In Which A Bit of an Enthusiast Holidays By The Seaside, Wears a Megan Dress and Keeps Warm-ish in a Hand Knitted Cardigan

Black and White- Megan Dress from Tilly Walnes' Love At First Stitch and Knitted Cardigan from Craftsy Class My First Sweater

Readers, you know how this works.  You make some things and then what with one thing and another weekends roll on by without so much as a quick snap of said Sewn Items.  Happily this weekend changed that- we were on the South coast and a glorious beachy walk gave the perfick opportunity to look like a total amateur in front of a film crew who were faffing about with light meters and horse poo and whatever else techy guys on that particular (equine) film set get up to.

Megan Dress from Love At First Stitch

I’m told we missed seeing Ms Kidman and Mr Law being filmed on the same beach by a mere weekend.  The nerve.  Anyway, the dress.  Yes.  There’s not much of a story here- my very kind husband bought me Tilly’s book of dressmaking, Love at First Stitch for our wedding anniversary back in July.  What a pretty book!  Great projects, too.  But my least fave?  The Megan Dress.  I mean, I loved the jersey version in the book but the woven ones I’ve seen I just don’t love.  Then a while later I went browsing round my local market and the fabric lady had a thick stretchy jersey knit in black and white stripes.  Ping!  Went my braincakes.  Stripes!  Stripes and a solid!  A Megan in stripes and a solid!  At last I could reconcile with that pattern and I’m so pleased I did.

I’m not going to lie- the insides are a nest of iniquity and the stripes are kind of wonky on the bottom front but the bits I like, I REALLY like.  I love my zip insertion; I love how the stripes match across the zip at the back; I love the cute sleeves and how they seem to line up nicely perpendicular to the floor.   I love how it feels to wear in the soft fabric and the deep hem (it was a lazy moment of not wishing to cut the skirt shorter, but I like the look now) and how it looks with bright tights (I think Miss Demeanour would approve of that sentiment, being the Disco Tights in the Daytime Queen and all).  I even went so far as to make a little detachable collar should the fancy take me.  It’s love!

There’s a third make in these pics- my cardigan.  I took 8 months to knit this thing but it’s my first more technical project (i.e. not a knitted scarf or handwarmers or tea cosy!) and I’m so enjoying wearing it!  If you’re interested in moving your knitting to the next level but cardi’s are too scary (as they were for me) I can recommend the craftsy class My First Sweater – does what it says on the tin.  Not the most exciting class to watch but it’s a good one and easy to follow!

Black and White Striped Megan Dress from Love at First Stitch


abitofanenthusiast signature

In Which A Bit of an Enthusiast Dabbles in Free Cutting Dressmaking

Lookee- I made a dress at a workshop!  With Chinelo of Sewing Bee fame herself!

Chinelo Dress 1

Let’s pretend I’m doing the hula- properly– here.

I probably just about missed it with the weather on this one, since both times I’ve worn this dress it’s been with a cardi and by this point Autumn is well and truly here (as in, I bought a squash and turned it into fake-but-real canned pumpkin (pardon me- squash) to make all manner of Autumn-themed treats).  But- BUT- I really do like it!

Chinelo Dress 3

Look- the thing is it’s not exactly my finest hour of dressmaking.  It’s pretty shabby in places (oh my-that zip!  It’s a shocker!), the straps a little too apron-y for my liking and I probably need some new- ahem- underpinnings to work with the scooped back or face looking flatter than the top of Table Mountain on a clear day (see photos for proof).  But most of it was made on a whim (see here for an earlier post with more class pics) with the aid of the one and only Chinelo Bally who pretty much gave me free rein on this baby and guided me through it.

Chinelo Dress Scoop Back

When I got home I decided that it needed lining to give that bodice a bit of oomph and- proud moment- I replicated what I’d learnt at the workshop a week later.  In my house.  Without help.  So, with replicated bodice part deux snugly attached, zip finally on and the straps dilemma sorted (I went with ties for a halter thanks to some excellent brainstorming with mum in law) we now have a fitted bodice dress, with halter ties, circle skirt and scoop back.  Happy dance (but only next Summer, when I can wear it again)!

Want to see the most ridiculous photo everrrr?  I was messing ’round with my kids and this…thing… appeared.  That used be a balloon dog.  Now it’s just kind of rude and hilarious, as balloons often are in the most festive way.  Enjoy me being a dork!



In Which A Bit of an Enthusiast Engages in Social Sewing

Hello chickens!  It’s Monday but here in the UK we’re lucky to have a holiday, hurrah!  So we’re celebrating with friends, a roast din din and pie.  The start of the weekend was pretty good too- my sister in law and I cooked up a plan to get her new-but-mostly-untried sewing machine in action by making a beginners’ skirt pattern by her, for her, with guidance from yours truly.  I was so proud of her!  She went to the fabric shop and got everything she needed after a flurry of messages about what to get, how to ask etc.  Which made me all the more aware of how handy Tilly’s tips in her book about going into fabric joints are!  That lovely book may well be winging its way to Anna at some point…

Well, my devious plan to get her interested in garment sewing seems to be a success!  A full day of measuring, cutting, marking, sewing, pressing, pressing and more pressing (got to get those important details in, right?) and we finally finished late but happy.  The smiles wreathing her face as we neared the finish line were truly wonderful.  Such a great feeling helping others learn a skill!  I found it really interesting seeing how confidently she was machining by the end and- and!- I received a message and piccy the following day: “Hem is complete and pressed (obviously ;0)), thank you soooo much, I had such a great day!”.  Well now!  The pressing message clearly got through hahaha.  Do we have a convert???

Here’s my muslin.  Not terribly interesting but it was a good exercise to practice before I trialled it on someone else!

Sewaholic Hollyburn Muslin

The pattern: the Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt (my muslin)

Here we are with smiles and the finished article (without hem quite yet although it has acquired one since).  And POCKETS!

Finished Hollyburn Skirt


You still with me?   Because last weekend I did the opposite- I was the student at a lovely class I was so very lucky to receive from my mumma as a gift.  That lady is an enabler!!  Well, she bought me a class with the legendary Chinelo (from Sewing Bee).  It was the Maxi Dress free cutting class in Canning Town- and I loved it!  I must say I do love meeting groups of people so this is my sort of thing but add into that some sewing and I was in seventh heaven.

I adored the experience of learning a bit of free cutting- this is a technique where you use measurements and make the garment in your head into reality without the use of a pattern.  No draping involved, no paper, just your bod, your tape measure, scissors, chalk, iron and machine.  It was really freeing not needing all the paraphenalia that we associate with a sewing hobby.  This is simple stuff- you need to learn it for it to become simple- but I really enjoyed it.

Maybe one day I’ll find a course and learn the ins and outs properly as I would put this class in the category of taster sesh- I replicated the bodice based on my notes and memory but I wouldn’t be able to just throw my scissors at fabric and make some of the awesome creations Chinelo manages quite yet!  She really is smart- I loved the whole experience.  Thank you to Chinelo and the other lovely participants I met- please ladies start some micro blogging so we can keep in touch hehe!   I’m still working on mine- I decided to line the bodice and add some straps and am still working on it around several other projects (but of course!).


Free Cutting with Chinelo Bally


Have you been on any sewing courses you really loved?  Do tell- I may be catching the bug!