It’s All About Mimi (Blouse)

mimi blouse

When I finished this blouse and put it on for the first time I proclaimed that I was never going to wear anything else ever again. After some concerned looks from the boyfriend I clarified that I would wear trousers and skirts as well… Seriously though, this is definitely my favourite ever me-made and I’ve loved a fair number of ’em.MimiSpots09.The pattern is the Mimi blouse from Tilly’s Love At First Stitch, which I treated myself to a little while ago. The pattern is printed overlapping to save on paper, so you have to trace it. I didn’t find this a problem though, with physical patterns I like to keep the original intact anyway, so I trace onto swedish tracing paper. The only alteration I made to the pattern while tracing was to grade from a size 6 waist to a size 7 at the hips to give those curves some room. I’ve mentioned before a fear of upper body fitting because it’s so often disastrous, but this blouse fits nicely straight off the pattern. It’s quite loose, so if you like a more fitted look you might want to go down a size, but for me this was a perfect summery shape.

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As always with Tilly’s patterns, there were lovely, clear, friendly instructions and photos. I did do some of it out of order though – I waited to sew up the side seams until the collar and neckline facing were sewn in and similarly, with the sleeves I attached the facing before the under arm seam. I think this made it a bit easier to sew, but I’m sure there’s not a huge differece. This is my first (successful) collar and it was a breeze with the instructions in the book.

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The fabric is a lovely drapey cotton I picked up in my local haberdashery, Masons in Abingdon. It’s really soft and airy, perfect for summer blouses and very easy to work with.

Let’s talk buttons. These were fairly expensive at 70p a pop – so much so that the guy in the shop asked me if I was sure I wanted 12 of them. I was sure. I didn’t have a Mimi in mind, but I knew they needed to be in my stash for the perfect occasion. Imagine my delight when I realised that they were exactly the same size as the spots on this material, oh yes! I am mightily pleased that I managed to get them all lined up over a spot so they blend into the pattern.

I didn’t attempt much in the way of pattern matching on most of the blouse, but I’ve attempted to across the front. The buttons work well, but sadly I cut one side slightly wonky, so I couldn’t get the pattern lined up perfectly across the join right at the top. It does go into alignment further down, however when I wear it the fabric obviously moves around anyway, so I guess I’m never going to get that seamless look.

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There was one minor drama with this blouse, which is that my buttonholer stopped working again. I had a problem with it quite soon after buying the machine where it would only make tiny buttonholes the size of a grain of rice. Yes, I had put a button in the buttonhole foot and yes, the buttonhole lever was down. After a couple of months of hand sewing buttonholes and trying to find the answer online I took it into the shop, where they found a bent spring inside the mechanism, so thankfully it wasn’t me being an idiot like most of the problems I’ve had. Anyway, they didn’t have a spare spring, but bent it back and hey presto, it’s worked fine ever since. Until, that is, I put my precious almost-finished Mimi blouse under the needle! I had done several test buttonholes and was ploughing ahead with the real thing when old buttonholer decided he didn’t want to play ball again. I unpicked, pulled the lever up and down and did another test buttonhole, which worked fine. I then managed to do 3 buttonholes on the blouse before it packed up again and more unpicking ensued. Anyway, I managed to get the buttonholes in, so disaster averted, but I am gonna have to get that properly fixed before I make another blouse! Have you had this problem before? Maybe I should only buy tiny mouse buttons and then it won’t matter.

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And what do I think now the initial excitement has worn off? Yep, still absolutely love it. I’m going to make Mimi blouses in all of the fabrics.

Spice Up Your Pyjamas

chilli pyjamas

I am a very selfish sewist usually, but as I’ve improved and projects seem less mountainous I have started to think about projects I can make for other people. This, combined with my boyfriend complaining of ill-fitting pyjamas and some excellent chilli printed cotton, conspired to get me to make some PJs for him.

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The fabric is quilting cotton from Fabric Land in Bristol. It’s not the prettiest shop with the highest quality fabric, but it’s a good place for a bargain and this cotton was no exception (think it was about £3 a metre). It’s the sort of print that is hard to pull off as daywear and therefore lends itself excellently to pyjamas. That’s how it works, right?

I drafted the pattern myself from a well-loved old pair of pyjama shorts by laying it out on the paper to measure the height and width and a couple of points along the inner curve, then I added in the crotch curve as a smooth curve between measurements.

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The waist is loosely elasticated and there are pockets (these PJs aren’t just for looking pretty!). For the construction I vaguely followed the instructions in Love at First Stitch for Margot pyjama bottoms, which were really helpful and clear. It was a very quick sew and I can imagine lots more of these coming off the sewing bench both for me and for him!

Sadly Ben has refused to model his favourite jim-jams for you all, so you’ll have to imagine how fabulous they look on.

ChilliPJs3Not gonna lie, they did make me think of Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook when I had them all laid out, but I think they’re really fun. Managed to get some perfect seam alignment at the crotch, but didn’t make much (any) attempt at pattern matching. For such a bold pattern, you probably would need to pattern match for a shirt or something, but there’s no way I’m going to that much effort for something that’s not going to leave the house. Hopefully he won’t notice 😉

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ChilliPJs1Here are some pictures of the inside as well. My sewing machine has a faux overlock stitch that I used on a couple of garments, but I’ve decided that I actually really like the look of zig-zag finished seams and it’s a lot quicker and less thread consuming. With cotton like this, the zig-zag stitch will actually fold over the edge of the material if you get it aligned right, which looks really neat. This is probably something you all already know, but I was extremely excited when it happened to me.

ChilliPJs5The only complaint I’ve had is that they pull down a bit at the back after wearing for a while, so I may go back to the pattern and give a bit more booty room for the next pair, but all in all I’m really pleased with these. They’re the first thing I’ve made with legs, which is pretty exciting! I’ll be making skinny jeans in no time.

Glastonbury Circus Dress

Glastonbury Circus Dress

I have been quiet for a little while, friends, because I was busy planning my outfits for Glastonbury! For those of you outside the UK it’s a huge music and arts festival on a dairy farm in Somerset where you get muddy and sunburnt for the weekend, dance all night to Florence and the Machine, only to get up before dawn to watch the sun rise over the stone circle, then watch trapeze artists swing around the circus tent with churros in one hand and a mango lassi in the other. Well that’s how I like to do it anyway (minus the getting up bit obviously…).

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This is my third year at Glastonbury and I’m very privileged to get crew tickets with my boyfriend’s family who work in the Theatre & Circus area. This means that we camp with some pretty famous comedians (Marcus Brigstocke and Shappi Khorsandi anyone?). It also means that you’ll go to brush your teeth and bump into someone cycling round the tents in stilts or casually cartwheeling down the breakfast queue.Glastonbury20158I took the circus tents as inspiration for my outfit this year. I wanted something bright and bold with a hint of victorian circus about it. First thing first I went back to my swirl skirt design from Christmas. I bought some red, yellow and blue polyester satin, but unfortunately the blue was a very dark navy and it looked a lot like the German flag when I laid it out. Don’t get me wrong, Germany has a lovely flag, but it doesn’t exactly scream circus victoriana at you does it? So back to the shop I traipsed and ended up with a slightly lighter blue, red and cream. Despite some smartarse pointing out that it looked like the French flag I was pretty happy with that combo and I had plenty of the blue colour to try out my new bodice sloper as well (I know, still unblogged, I’m working on it! All this festivalling keeps a girl busy you know.).

Glastonbury20155Here I am posing with my circus dress and matching tent! I am really pleased with this dress – it was just right for Glastonbury, although I wish I’d had time to sew on the gold sequin belt I had bought. I would definitely wear it to non-festival events as well, so I think I’ll get a bit more mileage out of it yet.

Glastonbury20153 The bodice was a pretty good fit. The armholes were still a little too high under the arms and I made a bit of a mess of the bias binding round the neck and armholes resulting in a bit of puckering, but hey, the fabric was slippery and I had a deadline. Certainly wasn’t the weirdest dressed person I saw over the weekend. The skirt’s curved seams were a lot less painful this time, I must be getting better at them! I’m really liking this skirt – I’ve got a tutorial in the pipeline, so watch this space and you could have your own fabulous multi-coloured skirt to twirl around in.

Aaand here are the obligatory twirling photos. Glastonbury20156 Glastonbury20157