March-April 2018 Sewing Magazines Roundup

Sewing magazines

Yet another sewing magazine haul – I can’t help myself

I’m a real sucker for sewing magazines. No matter how many patterns I have in my collection (hoard might be a better word for it), I still want more. I know I can buy all these patterns individually, however there is something nice about getting a magazine with some more information and ideas about the pattern – different looks etc.

Although I work for a publishing company and get a lot of free craft magazines, I still manage to buy more… I made the mistake of going to WHSmiths yesterday and got excited by the spring and summer patterns and came out with three more mags. Here is what tempted me!

Love Sewing, Issue 51 – comes with Butterick B6380 (a Gretchen Hirsch pattern). The dress is a 1940’s style tea dress with sweetheart neckline and fitted bodice. The photo of Gertie on the front of the pattern makes it look comfortable and fun. However, since having a closer look at the pattern line drawings on the back, plus reading some reviews, I don’t think this pattern will work for me without an awful lot of adjustments. I’d have to do an FBA and make the neckline a bit higher as reviews have said its too low for everyday wear, and I’m just not comfortable showing that sort of bust line. I’m not even sure how to attempt an FBA on a bodice that doesn’t have darts – this one has gathers. Perhaps it might be a good learning experience, but I’m not sure I want to go through so much fitting faff. Oh well!

Sewing pattern

Free Butterick B6380 Gertie dress pattern

La Maison Victor, Issue 1 March 2018 – comes with eight patterns (these are printed sheets within the magazine. I think this is the first proper issue done in English rather than a special edition. This is a beautiful magazine! So different to the ones we are used to in the UK which often feel cheap and old fashioned. This is very modern and has a lovely design as well as having practical patterns for families, not just womenswear.

La Maison Victor magazine

The first English issue of La Maison Victor

I picked this up mainly for the Barbara Dress – a simple sleeveless button up dress with a tie waist. It is just the sort of dress I would love to be wearing this summer, so I definitely want to try it in some cotton lawn or viscose. The number of buttons on it are a bit intimidating, but it will force me to master them! The Joy jersey dress (similar to the Colette Moneta) also appeals, however on closer inspection I doubt my bust would fit it – it looks very straight and not designed for curves.

Dress

The button up ‘Barbara’ dress

Make it Today! Dressmaker, Issue 32 March 2018. This issue comes with two pattern packs: the New Look K6022 easy dress and drawstring bag, and the Simplicity K1355 easy to sew jumpsuit, plus four pull out skirt patterns. Plus! There are other patterns that can be downloaded from their website, including the Tilly and The Buttons Frankie baseball tshirt (which I have already made).

Simplicity jumpsuit sewing pattern

Simplicity K1355 – lovely summer jumpsuit

The jumpsuit – its just what I want to make for a summer holiday. I love that it has a full trouser length to it, as I am so pale I do not like to get burnt and need to be covered up most of the time. It looks so comfy and easy to wear – especially because the straps are wide enough to conceal bra straps. I want it to be summer already!

Tilly and The Buttons Frankie Baseball Tshirt Review

Green baseball top

Completed Frankie Baseball top + awkward expression!

This pattern is from Tilly’s book ‘Stretch’ and was the one that really made me excited about my preordered book arriving. I’m a bit in love with raglan tops recently: I like how colour blocking the arms make them look sporty and they have a  nostalgic, 70’s vibe that appeals to me.

There were a few things that made me nervous about sewing this for the first time:

  1. I have a large bust, and the sort of fit this top has could easily make a tent below my bust – something that is really annoying to wear as cold air gets in under the loose fabric!
  2. Sewing the neck in place: easing in the neckline along four seams (instead of the two that I am used to doing) made me worry I would stretch or pucker the neckline.

I’d bought some beautiful jersey to make the top from, however because of my concerns I picked up some super cheap poly jersey from Fabricland in Bristol for £2.99 a meter to use as a toile. Its surprisingly nice to wear and sew with – I’d have thought a polyester jersey would be rank (too hot, itchy etc) but its really not too bad. Anyway, down to the sewing:

I cut out the size 5, and made no changes to the pattern at all. It sewed up very quickly, just with a few smallish niggles. First of all, when I attached the sleeves, I realised how much wear the raglan seams would need to take. One row of zig zag stitches to hold them on seemed to be a little light, well that’s what I convinced myself, so I decided to top stitch them using a twin needle. This also captured the seam allowance in place either side of the seam, rather than in one direction – which could cause bulk. I really love this finish and will definitely do it on the next Frankies I have planned. I love sewing with twin needles so its any excuse really!

Top stitching on neckline and sleeves

Twin needle top stitching on the neckline & raglan seams

The neckline was a wee bit tricky: the neckband seemed very small and I wondered how on earth it would fit, to the point where I almost recut it longer. Glad I didn’t and I trusted the pattern as its fine. My neckline does appear to be higher than the one on the model in the book. I don’t know why – perhaps its the fabric? There is a bit of light puckering around the front of the neckband which I think I could get rid of with a bit more pressing.

Selfie photo of raglan top with puckering on neckline

Fresh off the sewing machine with no pressing: puckering on the neckline

The instructions were straightforward and easy to follow, and there are only four pattern pieces so its quick to trace and cut out too. The curves in the pattern are designed for women’s bodies, plus it sews up true to the size it says it will (if only all patterns were like this!).

Sewing toiles is really boring and something I never want to do – but – I think doing this one has made me a bit more likely to bother in future – it took a load of pressure off knowing it was cheap fabric, and that it was just a test run. The garment itself is wearable, and it has made me sure I do want to use precious fabric on another version. Next time I am going to lengthen the bodice by about an inch as the hips sit closer to my waist and are a bit flappy, and I’ll try the 3/4 sleeves.

All in all, another great and wearable pattern from Tilly!

 

Fabric Shopping in Ikea

Did you know you can buy fun and affordable fabric in Ikea?! I remember when I first discovered the fabric section and fell in love. Ikea are well known for their bright textiles and homeware, however I don’t believe lots of sewists think of them when it comes to fabric shopping.

Samples of black and white patterned fabric

Beautiful black and white cotton and drill prints

Admittedly, the fabrics Ikea produce are mostly more suitable for homeware such as cushions and curtains, as they tend to be heavy and more like cotton drills than standard dressmaking fabrics. These fabrics could be used for sturdier garments, like the Tilly and The Buttons Cleo pinafore dress, or for bags and purses. Alongside the sturdy fabrics, there are usually some lighter weight ones, more suited to dresses and skirts, and lighter ‘cupboard’ curtain-type projects.

It’s the designs of the fabrics that really captures my attention though: they feature lots of bright, bold graphics that are often geometric or organic in structure. They look very different to the prints you typically get on homeware fabrics, and from the prints available in traditional fabric shops.

Samples of Ikea fabric hung in a row

Painterly, expressive fabric designs

Ikea decorate their shopping areas and restaurant with cut lengths of their fabric, which is an incredibly simple way of brightening the space, and would be easy to replicate at home.

How to buy Ikea fabric

Buying fabric at Ikea is a little different to most fabric shops, as its self-service: you need to cut and pack it for yourself.

The fabric is displayed hanging up, with labels that clearly display its price per meter, what it is made out of (almost always 100% cotton) and its approximate shrinkage. The bolts of fabric are usually located under the displays, but like with many parts of Ikea, customers move things about so they may be a bit jumbled.

Find the right bolt of fabric and unroll it onto the cutting table. There will be scissors held on magnetic strips next to the cutting area. Roll out your fabric on the table, lining it up with the rulers built in to the table surface. Cut your fabric using the cutting guides inset into the table top.

Place your cut fabric into one of the sealable plastic bags, and then place it onto the fabric scales, following the instructions. There will usually be a member of Ikea staff to help you do this. The scales will print a price label that you stick to your plastic bag, and you are done!

Things to make with your Ikea fabric

  • Staple it on to a cheap artists canvas to create an instant piece of art
  • Hang lengths of it to brighten up a room instead of hanging pictures
  • Sew a TATB Cleo dress!
  • Sew storage baskets for your fabric stash, like these Sturdy Fabric baskets (free Craftsy pattern)
  • Sew a device case or laptop case like this: laptop bag pattern where the extra fabric strength will help with its durability
Ikea sign: "Design for Everyone"

Bright and affordable fabrics

Bolt of fabric with bright colours blobs

Lovely bright Ikea NEDJA fabric

I have just bought 2 meters of the NEDJA fabric at £4 per meter. It is a bold and colourful pattern on a white background which I would like to make into a Cleo pinafore dress. I worry I might look like a kids TV presenter, so I might change my mind. With 2 meters of it I can easily change plans and make something else!

Craft Shops in Copenhagen

Colourful bars and restaurants along Nyhavn Copenhagen

Nyhavn, Copenhagen

I’ve just come back from a long weekend in Copenhagen, one of my all time favourite places. It was my fifth or sixth visit to Denmark’s capital, and I spent it relaxing and exploring with my best friend who has moved home to Sweden last year. Copenhagen is easy for both of us to get to, so will hopefully be a regular destination for us both.

While I have been several times before, there is still a lot of things to see and do. As neither of us are new to the city we didn’t do as much sightseeing as the average tourist, leaving us more time to look in shops and relax at our Air BnB apartment.

There are a good selection of craft related shops in Copenhagen, as well as shops selling iconic Danish design which can be very inspiring. Here are some of my favourite crafty shops in CPH:

Stoff & Stil

Vesterbrogade 20, 1620 København, Denmark (under ten minutes walk from Central Station)

Fabric and children's toys arranged in Stoff & Stil's window

Stoff and Stil’s window display

I was very excited to shop here in person, instead of online as its always difficult to get a real sense of what fabrics will be like just seeing pictures. Stoff & Stil have a wonderful range of fabrics, haberdashery and yarns and it was a delight to experience them in a shop. Their shop on Vesterbrogade is packed with beautiful products that are really appealing, and superior quality to lots of ‘stack them high’ craft shops.

Stoff & Stil window display with a skirt

Window display on Vesterbrogade

The fabrics on sale are probably the best, most practical selection I have ever seen: alongside the typical novelty fabrics that have questionable use most shops seem to sell (who uses these?!), they have a gorgeous selection of velvets, viscose, upholstery, chambray, and stretch fabrics, in solids and prints suitable for modern dressmakers.

Rolls of dressmaking fabrics

Some of the dressmaking fabrics on sale

The selection of jersey and sweatshirt fabrics is excellent: a massive range of designs, weights and options to choose from, for both adults and children’s clothes. They have pre cut lengths suitable for baby clothes that are particularly sweet. I fell in love with some super soft multicoloured striped jersey that just begs to be made into sleeves for a Frankie Baseball teeshirt from Tilly Walnes’ book Stretch.

Rolls of jersey fabrics

Some of the jersey fabrics for sale, organised by colours: here are the blue shades

Hundreds of colourful bolts of fabric

Just look at all these beautiful bolts of fabric!

Another thing to note about Stoff & Stil is the huge range of zips they stock! The sheer range is unlike anything I have seen before and certainly made me excited about making some bags or purses.

Display stand with many different zips

Part of the zip display stands – thousands to choose from!

I was excited by the pre-printed fabric cuts that feature toy and cushion designs. I picked up a print of an owl I will use to make a cushion, a lion toy, and a drum. These are excellent sewing souvenirs as they’re really light in comparison to heavy jersey fabric!

Pre printed fabric with lion toy design

Pre printed lion toy to cut out and sew

As well as beautiful fabrics, Stoff & Stil also stock a wide variety of cotton yarn – something that seems to be popular in Scandinavian countries. The range of colours available were lovely, and would be great for all sorts of crochet projects (for which they have a huge selection of patterns).

Wide range of cotton yarns

A rainbow selection of cotton yarn

Wall of ribbons

Ribbons and trimmings

Prices are good, but can be expensive (Copenhagen is not a cheap city to shop in). The quality is definitely there though, so the prices are worth it. I tell myself this to justify the two large shops I did here! For example, I picked up half a meter of beautiful quality striped jersey for 49,99DKK which is about £5.86. I also bought two lots of pre cut 1.5 meter lengths of sweatshirting for 119DKK each, which is about £13.96. These were discounted so not full price.

Therese Garn

Vesterbrogade 75, 1620 København, Denmark (15 minute walk from Central Station)
Therese Garn is a tiny wool shop that is ABSOLUTELY STUFFED with all kinds of yarns! When I say stuffed, I really mean it: when the weather is fair, sacks of yarns spill out of the shop onto the pavement in front of the shop window, and inside, more sacks are stacked on top of each other.

The window display is full of sample knitted garments in modern and traditional Scandinavian styles, along with more yarns on display. I did not buy anything here on this trip, but in the past I have bought beautiful merino and cotton yarns that I’ve been delighted with.

Not all products are priced, so you’ll need to ask about these, but the lady that runs the shop is very friendly and helpful so there is no problem.

Søstrene Grene

Amagertorv 24, 1160 København, Denmark (this branch is just off Strøget – so its super easy to get to from the main pedestrian shopping lanes, however there are other branches across the city).

Søstrene Grene stock more than just craft items, they have all sorts of homeware, kitchen, food, toiletries and children’s goodies. Everything is made to be decorative and pretty, while being very competitively priced. Its easy to buy a whole bag full of things here as its all so appealing and useful.

Crafts wise, they sell lovely cotton yarns in very practical and wearable colours. They also have tiny balls of yarn you can pick up for about 40p each, which are perfect for when you need extra colours for small projects or toys.

Wooden display unit with many colourful cotton yarns

A rainbow of cotton yarn

Panduro Hobby

There are four branches of Panduro Hobby in Copenhagen, plus a fifth on the outskirts of the city! I didn’t make it to any of them on this trip thanks to my phone breaking and getting a bit lost when we were looking for one of them. However, I’ve been to a branch in Oslo and it was brilliant, one of my favourite craft shopping experiences ever.

Panduro Hobby used to sell catalogues in WHSmiths, which is where I first heard of them. They also used to have an online shop in the UK, however sadly they have stopped doing both of these which is really sad as they have a wonderful range of crafts that are hard to buy. Their Nordic themed crafts, like their nisse and tomte wooden figures are adorable, and the kits they design are practical and inspiring.

Supermarkets

Yes you read that right: supermarkets! If you are staying outside of the city centre, have a look for crafts in the larger supermarkets as they can sell very reasonably priced crochet and knitting goods. I have bought beautiful cotton yarns and paper goods from supermarkets on previous trips.

Other shops to visit:

Alongside these craft shops, there are other design shops that are well worth visiting. Make sure to check out Hay House (Østergade 61, 1100 København, Denmark) which sell beautiful homeware and stationary.

Velvet sofa with lots of colourful cushions

Inspiring home colour schemes at Hay House


Vases with faces on a table

Fun face vases at Hay House

Illums Bolighus (Amagertorv 10, 1160 København, Denmark) is a stunning department store that stock beautiful Danish design alongside homeware items. If you want to have a look at the iconic wooden animals that various Danish designers are famous for, this shop stocks lots of them, and they are arguably the best souvenir from Copenhagen:

Collection of wooden birds with expressive faces

Wooden bird designs by Kristian Vedel, and Poul Anker Hansen

My haul:

Fabric and sewing items lined up next to each other

How did I fit all this in my carry on luggage?!

2018 Make Nine

In which I make plans I am not sure I can keep, but have the best of intentions.

1. Hollyburn Skirt by Sewaholic

Hollyburn skirt sewing pattern
Inspiration from Rue des Renard’s grey tweed Hollyburn and Sylkotwist’s denim Hollyburn.

I have a long-standing love for this skirt pattern, and it’s vintage-esq 1970’s shape. I love the length and how it looks like something a old-fashioned librarian might wear. I can see myself wearing this sort of skirt a lot, as it looks so good with tights (which I wear all year round). Its got an autumn-winter feeling to it, especially the ones I’ve seen sewn up with tweed fabric. I’m considering making this from tartan, however the pattern matching needed on the front could be beyond my abilities.

Status:

Pattern: ✅
Fabric: ❓
Made: ❌

2. Moneta Dress by Collette

Collette's Moneta Dress pattern
Inspiration from Collette and Little Home by Hand

I love all the Moneta dresses on Instagram and know its something I would enjoy wearing – in many colours and prints! I’ll be making the sleeved version with plain neckline. I like how this look is simple and unfussy but something I don’t think I can get on the high street. Also, the simple shape looks like it would work for a whole host of different looks, all depending on the fabric. I’m not just planning one Moneta dress either: I know I will be making at least two (one with parrots and one out of the most beautiful dark navy crushed velvet ready for Christmas – planning ahead or what?!).

I was impatient to get started on this dress, so much so I decided to wing it and try making one by using the Tilly and The Buttons Agnes top and adding a gathered skirt. Its not come out the best. There are a whole host of reasons and I might post about my experience doing that as it taught me quite a lot of about the perils of winging it with very drapey viscose jersey that doesn’t want to play ball. Cut a long story short, my itch for a comfy jersey dress is still there!

Status:

Pattern: ✅
Fabric: ✅ Black and white parrot print viscose jersey from eBay, and, navy crushed velvet from Heathcotes in Tiverton
Made: ❌

3. Miette Skirt by Tilly and The Buttons

Miette Skirt sewing pattern
Inspiration from Tilly and The Buttons and Eeks Boutique’s green corduroy Miette.

I didn’t look twice at this pattern until I saw it being worn live at the Great British Sewing Bee by one of the ladies on Tilly’s stand. It is so flattering and simple! I want to make this in denim just like the Tilly one to begin with, and then who knows? I am very tempted by a green one. It looks so easy to wear and comfortable. I love the 70’s shape too.

Status:

Pattern: ✅ (Bought in Wells on a little holiday before Christmas)
Fabric: ❌ I don’t think I have enough denim left – need to check
Made: ❌

4. Tulip Skirt by Sew Over It

Sew Over It Tulip Skirt pattern
Inspiration from Sew Over It and Caroline CJ Made on The Fold Line.

Years ago I had a black crepe tulip skirt with a pair of ties that would knot at the front. It was from Joy (probably made by Louche) and it was my favourite ever skirt. I lent it to a friend and the seams got stretched out, and it began to bobble. I wish I had kept it and worked out a pattern from it, but instead I got rid of it in a big clean out last year. That skirt was so useful, I wore it to many different places and it held really happy memories and I know I would wear one like it a lot still.

This pattern isn’t quite the same as the one I had, but its the best one I have found so far. I want to make it in black textured crepe – still got to find it that too.

Status:

Pattern: ✅ PDF downloaded from the Sew Over It PDF club in January
Fabric: ❌ Maybe the triple crepe rio from Sew Over It?
Made: ❌

5. Cleo Pinafore Dress by Tilly and The Buttons

Cleo Pinafore Dress by Tilly and The Buttons
Inspiration from So Zo What Do You Know’s black Cleo and Sew Dainty’s floral Cleo.

Status:

Pattern: ✅
Fabric: ❓I started making one in some lovely denim last year, got half way through and my sewing machine refuses to sew it anymore. I have some black needlecord to try another one as its a bit thinner to sew through.
Made: ❌

6. Erin Skirt by Sew Over It

Sew Over It Erin Skirt
Inspiration from Athina Kakou’s long Erin and @ladymissel on Instagram.

I love this neat button up skirt – it looks smart and casual and easy to wear. The navy blue ones look particularly neat and wearable!

Status:

Pattern: ✅ The PDF book was a gift from Alex
Fabric: ✅ Flowery needlecord from Shepherds Bush Market
Made: ✅ Review coming soon

7. Kimono by Sew Caroline

Sew Caroline Kimono
Inspiration from Sew Caroline, and Sewaholic.

Status:

Pattern: ✅
Fabric: ✅ Yes: black viscose with white birds on it from eBay and some plain bright blue viscose from Fabricland in Bristol.
Made: ❌

8. Button up gathered skirt

Button Up Gathered Skirts
Inspiration from Collette’s Zinnia Skirt, Tilly and The Button’s Lobster skirt and House of Pinheiro.

Status:

Pattern: ❓ I might just make a gathered skirt with placket front, or get the Zinnia pattern from Collette
Fabric: ✅ Yes: black viscose from Fabricland in Bristol
Made: ❌

9. Pinafore Dress – TBC

Pinafore Dresses
Trying to decide between the Kwick Sew K4138 and the Simply Sewing Sunday Set. I have a dark navy needlecord with an orange and mustard little geometric pattern on it that I want to make this from. It was about £12 from Heathcote Fabrics in Tiverton.

Status:

Pattern: ❓ I have the Sunday Set but not the Kwick Sew
Fabric: ✅ Yes: geometric needlecord
Made: ❌

The Great British Sewing Bee Live, ExCel London

London docklands at sunset

View across the Thames to the Docklands after a long but lovely day

Ever since I found out the BBC hadn’t re-commissioned the Great British Sewing Bee this year, I have been very pissed off. The Bee has been a highlight of the year for me ever since it started. Back during the very first season, it encouraged me to get my sewing machine out again and have a go at sewing. I remember that summer I sewed two skirts, one of which still gets used every now and then!

So, when I heard they would do a Bee event instead, it seemed like some consolation. After some humming and ha-ing about whether I should go because of the cost of travelling to London, and the amount I have going on in my personal life, I got pushed over the edge as Melissa from Fehr Trade kindly gave me tickets to go. So that made me make up my mind, however then I couldn’t go on the day I had the tickets for and needed to get tickets for Saturday… anyway, I made it there in the end.

Highlights

The Liberty exhibition area was fantastic – and I now have a plan to visit the Fashion and Textile Museum in London (I didn’t know such a thing existed).

Clothes made from Liberty fabrics

The green and purple art nouveaux patterned dress from the 1960s is my favourite!

Bolts of fabric on sale

Just a little snapshot of the fabrics on sale at the Sewing Bee

I particularly loved the fabrics on the Fabworks stand, and I got two ginghams from them that I am quite excited about. Their staff were lovely too, they even gave me a little sewing kit which was sweet. Other special buys included a Mavern Kitty dress pattern, which has the most lovely packaging I’ve seen on a pattern, and some denim chambray to make it with.

Gripes

Although it was a great day, and it was lovely to go with my friend from work, Leila, I was a wee bit disappointed by the event. It seemed smaller than I had expected, and the stands that were there, were either totally overloaded or quite spartan. I was glad I had bought the tickets when they were half price because I’d have felt a bit sore if I’d paid full price. Other gripes I had included no map of the exhibitors (these had to be bought) and no where to sit except for the very minimal seats around the champagne bar. I sound like a complete old lady, but I don’t care, I like to have a sit down!

Would I go again? Probably? I think if it was bigger I’d be more committed to going. It needs to be worth it to travel so far and spend so much just to get there.

Stitching, Sewing & Hobbycrafts at Westpoint Exeter

The Stitching, Sewing & Hobbycrafts show is held on, or around my birthday each year, and its a tradition for me to go with my Mum. We’ve been going for what must be 15 years now and I look forward to it so much. It is a craft event that has stacks of craft stalls selling lovely goodies at the Westpoint centre in Exeter.

Every year they have a slightly different set of exhibitors – it seems to change as crafting trends come and go. This year they changed their name from ‘Creative Stitches & Hobbycrafts’, to be ‘Stitching, Sewing & Hobbycrafts’ and I was happy to see some of the papercrafting stuff had been replaced with more sewing and fabric, yay!

Rolls of dressmaking fabric

The Rosenberg Fabrics stand: Crammed with dressmaking fabric

Rolls of fabric on a table

This stand had everything from wool, and cotton, through to beautiful jerseys

This stand (unknown name!) had some great jerseys, and I picked up one of their reduced remnants to make another Agnes top.

Striped jersey fabric

I love stripes but hate the idea of pattern matching them – this striped jersey is perfect because the stripes go in all directions!

There was another fabric stand had the most wonderful selection of fabrics, I went back about three times and bought more from them. So many bargains to be had! I’ve picked up a lovely Ponte Roma geometric print in black, green and white, the softest jersey I have ever felt in a floral pattern, a soft and drapey black floral viscose and a floral fabric which I don’t know what it is, but its destined to be made into a Tilly and The Buttons ‘Bettine’ dress for my sister. How much were these fine dressmaking fabrics? A mere £4.95 a meter! I think the stand I got these from was called Lili Fabrics, however, when I’ve looked at their website they don’t sell the same fabrics online. What a shame!

I really fell in love with The Tartan Reel’s stand – they had the sweetest staff. I picked up some of the stunning Rifle Paper Co fat quarters, including the one below:

Alice in wonderland fabric

I treated myself to a couple of fat quarters of this sweet Rifle Paper Co Wonderland fabric

Knitted beach scene

This knitted beach was created to raise awareness of Alzheimers and Dementia

Balls of multicoloured wool

These balls of yarn at The Black Sheep stall almost had me reaching for my knitting needles!

I’m super eager to use the fabrics I bought here, and I know I’m going to love using them already – each one is earmarked for a project already! Also, I’m already looking forward to next years show of course 😉

Tilly and The Buttons Agnes and Clemence

Tilly and The Buttons Agnes in red jersey
Last week I managed to sew and complete two garments: another Tilly and The Buttons Agnes top, and a gathered chambray skirt made using her Clemence pattern from Love at First Stitch as a starting point.

Agnes is so easy!

Making a second Agnes top was very quick and easy. Being able to sew it up with only a few checks of the instructions made the process so much faster and enjoyable. Have a look at my first Agnes top here. I used up some thin red jersey from my old sewing stash to make this. I think it will have been a remnant I picked up from Heathocoat’s, maybe four years ago?(!). Nice to finally get it used up. Because its quite thin, sewing the neckband in was a little tricky but fine in the end.

I love the fit and the look of this top – I don’t have any other red tops like this and I have already been wearing this straight from the sewing machine. Is there anything more satisfying than making something and getting to use it straight away?

Tilly and The Buttons Agnes top in red and Clemence skirt

I like to accessorize my makes with cats and novelty socks

I used the Clemence ‘recipe’ from Love at First Stitch to start making this gathered skirt, however, I found the instructions confusing, so I finished it off using what I have learned from making other gathered skirts in the past. I used the lovely soft chambray I picked up in Malbers Fabrics and I love how it looks – its exactly what I wanted.

A hat trick of firsts

I added pockets using the template in Love at First Stitch, and they are the perfect size. These were my first ever in-seam pockets. I also did my first ever invisible zipper (it could be a bit more invisible than what it is) and my first ever buttonholes!

ZIp and button closures on Clemence skirt

Yes, the zip could be hidden better, but I am happy to have got it to work!

Buttonholes! Buttonholes! BUTTON. HOLES.

I’ve been scared of trying to sew button holes for as long as I can remember – it just looked like it was going to be so difficult to make them work, and my fear has been that I would mess up my final garment and ruin hours of work. I decided to knuckle down and try them with this skirt as I had my heart set on having some wooden buttons on it. It turned out to be totally OK! I need to learn from this, and just give things a go.

Buttonholes

Some of my practice buttonholes – can you see where I realised I needed to change the width and it magically worked?

It took me a few YouTube videos to finally work out how my buttonhole foot worked and a bit of twiddling with the stitch width, then suddenly it magically worked and I was sewing buttonholes!

The chambray frays a lot. I’d have liked to have French seamed it, however because I added the pockets, I had no idea how to do that with pockets and my little brain couldn’t work it out. I’ve folded the seams inside and zig-zagged them to try and keep the fraying under control, but I’m expecting a lot of bits once it goes through the washing machine. I need to do some research into French seams and pockets before I make another one of these.

Tiverton Fabric Haul

Stack of fabrics

Lots of lovely fabric!


I’ve spent several days staying with my Mum in Devon which has been a real treat. I have been settling my two gorgeous cats in with her. They need to stay with her for a bit because me and my other half have moved into a rented house while we finish selling my flat and look to buy somewhere together. Sadly our landlords have a strict no cats policy. Although it was sad to move them down to Devon, I know they are in the very best place they could be and they already know and love her.

My Mum lives in Tiverton, which is in mid Devon/East Devon, and isn’t far from where I grew up. I love going back to visit her and spending some quality time together. It also means I get to visit my favourite fabric shop too! Heathcoat Fabrics is an absolute hidden gem. I also visited Malbers Fabrics which is in Tiverton town centre and they did not disappoint either! I’m on a real Tilly and the Buttons pattern kick at the moment and so I was hunting for suitable fabrics for her patterns. Here goes with what I bought.

Heathcoat Fabrics Haul:

First off, I had bought some denim from Fabric Land in Bristol, for the Tilly and The Buttons Cleo pinafore dress. Once I’d washed it, I realised I didn’t like it: its far too thick and textured and is just too heavy to be comfortable… so I wanted something much lighter. Heathcoats had several denims I really liked, but I settled for this one:

Closeup of denim fabric

I love this shade of denim


It was £9.99 per meter and I bought two meters. I’ve since cut out the Cleo pattern and found I have enough to make another one which was a happy accident.

Blue striped cotton drill fabric

Bright blue striped cotton drill


This cotton drill was a bargain at £4.99 per meter so I have snaffled it up to make another Cleo. The shade of blue is so bright and summery, I hope it will carry some summer feelings on into Autumn.

Striped jersey fabric

Lots of stretchy stripes


So I’m not really sure what this fabric is: its a stretchy jersey that is quite thin and has a light crumpled texture. It has a drape to it which makes me think I will use it for some sort of dress. I have so many navy and white striped tops (at least 10P), I definitely know I like this sort of thing so at £7.99 a meter I thought ‘why not?!’. I’m going to start looking for a pattern for it once I check if I bought 1.5 or two meters.

Black needlecord with cherry pattern

Sweet little cherry needlecord


I’ve been looking for some needlecord to make an autumn skirt with. I have my heart set on making an A-Line, finishing above the knee with a button placket down the front. I’ve never done buttonholes and want to have a go and make something I know I will wear a lot. This sweet little pattern won me over, I especially like the polka dots that break up the cherry pattern and that it is so soft. I think this was about £8.99 per meter.

Black polyester fabric

And the random buy of the day is: black polyester!


This is a bit of an odd one. I don’t know what sort of fabric this is, its a knit, but not a normal one, and its quite heavy. I’m sure this is something nobody else would want, but when I saw it, I saw the potential to make a skirt I have wanted for years: I want to make a skirt like Daria’s!! I adore Daria. I watch episodes in bed when I’m ill and it always cheers me up.

Finally, I also picked up some sewing accessories from Heathcoat’s:

Sewing accessories and zips

Useful bits and bobs

Malbers Fabrics Haul:

I wasn’t expecting to spend anything in here as I had thought it was a quilting fabric shop, but I was wrong! I talk through this in my review here: Malbers Fabrics.

Fabrics drying outside on a washing line

I might not be good at many things in life, but I am a hero when it comes to pre-washing fabrics!


So, I was more restrained in Malbers after I had already spent quite a lot in Heathcoats. I bought 1.5 meters of lovely, beautifully soft chambray in pale denim which I love. I’ve been looking for some just like this but they all fell short in some way, so this one is great. It cost £8.99 per meter.

I also found some lovely quality striped Ponte Roma which will be perfect for a Tilly and The Buttons CoCo dress. This was just £6.99 per meter.

Sewing tools on denim

Some more practical sewing accessories


I picked up some more basic accessories in Malbers – most importantly the sewing scissors as I have ruined mine cutting paper with them. Very naughty.

One last thing, I picked up this playsuit pattern in a charity shop:

Playsuit sewing pattern

This is quite sweet, no?

So yes, I realise I have spent quite a lot of money from this trip to Tiverton, but I am very happy with what I have picked up, and even more excited about what I can make with it.

Malbers Fabrics – Tiverton, Devon

Malbers Fabrics is a small, but well stocked sewing shop in the centre of Tiverton. Despite it’s small proportions it is incredibly well stocked with many fabrics, haberdashery and general craft items.

Malbers Fabric shop window

Malbers Fabric Shop

Malbers has a very unassuming exterior – you really couldn’t guess how great the inside of the shop is from the outside. It looks like it might just be a quilting shop, but no! It has many more fabrics and notions to enjoy. It does stock plenty of quilting cottons and poly-cotton prints, however there are ample dressmaking fabrics to make it worth visiting for dressmakers.

Rolls of fabric in Malbern Fabrics

The middle of the shop is stacked with rolls of fabrics!

The small floor size is absolutely packed with sewing goodies – the centre of the one-room shop has roll after roll of fabric stacked up on it, with plenty of diversity.

Bolts of fabric in Malbern Fabrics

Bolts of denim, chambray and cotton drills

When I visited (1st September 2017), they had a lovely stack of denims, cotton drills and chambray which made me instantly think of the Tilly and The Buttons Cleo dungaree dress I have planned! The soft denim chambray was so perfect I immediately bought some to make a simple gathered skirt. I can’t wait to sew it up!

Rows of fabric bolts

Fabric shops like this are so exciting to browse!

There are a good range of solid colours too, and ginghams – perfect for summer dresses and skirts.

Rolls of thick fabrics

Rolls of fleece, corduroy and chambray

Continuing the Tilly Cleo theme, Malbern also has some excellent corduroy fabrics: a soft claret coloured needlecord and a thicker olive cord had me lusting after them. Very affordable too, at about £8.99 per meter.

Different tartan fabrics stacked on top of each other

These tartans are crying out to be made into some A-Line skirts!

I’ve been wanting to make a tartan A-Line skirt for years, and its definitely something I will be sewing in the future, so I was also tempted by these lovely tartans on display.

Cotton Christmas Fabrics

Stacks of Christmas cotton prints

The Christmas quilting cottons are not necessarily something I would buy, but I was amazed by the volume of patterns they manage to stock in such a small shop. If you wanted to make some Christmas gifts, these would be perfect – you’d be sure to find something suitable with this selection!

Sewing and haberdashery tools

Lots of useful haberdashery items!

The shop manages to not only cram in hundreds of fabrics, but it also has a great selection of haberdashery products too. All the standard tools are here, and some I didn’t expect to see like sewing machine feet.

Colourful ribbons on display

I love looking at ribbon displays like this

Prices:

Most of the fabrics are fairly priced, and affordable. Here are some sample costs I noted from my visit today (1st September 2017):
Soft cotton chambray £8.99 per meter
Striped Ponte Roma jersey £6.99 per meter
Cotton prints £7.99 up to over £10 per meter (varied for different prints)
Needlecord (lovely) £8.99 per meter

Summary:

Don’t let the outside fool you – this is a lovely, and really useful fabric shop that is great for affordable dressmaking. The owner is really friendly and helpful and has a loyal following. I’ll definitely be visiting Malbers Fabrics again eagerly!

Address:

Malbers Fabrics, 10 Bampton St, Tiverton EX16 6AA

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