A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: The Avid Seamstress

I managed to finish sewing my second Avid Seamstress Day Dress at long last! This project has taken me around two years to complete. I was very close to finishing in late August, but this dress became yet another casualty of the secret project, my series of coat classes and my thumb injury. I prioritised finishing the coat instead, which turned out to be a wise decision given how cold January was. That decision meant this dress narrowly missed out on being the last item completed in my #2017makenine and now cannot be included in either make nine challenge.

In the end, it only took around an hour to finish the machine sewing on the neck facing. I was very relieved that the pieces all fit since I’d cut them such a long time ago. The facing looks so much better than my botched attempt at using bias binding on my first Day Dress (a combination of rookie error and overconfidence). I also hand-stitched the hem, which took a while but looks pretty good. I managed to complete the finishing in time to wear this dress on my 31st birthday.

Overall, I am very happy with how this dress turned out. The day dress pattern fits perfectly into my work wardrobe. More details about the changes I made, and my views on the pattern, can be found here. I really like this dress in the drapey rayon. It’s going to be great to wear in summer, though I’m not sure how well the fabric will wash. I have some gorgeous viscose ready to make into a third Day Dress, and I’m very excited by that project. I think I will cut a straight size 10 rather than the mashup size I attempted here, for unremembered reasons.

Pretty sure I popped a couple of stitches while I was messing around but I just can’t resist a cheeky crow pose

Notes for next iteration

  • Lower the darts on the bodice by a couple of cm
  • Use self fabric for pockets if possible

Pattern: Avid Seamstress Day Dress in a hybrid size 3/4 (corresponds to UK size 10/12)

Fabric: Around 2m of rayon purchased in Indonesia

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I managed to think about my knitting plans for 2018 already and my sewing needs a similar level of thought. I’m going to take part in the Make Nine challenge again this year. I think nine garments is a manageable number, both in terms of time taken to make items and ensuring that I sew responsibly.

Project ideas

  • Cloud Lark
  • Stripy Lark
  • Ultimate shirt in Liberty fabric
  • Third day dress in viscose
  • Wearable toile- copy of the perfect pencil skirt I have
  • Threadcount 1617– I think I will start out with a toile using a viscose remnant I have.
  • I also have my eye on some beautiful viscose with a monstera (my favourite leaf) print for a second version. I won a £20 voucher from Sew Over It’s #SOIshowoff competition, which would buy 1.5m
  • Teal anorak
  • Dotty Linden

Specific things I’d like to do

I’m very excited about these projects, especially the ideas I’ve carried over from last year. I still have a lot on my plate, so I find it difficult to find a lot of sewing time. This just motivates me to make the most of the time I do have and create useful and long-lasting garments. I’m looking forward to Me Made May already and one or two more items would be very handy.

I’m also going to start being totally transparent about the costs for each of my projects. While I’m happy to spend money on my passions (why else do I work hard?) I have got into a bad habit of spending thoughtlessly. I know that I spent well over £600 on craft stuff last year. That’s a lot. While I don’t make things with the explicit intention of saving money, it would be good to track how much I do spend.


I just about managed to complete my challenge to sew nine garments in 2017. I’ve been updating my original post, but I wanted to reflect a little bit more on the clothes I’ve made this year.

The nine garments I’ve made are very different from the nine I had in mind a few months ago when I decided to take part. This fact underlines to me that I am a very flighty maker- I should avoid stashing fabric and cutting out patterns unless I plan to start straight away.

I’m sad that the Liberty print shirt I’m planning isn’t included here, but I’m going to try not to let that stop me from making it. On the flip side, I’m proud of finally finishing my Macaron, which is made of fabric I bought when I was travelling in Indonesia. I cut out before I had a sewing machine and I’m glad that I finally sat down and sewed them up. It’s quite demoralising to have loads of half-finished stuff lying around.

Mushroom print Cleo

Raindrop print Bettine

Turquoise striped Bettine

Pink Macaron

Pineapple tulip skirt

Hidden panda Lark t-shirt

Liberty print Southport

Rocket print Southport

1960s coat

It’s so funny how craft life goes at times. I was really close to finishing the challenge in August, when I got some good momentum on my second Day Dress. After that point, life threw a lot at me that ate up all of my spare time. Just after booking onto the classes to make the 1960s coat, I was asked to appear on Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas. The coat class then became all-consuming, but I was unable to finish it due to my thumb injury. It started to feel like I had so many projects on the go, but very little to show for my efforts.

Not long ago, I spotted that Julia from the class at Sew Over It had posted a picture of her finished coat on Instagram. I was instantly inspired. Maybe if she could finish her coat, I could. One day when I was too full of a cold to do anything else, I sat down to the enormous amount of hand-sewing required to finish the coat. And, in less than a week, it was done!

I really think I’ve grown as a sewist this year. I’ve gone from only ever working with woven material to makes using some tricky fabrics like jersey, wool and viscose.

I was going to make a separate post about my knitting in 2017 until I realised that I have only finished four things! (That I can talk about).

A real positive is that making my jumper for Kirstie weirdly seems to have reawakened my love of knitting. When I was furiously knitting away on Silver Island, I felt that it was going to have the opposite effect. Thinking about it, I feel like the coat class gave me a bit of sewing burnout whereas the sweater made me remember what I enjoy about knitting.

Now to decide what I want to make in 2018!


I cut this dress out soon after finishing my denim day dress, but didn’t do anything else in over a year. I intended to take the pieces to a sewing cafe to overlock them, but never quite got round to it until a couple of months ago.

Weirdly, I had to re-cut a lot of my pattern pieces. No idea why, but a lot of them were too big. This also gave me a chance to take some length out of the back bodice.

The dress seems to be going together okay so far. I found the viscose more difficult to gather neatly than the denim of my previous version. I think next time, I would sew the elastic even closer to the tops of the skirt pieces.

I also found the invisible zip installation instructions a bit confusing- they state to sew using a normal zipper foot, but at no point seem to instruct you to go over it again with an invisible zip foot. I’ll just add this step in as I see fit.


I was just hitting my stride in constructing this dress when I realised that somehow I managed to cut out two left sleeves. Nightmare.

You can see the offending sleeve at the top of this pic. On a more positive note, adding a row of gathering stitches made it a lot easier to pin in the sleeve.

Fortunately re-cutting the sleeve didn’t cause me too much of a roadblock even though I couldn’t find the pattern piece and so had to trace a new one off the second left sleeve. Hope the other piece turns up. The construction goes really quickly once the sleeves are in, so now it’s just the hems and neck facing to go.


I think that the bodice is a teensy bit too long, but hard to tell how much of that is the pattern, and how much is due to the fabric I’m using. However, I’m pretty happy with the fit overall.


Pattern: Day Dress by the Avid Seamstress- size 10/12 mashup

Fabric: Around 2m of rayon purchased on holiday in Indonesia


On a bit of a whim, my friend Cayleigh and I applied for the daytime game show Pointless, auditioned, and actually got offered a filming date! One of my first thoughts was that this would provide a fun opportunity for me to showcase some of my favourite handmade items, and add to my series on styling self-made clothing.

Here are my outfits, in my order of preference for wearing them. They asked us to provide five sets of clothing in addition to what we wore.

1. Paper Totoros

My first outfit shows off the handmade item of which I am most proud- my Paper Tototos sweater. I absolutely love this jumper, and I’ll be pairing it with a simple black mini skirt that lets my top half speak for itself.

This is the outfit I wore so I’ll update the post with a screenshot when the show is aired when I’m about 40.

2. Triple D Dress

My second outfit is the sewn item of which I am most proud. My denim day dress is far from perfect, but I am still very proud of it as the first dress I made without any help, and I think it looks nice. I’m planning to wear it with my me-made Little Wave cardigan.


3. Waterlily

My third outfit will be this lovely knitted top. I’m not decided yet on whether I’ll wear anything underneath- a cardigan is ruled out as it would hide the lovely lace on the sleeves.


4. Octopus Garden Dress

My fourth outfit will be this version of a Sew Over It Betty dress in octopus print cotton. I think I’ll wear it with a long-sleeved top underneath.

5. Orza

My fifth outfit will be a bit more casual. My Orza sweater, either with my handmade trousers, or the jeans that I repaired recently.

6. Cateralls

My final outfit will be my Cateralls. I think the BBC looks for quite conservative outfits, so I doubt they will want me in these, but I’ll take them along anyway. I’ll probably wear them with a striped top underneath.


This week I am featuring a project I am happy with. Yay! My denim day dress has turned out pretty spot on.


I especially love the pockets.


After the last post, I spent four more solid hours working on her.

Finishing the zip installation (slightly wonky).

Easing the in the sleeves. So many pins!

Trying to see if they are in the right way.

Sewing the side seams and finally testing the fit.

Finishing.

The biggest difficulty I had was with trying to swap the facings for bias binding. The binding wouldn’t lie flat.

I followed a tutorial to try and fix the binding. It only partially worked. My feeling is that I can’t have the binding visible, so I will probably try and fix it again next time I have access to a sewing machine. However, the dress is still wearable in the interim so I’m not too fussed.

I have two more versions of this dress planned. For one, I am going to use my purple Indonesian silk for the skirt.

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I am going to buy a small amount of silk in a contrast colour for the bodice and sleeves, as I think a dress totally in the pattern would be a bit overwhelming. I also have some cream rayon Batik for another version.

The only change I will make will be to grade down to the size below at the waist. The sizing is about right at the bust and shoulders, but a bit baggy at the waist. I will probably do another exposed zip for the Batik dress, but try an invisible zip for the silk one. I will have to get better at matching the waist seams!


I spent several hours yesterday working on my Avid Seamstress day dress in denim. This is a fairly challenging pattern for me so I’ve still got a lot to do. I went in just with a pile of flat pieces of fabric

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And I came out with something that is basically recognisable as the back of a dress.

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I’m currently in the middle of installing the exposed zipper. I’m following the same tutorial I used for my feather skirt. I think it’s going okay. I’m going to baste it before my next sewing afternoon.

I used a new technique of gathering the fabric using elastic. I had to redo it once because it was uneven. I managed to gather the denim more easily the second time, but accidentally sewed it to the incorrect side. I’m going to leave it because I don’t think it’ll make any difference to the final dress.

I read somewhere that some craftswomen leave errors in their work as a reminder that only God is perfect. I’ll leave mine as a reminder that perfection is an illusion that engenders dissatisfaction.

Pattern: Day Dress by The Avid Seamstress

Fabric: Some denim