Thursday, 28 August 2014

Fabulous Forty!!

This year has been a year of new things, challenges and opportunities. My very last year in my thirties. Today I am 40. Wow. How did that happen?!

I'm pretty blessed frankly. I have a lovely family, a nice home, and I live in a beautiful place.

The list of things I've done this year were all for me. So I very self indulgently will pop them here. So I can look back and see what a great year it was.

No photos as I am currently (hopefully) sunning myself in Italy. Wahoo!
  • Back in January, I was one of three women to win the Voodoo Vixen plus size model competition. At the time I thought it was purely to do Fit modelling, so I went down to London a couple of times to help them size their dresses.
  • Neon Moon Vintage Ball. I've never been to an event like this one before. I spent a long time making my dress, and getting all dolled up to go with my lovely friend Nic. We had a ball. At the ball. :)
  • Photoshoot - before I found out I'd won the VV competition, I thought I'd book a cheap photoshoot from Groupon. The makeover was a bit of a shambles, but the shoot was great fun. 
  • Driving Challenge - spent the day driving EXTREMELY large vehicles with Anna, for charity. Brilliant fun.
  • Hell Bunny Hello Dolly Competition - I won this competition by making some outfits in the Hell Bunny style. First competition I've won for an actual contribution (rather than just a name out of a hat!) Got me a lovely dress.
  • Won spring sling bag pattern from Emmaline bags.
  • Won a family ticket to a play in Cambridge. Which frankly was not much cop and we left before the end. But still. I won it!
  • Weekend away from children - I have only ever spent one night away at a time from my kids, unless you count when I had to take just one of them with me when my dad was ill. Next month, I will be at Centreparcs for an ENTIRE weekend. With my friends. I am very looking forward to it! Hubby not quite so much.
  • Became a pattern tester - tested my first bag for Cozy Nest Designs. Loved the experience
  • Named the 'Beau Pair' for U-Handbag
  • Bought fabric on Goldhawk Lane - I know its a small one, but I've never had that experience before - where I live there aren't places like this.
  • Craftseller #Make of the Week contest - came second with my Betty Bowler in August.
  • Started my business - bit the bullet and started up my shop SheWearsRedFeathers. Its not particularly active, but it ticks over. I love that I've rtaken up sewing again. It makes me so happy.
  • Modelled for Voodoo Vixen - see further up - I hadn't really realised when I won that we would be part of the campaign. I never imagined that at my size, at my age, with my mug, I'd end up modelling. Blimey!
  • Attending opening of a new fabric shop Fabritastic - lovely little event - again something I've not done before
  • Did a sewlong - with ByHandLondon - first time for everything. I didn't win. It doesn't matter!
  • Womans Hour - My dulcet tones were on Womans Hour last month, bigging up the out of school care at my sons school. Took me totally by surprise as I was hijacked by the reporter at the door.
  • Got to go abroad. In fact as you read this I will be hopefully having a wonderful time in Lake Garda, Italy. I nagged and nagged John as we haven't been abroad since I came back from Oz with Joey in my belly. 
  • Got to increase my hours at work (and therefore bring in a bit more dosh). Come September, my 'baby' will be starting school. This means the end of my part time hours, although I won't be working full days as I still want to be able to collect them both from school two days of the week. My lovely boss has agreed to be flexible and let me come in late and leave early on those two days to fit in with school hours. 

What I didn't get to do - but never mind - see Kate Bush in concert :(

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Simple Sew Ruby Dress (Lighthouse Dress)

Its finished! I'm currently making a bag to match, but lets concentrate on the dress first:

This is the pattern. Its literally just one sheet of instructions (printed both sides) and multiple pattern sheets printed on fairly thick paper. Rather than going step by step through making it (the instructions are fairly clear), I will just summarise below.
Finished dress on Kirstie with belt

Dress before I added extra darts to reduce gaping

Modifications I made:

  • neckline drop. I just couldn't bear it across my windpipe so I lowered it by an inch. It doesn't look quite right as its no longer a 'slash' neck but at least I'll be able to wear it
  • half an inch added on all bodice side seams. Because I am fatter than their size 18. (Just quarter of an inch added to each side of the skirt pieces - of which I had 4 because I had to make two front pieces as fabric not wide enough to cut on the fold)
  • extra dart to compensate for gaping armholes (pic above). I'd already sewn on the bodice facing so I had to dart that as well which means a bit of extra bulk I could do without, but never mind. 
  • 4 extra inches on the bottom to take it to my knees. I don't like them on display much. actually I could have done with 5 extra inches but I know for next time. 
  • pattern placement - I only had a 44" wide fabric and this pattern requires 60". Not really an issue as I just seamed the front skirt instead of having it on the fold. I also used most of my 4 metres of fabric because of the width issue. Good job it was cheap!
  • belt loops added in case I want to wear one
  • Tacked down facing to main body at seamlines  to avoid 'bunching' when wearing.

Dress back on Kirstie with Belt added

Things I liked about the pattern:

  • It is what it says it is - simple. I really liked the clean look of the pattern and the instruction sheet.
  • I like the fact that they've used substantial paper which you can trace from. Tissue does my head in - its so fragile.
  • The waist is in the right place for me - I normally have to shorten it a bit but this was perfect.
  • The back. I like the shape of the back a lot. Reminds me of the Hell Bunny Souvenir dress I have. 
  • If I'd had the suggested width fabric rather than 44" this would have been really quick to cut out. I hate the cutting out bit. (Although I do like the sound of shears moving through fabric...)
  • Sizing seems accurate. I went by their suggestions that the 18 was 44" bust and 36" waist. As I have a 44" bust and a 37.5" waist I added half an inch to the side of each bodice section to take it to 46" bust and 38" waist. I then of course added an extra dart to the side bust as the front arm holes gaped really badly which will have taken some off the bust allowance. It seems to fit just right.
  • I also like the fact that you get support - I emailed them a question and they came back to me within the day.
Belt loops added

Things I did not like as much about the pattern:

  • They forgot to say you need a 16" concealed zip. (They have noticed and mentioned it on their fb page)
  • They don't tell you the seam allowance (1.5cm and 1cm along the neckline) They do have notches to indicate this on the pattern, but they don't tell you that is what they are for. I think a beginner would get quite confused.
  • Oversimplification - the grading lines aren't marked in the less obvious places. I pretty much had to guess which lines to use where there are  6 different sizing lines overlapping each other and its not at all obvious which one belongs to which size. I know clutter on a pattern sheet is not good, but sometimes you need that extra bit of info.
  • The concealed zip insertion guide is kind of pants. Again, they have cut instructions down to the bare minimum, which is the beauty of it, but sometimes you need more. That's what Google is for though. I used this one instead.
  • The diagrams are a teensy bit confusing in places. There's a square neck in there. This dress doesn't have a square neck. Its straight on the front, and triangular at the back.


  • There needs to be an extra dart on the side bust. However this may just be my shape and not the patterns fault. I also had to 'round off' the main (large) darts at the tip as they just looked really 'pointy'
  • The armscyes are a bit small for me as in they are a bit too close to my armpit. I actually don't think this is an issue with the pattern - I should have adjusted it for my size (I only adjusted the side seams)
I used seam binding to hem as I didn't make the skirt quite long enough. N.B. This is is NOT cheating. It actually looks really neat!
Happy with my concealed zip.


  • I used a directional fabric which really needed pattern matching in some places. Avoid this and you'll have a much quicker/easier task which doesn't take up as much fabric.
  • Please try and get hold of 60" fabric, but if you can't don't stress. Just accept that you need to cut two front pieces (and add on 1.5cm on each 'fold' line to seam them together) I needed more like 3.5m -4m of fabric to do this, however my fabric is directional so I had no choice in which direction to place the tissue. I also tried to pattern match which 'wasted' more fabric. If you have non-directional, you will probably need much less fabric.
  • Its always worth tracing your size rather than cutting out the pattern itself. Tedious but honestly worth it.
  • Buy an overlocker LOL. Seriously though - I used a zig zag on all seams and its a nice finish. I do have an overlock stitch on my machine, but it doesn't look as neat as plain zig zag.
  • I use seam binding on the hem, then turn it over and hem that way (see pics) I just find it a simpler way to do it.
  • Buy a mannequin/dressmaking dummy. Or make one. Its soooo much easier to fit that way.
  • Secure your facings with a few stitches on the seams.

Photo by Joey (7)

Terrible shots on the landing

and another
So in summary - I enjoyed running this up. The high slash neckline and wide shoulder placement doesn't really work for me to wear - but that isn't the patterns fault. Its just my preference. It was indeed a simple sew and suitable for a beginner. I will wear it quite a lot I think. Its very comfortable which is a massive thumbs up from me.

I really like the circle skirt and will use that again with 5" added to the bottom - maybe with a Flora bodice or a very similar bodice to this but with a round neck and narrower shoulders (Simplicity 2444?)

I'd probably give Simple Sew patterns another go now.  I do have their blouse pattern from an earlier 'Love Sewing' mag. Go check out their site here

Don't mess with the Potts!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Craftseller Win, Hibiscus bag, Lighthouse dress and enormous salads

This weeks news:

Voodoo Vixen are trickling out publicity shots for the new plus size range. Talk about teasing! Someone on Facebook spotted this shot this morning and let me know (that's me on the left!)

I came second in the Craftseller Make of the Week competiton for my Love Leopard bag. You don't win anything. You just get to bask in the glory LOL!]

I made a bag. This is for my early 40th celebrations on Friday. I embellished the front with a strip of the lining fabric, and some covered buttons, but I don't really like it, so I'll probably hold it with 'plain' side showing!

I've just realised it looks quite lopsided on the photo below - it is just the way its hanging, honest :)

Noah started to sew. Here he is making a skirt for his dolly. What he lacks in skills me makes up for in enthusiasm!

I took Joey to Pizza Express. I thought I'd be 'healthy' (lets discount those dough balls) and ordered a salad. Bl**dy H*ll it was enormous. I ate it all of course! 

Took the boys to Hinchingbrooke Park on Sunday. They played together really well. Its rare, but very welcome when that happens.

I bought a sewing magazine. I do try to avoid doing this unless they have a useful freebie, because I am unable to throw them away afterwards, and they end up cluttering up my already cluttered house. I had to try this Simple Sew pattern though.... make this Ruby dresss. Note this is unfinished. Needs extra darts, a zip and hemming. I made a  few alterations including:

  • neckline drop. I just couldnt bear it across my windpipe so I lowered it by an inch. It doesn't look quite right but at least I'll be able to wear it
  • half an inch on all bodice side seams. Because I am fatter than their size 18.
  • extra dart to compensate for gaping armholes (first pic) 
  • four extra inches on the bottom to take it to my knees. I don't like them on display much.
  • pattern placement - I only had a 44" wide fabric and this pattern requires 60". Not really an issue as I just seamed the front skirt instead of having it on the fold. I also used most of my 4 metres of fabric because of the width issue.

I will post on the dress again once its finished. I already know I don't really love the bodice shape, but I do love the skirt, which I think I will match with the ByHandLondon Flora bodice next time as I prefer it to their skirt. Nothing like a bit of pattern hacking!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

In which I am a model. No. Really. A model!!! For Voodoo Vixen!

Today I'm just posting a whole load of photos. A picture tells a thousand words!

These were taken on Friday for the Voodoo Vixen Plus Size Campaign Shoot A/W 2014 with Helen and Sarah who were the other two competition winners.

It was such a fun day. We got to the VV office for 9am, then once we were all made up by Jane, and hair done by Nicola, we headed to somewhere in Shoreditch for the shoot. This involved quite a bit of changing, and a lot of touch ups for sweaty faces LOL.

Its just a capsule collection of 9 dresses as they dip their feet into the plus size market - but there is already a lot of interest from people.

Not sure when our pics go live. Watch this space!