Monday, 18 November 2013

Finished Project: Woolen Cambie skirt

Hello strangers. It's been a while.

So, way back in April, Rochelle of Lucky Lucille posted about a skirt version of the Cambie dress she had made. I thought it was such a great idea and decided it would be a perfect idea for making a winter weight skirt with some wool fabric I'd found at one of my local charity shops. It's only taken me 6 months to get round to making it!

This is such a simple, yet useful make to put together. It can't have taken me more than an hour or so to complete. I have plans for another woolen version with some more charity shop fabric I found, as it's turned out to be such a great staple piece of clothing for work since making it!

I didn't make any changes to my pattern pieces in terms of sizing but I did add a couple of extra inches to the waistband length to allow for a decent cross over for a hook closure at the back.

I totally forgot that I usually add at least another 2" on to he length of the skirt pieces though so it's ended up shorter than I had originally planned, but not to worry it's still absolutely fine!

I used some brown stripy 70s cotton I was given by my aunt to line the pockets and waistband - I really love the peep of a pattern at the pockets.

Other than that, not much to add about the construction.

In other news, I've still not got round to making my Elizalex dress as, when I went to cut out all the pattern pieces, I realised all my skirt pieces have gone missing and I haven't been able to find them since! I think I'm going to have to buy the pattern again in order to make it and I'm gutted.

So up next is who knows what as school is manic as usual. I'm determined to take part in Tasha's knit-along for her new knitting pattern the Victory beret.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

FO: Flowery Macaron

Hello all! How are you all?

Another finished make to post today - I'm amazed I managed to finish something given how crazy work has been over the last 3 weeks, but surprisingly I got this sewn up in just 2 evenings a few weeks back. I just haven't had time to post about it until today!

I wanted a new dress to wear to Birmingham to meet up with Roisin, Kat, Amy and Sabs a few weekends back and luckily this dress came together surprisingly quickly.

I borrowed the Macaron pattern from Roisin late last year as I fancied making a version of it myself, but it wasn't until the last Birmingham blogger meet-up in the summer that I found fabric I wanted to make the dress out of. The fabric is (predictably) from Barry's Fabric Warehouse - this is fast becoming my all-time favourite place to buy fabric! Both fabrics are cotton with a slight stretch to them which adds a little bit more comfort to the dress.

I sewed up a straight size 6 as a muslin to test for fit, thinking I'd have to do a small bust adjustment on the dress but it turns out it wasn't necessary. It was slightly tighter on my than I like though so I sewed 1/2" side seams instead of the usual 5/8" seams and this made it much more comfortable to wear. I also added 1" to the length of the bodice and 2" to the length of the skirt (and sewed the scantest of hems) to keep the skirt as long as possible.

I'm in love with lapped zips now so I decided to do a lapped side zip rather than the invisible side zip the instructions recommended - I much prefer lapped zippers to invisible zips - so much less complicated and they look great too!

I didn't bother lining the dress as I'll wear a slip underneath it in the winter anyway, and serged all the raw edges for neatness' sake.

I wore this dress all day on Saturday (the photos of me in the dress are courtesy of Roisin!) and it is so comfortable, I love it!

Other than that, there's very little to add. I've got the bodice pieces for the Elisalex dress cut out ready to make a muslin of, so hopefully I'll get round to sewing that up at some point (half term is in a week). I'm determined not to let school planning get in the way of my sewing this year so I'm going to try and give myself a little time to sew every day - even if its just half an hour.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

FO: Re-purposed table cloth to pretty napkins

A few weeks ago, I found a really pretty embroidered table cloth in the local charity shop - it was so lovely and for only £2, I couldn't resist buying it, even though it was square and so of no use to us whatsoever as an actual table cloth.

I'd acquired (ahem, half-inched) another embroidered table cloth from my Mum a week earlier and decided that, because the embroidery was all in the corners, it would be really simple to cut the table cloths in quarters, re-hem them and turn them in to pretty napkins instead.

Last week, I found another square table-cloth in another charity shop so decided to buy that one as well to give myself 12 really pretty, vintage napkins - all for the grand total of £5 - not bad me thinks!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

FO: the Tent Dress

So called, not because it looks like a tent, but because that's where I got the hubby to take photos and now he always refers to it as the tent dress. I made this dress for a friends wedding in Pembrokeshire - hence the tent, as we decided to have an extended camping weekend there after the wedding was done with.

This dress is made from McCalls 3179 - a 1950s pattern that I've had in my stash for a while. I made it out of some mint coloured broderie-anglais I bought on our mini-moon to Edinburgh back in April and fully lined it with white cotton lining.

I didn't end up making any size modifications to this dress in the end. I made a muslin fully expecting it to be a little on the tight side, but it fit more or less perfectly - the bust area was a little roomy if anything.

I knew I'd have to line the dress since it was see-through in parts and decided to go with some white cotton I had in my stash - it's the same cotton I used to make the collar. I really like the combination of the mint and the white - very summery!

I reduced the roominess at the bust by simply bringing the side seams in slightly towards the top by the arm holes and this got rid of the excess without any difficulty.

I didn't shorten the dress at all as I wanted a realistic 1950s length for the dress and was too lazy to hand sew the skirt given how much hem there was going to be, so I was lazy and machine stitched it. Because of the fabric, you can't really see the hem line anyway.

The pattern has a side zip - I really don't like side zips - they're so fiddly to put in, but this one ended up looking OK considering.

All in all a nice make and really quick despite basically making two dresses (the main dress and the lining) - I sewed the whole thing up in less than a day!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Button magnets

Hello all - just a quick post today to share some super cute button magnets I made for the notice board in my classroom.

I've had a massive bag of magnets lying around in a draw for years and decided that I could use a selection of the buttons I have (but probably won't ever put on actual clothes) to make some cute magnets for my classroom.

I just used an all purpose glue to stick the magnets to the buttons. Next up I have some large round buttons in bright colours that will probably make for some cute magnets too.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

FO: Another Gertie Pencil Skirt and WIP disaster.

OK so I promise this will be the last one of these - at least for a while anyway! I have loads of short lengths of woolen fabric I intend to use for a couple of winter versions though, but I'm not planning on making them just yet!

Not much to report on this in terms of putting it together. I've got the fitting just right after 3 previous versions so this was another extremely quick make. Ignore the creases - it's been sat in my wardrobe for a couple of weeks so has got a little squished.

It's made out of some pillar-box red gabardine fabric bought in Barry's Fabric Warehouse in Birmingham at the last Birmingham blogger meetup a few months back. I added length to the skirt again to ensure it  fell below the knee as I really like this length on pencil skirts.

That's about all to say about this skirt - the vent edge are bound with checkered black and white bias binding, the hem with some red lace I had in my stash and I did another lapped zipper.

In other news, those of you who follow me on Instagram will have seen a picture of some lovely mustard coloured broderie-anglais I was planning on making a self-drafted pleated skirt out of....

well it was an unmitigated disaster so I'm planning on salvaging the fabric and making a lightweight Ginger skirt out of it instead. I can't be bothered with the hassle of trying to sort out the self drafted skirt at this point, so when I can sum up enough enthusiasm to make the Ginger skirt I'll show pictures, but at the moment the fabric is just languishing on my sewing table.

In slightly better news however, I've finally got round to tracing the bodice pieces for the Elisalex dress so I can do a muslin fit first. Hopefully that should be finished soon too!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

A Loaf and a Half - well more like a loaf, some bread , ciabatta and a few other bits and pieces

Hello all!

OK, this isn't a sewing related post, but it is something I made with my own fair hands so officially falls under the 'Helen Made' category! ;-)

My lovely hubby sent me on a surprise bread making course yesterday for my (soon to be) birthday. I'd been eyeing up this course for a while so I was ecstatic when I realised I was finally going to get to take part!

course was held at Loaf Cookery School in Birmingham - it's a social enterprise company, set up to try to bring good quality, well made food to people in the local area. We were there all day and got taught how to make loads of really interesting, tasty breads and loads of useful little tips for bread making when we attempt it on our own.

We were taught how to make a plain white loaf, wholemeal bread, straight yeasted dough, a sponge dough (for white / wholemeal loaves and rolls), a wet dough (for stuff like ciabatta) and sweet dough (for brioche). We also got to use some previously made sour-dough dough to make a couple of other rolls, the funny looking pretzel shaped bread at the front and pizzas for lunch, oh yeah and we made pitta bread too, but we ate that on the course so no pictures of those!

It was such a great day - I'd recommend anyone who lives relatively local to Birmingham to head to Loaf for one of their courses. They're well run and family friendly - the youngest person on the course was 11 - and full of loads of useful information. I can't wait to have a go at their sour-dough course now!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Gertie's Pencil Skirt #1, #2 and #3

Mmmm.... I think I may have an addiction to pencil skirts! I made all three of these within the space of about a month.

I made the wool plaid version first back in March, ready to take on our mini-moon to Edinburgh along with my Swing Dress. I cut a straight size 6US and added about 2" extra to the hem. Unfortunately I managed to slash through the fabric towards the hem when I was serging the seams though so ended up having to make it shorter than I originally wanted.

This was my first attempt sewing with a woollen fabric and it was an absolute dream although the fabric could get bulky at the hems. I'm so happy with how well I matched the plaid too! Never done it before so it could have gone horribly wrong.

I made the green version next out of some stable knit fabric - I love the colour of this fabric! Plus I managed not to slash through the hem this time so I got the below the knee vintage length that I wanted!

Then, when we were in Edinburgh I found some lovely petrol blue double knit in a fabric shop up there and thought I'd see how well double knit worked with this pattern too. It doesn't work as well as the green stable knit but it's still just fine and has a more relaxed, softer feel to the skirt rather than the rigid pencil skirt of the wool version.

I've finished all of them off with either bias binding or lace on the hem and round the skirt vent at the back.

Next up to be made is a bright red version made out of some red gabardine I bought on the last Birmingham sewing meetup last month. Then that should be it.... for now at least!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Wedding photos... and a few hand-made bits and bobs

Hello!!!! Anybody still there? It's been a while, but my PGCE is now over and I have a blissful 7 weeks off before the craziness of my first year teaching starts in September so I'm going to try to make the most of t sewing and blogging wise!

Anyhoo, a few of you asked to see wedding photos (from way back in April - whoops) so here they are:

Hair first - this was done by Mel from The Vintage Salon in Birmingham (their mobile salon). She did such an  amazing job - pin curls, finger waves everything - just wish I could recreate it myself!

I found the hair combs (original 1950s) on Etsy, and just knew they'd be perfect. Then I made the birdcage veil myself using some netting and a few well placed kirby grips sewn into place at the ends and middle of the veil. Super easy but so effective, and it didn't get in the way at all.

I thought about making the dress myself since I have so many 1950s dress patterns but it would have been too much to handle what with sorting the rest of the wedding out and trying to qualify as a teacher at the same time! But luckily I found my dress at Coast and when I tried it on, I loved it. I was determined to get things that I would wear on more than just my wedding day, so I decided to go for blue shoes rather than the traditional cream/white wedding shoes and I've worn them loads since which is great.

Front and back view - appliqu├ęd lace flowers all over the outer layer of the dress:

And full length view of the dress and shoes:

I made the cape myself using Simplicity 1944 (the same pattern Katie made her amazing plaid version from). After I saw her version at the Birmingham Blogger Meetup last November, I knew it would be the perfect pattern for the cape I wanted to make to go over my dress so I searched Etsy for another version of the pattern and was lucky enough to find one so purchased it straight away!

I made it out of a white wool and lined it with a navy blue satin lining. It was the perfect cover-up for a chilly day!

My Sister in Law did all the flowers for my bouquet, the buttonholes and the table decorations - she did the most amazing job!

And we decorated the venue from scratch ourselves the day before (there was a bit of a real ale theme running through the wedding, with all the tables named after independent breweries and the brewery bottles used for the flowers and candles):

We also made all the invitations, order of service and thank you cards ourselves:

So there we have it. Hope you liked the photos! Up next, all those finished makes I haven't yet blogged about!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Me Made May '13: Days 6 - 10

Hello all, more outfits for you today. Thanks so much for the lovely comments on the first 5 days outfits!

So here we go...

Day 6
What: Smooth Sailing Shorts, with hand painted striped vest.
Where: At home and popping to the shops
Doing: BBQ with the family.

Day 7
Doing:Teaching all day, including measuring in numeracy, hence the choice of dress!

Day 8
What: Chicago Tribune 1950s mail order dress.
Where: Work
Doing: Teaching all day.

Day 9
Where: Work, then the pup
Doing: Teaching all day then pub quiz in the evening.

Day 10
What: Colette Patterns Peony Dress
Where: Work
Doing: Teaching all day

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Me Made May '13. Days 1 - 5

Day 1: 
What: Swing Dress.
Where: To work
Doing: Teaching all day, followed by a pub quiz in the evening.

Day 2:
What: Pink Sorbetto with chinos 
Where: Work
Doing: Teaching all day.

Day 3: 
What: Grainline tiny pocket tank, with  chinos
Where: Work
Doing: Teaching all day, followed by  the pub for a meal and drinks with friends.   

Day 4:
What: Refashioned Ginger Skirt with pink vest and cardi.
Where: Home.
Doing: Out and about running errands.

Day 5:
Where: Home and in town.
Doing: Lesson planning and out shopping with the hubby.

Finished Project: Swing Dress Pattern

So, it's about time I got round to posting about the finished makes I've had waiting to be blogged about for the last few months!

First up is the Sense and Sensibility Patterns Swing Dress (aka Casey's Swing Dress Sew-along pattern). I bought this pattern back when Casey first mentioned doing a sew-along, and then wasn't able to take part so it got shoved in my pattern stash and forgotten about until Christmas. I can't remember what size I sewed up in the end, but I had to take out some of the ease just under the bust as it was really baggy and some of the ease on the back too, when I sewed up my muslin. This seems to have worked well though and I really like the fit of it now. I also added about 2" length onto the skirt to make sure it was long enough.

Generally this was a pretty simple make, except for the collar and collar facing. The instructions with the pattern totally foxed me but thankfully I had all of Casey's sew-along posts printed off and saved so when it came to sewing them, I had no problems in the end because Casey's instructions are pure genius!

I bought the fabric for this dress over Christmas - it's a viscose cotton mix and has a lovely drape, but that meant it could be a bit of a bugger to sew at times! Anyhoo, I managed it, and it's nice to finally sew with something other than cotton.

I decided to line the skirt because the fabric is quite lightweight and a bit sheer in bright sunlight. I used some china silk lining I had left over from one of my first sewing makes and hemmed it with some bias binding I had lying around. Not exactly the best colour combo, but I was determined to finish this in time to take away on my mini-moon to Edinburgh at the start of April and didn't have chance to go out and get any other colour.

I added some really pretty yellow purl buttons to the neckline, which I bought when I went to the NEC with Kat the other month. I knew they'd be perfect for the dress as there are small yellow flowers in the fabric pattern.

I serged all the edges - not very vintage I know, but I wanted to make sure the raw edges were all encased as the fabric frayed quite a lot.

I'm really glad I've finally got round to making this pattern as it's such a lovely dress to wear. I've worn it loads since making it so will definitely be making another one at some point - maybe in a nice solid colour for something a little different.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Giveaway Winner

Hello all,

It's a little late - things have been manic round here and I haven't had the time to pick a winner and post about it till now.

But, without further ado - the winner is Vicki Kate, so congratulations! Could you message me / leave a comment with your email address so I can get in touch for your postal details please?

Can't wait to see what you make with the patter and fabric Vicki Kate!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Belated Blogiversary Giveaway

Hello all,

Well I'm back from getting married and a minimoon to Edinburgh and have realised that I missed by blogiversary.... which just so happens to be the same day as my wedding day so hopefully I won't be forgetting it quite so easily next year! lol

Anyway, I have been lucky enough to win my fair share of give-aways since I started blogging, so I thought it was only fair to give something back to this lovely community that we're all part of!

Without further ado, I shall get on with it. Up for grabs is this cotton fabric - there's about 2.5m if I remember correctly. Can't currently find my tape measure to check though. And also Simplicity 2444 - I got this one free with Sew magazine recently, but I already have this pattern so thought it would be better going to a new home.

All you have to do to win is leave a comment below before midnight (GMT) on 24th April and I'll pick a winner from the hat. I'm happy to post anywhere in the world. Make sure you leave a link to your blog or an email address so I can email you for your address should you win.

In other news, I have, *cough* been somewhat unrestrained with my fabric purchases recently...

The two in the top left came from Edinburgh Fabrics (Thanks for the recommendation Debi). They're both really lovely stable knit fabrics, one cream, one a lovely petrol blue. I'm planning on making Gertie's bow tie blouse with the cream knit and a pencil skirt with the petrol blue knit.The next two on the top were finds in a vintage shop in Edinburgh. The clothes in there were really over-priced for the condition they were in I thought, but these two lots of fabrics were a bargain at £4 each for about 2m of each. The houndstooth fabric is a nice light wool, whilst the polkadot fabric is a gorgeous soft cotton.

In the middle is my one and only purchase from the home sewing exhibition I went to at the NEC with Kat a few weeks ago - I LOVE this fabric, it has geisha girls and skulls on it! Think I'm going to make a pencil dress of some sort with it. Then the last three fabrics in this row are all from . The red is a nice drapey rayon fabric, the golden fabric was a bonus piece they included - there's only about 1m of it and no idea what to do with it, then the green is a really lovely cotton.

On the bottom, the mint broderie-anglais is another purchase from Edinburgh Fabrics - I bought enough to make a nice full-skirted sun-dress  then the green is a double-knit also from I'm planning on making a skirt out of this too.

So just a few purchases then! Whoops.

Good luck with the give-away!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Me Made May 13

I'm in!

I had so much fun doing this last year that there was no question over signing up again this year. Last year really made me think about how I paired up my me made clothes to get different looks and although, this year, I have a few more items of me made clothes to wear than I did last year it'll still be a challenge to make the outfits look different every day.

I also found some of my now favourite blogs through the flickr group which is an added bonus.

So, without further ado:

I Helen of Helen Made, sign up to take part in MMM '13. I will wear at least one me made item of clothing a day and endeavour to avoid any outfit repeats throughout the month.

I will blog every 3 or 4 days with my outfits, but post in the flickr group daily or every other day depending on what works best. So there it is. Here's to a great MMM!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Still Here!

I am still here and have even managed to finish two sewing projects since finishing for Easter last week, but we're in the final count down to our wedding on Saturday so there's been little time to get photos of the finished items!

I've finally got round to sewing up the Sense and Sensibility Swing Dress Pattern that Casey held a sew-along for about 2 years ago - which is when I bought the pattern! Oops. It's actually a lot more straight forward to sew up than I thought it would be especially when I read the instructions for joining together the front and back at the shoulders! They made no sense whatsoever to me, but thankfully I had Casey's tutorial on hand to help. I'm taking the dress away with my on our mini-moon to Edinburgh next week so hopefully I'll manage to get some pictures of it then, so I can properly blog about the dress.

I've also made the pencil skirt from Gertie's book - so simple to make - I had it started and finished in a day which is kind of rewarding. I've got plans to make another in a green double-knit so we shall see how that goes. But it went together like a dream, so there will definitely be more of them coming along!

In addition to that, I have a yet to blog about wedding related clothing item that I actually finished back in January, but I'll post about that once the wedding is done with.

So there is some sewing going on, it's just a little hectic round here at the moment! Hopefully I'll be back in just over a week with some photos of all the finished makes to blog about in detail. But until then, enjoy the sunshine - I've got my fingers crossed it stays like this till Sunday!

Thursday, 14 March 2013


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Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Blogging Award

Oh, the lovely Amy over at Almond Rock nominated me for the One Lovely B|log award. I'm very flattered, so thanks Amy!

Looking on Amy's blog, these appear to be the rules:
1) Thank and link back to the awesome person who nominated you.  2) Share seven things about yourself.  3) Nominate ten other bloggers and comment on their blogs to let them know. Easy!
1. I met the lovely Amy last November at the Birmingham Blogger Meetup and since then I've been an avid follower of her blog (even if I hardly ever get time to comment on it or any other blog at the moment) so it's so lovely to be nominated by her.
2. Mmmm right, interesting facts.... not sure these are all overly interesting but here we go:
  • I love rock climbing - I started climbing about 5 years ago and me and my other half like to go indoor climbing as much as possible in the winter and outdoor climbing in the summer.
  • I'm getting married at the start of April this year (T minus 6 weeks!).
  • My other half and I like climbing so much we're taking our climbing gear with us on our mini-moon to Edinburgh after we get married as the city has the largest indoor climbing wall in the UK if not Europe!
  • I'm over half way through my Primary PGCE - in 6 months I will apparently been trained enough to have complete control over my own class of children - scary thought! lol
  • I'm a massive fan of the US sitcom New Girl and I reckon I have a bit of a girl crush on Zooey Deschanel.
  • I haven't given anything up for Lent, because there's no point as I never stick to it - how's that for commitment!
  • I'm really missing not having much time to sew/knit/do anything crafty at the moment - who knew when I started sewing that I'd become slightly addicted to the process?
3. OK now for the 10 bloggers I nominate. Some of these lovely people may well have received this award before but I've just found them so inspiring the last few years that I couldn't NOT include them. For the rest, I've tried to nominate people who haven't had the award yet. 
  • House of Pinheiro: Rachael is just so lovely - and stunning to boot! I absolutely love her creations.
  • Handmade Jane: One of the first blogs I started following when I first got in to sewing my own clothes, she never ceases to wow me with her makes.
  • Moonbeam: Another lovely blogger I met thanks to Marie's Birmingham Blogger Meetup. She's just created the most gorgeous bridesmaid outfit!
  • My Happy Sewing Place: Another one of my earliest blog finds. Debi is absolutely inspiring when it comes to vintage makes - she's currently working through all the McCalls 1940 patters!
  • Lucky Lucille: I just LOVE this blog, what more can I say!
  • Did You Make That: Again one of the first blogs I started reading when I got into sewing my own clothes. Karen's makes are just amazing, nuff said!
  • Seamless: A great blog - Elena has pledged not to buy any new clothes and not only that, she's inspired loads of other people to jump on the pledge too - if that's not inspiring I don't know what is!
  • Sew Brunswick: This is such a great blog and this lady makes some great clothes!
  • Molly's Sewing and Garage Sale Adventures: Now if making your own wedding dress isn't inspiring enough for people, they obviously can't be pleased - it's something I considered for about a week and then decided it was way too much stress, so hats off to Molly!
  • Aventuras de Costuras: I started following Merche during MMM '12 last year - her clothes are just amazing - plus I get to practice my Spanish at the same time when reading her blog. For those of you with no Spanish though, don't worry, she writes in English and Spanish!
Phew, so there we have it.

Thanks again Amy for the lovely nomination!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Finished Project: Summer Ginger Skirt

Morning everyone! Are you all glad it's the weekend?

I've got another finished project for you today. This time it's a Colette Ginger skirt. This is technically a refashion of a previous  self-stitched project. Back in May, during the MMM '12 project, I made myself a gathered skirt out of some lovely bright, summery cotton from Frumble Fabrics.

Gathered Skirt
There was nothing wrong with the make itself, but I've hardly worn this skirt because I just don't feel like it really flatters my figure overly much. I'm not sure whether some of this is down to the thickness of the cotton I used for the gathered skirt, as it is quite a thick cotton or whether it's just the style, but gathered skirts (like on the Cambie Dress) look fine on me when attached to a dress bodice.

So anyway, since the fabric was just so pretty and it seemed silly to have something in my wardrobe I just didn't wear, I decided to refashion it into something else. I originally thought about using the Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt pattern but I didn't have enough fabric for that so I went with the Colette Ginger pattern instead, which used up more or less every scrap of this fabric.

Nothing much else to report really. I went with the straight waistband on this make as the shaped waistbands sit a little too high for my relatively short waist and lined it with a polyester lining.

Have a good weekend everyone!