Well now, I’ve made an Anna with a contrast bodice, an Anna with a gathered skirt, an Anna with a half-circle skirt, and an Anna with a RTW skirt attached, so I pretty much had to make a maxi length Anna to complete the set, didn’t I?!
I got this fabric from Goldhawk Road in the summer. I didn’t really look too closely at the print, I just liked the overall effect and the colour scheme. Once I’d prewashed it, I started wondering what these leaves actually were – they reminded me of cannabis! A quick Twitter poll revealed, thanks to Vicki Kate, that maybe the leaves are Japanese Maple leaves – they are the right colour and the right shape! Once I was satisfied that I wouldn’t be making a maxi dress with pictures of drugs all over it, I cut out my Anna maxi.
Believe it or not (it’s hard to tell), but this print is actually a one-way print. By Hand London do warn you that if you are making the Anna dress with fabric which has a nap or one-way design, you will need ‘significantly more’ than the fabric requirements stated on the back of the pattern envelope. I did manage to squeeze this dress out of 3.5m of fabric, but it was 1.5m wide and I had to get very creative with my fabric layout in order to make it work. Like many other sewists who have made the Anna maxi, I also chopped off quite a bit of length, as although I am quite tall, I am not Amazonian!
I wasn’t planning on this being my Christmas Day dress, but I tried it on and immediately my husband declared, quite emphatically, that he liked it, which struck me as unusual. He said of all the things I’ve made recently, this is his favourite. And I really like it too. I do love a good maxi dress – somehow they always seem so much more comfortable! I thought it was a flattering fit, and it felt glamorous without being too dressy – perfect for Christmas Day!
Oh and in case you were wondering: I didn’t bother with the thigh-high split. That look is not for me, it’s impractical. Part of what I love about maxis is that your legs are covered up!
I can tell this dress is going to get a lot of wear. I already wore it again yesterday when we had friends over and I’m tempted to wear it for New Year instead of my self-drafted dress, just because it’s so comfy and flattering and easy to wear! LOVE IT! YAY!
Five days before Christmas Day, I was out with my friend C and we went into Boyes to have a gander at the fabric and the yarn. I spied some extremely Christmassy-looking tartan fabric, and had the bright idea of making Little Tweedie a dress to wear on Christmas Day. This was Friday lunchtime, and we had already planned to go away on Sunday and return on Monday. I did wonder if I might be pushing it to get the dress made in this time, but I can sew pretty quick so I thought it would be fine – and this was seconded by my husband through an exchange of texts something along the lines of:
Me: Shall I buy fabric to make Little Tweedie a dress to wear on Christmas Day?
Me: Ok, I just thought maybe you’d think it was a bad idea so close to Christmas.
Him: It’ll only take you three minutes or something.
As I was grabbing hold of the bolt of fabric, I suddenly realised I could make Baba Tweedie some matching trousers! I got all carried away after that. Little Tweedie’s dress would be lined, I would make it long sleeved, with a contrast collar, and a ribbon sash, and a fake net-petticoat trim, and I would also add some tartan applique to a baby vest to match Baba Tweedie’s trousers… and they would look adorable…
I got everything I needed there and then, but didn’t start sewing until naptime on Saturday. First of all I needed to hem a dress I had been working on, so I got that done and then started on Baba Tweedie’s trousers. Amazingly, I haven’t sewn any clothing at all for him yet! Boys are less exciting to sew for, and the teeny tiny sizes from 0-12 months don’t really last that long, and I rarely have fabric that is suitable for boys. These are my three excuses.
I chose the ‘Mr. Two-Face Pants’ trouser pattern from the book ’Sewing for Boys’. These are meant to have each leg sewn in a different fabric, but I ignored that part of the design. The trousers were really easy to sew as they are basically like pyjama bottoms. The cute pocket detail is a nice touch, although because the pattern is designed for knits there is no allowance for finishing the raw edges of the pocket – they just have you sew it straight on. I bias bound the edges in a contrasting colour and that worked well. I got Baba Tweedie’s trousers finished by Saturday night, and I also made a start on Little Tweedie’s dress too (New Look 6309) - I got the main bodice sewn up, and I made and attached the collar.
On Sunday we went away and we didn’t get back until mid-afternoon on Monday 23rd December. My in-laws were due to arrive 24 hours later for Christmas, and I hadn’t tidied or cleaned, marzipanned or iced the Christmas Cake, made mince pies or wrapped a single present. Eek! I got half an hour of naptime sewing done and then had to wait until they were in bed before I could continue. I stayed up until 2:10am, and got her dress finished and all the presents wrapped, and felt like a zombie the next day!
I altered the sleeve length so it would hit Little Tweedie’s elbow – more practical for her (no need to roll up her sleeves), but still a decent enough length that no cardigan would be required. I think it looks really cute on her.
I didn’t bother with the ribbon sash, because in the shop at the last minute I changed from green ribbon to red, but the red looked wrong with the green contrast collar. I might get some green next time and add it on.
I also didn’t end up attaching the net-ruffle trim. It was the very last step (this bit isn’t included in the pattern – it was my own idea), and I measured the skirt and made the strip and pinned it on, and then realised I had only measured the width of the dress hem rather than the circumference, so I only had half of what I needed. At that point, I decided to call it a day!
Sewing these last-minute things did stress me out and it impacted our Christmas preparation significantly. Little Tweedie’s dress was more complicated to sew than the ones I can whip up in one night (although I suppose two nights is not that bad!) – the collar and the sleeves are both really fiddly, even more so than adult-sized collars and sleeves, because they are so small!
Anyway, when they were both wearing their outfits on Christmas Day, none of that mattered because they just looked heartbreakingly adorable and gorgeous
Today I have the Megan Nielsen Tania Culottes to show you. The fabric I decided to use is a blue-grey chambray from Boyes, which is very nice and drapes quite well, but I should have used something a little more slippery for these I think, especially for during winter when wearing tights underneath.
I added six inches onto the length of the culottes as they struck me as being too short, but in the end I chopped 3 inches back off because the longer length made me feel a bit frumpy.
I’m not overwhelmed by these – I wanted to try them but I wasn’t sure if they would suit me. I think the full circle skirt for each thigh, coupled with the short length, makes my thighs appear even wider than they actually are, but then again I didn’t like the longer length either.
They are at least practical – I can see me wearing them more in the summer for trips to the park or the beach – so I can sit cross legged without showing all and sundry my knickers!
I bought this pattern the moment it was released, but I only got round to actually using it a couple of weeks ago. My original intention was to make it in green, and I even had the fabric set aside for it, but for some reason I just never got around to it.
Then one day whilst in the wondrous Boyes I spied some cerise ‘hammer satin’ and fell in love. I didn’t know exactly what to use it for (another Anna did cross my mind!), but the price was too good to leave it behind and the colour was beautiful. I decided to give the Jasmine blouse a try.
Truthfully, I wish I had left this fabric behind. I’ve been working with satin a lot this year, and so I didn’t really think twice about buying this – I thought I would be able to handle it just as easily as the other types of satin I’ve used recently. WRONG.
This satin was sooooooooooooooooooooooooo slippery (that’s a joke for Julia there) - it was just like liquid! When laid out on the cutting table (a challenge in itself), I only had to touch it lightly with my finger for the fabric to actually ripple like water. Out of all the fabrics I’ve ever used, including chiffon, this was the trickiest to handle. It slid and rippled all over the place, and it was impossible to turn out, and it wouldn’t press! The neck-tie/collar took me over THREE HOURS to turn and press.
Seriously. Three hours of my life I will never get back, spent trying to roll out seams on the right side of the fabric. ARRRGGGHH.
I wasn’t even sure if this was going to look good. I was worried that this stupid fabric was actually too shiny for a blouse. The whole time I was making it I wasn’t sure about it, but I carried on anyway because I don’t like unfinished projects.
Anyway, I mainly finished it. It does still need hemming, but I don’t know if I’m ever actually going to wear it in real life, so there’s no real incentive to hem it – especially as I could just tuck it in like I did for these pictures! It does look nice with my Colette Meringue skirt as pictured here, but this isn’t really a practical look for me. I think if I were to use this pattern again, I would definitely use a light cotton fabric for it, then it would feel that bit less formal.
I can’t fault the pattern, anyway. As with all Colette Patterns, it is well designed, nicely presented and very clear. It was just the fabric that didn’t work for this project.
So, to summarise, this is not my best creation, but *exaggerates northern accent* YER CAN’T WIN EM ALL CAN YER?! EH?!
A few years back, a friend of mine introduced me to Fever Designs, and I went through a brief period of buying their dresses. This was before I could sew, and when I had a lot more disposable income!
One of the dresses was made by Fever’s sister company – Ruby Belle – and it had this fantastic owl print skirt that I loved. It has been folded up in the attic for the past few years, but I recently rediscovered it and tried it on, and this is what it looked like:
Too tight on the midriff/waist band, and across the bust. This was after I had hacked off the sleeve bands that were so tight I couldn’t even get my arms in to try the damn thing on! I remember the arms being tight at the time, actually – Fever never were any good at accommodating arms or boobs, even when I did mainly fit into their dresses.
Anyway, this owl dress was too good to leave hanging around in the loft, so I detached it from the original dress and made a new bodice using none other than the By Hand London Anna dress pattern. Surprisingly, once I had detached the skirt, the waist actually measured 34″ and so I didn’t need to alter it at all. It fit straight onto the Size 12 Anna bodice (which claims to be smaller than it actually is, as it says the finished waist measurement is 32.5″ whereas it is in fact 34″ excluding seam allowance).
I used black poplin from Boyes, which I’ve used for many sewing projects before and I’ve always been pleased with the quality of it – it washes and wears really well and is under £3 per metre. As I was only making the bodice, I bought 1m of fabric and a zip, so it didn’t cost much to get this dress back into my wearable wardrobe.
And one more photo of me twirling in the park:
First of all I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who commented on my last post – you are all so kind! It was lovely to get such great feedback, it put a big smile on my face.
Today I want to show you some Christmas present sewing. I made the play cape from the book ‘Growing Up Sew Liberated’ for my daughter. She is 3 and has very good imagination and recently has been getting into dressing up and pretending to be different characters.
The cape is designed to be reversible, so I decided to make one side red and the other in a wolfy-fabric. I don’t think that’s the technical term though.
I used plain red cotton, and then grey fleece. So Little Tweedie will be able to put the cape on and pretend to be Little Red Riding Hood, and then whip it off and put it back on the other way around and pretend to be the Big Bad Wolf.
I’m very much looking forward to seeing her in it, and watching her first performance! I have saved some of the grey fleece fabric to add on wolf ears – I can’t put them on now because I’m not sure exactly where it will sit on her head. We got her a special pop-up version of the book to go with the cape, to remind her of the story (she has several versions already but not a standalone book).
In a way I’m kind of jealous. Dressing up capes are awesome! I intend to make more of these as gifts for the children of friends
In September I signed up for a ten week pattern cutting course at a local college. It wasn’t the first time I’ve been on one of these courses - back before Baba Tweedie came along I was part-way through my first pattern-cutting course, in which I had drafted a dress inspired by Kim Novak’s black dress in Vertigo. I never finished the dress (you can read about my pattern drafting for it here), because by the end of term I was pregnant, and there is no way I was going to continue making a corset!
Anyway, when September this year rolled around I wanted to start something new. The first few weeks of the course were spent drafting and making a toile of a bodice block, to use as a starting point for basically any pattern I wanted to design afterwards. Once the block was done, I was ready to go.
Now I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet, here, but I am confident sewing from pretty much any commercial dress pattern. Therefore, in order to get the most value from my course, and to challenge myself, I wanted to design something unusual, and something that I hadn’t seen before. I’m not so naïve as to think that this design has never been seen anywhere before, but it certainly isn’t something I have come across, certainly not all the elements combined together.
I wanted a V-neck, diamond inset front bodice with gathering over the bust. I wanted a cut-out back. I wanted to be able to wear a bra underneath. I wanted a circle skirt. So that’s what I designed, and, four toiles later (I’ll spare you the details), that’s what I made! The fabric is satin. I will let the photos speak for themselves. Let me know what you think!
I am so proud of this dress!