Saturday, November 29, 2014

Favourite online fabric shops

I only ever seem to shop for fabric online, all the fabric shops near me are full of outdated and cheap fabric. In fact I don't tend to do much shopping in person, most of it is done online, mainly due to the ease but also you get double the thrill, once when you've ordered and again when it arrives!
Some of my absolute favourite shops are based online and I thought I'd share them with you:

eBay - best for sewing notions like embroidery hoops or quilting safety pins (two things I bought recently) because their prices beat any shop around and usually have free postage. Most of the fabric I've bought from eBay has been of rubbish quality so I wouldn't recommend it unless they were branded.

Merchant & Mills - best for linens and gorgeous dressmaking fabric (best have the budget to suit though, most fabric is £15+ pm)

The Village Haberdashery - great for dressmaking patterns and modern fabric

The Homemakery - best for Tilda/quilting cotton/fast delivery

Dragonfly fabrics - best for good quality stretch jersey

Minerva Crafts - best for really inexpensive fabric, I bought some gorgeous seersucker plaid for £4.99 a metre here!

M is for Make - I love browsing this website but as yet have not ordered anything.

Cabbages and Roses - I love their clothes but they also do absolutely gorgeous fabric

Peony and Sage - beautiful fabrics for the home

I hope you've enjoyed some of my recommendations - none of these are sponsored they're all places I visit frequently to window shop - where do you buy fabric from?


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Summer adventures

I've mentioned before how one of the things I absolutely love doing is going on 'adventures' and travelling around England revisiting places I used to go when I was younger and finding new places to visit as a family in the future.
Some of the places we have visited recently have included a car vintage fair;
Our weekend ritual involves going out for breakfast, I pick a homemade outfit or something Cabbage & Roses inspired and slap on the red lipstick. Lots of car poses happen during this time - hey car journeys are boring okay?! Red lipstick makes me feel uber glamorous. This was on our way to the Lake District.

Picture now with added thumb. I really would love to learn some decent photography skills!

This was the hotel we stayed in near Cockermouth (yup it's ACTUALLY called that, major props to us for not slipping up and renaming it!).

Beach walk with a gorgeous sunset. It was absolutely freezing here but so beautiful.

The beautiful Grasmere.

With added Cabbages and Roses inspired outfit:

When we're not gallivanting round the country we like to go out for breakfast and pretend to be old grandparents by getting fish and chips and eating them in the car. I'm old past my time!
This breakfast was the best thing I have ever eaten. No lie. All visit Nick's in Holmfirth!
We live in Holmfirth near Huddersfield, which is in such a beautiful part of Yorkshire. It's a pleasure to drive 5 mins from our house and be surrounding by gorgeous scenery.
And finally a bad picture of me wearing my Lilou dress. I really need to take some better pictures, but we all know making and sewing is much easier than blogging and photography!
What do you like to do in your spare time? Any places to recommend visiting?


Sew body positive

A lady on Instagram was talking about how sewing made her more body positive and I can definitely say I've noticed a shift in how I think about my body since starting dressmaking.

Now I make clothes to fit my body, not my body to fit in clothes. 

I went into topshop the other day for some new jeans, I don't really shop in there much due to not being fashionable (I've always done my own thing when it comes to clothes). Anyway I tried on some jeans that are my size and surprise surprise they're too small. The next size up was a size bigger (obviously) but it was the next dress size up and it upset me that I had to go up a size. 
I ended up going to Levi's and buying some jeans that were my actual size and that fit well. 

This fiddling around that high street shops do with the sizes is really messing with girls' self esteem. It's upsetting when you think you're one size and buy something without trying it on and finding it doesn't fit. 

This is where sewing comes in. In most patterns there aren't the traditional sizes (for example Tilly uses 1,2,3,4) and you have to go by the measurements rather than the size you think you are. There's no going home and finding the garment doesn't fit. It will fit because you made it to fit. 

I've never been one to obsess about weight but I have noticed a shift in how I think about the way I look since dressmaking and I love it! Has dressmaking changed your perspective?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sunday afternoon

I've spent the last two Sunday afternoons sewing my Lilou dress.

I found the instructions quite confusing, especially considering the book is aimed at absolute beginners and I would not class myself as a beginner, more advanced beginner I think.

I had to ask for some help on IG from another lady who found them also equally confusing, she helped me out and I managed to construct the bodice in that magically lined way which if you've never tried it, is amazing. It's really hard to explain but this blog does an excellent job (better than Tilly's book - sorry!) of showing you how it works. Except that I then sewed the rest of the dress as if there was no lining at all?! All that time spent sewing the lining for the inside to be a mess - at least it looks better than facing though. I'm not going to subject you to a picture of the inside, trust me it's a mess. Also buying cheap cotton lawn from eBay is not a good idea, when lining garments don't choose a really flimsy see-through fabric like me, choose something pretty so it looks awesome inside.

I look at the last few dresses I've made (especially the ones that are only faced) and think I can do so much better. I used to read sewing blogs and think why?! All that time, energy spent making the inside look pretty and for what? And then I realised. We're not sewing fast fashion, we're spending time, effort and a lot of money making beautiful garments and it really pays off to be 100% happy with the way it looks (not that I'd know about that, I sort of imagine it's really nice to be 100% happy with something you've made).

I wore my Tessuti Lily dress to work and got ALL the compliments. I was really blushing by the end of the day. Then I wore my Merchant and Mills Dress Shirt and felt like a rock star. I'm really addicted to sewing my own clothes. It's such a satisfying feeling!

Up next is a plaid Emery dress with a white collar and a chambray Clemence skirt and then maybe even a white linen dress shirt. Although I do need to get started on my Cambie dress for the December wedding. Oh! So little time, what are you sewing up?

Saturday, October 11, 2014


The first half term in the academic year is always the hardest.
We've just move into a new building and then you've got new students to contend with. Striking that balance between supportive and strict. We also had an ofsted visit on the third week of term which took 90% of my time with the rest spent sleeping.

I haven't done anything creative in 5 weeks and my little brain is going a little mad. I'm missing sewing, dressmaking in particular. I haven't bought any new clothes in months and I would really like a new outfit! Unfortunately nipping to Primark is far easier than sewing your own clothes but also not as satisfying. 
I recently bought this seersucker cotton and patterns from Minerva Craft to turn into a winter dress. 

I'm still trying to learn to knit but I am very slow. I have mastered the basic stitches but am yet to complete a project. Also buying a skein of yarn and tangling the whole 100g ball into a knotty mess did little for my knitting motivation. 6 hours later and it's very nearly a ball of yarn.

I had some very sad and devastating news this week and I am finding it tough to deal with. My family live 4000 miles away and as I get older I realise how much I rely on them for support. When you're young you think you don't need your parents and then you see that they in fact know more than you and can give very solid advice. I wish nothing more to grieve with my family but instead I will grieve alone, for the nephew I will never meet, or cuddle or see grow old. 

Shortly after he was born I left my house to see the biggest, brightest rainbow outside my front door and I like to think it was him saying hello. I will always think of him and other babies born sleeping whenever I see a rainbow. It also reminds me that rainbows cannot exist without a little rain. 


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Back to School

I survived the first week of teaching! The first week of term is always the hardest and usually my crafty mojo disappears. I'm trying to keep my craft passion alive and keep up to my work in projects.
I had a brainwave earlier for a Christmas present for my parents and now I'm panicking trying to figure out whether I have enough time to fit everything in!
I'm a really slow knitting and crocheter so I'm trying to limit my presents to sewing, currently I've got one hexie quilt, one chevron crochet blanket, a homespun quilt and a knitted hat. Phew! Not to mention all the extra little things I want to make for myself too. I think any future dressmaking plans I have will be put on the back burner for a while.
Fingers crossed I can get everything done in time!
How are you planning on getting everything done in time?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Confessions of a craftoholic

Uh, guys, I have a confession.
After spending hours, weeks learning to crochet I realised that I don't like it.
I am so fickle.

I enjoy the process (ish) but the outcome? It's too brightly coloured for my liking and dull coloured wool is not exciting to work with.

I'm currently in the middle of making Christmas presents (I know, I'm organised but if you're going me-made you need to be!) and I forgot how bad my carpal tunnel gets when I crochet.

Anyway I digress, I dislike crochet mainly because of how long it takes, the last baby blanket took me on and off 6 months. In that time I've made 7 pieces of clothing (mostly dresses).
I'm the same when it comes to knitting. Learning to knit was so horrendously painstaking compared to sewing which I picked up easily and now I look at the hat I'm knitting (currently 2 inches long) and I just don't have the patience!

I love quick, easy makes far too much which I think says a lot about my personality. Instant gratification rather than being patient and being rewarded for it. Explains the lack of self control and the ever growing fabric stash too *looks shifty*.

I think I like to learn how to do these things as a personal achievement, like hey! look! I learned a new skill that I'm never going to learn. Kinda like Pythagoras.

I'm definitely coming to accept sewing is way more my thing.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Personal style

I'm having trouble defining what clothes are "me" and my sewing is reflecting this. 
I made a pussy bow blouse out of red cotton lawn from eBay which was intended to wear for work. I decided after finishing the whole thing minus the sleeve hem and shirt hem that I didn't like it.
It looked and felt like something you could buy in the shops.

I know a post of sewists like to fill their wardrobe with me mades and basics but I just don't have the time to replace sewing with shopping. Although admittedly I definitely shop less than I used to.

All the clothes I have made and loved have had two things in common; 1) made from expensive fabric and 2) unusual designs.

The fabrics above arrived from Merchant & Mills yesterday, a gorgeous blackwatch linen, chambray and black denim which has a gorgeous grey back which I almost prefer. There's not a lot of colour in my A/W wardrobe. 

In my head floating around is a Tilly Clemence skirt

I envisage it made from a dark chambray with red heart buttons down the front.
But then! Anxiety, what if I make it and don't wear it? What if it's not "me"?
I like to wear clothes that reflect how I feel and my own style, which has always been very personal to me.

It's much harder to decide your style when there is so much choice with sewing, you choose the pattern, then variations, then fabric type then colour/patterns. If just one of these things is wrong then you have an outfit you hate. There is so much of yourself that goes into a garment you want to really love it at the end, and if you don't. Well it's a bit shit.

How do you sewists decide your personal style?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Stylish dress book dress E

I've had the stylish dress book for a while but the lack of seam allowance and the fact that there's about a thousand patterns on one side put me off for months!
I finally bit the bullet and traced the pattern (it really didn't take that long) of dress E.
I'm usually an 8 on top and 10 below and for this dress I cut a size 10, it fits well in the arms and bust but the neckline is a bit loose.
I don't tend to toile patterns because the only bit of RTW clothes that don't fit is the bum! Anything that just fits around the shoulders and bust doesn't usually need any adjusting.

Sans sleeves, I left the sleeves and the hem until the next day thinking they were going to be complex and they weren't. I really enjoy sewing sleeves in, they're tricky but not too tricky.

Love a bit of topstitching (not that you can see it!)

I found the pleats quite tricky in this dress, this was mainly due to the fabric. I was impatient and didn't wash it first, if I had I don't think it would have been so stiff it kept repelling pins. Also the gingham kept messing with my ability to judge distance, I'm usually quite good at keeping things even.

This dress is perfect when you've eaten 5 slices of pizza the night before and you don't want everyone to see your pizza belly.

One thing I would probably change is the amount of fabric in the fabric, it's quite swingy and tent like, I would just have the back going straight down without the pleats. Also I don't know why that sleeve indents in like that. Sewing sleeves is like putting eyeliner on, one eye goes perfect, the other you end up with eyeliner halfway down your face.

Aaaaanyway the fabric is from Merchant & Mills the red natural gingham, but don't do what I did and order 147 cm wide thinking it would be enough (it is but only if you want your back to be in two pieces).

I wouldn't mind making this dress in a nice grey linen but I would definitely reduce the fabric in the back and maybe size down.

My next project is Sew Over It's ultimate trousers! Wish me luck....

Friday, August 8, 2014

Selfish sewist

I often think about where sewing will take me. As a society we tell children to do a job they love and they will never work a day in their life. Which is very true.
However do you have to make a job out of something you love and have a talent for?

I was asked recently if I would make a dress for someone, I asked for an exorbitant sum due to fabric costs and she agreed to think about it. I hadn't expected that reaction and it got me thinking about sewing for others. Would I do it? Could I?

I love sewing, specifically dressmaking but I'm a very selfish sewist. I love making things for myself and not so interested in making things for others (yet). I think this is mainly a time factor due to resembling the undead during term time which leaves me school holidays and weekends to sew. 

I would love to spend more time sewing but I'm not sure that it includes sewing for others (yet). I don't have the skills to do so (I think) but this has been on mind for a while after setting up an etsy shop and leaving it (metaphorically) gathering e-dust. 

For me, for now, sewing remains for me, friends and family but who knows where it will lead me. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer Holidays

The start of the summer holidays saw the birth of another dress, this one made from Cabbages & Roses new penny blue fabric that I won from eBay.

I also made a linen bag for our holidays;

We've just come back from Zante in Greece and we had the most wonderful time, it was the perfect mix of relaxation and adventure. 

I would definitely recommend Greece as a holiday spot, and I can't wait to go back!

We were only away for a week but I had crafts on the brain and so when we got back I immediately started on an English paper piecing project I couldn't stop thinking about. Using Tilda fabric and templates from The Homemakery I started a blanket for Christmas.

It's so relaxing and I absolutely love it! I'm going to find giving this blanket away very difficult!

If you're on Instagram check out #craftyaugust it's the first photo a day I've taken part in and it's all craft related, there's still time to catch up!

There's two weeks left of the summer holidays and I hope to spend it by carrying on with my Hexie blanket, a couple more dress ideas and finally learning how to knit (it's proving to be difficult but not as hard as I found crochet!).

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sewing projects I'd love to tackle

I've been sewing clothes for 7 months now and although my skills have improved somewhat there are still some projects that I would like to make but I feel are way above my skill level. Although I'm saving them for another day.

Hacking jacket

I'm on the lookout for the perfect tweed jacket and this pattern would be perfect.
Maybe in something like this Harris tweed.

One of my planned autumn projects (that is if I'm not too exhausted from teaching) is a pair of trousers.
I'm thinking a nice slim fit made out of a soft grey fabric like this one from Merchant & Mills

To add to my work wardrobe I'd love to make a pussybow blouse from Colette, perhaps in a nice cotton lawn like this.

Way above my skill level, and something I can only dream one day of making (perhaps with a more advanced sewing machine) is a pair of jeans. I find getting jeans to fit notoriously difficult and we seamstresses know what it means when you buy something that doesn't fit/isn't exactly what you want.

Perhaps these simple jeans from Dragonfly fabrics would be perfect

Last but not least is this circle dress from Cabbages and Roses

I'd like to make something similar to this dress but I don't like to make exact copies, to make this it would need a franken-pattern of Tessuti's Lily linen dress and Sewoverit's Betty dress circle skirt. This is a fabric muncher so something relatively cheap would have to do. Perhaps a nice soft grey gingham.

I recently hit 2000 page views according to Blogger, and I can't say how much it means to me that people actually read my blog! Please note the name change to

What do you want to make?
Amy x

Saturday, July 5, 2014

5 things you should do when sewing...

...that I don't do

1. Wash fabric before use

When I washed my Dress Shirt there was some serious breath holding and crossing fingers in the hope it hadn't shrunk (it hasn't!) which made me realise I need to start washing fabric before use (but I probably won't)

2. Make a toile/muslin

I know, I know, I'm a bad seamstress. I'm just too impatient! I don't have much time to spend sewing and to take the time to make two dresses would defeat the object. Fortunately I haven't had too many problems with fit....yet..

3. Back stitching

Ooh this is naughty one - for some reason I always forget to secure my sewing by reversing my sewing machine before starting a stitch and before finishing. This led to part of my dress shirt arm coming undone...oops. I might've learned my lesson with that one.

4. Neaten inside seams

I don't see the point of this one, I know it looks more professional but it takes up so much time and you don't even see it!

5. Change the pattern

Other than shortening or lengthening the length I find changing how the pattern fits really difficult, I wish someone would write an intermediate book for dressmaking, there are tonnes of fab beginners books out there but none that explain how to fit clothes properly and thus I'm swimming in a sea of CB, warp, weft etc without really knowing what it all means. Although I never expected to become an expert in a few months! Hopefully this blog will document more tips as I learn them to help others out.

What other naughty habits have you picked up whilst sewing?