Pattern Testing The Josie Blouse

Experimental Space is a fairly new kid on the block when it comes to sewing patterns, it is run by Andrea and this is her third sewing pattern and what a corker it is.

I first became aware of Andrea’s website last year when she put a call out for testers for her second pattern – The Casey Sweater. I applied and was lucky enough to be selected to help out with the testing process. This was the first pattern test I had taken part in and thoroughly enjoyed the process. I was really impressed with the pattern, my version is pictured below, there is also a really nice version over on LikeSewAmazing which was made up in some fabric from Sarah’s store which she appropriately called Casey fabric because it is absolutely perfect for this top.

When a call out for the Josie blouse popped up on my Instagram feed I was quick to apply and really pleased when Andrea contacted me to test again. The artwork on the pattern is super cool and the pattern is available as both pdf and printed copies. The blouse calls for a light weight fabric such as viscose, rayon or crepe – anything with a good drape. I made my tester version in some very lightweight cotton that I had left over in my stash from a previous make – Andrea always emphasises the importance of doing a test version first before cutting into your nice fabric (this was a pattern test after all so issues may possibly arise).

One of the things that make these patterns a little different is the size chart that works on names rather than numbers ‘Be a name, not a number’ is the tagline, measurements are also taken from the high bust rather than the full bust.I went with my body measurements for the bust which worked out as Cara and for both waist and hips I fell between Dee and Eve so graded to the Dee working on the amount of ease in the finished garment measurements. On first reading the instructions I thought I may struggle a little with the pleats on the shoulders because this is a process I have not done before. There was really no need to worry, the instructions are very good and guide you through the process step by step. The marks on the pattern pieces for the pleat points can be a little difficult to read because there are a lot of markings for all the different sizes but Andrea as it covered with a handy diagram in the instructions that tell you the exact measurements between each pleat. The pleats are also mirrored on the tops of the sleeves and then these need to be matched up at the shoulder seams. The instructions advise tacking in place to make sure they align correctly before sewing the sleeve in completely.I like the fact that the side seams are finished off with French Seams to give a really nice finish on the inside. I also added Hong Kong Seams to the back join (I wonder if this is a correct term? I have been watching the new series of The Great British Sewing Bee and Esme who is a judge on the program didn’t seem to think there was any such thing!) This is a fairly simple sew with some nice techniques, I love the pleat details on the shoulder – I wasn’t sure that bishop sleeves would be for me but having tried it on I am now definitely a fan, I also love the fact that the cuff is extended.
I would recommend this pattern if you are looking for something simple but a little different, I am not a fan of what I would describe as fussy blouses (they just aren’t my style) but this is plain enough to work as both casual and smart and contains just enough detail to make it that extra bit special and unusual so that is stands out from the crowd.

I teamed my Josie Blouses with a gorgeous necklace from Sew Dainty, the link is below for anyone who would like to take a look:



Named Clothing Kielo Dress

This is my second Kielo Dress and I absolutely love the style and fabric.

i have written a blog over at Pin and Sew, follow the link if you would like to read more:

Stitch Sisters Pleated Zipper Pouch Review

I have been following the Stitch Sisters on YouTube for a while now so when they recently announced their on-line classes I was interested to see what they had on offer.

They introduced 7 classes to their website at the beginning of February which include, curtains, cushions, a skirt and a bag. I have made a couple of simple bags before and was particularly taken with their pleated zipper pouch – I have been in need of a new makeup bag for a while now and thought this would be perfect and the added pleats make it stand out from the usual bag patterns that can be found online.

The course cost £9.99 which I think was a cheap date night in with my sewing machine whilst my husband was out for the evening with a friend, another big plus is that so little fabric is required – great for using up all those left over scraps. I used some yellow quilting cotton from my stash for the lining and inside pleats. For the outside pleats I used some fat quarters that I picked up from Hobbycraft but I still have plenty left to make at least another 4 or 5 bags (I know what all my female friends will be getting gifted this year🌝).

Once purchased the class can be found on their website in ‘My Classes’ and is there permanently to use as often as you like.

The tutorial is set out in bite size videos that Nikki hosts. Each video covers a different stage of the bag making process and they are extremely well laid out so even someone who is new to sewing could follow and understand the instructions. I always find it easier to watch someone else complete a process if it is something I am unfamiliar with.

I have been sewing for a while now so some of the videos at the beginning I just listened to whilst I was performing the task but there are techniques in there that I have never used before so for these stages I watched the video through completely to understand what I was doing and then re-watched it and worked alongside. I have never added pleats before so this stage I found particularly useful and the clear instructions enabled me to end up with some pretty perfect pleats (even though I do say so myself😄). Another stage that I found really helpful was adding the zipper. I have made a few zipped pouches/pencil cases before and if I am completely honest the zips have never turned out great so I am pretty damn proud of just how well this one turned out, thanks Nikki’s for your excellent instructions I really can’t understand why I have always struggled so much in the past!

A tip for anyone planning to make a few of these – I cut out templates of all the pieces using some stiff card so now I can just cut round these with a rotary cutter rather than needing to measure again👍

If you fancy an evening in with your sewing machine then I would definitely recommend this tutorial, I now just need to buy some new makeup to go in my bag – does anyone else keep makeup for way longer than they should?

If you want to head over to the Stitch Sisters to view this class and the others on offer then the link is below:

Tilly and the Buttons Stevie Revisted

Last summer just after the launch of the pattern I made 2 Stevie Tunics in quick succession, one was a fairly thick polkadot cotton that I used for a pattern review on Minerva Crafts Site:

and for the other one I used fabric from Lamazi Fabrics which is the same fabric used for the tunic on the front cover. This one was definitely my favourite and I wore it so often during the summer months and will look forward to wearing it again when the warmer months return.

This is my first time making the top version – I used a Lady McElroy cotton lawn called crowded faces which I purchased at SewBrum last year. I had seen this fabric pop up on Instagram and just knew I had to get some, I have a weakness for a quirky print. I actually purchased it as part of a kit for the Deer and Doe Melilot shirt from Guthrie and Ghani and I fully intended to use it for that originally but hadn’t got round to making it.

Then I decided I needed a new top to wear for my sons gig in Worcester celebrating Music Venue week. You can check them out here:

Anyway I had a week to make a top and wasn’t confident in making a shirt from pattern that I hadn’t used before with so little time so I decided to run up a Stevie Top instead and just couldn’t wait any longer to be able to wear this print.

Being a cotton lawn I was worried it may be a little see through so decided to line/interline it with my own fashion:

Basically instead of cutting out a facing for the neckline I cut out a front piece and a top back piece for the lining fabric. I joined the lining pieces together at the shoulder seams using the same instructions as for the main fabric and then attached the lining to the main garment (right sides together) around the neck line and the back opening, making sure to add the black ribbon ties at the same time.

For the rest of the process I wanted to treat the outer fabric and lining fabric as one and use French Seams to give a neat finish on the inside – now I feel that I have conquered the basics of sewing (still lots to learn) I really want to practice my finishing techniques to give my me made garments a really neat finish.

The seam allowance for the Stevie top is 1.5cm so I used a .5cm seam allowance with the fabric wrong sides together and then pressed the seam, turned it over so right sides were together and used a 1cm seam allowance, this means any rough edges are tucked away out of sight. I used this method for attaching the bottom half of the back to the top section which had both outer and lining fabric. I then used the same method for the side seams. In all areas that had lining I treated the lining and out fabric as just one layer.

I finished off the hem by just turning up .5cm and then 1cm and machine stitching.

I have the perfect necklace to go with it – my black cat😻

Budapest Fabric Shopping

I was recently lucky enough to spend a few days in Budapest and as well as sight seeing – there are some great things to see including Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion and Heroes’ Square to name but a few – I took the opportunity to do a little fabric shopping.

Is it just me who always googles fabric shops when I am visiting a new city? I somehow doubt it. My quick internet search came up with one particular shop that I wanted to visit which is called Máthé Textil Zrt and if you only have time to visit one then this is the one I would recommend. The shop sits on the corner of 2 busy roads and from the outside could easily be mistaken for a costume shop rather than a fabric shop but when you step through the main doors it is a little like stepping back in time.

Máthé Textil Zrt Budapest, Baross tér 4-5, 1087 Hungary

The shop is set out over 2 floors and looks luxurious with dark wood throughout from the cutting tables to the shelves and also the staircase which dominants the centre of the ground floor and splits into 2 directions for the 2nd floor.

The best comparison I can give is like stepping into an old fashioned library but the shelves are stacked with fabric instead of books. There is a very good selection and all of it is easily accessible so that you can take a good look and feel it. My words really can’t do justice you really do need to go and see it for yourself. Even if you don’t want to purchase fabric it is worth a visit just to take in the splendour of the place. Price wise there is something to suit all budgets and fabrics range from cotton to jersey, wool, lycra, fake fur and more so there is a good choice. I purchased 3 pieces of fabric:

The first fabric was my husband’s choice and he wants me to make him a shirt (I made hime a couple last year using the pattern the ‘The Gentleman’s Wardrobe’ book) – it is a cotton fabric and is about 150cm wide, it feels good quality and worked out at what I think is a very reasonable £4.52 per metre.

Likewise I chose another cotton of the same width for myself – I have had 2 metres of this and again it was £4.52 per metre. I currently have absolutely no idea what to make with it? (please hit me with some suggestions) but it is a little unusual and I don’t think I would find similar back home so I couldn’t resist.

After coming away I realised that I hadn’t taken any photos of the interior – I got too carried away with stroking all the fabric. I actually went back on our final day to take photos and came away with some chambray, this worked out at £9.33 per metre which I think was reasonable, I already have some very similar fabric in a different colourway which I paid more for. I plan to make a simple shift dress for the summer.

The other shop I purchased something from was at the other end of the main town and is called Fortuna Méteráru Bolt, this was a smaller shop which seemed to be mostly jersey fabrics and I bought just enough of this pink textured jersey to make a Tilly and the Buttons Nora Sweater.

Fortuna Méteráru Bolt Budapest, Váci út 10, 1132 Hungary

The rest of the shops we pretty much stumbled across whilst roaming around the streets and I am pretty sure there are far more than the ones I will mention below:

Méteráru Kis Méteráru Budapest, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út 23, 1065 Hungary

This shop is along the main road that runs through the city and is definitely high end. We went in for a browse, but when the assistant started getting down bolts of Dolce Gabbana Silk to show me I realised that the fabrics on offer would be way out of my budget. Don’t get me wrong the 2 members of staff where lovely and the fabrics were beautiful and obviously very high quality. I just felt a little intimidated by the fact that nothing was likely to be in my price range.

Kezimunka Mesebolt Budapest, Üllői út 16b, 1085 Hungary

This was a small fabric shop that we passed every day on our way from our hotel (Hotel City Inn) to the main town. The shop sells mostly cotton as well as haberdashery and embroidery kits.

Hobbymuvesz Budapest Üllői út 32, 1085 Hungary

Again this was along the same road as the one mentioned above and is very much like a Hobbycraft type of shop. Most of the fabric appeared to be cotton, they also had a good selection of fat quarters.

I Love Textil Budapest, Teréz krt. 3, 1067 Hungary

This was a budget fabric shop with mostly cotton and jersey starting at around £1.00 per metre.

Torok lakastextil Kft. Toro Budapest, Király u. 70, 1068 Hungary

We passed this shop when my husband was looking for a vinyl record shop. I didn’t go in but looking through the window it appeared to be more home textile fabrics for cushions, curtains and such.

I am fairly certain that there are several others that I didn’t come across this time, google maps definitely seems to suggest this. I think I will have to save those for my next visit.

I hope you find this list useful if you are planning a trip to Budapest and please leave a comment below if you have previously visited and know of any other shops that are worth a visit.

Breaking the Pattern – Ruska Knot Dress

Like many others I was lucky enough to receive the ‘Breaking the Pattern’ book by Named Clothing for Christmas. The book is beautifully photographed and I particularly like the fact that each pattern consists of several different design styles.

First on my list to sew was the Ruska Knot Dress. The pattern pieces are all printed out on good quality paper and tucked away in the back of the book. It was initially my intention to trace the pattern but I will say I did get a little confused when doing this. The front of the dress (labelled 5A) is in 2 sections and from my point of view it really wasn’t clear how they join together? I was left somewhat scratching my head over this but then discovered that you can download the pdf files from the Named Clothing website. I decided to do this and then taped together the 58 pieces ( pdfs really aren’t as bad as I used to think).

Once this was done I really couldn’t understand why the pieces printed in the back of the book look so tricky to join? It is really a straight forward design I think I must have been having a senior moment!

I worked with the pattern pieces for my body measurements so this meant size 3 for my bust grading up to a 5 for the waist and then back down to the size 3 for my hips.

The instructions say that the dress requires 170cm of fabric that is 150cm wide. The fabric I purchased (a lovely Olive Green Modal from Sew Over It) is sold by the half metre so I decided to try and get away with 1.5 metres – I am only 5ft 2″ and the pattern is based on a height of 5ft 7″. I did have to play about with the pieces a little, (the top front piece is fairly wide because of the ties so this made it tricky) but I got there in the end.

This is one of those fabrics where it is really hard to tell if there is a wrong and right side so I decided to pop post it notes on each piece just to make sure I worked with them all the same side up

The actual sewing up of the dress went really smoothly, I would say the most time consuming part was the hem that runs along the bottom edge of the tie and up to were the 2 Front top pieces meet. It is simple enough to do but I just wanted to take my time and finish it off as neatly as possible because the stitching will be seen on the outside.

Once this was done then the 2 top front pieces are sewn right sides together along the centre.

The front of the garment has 2 layers at the top so you then need to place the top layer with the ties on top of the full length front piece with both pieces right side up. It is a good idea to tack these pieces together before going any further to make them easier to work with.

Once this is done then it is pretty much a standard sew – front and back pieces are sewn together at the shoulder seams (right sides together), the sleeves are put in on the flat and then the side seams are sewn up starting at the sleeve and sewing all the way down to the hem.

The final job was to add the neck band – this is slightly smaller than the neck on the dress so needs to be stretched slightly to fit. I also added a super cute label which I think adds a more professional finish to the dress.

I purchased the labels from Guthrie and Ghani during recent visit but they are available on line at any different places.

After a final good press it is ready to wear. I am please with how it as turned out, I love the style – dressy without being too smart – I prefer dresses that can be worn a little more casually rather than those that I feel need a special occasion so this fits the bill well. It is still smart enough to wear for a nice evening out.

The fit is good and I am happy with the length. I didn’t shorten the pattern pieces despite the fact that I am a good few inches shorter than the intended wearer but I don’t like to wear dresses too far above my knees.


Gentleman’s Wardrobe Jacket

This was my last make of 2018 and by far the most challenging make to date.

I have been promising to make my husband a jacket for a while , I have previously made the 2 shirts from the same book so decided that this would be a good pattern to use because the size seems good on him.

There are rather a lot of pieces (20 in total). The jacket is lined with 1 outer breast pocket and 2 lower pockets. There are also 2 breast pockets set into the lining.

Having gained a little sewing knowledge over the last 18 months the actual construction wasn’t too difficult but I did have an awful time adding the pockets to the outer fabric. I think the problem was caused in part by the difficulty I had in adding the markings to the fabric. The fabric was interfaced with tailors interfacing which is a dark grey colour so chalk or pen really didn’t show up that well.(If anyone can recommend a good method of adding markings to dark fabric then please leave a comment).

The first pocket turned out fairly well, luckily I had done a pattern test recently which involved added welt pockets so pretty much understood the steps (I don’t think the book offers the easiest instructions to follow). Basically you have to place the pocket facing? on top of the jacket right sides together matching up the markings. The markings are then used as the stitching line. Once this step is completed it is time for the scary part – cutting between the 2 stitching rows. You then need to feed the pocket facing through the gap to the inside and smooth out all the edges.

When I repeated the process on the 2nd pocket things didn’t turn out as well. It did not mirror the first pocket and was very obviously a different size, I tried to extend it but it just wasn’t working. I ended up with 2 options – firstly, lots of unpicking and cutting out two new front jacket panels or secondly unpicking the pocket facing (bearing in mind I had already cut the hole in the fabric to make the pocket😭).

I really couldn’t face the 1st option so decided to unpick the facing and just re-cut new facing this time I used some basic white interfacing which I then marked up with a biro. I had to be pretty careful with the re-stitching bearing in mind that I now had a slit cut into the main body of the fabric but miraculously it turned out ok.

Once this was done you pretty much have to construct a second jacket out of the lining fabric, all seemed to go fairly smoothly until I came to add the sleeves and discovered I had a spare pattern piece! It turned out to be the side panel of the lining – I really don’t know how I missed this stage because I read and re-read each stage during the sewing process.

If I had been making this jacket for myself rather than for my husband I think I would of packeted it away in a bag and forgotten about it (I was getting pretty frustrated by the whole make by now) but I don’t sew for my husband very often so was determined to finish it. After more unpicking (thank you seam ripper) and re-stitching the lining was finally finished and then it was time to put it all together.

Joining the lining to the outer jacket had me scratching my head when it came to joining the sleeves – again I thought I was following the instructions but ended up with a twisted mess – the sleeve lining would not fit into the sleeve. So more un-picking. I then remembered that I had an online tutorial for the Sew Over It Chloe Coat so I ditched the book in favour of Lisa’s video and this made things so much easier.

So I finally finished it, I did end up making a couple of alterations, the sleeves were too long so I ended up chopping about 1.5 inches off the length – this meant loosing the button fastening on the cuff. I also took it in by 1/2 inch along the seam joining the back to the side panel.

My husband is pleased with it and has worn it (it was only ever meant to be a wearable toile), initially I wasn’t happy with it, I think I encountered so many problems along the way and I know every single fault so have been concentrating too much on that. I have now come round to the fact that it was actually quite an achievement, I only sewed my first item of clothing at the end of August 2017 and didn’t even know how to thread a sewing machine a month prior to this.

So yes I have come a long way pretty much learning as I sew and mistakes are all part of the process.

I don’t feel quite ready to tackle another jacket just yet but will try again at a later date and will hopefully improve on my techniques next time.