Author Archives: elleharvey

Seven Days of Sewing: The Week that Never Was

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Elephant in the room… Seven Days of Sewing, the week that never was.

Anyone who pays much attention to my chatter will know that in my last blog post I said that I would dedicate seven days to rounding up half-finished sewing projects, then offered seven days of posts showing how fantastic it went. That’s what I said I’d do. Did I manage it? No. It was, by all accounts, a fail of epic proportions. I managed to write a blog on the very first day and then all went quiet on the blogging front. Read the rest of this entry

Seven days of sewing

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Anyone who knows me will tell you in great length how I’m not the best at organising things… as my old papa would say, “You can’t organise a shindig in a brewery!” (well he wouldn’t have said shindig but I thought I’d stick with the PC version). And as as much as I know it drives those around me mad, and there are days when I wish I could be a bit more organised, with less running around headless and a bit more planning, I do secretly like the laid-back approach. Having a slightly more laissez faire approach to life means that I never know where an adventure or activity is going to end up, where I’ll end up going or what a project will end up turning into. We all spend so much time rushing around to get to our goals that I think we sometimes miss out on the middle bit. For me, the enjoying part about sewing isn’t necessarily the finished item, although I do like sparkly new things, but it’s more about the learning of new skills, mastering new patterns and being able to accomplish a new challenge. Read the rest of this entry

♫ Oh we all love Clover, All over this land ♫

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The past few weeks have been fairly quiet on the sewing front for me, somewhere between the colder weather, working lots of earlies, trying to muster the energy to meet up with friends and family and still trying to have quality time with the loving boyfriend (and by quality I mean nights where I’m not asleep on the sofa by 8pm) I’ve struggled to find the time to make a start on any new projects.

But luckily for me, and possibly for you, I’ve got a backlog of projects to post here on my little blog space. And a spontaneous road-trip to Bournemouth this Sunday gave me the perfect opportunity to take some much needed photos.

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Read the rest of this entry

Here Comes the Rain Again…

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Today I woke up to this…

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Now normally, being British and all, this would fill me with dread and an overwhelming need to complain about the weather. But not today. Oh no, day-off for me so seeing the grey skies and pouring rain filled me with not only an element of schadenfreunde (sorry guys but I had just worked the weekend and endured endless TGIF related Facebook statuses) but also a sense of excitement.

A day-off when everyone else is at work + rainy weather = Guilt-free Sewing Time.

I was more excited than a puppy-dog rolling in mud

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But what to do with this free-pass of a sewing day? Like I said previously, I’ve got lots of exciting projects in the pipeline. I’ve got both patterns and selected fabrics waiting for me. I’ve got half finished sewing garments just waiting for me to hem them. I’ve got second-hand clothes just waiting for me to add a quick dart before being RTW. And, I’ve even some beautiful IKEA fabric sat waiting to be made into matching lampshade/cushion cover combo.

So which of these did I sew I here you ask? Short answer, none. Long answer, none but… Sometimes things don’t go to plan. Learning to sew means that things don’t always go to plan and the planning stages sometimes takes a bit longer than it might for others. This is all part of the learning curve. So here’s what I spent my morning doing instead:

Sewing Inspiration:  SIMPLICITY 1607

A few weekends ago, Jaycotts were having a pattern sale and I picked up this beauty of a pattern, Simplicity 1607 from the Cynthia Rowley collection.

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Isn’t that neckline fantastic?

Now normally, for me, buying a patten involves a lengthy process of ummm-ing and aah-ing, browsing the net for inspiration, looking at potential fabric options and then, after much indecision, I’ll either buy the pattern or be distracted by the next shiny thing.

But with this pattern I’d thrown caution to the wind and brought it with no research or planning. And I was all set to start sewing it this morning, using a fabric remnant in my stash.

But I couldn’t do that without a quick search for others versions of the dress. And boy am I glad I did!

Here’s a couple of my favourite versions out there:

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Dixie DIYThe use of fabric and the placement of the stripes makes this version just adorable. Before seeing this I was against the frill on the skirt and was planning to swap it for either a circle skirt or a more fitted pencil skirt. However, as this shows, with the right fabric the frill makes this dress the cutest thing.

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What I WoreThere is nothing I don’t love about this adorable adaptation of the pattern, it’s so romantic and dreamy! I was planning on making a muslin of the bodice for this pattern (this is where I normally have to make adaptations anyway) and after seeing this version I’d love to make it a wearable cropped bodice. Perfect for a high waisted skirt on a night-out.

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Chillwear on BurdaStyle: I’ve been wanting to use African wax-print fabric (like these or these) on a project for a while now, those patterns and colours are just mouthwatering! And whilst this version I found on BurdaStyle is made from cotton, it made me think that this just might be the pattern I was waiting for.

After seeing these inspiring versions of the pattern I was all set to rush off and treat myself to the perfect fabric. But then I realised it was raining outside, I hadn’t showered/brushed my hair and doing so would require me changing out of pyjamas and into something more sociably acceptable. No thanks!

So instead I decided to make use of fabrics I already had. Which leads me onto….

Half-completed garment: BurdaStyle 10/14, Top 117

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The October issue of BurdaStyle UK magazine, featured this Top 117, which consisted of a floaty strap top over a very basic strap top pattern. The floaty sequin chiffon top is pretty but what I was drawn to was the idea of having a well-fitting strap top pattern. Strap tops made out of floaty fabrics are an essential for me, so easy to style up or down, they form an important part of wardrobe essentials. But whilst I like well made strap tops, I’m always reluctant to spend well-earned pennies on a garment that uses such little fabric. Sewists solution = DIY it!

After tracing a Burda 38 (size 10), I made a muslin bodice and realised that a 3 inch full-bust adjustment would be needed. I’m still learning pattern-fitting so don’t feel confident in doing a step-by-step guide for this but I ended up with something that looked like this.

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Looks about right I hope? The pattern uses an angled side-dart which threw me but we worked through it.

Another muslin later and I decided to soften the neckline, with a slight v shape. The pattern is has a straight neckline, which would work if worn under another top but I wanted a top I could wear on it’s own so it had to be lowered.

By now I was so involved with sewing that I forgot to take any more construction photos but here we are nearly finished:

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Looks basic right? But look what happens when you add sequins….

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Isn’t she just lovely. I’ve still got to hem this version, and I think, for future makes, I’ll make the V-neck a bit deeper but all in all I’m pretty happy with this make so far. And even better, I used fabric I already had, which means I’ve cleared space for my next fabric purchase. Because that’s how it works right?

What do you all think? Has anyone else used a pattern from the October BurdaStyle magazine? What do you get up to on rainy days?

Love to hear your comments. But for now, au revoir 🙂

Elle x

The Mindapple Challenge

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I have been meaning to write a new post for a while now, but as with many things that have been on my to-do list this has been overshadowed by an overwhelming apathetic attitude that has been plaguing me for the last couple of weeks.

Finding myself in a state of complete apathy is not something new for me. As I’m sure many others do, particularly as the weather gets colder and the nights darker, I occasionally find myself having these periods of greyness. Trying to describe it to the very loving boyfriend the other day, I told him that “It’s not that I don’t want to do anything, it’s that I don’t care whether I’m doing something or not”. It’s an inability to make decisions, to motivate myself to do the things that I know I normally enjoy and then, ultimately when I make myself do said thing, it’s not getting the normal enjoyment from doing that activity that I normally find I get.

Now I’m not writing this post to throw myself a pity party. Life is full of ups and downs, its part of what makes the ups so good is having the strength to deal with the downs.

So instead of the sewing post that I had been planning to write today for the last week I thought I’d give my self a little TLC and consider the things that I do to bring a bit of colour back into my life.

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away…”

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Everyone has there own little remedies for making sure our bodies are, physically, in good health. Eat more fruit and veg, go to the gym, take vitamin supplements. But do we spend as much time ensuring our mental health is in as good check? With mental health issues affecting 1in 4 people in the UK, it’s easy for life to get on top of us and for us to neglect our own positive mental health. But there are some fantastic people and charities out there supporting the need to focus not only on mental health problems but also on promoting positive mental health. Mindapples who with a slogan “Love your mind” are a fantastic example of this, and as part of their campaign use a ‘5-a-day for your mind‘ approach, where they encourage others to get to know themselves and list 5 things that help maintain a healthy mind and happy life.

Now I love a good list, and given my current state of mood, spending a little bit of my busy day coming up with my own little mental health remedy seemed like a fab idea. And I’ve got to say, allowing myself the time to sit and really think about the things that make me happy has already got me feeling pretty damn great! And taking the time to write it down, making it tangible, seemed like a fantastic idea. So here goes, my own 5-a-day for my mind:

1) Have a cuppa

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I’m British, tea is important to me! But I often find that in my day, if I make 5 cups of tea, that I will only have drunk 1. So taking the time to sit down with a hot mug of tea and drink it is somewhat of a luxury. Heck, somedays I may even take the time to make myself a whole pot!

2) Reply to a friend

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Whatsapp, snapchat, text messaging, skype, facebook. With so many ways of communcating nowadays I often find that I’m forgetting to reply to friends and loosing the opportunities to actually have a good catch up, missing out on a joke or planning a catch-up. The easy answer to this… reply to the messages! It reduces my guilt of being a failing friend and I enjoy feeling connected and hearing about the lifes of others.

3) Spend time outdoors

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Before I could drive, walking was an essential part of my day and I enjoy the time spent outdoors. It gave me time both to think things through and also to live in the moment, noticing the things all around you. Since passing my test I found that I was missing out not only on walking but also on spending time outdoors. I live in beautiful countryside (the park in the picture is less than 5 minutes away) so taking the time to go out with the dog walking is important to me.

4) Tidy house, tidy mind

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I’m not a naturally tidy person. I once got asked by a police officer if my room had been vandalised during a break in (it hadn’t) but I do find that spending the time to tidy up, put away things after using them and wiping down sides as a positive effect on my mood. If only I still got a gold star for finishing my chores!

5) Switch off

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I don’t live near to some of my favourite people in my life so keeping in contact is important to me and an essential part of my day. That being said, at times having a phone so smart means that far too much time is spent staring at a screen, eating into time that could be spent doing other things or savouring the moment. So sometimes, I like to turn off my phone and enjoy life as it’s actually happening rather than refreshing for updates on that must have Ebay purchase.

Georgia on my mind

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I’ve got a very exciting finished project to share with you all but first I need to make a very important introduction.

Blog buddies …meet Martha. Martha meet the world!

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Isn’t she pretty? Martha is my dress-form, a surprise Christmas pressie given to me by the very generous boyfriend. Now I LOVE Martha. Many a time she has rescued from screwing up a project, convinced it won’t work, Martha has been there to show how it might look on and make it seem do-able. That said Martha does have her flaws. Firstly she’s not much of a talker and is known to loose her head (I’m sorry, couldn’t resist!). The actual problem with Martha is that she’s a non-adjustable body form. She looks pretty and elegant but at times when I’ve eaten too many puddings and my belly seems to be expanding, Martha remains her same slim self. I make clothes to fit my proportions, often needing to make a size-able full bust adjustment to do so, which means that at times what looks baggy on Martha will be snug as a bug on me.

Despite this flaw of never gaining weight (which FYI is equally annoying in REAL people) I can predict that many of my completed projects that I’ll be showing on this blog will be modeled on Martha. She never has bad hair days, bags under her eyes and taking photos of her in clothes doesn’t require any skill in contortion. So if items seem poor fitting, from now on, I will be blaming Martha 🙂

Excuses over on to the main act…

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# Georgia, Georgia the whole day through. Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind #

Pattern: ,The stunning Georgia dress from By Hand London. I originally brought this pattern intending to take part in the sew-along held back in January but undecided on the fabric and scared of the fitting required it sat untackled for too many months.

Fabric: I brought this fabric from a man at Leicester Market who sells scraps of material left over (I imagine) from manufacturers. Not for the faint-hearted, you have to rummage through his stall, wait for his return from the bookies and then he will give you the price he decides in the moment.

I was lucky and got enough to make this dress, along with another piece of the black stretch fabric and a beautiful piece of neoprene (made into a soon to be blogged skirt) for £2.50. £2.50… absolute steal!

Fitting and changes made: I originally made a muslin out of cotton fabric for this dress in a UK12 and it didn’t seem any chance of it fitting. Vanity aside I went up a size to a (gulp) 14, completed a 3″ full-bust adjustment and boldly went for it. For a cost of £1.25 I went for the motto of “nothing ventured…”

Nothing ventured indeed! Using a full-bust adjustment meant that the finished bodice was easily 3 inches too big, which I was able to take in at the sides taking it down to somewhere between a 10/12. In the future, I think I will make the bodice in a 12, with the necessary adjustments and grade the skirt down to a 10.

I also found the straps were far too long for me, which was tricky given that I’d already sewn them in with the lining! I liked the wideness of the straps where they met the bodice and also wanted to wear the dress that evening so did a slightly botched job sewing them in the middle of the straps… passable for a muslin but this is something that I would address if I make again.

I also didn’t use a zip in the making in the dress, it would probably be necessary for a less-stretchy fabric but for these fabrics and with this fit it was not necessary.

Overall: A stunning dress pattern, that I will definitely be making again in the future. The fitted style of the dress means that it is important to get measurements and sizing right but the sew-along mentioned above is fantastic in guiding you with this… that’s if you actually read it before sewing rather than after making the mistakes! 

Lucky Georgia was ready just in time for a night on the town celebrating the birthday of one of my besties. Unfortunately, whilst Georgia looked the party, I’ve still not mastered the art of posing or even keeping my eyes open in photos but here are a few 3 blurry photos from the night nonetheless…

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Till next time 🙂

Elle xx