Thursday, 29 August 2013

WIP: Colette Anise

I'm finally making it! A week of holiday last week meant I could really get stuck in.

I think I'm in love.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Follow me on Instagram

You may have noticed that despite my best efforts I'm a bit rubbish with blogging regular posts but as always I do promise I do do the odd bit of sewing.

To a) prove this and b) give a nice insight into the projects I'm working on I'm going to start instragraming (I love a good made up verb) my sewing chronicles. I'm hoping this simple way of tracking my progress in sewing will be a boost to the old blog and really help keep up momentum on projects.

Follow me on instragram at charliesayssew and see what i'm up to!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Frankenpattern - Anise fitting

Ooops - sorry guys. Im not sure if you've noticed but the weather over the last few weeks has been A-mazing which has meant total blog silence whilst I captured as much sun as possible. Fortunately, it's all over now and it's pouring with rain as I type!

Before my sunshine hiatus, I had finally started my Anise jacket from Colette. I have been dying to get stuck into this for ages but couldn't find the fabric I wanted so the pattern sat on the shelf for a while. Then on a recent trip to London I found some mustard cotton (I've decided it's like a brushed flannel) that was perfect. Then rather annoyingly I went on the Birmingham meet-up the next day and found some Mustard garbadine for half the price - damn you Barry's Fabrics! It turns out mustard fabric is like busses...

According to the pattern I am a 4 in the bust and a 6 everywhere else. I laboriously traced off the pattern in a 6, no harm in a bit of extra room up top I thought. I then proceeded to make toile no.1. The pattern went together fine and I set in both sleeves so I could see how it was sitting. Well. The answer is not good, the jacket was about 4 inches off even nearly meeting across the bust, I couldn't move my arms and there was serious wrinkling in the back.

This story could take some time but I can see you're already falling asleep so to cut a long story short about 5 toiles later I gave up most of fitting efforts and cut. Watch this space to see how that works out.

In brief, the first thing I did was a 2" FBA, it's taken me a long time to get my head around why I need to do this as I have fairly small boobs but have to do this a adjustment a fair bit so I'm guessing it's something to do with my back. I also did a 1cm forward shoulder a 1/2cm broad back adjustment a la Fit for Real People to give a bit more room for arm movement. These two adjustments were fine, it was the swayback that was the killer. After doing the massive FBA I could have shoved a cushion up the back of the jacket. Pinning out the excess horizontally worked a dream and the toile looked ace, however I was pinching out around 3" and transferring this to the pattern just did not work. It turned out something like this...

One huge swayback adjustment
This obviously didn't work as it added in a huge amount of extra fabric at the centre back. I read that you shouldn't do more than a 2cm swayback adjustment so I tried to spread it out across three smaller areas but that didn't work either.

Swayback adjustment spread across three points - still didn't work!
In the end I gave up and left in a single 1" swayback adjustment and went for it. However, with the incredible heat I couldn't bring myself to sit inside and make a jacket so it's still sitting there waiting for some bound buttonholes to appear.

Apologies for the lack of fitting pictures, it was far too stressful to be taking photos. By way of apology here is a picture of some cakes I made for my amazing friends' wedding a couple of weeks ago!

Monday, 1 July 2013


Thank you so much to Fiona at Diary of a Chain Stitcher for nominating my blog for the Leibster award. I've been lurking blogs for a while now but I've only just started commenting and making my presence known. I've realised how amazing it is when people write lovely comments about your makes so its nice that from my comments Fiona checked out my blog and I got this ace nomination!

So, onto the questions...

1. What is your favourite film of all time and why?
My favourite film is Cinema Paradiso. I studied it at university and fell in love with it. My short essay on it also got a first so that helped too!

2. What kind of holidays do you like? Beach, city break, raving in Ibiza?!
I like a combination of beach and city breaks. I like doing things and love the hustle and bustle of cities but sometimes you can't beat lying on the beach with a good book and a cocktail.

3. I spend a lot of time commuting, if you had a spare hour on the train what would you do?
Sadly whenever I'm on the train for work I always manage to get lots of work done! There's nothing like a good train journey to sort your emails out. However a couple of weeks ago on the train I could be found hand stitching the lining to my Elisalex.

4. What is the best sewing book you have read?
The sewing book I use the most, practically every time I'm at the machine, is the Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing book. I "borrowed" it from my school teacher a loooong time ago and I appear to still have it. I feel a little bit guilty every time I get it out but at the same time it's so damn useful.

5. Knits or wovens?
Wovens wovens wovens! I'm still building up the courage to try knits.

6. What is your favourite blog?
Such an unfair question! But, the three blogs that I found and followed first and probably inspired me to get back into sewing were TillyGertie and Julia Bobbin.

7. What other crafts do you do and which is your favourite?
I am baker plain and simple. I love making cakes but I love eating them more. If i'm not sewing I'm probably baking.

8. What is your karaoke song?
I do NOT do karaoke. I wish I did but I just don't have the balls to do it!

9. Sweet or savoury?
Sweet sweet sweet.

10. What is your favourite accessory?
Hmmm, I'm not very good at accessorizing so it would probably have to be any one of my handbags.

11. If I gave you £50 to spend on fabrics, patterns or craft supplies what would you make from it?
Ooh, well I really like the Watson jacket from Papercut Patterns so maybe I'd make that up in a nice camel wool. But then again I really want to try some of the Deer and Doe patterns too. 

That was fun. And in return I shall nominate the following bloggers for the Liebster Award:
1. Sabs at Tybalt: king of cats

2. Lara at Dreaming of Avonlea

3. Hannah at Made with Hugs and Kisses

4. Rachel at A Study in Stitching

5. Ami at The Litle Tailoress

I think I'm supposed nominate 11 bloggers. Sorry. I'm also going to be incredibly lazy and once again ask the same questions as I was asked! Sorry again.

In other news I am having an absolute fight with my Anise jacket. I've been fitting it for what seems like months now (it's been a full week). They say 'measure twice, cut once', well I've measured about 50 times and now i'm giving up and cutting! Wish me luck...

Monday, 24 June 2013

Indie Pattern Month - Finished: Elisalex!

Modern Vintage Cupcakes is hosting Indie Pattern Month this month so I've jumped all over that bandwagon and want to share my most recent make in celebration of all the independent pattern designers out there. Since I've started sewing again I've pretty much only sewn indie patterns and there are still lots on my list to make. There are just so many nice patterns out there and they just keep on coming.

The majority of my patterns (and wish list) are Colette Patterns, I've made a couple of Sencha's and Sorbetto's and also have the patterns waiting for the Violet blouse, Lady Grey coat and currently on my sewing table is the Anise jacket. I'm also a little in love with the likes of Papercut Patterns, Sewaholic and Grainline Studio to name but a few.

But, my favourite at the moment is By Hand London and the Elisalex dress. This is my second go at this dress, the first was made for my work Christmas party in December last year. I really liked my first attempt but after a couple of wears I've come to realise that the fit really needed some work so I tried hard to get it right this time. I made it for another work related party which gave me a tight deadline again but I was determined to do my best!

The size 12 on the pattern are my exact measurements but the bodice was really tight across the chest and shoulders. On my first dress I did a square shoulder adjustment (that I quickly realised was pointless) and took the seam out a little on the princess seam. On this make I decided to do an FBA and adjusted it by 1cm on each side. This amazingly seemed to do the trick, although it still makes no sense to me. I also did a 1cm forward shoulder adjustment as the shoulders seemed to be falling back.

The fabric is a poplin weight cotton sateen from Stone Fabrics and I love it! It's really too drapey for the  tulip skirt but I did it anyway and I think it just about works ok. I shortened the skirt length quite a bit too, I think the finished skirt is 23 inches from the waist. I fully lined the dress in the hope that this would give it a bit body, not sure if it did but it looks lovely inside anyway (except for the hems, I had to rush the night before the party so they need redoing, I was even hand stitching the lining to the zip on the train journey there).

Woop woop! Check out that full lining! (But don't look at the hem).

We had some good news at work recently and so instead of celebrating with a bottle of fizzy wine I decided to treat myself to an invisible zip foot instead, (I might have had a drop of wine too!) and so I did my first ever invisible zip! I don't know why I've put it off for so long, it was easy peasy and looks amazing. I used this tutorial from Colette and it made it really straightforward to insert.

And the best bit? Look at my waist seam matching!!!

I'm sure there's still more I could do to the fit but I'm really pleased with this dress and have plans to make more variations. I really do love that there's so many amazing independent pattern designers out there and it's great to be celebrating them this month and sewing up a great wardrobe too!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Me Made May - The round-up

Well May flew by and June is following in its footsteps making this round-up post very late indeed! In addition to the lateness of this post I feel guilty about tailing off towards the end of May and not posting any photos. FAIL.

I did however succeed in the other part of my pledge, and despite lack of photo evidence I can assure you that I did wear two handmade garments every week throughout May! HURRAH! In fact on some occasions I exceeded my pledge and found myself wearing a lot of handmade stuff although a lot of it was on repeat.

To make up for the lack of my awkward photos here is a compilation of the makes that got an airing last month.

Sencha's no. 1 and 2!
Kelly's no. 1 and 2!

Oh look, 2 Sorbetto's!

Spot the difference between these Moss Skirts

I had hoped that May would bring with it a flurry of sewing that would result in lots of basics to wear such as the Renfrew I've banged on about for a while but this was only partially true. I managed to whip up two Kelly skirts in quick succession and two sorbettos but that Renfrew still eludes me! I've also got two (identical) Moss mini skirts...can you see my M.O. emerging? I'm like the Noah of the sewing world and my wardrobe is my Ark.

So, what did I learn during Me Made May? Well I really need to slow down this Noah's Ark business and take the time to wear the garment a bit first to get a better handle on fit and what it's like to actually wear. The problem I've found is that although I often think something fits at first or that it's only minor so I can put up with it, with wearing things more regularly fit is a real issue. And I'm ending with two garments that don't quite fit instead of taking the time to think about and remedy the issue in the second attempt.

This is also partly a result of sewing more and also reading Fit For Real People. I always thought I had broad shoulders but it seems I also have a swayback, high round back, forward shoulders and who knows what else! The moss mini skirt is a good example, I made this with no alterations as the sizing was exactly mine. I thought the fit was perfect but after a couple of wears I've realised that I get a funny ripple of fabric across the back and also (probably as a result of stretch) it's a little big and sits much lower on the hips than I really like. And I've got two skirts like this! But am I going to fix them? Probably not.

Well anyway, that's enough words from me. I think my point is that I'm going to take my time and work on fit. I've already implemented this plan and have something pretty good to share with you later this week!

Monday, 17 June 2013

THE Birmingham Meet-up

I was planning on posting my late late Me Made May round up today but after having the lovely pleasure of attending the Birmingham meet-up on Saturday this has snook in instead!

I should start by saying thank you to Marie, Kat and Claire who amazingly organised the whole day. Organising 32 people traipsing around the centre of Birmingham looks like hard work! Especially including the lovely touches such as the ace rosettes we were all given, name badges and I hear I may have missed some baked goods too!

Being the brilliant blogger that I am I failed to take any pictures of the day, I was far too busy being overwhelmed by all the fabric and mad swaps. There are lots of great photos popping up on the other blogger's sites though so do go and search them out. What I can show is the (relatively small) haul of things I picked up from the ginormous swap and the Rag Market.

I'm fairly certain I was the only person that didn't buy anything from Barry's super super store. My two mistakes here were firstly not having a plan (I was amazed how organised most people were with lists of things they needed to find), and secondly spending £45 on fabric the day before in London! 

After lunch we took over three tables in Cafe Soya and swapped all manner of fabric, patterns and notions. There was some great stuff that people were trying to get rid of and I managed to pick up some tweedy mix fabric and some silk lining. I haven't really examined it yet but I'm have plans to make a lovely Charlotte skirt (good name by the way!) with this. I also managed to get a Very Easy Vogue dress pattern with jacket. I thought I had been pretty successful but then right at the end the lovely Lara offered to give me the spotty chiffony type fabric that she had picked up from the swap. How ace is that!!

Vogue V8491, polka dot fabric and tweedy mix and silk lining!

After lunch we headed to the rag market where I managed to part with some cash and bought 2 metres of a really nice floral viscose for £3 a metre and some green suiting fabric also for £3 a metre I think. I can't wait to get sewing with all this!

Two dresses in the making

It was really nice to meet lots of sewists and bloggers and I look forward to more meet-ups in the future. I now got lots of new blogs in my reader that I hadn't come across before and I've found even more via those blogs!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Me Made May - Days 14 & 18

Wow, over half through May! This month (and year) is flying by. I have to admit I cheated a little bit with my photos this week - I didn't manage to get any photos of my outfit on Tuesday so I recreated it this morning. On the plus side, I actually wore this same outfit twice this week (I had meetings with different people so I thought I could get away with it!)

This is the circle skirt I wore the week before paired with the second Sencha blouse I made.

I made this last summer following my (as yet unblogged) first attempt at the Sencha blouse. This one is made from organic bamboo silk from Raystitch with a silk dupion collar and covered buttons. It's been a while since I made this but I recall (after many many toiles for my first one) making a square shoulder adjustment of about 3cm to alleviate some serious pulling from the shoulders and a lethal strangling neckline. At first it seemed to have been the right thing but I have realised that the neck stills pulls up a bit so next time I might drop the neckline a little.

I also took in the back darts quite a bit as there was lots of room in the back and I prefer things a little more fitted. I think I took them in a couple of cm on each side. The fabric is quite sheer which really called for french seams. But I forgot. So instead I employed a lovely little faux french seam. I had already sewed the seams with a 5/8" allowance, I then folded each side of the seam inwards to enclose the raw edge and sewed them up. Not a bad save in the end!

I think you just about make out the faux french seam (apologies for the worn/un-ironed mess)

The inside of this top is far from perfect but I loved spending a bit more time on it and really enjoyed all the hand stitching that is suggested, I think catchstitch might be my most favourite thing ever! I drafted the collar following Gertie's tutorial and it turned out perfect! The tutorial was so easy to follow and the collar went together great. Because of the sheerness of the fabric I had to reduce the neck facing so it sat right behind the collar and didn't show through. I got a piece of silk dupion off eBay for a few pounds to help build my stash and thought it would be nice to use for this. It was, until I decided to stick my top in the machine a couple of times and it's now started to wear. Oops. Here's a pic of the collar and silk covered buttons.

Can you see the frayed edge on the right? I should really take more care.

 I love this top, the only problem is I get this crazy crease and baggy areas around the middle. It's either a result of terrible posture or bad fitting. Or both. Look.

Can you make out the huge crease along the front?

(Not sure if you've noticed but I am not friends with the iron). I'm hopeful that I may have found a solution and by lengthening the darts it will reduce the excess fabric here. I'm going to try it on my next Sencha but if there are any other suggestions out there I'm all ears. 

Saturday's outfit consisted of my recent Grainline Moss. I made this with a nice wool mix so it's work perfect but I think it works pretty well for a casual weekend too. I'll share some more details on this next week. 

Surprise - it's not ironed!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Me Made May Days 6 & 7

The sun is finally out! Kind of - the last few days have been beautiful but our summer in the Lakes appears to be over already, it's forecast rainy showers for the next two weeks. I wish I had got a photo of Windermere this morning to share with you, the lake was like glass and the reflection was incredible. But alas, you'll just have to imagine it instead. Sorry.

Yesterday was beautiful too and I managed to finish another Sorbetto top at the weekend which made for a perfect casual me made bank holiday outfit.

I feel like such a latecomer to the Sorbetto party but I can see why it's been so popular. I added about 5 cm to my second version as the original was a bit too short to wear untucked. I'm really glad I did this as I think this one goes really well with jeans but I'll still be able to tuck it in with skirts for work. I've made no other adjustments apart from the length but I have realised that there's a lot of room in the back...

Hmmm. The word swayback keeps entering my head. Please can someone tell me it's not as scary as it sounds...

I'm really not a floral person and I'm generally pretty rubbish at buying prints but I've seen so many lovely things on other people that I thought I should take a punt and I think it's worked out ok. I got this viscose fabric at my local fabric shop (30 miles away!) for £6.99 which I thought was pretty good. It took easily less than a metre to make so I reckon it cost me a about a fiver.

Back to work today and I got to wear my brand spanking Kelly Skirt! I made this last week and was really pleased to do it in a day from tracing the pattern to doing all those pesky buttonholes. It is a beginner pattern and was super easy but I think I'm a pretty slow sewer and there's always something I have to unpick.

I love this skirt but it does crease a bit easily. It's a linen/cotton blend and I took these pictures after a day at work so you can probably see the creases from where I've been sat on my backside all day and the bad crease along the waistband.

I didn't make any changes to the pattern at all, cutting a straight size S and the fit is pretty good. There's a bit of dodgy sewing on the front waistband which means it gapes a little but its not too bad. You would be shocked to see the insides of some of the things I've made but I'm trying to make a effort to be a neater and all round better sewer and I finished all the inside seams on this with the overcast stitch on my machine. What a revelation! I'd tried this stitch before but it hadn't quite worked so I had just been zigzagging on the odd occasion that I bothered but it never turned out very well. This on the other hand looked beautiful! But the best thing is...I've got owls in my pockets!

Everybody needs owls in their pockets
Mmmm, look at these lovely buttons!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Me Made May - Day 2

Welcome along to my little corner of Me Made May 13!

Today is the second day of MMM 13 but this is my first post. My pledge is to wear two handmade garments each week and although this is my first post I actually wore a me made yesterday too! Unfortunately, I was in London for work yesterday so I was up super early and back super late so after a day on the train and the rest of day sitting in meetings a photo was not going to do me or my clothes any justice.

Which brings me on to today, my first official Me Made day and I'm so excited to be taking part in something with so many other sewers.

Sorbetto top - fabric bought from Walthamstow market for £4/m. Black half circle skirt.  Frowny face.

I made the half circle skirt sometime last summer using Casey's sewalong instructions and have worn it absolutely tons! The fabric is a pretty stiff moleskin type fabric, at first I thought it was a bit too stiff and sticky-outy but now I love the shape it ends up. I didn't line the skirt which was a massive mistake and I can often be found wandering around with my skirt halfway up my legs, but I still wear it all the time anyway! Must put another one on the to-do list.

I made the Sorbetto a week or two ago and was super proud to be wearing it when I met my little nephew for the first time last week! I had a bit of trouble with sewing 1/2" binding on so I made the neckline binding 2cm instead, that little bit of extra width helped a lot and I think it looks much better. Some of the other pictures I've seen look like they've got wider binding on but I haven't seen any mention of it.

So, MMM to be continued...

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Birthday haul

It's that time of year when I get a little bit older but to make it a bit easier to handle I get a fancy dinner and some wine!

This year I also got a boat load of sewing goodies!

Mmmmm, birthday goodies all for me!
Check all that out! A colleague at work got me the Great British Sewing Bee Book and it looks really good. I've read all the blog reviews over the last week but I still probably never would have bought it myself so it's a nice treat.

I am soooo excited about Fit for Real People! I have not even come close to sorting my fit out yet so I'm looking forward to getting to grips with this book and hopefully working out what my issues are and of course how to fix them. I'm desperate to do the body graph thing but not sure who I can get to spend hours drawing round me accurately, has anyone ever done this? It looks like a bit of a faff but I bet you'd spot loads of little things that you don't see when you look in the mirror.

The three patterns were from my boyfriend. I'm looking forward to making up the Kelly skirt and having a go at a Renfrew ready for Me Made May. I went out today to add to my birthday haul and picked up some red linen/cotton mix for the skirt and some plain jersey for the Renfrew. Wish me luck with my first attempt at a knit.

I had a lovely chilled out day and even managed to finish my Sorbetto top.  Apologies for the blurry picture, photies with it actually on to follow soon!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Me Made May '13!

I, Charlotte of Charlie Says Sew, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '13. I endeavour to wear one handmade garment two days a week for the duration of May 2013. And I will blog about it every week!

So. I've done it. I've signed up for Me Made May. I haven't gone crazy and promised to wear something every day because that would just be setting myself up for a massive fail! Wearing something twice a week should be ok but making it something different will be a bit trickier!

This is the kind of challenge I need to give me a kick up the backside and get making some quick wins. I jumped for the joy the other day when I finally found the Sorbetto pattern and realised it was free. I've seen loads of these since I started following blogs but I thought I'd missed the boat as I had never come across the pattern. I obviously wasn't looking very hard.

Anyhow, I immediately downloaded it and there is currently a half finished Sorbetto on my kitchen sewing table. I've also put off getting stuck into a Renfrew as I'm scared of the mighty Knit but Me Made May is the time for everyday wearable items like this. 

The other great thing about this challenge is that it will force me to post at least once a week and finally blog about the few things that I have made over the past 6 months, so watch this space for some actual posts about actual clothes!
Here's a peek os something I will definitely be busting out during MMM.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Done: Baby quilt!

I am currently a rather excited soon to be aunty. My sister is due to have her first baby in two weeks time and I can't wait to meet my little niece or nephew.

When she told me she was pregnant all those months ago I immediately started scouring the Internet looking for inspiration of things I could make. Knitting was banned so I turned my attention to other things and decided to make a little quilt. The sex of the baby is going to surprise which made it a little bit trickier to make something unisex but I eventually settled on Les Amis from The Village Haberdashery.

See, from far away it kind of looks ok.

I went for a simple pattern mixing up the peach and teal colour ways on a plain white background. For this and the backing I used organic flannel with a bamboo wadding sandwich from Raystitch.

I made binding out of the grey tree bark print and hand sewed it down along the back edge.

My biggest mistake was deciding to topstitch in both directions. I don't have a walking foot so the backing bunched up along the way which meant the quite ended up an inch or two shore than it should have done. Then the top of the quilt ended up with lots of gathers and pulls, it's not my best sewing but it just about looked passable from a distance.

Also, here's a sneak peek of the cakes I made for her baby shower today...

Look how cute those babies are! I used a tutorial from Sheeren's Cakes and Bakes for these lovelies.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Great British Sewing Bee!

I loved loved loved the Sewing Bee! And, I want, no NEED that haberdashery in my house!

Well done Tilly! There is no way I could have done half of those challenges especially with those scary judges watching over me. It was great to see such a variety of sewers and although I'm already an avid sewer it's definitely inspired me to sew even more and just keep trying to improve.

My aims from today's episode:

  1. I must master the invisible zip. I've been putting it off for far too long.
  2. I really should slow down when I'm sewing and spend more time on the detail and finish. I'm always racing myself and then disappointed when something's a bit wonky.
  3. Find out what that balance issue is! I totally have that issue but I don't know how to fix it! Somebody tell me!

Scary but lovely.... ?

Sunday, 10 March 2013


Eek, my first PDF pattern! And isn't she a beaut!

I've seen some really lovely Moss Mini skirts on other blogs recently and I'm desperate for some wardrobe staples so I was inspired to buy the pattern. I can't wait to make this but I was nicely surprised by how therapeutic and satisfying it was to put this together!

I have bought and printed another PDF before but I took one look at it and didn't even attempt to get the scissors out. I don't if it was my poor attempt at printing but something happened along the way to make it impossible to understand!

This pattern was so easy to put together, a perfect task for unwinding after a day at work! Now for tracing...

P.S. Sorry for the crap phone photo, my house has no daylight despite the lovely sun/snow outside!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

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