Megan Nielsen patterns

I was very excited to discover today that Backstitch has started stocking Megan Nielsen patterns. I’ve been looking for a UK stockist for ages, as ordering direct from the states is pretty expensive on the old postage front.

I’ve ordered myself the ruched maternity t-shirt pattern (hopefully it’ll be more successful than the fateful Preggo Sorbetto).

I also bagged the maternity lingerie set pattern. Hopefully I’ll finish them both before the baby arrives!

If you’re not pregnant, why not try the Darling Ranges dress? Paunnet and Idle Fancy have both made lovely navy blue versions.

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The Sew Over It Cape

I’ve finally got round to posting about the cape I made at Sew Over It in November! It’s a very bump-friendly coat (especially when you keep the buttons up nice and high near the collar), although the fabric I used (a bargainous £7 a metre wool-mix crepe from Croft Mill) is not quite warm enough for the current climate.

This is my first attempt at outerwear and producing a fully lined garment (complete with cheaty poppers – buttonholes are the next skill I need to master). I really loved the class, it involved 2 Saturday afternoons of playing on the sewing machine, plenty of Yorkshire tea and some generous helpings of cake. The best thing was, it forced me to finish what I was making. My house is a UFO free zone!

I really need some ultra-long leather gloves to go with this cape. And I do have other clothes on in this picture, honest.

Check out the shoulder seams!

Once I’d learned my mad cape skillz, I came back for a tie class too (more on ties shortly). And after I’ve had the baby I’ll definitely be going back to Sew Over It to tackle the jersey wrap dress as I always seem to have trouble with jersey when I try it myself.

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The Preggo Sorbetto

For my first ever home sewing project I decided to embark on (the somewhat ambitious task of) a maternity version of Colette Patterns‘ ubiquitous Sorbetto. The Preggo Sorbetto.

Now, adapting a pattern for maternity purposes probably isn’t the most straightforward of tasks for the beginner sewist, but as there are so few maternity patterns around (and most that are seem to be vintage and tricky) I didn’t have many other options.

I started by printing out the free pattern. I measured my preggo bust, which is a size 8 on the pattern chart.

At first I cut the back and the front in the same way, thinking that the side seams needed to be the same length to match up. For both the front and back I cut an 8 at the top, and below the bust notch I graduated the length and width out to a size 18. I first made a muslin, which turned out to be a very sensible idea.

Of course, when you’re pregnant it’s just your front that grows, not your back! So my muslin was good on the front, but there was way too much fabric at the back as I’d graduated it to an 18.

The top was about the right length, but I could see that as my belly grows I’ll need more length to cover it.

Back to the drawing board. I clearly needed a regular 8 for the back piece, but then the side seams wouldn’t match the larger front. I worked out that I needed gathering to reduce the front sides to the same size as the back and provide some belly space in the front.

Take 2. I cut the back in size 8.  I cut the front in size 8 at the top and graduated out the length and width from an 8 to an 18 from the bust notch to the hem as before.

I then added 15cm to the length at the centre front, and curved it to meet the size 18 hem point at the side seams.

I gathered the sides of the front pieces before sewing them to the back. I then finished the armholes and neckline as per the instructions, using a dark grey bias binding to finish the edges.

I decided to make things even harder for myself by working with a slippery and very fray-prone silk-cotton blend. Note to self – stick to cotton and wool when you’re still learning!

Aaaaaand my front pleat was wonky (I don’t look very happy about it do I?!). Maybe we should call this one a (un)wearable muslin?

Unfortunately it took me a while to do, and now I’d finished it’s starting to feel a bit tight round the bust. I think the adaptations to the waist worked well, but in future I’d use a stretchy fabric as I don’t think I’ll be getting into this much longer!

Have you ever adapted patterns for maternity wear? Do you have any tricks or techniques you’d like to share?

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I’m in love…with Stone Fabrics

I had a very exciting treat in the mail today.

I first heard about Stone Fabrics from the lovely Karen of Did You Make That? When I saw they were based in Totnes, I was a little disappointed, but I soon perked up when I saw their mail order Cloth Club.

For £30 a year, I get 6o fabric samples every quarter. And oh what samples! The quality is amazing, with quite a few designer fabrics thrown in. I had a lovely time sorting them all into order and matching them with their descriptions on the listing. Here are a few of my favourites.

This dusky pink cord might look quite ordinary, but it’s 10% cashmere and feels butter soft. I think I’ll be snapping this up to make myself some Clover trousers (post baby of course!).

Gorgeous genuine Missoni knit. I’m not sure what I’d do with this, and at £29.65 it’s a bit pricey to go into my stash, but it is pretty.

Blue check brushed cotton – this’ll be perfect for PJs!

And my absolute favourite, a gorgeous Chanel style grey tweed. I’ll be snapping up a couple of metres of this to make myself a winter coat.

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How to get sewing inspiration online – Part 2

In Part 1 we checked out what other sewists were doing, now why not look a little wider for colour palette inspiration?

Flickr by colour

MultiColr Search Labs is a genius site that lets you search Flickr by colourscheme. Just drag up to 5 colours onto the palette and it will come up with a gorgeous mosaic of coordinating photos.

Above you can see what it came up with when I searched for pink, red, orange and turquoise.

Colour lovers

If even coming up with a colour scheme is beyond your blocked brain, another great site for colour and pattern inspiration is colourlovers.

It’s a site where people upload their colour schemes and patterns, with over a million palettes uploaded and rated by viewers. I love thought provoking, which would be a great palette for my winter wardrobe.

Design Seeds

Another great site for fashion inspiration is Design Seeds. I love just browsing through and picking up ideas.

See, even a slice of pie can inspire a new frock!

Once I’ve got a few colours in mind, I start to look through patterns and think about what would work.

Where do you get your colour palette inspiration?

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How to get sewing inspiration online – Part 1

Welcome to the first part in this three part series on sewing inspiration. There’s a huge variety of geeky tools out there to help you get out of a rut, from seeing what other sewists are up to, to sourcing colour palette ideas, to software that helps you keep all your ideas organised.

Whenever I’m stuck for inspiration, I like to start by checking out what my fellow seamstresses are up to.

My Google Reader is packed with crafty blogs, and I check in daily. My current top three blogs for inspiration are:

Colette Patterns Coletterie blog, especially the tips & tricks pages, which give me ideas for alterations to patterns (check out these scallops!)

Tasia’s Sewaholic. That girl is always making something gorgeous!

The Sew Weekly is an awesome site that’s updated super-frequently. Plus it has weekly challenges which help to get the old grey matter whirring.

Just surfing around Flickr can help you come up with some great ideas. I also like to look at groups like Colette Patterns, Japanese Sewing and Vogue Sewing Patterns if I’m trying to decide which pattern to buy next, or what to do with a pattern I’ve already got.

Pinterest is a virtual pinboard where you can store beautiful images you find around the web. I could browse round this site all day!

I use Pinterest to store my own sewing inspirations, but I also love looking at others’ boards on sewing and fashion (and repinning things I fancy). I adore Marta McCall’s 50s Chic and Thrift Store Refashion boards. Flossie teacakes, Jill Helen and RayMakesDo are some other fabulous sewing Pinners.

Next I’ll be looking at colour palette and pattern inspiration for when you’ve got a pattern in mind but just don’t know what to do with it.

Where do you get your inspiration? Do you have any handy sites that fire up your imagination?

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Bust Craftacular London 2011

The awesome BUST magazine Christmas Craftacular returns to London in November and vendor applications are now open!

The BUST Craftacular will have more than 70 crafty vendors, a cafe and heaps of workshops. The event takes place on Sunday 27 November 2011 from 12pm – 6pm at York Hall, 5-15 Old Ford Road, Bethnal Green, London E2 9PJ.

It costs £5 to register as a vendor, apply here.

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A fabulous fabric haul

I’ve picked up a few gorgeous fabrics over the last week or so. Some for specific projects and some just because I thought they were pretty. Here’s the lowdown.

1. Tiny Old Gold Leaf cotton & silk mix.  £9.99 per metre from Ditto Fabrics.

2. Vintage 1940s viscose. £very expensive indeed from Donna Flower.

3, 4 & 5 Pretty cottons. £5.99 per metre from Fashion Fabrics in Bath.

I bought the Old Gold Leaf fabric in preparation for a sewing class I’m doing next week at Sew Over It (more on that after the class!). It’s beautifully silky and soft. My first order from Ditto Fabrics, but service was speedy and I was very pleased with the fabric as it looked exactly as it did on the website.

Next up, this beautiful gazelle print vintage 1940s viscose from vintage specialist Donna Flower. Again, my first order from this shop and I was very impressed. The fabric arrived the next day, prettily packed in polka dot tissue and candy stripe ribbon.

It needs a bit of an iron! I’m not quite sure what I’ll make with this, but it’s going to have to be something pretty special and definitely from a vintage 1940s pattern to do it justice. I’m going to practice on a few cheaper fabrics first!

Then, finally, on a recent day trip to Bath I dropped into Fashion Fabrics, tucked away on Green Street. Wow, what a goldmine. Heaps and heaps of beautiful fabrics, helpful staff, patterns and allsorts crammed into a tiny shop. I picked up three lovely cotton prints for just £5.99 a metre each.

I love this delicate rose print. I got the end of the roll, just 1.4 metres, so I think this will either make a pretty blouse or get combined with some other fabric to make the bodice of a dress.

I also picked up this cute cockerel print. I don’t have any particular plans for this, but I thought it would either make cute baby clothes or cute clothers for me! I love chickens. I know I’m weird.

Last but not least, I thought this paisley-esque green cotton could come in handy for something. One for the stash.

What about you? Do you buy fabric just because it’s pretty, or do you always have a firm plan for what you’ll make with it?

What are your favourite fabric shops?

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Hello world!

Welcome to my crafty blog!

Pic from Toffuti Break‘s Flickr stream