Let’s go to the prom – BHL Flora



Hi All

Today I am finally posting about the project that has been keeping me busy for the last month!

My daughter has just finished her GCSEs and it was her school prom last week. As I have said previously, I am away from home during the week until we can move house and the last thing I needed was a stressful project, but she asked me to make her a prom dress. promfloraback3

I showed her the By Hand London Flora dress I made a few years ago and we agreed on that pattern, but she wanted the wrap bodice rather than the square neck version I had made.

The wrap bodice proved a bit of a challenge – I made a quick muslin of the bodice out of cotton and found it quite baggy along the wrap edges and there was excess fabric under the bust. I moved the waist darts slightly closer to the centre and I took a wedge of about an inch out of the wrap edge, tapering to nothing at the side seam. This worked really well in the cotton fabric and it felt as if we were good to go!promflorabodice

The fabric for the dress is cupro – which I hadn’t used before – it looks a lot like silk, but it is viscose based and is washable. I hoped that it would be easier to sew with than silk (which I also haven’t used before). I bought the cupro fabric on Goldhawk Road – I think in UK Textiles. It doesn’t fray and was happy to be pressed with a medium hot iron, it was as shifty as I assume silk is, creases the minute you look at it (as you can see in the pictures after a short wear) and the bias edges stretched like crazy…

My fabric was slightly narrower than the full 150cm needed for the circle skirt, so I had to narrow the side of the skirt to fit onto the fabric. I lengthened the front skirt so it fell slightly below knee length and lengthened the back skirt even further so that it was almost ankle length for a dramatic swirly high/low skirt.promfloraside2

After cutting out the pieces I started pinning the darts and then realised I had forgotten to stabilise the wrap edges. I went back and sewed twill tape along the edge of the outer bodice and stay stitched the bodice lining edge. When I came to sew it together though I realised that I had already stretched out the wrap edge – just handling the fabric enough to make the darts had caused it to grow by a couple of centimetres! I ended up cutting another bodice and lining and stabilising the edges before I even unpinned the pattern pieces.

The cupro fabric has quite a lot of give and the bodice has still ended up a little looser than I would have liked. I needed to secure the wrap with a stitch to stop it from gaping and I can see that pulling a bit in the pictures.promflorafront1

I also changed the front pleats making them into the same box pleats as at the back. The original pleats at the front were pulling the side seams forward slightly and changing the pleats seemed to release that tension.

There were so many moments when I thought this dress wasn’t going to work out, but in the end I finished and my daughter was happy and we didn’t have to go shopping!  Of course I can see all the faults in the dress but she had a great time at prom and that is the only thing that matters.  promfloraside3

I think it may be time for something nice and easy next though – perhaps a tshirt or two?

Easy Sunday Sewing – Simple Sew/Love Sewing Cross Back top



Hi All

We are almost done with Me-Made May and once again it seems to have kicked off my desire to make some lovely new things!

I had one of those moments a few weeks ago, I didn’t want to finish the dress I was working on, I didn’t want to get into a complicated project that would take ages to fit – I just wanted to sew something quick and easy and get it finished in one day. Often what happens in these moments is that I spend ages trying to decide what the project will be, only to realise that I don’t have the right fabric or the right pattern, or I can’t decide anything and get cross with myself for wasting time.

This time I pulled out some patterns from my stash and some fabric that I wasn’t quite sure if I would ever use and decided to try the Simple Sew Cross back top which came free with Issue 17 of Love Sewing.crossfront2

I have had this pattern in the back of my mind for a while because I do like a top with a back feature – see here, here and here. I found a few examples of this pattern made up – Navybluethreads made it in crepe but found it boxy, Makingandmarking mentioned that the facings flap around and another blogger (who I now can’t find to link back to – sorry) mentioned that she found the kimono sleeves were too tight.

As I wanted this to be a quick project – I cut out the pattern from its paper without tracing (I know – living on the edge right..).. I did however make a quick toile – I’m not completely crazy! crossside4Based on my measurements I cut a size 12 around the shoulder and bust and graded the side seams out to a size 14.

I did find the sleeves very tight – to the point that I almost couldn’t get my arms through – basically I have fat arms relative to my bust size – and the neckline was very high at the front. crossback2I solved the arm problem by cutting the sleeve back quite a long way – about 3 or 4 inches along the shoulder seam and about an inch below. For the high neckline I just curved the front neckline down so it was about 2 inches lower in the front.crossside2Most people who have made the top found the facings were a problem. The facings along the back ‘flaps’ end up less than an inch wide and have nothing to hold them in place. I simply overlocked the raw edges (no instructions were given for finishing) and topstitched them down all around. This does leave a visible line of stitching but I think it works OK with this fabric – with something drapey you might handstitch if you didn’t want to see the stitches.cross seam detailFor the neckline and sleeves I made some binding out of the fabric and used this to finish the edges, which I prefer to a facing.

So there was a certain amount of faffing with fit, but by the end of an afternoon I had a finished top which I have worn and I am pretty pleased with! Absolute sewing win!

Has anyone else got any quick win patterns to recommend – apart from New Look 6217 which seems to be the pattern of the moment…!




My new favourite blouse – Melilot forever..

MelilotHi All

So we are almost half way through Me Made May and it is also time to start on summer sewing. I have very restricted time for sewing now as I am away from home during the week for the next few months, but I have found my new favourite pattern for the summer (and I am already making versions two and three..)

You know how it feels when you see a pattern which is exactly what you want to make and wear and you can imagine making half a dozen of the same thing? I think Deer and Doe’s Melilot is that pattern!melilotdotfront2I ordered my copy almost as soon as the pattern was released. I have been hanging onto some lightweight poly crepe-type fabric for a while (last used here for my Biscayne Blouse) and this was exactly the type of lightweight drapey fabric I wanted.MelilotI kept it simple and went for Version B, with the cuffed short sleeve and mandarin collar.  I skipped the pockets cut a 42 across the shoulders and bust, grading out to 44 at the waist and 46 at the hip.

I sewed it up and I didn’t make any fitting adjustments. Amazing!MelilotI did fight with the very slippery fabric quite a lot – the layers had a tendency to move separately under the feed dogs of my machine so some of the seams ended up a bit wavey. The cuffs on the sleeves were a particular challenge and I unpicked sections on both sides to try to get a better result.MelilotIn the end though I am really pleased with how this turned out. It will get plenty of wear with my very well-worn Ultimate Trousers, was worn with my Hollyburn skirt last week and is pictured here with jeans. It’s versatile, it’s shaped without being restrictive, it’s easy to put together (apart from the very many button holes which are currently delaying completion of version two..)

What is your new favourite pattern this year?


Me Made May 16 – the ‘what’s in my suitcase’ challenge?

I can’t believe it is May already! As I said in my last post, I am about to start a new job and for the next couple of months I am going to be living out of a suitcase during the week.

I have been struggling to work out how I could manage Me Made May in these circumstances. I wear handmade most days already, so that in itself isn’t a challenge. The thought of trying to post rubbish selfies each day was also a bit depressing – I know the daily photos aren’t the main point but I love the social aspect and find it inspiring to see what other people are wearing.

Today I was packing my suitcase and it occurred to me that each week I am going to have to create a capsule wardrobe. I can only carry a few items and they have to work together and provide enough options for the week. It’s a good opportunity to check out whether my favourite items work for my new job, whether I have enough basics and how everything fits together.

Possibly this will only be interesting to me, but this is about how I get the most out of  my handmade wardrobe so it hopefully be useful and focus my limited sewing time on essentials.

I, Louise of notsewsimple, sign up as a participant of Me Made May 2016. I will endeavour to find a way to wear my handmade wardrobe out of a suitcase each week.

I will be hanging out on Instagram @notsewsimple and telling you more about the contents of my suitcase back here.


All change – and a Deer and Doe Bleuet…

Deer and Doe BleuetHello

It has been a long time since my last post – again!  I have done some sewing since then but not as much as I had hoped and I have failed to get round to taking pictures until now – even though the longer days have given me no excuse.

Life has basically been getting in the way – I am starting a new job in London  very soon – bonus sewing points for finding a job only one tube stop away from Goldhawk Road though! Weekends have been taken up by sorting out our house and time for sewing has been limited. For the next few months I will be away from home during the week so I will inevitably sew less. It’s going to be a year of big changes which is exciting but also a bit scary!Deer and Doe BleuetI have managed to make a dress though – the pattern is Deer and Doe Bleuet. I bought the pattern at the Sewbrum meet up, very much influenced by Tasia’s pink linen version posted on the Sewaholic blog last summer.

I cut a 40 at the shoulder, grading out to 42 at the waist and 44 at the hip. I made a quick toile and found that I only needed a few adjustments which was a total win – the thought of endless fitting issues has been putting me off complex projects in recent months.Deer and Doe BleuetI adjusted the princess seams very slightly for a better fit around the bust – adding  slightly more width above the bust and slightly less below. I narrowed the shoulder to remove an excess ‘fold’ of fabric between the shoulder and bust. I also lengthened the pattern about two and a half inches as it is intended to be quite short and I wanted a bit more coverage.

I omitted the bow at the back waist because I am not 8 and I omitted the puffy sleeves because I often struggle with sleeve fitting and I don’t love puffy sleeves – I feel as if the dress is much sleeker without those details?Deer and Doe BleuetThe fabric is a medium weight linen cotton type mix from Abakhan remnants – they have such a mixture of different types of linen mix – some are very stiff and rough, but this was fairly heavy but soft and with a nice drape. I was quite heavily influenced by the black linen dresses that Heather at Closet Case Files posted last summer here and here and although I have worn this with tights recently I am looking forward to wearing it with sandals – as I am here – when my legs are less pasty white!Deer and Doe BleuetThe drafting is spot on and the collar came together beautifully – I used the Four Square Walls tutorial as usual. I did fail to get a buttonhole on the collar stand – I gave up after unpicking two failures and luckily I am perfectly happy not to wear it completely buttoned up.

I am very pleased with the final dress and I have already cut out another (and mostly sewed it up!) which is always a positive sign. I think this might be my new ideal summer shirt dress!

Anyone else trying something new this spring?

The twirly skater – a Lady Skater variation

Lady SkaterHi there everyone

Another post only a week after my last! Clearly some sew-jo is returning at last. We are still getting used to the return of the sun to the North, so the pictures are a bit of a mixed bag this week!

Last weekend I cut out four different projects – using fabric from my stash and TNT patterns I have made before. This dress is the first thing I made and I am really pleased with it!Lady SkaterI have pinned several dresses like this – fitted bodice and flared, almost circle skirts, but I hadn’t found a pattern to make one. While I was considering what to cut out last week I had the sudden brain wave that this is basically just a Kitschy-coo Lady Skater with a longer, fuller skirt!

I have made a Lady Skater before here and my skater-princess hack here, so I had already got the bodice cut out in a size 4, with about 2cm reduction in length. For this version I slashed the skirt piece down the middle and spread it about six inches – this was a very unscientific adjustment and I have ended up with somewhere between a half and three-quarter circle skirt I think?skaterfront4I didn’t actually lengthen the skirt pattern piece – I just marked an extra 3 inches length straight onto the fabric, as the bias dropped I had to trim a bit off at the sides so I would add a little more length next time.skaterback3The sleeves are meant to be three-quarter length but I skipped the cuffs so they finish at about my elbow and I would probably lengthen them a bit next time.This was kind of a test run so the fabric is probably a little lighter than you would ideally want – a little too clingy! It is worth remembering that the fuller skirt does add more weight though – so this might not work in a ponte. I stabilised the waist with clear elastic as recommended in the Lady Skater instructions, which really helps. This fabric is a poly blend jersey which seems to have a bit of spandex, so it is quite stretchy – I’m not sure how it will hold up to regular wear yet.skaterfront2I really like how this turned out! The skirt is satisfyingly swishy and pretty close to the inspiration dress. I definitely want to make more of these – longer and twirlier if possible!

Hope you are all having a good sewing week? Is everyone else enjoying the brighter mornings and starting to think about sewing for spring?

Stripey and silvery – Grainline Hemlock tees

hemlockstripe1Hi all

It has been a bit quiet round here recently – like a lot of people I have struggled to take any photos over the winter and I haven’t been doing a lot of sewing in the last month or two. I have spent a lot of time looking at patterns and fabric and seeing what everyone else is sewing but then I think about the effort involved in fitting a new pattern and  I don’t have the energy to get started…

So I am spending a bit of time revisiting patterns that I have made before – I know it fits, I know I like it and I can sew it up quickly,  perfect projects for low energy winter weekends.Grainline HemlockFirst up are these Grainline Hemlock tees – which I actually made a little while ago and have been wearing regularly.

The Hemlock tee is a free pattern from Grainline Studio – you just need to subscribe to their newsletter.

I have made the Hemlock tee before – here (one of the very first things I made) – a sleeveless version here – I have made a few others unblogged and one as a Mother’s Day gift.hemlockstripe4This is a perfect loose boxy top – I wear both of these new versions regularly, over jeans at weekends and with my Ultimate trousers during the week.

Version one is made from beautiful stripy ponte from Clothspot – sadly out of stock now – the fabric is thick enough to make a very cosy top. I briefly had a vision of a wide band at the waist with stripes running vertically, but when I pinned it on I didn’t like it, so I replaced it with a horizontal stripe band to neatly finish all the edges. I did include wrist bands with the contrast stripe though and I am very pleased with the shoulder stripe matching!hemlockstripe3Version two is made from a lightweight,  loose knitted silvery grey fabric that I found at Barry’s in Birmingham during SewBrum. I was worried that it could end up looking a bit like dishcloths sewn together and that the loose knit wouldn’t be very sturdy. I used my overlocker to sew all the seams and put bands on the wrists and waist to enclose all the raw edges and so far it has stood up well to washing and wearing. hemlocksilver2So I think I am starting to get back into the groove – I am sticking with TNT patterns for a bit longer so there will be a few more repeats to come, but I am looking forward to stocking up on wearable basics before I get started on new projects for spring and summer!

And there were glimpses of the sun in the garden today so maybe I will even get some pictures of the new projects!