Sewing Karma - a Louisa for another little girl, and for Africa

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Do you ever sew the same dress more twice? I mean EXACTLY the same dress?
For me it never happens. There's just too many gorgeous fabrics and sewing patterns - and too little time.

And I NEVER sew for anyone else - my scrappy seams are for my eyes only.
But for this dress, and for a special reason, I made an exception.
But for the first time, ever I accepted 'a commission.'

Through the powers of the internet, a very old friend, who sadly I have not seen in real life for twenty years, contacted me to ask; "Would I sew a dress as a gift for another little girl."
I pondered and procrastinated and the months went past, before she asked me again, along with the tricky question; "What cost?"
This was the dress she chose - a Louisa by Compagnie M sewn exactly a year ago. Details here. (I can't believe how Missy has grown!). And it was a good choice, the Louisa is so practical and wearable, but also elegant and quirky.

Oh my! How on earth do I cost my sewing? I like to sew wonderful fabric, you could buy a dress cheaper in the supermarket than the price of the fabric. And if I started to cost out the hours spent online-fabric gazing and planning, and cutting and seam-ripping and... and...well this dress-thing is quite simply NOT cost-effective. Really thinking about this has made me look at ready-made clothing so differently. A dress for £15 in the supermarket? It's so cheap! The cost of the cotton! The design process! It's no wonder that whoever stitched it together in a factory in Bangladesh must be paid mere pennies. And it's the thought of this exploitation that makes me want to sew my own clothes.

But I digress. I told my  friend that price was impossible - I would sew her a dress if she covered the cost of the fabric and made a donation to medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres, Doctors without Borders.
I have been so deeply moved by the Ebola crisis and the utter heroism of volunteers and local people and this seemed like the only thing I could do.

And my friend was equally happy with the plan.

So I sewed this dress for the fight against Ebola - and that was motivation and inspiration enough to replicate a dress.

It is exactly the same. Like my first 'Louisa dress' I modified it slightly, by adding a front panel with a pair of tucks. This was relatively straightforward although required a little maths to calculate those tucks. My original dress used a scrap of Nordika Whimsicol fabric by Jeni Baker. I spent literally hours scouring the internet trying to find another fat quarter of this fabric, but I think it has disappeared from every fabric shop in the globe now.
I had no idea what to replace it with - I mean, how do you follow that Whimsicol? 
Then I stumbled on the perfect replacement, Katarina Rocella's Floret Stains in Tealberry for her Indelible range for Art Gallery Fabrics. Simply stunning.

I was making this for a little girl who is just 3, so it is tight on Missy (who is four and a half). And the photos aren't our best. Just days before Missy had tripped running out of the school playground, and her lip is all puffed up. And the weather was gloomy - but I had to get snapping before putting it the post to its recipient. I made a real effort to sew this neatly. The hems are all trimmed with pink bias, and every seam is finished neatly.

This was one of Missy's most worn dresses, and I very much hope that another little girl is enjoying this fun Louisa dress. And also that in some very small way we have spread a little support to those battling Ebola. 

Have you ever sewn for someone else? Or for another cause? Or tried to 'cost out' your sewing? I'd love to hear your stories!

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Confession! - Gorgeous fabric 'chopped' for an Elisalex dress

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Do you ever feel guilty about cutting gorgeous fabric?
I do with this dress, because I stuffed up a little, and it is Nani Iro double guaze...
Well oops!

Elisalex in Nani Iro double guaze herringbone as it seams

This dress is now partially in bits - awaiting a restitch
But if I wait till its fixed before  I blog, that will be...2016? . And these pictures are already looking incongruous taken in the lovely autumn sunshine that has now disappeared. So let's treat this as 'Work in Progress' ? OK?

Elisalex in Nani Iro double guaze herringbone as it seamsElisalex in Nani Iro double guaze herringbone as it seams

The pattern is Elisalex from By Hand London. And it is so lovely. I was wary of that Tulip skirt. The pattern pieces look soooo wide right around the hips. But I think that this emphasises the  fitted waist, and then hides a multitude of sins. Um, if it fits correctly!

Elisalex in Nani Iro double guaze herringbone as it seams

But it also created a big fitting headache - for me at least. According to the pattern chart I was a UK size 8 bust, size 12 waist. So I redrafted the bodice. With some success. But the lovely scoop back neckline gaped massively, and slipped off my shoulders (I have since learned a new fitting term 'shoulder slope'). If you make an Elisalex, make a decent muslin!

So I re-stitched the zip, taking in a couple of inches. The result is a zip that now pulls across my shoulders. And I'm embarrassed to publish this pic.  So please don't look too closely. It's now been unpicked again, waiting another re-fit. That poor Nani Iro, it can barely stand the constant seam-rippping.

Elisalex in Nani Iro double guaze herringbone as it seams

Speaking of which, I can't tell you how fabulous this fabric is.

Elisalex in Nani Iro double guaze herringbone as it seams

It's double-gauze and looks as if it's been scribbled all over with a pencil. It's from Miss Matatabi, of course.

Elisalex in Nani Iro double guaze herringbone as it seams
[Addition, Dec 3] This fabric has made appearances before here at As it Seams.

I made this easy peasy blouse for Missy, after an evening of cursing at the fit of this Elisalex, and back in July  made a little fish for Rachel at Stitched Together. The fabric has a lovely white border stripe, but I thought that would be a bit too 'seaside' for this dress, so left it out - which added a cutting out challenge. But I managed it!

Nani iro blouseA fish for Rachel

And now this dress is now back on my sewing shelves, it did have a London outing. I felt fabulous strolling by the Thames on a rare day out, to view Matisse (Matisse! Love love!) and sip a glass of wine uninterrupted by any child, and pretend to be grown-up!

Elisalex in Nani Iro double guaze herringbone as it seams

Elisalex in Nani Iro double guaze herringbone as it seams

The Elisalex dress, By Hand London

The Verdict.

A stylish pattern, which flatters the waist


Make a muslin and pay very close attention, especially to the shoulders. This needs to fit really well to look good, and to avoid annoying 'shoulder slip'


Be daunted. This is actually an easy sew
Add pockets! I hid inseam pockets in that wonderful Tulip skirt, there's plenty of room.

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How to 'sew' a Christmas card (or a dozen!) - with Tutorial

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Is it possible to  'Sew' a Christmas card? 
Could I turn my compulsion to sew into something  apart from a dress?

And could that sewing compulsion be mass produced to make a decent batch of cards?


And it seems that I can! The latest experiment worked! This was a bit of a sewing revelation. I wanted to create something that didn't matter too much whether it was 'neat' or not. The lack of perfection, I hope, would add to the charm.

And in just a couple of hours I've created a decent batch! Enough to send to distant friends - and my blogging friends around the world! Hurray!

And it was very simple. A strip of velvet in the deepest burgundy, which sadly I've failed to photograph adequately. Then a piece of white cotton, an extra layer of sparkly organza, a nd a simple green triangle to finish them off. The biggest slog (and it wasn't too arduous,) was hand-sewing the star shaped sequins. Then I literally stitched the velvet sparkly 'wintery landscapes' on to the cards with my sewing machine. This was immensely satisfying, and so, so easy! For fuller details see the tutorial below.

My little 'photo shoot' turned out to be more complicated than stitching the cards!

I had an idea to create a snow scene - and used icing sugar. Which proved to be slightly crazy. Picture the scene - the cards, houses, white table cloth are precariously balanced on my stairs, because the stair window gets the morning sunlight. In one hand I am shaking icing sugar through a sieve, in the other I am trying to click the camera to 'capture the moment.' I'm kneeling on the stairs, my fingers are getting sticky and sugary, my beloved camera is at risk from icing sugar. And I'm thinking; "If anyone knocks on the door now, they're going to think I'm nuts."

And I failed to capture the 'sugar blizzard' on camera.
But I am fairly happy that I created a little sewing love to share with a lot of people!



1. Stitch a strip of velvet to white cotton. (Or any fabric of your choice! Think winter!)
Top stitch sparkly organza along the seam. I deliberately kept the raw frayed edge. Looks a bit frosty! (Apologies for photo quality - all my sewing is done at night, in lighting that isn't great! And please don't mention the stem of a wine glass that has sneaked into this picture).

2. Cut the strip to a long rectangle.

3. Cut the rectangle into small oblongs. Use the size of your card as a guide. Cut Christmas tree triangles and pin.

4. Stitch the triangle trees in place with the machine. No need to be neat! These are tiny, it's a fiddle, Christmas cards aren't designed to last forever. Handstitch a couple of sequins.

5. Stitch each rectangle landscape directly to the front of your card, using your sewing machine. Sorry forgot to take a picture of this step. But honestly, it is as easy as it sounds.

6. Et Voila! Lots of cards, write a message of love, send it to a dear  friend, preferably someone who will say "Wow! Sewing!"

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Take One Dress #11 - Kid Approved

Monday, 10 November 2014

We're in for a treat - Two Take One Dress Creations just a week apart! This week, I'm welcoming Olga from Kid Approved for the penultimate stop on the Take One Dress journey.
Olga is an impeccable seamstress, with great taste combined with real sewing skill. This mac and dress is one of my favourite sewing creations from 2014! 
And now she's here on As it Seams - Over to you Olga...

Hello, I am Olga from Kid Approved. I am super excited to be one of the participants in the Take One Dress series. What a brilliant idea! 

The dress for me was chosen by Laura of Behind the Hedgerow. I love the bright colors and the simple, kid friendly silhouette of the dress.  
I loved the colors of the original dress, but couldn't quite find the right fabric. Nothing really spoke to me, until I looked through my stash and found beautiful linen by Anna Maria Horner. I loved the color palette. It also seemed to go very well with the gorgeous fall weather we had. 

I wanted to keep the A-line silhouette of the inspiration dress. My original plan was to keep the long sleeves as well. Unfortunately, I only had one yard of fabric to work with, so long sleeves were not an option. The pattern, slightly modified,  came from the 6/2013 issue of Ottbore magazine. I love Ottobre! The fit is always spot on, the designs are interesting and kid friendly. This particular issue might be my all time favorite, so many awesome patterns.

Ania loves it! She wore it to school it a few times paired with striped tights in rainbow colors and patterned leather boots. Add bigger then life personality and a mop of curly hair to that and it's quintessential Ania.

Here is what I have chosen for Victoria.  I love everything about this dress (well, besides the price). I like the mix of slightly preppy and slightly whimsical.  It's practical and fun. I also have a soft spot for border prints, show me a good border print fabric and I am in love (here is a similar dress I made for Ania last year) . :) Can't wait to see your interpretation Victoria! Good luck. :) Thank you so much for inviting me! 


Olga - I love it! The fabric is one I've been swooning over for months, and you had it in your stash! And you've sewn it for Take One Dress. I am so grateful. Love that you've kept the style so simple and clean lines.
And my sewing brain is heading in all kinds of directions now, with that 'inspiration' dress....Where to start? A city skyline? A shirt collar? Border print.....hmmm possibilities.
I'll be unveiling my creation, Take One Dress# 12 in Mid December, just in time for Christmas. 
I would love it if anyone out there wants to sewalong? Where would this dress take you?
As a Christmas special, if you sew a creation inspired by Olga's choice, I'll publish it here as a 'guest post'. Get in touch, via email or a comment and let me know!
 It's been an incredible year of creativity....Do pop back for the final installment!
Follow As-it-Seams here, to make sure you don't miss the last post.

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