Hello! Having been quiet here for a wee while (too busy sewing!) I’ve now got a double-whammy of posts coming up in quick succession (haha clearly I blog as I live!); there’s a new sewing pattern launching later today I was really happy to be part of the tester group for; I’ll post on that next but, for now, I want to share the 5 dresses I’ve recently sewn using the Sunday Dress pattern from indie designer Pattern & Cloth. Read More
A massive thank you to all who took part in this years’ #sewtogetherforsummer challenge; an astonishing 450+ dresses were completed and submitted by the deadline date. Once again, myself @SewSarahSmith, Suzy @Sewing_in_Spain and Monika @rocco.sienna were absolutely delighted with your boundless enthusiasm and creativity!
Whilst checking the entries to put in the Prize Hat for drawing the winners, it became clear that particular pattern companies and certain wrap dress patterns were extremely popular for this years’ Challenge. So, before we jump into revealing the winning entries later on in this post, I thought it might be interesting to analyse what those favourites are… Read More
Hi! If you follow me on Instagram and/or are a regular reader of this ‘ere blog, you may know that I spent a chunk of August back out in the States, a trip I avidly sewed for! As well as eating and drinking my own body weight, this trip also gave me much needed time to reflect both on my sewing life and life in general…
… and this new monthly ‘All Sewn Up!’ blog series is one of the results of that. I wanted a space where I could take time to both reflect upon and forward plan my sewing and to examine how this fits in with the current flux of my life in general. So, as well as covering things like: what I’ve sewn, what I’ve worn and what I’m dreaming of sewing; I also aim to share the notable books I’ve read, throw in snippets from my life, talk about the patterns I’ve researched and bought and whatever else takes my fancy. Basically having a mental spring clean by dumping the contents of my brain here. I guess some months they’ll be long posts, some months they’ll be short posts and some months they won’t be posted at all!
Spending an inordinate amount of time lounging in a hammock getting my ass bitten by mosquitos also gave me the time to do some much needed housekeeping in my little dot of the cyber universe. As well as redesigning the blog itself to make it more functional (it’s not 100% where I want it at yet – how do you find navigating it?) I also finally succumbed to buying my domain name so that it’s now simply ‘www.SewSarahSmith.com’. I’ve designed myself a wee logo to celebrate. It’s not fancy but then neither am I. All in all, I think this is me finally committing to saying yes, this is my space and I’m claiming it. (And Yey to getting rid of hosting Ads!)
Ok, so with that out of the way let’s talk about August!
We actually flew out to the States on my birthday at the back end of July. I travelled with my family and my Sister-in-Law, Anna, to spend much needed time with family who moved to New York State a few years back. 11 months of the year it’s totally crap they’re so far away from us but it does mean when we do get to spend time together we really spend time together.
I took mostly me-made items in my suitcase this time, including a few things I’d sewn up specifically for the trip. Here’s what I wore the most – it also made me realise what was missing from my wardrobe and so I’ve researched a few patterns I really need in my arsenal. Shall we have look?
My most worn item was, perhaps unsurprisingly, the last thing I sewed before packing – McCalls 7119 (blogged HERE).
It was so comfy in the heat; I didn’t feel overdressed it in, finding it versatile enough to pair with heels to go out for dinner but also to wear around the house with flip flops/thongs.
On days three and four, when my mosquito bites were at their angriest, I took to wearing this outfit – RTW linen blend trousers and my Coppelia Wrap Cardi by Papercut Patterns (blogged HERE)
Can we just take a second to talk about bloody mosquito bites!? On the second evening we lit the firepit out the back and I sat there sipping wine long into the night sensibly wrapped up from head to toe … yet having completely forgotten to douse myself in Deet first. I woke up the next morning burning; my skin had been savaged!
Not only had I been bitten a million times, I’d evidently reacted to them violently, coming up in huge welts which I don’t recall ever happening before (or maybe it did and I’d conveniently forgotten; a bit like the way we handle childbirth!) I subsequently spent the remainder of the holiday spraying myself to near asphyxiation and wearing mosquito bands on every limb to avoid repercussion! A few days in I read the blurb on the back of the can warning not to use whilst wearing rayon. Guess what I’d mostly been wearing?!
My two McCalls 7116 dresses both got a lot of wear (blogged HERE). This is the version with the bright pink flowers, which really goes well with my red skin!
Two sets of lounge/sleepwear were in heavy rotation – my Lakeside Pajamas (blogged HERE) and the Suki Kimono (see HERE). I wore the top with cut off jeans to go out in as well as sleep in. I also wore the shorts around the house paired with a Tee – they’re a bit too ‘short short’ to venture further afield in.
My Suki (HERE) was (and still is) the first thing I reach for every morning. But, remember I said I’d discovered a tad late that you’re not supposed to spray Deet near rayon/viscose? The Suki took the worst hit; I think it leaches colour and some of it has run – thankfully it’s just made the white flowers a tad pink in places – I can live with that. Frankly I’ll have to as you’re unlikely to wrestle this robe out of my hands. It’s a good excuse to sew another though, right?!
My Simplicity 1887 viscose trousers (HERE) were a godsend! Unbelievably lightweight and airy. So lightweight in fact I felt a bit, well, starkers, in them – feeling the disconcerting need to physically check I was walking around Walgreens wearing clothing and actually not butt naked!
I wore both my McCalls 6886 dresses (blogged HERE) a few times; this is the perfect easy wear dress to throw on when you want to wear something really comfy, stretchy and forgiving whilst still looking fairly put together; I mainly wore them to go shopping or to stuff my face eating out – the key word here being ‘stretchy’.
Joann’s was a fun experience although I did feel a bit like a rabbit caught in the headlights walking through the sliding doors – it was massive. I ended up only buying three long lengths of fabric and various tools – I’ll probably post them up on Insta sometime soon as well as showing you what I’ve made with them here. The gadget section was fab and I finally got myself a spool holder! I had coupons worth 40% so it all felt a bit of a steal really!
My McCalls 6696 Shirtdress (blogged HERE) came out to play for the Attica Rodeo. I was originally planning to wear my maxi dress having envisaged myself wearing it with cowboy boots, however, when everyone else in the house decided to go all native on me, I decided I had to do my best impression of a Cowgirl too and a Shirtdress seemed fitting. I tried, and I mean really tried, to buy the perfect pair of cowboy boots whilst there but none I liked fitted.
Definitely missing from my suitcase were a few pair of shorts, I needed more variation than the cut-offs I took. I want a City pair and a casual pair(s). I have the (1) Chi Town Chinos shorts pattern by Alina already so they’re a serious contender; the (2) Pierre Shorts by Republique du Chiffon have a few features I like but I’m a bit unsure about the the button front and the (3) Vogue City Shorts V9008 really caught my eye:
It was such a great few weeks. Hanging out with family really is the best. Days out, days in lounging around, letting the kids run wild, nights spent playing cards and quaffing. That’s one of my favourite words/verbs : to quaff. Talking of words…
…I also devoured two really good books:
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keys is one of those novels you can’t put down once you’ve read the first page. Written by the character Charlie as series of diary entries – a man of low IQ but huge heart – following experimental surgery to raise his intelligence. Classed as a sci-fi novel, I found this a beautiful and affecting read.
A Place Called Winter by Daniel Gale – brilliantly written and quite epic in scale in terms of the vastness of the landscapes it paints and the mapping of the human heart it covers. I literally sobbed to the point of gulping near the end. I started reading it on the plane home but thankfully read the last few chapters safely in my own bed where my heart could break in peace.
So what’s next?
Summer’s running out here in the UK (or did it even really ever start?!) so my thoughts are already turning to Autumn/Winter makes. Whilst I was away I received a very exciting email about contributing to a sewing magazine; more of that later but suffice to say I think I have the perfect make in mind for it. There’s a great new Instagram challenge I want to take part in (the #cosycardichallenge) hosted by the lovely Amanda – check out her YouTube channel ‘I Sew A Lot’ HERE for the info. I’ve also just bought some double ended knitting needles so I can finally succumb to my craving to knit socks!
I’ll leave you here, I think I’ve taken up enough of your time for one day! Thanks for reading – please feel free to throw book and pattern recommendations my way!
Now time to get making eh!
Until next time, I hope your summer has been fab!
This make is still very much in the theme of ‘Summer Sewing’ as I made them to take on our family holiday. Even in the heat, I don’t want to wear dresses or shorts every day. I wanted lightweight breathable casual trousers with pockets and preferably cuffed ankles, along the lines of the SOI Carrie Trousers but without needing to buy their online trouser course just to get that pattern. After some searching, I found Simplicity 1887.
These trousers have some nice features – whilst the waistband is elasticated, they have a flat central panel which is way more flattering. Plus there are several variations in terms of length – including the option to make shorts – a pretty waist tie and a very simple skirt pattern all in the same envelope.
Be warned : there is a spectacular amount of ease in this pattern! When I’m reunited with my sewing machine I may yet alter these again but for now they’re still getting plenty of wear. I made View A, with the elasticated cuffs in a lovely soft and reasonably opaque viscose.
Oh, and whilst on holiday I’ve redesigned the Ol’ Blog a bit…what do you think so far?!
Until next time, if it’s summer where you are I hope the sun is shining!
I’m currently in the midst of a sewing frenzy; with less than two weeks to go before we head off on our summer holidays, I’m frantically trying to sew enough things to pack! Given the lack of time, I was looking for patterns that met certain criteria;
- they need to be relatively quick to sew;
- a flattering shape but not restrictive in any way;
- can preferably be made up in lightweight breathable fabrics and
- are easy care once made – i.e. can be washed, dried and put back on again in next to no time – ideally without having to meet an iron.
I was able to choose two McCalls patterns as a prize from the lovely Kate at The Foldline for my M6696 Shirtdress a little while back and thinking of my summer wardrobe, I snatched up M7116 and M7119 – both looked relatively simple and needed lightweight wovens.
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The patterns I won from @thefoldline – thank you so much Kate!!!! Let the #holidaywardrobe sewing commence!!! @mccallpatterncompany #M7116 and #M7119 – have any of you sewn these? Any tips? #sewhappy . . . #isew #sewcialists #sewist #instasew #sewersofinstagram #memadewardrobe #diyclothes #handmadewardrobe
I decided to sew View A of M7116 first – the spaghetti strap version – it’s essentially a semi-fitted pullover dress with a side seam zip. I chose a lovely floral viscose print. Let me say that again in case you weren’t paying attention… a floral print! A print that is floral! Flowers on fabric. As unradical a choice that may sound to you, let me make it clear that it was something of a departure for me. Purging my wardrobe earlier in the year has allowed me to rethink and I find myself choosing things I’d previously been wary of; whether this is a sign of increased confidence or simply Middle Aged Madnesss I’m not sure. I’m pretty sure I don’t care either way!
So back to the fabric…it’s a gorgeously soft viscose; the first with purple flowers on a dark navy background and the second with bright pink ones (see here). Both are opaque enough to not need lining. The flowers themselves are just the right size, not big enough to be screaming in your face nor small enough to fall into the chintz category. I set about tracing out the pattern. I wasn’t going to bother making a toile – time’s short and quite frankly I’m all toiled out – I’d rather stick pins in my eyeballs at the moment. I cut out based on the finished measurements (i.e sized down) and took in the underarm seams by a further 0.25″ each as well as raising the armscye by 0.5″, which I’ve found I had to do on previous McCalls patterns. It worked out great. I then graded down at the hip (a standard alteration for me).
The bodice of this dress is essentially a gathered bra-let type affair with the remaining dress being cut on the bias and semi-fitted. As a precaution, I cut out on the single fold and edgestitched all my pieces straight away to stop seams stretching out during construction and handling. Apart from that, it’s a super quick sew.
The armholes are finished with a bias cut strip of fabric which, since it’s simply pressed in half and sewn with raw edges aligned, makes for a quick, clean finish.
The neckline is finished with a simple fold-over elastic casing. The instructions ask you to cut out two specific lengths of elastic and insert those. Don’t do that. Mark the required length on a longer piece and feed that through, pinning at the marked end points. Then adjust to fit. I ended up taking out about 1.5″ from the back piece to get it to fit flush with my back. Since I knew I’d be wearing these dresses with a regular bra, I used the width of the straps of that as my guide.
The instructions then say to adjust your strap lengths, which are already sewn in at the back, and sew them in to meet the front neckline. I waited until I’d sewn the skirt on as this gave me a much better idea of how it sat.
The way McCalls have you insert the side zip is also fantastically easy. You could, of course, insert an invisible zip here but I wanted to try this method out. Simply place your zip face down on a basted together seam and sew in. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy. It produces a much neater enclosed finish than I was expecting. Bonus.
I was so pleased with the finished dress, which I pretty much put together in one sitting. The bias skirt is gorgeous, it adds a lovely touch to such a simple dress; the fabric skims the body beautifully without being clingy. In fact, I liked it so much I immediately sewed another, its pink twin.
I want to sew another in yellow. Yes, yellow. I’ve never worn yellow in my life – unless it was something knitted by my Mum was I was young enough not to object. But yellow I want!! I also want to do View D when I get back from holiday…I can see that transitioning nicely into Autumn.
Hope you’ve all got a great summer planned! Me? I’m cutting out M7119!
Until next time sewing friends,