Wednesday, 12 March 2014


Pattern: Archer by Grainline
Size: 2
Alterations: none

While I was sewing this shirt I realised I have never ever sewn a button up shirt before. Most of the techniques involved weren't totally new to me but it was a first nonetheless. I think I did pretty good!

There was endless fretting over matching up the plaid fabric, which was a total steal at only €1 a metre it's a soft cotton or cotton blend (not sure) not quite brushed cotton but it comes close.

The Archer shirt pattern has been around for a while which gave me a chance to browse through the various versions and pattern reviews. I noticed that on most the sleeves sit quite low, since I have rather narrow shoulders I decided to go down a size in the hopes of getting a more fitted look. It did not work out entirely the sleeve still hits a tad low and in hindsight I believe I'd have been better off choosing my regular size for a more relaxed fit. The shirt fits me perfectly however and I didn't need to make any fitting adjustments so I'm just nitpicking over details now!

I found the sew along posts most helpful in constructing the bits that were new to me, sleeve vents, collar stand it all came together really well.
Sure I made a few mistakes, I sewed the buttonholes in the wrong way on the sleeve cuffs but we'll just won't mention that ;-)

I added a little Liberty to the inside yoke, the prints clash together in a way that I find most pleasing :-)

It's not exactly a party dress but I still get to wear something new and handmade for my birthday :-)

x Leila

Thursday, 6 February 2014


Pattern: By Hand London Elisalex
Size: UK 12
Alterations: yes
Fabric: black on grey leopard print heavy knit jersey bought on sale here

What I love about this dress

Well just about everything! I love the low cut back, I love the fitted bodice I love the full skirt! It's such a fun and feminine shape and lends itself well to all sorts of variations. The pattern has been around for a while so if you google you will find tons of different versions of the Elisalex dress made up in all sorts of fabrics proving just how versatile this pattern is. There's a sew along on the By Hand London blog which is a great resource.
Most of all I love that I feel pretty wearing my Elisalex :)

What I changed:
  •  I slashed a good 6" off the length of the skirt before I cut out my fabric so it would hit me just below the knee. After trying on the near finished dress I looked like I was drowning in it. What looks good on a taller woman was completely overwhelming on me (I'm 1.64m). So I chopped another 6" or so off the skirt a little too enthusiastically. I hemmed with narrow bias binding which is a really neat finish and saved me from ending up with a scandalously short skirt - result!

  • I didn't line the bodice simply because I had no suitable lining at hand. Instead I finished the neckline and sleeves with the same narrow bias binding I used for the hem. 

  • I added pockets, love me some pockets :)

  • I cut the sleeves at 3/4 length.

  • I straightened the shoulder seam. This has become a standard alteration for me to combat gaping necklines.

  • I took out some excess fabric in the bodice, it's designed to be close fitting so it was important to me to get that right. I had intended to make this dress from a cotton blend that I soon found to be too lightweight to hold the shape of the skirt well. By then I'd already traced all my pattern pieces and was too lazy to do it again. I really should have gone down a size to better account for the stretch in my fabric. Instead I simply pinned away the excess fabric along the princess seams until I was happy with the fit.

  • I struggled with the sleeves.  The sleeve cap sat slightly off the shoulder but  that wasn't the biggest issue the sleeves looked oddly creased and baggy on me. Almost as if I had sewn them in backwards - which I had not I checked ;) I don't feel confident at all making adjustments to sleeves and have always tried to steer clear of it. But  the alternative would have been to go sleeveless in my winter weight dress - it's still far too cold for that! So I gave it my best shot and redrafted the curve of the sleeve, flattening it out a little at the back and shaving off a fair amount at the front creating a deeper curve. I am really not sure if this is the proper way one should go about altering sleeves so if you came here because you have the same fitting issues please be aware that I was winging it! I just know from experience the type of sleeve that fits me best and tried my hardest to redraft the Elisalex sleeve accordingly. It's better now than it was before, not perfect. I still have lots to learn. 

x Leila

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Deer & Doe cut out skull Plantain - my entry

Having seen so many fantastic versions of the Plantain t-shirt already I felt the need to push outside my comfort zone and try something different. I had only one suitable fabric at hand and it wasn't at all what I would have ideally chosen for this shirt. It's a medium weight sweater knit but without the plush softness on the inside in a muted greyish brown…meh!
But having to work with such a plain fabric made me push my boundaries just that little further and opt for a bit of drama. I am loving the end result!

Behold the cut out skull Plantain ;-)

I googled images for cut out skull t-shirts and used those as a guide to draw the outlines straight onto the back panel with an erasable marker. After that it was only a matter of plucking up the courage to start cutting.
For the elbow patches I used some faux leather. I made a size 38 no alterations and it is a little large on me. The relaxed fit works well with the skull but next time I will go down a size.

It was a bit of a race against the clock to get my t-shirt ready in time. Luckily it comes together pretty quick. Excuse the dark pictures I was in such a hurry to get them done before sunset!
If you would like to enter in the Deer & Doe challenge you'll have to be quick, it ends midnight tomorrow!

x Leila

Monday, 20 January 2014


January began slowly getting back into the old routine of school runs intermittent with colds and a few days cooped up indoors with the flu. Although this time of year is far from my favourite I'm sticking to my new years mantra of 'out with the old and in with the new'. It seems to be working so far :)

So as not to let the excuse of my neglected and messy sewing space keep me from creating I had a good tidy up complete with pushing around some furniture and reorganising my sewing pattern collection. Which I promptly rewarded myself for by adding more patterns to the stash ;)

 In a flash of inspiration I came up with this idea for a quilt. I had every intention of being sensible and making a cushion first with raw edge appliqué to get a quick fix of what the design would look like without committing to yet another project that may end up on the ever growing w.i.p pile. It looked very promising at the stage when I took this picture. But I had some serious issues with the fusible interfacing I used. I had to unpick my stitches so often because the thread broke or the stitches became uneven as the sticky interfacing kept clinging to the needle and clogging up the eye. It was a mess and there's only so much unpicking one can do before the fabric starts to look worse for wear. I'm still quite excited about the design and keeping my fingers crossed that what looks good on paper will translate well into a larger scale quilt. I find this difficult to predict sometimes.

After all this I needed a quick and easy fix so I made myself a new dress. The pattern is the Lady Skater  from Kitschy Coo
It's a lovely every day sort of dress style that can be dressed up or down as you wish with different fabric choices and or accessories. I made the pattern as is no alterations. The weight of the skirt dragged the waistline down a bit lower than I think is most flattering on me. It still needs hemming so I may as well fix the waistline while I'm at it. But I might just wear it with a wide belt and call it done :)

Last but certainly not least one of the highlights for me this month was the release of Playful Little Paper Pieced Projects. I am super excited to be a little part of this fantastic book compiled by Tacha! As these things go it was ages ago when I worked in secret on my blocks and I'd half forgotten what they looked like. To see them all professionally photographed in a real book is quite surreal experience!

I'm obviously biased but I believe this book has something to offer for anyone interested in paper piecing. It has a very comprehensive introduction on paper piecing and the various techniques one can use. For those of you that are new to paper piecing or unsure where to begin this would definitely be a great place to start! But there are all sorts of fun blocks and projects to make for those that are more experienced as well.
The book really deserves it's own blog post with some proper pictures, seeing as this is quite a lengthy post already I will save that for later!

Leila x

Friday, 27 December 2013

Wrapping up 2013

As the year draws to a close it's only natural to look back and reflect. I have very mixed feelings about this year, I withdrew a bit from all my online social activities and gave in to my need for a little solitude. As good as the quiet has been, at times it also made me feel like I missed (out on) a lot.
I have started way more projects than I finished, I've shared less than what I made, I still have quite a few belated bee blocks to finish (oh the shame!) I did not finish a single quilt but my wardrobe is starting to look better and better. I think that all the while what I've really been working on was creating  more space. Removing the clutter, in my brain in my home, in my sewing, in my parenting. More space to grow, more space to create, more space to just be. It's been a bit of an intangible subject for me to share as most of it happens beneath the surface.

Anyway that was 2013, no predictions or resolutions for the new year as I tend not to stick to them anyway ;) Just out with the old and in with the new, isn't that what the new year is all about?

Wishing you all a very happy and creative New Year!

x Leila