Agnes Arrives

No, not the much-coveted Tilly and The Buttons pattern – another Agnes; my new Adjustaform 8-Part Leg Form model!

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I’ve been eyeing up this version for a while because the fact you can fit trousers/shorts to it appealed to me, so it’s a little more luxurious than a standard model and thus a little more expensive, but I found the cheapest retailer selling her for £109 (Sewing Machine Sales, if you’re interested, with free P&P) rather than the £159 some places charge.

I opted for Version A as she meets my measurements and she arrived the next day by courier, so I didn’t have long to wait to create ‘the not-so-mini’ me!

I’m an awkward 35-31-42 at the moment, so adjusting the hips but barely touching the bust was a bit of a shock! However, I realised it’s easier to put a stuffed bra of mine (32E) on her and do a 32 inch ‘under’ bust because the shape of the cup affects where I put darts and whatnot. Maybe this isn’t what you’re meant to do but it seems to work so far… If nothing else, it’s quite comical to look at!

I think she has broader shoulders than me so I need to remember this when adding sleeves to anything. The main bonus is I can now work on maxi dresses without tripping over all the skirt fabric.

Thank goodness we have organised more storage in the sewing room (aka guest room) so there’s some floor space for her. It’s a snug room now made even snugger but another way of looking at it is everything is close to hand! We’ve added Ikea shelving with boxes above the day bed and a pegboard for hanging sewing tools on, so it’s less cluttered.

Now I’m trying to catalogue all my patterns by garment type and then list the contents of each folder, which could take forever…

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Start of a bodice toile for a Burda Magazine maxi dress

Pack Up Your Troubles

After struggling to get back into the right frame of mind for sewing after completing The Wedding Guest Dress, I opted to try out my bag-making skills for a change and, hopefully, a rather easy project. I knew the kind of bag I wanted to make – basically, one with lots of pockets because that’s my favourite type of bag – and I knew what fabric I was going to use (some blue and white striped cotton pique I’d originally bought to make Karl a polo shirt but then realised it was too heavy).

I flicked through some back issues of Love Sewing magazine and found a design for a Cath Kidson-inspired bag that featured tons of pockets. Below is a montage of the projects in that issue (Issue 27) and the bag is the second photo in from the left:

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(Apologies that I couldn’t find a better photo of it but I couldn’t be asked to try to find my physical copy of the issue again just for the sake of this post!)

As usual, I started off following the pattern and then got side-tracked and did my own thing. I also put it off for a long time before picking it back up again. That was kind of a problem because I forgot which pieces I’d cut out… And I was so excited to use my overlocker to make impenetrable seams that I started that part too early and had to unpick/snip a load.

Because I’ve used cotton and not oilcloth like the pattern suggests, my bag is a lot floppier than the original but I knew this would be the case and I’m fine with it. The aim was to make a very relaxed, beach-ready bag that could be filled to the brim with all the lazing-on-the-beach essentials. Never-mind that I live practically at the centre of England and my nearest beach is about 100 miles away…

Oh well, at least it’s easy to grab for those spur-of-the-moment-100-mile-car-journeys!

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I actually reduced the number of pockets (I know, insane, right?) because I wasn’t sure the bag would balance very well otherwise so I just kept the three along the front and then one inside.

I love the pink straps. The colour combo is very ‘Jack Wills’, which, living as I did for so long in very preppy-dressed Exeter, is hardly a surprise. (Seriously, that city’s population looks as though JW threw up on it).

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But what I have that JW doesn’t is some cute penguin cotton for the lining! 🙂

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I added the customary Creative Little Cwtch label on the inside and, for a little bit of fun, sewed on a motif I bought from My Fabrics in their sale, which fits the beachy/nautical theme!

It’s not a perfect sew in any sense of the word – some of my top-stitching is very wonky and just in ‘normal’ thread rather than anything thicker – but it’s good to finally finish a project and if it’s only going to get fictitious sand in it why waste tons of time on it?!

Montage time…

 

 

(Blue and white cotton pique fabric from Regency Rags; Pink cotton webbing from HaberCrafts; Can’t remember where I got the penguin cotton fabric from – sorry.)

I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconut (Macaroons)!

Okay, so I’ve been very absent online recently. And that’s due to having misplaced my ‘sewing mojo’ somewhere; handsome reward offered for its safe return. It’s mostly been too hot to bake and, although I have been crocheting, what I’m currently making is a present for someone and if I share any details about it they will guess straight away!

Bearing the weather in mind, I opted to make a quick, simple recipe yesterday, courtesy of the Silverspoon caster sugar packet:

I tasted coconut macaroons well before I ever had French ones (both are delicious so, no, I’m not going to choose between them) and I’ve always loved the texture of desiccated coconut. When I saw how ‘no frills’ this recipe was I reckoned it was worth sticking on my fridge for a time when I wanted to bake but not in a hurricane-has-swept-through-the-kitchen kind of way.

Seriously, the trickiest bit about this recipe was probably separating the eggs. Or trying not to use all the melted chocolate up on dipping strawberries (yum!) whilst waiting for the macaroons to bake.

I probably was a little overly cautious about the length of time I baked them; they could perhaps have done with being a little more ‘golden’ than they are. If you’ve ever seen my fried eggs you’ll know I’m not adverse to a bit of under-cooked egg white…

Oh, and I didn’t add the lime zest, by the way. It seemed a bit unnecessary and I didn’t have any so… *insert shoulder shrug and ‘meh’ sound*

They taste rather delicious! 😀

A Beautiful Welsh Summer Wedding

On Thursday I watched one of my best friends of eight years marry her childhood sweetheart in a beautiful Welsh wedding in the shadows of the Brecon Beacons. She looked stunning in her sweeping, lace gown which perfectly complimented her petite figure and warm tan. But most beautiful of all was her beaming smile, which I don’t think left her face all day! 😀

It’s not for me to post photos of someone else’s wedding online for all to see so you’ll just have to take my word for it that it was beautiful. 🙂 But I am able to share with you a few photos of my finished Wedding Guest Dress, which I finished in the nick of time!

As a recap, I used New Look 6401 as a base pattern but I made some adjustments to suit my style and tastes. First, I adjusted the bodice to ensure a better fit on my figure, and I decided the back would meet at a higher point than the original pattern. The long, drapey ties for the bow at the back were lengthened further and a ‘peek-a-boo’ back was added towards the final stages as I struggled to get the fit to work otherwise. I added a narrow band under the bust to connect it to the skirt rather than attaching the skirt directly to the bodice as, again, I felt it complimented my shape more. I used a very narrow hem to ensure the gown was floor-length at the front and had a short train at the back (which was repeatedly trodden on by other guests but I loved it so it was worth the hassle!). I also added a side-seam split on the left-hand side to ensure there was plenty of movement for dancing! I managed to avoid any fastenings whatsoever so I was pleased!

So, here it is! 🙂

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And now for the back…

 

I don’t think it’s quite as clear in these photos as in reality how the back looks as the bow had dropped a bit – probably because I’d been seated beforehand. I really didn’t think that part through, I realised; I had to sit against a knot for the entire day!! 😉 Hopefully, you can just see that there’s a band of fabric across the bra-line (for the precise reason of hiding a normal bra so I didn’t have to wear an uncomfortable ‘invisible’ one all day!) and then there’s a ‘peek-a-boo’ gap, which I added when I had trouble with the fit of the waistband.

The night before the wedding I was holidaying with family in North Wales and so I was able to model my dress to my Grandma. Here reaction was priceless and so meaningful to me! She proudly paraded me to another caravan (yes – I strutted around a caravan park in this get-up, which led to a few funny looks!) to show some other family members. It was a relief as I was nervous by this point that I’d totally misjudged the dress and would look like a complete idiot at the wedding and be quite clearly the guest who had made her own outfit. Crippling self-doubt is a very common problem for me.

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I had the cutest shoes from Debenhams to wear with the dress, which were a lucky find in a sale a couple of days before. I’d also had Shellac nails done at a salon as my nails are always painfully ugly so what better way to compliment them than with a 10-minute clutch bag make?! Basically, I looked at clutches but couldn’t find one I liked so I envisioned making one. Needless to say I left it too late in the day to make my ideal bag so I tried to think outside the box… I grabbed a cushion cover from my car that had been waiting to go to a charity shop for weeks and quickly whipped up a perfect-sized sparkly clutch! One press stud and a bit of cardboard (for rigidity) later and hey presto! What do you think?

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New Toys!

I’ve been adding to my equipment and pattern stash recently, in part because I was avoiding essay writing but also because I’m greedy when it comes to sewing supplies! Of course, my big purchase was my Jaguar 096 overlocker, which I posted a photo of before it arrived. I thought it would be a lot trickier to thread than it is but the key really is to unthread it only a step ahead of rethreading it so you can’t get muddled up. It is rather noisy but it saves so much time whilst also providing a professional finish. Being as the Wedding Guest Dress has so many panels forming the skirt, I’ve had lots of practice overlocking long lengths of seams! 😉

My less expensive purchases are a mish-mash of things I have either wanted for a while and saw in online sales or happened upon and decided I needed them.

Patterns

Hobbycraft were having an online sale on sewing supplies so I picked up two patterns which compliment my current stash by being completely different to anything else I have. One was of a girls’ dress so I can make not only the pattern included but also have some idea of sizes for drafting different designs for my nieces.

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The other pattern is for a ladies’ jumpsuit or playsuit, which appealed to me as a good holiday item. I might make a jumpsuit for my Sri Lankan holiday in November as an option for evenings.

The recent issue of Prima – which my Grandma bought me a subscription for – contains a pattern for off-the-shoulder boho/gypsy-type tops so I might be making one of those too.

Cutting and Sticking Tools!  

I’ve been meaning to buy a rotary cutter and mat for a while and so the Hobbycraft sale provided the perfect excuse to do so. At half their usual price, I’m happy to have added these to my kit! The glue gun was an additional purchase (£5 from Hobbycraft) as I was toying with the idea of adding tiny “diamonds” to my Wedding Guest Dress. It didn’t work but I don’t regret the purchase as it will come in use for many things and didn’t break the bank.
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Crochet Hooks Set

A full set from 1mm to 10mm across 20 hooks so I won’t have to work out whether I have the right hook size for a project when I trying to buy yarn in-store! (I have far too many 3mm – 5mm hooks as a result of never being certain what I have in stock!) I’m hoping to get lace-making now I have some smaller hooks. 🙂

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Machine Feet

I desperately wanted to finish off my Wedding Guest Dress hem with a rolled hem so I bought a compatible foot online… and then waited for it to arrive from China for three weeks! My, my, my – what a fiddly little ****** it is to use! My attempts were shocking and I ended up putting it to one side and finishing the hem manually. With time, hopefully I’ll get the hang of it and be rewarded with delicate, light and floaty hems!

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The other foot is to assist with pin-tucking because my attempts on the yellow chiffon Betty blouse I made were passable but could have been more even. I’ve not used it yet but, as pin-tucks are a favourite feature of mine, I’m sure it won’t be long until I do.

Magnetic Pin “Cushion”

As someone who is absolutely rubbish at putting pins into a cushion as I go, this is a real delight! Something so simple yet so helpful in preventing stabbed feet and en masse pin loss!

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Fabric

I’ve made a *couple* of fabric purchases lately, namely some navy cotton stretch jersey and also some grey jersey with blue and white anchors, which is super cute. 🙂

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I took a chance on a wool fabric, which looked as though it would be nice for a coat but it was very disappointing when it arrived. It’s much more ‘plastic’-looking than the photos on the website show so I would only use it ‘inside out’, so to speak.

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Other purchases include some navy chiffon with spots in red hues, and some purple/pink swimsuit fabric, which I mainly bought to bulk up my order to get free postage and a discount but it will be good to practice on before forking out for more expensive stuff in the future.

That’s it for now! June needs to be a frugal month so I’ll have to hold steady on the purchases but I think you’ll agree I’ve enough to keep me going for at least four weeks as it is! 😉

 

The Wedding Guest Dress: Part 3 – Bust Out Those Darts

Warning: This post contains unflattering images and naked underarms… 😬

Trying to work out where bust darts should go when you have to self-pin is a tad tricky…! Maybe I should have bought a dressform rather than an overlocker!

 

The pattern doesn’t call for darts but I’m bigger busted than the pattern and don’t know how else to overcome the issue so darts it is! 😝 Gotta love a good dart. Or two. Two tends to be better otherwise you’d be a bit lopsided.

I also need to alter the neckline at the front. I mean, this is a daytime wedding! 🙈

That’s an easy little fix though.

These photos show the inside of the garment by the way, though it’s pretty much the same on the outside; just flowers in different places.

Restlessness equals spontaneous online purchases… I may have just bought an overlocker! 🤤


Jaguar 96 ex-showroom model with 15 year guarantee. New it would cost over £320; I’m getting it for £179! 

It’s probably waaaaaay too professional for the likes of me but I could have paid the same for a much more basic, brand new model so I figure a bit of quality is a good thing to have! 🙂