Monday, 20 April 2015

Butterick 5285 a.k.a The Perfect Summer Skirt

One of my sewing aims for 2015 is to sew more separates, especially skirts and I’d forgotten about this gem of a pattern, Butterick 5285, which was hiding in my stash. The dated illustrations really don’t do this pattern any justice and a quick Google image search revealed its full potential. 

I went with version B which is pleated. I decided to make this exactly as instructed using some cheap dark blue cotton chambray from my local fabric shop; it would be a wearable muslin of sorts. 

The pattern dictates you can only use 60” fabric and it doesn’t even give you options for anything smaller. I’ve read that other bloggers have used a narrow fabric and simply inserted a seam at the centre front which I may try in future. Luckily the skirt front pattern piece just fitted onto my fabric. The back didn’t quite fit so I folded about 1.5cm from the large pleat which meets the zip and I was able to cut the piece out with the fabric still folded. I think the chambray is about 55” wide.

Construction was very straightforward although I rushed and didn’t notice that I’d started sewing my pieces together in the order for the gathered version A rather than the pleated version B but that was an easy fix, it just meant sewing all my pleats at once rather that front and 2 back pieces separately. My only annoyance is that my zip position is slightly too low on the centre back which means I have a tiny gap below the waistband – something which I’ll keep an eye on next time. The pattern suggests a hook and eye closure on the waistband but I had enough space for a button hole so went that route instead (also to help keep the skirt closed over my zip fail) plus I HATE sewing hook & eyes so avoid them at all costs!

The skirt has a gorgeous shape to it, a lovely flare over the hips and I’m already planning my next one albeit with a lining attached. The chambray works really well with my Boden stripe Breton top which is a bonus as I have several different colours.
Pattern notes: 
I used about 1.4 metres of fabric, from that I was able to cut the skirt front, back, one set of pockets and the waistband. I used some scrap fabric for the other set of pockets (pocket backs match the skirt and the fronts are light blue). 
I cut a size 22 which has a 37" waist and the only alteration I made was to pinch out 1.5cm from the large back pleat to fit the pattern piece onto my fabric.
There's a small 2cm hem and the skirt hits just below my knee (I'm 5ft6). 


I’ll leave you with a photo of my latest dress which I made a couple of weeks ago – it’s my Rainy Day Mortmain dress. I’d bought a fat quarter of this fabric at the Knitting & Stitching show 2013 and wished I’d bought more. After a mega internet search over the winter I managed to find a seller on ebay who had 3 metres in stock – meant to be! The Mortmain is fast becoming my Tried & Tested pattern of choice – I really love it!  
Happy Sewing! Hannah x 

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Our Wedding!

So this isn’t a sewing related post but I thought I’d plug a gap in my blogging history to explain the absence of sewing. Most of January and all of February were spent crafting and preparing for our wedding then we went straight off on honeymoon to Thailand. I’m now back sewing and have a gorgeous new Mortmain to show you next time…

In the meantime I hope you’ll let me be a little self-indulgent and show off some of our wedding photos and tell you a bit about the day itself… 

First up and, without doubt, the most important people – our photographers. After reading umpteen wedding blogs I kept seeing the same name popping up -  McKinley-Rodgers and it soon became clear that their style of shooting was exactly what we had in mind. In fact we booked them as soon as we’d booked the date with the registrar! We got to meet husband and wife team Pen & Cam on our ‘beloved’ pre-shoot back last autumn and it was very obvious that we’d made the right decision. Our photos from that day in Oxford were so stunning that we knew we’d be in safe hands plus they’re both super awesome people which is a bonus! We also opted to have a video made by Cam’s company Storycatchers  which I don’t think I've been able to watch without crying yet!  They truly captured the spirit of our day and the following images are published with their kind permission.

Our dresses were both from House of Mooshki . Olivia at the design studio was so wonderful helping us decide on all the little details and changes which would suit us. To start with we didn't see each other’s dresses then, when it came it fittings, we decided to sneak a peek in the hope that we’d get as many tears out before the day as possible. Standing together in our dresses just added to the excitement!
Mine is a slightly altered version of the ‘Sarah’ dress and my wife has an altered ‘Elle’. Our flowers were from Pip Lowe Flowers  who we met at Chosen Wedding fairs  She used seasonal ranunculus in soft whites and pale pinks.






I totally fell in love with my Irregular Choice shoes via a Pinterest photo but they were from a previous season and no longer on sale. Luckily I managed to find a pair, unworn, on eBay for £30 which was a bit of a result! Olivia managed to match the red of my sash to the red on the shoes which I really liked. My dancing shoes were a pair of customized Converse which I added our wedding date to. Instead of a fancy bag I bought a cute clutch from Not on the High Street  to keep all my essentials for the day in.



Our ceremony took place at Islington Town Hall which is a stunning venue – the council chamber has a magnificent domed ceiling which lets in so much light (essential in February!). Our wonderful photographers organised our guests for a confetti throwing photo which turned out to be my favourite from the day.



We then all jumped onto an old routemaster bus Timebus to transport us to The Prince Albert pub  pub for our reception. We knew we didn't want a big formal ‘do’ so a pub felt really natural for us. The team there have organised loads of weddings so you know everything will run smoothly! The Prince Albert has a lovely upstairs dining room which seats 80 and is so full of character that you really don’t need to do much in terms of decorations. We named our tables after cities that we've visited together and each guest received a Tunnucks Tea Cake, a fortune telling fish and a lego person which, for some people, we’d managed to make to look like them. Each table also had jam jars of posies made by our florist.







Our cakes were from Primrose Bakery  – we had a mixture of flavours with a chocolate / white chocolate top cake and our cheese cake was provided by the pub.
We snuck off for a quiet moment and had much fun swishing our dresses!

Finally our first dance – we 100% didn’t want anything too smoochy so decided on ‘All Night Long’ by Lionel Richie as it makes us laugh. We are fortunate to have a friend AJ O'Neill  who choreographs wedding dances (as well has helping Dermot O’Leary on his Red Nose Day dance challenge) so he helped us come up with a routine that wasn’t too challenging or hard to remember! We roped in all our friends towards the end so we weren’t left dancing on our own for too long.



We had some wonderfully creative people helping us along the way and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to you. In addition to the fab people above we also hired 2 black taxis from   http://www.londonblacktaxis.net/ to drive us to the Town Hall and our hair & make up was artfully applied by the uber talented Molly from  Dickie and Dove
Also thank you to my wife who designed and made our save the date, invites, order of service and place settings - she's my lobster! 

It was a truly magical day and I felt so honoured to be surrounded by so many happy people – I don’t think I stopped smiling all day!
If you’d like to know about any other suppliers or tips please just ask – I have a mega list!


All images copyright www.mckinley-rodgers.com

Thursday, 8 January 2015

A Winter Love Affair

I had a bit of a love affair with the Emery dress pattern at the end of the year. I’d worked hard to perfect the fit of the bodice and can now say that it’s perfect, next step would be to draft a few different necklines for a bit of variety. After my first Emery I’ve since made another four (all in quick succession). The first two were Christmas dresses. I made a Christmas dress last year (Simplicity 1873) but that was early on in my dressmaking and the bodice fit isn’t quite right. In fact when I tried it on this year it’s way too big - maybe I’d left space for extra mince pies?
My first dress was made with Alexander Henry ‘Christmas Eve’ fabric. I’d bought a fat quarter when I was in New York in Sept 2013 and love it so much I decided to search for some for a dress. It turned out to be quite the search and I ended up having to order it from the US as it’s last season range.

The second dress was completely copied inspired by Sarah - A Million Dresses with this amazing bauble fabric. I cut a shorter sleeve on this dress as I knew I’d wear it to my Christmas Party and didn’t want to feel too hot. I really love this dress and ended up wearing it on Boxing Day and on New Year’s Eve. Such a shame it’s back in the wardrobe until next year!


I received some lovely sewing related gifts for Christmas: a tailors ham, 3 lots of fabric, a voucher for Eternal Maker, a 50’s blouse pattern and a fab tape measure which has illustrations of fashions through the decades. I also bought ‘Gertie Sews Vintage Casual’ in a bid to sew more separates this year - more on that later.  


At the beginning of the year I’d deliberately kept a couple of days free to get some sewing done and managed to get two new dresses made. The last of 2014 was made with the purple floral fabric ‘Secret Garden’ by Nel Whatmore which I bought at the Stitching Show in November. The first of 2015 was some Robert Kaufmann ‘Lantern’ fabric purchased from Modes4U as part of their Black Friday deal (my only Black Friday purchase, no racing to the shops at 6am for me!). These dresses were both made with the intention of taking them on my honeymoon in February, we’re off to Thailand so it will be hot and sunny and the perfect weather for summer dresses! I’m looking forward to sorting through my dresses to work out which ones to take away.




So now my thoughts turn to 2015… First up is my wedding, we get married in just over 6 weeks which is hugely exciting but also means no more sewing until all wedding related tasks have been completed. I had intended to make a new dress for my hen day/night but I think the time may get taken with more important tasks! The ‘To-Do’ list isn’t too daunting but we’d rather get everything done this month and have February to chill out than be sticking and gluing every night in the lead up to the big day!

In terms of sewing I’ve got two objectives for 2015. Firstly to learn some new skills to push myself. I feel confident sewing now, in the last year my dressmaking skills have advanced along with my ability to redraft patterns but I feel like I’m playing safe at the moment so I’m going to try to attempt some of the most ambitious patterns in my stash. Secondly I’d like to make some more separates, skirts and cute blouses spring to mind and I’m going to start searching for some nice patterns to use. I bought ‘Gertie Sews Vintage Casual’ which has lots of lovely patterns and I think this, combined with ‘Love at First Stitch’, will be a good starting point. I’m also going to seriously attack my fabric stash - I’ve got such a lot of fabric which is sitting waiting patiently to be worn that I can’t really justify buying any new fabric this year!


Do let me know if you recommend any cute blouse patterns and Happy New Year!