DIY, Interiors, Sewing

Sewing for Interiors

The reason my family clubbed together to get me an entry level sewing machine was because I’d murmered something about being interested in sewing some cushion covers and blinds for our new flat. 18 months later following serious procraftination, with a coat, a pair of jeans, a lined jacket, countless skirts and dresses, I finally got round to making the long-awaited cushion covers.

Our flat is neutral with white walls, wood floors and wooden sideboards. When we moved, we were on a budget, so most of our furniture was sourced from freecycle or was gifted to us from friends and family. All the furniture is neutral and it is on the minimal end of the scale. In an attempt to add some personality and creativity into the interiors I wanted some really bright colourful cushions, I took inspiration from Oliver Bonas, Anthropologie and found some inspiration on pinterest.

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After collecting inspiration, the starting point for this fabric was an old salwar kameez I had worn in India back in 2012. I picked it up from a supermarket, it wasn’t particulalry fancy, but it was 100% cotton. I loved the yellow colour with gold and orange thread woven through it.

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The fabric was quite narrow and would only be enough for a pair of small cushions. The small cushion fits well into our bucket chair, we picked up from a chairty shop, (which I have promised to upholster, so eyes peeled for a post soon). I finished the cushions with some pom pom trim because well, frankly, everything is better with a pom pom!

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To accompany, I wanted a pair of larger square cushions to go on the sofa. What took me so long to get this project started was finding the perfect fabric. However, as soon as I saw this Okina Hana, Graphical Pattern Quiliting Cotton from The Village Haberdashery, I knew this print from Rico Designs would compliment the yellow. Finally, I finished the cushions with some pre-cut piping from my local fabric shop, but this can be easily found anywhere, or you can easily make your own by sewing fabric around piping cord.

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I’m pleased with the burst of colour these cushions give to our netural colour scheme, it was such a satisfying project to make envelope cushions come together so easily. I love, love, love, this fabric from Rico Design. The project has spurred me to explore surface pattern design and in turn to make my own cushions from fabric that I have designed. Next up for interior sewing is making some velvet cushions, knitted cushions and a chunky knitted throw for our bedroom. So many projects are being brewed up at the moment.

Until next time,

Claire & Co.

XO

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Dressmaking, Handmade Wardrobe, Sewing

Sew Over It. City Break E Book. My Capsule Wardrobe.

It’s all well and good making posh frocks, I am guilty of this, Etta and Eve dresses hang proudly in my wardrobe. Sadly my lifestyle calls for these to be worn only on the odd occasion, and considering the investment per wear, I set about making an everyday, wearable wardrobe. My starting point was The Sew Over It City Break Capsule Wardrobe E-book, which included five patterns with multiple variations. As the title suggests, it is designed to dress you for all occasions during a city break. All the pieces are designed to go together, and crucially are practical, designed for everyday and transcend all seasons. What drew me to the capsule collection is that it would challenge my beginner skills  with a button down shirt, a pair of jeans and the requirement to use jersey for the first time.

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Molly Top and Dress

I started with the Molly Top, a simple jersey top, with dropped shoulder sleeves, a neck band and a curved hem. Using jersey for the first time, I opted for a stable Ponte Di Roma in navy and white, as modelled in the photos of the book. The stripes created a new challenge of stripe matching and I used advice from Tilly and the Buttons. A lot of beginners, myself included, are put off from using jersey fabric because there is a misconception that jersey can only be sewn on an overlocker. However, this is not true and I made this top entirely on my sewing machine with a zig zag stitch. I struggled putting the neck band in and there are a few puckers. I used the zig zag stitch to top stitch the neckband in place, which did the job fine, but I prefer the finish of a twin-needle and since then I have invested in a jersey twin needle .

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I prefer the Molly Dress and haven’t really taken it off since I made it. It’s comfortable, easy to wear, doesn’t require any ironing and still feels put together. I wore the navy and white version so much that I made it again in black and white ponte di roma. I’m looking for a bottle green and white ponte to make a third version for autumn, so it has since become a tried and tasted pattern. I like it in stripes, to accentuate the dropped shoulder and leave room to play with direction of the stripes on the contrast neck band.

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Alex Shirt Dress

Next, I made the Alex Shirt Dress. I love a shirt dress, because they can be worn for almost any occasion. The pattern is relatively easy, with a soft collar and without any cuffs. Inserting the yoke required a bit of head scratching, I used the Sew Over It Tutorial which helped me through it. The pattern calls for some drapey fabric, like viscose, but because I had been given some mid-wash, mid-weight denim I took a chance. The waist tie creates the silhouette and it sits on the knee. The sleeves are turned up, which suits me because thats how I usually wear shirt dresses. The fabric is a little structured, but it doesn’t cause too many problems. In the future I’d like to make a black tencel version for winter and a linen version for summer.

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Mia Jeans

The slim fitted, mid rise jeans, with back pockets are a great addition to this collection. They are a great beginner jeans pattern and I wrote a whole other post on learning to make jeans, but I did want to show how they work in the collection.

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Erin Skirt

Erin is a button down skirt with darts in the back and a waist band, and with the option of above or below the knee with a slit. I opted for above the knee, knowing I’d wear this mostly with tights. I was unsure about this pattern, I decided to go with a faux suede I bought from Fabric Land in a camel colour, so it would be classic. The fabric was a bit disappointing, but it was cheap and I was unsure if this style would suit me. I didn’t want to invest too much, so I see this as more of a wearable toile. In hindsight, this skirt calls for something with a bit more structure like, denim or corduroy. The Molly top looks great tucked in to this skirt, this variation is a little short on me, but I do like the button down style. Next time I’d make a bottle green version for autumn, but with a length to sit on the knee.

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The e-book comes with a Lola Coat, which is a waterfall style jacket. It’s really not my style and since I recently made the Chloe Coat,  my wardrobe didn’t need another coat. What I like about all these patterns are that they work with tights or bare legs and are very wearable wardrobe staples. A great collection of patterns, great to take confident beginners onto tackling more complicated garments. I know The Molly Dress and Alex Shirt dress will become tried and tested patterns for me.

All for now.

Claire & Co.

XO

 

 

 

 

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Dressmaking, Minerva Crafts Blog, Sewing

Minerva Crafts Blog: Eve Dress Hack Wrap Top

For my Minerva Crafts Blog project this month, I hacked the Eve Dress Pattern, into a wrap blouse, I like to get the most of a pattern and I’m pleased to say my first pattern hack was a success.

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Pattern: Sew Over It Eve Dress
Fabric: Georgette Fabric
Notions: None.
Modifications: Bodice from the packet and hacked the skirt length to sit just below my hips. Shortened the tie to wrap at the back, rather than all the way around.
Fit: Spot on
Difficulty: Easy
Watch out for: Slippy fabric
Make Again?: Yes, a real staple, simple wrap blouse in spring time.

You can read the full review here

*Disclosure: This post contains affilate links

Claire & Co.

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Dressmaking, Handmade Wardrobe, Sew My Style, Sewing

The Ogden Cami 3 Ways

The True Bias Ogden Cami has soon become my tried and tested pattern, it is very similiar to some Topshop cami’s I have been wearing on rotation for about 5 years, the pattern is truly worth the hype and I’ll continue to keep making them. So here’s the Ogden Cami three ways.

It’s a very satisfying quick sew and and came together in an evening. The construction was simple and I chose to french seam both the top and the facing for a neat finish. Turning the straps through feels like a true Houdini moment, if you get stuck there is a sew-a-long on the True Bias Blog if you get stuck. The pattern calls for Light weight woven fabrics such as crepe, rayon challis, voile, and lightweight linen. I made a toille from a cotton bed sheet which has a too much structure for the pattern, but I was just using it for the fit it did the job. The toille came up a bit snug and the the facing was too short, (which I have now refashioned as pyjmas.)

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I made the adjustments and made it up again in this colbalt viscose, left over from sewing my Eve Dress . I love it, I know I’ll get plenty of wear out of it in warmer weather with jeans or some Carrie Trousers.

My friend lis came across some fabric she’d had in her cupboard for 10 years when she was moving house and asked me if I could turn it into a pair of trousers for her, there wasn’t quite enough fabric for a pair of trousers, as it was very narrow, so I suggested an ogden cami instead, which I thought would be ideal for her up and coming holiday.

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It was my first time working with such a busy print and it was directional so I had to carefully consider how I cut it out, initially I had wanted to incoperate both patterns on the front and back of the cami, but in order to do that,  I would have had to the dragons..birds…eagles…not entirley sure what they were upside down. So the perfectionist in me, decided to leave the birds soaring towards the sky and used the other pattern on the fabric for the inside instead.

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It was the first time I was sewing something that wasn’t for me, so I spent some extra time pressing the seams and making sure the hem was straight. I was happy with the result and I really like the added detail of a different fabric for the facing, for me it’s these toughtful, often subtle details that make the difference between custom made v’s ready to wear.

I’ll definatley be making more of these cami’s and I know they will become a staple in my wardrobe. When it comes to summer I’d like to lengthen the top into a dress version similiar to this version by bombazine having lived through the 90’s not sure I’m ready to pair it up with a white t-shirt or polo neck underneath, but will be a staple on hopefully hot summer days.

All for now.

Claire

XO

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Dressmaking, Handmade Wardrobe, Sewing

Sewing A Winter Coat

After spending hours making the Etta Dress, shamefully I have only worn it once. Even though I loved wearing it, knowing that I’d made it myself, it got me thinking about making a more wearable everyday handmade wardrobe. Before launching into buying loads of fabric and patterns, I spent some time thinking about what makes up my day to day wardrobe. I also defined my style and read around the concept of capsule wardrobes. With winter coming up, I knew I wanted to make a coat to get as many wears out of my make as possible.

In summer I made use of the Sew Over It 20% off Sale and bought the Chloe Coat Pattern and the online class: an introduction into sewing coats.  When I first saw the Chloe Coat pattern I loved the classic collarless cut and loved the idea of making multiple coats in different weights of fabric to see me through the seaons. It was the first time I’d bought an online class and I can really recommend it, as it gives you confidence to tackle trickier projects, holds your hand through more complex steps and allows you to go at your own pace. I dilligently watched all the steps even before buying any fabric, so I knew what I was letting myself in for. I kept the laptop to the side of the sewing machine to refer back to the videos, I must have watched the lining video about six times!

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Contructing the pattern was a big task, with separate elements for the coat, interfacing and lining. Chloe is a 72 page PDF, so it was an evening’s work and I recommend making floor space and doing it all in one go so you don’t get mixed up.

Buying coating fabric can feel a bit daunting as it is more expensive. I watched a timely vlog by Gutherie and Ghani on the arrival of their autumn fabric, where Lauren explains the difference between coating fabrics in detail.  Like most people, I always thought the thicker a coat fabric, the warmer it would be, but the properties of a warm coat come from the composition of the fabric. In general, the higher the wool content, the warmer the coat. A cashmere wool coating, which can feel thin to touch, will be warmer than a chunky polyblend.

I set about looking for some fabric. I had a few projects in mind when I first saw the chloe coat; a plain black wool coat with a black and white stripey lining, a navy or colbalt coat with a gold lining and a geometric print in a lighter weight fabric.  I have had this gemoetric print coat saved on my pinterest board for years and I’m still searching for the perfect patterned fabric for a lightweight version.

In the end I settled for a Navy Twill Wool Blend Fabric from Minerva Crafts that I spotted in the sale for £7.99/m, a safe bet that I knew would go with plenty of my day to day clothes. Additionally I could put it on without thinking about what I was wearing underneath and it was not a huge investement if it all went pear shaped. It has a 60% wool content and 40% Polymaide content, if I was honest I was worried that just 60% of wool it wouldn’t be warm enough. But after looking at the labels of my current high street coat I was suprised to see just how much wool content I’d been able to buy just for just £7.99/m and I love how warm it is. It really proves the value of natural fibres, and next time I make a coat I would definitely invest in 100% wool now I can call myself a confident coat maker.

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To prepare the fabric, instead of prewashing, you need to steam the wool. When pressing the seams, it’s recommended you use a tailor’s clapper and ham. I invested in a tailor’s ham because I thought it would be handy for pressing sleeves on other projects, but I made a DIY clapper from some wood offcuts and stuck them together with gorilla glue. Wool takes a bit of extra pressing, the best analogy I read likens the ironing of the fabric, to using curling irons on your hair. The longer you leave the heat on, the better set the curl, and the longer you press the heat in with the clapper, the flatter the seam.

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I made a toille to check the fitting, I have broad shoulders so following the instructions, I cut the size to fit my shoulders and was able to take in the side seams. The style of the coat is unstructued and oversized, so the fit wasn’t too complicated. There is about 6 inches of ease which allows plenty of space for woolly jumpers. I didn’t construct the toille in full, because I knew how labour intensive the project was going to be, and this navy wool fabric wasn’t crazy expensive. I actually saw the navy version as a wearable toille itself.

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The construction was straightforward, the class introduces the tailoring technique of using ice wool under the shoulders, which involved some hand sewing, but it is not tricky. It was the first time I inserted an invisible zip and again it was really straight forward, I just had to triple check when I was cutting down the zip placket to make sure I didn’t get my right and left mixed up. I really like the colbalt blue zip as it adds a playful detail.

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The patch pockets are lined, very practical and large enough for a set of keys when running out of the door.

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Constructing the the lining was straightforward, but hemming the lining and turning it inside out was a bit tricky. When you reach the hem the end is in sight, so it’s tempting to hurry along, but it’s worth just taking your time and coming back to it with fresh eyes. I chose this gold lining from my local fabric store Abakhan  in Altrincham to add a bit of interest to the relatively plain coat.

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I am so pleased with the end result, it was a time intensive project, but it was so satisfying seeing it all come together and worth the investment as I have worn it nearly everyday since finishing it. I have pulled it on over my trainers and leggings and jumper when walking the dog, and with a dress and tights or worn with jeans and boots.

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I would make this pattern again, but recently I started to consider the enviromental cost of fabric production and over consumption following watching Stacy Dooley’s recent BBC documentary Fashion’s Dirty Secret. So for now, this navy coat works well with my autumn and winter wardrobe and I don’t really need any more coats. So I have neatly packed the pattern away to dig out at a later date, the timeless cut of the coat means it won’t go out of fashion and I look forward to experimenting with a geometric print fabric. I’ll no doubt be wearing this coat for more than half the year, let’s be honest it does always rain in Manchester, proudly knowing that I made it with my own hands.

All for now.

Claire & co.

xo

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