Sunday, 19 October 2014

Marbella Dress by Itch to Stitch - pattern release, blog tour and giveaway!!

So, I've been doing quite a few pattern tests recently, but generally I have been doing childrens patterns, so I haven't had a lot of time to sew for myself! Then I saw a pattern test call for a beautiful ladies dress - I thought this was the perfect opportunity to do some selfish sewing, so I applied straight away!!

The first thing that jumped out at me was that this dress came with the option for different cup sizes - A, B, C and D - Hooray!!!! I have always had issues with fitted dresses because my bust always comes up a larger size than my waist and hips (OK - this isn't a terrible problem to have - lol - but it's a pain when you want something to fit properly) - so having the option of cup size would be half the battle when it came to getting the shaping just right on the bodice.

The other things I like about the dress are the beautiful lines of the princess seams, the pretty pleats, and pockets!!! Gotta love a dress with pockets!!

From the measurements on the pattern I came in at a size 6 on my waist and hips (loving the US sizing lol), and a size 10 at the bust - Kennis the designer was so helpful in assisting everyone to get a great fit for their dresses, and we decided the best thing for me would be to go for a size 6 pattern with a D cup, but to grade the pattern out to the size 10 for the bust.

For my first go at the dress I decided to make a wearable muslin out of an old suit I was donated for upcycling - I loved the blush pink colour, and it had a lovely drape to it - this is the original suit and how I squeezed the pattern pieces onto the available fabric - 

The dress comes with the option of a lined or unlined version - as the suit was lined I thought I may as well reuse the lining as well and I made the fully lined version of the dress.

After making the first version of the dress, a few ladies, including me, found the yoke to be a little wide and it gaped a bit, I also had some issues with my bra showing under my arm, so Kennis reworked the pattern to address these problems.

Now, I am a total fabric hoarder - but as I mostly sew for my kids I generally buy a meter here, and half a meter there - but a while back I fell in love with a Jennifer Paganelli print and bought 2 meters of it, just knowing one day I would make myself a dress with it!! I loved my first Marbella Dress so much I decided this would be the perfect thing to sew with my beautiful fabric!

The new version of the dress fitted perfectly!! I love the classic lines and boat neckline, and the invisible zip makes it so sleek!


The Marbella Dress comes in sizes 00-20 & A-D cups and is available now at 20% off (no code needed) - so head here to get your copy now for $12!! Kennis has worked very hard to make this a beautifully fitting dress - with advice in the pattern on how to get the best fit for your body! The instructions are clearly written with very helpful diagrams included to make it easy to follow and get great results.

There is also a giveaway for the pattern, which is open until 24th October - head here for your chance to win (if you already purchased the pattern, you will get a refund). TWO winners will be announced on Saturday 25th October!

Go an check out some of the other wonderful examples of this dress - they are all beautiful - and one shows an example of how great the dress looks when you use colour blocking!

Here is the rest of the blog tour schedule:

Wed, October 15:
Ann from The Pattern Studio by 1 Puddle Lane
Lindsay from Design by Lindsay

Thursday, October 16:
Debbie from Stitch It Now
Jaime from Jaime Johnson

Monday, October 20:
Darcy from Ginger House Designs
Stacey from All Sewn Up by Stacey

Tuesday, October 21:
Diane Guess Post on Itch to Stitch
Ajaire from Call Ajaire

Wednesday, October 22:
Hannah from Hello Sunshine

Friday, 17 October 2014

Ellie Inspired Holiday Collection Pattern releases

I was very lucky to be chosen to test some of the patterns from the new 2014 Holiday Collection by Ellie Inspired - the patterns are being released in two waves - babies first (up to 36 months), followed by older children (up to 16 years) at a later date.

I tested out two of the patterns for my little man - first up the Dapper Lad vest - now this is one super cute little vest, and it has lots of great options!

One of which is to make it reversible! I love that the vest has one side that is super smart, and the other side is fun with a robot print fabric!!

You can also add mock or real welt pockets, a tie or belt at the back, and you can do normal buttonholes, or go for a real professional finish with bound buttonholes.

The second pattern I tested was the Jack Frost Knickers - I just love the style of these trousers!


I decided to use the robot fabric for the front pockets - it adds a bit of contrast, highlights the pockets and the trousers also match the reverse side of the vest, but you could keep them more formal by using the same fabric throughout. 

Again, there are plenty of options, I just did the front pockets on mine, but you can also add welt pockets on the back of the trousers, which would tie in nicely with the style of the vest.

I like the little cuffs on the trousers too, not only do they look cute, but they stop the trousers sliding up the legs, and as I have a very active little boy, this is a great thing!! And with the flat front and elastic back waist you can get a really great fit customised to your child - I used a slightly shorter bit of elastic than was stated in the pattern, as my boy is long and narrow!

Laura, the designer, has produced some really lovely, easy to follow patterns - and because of the great effort she put in during the testing process to get them just right, the resulting clothing is just lovely!

Each pattern is available separately (and they are currently 10% off!!), or if you buy the bundle you will save over 55% (if you buy before Sunday night) AND you'll get some bonus patterns for FREE not available elsewhere!! So head on over to the shop and check out all the other lovely patterns in the bundle, and keep an eye on the Ellie Inspired Facebook page for the second lot of patterns for older children!

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

E+M Patterns Dress No.15 pattern release and Blog Tour

So the patterns are coming thick and fast from Allison at E+M Patterns - and yet again she has produced a beautiful and stylish dress pattern that is also practical - and I am happy to be a part of the blog tour for this dress!!

Allison always puts in a great deal of work and attention to detail into her pattern tests - and this means the results are always perfect!! This dress is great for everyday wear and nursery!

The pattern talks you through the nice neat seam finishes E+M Patterns are known for, as well as some techniques to get the best from your fabric and how to get the lovely shirring detail for the waist, and this will ensure a great, professional results every time!

I tried out the two different hem options for this pattern - the orange dress above has the straight hem (I shortened the length a little for this one because I intend for Little B to wear it with leggings as we come into the colder weather) - and below - the geometric dress has the beautiful asymmetric hem.

The shoulders on this dress are also quite flexible - you could tie the bows tight on warmer days to ruche the fabric up and leave the arms uncovered or if it's a little cooler you can loosen the bows and let the fabric hang down onto the upper arms a bit more.

As always, a beautiful pattern and a beautiful result!
For the duration of the blog tour you can get this pattern for just $5 using the code TOUR15 - such a bargain!!

Keep following the rest of the blog tour to see some other wonderful examples of this dress - here is the schedule of bloggers:

And don't forget to enter the giveaway - up for grabs is this pattern AND any other pattern of your choice from the E+M Patterns shop!! Here is a link to the rafflecopter, and if you comment on all the blogs you will earn extra entries - so check out all these other lovely ladies over the next week!

Yesterday was Sprouting JubeJube (including a great pattern hack) and Sew out of Control
Today we are here at All Sewn Up by Stacey and Blink
Saturday - Rita Pirolita and Cars and Crafts

Monday, 6 October 2014

Thomas the Tank Engine Birthday Cake and the Birthday Outfit!

For my little girls third birthday party I made a Thomas the Tank Engine Cake - I have had a few people asking me how I made it, so I thought I would do a blog post with a few pictures of how I put it together!

Now, I am no professional baker - and I'm sure my methods are not the 'true' methods, but Little B loved it, and that is all that matters to me :)

So this is the finished cake -

And this is how I got there -

First off I baked four cakes - I used a basic Victoria sponge recipe and made two 23cm rounds and two 18cm rounds (no reason why I did those sizes - those were just the size cake tins I had!!) - and I decided to make the inside more interesting and make the cakes pink and purple!

Let theses cool completely before doing anything with them - I put mine in the fridge overnight.

For the bottom layer I just had the two 23cm rounds stacked, and for the top semi circle layer I cut my two 18cm cakes in half - but decided to only use three of my halves, as all four would have been a bit too high.

The next morning I did the butter icing coating - for these cakes I made up 500g of icing sugar with a 250g pack of butter and added a splash of milk - and I used up the whole lot!

So the aim is to get everything as flat as possible - see in the picture above I have trimmed off the worst of the domed bit in the middle of the cake - you don't need to go all the way to the edges because the butter icing will fill in a little bit.

With a piping bag I first squeeze some butter icing in a big ring around the edge, then fill in the bit in the middle - smooth flat with a pallet knife, then drop cake number two on the top (I put mine bottom up - because the bottom is a bit flatter) and give it a little squish! Continue with as many layers as you have.

At this point I don't worry too much how smooth it is because the soft butter icing is quite hard to get super flat - I put the iced cakes in the fridge for the rest of the day to harden up.

Later that evening when the butter icing has set I do a combination of scraping and filling in with a pallet knife and some fresh icing to get everything really smooth and the corners all nice and sharp - occasionally I will put the cake back in the fridge then have another scrape until I'm totally happy! Then it all goes back in the fridge overnight again.

Next up is the fondant layer - I buy a big pack of white fondant, then use gel colours to mix the colours I want - in this case I did green for the bottom layer and blue for the top. Make sure you use plenty of icing sugar when mixing and rolling to stop sticking!
For the blue layer I rolled out a big semi circle about 5mm thick - I put it over the top of the cake and used a fondant smoother to get all the bubbles out - starting at the top then working down the sides - for the sharp corners either side I bought the fondant together and pinched it, then used a sharp knife to trim away the excess.

For the green layer I did the same thing - starting at the top with the smoother, then working down the sides, and finally smoothing the fondant right onto the cake board (I put a little smear of butter icing on the board first to make it stick).

Once again it's time to wait - the fondant will go all sticky from the coldness of the cake (fondant and cold don't go well together!), so you need to let it all come to room temperature and the fondant will dry out - I covered mine in the morning, and by the evening they were ready.

Next I stacked the cakes - I stuck a few straws in the bottom layer, cut them off at an angle, then slid the top layer on.

Next I built up my decorations - a tunnel for the train to come out of - 

Some trees -

And bushes -

And some tracks and clouds - 

Now originally I was asked by Little B to make a Thomas cake, but she then changed her mind to Toby, so I put both on to be safe!! So here it is! (I also added some little flowers as an afterthought because I thought the green looked a bit plain!)

And it was yummy!!

Just in case you you thought I'd stopped sewing to bake cakes, I didn't!! I also made Little B a party outfit - a tunic and leggings with a matching hair band, and Little Fizz got a reversible waistcoat and matching trousers - he looked so smart!! Here's B in her outfit -

And Fizz -