Clearing out my fabric stash

I’ve been meaning to clear out my personal stash of fabric for some time! Today I finally committed three lots of fabric to patterns and I’m going to tell you all about my plans.

Apologise for the dodgy light and sound but the sunshine and my webcam are not friends. I also snuck into my bedroom to get some peace and quiet away from the kids!

 

 

A trip to the Goldhawk Road

Yesterday I went on a F.A.R.T (Fabric Aquisition Roadtrip) with Elspeth.

For the past 2 years we have been reading all about the wonders of the Goldhawk Road in West London and we thought it was time to check it out.

I chose a Saturday as I decided to drive, meaning we could buy as much as we liked without fear of heavy bags on the train.  There is no congestion charge on a Saturday so for two of us to travel it was also more cost effective.

It took just over an hour to get there from Brentwood. Sat Nav kindly took me all the way round on the M25 and cut me into London just near Heathrow.  I would imagine on a weekday the journey would be horrific if you fancy trying it though.  We parked in the local shopping centre just behind Morrisons for £9 for the day.  During the week it is a lot more expensive so another reason to head in at the weekend.

goldhawk road fabric haul

We started on the right hand side of the road looking up towards Goldhawk Road train station (where the bridge is in the distance).  The 1st shop is a really lovely shop with floor to ceiling fabrics.  It has loads of luxury silks and linens as well as plenty of printed cottons.  Prices in here are fairly standard for the basics and then go up a bit for the more luxurious fabrics.

A bit further along is Fabrix a great shop for your linings, ponte, jersey, felt, lining cottons and all the basics.  They also own the next door shop which has your slightly more luxurious basics.  We visited this shop right at the end of the day to buy all our linings and bits for the patterns we had decided to make.

Another of my favourites also on the right is Classic Textiles.  This place is a bit of an Aladdins cave with 3 storeys of fabric, thin little corridors and it’s all a bit of a squish but you can get all sorts of wonderful fabrics in here and the staff are really helpful.  I bought my crepe jersey & luminous sweatshirt fabric in here (see my video for my full haul).

A1 fabrics is the last shop on the right and is great for cottons, some lovely plain boiled wools and beautiful shimmery fabrics for dancewear and costumes.  I bought my rose print trouser cotton in here.

Next to the railway bridge is the market.  We had a lovely street food lunch of falafel and chicken wraps here and wandered in to find the haberdashery stalls to stock up on zips and thread.

After lunch we crossed over and came back down the other side of the road.  There is another 7 or 8 shops on this side and I’m not sure whether I had fabric overload, lunchtime sleepy-ness or if they just were not as good but I didn’t find anywhere near as much of a nice haul on this side.  There is a lot more Asian fabrics, beautiful lace and stunning bead work with lots of African wax cottons etc on this side but there are a few beauties hidden away.  It was on this side I picked up my lovely coat wool and Elspeth bought some fabulous printed linen.

All in all we spent 5 hours fabric shopping in approx 15 shops!  We had aching hands from our bags and between us spent just under £200 but I think we will have 11 garments to show for it when we have finished!

I can highly recommend a trip but if your making a special trip do take your patterns with you so you have an idea what you are buying for.  If you don’t I could easily see it being a bit of a mind blow and you will either end up buying nothing or buying everything!

On the way home SatNav took us a different way and we realised it is a stones throw from Westfield. Next time I may consider parking here and leaving the kids at Kidzania.  I can combine being a fab mummy with a fabric shop which is always good!

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Tilly & the buttons Agnes top

Fun pouffy sleeves and a fabulously funky print whats not to like about Agnes?

agnes tilly buttons jersey sewing pattern front view shoulders

I love, love, love this top pattern.  Granted it helps that I am a little skinnier than I used to be and can now wear tight fitting clothes but the main reason this top looks so nice is that it’s a ‘Tilly’.

agnes full view tilly buttons top

As much as I go on about her, Tilly Walnes really does make exceedingly good patterns! Great instructions, lovely fits and pattern pieces that actually fit together where they are supposed to every time.

agnes tilly walnes jersey sewing pattern shoulders

There’s not really a lot more to say about this really other than, you have to try it!

If you’d like your hand held, or are a little bit scared of Jersey you can always come along to one of our Agnes classes where we will help you every step of the way.  You will leave with your very own fabulous top and have fought the fear of jersey too.

And if you  love this fabric then it’s available from Plush Addict HERE

Sewing Coco – A Tilly & The Buttons fav

I love Coco.  The first in an ever growing collection of patterns by Great British Sewing Bee contender Tilly Walnes.

Sewing patterns by Tilly and the Buttons

Having made it first back in March 2014 (Read all about it here on my old blog) and subsequently teaching lots of our pupils to make their own, I have been itching to try it again.

For those of you who follow me on Instagram you will have noticed that I have been loosing weight with Slimming World and now being only 2.5lb away from my final target and nearly 2 stone lighter I am also 2 dress sizes smaller!

My old coco’s hang off me like tents so when I came across this beautiful striped ponte de roma at the Big Knitting and Stitch show at Ally Pally early this month I could not wait to get started.

Coco tilly and the buttons

I was inspired by Elspeths recent make (we have been doing slimming world together) and she looked fabulous in her smaller coco which she had made into the top version in fabulous purple ponte.
striped coco collage

I decided to go for a funnel collar and also place the cuffs onto the sleeves.

Halloween coco dress sewing class

Well I love it! So much so that I wore it to class on Saturday.  Being Halloween we put on the silly hats and paraded our finished coco’s in style.

Later that evening I went off trick or treating with my wee ones. Add a silly hat and a lacy cardi and it makes a great witches outfit, don’t you think?

halloween mackaness style

If you would like to try a coco then we are running another class in February.  It’s our Tilly Weekender where you can come for a day or the whole weekend and make as many Tilly items as you like.  Coco takes 1 day to make but you can always try another pattern too and enjoy the whole weekend if you wish.

Alternatively if you would like to try it alone we sell the full range of Tillys patterns in our shop, so do pop in.

Miette – Tilly & The Buttons Pattern Review

Hats off to you Tilly another fabulous pattern.  As part of My ‘Me Made May’ challenge I said I would finish off more of my stash outfits.  Well I have had this fabulous jungle print fabric in the cupboard for a couple of years so it was time to turn it into something.

sewing miette

When I placed an order with Tilly for our Coco Patterns for class I needed to top my order up, so rather than order another bunch of coco’s I thought I would treat BTHQ to half a dozen Miette patterns too (There are 4 left in stock at BTHQ if any of you fancy popping in and having a go).

miette sewing pattern

I traced my pattern off first of all (with help from Stampy Cat) in case I needed to make any changes, but as with all Tilly patterns it fits like a dream.

stampy cat helping me trace off my miette pattern

I decided to go for the patch pocket option and went a bit crazy with the old decorative stitches as you can see!

miete skirt detailsmiette skirt detals

Granted most people go for a plain fabric for this skirt and I can see why.  Trying to pattern match this baby would be tricky.  Thankfully I went for a super busy print and made sure I wasn’t chopping any animals in half down the middle.  I tried to pick areas with statement animals for the pockets and I reckon it works ok.

tilly and the buttons miette skirt

I can see myself in the summer with a vest top on a nice safari!  Next up is a pattern hack to turn this into a miette/dungaree dress for my daughter.  Watch this space, if the kids behave this Bank Holiday I might get cracking.

If you would like to try a Miette and have your hand held, I would be happy to book you in for a class at BTHQ just drop us a line.

#GBSB Fashion with fabric – Slouchy Cardie review

WOW!! I LOVE IT.

slouchy cardi GBSB

One of the best patterns I have tried this year.  Super simple to make, fits like a dream and looks fab.

slouchy cardi The Slouchy Cardie is featured as one of the patterns in the Fashion with fabric book from series 3 and is the 1st item I have made from the book so far.  I have plans to try the knit wrap dress too, but that might have to wait for Autumn.

DSC_0190
I can feel Spring in the air and there are some summer dresses next on my list.

DSC_0192

Thank you Thrifty Stitcher for designing such a great wardrobe staple, I can see these being rustled up in lots of different jerseys this year.

Slouchy Cardi GBSB

I urge you to give it a go, let me know how you get on.

Wanna Make a #Coco? – Where to buy Ponte Roma

So we all love Tilly and the Buttons Coco pattern, it’s a great first time sewing project and one which I have personally made on numerous occasions.

Sew Your Own Coco

If you fancy trying your hand at Coco, we run classes at Beautiful Things HQ and are often asked by our pupils where the best place to buy fabric for this pattern is.

Having tried lots of different jersey fabrics to make coco, we found many of the thinner knits required the use of an overlocker to get a good finish.  But when we discovered Ponte de Roma we found a fabulous fabric that required very little work to whizz into a fabulous top.

Coco Party

The first place I can recommend personally is Geoffs Remnant shop in Brentwood.  Geoffs shop is a little gem, a traditional haberdashery shop based on Kings Road.  Geoff opens Wednesday – Saturday 9.30am – 5pm but closes for lunch for an hour at 12.30. He stocks a great range of plain coloured ponte which is excellent quality for making Coco.

If you’re not local though we have rounded up the following online suppliers:

Plush Addict

Backstitch (Make sure you check the title is PONTE ROMA as it’s mixed in with other jersey fabrics)

Minerva Fabrics

Guthrie Ghani

The Textile Centre

And lastly not strictly Ponte but a great quality Jersey and in some fabulously funky prints.  The lovely folk at Elephant in my Handbag sent me some samples so I could have a good tug of the stretch and it’s a nice weight without being too slippy. Buy jersey here

So what are you waiting for? Grab yourself 2 metres of fabric and make yourself a Coco.  More class dates are being added to our website soon so do make sure your signed up to our mailing list to find out when we release new dates.

The Walkaway dress – I’m walking away!

So as promised I gave myself a day to make the Walkaway Dress this week.  After my initial assessments of the pattern which I talked about HERE I looked at it again with fresh eyes.

pattern grading, tracing, dressmaking

I decided to use the Buttericks version and graded the pattern out from an 18 at the bust to a 22 at the waist.  My first stumbling block was the huge amount of fabric required.  Having cut out the long front section on the fold, the tiny back section on the fold and then the Huuuuuuuge skirt I realised that the skirt piece in fact required you to cut TWO!!!! Oh no………………….I’ve run out of pretty red duvet cover :-(

dressmaking, grading, tracing

After a huge internal hissy fit where I threw all my toys out of the pram and almost gave up there and then I turned to a big piece of navy polka fabric that I had in my stash.  It would mean using the stiff starchy almost see through white binding I had for making bunting with but I reminded myself this was a wearable toile and an experiment!

I re-started the clock (wanting to see if it really was possible to make this beast in 4 hours) and got cutting.  Half an hour in and I was cut out with all my markings transferred and good to sew.

GBSB, fashion with fabric, thrifty stitcher

The Buttericks instructions are clear and easy to follow, more so than I would say the Fashion with Fabric book is which I was also referring to out of interest.

Quite quickly I had my dress assembled but not bound.  It was at this point I tried my dress on and where I would look at making any adjustments needed……………….Have you ever tried pinning yourself in blind behind your back? Impossible! I tried a bulldog clip, various long pins nothing was working.  In the end I took it off and pinned it and then wiggled into the whole thing and flipped it over my head.  It looked ok, but it was impossible to really see.  A good seamstress would have stopped and waited till someone else was on hand to look at it with her, but no, I couldn’t resist and cracked on with the binding!

KAM snap, dressmaking

I did decide to cheat and used a KAM snap at the back as I though this would be easier to do up than buttons.  For a tiny while I thought about using them on the front too but then snapped out of my laziness and went back to button loops.  It was a skill I needed to try and also part of the visual prettiness of the pattern so I was good.

A few more hours in (3.37 to be precise) I was stitching buttons on.  I used some pretty red vintage floral buttons to give it some zing.  So it is at least possible to indeed make the dress in a morning and go out for lunch in it the same day! Although the pattern does say to hang for 24 hours before hemming to allow the bias to drop so it’s not entirely true.

walkaway dress finished

On the mannequin the dress looks ok, it is pinned in massively at the sides at this point though as it is very very gappy.  I have to say, when trying this on I would never ever wear it.  There is no flattering 50’s fit, the waist is far lower than it should be and as for the sides, they gape so much that you would see all your undergarments.

The next day Elspeth my trusty sewing buddy came into the studio and tried it on.  At first glance she looked super, especially as she happened to have a red long sleeved top underneath, but on 2nd glance we all thought it reminded us of the housework aprons worn by our grandparents!

walkaway dress binding

It was at this point I realised that without a big pattern rework to include heightening the side panels and raising the waist this pattern would never look beautiful I decided to leave it on my mannequin as a homage to the GBSB 2015 crew!

elspeth walkaway dress

Following on from my disappointment I have discovered a few people online who have made this garment work but I’m still not sure I feel like trying again.  I particularly like this blog by Edelweiss Patterns which tells you a little more history of how Buttericks re-drew the original 1950’s pattern and some changes you can do to make it fit.  Who knows maybe one day I might try again but I think it will be chalked down to an experiment for now.  Do let me know how you get on with the pattern I would be interested to see any you have made successfully or not quite so successfully!

Lastly huge thanks to Elspeth for agreeing to prance around in this monstrosity and have her picture included on my blog! You can read her blog ‘Ever so Elspeth‘ where she chats about her sewing and craft adventures.

 

The Walkaway Dress – The Hype and my measuring nightmare!

So Last week following Episode 3 of the Great British Sewing Bee the world went mad about the Walkaway Dress.  That included me who went straight on line and bought myself a copy of Butterick B4790 from Jaycotts and at the same time I also ordered the new Sewing Bee Book, Fashion with Fabric.

GBSB, fashion with fabric, thrifty stitcher

The book was first to arrive and I had a good look through.  From the outside it looks very nice, there are good projects and the instructions seem clear.  ‘We shall see though’ I thought to myself remembering my foray with last years book and it’s terrible measurements and wobbly instructions.

Well, yesterday the pattern arrived.  I have to admit I have not seen many finished walkaway dresses on social media this week.  I would have thought by now they would be springing up all over the place but I think I might know why.

Straight away I can see a big issue.  The pattern is not designed for the everyday woman.

Lets take my measurements as an example.

Bust: 40 inches
Waist: 36 inches (I know how lucky am I)
Hips: 46 inches

A tea dress usually fits me beautifully as I have a narrow waist and the skirt can skim out and over my enormous bottom, therefore I thought the walkaway dress would do the same.

pattern grading, pattern cutting, dressmaking

Alas the bust – waist ratios on both patterns make simple pattern grading next to impossible.  On a regular pattern I can grade in from my bust to my waist with ease but as this has an unusual construction method with the wrap front and back grading seems impossible to me.  On the back piece how can you see where the bust ends and the waist begins?

I had hoped that one pattern may be better than the other but with Buttericks I am an 18 bust and a 20/22 waist (I don’t worry that my hip measurement is off the scale as that’s irrelevant with this type of pattern.

Looking at the book version it’s even more ridiculous.  I am a size 10 bust and a size 18 waist.  Hilarious how can 1 pattern come in two totally differing sizes?

So I have made a decision…….I think I might get angry with the book version going by past experience so I’m going to cut a size 20 Buttericks from an old duvet cover (which is very pretty so may end up totally wearable – fingers crossed) I am hoping and possibly assuming that as the whole thing is bound, once the bodice is attached to the skirt I can try it on and if need be shave a little off the sides here and there before I bind it!

toille, wearable toille, dressmaking

Watch this space………….

I’d love to know your thoughts on these patterns, have you had the same brain numbing conversations with yourself that I have or have you made a beautiful frock first time round?  Do comment below and let me know I’d be most grateful.