I proceed with sewing my coat like an F1 driver on the home stretch…I want it done and impatience has set in. I’m mindful of this and try and force myself to pay due care and attention…to not rush to the finishing line…but still I find myself easily irritated and rushing anyway. And this is the quandary; I know not to sew when I’m in this mood – mistakes likely happen – but given that my mood is underpinned by bloody-mindedness, I carry on.
I’m so (sew!) happy to be sharing this make with you as it fills me with much joy! Having sewn nothing but sensible winter jersey for the last while, it felt incredible to get my hands on this extravagant cotton lawn and to indulge myself in whimsy. The Piccadilly Pyjamas by Nina Lee in this amazing Lady McElroy ‘Panda Retreat’ cotton lawn (link to fabric below ;-)) are a gift to myself. Sewing something to wrap up in that feels luxurious and makes me smile feels like the ultimate in self-care; not sewing myself a pretty dress but sleepwear, haha! But I love sewing sleepwear/loungewear and feel I ought to sew myself another matching Suki Kimono and slippers to go with them too!
So I’ve sewn the first of my #sewtogetherforsummer wrap dresses; the Appleton by Cashmerette. I’m kicking myself for not trying this pattern sooner as it’s such a simple and quick sew yet is brilliantly drafted to ensure a really great fit.
I’ve sewn a few wrap dresses in my time (see McCalls 7119 here and here, New Look 6301 and McCalls 6884 for example). I think one of the key reasons for wanting to make this years’ #sewtogetherforsummer challenge about the wrap dress stems from the fact that I’ve really struggled to find a traditional wrap dress pattern that does a passable job of fitting and flattering my bust line straight out of the envelope.
The Appleton is your classic wrap dress with a low cut V wrap neckline; built-in waist ties and sleeve length options. It comes with different cup sizes – Yey! I cut a size 12 and the C/D cup. There is no seperate bodice piece; it’s simply front, back, bands and sleeve.
The amount of negative ease built into this dress at the bust means a lot of redrafting issues become moot; for example a 40” bust size has a finished measurement under 33” – the stretch in the fabric aiding the fit, together with the neck/front band and built in waist ties you’re ensured a snap finish at the bust…it really is secure!
In fact the only thing I did was to take a little out of the length and cut the sleeve so it fit just above my elbow.
You can get quite a different look with the dress depending on where you wrap the ties, at Empire height or at your natural waist. My only gripe really is I find that the hole to feed the ties through sits a tad high on me so that the ties start to wrap most naturally under the chest. Next time I’d contemplate moving the hole down a smidge. Oh and I like to use dissolvable double sided Wonder Tape to hold those seams nicely in place when it comes to finishing that hole at the side seam where the tie threads through!
There’s not much else I can say; it really is that easy to put together!
So that’s the traditional wrap dress made … I now find myself obsessing about the By Hand London ‘Orsola’ which wraps at the back and can be made in a woven. If you’re quick, we’ve still got a discount running on that pattern, plus others!
Hi All, I hope your New Year is off to a great start! I’m really excited about my sewing plans for this year but I thought I’d start with a simple but fun project for my newly created sewing space. As part of that reorginastion, I also cleaned and oiled both my machines. Undoubtedly they’re both running smoother but the racket my overlocker still produced when working at full pedal continued to jangle my nerves. I figured quilted mats were the answer!
I had one metre of this fab tape measure print cotton poplin and I wanted to see how much I could make from it. I ended up with two machine mats – one for each machine – a cushion cover and enough scraps left over to perhaps make a matching pin cushion too! The difference the mat makes to the running of the overlocker can’t be overstated… 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!