The Joan Wiggle Dress (Charm Patterns Patreon) Sweetheart Neck: All Sewn Up

After the success of the slash neck version of this dress, I decided what the heck, lets try out some crushed velvet and crack on. It was, after all, nearly my 15th wedding anniversary and I needed something special to wear on my date out with my wonderful other half.

First off, the fabric I bought was perfect but did have some glitter issues (read: gets absolutely everywhere – especially when pre-washing and cutting), but it was just so perfect and sparkly that I thought it was an opportunity not to be missed.

I hadn’t ever sewn anything in stretch velvet before so that was a bit of a learning curve and there were a few new things I learnt when I was making this version of the dress:

  • Stretch lining the bodice: something I hadn’t done before. I have lined  things, yes, but not with stretch lining. I am super glad that I did as I can now be safe in the knowledge that the neck won’t stretch put of shape over time and the added security of the elastic in the neckline keeps it the dress sitting nicely on my shoulders, rather then slipping off. The tutorial video Gertie provided was absolutely perfect for me learning this. (Anyone else a visual learner? This is one of the many reasons I love the Charm Patterns Patreon).
  • Velvet is so effing slippery: l ditched the pins as much as I could and changed to clips after a very frustrating time trying to get my notches lined up.
  • I did learn from my mistake with the sizing from last time though and I made the necessary adjustment to the pattern prior to cutting my fabric, although I did still have to take a further bit off the hips due to the additional stretch in the fabric.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to wear it out as our son wasn’t well, so we didn’t make it out for our anniversary date after all (don’t worry we scoffed a lovely takeaway) but I did get some pics.

I am so pleased with how it turned out, and our night out has been rearranged so I’ll be in it soon enough but for now it’s in my wardrobe in a cover (did I mentioned the glitter getting everywhere?), and it hasn’t put me off sewing with velvet…in fact next up on my sewing table is something I am planning to match with stretch leopard print velvet…

To see my updates as they happen why not follow me on Instagram.

The Joan Wiggle Dress (Charm Patterns Patreon) Slash Neck: All Sewn Up

I was over the moon when I first saw what Gertie had created for us for January’s Patreon release. If you have read my blog previously (over the years that Mad Men seasons were still being released -gah – way, way back in time) then you will know

a. how much I love Joan and

b. how obsessed with Mad Men I was (and to a certain extent still am).

The pattern came with two necklines, one the classic Joan office wear with a slash neck based on her iconic silhouette of the wiggle dress that hugs every curve, and the second a daring sweetheart neckline for those who dare to bare a little more.

Now, I have promised myself that as my sewing room/office is now all done and I am finally moved in that I will sew one garment a month at the minimum (more on that in a later blog) so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to jump right in. So off I went and purchased some pretty on the nose fabric for the slash neck top, because I really loved the way that cutting on the stripes made the chevron pattern on the bodice of the dress.

It didn’t take me long to cut and sew the top although the chevrons did need a little bit of unpicking (hello seam ripper, my old friend) after my first attempt, but holding my breath seemed to somehow magically work for the second attempt and I had some fantastic matching I was very happy with.

The top of the dress was incredibly high on my neck, so there was a certain amount of fiddling about to make sure that it sat in the right place. There was mention of this in both the video and the printed instructions so I was prepared.

The skirt was way too curvy on my hips, something I really should have measured for properly when I cut my pieces, I did feel like I should have graded between sizes but I just ignored the little voice. Thankfully I tried the skirt part on before I attached it to the bodice so I adjusted, took the skirt in, made the curve less prominent and re-sewed the skirt to ensure a better fit.

What I didn’t consider and what I feel like I should have done (can you tell who has had their sewing machine packed away for a year due to renovation?) was the weight of the skirt fabric which was heavier than the weight of the bodice fabric. Thankfully it wasn’t so much that there was additional drag or pull on it when it was all finished, but it’s definitely something I’ll think about in the future. Every sew is a learning possibility.

I was super excited to get it on and feel my inner Joanie – did I mentioned I’ve had a replica of her pen necklace for a good few years now? Nope, well, here it is and me in all its glory.

I am so super pleased with how this fantastic dress has turned out. A million thanks to the Charm Patterns crew and to Gertie for such a wonderful pattern to start the year with. I’ve been a subscriber since the Charm Patterns Patreon first started and I have to say this is hands down my a favourite pattern release. It’s always a special one at the beginning of the year and we get a little extra bang for our buck, and what a gloriously special pattern it is. What I love about it the most is the versatility, I will be wearing it to the office on my return in a couple of weeks and I can equally imagine wearing it out to a dinner date with friends.

To see my updates as they happen why not follow me on Instagram.

Simplicity 4579: All Sewn Up – 50s Fringed Skirt

Simplicity 4579

My Step Mum found this pattern for me and I instantly fell in love with it especially the fringe trimmed version of the skirt, who doesn’t like a bit of fringing after all? So when the fine folks at Zazzle.co.uk got in touch with me so see if I would collaborate on a couple of posts it was instantly clear that this pattern would be perfect.

If you haven’t heard of Zazzle.co.uk they’re a fantastic creative customisation website with a whole host of different products but obviously, for me, it’s all about the crafting. I can’t even begin to tell you how wide ranging their fabric options are as it would take a whole post up in itself and I’d never get around to showing you my skirt but I will give you a quick overview.

You can pick from various categories from colour, pattern to theme. I obviously went for retro of course, but there are lots of others to choose from. In those categories you can pick the type of fabric, as its summer here I went for a cotton obviously (and I am glad I did due to the heatwave we’ve had) and then there’s the fun bit of customising the pattern too.

The only tough thing I found about the process was narrowing down my fabric choices as there are so many.

Anyhoo, they are fab and you should check them out.

Simplicity 4579

To start the skirt is a 28 waist and 38 hip. Due to the lovely weather we’re having here in the UK, recently not being in the best of sorts and my love of dairy I am now sporting 40 inch hips. So I had to adjust the pattern.

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I started by tracing the pattern onto some Swedish sewing paper and marking it up, then I made the hip adjustment by cutting out a perpendicular section from the hip line to the hem line and fitting and extra half an inch in.

Simplicity 4579

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Simplicity 4579

I sewed up the darts and joined the sides and all went swimmingly. I put the zip in as instructed, even though it’s not the normal way I’d do the zip but it worked out okay if not a little fiddly. You don’t get anything from not trying though, right? Even if that something you do get is a little frustrated.

Simplicity 4579

Then it was on to the hem and the decision of what I should do about the fringing. For all intents and purposes the instructions said to leave a length of fabric under the fringing but after trying out all options I decided not to do this. It just looked a bit odd.

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So I took the skirt up a little extra and removed the split. Then I started sewing the fringing in. I have a little experience of sewing in fringing due to my previous burlesque dancing ways but I had only ever done it by hand. I did use the sewing machine this time and took a steady pace with it. No problems, no seam ripping, just a very happy me by the end of it.

Simplicity 4579

All that was left was hemming to do which, as usual, went without a hitch. So ladies and jellyspoons  here is my finished, sewn up skirt. What do you think? I;m super happy with how it turned out and it’ll look great for a work as well as a Sunday mooching round the vintage shops.

Simplicity

Simplicity

Disclosure: Fabric supplied by Zazzle.co.uk but all thoughts on their services are honest and my own.

Help me choose a pattern (aka being indecisive sucks)

Well as you know we’re in the new house, all is unpacked and yesterday we had our nearest and dearest over for a housewarming. So lovely to have our friends over and the next generation ( not star trek – just our mates awesome kids).

Now the dust has settled I’m in the mood to SEW!

I took a little trip out to my local John Lewis last week and picket up this gorgeous fabric for half price but now I’m stuck on what to make with it.

A dress? Yes, but which one?

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These are the three I have to choose from:

Simplicity 7702

 

(View 1)

Butterick 2604

 

(also considering making the coat in the heavy gold satin I brought back from Vegas)

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(with sleeves)


I’m favouring the Simplicity or Vogue at the moment, the Butterick is gorgeous but it’s quite a similar shape to other dresses I’ve made in the last year and I’d like to try something different.

Any feedback/help in making my mind up will be appreciated. What would you make?

 

 

Simplicity 2602: The Christmas Edition

Christmas eve is almost upon us and here I have a festive feast for your eyes.

The Simplicity 2602 all made up and worn for my work Christmas party (and soon to be seen on Christmas Day!).

Christmas dress and fabric 2015

I know I’ve been a bit slack on the stitching over the recent months but I have fantastic news to share, I’ve been making changes to my life and will be starting a new post in my current job in the new year. It’s the perfect way to round of what has been a wonderful year.

That’s the main reason for the lack of updates and besides that I decided to literally work my butt off after I  found myself in a position where I couldn’t fit into my beautiful pink boned dress that I made back in June. I’ve been working out day and night and haven’t been in this good shape for years, but enough of that, lets get on with this fantastically festive frock!

I have to confess that I made the choice based on something quick to whip up (relatively speaking) and the lack of messing about with sleeves when I knew how busy I’d be in the weeks running up to the date I needed to finish by.

I picked a medium weight cotton from Benartex (Let It Snow) available from Plush Addict. I went for a good 4 metres and I was very happy in the end that I did.

Simplicity 2602 Christmas Edition

I pinned out the pattern and up came a quandary, mainly that the pattern doesn’t repeat itself often enough.

It meant a lot of pinning and re-pinning before cutting and I had to deal with the sides seams not matching (I decided the back was much more important due to the side closure and the split).

So after holding my breath and cutting while crossing my fingers and every available part of me (I don’t often sewing with patterned fabric!) it was done.

Simplicity 2602 Christmas Edition

I pinned the darts and pinned to my dressform and was already very happy before I even started to sew it up. Sewing was relatively easy apart from the back, which I had managed to get a tiny bit out of sync.

Yet again my seam ripper became my best friend and I opted to sewing on the fold down the back rather than try (for the umpteenth time) to match the seam.

I don’t think you could obviously see it due to the pattern but decided even if you could I’d give myself a break and not give too much of a monkeys.

So on I went, and the rest was relatively easy, the split was a breeze and the side zip went in with ease. It seems that a break away for a while has done me some good. Eight and a half hours later and I was done, pressed and ready to go.

I wore at the office party, looking way more dressed up than everyone there BUT it’s Christmas and if you can’t wear a lovely sparkly dress for a party what can you wear it for? Here it is in all it’as glory!

Simplicity 2602 Christmas Edition

Simplicity 2602 Christmas Edition

Simplicity 2602 Christmas Edition

Simplicity 2602 Christmas Edition

Simplicity 2602 Christmas Edition

Better photos to follow after Christmas day – wait until you see my hand embroidered napkins and table cloth!

Wishing you all a fantastic festive season, a wonderful Christmas Day and much love and happiness with your friends and family. I’m off to ice my ridiculously boozy cake!

Merry Christmas!

All Sewn Up: Butterick B6031 Patterns By Gertie: The Slip

I thought it was time I pushed myself away from the cotton and towards something a little slinkier, so when I saw Gertie was starting a slip sew along back in February I thought I’d give it a go. The massively underestimated my time so I only got around to it this week.

yellow slip 1

I opted for purchasing one of Gerties slip packs from Etsy as I thought it would save me a lot of traipsing about or online searching for the little bits and bobs and of course I went for yellow.

Yellow is my favourite colour because it’s the colour of sunshine, how can you NOT like yellow?

The main material is micro jersey fabric (poly/spandex blend) and the lace is stretch. I decided that I’d go for a contrasting yellow cotton while sewing as I like the effect it has on it, give it a little cheat style decoration. I missed the bows off because I didn’t really like them all that much, and much prefer the slip all plain Jane.

 yellow slip 2

So off I set. The pattern was relatively easy to sew up and I was surprised at how easy it was considering all of the stretch in all of the fabrics. This would have taken me a day to complete if I’d had a whole day but it took me several nights and half a day in the end and I am very pleased with the result.

yellow slip 4

yellow slip 6

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The only problems I had were with:

Double sewing the dart on the bust. One side, if you look really close up, doesn’t look as neat as the other, I had a bit of an incident with the slippy fabric but trying to go as slow as possible on the other side was fine. So less speed required from me in future.

The straps; it took my dyslexic brain a while to figure out which way round the straps were sewn once the extending fastening pieces were threaded through, I got there in the end though and this is the finished result.

Next up on my sewing table are the pants (we say that up north, rather than knickers, or panties across the pond).

Book Review: Fifty Dresses That Changed the World

While I was off on my camping adventures I finally got to have a good read of a book I’d had my eye on for a while an which was gifted to me by a friend as a thanks for embellishing a hen’s dress for her final night of freedom.

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Fifty dresses that Changed the World promises a lot and on the most part it delivers.

Maybe I’m just more attuned to vintage clothes and therefore don’t see that Julia Roberts Oscars dress from 2011 (a 1982 original) really was a dress that changed the world.

People had been wearing vintage for some time by that point and while I accept it thrust vintage into the limelight and made it more acceptable for people to look to the past when considering what to wear, I don’t think it changed the world.
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It is however a really nice little coffee table book and is full of treasures such as the Delphos gown, the Chanel suit, Mary Quant’s mini-dress, the Paco Rabanne disc dress (I really REALLY wanted to wear this in the 90s – even in my teenage years, highly inappropriate) and of course the devastatingly beautiful creations of Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell.

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We can all learn a little by looking at the beautiful lines of these garments for inspiration and this book it great for a little pick me up to think outside the box when considering where to go next, or when comparing currently lines of fashion houses and which era they may be looking back to.

A great book to flick through, read through and even to learn a few new names to research.

Oh and special mention for them putting Cher in with her 80s Moonstruck Oscars dress (Bob Mackie). The showgirl in me LOVES IT.
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The National Vintage Awards: I’m a Finalist!

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In all of my excitement, sewing every god given hour and running off to Vegas I think I may have forgotten to post that I am a a finalist in the blog category for the National Vintage Awards.

I would like to say an absolutely HUGE thank you to everyone who voted for me and help me to get there.

I am off to the awards on Thursday with Timothy and I plan on wearing my most recently made dress, as it seems quite fitting for an event so glamorous.

I’m in the final alongside the wonderful Mancunian Vintage and Norton of Morton, meaning an all Manchester final. Proof that those residing here really are the best at blogging EVER (wink wink).

I am so ridiculously thrilled to even be standing by those two other wonderful bloggers. I’ve been reading theirs for a while so knowing that my blog in it’s first year is even close to being grouped with these beauties is an achievement in itself.

As some of you may or may not know I left a glittering burlesque performing career behind at the end of last year after 6 years of performing success to concentrate on the things I love more, sewing being one of them, and it has given me such a boost to know what I’m doing is valued by others. So please, here, have a virtual hug.

You’ve made me feel like I am on the right path and it’s added weight to my decision to stop treading he boards.

Cross your fingers for me on Thursday folks!

Craftsy: Sew Retro – The Gertie Bombshell Dress Complete

Three days before I got Vegas, finally finished my dress this afternoon. Yikes!

Sometimes I think I am either incredibly lucky when I get things done so quickly, or incredibly silly for procrastinating in the first place!

Last week a gave an update of how this dress was going, which I’d started after signing up my my first craftsy course when I was looking for something an extra special to take off to Vegas as I would be out there celebrating my (gulp) 34th birthday.

I’ll pick up where I left off.

The bodice made, I started with the skirt, which is a faux sarong (which doesn’t have the extra flap underneath). It was relatively easy to put together with a lot of gathering to one side to give it the sarong look.

After sewing up the sides  I pinned it to the bodice to see how it would look and I was so happy to see it looking gorgeous.

I have to say this is always my favourite part of sewing, when I can finally look at what the garment will become.

I don’t know why but it always does surprise me that I have managed to actually make something that looks like it’s meant to. You would have thought that almost a year in I’d be over it, but apparently not.

That’s the joy of making your own clothes though, isn’t it?

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After this it was time to sew it in. Now, I know it was going to be a bit of a struggle with that amount of gathering to one side but armed with my seam ripper I knew that it might be a case of taking it apart and putting it back together again.

Which I did have to, as I got half way round (after holding my breath and hoping for the best) the doorbell went and local campaigners were asking if I have voted (which I had – at 7.30 that morning).

I look flustered, they apologised and I went back to the skirt, finished it then realised I’d not sewing in the sarong part properly and had to start over again.

Which I did and when I had finished (round 2) it looked a little like this.

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I’m not sure it even does it justice, there is a lot of material in that side gather!

It was then time to insert the zip. Now Gertie shows you how to do a lapped zip, something which I have done before but much to my own dismay it didn’t work out as neat as it could have done, so it was nice to go through this stage step by step.

Half the Zip in – success! When I went to sew the other side in however I nearly had a little cry. Zip woes!

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I tried twice to do it by machine but I just could not get it right, and to be honest, I really prefer the hand picked technique for this, so in the end this is what I did. I think it just gives the outside a much better look that the row of stitching.

The next morning I had a little try on as I was super excited to see what it looks like, and I wasn’t disappointed.

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We were told at the beginning of this class that it would fit like a glove and it really, really does. So if anyone is about to embark on this class please make sure you measure it correctly.

The boning and lining was still to go on but I was so happy that I made the cups that little bit bigger because I was sure at this point that I would have been boobs out!

So on with the internal structure, lining and boning.

I normally don’t line my dresses, I don’t really know why, maybe laziness or more because when I have picked up vintage dresses many of them haven’t been lined, so all of this was new to me.

I went for a cotton lawn for the lining in a light blue with white polka dots. I cut out my pieces and spent an evening sewing them all together.

I have to say this was mildly frustrating as the cotton is so light I found it a bit tricky when it came to sewing the cups in.

They aren’t as perfect as I’d like them to be but I was tight on time by this point. A few hours later the lining was complete.

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The next step was to add the boning. I was, by this stage, watching bits of the tutorial and stopping to do a bit of work, going back and pressing play.

I would say for anyone who would be taking this class to watch it through once at this stage and then go back from the start and sew along, as the instructions are a tiny bit higgeldy piggeldy and there are things you could do with knowing (or things it would make it easier to know) if you watched it all the way through to begin with.

Anyhoo, the boning channels were pinned and sewn in.

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Then it was time to cut the boning down to size. I had chosen a variety of thickness and I thought I might need a little extra support around the bust area and I was glad that I did, but I did have a job cutting the larger pieces down to size (the chance of you getting any more than a couple of pieces pre-cut to the correct size is slim!).

This is fun, I thought when I first started snipping with much struggle with the wire cutters. I actually had to get Tim come and help me with the thicker bits I was no where near strong enough to get those bad boys done. Oh, and I didn’t purchase any extra end covers but I did manage to remove the ones already on the bits I had clipped and re-used them so all was not lost.

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Boning clipped and in it was time to pin the lining into the bodice.

I was careful when I did pin it in not to pin right through the bodice (learnt my lesson from a long time of steaming and pressing out the puncture marks on the top of the bodice when I was making that up!) and ensured that everything lined up.

It this point Gertie mentioned using a piece of grosgrain ribbon for a zipper guard, which is a welcome finishing touch to the dress but I would have liked to know earlier that I would need an extra piece of ribbon which is double the size of that which I have for the waist stay.

I improvised and did the best I could with what I had and it did work out well.

This is a little bone of contention for this course.

There are times when things are not mentioned in the materials (such as this) or times when little tips are mentioned after the event.

Maybe it’s my ordered ind which getting a bit miffed when these things occur but as I am planning on making another couple of dresses based on this pattern then it is useful to add little notes at these stages reminding yourself of tips that would have been handier to know earlier.

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I hand picked the zipper guard as I had done with the zip, being careful not to go through to the outside of the dress.

I then sewed the lining into the bodice and voila it was almost complete. Just the waist stay and hemming to go.

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Doesn’t it look pretty! I did at this point stop for the day as my wonderfully patient husband had been waiting to hang out with me as he’s off to do newt based stuff on Monday so we won’t see each other until I get back from Vegas.

Now the structure is inside the dress I could see how much better it was going to fit and support me. Before this point I had had some serious misgivings about whether or not my juicy chest fruit would be particularly supported but now I had no qualms.

Next was inserting the waist stay and attaching buttons for the detachable halter strap. The strap is completely optional and this dress does hold up beatifully without it but if, like me, you plan on using this dress for other occasions where it might be better to add a little for more of a day wear look then straps are a perfect option. I do plan on wearing this dress to a wedding this year too, so a halter seemed a good way to go.

Unfortunately my buttons didn’t exactly match, I went for the thinnest ones I had due to the dress being so close to my skin so I had to go for these clear yellow ones – they will be replaced at some point.

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All that was left to do after this was the hemming and finishing the skirt vent.

The instructions were relatively easy but I would have liked to know that I could finish the seams a little earlier where the zip is concerned as this caused me a lot of fiddling about.

The hem was finished with seam binding and then sewing on the back for an invisible finish.

I found some matching the light blue of my lining and waist stay in a box that my Nana had gifted to me, and I have to say the finish does   look very pretty.

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After this, there it was, my lovely dress, all complete.

There’s no final photo in this post as I plan on doing a few posts from Vegas so you’ll have to see the complete outfit post then, I don’t want to ruin everything, and me at the end of a two day sewing marathon to get this finished, in my scruffs, with my hair all pinned back would not have done it justice!

 


 

So in summary, I have really enjoyed this craftsy course and I am hooked!

I will definitely be taking more classes, there aren’t so many local ones around my neck of the woods so I’m really looking forward to bettering my skills and making this dress in different variations again soon.

If anyone is considering it I’d say go for it, you can do it, and I’d really like to see what you make!

Book Review: Reader’s Digest New Complete Guide to Sewing

I’ve had a few emails from readers and queries from friends about a good reference book to start with when they’re sewing, so let me introduce you to the bible: The Reader’s Digest Complete book of sewing.
CGTS1
When I first began my adventures I spent a lot of time on the net searching various forums, cross referencing with amazon’s handy “look inside” and reader’s reviews. I ultimately settled on this book after taking all of the above into consideration.

It might be a little pricey but it really does cover everything and anything in between.
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Being dyslexic, diagrams are a great way of showing me what to do. I can only get so far when I’m reading written instructions and this book goes that extra step further, with clear instructions and pictures.
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Whether you’re dyslexic or not this is a really great handy guide for anyone getting into sewing. It has step by step diagrams for processes from tailoring to hand stitching hems.
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Take the circular ruffle on my Joanie inspired dress. Something that I really struggled with looking at the instructions on my vintage pattern (as with all vintage patterns, they assume you already know a lot about sewing) but I just looked to my bookshelf, checked the reference pages and found what I was looking for quick smart, and away I went.
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I haven’t sewn any of the projects in the book – they’re not really my style but the instructions are clear, concise and contain a handy key at the top of the pages to point you in the direction of the correct pages for each separate part of the making up process.
Everything I have ever been stumped by, whether it’s a technical word, the correct way to sew a fastening or a tricky seam, I know I have the help I need an arm’s length away.
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If you’re beginning your sewing journey and would like the perfect accompaniment then kit yourself out with this book. It really is the best and works side by side with your sewing machine.
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It’s currently on Amazon for £40 BUT you can get a good second hand copy for under £10 too.


 

PLEASE VOTE FOR ME – 6 DAYS TO GO!
It’s super close folks and one vote could tip me into the top three which means I could be going through to the judges panel. Please give me a little vote if you can.

NVAs

 

If you liked this blog please vote for me in the NVAs as  I’ve been nominated under the Best Vintage Fashion/Lifestyle Blog category. Voting is open throughout May and it’s a simple click to select Stacey Stitch and then enter your email address to confirm the vote (you wont be spammed). Clicking on the photo or links above should take you straight to the website. It’ll only take a few minutes of your time if you have it spare! Thank you!