Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Sewing with Velvet - Lady Skater Dress

Hey, it's been a while! I have been busy sewing and sharing my output over on Instagram as it is just so much quicker to stick the dress on Violet and share a quick snap than it is to actually have my photo taken by a usually pouting husband. This little velvet number deserved more and as we were about to go out for an anniversary meal Gray was unusually happy to oblige... Plus with a wall like this I couldn't resist the chance to get a few snaps.

The lovely Lucy at Sew Essential asked if I would like to sew up some of their beautiful stretch velvet and obviously the answer was yes, please!  I have a bit of a thing for velvet and since I started to wear exclusively handmade dresses it was a fabric that was missing from my wardrobe.  I had been eyeing up the beautiful skater dresses over on New Look and thinking, I could make that!  Sew Essential have also put together a handy blog post full of tips on sewing with velvet.  I didn't have any issues with this dress, I avoided the iron completely and used hem tape and finger pressing instead.  I also didn't find it particularly slippy it pretty much sewed up like a good weight jersey fabric.

I originally planned to sew this fabric into a Wren dress with a skater skirt rather than the gathered skirt it comes with but after all the issues with the Rue pattern that led to it being recalled and then seeing a pre-photoshopped sample version of the Wren dress complete with a wonky waist seam and wrinkles galore I totally lost any confidence in Colette's drafting and my ability to correct any issues this may have presented and opted for my tried and true, the Lady Skater dress.   I decided to raise the front neckline and lower the back so it had more of a party feel and then made a couple of little bows to add a bit of interest.  The only thing I would do next time is size up for the sleeves, everywhere else fits nicely but the sleeves feel a bit tighter than they would in jersey or sweatshirting.

Shoes: Clarks


Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Sewing stripes with myfabrics

You might have seen over on Instagram, I have been busy sewing up a storm and making all the jersey dresses recently.  Finding interesting prints in jersey fabric is not that easy but I have been searching tirelessly and compiling a list that I will be sharing soon.  Good job I am an expert shopper hey!  One of my recent discoveries is Myfabrics.co.uk so I was excited when they got in touch asking to collaborate. I had already gotten lost in their vast selection of jersey and purchased various colours of bargain ribbing along with the elastic recommended to me by Daisy Crumpet as being the best clear elastic she has found.  I can concur, the elastic is great and far superior to the stuff I was buying on eBay.

I finally managed to decide on three lengths of jersey and a pack of elastic.  The items were shipped promptly and take a couple of days to arrive from Germany.  All three fabrics are a lovely quality and came out of the pre-wash looking as good as they did going in.  I've never actually taken the time to measure before and after pre-wash to see how much shrinking occurs, maybe it is something I will make a note to try and remember to do.  Ignoring the last couple of days (I'm back in a sweater dress!) we have actually had something resembling Summer so I decided to make up the turquoise stripes and leave the other two fabrics for later in the year.

For this Lady Skater dress I raised the front neckline up and scooped out the back.  I can't really have scooped front and back with sleeves as I have tiny shoulders and spend most of my time pulling it back up my shoulders, so annoying!  I went with chevron stripes on the skirt again as I think it looks much better this way than cutting the stripes horizontally on a circle skirt.  It is a bit of a faff and takes more brain power but the end result is worth it.  I use a seam tape to stabilise my hems and decided to give it a go when lining up the stripes on the skirt and see how it fared over pins and it is now my go to method, so much quicker with very little movement when sewing, result!  With stripes I always sew the seam on my sewing machine first before moving to the overlocker as my overlocker likes to move the start of the fabric no matter how tightly I try to hold it together.

(ignore the redness, I had sat with my back to the sun for a whole five minutes!)

Dress: Made by me using Aqua Blue Stripe Jersey fabric from Myfabrics.co.uk*
Pattern: Lady Skater Dress by Kitschy Coo
Shoes: Cath Kidston

I am very excited to be able to offer you guys a discount code against your next purchase at Myfabrics.co.uk!  The code is million and saves £10 off a £50 purchase. 

(The voucher may be redeemed only once per order and per customer and may not be combined with other vouchers.  The minimum order value is £50.  The voucher is valid until 30th September 2016)

Do let me know what you order, they have such a vast selection of all types of fabrics that I might have missed something totally amazing!  Happy shopping.


Thursday, 30 June 2016


When I first decided to start sewing with knit fabrics I had a good look around to see what was on offer, I am all about the prints after all.  I knew from my many hours trawling the internet that it's much harder to get hold of cute knit fabric than it is cute wovens.  I remembered Lizzy House bringing out her Hit Parade collection of knits so had a look to see if I could get my hands on probably my favourite print of all time, Cattitude in raspberry.  I hunted high and low but all I could find was either combined with super high shipping prices meaning I really had to want that fabric or less than what I needed in stock.  Booooo.

I hadn't made my mind up whether to splash out and just place an order when kawaii fabric shop Modes4U got in touch to collaborate.  I have bought fabric from Modes4U numerous times and have always been really happy with both the service and the fabric I have received.  I hadn't thought to look there for knit fabric but low and behold there nestling among to rest of the designer knit fabrics was my beloved Cattitude described as 'dark brown cat knit fabric'.  No wonder I couldn't find it!  As you can see it is a lovely cranberry shade with bright pink cat faces on it, not a trace of brown in sight.  The description was a blessing for me though as it meant there was still stock and I was going to get to make my third dress in this print.  Okay, yes that might be a little excessive but the first was made early into my sewing journey and as I loved it so much I wanted to make it again in a better fit and the third one is jersey which is obviously totally different and doesn't count ;) Haha.

Modes4U often have great discounts on their fabrics and have such a vast range that I never struggle to get my order to the value required for free shipping.  I really like the way they list their fabrics too, they include a close up of the print as well as a picture of the fabric on the bolt so you can get a good idea of scale.  They also include specific details on the fabric such as the dimensions of the cat faces for this print along with fabric weight and washing instructions.  The listing contained a warning that this fabric can shrink by up to 20% so I opted for 2 metres instead of my usual 1.5 to make sure I had enough fabric.  I should have measured the length before and after washing but didn't think to but I can confirm I wouldn't have been able to get the Lady Skater dress out of 1.5 metres so bear that in mind when ordering knits from Andover.  I have bought knits from most of the big fabric manufacturers now so I can compare them and how well they wash and wear, more on that in a future blog post.  This fabric was been pre-washed ready for sewing and came out of the washing machine looking the same as it did when it went in - no fading is always a good sign!  It is a lovely weight, sewed up nicely and is great to wear.  It's defo my happy dress, how can you not be happy when dressed in pink kitties?!

Dress: Made by me using Lizzy House Cattitude cat fabric from Modes4U*
Pattern: Lady Skater Dress by Kitschy Coo
Shoes: Orla Kiely x Clarks


Thursday, 23 June 2016

Cats Eyes and Polka Dots

I am finally getting round to sharing this post a couple of weeks after the photos were taken.  Notice the glorious sunshine? Yeah, I'm actually missing that.  The reason for the delay is for the last two weeks I have had a really heavy cold.  A proper scabby nose from all the blowing, voice losing, sinuses killing cold.  In June.  Seriously.  I cannot remember the last time I had a cold and I am almost certain I haven't had one like this since I was a child.  What on earth is going on.  I am about 75% recovered now, I don't think I am contagious anymore and I am back to just constantly sniffing and having an annoying tickly cough.  Lucky me.

Anyways the woe is me aside that is not why I am here today, I am here to share these beautiful Alexa sunglasses from my pals at Glasses Direct.  I love Glasses Direct, they always arrive super quick and more importantly my prescription is always spot on.  I usually opt for London Retro frames but this time I decided to browse through their own collection appropriately named The Collection.  I think they are really good value and there are so many nice styles to choose from.  I went for the Alexa firstly because of the shape, I do love a good pair of cats eyes and secondly because they are a really subtle teal snakeskin print.  I thought they would look perfect as sunglasses though they would look pretty awesome with clear lenses too. I really like the Andi and the Belladonna frames, in fact there are loads of pairs I would go for as regular glasses and they start at just £25!

I am having to wear glasses over contact lenses more and more and while I have a couple of pairs of London Retro glasses that I love and wear in rotation I didn't have any prescription sunglasses in my most recent prescription.  The lenses are both anti reflection and polarised so they are great for wearing while driving and help reduce the likelihood of a glare induced migraine. I am really taken with them, just need a bit more sunshine so I can get to wear them please.

Shoes: Asos (Old)
Sunglasses: The Collection Alexa Glasses from Glasses Direct*


Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Teal Lady Skater

I've been perfecting my sewing with knits skills ready to tackle this beautiful wool mix jersey from Sew Essential.  I initially went for this fabric because it's my favourite shade of teal and I haven't made any block colour dresses yet but when I saw it was 18% wool I was really intrigued to see what it was like.  It has a lovely weight to it but is really drapey at the same time meaning it hangs beautifully.  It feels really luxurious to touch and sews up like a dream.  I'm thinking the wool will help as a temperature regulator too - breathable in the summer and warm in the winter and will report back when I find out.  It is the most expensive of the fabrics I have used so far coming in at £13.80 per half metre but I personally think it is worth that price tag and can see a navy version in my future sewing plans.  I originally planned to make the Out and About dress with this fabric but am glad it has become a Lady Skater instead, this also meant I over estimated the amount of fabric required so Gray may be getting a matching tee at some point!  Gray can now see the benefit of me sewing and has asked me to recreate his favourite tee.

As this is a solid print fabric I knew the hem would be pretty visible so wanted to give my twin needles their first outing.  I had bought both ballpoint and stretch twin needles in preparation and set up my new Janome DKS100 with two spools, inserted the ballpoint needles and grabbed a scrap to see how it looked and disaster!  The right hand needle was mostly skipped stitches so I re-threaded the machine, changed the bobbin, changed the presser foot tension and nothing made any difference.  I was ready to give up when I decided to switch the needles for the stretch ones and low and behold it worked perfectly straight away.  I had read that ballpoint was best for jersey type knits and stretch for high lycra content such as swimwear so thought I was opting for the right one.  I haven't been able to find any other details about how to choose the right type of twin needle so if you have any info I would love to hear it.  I am really pleased with how the hem eventually turned out and have used it on a couple of dresses since.

Sew Essential offer up a lovely range of dressmaking fabrics, I have my eye on some of this scrummy velvet for an Autumn/Winter version of the Lady Skater.  How perfect would that be?!  Christmas party dress sorted.  I can't believe I mentioned the C word already, haha.  Apologies for the squinting in the photos, I need to remember to wait til the sun has gone down before attempting outfit photos. Direct sunlight is not the most flattering, I am all squinty with too many harsh shadows but the dress looks ace so ho-hum.

Shoes: Orla Kiely x Clarks


Sunday, 5 June 2016

Let's talk knits

Three weeks ago I finally took the plunge and started sewing with knit fabrics.  Sewing and fitting knit and woven fabric is quite different so I put it off for ages having heard it is quite tricky.  I spoke to a few sewing friends for their top tips, found out the best places to buy jersey, which in my opinion is way harder to buy online than woven fabrics are, and arranged to go visit my mate Daisy Crumpet for a sewing with knits masterclass.  Over a few cups of tea we spent the afternoon putting together a muslin of the Lady Skater Dress by Kitschy Coo bodice in some cheap leopard print jersey I bought specifically for this purpose.  Once home I made up the skirt, attached it and decided that actually sewing with knits is a piece of cake.  Unfortunately I haven't actually worn the muslin I made as the fabric is cheap, thin and doesn't feel great but hey that's okay as I have now made 14 others that are all lovely to wear and sewing them has been really enjoyable.  I originally intended to make the Out and About dress by Sew Caroline as that looked most like my beloved Emery dress but it didn't arrive in time and I had also bought the Lady Skater PDF ready for making a Liberty sweatshirt dress so I just went for that.

This is my second Lady Skater dress, made out of a lovely dandelion print from Monaluna.  It's supersoft and lovely to wear but doesn't have that great a recovery so will need regular washing to bring it back into shape.  I use clear elastic in the shoulder seams and waist of all of my dresses to prevent them stretching out of shape and know that this fabric definitely benefits from that.  It's been a steep learning curve that all jersey behaves differently, I had to take this one in and it is still bigger round the waist than my other dresses plus it ended up a fair bit shorter even though it was cut out to the same length.  I've decided it's fun and flirty even if I do feel a little exposed in it!  If anyone has any helpful tips as to how to work out how each jersey will behave I would love to hear them.  The fabric is from Elephant in My Handbag, they have a lovely selection of jersey knits that can be found here.

Shoes: Orla Kiely x Clarks

The things I have learned along the way:

*  Sewing with knits is actually easier than sewing with wovens - no zips to insert for a start.  I use my overlocker for everything but the hems so it all comes together quickly.

*  Taking your time to learn good technique and having the right tools will give you a great finish.  I was worried my knits would look handmade so I avoided using zigzag stitches on hems and bought a tape to help stabilise them.  I love that I make my own clothes but I want them to look better than what I could buy in the shops.  Plus my stripes match up, dammit! 

*  Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to knits.  I love sewing foot to the floor and find it really hard to slow down but it is important to take it down a notch when sewing with knit fabric, no one wants a stretched out hem.

*  I actually like circle skirts.  I don't like circle skirts on woven dresses so haven't ever sewn one.  The skirt on the Lady Skater falls really nicely, it's gentle in a nice drapey jersey and more swishy and full bodied in a sweat.  I have made three sweatshirt fabric dresses so far and love wearing them.  It turns out I am not really a fan of a gathered skirt on a knit dress, I have added a gathered skirt to a couple of my dresses and much prefer wearing the circle skirt versions.  Wearing the Lady Skater dress has made me decide to give a woven circle skirt another go, I have some lovely crepe that will make an awesome Emery so am going to try it with a half or three quarter circle skirt (whatever my fabric will allow).  I'll still never be a fan of a full circle skirt.

*  Fitting knits is way easier than fitting wovens.  The Lady Skater is designed with negative ease over the bust so the stretch in the fabric does most of the work.  I didn't need to size up sleeves to fit my arms and there are no darts to sew!  For the Lady Skater I narrowed the shoulders, took off a little of the shoulder height and shortened the bodice and that's it in turns of fitting.  I also raised the neckline but that's personal preference rather than a fit adjustment. 

*  When it comes to knit fabrics it really is a case of getting what you have paid for.  Turns out I am not a fan of sewing with or wearing cheap jersey.  Most of the jersey I have bought is organic, manufactured in Europe and of lovely quality.  A lot of them have been around the £16-£20 a metre mark which I initially thought was really bloody expensive til I realised I only needed 1.5 metres compared to 2.5 for a woven dress.  I am going to compile a post of good places to buy knit fabric in the near future, I have spent many hours hunting around online.

*  Plus everyone knows knit dresses are in fact secret pyjamas, I had forgotten how comfy knit dresses are.


Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Made By Me #192

It's finally the time of year I always look forward to - still cold enough to wear tights but warm enough to drop the coat. It's taken it's time this getting here this year and I have a feeling if I blink I might miss it and be already melting in my black tights.  The other downside to the brighter days is me squinting in photos.  I was certain I had managed to open my eyes wider than a squint but nope it wasn't to be.  The downside to having pale eyes.

I mentioned on Instagram that this dress and I are only just on talking terms, I had to do some serious surgery on the neckline as it had stretched out loads despite not being handled much and being stay-stitched as soon as it had been cut out.  I ended up removing the facing and replacing it with bias binding and despite it's flaws it is one of my current favourites.  I don't really have much grey in my wardrobe but whenever I wear it I remember how much I love it.  The print looks like someone has been both splattering a fountain pen over it and then leaving that pen in the (imaginary) pocket. It's awesome.

I decided to keep the rest of my outfit simple going for some black spotty tights and my new Rocket Dog pumps.  The pumps have a platform sole which isn't really noticeable but makes them oh so comfy.  The first time I wore them I wondered if I was going to regret not breaking them in and end up reaching for the blister plasters but nope they were perfect from the off.  I really like the shade of grey, it's a washed grey and will be perfect over the summer for teaming with many of my dresses.  They also come in a washed pink and mint along with a few other colours.

If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen I have changed my hair colour to what is now looking nice and peachy.  I am still adjusting to my lighter hair and keep getting a shock when I catch a glimpse of my reflection.  I'll be sure to share some better photos soon.

Dress: Made by me using Ink Print Double Gauze
Shoes: Rocket Dog*


Friday, 6 May 2016

Synchronised Swimming

I'm excited, the sun is set to be shining this weekend and I am heading off down to Christchurch to spend the weekend with some of my favourites.  Plus the Christchurch food festival is on this weekend and after what Rosie has told us about it my tummy is already rumbling in anticipation.  Give me all the food!  I've packed my favourite ever me made dress to wear for the first time too, oh the anticipation.  Usually a new dress gets worn the very next day but I have held off from wearing this one to work as I decided it needed a more special occasion for it's debut.

It only seems apt that I am sharing the dress that the lovely folk at Christchurch based Kiki's Boutique kindly sent me.  I am lucky enough to have popped into their Christchurch shop a few times and am looking forward to fitting in a browse around all the food this weekend.  *EDIT* Kiki's is online only now, sob!  I absolutely love the new season Emily and Fin collection, the prints are spot on and I hear they have been designed in house this year.  I went for the synchronised swimmer print and I am sure you'll agree it is pretty perfect.  I wanted to team it with a pair of navy anchor tights but didn't actually get round to ordering them, doh.  It would have been the perfect combination - must get on with placing that order!

Instead I decided on a pair of pin spot tights, my absolute favourite navy cardigan and the comfiest navy shoes from Lotus Shoes.  The shoes are from their Relife collection, they have leather insoles and memory foam in socks which makes them more comfy than your favourite pair of slippers.  They have a block mid height heel and cute Mary Jane styling, the best combination.  I'm getting better at wearing navy and black together, I think it's helped by the tights being sheer.  I just can't do navy opaques, I have tried and they just feel so wrong to me!  I've finished my outfit with the best necklace ever, my Tatty Devine lobster pal.  The neckline of the dress is a little low for me - I am not used to flashing any flesh these days so the necklace helped me feel a bit more covered up plus I think it finishes off the outfit.  The lobster is pretty special, it does a little dance as you move!

Kiki's Boutique have kindly offered up a 15% discount code for readers of A Million Dresses, you can find the required code over in my sidebar --->  They have just had a massive drop of new arrivals from brands such as Emily and Fin, Sugarhill Boutique and loads of gifts so be sure to take advantage and go check out their wares.

Cardigan: asos (old)
Necklace: Tatty Devine
Tights: Accessorize
Shoes: Lotus Shoes*


Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Wednesday Wants

This week is Fashion Revolution week, an annual event that came about following the tragedy at the Rana Plaza factory almost three years ago. It serves as an annual reminder of the damage that fast fashion is having on our world and reminds us to make educated choices - if those jeans are retailing for £6 it's pretty obvious the person making them isn't being treated fairly.  I know this doesn't mean that more expensive clothing including designer wear is made in better circumstances but how cheaply an item is retailing for makes it pretty obvious it was cheap to produce.  I rarely buy clothing now I make my own so I can tell you exactly who made the majority of my clothing - me!  And I can also tell you the amount of work involved in producing a garment, would I make you a dress for 23p an hour?  Not on your life!  I have mentioned this before but if you haven't watched the True Cost movie I really recommend it.  It's not an easy watch but it's so important to be educated. You can buy it via iTunes or Amazon or you can now watch it on Netflix.

So with this in mind I have put together a wishlist containing clothing that has been manufactured by companies that ensure the garment workers receive a fair wage for their work.  First up are People Tree, my favourite ethical retailer.  I took part in last years #FashRev campaign with People Tree and through reading up on their ethics it helped me become more aware of the issues involved.  I really love the ditsy print on this cute little summer dress, definitely something that would be loved for many years.

 Dress: People Tree
Braintree as a brand is pretty new to me.  When I first spotted their dresses on the House of Fraser website I had a little look into them and found out they have awesome ethics as well as many timeless items.  I really love this chambray dress and will be recreating my own version of it soon, I have the perfect heart print chambray which will look fab as my favourite Emery dress pattern.
 Dress: Braintree
The next three brands are all a little different, their dresses are all made in the UK where you know the worker will be paid a living wage as a minimum and where basic rights are protected.  Their clothing is well made and classic plus it is made to last, you won't be wearing these beauties a couple of times before consigning them to the recycle bin.  I love Mod Dolly, their dresses are always the right balance of cutsy.  I really love Mandi sun dress especially in this fabric - adorable!
Dress: Mod Dolly

I owned a fair few Closet dresses before I started sewing and I really loved them.  They have all either been gifted to friends or donated to charity now but I still adore the brand and keep an eye on their collections for inspiration.  They always offer up a great silhouette and an interesting colour palette.  My favourite is this bright yellow full skirted dress with an interesting high neck detail.

 Dress: Closet

I still own a Victory Parade dress, I couldn't bear to part with this beauty.  The other dresses went to new homes and I even used the same fabric as one of the ones I sold to make my own version.  Their dresses are beautifully made and truly timeless.  Everyone I know who owns one absolutely adores it and wants other styles/fabrics - the quality speaks for itself.

If you want to join in with #FashRev, upload a selfie of you showing your label and ask the brand #whomademyclothing.  You can find out more here.


Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Wednesday Wants

It looks like Spring may finally have arrived and while I am not ready to ditch the opaques any time soon I am ready to let some sunshine into my wardrobe.  Guess it will be snowing this weekend now then, yeah!  I always think I don't like summer but in reality I just don't like being hot and bothered, I do love it when the skies are blue and everywhere is bright and cheery.  Spring is perfect for me, after the gloom of Winter where you are fighting to keep out the chill and everywhere is dark nearly all the time it is so uplifting to get to Spring and see nature come out of hibernation and do it's thing.

I am loving Lazy Oaf dresses at the moment, so many awesome prints that cannot fail to put a smile on your face.  This one is basically like you're just wearing Summer and it is perfect.  I have some strawberry double gauze fabric waiting to be made into a dress though it's quite a bit larger in scale than this dress and not quite as cute.

According to Asos this is a picnic dress, not really sure what a picnic dress is but I like it!  I am a sucker for gingham and especially love the scale used for this dress.  It's pretty perfect.

 Dress: Asos

This too is a picnic dress apparently!  The bodice on this one is double layered with a split down the back.  I love the placement of the stripes across the front of the bodice, they stripes have also been used horizontally on the bodice back which you get a peek of through the split back.  You defo need this bag with this dress, a perfect match.  I want to go on a picnic now, who is with me?!

Dress: Asos


Friday, 8 April 2016

Made By Me #179

I had a bit of time to blog this week and thankfully had already taken these photos, no way I would have gotten any with my skirt where it should be with the wind we have had the last couple of days.   Still with the lighter evenings and the fleeting sunshine I am happy it is starting to feel Spring-like. Plus it is Friday and everything is that bit happier on a Friday, especially when you have your girls visiting for the weekend.  Yay!

I absolutely adore this fabric, had a tough time deciding between this and the navy colour-way so was excited when I finally ordered and it arrived - stuck it straight in the washing machine and got it ready to cut out.  All good so far until I discovered a flaw on the bodice after I had cut it all out, overlocked and sewn the bodice darts.  Boooooo!!  Typical that the flaw would end up taking centre stage on my lovely bodice, had it ended up on the skirt you wouldn't even notice it.  I was going to add some gold embroidery over the flawed hexagon's to create a bit of detail as well as hide the flaw but the fabric is too loosely woven to take it.  Would rather a flaw than a hole.  Anyways flaw aside I bloody love this fabric, I mean just look at those gold bees!! Too cute.

Same interfacing issue as this dress unfortunately, that's what happens when you whip up a few dresses without wearing any of them first.  It isn't that noticeable in real life and the facing doesn't stick and ride up anymore so I am just going to chalk it up as experience now I know I need to interface my double gauze facings from now on.  Which I have been doing successfully, yay!  I have recently gone back to the original pattern and made my required adjustments again instead of just bodging the pattern smaller and I am much happier with the resulting fit.   Would anyone be interested in reading about the adjustments I need and how I did them?

Dress: Made by me using Honeycomb Double Gauze by Kokka


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