Completed: Victorious Victoria

I did it! I made something for me! All mine.

Victoria Blazer

I’ve had my eye on this little beauty for aaaaages and I was delighted to finally get it finished. Although let me be clear – the Victoria Blazer by By Hand London is not a difficult pattern at all. I’d highly recommend it for a beginner itching to make something fashionable, wearable and lovable. The Victoria loves ya back yo!

I made cropped version 2 – my favourite of the three variations on offer, although I can see myself slouching about in a longer version too. The sleeveless is not for me. I can’t get around early ‘Neighbours’ male character associations I’m afraid.

Polka dot lining

Another win – this blazer was entirely made from stash fabric. I used a very drapey synthetic fabric for the shell (DON’T ask me what it was I cannot tell you) and a soft swishy polkadot cotton for the lining. I took a tip from Sonia at Ginger Makes and extended the lining into the sleeves, making this a pleasure to slip on and off. Do it. If perhaps you are the LAST LIVING PERSON ON EARTH who has not made this yet.

My only issue? Like Ginger (yeah hello again!) I found the front neckline to be longer than the back which kinda freaked me out to begin with because I couldn’t work out what I had done wrong. I ended up kinda easing it in to get it to fit but would love to know if anyone else had this and what they did to correct it. Turned up sleeves

I used the lining fabric to create the cute little turn up cuffs. I was very tempted to do the same for the lapel but thought too much polkadot cutesiness might be a bit too twee. And this pattern is not twee my friends. This pattern slouches around cool east end bars, stays up til dawn and smokes fags indoors. I love it.

Back Victoria Blazer

Disregard those shocking creases – I have pressed since then. And now for an deeply uncool pic to grace this very cool pattern. There was a fucking massive bee behind me, hence the expression.

Thumbs up for Victoria

Not much more to add other than that I will be visiting Liberty this week to purchase some divine fabric for the Anna dress which is next on my list. A dress as sexy as that deserves some sexy fabric, non? How exciting. And how selfish. Bliss…


And the winners are…

Thank you everyone who entered in the giveaway to win the Elisalex dress or the Charlotte skirt from By Hand London. Wow – how popular was that? You guys really like this new indie pattern company don’t you? And with good reason too. So without further ado here are the winners, randomly selected by the husband…

Charlotte skirt

The Charlotte skirt was won by Pillows A-La-Mode who wanted to make one for each of her seven daughters-in-law. Blimey Pillows – that’s some undertaking! No excuses now…

Elisalex dress

The Elisalex dress was won by Hazel Mason who says she can never get enough vintage-style patterns.

If you guys could drop me an email with your postal addresses to, I’ll get these patterns out to you as soon as possible.

Thanks again to By Hand London for generously providing the prizes – can’t wait to see versions of these fabulous patterns popping up. Psst – have you seen Rachel’s Charlotte skirt? Gorgeous!

By gum – it’s a By Hand London giveaway!

I’ve long been a fan of Elisalex from Stitch Me Softly‘s style. Just check out her interview on this very blog for more details. A little bit boho, a little bit inner city and a lot of glam combines into one very unique look. And I know I’m not the only fan out there.

So when Elisalex announced months ago that she was launching By Hand London – a new independent pattern company – with her chum Charlotte, my heart soared. I couldn’t wait to see what they came up with and with the release of their first two patterns I couldn’t be more pleased.The Elisalex dress and the Charlotte skirt are sassy, sexy and sophisticated. I cannot WAIT to use these patterns post baby bump!

But that’s not all. By Hand London have not only very generously sent me a couple of patterns to try out next year (thanks guys – you rock), I also have another two to give away here! How exciting! Let’s take a closer look at each pattern.

Elisalex dress

The Elisalex dress features three variations of a princess-seamed bodice and box-pleated tulip skirt. It’s fully lined with a cinched in waist for extra definition. The instructions come in a separate booklet, are clear and concise with extra tips and golden rules scattered throughout and feature very clear graphics and a space for your own notes. It’s a multi sized pattern from size 2/6 (US/UK) to a 16/20.

Charlotte skirt

The Charlotte skirt is an absolute darling of a pencil skirt, featuring an optional peplum or hem ruffle (or both if you feel like being a touch dramatic). It’s marked as suitable for beginners. Even better, By Hand London will be starting a sewalong for the skirt in the New Year so your first make of 2013 couldn’t be easier! Again, it’s a multi sized pattern from size 2/6 (US/UK) to a 16/20.

To be in with a chance of winning one of these beautiful patterns, simply comment below letting me know which one you’d like to get your hands on and more importantly – why. The giveaway is open to international peeps and closes midday Sunday 9th December 2012 GMT. The two winners will be selected at random and announced here on the blog soon after (as long as we are not interrupted by an early visit from the stork!). Good luck!

My Handmade Style: Stitch Me Softly

From vintage chic to clean modern shapes, how do these seamstresses create and communicate their own unique style in their projects? What and who inspires them, from film and music to everyday life. And what’s their dream outfit?

Ooh we have a belter this week readers. None other than Elisalex from Stitch Me Softly has kindly agreed to let us ogle her closet. Elisalex might well be described as a bit of a style maven in fact. She’s not only previously enjoyed a career as a  shoe designer, she’s also one half of By Hand London – a brand new indie pattern company. Check out their first collection, due to be released very soon. And in the meantime – let’s find out more about Elisalex’s very unique style…

Elisalex from Stitch Me Softly

To me, you’re part bohemian mum, part avant garde designer, part garden fairy Elisalex! But how would you sum up your style?

I love your description and I think that’s definitely how I would like my style to come across! In reality, I find it very hard to strike a balance between ridiculously overdressed and just-rolled-out-of-bed casual. During the day when I’m in the studio or running around with my boy, you will most likely find me in jeans or PJ-like attire; but when I go out – even if it’s just for a quick drink with a girlfriend – nothing less than a cocktail dress! I think of my style I guess as classic with a twist: I love 50s and early 60s silhouettes that emphasise the female form – cinched waists, full skirts, high heels. With that classic silhouette as my starting point, I love clashing colours and mismatching prints or showing off a little midriff in a kiddy t-shirt worn with a super smart high-waisted skirt.

Kung Fu wiggle skirt

Kung Fu wiggle skirt

Where do you find your style inspiration and how do you channel that into your me-made wardrobe?

Inspiration comes from infinite sources – mainly sewing and style blogs, trips to fabric shops always leave me massively inspired and planning all the things I want to make and I definitely spend way too much time browsing vintage pattern websites! I don’t read fashion magazines at all as I don’t like to be too influenced by passing trends and I find that instead of being inspired, I’m always left with that horrible desire to shop and consume, which is something I’ve really tried to stay away from.

Part of the problem with being so drawn to dramatic silhouettes and delicious, often expensive, fabrics is that my me-made wardrobe is firmly rooted in “too much frosting, not enough cake” territory. I’m now really trying to translate my love of colour, print and texture into pieces I can wear on an everyday basis, which will also hopefully bring my everyday, run-around style out of jeans and PJs at the same time.

Who are your style icons and why?

I’d have to say first and foremost, my Mum – Orsola de Castro who is not only the designer and founder of From Somewhere, but also a pioneer of sustainable fashion.

Orsola - Elisalex's mum

Orsola – Elisalex’s mum

Other women/characters who’s style I love are Carrie Season 2 – it slightly pains me to admit that but it’s true! Daisy Lowe – such a beauty, and so versatile and grounded in her style. Scarlett O’Hara – because, well, just because she’s amazing. Kind of loathsome, but completely fabulous!

Daisy Lowe

Daisy Lowe

Are there any particular designers that you use for inspiration?

I’m not nearly as on the pulse with designers as I used to be, or maybe should be… but ones that come to mind are: Lu Flux, From Somewhere (my ma!), Miu Miu & Prada rarely disappoint, same goes for Erdem, I’m still dreaming about Temperley’s SS13 collection you recently posted about, and for shoes I’m currently salivating over Sophia Webster‘s tropical bliss collection for SS13!

If you had to select one self-stitched garment that really encapsulates your style – what would it be and why?

Having just launched a new indie pattern company – By Hand London – my partner Charlotte and I wanted to design and base each of our patterns on women who’s style we wanted to capture. So we started with ourselves! The Elisalex dress is, for me, the epitome of elegance: it has a snug, princess seamed bodice with a sexy scoop back, super cinched waist and a beautiful tulip skirt with big box pleats. I can’t even begin to tell you how many versions of this pattern I’ve made – definitely in the double figures by now – and I still have fabric stashed for future Elisalex dresses!

The Elisalex Dress

The Elisalex Dress

Do you ever take risks and experiment with your look? What’s worked and what hasn’t?

Within the brackets of my personal style, I guess my outfits have veered towards the avant guard, namely that sheer skirt…! I don’t really take big risks however, and dyeing my hair pink/lavender is about as risky as I get.

Star print tulle skirt

Star print tulle skirt

Is there anything you wish you could wear but can’t?

Haha yes plenty!! I wish I could get away with that edgy layered I-just-piled-on-every-chic-thing-I-own look… but to be honest, I’m so aware of my shape, what suits me and what I feel best in that I tend to just stick to that!

What would be your dream outfit, existing or otherwise?

Way too many ideas come to mind… Can I change the question to “what would be your dream wardrobe?”??? Why, that’s easy! Everything I’ve pinned!

What other sewing bloggers would you recommend for great individual style?

There are so many wonderful and inspirational women out there and I just know I’m going to end up leaving some out… At the moment I am mostly reading Closet Case Files, Yes I Like That, Dixie DIY, Gertie (obviously!), Lladybird, Ginger Makes, SallieOh, A Stitching Odyssey, Reana Louise and of course, Stitch and Witter!

Joanne, thank you SO much for inviting me to take part in this series, I’ve loved reading all your interviews so far and can’t wait for more!

Thanks so much for being a part of it Elisalex. Good luck to you and Charlotte with By Hand London – can’t wait to see those patterns taking the blogging world by storm!