Street Style Wales

Knitting, stitching, thrifting, crocheting


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Strawberry Thief Liberty Emery dress

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I haven’t done any sewing for a few weeks now, what with being in London for work and all, but I did make this beautiful (if I do say so myself) dress before I went. I don’t really know what to say about this dress, except that it’s another Emery pattern, in a Liberty Strawberry Thief print. I really love my Liberty print!

Despite making quite a few of these dresses now, this Emery still turned out differently, even though I followed the same instructions. I’m not sure whether I was a little bit tighter with the seam allowances but this one was bigger in the waist and bodice than any of my previous attempts. Hmmmm.

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I’m also a massive fan of the length of the Emery dress, but the last one was just a little bit too long. So I shortened this one quite a bit and now the length is perfect for me.

I loved working with the Strawberry Thief fabric and I loved that it had quite a straight print as it made me really take notice of how I cut it and of making each part match up. I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

The only thing that’s slightly annoying me is that I made a facing for the neckline. Although I love facings generally, this one seems a bit bulky in the front and needs pressing down. My initial plan for this dress was to make matching bias binding for the neckline and arms, but I cut out the facing before remembering my plan and didn’t really want the beautiful fabric to go to waste. I think, in the future, I may take it out and try the bias binding option.

Like the other Liberty fabric, this one too is very thin but I’m sure I’ll get a lot of wear out of this dress. Plus, it’s Strawberry Thief! Who doesn’t like birds picking fruit from a tree on their clothes?

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In honour of Anna

I’m currently sewing up my first Anna dress for White Tree Fabrics. It’s not a style I particularly wanted to make when it first came out to be honest (I always preferred the Elisalex), but the pattern has definitely grown on me and I’m excited to sew it up now. I have some lovely Tilda fabric* and I plan on making the shorter version. Perhaps I’ll even make the maxi version for the summer.

The Anna dress has recently moved up my to-do list, purely because I’ve seen a few really great versions online lately (most recently Roisin’s version). So, having taken to Pinterest, I’ve chosen a few, really inspiring, Anna’s. Maybe they’ll even inspire you too. Please click through for links to the original pins and blog posts. All images are courtesy of the bloggers, of course.

1. Anna from Paunnet‘s beautiful navy blue Anna dress

Anna's beautiful Anna dress

2. This lovely graphic print maxi version

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3. Jenny’s two-tone Anna dressdb0f2fd3fe28a4b8196ea7787a724b98

4. And finally, Roisin‘s floral number

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I’d love to see more of your Anna dresses, so send links this way please. In the meantime I’ll let you know how I get on with mine.

*Given to me by White Tree Fabrics as part of their blog team


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Craft talk: Gemmipop Designs

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For a while now I’ve been wanting to expand the blog to feature interviews with crafters among other things. I’ll hopefully be making this a regular series and want to feature all types of crafty people. Today it’s the turn of Gemma from Gemmipop Designs, who talks about her foray into crafting and her work in general.

Gemma runs a jewellery shop on Etsy, a blog and has a very aesthetically pleasing Pinterest page. Her work mostly consists of laser cut jewellery and features plastic deer necklaces, hedgehog earrings and floral framed brooches. All her work is made in her workshop in Shropshire. Follow Gemma on Twitter for more information.

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Gemma’s work is inspired by colour and she chooses her textiles accordingly

When and how did you first get into crafting?

I always enjoyed crafting. My gran taught me to knit when I was seven, but even before that my perfect day was spent cutting up crepe paper and cardboard! I started sewing when I was around eighteen, and picked up the knitting needles again around the same time, but I didn’t start crafting seriously until my early twenties when I started my degree in applied arts. I specialised in Jewellery and Metalwork and, although I work mostly in laser cut acrylic now, my love of textiles still features strongly in my work.

How would you describe your work?

I think of myself predominantly as a jeweller, so my work is mostly wearable, but generally the material I’m using dictates the outcome. I like the design opportunities you get with laser cut acrylic, and the tactile qualities of textiles, so I’m very much led by the materials at hand.

What is your favourite piece?

I think I’ve been most pleased with my range of frame brooches, which incorporates acrylic and fabric. It was an idea I worked on in metal at university, but it never quite worked until I tried it with acrylic. I have used vintage and retro print fabric, and well as vintage embroidered linens and I’ve always loved the outcome!

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A selection of Gemma’s framed brooches, available on her Etsy shop

Who or what inspires your work?

I find inspiration in all sort of places – I love colour most of all, so I’m always led by that when I choose materials. I make an effort to visit as many art galleries and museums as I can, as I think it helps me to think outside of the purely crafty box!

What are you currently working on?

At the moment I am working hard re-stocking my shop after a very busy festive season, but I’m working on some exciting new designs in my sketchbook too.

Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to sell their work?

Starting my business was the best thing I’ve ever done, but it is unbelievably hard work. I am fortunate because I have my shop to keep me motivated, but I think it’s very hard if you’re trying to do it alone. I would say find some other local crafters and try to keep bouncing ideas around.

Thanks Gemma! If there’s a particular craft you’d like to know more about, or if you’d like to feature on the blog, then please get in touch.

All photos courtesy of Gemma Manning-Bentley


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Crafting ideas: Where to buy fabric

Any newbie crafters out there might be surprised when they find out that the price of fabric from department stores can often be quite pricey. I know I once was. But there are cheaper ways to source your fabric, so for anyone looking for a bargain, here’s my pick of the best places to buy fabric.

1. Number one: Jumble sales/vintage fairs

I’ve often found a great bargain at one of these fairs and, if you look hard enough, so will you. The key is not to go to a fair specifically to buy fabric, but when going along anyway, have a look and you might just be surprised. They may not be a great length, but these kinds of fabrics (offcuts, usually) will do for making homemade bunting and to jazz up existing clothes. Once I even managed to pick up enough fabric offcuts to make a skirt.

The offcuts of a fabric I once found at a vintage fair

2. Number two: Charity shops

Fabric from charity shops isn’t usually dressed up as fabric, so here’s where you can get creative. Any charity shop will do, as most of them sell some ok-ish stuff in the forms of old curtains, bedsheets and pillowcases. Don’t look at them like curtains, sheets or pillowcases, but as potential fabric. For example, an old curtain will make an ideal winter skirt or dress (the extra weight will keep you warm in winter), a sheet gives you enough fabric to make a summer dress and a pillowcase can easily make an A-line skirt.

Incidentally, charity shops are also an ideal place to pick up extras, such as buttons, either on their own (just ask if you don’t see any), or on old, affordable granny cardigans and the like. Seriously, £1.49 for a cardi with some amazing buttons is a bargain!

3. Number three: Ebay

This was where I first ventured when looking for cheaper fabrics and I still manage to find some great bargains now. When I first discovered Cath Kidston and Laura Ashley fabrics, for example, I scoured Ebay for them and found some older stuff for a lot less than in the shops. Ebay shops offer the best selection and one of my absolute favourites (and one I’ve been using for years) is this one. One thing to remember is that if you’re planning on using a lot of fabric, then it might be worthwhile buying a roll. Although it can be expensive, in the long run it actually works out a lot cheaper per metre and you can get some great quality fabric if you look in the right places. For example, I once bought a roll of old Liberty fabric for a steal!

A roll of Liberty fabric I once bought on Ebay


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Crafting tunes

With all this spare time on my hands lately, I’ve been listening to lots of music and dreaming up loads of crafty ideas for all that fabric I bought during my time in Cardiff. Personally, I prefer music that’s a little gentler for sewing and crafting and I’ve been listening to a lot of She & Him lately. Here’s one to inspire you, as found via Ashleyyy85’s Youtube:


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Easy DIYs: A simple book bag

A book bag I made quite a while ago

Book bags are handy, versatile and easy to carry. They can be used in any circumstance and even stuffed into the bottom of another bag for any spontaneous shopping activities.

They are very easy to make as well. In fact, I don’t think making one requires any real skill or technical aptitude, so they’re the perfect DIY for any new crafters.

What you’ll need:

-Enough fabric to cover and wrap around a large magazine in a pattern of your choice, plus extra to make straps (It really doesn’t matter how large you want the bag. It can be tailored exactly to your preferences. Mine was 30cm in width and 36cm in length, so I started with a piece of fabric 64cm wide and 40cm long. Straps can also be as long or as short as you want, but I’d suggest they are at least 4cm wide)

-Sewing machine and thread (or thread and a needle if you want to make it by hand)

-Fabric scissors

-Ordinary scissors

-Pins

How to make:

1. Cut fabric to desired amount (you may want to measure against a magazine for the perfect length and width)

2. With the right sides of the fabric together, pin the bag in place around the edges, but leave the top of the bag open. When that is done, fold over the tops of the two sides of fabric and pin in place, ready to hem

3. Hem the top of the bag. This can be done either by hand or by machine

4. Sew the sides and bottom of the bag in a straight stitch

5. Take the fabric you’ve set aside for the straps. Fold in and pin each side by about a cm so that they will not fray. Sew to hold in place

6. Sew straps onto bag a couple of inches away from the edges of the bag. The straps need to be quite sturdy, so sew diagonally and make a cross pattern

7. Turn bag the right way around and admire your handiwork

Book bags are easy to make and can be made with a variety of fabrics


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New projects

Since moving home at the end of June, I’ve had a long list of things that I’m planning to make. This is what I do when I have no other plans. I form lists of things to make and store them in my head.

Right now I’m dreaming of summer dresses, elastic skirts, book bags and bunting. So I thought I’d change this blog’s direction a bit. Although I want it to keep its fashion and vintage elements, it’ll now focus on craft a bit more and making things yourself. Hopefully, I’ll be able to include some easy DIYs to get you, the readers, started on your crafty journeys.

Street Style Wales has always been a slightly crafty blog- remember this, this and this– though I didn’t intend it to be when I started it. But I suppose that’s what happens when a little part of you seeps into your blog and, to be honest, I like it this way. It feels more like me.

So, here’s to new beginnings and the first of many DIYs starting tomorrow- the easy to make book bag.


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Get crafting in the recession

Has the recession seen an increase in people taking up crafting?

The weather is cold outside, but a warm welcome awaits inside the Oxfam boutique in Cardiff, where a selection of knitting needles are lined up, on a glass table, awaiting eager knitters to pick them up.

The Oxfam Boutique, Cardiff, home of 'Stitch 'n Bitch'

This is the ‘Stitch ‘n Bitch’ knitting event, held at the shop every Thursday night. It represents the growing number of people in the UK who make their own clothes.

With a sharp increase in crafting in the current economic climate, people are more likely than ever to pick up a new skill. The Oxfam Boutique is one of the many places to have opened in the last few years, offering crafting opportunities for people in the recession.

Becky Mann, manager of the shop, says that attendance at the event fluctuates quite a lot. She says that ‘Stitch ‘n Bitch’, which has been running for the past two years, has had as many as 20 people turn up.

‘Stitch ‘n Bitch’ was originally set up by Debbie Stoller in New York, but the phrase has been used for knitting groups since World War Two. The craze grew so popular that the rest of the world soon joined in.

Knitting needles and wool lined up for the eager crafters at 'Stitch 'n Bitch'

The events teach people the basics of knitting, sewing and crocheting, all good skills to have in the recession. The Oxfam Boutique ‘Stitch ‘n Bitch’ is currently knitting mug cosies in the run-up to Christmas and they aim to teach people crafting in the hope that participants can feel they have accomplished something new.

Brooches, created at the 'Stitch 'n Bitch' event, are then sold to raise money for Oxfam

Becky says, “The participants take their newly-learnt skills home with them and we sell the items for the shop.”

On the other side of Cardiff is the Calon Yarns Craft Studios. Lynne Seymour, owner of the Canton-based studio, says they run a variety of courses, such as their dressmaking course, aimed at people who want to know the basics of sewing. It has proven to be so popular that Calon Yarns have had to add a second course.

The interior of Calon Yarns Craft Studios, in Canton, Cardiff

Lynne Seymour, owner of the Calon Yarns Craft Studios, in Canton, Cardiff

The age ranges vary from students to older people who have come back to the craft and even people who remember their parents having sewed.

Lynne agrees that the recession is the reason for people taking up crafting, but says that it isn’t necessarily cheaper to make your own clothes, as fabric can be expensive. Instead, she thinks, it’s more to do with reasons of sustainability.

She says, “I think people are interested in where their clothes come from and being more economically sensible.”

Calling this the ‘Make do and Mend’ thought process, this relates back to the beliefs of the Second World War, when money was scarce and people were fixing things, rather than buying new. Lynne believes that people today have just the same values and those who attend the course are equally as interested in learning how to make things.
Lynne adds that people, in the recession, are also going to evening classes rather than going to the pub, spending money on crafting as they believe it is money better spent.

Balls of wool on show at the Calon Yarns Craft Studios, ready for the crafting workshops.

Lynne Seymour, owner of the Calon Yarns Craft Studios in Canton, Cardiff, talks about the dressmaking course they run:

Lynne talks about the people who attend the courses:

Eager sewer Rhyannan Hall, from Cardiff, agrees with Lynne’s view that making your own clothes isn’t the cheaper option, but she argues that it is better for the environment.

Rhyannan found that all the clothes she used to buy from the high street were badly or cheaply made. That made her want to make her own and her strong ethical values about where her clothes come from made her want to boycott the high street.

She says, “I don’t think clothes should be regarded as disposable commodities.”

Hanna Leimio, one of the crafters at the 'Stitch 'n Bitch' event, often makes her own clothes

Crafter Hanna Leimio, from Cardiff, also holds this belief. A weekly attendee at ‘Stitch ‘n Bitch’, she is a sewing enthusiast and often makes and customises her own clothes. She does this, she says, because she doesn’t always want to buy new things, due to the throwaway culture of this and the contribution it causes to the wasteland.

She says, “Quite often I buy old clothes from flea markets and add something.”

What is clear though, at ‘Stitch ‘n Bitch’, is the effort that crafters put into what they make. Hanna’s creations are well-made and sewing certainly gives both her and Rhyannan great satisfaction in a period when times are hard. This seems to reflect the thoughts of the country as a whole and it goes to show that crafting is more important than ever.

However, whatever the reasons for people coming back to sewing and crafting, they are picking up skills that are transferable and longstanding.

As a new batch of crafters are embarking on a crafting journey at ‘Stitch ‘n Bitch’, Hanna excitedly shows off her creations, adorning her wonderfully knitted mug cosy with ribbons and a button, in order to sell it for the shop, whilst helping the other crafters to cast off.

The locations of Oxfam Boutique and Calon Yarns Craft Studios: