Sunday, 17 September 2017

September Arrivals at Plush Addict, Village Haberdashery and Eternal Maker

Time to take a look at the new arrivals and offers in my sponsor shops for September...

First Plush Addict and there's been a SALE which finishes midnight tonight, click here for all sale and here for the discounted quilting fabric, (there's some good stuff like Moda Lustre and Dashwood Norrland), meanwhile don't miss these...

  1. Dashwood, Jardin Anglais, 8 fabrics from Pippa Shaw featuring British garden prints with a French twist.
  2. Andover Sun Prints 2018. A new Sun Print range from Alison Glass (this is Diatom in Seaside) all the rainbow colours so this is just one of many, but what a glorious colour!
  3. Makower Spot On Brights.  Kellie's stocking a wide range of colours from this classic spot collection, this is the brighter palette but there are so many including pastels and vintage and all available as yardage as well as in a bundle
  4. Studio E Super Heroes - TVs Cream by Sarah Frederking. I do like a novelty print and this caught my eye. It has a slightly 80s retro feel, echoes of Playmobil and Bob the Builder.  Lovely for children's projects.
Annie's offer this week (ends 19th Sept) is a free Denim Swatch bundle with denim purchase over 1 metres

  1. Dear Stella, Luna Luna.  The sweetest nighttime print on cotton shirting!  Beautiful for bedroom makes.  A storytime book pocket pillow for bedtime stories maybe?
  2. Art Gallery Boho Fusion Knit. 95% cotton 5% spandex jersey blend, rich colours and Art Gallery Jersey has excellent recovery/spring back and works well for tops, leggings, dressings etc. This would make a lovely Agnes top or three-quarter sleeve Moneta dress.
  3. Michael Miller, Good Postures in Celestial (also in grey 'Spa').  I love my Yoga so I couldn't resist this fun print.
  4. Floral Retrospective in Ice.  My favourite of all Anna Maria Horner's Garden Party rose prints. See the other Floral Retrospective prints here, a glorious range of prints in all colours and sizes.

  1. Cosmo Tex Charcoal pink floral, linen/cotton blend, Japanese fabric. I love the soft faded look of this fabric, it's on trend with the large florals on dark backgrounds that you can see on women's wear fashions this Autumn/Winter and would work for decor projects like cushions as well as clothing- maybe Jennifer Lauren Handmade Ivy Pinafore? Or even the new Named Clothing Amber pinafore style dress, don't forget a buckle for the back!
  2. Dashwood Spooktacular.  Get ready for Halloween! Find Spooktacular yardage here
  3. Sewhouse Seven Burnside Bib PDF. I've made this pattern if you'd like a review and to see it sewn up.  Mine have seen plenty of wear over the summer and I'll continue to wear them with boots into Autumn. As the waist is pulled in with ties, the fit is forgiving.
  4. Robert Kaufman Manchester Onyx in Metalic. The perfect combination of sparkle and drape, I would love to make the Burnside Bibs out of this fabric for a more evening look dungaree. Both styles have quite a lot of fullness around the back booty so a drapey fabric wins over a standard denim with this style.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Merchant and Mills Rugby Dress in Linen and Liberty

Each summer I seem to find a dress that I make multiple times.  Last year is was Named Clothing's Kielo dress, I made three- see here, here and here.  This year, the weather was cooler and so I ended up choosing a cross-seasonal choice, the Merchant and Mills Ruby Dress.  This came about by chance.  Merchant and Mills started a small ready-to-wear line, Label, and the Rugby Dress was heavily discounted in their sale. I bought a size 8 and I loved it and wore it a lot and so promptly bought the pattern from Village Haberdashery with some glorious Lady McCelroy linen in Marinee and sewed up this version.

Making Notes:
I made a size 8 with the following alternations:
  • Lengthening the bust dart to size 6 point" 
  • Narrowing the side seam from underarms to pockets by 1/4"
  • Hem reduced by 1"

I find Merchant & Mills patterns seem to differ from each other little in their presentation and instruction style.  The Rugby dress has size 6 cutting lines, the other styles (I have the Factory Dress,  and the Camber) do not.  The Rugby has smoothly drawn digital style diagrams, the others have hand drawn sketchy pictures.  There was a minor error and there are amended extra instructions to cover this (it's to do with the order of sewing in the collar). Check each pattern for seam allowances as they can vary too.  Merchant & Mills designs look simple but there's always a very neat technique or finishing method and the pattern drafting is beautiful, even though I always make alterations, they are simple.  Every pattern I've made involved narrowing the centre in some way: either lengthening the bust darts and shaving down the side seams, or reducing the centre width at the centre fold line (did this on the Camber, more to come on that when I get photos!).  I especially like the closer fit on the shoulders combined with lots of room to move in the skirt section, plus the pockets are placed perfectly for me and disappear into the side seams. I faced mine with Liberty lawn in a blue cross stitch print.  The visible Liberty lawn on the collar, placket and cuffs is a Grayson Perry print (long out-of-print) that I have scraps of from a dress from years back.  It is one of my all-time favourite fabrics.  The Lady McCelroy linen is a lovely weight for this style, it definitely needs a prewash and colour catcher too!

Here's a little outtake pic, I'm in mid conversation with the photographer, my daughter.  We usually try and take these photos as fast as possible as it's on the road in front of our house so rather visible!  I'm hoping to squeeze in another of these dresses for a little early Autumn wear, this time in Rustica Chambray which has a lovely drape, fingers crossed...

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

West Country Quilt and Textile Show

I haven't been to a quilt show in a while.  Festival of Quilts always falls in the busiest bit of my summer work schedule, plus travel is costly for a day's experience. There are a few stitchy/quilt shows in my local area.  The annual spring quilt show has declined during the years- it's part of the Grosvenor show group and my experiences there have been patchy. Many smaller stall holders have found themselves priced out over the years- the cost of the show plus accommodation can negate the money made. The curation can be questionable at times- stalls with no quilting relevance e.g. commercially produced scarves - don't make a good quilting show. West Country Quilt & Textile show is a relative newbie and it's the biggest plus is that it appears to be independent. When I booked my ticket and a workshop online, there was genuine hobbyist enthusiasm from one of the organisers. 

Reene of Nellies Niceties had a lovely stall showcasing her English Paper Piecing kits.  I loved her samples in so many colourways and the giant clothes pegs displaying her cushions.

I've not seen Jessie of Sew and Quilt since a Fat Quarterly Retreat years back so it was lovely to catch up with her again and meet her husband Robin. They had a delectable range of fabrics and notions.

 There were lots of small interesting displays including a few exhibits from the National Needlework Archive which I hadn't heard of before and to be honest, their website seems to have no reference to quilts but this log cabin quilt is a beauty!

There were competition quilts and one of the winners was Jo Colwills Happy Scrappy quilt, longarm quilted by Sandy Chandler.

There were lots of small exhibition spaces for quilting groups and textile artists with a diverse selection of textile skills on display. I especially liked this small linen quilt, 'Song of Linen' by Lithuanian quilter, Maryte Collard

One of the booths has some stunning whole cloth quilt hand-quilting, sewn by Sandie Lush. I had a brief chat with Sandie as she was stitching. I asked her how she transferred the designs as they are small scale and intricate and she passed on the most wonderful tip!  She uses a watercolour pencil which tones with the thread she is using.  She was sewing with a pink 12wt Aurifil thread at the time and had used a maroon pencil to trace the design from paper to fabric (before the quilt sandwich stage). The watercolour pencil brushes off as she sews and it can also be rinsed away at the end of the quilting, brilliant!

I'm not really in need of lots of fabric so I made a list of some harder to get items that I have wanted for a while. There was a tiny Oakshott stall selling 'Starlight' bundles (based on an older colour selection) only £20 for 10 FQS. The Tulip Piecing Needles #9 from Sew and Quilt are a favourite, my go-to for binding and there are only a few in a package so I needed to replenish. The Valdani thread is fiendishly difficult to buy in the UK but I knew that Angela Daymond is one of the only UK retailers and she was attending the show with her stall. It has a lovely twist to it, perfect for big stitch detail on quilted projects.  The Derwent watercolour pencil was from Sandie Lush.

It was gently busy rather than bustling. The majority of stalls were for quilting and textile crafts with a few textile related exhibitions e.g. selling silk ribbons or leather for crafts. I attended a Royal School of Needlework workshop which was excellent and a bargain at £12.50 for 1 1/2 hours with materials provided.  There were around 10 of us and we were in a quiet room with a friendly and capable teacher, Chrissie Juno Mann and we learnt a clever stumpwork weaving and rolling technique to produce a 3D rose.

All in all, I enjoyed myself.  I was there from 10-2pm and had to leave then to catch a train home.  I'll definitely be back!

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Summer Recap

Waving the summer goodbye ready for a busy September, a quick recap on July/August...

I've been sewing away too, as well as time spent on my favourite things: beaches, birthdays, cooking, baking, dog walks, day trips and lots of time spent with family.  My sewing has been in preparation for teaching at the Threadhouse Retreat and some magazine work so not much I can show here. Plus, lots of dressmaking, some of which I've shared and other things like pyjamas and track pants which are more everyday basics. September is going to be busy, with a mix of work, family stuff, and my birthday at the end of the month.  I made a conscious effort this summer to live more mindfully. Life is inevitably full of change and I'm aiming to enjoy where I am right now without too much thought to what has already happened and what's yet to come. I hope you've enjoyed some time outside?  We had an amazing bank holiday weekend of glorious warm sunny weather which is not the norm at the end of August so very welcome.  The old work routine returns next week so I'll just enjoy this summer feeling a  little longer...

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Bumper August Summer Selection...Village Haberdashery, Eternal Maker and Plush Addict

I'm combining posts for this month's sponsor visits as I'm enjoying the last couple of weeks of the summer holidays with family.  All my choices are inspired by that last blast of summer feeling that comes just before the season turns.. we just need the weather to get the memo and heat up a little in the UK!

Village Haberdashery
  1. Menagerie by Anna Rifle for Cotton+Steel. The Rifle collections go from strength to strength and Menagerie looks amazing. There's a couple of stand out prints for me, Watercolour in Multi and Jardin De Paris in Peony (my favourite ever Rifle print) but that's just personal taste, they are all glorious. There is the usual range of substrates (quilting cotton, rayon, canvas and a new rayon/cotton lawn) and although they are as yet a pre-order purchase, Annie has mentioned they are due in any time now...
  2. Lady McElroy Lawns.  Annies stocks an amazing selection of these soft cotton lawns with prints from small floral to large tropical fronds.
  3. Plant Lady Fabric Selection. A fantastic selection of prints reflecting such a popular trend in clothing and interiors.
Eternal Maker
  1. Arroyo by Erin Dollar for Robert Kaufman. Simple mark making prints on a classic Essex linen base. They have that effortless modern look that's perfect for bags, cushions and quilts.  These are just the neutral tones, there are more soft pastel and light colours. My personal favourite is Sprinkles in Pickle; great colour and I love the name!
  2. Chambray Double Gauze by Robert Kaufman.  I love chambray, I love double gauze and I love blue so this is fabric perfection for me.  It's wide 146cm/56" and has a slight lovely variable colour.  Double gauze works well in simple shapes and for those times in Autumn when it's cold early morning and warm by lunch time, it is the ideal fabric choice!
  3. Jumbo Plaid from Hometown Christmas by Sweetwater for Moda in IvoryMintOliveRed.  Christmas fabric with year round appeal!
Plush Addict
  1. Dashwood Studio Copenhagen by Jilly Philips.  Florals, birds and butterflies in china blue colours, reminiscent of ceramic designs.
  2. Hobbs Precut wadding.  On offer with 15% off until 27th August. Time to stock up on essential supplies...
  3. Riley Blake Bee Backgrounds. Lori Holt's new quilting low volume collection comes in cold, warm and neutral and is available in bundles and yardage. 

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Fancy Tiger Wanderlust T shirt with Dachshund Dog Print

I've had a little project waiting in the wings and as it was our dog Lottie's birthday this week and I had time off work, it was the perfect quick sew and ended up being a rewarding make. This is the Wanderlust T shirt by Fancy Tiger, the fabric is Dashwood Bertie Dachsund jersey from Mori Girls.

I bought the pattern as part of a Creative Bug membership from last year.  I subscribed for a few months and bought this class so even though I'm no longer a member I can access it.  The digital pattern pieces are included and there's a video of Amber taking you through the making process from beginning to end.  A paper version of the pattern is also available here.  For a beginner or more experienced sewer, it's always helpful to see how someone else does something, especially in real time. 
  • I made size XS.  Your chest measurement is the deciding factor in the sizing as the side seams flare outwards.  I fell between the XS and S with a 33" chest but my upper chest is very flat and I would rather have a smaller fit than a more generous one. 
  • The back dips so the front is slightly cropped. I'm quite short on the body and 5' 5" tall, there are lengthening lines to extend the top and back pattern pieces.
  • I used a metre of fabric and had enough left over to make a pair of matching knickers! These are a slightly adapted version of the free hipster pattern from Make Bra.
  • The only alteration was lowering the pocket by 1/2"- it's placed really high!  For the next one I'd lower it a little more, so it's 3/4" from the original marks.
  • The fabric is expensive (£20/m) but it is lovely quality, great recovery and the colour is excellent.  It's very similar to Art Gallery jersey; both are 95% cotton 5% lycra.  They are also both quite bouncy to sew, especially on an overlocker. I found it easier using my Bernina and a small zig zag (e.g. attaching the neck band) than serging.
I'm really pleased with the finished result, a quick make, easy fit but cute shape and a very wearable garment, paired with a Deer & Doe Fumeterre skirt in these pics.  

Lottie had had a tough week.  Lots of teeth out - apparently part of the downside of being a small breed with a soft jaw - and despite regular brushing over the years she only has a few teeth left.  She has coped very well, despite having just turned 10 years old, she has a lively nature and loves her food so she is adapting quickly, although there are some great comedy tongue moments with it just falling out of the side of her mouth when she's very relaxed.  She's in her retirement years now and having a happy time maximising her chances for cuddles wherever she goes. 


Thursday, 10 August 2017

Spelling Bee Book, Lori Holt : Book Review

I was recently lucky enough to receive a copy of Lori Holt's new book, Spelling Bee from the Fat Quarter Shop.  All four of Lori's books have been published by Sew Emma, the publishing part of The Fat Quarter Shop empire and I think this is my favourite of all the books she's written and I know many of you are Lori fans so I thought you'd like to see inside!

The main theme in this book is being able to produce personal, tailor made quilts with words and pictures suitable for family and a multitude of special occasions.   There are seven sections covering the basics that you will need (letters, numbers, punctuation, pictures) as well as specific full size and mini quilt designs. 

All the blocks in the book come in two height sizes ( 6" and 12" finished) to allow you to produce projects of different size and scale.

The book is worth buying for the picture blocks alone!  A lovely selection.  My daughter picked the telephone and camera favourites and I liked the flower, dog and sewing machine.

As with all Lori's books, her instructions are impeccable and backed up by clear and easy to follow diagrams. The format is spiral bound so it lies flat in use - especially handy when cutting and prepping.

My very favourite project is this Sunshine quilt. I fancy making this with the 'You are my' text and then a pieced improv style Dresden underneath, a bit like this doll quilt I made for a swap six years ago, still one of my favourite makes!  

Many of the projects act as a springboard for your own interpretation, it's an inspiring and uplifting book to look through.

You can find the book at