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My (rather feeble) Me-Made-May 2016 Plans!

I only started my sewing blog & regular dress making at the start of April so taking part in the popular Me-Made-May may sound a little silly. But if you've read through my blog already, you'll know I'm throwing myself in to the sewing community wholeheartedly.

When I read through the pledge's creator 'about Me-Made-May' post, to say I felt overwhelmed was an understatement. I certainly do not have enough handmade clothes to wear throughout the whole of May. But the challenge isn't a competition and is there to spur you on and inspire you to wear the clothes you've made and bring them in to your everyday wardrobe.

So even though I only have a total of 5 handmade (and wearble!) garments in my wardrobe so far, I still wanted to set myself my own, if not a little feeble, Me-Made-May pledge!

Now, I'm self employed and work from home (check out my 'About Me') and the stereotype of working in pjs is rather the reality for me. I only regularly venture out to go to the post office or food shopping, so unless I had a collection of handmade pj bottoms, my Me-Made-May wouldn't be very creative...

However May is my birthday month, I turn 25 on the 17th and I thought that would be a fabulous way to incorporate it with my pledge! So, here we go...

I, Abi of The Crafty Pinup, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '16. I endeavour to wear a handmade item on my birthday on May 17th 2016 for the first time ever!

I only have 4 dresses and 1 top in my handmade wardrobe so far, (with lots in the works of course) but this little pledge will spur me on to actually wear them! I'll be choosing an item from my (very small) handmade collection, style it, and wear it for my birthday celebrations.


Sign up to Me-Made-May 2016 HERE

Are you taking part in Me-Made-May? What are your pledges? Far more commited than mine, I'm sure!

Thanks for reading, pinups.
The Crafty Pinup
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Tilly and the Buttons - Martha Dress

My finished Tilly and the Buttons 'Martha' Dress.

When I saw the new Tilly and the Buttons 'Martha' Dress, I think I just about died and went to heaven! It looked so swishy and had a sweet 1960s look which I couldn't resist, so I snapped it up right away. I already own Tilly's wonderful Love at First Stitch book, so knew her instructions would be easy to follow and filled with her beautiful images. I wasn't wrong!

I chose a drapey viscose fabric, for ultimate swishy-ness.

Tilly's patterns always arrive in their recognisable envelope with her signature stamps and always look so cute (quite a few have been arriving at my house recently!). I'm obsessed with Tilly's branding, I think its so fresh and fun and her patterns are all gorgeous, I just know I'll collect them all. The pattern comes with an adorable booklet of instructions, a refreshing change from a huge open sheet of paper with dodgy illustrations and outdated terminology. So I knew even though I am certainly not a confident dress maker, that I would be able to follow her instructions regardless.

I wanted to make sure I kept my version of 'Martha' as swishy as possible in keeping with the 60s vibe I wanted to go for, so I chose this affordable black & white floral viscose fabric from Minerva Crafts - my new favourite online haberdashery. Luckily it was the perfect choice!

I knew sewing with such a drapey fabric might be tricky but I did stay stitch around all my princess seams etc to minimize any fraying as the instructions suggest. However, my fabric did slip around a bit when I was sewing, so some seams aren't as perfect as I would like. But with practice, hopefully my technique will improve.

Here's a peek at the pattern:

All Tilly's photos for the 'Martha' dress are beautiful!

As you can see, the dress comes in two lengths & has two sleeve options. I couldn't resist those 3 quarter length flared sleeves, something I would love to exaggerate a bit more when I make this pattern again. I knew I was going to make mine a mini-ish length as I'm only 5"4 and with a high neck & longer length it wouldn't suit me at all. I did cut out the full length version, but only so I could edit the length myself in case the mini version was too short for me. I went for just above the knee which I think will look fabulous bare legged for Spring & with tights in the colder months.

I found the dress straight forward to make, up until it came to the final stages of inserting the invisible zip and adding the collar. It was only the second ever invisible zip I've sewn on a garment, I did have to unpick my first attempt, but my second was much better. My center back waist seams ended up not matching slightly where I must of stretched the fabric when sewing. I could of unpicked the zip and done it for a third time, but I'm impatient and hoped it wasn't too noticeable...

I think I had a similar problem with my fabric slipping when I sewed the collar together, as the very top points don't quite match up. But I can live with that. Something to improve on next time!

Overall, I am SO happy with my Martha dress. I was worried the high neck style wouldn't suit my busty shape, but the nipped in waist, along with my dark fabric choice made the dress rather more flattering than I expected. I'd love to make the dress again with a different collar, maybe a sweet peter pan collar or just simple binding. Either way, I can't wait to make this dress again!

Take a peek at my Twitter & Instagram to see the little video I posted of me swishing around in it. I think I enjoyed shooting this dress way more than my poor boyfriend did photographing it. So much dancing!

Get this pattern:

Have you made 'Martha' or is she on your sewing list? Will you be taking part in Tilly's Instaspam party on 7th May? Find out more HERE. I can't wait to see everyone's take on 'Martha'!

Thanks for reading, pinups.

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My Textile Express Fabric Haul!

What a wonderful selection of fabrics!

Yesterday I was invited along by my boyfriend's mum to go and visit the haberdashery Textile Express in Oswerstry, just outside Shrewsbury where I live. The store we used to have in Shrewsbury was more for upholstery fabrics and always seemed rather pricey. That was few years back now, and when I looked online a couple of days before my visit yesterday I was amazed at the range of dress making fabrics they had on offer and at amazing prices! So I knew even if I couldn't find anything in the store, at least I knew where to go online for my next fabric purchase.

I just hoped they had some of the selection in store as they did online, and I certainty wasn't disappointed...

There was so much to choose from!

Since I've been poking around the online sewing world, there's been a lot of reference to sewer's 'fabric stashes'. But I always wondered how all these bloggers, seamstresses etc could have so much fabric stored and not used. I sew lingerie & nightwear for a living, and know how much room fabrics take up, so keeping lots of unused fabrics seemed weird to me. Oh how wrong I was!

I can safely say I now have a very healthy 'fabric stash', full of fabrics I bought without any foreseeable plans... So I thought putting this little blog post together might help me organise myself a bit.

Let me show you what I picked up...

Left to right: floral viscose, polka dot cotton poplin, Hawaiian light cotton jersey.

Since I started this blog, whilst there are SO MANY vintage style summery dresses out there I want to make, realistically with our unpredictable UK Summers, I'm going to get little chance to wear them. I want to make some every day basics that I can just put on knowing they look great and are all made by me! I've got a lot of Tilly and the Button's patterns in the works, but I think the Mimi blouse (bottom left) and the Agnes jersey top (bottom right) will be perfect everyday additions to my handmade wardrobe.

I think the large teal spot poplin I picked up in the remnants bin (£3!!) will make a super cute Mimi Blouse, with matching teal or colour clashing buttons. The Hawaiian floral print is dying to be made in to a big 1950s style circle skirt or dress, definitely a Summer garment. For the other floral fabric, I think I'll whip up a pair of pjs, the fabric is so soft and has a lovely drape. Maybe it's wasted on pjs, so it may turn in to a dress yet!

Anyone else obsessed with Tilly?

Jersey tops are high up on my to do list, the Agnes jersey top pattern is on my birthday wish list so the 3 jersey fabrics I picked up will be perfect! I also saw the Agnes dress variation online and think it would be so great for everyday wear, so you might be seeing that one on the blog in the near future. 

From looking online, it seemed jersey wasn't as affordable as I thought it was. So when I found these all on sale for only £3.50 a metre (usually £5 - which is still very affordable), I stocked up big time! 3 classic retro jersey prints that will be perfect with my skinny jeans and skirts. Anyway, just a quick post to remind me to actually utilize my fabric stash. It will be much nicer to wear them than store them, so I hope I'll be able to find some time to sew up a range of tops to extend my little handmade wardrobe!
Thanks for reading, pinups Stay tuned to see what these fabrics (hopefully) turn in to!

P.S. This isn't a sponsored post, I just wanted to share the love and all the amazing fabrics I picked up!

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My Plans for The BIG Vintage Sew Along

Like I said in my previous blog post about the Vintage Pledge, I'm a total newbie to this online sewing world! But I'm diving right in! And in my research early this month I discovered The BIG Vintage Sew Along. Another community style sew along with my name all over it.

Being a vintage style pattern hoarder (most of which I am still yet to make...), a lot of the patterns included in the sew along were quite similar to what I already had in my stash. My pattern hoard is a lot of 1950s style dresses, and I normally don't go for 1940s inspired anything. But when I saw the Butterick 5209 pattern I knew I could make it work for me. Even though I like the halter neck style, I'm not sure if I would realistically wear it, so I'm going to be making option B with the little sleeves. I hope I can make a sweet vintage style tea dress, perfect for every day wear, but also smart enough to take out for cocktails.

The Butterick 5209 dress pattern from 1947. Available to buy HERE

Even though the satin sample on the right here is super gorgeous, it's a little fancy for what I had in mind...

So I turned to Pinterest for inspiration and came across these two gorgeous 1940s dresses, very similar to the styles of the Butterick B5209 pattern.

I realized I'd spotted this (left) near identical viscose fabric on Minerva Crafts a couple of weeks back. And I think it could work perfectly! Plus it will get me out of my black/gingham comfort zone. But even though I'm 99% sure I won't be making the halter-neck style just yet, I fell in love with this vintage pastel floral number. Wouldn't it be beautiful in a Liberty floral cotton lawn fabric? I will buy that (right) Liberty fabric for something eventually. 

So anyway, those are my plans for my first Big Vintage Sew Along. However, don't be surprised if I change my mind completely! There are so many gorgeous vintage patterns included in the sew along, it's certainly hard to choose. Hopefully I'll end up making more than one garment, I have my eye on the vintage inspired blouse and practically all the 50s dresses.

All the patterns I have my eye on for The Big Vintage Sew Along!

I'm aiming to start my first dress for the sew along early May. It'll make a fabulous birthday dress! Find out more about the Big Vintage Sew Along, the good cause behind it and how to get involved below: 
Click here to find out more

Which patterns will you be sewing? I can't wait to see everyone's makes. I've already seen some beautiful garments popping up, which have been so inspiring to see!

Thanks for reading, pinups. Stay tuned to see how my dress turns out...
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Retro Butterick '52 B4790 - The Walkaway Dress

My finished dress using the Retro Butterick '52 B4790 pattern

Blimey does this dress have a reputation! I discovered the pattern's drama when I did a little research on the dress recently before I started sewing. I bought this pattern like A LOT of vintage sewing lovers did during 2015's Great British Sewing Bee, but it has sat unused in my stash since. However, I had no idea it would turn out to be so controversial...

I chose a simple blue cotton with a white bias binding

Once I decided last week that the Butterick 4790 Walkaway Dress was going to be next on my sewing list to coincide with my #VintagePledge, I had a browse for reviews to see how other makers found this seemly easy dress.

Here's a peek at the pattern:

Looks simple simple, right?

I won't bore you with the details of this dress's controversy, as I'm sure you know for yourself, but the fit of this dress annoyed a lot of people. But I was determined to make it work. However, in true-to-me style, I made a pretty hefty mistake very early on...

As I whipped out the pattern pieces, I grabbed my scissors, cut out following the lines marked '12', knowing I was leaving plenty of room to fit the bodice if I needed. Ha ha no. That was my first mistake. It wasn't until I had sewn the darts and all the seams and tried on the dress that I noticed what I thought was a size 12 dress was more like a 6/8. And boy was that 26" waist not going to wrap around me!

I kept my calm sewing head on, despite my ridiculous mistake, and decided that sewing a couple of straight panels down the centre front and back panels would fix the fit.

Weirdly enough the accidental fitted bust I had created fitted me really well! I was totally surprised. I have a naturally curvy, hourglass figure and this seemed to fix the problem of the rumoured 'sack of potatoes' look I had heard this dress created. So I ended up with no baggy areas in the bodice and the shoulder seams/sleeves were shorter, suiting me more.

You can see from my photos the two panels at the front of the skirt (I also added the same panels at the back of the dress, which are concealed by the circle skirt), but the seams match my bodice seams, and in my opinion I think it looks pretty good! A happy sewing accident - I sure don't get many of them!

Zooey's beautiful range of nautical inspired dresses for Tommy Hilfiger

I made my Walkaway dress with an affordable 'oxford blue' cotton fabric with white cotton bias binding I bought off eBay. Initially I had got small daisy buttons to finish off the dress, but once I had stitched one on they made very little impact. Then I noticed the potential similarities to my version of the Walkaway dress with Zooey Deschanel's recent collection for Tommy Hilfiger, and thought red would really liven things up!

Whilst fitting the dress, I did make a couple of further alterations:

  • I made the darts deeper. I slipped on the garment with the original darts sewn in. Then I pinned the bodice to fit my bust better. Which created less sagging on the underarms.
  • I shortened the hem by 2". I'm only 5"4 and a lot of 50s style dresses can end up swamping me a bit. But it's now my perfect length, sitting just below my knee.

As you can see, I went full 1952 on this look!

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the outcome of my dress. My initial sizing mistake worked in my favour and I don't think the extra panels I added effected the garment's aesthetic. I find the shape of the bodice very comfortable and easy to wear, but I can appreciate depending on your figure it may not be flattering on some. My bodice is just fitted enough that my larger bust doesn't end up looking like a sack, and the waist definition brings everything in nicely.

Not including my mistake, I only made a couple of small and very easy alterations. The dress was so easy to sew and could certainly be done in a couple of hours. I made mine over two afternoons due to changing my buttons, and including ironing time. Otherwise, I would of liked to have made it in one sitting.

Get this pattern:

I look forward to making this dress again, perhaps in a printed fabric or even contrast fabrics for the bodice and skirt. But next time I'll be sure to check my size...

Have you made the infamous Retro Butterick Walkaway dress? Do you love it or hate it?

Thanks for reading, pinups.

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My #VintagePledge 2016

This will be my first dress for the #VintagePledge
As you may have noticed, I'm a total newbie to this online sewing world. But the past couple of weeks since I launched my blog, I've thrown myself in completely! I've been trawling amazing sewing blogs, following makers & haberdasheries on Twitter, pinning like crazy on Pinterest and I'm getting so much inspiration. I had no idea so much fun and creative, community based sew alongs took place, especially with a vintage feel in mind. I just knew I had to take part in everything and I am so excited! I only came across the Vintage Pledge today, and I knew I had to get involved. I'll be sewing vintage & reproduction garments anyway for me and my blog, so this will be a great way to combine my love for retro sewing with getting to know this wonderful online sewing community. Along with keeping me on track with my makes...Find out more about the wonderful Vintage Pledge here:
Sign up to Vintage Pledge 2016

I have a few reproduction dress patterns in my collection already, but since starting this blog properly, I've increasingly been finding myself browsing for fabrics and patterns of the vintage persuasion. Which also led me to finding out about The Big Vintage Sew Along (more on that later) where you choose garments to sew from a specific selection of vintage/reproduction patterns ranging from 1930s - 1960s. So, as I'm planning on taking part in this sew along too, I can combine it with my vintage pledge! Cheating, maybe? Hey, I'm a newbie.

My #VintagePledge2016

During 2016 I, Abi of The Crafty Pinup blog, pledge to complete at least 2 vintage or reproduction patterns.

I hope to do lots more, but want to set the bar and expectations low just in case life and business gets in the way! First up for my vintage pledge is the famous Retro Butterick 1952 walk away dress, featured on last season's Great British Sewing Bee. It's caused quite a stir in the sewing community and I've had the pattern in my collection for over a year but am still yet to sew. This will be a great place for me to start!

Are you taking part in the Vintage Pledge? What patterns are you sewing? 

Stay tuned to see how this turns out! Thanks for reading, pinups.

The Crafty Pinup
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Vintage Sewing Inspiration #1: 1940s New York Street Style

When I came across these images on Tumblr a few days ago, I couldn't resist putting together a blog post based on them. From doing a little research I managed to find out the images were photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt for a series called 'Beautiful girls in New York' for Life magazine, all about street style circa 1944.

My personal style is much more late 50s/early 60s, but I totally fell for these classic 1940s looks. Is there anything more perfect for Summer than a floaty floral tea dress?

Well now you can get this perfect Summer style for yourself! I've put together some gorgeous fabrics, all from my new favourite online haberdashery Minerva Crafts (not a sponsored post).

I only saw this series of images a couple of days ago, and the first thing I noticed was the fabulous gingham number (top middle). I love the resemblance it has to my very own Burda Style 7179 vintage style shirt dress from my first pattern review blog post! Which you can see HERE.

Also how cool is the lady on the far right?

I love the adorable tea dress and hat styling on the first two ladies, a real classic 1940s look! And the simple pin stripe fabric on the right is next on my supply list.

Do you prefer the 1940s florals or the simple stripes and gingham?

These first two styles look like two piece blouse and skirt outfits. I've never tried sewing a blouse before and these two have really inspired me. And not forgetting the lady on the end with another fabulous tea dress! With so many retro florals to choose from, how will you decide?

I'm in love with the bold floral fabric on the left. I think it would make such a perfect tea dress or shirt dress style. In fact it would make a gorgeous anything! *adds to basket*

Get this gorgeous vintage look for yourself with these 1940s style sewing patterns:

I hope you've enjoyed the first of my 'Vintage Sewing Inspiration' blog posts, I can assure you, there will be many more! Let me know if you've tried any of the above patterns.

Thanks for reading, pinups.

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Burda Style 7179 - Vintage Style Shirt Dress

My finished dress using the Burda Style 7179 pattern

I have a complicated history with this pattern. It was one of the first dress patterns I bought when I first started sewing properly in my late teens. In my naivety I pretty much thought 'how hard can it be?' to make this shirt dress. Alas, I learnt the hard way.

I chose a classic gingham cotton and a light/medium weight interfacing
I first made the Burda Style 7179 vintage style shirt dress about 5 years ago and to this day it's still one of the worst things I've ever made. I made it out of a floral viscose, back then I didn't have an overlocker and the seams frayed to holes after the first wash, I ironed nothing throughout and don't even get me started on that collar. However I wore it with so much pride that Summer, and still don't have the heart to throw it out.

Instead, I decided it was finally time for round 2 and I wasn't going to let this pattern beat me again! The Burda Style 7179 dress is a classic vintage style shirt dress with some great variations on the collar, sleeves & belt options. I'm not keen on the long sleeves, so I went for option B with the short sleeves.

Here's a peek at the pattern:
There's some great variations for this dress. I'd love to try the 'C' collar next time!
Anyone who's made this patten will know about the collar. The instructions are reasonably understandable until it gets to the collar construction. To me, at least it makes so little sense, if the images weren't there I think I would have just put it all in a bin and burnt it. 

In the midst of my collar sewing breakdown, I Googled the pattern to see if I could find some reviews to see if anyone else struggled or if this was my lack of dress making knowledge. It turns out it seems to be a bit of a notoriously awkward pattern and that dress makers alike applied their common sense to finish the collar in their own ways.

How sweet are these baby pink heart buttons I picked up at my local haberdashery? 

I was happy it wasn't just me, made a pint of coffee and got back to it. Applied my common sense and managed to make a decent looking collar, eventually. Not perfect, but certainly my best yet.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the outcome. There's definitely changes I would make if I were to sew this dress again. I'd also try to make the 'C' option collar for a retro nautical vibe. I found the 'A/B' collar difficult as the instructions weren't very clear, but by applying some basic sewing methods I'm sure most could figure it out eventually. 

I personally feel this pattern is better suited to confident seamstresses rather than beginners. If you're just starting out with dress making and want to try a shirt collar, the instructions for this pattern probably won't guide you much. I made the dress over two afternoons and can't wait to wear it when the weather brightens up!

Get this pattern & fabric:

Have you made the Burda Style 7179 vintage style shirt dress? How did you find the instructions? Did the collar trip you up aswell?

I hope you enjoyed my first dress making post! Thanks for reading, pinups.

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