and the City but my favourite ever outfit from that show is one Carrie wears in the final episode in Paris. It’s a red dress with black polka dots, worn over a green petticoat with an amazing morning coat. She’s wearing white Christian Louboutin pumps with cutout detailing on them. I have paused the DVD so many times just to sigh over that outfit!

SEX AND THE CITY Finale: Sarah Jessica Parker. photo: Craig Blankenhorn

Finally, what other sewing bloggers would you recommend for great individual style?

Oh my word, too many! I love everything Paunnet has sewn. Same with Julia Bobbin. Catherine Daze has a style that’s radically different to mine, she’s like the Tilda Swinton of sewing blogs, and I love seeing her makes. She always looks fabulous in them. I also love Debbie of Stitches and Seams. Again, her style is different to mine, but I love seeing what she makes and how she wears it. I think Ruth of Roobeedoo is amazing, as well. I love her style – particularly her awesome trousers!

Thank you so much Roisin for sharing your inspiration! Your combination of vintage prints and retro style patterns is a winner every time. 

Back from my last ever grown-ups-only hols (for a while at least)

Last week I was sunning myself in beautiful Santorini, a gorgeous Greek island famed for its cascading cliff top villages in blue and white stone and the most stunning sunsets. The husband and I had decided it was time for a sun-filled, lazy break to mark the turning point from carefree adults with more money than sense into mature, sensible (mostly broke) parents-to-be.

Oia town, Santorini

Oia town, Santorini

It was delightful to just chill out by the pool and on the beach (always within the shade of a large parasol, mind) and I brought my crochet needle with me! I managed to knock up 24 granny squares whilst away, which is almost another two rows of squares for my baby blanket. Here’s the project so far… I think perhaps another 100 or so granny squares and we’ll be done!

Baby blanket progress

Baby blanket progress

My maxiumus awesomus dress got loads of wear, being the perfect cool cover up for hot hot days. The bump is getting bigger but there’s still just enough room in the maxi for it.

Maxi et le bump!

Maxi et le bump!

So now, after two weeks of working from home throughout the Olympics and then a week on hols, it’s back to the grindstone in the office – argh! I love September though – love that back to school feeling… now I just want to sniff pencil cases and get new leather satchels and break in patent leather shoes and such like. I’ve got over 300 unread blog posts to catch up on (forgive me if I just drop in and enjoy without leaving comments!), a nightie to finish and a new dress to start work on and the prospect of a new winter coat to get excited about.

Ooh and later this week we’ll have another special guest dropping in to tell us about her handmade style. Yay!

Finally, I did an awful lot of reading over the week and I can highly recommend the following books if you’re looking for some inspiration:

  • The Book of Dave by Will Self – takes a while to get into it and you have to read some of the dialogue out loud to yourself in order for it to make sense (you’ll see) but very good and frequently funny.
  • Narcopolis by Jeet Thayill – Bombay seen through the eyes of a collection of drug addicts. Read this in just a couple of sittings. Heart breaking in places. Longlisted for Man Booker 2012.
  • Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris. No – not a sewing book dear readers but a family memoir. Hilarious. If I was to write about my upbringing, I’d do it like this.
  • The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman. My husband enjoyed this more than I did but it was still an absorbing and riotous tale of history, literature and um… physics and teleportation! Also long listed for the Man Booker.
  • Any Human Heart by William Boyd. I started this on the plane on the way home and I can’t put it down. It’s a fictional memoir of journalist and novelist Logan Mountstuart and his passage from his teenage years between World Wars to (almost) present day. There was a TV adaptation a while back which was excellent but I think the book is even better at getting under the skin of the protagonist.

Right – recommendations over! Back to school with you all!

The Winter Coat: What pattern to choose?

My goodness I know it’s still summer, and actually right now in London it’s hitting 30 degrees Celsius on a glorious August afternoon! But my thoughts are turning to Autumn and Winter – and more specifically – coats for Autumn and Winter.

Spurred on by the relative success of my March Minoru and encouraged by the likes of Karen in creating the most sumptuous coat ever, and Jane with her Abbey coat loveliness, I’d like to try my hand at making a classic winter coat for myself. It’ll be something to take time over as the dark nights draw in. I’m also thinking as I get too big to make any new dresses or tops for myself it’s the perfect long-term project to keep me sharp. I’d like to use a classic vintage pattern, use good quality lining and outer fabric and choose a colour that I love. So many choices!

First up – let’s look at the pattern.

Right now I’m drawn to two patterns:

Simplicity 6977

I love the sheer simplicity and minimalism of Simplicity 6977. It will be perfect for going over shift dresses, polo neck/skinny trew combos and you can really make a statement with that single button at the neck. But then there’s Simplicity 5148…

Simplicity 5148

Look at that adorable peter pan collar, raglan sleeves and welt pockets. Isn’t it just the kind of coat you can snuggle down into? I can see it over skinny jeans and knee high boots as well as smarter outfits. And four buttons to go mad over!

I have to say I found it hard finding vintage coat patterns on the internet that I liked. These are the only two that caught my eye. How about you? Know of a cute vintage or vintage-style swing/pea coat pattern with a peter pan collar that might suit the brief?

Next up – I’ll be sharing some fabulous swatches with you.

Are your thoughts turning to Autumn/Winter sewing now too?

My Handmade Style – Tilly and the Buttons

Welcome everyone to an exciting new series, looking at how some of our favourite sewing bloggers curate their handmade wardrobes. From vintage chic to clean modern shapes, how do these seamstresses create and communicate their own unique style in their projects? What and who inspires them, from film and music to everyday life. And what’s their dream outfit?

Today we have the most exciting guest to kick off My HandMade Style – Tilly Walnes of Tilly and the Buttons! Most of you will know Tilly and her unique style by now (how many of you have a bow belt or a picnic blanket skirt already or plans to make one?) and if not, then prepare for a treat…

Tilly in her Picnic Blanket skirt

You have a very unique style. A little preppy, a little vintage, but very classic and dare I say… quite Gallic? Would you agree or have I summed you up all wrong?!

Right on the money! I would use all those words in describing my style. I love Breton tops, neckscarves, red and navy blue, full skirts, pencil skirts, capri pants, beads, buttons and bows. The Gallic influence stems from a year I spent living, studying and working in Paris. Not that many French women dress like that, but I resolved to channel the classic Brit-abroad-pretending-she’s-French look!

Where do you find your style inspiration and how do you channel that into your me-made wardrobe?

I work in and have studied film – my greatest source of inspiration is 1960s movies, mainly French, but also Italian and American. Godard, Varda, Resnais, Antonioni movies… endless sources of inspiration. I’m not sure if my style preferences are always obvious in the clothes I sew, as I often get so overexcited by the possibilities that sewing opens up and use it as a chance to experiment. But I’m trying to get better at making things that are “me”.

Who are your style icons and why?

My style mantra is “What would Anna Karina wear?” Or when I remember, at least! It’s a total cliché but I also love Audrey Hepburn’s style. Both have a great sense of silhouette, are chic yet playful, cute but a little uptight… in a good way.

Are there any particular designers that you use for inspiration?

As much as I’ve always loved clothes and design, I’m not really into fashion so don’t follow the catwalks or read magazines or anything. For me, sewing is a way of expressing my love of clothes without relying on fashion designers to tell me what to wear.

Having said that, I can’t deny that designers haven’t influenced my style. I adore the Dior new look, Chanel classics make me swoon, and occasionally I discover a designer that I get obsessed with, such as Lena Hoschek.

If you had to select one self-stitched garment that really encapsulates your style, what would it be and why?

Hmm… good question! Maybe my Dazzlingly Red Beignet. It’s red, it has lots of fabric covered buttons, it has a bow belt. It’s casual and chic at the same time. And it looks great with Breton tops!

Tilly's Red Beignet

Do you ever take risks and experiment with your look? What’s worked and what hasn’t?

When I first started sewing I used to experiment a lot more but I’m trying to stick to my “signature style” these days. What has worked is 1970s style clothing – I’m surprised by how into it I’ve got in the last few years (see for example my 1970s Feel Beignet and 1970s Summer Dress). What hasn’t worked so well is full-skirted 1950s style dresses like the ones out of Douglas Sirk movies – they swamp my small frame and don’t quite suit my lifestyle! I still wear full skirts but I shorten them to the top of my knee and wear them more casually with tops.

1970s style Beignet and dress

Is there anything you wish you could wear but can’t? For example, I love the rock chick skinny jeans and studded vest look but can never quite pull it off…

Lots of things! If I were taller I would wear high waisted flared trousers a lot more. And if I had slim, tanned thighs and dainty knees I would wear 1940s tap pants and playsuits!

What would be your dream outfit, existing or otherwise?

There are loads of outfits from the movies that I would love to wear… but one should be grateful for what one has, and I nearly died and went to sartorial heaven the other day when I teamed my Handpainted Breton Top (red and white stripes, buttons, a deliberate homemade aesthetic) with my Life’s Too Short Skirt (red and white gorgeous printed full skirt). All that’s missing was a bow. :)

Tilly's hand-painted Breton top and Life's Too Short skirt

What other sewing bloggers would you recommend for great individual style?

One of the many wonderful things about sewing is being able to create your own individual style (you’ve really hit the nail on the head with this new series). So there are LOADS of sewing bloggers I could mention, as individual style is what they do best. There’s Zoe’s nautical chic, Nette’s dainty style, Marie’s ladylike makes, Jane’s gingham and polka dots, Angie’s cotton dresses… Ooh I’m really looking forward to reading these posts!

Thank you so much Tilly for sharing your style inspiration. Tap pants and playsuits – oh my – you may have just spawned a craze…

Let me know what you think about the new series and if you have any fantastic nominees for My Handmade Style, let me know!

Another Walthamstow haul

On Saturday morning I had a bit of time spare before my in-laws came for a flying visit, so what better way to while away a couple of hours than nip over to Walthamstow market for a quick fabric hoover?

I had a £50 budget and came away with over 23 metres of new prints and a tenner change thankyouverymuch. I was after some jersey and some interesting/quirky prints for pretty dresses. Was Walthamstow up to the challenge? You betcha. Here’s the haul:

Three metres each of this adorable swiss dot in hot pink and lavender. I’m going to draft a simple nightie using the neck yoke and gathered neckline of New Look 6864.

Bargain: £1.50/metre

Three metres of this pretty red star-spangled jersey knit, to be used for New Look 6802.

Bargain: £2/metre

Two metres of this black star-spangled jersey, to be used either for Renfrew or Rie. Can’t decide. May have to buy more jersey!

Bargain: £2/metre

The love affair with petrol blue and polkadots continues with this pretty cotton – three metres were purchased. For any possible number of future projects.

Bargain: £2/metre

Gasp! In tribute to Team GB’s amazing success at the old rowing and boating malarkey I’ve snapped up this cute sailing boat fabric – no idea what it is though. I’m positive it’s man-made but it has a lovely drape and a soft almost velvety feel to it. A pretty shift possibly?

Bargain: £1.50/metre

Forgive the dull pic – this is much prettier in real life. Birdy fabric – three metres of. Definitely man made and possibly quite flammable, but pretty nonetheless.

Bargain: A shocking £1/metre

And finally a fun three and a half metres of this purple/orange polkadot craziness. Disappointingly the selvedge is ripped in several places and some of the purple has washed out a bit after pre-washing… but perhaps it can be used for wearable muslins.

Bargain: £2/metre but worked out slightly less as we realised the selvedge issue in the shop so I was given a free half metre!

Not bad eh? Have you had any sewing bargains recently?