Japanese blouse, in a Cookie Book print good enough to eat

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

A little blouse. In a lovely print. Made from a Japanese pattern. With a touch of piping
This makes me happy.

Akiko Mano, Linen cotton wool kids, button backed puffed sleeve blouse, Cookie Book, Kimberly Kight, Cotton and Steel

Am I the only one who spent hours, nay days, gazing at the Cotton and Steel collections online trying to make decisions?
In the end I bought three prints, all very different, and this is the first to be sewn up - and I think it's my favourite. It's Kimberley Kight's Cookie Book collection, Drops in cinnamon. Bought from Miss Matatabi, who currently has this fabric on sale!

Akiko Mano, Linen cotton wool kids, button backed puffed sleeve blouse, Cookie Book, Kimberly Kight, Cotton and Steel

I mean, who could resist those spots, those blue buttons and that piped Peter Pan collar? Oh and that crazy, stubborn girl with the darkest gaze...

Akiko Mano, Linen cotton wool kids, button backed puffed sleeve blouse, Cookie Book, Kimberly Kight, Cotton and Steel

Missy wanted rainbow buttons - she wants rainbow everything - but I stuck with blue...The pattern is the button-backed puffed sleeve blouse from Akiko Mano's book Linen, Cotton, Wool Kids. Oh how  I love this book! I want to sew everything...sadly though I fear Missy will have outgrown the sizes by the time I manage that. 
This is my third 'sew' from the book, following on from the waistcoat and skirt.

Akiko Mano, Linen cotton wool kids, button backed puffed sleeve blouse, Cookie Book, Kimberly Kight, Cotton and Steel

It's two years since I started this blog, and although I've been sewing all my life - since I was Missy's age - it's only in the last couple of years that I have been sewing regularly.And in that time I can feel that my skill has developed. WIth this blouse I made a real effort to try to sew it carefully, not to rush, and it's constructed with French seams everywhere. I left the 'Cotton and Steel' selvedge in place, just behind the placket. Partly to eek out the fabric, and because I liked the look.

Akiko Mano, Linen cotton wool kids, button backed puffed sleeve blouse, Cookie Book, Kimberly Kight, Cotton and Steel

 I could do with some tips on making sure the collar sits nice and flat. It does have a slight tendency to pop up!

Akiko Mano, Linen cotton wool kids, button backed puffed sleeve blouse, Cookie Book, Kimberly Kight, Cotton and Steel

She wore it for a little bike ride on a beautiful spring day by the canals where we live. Spring flowers, boats, a bit of freedom.

Akiko Mano, Linen cotton wool kids, button backed puffed sleeve blouse, Cookie Book, Kimberly Kight, Cotton and Steel

Akiko Mano, Linen cotton wool kids, button backed puffed sleeve blouse, Cookie Book, Kimberly Kight, Cotton and Steel

Akiko Mano, Linen cotton wool kids, button backed puffed sleeve blouse, Cookie Book, Kimberly Kight, Cotton and Steel

Akiko Mano, Linen cotton wool kids, button backed puffed sleeve blouse, Cookie Book, Kimberly Kight, Cotton and Steel

I wouldn't have styled this blouse with the floral leggings, but hey, I won with the blue buttons, so I have to give way somewhere to my strong willed Missy.

Akiko Mano, Linen cotton wool kids, button backed puffed sleeve blouse, Cookie Book, Kimberly Kight, Cotton and Steel

Now. What's next in my Akiko Mano, Linen Cotton Kids journey? Hm... more decisions...

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Is this the perfect dress? Sewing for Paris #2, (plus 'last call' for the big giveaway!)

Sunday, 10 May 2015

So I think I've made the perfect dress!
I have 'smart-ish' clothes for work, and comfortable things for cleaning the house and looking after the children, but not much in between. 
And it was the much-talked about Paris Sew Social weekend that spurred me on to expand my wardrobe.
I've already blogged about one dress sewn for Paris, the Merchant and Mills linen 'petite robe' .
This is the 'wearable muslin' for that dress - and has turned out to be my favourite...

Denim dress, Vanessa Pouzet, La petite Robe, as-it-seams
It's Vanessa Pouzet's La Petite Robe pattern again - made in cheap denim from my local shop, before cutting into the expensive Merchant and Mills linen.

Sometimes when I can't sleep I try to count how many dresses I own. And I actually don't want to reach the final total, because it will shock me. But it's A LOT.
I live in dresses. They allow me to dress without thinking. Somehow I just get confused when I try to think how to put a blouse and skirt together.  But I also wear jeans a lot - they allow me to feel a little anonymous, and ready for anything.
So a denim dress?! Mais oui! C'est parfait.
Halfway between 'dressed up' and 'dressed down'. Perfect for anywhere. And perfect for sight-seeing and shopping in Paris.

And one of the absolute joys in Paris was that I persuaded fellow blogger and dear friend Sophie, from C'est la Vie to take a few pictures of this dress 'in situ' in the beautiful Place du Vosges in Le Marais district of Paris.

Denim dress, Vanessa Pouzet, La petite Robe, as-it-seams

Ah Sophie, Merci, merci! I felt a little silly, but it was a zillion times better than trying to get Mr As-it-seams to photograph me, or fiddling with the self-timer in my poorly lit house. How I wish I could do a 'fashion shoot' every week in the Place du Vosges with lovely Sophie...

Denim dress, Vanessa Pouzet, La petite Robe, as-it-seams

Here we are checking out the pics, see I am actually a bit scruffy (trainers and tights - not a great look). And another of the Place du Vosge, enjoying a picnic with Sophie and Marta of Do Guincho, the day before, and I'm wearing my OTHER version of this dress. The Place du Vosges became a bit of a meeting point for us all on our Paris Sew Social weekend. It's near some of the best fabric shops, and is an elegant oasis of green in the city

Back to that dress. I stuck to the pattern except for two slight alterations.
I added in-seam pockets. Because I cannot have a dress without pockets. I think they spoil the line of the skirt a little, and they gape a bit, so I'm sure it would be more elegant without them.  
But still, I'd rather have a dress with pockets. 
And I actually made this dress a couple of months ago and wore it with tights and boots a lot. Then when the weather warmed up and I wore it for the first time with bare legs, it felt too short.
 I just don't want to bear that extra inch or two of leg. So I lengthened it with an extra panel of denim around the hem, and topstitched it and encased the seam allowance. I think it 'works' because it's denim, but you can probably see that the two sections are slightly different shades of blue - because the dress has been through the washing machine half a dozen times more than the panel! But that will even out.
Denim dress, Vanessa Pouzet, La petite Robe, as-it-seams

Denim dress, Vanessa Pouzet, La petite Robe, as-it-seams

This is my new favourite dress - and one of the best things I've sewn myself.
Random strangers comment, 'nice dress' and I know it's the kind of thing that would cost £50 or more in a shop and cost me a quarter that to make. Smug sewing is the best kind of sewing - right?

And the pattern is still my fave - I have actually made a third version in some gorgeous fabric, but another showing of this could be boring, and it's a winter dress, so I may wait a few months....

If you're quick there's still time to enter our big Paris Sew Social giveaway - there are three prizes on offer, and the chance to join us in out June Paris blog tour. We'd love you to take part too....!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Paris Sew Social - and a three-prize Giveaway!

Sunday, 3 May 2015

A weekend in Paris? Child free? Shopping for fabric and meeting some of my best sewing friends?
It’s no wonder that by the Saturday night of our #Parissewsocial weekend I could barely sleIep, honestly I was like a little kid at Christmas.

Picnics in Paris' Place du Vosge

It all started with an email from Anneka at Naeh Connection and Jo of Dotta Sews. Did I want to join them for a weekend in Paris, along with some of my favourite European bloggers?

Mais Oui!

The whirlwind of messages that followed over the next few months was hilarious. Honestly our excitement almost lept off the screen. 
And the generosity of our sponsors was incredible. We've been supported by some of the best European fabric designers and pattern makers. Just look at these goodies. Spot the Liberty? Petit Pan? Art Gallery? Like I said, I am still a kid at Christmas. And we've got some fabulous prizes to give away too.

So what was it like stepping out from behind the computer screen, and meet sewing friends 'for real?'
Well, slightly nerve-wracking, but also joyful. 

I arrived early, on Thursday and met the other early arrivals Annika of Nah Connection, Marta of Do Guincho and Sophie of C'est La Vie. Suddenly these lovely women, who were familiar photos were chatting and laughing before my eyes. Indeed practically the first thing that Sophie, Annika and I did was unpack the amazing sponsors parcels of fabric while giggling in our hostel room.
St Christopher’s Inns patiently assisted with our complicated booking and carefully took care of parcels of fabric. And the Office du Tourisme, Parisinfo.com, helped out with maps and guides and info which made everything so much easier
And the accommodation itself was perfect. Located right next to Gare du Nord,  we were able to zip on and off the metro  to  fabric shops across the city. 

Petit Pan 7 Rue du Prague, was our first stop, naturally, and with such an overload of colour it was the first of many difficult decisions...Can I buy the whole shop please?

Throughout the day, the rest of our party, 14 in all, arrived. We became a slightly disorganised, chaotic group, but also all very happy. Trying to keep us together in a busy city wasn't easy. There were endless 'What'sapp' messages along the lines of; "I'm at this metro - where are you?"
Yet despite our chaos we cracked the fabric stores of Paris and we stumbled on the sweetest vintage haberdashery store. I love this pic of An of StraightGrain peaking out behind this treasure trove of all kinds of paraphernalia, sewing and more.

  • Nina from Fliegfederfrei (Switzerland) stocking up on vintage treats

Friday also saw a visit to La Droguerie, at Les Halles, not only home to stunning fabric, but also beads and buttons, beautiful bias and lace and more. 
Laura, of Behind the Hedgerow, faced with impossible choices in La Droguerie

Next stop was Anna Ka Bazaar, home of Atelier Brunette, where we spent our sponsorship from Bernina on the wonderful French designed fabric. Can you imagine 14 fabric-crazy women trying to choose? It was hilarious. I (eventually) chose this plum coloured lawn, and hope to make a blouse.  Look out for some beautiful creations across the blogosphere in the next few weeks.

It might have been decades since I last stayed in a hostel dorm, but it was so much fun. We were giggling like teenagers on Saturday night, mainly about the antics of our French waiter at the meal earlier that evening.
It’s funny, I had been nervous about stepping out from behind the computer screen to meet these women in real life.  But I needn’t have been. I was thrilled that online friendships do materialise into real friendships too.

I loved hearing more about Marte (DoGuincho)’s life in Portugal, and about Annika’s (Naeh Connection) unique home in Germany, and Laura’s (Behind the Hedgerow) move from Belgium to England…and…. and…
It was also a joy to be a with a group of women who all spoke the same language. And I don't mean English.  Many of us were wearing handmade, and there’s nothing better than being with a group of women who say ; “oooh Nani Iro!?”, or “tell me where you got that pattern”, or “wow, great pattern matching.”
And it was an opportunity for us to try on each other’s creations and talk sizing, muslins, invisible hems and more. I loved that Marte was able to actually try on my "petite robe" , blogged here, and I could try Sophie's Marte blouse.. and.. and
Fabric Happy #1 Jo from Dotta Sews
Fabric Happy #2 Marte from Compagnie M

It wasn’t just about fabric shopping. Sophie (C’est la Vie) and I gave up looking at ‘coupons’ remnants of two or three metres of wool, cotton, linen and more which could be snapped up for just a few Euros in the area east of Montmartre.  

Instead we climbed up to the Sacre Coeur and took a peaceful, special moment inside to absorb its beauty, before enjoying a stop in a café in the heart of Montmartre. From there we zipped down to the banks of the Seine, where Paris’ creativity was on show in the form of a free-for-all ,  riverside blackboard.
If you pop over to instagram and look for our #parissewsocial, there's lots more fun pix (Yes! I'm on instagram now!)

Honestly we never stopped talking.

 Not just about sewing (although there was a lot of that) but also about our lives, our families and what motivates us. Stepping out from behind our blogs, meeting the unedited, un-photoshopped versions of ourselves turned out to be joyful.
 I miss my sewing friends, these fantastic women who made something very special happen. Thanks Annika and Jo for starting this whole thing!

Take a look around the blogs this week, for more on #parissewsocial, Do Guincho is sharing her travelogue today, and Annika at Naeh Connection and look out for the rest of our crazy group.

And now for that giveaway - we want to share our goodies, and there are three great packages to be won. And of course, we'll post anywhere in the world. International mail of course...In addition to this the winners can choose to participate in a blog tour in June/July for which we all plan to sew something using the wonderful fabrics and patterns from our sponsors. The giveaway runs until Monday May 11th 2015, 12am CET. To win just enter the rafflecopter below. The more of our social media channels you follow, the higher your chance to win one of the three prizes. 

1st Prize
The first prize includes jerseys from Lillestoff (the rose print sponsored by Lillestoff, the ABC print sponsored by joy fits), a Andrea Lauren bag filled with goodies from Alles für Selbermacher, an Ottobre magazin, a 15$ voucher for Imagine Gnats Shop and a sewing magazine from Stoffe.de.

2nd prize:

The second prize includes a jersey with roses from lillestoff, a fun dinosaur fabric sponsored by mon depot, some pink ribbing from Nosh, a lace zipper from Snaply, nice spools from Aurifil, a paper pattern by Compagnie M. and a sewing magazine from Stoffe.de.

3rd prize:

The third prize includes a flowery popeline from Lillestoff, white jersey from Nosh, blue stretch fabric with Cupcakes from mon depot, a paper pattern from Compagnie M., spools from Aurifil and a sewing magazine from stoffe.de

Entry is simply, just click on the rafflecopter below. And the giveaway runs until May 10. 

Paris Sew Social and this giveaway were made possible by our amazing sponsors, so thank you Bernina, Lillestoff, Cousette, Nosh, FabFab, Telaria, Alles für Selbermacher, Supercut, Imagine Gnats, Nutta, Mon Depot, Tuttle, Aurifil, Snaply, Joyfits, Ottobre, Compagnie M., Do Guincho, <arel="nofollow" href="http://www.titchythreads.com/" target="_blank">Titchy Threads, Made It, Kid Approved, Schneidermeistern , Delia Creates, Willow&Co, Mouse House Creations, Sofilantjes, Sewpony, LBG Studio, Loubee Clothing, Straightgrain, Elegance&Elephants, Hey June, Paisley Roots, St. Christopher's Inns & Paris Office du Tourisme

Paris Sew Social 2015

Gioia from dotta (Italy),

Sophie from C'est la vie (France), 

Nina from Fliegfederfrei (Switzerland), 

Maria from La Inglesita (Spain), 
Marta from Do Guincho (Portugal), 
Marte from Compagnie M. (Belgium), 
An from Straight Grain (Belgium), 
Nienke from Pienkel (Netherlands), 
Maartje from Huisje Boompje Boefjes (Netherlands), 
Laura from Craftstorming (UK), 
Laura from Behind the Hedgerow (UK), 
 Olu from Needle and Ted (UK) 
Annika from Näh-Connection.  
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