I’ve decided to join in Portia Lawrie’s Refashioners challenge – Suits You this year. The challenge is basically to refashion an old, unworn or unloved suit!
Most people entering the challenge have raided their local charity shop and bought a XXXL men’s suit to give them lots of fabric to work with. But no, old daft me decided that wasn’t enough of a challenge! I decided to use an old pale blue George at Asda ladies suit that I found in the loft, which I’m clearing out due to a rewire in the new year! I have no idea why I bought it as it’s soooo not my style, although it actually seems to fit me pretty well, which is where the extra challenge comes in as it doesn’t give me very much extra fabric to work with, doh!
I had a lot of fun playing round with the suit and trying to decide what to make with it but in the end I settled on a version of one of my TNT patterns – the BlueGingerDoll Winifred dress. I’ve altered the pattern quite a bit to fit me well, the shape suits me and I wear my existing ones quite a lot, so would be nice to have a new but also different version.
Although I have made the collarless version of the Winifred dress recently I do like the collar feature and decided to take advantage of the jacket collar and integrate this into the design. Lots of pinning and fiddling was undertaken at Liverpool Sewing Club, with me trying on again and again to ensure the button holes were not visible and the new centre front seam was straight and actually in the centre. Then to figure out the rest of the bodice fitting! As the jacket had princess seams it didn’t actually need the tuck darts that the dress usually features, which help create the bust fitting and flowing skirt. So when I figured out where to finish the bodice/jacket section and finally got the fit I liked, it was time to make the first cut!
I decided to shorten the sleeves to elbow length, which i find really comfortable but I normally make short-sleeved Winifreds. As you can see from the before photos, the sleeves were a tiny bit tight, so I decided to remove the sleeve lining (I’ve left the bodice lined) to see if that helped with the fit. This is where I noticed the big difference in the seam finishes between the areas of the suit that would be visible (the trouser seams) and those not visible (sleeve seam). This is after all a budget suit and the manufactures need to save money and time where they can!
At this point I decided to remove the shoulder pads as a) it’s no longer the 1980s, and b) they really don’t suit me. During this unpicking and deconstruction of the jacket stage it became obvious the difference between my Asda suit and the high end men’s tailored suit, that a lot of people, such as Portia were refashioning:
Now to move onto the skirt construction. The Winifred dress usually has an elastic casing or shirring at the back waistline but I wanted to test the fit first, so I decided to construct the skirt pieces separately first and check or fit before adding this detailing., The dress front is normally put as a full bodice and skirt all in one but my refashion needed a seam adding. I unpicked the side seam on the trousers and after a little maths and playing around with the layout decided to press out the hem and keep the inside seam in place and use this as the centre front centre back seams, as the skirt flares out and obviously so do the trousers at the hips. Although this flare isn’t enough to create the full width of the skirt, so now comes lots of patch working! I used the extra pieces from the bodice, trousers and sleeves to create extra width to get the rough shape of the Winfred dress. I then had tacked (yes me, the worst hand sewer known to mankind!) the two skirt pieces to the bodice and the rough shape of the skirt together.
I needed to try the dress on and see if the shirring was needed or if the fit was okay without it and I was very pleased to find the shirring was not actually needed. A combination of the jacket bodice princess seams and the fact that I am extremely pear shaped meant I could lose the shirring and still have a great fit! Any good me-made dress has pockets, so time to go back to my leftovers from the suit and I used the lining from the bottom of the jacket to cut some side seam pocket, using the pattern piece from another BlueGingerDoll dress, the Odette, as a template). I’ve hacked this pattern before to add pockets but if you’re not sure how to do this then By Hand London have a great tutorial on their website, with lots of photos, which always help me as I’ve a very visual learner!
Now it’s time to put it all together properly! I used my pattern pieces as a rough guide and cut off the excess no longer needed, machine stitched all seams and remove the tacking (whilst watching Strictly of course)
All finished, or is it?! Hmm, it’s very nice and I’m happy with the fit but it’s rather plain and therefore not really very me! My hand embroidery skills aren’t up to scratch, so I decided to have a look around for a co-ordinating trim. I really like peacocks feathers and found this one on Moksha Trim, so decided to stitch that to the waist but still wasn’t 100% happy, so had a play around at Liverpool Sewing Club with the ladies helping me work out the best placement and having a laugh in the meantime
Yay, all finished! Cue lots and lots of photos:
Patchwork side panels!
I’m really please how this has turned out and that I’ve managed to do it from not a lot of fabric and without adding any extra fabric, just 1.5 meters of trim!
Myself and my friend from Liverpool Sewing Club Jan visited the first ever Great British Sewing Bee Live at the Excel in London a fortnight ago and it was AMAZING!
We travelling down in the Friday, visited Liberty and went to see Kinky Boots the musical in the evening. The show is fabulous and we have brilliant seats in row B so had a great view. I’d definitely recommend seeing it and if it goes on tour and comes to Liverpool I’ll definitely be going again!
We then spent the whole weekend at GBSB Live and am very glad we bought two-day tickets.Although I do kinda wish we’d waited till closer to the time to book them as we paid almost £30 each and there were some great discounts later. At least booking so far in advance meant we got spaces on two great workshops: The Maker’s Atelier Origami Top with Claire Tyler and Perfect Piping with Celia Banks, I’ll go into more detail later in this post.
I wore the new dress I’d made specifically to visit the show, using the amazing Alexander Henry Home Sewing is Easy fabric from Fabrics Galore!.
As we were wandering along the waterfront from our hotel to visit The Great British Sewing Bee Live at the Excel, we met the lovely mother and daughter Julie & Stacie:
We had a plan to work our way round the stall methodically but got distracted by shiny things, oops! I did have fun over at the Love Sewing Magazine who had a magazine cover to pose in front of and become a ‘cover star’
We also bumped into the lovely Paul Clarke (season 3 GBSB contestant) and his partner Neil. Paul does a lot of demos at my local fabric store Abakhan Fabrics in Birkenhead, so I’ve met him a few times and he’s a fab bloke with rather similar taste in fabric to me!
More random wandering took us to the ‘Absolutely Fabulous – Creating the Costume!’ exhibit, which I browsed whilst Jan chatted to Debbie Shore on the Create & Craft stand.
Met up with the lovely Kara and wandered round the stalls, spending way too much money and enjoying the fabulous displays on goods on sale. How stunning is this dress and dolls from Sew La Di Da Vintage!?
Also had to pop along and see Stitch Fabrics after being one of the first to tell them about the show and make sure they were visiting!
I also saw the lovely folks and Fabrics Galore and met my headless twin!
We then spent the afternoon doing a workshop with Claire Tyler making the Makers Atelier Origami Top. I’ll blog about the workshop and the pattern at a later date, as I need to do a little finishing off on the top. Claire is a great tutor and can happily recommend her classes. Myself and Jan enjoyed making the top and they came together so quickly that we actually ended up running out to Doughty Fabrics, buying another meter of jersey and making a second one!
After the workshop we popped round to see the lovely Melissa of Fehr Trade and her stunning sportswear pattern range. I even ended up buying the ‘Knot-Maste Yoga Set’ pattern! (although it could be a while before I make the trousers as my bum’s too big for the pattern, oops!)
We then met up again with Kara, Julie, Stacie and Beatrice and went to the pub for tea (of course)
We tried to be more logical in our approach on Sunday and started at Melissa’s stall then worked our way round, however 11am was quickly upon us and we had to take our seats for the Super Theatre. Jenny Eclair was an amazing host as she introduced the alteration challenge contestants, each working with a former Sewing Bee contestant. The GBSB judges Patrick Grant & Esme Young were then interviewed, and Lauren Guthrie provided a demo on using snaps. The winners of the alteration challenge were announced and the hour was over!
A little more wandering, a bit of lunch and it was time for our second workshop. This time with Celia Banks of Sew Fundamental – Perfect Piping. Having never done any piping before I was a tad nervous but it was great to see a familiar face in the form of Harriet and her mum Lindsay who were my sewing buddies at The Sewing Weekender
The workshop went really well, Celia is a great teacher and I learnt loads and found that piping wasn’t as scary as I thought and I’m looking forward to adding it to any future projects.
We visited Love Sewing Magazine , so I can be a coverstar again and I decided to sign up for a subscription.
Wandered round a few more stalls and had a lovely chat to Laura from Sew Different and bought her Everyday Chic Dress pattern.
We then decided it was time to watch the final fashion show of the day, with patterns from both the ‘Big 4’ and the independant designers with stands at the show:
Caught a quick glimpse of Lauren in the Live Demo Theatre:
By this time myself and Jan were all shopped out, so decided it was good time to take advantage of the Champagne Bar:
The Vintage Gallery was amazing, full of amazing Liberty garments, I’ve picked out a few of my favourites:
A quick wander round the Bees Gallery was great to see some of the garments from the show up close.
Then time for the return train trip home! Although I can’t finish this without showing you all my purchases from the show.
My fabric purchases:
The purple embossed scuba is from Simply Fabrics;
The colourful peacock feathered jersey is from Stitch fabrics,
The Christmas jumper & buttons cotton are from Sew Sew fabrics;
The galaxy jersey is from Girl Charlee UK
The purple flecked jersey is from Doughtys.
How AMAZING is this Alexander Henry ‘Frida La Catrina’ border print from the lovely Fabrics Galore (poor lighting sorry, the background is actually a dark blue not black)
My pattern purchases:
The Sew Me Something Bianca coat;
The Sew Different Everyday Chic Dress
The bottom 2 patterns from The Fold Line’s swap. I’ve been after a jersey blazer pattern for a while & the Debbie Shore bag is cute 😊
The practical purchases:
1m of fusable fleece from Empress Mills;
Boot socks from Community Clothing,
A subscription to Love Sewing Magazine.
Myself and Jan had a great weekend at The Great British Sewing Bee Live, it’s so good to see a dedicated dressmaking only show, finally!. I loved every minute and am really hoping to be able to afford a visit next year. Although I do wish they would follow in the style of The Knitting & Stitching Show and have one up North as well, so I can spend more money on fabric and less on travelling and accommodation! 🙂
Sorry about the long gap in blogging! This has been mainly due to a large number of issues with my house which has required a lot of work to be done and clearing out 20 years worth of stuff from the loft and in random places (yes I am a bit of a hoarder)! There’s still a lot more to do with the house but I want to blog as I’ve recently been to the most amazing sewing weekend and wanted to tell you all about it!
I was soooooooo pleased to actually get a ticket to The Sewing Weekender back in May, especially as they sold out in approximately 6 minutes!
Organised by Kate & Rachel from The Fold Line and Charlotte from English Girl at Home, the Sewing Weekender is a sewing weekend break held at Murray Edwards College in Cambridge and sponsored by Adam Ross Fabrics. Everyone brought their current projects to work on but there were also talks, workshops and a lot of nattering and tea drinking!
I’m not very good at decisions and couldn’t decide what projects to take with me, so in the end took four! Although 50 sewing machines and 4 overlockers were kindly provided by Janome, I decided to take my overlocker with me, as 3 of my projects were mainly constructed using it! Plus being the car I didn’t have to worry too much.
After travelling down south on Thursday to visit friends I made my way over to Cambridge Friday afternoon. As there a few of us travelling long distances and staying over the Friday evening I decided to arrange a get together. Rudy from Roodles Runique very kindly agreed to help me organise this as she lives local but was unfortunately unable to get a sewing weekender ticket!
Joy also helped and arranged a fabulous punting trip down the river relaxing and seeing Cambridge from a very different viewpoint. I loved it and would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting Cambridge
We then met up with a few more of the sewing weekenders for dinner and drinks in Revolution and I took full advantage of the 2-4-1 happy hour deal to enjoy my favourite espresso martinis!
10am Saturday and it’s time to get started with the actual sewing weekender! The main room had been 2 long rows of tables running the length of the main room with Janome sewing machines, overlockers and ironing stations. I chose one of the first workstations as I had so much stuff and I’m not exactly known for being tidy! My lovely sewing buddies sat around me were Lois from Sewing Squares to my left, Harriet (& her lovely mum Lindsay) from Hobbling Handmades were opposite me, with Anna from Dippy Stitcher sitting next to her.
The goody bags were amazing and contained loads of different supplies from a variety of stockists:
I’m not very good at hand sewing, as my mate Jan says this is because I have a severe lack of patience! J However it would be mice to embellish things instead of having to reply on iron on items, so I decided to join Elisalex from By Hand London for her hand embroidery workshop. I learn new stitches and had good fun embroidering a panel for my sewing room:
Most people walked into town for lunch but as I’m a wuss and it was pouring with rain (& eventually thunder too) I decided to stay behind and learn about machine embroidery with Ellie from Sew Positivity. We made Sewing Weekender 2017 badges and had fun choosing our colours and watching the machine embroidering very fat!
After lunch we had talks from Portia from Makery telling us about refashioning and then Fiona from Diary of a Chainstitcher telling us about the life of a Costume Supervisor. As a bit of a hoarder I found the refashioning fascinating as I hate throwing stuff away, so being able to breathe new life into garments is a must. Fiona’s tales of a costume supervisor gave an intriguing insight into a world most of us never see and I’m incredibly jealous of her being able to go high-end fabric shopping when the show allows!
I finally got round to actually starting some sewing at 3pm! I started with something I could easily work on whilst nattering, as this is the 5th version I’ve made – the Love Notions Laundry Day Tee in fun cupcake fabric from Abakhan. I managed to get it almost all done, bar the hemming and topstitching which I did on my Janome coverstitch machine when I got home:
I also managed to make a start on my Patterns for Pirate Pencil Skirt!
I actually started the day by sewing! One of the great things about these meet-ups are being able to pick other peoples brains! I was making my black pencil skirt from scuba ‘scraps’ left over from a circle skirt I made for my birthday night out and discovered I didn’t actually have enough for a waistband. I did however have some scuba in a similar weight, also from Abakhan (well the Birkenhead branch it at the top of my road!) but with a lace pattern and I wasn’t sure if it actually looked any good. However the ladies sewing around me suggested turning it inside out and using the plain grey wrong side as the right side and I think it works quite well, what do you think?
This sewing was completed around 2 more great talks from Melissa of Fehr Trade and Elena of Randomly Happy. Melissa’s talk focused on fitting our garments for movement, not just standing and sitting, which is what fitting issues usually focus on! Elena’s talk was on Mindfulness in our sewing and really interested me as I’ve recently started a mindfulness course through work, to help me with my mental health issues and mild Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Sewing is our hobby and should be fun, not stressful and remembering to enjoy the process, not just focusing on the finished garments!
As we were finishing off I got some great fitting help from the lovely Sue with my Cake Patterns Carmine Jacket. My first toile looks amazing but due to by rather large ‘bingo wings’ is unwearable! However when I cut out the largest size in order to accommodate these then it was way too big across the back. There’s still lots more work to do on the jacket, so I’ll blog about it when finished.
We then finished with a little photo walk into Cambridge seeing some of the colleges and nattering (of course) with the other sewing weekenders.
And of course a few of us stragglers went off for lunch before setting off home!
I have an amazing time at the sewing weekender, learnt lots of great stuff, had fun and meet lots of fabulous new people! I only managed to get photos with a few of them but everyone was brilliant!
Bring on 2018!
This year has been a very hectic one for me as I’ve started a new job, had a few health issues and also had building work done on my house. This has resulted in me blogging less than I intended, although I have had some time for sewing but usually a little last minute when i need something for an occasion, oops! So I thought I’d do a round up of my sewing projects from this year, with little explanations about them.
1.Dad’s Batman upcycled waistcoat:
My dad wanted a fun waistcoat to wear to work (he’s a teaching assistant) but that wasn’t too over the top. I decided to upcycle this plain black charity shop waistcoat, with some Batman ribbon. My dad loved it and so do the kids at his school!
2. Zara’s tiny baby blanket
My friends Ije & Si’s little daughter Zara was born at just 27 weeks in January and therefore spent the first 3 months of her life in the Special Care Baby Unit at Arrow Park Hospital. I therefore decided to make a personalised baby blanket for her to use. Because of her delicate skin I researched premature baby blankets and only used top quality cotton fabrics and sourced some top quality pure cotton wadding from Simply Solids for the filing.
3. Zara’s incubator covers
In SCBU the babies incubators were often covered in order to provide some shade and darkness for these little babies that should really still be inside their mummies tummies! There were generic boring hospital issued ones, so I decided to make personalised ones for Zara. After checking the dimensions required with the nurses in the SCBU and know that Ije loves right colours, I made these two fun covers, 1 with a balloon polycotton and the other with rocking horse polycotton, both and both were backed in a strawberry polycotton and filled with synthetic wadding, all from Abakhan Fabrics. I appliqued Zara’s name onto both to add that personal touch.
4. Zipper pouch
I took part in my first ever swap this year and this is the practice pouch I made for my swap partner. Very much me colours and love the little lacy zip closure.
5. Julia cardigan
Time to get back to the dressmaking and selfish sewing, so I made myself a version of the Julia Women’s Cardigan. The pattern is from Mouse House Creations and the funky fabric, which appears to have a Spanish theme, is from Abakhan Fabrics. This is pretty easy to make, all sewn together on the overlocker and is very comfortable to wear, love the fact that the sleeves are actually love enough for little miss monkey arms here! 🙂
6. Dad’s saxophone padding
Not the most exciting of sewing projects but very practical! My dad is learning to play the saxophone and finds the neck strap rather uncomfortable. Therefore i used some black fleece to back the strap to make it more wearable.
7. Wedding bunting
My friends Jenny & Adam got married this year and I asked if there was anything they would like me to make as a wedding gift and Jenny requested bunting to decorate the top table. I found this beautiful blue lace online and used blue satin bias binding to make 10 foot of bunting.
8. Wearable Wedding guest toile
I wanted to make a new dress to wear to Jenny & Adam’s wedding, so used this funky hot air balloon from my stash (originally from Abakhan Fabrics) to make a toile, to ensure the fit was right before making the actual dress. It’s good fun and the fit isn’t too bad but I did shorten the bodice by 1″, remove the side inseam pockets and lengthen the final dress by 3″
9. Wedding guest dress
This is the final dress i made to wear to my friends Jenny & Adam’s wedding. The fabric is a Liberty jersey from Sewbox and the pattern is the Tiramisu dress from Cake Patterns. I’m really please with the fit and shape of the this dress after making the changes discussed an the toile version. It was also very comfortable to wear all day and of course the flowing skirt was great for dancing the night away in.
10. Handmade holiday – beach cover ups
I went on my first beach holiday in almost a decade this year, so deiced to make a number of items for my holiday. I’m rather self concious, so deicded to make these three beach coverups from light weight cottons and vopiles. The fabric was all from my stash and i used this tutorial Board & Crafty but altered it to make it much longer than the tutorial states. I had a great time in Sharm-el-Sheikh and would love to visit again.
11. Handmade holiday – simple maxiskirt
I don’t really wear maxi skirts very often but decided to try one for my holiday. I have lots of this lovely black polka dot lightweight cotton which I bought in the Abakhan Secret Sale, which I have previously blogged about. I then used this DIY Maxi Skirt Tutorial from Sew Caroline but I did hem mine as I wasn’t used a jersey fabric, like she had.
12. Handmade holiday – maxiskirt upcycle
I loved this maxi-dress that I bought from Asda years ago but never wear it as being very pear shaped although it fit me well on the hips it was way too big on the bust, so it just sat at the back of my wardrobe gathering dust! I decided to convert it into a skirt instead! I pinned it at a suitable length, then added 2.5″ and then cut off the bodice. I then turned over 1.5″ at the top and sewed and inch wide channel and feed in a piece of 1″ wide elastic that I had already worked out would hold up the skirt but stretch enough to get on & off. Hey presto – one new, usable maxi skirt!
13. Liberty Sorbetto top
As I recently blogged about Abakhan Fabrics have recently had 22,000 meters of clearance Liberty fabrics delivered which they are seling at great prices. I chose to work with the Dragonista tana lawn to make a top and in order to show off the beautiful fabric wanted to pattern that had simple clean lines without too much fuss. Therefore I decided on the Colette Sorbetto pattern. However as I don’t suit loose sleeveless tops at all I chose to add the Sorbetto sleeve pattern by Sew Incidentally and then made a few alterations to the pattern to fit and suit me better. More info is available on the blog post I wrote about it here
14. 3 quick cushion covers
I decided to sell off some of my fabric stash recently at my church’s Christmas Market. SO I made some samples of quick & easy cushion covers to make. I used this tutorial from The Happy Housie for the 1 piece envelope cushions – the purple rectangular one & the embroidered cushion. I then used this tutorial from The Wonder Forest to make the yellow daffodil envelope cushion as it has different fabric on the back and front.
15. Liberty infinity scarf
Abakhan Fabrics then received even more clearance Liberty fabric in, this time including the tana jersey. I chose to work with 2 of these coordinating jerseys to make this snuggly infinity scarf, which I’ve blogged about here previously. It’s a great fabric to work with and very warm and comfy scarf to wear.
16. Christmas day top
I saw this red jersey with little green and white polka dots on in Abakhan many years ago when i was pretty new to sewing and it just called out Christmas Day top to me, so that’s what I started making. I liked the look of this Retro Top pattern on the Burda Style website, so decided to give it ago using that. Unfortunately the pattern is only available in a size 12, so I had to try my hand at drafting it up to a much larger size, which turned out not too bad. However I didn’t mange to complete it in time for Christmas that year and completely forgot about it until i found it again a few months ago! However in the meantime I’ve lost almost 2.5 stone, so it was rather large on me! With the help of my friends at Liverpool Sewing Club I decided that rather than trying to take the side seams in I’d add waist darts at the front and back, giving it a more fitted look but also leaves enough room for Christmas dinner! 🙂
Here’s to a great, sewing filled 2016!
Happy New Year
As I have previously discussed Abakhan Fabrics have recently had 22,000 meters of Liberty fabrics delivered! Initially just the Tana Lawns were available to buy but now the Cotton Twills, Kingly Cotton Cords, Jerseys, Lifestyle Craft Cottons and Mayfair Silk Chiffons are all available to purchase from Abakhan at great discounted prices.
As with all Liberty fabrics, their jersey is of great quality & is a beautifully soft fabric with a distinct stretch, jersey is your go-to for versatility and comfort. The jersey composition is 95% cotton with 5% elastane and 150cm.
After browsing through all the Liberty jerseys available, I chose my favourite 2 and ordered 1m of each. I love abstract prints and find the swirls and bright colours in the Liberty Tana Jersey Fabric Mitford Pink beautiful and my much my style.
I also love the slightly quirky but still pretty and colourful Liberty Tana Jersey Fabric Robin Pink and ordered 1m of that also, as I reckoned the two would work beautifully together.
And I was very pleased when my parcel arrived and as expected they do look fabulous together:
I decided with winter approaching (yes I know it’s pretty mild one so far) to make a big snuggly infinity scarf with this jersey. You can’t make too many stylish scarves at winter and a beautiful soft Liberty jersey infinity scarf will be the perfect stylish accessory perfect to snuggle against on a cold winters day! Just in case you don’t know – an infinity scarf is basically one giant loop of fabric and is sometimes also known as a circle scarf.
Infinity scarves are quick and easy to make, as well as stylish and comfy. I have made a few before, so this took me even less time as I already have my head wrapped round the concept, which i admit took a little getting used to at first. I cut this out on Sunday evening and then stitched it together on the overlocker at Liverpool Sewing Club on the Monday evening – took me less than 2 hours in total!
I used the overlocker to sew the Liberty jersey with as it makes it much quicker and easier and I am rather fond of sewing with an overlocker. You could just a standard zigzag or overcasting stitch to sew jersey with on a standard sewing machine however.
The Liberty jersey is beautiful to sew with, so soft and easy to handle and with just the perfect amount of elastane in that it stretches well but also returns back to it shape quickly and uniformly. No skipped stitches, no tension issues or any other hassle at all with this jersey!
I’m really happy with my new scarf and love the fact that in this milder weather I can wear it open as one long loop and when it get cold wrap it round again and snuggle up in it’s softness.
I’ll write a tutorial on how to make one of these lovely Liberty jersey infinity scarves, however that will; have to wait till the new year as it’s now Christmas Eve and I still have some hand sewing and pressing to do on my Christmas day top, oops!
Merry Christmas – let me know if you get any of Abakhan’s lovely Liberty fabric from Father Christmas or any other sewing related gifts.
NB: I received this fabric free of charge to try out from Abakhan. All opinions about it however are fully my own.
Abakhan Fabrics have recently had 22,000 meters of LIBERTY fabrics delivered! The tana lawns are now available to buy online as well as in-store, with 50 fabulous designs to choose from. This Liberty clearance range is just £11.24 per meter, a lot cheaper than the usual selling of £22.50pm, which therefore often makes them unaffordable for dressmakers like me who need a decent length of fabric to work with. The Twills, Cords, Jerseys and Lifestyle Craft Cottons will be available to purchase from Abakhan soon.
A selection Abakhan’s Liberty clearance fabrics
Liberty is a well-known brand name and many sewers and crafters use and love their fabrics. Tana Lawn is one of Liberty’s most well known and loved fabrics, with the name originating from Lake Tana in East Africa, where the original cotton grew. Made from specially selected ultra-fine long staple cotton and finished without the use of crease-resisting chemicals or irritating allergens, the result is a famous masterpiece of fabric technology: fine, cool, comfortable and durable, with brilliant reproduction of colours and prints.
Those who know me well know that I am not really into floral prints, unless abstract, however Liberty offer a wide varity of prints, including a number of unusual and distrintive designs and I love the Dragonista design that Abakhan currently have available in the tana lawn in three different colourways:
Liberty Dragonista in Blue, Aqua & Terracotta
Liberty provide some great info on their website regarding their designs:
Dragonista: An archival design chosen by the antiques guru Martin Miller; the name behind the famous ‘Miller’s Antiques Price Guides’, and creator of the fabulous ‘Miller’s Residence’, ‘Glencot House’ and ‘Martin Miller’s Gin!’.He is also a poet, writer and artist with an infectious love of antiques.
Martin added a Miller twist to the design ‘Dragonista’, incorporating antiques of his own into the Liberty design, which was originally a ‘Chinoiserie’ style design for a Liberty scarf dating back to the early 1990s.
“In effect, it’s like taking a static work of art into a form that gives it movement and vitality. The iconic brand of Liberty is renowned for blending the classic with the modern which both complements and appeals to my style, and I am excited to be part of this wearable, living collection.” Martin Miller.
I chose to work with the Dragonista in blue, as I love bold and bright colours. This can be purchased from Abakhan’s website.
I wanted to make a top and in order to show off the beautiful fabric wanted to pattern that had simple clean lines without too much fuss. Therefore I decided on the Colette Sorbetto pattern. However as I don’t suit loose sleeveless tops at all I chose to add the Sorbetto sleeve pattern by Sew Incidentally.
I did have to do some pattern moderation, which is pretty standard for myself, as being extremely pear shaped I had to add a few inches to the waist & hips measurements as the pattern wasn’t large enough and grade from the size 16 bust to these new waist & hip measurements. Also being rather tall (5ft 9in) and long bodied I decided to add 2 inches to the length of the pattern. Still, even with all those additions I do love the Sorbetto as its pretty quick & easy to make (although I just can’t get on well with making my own bias binding!)
I took a few photos whilst working on my top. If you want to see in-progress photos and info of my projects then feel free to follow me on Twitter and Instagram:
Cutting out my top
The sewn front of my Sorbetto top
Sewing the sleeves on
The tana lawn was so lovely to work with and drapes really well, I can definitely recommend it for clothing and the Sorbetto top. I am very pleased how my top turned out and I reckon it’ll look great for both work with smart trousers and a jacket, or with jeans and a cardy for the weekend.
Neckline & pleat detail
Shoulder & sleeve detail
See, I told you it’s work suitable!
Abakhan have loads of other tana lawns available, these are some of my other favourites:
Why not go have a look at the range and let me know which are your favourites!
NB: I received this fabric free of charge to try out from Abakhan. All opinions about it however are fully my own.
Me, Susan, Nele and Eleanor with our golden ticket!
I was lucky enough to receive 2 Golden VIP tickets to Abakhan’s Secret Sale last Saturday, the 18th July at their Mostyn branch and was able to take 3 of my friends from Liverpool Sewing Club. We had a great day, buying lots of bargains in the secret sale, shopping in the rest of the large Abakhan store, sitting in the sun eating, drinking and having a great day all round.
As I blogged about a while back I went to Abakhan’s first secret sale on the 28th March. This was a ‘Warehouse Style’ Sale with discounts of up to 85% off normal retail prices and held in one of their stock warehouses. This caused a few issues with long queues due to the size of the warehouse and therefore the related number of customers that could be in at any one time for health and safety reason. I’m happy to say that Abakhan learnt from this and at the most recent sale used a much larger warehouse, with well organised tills inside and an orderly queuing space, with a marquee providing shelter, in case of rain! Therefore queuing time was much reduced at this second secret sale as 150 were allowed inside at once, as in opposed to 40 last time! Also there was much more fabric was available for us to browse through, which made me very happy!
Golden ticket secret Sale time
On arrival with our golden tickets we were signed in and given exclusive 15% off discount vouchers and then we were allowed early access to the sale, an hour before the general public, so there was lots of time to browse and of course rummage! The warehouse was very well laid out with the different options very clear and well organised and the walls were lined with rolls and rolls of fabrics. I also loved the fill a bag for £10 section and of course had to have a proper rummage, as you can see!
Gotta have a proper rummage!
The £10 fill a bag haul! All of this plus another 3m of polyester that’s already been used!
It was also a good opportunity to meet members of the sewing community that I chat to on line but only get to actually see occasionally, – Rachel from House of Pinheiro, Celia from Sew Fundamental, Michele from Swiss Army Wife and Paul Clarke who appeared on Great British Sewing Bee and of course – Will Abakhan!
Myself, Rachel & Paul
Myself with Michele & Ceilia
Myself & Will
There might be a slight chance I bought a wee bit too much fabric but the bargains available were amazing. Dress and house fabric rolls and bolts started at just 50p a meter and could only be bought in full rolls, so the price depended on the amount of fabric left on the roll! To be honest there were a lot more rolls and bolts of fabrics that I almost bought but I didn’t want to scare the bank manager too much! I love wearing jersey, so tending to sew a lot with it, therefore that was what I was mainly on the lookout for but some other fabrics just jumped out at me and had to be purchased! My secret sale purchases were as follows:
Some great knit fabrics
2 great rolls of fleece & a lightweight double sized faux fur
Lots of other fabrics – purple voile, household Clarke & Clarke polka dot, great loose weave, mid weight grey & lightweight abstract florals.
Not bad for just £65 in total!
A very kind member of staff helped us get the cage to the car!
All the staff were encountered in the warehouse, were very friendly and helpful. Myself and Nele bought that much fabric that we had to use a cage to take it all out to the car!
I was also very glad that I swapped my little Ka for my dad’s much larger Meriva for the weekend! Made packing the car a lot easier, although we still managed to fill the boot that much that extra purchases had to be put on the back seat!
By this point we were very grateful of our free breakfast bap in the onsite Abakhan Cafe, as it had been a very early start of 7am to ensure we got there in time to use our golden ticket early access opportunity and maximise our bargain hunting!
I’ve been to the large Abakhan Mostyn branch before but Susan (being originally from America) had never been before and this is much larger than the Birkenhead and Liverpool stores we’re all used to, so with our 15% discount vouchers we headed off into the main store for some more fabric based retail therapy. The store was busy but there were ample friendly and helpful staff available to help us and we had great fun exploring the rolls and remnants available, with all of us making more purchases and again more bargains were to be had – Susan even managed to get some Hello Kitty rip stop, of which I’m very jealous! The liberty lawns available were beautiful and I spent a while admiring them.
Lots of Liberty lawn
Lots of fun was had exploring the rolls and remnants both upstairs and downstairs in the main building with both myself and Nele making more purchases. The prices in Abakhan are great to start off but then with our special 15% discount vouchers we got even better bargains and therefore erm, seem to have purchased even more fabric, oops!
Main store purchases
After all that shopping we needed another break and decided to have a light lunch in the Abakhan Café and as the sun was shining we took advantage of the outdoor seating to relax and then to enjoy our free golden ticket desserts – a delicious and well-presented summer fruits brulee with a handmade shortbread biscuit, a perfect summery desert to be enjoyed in the Welsh sunshine.
We all had a great day out at the Abakhan secret sale and got loads of great bargains, am already figuring out and planning what projects they’ll be used for. If you would like to find out when the next Secret Sale is then complete this form on Abakhan’s website (you might also spot a familiar face in the photos of the day).
Did you also visit the Abakhan Secret Sale? If so, why not leave a comment below telling me what you thought and what you bought?
The first ever Liverpool MakeFest was held on the 27th June 2015 at Liverpool Central Library and as most of you will be aware I run Liverpool Sewing Club. I therefore decided it would be good fun to get involved and to have a stall there. So what is Liverpool MakeFest?
Liverpool MakeFest is a FREE family friendly festival for all ages celebrating all things ‘makey’ in the north-west, showcasing things people have made, projects people are working on, inventions, gadgets and hands-on activities including, coding, hacking workshops and demonstrations.
It’s a place to see how science, technology, engineering, arts and crafts are shaping our world… a place to get you thinking and learning about cool stuff you could make yourself!
Sounds like fun doesn’t it? I decided that instead of just showing off what the members of Liverpool Sewing Club have made it would be great to show others that despite what they might think, sewing isn’t scary and anyone can give it a go! A few years ago I had a stall at OggCamp (the biggest free software and free culture event in the UK) with the same idea of introducing people to sewing. Dan, the OggCamp organiser told me had lots of t-shirts leftover from the previous year’s OggCamp so donated them to me. After some research I discovered the great upcycling idea of converting old t-shirts into bags which is quick, easy and suitable for complete beginners. This worked very well at OggCamp, so I decided to do the same again at MakeFest.
Our stall at Liverpool MakeFest
Having a small table to work with, we setup 2 sewing stations and 1 cutting station, all provided with health and safety information. We also provided leaflets for Liverpool Sewing Club and as we don’t provide sewing classes we also provided copies of the new brochure for the local fabric store Abakhan, who provide a wide range of sewing classes, including those suitable for beginners.
A sewing station
The cutting station
Myself and a number of other lovely ladies from Liverpool Sewing Club then spent the day helping people to turn the leftover stash of old t-shirts from OggCamp into new stylish bags, great for a variety of different uses as well as being both environmentally friendly and practical – being t-shirts they roll quite small and can easily be squashed into the bottom of a handbag, ready for all those last minute purchases!
I will blog at a later date with a more in depth tutorial on the process. However the basics are: Firstly, turn the t-shirt inside out, then cut off the sleeves and cut the neckline deeper:
Better get cutting!
Got to cut those sleeves off
Pin the front and back of the t-shirt together so you are ready to sew the bottom of your bag together:
A dad & his lad pinning the bottom of the bag together
Now the cutting and pinning is done, we’re all ready to use the sewing machine:
Time to sew the base of the bag
Me helping a young lady to sew her bag
Rosie helping a young lady use the sewing machine
Jan showing a young family how the sewing machine works
As you can see from the photos all ages can do this, from young kids (with a bit of help) through to adults and both male and female – sewing isn’t just a female activity! Although, smiling and having fun is of course a necessity!
Jan having fun chatting to a lady about sewing
Hehe see I told you we were having fun!
And we have a finished bag – Quick, easy and fun to make!
A completed t-shirt bag!
One lady decided not to turn her t-shirt inside out when sewing, so that the plain side was visible and then embellish it, using trims and an embroidered elephant she made with the stall that was situated next to us – The Merseyside Embroiderers’ Guild, isn’t it beautiful!
Beautiful embellished t-shirt bag
Overall a great fun day was had by both Liverpool Sewing Club members and by the general public. My only regret was that I was having that much fun on our stall that I never had a chance to actually go visit all the other stalls at Liverpool MakeFest, doh!
Have you made any t-shirt bags? Why not comment below & tell me?
I was lucky enough to receive a Golden VIP ticket to Abakhan’s Secret Sale last Saturday and as I was allowed to take a friend, Nele from Liverpool Sewing Club joined me. We had a great day, shopping and having fun, although I’m not sure my bank manager would agree. However the bargains we received should make him happy!
Exclusive to their Mostyn Store & for one day only, Abakhan’s Secret Sale was a ‘Warehouse Style’ Sale with discounts of up to 85% off normal retail prices.
The VIP tickets had a number of advantages, which made the day even better. On arrival we signed in and were given exclusive 15% off discount vouchers and then received free sausage butties and coffee in their onsite cafe – setting us up well for the shopping to come.
Myself & Will Abakhan
Our golden tickets meant we could get into the warehouse for the secret sale between 10am and 11am, a full hour before the sale opened to the rest of the public. This gave us a nice browsing time and both being dressmakers we headed straight to the rolls of dress fabrics and had great fun sifting through them, choosing what we did and didn’t like. All fabrics were priced at 50p a meter and could only be bought in full rolls, so the price depended on the amount of fabric left on the roll. My purchases were:
The rolls of fabric:
0.5m of heavy weight purple patterned polycotton,
10m of black & white polka dot cotton seersucker,
4.5m of grey checked poly & spandex gabardine,
14m of blue lightweight cotton viscose jersey
These 3 bolts of fabric are:
15m of muted patterned print spandex, which is 95% poly & 5% PU. Has a slight wooly feel to it.
10m of charcoal jersey, with embroidered design and is and wool & viscose blend.
5m of patterned lilac polyester dress wear.
2 Bolts of Fabric:
12m of black towelling
13m of red wool coating, which is a wool & polyester mix.
Pale blue cuddle fleece that myself & Nele shared
All the staff were encountered in the warehouse, were very friendly and helpful. Myself and Nele got that much fabric that the staff actually located a wheeled trolley to help us get it to my car. This was one of those occasions when I regret buying a tiny Ford Ka! LOL
I’ve been to the large Mostyn branch before but Nele (being originally from Belgium) had never been to Wales before, never mind Abakhan in Mostyn, so we decided to investigate the rest of the site, after a refreshing cuppa in the cafe of course!
The craft shop had some great polystyrene eggs for Nele’s family Easter crafting sessions and I got some great brushed cotton for baby blankets.
Beautiful baby themed design brushed cotton
By this time the sun was out and the main secret sale was under way with lots of people queuing to get in. Due to the size of the warehouse for health & safety reasons Abakhan staff could only let a limited number of people it at once and the event had turned out to be very popular. From what I could see the great British tradition of queuing was well under way and amicable.
Part of the queue!
Lots & lots of happy shoppers With Will supervising
Then off to the main store we went, after having a quick stop off at the waterwheel location and a quick history lesson regarding the building’s history.
info about the history of Abakhan’s building
Me & Nele
Lots of fun was had exploring the rolls and remnants both upstairs and downstairs in the main building with both myself and Nele making more purchases. The prices in Abakhan are great to start off but then with our special 15% discount vouchers we got even better bargains and therefore erm, seem to have purchased even more fabric, oops!
Purple cotton with white numbers,
Upholstery weight cotton with a bold & bright pattern,
White PVC with colourful butterflies,
White PVC with buttons,
Lightweight polycotton with tiny macaroons.
Black with little grey bows,
Plain dark red,
Blue with large black polka dots
Lots of Stretch Lace:
Black & green,
Fusha & black,
All just 35p a meter!
Full roll of lilac bias binding (£1 for the roll),
Full roll of mint green bias binding (£1 for the roll).
As Abakhan was packed due to it being a Saturday and the secret sale there were lots of queues but everyone was friendly and chatting to each other, discussing their purchases and what they were going to make. As always the staff were friendly, helpful and efficient, processing orders quickly but without rushing us through like cattle. As were admiring the rolls of dress fabric we bumped into the lovely Deborah from Series 3 of the Great British Sewing Bee.
Nele & Deborah
Myself & Deborah
After all that shopping we needed another break and by this time the sausage butties were a distant memory, so time for lunch in the onsite Abakhan café followed by our delicious free VIP desserts
Then came the fun of getting the rest of the stuff in the car! Thankfully I’m rather good at Tetris and we managed to get everything in my tiny Ka! If we’d had an accident I’m pretty sure me and Nele would have been safe with all that fabric padding, LOL.
Erm, the backseat of my tiny Ka is rather full!
And so is the boot!
Now I know that the car looks very full but somehow we managed to go to a pet shop on the way home and buy a cat carrier, then go to Costco and buy lots more stuff there! See, it’s amazing what you can fit in a tiny car if you put your mind to it!
We had a great day at the Abakhan secret sale, got loads and loads of bargains, which both myself and Nele already have plans for. I’m on the lookout for a pattern for a floor length coat with a fitted waist and fuller skirt to use for that large roll of red wool coating material, suggestions very welcome!
I’m already looking forward to the next Abakhan Secret Sale, just don’t tell my bank manager!
On Sunday (23rd November) I organised a day trip for some of the ladies from Liverpool Sewing Club to the Knitting & Stitching Show over in Harrogate. It was a very full on & long day and now I’m feeling sufficiently recovered to be able to write about it! This is the third time we’ve attended and a tip to the show, fooling by dinner at Betty’s Team Rooms is now starting to become a sewing club tradition.
Rosie, me, Nele, Pollie
The drive over to Harrogate took a few hours and after a little drama finding somewhere to park we got started on a visit to the Harrogate Knitting & Stitching Show. The show can be a tad overwhelming as there is so much to see with the exhibitions and stalls split across a number of different halls on the ground floor and then downstairs to the workshops, university fashion students display areas & refreshments area.
There were lots of exhibitions to see and unless you visit for a couple of days there just isn’t enough time to visit all the exhibitions and stalls. As I’m a dressmaker I felt drawn to the ‘Black Sheep – The Darker Side of Felt’ exhibition, especially as the lead item was this purple felted dress.
The exhibition explores the edgier side of this extraordinary and versatile material. More information about the show can be found on their blog: https://blacksheepfelt.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/about-the-show/
Downstairs there was a number of displays showcasing the fabulous work of fashion and textile students from a number of different universities and colleges:
The wide range of stalls at this years show spanned 3 different large halls, offering a wide range of knitting and stitching supplies and services. Nele was looking to buy an overlocker, so spend a fair amount of time at the sewing machine stalls and eventually managed to get a great deal on a Janome, which she is very excited about being delivered soon! A few of my favourites stalls:
Helen, me & Lisa on the Simply Solidas stall
I love the rainbow of bright solids on display here as well as the textured basics. Pollie bought some of the 505 spray for basting as they’re one of the cheapest around for this and it can difficult to buy online due to legal restrictions on posting aerosols! Had a good natter with the lovely Lisa and Helen who was helping out due to Justine’s rather recent delivery of her daughter
M Rosenberg & Son
I always make sure I visit these at any sewing shows as they usually have bold bright abstract fabrics, according to the staff they are Italian silk designs printed onto high quality cotton. I love these designs and the cotton is soft and silky, an example can be seen in the back of this photo. Unfortunately as this visit was in the afternoon of the last day of the show they’d sold out, so no purchase for me this time!
I love the fabrics available from Japan Crafts, so unusual with beautiful intricate designs. They also sell great craft kits to make some unusual bags and brooches. I’ve bought the Kanzashi Flower Brooch Kit and some of their unique mini charm packs from previous shows which I’ve made into the flap on a messenger bag and an autumn themed cushion. I bought another one from the show as it was really pretty but not sure yet what it’ll be come!
Lots of Leather choices from Simple Way
Simple way sell unique leather kits so that you can make your own leather bags and accessories. I’ve already made a purple and green leather satchel from one of their kits which I love and get lots of compliments on. The kits are great value and work out a lot cheaper than a mass produced, machine made commercial leather satchel. Plus you get to say “I made this” and get all the compliments! The kits come with everything you need, even including the blunt needle and leather thread to sew with.
I decided to treat myself to another kit at the show but wanted something a little different from the satchel, so went with the Monet Messenger Bag Kit. You can also buy these on their website and just choose a colour and it’ll be sent out to you in the post. However as they make these kits themselves and the staff are lovely and friendly they’ll let you customise he kit, which is what I did last time by ringing them. This kit I have chose the bright pink leather as the body and then they’ll add a buckle to the flap for me as I’m not comfortable without a proper fastening on a bag. I chose both the buckle and strap to be in black leather, and added a shoulder pad top make it more comfortable as I tend to put loads of stuff in my bag! The shoulder pad will be in the pink to match the bag body. All of that for just £44, isn’t that great value! So excited for my kit to be delivered in a few weeks.
Simple Way’s Monet Messenger Bag
The Virgin Of Guadalupe fabric
I always like to have a look at this stall as they always have a great selection of Liberty Fabrics and Alexander Henry Fabrics. I love both of these designers, the abstract designs of some Liberty and the soft luxurious feel of their tana lawn whilst the unusual, fun and often daft designs of Alexander Henry always keep me intrigued. I just loved this “Virgin Of Guadalupe” design of Alexander Henry’s and was very tempted to buy half a meter as I reckon it’d make a fabulous messenger bag flap!
Workshop – Perfect Fit & Finish, Bust & Neckline
This year I chose to do a workshop along with Nele. The workshop was run by Gillian Hargreaves from The Yorkshire School of Sewing. Gillian is a very good teacher, patient, well spoken and happy to explain things. However I was rather disappointed with the class. I expected to learn how to fit a bust and neckline, and all I really learnt was how to sew a curve and how to under stitch, both of which I could already do. The fact that the sewing machines provided by the show clearly weren’t checked or in full working order was also disappointed. A number of them still had the free machine embroidery feet on from the previous class, so students had to waste precious time changing them back. Also my machine had been left on an odd stitch, so didn’t sew properly at first. After a ‘reboot’ it started sewing correctly but the started skipping stitches and gathering the fabric so badly that I had to unpick it twice and ended up missing what Gillian was saying! Another lady had left the class early, so I was able to use her machine and Gillian was very happy to help me catch up.
Me at the workshop
Nele at the Workshop
Gillian assisting Nele
My ‘completed’ bodice front
Therefore I would recommend investigating thoroughly what is to be taught in a class before signing up and I don’t recommend taking a class on a Sunday as the sewing machines don’t appear to be very well taken care of over the weekend and by Sunday afternoon, are too tired!
This least amount I’ve ever come home with from a sewing show, partly due to time spent at the workshop, having an injury to my foot, which meant walking slowly round as well as M Rosenberg not having any of the Italian cotton left. However I did also make a purchase from Simple Way who will deliver my kit in approximately 3 weeks.
Little purse kit from Simple Way, dress stand cotton fabric (can’t remember who from), stained glass stretch lace from The Shuttle, mini charm pack from Japan Crafts and Gutterman threads from Elna
After a long day the Knitting & Stitching Show it’s great to retire to Betty’s Tea Rooms for dinner and of course a glass of mulled wine and a selection from the dessert trolley! This visit is now becoming a sewing club tradition and was greatly enjoyed by all of us. A great way to finish up a great visit to Harrogate.
My meal at Betty’s Team Rooms – mulled wine, pork schnitzel, mocha toret adn finished off with Christmas coffee
Our desserts – raspberry macaroon, engadine torte, praline & chocolate eclair and mocha torte
Enjoying our desserts at Betty’s Tea Rooms
Did you visit the show this year? What did you think? What were your highlights? Please go share in the comments below.