Tuesday 28 March 2017

This is why you make a toile and avoid wasting precious fabric!

My sister is getting married in September and I am planning my outfit now so that I avoid a last minute sewing panic.

But what to make?... A dress or trousers? Or a mixture of the two?

I fell in love with playsuits last summer when I made a couple of Sew La Di Da Vintage's halterneck Margot.

As the wedding is in early autumn I want to have something with sleeves just in case we are not graced with an Indian Summer and to eliminate the need for making a cardigan or jacket.

I used the pattern search tool on The Foldline website and found the Wear Lemonade India jumpsuit. The pattern ticked a lot of my requirements, long sleeves, flattering neckline and the possibility of making it in different fabrics to create different versions. So I bought it.

The pattern arrived, I admired the packaging and then I checked the sizing against my measurements. The hips and waist were ok but a full bust adjustment (FBA) was definitely needed! Not having done one before I put a little plea for help out on instagram and was recommended this Maria Denmark tutorial.

I have some black viscose crepe fabric in mind for the final garment but before I buy it I need to work out if I need more or less than the 4 metres the pattern suggests. To work it out I will make a few toiles (muslins or test garments) in calico. Calico or a cheap fabric of a similar weight to your final fabric choice is great to toile with. It saves you from wasting your precious fabric from any fitting errors that can occur in the test stage.

Toile Time
With the paper pattern adjusted it was time to check if the FBA had worked by making a toile. The pattern was fairly quick to make up and the instructions are easy to follow. Wear Lemonade is a French company and the instructions are in both french and english.

With my toile ready it was time to try it on. I was aware of a few fit issues as I forced my arm backwards into the arm hole and then i realised that I was stuck! First off the bodice was too short (I had forgotten to lengthen it - I usually have to with patterns) and secondly the legs were too tight. My thoughts are if I can adjust these two I can then work out what is going on with the crotch. The only good news is that the FBA seems to be ok.

My biggest problem was getting out of it though, as much as I tried (I felt like I had done a gym workout afterwards) I could not get my arm out. In the end I had to channel my inner incredible hulk and rip the whole of the side seam of the leg and bodice. I couldn’t stop laughing and had to share the photo on instagram because this is why you make a toile!

Test it in cheap fabric, make your adjustments and then only when you are happy with the fit cut into your good fabric!

Follow my making india journey over on instagram @dressmakerssocial

Monday 20 February 2017

We're Back!

Hello everyone!

It has been a while! Life got busier as I adjusted to 3 days a week at work and I kind of lost my mojo for Dressmaker's Social and the monthly meetups fell by the wayside. But I missed you guys! So I am very excited to say "We're back!"

I have made a couple of adjustments to the monthly meet ups.

1. Dressmaker's Social is going to be exactly what the name says - a meetup for dressmaker's to get together socially to hangout, make friends and talk all things dressmaking!

2. This means that we won't always have a guest speaker or a theme - but we will be there each month to share our knowledge and experience with each other.

So, if you want to come along and hangout with like minded stitchers that'll be cool

or if you are having a pattern or fabric issue that you need some help with - I am sure with our combined experience we will be able to help each other out!

3. A new venue - we'll still be meeting in Brighton with bus stops, street and ncp parking nearby and the train station a short walk away.

Our new home is...

The North Laine Brewhouse with a couple of big roomy tables reserved for us and the only stairs to be climbed are to the toilet.

4. Slightly different meeting times. A little bit earlier till a little bit later 6pm-9pm (or later if you want to!) As there won't be a regular speaker there is no need to be there for a start time just come along when you want and stay for as long as you want.

I think that's about it for now. Looking forward to seeing you all soon!


Friday 29 April 2016

What's in your sewing machine drawer?

I'm nosey. When I was little I used to ask my Grandma if I could have a "rude" in her sideboard. I meant root, have a look and generally be nosey. There was and still is some pretty cool stuff in that cupboard.

So, today I am asking you if I can be nosey and have a look inside your sewing machine drawer. Share your photo's on Instagram and tag me @dressmakerssocial so I can see or blog about it and pop a link in the comments.

I have a five year old Singer Confidence, it does the job but as my skills grow so does the disappointment in the stitches the machine produces.

This is what my sewing machine drawer looks like...

It's pretty full!

This is what is in it...

Sewing machine needles, I just topped up my stash, there is not normally this many in there.

Machine feet and a test button hole to remind me where to line up the red mark on the fabric because I forget overtime. I use the four on the right hand side most of all. 

Screwdrivers, bobbins and spool holders.

Pins (that have now been re-homed in a pin cushion), a couple of buttons, seam rippers or unpicks depending what you call them, a chalk pencil and my new sewing gauge. 

A couple of cleaning tools. I use the old paint brush most because it's great for dusting underneath the  needle plate. 

So I have shown you my drawer, what's in yours?

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Fabric choices

Sitting at my sewing machine today got me thinking....

I'm wearing silk and sewing wool. A year ago I mostly sewed with 100% woven cotton and occasionally a viscose or cotton knit. 

So what changed? I came to the conclusion that it is working in Ditto Fabrics and being surrounded by gorgeous viscose, silk, linen, wools and more. Cutting or tearing these fabrics on grain for other people helped me overcome an irrational "fear" of them. I now tell people that there is nothing to be scared of with silk noile. Just take your time with it. Make a toile/muslin if it's a pattern you have not used before. If you have questions about it, attend a class and ask a teacher or look it up online. And most of all it's just fabric - don't be afraid of it! 

I don't let the type of fabric put me off anymore, just the colour of it! But that is another thing I have learnt this last year and another post to come...

Wednesday 6 April 2016

Turmeric Dye

Yesterday morning I was scrolling through the explore section on Instagram and came across this image...

I went downstairs to the kitchen (which is soon to be painted) and the original yellow walls made me think. I love this colour but it isn't right for our small kitchen (I have bought a light grey paint) so inspired by the instagam post I looked up how to dye with turmeric and decided to give it a go. I am thinking of yellow kitchen accessories to go with the grey. 

I found this tutorial on turmeric dying and set to work...
Salt and water were brought to the boil and some unbleached calico (or muslin) was added to the pan to simmer for an hour

The calico was left to cool and removed from the pan, then excess water was squeezed out. I love Japanese Shibori dying techniques so I attempted some of those. 

But I didn't have wooden blocks so I used these plastic trees, I wondered what effect they would have. 

I also fold and twisted the fabric around a ladle handle

Then I made the turmeric dye by boiling the spice and water together before submerging the calico.

I left them in for about 20 minutes.

Rinsed them in cold water and hung them out to dry. They looked amazing until they dried and the colour faded to a yellowy brown. 

The little strip on top below was left in for two hours and the colour is much stronger. The fabric on the bottom is the dried fabric from above. 

I were to do it again I would leave the fabric in the dye for longer and maybe try a different brand of turmeric because the one I saw on the tutorial was more yellow and less orange.

Have you dyed with natural dyes? What were your experiences like?

Saturday 2 April 2016


Can you guess what I am posting about?

You will need a little more patience until the big reveal!

The suspense is over! Let me introduce you to #dressmakers52
An photo a week challenge on Instagram for a whole year!

So what is it I hear you ask?! Let me tell you!

I loved organising the MIY March photo a day challenge with Wendy. Having a prompt everyday encouraged me to post, I was inspired by all of the people taking part and most of all I loved social aspect of chatting with people all over the world. For me the only downside of the challenge is how intense it was, great for one month a year but it was exhausting! in the end we had nearly 6000 photo's in #miymarch16 and that was a lot of liking and commenting! 

I felt a little lost on the 1st April and missed everyone, whilst being slightly relieved at a day off! It was then that I remembered my friend telling me about an artist doing a 52 Cards challenge where his photo's are theme based for each week of the year. This got me thinking... what if I do a photo a week thing that would keep me in touch with all of the lovely folk I met in March and more?

Hmm, so this is what I came up with...


A Sunday Social, photo a week. A hashtag where we can all hang out!

This is how it will work...
  • I have a deck of 52 cards that I have written photo prompts on
  • Each Sunday morning (i'm in the UK) I will shuffle the cards and post the theme for that week
  • There will be no pre-planning, it's all about the luck of the draw
  • Cards will then be put on the discard pile so that there will be no repeating of themes
  • To join in, post a photo for the theme and use #dressmakers52 so that we can all see them
  • Like I joined Wendy Ward for the running of MIY March Wendy is joining me to host this challenge
  • You can post one or more photos anytime during the week 
  • We will both be posting our fave four on the Saturday* each week. I wonder if we will overlap?!
  • Or post at anytime during the week, it's up to you!
  • This challenge is all about being social (after all it is the reason I started Dressmaker's Social) if you want to repost a photo that you love or even your own favourite four you are welcome to! Just remember to use the #dressmakers52
  • A year is a long time so if you miss a week or a few it doesn't matter, just pop by and join in when you want to
The Rules...
Not really rules, more like guidelines!
  1. Use #dressmakers52
  2. Join in
  3. Have fun
  4. Like and comment on each other's photo's (this may help with the new Instagram algorithm)
So what do you think? Are you with me? See you over on Instagram!

Starts tomorrow Sunday April 3rd 2016!

*updated 6/4/16

Friday 1 April 2016

Round up of #MIYMarch16

Wow! March was really something! Thank you to everyone who took part in #MIYMarch16 it was great meeting so many new people who sew and seeing all of your photo's!

This is a round up of the last half of the challenge!

The themes...

My photo's 

And the top four for each day!

Congratulations to all of the people list in the top 4's each day, there were so many awesome photo's it was difficult to choose. 

These are my overall favourite 4 photo's from the whole challenge!

Looking gorgeous! @ooobop
@diannebowles you make me laugh!
@makers_note I love your feed!
Very awesome hand tattoos @a.malmin

Looking forward to #MIYMarch17 already!