Reasons To Sew A Toile

sewing a toile

andy powell

Did you witness the rather magnificent costume designer, Sandy Powell, wear a toile to the BAFTA awards? She’s raising money for Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage, the home of his creativity. The plan was to persuade famous attendees to sign her toile, and auction it off.

Her plan worked! The Instagram photos were amazing.

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Two Sewing Patterns In One Handmade Dress

viscose animal print

When I was a teenager, I had a white cotton drop-waist dress. God, I loved that dress. And now I love this one almost as much.

It’s a hack, inspired by Lisa Comfort’s recent vlog where she shared a hack of the Sew Over It Ultimate Shift Dress to make a maxi dress. Mind. Blown! So simple, so inspiring. And I had exactly the right fabric waiting to be pressed.

It’s an animal print viscose from – you guessed it – TMOS. It’s super cheap and so lovely to work with. There’s still some on a roll, so canter down to Walthamstow market, like the eager sewing unicorns I know you are!

I didn’t exactly copy Lisa’s version. Mine isn’t quite a maxi dress. I paired the Shift Dress bodice and the Myosotis Dress skirt, thereby combining two of my favourite patterns. Done!

Myosotis Shift Dress

I’ll be wearing this dress to death, I can tell. Have you done any hacking lately?

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Sewing With A Polka Dot

nora top tilly and the buttons

Have you guys seen polka dots EVERYWHERE this season? I have! The great thing about sewing is that we all likely have a polka dot somewhere in our stash, so we can crown ourselves officially ahead of the trend.

Winning at life.

On which basis, I sewed a Tilly And The Buttons Nora Top!

tilly and the buttons nora top

I don’t entirely buy the received wisdom that knits are easier to sew with than wovens. Sure, the fitting is more straightforward, but with each knit you spend some time (at least!) understanding the fabric’s structure and behaviour. Patterns for knit makes forewarn you to explore the personality of your fabric with swatch tests. Interesting.

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A New Outfit Made From Sewing AND Knitting

how to knit a shawl

I can’t decide if I like the lopsided wall or the fungal concrete more. Keeping it real, folks!

Now, didn’t I tell you I’d been making stuff? Here is one of my new outfits, composed of both sewing AND knitting.

Let’s start with the shawl, shall we? Long-time readers of Did You Make That already know that it takes me about one gazillion years to knit any single item. Glaciers move at a quicker pace. So, I’m keen to celebrate a finished make!

This is the Waiting For Rain shawl by Sylvia McFadden. It’s a lovely combination of calming garter stitch and head-scratchy lace sections.

waiting for rain shawl

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2019 – Inspired And Inspiring

It’s fun AND mindful to look back, look forwards – to remember the best (to not mind the worst) and hope for more to come. How was your 2019? I have to admit, I needed to scratch my head to remember all of mine – the past 12 months flew by in a whirlwind.

2019 was my year of the Myosotis dress – dang, I love this pattern. It struck a chord as the high street has been full of gathered, tiered dresses and it’s always fun to put your own spin on things. All of my successful Myosotis makes have been worn in HEAVY rotation and I have others planned.

Myosotis Collage

red myosotis dress

myosotis dress in silk

myositis with marie

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Happy Holidays 2019!

Screenshot 2019-12-24 at 19.56.20

Screenshot 2019-12-24 at 20.03.28

The traditional Did You Make That festive vlog is up and available to watch on Youtube. Find out my suggestions for Christmas reading and see Ella leap after a cat!

I am wearing my Tilly and the Buttons Nora top in mermaid sequins. Swoon!

Have a great break, my friends! Put your feet up and relax.

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Turning Seven, Turning Metallic

how to sew ogden cami

Oh, man! We can agree that it’s been way too long since Ella last appeared on Did You Make That. Did you know that she’s just turned seven? And next year, I turn 50! How does any of this even happen?

Ella remains playful, stubborn, affectionate and such great company. She is also my BEST filter of fellow human beings. I largely reserve judgement until people have met Ella, and I continue to find her responses fascinating. She crosses the road to avoid people who are off their proverbials. Walthamstow continues to be a vibrant and diverse community – with all that entails. Yet, how does she know?! A little dog can have no concept of alcohol or drugs and yet … she most definitely knows. ‘Come on, Karen. We’re crossing the street.’ Some people who I don’t like, she loves. Others, we both adore. A few, we equally despise.

But to date, she agrees that a person who sews can only be good to the depth of their soul. I genuinely believe this! We invest our hearts into sewing. I just don’t believe that a bad person can do good creating.

sewing denim

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Sewing Eco-Guilt? Killer!

May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears

Have you noticed? Somewhere along the way, the environment stopped being about the largesse of recycling your empty wine bottles at the weekend and started becoming… Well. Really urgent.

All around us are images of micro beads floating in pacific oceans, sea birds drowning in plastic, and turtles caught up in nets. Young activists lead the way – god, don’t you love our future generations? – and I feel compelled to follow.

Sewing has a pretty good track record in terms of sustainability. As a community we:

  • turn our backs on fast fashion
  • regularly recycle fabric, patterns and clothes
  • use our craft to protest
  • pass down generational skills
  • rescue forgotten sewing machines

We can feel good about ourselves, but we could feel better. Shall we agree on that?

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Haven’t I Seen That Dress Before?

sewing with tea rose fabric

Do your eyes deceive you? Haven’t you seen this Deer & Doe Myosotis dress before? Why yes, you have – here!

I decided to pay an homage to Marie of A Stitching Odyssey. Oh, who am I kidding? I copied her. EXACTLY. Even down to the buttons.

Fortunately, Marie and I are good friends and I knew she wouldn’t mind. Love you, Marie! We’re now determined to bag a photoshoot together in our matching dresses. Wouldn’t that be fun?

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The Emotional Range Of Making

how to embroider

My latest pursuit. I’ve been working with an embroidery kit. Oh yeah, I did tapestry and cross stitch as a child, but I’ve never before pursued the solitary activity of choosing which stitch goes where, with a tiny needle and tinier stitches.

It’s been a revelation.

Why did no one warn me? That embroidery could be so emotional? Every single stitch in this project hugs to it the most precious memories. I know exactly where I was sat the first time I punctured that black canvas with a glinting needle. I remember the joy and distraction of learning a French knot whilst watching a film. The mantra I repeated in my head as other parts of the embroidery took form and the times I cast it aside as the gloaming merged into night and I had no more light by which to see. All I had left to do was listen to the quiet.

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