Bursting at the seams...

Why is it you can have months with not much happening, and then suddenly everything seems to go BANG - and you're looking at a whole new set of exciting opportunities, and work to be done..?!
So, today is about housekeeping - getting you up to speed with what has been a manic, but productive, time for me... where to start?

Let's go back in time first; seven months ago I was given the most fabulous piece of kit to add to my sewing arsenal - but I didn't really realise that, until my latest Minerva make. The overlocker was a wonderful Christmas surprise, at that point I could only imagine how it would enhance my sewing hobby, so I started small so as not to scare myself!

Oh yes, and before I continue, here's today's Blogpost soundtrack - I could seriously listen to Send My Love on repeat all day... Adele is SO talented *sigh*...

So, a bit of backdrop on overlockers, they can do all sorts of things; including making a seam look pretty, giving garments a longer life (as the seams are more secure), giving lycra garments the perfect 'stretchy' seam, and more generally finishing exposed fabric in an appealing way... and it's the last point that I started with, in sewing some up baby blankets. (It WAS January at the time, if you're thinking "BLANKETS? In THIS weather?!"). Skipping ahead to present day, the overlocker was SUPER handy in making my latest lycra fabric top, for Minerva...

And yes, that IS the skirt that I made last month! Still as creased as ever... :) Many thanks to Minerva for the fabric, and pattern - you can get all the details, and find the full story about the making process, on their site!

So that's THAT.
Moving on to the very start of July, I was invited to a wedding/40th birthday celebration (two-in-one) in Kent, and figured it would be the perfect opportunity to make the By Hand London Sophia dress, which I've had in my stash for a good while!

As patterns go, it came together very easily - the only non-beginner bit is the invisible zip insertion, but there are plenty of youtube videos to help, if that's putting you off. I love the idea of making one in a block colour, maybe red, and next time I'll grade down one size in the waist... On this occasion I made my Sophia in a beautiful, VERY cheap, scuba fabric I picked up one rainy day last year with my friend Hannah, on a frantic shopping trip on Walthamstow High Street (highly recommend it for finding fabric treasures). I didn't know what I was going to do with it when I found it, but loved the smattering of almost-neon yellow colours, muted into lime greens and blues... so snapped up three and a half metres!! The only 'issue' is it has a recurring pattern print running through it. Much like applying wallpaper, I had to work out the pattern repeat, which was a bit complicated... and to be honest, I'm not sure it even shows in the end, in terms of the HOURS spent laying fabric in different ways...

I even took a photo of the bodice facing (inside the dress) to show what the pattern 'matching' looks like at the seams, when I wasn't actually trying, just carelessly cutting away into the bits of fabric that were left over. 

That's the issue with pattern matching, you really have no clue when you start a project how much fabric will be needed, and how much will be wasted (*pet hate) in the process. So I made a point of cutting out the main pieces of the dress first, starting with the front bodice - moving onto the skirt pieces, attempting to make a neat match down the centre front. It's not easy to explain really, but there were only three and a half full pattern repeats - and they were each about a metre in length. If you consider the limited width of fabric, and seam allowance, and points where there is an OBVIOUS difference in patterns, it didn't leave much room for manoeuvre. Again, not easy to explain in words, much easier to demonstrate with fabric...but that's all cut up now, so you'll have to imagine what I mean! (*or add a question, or better explanation than I can, in the Comments section below!)

I posted a couple of pics of my Sophia on Instagram, one of which was from behind (to show the fit of the dress), here's a shot from the front!

It was SO comfy, I can't even tell you. I'm hoping no-one really noticed it, so I can wear it to another function soon, haha!!
I also got to spend some quality time with my Goddaughter, Sophie - she's such a cutie! When the sun came out, we tried out a bouncy castle (only on the edge, mind!)...

It had just stopped raining when that pic was taken - I stood up to find a big wet patch on the back of my dress... good job it's scuba fabric, it's well primed for water! (I wasn't, BTW)
Anyway - I'm sharing this photo with you so you know who will be my muse for a future Minerva make... I can't wait to get started/finished with her little outfit, it's so cute I could crumble!! Thank-you, Sophie, for agreeing to be my Sequins and Slippers Starlet x

Also filling up some sunny days, this month has seen me delivering a scattering of one-off RecyClothes Shows in Oxford summer schools, for Innovative Enterprise, which I have LOVED doing. The students have been international students, with a real sense of creativity and fun about them - which made the catwalk finishes even more dramatic! Here's a couple of shots so you can get a feel for what they're about, starting in one of the beautiful Oxford University locations...

Unpacking the boxes of clothes for students to rummage through...

Helping them make their creations for a couple of hours; cutting, sticking, fastening, sewing, anything goes..!

Before strutting their stuff down the catwalk for each other... and taking fab 'after' shots!

I really hope to be doing more of these in the coming year, *fingers crossed*!

And finally, before I head off into the murky back garden (where HAS the sun gone? COME BACK!) - the latest piece of news is about the forthcoming Refashion Runway... All Stars Edition! Yes, the mad season of sewing is coming back! For you it means browsing through some fantastically innovative creations, and choosing your favourite/s. Last year I came joint second (which I'm still in shock about) and this year I've been invited back to sew in the ALL STARS season! (can you tell I love the sound of that? Haha!). You're hearing it here first!! I have NO idea who else is in the line-up, Beth will be announcing that on Saturday... so... that's nerve racking, and uber-exciting, all at the same time!!
Brace yourself, the challenges start this weekend coming - and the voting opens the following weekend...

Y'know, I could share more with you - but I have a feeling that's more than enough for one day! So all I'll say is, thanks for reading, I hope your week is fabulous, and I'll see you again SOON!

Gema x


  1. Now that you've conquered the overlocker do you think you'll find it useful in the competition?
    Great photos by the way, Sophie must look forward to you making clothes for her..

    1. I think it'll help, yes... but there's still part of me that's terrified about chopping off bits, before I'm certain I want them chopped (which is what the overlocker does!) - might need some more practise with it, in a more 'relaxed' sewing environment first.. ;) And as for gorgeous Sophie, she makes anything look fab, but whether or not she wants to wear it remains to be seen!! :)

  2. Well done! looks like you've had an amazing time. And that blue dress looks gorgeous

    1. Thanks so much Alice, it's not often I feel so comfy at the same time as feeling like I've made an effort!! It felt a bit 'wrong' to be honest, haha! X

  3. Your dress is absolutely amazing, Gema. You look beautiful. I love the floral pattern and the colors.

    1. Beth!! What a lovely thing to say! Just mentally preparing myself for the All Stars... Can't wait to see what everyone comes up with! :D


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