You know you like a pattern when you’re prepared to sacrifice some of your most special fabric to make it!
I love how a really good set of instructions can give you the confidence to try something out of your comfort zone. I find it really so very satisfying to make something that has new techniques and is a little challenging.
“How about a pocket that could hold a few Pokémon cards?” “How did you read my mind Mammy?!” was his delighted response. With that promise made I figured I had better clear it with Caroline that I hack a pocket to the test garment…
I’ve admired Sansahash’s cool patterns for a while now and when they put a call for new pattern testers to join their testing team I jumped in with an application. I was delighted to be invited to join the team! The first chance to test a pattern was for their Niva Leggings
A few people have expressed an interest in how I recently went about creating three animal themed appliqués. So here is a little insight into my very limited appliqué experience to give a bit of context, finishing with some of the steps I took to make my favourite piece to date
When Misusu Patterns called for testers for the DIA patterns a very special project immediately came to mind. I had never before sewn something for Marlie, my mum, nor did I have any photos of me, my daughter and my mother together. As it worked out I couldn’t test the ladies version, a trip to Romania got in the way (oh poor me!), but got my hands on the pattern as soon as it was ready, thank you Elles! Once the kids testing was done I got cracking on a sweater for myself and my mum.
Misusu Patterns have just released their updated DIA Kids Sweater and Tunic pattern. The size range has expanded and an amazing number of options added (I personally love the high-low hem option that has been introduced). And what’s more; Misusu has now released a DIA Ladies version!! It is their first ladies’ pattern and what a super pattern to start with!!!
This post here is all about the DIAs for my pair of divils – more on the ladies to follow!!
I was delighted to get the chance to test the new children’s version. I must, here at the outset, admit to previously having been daunted by the pattern; it looks a bit tricky. When you’re trying to squeeze sewing in around the busy routines of life sometimes a pattern that requires a little effort can feel like a step too far. But this is why I love pattern testing. You’ve got to make that extra effort. Any by goodness this DIA pattern is worth every bit.
If, however, you’re still daunted Misusu have added both a basic front, a simple diamond piece and a constructed diamond piece. So you can decide to jump in with the full constructed diamond option, or take it easy and sew some lovely simple sweaters with some great hem and seam shapes. Pattern perfection for sure!!!
Misusu’s patterns are incredibly well conceived and constructed. The tutorials are detailed and comprehensive and when you follow the instructions the pattern just falls into place. Yes without doubt the constructed diamond requires careful attention to keeping your seam allowances even, but other than that there are no difficult techniques at all. Just a little patience. Which, when it comes to sewing, it turns out I am developing!!
For my first test version I decided to jump in with the constructed diamond and puff sleeves on the high low sweater version. I used quite stable sweater fabric, a combination of a purple/aubergine sweater from Metermeter and a floral liberty sweater fabric from Guthrie & Ghani. The little puff sleeves are very cute, though I reckon would be more effective in a slightly lighter fabric. A pretty perfect fit from the outset and my little diva was delighted with her DIA!
We love CANDY!!
Next up I decided to go or the tunic length version, high low again, and this time used a combination of three contrasting French terry fabrics. The yellow and rust colours from See You At Six and the pink from Elvelyckan Design.
I love this bright candy coloured combination!! The tunic length is just great for those chillier days when an extra bit of cosiness is needed. Pretty damn stylish too!!
The last test version I made is perhaps the most perfect little sweater I have ever made; a high low sweater in a soft, light but stable double sided French terry fabric from Guthrie & Ghani.
The front of the fabric is a soft flat sweater finish while the “reverse” of the fabric is a pink looped finish. The stability of the fabric really helped achieve those perfect diamond points. I found it makes it so much easier to keep the seam allowances even and the seams lining up when there is not too much stretch in the fabric.
The high-low hem created by Misusu, isn’t just a simple hem on a slightly longer back, but a carefully detailed pieced waistband that results in an shape that works beautifully with the diamond theme. Subtly angled side seams meet those waistband seams delightfully. It is so satisfying when it all comes together at the end!!
Neon Diamond Maddness!!
I had finished my testing makes but No.2 was feeling a little neglected in the sewing stakes so I decided to make him a DIA. From his measurements I should have graded the pattern to make it narrower, as he’s a skinny tall chap. But with my pattern tester hat no longer on I was back in lazy mode and just went with his height measurement. So plenty of room for layers under this snuggly neon fleece DIA!!
I went with the straight waistband option for this one and used some neon polar fleece from Fabrics Ireland combined with French terry from Elvelyckan and See You At Six! You might need sunglasses for this!!! The grey ribbing was a little too heavy for the main fabric along the waistband, especially at the back, so ended up swapping it out for some lighter weight See You At Six ribbing.
A pair of DIAmond DIVILS
No.2 is madly in love with his sister. She tolerates him most of the time, but deep down loves him too. They have the craic together, that’s for sure.
As always there was a great atmosphere within the DIA Kids testing group and the quality and inventiveness of my fellow testers was incredibly inspiring!!! A huge thanks to Elles for having me on the team; it was super experience once again!! While I didn’t test the DIA ladies pattern, I did get my hands on it as soon as it was ready (thanks Elles!) and straightaway got to work on a very special sewing project… more of that in a later post.
This post goes live right in the middle of the madness that is the Black Friday/Cyber Monday long weekend. Misusu Patterns are holding a big giveaway over on Instagram and there is 25% off all their patterns from the 23rd to the 26th November 2018!!
When Olga Becker from Coffee and Thread asked if any of the Lana KIDS testing team would like to join a Lana Pattern Tour I put my hand up immediately! Anything to encourage a bit of selfish sewing and with such a lovely pattern how could I refuse!
I intended making myself a Lana Dress, as I could definitely do with a few more Me Made dresses in my wardrobe (I have only one!!), but ended up making a couple of casual tops that are immediate favourites.
First, I made a t-shirt using some of See You At Six‘s latest collection of fabrics. I wasn’t supposed to buy any more fabric when this collection came out, but couldn’t resist those flying geese on such a lovely shade of yellow.
I sized up to allow for the french terry fabric that has a little more body than the jersey fabric intended for the pattern. It’s a relaxed fit on me and the lovely soft fabric makes it nice and cosy. Honestly, it will get more wear next summer than over the winter months but already has had quite a few outings, layered up as necessary.
For Round Two I promised myself I’d make a dress, but then came across this lovely soft white sweater fabric in my stash and knew that it needed to become a jumper.
The sweater fabric came from one of my favourite Irish fabric shops Quilt Yarn Stitch and I married it with more of that yellow See You At Six ribbing and some striped organic cotton interlock from Fabwork Mills. Yellow, White and Grey. Yum!!
I used the ruffled short sleeve and hacked it to an extra long sleeve with a yellow cuff to keep it practical and cosy. Olga has actually added a straight long sleeve to the pattern that can be used by itself or with the ruffle piece layered over it, but I wanted just a gather to the main sleeve so gave it a go. Not perfect but I’m happy!! (Notice a pattern developing? I love a cosy top!) I added a waistband to finish the bottom.
I spent a while thinking about the arm fabric. You don’t often see a jumper with a different coloured sleeve and was worried it would look weird when it was made. I wanted to used the lighter weight fabric to avoid the sleeves being too bulky and love the soft white and soft grey combined with the yellow. I’m delighted I risked it!!
I must say I was delighted with myself heading off to the Knitting and Stitching Show the day after I made this sweater in my largely Me Made outfit. This sewing addiction of mine is so rewarding! Even if it results in a lighter bank balance and neglected household…
I’m so thrilled to have been able to join so many talented seamstresses on this pattern tour. If you check out @coffeeandthread over on Instagram you’ll see all the fabulous work. So very inspiring, and I love the comradery fostered in the Facebook sewing groups!
Over at Coffee and Thread there is a 20% discount on all their patterns for the duration of the Lana Pattern Tour, 5th -16th November 2018, code: ‘lanatour’; so well worth a visit!!!
A couple of weeks ago I spotted a call on Instagram for pattern testers to test a new children’s pattern being released by Coffee and Thread; the Lana KIDS Dress and Tee. It looked like a gorgeous little pattern, within my skill range and so I decided to apply! Low and behold I was selected. Yippee! Cue some more late night sewing…
I had admired their adult Lana Top and Dress pattern and it has been on my wish list for a while, so was delighted to get the chance to test a children’s version. I applied to test the Lana Gathered Dress version for my little No.3. and she measured perfectly for the 18 months size.
I must admit to being a little nervous at joining a testing team for a new designer. My experiences with Misusu Patterns testing have been wonderful and I was worried that this experience wouldn’t measure up. I am delighted that this turned out to be another great experience. Coffee and Thread are based in Chicago and the testing group was made up of lots of sewing folk who I had not encountered before, so a lovely way to discover new people. Olga was great to test for; super engaged and so very helpful with advice/suggestions. Very gentle in her admonishing of those of us who hadn’t pressed our seams (yes, that would be me, oops!)… and more than a few good sewing tips thrown in too!
There are always a few surprises when testing patterns and this was no exception. The construction of those lovely little sleeves was a bit tricky to master. And I was nearly pulling out my hair at one stage, but thanks to the great support and ideas from Olga and the other testers I figured out a good method and conquered them! This is why I do pattern testing. It’s a great way to push my sewing boundaries and to learn from the experience of others! The most useful tip was to stay stitch the corners of the shoulder and snip into the corners a bit before pinning the sleeve on, sniping in a little more if needed. I found I needed to be quite careful when serging this seam, pulling the sleeve fabric as needed to avoid grabbing too much fabric. It is so satisfying when you master a new skill!!
The pattern comes with three versions. A Gathered Dress, a Tee Dress and a Top. I tested the two dress options and love them both. It’s a relaxed fitting pattern and much of the focus of the testing was to get the fit just right; relaxed but not too loose.
I made a couple of gathered dresses for testing purposes early on. The first (as modelled by Gorilla here!) was in a lovely green organic cotton interlock combination and was a little too wide. The fabric is quite loose in weave, and so gave it an even looser fit.
The second (as modelled by the Gorilla’s beautiful friend) is the blue jersey version made with some lovely Elvelyckan Design jersey. A tiny bit long (not a problem for me – always happy for growing room!) was my only comment!
Next up I got stuck into a Lana Tee Dress.
This first version is made using the softest jersey from Quilt Yarn Stitch. I have a good bit of it left in my stash, and have used if for a few other projects. It has a lovely generous stretch, and is really very soft. And those clashing blue and green stripes are just super!
I love the dropped shoulder detail in this pattern. The curve to the shoulder is just perfect and ends with a beautiful fluttered sleeve. I think Olga had older girls in mind with this Tee Dress version – but my goodness it is cute on my little maggot.
I called into The Fabric Counter during testing and was seduced by this gorgeous flamingo print jersey. It is just perfect for the Lana Gathered Dress version.
I learnt a new sewing tip during the course of this testing. I’ve made dresses with gathered skirts before but this was the first time a pattern called up adding a 15mm strip interfacing to the bottom of the bodice where it meets the skirt. And it works a treat! It prevents the bodice rippling along this seam and keeps it lovely and neat looking!
The pattern calls for the use of a knit fabric; jersey or similar. As we are settling into autumn here in Ireland I decided for my last version I would use some sweater fabric for another Tee Dress. And what a super fabric it is! Oh my, those colours! It’s a Liberty sweater fabric I bought from Guthrie & Ghani, a UK based fabric shop. I splurged a little and bought it with a sweater for myself in mind, (I’m thinking another Bel’Etoile Isa Sweater) and think I’ll have just enough left after eating into it a little here…
I was concerned that the heavier weight sweater would make the dress a bit too constricting, but I needn’t have worried, it fits great and No.3 was well able to run about and hunt for conkers in it. Combined with some Elvelyckan Design ribbing for the neck band and the ruffled sleeves it’s pretty much perfect.
I’ve really enjoyed making the Lana Dress versions and suspect No.3 will get a lot more in the future – along with some Lana Tops! I might even have to embark on some rare mum and daughter twinning too and invest in that adult Lana pattern for myself!
A huge thanks to Olga for inviting me to join the testing team! I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Lana KIDS Top and Dress is released today, 2nd October 2018, and it is on sale for the duration of the week of release (2nd October till 9th October 2018) and can be snapped up here for $6.50, instead of $9.00 after.
Back in July I was thrilled to be invited to join the Bel’Etoile International Pattern Tour. I had purchased two of their patterns earlier in the year but never got around to making them, so this was the perfect kick in the bum to try them out! Here’s how I got on…
Over on Instagram today (3rd Sept. 2018) I’m hosting a giveaway of one Bel’Etoile pattern – so go check it out for a chance to win!
At the same time I was also lucky enough to have spent a day walking from Shannon to Limerick with “Walk While You Can“, a charity walk travelling the length of the country to raise awareness and funds in aid of Motor Neurone Disease research. I decided to take advantage of being family-free on the other side of the country. So the next day I undertook a mini road trip home via Tuam to visit Quilt Yarn Stitch, and then on to Kells to visit Dress Fabrics. It was a great excuse to go visit the real life shops of two of the best online fabric shops based in Ireland.
I didn’t go crazy buying fabric, as my stash is getting a little out of control, but had hoped to use some Irish sourced fabric in the outfits I made for this tour.
In Quilt Yarn Stich I had to close my eyes to all the lovely printed jersey fabrics. I just can’t let myself buy more till I’ve used up some of what I have. I did fall for some lovely white quilted stretch sweater fabric and some cream/white solid sweater fabric too. Quite what I was doing buying white to be worn in a household with three small children I don’t know… (but I’m very glad I did!)
ISA, ISA, ISA
The first item I made was the Isa Dress and used some of that lovely quilted sweater for the front and back panels. This is the first Bel’Etoile pattern I bought back in April. I was drawn to the cool v-shaped colour blocking options. It also has lots of fit options to it – Sweater, Cropped Sweater, Sweater Dress and Dress.
I went with the dress option and, despite loving the v-shaped colour blocking potential, I decided that the quilted fabric provided enough texture. I paired it with some soft pink French terry from Elvelyckan Design that I’ve had in my stash for a while. The combination of soft colours and textures worked out just great!
The fit is lovely and relaxed with plenty of room for climbing about. It will be prefect in autumn/winter paired with some leggings/tights.
We managed to get away from the lads for a bit while on holidays in Castlegregory, Co. Kerry a couple of weeks ago and No.3 really enjoyed collecting stones on the beach – she was delighted to discover the big patch pockets the dress offers!!
Next up I decided to make the Lux Dress, well, two Lux Dresses! As there is now a women’s version as well as one for children! (During the blogtour, anyone who buys the Isa or Lux pattern, gets a free copy of the women’s pattern!)
So No. 3 and I were to get some matching gear for the first time! It occurred to me as I was finishing the Lux Dress for me that I hadn’t sewn a dress for myself in 10 years!! Not since one of my brothers’ wedding! Think I need more now!! I’ve pretty much lived in my Lux Dress since I made it.
For both dresses I used some lovely soft organic cotton interlock from Fabworks Online, a UK based online fabric shop that sells a lovely selection of organic cottons. A finely striped one for me and a whale patterned fabric for No.3. Beautifully soft.
The pattern calls for either a decorative surface positioned elastic waistband, or a concealed one using shirring elastic. I had neither so added in a casing for some normal 1″ elastic I had in my sewing box. I went about it arse-ways for No.3’s dress but learnt from that and improved the technique for my own, so was a much easier undertaking.
The little cuff sleeves are designed to be turned up, but I didn’t sew them up in either dress. There is also an option to hem the armhole, think I’ll try this for me next time. I will sew mine up, but I do like how they form little sleeves on No.3’s dress when left folded down.
I was a little concerned at the waist position – my narrowest point is a good bit higher than the pattern’s elasticated waistband – so it wouldn’t necessarily be the most flattering, but I decided to stick with the pattern for this first attempt and see where it led me.
I’ve got to say I do love the dress. The only adjustment to the pattern I made was to lengthen it by 7cm, as I’m 178cm tall . It is incredibly comfortable and while it’s very casual looking here, another fabric selection would make it so much dressier
This means nothing to me… Oh Vienna!!
Oh , but it really does mean so very much to me to be able to sew!! Next up I made a gorgeous little Vienna Dress for No.3 (the lads were really starting to feel left out!) using some lovely denim from Dress Fabrics and some quilted pink fabric from Fabrics Ireland.
I had picked up a remnant of a lovely soft denim when I went to visit Dress Fabrics’ garden party. It was such a relief to arrive at Maeve’s sheds! I had been driving all day and was greeted with tea, sandwiches (thank you to Maeve’s mum and sister!!) and best of all lots of beautiful fabric! Once again I resisted buying too much, but it was so good to see the fabrics up close. Buying fabric online is so very easy, but it is hard to know exactly what you’re buying. It was wonderful to have a good look around and now to be able to trust in the quality of everything she stocks! I got some lovely yellow French terry and some designer fake suede scuba fabric (not sure what to do with that, but couldn’t resist!) too.
The Vienna Dress is a more formal, structured “pretty” pattern than the Lux or the Isa. The little capped sleeves, and the ruffled seam to the front are lovely details. It calls for a zipped back, but I have never done a zip (!!) so instead added 3 lovely wooden buttons. Zips are on my list of things to learn to do, but hadn’t built up the courage at this point!
I’ve no idea what the pink fabric is! I bought it from TWI / Fabrics Ireland to line a coat that I made earlier on in the year and had a bit left over. It is quite thick and has a lovely bouncy quilted texture and is very soft. I wasn’t sure how it would work but am delighted with the result.
I love the contrast in colour and texture between the two fabrics and the buttons add yet another layer of contrast. It really is a very pretty pattern!
There are so many amazing Bel’Etoile outfits made as part of this blog tour by some terribly talented seamstresses (sewers? sewists?) and I would really encourage you to check them out over on Instagram. Just search for Bel’Etoile and you’re sorted!!