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The Handmade Fair

On Friday I went to The Handmade Fair for the first time and despite the heavy rain for much of the day thoroughly enjoyed it. I came away with lots of inspiration so wanted to share some of my highlights with you guys.

Probably what I liked best was being reminded what a lovely group of people crafters are, everyone I spoke to was super friendly and it was great to chat to the exhibitors about their products and hear about what they are doing with their business as well as how they got to where they are.

The product I was most impressed by was this kingfisher applique and machine embroidery cushion by Jessalli who runs the machine embroidery workshops at Tilly and the Buttons. Isn’t it stunning?

Jessalli kingfisher cushion
Image source:

While browsing through the great selection of fabrics for sale, I discovered some new to me fabric shops including:

Lovely Jubbly Fabrics who caught my eye with a variety of fun Disney prints. They are more quilting fabrics than dressmaking fabrics, but if I start doing some quilting I’ll be remembering them!

Disney films fabric

Mickey films fabric

On a similar theme, I was also drawn to some minions and superheros fabric at Fabrics Galore.

Minions fabric

No photo I’m afraid, but I was really tempted by the lovely rayon and jersey prints at Maud’s Fabric Finds, most of which were organic. I didn’t buy anything this time, but the link has definitely been bookmarked!

For a breather from the hustle and bustle of the exhibitors tents, I went to a couple of talks including Cath Kidston who had some great stories about turning mistakes into opportunities. I also had a go at one of the many workshops – making cat eye masks with Elisalex from By Hand London.

Cat eye mask

In terms of purchases, I managed to be reasonably restrained. I had gone with a plan of focusing on buying some knit fabric as I’ve been wanting to make the Sewaholic Renfrew top pretty much as long as I’ve been sewing. I ended up buying three different fabrics from knit fabric specialist Girl Charlee. I also couldn’t resist buying one of the many lovely woven viscose prints, this one was from Fabric Godmother:

Fair purchases

Clockwise from top left:

Two cotton, rayon and spandex mix prints (that are lovely and soft): first, second. A solid navy blue cotton/spandex mix. And a butterfly woven viscose.

Finally, as well as all the craft stalls there was also a food tent where I found myself drawn to a couple of chocolaty treats at the end of the day:

Dark Matters were selling a selection of vegan brownies, mine was scoffed before I could take a photo! And I’d not heard of Seed and Bean chocolate before, but they had lots of interesting flavours. The two I chose are so tasty that they won’t last long!

Seed and Bean choclate

Overall a very enjoyable day, think I may be back next year! Have you been to any craft fairs?


I made jeans!!

When I try on a completed make for the first time that I’m particularly pleased with I find myself doing a little happy dance – these definitely got a happy dance!

Ginger jeans front view

I used the popular Ginger Jeans pattern by Closet Case Files and was very impressed. Heather Lou has done loads of research into making jeans and her passion for helping others to create this super satisfying garment shines through in the incredibly useful sewalong and ebook on sewing jeans. You could easily make the jeans with just the pattern and the sewalong for some extra detail, but I brought the ebook too for a few reasons – 1. I was so impressed with the effort put into the sewalong that I was happy to pay a bit more in appreciation of that; 2. it is useful to have all the resources in one place; 3. the ebook includes additional information such as how to convert the pattern into flared or bootcut jeans, which I fully intend to do.

Ginger jeans side view

I went for view A – the lower rise and stovepipe leg. However, I didn’t want such low rise jeans so I lengthened the rise by 3 cm. To check the fit of doing this, I initially cut everything out except the waistband then basted the jeans together (after stay stitching around the waist). The back was gaping so I took a wedge out there then adjusted the waistband pattern piece appropriately before cutting that out.

Ginger jeans front view

I cut a size 12 which from the measurements I was expecting to have a little room around the hips and to have to take the waist in (sorted out by the wedge mentioned above). Thankfully I basted the side seams after sewing up the rest of the jeans to check the fit again – this showed they were actually a bit tight around the hips. So I used a smaller seam allowance for the side seams from the hips down. I’ll likely do this extra fitting step for all subsequent pairs as the width required for a good fit will depend on how the fabric stretches.

Ginger jeans back view

I used the wider back pockets that are provided as a free download and also lengthened them (since I had lengthened the rise), which also means they are very practical and securely fit my phone. I forgot to lengthen the legs, but think I got away with this by finishing the hem raw edge and then just folding over once about 1cm. But I’ll certainly lengthen the legs before making again though as I think I’d prefer them to be a bit longer.

Ginger jeans front topstitching

I used this stretch denim from Minerva, largely because it wasn’t too expensive and I’d seen a couple of other bloggers make Gingers using it. In all honestly, I’d been expecting these to be a toile that I might get to wear around the house, but they have already been getting lots of wear as one of my proudest makes.

Ginger jeans side topstitching

For the top stitching, I used double strands of regular thread rather than top stitching thread and think this worked pretty well. I went for matching thread partly because I was nervous about it going wonky and being obvious, but also saw from research that the majority of coloured jeans don’t have contrast top stitching. I think the top stitching turned out pretty neat in the end, I didn’t rush it and used a soap slither to add guiding markings where I wasn’t just following a straight seam.

Jeans pockets elephant print

For a fun detail on the inside, I used an elephant print cotton that I brought in Brighton at least a year ago and as per Heather Lou’s recommendation sewed it up so that you could see the print on the inside. I french seamed the pockets and flat felled as many seams as I could. Took a bit longer, but I think worth it and I love how neat they are on the inside.

I can definitely see more me made jeans in my future! Have you made jeans or plan to make some?


What I’ve been sewing, or not

Hello! I’ve been quiet on here for a few months now, not because I haven’t been creating, but because I have been in a bit of a creative rut. However, the intention of this blog is to document my creative journey, the good and the bad, so let me fill you in on what I’ve been up to…

After making making a few tops and skirts that I am happy with, I wanted my next project to be a dress. I’m not very keen in the idea of always having to go through the fitting process when using a new pattern, so wanted to make a classic sheath dress that I could then use as a block and adapt into different styles.

McCalls 2401 seemed to fit the bill nicely and I’d brought some lovely needlecord that I thought would work well in the sleeveless slash neck version if I widened the hem a little (as I don’t like skirts that restrict my movement) and added some patch pockets.

McCalls 2401

Good plan so far, but I then while going through the fitting process I ended up working towards an ever moving target which went something like this:

  • Two toiles of the dress, but still struggling with getting it fitting at the back, so converted what I’d done into just a bodice
  • Two bodice toiles that were getting there on the fit, but then…
  • Decided that I wanted this to now be a general block with sleeves, but adding them in didn’t go at all well as I’d changed the armscye too much (I couldn’t even do the zip up, my arms were so restricted!)
  • Somehow I decided that the easiest thing to do would be to switch to the Sewaholic Alma pattern(?!?), but that really just got me back to square one as I had now had not only back, but bust and hip fit issues to contend with again
  • Starting to despair with getting a bodice to fit, I changed direction completely and started drafting an A line skirt using the pencil skirt I’d made as a starting point
  • This probably went better than I thought at the time but after adding in pockets and creating all the pattern pieces I started having doubts about whether I was really happy enough with the fit and shape to cut into my nice fabric 🙁

Argh! At this point I really started to despair with all the work that felt like it was leading nowhere except a growing collection of toiles (made from old bedding that was going to be thrown out):

All the toiles

I’ve realised I need a reset and the satisfaction of completing something wearable, so have ordered some black viscose and will make another Belcarra as I can go straight to cutting and should have something I’ll actually want to wear soon. Fingers crossed anyway!

Interestingly, Sunni at A Fashionable Stitch has recently written a post that touches on overfitting, I most definitely seem to have fallen into this trap!

Have you ever gotten stuck in a rut like this?