Sunday Picnic Dress, and some Harry Potter adventures...

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Oh I really treated myself (and Missy), when I sewed the new Sunday Picnic Dress pattern by Sewpony vintage.
This gorgeous fabric might look simple, but it is UN-BE-LIEV-ABLE...
And look! Is that some Liberty lurking there too?

Merchant and Mills linen, Liberty bias Sunday Picnic dress
Merchant and Mills linen, Liberty bias Sunday Picnic dress

My vision for the Sunday Picnic Dress was to sew something practical and wearable. Missy  needs dresses that stand up to this little girl's adventures
My original thought had been denim, but it looked too harsh. And when I discovered that local shop, Herringbone, sold Merchant and Mills linen AND Liberty bias binding - I was hooked. I sincerely hope Mr As it Seams doesn't read this post - because that Liberty bias was a SERIOUS treat...
Merchant and Mills linen, Liberty bias Sunday Picnic dress

This linen is just heavenly. The colour has both depth, texture and softness. Honestly, just staring at that blue makes me happy. The colour is both soft and deep. I know this is going to look better and better with every washing.

Merchant and Mills linen, Liberty bias Sunday Picnic dress

Suz' pattern is so professional. Straightforward instructions, lots of notches for pattern matching - and a good fit. This is size 5 on my four-year-old. It's also the first time I've installed an invisible zip and lining so neatly. Thanks Suz!
My fabric choice also led to  a few 'flips' to the pattern. I wrestled with a V-neck for a girl's winter dress, knowing I would always be putting a vest underneath, which would spoil that neckline. The solution was to add a triangle panel behind the neckline. If I had been clever I would have slipped this between the dress and lining, but that flumoxed me. Instead it's simply stitched in place, the stitching hidden by that pretty collar.
Merchant and Mills linen, Liberty bias Sunday Picnic dress

And  I modified the Sunday Picnic dress' square collar. I wasn't confident that I could get the Liberty bias neatly round a sharp corner. Plus I fancied a softer look with the linen. The collar pieces have been cut slightly narrower and rounded off. Adding the bias trim was a different technique to piping, and I've got a tutorial coming up. Watch this space! I added the Liberty bias to the pockets too.
And because  the blue linen was so minimal,  I cut the skirt pieces fuller than the A-line in the pattern, and added gathering at the front and back.
Merchant and Mills linen, Liberty bias Sunday Picnic dress

This dress had it's first proper outing in the perfect Sunday location - Gloucester Cathedral. It's 1,000 years old and just magical. It's such a wonderful place to explore. These cloisters might look familiar! All the Harry Potter movies have been filmed here, with these cloisters becoming Hogwart's corridors....

Merchant and Mills linen, Liberty bias Sunday Picnic dress

And there are so many things to explore! This statue!, This tomb! Look at that ceiling!

Right now there's an incredible sculpture exhibition at the Cathedral, with works by some of our greatest British artists; Damien Hirst, Anthony Gormley, Henry Moore. Missy loved it almost as much as me.
Except I'm not sure you're allowed to do this...

Or this...

But, like I said, this is a dress for adventurers and adventures...!

This is the first day of the Sunday Picnic Dress blog tour, and Rachel at Stitched Together and Erin at Our Family Four have sewn some gorgeous, and very different Sunday Picnic Dresses....Click on the pictures to take a look!

Our Family Four, Sunday picnic dressStitched Together Sunday Picnic Dress

There's a 15% discount on the Sewpony Vintage Picnic dress pattern with the code SUNDAYTOUR15 until November 7  available here and on etsy. 

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Secrets of Great British Sewing Bee with Dr Dawn - plus that GIVEAWAY!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Do you harbour a secret dream of competing in the BBC's Great British Sewing Bee? Or does the idea of cutting up a man's shirt to create a little girls dress in less than an hour fill you with horror?
I'd love to be a competitor - mostly to get my hands on all that lovely fabric. 
So when I heard that TV presenter and real life doctor, Dr Dawn Harper was a 'celebrity competitor', I couldn't wait to talk to her.
Dr Dawn Harper, picture from BBC Children in Need
Dr Dawn presents TV's Embarrassing Bodies, but she's also a working doctor in a health centre near my home town. This week she's swapping the surgery for the Sewing Room for a special 'Celebrity' version of The Great British Sewing Bee, in aid of BBC's charity Children in Need.
She'll  be on TV screens in the UK on Tuesday evening, competing against Hairy Biker Dave Myers, DJ and presenter Edith Bowman, Coronation Street actress Wendi Peters. And she kindly gave me five minutes to share the secrets of the Sewing Room.
“My sewing experience was almost zero,” said Dawn.
“When I was at school it was domestic science was taught at the same time as Latin, and I learnt Latin.
“My mother is an amazing seamstress and cook, but those genes didn’t pass to me!”
Dawn admits she was a last minute addition to the series.
“I had a call on a Friday saying, can you come in tomorrow? So I had no chance to cram in any sewing lessons.
“When my children were little I went through a ‘nesting’ period and tried to sew for them. But they’re 20, 19 and 17 now. It was a long time ago.”
“It was a very, very steep learning curve. I had to be shown how to thread a bobbin.”
Dawn sewed all day from 10am to 4pm for three days, with three challenges.
“The first challenge was to make an A-line skirt from a pattern, then in the afternoon, change a Hawaiian shirt into a child’s garment.”
Sunday’s day-long challenge was to make a dress from our favourite era.
“I made a Charleston dress,” said Dawn.
“I don’t think I’d feel confident enough to make proper clothing, but to know I could make a fancy dress in one day is quite a nice feeling. It wouldn’t stand up to close scrutiny, but I was quite pleased.”
Dawn won’t reveal the result, but said; “I didn’t disgrace myself”
But she says, the refashioning challenge was the hardest.
“I’m not a great TV watcher, so wasn’t familiar with the format of the show.
“Trying to think how to convert the shirt into a child’s outfit was the hardest challenge. I sewed a little dress, but I think I could have been more imaginative.
“But I’m quite good at following instructions, so making the skirt from a pattern went quite well.
“I love clothes and fashion. I’ve got a few dresses that I now look at with awe.”
“We had a really lovely time, it was great fun - If I had the time I could see myself getting into it.”
Dr Dawn will appear in the episodes on BBC Two, 8pm on Tuesday 21 October. Two further episodes will be shown on Thursday 23 October and Friday 24 October.


Speaking of lovely fabric - that 1.5 metres of this gorgeous double gauze by Nani Iro is still up for grabs, plus three copies of Straight Grain's Hanami pattern. The giveaway is open until October 31. Simply click over here for full details and to enter; Nani iro giveaway

Fairies, Straight Grain, Nani Iro and a GIVEAWAY

Friday, 17 October 2014

This a post about fairies and magic.
Magic that happens when you combine the legendary sewing words; Straight  Grain, Nani Iro and GIVE AWAY.

But firstly back to that fairy.

I don't like fairy dresses. At least not the kind that are made of nylon in a factory in China. But I do like fairies. (And I also like giveaways, see the end of this post for details!)
So I set about making my own fairy dress - only Missy had her own ideas.

Hanami fairy dress, Straight grain pattern, As it Seams

I wanted to make something ethereal, and properly 'fairy like'. So this is what I came up with. A modified Hanami dress, with a circular skirt cut into eight petal shapes. This must be about the eighth Hanami dress I've sewn from Straight Grain's pattern - it's so versatile.
It is entirely lined, and completely reversible, in two different shade of green, one a mock linen cotton, the other the finest voile. I had to think quite carefully how to make this work on both sides. I might even do a tutorial.
And this was my 'styling' vision. A leaf dress, over a 'fairy skirt'. Missy however had other ideas.

Hanami fairy dress, Straight grain pattern, As it Seams
She wore this combination for exactly five minutes - before deciding she would rather be in the garden.
"It's my bean dress!" she declared, picking up trowel and planting beans.

That was fine by me - because I really believe that the clothes  should be worn, and not tucked away in wardrobes.
The fairy/bean dress had another outing, this time a picnic in a  beauty spot near us, called The Heavens (yes really). This time, it looked particularly fairy-like. When she started paddling in the stream, mud and all, I realised that this little Missy is more 'earthy fairy' than ethereal.
Please forgive the photo-fest. I'm enjoying bringing back memories...

Hanami fairy dress, Straight grain pattern, As it Seams

Now for that giveaway. Back in the summer I amazingly won the Secret Squirrel Sewing contest! One of the prizes was one of An from Straight Grain's sewing patterns. 
Um well, guess what? I already have them all. As can be seen in the little gallery below, all sewn, or flipped from Straight Grain's patterns. 

So An is  letting me give my prize away! And not one prize - but three Hanami dress patterns!
The Hanami is my go-to dress pattern. Simple bodice, elegant options, it's proved infinitely variable. 
And An has been stunningly generous. She's added 1.5 metres of Nani Iro fuccra double gauze, as the top prize in this giveaway. Fabric can be posted worldwide.
That's more than enough to recreate Norah's beautiful blouse pictured here.
Oh An! I'm beside myself with excitement. And there are lots of chances to win. Simply click on the rafflecopter. Giveaway ends on October 31.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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