Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Vote for Your Favourites in the #SewingFrancoise Contest!

Oh. My. Goodness. Laura and I have been completely blown away by the dresses you made for the #SewingFrancoise contest!

There were over 100 entries, from which we have shortlisted 25 that stood out for us in terms of style and creativity to go to the next stage - the public vote. We really enjoyed going through the entries, but believe me when I say that choosing just 25 for the next stage was seriously tough. We've literally spent three hours umming and ahhing over it because we appreciate the love and effort that went into all of them and would give all of you a prize if we could. Go look at them all here! So major props to everyone who made a dress - you are ALL winners in our eyes :)

In the interest of fairness, since the selection is based on subjective criteria, we've made the contest a two-stage process.  So now you get to vote for the winners! Take a look through the shortlisted entries below, and pick your five favourite dresses in order of preference. Vote for your first, second, third, fourth and fifth choice in the survey at the bottom of the page (or if you're on a mobile you may find it easier to open the survey in a new window). Only one set of responses per person is permitted, and public voting will close at 6pm GMT on Sunday 21st December 2014. The winners will be announced just before Christmas.

The most popular entry will win first prize of a brand new Janome DKS100 sewing machine worth £500 (or, if the winner is outside the UK, an equivalent Janome sewing machine will be supplied). Nine runners up will each win a £100 fabric shopping voucher from one of the following - BackstitchDragonfly FabricsElephant in my HandbagFabric GodmotherMinerva CraftsMonalunaPlush AddictSewboxThe Village Haberdashery. Massive thanks to Janome and our sponsors for the amaze prizes!

Carly / Inbar

Gabby / Nicole

Alice Evans / Danielle

Sandee / Kat

Barbara / Spot & Cross

Laura Jane / Heather

Chiara / Victoria

Katarina / Lien

Ksenia / Johanne

Alice Cullen / Yoshina

Jenny / Terzi Begum

Emmie / Vasiliki

LouWeez Creates

Vote now! Fill in the survey below or if you're on a mobile you may find it easier to open in a new window.

Inspired to make your own Francoise dress? Here's the pattern!

Friday, 12 December 2014

Sewing Bloggers and Readers of the World, Unite!

Photo by Joost De Cock
A couple of weeks ago I went on a fabric shopping trip to Paris. To Paris! 

I got the Eurostar with my friend Freya and headed straight to the Eiffel Tower, where we joined about 25 sewing bloggers and readers from around the world - from the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Finland, the US and Canada (did I miss anyone?). I love blogging meet ups - it's always great to catch up with old chums and meet new ones. I love the fact that you can walk right up to someone you've never met before and start touching up their outfit, rubbing the fabric between your fingers and sighing, "Ooh... silk habotai..." Ordinarily that might be a creepy thing to do to a complete stranger, but luckily people who sew are (for the most part) exceedingly lovely and friendly.

Plus, who else will march round fabric shop after fabric shop with you for two days without getting bored? No one! Many years ago, I lived in Paris for a year, but I wasn’t into sewing back then, so I had no idea what to expect from the fabric shopping scene when I returned this time. Mon dieu, it was amazing!

Tea at Maison Sajou
Meeting one of our lovely stockists, Carine from Lil Weasel

Carmen organised a cracking schedule for us on day 1, complete with maps, Champagne pizza dinner (you can't get better than that) and amazing goody bags, which she'd machine embroidered with our names - so sweet!

I stayed in an apartment that Kelly booked for us, along with FreyaEmmie and - all the way from Nashville, Tennessee - Lauren! I love those ladies. Not only are they AWESOME to hang out with, but they are so colourful that you can't lose them in a crowd.

Idea for a programme - Eight sewing bloggers and a baby
Vanessa and Annabelle from Anna Ka Bazaar / Julie from Jolies Bobines
On the second day a few of us hardcore fabric shoppers wanted more, more, more. We kicked off at my dream shop, Anna Ka Bazaar, where we were met by Julie (kindly indulging me in the above photo with her signature pose), who kindly showed around some other gems of town.

This is what I came back with. How incredible is that hand-print fabric? I'm thinking it'd make a super cheeky/creepy coat lining. I'll share links to the shops we visited next week in case you're planning a fabric shopping trip to Paris some day.

The trip whetted my appetite to go on more international fabric shopping trips. You coming? Where shall we go next?

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

How to Sew Piping into a Seam

How to sew piping into a seam

Sewing piping into a seam is a great way of drawing attention to unusual style lines, such as the raglan seams on the Francoise dress. It’s so easy to do and can lift your dressmaking project from ordinary to extraordinary!

You can buy ready-made piping, or you can make your own by cutting a strip of fabric on the bias (ie. at a 45 degree angle to the selvedges), wrapping it around some piping cord and sewing it in place.

Here’s how to pipe a seam:

How to sew piping into a seam

1) Cut the piping so it’s a bit longer than the seam you want to sew it to. Trim the seam allowances on the two seams that the piping will be sandwiched between so that they are the same width as the fabric part of the piping.

How to sew piping into a seam

2) Pin the piping to the right side of one of the seams (ie. the side that will show on the outside of your garment), with the cord running along the stitching line and the raw edge of the piping aligned with the raw edge of the fabric.

How to sew piping into a seam

3) Attach a piping foot or adjustable zip foot to your sewing machine and set the stitch length to 4mm. (You can use a regular zip foot if you don’t have a piping or adjustable zip one, but I find the latter much easier to use.) Baste/tack the fabric part of the piping to the garment within the seam allowance.

How to sew piping into a seam

4) Re-snip any notches that have been hidden by the piping. Pin the seams of your garment together as normal, with the piping sandwiched between them, matching any notches.

How to sew piping into a seam

5) Using the piping foot or adjustable zip foot, stitch the seams together, with the needle as close as you can get to the piping cord without sewing over it. Like, really close, which is where the piping or adjustable zip foot comes in handy because the foot doesn't get in the way of the needle – push the piping cord right up against the edge of the presser foot as you sew. If your first attempt isn’t quite close enough, no worries – just try stitching another line even closer.

How to sew piping into a seam

6) Trim the ends of the piping, and finish your seams as normal. And you’re done!

Here's one I made earlier...

Are you making a dress for the #SewingFrancoise contest? You've still got time! Don't forget to email us your entry by midnight GMT this Sunday for a chance to win a Janome sewing machine worth £500 or one of nine £100 fabric shopping vouchers. (Even if you've tagged me in a picture on Instagram or Twitter, please email in your photo so we can be sure we count it as a contest entry.) Read the full details of the contest and take a look at some of the gorgeous entries so far. Good luck!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Vote for Your Favourites in the British Sewing Awards

Best Sewing Book

Bonjour mes amis! Just a quick one today to ask for your support with something. I've been nominated in the British Sewing Awards in the categories of 'Favourite Sewing Personality' and 'Best Sewing Blog', and my book Love at First Stitch has been nominated as 'Best Sewing Book 2014'. Woohoo! I'm so very grateful to all the lovely people nominated me, my blog and my book in the awards - thank you thank you thank you! And now you get to choose your favourite nominee in each of these categories, as well as your favourite haberdashery, pattern house and more - cast your votes here.

Love at First Stitch has also been nominated for 'Best New Craft Book 2014' in the Craft Awards. It's so great to know that sewing is becoming a more popular craft in general! If you love a good survey as much as I do, go vote in that one too :)

Thank you so much, and bon weekend! Who's working on their Francoise dress this weekend? I'm currently sewing a hot pink Francoise with a black polka dot collar (nicer than it sounds!), as well as some emergency sweatshirt Coco dresses for the freezing cold London weather. Looking forward to having something to show you soon...