Sunday, 30 November 2014

November Indie Pattern Update!

I don't know about you but I've been diving headfirst into winter sewing this month so have been keeping my eyes peeled for new patterns which could be a good addition to my cold weather wardrobe. I'm toying with the idea of making a coat...anyone got any good pattern recommendations?  It's the perfect time to be looking for patterns to add to your collection as this weekend has seen a surge of Black Friday/Thanksgiving sales from many indie designers as well as a couple of anniversary sales. I've spotted discounts on offer at Grainline Studio, Sewaholic, True Bias, See Kate Sew, Imagine Gnats, Kate & Rose, Jennifer Lauren, Gray All Day, Megan Nielsen, Jamie Christina, Colette, April Rhodes and Tilly and the Buttons. Check out their sites/blogs for full details.

New Pattern Companies/First Releases!

  • Jennifer from Workroom Social has released her very first PDF pattern, the Tate Top. It's a racerback tank top with two variations, plus it's FREE! It's super simple to make so bear in mind that it has has no instructions.
  • The new company on the block this month is Pattern Fantastique who have launched with a three piece first collection of PDF patterns. Their focus is on shape and their designs have a contemporary simplistic aesthetic which I find intriguing. The style kind of reminds me of COS. Their blog is also worth checking out for some great construction and finishing tips!

New Patterns

  • Christine Haynes released a gorgeously simple pattern for a chic knit dress, called the Marianne. It has capped sleeves, or 3/4 length additions and a collar option. I love it made up in a classic breton stripe!
  • I really love Amy from Cloth Habit's new Watson Bra and Bikini Brief pattern. It's a seventies style soft cup plunge bra with no under wiring and has a longline variation. I can imagine it made up in so many different colours and fabrics and think it might just tempt me into my first foray in lingerie making!
  • Tenterhook Patterns' Jacaranda Dress is their second addition to their specialist plus size pattern line and has a princess seamed bodice drafted for a C-D cup. It has two skirt variations and comes with detailed assembly instructions.
  • Tilly and the Buttons' new pattern is the Francoise Dress and for me completely captures her style! It is as usual aimed at beginners and is a classically simple late 60s style shift dress with two variations and raglan sleeves.
  • By Hand London's Kim Dress is now available from their online shop. I've just started work on my Christmas party version of it in a combination of tricky fabrics so wish me luck!
  • I was so lucky to be asked by Anto from Jolie Marie Louise to test her latest release, the Chloe Blazer. It was a real challenge for me as my first foray into basic tailoring and I can't wait to give it another try. I'm really inspired by the brocade fabric Anto chose for her sample version.
  • Blue Ginger Doll released theViolet Dress which is a vintage inspired knit dress with three variations. I like the little details on the shoulders and bust which make it unique to other knit patterns available.
  • Kathleen from Grosgrain has launched a free dress pattern called the Simply Shift and has instructions to accompany it available on her blog. I really like the topstitched centre front seam detail on her sample.
  • The Zoe Raglan Top is the most recent release from Liola Designs and is currently available through Kollabora, soon to be available through Etsy too! It features a really unique, bold pleated feature along the upper sleeves.
  • While clicking through the sale links when writing this post I discovered a new Jamie Christina pattern which I might have to treat myself to! The Lark is a maxi-cardi with a collar or hood. It's currently available as a PDF pattern but is soon to be released in hard copy form too.
  • Iconic Patterns' new release is the Rachel Blouse. It's got two variations with two different sizes of neck tie and long or short sleeves, I can imagine it made up beautifully in gorgeous silk chiffons! It's also on offer as part of their two week pre-Christmas sale so how can you resist!
  • Anne from 1 Puddle Lane released the Miss Audrey Dress PDF pattern this month! With a full skirt and fitted bodice it's got options for different cup sizes which is a feature I love. She's selling kits for the pattern too.
  • Republique du Chiffon released two new patterns this month! The first was the PDF Marthe Blouse, which has raglan sleeves with a dipped hem and deep gathered peplum. The second is the paper Annabelle Dress which is a simple tunic dress with v-neck and centre front zip.


  • Tasia and her team at Sewaholic have been busy working on a whole load of new pattern designs by the looks of things. Two new patterns are coming in January! 
  • Marilla Walker is going to be releasing a coat pattern with a very on trend cocoon silhouette in mid December. I'm really looking forward to seeing more of that one.
  • Pauline Alice gave us a sneak peak on Instagram of her next pattern which had a stunning pleated detail around the hem. To me it looked like some sort of coat/jacket and I can't wait for the full reveal!
  • Megan Nielsen has plans to release a free PDF circle skirt pattern called the Veronika Skirt, aimed at beginners. It's going to have two waistband choices, optional pockets and will suit either knits of wovens. 


  • Kelli from True Bias has been running a sew-along on her blog for her most recent release, the Sutton Blouse. It wrapped up on 14th November but the posts will remain up if you are after some tips!
  • Thread Theory's sew-along for their new Jutland Pants starts tomorrow (1st December). It's one of those sew-alongs that I'm going to be following eagerly despite not actually sewing the pattern as it's going to have some great tips on sewing techniques and details that I've never tried before.
  • The sew-along for Cloth Habit's Watson Bra is starting January 12th. Amy is quite the font of knowledge when it comes to sewing lingerie so I'm going to be paying close attention to any of her tips and recommendations. 
  • I have been intently following Heather Lou's Ginger Jeans sew-along which has just wrapped up over on Closet Case Files. She's packed so much useful information into it and has clearly invested so much time, research and thought. My supplies are ready and waiting and armed with those posts I feel pretty confident!
  • The sew-along for Tilly and the Buttons' new Francoise Dress is in full swing. There's also a competition with some great prizes! The deadline to finish and share your dress by is 14th December.
  • The sew-along for the Bonnie Sweater from Blue Ginger Doll which was released last month has just started over on their blog. It contains thorough tips for choosing and working with knits.
  • Sew Over It are running a sew-along for their new Pussy Bow Blouse which is aimed at an intermediate sewer. It will include tips for working with the slippery and lightweight fabrics which are suited to this pattern and starts on their blog tomorrow (1st December).
  • See Kate Sew ran a week long series of posts on tips and tricks for their Icon Coat including a detailed welt pocket tutorial and instructions for bagging out a coat lining.
  • Anne from 1 Puddle Lane is starting a sew-along for her new Miss Audrey Dress on 1st December. She's got a handy little sign up box specifically for the sew-along so you can get all the information delivered directly to you!

Other Exciting News

  • First up a bit of news that I personally am super excited about (and may have already taken advantage of!). Australian company Style Arc are now offering PDF versions of some of their patterns on Etsy. I've often been tempted by the on-trend style of their designs but the delivery costs and times have put me off, along with the fact that you buy just the one size. The PDF patterns are instant download and you get a bundle of three sizes!
  • Colette Patterns launched Seamwork Magazine. There will be monthly digital issues which are free to read containing in depth articles on a variety of sewing topics. Each issue will come with two digital patterns which can be sewn up in 3 hours or less which will be available to subscribers only. The first issue comes out next week and I'm really looking forward to it.
  • Two more Sewaholic patterns are now available to download as PDFs; the Tofino Pants and Saltspring Dress. (Which makes them super tempting here in the UK with this weekend's sale!)
  • Katie from Papercut Patterns is working on PDF versions of her designs. She already offers free world-wide shipping on her beautifully packaged patterns but I can see instant downloads being a very popular alternative to waiting for the shipping from New Zealand!

As usual if you know of any more news or events please let me know in the comments so I can add them to the update. Here's your does of monthly indie sewing inspiration to get your creativity fired up for the month ahead!

Monday, 24 November 2014

Pattern Testing: The Kim Dress from By Hand London

My mission this Autumn/Winter is to make more practical, everyday garments...but it's totally ok for me to veer off that mission entirely when it involves a beautiful dress right?! When the ladies at By Hand London asked me to test their latest release I couldn't resist, especially with the Christmas party season just around the corner. I wasn't particularly excited by the gathered skirt variation as it's not a style I tend to wear but the wrap style skirt with curved 'petal' style overlap on the other hand, I couldn't wait to try out! I chose to pair it with the view B bodice with the sweetheart neckline.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Black Crepe By Hand London Kim Dress

I cut the size US6/UK10 as I usually do with BHL patterns and the fit turned out exactly as it usually does with their patterns. It's pretty much spot on; all I needed to do was shorten the straps and take out 1/2" on the double at the top of each side seam, grading out to nothing at the waist. The straps I shortened by an inch but they could probably do with another inch taking out as they have a tendency to slide about. I'd recommend a quick muslin to work this out because the way the bodice is finished means you can't do this afterwards without some serious unpicking and it's important to get the height of that neckline right. I usually find the skirt length too long for my short little legs but I quite liked the extra length in this particular design so I sewed it up as is!

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Black Crepe By Hand London Kim Dress

The fabric was ever so kindly provided for me by Josie from Fabric Godmother. I had such fun browsing her site and almost veered towards using a bright print but at the last minute my plan to make more wearable garments kicked back in and I settled on this plain Prestige crepe to make myself a little black dress. It's 150cm wide and I used 1.5m including cutting twice the amount of each bodice piece so I could self line it. Because of the length of the pattern pieces you would still need 1.5m of your main fabric even if you were using a separate lining.

To be totally honest I didn't have the best time working with this fabric because of the poly content. I should have thought it through before ordering but it played up in the usual way polyester fabrics do, not responding particularly well to the iron but melting away or turning shiny if you cranked up the heat. This made trying to get those beautiful princess seam lines of the bodice to lay flat rather tricky. However, it does have the perfect amount of body and weight for this style of dress though and I love how that front overlap with the little pleats drapes. 

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Black Crepe By Hand London Kim Dress

If you're thinking about making this or another dress in a similar style I think it could work in a wide variety of fabrics but different weights and drapes will produce an entirely different effect. I'd like to experiment with making this skirt up in something with a crisper hand to exaggerate the skirt shape. One thing I would recommend is not using anything too bulky for the bodice as the clean lined finish is achieved by turning it out to the right side through the straps and I found it a fairly tight squeeze just in this mid-weight crepe. I heavily graded down the seam allowances to help reduce the bulk and I think choosing a super lightweight lining like a silk habotai would balance out the use of a thicker main fabric.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Black Crepe By Hand London Kim Dress

Construction wise it's pretty much a breeze to sew up and following the instructions directly gives you a nice professional finish as they include lots of little details and reminders such as when to stay-stitch or under stitch and to finish the back seam before inserting the zip. The bodice is lined with a fairly minimal amount of hand stitching. The only thing I did differently was to stitch my lining along the invisible zip using my regular zip foot (which is a trick I first discovered when sewing up Sewaholic's Cambie Dress) rather than slip stitching by hand from the right side.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Black Crepe By Hand London Kim Dress

Next time I make this bodice I'd like to try adding stay/twill tape to the seam allowances of the neckline, cutting the tape slightly shorter and easing it in. This is a tip I picked up from Lladybird's version of the Georgia Dress and it helps keep that top edge sitting flat against the body. As it is this version's neckline is gaping just a little, despite the stay stitching to prevent it stretching out. This would probably be slightly less of an issue with the straight view A neckline.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Black Crepe By Hand London Kim Dress
Understitched Neckline

I used the recommended 1/2" turn twice for the hem but found that to be a little wide to achieve a nice flat finish on such a steep curve. It worked out ok with a heavy press but next time I'd be tempted to trim down the length a little and do a rolled hem or a narrower turn depending on what fabric I was using. You use the stay stitching of those curved front edges as a guide for turning up your hem, which is great as the stitching line helps to ease that slightly longer raw edge in.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Black Crepe By Hand London Kim Dress

For me this is another absolute gem of a dress pattern and another one which I can see working to mix and match with elements of their other designs to create some amazing outfits! The Kim Dress is set for release by the end of this month so there isn't long to wait if you've got your eye on sewing it up for Christmas. O yes...and expect some more completely unpractical, frivolous sewing in the near future as I bought wine red velvet and sequins at the Goldhawk Road meet up at the weekend which is destined to become another Kim! Having never tackled either of these fabrics before I'm not entirely sure what I was thinking but I still can't wait to make it. I'm blaming the excitement of meeting Lauren and the persuasive tactics of Sally!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Pattern Testing: The Chloe Blazer from Jolie Marie Louise (and giveaway winner!)

So I'm going to start out by introducing project as a garment I completed quite some time ago now, in fact I made this back in April when I tested the pattern. I got a fair bit of wear out of it in the spring but putting it on again today to take photos has really highlighted for me how much my sewing has come on in the last six months. Don't get me wrong I'm still really proud of this garment as my very first blazer style jacket and these thoughts are in no way any reflection on the pattern or instructions, I've just learnt a lot about how to achieve a more professional finish and fit recently.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Polka Dot Chloe Jacket from Jolie Marie Louise

This is the recently released Chloe Blazer from Jolie Marie Louise. I had a choice of patterns to test and was instantly drawn to this one because of the classic style and feminine lines. I was really excited to test this pattern from the point of view of someone who had never sewn a garment of this type before. I was a little daunted by the task of a structured garment but the instructions for it are fantastic. My favourite part is the 'Quick Guide to Adjusting Your Pattern' which includes instructions for shortening or lengthening and on how to do an FBA. I was really impressed with this as soon as I opened up the pattern instructions as doing alterations like these is something I used to breeze on past as, not knowing how to do them, I was quite intimidated by the thought. With instructions for how to alter this specific pattern included (complete with really clear diagrams) it seems much more easily achievable. Having said that I cut a straight size 2 but next time I think I'll go down a size and do a slight FBA as there's quite a lot of room through the lower front. I do like the cut and fit of the back on this as it is though. I'd also shorten the sleeves to be three quarter length when the cuff is rolled back.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Polka Dot Chloe Jacket from Jolie Marie Louise
I'd like it to be a little more nipped in at the waist

It was quite an intensive project as there are simply so many pattern pieces to deal with once you have your main fabric, underlining, interfacing and lining cut out and there are many steps to work through (including basting all your underlining pieces to the main fabric to begin with!). If you like an involved project though this would be a great first step towards full on tailoring. Although many elements of this construction process were new to me each step made total sense and it was a really enjoyable journey. The part I was most apprehensive about was the welt pockets. Thanks to the clear instructions and plentiful diagrams these came together without any frustration. I'm pretty pleased with the final pockets although I definitely think I need some more practice at them to get all the corners nice and crisp.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Polka Dot Chloe Jacket from Jolie Marie Louise

As well as my first attempt at welt pockets it was my first attempt at using sleeve heads; in fact I didn't even know what they looked like when I went through the supplies list! I bought mine in a length off the roll from Kleins in Soho and cut them to size. They were surprisingly simple to put in. I lined up the ridge along the edge of the head itself with the seam line of the armhole and sewed them in along that line by hand.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Polka Dot Chloe Jacket from Jolie Marie Louise

For some reason I could not get the idea of a polka dot blazer out of my brain when first thinking about fabric choices for my jacket. After visits to Goldhawk Road and Rolls n Rems in Lewisham came up with nothing similar to what I had in mind I turned my search online which is pretty unusual for me. At first when it came to polka dots all I could find were endless options in quilting cotton then I came across this beautiful linen look cotton from Fabrics Galore. It comes in quite a few different colour ways and I went with the smoke grey. I bought 2.5m (it's only 44"/112cm wide) and just about squeezed the jacket out with scraps to spare.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Polka Dot Chloe Jacket from Jolie Marie Louise

The lining is a duck egg blue 100% cotton poplin which I'm having a hard time remembering the source of, it was either A-One Fabrics or Rolls n' Rems! As it was before the time I started keeping a good record of each project I also have no idea how much I used... I probably bought just over the recommended amount and I do know I had no trouble getting it out of that. For the underlining I used the recommend cotton muslin (which is known as calico here in the UK, muslin is an entirely different thing!).  The combination of these three fabrics I think has ended up a little thick and crisp for some elements of the design. I don't think any one of them was the wrong choice but that each was just a little on the heavy side and I should have altered my choice of underling and lining to compensate for the hand of the main fabric. Next time I'd like to line it with a soft and fairly fine silk and I'd look for a lighter weight of calico or heavy poplin for the underlining.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Polka Dot Chloe Jacket from Jolie Marie Louise

The lining has a pleat at the centre back and was super straight forward to install. I love the way it looks inside with the duck egg lining next to the soft grey facing. It's an unusually girly combination of fabric choices for me but with this tailored silhouette I don't feel too twee. I even stitched the button holes in the thread to match the lining to bring and element of that colour to the outside. Being able to make little design choices like this it one of the things I really love about sewing my own clothes.

I used a couple of pewter metal buttons I had in my stash as they were the right size but I've never been entirely sold on them. Buttons in the same colour as the lining was too much, and also restricts what I can wear the jacket with as at the moment I can wear the sleeves rolled down and hiding the colour. What kind of buttons would you choose?

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Polka Dot Chloe Jacket from Jolie Marie Louise

Now I've got a bit more complex sewing experience under my belt I'd really love to make this pattern again with a better choice of materials and better technique. As well as making the fit adjustments I've already mentioned I think my jacket would benefit from taking more time and care with pressing and steaming throughout the construction process. There is no underestimating the difference a good press of each and every seam can make which it comes to a crisp and professional finish is there?! I love the way Anto has styled the sample version and the brocade fabric she has chosen, I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for interesting jacket suitable fabrics from now on!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Polka Dot Chloe Jacket from Jolie Marie Louise

To finish up on a slightly different note I've got a giveaway winner to announce! The lucky recipient of the copy of 'Hollywood Costume' by Deborah Nadoolman Landis is Amy Gallagher from Made in a Normal Person's Kitchen. Congratulations Amy, I hope you enjoy the book as much as I have! If you could send me an email (address on my about page) to let me know your address I'll get it in the post this week

Saturday, 8 November 2014

A Trio of Renfrew Tops

One of my main sewing aims this year has been to develop my skills and confidence when it comes to working with knits. I'm happy to say, despite a somewhat mixed start, I've been really delighted with my last couple of knit garments. I've made a handful of Sewaholic's Renfrew Top over the last six months or so but as yet have not got around to sharing them with you guys. I thought it might be a good idea to group them all into one post as I made them all at various points on my knit sewing journey and there's quite a mixture of results!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewaholic Renfrew Top T-Shirt

I gave myself a good challenge with this first one, not only choosing the most difficult neckline option with the tricky point to sew but also using a stripe! The one thing I am actually pleased about with this is the stripe matching! It was fairly straight forward as both colours are a nice wide stripe. I cut everything out on the flat and when pinning the side seams I used a pin at the top and bottom of each stripe to make sure everything lined up. I made this right back in March and at the time wasn't sure what to do about matching the sleeves so just made no attempt at it at all! Now I know what I'm looking to match up.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewaholic Renfrew Top T-Shirt
I'll explain the awful state of the holes in that seam in a moment...

For all three of these tops I cut exactly the same size (the Sewaholic size 6). I sometimes cut a size 4 with Sewaholic but I like my t-shirts to have quite a relaxed fit. Looking at the second and third versions that come next can you believe that I cut exactly the same size?! I like relaxed but this is just way too big! Because it's so oversized it hangs and drags under the bust in a not very flattering way. Part of the reason this happened was because it was constructed entirely on my overlocker. I'm getting better at accuracy when it comes to the width of seam allowances with the overlocker but I'm no where near as accurate as on my machine. At the point of making this I was worried about cutting off too much and making the top too small so erred far too much on the side of caution and my seam allowances were much too narrow and this added up to make the t-shirt far too big all over.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewaholic Renfrew Top T-Shirt

The other aspect of the sizing issue is the quality of the jersey. This was one of the very first knits I bought when I had no idea about what to look for in a good jersey. This particular fabric I picked up for super cheap on Goldhawk Road and is very fine and synthetic feeling. It doesn't have a particularly nice drape, which I can recognise now I've worked with other knits which so, and the grey stripes are crisper than the white. Plus it has pretty appalling recovery and has really stretched out even though I've barely worn it. At the seams the fabric itself has started to tear away from the stitching and fall apart. As this was one of the first projects I made on my overlocker I thought it was something to do with not having the tension settings right. However I haven't had this problem with any other knit projects, so I've come to the conclusion it is the fault of the cheap fabric! Still I'm glad I started off with something cheap and cheerful which I've learnt a lot from.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewaholic Renfrew Top T-Shirt

The second version I also constructed almost entirely on my overlocker but I got a better fit through the body by being more careful about using the correct seam allowance. Plus the jersey hasn't stretched out of shape! This is the same fabric I used for my Coppelia Cardigan which I still love, it's lovely and soft to wear. On this version I omitted the hem band and chose instead to turn it up once and use a twin needle to finish. I'm fairly short and I think the intended length of the Renfrew is longer than my personal preference for t-shirts so loosing length wasn't a problem. I'm much happier with the length on this one and it has actually had some wear unlike the first!

While it is a vast improvement on the first t-shirt the issues I have with this one are the bands to finish the sleeves (they make them too long and tight to the arm for me personally) and the width of the neckband. It's come out a wider than in the Sewaholic promotional versions, again down to my lack of accuracy and nervousness about trimming too much off on the overlocker! Because of the extra width it doesn't sit nice and flat against the body despite topstitching the seam allowance down.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewaholic Renfrew Top T-Shirt

I briefly tried to use the twin needle on my first version but it was having absolutely none of that nasty jersey! I didn't have a particularly good time with the twin needle on this one either, some stitches were being skipped no matter what settings I fiddled with or how slow I sewed. I did eventually manage to achieve a finish I was fairly happy with but it's created a bit of a ridge between the lines of stitching. is this to do with the tension or purely the width of space between the needles do you think?  At this point in time I wasn't the twin needle's biggest fan!

However...I had much better results with the twin needle on my third version which I only made last week and at the moment holds the title of my best knit project yet! I used the same method for matching the stripes and check out this lovely smooth twin-needled neckline!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewaholic Renfrew Top T-Shirt

Something clicked with the twin needle and this project. I wasn't doing anything particularly differently to my first few projects, I was fiddling with the same settings, but perhaps my handling of knit fabrics has improved. I used a viscose jersey from A-One fabrics on Goldhawk Road for this one  (I used less than a metre at 150cm wide and as far as I can remember it was £4.50/m) and it pressed, sewed and wears SO much better than the jerseys for my first two. I think the quality of the knit had some kind of impact on how well the twin needle worked, has anyone else found this? Soon after I had another good twin needle experience with my Bronte Top for which I used a lovely bamboo knit which seems to back this up. I know twin needles have a reputation for being unexplainably temperamental but I'm wondering if there's a kind of rule as to what fabrics they respond best to?

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewaholic Renfrew Top T-Shirt

As you may notice I made a couple more changes to how I constructed this final t-shirt and now think I've pinned down my ideal t-shirt pattern when it comes to style, fit and construction. I omitted both the bands for the hem and cuffs on this version, turned and pressed the raw edge up twice by half and inch each time and then used the twin needle to stitch in place. I much prefer the shortened sleeves.

I constructed this t-shirt using a narrow zig zag stitch on my machine rather than ploughing straight in with the overlocker. It's turned out so much more accurate than the other versions and the seams are actually a lot neater and appear stronger. I finished all the seams on my overlocker, trimming them down as much as I dared, as I just like the professional finish it gives. Sewing it up on my machine made such a huge difference to how the neckline turned out too. I used a 6/8" seam allowance here (more than recommended by the pattern) to achieve a nice and skinny band which I really like. I'll definitely be using the combination of sewing seams by machine and then finishing on the overlocker in future.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewaholic Renfrew Top T-Shirt

This pattern is a great starting point for sewing knit garments; partly because it's a great, simple and classic shape to begin with and includes a variety of necklines and sleeve lengths. Also the instructions, as with all Sewaholic patterns I've tried so far, are thorough and clear. Included are useful techniques for working with knits such as adding twill tape to the shoulder seams to strengthen and stabilise which I did on all three of these. I've learnt a lot from making this pattern three times and will definitely be making it again. I live in jeans and comfortable tops for work so this is just the kind of basic my wardrobe needs. As winter has well and truly arrived here in London now I think I need to try the cowl neck and three-quarter length sleeves in a cosy stable knit next!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewaholic Renfrew Top T-Shirt

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Blog Hop and a Giveaway!

I've got a slightly different post lined up for you today. I've been a bit slow about it but I'm finally catching up with the writing process blog hop that's been doing the rounds! The ever so cool Nicole Needles nominated me for it a few weeks back, sorry that it's taken me so long Nicole! I've got to answer four questions to give you guys an insight into why and how I write my blog so here it goes:

What am I working on?
Despite taking a couple of 'sew-cation' days last week and blitzing through a few UFOs and projects that were cut out and waiting for me as always I've got more sewing ideas buzzing around my head than I've got time to sew! I'm part way through a pair of Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers which I'm having a few fitting issues with as they are my very first pair of trousers! I've made some alterations already which has made a vast improvement but I think I might be posting some pictures for advice soon as I've still got some weird wrinkles under the bum and behind the knees...Anyway once I've cracked them I've got a muslin of the Jamie Jeans cut out and ready to go. Plus I'm working on a shirt for my stepdad which I'm absolutely determined to finish soon as it was his birthday present from April and he chose the fabric in May! Other than that I think top of my own list are some Laurel blouses and dresses as I love how my first blouse fits me and think my wardrobe could benefit from more simple shifts.

How does my work differ from others in it's genre?
This is such a tough question! I think my blog is very similar to a lot of others the genre as I generally blog about things I have sewn and the process of making them. It's very much focused on sewing! I don't think my blog or sewing fits clearly into any particular aesthetic as I draw influences from all kinds of places. I like to think I make quite classic garments with an element of fun and frivolousness here or there. These projects often happen just because I enjoy/want the experience of making them! I think the way I write my blog is influenced by what I enjoy reading on other blogs so I try to include some technical construction information and close up pictures of insides and details. I'm always pushing myself to try new things in each project, whether it be a new technique or new fabric and I'd like to think that is reflected in my blog and that a sense of progress comes across.

Why do I write/create what I do?
I started this blog mainly as a way for me to document my sewing progress; a place that I could refer back to my thoughts on a technique I had tried before, what alterations I needed to make to a pattern and what needle and stitch length I used for that tricky fabric. It still functions as that for me today but I hope that what I write about my discoveries, failures and successes benefits other people in their own sewing adventures! Before sewing with a new pattern I usually Google the pattern name or number and find blog posts and reviews from other people who have made it to get an idea of how accurate the sizing is, what fabrics and techniques have worked well for it and which common adjustments people with a similar figure to mine have made. I try to include as much information as possible in my finished garment posts so that my blog can be useful to others in the same way.

As I have connected with more members of the sewing community my blog has become so much more than a personal record. I spend so much of my time sewing and so few of the friends I had before blogging also enjoy it that it's great to have a blog as a way to talk to other people who share the passion for stitching! I sew for the challenge, because I enjoy the process, I enjoy creating and I enjoy trying new things. I'm always trying to challenge myself as I say, so my blog is a great way to ask for advice and feedback from people who have experienced the same thing. I absolutely welcome constructive criticism from more experienced sewers as there is so much to sewing that I don't even know about yet. If you can spot something that I could do better by doing it differently I want to know so I can make something that bit closer to perfect next time!

I'm starting to enjoy the photographing of garments a little more now I'm not just using my iPhone!

How does my writing/creative process work?
I don't write to a schedule or plan but post when I've got a finished garment to sew or something else to share. The content of my blog is very much dictated by what I want to sew next. My actual writing process is that pretty much whatever comes into my head ends up on the page! I've often got so much to say about a garment that I have to quickly type out some bullet points that don't make much sense before going back to elaborate or make sense of it. Otherwise my fingers can't keep up with my head and I end up forgetting half of it! I keep a notepad by me when I sew so I can jot down the size I've cut, alterations I've made and any notes about the construction or things I'd like to change next time. It's a great quick reference guide to look back at but also really helps when it comes to writing my blog posts as often when I finish a garment I don't get around to photographing or writing about it for a couple of weeks. I also like to have the garment by me as I write a blog post as another prompt. I usually photograph a project before writing about it, but sometimes don't get around to it until after and tend to not write around the photographs but add them in after. Taking the photos is definitely my least favourite thing about sewing and blogging!

The final part of the blog hop is to nominate three other bloggers to answer the questions. To be honest I've read so many of these posts I've lost track of who has or hasn't done it already so I'm taking the easy route and opening this hop up to anyone who hasn't answered yet and would like to!

As you've made it through those long answers I've got a treat for you!

As a thank you to all my readers for the support, advice and encouragement you give me through the blog I've got a giveaway for you today! A bit of a happy accident (brought on by the fact that my wonderful family and friends know me so well!) means I've ended up with two copies of the book 'Hollywood Costume' by Deborah Nadoolman Landis which was released to accompany the incredible Hollywood Costume exhibition at the V&A a couple of years ago. It was possibly the best exhibition I have ever been to; as well as exhibiting some of the most infamous costumes in history it gave such an amazing insight into the design and production process and explained brilliantly how important an element costume is in telling a story. The book is, in it's own way just as fantastic. 

I am of course, holding on to one of the copies but the second copy is still shrink wrapped and ready to be sent out to one of you lucky readers! Unfortunately, due to the cost of posting this hefty tome, this giveaway is only open to UK residents. To enter simply leave a comment below. For extra entries follow me on Bloglovin', Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and let me know in the comments that you have done so. If you already do then let me know too! The giveaway is open until midnight on Wednesday 12th November and I will select the winner by random number generator and announce the lucky recipient the following weekend. Good Luck!

And just to finish up I've got a little bit of news for any London based sewing/fabric addicts! Biddle Sawyer Silks, whose shop is based on Berwick Street in central London, are holding a two day Factory sale next week! Most fabrics will be 30% off which is a pretty great deal considering that their usual rates are quite reasonable for quality fabrics on that street. I often shop there for work so know their stock and standard well. As well as the wide range of coloured silks they specialise in they stock cotton prints, leather, wool, lace, and I even picked up some great swimwear fabric in there over the summer! The sale is on all day in store on Friday 14th and Saturday 15th November and I'll definitely be popping along at some point. Who else fancies it?!