Saturday, 8 October 2016

Liberty Carline Lawn Shirtdress

This is, without doubt, the most expensive fabric that I've ever bought.  It's Liberty Carline lawn, and cost £22 per metre.  You may recall that I recently made a shirtdress using the same print in pink poplin, but said that I really wanted it in red.  Well, local sewing pal/enabler Suzie came up trumps with a link to this website.  I hit buy on 2 metres before I give myself too much time to think about it!




As this fabric is a lawn it is more lightweight than the poplin, I underlined it with some white cotton lawn - which, at £6.99 per metre added to the expense!  The bodice is self-drafted with princess seams at the front and darts at the back, and the skirt is from Tilly And The Buttons Lilou dress.  Tacking the underlining took ages, but was really worth it.

The only drama was when I trimmed and clipped the collar seam allowances before turning it right side out to make sure the collar lined up with the lapel.  Turned out it didn't, and I had to do some careful unpicking.  It worked out ok in the end, and the lesson was learnt!


The buttons came from my button box, (I think this is only the second time that this I have found the perfect buttons in the box, and not had to go and buy some), and I added pockets and a side zip using my how-to.  The sleeves are full capped sleeves with elastic to gather the hem slightly.  I spotted these sleeves on a dress that a lady I work with was wearing!


I love this dress, it did turn into a bit of an epic make, but it's lovely!  Also, I got my hair cut again.  It appears that I actually like this shorter hair business.  No one is more surprised that me...   

Have a great week,


Sunday, 18 September 2016

Gingham shirtdress

This is the dress that I mentioned in my last post, and it's a shameless copy of a gorgeous dress that I saw on Instagram a few months ago!  The original is from a UK high street shop that starts with "T" and ends with "opshop".  Ahem...


A bit of googling proved that the original had been very popular, and I stumbled across someone selling one on ebay.  This was great because they had kindly taken some close up photos of the bodice, so I was able to see the details.  I'm not going to post the close up photos because they are not mine, but here's a photo I found from the shop.

  • It has a semi loose fitting bodice with gathers at the waistband to shape the bust, then a separate waistband cut on the bias which is top stitched. 
  • The button placket looked like it is cut in one piece on the bias in the larger gingham, as the larger gingham is also on the inside of the placket, and there is no seam along the placket edge.  The outside of the placket is also top stitched.
  • It seemed to be lined with the smaller gingham, as that could be seen to the inside attached to the placket.
  • There weren't any photos of the back, but I could see in the photos of the front that it is lined in the small gingham to the middle of the armholes, about where a back yoke would end.  This made me think that there might be a back yoke, and also there are diagonal seams on the front shoulders that would suggest a yoke coming over the shoulders.  There is also a little gather at the bottom of the yoke like on McCalls 6696.
  • The skirt is a simple gathered skirt, and the collar a convertible collar with rounded ends.
  • The sleeves are short with gathered heads, and it looks like a little bit of gathering at the bottom.  They are edged with bias cut small gingham.

Here's what I did with it.
  • Made a waistband that is 2 inches (5 cm) wide, the bottom of the waistband sits at my natural waist.  The bodice has bust and waist darts as I wanted a more fitted dress.
  • Made a 1 inch (2.5 cm) button placket as my buttons are 1/2" (1.2 cm) wide .
  • This placket had me scratching my head.  I originally planned (and toiled) a one piece, folded over placket in the large gingham with facings in the small gingham.  But in an 11 hour change of mind, I made the outside placket from the large gingham, and the inside placket and facing all in one with the small gingham.  Both placket and facing are cut on the bias.
  • I like the look of a yoke back, but not on me; so just went with an ordinary darted back. 
  • My skirt is the full skirt from McCalls 6696 because I love it, and the collar is my convertible collar.
  • The sleeves are capped sleeves edged with bias cut small gingham. 



I put in an invisible side zip with a pocket, using my own tutorial - I'm guessing the original must have a side zip too.


Construction - I stay stitched all the edges of the waistbands so they wouldn't stretch, as I knew I'd be doing a bit of work on the bodice before attaching the skirt.  Once the top of the waistbands were attached to the bottom of the bodice, I overlocked them in one go with the bottom edge of the bodice.  I did the same with the top edge of the skirt once it was attached to the waist band - this is what's in the photo above.

The large gingham placket was interfaced with some very lightweight interfacing to stablise it and also to stop the outside edge from stretching.  I also interfaced the facing as normal.  Here are a few photos of the placket on the right and wrong side, so you can get an idea of how it's constructed.  I wish I'd put another one or two buttons on it though, and I might sew a pop fastener on the placket level with the bias waistband.

Outside with large gingham placket cut on the bias.

Inside with small gingham facing, the top shows to the outside when the top button is undone as below. 




My convertible collar was drafted from a book called "Metric Pattern Cutting For Women's Wear" by Winifred Aldrich.  It's also in one of the Craftsy pattern drafting classes, "Patternmaking and Design: Collars and Closures", and it's called a camp collar in the class.

I haven't found a definitive definition of a convertible/camp collar, but it seems to me to be exactly the same as a shirt collar, but it's all in one piece without a pesky stand to sew too.  It meets at the centre front in the same place as a shirt collar, and buttons right up to the neck - you can see this in the photo below.  If any experts know more, please enlighten me!

I absolutely love this dress, it is  now one of my favourites, and I intend to wear it to death!

Have a great week,


Friday, 2 September 2016

#Ginghamalong - Tiered Maxi Skirt

I love a good sewing challenge just as much as the next person, so was all over the Ginghamalong as soon as Karen announced it.  In fact, I was ahead of the game having just finished a gingham dress, and already started this skirt.  Maybe I'm psychic!!


I'm not going to talk about the dress too much, because it is more than worthy of a post of it's own (which is coming up), but if you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen a few construction photos.  I didn't want to enter my dress as it was already finished, and that's not in the spirit of a sewing challenge, although the dress is the reason why the skirt came about.  

The dress has two different sizes of gingham checks, and I had about half a metre of the large check, and more of the smaller check left over.  Also, I'm an idiot and kept ordering the wrong size of smaller check on ebay, so was left with all this gingham - Sigh.  So I decided to see if I could cobble together a tiered maxi skirt from it, so I could swish around in a Stevie Nicks style. 


A bit of googling found me this Burda tutorial, which I read, and then kind of winged it.  I measured the length from my waist to my ankle, and divided by 3, then added seam/hem allowances.  That gave me the length of each tier. 

The width of the top tier was my hip measurement plus a few inches ease.  The gingham in the top tier is 1.5 mm.  Then it all got a bit random, and the widths were whatever worked with the fabric I had. The gingham in the middle tier is 3 mm; the bottom tier is a combination of the two fabrics used in my dress, and they are 4 mm and 9 mm. 

I had bought a few black metal zips when I made this favourite skirt last summer, so put one of them in using this tutorial from Megan Nielsen.


The gathering was done using my overlocker; I found this great tutorial on youtube, and it's an absolute doddle.  I will never sew gathering stitches on a skirt again!


The waistband is finished with some Petersham ribbon, and that's it! 


Good luck with your make if your entering the Ginghamalong, and I'm looking forward to seeing lots of lovely gingham inspiration.

Have a great weekend,


Sunday, 21 August 2016

Faux placket chambray dress

This lilac chambray fabric has been in my stash for I think three years.  I bought it at the same time as some green chambray that became this Hawthorn dress, but I couldn't decide what to make with it.

A few months ago (maybe near the start of the year), I was in Sew N Sew in Belfast, and spotted these lovely buttons.  They were so nice that I couldn't leave them, so bought some without any plan for them.  Everything in that shop is a cheap as chips, but I do recall the nice lady who owes the shop saying "aren't they expensive?" and I was busy thinking "um, no!"  I can't remember exactly how much they were, but I think it was about 20p each.*

Anyway, I finally realised that they went well with the chambray, and then had quite a job deciding what to do with them both.  I had originally thought of a shirtdress with a separate placket, but as the buttons are 3/4" (2 cm) wide, the placket would have been too wide to accomodate buttons and horizontal buttonholes.  Vertical buttonholes wouldn't have worked because there wouldn't be enough length in the bodice to have four buttons.


I still couldn't get the idea of a separate placket out of my head, and whilst idly browsing 1970s patterns on the internet, I came across some beauties with plackets to the waist.

Let's take a moment to appreciate the patterned dress with the long sleeves on the right on the Butterick pattern, and also the green dress in the middle of the Simplicity pattern (the printed dress on the left is nice too).  I would wear both of these, but would lower the waist on Butterick, and shorten the collar on Simplicity.  Also, I've been working on a gingham dress, and have just noticed the one on the right of the Simplicity pattern.

Ok, maybe it's just me who appreciates them!  Anyway, I digress.  This got me thinking that a faux placket would work as there wouldn't be any buttonholes to worry about.

I was originally going to go with the more A-line skirt from my black and red dresses, as I felt it was more 70s, but ended up using my half circle skirt because that's what's on the green chambray dress, and I always like the way that it sits.

From my block I drafted a bodice with bust and waist darts, a round neck and centre back zip.  The placket is 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) wide, plus 1/4 inch (6 mm) seam allowance on both sides.  I marked 3/4" in from the centre front on the bodice and skirt, then pressed the 1/4" seam allowance down on the wrong side of both edges of the placket.  Then I lined the edge of the placket up with the marks and topstitched at 1/8" on each side.  

I didn't interface the placket because I didn't think it was necessary as it is just for show.  It was tricky to know whether to make one long placket, or two separate plackets for the bodice and skirt.  In the end I went with two separates, as I thought with the curve of the waist on the half circle skirt, it might cause a problem with the placket shape there.

There isn't a facing on the inside because I thought it might be a bit too bulky at the centre front, so I finished it with some bias tape, then added some capped sleeves because, why not.


I love how this dress turned out, and the fabric is gorgeous.  I'm going to see if I can get something similar to make a maxi sleeveless shirt dress for next summer.

Have a great week,


*  I had a few buttons left over and now I can't find them, which is very frustrating and very unlike me!  They were on my work table, and I fear I may have thrown them out when I was tidying up.  I'm hoping they've maybe fallen on the floor under the table, or I have tidied them to somewhere that I've forgotton about!

Monday, 8 August 2016

Anna with a gathered skirt

After all the makes with buttons and collars, and also the jeans (thank you for all the love!), I fancied making something that was a bit less complicated.  The good old By Hand London Anna dress came to the rescue.


I have made an Anna with a gathered skirt before, and that dress inspired this one.  I really loved that dress, and after several reprieves because it was looking shabby, it finally went to the recycling at the end of last summer.

The fabric is some cotton poplin from Fancy Moon, and is called "Happiness Paisley".  It says "a spark of HAPPINESS Design Pi" on the selvedge.  I got 2 metres in the January sale, and it was £6.49 per metre.

Having made several Anna's already, this was a pretty easy make.  And I am, frankly, delighted with my print matching on the centre back seam.

Andrew said that he "liked how there where two blobs on the shoulders, and a big blob on the front.  And also how the big blob matched across the back".  Well, I don't think you can say much fairer than that!

Also, a big thank you to Suzanna from Sea Salt and Stitches who found some red Liberty Carline and emailed me the link.  I've order some, and here is the linky goodness

Have a great week,


Friday, 22 July 2016

Ginger Flares

The Ginger jeans pattern was on my radar from when it was published, I loved the skinny version but just didn't see myself making it.  I already have skinny jeans that fit, but prefer more boot cut jeans.  But when I first eyeballed the flares expansion, I nearly fell of my seat!  Big 70s flares a la Led Zepplin - yes please!!


First thing to do was find the fabric.  I spotted this pair that Maeve made on Dress Fabrics blog, and ordered the fabric from the shop.  This fabric is gorgeous, it has 5% stretch and the colour is lovely.  The zip came from my stash, buttons and rivets from ebay (more on them later), and the pocket lining was left over fabric from this dress. It turns out that I have a lot to say about these so I'll break it down.



I didn't make a toile as I didn't have any other fabric that was suitable.  Instead I took some measurements from another pair of jeans that fit me well.  The measurements I took were:

Hip - widest part
Top of front waistband to bottom of crotch  
Top of back waistband to bottom of crotch

Using the finished measurements on the pattern, I picked the closest size, and drew in the stitching line on my pattern (which was the PDF so I was happy to scribble on it).  From this I was able to work out the above measurements on the pattern, which, happily, turn out to be pretty much the same 

I knew I would have to shorten the legs considerably, and the pattern says to shorten/lengthen the legs from the knee, but I didn't, and I'll tell you why.  Being petite, I find that any regular length trousers with shaped legs end up with the knee being too low on me.  As these jeans are all about the shape, I wanted the knee in the right place, so took these measurements from my old jeans:

Crotch to knee
Knee to hem  

I then ruled a line 2 inches above and below the knee - it was 2 inches because that's the width of my ruler.  I then shortened crotch to knee, and knee to hem to my two measurements.  I had to redraw the cutting lines, but below the knee they matched exactly with a smaller size, so it was easy.



Sewing these was really easy as the instructions are brilliant, as is the sewalong.  The only thing I would do differently, and I'm being really picky,  would be to shorten the width of the interfacing on the right front zip extension.  The instructions say that when you have attached the zip guard to the right fly extension, you then trim a bit off the edge.  Which I did, but then the edge of the interfacing was showing behind it.  I added some bias tape as suggested in the instructions, but next time I will make that bit of interfacing narrower.

You can just about see the interfacing at the bottom right of the zip extension.
I also unpicked my zip and sewed it again, but this was personal choice.  I had sewn a few fly zips before, but they are always a bit confusing.  The instructions said to line up the zip teeth anywhere between right up against the centre front, to (at the most) 3/8" away.  I erred on the side of caution and went with 3/8", but then decided 1/8" would be better because the zip pull was too close to where the top of the top-stitched curve would be on the front.  Which brings me on to top stitching...

Top Stitching

Ah, top stitching, you fickle mistress...  What can I say about top stitching?  Well, I kept telling myself that if you're not unpicking it, you're doing it wrong.  I used two spools of top stitching thread, and there were honestly a few inches left on both.  Admittedly, a fair bit of this was practising, and deciding on a design for the back pockets, but a lot was user error.  Here are my top stitching top tips:

1.  Remember to change the stitch length to 3.5 (or whatever your preferred length is) when top stitching.  I kept forgetting.  Yeah...

2.  When you basted the outside seams together to check the fit, and lowered the thread tension to make removing the basting thread easier, REMEMBER TO TURN THE THREAD TENSION BACK TO NORMAL!!!  I forgot.  Then tried to sew on a back pocket, then wondered why my machine, and then I, were having a total meltdown.


Top stitching the belt loops wasn't fun either.  It really didn't like all the bulk at the top of the waistband (the bottom of the loop was ok).  So I threw it out to Instagram, and both Manju and Nicole suggested using normal thread in the same colour as the top stitching thread.  This is genius people.  Genius!!  The two top stitching thread belt loops took forever, with much unpicking - the four normal thread belt loops took ten minutes and not a stitch ripper in sight.

The belt loop on the left was stitched on with normal thread, and the one on the right with top stitching thread.


The pattern calls for five belt loops, but I used six because I wanted two on either side of the centre back instead of one on the centre back.  You can see that some of my top stitching is coming undone in the centre back seam, but I'm still waiting for another spool of thread that I ordered on ebay, then I can fix it.

There was much procrastination about the design for the back pockets.  In the end I took inspiration from this pair made by Heather Lou, and used a loop decorative stitch that is on my machine.  I also used it on the inside at the top of the right leg, and bottom of the left, because - why not?


I wish Heather Lou had posted this before I started the top stitching.  The bit about the stitch ripper nearly made me choke on my tea when I was reading it on my phone in work!!  Wise words people! 

The pattern calls for a 5 " zip, which I bought, but I had a 4" zip in my zip box and it turned out to be the perfect length.  Which is just as well, because I didn't fancy having to shorten a metal zip.

I had got some random buttons and rivets on ebay, but they turned out to be rubbish.  Three of the buttons bent or broke when I was hammering them in, and in the end Andrew put the fourth one in using a vice.  The rivets refused to attach at all.  Again I threw it out to Instagram, and Sian suggested MacCulloch and Wallis, but the postage turned out to be nearly the same as the buttons and rivets!  Maeve suggested Hemline buttons, so I got some of them and some rivets. 

Making jeans gets a bad rap as being difficult, it really isn't, but I'll tell you what is - putting in those blinking rivets!!  The best thing I found to use was one of these hole punchers for putting holes in belts.

I have only put three rivets in at the coin pocket and outside edges of the front pockets.  I'm going to see how they hold up in the wash before I put them on the back pockets. 


I also made this shirt to go with them because I thought the fabric had a 70s vibe to it.  If it looks familiar, it's because it was left over from my Buchanan dressing gown. The blouse is self-drafted, and I went a bit overboard with the big lapels.  I had to trim them down, twice...

 I absolutely love my jeans!  They are so 70s that I had to get my big 70s sunglasses out.

Have a groovy weekend!!