Monday, 30 July 2012

I just got back from holiday and feel like I deserve another one just for managing to make my way back home! We did have a lovely time and I'm sure all the traveling woes will soon be forgotten, for now it's good to be back home :)

 Before I left I made this little hoop for a friend using this fab new Sew Ichigo pattern. I would love to make a few more of these to hang in my sewing room!

 But first there's the piles of laundry to sort through, suitcases to unpack before I can give my sewing machine some much needed attention.

I hope summer has been treating you well, I'm looking forward to catch up with you all!

x Leila

Saturday, 14 July 2012

MondaysMilk Give Away Winner!

We have a winner!
True Random Number Generator has spoken and declared number 50 to be our winner..

which was Katy who said....

I am always happy when mr. Random chooses someone I know - Congrats Katy!! Rozalinde will contact you soon.
Commiserations to those of you that did not win, there is still the promotional code valid through July. Simply enter ORCHIDS upon checkout to receive an extra 10 cm of fabric for every €10 you spend at MondaysMilk.

Have a lovely weekend!
x Leila

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

a new bag

While the relentless rain makes it feel much less like July than I did hope it does allow for more indoor sewing time. I have made this same bag twice before and since wanted one that I could keep.

Patchwork bag

The pattern is from Natural Patchwork by Suzuko Koseki, but instead of hexagons I like to use squares. I especially enjoy rummaging through my scrap bins searching for just the right pieces of fabric to make up the exterior.

Patchwork bag

The interior is a linen cotton blend in a pebble sort of grey with irregular white stripe. It is more of a dressmaking weight but of course that would not deter me from using it anyway. After some iron on interfacing it was quite well behaved and no real trouble to sew with.

Patchwork bag

I think this is just the right sort of bag for a picnic or a trip to the swimming pool but in reality it will probably most often be seen at the supermarket ;)
Hurry summer, I have dresses waiting to be worn and this new bag to take along with me on fun summer outings!

x Leila

Don't forget, there is still time to enter my give away here!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

all I need now are some flowers in my hair

I had no intentions of sewing my own summer wardrobe but boy am I having fun with this dressmaking thing! Especially if I get to sew with pretty luxurious Liberty lawns. I love them so it is bordering on addiction!

me skirt

After getting over the initial fear of actually cutting into my precious fabric this tiered maxi skirt came together very quick and easy. It is just the most perfect thing to wear on a sunny day like today, I love it!

In other news, have you seen these exciting new paper piecing patterns yet?

photo courtesy of Sew-Ichigo

 Rainbow rack of spools and Button it by Kerry and Penny, available for purchase over at Sew-Ichigo

photo courtesy of Pink Penguin

And Ayumi's Popsicles pattern which is available for purchase at Superbuzzy I can't wait to start on these blocks, they are fantastic!!

x Leila

p.s there is still time to enter my give away here

Monday, 2 July 2012

MondaysMilk Give Away!!

A little while back Rozalinde from MondaysMilk asked me if I would be interested in hosting a give away for her. I jumped at the opportunity as this is one of my favourite online shops, conveniently (for me) based in Holland.

Rozalinde is as passionate about her fabrics as I know you and I are. She carries a beautiful range of Japanese designer fabrics, Echino, Kokka & Heather Ross to name a few as well as a lovely collection of Liberty Art Fabrics (yes she will be stocking up on the much anticipated quilting cottons - yay!!).

Her extensive collection of Nani Iro prints literally made me gasp with excitement when I first discovered it.
But that is not all MondaysMilk also offers home decorations and fun gifts for little ones. I love these riik rhino's - aren't they cute!!

Right, on to what you all came here for; it's give away time!
One lucky winner will win one meter of their choice of Melody Millers Ruby Star Spring, Bloom in tomato vine or night lite to make your very own shirred sundress - yay!

Ruby Star Spring -Bloom in night lite

Ruby Star Spring - Bloom in tomato vine

To enter leave a separate comment on this post for each of the following:

  1. Head on over to MondaysMilk and have a look around, then come back here and tell me which is your favourite fabric.
  2.  Like MondaysMilk on Facebook
  3. If you are a follower of MondaysMilk blog or become one you get a third entry.
  4. Bonus entry for those of you that follow my blog (old or new) I really appreciate you taking the time to visit and all the lovely comments that you leave!
That's four chances to win, to keep things fair please leave a maximum of four comments per person only.
The give away is open to anyone anywhere. Comments will close Friday the 13th of July at midnight. The winner will be chosen through random number generator and announced here later that weekend.

Please make sure there is a way for me to contact you should you win, if your profile settings aren't public be sure to leave an email address in your comment.

And there is more, anyone who places an order at Mondaysmilk can enter the code ORCHIDS at check out, you will receive a bonus 10cm of your favourite* fabric for every €10 you spend. Valid through July.
*this offer excludes all Liberty Art fabrics.

 I will not be able to reply to each of your comments on this give away post  but I read and enjoy all of them :) If you have any questions or anything else you would like to say please email me directly.
Good luck!

x Leila

The give away is now closed a winner will be announced shortly. Thank you all!

Shirred Sundress tutorial

Today I would like to show you how to make a shirred sundress. This dress is so simple to make it is perfectly doable even if you are new to dressmaking.
 I love this style of dress because it is flattering on pretty much any type of figure and very comfortable to wear on a hot summer's day (should you live in a country that actually gets more than one of those a year!)

You will need:
  • fabric (just follow the instructions in step one to determine exactly how much you will need)
  • shirring elastic
  • tape measure
  • standard sewing equipment

It is always a good idea to prewash fabrics when dressmaking. Just wash the fabric as you intend to wash the finished garment, this ensures any fabric bleeding problems or shrinkage has been caught before you finish your dress.

Shirred Sundress Tutorial

Step 1 - simple maths
* I  am using inches for this tutorial but it works exactly the same in centimeters if this is what you are more comfortable with 1" = 2.54 cm.

The dress consists of two rectangles, easy peasy no pattern needed all you need to do is determine two measurements.
The first thing you need to know is your bust measurement.
  • Wrap a tape measure around the fullest part of your bust, do not pull tight you want some ease there so you still have room to breathe and such ;). Write the number down.
  • Now take your bust measurement, multiply by 1.5 and add seam allowance (any size you are most comfortable with) mine are 3\8" x 2 = 3\4"
 bust x 1.5 + seam allowance =  
    •   Divide the outcome by 2
      I will use my own measurements as an example:
      34" x 1.5 + 3\4"= 51 3\4"

      51 3\4" : 2 = 25 7\8" I am just going to round that up to 26" once the dress is shirred it will not make much difference.

      Now we have determined measurement A - the width of our rectangle. Next we need to determine the length of the dress.
        •  Take a tape measure and measure from the top of your bust down to wherever you would like your dress to hit, don't forget to stand up straight!
        • Add 1 1\2" seam allowance for the top, and 3" for the bottom hem. This is measurement B
        • Cut two rectangles A x B
        I am not sure what length I like best yet so I am just going to use the length of my fabric and cut two rectangles 26" wide. It is easy to trim back the length later once the shirred top is finished or leave it long and have a maxi dress.

        Step 2 - side seams and hems
        • Fold over the top hem by 1\2" twice, press, pin and sew close to the edge. 

        It is important to finish the top hem before you start shirring because once that is done it will be near impossible to get a straight hem.
        • With right sides facing pin side seams and sew. Neaten raw edges with an overlock or zig zag stitch.
        • Fold over the bottom hem twice by 1". Press, pin and sew close to the edge. If you are undecided on the length of your dress like me you can save this step till last.

        Step 3 - shirring preparation
        Now for the fun bit, lets transform this shapeless fabric sack into a dress!

        For those of you new to shirring it is nothing more than sewing with elastic in your bobbin case instead of thread. This creates lots of gathering and adds elasticity to your fabric. It is a highly useful technique in dressmaking, it adds shape to your garment without the need for closures, I love it!

         The one thing to remember is to always keep your fabric facing right side up when shirring so that the elastic will be on the inside of your garment

        • First you will need to wind your bobbins with shirring elastic by hand, do not pull the elastic taut just hold it firmly in your hand and start winding. You want to wind up the bobbins so that the elastic sits firmly but without stretching it.  Best not to think too much about it, the elastic is thicker than normal thread so it will go quicker than you think. I like to wind a couple in one go, for this dress I needed 3 bobbins to complete the top.
        • Place the bobbin in the bobbin case as usual and pull up the thread.
        • Now you will need to play around with some test fabric first to find which settings work best on your machine. As a rule you will want to lengthen your stitch length, I set mine to 3. You may want to slightly lower your upper thread tension, on some machines you may have to set it slightly higher - on mine it stays the same. So again, play around with some test fabric to see what works best for you.
        On most machines shirring will go just fine, if however you run into any issues they are most commonly tension related. Google is your friend here there are many tips and tricks out there for solving these issues on different machine makes, too many to list for this tutorial. Some of them suggest to adjust the tension on your bobbin case by loosening or tightening the little screw. There is much debate over whether or not you should do this as it may upset some machines. It really is up to you to decide whether or not this is worth the trouble. All I can say about it is I have adjusted my bobbin case tension successfully in the past and my machine still sews just fine :)

        Step 4 - Shirring
        • Place your fabric under the presser foot, right side up and start sewing close to the top hem. You can back stitch at the beginning and end as usual. 

        •  Sew parallel lines next to your first line of shirring, using the edge of your presser foot as a guide. I switched the needle to the far left position.
        The first line will not bunch up much but as you sew more lines the fabric will start to gather up nicely. Make sure your fabric does not double up and keep guiding it flat under the presser foot, you will need two hands to pull the fabric flat as it starts gathering up more.

        Little mistakes will not matter much they will hardly be noticeable once your dress is done, so do not worry much over a wobbly seam, it will be fine :) If you run out of elastic thread, just back stitch over the bit where you left off and carry on sewing.

        How many rows of shirring you need depends on your bust size, I needed 15 rows. Try the dress on a few times to determine from which point you like your dress to flare out, it will be a good few inches above your natural waist line.

        At this point you might be a little worried because especially the top hem will look rather untidy.  A good press will take care of this in no time!


        •  Give the right side of the fabric a good steam press, this will fully allow the fabric to succumb to your shirring and pull everything nice and tightly together. 

        Step 5 -Straps

        Strap length, style and width is very much a personal preference. You could easily wear this dress strapless but it also looks great with halterneck style straps or regular shoulder straps.
        • Try your dress on with your favourite bra underneath (if that is how you will be wearing yours of course!) now measure how wide the straps need to be to cover up your bra straps. Measure, or better still get someone else to measure, how long the straps should be and place pins where the straps should be sewn to your dress.
        I am opting for 1" wide straps. I cut 4" x the length of my straps.  Fold and press the strap in half, then press towards the center to enclose the raw edges, fold in half and press again. 
        Top stitch close to the edge on both sides.

        • If like me you do not have a helper, make straps longer than you will need and pin them to the back of your dress. Put the dress on and pull the straps towards the front. Check if you pinned the back straps correctly, if not adjust. Once the back of the straps are pinned in place properly it is easy to pin the straps in place on the front. 
        • Sew the straps on securely and neaten raw edges.

        Your dress is now done!

        I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, as always if you make something with one of my tutorials please add photo's to the group pool I love seeing what you come up with!

        Congrats if you made it all to here, you are in for a treat! How about a give away with a chance to win some lovely Ruby Star Spring to make your own shirred sundress? Head on over here for a give away and a special offer from MondaysMilk to my readers :)

        x Leila

        The fabric used in this tutorial was sponsored by MondaysMilk

        Sunday, 1 July 2012

        Fresh Sewing Day June

        Our summer holidays started. I find it odd that I always really look forward to this six week break right up till the final days before we're off when I suddenly realize I will have to spend six long weeks home alone with my little monster - help!  He is inevitably going to wind up bored out of his mind driving me up the walls..but there is still plenty of time for all that ;)

        hex pile

        I have decided to join in with Katy's Hexy MF quilt along. I haven't been working on an actual quilt in a while and English paper piecing is the perfect portable summer sewing project so I have good hopes I may actually end up with a quilt in the end (if not a quilt a largish cushion would certainly be within reach)


        I am thinking that if I do manage to make enough hexagons for a quilt I may do something different for the borders. Not sure exactly what yet but there is plenty of time until then.

        So tell me what are you up to this summer, any fun holiday plans? Are you excited or dreading the long days at home with the offspring? (do tell me I am not alone in this!)

        I am linking up with Lynne's Fresh Sewing Day, hop on over to Lily's Quilts and have a look what everyone else has been up to in June.

        Lily's Quilts

        Oh, and if you have the time please check back here tomorrow for a fun summer tutorial and a give away!

        x Leila