Twinkle twinkle little bat. How I wonder what you’re at.

After the success of my sisters Lizzy House Elisalex I couldn’t resist a Lizzy House dress all of my own. Anyone with a sister will know that however alike we may be by chance – there’s no chance of us being alike by choice (meant in the nicest way Liza!). So, it definitely wasn’t an Elisalex for me. This is by no means a slur on the By Hand London ladies – I’ve got three Elisalexes in my wardrobe already!

When payday came I took the plunge and went for 2.5 metres of Twinkle Twinkle in blue, and oh my days it is lovely:

Obviously to do this print justice I had to find just the right pattern. I ooh-ed and ahh-ed over plenty of dresses out there in blogland until I came across honigdesign and the lovely Elise. Not only has she an impressive portfolio of a gorgeous handmade wardobe but she’s made a pattern for a dress and has put it out in the world for free! Generous much??

The lovely Garden Party Dress comes in two versions and quite obviously works in all seasons as shown by Elise herself: summer and winter!

It was the classic design that drew me to this dress. It’s simple enough to let the fabric do a lot of the talking but has the little details such as the pleated skirt front and notched neckline to make it stand out from the crowd. This was the one for me.

First attempt with the self timer. Not so successful.

First attempt with the self timer – not so successful.

Being terrified of cutting into my Twinkle Twinkle I decided to do a cheater’s muslin first – aka sew up the lining and make the changes from that. No wasted fabric and any needle holes/unsightly marks well hidden! The lining in question being a bargain yellow polka dot polycotton to make those yellow stars sparkle even more.

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The bodice was really straightforward to sew up and only needed a couple of fitting alterations – the apex of the darts were moved down by 1/2 inch to allow a bit more bosom room and I added an inch to the bodice length for the same reason, whilst moving the zip round to the side. The neckline wasn’t quite as flattering on me as it was on Elise’s pictures (jealous!) so I opened that up a bit too. Much less altering than I usually have to do, so I was pretty chuffed!

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With the pattern altered I plunged into the Twinkle Twinkle without a second thought. The skirt went on without a hitch – I really liked Elise’s reminder in the instructions on which pleats should line up with the bodice darts, it’s these little details that make everything look tip top and Bristol fashion (that’s a saying right?).

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So, no more faffing – I love it! The pleats sit beautifully and add just enough room for an excellent swirl factor. I was going to repeat the six pleats on the skirt front on the back (as opposed to the normal two) to add more umph but unfortunately didn’t have quite enough fabric. Even so, with a cheeky tulle underskirt underneath there’s certainly enough volume going on behind me.

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I can’t wait for summer evenings on the seafront in this one… *swirls away in manner of Grace Kelly*

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#GBSB

The world is ablaze with the Great British Sewing Bee!

Well, my little heavily sewing influenced world is. There’s lots of things I like about GBSB: the gorgeous converted chapel, the rolls and rolls of fabric, Patrick.

However, I think there’s one thing that I like most of all. I feel that a lot of people have two visions of dressmaking: you’re either a 1950s housewife or a die hard fashionista. We know full well that this isn’t the case, even if we do take inspiration from both parties.

Dressmaking, for me, is about wearing what I want to wear. Yes, this does include an element of snootiness in the fact that no one else will be wearing what I am but it mostly comes with the knowledge that something fits me well and I am confident and happy wearing it.

It’s simple really: confident in what you’re wearing = more confident in what you’re doing = all sorts of winning.

Back to GBSB and a conversation between Saville Row tailor Patrick Grant and Wolverhampton mum Sandra on her dress’ floral collar in the first episode:

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P: No dress is complete with a bit of prettiness is it.

S: Well, as long as you’ve got the plain bit to flatter your figure.

P: You’re being true to yourself and you like it and that’s the important thing.

I think it was the sincerity on Patrick’s face throughout this conversation that said it all to me – coming from someone who does this for a living and no doubt keeps his work as current as he possibly can, he still identifies with, and respects, the core of making your own clothes. Whatever you’re making, you’re doing it because you like it and that shouldn’t be questioned.

More of this please GBSB!

And before we all get too serious, lets not forget this moment:

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TV GOLD.

So we’re down to the final three – I constantly swap my allegiance between team Sandra and team Lauren (sorry Ann!). Today… hmmm… Team Lauren. How about you?

An Elisalex for Lizabeth in Lizzy House

Sometimes things sound like they’re going to work together and they don’t. Bummer. However, sometimes they do!

For my sister’s birthday the order came in for an Elisalex dress in a geometric fabric. After an extended search for fabric via many many many emails (I’m in Aberystwyth, she’s in Manchester) we settled on Supernova in purple, part of Lizzy House’s Constellations range.

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There were two challenges to overcome:

  1. Supernova is a quilting fabric, 100% cotton and so soft I could cuddle it all night – not likely to hold up the showcase Elisalex skirt.
  2. My sister and I are not the same size, like AT ALL, and I had never made anything fitted for anyone other than myself. Tensions rising…

To combat a floppy skirt (when unwanted it’s truly the worst) I decided to line the skirt in addition to the bodice. To really ensure those pleats stayed as sharp as GBSB Patrick’s suits I applied fusible interfacing to the lining and basted it to the skirt along the waist. This was done once the front and back pieces had been sewn together but more importantly before the pleats were folded. The lining/interfacing/outer sandwich was then treated as one piece and the pleats folded in. Attach to the bodice and job done!

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So the pleats worked, hooray! And the skirt doesn’t crumble under it’s own weight, even more cheers! AND, it looks pretty nice too…

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Lined with IKEA’s BRITTEN – one of my absolute favourite prints and very soft to boot.

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A bit of Timeless Treasures Sketch for the sleeves.

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More Sketch bias binding on the neckline and a hook and eye from my Grandma’s sewing box (8p for 20. How’s that for value)

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I am the only one that loves slip stitching? Hems, zips, binding, anything.

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Like a good sewist (I’m not usually a ‘good’ sewist), I made a muslin to check for fitting issues. After a trip back home and a few pin stabbing incidents, by accident obviously, a little was taken off the shoulders and the arm scythe – thankfully nothing too drastic. The minor nature of the adjustments didn’t stop the eternal panic of whether it was going to fit – one of my main methods in sewing is constant trying on, probably more for my peace of mind than the necessity of the sewing process. Luckily being a good sewist paid off:

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Quote: “I feel like a princess!”

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Phew!

As always this pattern was a dream to sew and I can’t wax lyrical enough about Lizzy House’s Constellation range. They’re billed as quilting cottons but I think they need to be shown off. Constellations dresses for all!

(I’ve got one on the go for me too!)

Hello, is it me you’re looking for?

I’ve just moved over here from my previous blog (of the same name) at Blogger. I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while as although WordPress scares me a bit I also like the diversity of the blogs produced with it.

Please bear with me a little while as I settle in – colours, fonts and layouts might be changing frequently in the coming weeks until I’m happy. Also any hints and tips about starting out in WordPress are gratefully received.

Here’s to something new.