Thursday, 3 May 2018

Me Made May


So it's a bit belated but I've finally signed up for Me Made May 2018 hosted by Zoe of 'So Zo...'. I've wanted to sign up for years but have never been able to, I was either a newbie, pregnant/giving birth or too busy being a mum. So here's my pledge for this year...

'I, Fiona, of https://sewingvsknitting.blogspot.co.uk/ and @fiona.gibbs on Instagram sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '18. I endeavour to wear at least one item of handmade clothing every day and to discover which are my most worn handmade items and where any gaps in my wardrobe are during the month of May 2018.'

My aim is to reassess my handmade wardrobe and ready to wear wardrobe to see where the gaps are. I'm hoping to find out which are my most worn items and which are not successful. I'm then hoping that this will help me with planning future sewing projects.

I'm going to be posting daily outfits on Instagram @fiona.gibbs so follow me!

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Two Cleo Dungaree Dresses


So, I've made not one but two Tilly and the Buttons Cleo Dungaree Dresses recently. I wasn't blown away when this pattern was first released but slowly fell in love with it. After making my first one in corduroy I quickly made a second one. 

Cleo 1: Burgundy Corduroy


For my first Cleo I used some Burgundy Corduroy I had in my stash, which was leftover from making a Hollyburn skirt years ago. Luckily, there was plenty left over and I knew straight away that I needed to make a dungarees dress.


There are only 4 pieces to the pattern so cutting out was quick. It was also fast to sew together, although I have to do this over several sessions. It became apparent once I had finished sewing the side seams that it was going to be too baggy for me. I cut a straight size 6 according to my hip measurements. Whilst it fitted nicely in the hips it was massive around my waist. 

The dress then languished for a couple of weeks after just one wear. I realised that I just needed to take it in a few inches at both sides and managed to improve the fit. It is a lot better now and gets regular wear (I'm wearing this as I type!) despite still being a bit on the baggy side.


I really love the details on this dress, including the pockets and the topstitching. I used gold and tortoiseshell buttons, which I found at a vintage haberdashery shop on holiday in Bruges a few yeas ago. Unfortunately I used normal thread for topstitching which hasn't really shown up like I wanted it to.  


Cleo 2: Black Denim


My second Cleo came together much quicker than the first and only took me a couple of weeks to cut and sew. For my previous Cleo I cut a straight size 6 but found that it didn't fit around the waist. So, for this version I cut a size 6 skirt grading to a size 5 top using my previous version as a guide. 


The fabric is a black stretch denim from Fabricland online. I'm not sure how much I originally bought but there is quite a bit left over - I'm hoping to make some denim shorts for the summer! It was much faster sewing this cleo than my previous one and the fabric was lovely to work with.


Another change I made with this Cleo is to make it slightly longer, to enable me to wear it in the summer without tights as my corduroy one is slightly too short for my liking!


I also used proper topstitching thread for this Cleo, choosing a traditional gold thread which contrast nicely against the black denim. I'm pleased with the majority of my topstitching (just don't look at the back!). I chose mustard coloured buttons with an embossed flower detail from Minerva crafts.  


I'm so pleased with these two dungaree dresses and they are a great addition to my wardrobe. I'm already having fun combing these with different t-shirts and blouses but am excited to sew up some me-made t-shirts to wear under these this winter. 

What are you sewing at the moment?

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Black Apple Tea Dress



Meet my new favourite dress! This dress has already had loads of wear and am excited to share it. I fell in love with this fabric, an apple print on a black background, from fabricland which was on sale at just £2.49 per metre. At this price I had to have some but then it languished in my stash for over a year.  


I always knew I wanted to make it into a dress and originally thought that I might make something from Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book. The perfect pattern turned out to be one that had been sitting in my stash for a while- Simple Sew's Amelia Dress. I got this free with a copy of Love Sewing magazine and loved it immediately. I rediscovered the forgotten pattern when tidying up my sewing space and knew it would be perfect for this fabric.  


I made view B with the short sleeves, my preferred length of sleeve on a dress. I was attracted to the shirring at the waist of this pattern, which was a technique I hadn't used before. I did a few test rows on some scraps of fabric before shirring the waist panel. It is a very forgiving technique and although it's not as perfectly straight as I would like, it isn't noticeable.    




It is a very flattering fit due to the shirred waist panel and this makes it so comfortable to wear. As a teacher, I'm moving around constantly, so it's important that my work clothes are smart but also comfortable which this is. I'm looking forward to wearing it with my red clog sandals in the summer. 


The only change I made was to lower the neckline slightly- the V-neck was quite high so I made it about 1.5cm lower which is perfect and not revealing! I also bought the wrong zip - just an ordinary zip instead of an invisible zip which I am used to. Since I had never inserted a normal zip I had to look up how to online, but found it simple. It's not the best zip I've ever put into a dress, but it works and as it's at the back it's not something I have to look at!


I'm very pleased with this dress and it has inspired me to try another of the Simple Sew patterns - the Annabelle Dress - which is going to be my summer holiday project! It's currently baking here today - 26 degrees - so I'm off to get a cool drink and sew something summery to wear this weekend. 

What's your favourite tea dress pattern?

Saturday, 14 April 2018

My First knitted Cardigan


I've not got a massive amount to say about this cardigan but feel like it warrants it own post. Because, I finally, finally did it- I knitted my own cardigan!!

My lovely husband bought me the yarn and pattern for Christmas back in Dec 2016. I started knitting immediately and managed to knit most of the pieces fairly quickly (for me!). It then languished in a cupboard waiting to be sewn up. 


The pattern is number 7492 by Hayfield.  I used Hayfield Chunky Tweed in the Tenby colour which has lovely red, blue and yellow flecks. It was lovely yarn to use and because it was chunky I think this meant that my knitting grew quickly. As a beginner, this was good because it meant I could see my garment progress.


I've finally managed to get the fit right- previous cardigans have turned out too small and have been frogged half way through the project. It's also lovely and warm and is often the cardi I grab when it's cold outside. The only downside, is that the cardigan has bobbled quite a bit at the sleeves.


I am immensely proud that I have actually completed a wearable knitted garment. It is by no means perfect but it's a start.

Whats on your needles?  

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Wardrobe Update

Hello! I know it's been a while and I'll admit I had given up on blogging. I never deleted my blog but had no intentions of continuing to blog about my sewing and knitting adventures. Life sometimes gets in the way and for a while, I completely lost my sew-jo.

When I last posted, approximately this time last year, there never seemed to be enough hours in the day. My son was 10 months old, I was still breastfeeding due to his dairy allergy, he was only napping for about 30-40 minutes at a time and not sleeping through the night. We went through a rough patch where 5am wake ups were the norm. And to top it all, I had to give up milk products (cheese, chocolate, most cake ...).

I failed to manage to build in any sewing time into my schedule. Although we have a spare room I couldn't sew in there when he was asleep as he's a light sleeper and I couldn't sew during the day because 10 month old babies crawl. And mess around with your sewing machine foot!

So, fast forward a year and where am I now? Well, firstly we managed to find a dairy free formula that worked for us and I was able to gradually stop breastfeeding once my son reached his first birthday. And then he magically started sleeping through the night and wondrously began to take naps - eventually consolidating to one big nap of 1-2 hours a day. Most days I have to wake him up!

So now, I'm able to get at least an hour of sewing in a couple of times a week - usually on a Thursday and Friday's when I don't work. After a couple of months of moving the sewing machine around the house anytime I wanted to sew, I cleared out a cupboard in our kitchen/diner which I've now dedicated to my current sewing projects.

It's slow going compared to the speed in which I used to complete a garment and the time I used to dedicate to my sewing. It's really true when they say that sewing is good for your mental health, because I feel so much happier now I'm back creating my own wardrobe.

So I feel I should update the blog with a short rundown of what I've actually created since I last blogged.

Grey Jersey Wrap Dress - Feb 2017


I bought 2m of grey spot wool jersey at £4.59 per metre from Fabricland with the intention of creating another jersey dress. It came as a surprise to me when this sweater knit jersey turned up; it wasn't exactly the colour or fabric I thought it was. The perils of online shopping! It did however become a Wren dress by Colette patterns, with a gathered skirt. This dress has seen a lot of use, it's warm and cosy yet smart enough to wear to school with boots. It was great in this winter's snowy spell!

Forgot to take pics of this one!!

Red Pencil skirt - April 2017



I made my first ever pencil skirt way back in October 2015. The pattern was from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual by Gretchen Hirsch - the Easy Knit Pencil Skirt. I bought some red Ponte Roma from Fabricland with the intention of making a t-shirt but decided it was too thick. Instead, I whipped up another pencil skirt. My husband doesn't really like this skirt, but it fits so well into my wardrobe and I find I've got loads of different tops to wear with it. It works well with a simple t-shirt or something smarter for work.


Blue Houndstooth Pencil skirt - April 2017




After making the previous pencil skirt, I immediately cut out and sewed up this beautiful skirt in blue and camel dogtooth print jersey. The fabric is very heavyweight and lends itself to being a pencil skirt very well. It's very flattering on and I love wearing this to work. It has such a vintage vibe but is so comfy. I love the pattern as it only has one piece to cut and only uses 1m of fabric. The only problem with this fabric is that I couldn't get my machine to hem it at all! From what I remember, the needle was just bouncing out and in the end I had to slip stitch the hem by hand.   


Teal chunky knit cardigan - Oct 2017




I finished a cardigan!! I was so proud to eventually finish this cardigan, even though I started it in January 2017 and finished it in October. It's lovely and snuggly to wear and I love putting it on. I feel this cardigan warrants it own post so I might get round to posting about some details sometime!


Burgundy Corduroy Cleo Dress- Nov 2017 




When Tilly released the Cleo dress I wasn't immediately sold but found myself eventually warming to it. I finally took the plunge last Autumn and downloaded the pattern. The fabric I used was leftover from a previous project. It surprised me how simple this was to make, but the fit was a bit rubbish and I almost gave up. I'm glad I didn't because it has been worn loads this winter. In fact, so much that I made another one!


Black apple print tea dress - Feb 2018




This is a simple sew tea dress made from a barginous length of apple print crepe de chine bought for £2.49 a metre at Fabricland. The fabric has a a subtle texture to it, but was a pain to work with- lots of fraying and since wearing I've managed to snag it in a couple of places. I love this dress though, the fit is brilliant due to the shirring at the front and it is so comfortable.


Black denim Cleo - March 2018




I love this dress!! Such a quick project to sew up and complements my wardrobe wonderfully. I will hopefully write a post about my two cleo dresses as there are lots of details I would like to share.

Anyways, that's what I've been up to in the last year. I've got another garment almost finished (just need to hem) and some knitting going on which I'd like to update you on. I've also got to start planning some summer sewing.

What are your sewing plans for the summer?

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Online fabric shopping spree


I'm still plotting away with the sewing front. There hasn't been much sewing going on in these parts, except from some wedding bunting which is a future post, but I have been planning the garments I would like to sew. 

I always end up having a big splurge on fabric about once a year and then spend the rest of the year sewing it all up. This time I bought 7 lengths of fabric online as I just don't have the time for real life shopping anymore and its not that fun with a little one in tow.

My online shopping comes courtesy of Fabricland. I have been to one of their fabric shops in Brighton and was really excited when they revamped their online shop.   


The top fabric is 2m of black stretch denim at £4.99 per m. I love black denim and this is a lovely textured colour. I'm planning on washing it a couple of times to soften it up before I sew with it. This is destined to be a button front skirt (a pattern which came with Love Sewing magazine) or I have a sneaking suspicion it might end up a Cleo dungaree dress by Tilly and the Buttons. 


I bought 3 lengths of jersey. The first is 1m of red Ponte Roma which was £3.99 per metre and is intended to be a simple t-shirt. The next is a blue and camel dogtooth print jersey, which I can no longer find on the Fabricland website. It's quite heavyweight and I mistakenly ordered two lots so I have 4m in total - enough to make a dress and a skirt and maybe even a t-shirt!! I also bought 2m of grey spot wool jersey at £4.59 per metre, which has already become a lovely wrap dress that has yet to be blogged. I also bought 1m of grey sweatshirt fabric at £4.99 per metre (not pictured) which has become a pair of joggers, also yet to be blogged about.  



My final purchases were 2m of black apple print Crepe, which was a bargin at £2.49 per metre and also 2m of Forest Floral Crepe De Chine. Both are destined to be dresses, although I have no idea which ones yet- perhaps something from Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book which I got for Christmas but haven't used yet!

So plenty of sewing plans for me to get on with! I'm hoping to supplement my work wardrobe as well as sewing some casual pieces now I'm only working part time. I've had a big sort out an ditched loads of ready-to-wear clothes which I had been hording for years and am now beginning to plan for the gaps in my wardrobe.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Sunrise Socks


Every time I go away on holiday, I always pack some knitting to take with me. I have found that socks make the perfect project, small enough to be portable and not take up too much room but interesting enough for me not to get bored half way though. Add some brightly coloured yarn and I'm a happy bunny!


Inevitably, I only manage to get part of the pair finished. This pair, which I have dubbed the Sunrise Socks because of the beautiful sunrise colours, I started during our holiday to see family in Spain in November. This time I managed to complete one whole sock in a week and then forced myself to finish the other in January so I could move onto other knitting projects.


The yarn I used in Schachenmayr Regia My First Regia a 4 ply yarn in the Sandra colourway. I mistakenly thought this came in 50g balls and only bought two, in fact it comes in 25g balls so I had to order another one as I didn't have quite enough to finish both socks. It's lovely and soft and the variations in the colours are beautiful.


I used the same pattern as for my Happy Camper socks, which has become my go to sock pattern and came free with a ball of  Sidar Heart and Sole Sock Yarn. It's a straight forward pattern to knit and much easier the second time round. The only difference I made was to shorten the length of the ribbing at the top of the cuff of the socks.


I have already worn these several times and they are so comfy. Now that I have made a couple of pairs of socks I am hooked. I have already bought three balls of King Cole Zig Zag which comes in the best colours for my next sock project as we are off on holiday at the end of the month. Can't wait!!